Friday, March 28, 2014

My Last Strokey Update

Yesterday I had an appointment with my neurologist, which consisted of him taking 45 seconds to perform a perfunctory neurological examination and a 10 minute chat, which, yes, did have something to do with my health but mostly concerned itself with our respective plans for Passover. After the conversational Afikomen was recovered and paid for*, he suggested tactfully that I no longer needed his services. So it's official: I am no longer under the care of a neurologist. Woo hoo! So I thought I'd just wrap up the whole stroke thing with a final update about my cerebrovascular health and put it lock stock and barrel where it belongs, in the rear-view mirror.

The main reason why I had the stroke - runaway hypertension - is well-controlled. My diabetes is similarly well-managed. The pain in my left hip has lessened as my weight goes down and the weather turns warmer.

The impact the stroke has had on my life physically is minimal. I have the odd moment where I lose my balance; I would not wish to try my luck on the balance beam or a rope ladder. I have some very small fine-muscle control issues in my left hand. My penmanship has changed; it's not messier than it was before (I doubt that's even possible) but it is different. I can still play the guitar but my repertoire is restricted to campfire singalongs and other fare that doesn't require fingerpicking, soloing, or, you know, talent.

But that's it. In so many ways it's like the stroke never happened. I can honestly say my recovery has been 99% comprehensive. And I'm pleased with that, bet your ass I am.

Anyway, there you go. Thanks for listening. Go see a doctor if you haven't recently.
*If you're a Jew, that's pretty funny, right there.

Friday, March 21, 2014

A Good Memory

Editor's Note: I posted this as my status on the Eff Bee, and people seemed to like it, so I thought I'd bring it over here.

Because, if you know anything about me, you know that I can't just post a picture without telling a story:

In 2004 when the Red Sox won the World Series, I got it in my head that I needed to be at the park on Opening Day 2005 to see them get their rings and raise the banner. This was a problem as ticket prices, never exactly low, were ridiculously, stupidly high. The finance committee would never approve an outlay of that kind, so I was left to find an alternate plan.

"I know," I thought to myself. "I'll just win this upcoming poker tournament, and the money will flow through my hands like water, and with it I shall purchase two of the hottest tickets in town."

Well, they say the good Lord protects children and fools, and I guess that happened here because that's exactly how it went down. And for $1200, I was given the privilege of purchasing two of, arguably, the worst seats in the house - box 92, row UU, seats 11 and 12. If you know Fenway Park, you know that these seats, rather than facing home plate like baseball seats are suposed to, instead face the center field wall, making you keep your head turned left for three solid hours. But I didn't care; I was in.

Naturally I was beset with friends - real and otherwise - looking for an invitation to be my companion for the day. But I knew pretty much right away whom I was going to invite. The man who gave me my love of baseball in the first place: my father.

As April 11ths go around these parts, it was sunny and warmer than usual. For a miracle we found a place to park and made it in time to watch the ring ceremony and the raising of the World Series banner. That was the day that the Fenway crowd gave Mariano Rivera that sarcastic cheer as a thanks for blowing two saves in the ALCS. As an extra added bonus the Red Sox stomped the Yankees 8-1 that day. It was as close to a perfect day as it gets. It remains one of my life's sweetest memories. Similarly this picture, taken by some corporate yahoo who kept checking his phone and leaving for two innings at a time to buy souvenirs, is one of my most prized possessions.

Thanks for coming with me, Dad.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Two Things That Happened Twenty Years Ago Today

  1. Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play.
  2. I got married.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Some news

I wish I could bring you a story of triumph against overwhelming odds, but Josie's godson and nephew Joseph lost his battle on February 27th. Joe was 26.

I was asked to keep this message short but I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Joe's last thoughts, at the very end, were of others and not himself. His final words to his loved ones were "At the end of this quest, don't lose your righteousness."

Rest in peace, Joseph.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

A Change of Mind

I made mention of this on the Eff Bee, so I'll apologize in advance for those who have seen the germ of this post as a status a few days ago, but I thought I'd bring it here and discuss it in a bit more depth, because God knows, if there's a human being alive who is more in love with the sound of his own voice than I, I have yet to meet or even hear of him.

I have had a bit of a change of heart regarding something pretty fundamental. Long-time readers to this little chucklefest will have heard me lamenting the ticking clock, and my inexorable descent into old age, many more times than once. From the first creak of the knee, the first blurry line of text, I have complained about it, loudly and often.

But that's all done, I suspect. Because, quite suddenly and unexpectedly, I have had what alcoholics refer to as a moment of clarity.

I'm all done bitching about getting old. Because I've stumbled upon a great truth that had evaded me all my life: The opposite of old is not young. The opposite of old is DEAD. Not only is there nothing wrong with getting old, it's something that one should aspire to.

This epiphany was particularly well-timed.

I recently went to my doctor to check in with him, to get some blood drawn, and to have him cup my testicles - he's got such a gentle touch, after all. What I discovered was that while my weight was down, and my blood pressure was being well-managed, but my blood sugar was up, my cholesterol was up, and I got a benign talking-to about things, and how they could be made better. And everything just kind of clicked.

I have a difficult time with statins - they make my legs stiff and tired, and Ol' Strokey doesn't need any more help making his legs feel bad. So I had, in the past, stopped taking them. Now, I started a much slower process of acclimating my body to them, taking a half-pill every other day, then a half-pill two days out of three. I'm currently up to a half-pill every day, and I hope to titrate my dosage up to a full pill every day soon.

I've also taken a more serious approach to controlling my diabetes. Heretofore I had considered laying off the Boston Creme donuts to be the alpha and the omega of diabetes control. Now, though I can always do more, I'm staying away from the worst things for me: processed flour, white rice, anything that has a high glycemic index.

I'm doing all these things, and more, because I've come to realize something, a completely self-evident truth that a few weeks ago would have been a preposterous thought:

I would very much like to be old.

Thanks for listening. Go see a doctor if you haven't recently.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

A Favor Granted

I doubt this will come as a galloping shock to any of you but there are few people in the world that mean more to me than my pal Josie. Time and time again she has proven her worth as a human being in ways large and small. She took time off of work to stand by my side at my dad's funeral. She came to see me at the hospital in the darkest days of the stroke, when they didn't yet know whether I was going to live or die. She rubbed coffee on my lips, for Christ's sake. For being such a tiny girl she's got a gigantic heart, and it amazes me.

And now she's asking a favor.

Her godson, nephew Joseph, whom last I saw as he was taking his first steps towards adolescence - a kid with an ever-present smile and a smudge of dirt on his upper lip that was desperately trying to be a mustache - is in a fix at present. He's going to need everything the medical world can muster up to get him through this. And Josie and her sister Cricket went down to Florida to stand by HIS side, because that's what people with gigantic hearts do.

The favor is twofold: she wants people to reprint her blog entry (yes, there's a new post: Garbo speaks!), and she's asking people to donate to her nephew's medical expenses, as he has no insurance. Make no mistake about it: her pain is my pain. So I'm going to ask the same favor of those few people who know me and who might not know Josie: please repost her portion of this post. Spread the word. Joseph needs help - YOUR help. Listen to what she has to say, and do what you can. You'd be doing ME a favor as well as her.

Although I've always loved blogging, I wish to God I wasn't blogging today. I am because this is so very very important to me.

Long time readers of mine know my brother died many years ago. Well this post is about his son, my godson Joseph.

With the exception of Evan, I cannot think of another boy I love more. We were sooo very close when he was small, both before and after my brother's death. He's now a caring, strong man who hasn't had the easiest life and now lives in Florida.

Last week, work be damned, I bought two airline tickets to Florida, booked a seedy (kinda) hotel room, and my sister and I high-tailed to Orlando to visit him.


He has Stage 4 cancer; a very very rare form. They believe it started in his kidney and has now spread to his lung, lymph nodes, bones and bladder, I think. Have I mentioned he's only 26 years old, never smoked, doesn't party or drink? Joseph's idea of partying is ComiCon.

He'd been feeling sick for a while but didn't go to the doctor at first because he didn't (and doesn't) have health insurance. When he finally did, they told him he had tumors and sent him home with a prescription for anitbiotics. (NEVER GET SICK WITHOUT HEALTH INSURANCE!)

He was in too much pain so returned to the hospital and was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer and again sent home. Again, the constant nausea and pain couldn't be controlled at home so he returned to the hospital.

At that point the best option for him was to go to the Moffitt Center at the University of Florida to get into a clinical trial, but they wouldn't accept anyone who had chemo, so he went untreated for quite a while, hoping to get into the clinical trial.

While my sister and I were visiting him, it was decided he was too ill to travel to the Moffitt Center anyway and the red tape and bull shit to get him in was just ridiculous. So now the wait began for the chemotherapy.

And wait he did.

And wait.

Every day I saw him, his stomache seemed to grow because of the tumors. It surely wasn't because of the hospital food he kept throwing up. We'd try to bring him things we knew he liked to entice him into eating. As sick as he is, he'd still keep trying to eat though it was apparent he didn't want to. The only thing he asked for was Slurpees....Coke and Mountain Dew Slurpees from 7-Eleven.

Can you believe, I'd never gotten a Slurpee before IN MY LIFE and didn't know how to work the machine? Also, I didn't know if the foamy stuff coming out was how it was supposed to work. So I tried another flavor just to see the consistency. So I have cups of Slurpee lined up on the counter in this skeezy part of Florida, and in walks a very tall erm...hooker. Okay, I'm assuming about her profession. And I'm using "her" lightly. According to my sister, she was really a he. And she determined that while waiting for me in the car. I must admit, I wasn't looking at "her" face.

It was weird because here I was with cups lined up half filled with different SLURPEE flavors and the clerks were ignoring me, letting me do my thang, but the second the he/she hooker came in, they stuck by her side till her purchase was made and escorted her out the door. Hmphf. I wouldn't have minded a little Slurpee assistance!

Shit, I got off track.

This post isn't about hookers (although I saw a few others worthy of note) but about dear, sweet, sick nephew Joseph.

He needs your help. I NEED YOUR HELP.

His mom, Rose, has been his advocate and by his side every step of the way. She's a single mother struggling to make ends meet as a social worker and it's impossible to deal with all the costs associated with not having health insurance and being gravely ill. Prescriptions alone are a killer.

Rose's friend set up an online foundation for Joe, called HELP JOE WIN HIS BATTLE.

He set it up on

Please go there and make any donation you can. I realize I may not have hardly any readers anymore, but if I've ever entertained you, pissed you off (lord knows I must've done that) please, please, please do this for me. No amount is too small. Drop a few bucks for my nephew and believe me when I say, your money couldn't be going to a better place.

Oh and when you do, mention that Auntie Josie sent you so he knows who the heck you are.

I'm not done asking for favor yet. Yeah, that effing biatch Very Josie hasn't posted in over a year and here she is asking for favors. It's true.

If you believe in a higher power like Lightning, please say a prayer for Joe and send some positive energy his way.

Lastly, Tony, Lightning, Rob, Poker Grump, anyone with a blog, if you could please re-post this, it would mean very much to me.

I love you all for helping me and Joseph in this time of need.


Very Josie

a/k/a Auntie Josie

PS What's a post without a little gambling talk?

2 things to worthy of note: I was able to pay for all the expenses associated with the trip to see Joseph because I came in first place in both of my football leagues! Yep, that's right baby! First in the "Anyone Wins But Josie" league that I've played in for 5 years. I've come in first in 4 of those 5 years, hence the name of the league. I also joined a friends league for the first time this year. In it you have to cover the spread, which is not my comfort zone but I did it! Out of 75 playas, I came in first! In the spread league, 1st place for the year got me a prize of just over 1K but the fucker hasn't paid up yet. And has stopped returning my emails. Imma fuck him up.

Also, I play in a local poker league. We play about once a month and the big finale is at the super bowl, so we play all year to see who will win first place, a big money prize but also, the highly coveted personalized Playa's Club shirt personalized with the champion's name on it. I was going back and forth, between first and second place for the past couple of months, with the last game of the year being scheduled at the same time as my last minute trip to see Joseph. If you know me, you know I love shit like a winner's shirt, but instead I didn't give it a second thought. Second place is where I wound up but there's always next year. I love the guy who won first place in my absence but he's lucky I wasn't around!

Okay, do it! Now! PLEASE. Donate HERE.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Wherein Your Humble Servant Addresses "The Mystery of the Cold Hands"

Jesus Gary! What the hell is WRONG with you? You own six pairs of good winter gloves and you've lost every one of them! Why can you not hold on to a pair of gloves from one winter to the next?

This is not rocket science: WHEN YOU TAKE OFF YOUR GLOVES, PUT THEM IN THE POCKETS OF THE JACKET YOU'RE WEARING! You are 45 years old. Why is it that 6-year-olds have mastered this skill and you have not?

And it's not like this is new behavior for you.  When you were a kid your mother had to tie a piece of yarn to your gloves and thread them through the sleeves of your Mighty Mac. Even then you lost them with regularity! I swear to God, you'd lose your pecker if it weren't attached to you!

Find your gloves. Keep them in your pockets. Because the next time we have to have this conversation, I'll slap you. With a VERY cold hand.