Tuesday, November 28, 2017

BOOK SPOTLIGHT: The Mountain by Charles G. Thompson


If you are looking for a book on mountaineering, this is not your read. In, The Mountain, I will be sharing experiences about the mountains or challenges we all face daily. I chose the cover photo because it is a favorite of mine and Jeanne’s. It was taken by an old inexpensive digital pocket camera balanced on a rock, using the camera’s timer. We had just come from a shelter above Zermatt, Switzerland and crested a hill when this scene came into view. The date was September 10, 2001. We had no communication with the outside world. There were no phones, no computers, no mail service until we were in Vernaza, Italy the next afternoon. Where were you on 9/11?

Get the Book at Amazon

HOW I CAME TO WRITE THIS BOOK

My name is Chuck Thompson. I am retired, have been married 45 years, and am the father of 3 wonderful children. I am a grandfather to one special grandson – Damien.
The reason for writing this book began with a drastic health change. I had been a poster child of good health all of my life. I was active and full of energy. I probably ate a little too much chocolate or chips, but my diet was pretty good.
One morning in April 2015, I experienced a tingling on my left side. After a quick trip to the University of Utah Hospital to check my heart I was released as very healthy. A month later I was in Minnesota visiting my 93-year-old father and had a seizure in the hotel room. My sister, Judy, called a friend and Judy’s husband, Dennis, drove me to Memorial hospital which specializes in Nero medical issues. They did a CT scan and finally a MRI. The doctor came in with a serious look on her face.
“Mr. Thompson, I believe we found your problem, you have two brain tumors.”
A neurosurgeon came in and said he would do a biopsy.
“Why the heck not?” I responded.
He did his best to prepare me for the procedure. Until then I thought an electric drill and small sample would do the trick. Little did I know. I called a good friend who is a radiologist in Salt Lake City. He said when you come home bring your scans. Jeanne had to accompany me home on the plane the next day. My thinking was semi clear; I drove, but I couldn’t figure out simple equations like counting change. 

MOLE HILLS AND MOUNTAINS

Sunday evening, a couple of days after my diagnosis and with scans in hand, Jeanne and I went to the doctor’s home and while sitting in his dining room listened to his evaluation. It was quiet, as the Doctor manipulated his computer.
“Chuck this is bad, really bad,” he said. “You will die from this. In fact, this is what killed another friend of ours about a year ago.”
I was stunned, and felt like I had a death sentence pronounced upon me. Here was a good friend, an expert, telling me I now had a death sentence. About all I could think to say was, “Any other good news Doc?”
There was no good news but there were many hugs and tears that evening.
I had been a Mormon bishop at the Utah State Prison for 5 years and was over maximum security. Some of the men had death sentences, some would be in prison for life. Now I knew what it felt like to get a death sentence!
My doctor friend made a few phone calls and two days later I was sitting in the waiting room of the neurosurgeon who would do my biopsy. He was fantastic and very thorough. He explained what the biopsy operation would be like. It was way more complicated than I ever imagined. It would involve 4 hours of surgery and another 4 hours to analyze the tumor.
I awoke right away (apparently, I sat up during the surgery and ranted about a past scout camp; it shocked everyone in the operating room) and once semi-conscious I found myself in a room with many machines, lights, and buzzers. I was in intensive care with a nurse 100% of the time. I saw myself in the mirror with a new look. One side of my head was shaved and 16 staples held a circular part of my skull about the size of a golf ball in place. I had no pain, but quickly found out I was in for no rest for the next few days. My one tumor (probably the one causing the seizures) had been removed and the other one was inoperable. Both were stage 4 and would require chemo and radiation.
The next week I escaped with Jeanne to the parking lot to view fireworks in the valley. The Huntsman Center is about 1,000 feet above the valley. We loved it until several nurses came for us to get me back to my room. I came home three days later looking like Frankenstein; everyone was interested in my staples.
In fact, the next day a good friend and I met with our attorney general and chief of staff to discuss transitioning inmates. The meeting went well and I imagine both of them wondered what I had been up to. I said nothing; no reason to pull the “cancer card”.
My new mountain was not a “mole hill”, but a big chunk of rock. I had decisions to make. I have climbed many mountains, but this one was going to take spiritual strength to conquer.



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