Gig Line: Bad stuff, deep thoughts

Published 8:10 am Tuesday, August 24, 2021

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In late July I took my little Yorkie, Pepper, and headed to my sister’s house in Williamston, NC for a typical weekend visit . . . or so I thought.

The first night we ate a nice dinner (she’s a wonderful cook) and watched a movie. When the lower right side of my back began to hurt a little, I didn’t take it too seriously; then the next day, it began to hurt more, and I wondered if it could be a kidney stone. My sister was very sweet and offered again a delicious meal, but I had no appetite and as the night grew late, she made sincere efforts to fix me literally anything I wanted, but I still had no desire to eat a bite and even started to gag. She kindly offered to take me to the hospital not far from her house, but I declined, telling her I would likely leave the next day and just come on home to Manteo.

However, again the night was even more difficult than the night before and I could find no rest. No position that was comfortable and not wanting to wake the household up, I tried my best to bear it until it was totally intolerable. My breathing was labored and I finally came to realize I needed help – fast. I called my sister’s cell phone – she was asleep at 3 a.m. – which she answered immediately asking her to call an ambulance and while she offered to take me to the hospital, I knew I could not physically make it to her car.

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She called the ambulance, which arrived very quickly and at that point I was writhing in pain. All I could do was thank my sister for taking care of my little Pepper and everything she had tried to do to help me, then pray to God to help me.

Once I arrived at the Martin General Hospital in Williamston, they assessed me and decided it was crucial that I be flown to Vidant Medical Center in Greenville and thank the good Lord they did. I had a fever and the Foley catheter they had put in me released reddish, almost purple liquid into the bag. They said I was going into sepsis, that I had a 1.2 cm kidney stone too large to remove at the time, a respiratory infection, my heart rate and BP was affected; my sugar was soaring and several of the medical staff thought I might not make it home again. I cried out to God to please help me due to the unbearable pain. The doctors decided to install a stint and load me up with antibiotics – thank you dear Lord.

I was in intensive care for a week before I was moved to a step-down ICU, then moved again to the Rehabilitation Care section of the hospital to help stabilize my oxygen levels and to regain my strength. That is why Gig Line wasn’t in the paper the last few weeks, but laying on my back day after day, thankful God brought me through it, gave me plenty of time to think about you all, what I would write about while also considering the folks around me in rehab regaining use of their bodies, lungs and prosthetic limbs. More than once I thought about how little I really had to complain about. God had heard my prayers; he had let me live. I asked Him to show or tell me what I could do for Him through the rest of my life – it was a time of reckoning for me.

Most of the folks I saw frequently in the gym where I was given tasks of sitting, standing, performing simple tasks while they monitored my oxygen levels engaged me in a smile while others did not. I wish I could have talked to them all, especially the ones with a military service themed cap on. I wanted to reach out, squeeze their hand or pat their arm and say “thank you,” ”thank you for your service,” but not wanting to overstep my bounds or ignore what my assigned P.T. was asking me to do while I focused on the veterans around me would have been rude. I reluctantly held myself back.

The IVs, the temporary insulin, the blood draws, the INR blood tests, the constant barrage of nursing and care givers monitoring my status was all for the good and I am grateful. The “crunch” of the hospital bed pillows however reminded me of what resting my head on a packed bag of corn flakes would have been like, but that was a minor inconvenience. Overall, the doctors, nurses, P.T.s, O.T.s and every attendee to my care and my situation was kind, thoughtful and truly a blessing. In short – they saved my life.

If you know me, you know food is no stranger to me, but the antibiotics were strong and my mouth broke out in blisters all over the inside, on my tongue and even outside and around my lips – I was a sight to behold. I couldn’t even eat simple things like pudding, Jell-O, mashed potatoes and yogurt without it bringing tears to my eyes. Ice was my best friend for days.

Like I said, I thought about you all so much. I missed writing Gig Line for you and reminding you that l love you all and that I’m grateful for all you have done for us as servicemen and women. Thank you for your prayers, thank you for your calls, texts and emails of those of you who knew what was going on.

God bless you and your families and until I learn more about the origin of my kidney stone, my suggestion is that you (first and foremost) drink lots and lots of water. It’s my understanding that only parts of the stone were removed, but I have an appointment with a urologist in a few weeks so we shall see.

In the interim, be happy, be safe and be proud. You veterans and the family members who love and support you are #1 in my book – always and forever! If you know a veteran who could use some help, please refer them to Patty O’Sullivan, Dare County Veteran Service Officer at 252-475-5604 or email her at or you can call me at 252-202-2058. Check out my new website: – lots of veteran related stories and much, much more to come. Stay tuned.