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Showing posts from August, 2013

Brain Boy: Day ... I can't remember ... I lost track: Sammy Does the Rays

Sammy called me at 7 AM. It went to Voice Mail.

"Joel, I need Josh's number ... call me as soon as possible because I am going to the Rays game with Menorah Manor and want to take him."

I called him back about a half hour later.

"Dad? ... Dad? ... Dad? ... Dad? ... Dad? Well ... I guess you don't hear me..."

Just before I hung up ... "Hello?"


"Yes ... Joel is there something wrong with your phone?"

" No. Do you do that on purpose?"

"Listen Joel ... I need Josh's number. I can't find the damned thing on my memory phone thing."

"Okay. Are you ready?"





"3 ...4...6"


"1 ...2...3... dammit. I need a pencil."

"You haven't written this down?"

"No ... wait."

"No ... no ... Dad. I've got a better idea. I will call him and have him call you."


Brain Boy: Day 37: Week Five Scorecard

It's the end of my fifth week of "rehab". I'm using a new measurement tool to determine how much progress I've made.

Here's my Week 5 Scorecard:

1. Trips to TGH for surgery .... Score: 0
Feeling good about this one. I was 3 for 4 now I am officially 3 for 5! I was starting to thing that I was a "things that can go wrong" teaching instrument for the residents.

2. Numbness on right side of the face .... Score: 98%
Yesterday I felt two of my teeth (that counts for a 2% decrease) Okay ... I'm desperate here. I know it's gonna take some time to get feeling back. But two teeth are better than nothing.

3. Double Vision ... Score: 100%
My pirate patch is getting a workout. The only way to reduce the number of faces I shave in the morning is to close an eye. Today, Debbie and I went to lunch in Tampa and a young girl walked past me saying, "Hey, that's a cool patch you're wearing." Later, I realized she had just been to the Comic Con …

Brain Boy: Day 34: A Walk in the Park

Big day today... I got a haircut!

And before I got a haircut, I took a walk downtown. From my house, it's about two miles down and back. It may not sound like much, but between the haircut and the walk I felt like I finished a marathon. Dripping in sweat ... I strolled through Vinoy Park, my halfway point, and just took it all in. 
Vinoy Park has so many great memories for me. 
It was the home for A Taste of Pinellas for many years. I walked through Straub Park, its little brother, and remembered the Taste in its infancy more than 25 years ago. Sad to say ... but the Taste has gone recently on "hiatus" according to the news released from All Children's Hospital ... to retool and find out how to make it "work" again.
I've read the blogs and articles and comments about the Taste ... there is a lot of passion for this event and people are not ashamed to express their feelings. They feel that the Taste belongs to them. I'm happy they do because it is t…

Brain Boy: Day 30: WHAT AGAIN?

Just when I thought it was all behind me ... I came back to the hospital for surgery number 3 (in 30 days).

All the cliches came to mind:
- Three strikes, you're out
- Bad things come in threes
- Three sheets to the wind

But I chose to look to the only positive one that came to mind ... "Three times is the charm". (Note to daughter Alissa ... I also thought of our favorite SNL Eddie Murphy routine "Unce, Tice, Fee times a lady" But it didn't fit this).

So here's what happened.

Wednesday night, I noticed that the surgical scar on my belly that held the shunt catheter had blown up overnight and looked like a small mountain range. Dr.V got our call and was out of the area. He told us to go to the ER right away and he would follow up in the morning.

Got there at 9PM. The Neuro Resident checked me out and ordered a CT scan. We were sent to the ER hallway where I sat on a stretcher and Debbie got a chair. We met some interesting people ... one of them was a …

Brain Boy: Day 28: The Sammy Screenplay continued

I've been trying to get some more writing done the last couple of days.

In a previous post, I mentioned that I was doing a screenplay about Sammy (well ... based on Sammy). I wrote a scene to set up the plot. It was actually pretty close to a recent conversation that we had about a month ago:


Barry wheels Sammy up to the deli counter where HAIM greets them.

Sammy. You are looking pretty chipper today
Say ... Haim  ... Make me a corned beef on rye, will ya? Very lean, lots of mustard and potato salad
Coming right up Sam ... Barry ... What can I get for you?

Pastrami for me, Haim. Thanks.

Oh Haim ... This is my son Barry.

Barry just shrugs his shoulders and shakes his head.

   (smiling and winking at Barry)
Is that who that is? A fine looking boy Sammy. He looks just like you. 
   (to Barry)
Sit. Sit. I’ll bring it.

Barry slips Sammy’s wheelchair into an adjacent table and settles in.


Brain Boy: Day 26: A Day in the Life

I just don't know where the time goes.

My schedule is just packed solid. I never realized how much there is to do when you are taking it easy and letting your body heal. I actually had to create a minute by minute daily schedule that I religiously print out for Debbie. (Ow ... she just hit me in the back of the head and called me "liar liar pants on fire"... she curses like that all the time).

Okay ... I'll just give you some of the highlights of my day (... as I'm sure you are just dying to know).

1. Playing with pool toys.

I can't actually go swimming yet because of my various "wounds" but I do enjoy playing near the water. I stole a couple of pool toys from Ella (nephew Colby and niece Andrea's adorable daughter) who comes over to our house for swimming lessons. Her brother Tommy just started lessons too. I might just steal some some of his soon (I'm getting bored with Minnie and the Fish).

2. Taking a shower

In keeping with the water them…

Brain Boy: Day 24: My Big Day Out

Big day today.

Debbie is taking me for our first "outing" since my surgery a month ago. Oh sure, I've been back and forth to the hospital and the doctor's office ... walking around the 'hood for exercise ... but that's about it.

So today, out of the goodness of her heart (and to get me out of the house so it could be cleaned) we set our course for two places that she just knew I would enjoy: The Nail Salon and The Grocery Store.

I could hardly contain my excitement.

First stop was the nail salon. I slumped into my chair and Debbie slipped in next to me. "Whew", I thought, "I don't see anyone I know here." This was important for two reasons ... one, whomever saw me would have a great story for their husbands and two, I hate the thought of having my nails filed ... I will probably cry like a baby.

I pressed the massage button on the chair, closed my eyes ...

"Well, I'll be ... Joel! I was just thinking about you ..."

Oh no…

Brain Boy: Day 23: Yo ... Bruce ... Guess Who?

Just when I was going through withdrawal after getting the shunt to reduce my head size and not needing the headgear I had gotten so attached to, I opened a gift from Randy and Linda. It's called Buff. A combination do-rag, cap, scarf and 342 other permutations. At the same time I got a really cool Sopranos tee shirt from my dear friend Debra from The Patterson Foundation.

So ...Here's the new me: let me introduce Little Steven Van Zandt Momberg (formerly ... in my dreams ... Silvio Dante, Sopranos Consiglieri and a founding member of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band.)

By the way, Bruce I know you follow my blog religiously and in a few short weeks (months) I can join you on tour. Okay ... maybe not lead guitar but piano ... Roy Bittan? I have more hair than Roy ... We are the same age. I can do it Bruce. Show the picture to Stevie ... he's always acting anyway. I can fake the Jersey thing ... I ve got a few friends who can teach me how to talk (F***in' Aldo and N…

Brain Boy: Day 21: Not So Random Thoughts

I am a lucky guy.

This experience is the best thing that's ever happened to me. I know that sounds bizarre  ... but it has forced me to slow down and examine my life. I get so busy "living and working" that I miss the part that gives it meaning.

Sometimes it takes a dramatic series of events to realize how precious my life, my family and my friends are. I'm not exactly Jimmy Stewart's George Bailey but lately I've felt like him ... with the outpouring of support I've received from so many wonderful people.

I've had those wake up calls in the past: Losing my brother to cancer, working at All Children's Hospital and going to funerals of very special kids, and previous close calls in my own life. But this is different. I think it's a combination of getting older and the realization that I don't get replays or rehearsals .. it's here and then it's gone.

My way of dealing with serious issues has aways been with humor. Some of it is bec…

Brain Boy Beginning of Week 4: Just Another Day In Paradise

Turned the corner yesterday ... not the road I had thought we'd take ... but the results were positive.

The swelling was not going down this past week ... so they ordered a CT scan. It showed fluid accumulation in more than one place. The original "Patch" that was still not completely sealed because of an abundance of fluid and fluid that hung out around the brain because of traumatic incidences. Basically ... it happens in old age (made me feel much better) and trauma like radiation and surgery (I had both)  So ... Dr. Harry decided to do a lumbar shunt (threaded next to the spine and emptying in the peritoneal cavity), The cavity is where your internal organs live so there's a lot of room for the fluid to accumulate and dissipate. In my case ... really large.

Surgery took a couple of hours ... and ... of course came with a new design of headwear.  The first picture on this page is the top netting on which I sported my glasses for that Invisible Man look.

The good …

Brain Boy: Week Three: Gifts and Thanks

It was a good day today.

1. I woke up.
2. I walked an extra two blocks.
3. Harry didn't drain fluid and said the lump looked smaller.
4. I finished The Sopranos.
5. I watched SPACEBALLS (the funniest movie ever made .. thanks Mikey)

I also got a couple more special gifts. Debbie and Brent and Stephanie and Del sent me a cool Stetson from Aspen. They sent me a size 20 or something but still didn't fit over my head ... gives me the incentive to get healthy and lose some more fluid (yes that IS what it is despite what my friends think).

My staff sent me a basket of fruit from Harry and David. Not sure whether Harry or David delivered it but it is delicious. They also sent a dvd of a staff created special original production "Laughter is the Best Medicine". I have to admit it rivaled Spaceballs ... everyone was funny (well everybody except for Steve Blair .. give me back the Emmy! And Noreen who reminded me I was the weakest link. And Donor Relations who played beer pon…

Revisiting My Little Brother

I wrote a story a few years back about my brother Wayne. I reprinted it once on his birthday and have been thinking of him often the last few weeks. If you'd indulge me, I'd like to reprint it again:


I spoke to my little brother last week.

These days, I do all of the talking. Last week it was about everything from funny stuff we did as kids to funny stuff my kids are doing today. He used to steal my mattress when we shared a room. He thought mine was much more comfortable than his so I let him think I didn't notice. Every night, I'd put some toy soldiers or little train cars under his mattress. He eventually traded back (thinking mine had somehow gotten much more uncomforatble).

We reminisced about our mom, Esther... and the tricks that we would dream up to drive her crazy. One night I told Wayne to hide in the closet. I put a pair of his pajama bottoms over the air vent that sat over the floor into the closet. I put slippers over the foot h…