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!