Sunday, May 30, 2010

Do Over: The Family Jewels Part 1

Published September 20, 2009
While I was at LSU, my family moved to a new house. They forgot to tell me.

You probably think this is unusual. Most families communicate regularly about things like that. Not mine. Actually, I don't think my Dad knew about the house either and he was involved in the decision. I found out when I came home one weekend and met sthe new owners of our old house. THEY gave me our new address.

When I finally found our new house in Metairie, the conversation went something like this:

Me: "Mom ... why didn't you tell me we moved?"

Esther: " Sam, can you believe this? NOW he wants to communicate. Where was he when WE asked him things about HIS comings and goings?"

Me: "Mom ... I asked about our house."

Esther: "See this Sam ... see how he does this? Now it's OUR fault that he doesn't know."

Me: "It IS your fault. How else ..."

Esther: "Sam, are you going to LET him talk to us this way???"

Sam: "Wait a minute. Did we actually move?"

Esther hit him in the chest a few times and then she disappeared into her new closet where she spent the majority of her time, in those days.

Most who know my mom know that shopping was her lifelong quest. Whether or not we had any money in those days (which was usually "not") the shopping continued. The house in Metairie was about 2500 square feet. Esther's closet was 3000 square feet.


It had it's own air conditioning system, 6 individual clothing lanes, a complete makeup counter and 4 walls of shelving for shoes and accessories. It was a store. Everything was individually wrapped in plastic and many of the items were in pairs or triplicates (Esther was afriad that these might never again be available and she wanted to make sure she would never run out).

Sales people around the city knew her well and had her number on speed dial. She would not hesitate to order something sight unseen ... because she also had a "thing" about being confined in a store with .... other people.

Yes ... Esther was SLIGHTLY neurotic

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Just the Right Angle

Here are a few pics that will make you smile...

Remember "The Fly"?

"But ... but ... butttt ..."

"Mommy ... why does the lion make that face when I do this?"

Two pees in a pod

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Marty ... Would you Call My Dad?

This Sunday, there was a Sixty Minutes segment about Marty Cooper. He's the guy who invented the cell phone. He made the first call in 1973 from a street corner in New York City to the head of Bell Labs Research. He answered the call on his land line. Cooper worked for Motorola and couldn't resist calling his competitor on that day ... right before his press conference.

Great story ... he's still active and involved in the industry at 83.

He's built the company that produces The Jitterbug ... billed as the easiest phone to learn and to operate. There's only one button to search the menu options like voicemail and ring tones ... and the numbers are large and easy to dial. If you get lost in the process ... dial the Jitterbug operator and SHE does it for you. Morley Safer said that "this phone is so easy that an idiot could operate it."

He hasn't met poor Sam ...

I bought Sam a Jitterbug phone so that he could carry it with him and always get his calls whether he was in the dining room or in the rec room or in his own room. The ring was loud, the phone was easy to carry and he could talk to me or whomever he wanted to whenever he wanted to.

Well, he's had the phone a year now. He knows how to answer his calls and he can call me because I'm #1 on speed dial ... but ... after months of tutoring ... he still cannot pick up his messages, dial long distance or even hear the phone ring. I put it on vibrate AND ring and apparently he can't feel or hear. He always claims that I never call him ... even though I show him on his own phone how many times I did try to call and how many messages I left.

Most of the time ... Sam is perfectly happy sitting in the chair that he wanted us to get from the house in New Orleans (even though it is broken on one side and leans to the right) in front of his TV with the big earphones on.

You know ... he told me that his new favorite thing to watch is Porn Stars. He told Debbie and the kids as well. Because he mumbles sometimes and his slight New Orleans accent sometimes gets in the way ... when he finally described the show we realized what he was really saying was ....

... PAWN STARS (ever hear of it?)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Do Over: Esther Returns

It's the end of the week. Time for reflection and time for rest. So ... I took a cue from one of my favorite bloggers, Chrissy, who publishes Second Hand Sundays on her very funny blog "I Should've Been a Stripper".

I'm recycling some of my favorites ... and hope they will become yours ... every Sunday.

Published: Thursday, December 10, 2009
Esther Returns ... Once More
Esther stories apparently have reader appeal. Thank you for all the requests ... and thanks for the wonderful messages many of you have sent me over the last couple of weeks. Here's my personal favorite:

I mentioned that Esther and Sam had adjoining rooms at Menorah Manor ... separated by only a curtain. You also might remember that Sam is very hard of hearing ( deaf, by human standards) ... and over the last few months, Esther's voice was barely a whisper. It was a match made in heaven ... she couldn't speak and he couldn't hear.

About 6 months ago, I got a call from Sam.

"Your mother wants to talk to you about something, Joel."

"What is it?"

"I don't know ... she won't talk to me."

"Okay ... I'll come ...."

"Hold on ... here she is."

"Wait ... Dad ... "

Too late. He gave the phone to Esther.


There was barely a whisper on the phone.

"Mom. I can't hear you. Is Dad right there?"

More whispers.

"Mom ... I'll be over in an hour. I'll TALK TO YOU THEN."

For some stupid reason I was screaming as if that would help her talk better.

It was 6AM on Saturday. I got dressed, headed over to the nursing home and arrived in the room about 7:30. Sam was watching TV with the big headphones I bought him. I leaned over and pantomimed that I was going in to see mom. He nodded and screamed, "GO SEE HER."

Mom was lying in her bed and had the phone STILL resting on her shoulder next to her ear. Keep in mind that Esther had not been able to move her arms and legs for about a year ... much less hold an object like a phone. Dad had apparently missed that fact and decided to watch TV and just let it sit there.

I put the phone down and bent down as close as I could.

"Mom? I'm here. What did you want to ask me?"

She whispered ever so faintly but loud enough for me to hear.

"I want a divorce."

"You .... what?"

"I want to leave your father."

I stood up straight.

"Where would you go? Down the hall?"

She scowled.

"Mom ... why do you want a divorce?"

"I hate him."

"No you don't."

"Yes I do."

"Why do you hate him?"

"Because ... he's sleeping with the nurses."

"He's ... what?" Okay ... at this point I really almost lost it. I could hardly keep a straight face."He's sleeping with the nurses?"

"Yes ... that's right."

I leaned back and looked through the curtain at Sam. He was still on the chair with the headphones on, pants unzipped, no teeth, snoring and a line of drool was making it's way down his stubbled chin.

I looked back at Esther. "I really don't think so."

"Ask him."

"I will Mom ... "

"I want you to ask him ... now."


I stepped back into Sam's room, removed his headphones and woke him up.

He looked at me. "So? Did you find out what she wanted?"

"Yes." I tried to whisper."She thinks you are sleeping with the nurses."

"What? She wants her purses?"

"No." I was nose to nose with him whispering." She thinks you are sleeping with the nurses."

"She curses? Don't I know ... she is always ..."


Outside the door ... laughter broke out all the way down to the nursing station.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

I'm Over It

I'm ready to go back to work.

The doctors told me to take some time off, get rid of stress and DON'T answer any emails or phone calls. You gotta be kidding me. It's been two weeks and I'm going crazy. I'm more stressed than ever ... all I do all day is think about my medical problems and count my pills. Debbie's ready for me to go back to work too. She's the MOST stressed listening to me say stuff like ... "Hey ... do you think the pain in my left kneecap is related to my heart cath?"

I'll tell you how bored I am.

I walk my neighborhood three times a day ... morning, noon and night. I had to reintroduce myself to my neighbors across the street because I never go out the front door. I always leave via the garage door in the back. This week my goal was to figure out who the rest of these people are who live in our neighborhood.

Jim, across the street, is fixing up his front yard. Apparently he does this every month according to Debbie.

There's neighbor Tom who's always working in some third world country for three months at a time. He's a doctor and does something through the government in Public Health. (I like to think he does some kind of undercover work that he can't talk about ... or he'd have to kill us). He's the least likely looking person to do this ... that's why he's perfect.   

Marvin and Ginny live next door to Tom. He is a minister and is probably 120 years old now. He looks like he's maybe 70 and still climbs on his roof to fix whatever it is you fix on a roof. (you can tell I am QUITE the handyman).

I tell Debbie all about my adventures after I do my "rounds". But she seems to already know most of my "new" information ...  and she's home as little as I am. She'd tell you that she is much more observant than me ... she's right. 
And ... she tells me that she is seriously reconsidering early retirement.(MINE)

She's also drinking alot more these days.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Earth to Sam!

Got a new Sam story for you.

By the way ... Sam (my dad, for those who are new to my blog) knows nothing about my medical issues and hospital stays. That is ... I haven't told him anything that would just cause him to worry. He only hears every 5th word or so in most conversations. So if anyone else has asked him how I was doing with all my medical problems... he would probably hear it as: Joel ... has ... problems? To which he would probably reply, "Oh ... I guess so."

A couple of weeks ago, Nikki graduated from med school and Dad was there to see her on stage and at the party for her that night. Deb and I picked him up from Menorah Manor that night and I decided to surprise him with a gift. I had bought an official LSU basketball from the 2006 Final Four series in Indianapolis. Now ... you have to understand, my Dad is one of the biggest LSU fans in the world. He knows every stat from every sport and watches all their teams religiously ... including women's basketball and softball.

So needless to say (even though UF won the championship series that year) I thought he would be thrilled to get a limited edition Team Basketball from his beloved Tigers.

He slipped in the back seat where the ball was sitting next to him. Here's the conversation:

Me ..."Dad, check out what's sitting next to you."

Dad ... (not looking down) "What?"

Me ... "The basketball ... sitting next to you."

Dad ... (still not looking down) "That's nice."

Me ... (picking up the display case with the ball) "The basketball. Here. It's for you ... take a look."

Dad finally holds it and smiles and puts it down.

Me ...  (loudly) "Did you read it?"

Dad ... "You want me to read it?"

Dad reads it for a minute and puts it down again.

Me ... "It's an LSU basketball."

Dad ... "Really? That's nice."

Me ... "It's for you. It's the year they went to the Final Four. It's the Official ball ... a limited edition."

Sam ... "Oh." He smiles and nods "Say ... did you see the LSU game last week? I was just about to switch channels when ..."

Me (LOUDLY) "Dad ... I bought you this basketball! It's for you to take home and put in your room."

He looks at it again and tries to open the display case (actually ... he breaks the display case apart) He then sheepishly pieces it together as if it didn't break, again puts it down next to him ... and says ...

"I really don't need it, Joel  ... Why don't you keep it?"

Monday, May 17, 2010

Home .... Again

Okay ... here I am just waiting for my discharge papers.

We decided to wait on the ablation ... zapping might come in a few months after I get used to my new meds. The brain comes next.

You'll notice that I am still wired. Actually I don't really think it's hooked to anything but makes me feel good while I'm here.

Thanks to all of you who have wished me well during my Oz journey.

It continues ... but for now ... I'm good for another few ... feet.

By the way .... look for these items on E Bay .... I am accepting all offers.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Be Still My Heart

Well ... just as I went "easin' down the road" .... some damn flying monkey grabbed me.

Yep. I was sent back to the hospital because my PVCs started to create "real ugly patterns on the EKG" as one of the ER nurses put it so eloquently. She added other stuff like ... "The other nurses couldn't believe you could really walk in here" ... and ... "I'm gonna take this picture (EKG chart) home with me."

I kept saying over and over ... PVCs are not life threatening .... PVCs are not life threatening .... then they wheeled in the defibrillator JUST IN CASE.

So I closed my eyes, clicked my heels and said "There's No Place Like Home ... There's No Place Like Home ..."

When I opened my eyes ... I was still here! But at least that damned monkey was gone.

Okay, I know what you're saying .... Enough of the Oz references!  I agree ...

So anyway, I did get admitted again ... and now I'm here waiting for Dr. Gallardo (Country Bear) to adjust my meds or sign me up for the ablation (zapping the part of the heart that is causing the irregular heart beats). So, while I'm waiting for my next big adventure ... I'll share my hospital photo album with you.

Here is a picture of my roomie getting some exercise. The nurses encourage patients to walk the halls and move around so you don't get listless or (for longer stays) don't get bed sores. As you can see ... he has no bed sores.

Nurses also get bored and their only real chance for comedy relief is to point, stare and quietly laugh at the patients. Well ... some aren't so quiet.

This is not my nurse.

This IS my nurse.

These are some of my new friends on the patient floor. They get together often. I sense that they have been here a long time ... tell lots of stories and have funny scars on their heads.

These are residents on "Rounds". That's a term used in teaching hospitals for the best and brightest young residents as they follow the attending doctor around and look smart. The resident (who is pictured second on the right) is proud of the fact that he found a new app on his iphone called "isurgery" where he can actually do hernia repairs while watching reruns of Entourage.

Oh well ... here comes Dr. Country Bear ... be still my heart!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Hey Toto ... We're Not In Kansas Anymore

Lately ... it's been a little like Oz-ville at my house.

Last month I was the Scarecrow. You might remember one of my April postings "Stuck Here For a While"  (about a fun day inside an MRI).

Well ... the results showed that I had a "schwannoma". I thought, at first, that was a brain tumor for little Jewish guys like me. It turned out to be benign and treatable ... just irritating because it sits on a sensory nerve making the right side of my face numb so that during high level meetings I might drool or speak in tongues. Other than that ... and not tasting food ... it's a "no brainer".

I went to see the Wizard (Dr. Steve Klasko, my great friend, Pop Night guru and King of ALL that is medical at USF). He and my Internist, Dr. Dick Hoffman, set me up with a great neurosurgeon Dr. Harry Van Loveren who planned my course of treatment. It's called Cyberknife and it is done through a big robotic x-ray machine that sends out directed bursts at the tumor ... all non-invasive and no side effects. It kills the tumor without surgery. Great ... all set for the following week.

Feeling better I headed down the Yellow Brick Road once again ... but forgetting I was STILL in Oz ... I realized it was time for the Tin Man.

Last Friday I had a stress test because I was having a series of skipped heart beats and feeling kinda tired. As luck would have it ... the cardiologist told me that I needed to get a heart cath done immediately because there was strange electrical activity going on in there.

The Yellow Bricks on the road started to get slippery.

"Hmmmm" ... said the conference of doctors who were looking at my test results (the neuro, the cardio, the internal med and the Wiz) ... what should we do first? The cyberkinife or the heart cath?  There is a window of opportunity for the schwannoma based on the size of the tumor ... but you gotta take care of the heart first. What to do?

I have amazing luck.

Just about that time on Saturday morning, I decided to go to the annual USF graduation exercises at the Sun Dome where I was part of the processional on stage where, sure enough, I became ... The Cowardly Lion.

Sitting on stage, I felt the room spinning and gingerly made it down the stairs ... ending up at Tampa General Hospital.

The decision was made. Get the little Jewish guy in the Cath Lab!

Dr. Cohen (Woody Allen on steroids) was the cardiologist who admitted me, Dr. Stromquist (a former flower child of the 60s) was the cardiologist who did my cath and Dr. Gallardo (looked like he just took a break from the "Country Bear Jamboree") was the EP cardiologist.

Oh ... that reminds me. I need to tell you this: You are NOT asleep when they thread that wire through your crotch into your heart. I don't care what they say ... I saw and heard everything. I didn't feel anything ... but I know where the nurses went on vacation, who likes country music, why American Idol sucks and who takes the most potty breaks. I also was part of the process and was instructed by experts ... they were great!

I had two stents (tiny metal springs that open) which are permanently placed into an artery that was 80% blocked. I was also told I might have to have another procedure for the electrical misfiring of my heart beat. Who would have thought, huh?

They are resetting my schwannoma procedure to give me a brain ... now that I have a heart.    

Other than that .... I'm fine!

I'm home now with my medicine cabinet filled with a wonderful array of new drugs (One pill makes you larger ... One pill makes you small). And unless Toto bites my ankle or some flying monkey whisks me away ... I will continue to ...

Ease on down ... Ease on down ... the road ....

Special thanks to my family ... my wife Debbie who has been with me through it all and has the patience of (and even looks like) a saint. My great and brilliant kids ... Alissa and Josh and Dr. Nicole (who by the way was there at the hospital helping me figure out stuff, taking notes, telling me to stay healthy and worrying about me). All of my great doctors who I HIGHLY recommend if you have the fortune of meeting them and the misfortune of needing them. And all of my terrific family, friends and co-workers!! Love you all.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Things You Can't Live Without

Every so often you find things that no one else has. I came across these gems the other day ... Check them out:

For the man who has everything ... including alcoholism.

Comforting fake hands ... what every baby craves.


Toilet Butler Face ... because ... because ... who the hell knows?

My favorite ... Psycho shower curtain ... wonder if it comes with the soundtrack.


Son of Butler Toilet Face ... because ... oh just because!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sign Says It All

Okay, I'm over it.

Friday, I passed no fewer than five sign-carrying "homeless" people in the middle of intersections that were clearly packed with commuters trying to get to work. Now ... I'm not some cold hearted, intolerant elitist that doesn't CARE about homeless people. But give me a break. I bet THESE GUYS all have BMWs parked just out of sight, live in condos just outside of town and share drinks with the thousand of other "homeless" curb dwellers.

How do I know this?

Well, I don't. I just think that. Maybe because one had a pair of expensive looking Nikes and another had designer jeans and a couple were wearing matching Rolexes.

My brother-in-law Tom sent me some very clever photos from around the country. Enjoy!

I give him high marks for creativity and  honesty.

He probably has a DeLorean parked around the corner.

I assume this is his brother.

I could have a beer with this guy.

Not sure about a beer with this guy.

One of the Young Republicans ... no doubt.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

In Support of Good Taste

I realized the other day ... when I posted Gloria's picture from Modern Family ... that some of you might have thought I was just putting a picture of a beautiful girl with big boobs to increase readership.

Well, nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact, I despise the bloggers that will stop at nothing just to create more readership. The posting of obscenely large breasted women, offers of free merchandise, promises of making large amounts of money ... all are not on my agenda.

I get the same thing in unsolicited emails ... and I am tired of it. Do they think we are really influenced by this garbage? I am continually amazed by the lack of good taste and sensitivity that primarily men, unfortunately, show when posting or creating these sites.

You will NEVER see any pictures of sexy women with big breasts again on my site ... I can guarantee that!

(By the way click the box on the left for special prizes just for visiting my site).

Ballad of the Big Prostate

Here’s a little country tune I wrote just yesterday to commemorate a dark day in my history. I don’t have a tune but realized you can use an...