Monday, March 28, 2011

Sam Called at 6AM

Thank God ... the phone is on Debbie's side of the bed.

"Yes, Sam .... how are ..."
"Listen ..."
"Tell Joel that I'm going to the urologist today at 2 o'clock."
"Oh ... are you okay?"
"No they are telling me that I've been peeing blood ... but it doesn't hurt."
"Sorry Sam ... I'll let Joel know."

"Yeah Levine finally took my penis out and examined it."

Silence ... now at this point Debbie was caught between total gross out and hysterics.

"So how are you .. and how are your parents?"
"Well ... my mom is feeling a little better and my dad ..."
"Okay .... just tell Joel I called. Bye"

Sunday, March 27, 2011

I'm Home

I must have really lost a lot of weight the last few days.

Okay ... so maybe the nurses gave me the wrong size gown this morning.

Five of me could've fit in here!

Anyway ... Tonight I sleep in my own crib!

Thanks for all the prayers and good thoughts, my friends and family. See you soon.

Rock With the Doc

I'm gonna try these out. I haven't embedded You Tube videos until this morning so .... hope they work. These were all produced by illustrator Kevin Riley, my song writing partner Mike Sexton and me.


Want more? Check out

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Is There a Doctor in the "House"?

Bored? Me?

How could I be bored? The second day in the hospital is full of surprises ... like the visits from lab techs with needles, nurse techs with blood pressure cuffs and thermometers,  dietary staff serving plates of mystery meat and the constant questions ... full name? date of birth? do you have any hobbies? (Just seeing if you were paying attention).

Amid the excitement .. there is the ever present TV ... mounted an inch from the ceiling. Hospitals tell you that it's mounted that way so you can see it easily from the bed ... the real reason is so no one would be tempted to steal it (after all it IS a 1978 Zenith).

So as I lay there slowly scrolling through the channels ... I came across something truly remarkable . Did you know that there is a "House" Marathon on the USA Network? That's right ... all House all day. I know I sound overly excited by this ... but you have to understand that I was never a House watcher. I think I've only seen the show once before. I feel like I just discovered it.

It's great.

For those who don't know ... House is actually Dr. Gregory House ... devoid of any bedside manner and addicted to pain killers.  House walks with a cane and always has three day old beard growth (How do some guys always have exactly three days of beard growth?). He manages to treat only bizarre medical disorders and saves someone's life by doing something dramatic like shooting him with a rubber band while drinking a cup of coffee.

His team includes a neurologist with a suspect past, a female immunologist, an old money intensevist, an old friend who is an oncologist and a love interest with the female hospital administrator (gimme a break).

A typical conversation between House and his Team would go something like this:

"Dr. House you can't remove his brain and play soccer with it in the hallway."

"Fine with me ... I'll just tell his wife that you killed him."

"How did I kill him?"

"You prevented this ... although unconventional, but brilliant ... life saving treatment to cure his hiccups."

"Hiccups are not life threatening."

"Really! How observant ... and what will you say when we discover that he also has a rare form of brain cancer that is only diagnosed by kicking the brain on the left side at exactly the right moment that he hiccups."

"But his brain will be removed ..."

"... correct ... and he will be VERY surprised ..."

"... causing him to hiccup. Brilliant Dr. House."

"Yeah, yeah ... now find me some oxycodiene or cocaine or something."

About that time ... the hospital administrator kicks the door open.

"Oh great ... look who's here ... Lady Gag Gag."

"Funny House. What the hell do you think you're doing now?"

"Do you have a problem with soccer?"

"Duh ... with somebody's brain?"

"It's his only hope. I suppose you don't really care about curing patients ... only protecting you exceptionally cute little ..."

"Save it, House ... okay ... just this one time. Please try not to mess up the halls."


"Knock ... knock ... time for blood work!"

Sorry ... I gotta go ... another bald headed guy with tattoos on his neck is pointing a needle at me.

Friday, March 25, 2011

"If I Only Had a Heart (Ablation)...."


Ever heard of it?

Every time I think of the word, my wierd brain comes up with stuff like "One Ablation ... under all ... " or "Scrap the mission! ABLATE! ABLATE!" or " She's Giving me Good Ablations ... Good, Good, Good ... Good Ablations".

You're probably asking yourselves ... "Why is he talking about ablations ... in fact what the heck are ablations anyway (and why should we care)?"

All good questions.

If I didn't just go though one ... I'd probably be happily ignorant and you wouldn't have to hear about it. But of course ... it's all about me ... and if you are tired of hearing about my medical problems ... stop right here.

Gee I'm glad you decided to read on ...

At 4:00 this morning ... when nobody but insomniacs and  insane people are awake ... I stumbled into the shower and got dressed for my 768th trip to Tampa General Hospital ... this time to have catherers poke around my heart to find a place that is misfiring and causing "skipped" heartbeats and then hopefully ZAP it. This is the Momberg definition for Ablation.

My sainted wife drove me to the hospital, patiently listened to me whine and even took these pictures of me posing in the room pointing at the clock.

An impressive team of nurses (who obviously have done this before) asked me if I was a drug addict while starting my IV, putting on my booties and testing me on how well I remembered my name, birthdate and why I was here (at least 50 times) . Apparently, many people must either lie about it or get it wrong alot. I wanted to test the system by telling them that I was Kirk Douglas, 150 years old and was here for plastic surgery but they were armed with lots of needles and I thought better of it.

Just about then ... one of the patients outside my room turned on the water faucet after he got a cup of coffeee (hey ... how did he get to drink after midnight?). He had his arm in a sling and was trying to hold the coffee and turn the water on with one hand. No ... I don't know why.

But ... all of a sudden ... the faucet blew off and the water gushed out of the spigot, covering the entire kitchen area and flooding the floors. Our nurse sprung into action and had the good sense to turn off the valve while others threw towels over the floor.

Sling guy calmly drank his coffee.

Unfortunately, that was the only excitement for the next two hours while I waited my turn to be wheeled into the Cath Lab. My PVCs (heart arrhythmia's) were busy doing a Jerry Lee Lewis arrangement inside my chest as I nervously waited. Debbie tried to distract me by laying on my arm, reciting "Our Father" and reaching into her bag for the beads.

I think it was supposed to comfort me.

Two techs showed up at about 7:30 to take me into the Cath Lab and presented me with a couple of more release of liability forms (I had signed 10 while waiting) One of the forms was about a procedure that involved shoving a tube down my throat to check for blood clots.

"Um ... will I be awake when this happens?"
"Oh no, " said Tech 1, "You will be under general anesthesia and fast asleep."

Stupidly, of course, we all sign these forms allowing anyone to do things like rip trachea, injure lungs or do other damage that MAY occur in the course of the procedure while you are asleep. Can you imagine carrying your own set of forms to work releasing you from liability if you happen to run over someone in the parking lot, cut off someone's nose in a salami slicer or staple someone to a desk in the course of your daily job duties?

After signing paperwork (tied by restraints to the bed, by the way) The Anesthesiologist emerged . He was the second act ... following the techs shaving my groin and strapping me down.

He too asked ... "What's your name ... DOB ... and why are you here?"
Oh my God ... HE doesn't know? I, of course, told him.
"Okay,": he said in an accent I couldn't quite place, "Ve tink dat ve might give you just a leeeeetle bit of medicine in the beginning so dat your PVCs vill be easy to see."
Easy to see? My PVCs were outside of my body at this point..
"When do I get the General Anesthesia?"
"I don't tink I geeve you dat."
'You mean in the beginning?"
"No ... ever."
He probably saw the color drain out of my face and onto the floor."
"Don't vorry. You know us all here now ... ve vill control your pain."
"Wait ... wait ... there will be two catheters up my groin and one in my neck ... right?"
He hesitated.
The Cardiologist popped in mysteriously (Act III) on the other side.
"Maybe three."
Dry mouthed .... "MAYBE THREE?"
"We'll see ... you will be fine. When we find the PVCs after about an hour or so, we will give you more medicine."

I couldn't see what they were doing after that but felt pressure in my neck and groin .... heat ... then ... I opened my eyes enough to see through some sort of Vaseline that covered my lids ... as the techs were taking off the restraints and asking me questions that made no sense. My throat felt like daggers were in it, my neck felt like I had been hit by a baseball bat ... in fact my whole body felt like it had been hit by a baseball bat. AND I was peeing through a catheter. The worse feeling on earth.

Someone ... somewhere said that they did general anesthesia after all.

"What time is it?" I asked.
"It's 2:30."
"Huh? 6 hours?"

The doctor was standing over me with his plastic heart model telling me stuff that I could not understand in the slightest. I couldn't focus ... until I heard ... " we stopped. But there's another procedure we can do."
"You know ... you just rest. We'll talk later."

I was rolled into my room and Debbie was at my side. She was still praying I think. I don't remember ... I just kept asking the nurse to get the catheter out of my bladder and let me stand up.

Debbie looked at my neck and said, "You look like you have a giant goiter on your neck."
From the back, I looked like Igor from Young Frankenstein. It even moved around.

I kept thinking ... "Abbie Normal ... Abbie Lation."

Anyway .... after a few hours the pain subsided ... The doctor came back in my room looking for ... I KID YOU NOT ... his plastic heart. Finding it, he told me what happened:

I happen to be one of the unlucky 10% of ablation patients whose area of electrical interference is on the outside of the heart ... in an area that is very hard to reach with the standard procedure. There is another way to get it ... from a needle to the chest ... but it is only performed at 3 centers around the country.

There is also another drug regimen that is offered as an alternative with much less risk ... I chose that one, for now. There is good news: These PVCs are NOT life threatening ... just very uncomfortable and management of the discomfort by medicine might be the answer.

More good news: A little while ago ... I walked without falling down and my hump is about half the size.

Hold on ....

More excitement ... I think I just heard the faucet explode again ....


Saturday, March 19, 2011

It's a Beautiful Day in St. Petersburg

That's what our former mayor, Rick Baker, would say every day in St Petersburg. You know what? He was right ... every time.

Today, for example, I wandered downtown, stopped at a corner eatery called Ceviche and had a fantastic ham, cheese, pepper, mushroom omelette.

That's it on the left ... with my fat mitt spearing a delicious potato.

Yes ... I was in heaven. The weather was true Chamber of Commerce perfection: blue sky, clear day and 70 degrees. The downtown waterfront was bustling and music drifted over my table. It was Jimmy Buffet stuff ... perfect for dining in Florida.

Across the street, the Saturday Morning Market was just kicking into full swing. Vendors were all showing their wears, down Central Avenue.  

At the corner ... a latecomer to St. Patrick's Day waited to cross the street. It was a doberman in shades and green antlers. You'd think he'd be embarrassed ... but no ... he just smiled at the crowd.

I decided to check out the market myself.

The first stop is always "Mr. I Got 'Em". Dressed to the nines in his tux, tie and hat ... "Mr." works the crowd selling his down home cooking and fruits and veggies.

Before you eat ... might want to buy a bar of happy ending soap. Only $5 and guaranteed.

I passed on that one.

For those into the natural health products ... I noticed a booth that held the secret to life: Medicinal Herb Extracts.

Make You Go-Go to start you up, Diarrhea Relief to stop you up and the ever popular Vocal Voodoo so you can start speaking more clearly.

Plant City Strawberries had their own special spot. If you live here you know they are the best (and apparently the most patriotic) strawberries around.

I passed an interesting array of peppers, spices and hot sauces. The label on the bottom shelf reads:

"Annalida's Tasteful Hotties"

Check out the BEST JUMBO CUPCAKES IN TAMPA BAY. I could have eaten the whole booth.

There was even a Brooklyn Knish that got into the mix.

What am I saying? For the masses that want to leave the snow and crummy weather to come here ... forget it ... I lied!

This is really St. Pete.

Trust me ... you don't want to move here.

Friday, March 18, 2011

My Personal Serenity Prayer

For the record: I know my limitations.

1.  My desk will never be organized in my lifetime.

2.  I have to have that extra half hour sleep when the alarm rings ... well ... maybe 45 minutes.

3.  I can keep a conversation going with my Dad for no longer than 15 minutes in one sitting. (He will have to share the blame on that one).

4.  If I'm still around when my kids are 50 years old, I will probably still call them kids and still freeze them at 5 years old in my dreams.

5.  I will stop gambling, drinking and doing harmful things to my body ... every week.

6.  My shoes will continue to go unshined.

7.  I see the humor where others don't ... which probably  means there is none in what I laugh about.

8.  I will never take myself seriously.

9. There will be daily apologies in my household and daily forgivenesses because I married a saint (I ordinarily would curse her "perfectness" at this point, but Debbie would feel the urge to hit the "beads" to protect our house from serious lightning strikes).

10. As a follow up to number nine ... I will always be a fan of Kinky Friedman and his blasphemous take on religion. (Sorry, Deb ... I won't stand too close to you tonight).

I felt the urge to share these with you today. No special reason ... it's a cleansing thing, I guess.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Sam Speaks (again)

Debbie's least favorite conversation with Sam took place before we left for New York. It took me a few weeks to get her permission ... and even with permission this story requires some careful editing.

The night we called, I think it took 3 or 4 attempts to get past his voice mail message, "Thank you for calling me. My number is 555-5555. Please leave a message at my number, 555-5555 and I'll call you back. (at the end of his message he coughs, chokes and drops the phone and then there's the beep)" If you didn't know Sam ... you would think he dropped dead after the message. But that's just the way he holds a conversation.

He actually answered the phone on our third attempt.

Sam, "Hello?"

Debbie and I on speaker phone, "Hi dad ....Hi Sam."

Sam ... "Who's this?"

Us ... "It's Joel and Debbie ... as in your children."

Sam ... "Oh ... yeah ... glad you called."

Me ... "You doin okay?"

Sam ... "Yeah fine .... Joel ... listen ... the girl from USF ... Judy, I think her name is?"

Me ... "You mean Judy Genshaft, the President?

Sam ... "Yeah, her. I saw where she and her husband gave a million dollars to the school."

Me ... "Yes she did ... very generous, huh?"

Sam ... "Is she rich?"

Me ... "Well ..."

Sam ... "How much does she make? Do you make as much as her?"

Me ... "We both do fine."

Sam ... "That's good ... Hey Joel ... listen ... you remember Karol?"

Debbie's eyes open wide and she mutters to me. "Your old girlfriend Karol?"

Sam ... "Do you know how I can reach her?"

We both look at each other."Dad ... Karol and I dated over 30 years ago."

Sam ... "She was so good to me. I miss her."

Debbie started to speak.

Sam ... "Hey ... Why did you ever leave her?"

After muttering an obscenity, Debbie said ... "Sam ... I'm still here on the phone!"

Sam ... "Hey Debbie ... listen ... can you get me another pair of those pants that you got me last month. These are getting a little snug." 

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

New York on Wednesday night

Fun in NYC.

First game of the Big East Tournament at Madison Square Garden and our USF Bulls beat Villanova 70-69. Pretty cool considering we were underdogs ... overcame a 16 point deficit and became the first team in the history of Big East Tournament play to do so.

Tonight we play Cincinnati. Pray for us!

Earlier we played at the Apple Store where Debbie got a new phone, brought three poor salespeople to their knees as they tried to explain how to use itunes and only took 3 hours this time to finish complaining about her first iphone.

By the way... she cursed the phone 4 times today ... and it's Ash Wednesday!

Oh ... I got this great shot when we rode the subway and ran into the guy who starred in the Coneheads with Dan Ackroyd.

I always wondered what happened to him.

Later ....

Monday, March 7, 2011

Don't Ask

Heard from one of my old college roommates from UGA the other day. He sounded great considering he just had a triple bypass operation. That was followed by a conversation I had with another friend who was getting ready for hip replacement and yet another told me that she found her boyfriend dead in his apartment.

Pretty depressing, huh?

Even more depressing was the realization that these things that were happening to my friends was not due to the position of the moon or bad karma or just plain rotten luck. No ... it's due to OLD AGE. You hit a certain age and these are the things that you hear.

My conversations are alot like this lately:

Me ... "Hey, (fill in any old fart's name). How are you?"

Old fart friend ... "Well ... to tell you the truth ... been having a few medical problems."

Me ... "That's too bad (I've learned not to ask about them)."

Friend ... "You see I had this surgery (I knew they'd tell me anyway) on my heart. Triple bypass ... my reflux still acts up and I was told that my entire respiratory system has to be replaced,"

Me ... "Well ... um ... you look good."

Friend ... "I'm on a new diet where I eat only things that grow in the desert and have no white, green or red color. I cleanse my body once a day with something I read about ... coffee enemas."

Me ... "Is it working?"

Friend ... "I still feel like crap ... but at least I'm not dead." 

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...