A Thank YOu from Mike Groves

April 24, 2006

Washington, DC

Received: 4/23/06 11:53:20 PM


Dear Jim & Al,
Please accept my deepest thanks for the time you guys took in posting info about what happened to me recently.  I wish to also thank my friend Kyle Beane for posting updates to you regarding me.  KB also was deeply concerned about my well-being, aside from being an info center.  Many others weighed in with calls, text messages, and emails to me.  It's incredible what their support provided to me in the way of a boost when I was falling apart physically & feeling terrible.
As an example, an extreme example, my brother & I had to talk Darren Davies out of getting on a plane from New Zealand to Washington.  (What is it about those Kiwis, anyways?  Lifetime friendships forged in ballyards are deeper than Mafia blood oaths with those cats.....)   .....but seriously, I learned, again, what kind of friends I have "out there" from softball.  Kenny Coles showing up & just sitting in a chair in my room with me, not saying much, just there, while I drifted in & out of his world.  Joe Coco just showing up at the hospital early each morning with breakfast, "cause I know how you like to eat, Groves." 
Most of all, my brother Pete & his wife Monica.  Family, incredible, superb, just-do-it family. 
So, I decided, of course, to write a little bit of what happened to me, to tell y'all what happened to me.  If you don't need the details, feel free to skip it.  I do recommend that anyone take a moment, though, and look into what I've been diagnosed with:  Sarcoidosis.  It affects millions of people.  I had never heard of it.  Someone you know may have it & your action to alert them to it could help them prevent a health disaster..............
Last year I had a dry cough that I couldn't shake.  I'd be pitching last summer here in DC & in the 4th or 5th inning I'd be exhausted, just ready to lie down on the grass & sleep.  I'd always been as strong as a horse playing ball.  So, in June of 2005,  yep, the doc finds some stuff on my lungs.  And thinks I have lung cancer.  But to be sure I have to get a lung biopsy.  But I really wanted to finish my divorce first, so that the ex couldn't ruin my brother in the businesses that Pete & I have developed.  I just basically had to live with the knowledge that my doc thought I had cancer.  Sat on that concept for about 7 months.  And it does turn your head around, no doubt.  The good part of that was that after 5 months went by, and I was still alive, I guessed that maybe it wasn't cancer.  Did a lot of research on the Internet.  And that's where I first discovered Sarcoidosis.
Off I went into Arlington Hospital on March 10 of this year (a few weeks ago).  And anything that could possibly go wrong, goes wrong.  The "routine biopsy" turns into a clustermess of the highest proportion.  The first day in the hospital, the tech putting a hole in the side of my chest for a wire goes too deep & punctures my lung.  My left lung collapses while I'm in the CAT scan machine.  This is while I'm conscious.  Holy hell, it really is another level of pain when your lung collapses.  I don't recommend it.   The technicians & nurses were running around me, lying there in the CT machine, calling out "stat ! suction!" and things like that.   They re-inflated it after 10 mins, but I just had to stay still & take it until they could get me stabilized.
So, later that Friday afternoon the big-deal heart surgeon performs the lung biopsy.  I'm under general for this one.  Drills 3 holes in my left side, takes a piece out of my lung, sews me up.  The next night, late Saturday, as in midnight, I'm standing in my room with a chest tube coming out of me.  The chest tube is fun of a different sort:  they spread your ribs & put a hole in through your ribs & stick a pretty good-sized diameter plastic tube into your chest cavity so you can drain out post-surgical blood & fluid.  And I'm standing there in my room, coughing up blood clots, which is good, they say, and my brother is standing next to me, kind of helping me along & propping me up, all of a sudden Pete says "what the hell is that?"  Cause deep, deepred blood is pouring out of me into the chest tube & out into a blood collection device called a blood register.  I've never seen blood this color.

All of a sudden, half a dozen nurses materialize from where? and push me down onto the gurney & they are yelling "stat! he's bleeding out!"  Stat!  get emergency OR ready NOW we're bringing him! stat! he's crashing, move it!"........and I'm watching my blood pressure & pulse just plummet on the digital readout at the foot of the gurney............my BP crashes from 143 / 80 to 35 / 20........ my pulse dives from 98 to 26........ and it was spooky as hell to see this happening to my own self & not a damn thing I could do about it..... cause you don't know if the numbers are going to stop...... ....it really hurts all over your body, cause the body starts pulling back all the blood from the extremities to the core to try to stay alive...........damn, it really, really hurts all over your body...........the crew of nurses are flying around, grimly calling out orders but total pros, really impressive how they move, working their asses off attempting to getme stabilized, my brother (Pete) is holding me up by the shoulders & Pete has turned completely ashen, helpless like me, telling me to hang in there, just hang in there............and I'm watching the damn numbers plummet, and all the people yelling, and I'm just thinking over & over, I don't believe it, here I go, I'm going out in this room, I'm going out in this room, I'm going out in this room, just like this, this is unbelievable, unbelievable, unbelievable, and then the pain just grows larger & larger like a thing in the room just taking me on & winning..........nothing more profound than that, no angels, no devils, no music, just this thought that I'm done, that I'm gonna go out in a room with green wallpaper, and nursesyelling "stat!" and this is happening to me, but how could this be happening to me, how could this be happening to me, how, how, how.........
The nurses, bless them all, somehow get me stabilized, I still don't understand how... ........  and morphine injections slapped into the arm really is an amazing invention, I must say... .....the next night, it occurs to me that maybe I just won't be getting out of there at all, after all, the guy is 0 for 2 on me & now I'm receiving blood transfusions & even in my painkiller-induced mental fog, I figure out that things have gone from bad to worse......so I ask my favorite nurse, Meadd, a question that now sounds so melodramatic & stupid, but then it seemed to make perfect sense, and it was brutal just asking it, am I going to die........and Meadd looked at me, smiled quietly, and she says, michael I've seen a lot of what you're talking about, and it just wasn'tyour time that day.........and she turns & walks out of my room............. a few days later and have a second surgery so the arrogant surgeon can stop the internal bleeding going on inside me caused by him "nicking a piece of my overdeveloped lungs" (as he stated)  and I spend 8  nights in cardio-pulmonary intensive care.  They send me home cause the insurance company won't pay any more nights in the hospital.  With torn cartilage in my ribcage, from when they spread my ribs.  I'm only now getting to where I can move without pain.  Pain the likes of which you never want to experience.
So that's my story & I'm sticking to it.  One day, you're physically fine & dandy.  Then, in 24 hours you're unable to walk 30 paces without assistance.........But everything, every day is a wonderful thing, lemme tell ya, I'm loving it all.............
I don't plan on altering what I like to do.  I plan on starting back with pitching when I am able.  Still plan on going surfing in Central America this summer.  I'm going to ride in a 100 mile (century) bike ride in October.  But, still haven't really digested what happened to me, still working with it, you know? 

Turns out I have Sarcoidosis.  Millions of people have it.  Could be in your lungs. Heart. Liver. Eyes. Any major organ.  It can move from one organ to another.  It's basically granules that impede organ function.  Sometimes it's hard for me to catch my breath.  Sometimes it's like I feel normal again.  As for the ailment / disease, there's no cure.  They don't know what precipitates the onslaught of it.  Sometimes it goes away by itself.  And sometimes it doesn't go away.
One of those "no cause, no cure" deals in medicine.  So, I become the guinea pig for awhile.  Until I've had enough of the "experts" guessing.  Then, I'll go my own way with it.  Sarcoidosis doesn't discriminate, but it does hit black folks 10 times more than any other group (I looked at Kenny & I said you always said I was blacker than some black folks, here's proof.........lol ........).   Sarcoidosis hits black women 12 times more than any other group.
So, now that I've bored you with all this drama.......

Peace on a wonderful weekend,
Michael Groves
Vice President
Federal Lock & Safe, Inc.
5130 Wilson Boulevard
Arlington, VA 22205