Sunday, August 24, 2014

Not Again!

Call me insensitive and cold ... but I think the ice bucket challenge is annoying.

Before you egg my house, you should also know that I have already donated to ALS and am very sensitive to the plight of ALS patients.

Also, being in the business of fundraising for more than 35 years, I have to take off my hat to the folks that created a gimmick that has spread the word about ALS like wildfire and raised quite a bit of money as well.

All that said ... it still is annoying.

Deb and I were challenged by a number of people. We donated and then passed on the ice water challenge. Neither of us are feeling guilty and neither of us feel like we missed out on the new craze.

So ... we have created a new challenge: To throw a bucket of ice on someone that doesn't expect it at a time that would be most embarrassing. The first group to get drenched would be all those who have posted on the internet.

And THEY all have to give money. 

Friday, August 22, 2014

Message from Cole

Hi ... it's Cole.

I was sure that you were all missing me and I had a few minutes between takes. (My mom takes my picture every half hour ... SO embarrassing. Especially the naked shots which I will not publish here). Anyway ...

If you look closely at this black and white head shot, you'll see that I have a tiny scratch on my right cheek. Yes, it's from shaving. I have a terrible time getting rid of my five o'clock shadow. It's a safety razor (hah! not safe enough for babies apparently).

Speaking of safety, here's an interesting shot of me trying to take off the safety caps from the electrical outlet.

They think I can't do it yet so everyone just lets me pretend. Just cause I'm a little pudgy does not mean I am not athletic.

Obviously I can stand and walk now. If my Papa wasn't so dumb when it comes to video downloads, he'd show you here but he hasn't quite figured out how to do that yet.

Went shopping for my first pair of shoes last week. What do you think?  Yeah, they had my size in length but there's a lot of work to do on the instep. 

The cankle stage has me a little concerned. I know I'll grow out of it ... I hope I do ... but I kinda enjoy the girls giggling when I walk by.

Fortunately, my mom has not stopped feeding me.

I eat just about every 45 minutes now. Even in the middle of the night, I might scream a little just to get a bottle. 

It works well.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Blue Skies, Hot and Crazy ... and Free Refills

Here's a picture I took yesterday from my favorite spot in downtown St. Pete across from the jetty and next to the marina.

What a day! What a view! Can you believe we live here?

Have you seen this on You Tube?

It is one of the funniest I have ever seen ... and so true. Okay, some of you women might not agree ... but I love it.

Thanks to my buddy and excellent musician, Peter Van (appearing nightly everywhere as "Backstreet") for sharing.

Finally, here is a picture with a story.

Debbie and I went to the movies the other day and we always get the same thing ... large popcorn and diet coke. NOW they have a deal on large popcorn that drives Debbie crazy. You can buy the container/tub for about $387 and bring it back to the movies as much as you want for free refills.

"How stupid is that?" Debbie asked me. "Who in their right mind wants to take this stupid container back and forth to the movies every time they go just to get refills?"

This guy did ...and so did about 13 others that we saw leaving. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

My NOLA Day 2

Bright and early the next day (about 11) we walked over to the tourist capitol of NOLA, Cafe du Monde, for some beignets and coffee.

Standing guard over the extensive menu of beignets, cafe au lait and souvenir items was the manager with his official bow tie.  The place is always packed with customers as hordes of oriental servers with their white shirts and black bow ties bustles and take orders.

Still a bargain at $5 a person, the coffee and donuts are still delicious and unlike anything that you've ever eaten.

After breakfast we headed to Royal Street to check out the galleries. Didn't really find anything that rocked our world.

Then we headed back to the casino to get some gambling in (of course).

This was Debbie's day. She found a new machine that has become her all time favorite. It's called Black Widow. A guy from North Carolina told us about it. He went on and on as we were trying to play. He was on a roll: "So in Cherokee ... where we live ... this is the machine I have won hundreds of thousands of dollars ... my wife won $8000 on a penny machine you know? So you been to Cherokee? They're building a new casino ... is that your phone ringing? Go ahead and get it ... I'll just keep talking ...."

Debbie found the one Black Widow in the place and won two jackpots in a row. She was ecstatic.

That night we ate at Besch Steak House. First time I was really disappointed in a New Orleans restaurant. Both our dishes were devoid of any real taste ... can you believe it? In New Orleans?

Our waiter told us what's been happening in town. The Brennan family members (who own most of the established eateries) were fighting, the old established restaurants were losing quality and menus were changing to fit more eclectic tastes so the original dishes that made New Orleans famous were disappearing. Very sad.

We drove down Magazine Street to check out the areas that have been renovated by the natives. It's the old warehouse district ... goes on for 6 miles. Very cool area.

Then on to Maple Street Book Store to pick up a few kids books for Cole.

Now we are home ... great trip, I still have all my blood, and we have a few more sheckles in our pockets.

Friday, August 8, 2014

My NOLA Day 1

My red cells rose by one tenth of a point and (of course) no one called me about my other test at TGH so .... I told Debbie we should get out of town while we could.

We headed to a place that my luck was actually good most of the time ... my home town, New Orleans. Last minute I can always get a room at Harrahs and Southwest flies direct so we did it on Wednesday.

Checked in, hit Grand Isle for a shrimp po boy and I was in heaven. Deb headed for the new outlet mall that was formerly River Walk and I headed to the casino and the two machines that are usually my best friends. They didn't disappoint me ... two big jackpots right away. FINALLY some good luck.

Next stop ... Mississippi Stud.

It's a card game not unlike 5 card stud ... except that you don't play against the other players or the dealer. You win based on the hand you finish with. All players get two cards dealt down and the dealer turns over three cards one at a time. These are shared by all the players to build a five card hand. Some players ask a lot of questions and some just bet and play.

At my table, there were three other players.

On my right was Poker Mom. Glasses sitting on her nose, Poker Mom is thin, hair is a little disheveled, she is nervously looking at her cards and the other players. "So Billy ... why didn't you give me the 10 last time ... now you deal it ... " She leans next to the Platinum Blonde and says, "So my son totally ignores what I'm saying. I tell him that I'll just leave his room the way he trashes it ... I'll just lock the door ...(Right, no one's ever used that technique)."

Platinum Blonde sits staring at mom ... unsmiling. She is about 50, overweight, overly made up, on her third marriage no doubt. Big chip that she wears proudly on her shoulder. She said nothing for two hours at the table. Whenever she won a hand there was a flicker of a smile and two blinks. Poker Mom could care less that she got no response from PB ... she actually did both sides of the conversations at times. "Did you see that? Sure you did ... how stupid was I to fold. I know what you're thinking ... I could have thrilled then but I was too tentative ..."

Next to me on the left was Gus. Apparently he was a regular. He smoked a cigar, had a yellow shirt and red suspenders. Hard to tell what his age was ... somewhere between 65 and 165.  Gus was unhappy with almost everything and everyone. He made side comments to me under his breath about everything. "Dealers suck here ... no personality" Billy didn't look up but he heard it. "Bimbo won't shut up."  When Poker Mom commented on the new carpeting in the casino, he snapped back, "Do you think they do that because they care about us? They are makin so much' money that they don't know what to do with it."

I was the first to call it quits.

Deb and I met at Ruth's Chris for dinner. Great meal. We made plans for the next day ... Beignets, art galleries and a trip to the warehouse district.

Oh ... maybe a little more gambling.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Rotisserie Jew

Unfortunately, it will come as no surprise to the readers of my blog that I spent the first few days of my long awaited vacation ... in the hospital.

That's right. I can't seem to stay away from that place.

The only difference this time was that it was neither my brain or my heart. It was simply that I seemed to have misplaced about 5 units of blood in my body. The day I went to the Rays game with Josh, I had trouble catching my breath and turned a "whiter shade of pale".

Followed up with the cardiologist who checked the ticker, did a chest X-ray and did some blood work. Dr. L knows me well. He knows I'm the 1% man ... if there is a 1 percent chance that something will go wrong, it'll be me. Heart was fine and so was my chest but my hemoglobin dropped to half what it was supposed to be.

I called my primary care doc ... Dr. Denise sent me straight to the hospital. She is the best, by the way: smart, intuitive and has great taste (she actually reads my blog and likes it).  So she helped get me admitted to TGH for upper and lower GI tests to see if I had internal bleeding. The upper and lower mean a tube down the throat and one up the ... other way. When Mel Brooks goes through it he calls himself A Rotisserie Jew.

By the time I got admitted it was 5 PM.

I waited patiently for the "prep" I was supposed to drink to clean out my colon. If you had a colonoscopy recently you probably had the prep, a vile liquid called (of all things) Go Lytely. It's the most disgusting drink you could possibly imagine.

About midnight, the nurse showed up with a gallon jug filled with this stuff.  "Okay," she said. "You are to have nothing to eat and drink this whole jug in the next few hours."

"You're kidding," I said.


What wasn't said was that I'd spend the rest of the night on the pot. Equally bad was the fact that the air conditioning hadn't worked for two days in the unit I was on. Since I had a lot of time that night I composed a long letter on the new video system in the room which asked for feedback. Truly, I think it came out like a misspelled ransom note:

"I am suppised that no one fixdes the AC hefre in two days. THIS IS CRazzy! Hpw can you run a hospitul like this? There are people dying here ........"

I never do that. But I had temporary insanity from gross dehydration. Debbie was mortified.

I talked to about four different doctors I knew the next day (None were at the hospital. They all seem to disappear when you need them there). I talked to Dr. Denise who was trying to head to the mountains but still took time to explain what I was in for. She explained that being on two blood thinners (after my stent and ablation procedures) and taking advil for my headaches had drawbacks (duh). She and my cardiologists and my daughter the doctor all agreed that ulcers or irritable "stuff" was happening in my stomach or my colon and active bleeding was happening.

The one doctor I never got a chance to meet was the GI doc that was doing the procedure. I guess that was because he was busy with other stomachs. I waited in the holding area for over three hours hearing "You're next" about 25 times. I made it to the procedure room at about 5 PM, got the Michael Jackson drug and the next thing I knew I was in a drugged stupor FINALLY talking to the GI doctor who told me something about polyps, no bleeding and a pill camera. I knew this was important information but I had no idea what he was really saying.  

He shook my hand and I tried to say ... wait, tell me that all over again. But he was off on another case.

Later, in my room, the nurses told me about the report. There was no active bleeding anywhere, a few polyps were removed and the next test they wanted to do was have me swallow a camera pill that boldly goes where no tube has gone before. Wow ... this was science fiction, fantastic voyage stuff. The pill takes about 8 hours going down the digestive system taking pictures and then comes out in the end.

Okay ... feeling like there was a plan for next steps and then seeing my hemoglobin number slightly rise, I was a little more comfortable ... until ...

The nurse came in with the gallon jug of Go Lytely again! "Don't worry," she said. "This time you only drink half a gallon" (still no food) Another night of more of the same. Thank God the AC was finally working. Poor Deb slept there the whole time until I kicked her out so she could get some sleep.

In the morning, a tech came with a pill the size of a small car and a battery pack with electrodes.

"Just put your head forward and swallow ... pretend it's mashed potatoes (what?)."  It worked. He strapped on my electrodes and slipped the three ton battery pack on my shoulder.

I spent all of yesterday thinking about steak, the pill, steak, my blood, steak ...

Okay ... good news is I am home, my blood loss has stopped and the numbers are starting to go up which means there is no longer active bleeding and I had a great big hamburger an hour ago! The pill was expelled (REALLY expelled) this morning. I'll find out final results on Monday ... but everybody feels like I am in good shape now ... so ... we might actually have a vacation next week.

Who knows? Got to be a 99% chance ... right?


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...