Greg in his later years, outside our home. He had trouble
standing on our uneven ground long enough for me to
take the picture of him. This was due mostly to his ankle
I want people to know what physical maladies Greg had and endured. Maybe then they can appreciate how well he coped with constant pain, and rarely complained.

Shattered Ankle in a Hazing Incident

When Greg pledged his fraternity in college, there was an incident that was undoubtedly considered hazing and yes, he got injured.

In short, he fell off a 40-foot cliff. It shattered his ankle. His foot was just sort of hanging off his leg.

This occurred in the 1960s so bone screws and other technology were simply not available. The doctor wanted to amputate at the knee. Greg wouldn't let him.

The doctor was mad at him. Greg insisted this is why he wouldn't give him anything for the pain. He kind of pushed Greg's ankle back together and he was in a cast for six months, while still at college.

Greg was able to walk but he had ankle, sometimes extreme ankle pain, for the rest of his life.

Was This Injury the Origin of His Cancer?
Greg as a young boy.

Greg was driving in a rural area of Indiana when he was about 20 years old. He was driving a VW Bug. He was hit by a young male driver in a sports car who was doing 70 miles per hour. Greg did nothing wrong.

This ruptured his colon. He spent a couple of weeks basically flat on his back while the rupture healed. The doctor wanted it to heal without surgery.

Greg paid the price for it then and later. He always had colon problems and had to resort to all sorts of things in order to eliminate properly. It was a constant battle.

I know his cancer cannot be definitely blamed on this incident, but cancer is opportunistic. It exploits weaknesses and the area where it ruptured in his youth would have been a weakness in his colon.

We will never know, but I think the evidence suggests it.

Knee Injury and Bungled Knee Surgery

The ankle injury was on his right leg, the knee injury occurred to his left.

The knee injury was an on-the-job injury from chasing a perp through a muddy, remote area in Kansas and Missouri during Greg's law enforcement days.

It tore Greg's meniscus in the left knee. Workmen's Comp usually goes for the cheapest doctor, not the best and this is what happened.

Greg's surgery was bungled. It made his knee worse, not
Greg doing physical therapy after his knee injury.
better. Workmen's Comp eventually provided Greg with another doctor who couldn't do anything for him other than physical therapy.

It wasn't just Greg's surgery that was bungled. They don't even do this kind of surgery anymore because it doesn't help and generally makes things worse. Most other doctors had stopped at the time Greg's injury occurred.

This was another source of disability and constant pain for Greg. It effectively ended his law enforcement career.

Advanced Osteoarthritis at the Time of Diagnosis

Greg thought that he had some sort of kidney malady because he had pain throughout his kidney area. It turned out to be advanced osteoarthritis.
Greg in about 2004.

He had been sleeping in a recliner off and off for several years. He tried sleeping in the bed but couldn't handle the pain. We had a variety of wedges to help him.

Usually, his nights would consist of constant periods of pain and then wakefulness where he had to change wedges. Finally, he just had to sleep in a recliner all the time.

Obviously, this was hard on him. But this was his reality for about ten years.

Often, after watching a movie or some other program, I'd remark, "I think we need to go to bed." Greg would counter with, "I am in bed. You need to go to bed."

Advanced Glaucoma at the Time of Diagnosis

Greg felt his glasses prescription hadn't been right in years. He was very frustrated about it. No one seemed to be able to configure his glasses to his satisfaction.

Being so exact and detailed in everything he did, the glasses problem was a constant annoyance to him.

Finally, he was diagnosed with glaucoma, already advanced. This limited him and us for years. We stopped going anywhere at night. He limited himself.
Greg in about 1982.

It was sometime later when the eye doctor told him he simply shouldn't drive at night. Always cautious and careful, Greg was already a step ahead of the doctor. He hadn't been driving at night for some time before the doctor's edict.

In fact, I started driving too, from the passenger seat. Instead of leaning back, relaxing and letting a master drive like I had earlier in our marriage, I had to make certain he could see things.

I would query him or order him to make a move if I thought I had to. I had a good sense of what his visual limitations were.

In fact, there was a strange time when cloud cover would produce certain conditions that were dangerous for Greg. I'm certain law enforcement would consider it perfect visibility -- during the day and everything. However, I learned to identify it and I helped Greg cope with it. It didn't happen often.

Geg at about the time period between his two cancers. Just walking
out into our yard for me to take this picture was painful for him.
Cancer and Its Recurrence

One of the things I noticed about Greg before he ever got his first cancer diagnosis was that he looked jaundiced. This changed completely after his cancer surgery. His face especially was back to a healthy pink.

I kept a close eye on him but he never jaundiced again, even when cancer had spread throughout his body the second time.

Greg decided against getting chemotherapy. Everyone he knew who had gone through it wished they hadn't. His research illuminated the fact that the prognosis wasn't appreciably better for him with or without the chemo.

After the recurrence, he also decided against chemo, largely for the same reasons. This wasn't just his own decision. This was, and is, my view as well. I'll never get chemo either if I'm ever diagnosed with cancer.

Obviously, Greg had various other physical limitations and problems, but these were the big life-altering ones.

He endured much ...

Next: Part 12: Tribute to My Husband Greg Cook - His Death and His Success

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