Thursday, November 13, 2014

Once Bitten Twice Shy

There was a Mott of Hoople-n'  and hollerin' Wednesday night (11/12) at the Sheldon Concert Hall.  We saw Ian Hunter and the Rant Band.  Ian had been a long time favorite since his time as leader of Mott the Hoople.  Just a few years ago I found that he had been recording again.  I started collecting his new stuff: Rant, Shrunken Heads, Man Overboard and then in 2012 - When I'm President.  Several songs on that album really impressed with me.

Of course I had to get tickets for the show when I heard he was coming to town.  Thank goodness I did.  While he played songs from his early years, this was NOT a nostalgia tour.  The man can still write, sing, play and ROCK!  At 75, he is going strong.

He did old favorites:

  Once Bitten Twice Shy, All the Way From Memphis

and New favorites:

  Just The Way You Look Tonight, When I'm President

and encored with

  All The Young Dudes

He left me with a BIG smile on my face and tears on my cheeks.  All for $35 a seat.

The show was AWESOME!!  You know if Dottie's comment on Facebook was, "Wow," it had to be amazing

Check out his most recent CD: When I'm President.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Story Of My Life

Dot and I went to see Social Distortion last Thursday at The Pageant.  They released their 1st album back in 1983, but I don't think I knew much about them until at least 10 years after that.  Checking my iTunes Library, I think I first got some of their stuff from Napster back in 2000.  "Ball and Chain" and "Bad Luck" were "acquired" that year.  I bought my 1st CD of theirs in 2003.

Social D (as the kids call them) are led by Mike Ness. He is their lead singer and main song writer, who has suffered through heroin addiction and "self-consciously rebellious behavior" as puts it.  Some of their songs really struck a "note" with me, both musically and lyrically.  Many paint images of a rough life, and the driving music rails against the hard times.    When I heard they were coming to town, I jumped at the tickets.  After the winter I had, I could use a little "railing."

And I wasn't disappointed.  And the crowd was digging it too.  And the crowd was very colorful too: lots of tatts.  Luckily, as we entered The Pageant we received a complimentary tattoo on the back of our hand.  Cool!  But, did that help us fit in?  After a while, I noticed that every one was fairly young.  If I wasn't the oldest person there, I only missed it by this much (in my best Maxwell Smart voice).

Mike Ness

The highlight of the night was one of my favorite songs, "The Story of My Life."  The kid sitting next to me must have noticed I was really enjoying it, and he tried to get me to sing along, which I did.  When Dottie told me the song reminded her of the the theme song to "Friends," it made me cringe in disgust.  An emotion very fitting to many of the songs Social D did.

Check out the link to the song…

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Tomatillos, The Misunderstood Fruit


Let's talk about this Sassy Fruit.  We all know about tomatoes.  I had not known about Tomatillos in my early years (whilst I was sleeping), but I have grown to appreciate these tart babies in my later year.  I am a big fan of Mexican Cuisine even though I cannot handle the heat that many of the dishes dish out.  I am a wimp!

Again, thanks to my old job, I was able to to a couple towns where I had ample opportunities to try mexican & southwest cuisine: San Antonio and Los Cruces.  I really enjoyed the food on these trips.  My particular favorites included moles and mild green chili dishes.  I became aware of the Verde sauces that were, in some cases, milder than the Rojo sauces.  Tomatillos were often a major ingredient in these Verde sauces and salsas.

In the spring of 2013 I came across a Tomatillo plant while looking for things to stick in the garden.  That plant went crazy last summer and yielded a bunch of fruit.  I loved the sauces I was able to make with these.

This past spring I was very happy to find another Tomatillo plant to add to the Veggie Garden.  Unfortunately this plant was a big disappointment: No Fruit!  The plant grew like crazy and had plenty of flowers but nothin' was happening (fertilization-wise).  My Zucchini plant was also very stubborn in this way.  I had researched and was able to "manually" fertilize that plant.  It was fun for somebody.  As for the tomatillo, I just left it be.

Finally, on July 19th one tomatillo appeared.

And now, about 7 weeks later, there are over 20 tomatillos.

What gives?

Whilst I was preparing for this blaug entry, I came across this weird characteristic of the plant.  I quote from Wikipedia here, "Tomatillo plants are highly self-incompatible."  Huh?  Does that mean they can't stand the sight of themselves?  Self loathing?

Self-Incompatability in plants apparently means there is a mechanism that prevents "self-fertilization."  When I first read that, It gave me the shivers!  What would that be like for humans? GEEZ!

Anyway, I wanted to share this recipe...

My most recent use of this Fun Fruit is Tomatillo and Sweet Potato Soup.  It sounded very interesting when I heard about it so I found a couple recipes online and came up with my own version.  It was GREAT!  Even Dottie thought so.  No, Really.

Tomatillo and Sweet Potato Soup

7 tomatillos, husked and halved
5 large cloves garlic
6 large cherry tomatoes, halved
3/4 yellow onion, chopped
2  medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1" cubes
2 C vegetable broth
2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 C water (depending on how thick you want soup)
salt & pepper (to taste)
smoked paprika
1/4 bunch cilantro, chopped, for garnish

1. In a large roasting pan, combine the tomatillos, garlic, and tomatoes and drizzle with about 2 T of EVOO. Then roast in the oven at 450° for about 35 minutes.

2. While those are roasting, peel and chop up the sweet potatoes. Put the 3C broth in a large pot, and then boil the sweet potatoes in the broth for about 45 minutes.

3. As your sweet potatoes and tomatillos are cooking, sauté onion in a little bit of EVOO for about 5 minutes or until golden.

5. Once the tomatillos, garlic, and tomatoes are done, quickly blend in a blender or food processor.  I added liquid from potatoes.

6. Add the blended tomatillo mixture and the sautéd onion into the pot with the sweet potatoes, and and season with spices, salt and pepper. Let mixture simmer for about ten minutes, then mash up the sweet potato in the pot with a potato masher. At this point you can add more water if you'd like a thinner consistency. Additionally, if you'd like a smoother consistency you can blend everything with an immersion blender or transfer everything to a regular blender. I used an immersion blender.

This link is to the recipe that I drew most of mine from:

If you are interested in other verde sauces that I mentioned let me know.

And I can't resist sharing a Lucy picture:

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Land Down Under, Part 1: Getting there is half the fun.

Travel entry from a while back: August 2009

I was lucky enough to be asked to accompany a group from work to visit Australia to meet with our partners Down Under.  WOW!  What an opportunity.  Of course I HAD to have Dottie join me and we HAD to stay an extra week or so.  So, we booked our flights to Melbourne and made our in country plans, including in-country flights and hotels.

But, wait…not so fast.  I found that, after sharing with my supervisors this plan to spend extra time "in country," it would NOT be that easy.  I heard disturbing rumblings through the grapevine.  And then I got a call from my boss's boss's boss who said that I would NOT be going.  It had to do with "how it looked."  Unfortunately for me/us the head of our agency had some travel scrutinized.  Was the travel really necessary?  Therefore, someone like me, who was ASKED to go because I could bring some pertinent info to share, would be questioned for staying longer than my work required.  Go figure.

I decided, F that, I'm going anyway, on my dollar. 

Luckily for me (again), management relented and decided my going to Australia was NOT a boondoggle.  Woo Hoo.  I saved a few K that way.

Here we go...

Melbourne: flight from hell.  It took forever.  The LA to Aukland, NZ leg was the longest AND we sat next to a woman who coughed the whole way.  That bit us in the ass later.  After that LONG flight we had a 7 hour layover in Aukland because of plane problems.  I had plenty of time to wander the terminal taking snaps of planes and people from all over the WORLD.
Hey.  Who made that MAP?

 Check out the T-Shirt of the guy in the bar (upper Lefthand corner).
So, we finally get to Melbourne… 

...and the first thing they do is throw my wife in jail.

How can I explain this to my U.S. and Australian government coworkers?

Well, I guess they will understand.

More to follow.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Vegan Anniversary ( Carnivores beware )

2 years ago I made a "slight" change to my diet.  After decades of having MEAT at LEAST twice a day I thought I should try a VEGAN diet.  I have great friends that are Vegan.  They choose this lifestyle for ethical reasons.  I chose to try it for health.  I inherited Coronary Artery Disease and have 3 stents.  I thought it would be nice to stop at 3.

I had heard of The China Study and the possibility of reversing the disease (plaque buildup).  2 years ago a friend posted a link on Facebook to a video presentation by Dr. Michael Gregor:  (Thanks a lot Nancy).  Dottie played the video on her iPad while I was working at the computer.  It went on and on about how ingesting animal products affected the human body.  Plaque buildup was one of the effects ( for people with Coronary Artery Disease ).  This video ruined, er, changed my life.  Thanks a lot Nancy.

Since I was struggling with my cholesterol and on the highest dose of Lipitor, I thought it would be a good idea to try the diet. Luckily, I liked to cook and had friends with good cookbooks.  I started the change, eliminating meat, dairy and eggs from my diet.  I found out that you did not need animal products to make your meals taste good.  You could have great tasting food with a Plant Based Diet.  Who knew?

Actually, lots of people knew.  Suffice it to say, I am, and plan to stay 80+% vegan.  Yes, I have my cheats.  They consist mostly of veggie pizza and fish.  I do have meat a few times a year.  These cheats help me stay vegan most of the time.  One thing that puzzles me is that White Castle commercials get to me.  Damn them Sliders!

Anyway, the diet has worked wonders of my health.  I was able to cut my Lipitor dose in half and my most recent stress test results were "normal!"

I'm not trying to preach, just trying to share.  I will add some nice recipes that I tried and links to other blogs if you are interested. 

This blaug will also contain a lot of Music, Travel and Photos.

A Vegan's Nightmare appeared at the grocery checkout right behind me.

Wonderful breakfast burrito available at Target and some Schnucks.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

I Don't Need No Doctor

No.  I am not addicted to blauging.  Although, I gotta say there is something about having people pay attention to you.  Of course, more recently people were concerned about my health.  That kinda gave me a captive audience.  Unfortunately it was under tough circumstances.

Now, I will try to branch out: Music, Travel, Food (Vegan), Photography.  Sorry Politics and Religion. I will try to refrain.

I'm paying $10 a year for the Domain Name.  Might as well use it.


Steve Marriott, Humble Pie.  These guys really ROCKED me. 

"I Don't Need No Doctor" exemplified that experience for me.  My High School / College best friend just reminded me of that song.

Thanks, JT. 

I bought their albums "Rockin' the Fillmore" and "Smokin'" that I still need to convert (vinyl to digital).  Great albums.

I found this comment on one of the YouTube pages

3 months ago

It is a crime that Steve Marriott isn't a rock god in America.  He should be mentioned in the same breath as The Beatles, The Stones, Zeppelin, and The Who.  He's the most powerful blues rock vocalist ever !!!!  Look for "I'm Ready Rockin the Filmore" and the vocal intro is insane !!  Very, very few singers could pull off what Steve does at the intro of that song.  Actually, no one could pull it off with as much soul or blues.  No one, not Plant, Mercury... maybe Rodgers could come close; Noddy Holder of Slade could come close, as he has done a similar thing; but no one else.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Busload of Faith

Now that I am eating real food, I think the recovery is getting to the point of being a little boring.  With my new, smaller stomach, there are some lessons that I have to learn. I have to figure out what NOT to eat and how much to NOT eat.  I've already had a couple of painful lessons that no one really wants to hear about, and I don't blame you.

I'm also working on getting my strength and stamina back.  It has been coming along slowly but surely.  None of this stops me from complaining that it does not come fast enough.  That is when I know I am being ungrateful for all the work and support I have been honored to receive.

My next appointment with the surgeon and the oncologist is not until June.  Therefore, I am closing the doors on the "Waiting Rooms."  I'd like to wrap up this section of the blaug giving my heartfelt thanks to all the Doctors, Nurses, Technicians, Assistants, Aides, Volunteers, Family and Friends that have helped Dottie and me make it through this harrowing time.  It has been one hell of a ride.

What next?  We have a trip scheduled for Fort Pickens (Gulf Shore) for early May.  Well deserved Beach Time!  Can't wait.

                    Dinner with friends at Peg Leg Pete's, Pensacola Beach

Let us not forget...

Apropos song to sign off with…
  in honor of Lou Reed who passed away last year and…
      making it through life's trials,
 "Busload of Faith."

Sunday, March 16, 2014

And the Doctor said...

We went to see the surgeon last week for the follow-up to the surgery.  His waiting room was the one that inspired the heading for this Blaug.  It is usually well stocked and always seems to have at least one talkative person.  It did not disappoint, in that it was somewhat annoying.

Anyway, we were hoping he would say it was time to pull the tube (J-tube, that is).  We were called in and led to an exam room.  While we were waiting for him, we came up with different scenarios on what he would say.  He showed up fairly quickly. We looked towards him, and the Doctor said, "No more monkeys jumping on the bed."  Sorry, I couldn't resist.  That is one of Lucy's favorite songs.

He pulled the tube.  It was quick and fairly painless.  He had seen the swallow test results and said I had NO dietary restrictions.  The one curious thing he did was to ask me to demonstrate how I tucked my chin while swallowing.  It was the least I could do for him.  I lowered my head and swallowed.   He also said that as soon as I was off the Vicodin, I could drive.

When Dottie and I left the office, we looked at each other, smiled and high fived.  Another step (big one) towards recovery.

Unfortunately, there are plenty who are far from recovery.  My niece and her husband have a son, Jack, with Cystic Fibrosis (CF).  This is a devastating disease that they struggle with every day.  I ask my friends to consider donating to Jack. Check out this link that talks about the upcoming "Great Strides" walk in St. Charles and has a picture of Jack.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Damned If You Do...

After 2 weeks of taking various foods by mouth, I was given a 2nd chance at the swallow test at MoBap (hospital).  Things had been going okay in practice, but I was definitely concerned what the test revealed.  While sitting in front of an X-ray machine they had me swallow some Barium infused pudding and liquid.  Delicious!  That was just like the 1st test.  This time I also had some graham cracker pieces dipped in the pudding.

The X-rays showed my Epiglottis did not move much.  When swallowing, the epiglottis normally folds down to help prevent food from going into the trachea.  The Speech Therapist administering the test said that my swallowing muscles were now compensating for the "stiff" epiglottis.  That was the good news, however there is still risk of aspiration because of this problem.  I was told I needed to wash solid foods with liquids and also tuck my chin while swallowing.  These 2 things seem to be the key for reducing the risks.

If you ever have a meal with me, and you see me bow my head (over and over), consider it a prayer of thanks to the powers that be, for letting me eat through my oral cavity instead of my Jejunostomy Tube.  It tastes much better that way.

Speculation is that my epiglottis was affected by previous radiation treatments from my Hodgkins disease adventures.  It may have been faulty for quite awhile.  Who knows?  The one thing I have found out is that there is only so much chemo the body can take.  There is also a limit on how much radiation any parts of the body can take AND that radiation can affect those body parts for years to come.  Damned if you do,…

By the way, my last blaug post about anniversaries failed to mention the above referenced Hodgkins radiation treatments.  They ended 25 years ago last month.  I'll drink (and tuck) to that.

Bottom line is that I continue to eat (mostly soft foods) and am reducing my tube feedings in anticipation of the tube removal.  Hopefully that will occur very soon.  Maybe my next post will contain that good news.  Keep your fingers crossed and maybe tuck your chin too.

Song of the week:
  "Take it as it Comes" by J. Roddy Walston & The Business

Nathan turned me on to him recently.  Check out this video from their appearance on the Conan Show.

Also, I can never resist a good pic of Lucy

Monday, March 3, 2014

Happy Anniversary

On this Anniversary of the Esophagectomy that left me stapled, stitched, glued, tubed, sore, confused, scared, anxious, unable to swallow,…

I am grateful for the progress that we have made over these past 4 weeks.  And I do mean WE.  The help and support from the nursing staff, both in the hospital and at home, has been priceless.  Dottie and Nate at home, Ryan, Sarah and Lucy, not to mention (as I often do) all the family and friends that have sent love, prayers and support, which have been instrumental in the healing process.

We're not finished yet, but I can definitely see and feel the progress.  I have been eating more and more, and I've started to decrease the feeding liquid.  Not all the food by mouth has worked.  Last Tuesday, for my Birthday we went to Cold Stone Creamery.  Dot and I thought that would fit the SOFT foods diet.  I ate about half of my bowl.  When I got home, I was in misery - very nauseous.  Dot and Nate ate theirs with no problem.  What gives?  My body was not used to it and reacted.  Luckily, I recovered fairly quickly.  I did NOT end up taking a trip to Cold Stone Crematorium.

My next mishap was our first dinner out in the 4 weeks.  Friday, we went to Nacho Mammas.  Ryan, Lucy and Nathan joined us.  We had a good time, but at the end of the meal, I was not right.  I think my problem was that I just ate too much.  The food was soft again, but I ended up bloated and felt pretty uncomfortable for a little while.

Other than those hiccups, things are working well.  I have another swallowing test this Thursday.  Next Wednesday, we see the surgeon.  The hope is that by the time we see him, the feeding tube can come out.  But as usual, I get ahead of myself.  Gotta keep workin'.  Gotta keep chewin'.  I have meals to go before I eat (without a tube).

This weeks song(s).

"I've Been Waiting For You"
  recently heard David Bowie's cover of the Neil Young classic.  Love them both.  Listening to them tonight made me think of…

"Waitin' For Some Girl"
  by Ry Cooder.  Awesome song.  Check it out.

and of course these songs make me think of Dottie and our upcoming 40th Anniversary.  Now that is one to celebrate.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

I Ain't Ever Satisfied

Now that real food has been allowed to grace my tongue I would have thought all was good.  It is a slow start, but very positive.  But now, it is like I have to learn how to swallow again.  I am super conscious of how solids and liquids feel in the mouth and throat.  Is it really working? 

The Speech Therapist asked if I wanted to repeat the swallow test that I failed 2 weeks ago.  She could tell I was anxious about it.  She asked last week and I put her off.  This week she asked again.  I realized I should find out how it was working, whatever the outcome,  from the standpoint of the Doctors.  Damn that anxiety.

And then there is the pain from the incisions, the internal remodeling and the feeding tube.  I'm anxious for that all to heal.  I need those pain pills but want to wean off of them.  - Never can be satisfied. -  It is a long hard road but when I get closer to the end, I want to cross that finish line.

Someone needs to smack me and say, "patience, son."

Thanks.  I needed that.

I know this will all work.  And there will be plenty of other challenges too.

It really is priceless having Dottie there.  And all the family and friends too.

Check out Steve Earle doing "I Ain't Ever Satisfied."  Great song.

I caught this pic of a Woodpecker who couldn't fit at the feeder so he had to learn how to eat hanging upside down.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014


The Feeding Tube can be a harsh mistress.  It can be a life saver too.  I have been feeding from it since last Tuesday, my first real nourishment since before the surgery.  While I am grateful for the sustenance, the tube cast a shadow, at least in my head.  Would this be my future?

After we left the hospital we had support form Home Health Care (HHC) which was great, but we wondered who was guiding the recovery of this particular bodily function: getting food into the body.

We saw a Speech Therapist last week who gave me exercises to help with swallowing.  She then waited for the okay from the insurance company for permission to continue.  Yesterday, Dottie started calling the insurance Co., HHCS and the surgeon to try to get some movement to get this rehabilitation going.

Today it came together.  The Speech Therapist got permission and came by.  She said we would do some swallowing and set a bag on the table with my first real food in over 2 weeks.  I was excited.  She opened the bag a pulled out … YOGURT!  I bit my tongue.  I did not tell her how I felt about spoiled/curdled/fermented milk.  She took a spoonful and offered it to me.  I took a bite.  I tasted it.  I swallowed it. It was awesome.  The muscles worked.

The Therapist returns on Friday and we may start soft foods. I know this is just a start, baby steps, but it is very reassuring.  I'm still tethered, but there is some light sneaking in from behind that cloud.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

My Valentine

Now that I have been home a few days, we have gotten into a pattern.  Luckily for me Dottie has embraced pushing my meds and food and keeping track of times and amounts.  She also runs the errands and takes care Gilligan and herself.  If you told her last week she would be doing all that this week she would have laughed at you.  She is amazing.

Besides the meds and feeding, for me the pattern includes naps, exercises, taking vitals, Words with Friends, etc.  I want to add some more projects but my energy level is still pretty low.  I'm the slacker.

We have had a couple of visits from the Home Health Care Nurse who instructed us on the meds and feeding.  We are happy to have her support.  We also had a visit from a Speech Therapist who has given me a number of exercises to help with my swallowing muscles.  She is very positive about overcoming this issue and gives us a lot of hope.  I can't wait to really eat and drink again.  And like a friend of mine just reminded me, "I've been swallowing for 60+ years."  How hard can it be to get going again?

I was trying to think of something else to write (on the light side), and this just happened…

We have been changing my dressing everyday after my shower.  Before putting the bandages on we use some antibiotic cream.  Today I grabbed the tube of cream from the bag we brought home from the hospital…
Luckily I caught it before I applied it.


But I'm mostly lucky to have such a great partner, nurse and Valentine.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Welcome Home…

…Now get to work. 

This morning I had my usual early morning visit from the surgeon, and the surgeon said, "No more monkeys jumping on the bed." 

 It was more like , "Get your ass up and out of here."  Since the modified swallow test was a failure, his work was done.  He requested an ENT doc to visit to help figured out this next step.  Otherwise we were done, dismissed.  I was discharged with my feeding tube intact.  The crazy thing is that back when I said I couldn't swallow I meant things got stuck in my esophagus.  Now something happened to the muscles behind and immediately under my tongue.  They stopped working, allowing foods to go down the wrong way.  How nuts is that?  And nobody knows how this happened.

So, they sent me home.  The plan is for a nurse to provide home care along with a Speech therapist to help with the swallowing exercises. How long will this take?  No one knows

As one might imagine, we are very frustrated.

All I can say is that I am determined to test drive this new esophagus.  It may take a while but… As one crazy SOB said, "But I tried, didn't I? Goddamnit, at least I did that."

Here I am at my dinner table.

Watch out if anyone ever tells you, "no eating or drinking after midnight."

Monday, February 10, 2014

Modified swallow test

Just a quick update. Today, George(Mike) had a modified swallow test with a speech consultation.  Unfortunately, he still had difficulties with aspiration when he swallowed.  For some reason, the swallow muscles are not working like they should to push things down his esophagus.  The staff are not sure why this is. It is no where near the new attachment site.  He has been given some swallowing exercises to hopefully get these muscles stronger and in working order.  The problem is this may take some time, possibly weeks.  Meanwhile, he's otherwise recovered well from the surgery.  All the multiple tubes are out except for his feeding tube & IV, which go directly into his upper intestines, which is still his only source of nutrition and hydration.  He's walking laps 3-4 times a day around the floor. He looks really good, but feels extremely frustrated.   Ultimately, it will be up to the surgeon as to when to discharge him, and we've not talked with him since having the test.  I can't imagine they will want to keep him for weeks, but also, I can't imagine them sending him home with a feeding tube.
Just know, George is diligently doing the swallow exercises, and if anyone has the determination and grit to get those muscles in shape, it is him.
He has his iPad and iPhone, so if you want to email/text him, you can.  Before you visit, you may want to check and make sure they haven't sent him home.  You never know.
Thanks for all the support!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Where am I?

Hello everyone, I'm having a great time here at MoBap flats all-inclusive. The weather is good ( better than outside. )  The operation here went as well as can be expected.  And we just got news Friday that the pathology reports showed NO cancer. That is awesome!  Huge!!
                           Flipping off Esophageal Cancer

Next stop is the ICU.  Great service there too. Even the food is fantastic. The ice chips have an excellent sauce.  The tubal plastics are amazing.   My main problem while there was sleeping.  It was a bit odd .  I could fall asleep quickly but woke up every 45 min. Unfortunately every time I woke from a dream I could not tell where I was ( very disorienting ).  Real life was the dream.  It took a few minutes before I knew where I was.  I thought the surgery had not happened yet. How could I be at MoBap??

Two days later I was in a regular room.  Same great food (nada) .  I still fell asleep easy but eventually, waking at MoBap was not disturbing.   However, I was annoying to 2 nurses.  One for moving on my own 2 feet without help. The other was early in the a.m.  I was trying to fix a beeping IV monitor.  I basically dismantled parts, making more work for them. 

 Before they would allow me to eat, I had to pass the Swallow test.   Complications occurred at the beginning.  The swallow tests now requires modification.  We now have to wait until Monday.   Luckily, a nutritional IV is keeping me nourished. 
                        Friends at the trailhead of Metaphor Mountion. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

ICU later

George has been on the accelerated recovery path.  His surgeon brags that he had fewer complications with George's surgery than he has ever had with this type of surgery. He was moved out of ICU on Thurs. and into a regular room.  He's done well there, though, his first night, he got into hot water with the nurses by getting out of bed and trying to take care of things himself, unplugging various things, taking out the battery of some monitor, etc. He got royally chewed out and given a bed alarm.  
Sorry for the delay in posting, but we've been waiting for the swallow test.  We were led to believe it would happen several days ago, only to have the doctor finally tell us it always happens 5 days following surgery.  I guess this surgery is so infrequent, many of the nurses don't know the "usual" protocol.  Anyway, they finally did the test today.  The results were mostly good.   The great news was there was no leakage in the new connection.  The only concern was George seemed to aspirate some of the fluid into his lungs when he swallowed.  This has meant he was delayed in being able to start a liquid diet today.  The speech people want to do a test Monday to see what is causing the problem.  Meanwhile, tonight,  the surgeon let him take a few small sips of water, and he seemed to do OK.  So what all this means, I really don't know, but the surgeon thinks he'll be fine.  The pathology of the tissue that was removed, all came back cancer free.
He got rid of most of the multiple tubes he had coming out of him, so he's more mobile and able to get up and walk around.  
I think he can handle visitors pretty well, so feel free to come by--just keep it fairly short.  I think he is a little sick of me!  He's in room 1266 in the East Pavilion at MoBap.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

A snowy step towards recovery

George did well over night. The nurses already had him up to walk and sit up early this AM. Even with all the drugs, he's in plenty of discomfort.  He has all sorts of tubes coming in & out. His mouth is so parched! He's not allowed to drink even a drop of water. His big treat is that they let him swab his mouth with a small sponge dipped in ice water. He needs it dipped in whiskey!  He's in fairly good spirits & able to make jokes. The next big milestone will be the Swallow test--got to make sure there's no leaks in the plumbing!

Monday, February 3, 2014


After an hour delay due to someone aspirating a tooth into their lung, George's surgeon got to work on him. All went well and according to plan. He landed in CVR(ICU) around 1:30 and is amazingly aware and coherent. He has Al taped to the foot of his bed watching over him.
Thanks to everyone for the good wishes, prayers and support!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Game On

I got the call Friday at about 4 PM.  Surgery is scheduled for Monday (2/3) at 7 AM at Missouri Baptist Hospital (MoBap).  We have to be there at 5:30.  That is no big deal.  We probably won't sleep much anyway.

Nothing to eat or drink after midnight.  I have special soap to shower with Sunday night and special wipes to clean with Monday morning.

We have been feeling kind of anxious this past week in anticipation of the event.  What helps is to think about other events we have planned in March, April and May.  We spent Friday night with the family: some pizza, a little Elmo, conversation, fart jokes and some music of course.

                                                       Lucy with my dynodaug cap on.

Dottie will post on the BLAUG after the surgery to let everyone know how it went.  I will be in the ICU for at least 3 days.  When I get to a regular room I should be able to receive visitors (as long as the morphine holds out).  Dot will post about that too.  The Doc said I should be in the hospital 8 - 11 days.  I know what I'm getting Dottie for Valentine's Day: a patient to nurse at home.  Sorry, Honey.

Hopefully, the groundhog doesn't see its shadow, so we can recover quickly from this winter of our discomfort.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Blue Boulevard

Instead of talking about my health or stressing over the upcoming surgery next Monday, I would like to relate this wonderful experience from several years ago.  I promised my nephew Zach that I would tell this story to him, and I'd like to share it with everyone.  Some of you may have heard about it and a couple may have even been there.

Several years ago, I was heading to Off Broadway to see Dave Alvin and the Guilty Men in concert.  I was leaving a briefing we were giving at St. Louie U.  As we left, I noticed the clouds were churning.  Storms were on the way.  I drove down south and stopped at my favorite fast food (Popeye's) for a quick bite before the show.  I got it to go, and when I got to the car I thought, "I'm parked under a tree.  I have protection.  I'll eat here."  A big limb was ripped from that tree and fell right next to my car.  I decided to eat on the go.

When I got to Off Broadway, the electricity was out.  Luckily, the beer was still flowing.

The woman who opened up for Dave was a solo artist with a ukelele.  She pulled up a chair in the emergency lights and asked us to gather round.  It was pretty cool.

After that, we weren't sure if Dave would perform.  He was touring "electric."  We had seen him the month before in Columbia, MO.  By the time the concert was to start, they had put out a ton of candles everywhere.  We had beer.  We could see.  We could hear.  We were ready.

Dave and the guys came out with acoustics (guitars and bass).  The piano player was relegated to a tambourine.  I had seen Dave quite a bit and had been wanting to see him perform acoustic for awhile and here it was.  Very cool, I thought!  And it was.

Understandably, Dave and the guys were not ready for this.  They had planned playlists that might not work acoustically.  They ended up asking for requests.  WOW!  I immediately shouted, "Blue Boulevard."  I love that song and had never heard him do it.  He heard me and seemed unsure at first but went ahead and played it.  AWESOME! 

But wait, the best is yet to come.

At some point someone brought a toy piano to the stage and gave it to the piano player.  It was small enough that he could use one arm to hold it and play it with his free hand.  What happened next was magic.

This guy played this tiny, tinny, rock and roll piano like a MOFO.  It blew me away.  Everybody loved it!

I don't remember much after that, other than those tinny Rock & Roll piano riffs.  It was one of those moments that took your breath away.

I researched this concert on the web to see what year it was and found this review…

It was July 19th, 2006.

If you do not know of Dave...Check him out

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

It's Only Money

Not much going on in the treatment front.  The only thing new was I met with my Medical Oncologist last Friday.  He was the one that had to cancel last week because he was ill.  He said he was pretty sick.  Had one of those bugs going around.  He was happy the surgery was set up and said if that goes okay, there will not be any regular treatments after that.  I would have an upper endoscopy in a year to check things out.  That is good news!

So to make it worth your while for checking this BLAUG I will relate a couple of financial notes you may find interesting.

First, Nathan's Hospital Bill:  Nate has had a "Catastrophic" policy for a couple of years.  They cover nothing for the first $10,000.  Well, he got his bill from BJC for his operation and hospital stay.  Let's just say, it was well above his deductible.  (This does not include all the doctors and anesthesiologists).  It looks like the insurance will finally be paying.

Next, my Chemo bill:  I got a letter from my insurance saying that the hospital (MOBAP) had not gotten pre-approval for my chemo treatment.  Radiation was okay but not Chemo.  The bill was over $51,000.  Yikes!  I guess I'll have to write them a check.  I checked with my Medical Oncologist assistant last Friday.  She has records showing that they did get approval.  Thank goodness, but now we have to convince the insurance company.

Healthcare, er, scratch that: Insurance Companies - Can't live with them…

Song(s) of the week:  Dot and I saw the new Coen Brother's movie last Saturday.  I really liked it, especially the music.  She was not so enamored.  She had to agree that Oscar Isaac did a great job with the songs.

Anyway, as we left Plaza Frontenac through Canyon Cafe we stopped in our respective restrooms.  Over the speakers came a Mexican flavored acoustic version of "Hotel California."  I thought, "I hate the f#*king Eagles man!"  Priceless.  The Coen brothers have a great musical sense.

Checkout the "Inside Llewyn Davis" soundtrack.  I especially liked "Fare Thee Well" and got a big kick out of the comedic "Please Mr. Kennedy."

Here are Lucy and I posing for a selfie.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

And The Doctor Says...

Before we get to the surgeon, I have a weird coincidence to report.  This morning I get a call from my ENT doctor's office.  I had an appointment with him in February and they wanted to let me know he would NOT be able to see me and that another doctor from his group would see me that day.  They said my doctor may be out until June.

This weird sound played in my head, "do-do-DO-do, do-do-DO-do."  I felt I was moving into a land of both shadow and substance.  Ah ah ah ah ah ah!!  All my doctors are getting sick.

But wait a minute.  I'm getting better.  I haven't felt this good in months.  I can swallow again!  What can it be.  It seems as if a Dorian Grey like transference is happening.

I shrugged it off, waited around, walked the dog, had lunch and took a shower.  Later in the afternoon we went to the Surgeon's office.  His assistant came in first.  She mentioned he was leaving on Tuesday and would not be around until the end of the month.


Turns out he is NOT sick but will be on vacation, traveling.  We both are somewhat disappointed about a delay, but we want this guy to do the surgery. 

He comes in to see us and says the PET scan results were great!  He says my blood work was good too.  He then goes on to explain the surgery.  I do NOT get queasy.  He explains the risks.  I clench my teeth.  We both say we are ready.  Let's do it.

He calls and checks with my cardiologist while we are there.  We get the thumbs up from him.  He offers the date, Monday, Feb 3rd.  We say okay.  We tell ourselves that it is only 2 weeks later than we thought and that I will be all the more recovered from the previous treatments.

We can use a drink!


Monday, January 13, 2014

Good News, Bad News

First the bad news...

I heard from my Medical Oncologist this morning.  He said, "You make me sick."

Actually, his office called and said the Dr. had the stomach flu and they had to reschedule our appointment for today to sometime next week.

I told them, "I'm trying to get the surgery done this coming Friday.  I had a PET scan last Friday."

They said he would call me today with the results, but I should still come in and meet with the Radiation Oncologist as scheduled today.

We went in, had some blood drawn as scheduled and met with the Radiation Oncologist this AM.

My doctor said, "You make me sick."

Actually we found out he was discontinuing practice at the end of the month for medical reasons.

I have this effect on people.

We really felt sorry for the Doctor.  He is a good guy and helped me out quite a bit.

Now the good news...

My Radiation Oncologist was able to pull up the results of the PET scan and said it showed "significant response to the treatment and NO spreading."

YES!!!!  Our hearts were dancing.  I assume our faces revealed the jig.

At this point, we still do not know when the surgery will be.  We are scheduled to meet with the surgeon on Wednesday, and I pray he doesn't say what the last 2 guys did.

Hopefully, the surgeon will get the PET scan results, confer with the Oncologists, and we will be good to go on Friday or very soon thereafter.  I'll try to post again on Wednesday night.

This week's song:  Moonage Daydream.  Heard it today right after we left the hospital.  "Keep your 'lectric eye on me babe.  Put your ray gun to my head (or chest)."  Love the song.  It has a Radiation reference (stretch).  Bowie turned 67 last Wednesday.  I remember back in the 70's great friends of mine were in a band and covered it.  Thanks guys!

This weeks pics

We took Lucy to The Butterfly House a few days ago.

Monday, January 6, 2014


Trapped like rats.  I'm sure everyone has a story or two to share about the most recent snow storm.  Since I am on the mend, any news of my condition is really getting boring.  Although for me, I am thrilled I can still swallow.  It makes food worth eating (we'll get to that in a minute).

I got to the store Saturday like most of the city and loaded up on Bread, Almond Milk and Egg substitute.  During the day Sunday, I spent much of the time snapping photos of snow and birds at the feeders.  I took Gilligan for a quick walk around the block.  He loved it until the snow kept collecting between his toes. 

Dottie did my usual job.  She shoveled the driveway.  She said didn't want me to have a heart attack.  I agreed: why waste all that money on Chemo and Radiation just to up and keel over. 

I fixed a decent Sunday Supper and we watched Downton Abbey in the evening.

Monday we waited for the snow plow.  We had a clean driveway but knew we would be stuck in the street if we ventured out.  Hell, almost everyone on our street knew that.  No one even attempted to go around the cul de sac (that we are at the end of at the bottom of a hill).  We started to feel trapped as we waited for the plow.  And then there was the TV news.  It consisted of endless weather updates and snow stories.  It was like it was snowing all over town and they wanted to show us every "flake" (sic). Give me a "break" (sick)! 

In the mean time, more photos.  I started dinner again.  Then right about 6 pm we heard it!  The PLOW!  Woo Hoo!  We ran to the window.  We were relieved that its coming gives us a shot at getting out on Tuesday.

Back to the food thing:  being captive because of the snow and frigid temps made me think of what Nathan must feel like.  He is a carnivore stuck in a house where the cook only makes Vegan dishes.  How awful that must be.

Sunday was Beefless Stew with vegan Biscuits.  Monday morning, we had biscuits and vegan sausage and for dinner we had Pasta e Ceci (chickpeas).  Enough already with the Veggies.  And I thought Dottie and I were trapped!

Anyway, here are a few shots I took during the...

Snowmageddon, or Snowpocalypse or Snowzilla.

I like snOMG but am really tired of OMG.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


Thank goodness for uneventful weeks.  No new symptoms.  Some old symptoms have eased up.  That doesn't give me much to write about.  What a shame.

I have not had any real trouble swallowing since Christmas Eve.  I have started to gain some weight back.  Dottie thinks it would be good for me to put on some pounds before the surgery.  So this too is a good thing.  I still get tired and often take afternoon naps.  My hair is still not growing except for a few stray ones on my chin.  Dottie wants me to shave every so often so I don't look like a goofball.  Good luck with that, dyno.

Since not much is happening with my situation, I do have a couple of stories to pass on.  Last Friday, Dottie took Nathan to get the surgical staples removed from the incision on his stomach.  Later that night we took him out for dinner (he still cannot drive).  While we waited to order, Nate discovered some blood on his belly and went to the restroom to check it out.  He came back with a serious look on his face and said his incision popped open, and he had a hole in his stomach.  We all envisioned sitting in yet another waiting room: one of the Emergency variety this time.  What to do?  Our solution:  We ordered dinner to go, which Dottie waited for.  I took Nate to Walgreens for bandage supplies while he called the Doctor's exchange.  Luckily, the opening was not bleeding and the Doctor told him to just keep it bandaged and change the dressings twice a day.  He was to come in after the weekend and have the surgeon look at it.  Suffice it to say, Nathan has a second belly button for a while.

Story # 2.  We were watching Gilligan's brother Ozzie for a few days and some times the dogs get crazy and run into the woods.  They did that the first night and found some nasty things to munch on.  The next night, I let them out separately.  When it was Ozzie's turn, I put him on the leash.  I opened the door, and he saw Gilligan in the front yard.  The 90+ pound Ozzie went charging out the door.  I went flying.  He pulled me through a sticker bush and I landed on the sidewalk leading to our front door.  Ozzie look at me like, "what is the matter with you man?"  Luckily, I only had a couple of scrapes and a bruised knee: no major damage.

Ozzie and Gilligan love to play!

Other than that, things have been uneventful.  Thank Goodness!

Oh!  I got a new scanner for Christmas and found this photo to scan of me and My brother...

Happy New Year!