Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Colorectal Surgeon Song

Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Atheist's Christmas

I only remember a few holidays: Christmas, Independence Day, Cinco de Mayo, and New Year's Day.  It's because they fall on the same date each year.  Holidays that are pegged to a lunar calendar, a non-Gregorian calendar, or on the xth day of whatever month just sneak up on me.  So a belated Happy Divali, Happy Chanukah, Happy Kwanzaa, and Eid Mubarak to you - or a be-earlied one.  As I wrote, I don't know when those arrive.

This year's winter break may be a little different because I'm getting ready for surgery.  And by "getting ready," I mean that I have some pre-op appointments, so I can't just sit on the couch and watch football (either kind).  The folks at the hospital want me to have some pretty standard tests done including blood typing.  I could have told them over the phone that I'm AB+,but they still need to stick me as part of their standard operating procedures.  AB+, as you recall from middle school biology, is the 2nd most rare blood type (AB- is the rarest), but folks like me can receive transfusions from all blood types.  Of course, I hope I don't need a transfusion, but this is a good opportunity to remind people that they can help be heroes by donating blood and registering to be bone marrow or organ donors (see links on right).

Getting back to the title.  Despite my lack of belief, we do "celebrate" Christmas - but in the commercial sense. Hey, we're doing it for the economy. It gets a bit busier than usual this time of year, though.  In addition to the Xmas, both our sons' birthdays are in December. So we're doing more than our share to keep Toys-R-Us and Target in business.  We don't start Xmas shopping until December 23, because we're just finishing birthday shopping.  You ask, "Why not do both at once?"  Well, procrastination just doesn't work that way.

The day after Christmas also has a very special meaning in our house.  It's the day when all the presents have been open for 24 hours and the two most traditional phrases are "I'm bored" and "Daddy, fix this."

The entire I-270 family wishes you a joyful holiday, however you celebrate it.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Waiting Is The Hardest Part

I really don't have much more to say about my status between now and January.  I'm pretty much hanging around, waiting for surgery - and you know what Tom Petty says about waiting (if you don't read the title).

Did you know that I went to the same high school as Tom Petty and a bunch of the original Heartbreakers?  Not at the same time, of course, just the same place.  They didn't name the auditorium or gym after him.  But they could have called it the "Tom Petty Junior Parking Lot" because that where the potheads hung out and maybe where he got the inspiration for "Last Dance With Many Jane."
Anyway, I wasn't listening to Tom Petty on the radio,but I did hear this story on NPR about a cancer survivor who's humorously dealing with her multiple cancers by creating T-shirts embroidered with various aphorisms.  Some of my favorites:

  • Of course they're fake.  The real ones tried to kill me.
  • I lost my colon.  But I'm still full of crap.
  • Did I take my meds?  When is my appointment?  Do I have meds?
The third one refers to Chemobrain, the impairment of cognitive function that may occur during chemotherapy and last for years afterward.  This phenomenon has been known for years and recent neurological studies of breast cancer patients bear this out.  We cancer patients tend to forget things, not follow instructions, and have difficulty with some tasks that were easy for us. 

I asked the nurses whether I could use chemobrain to explain my forgetfulness before chemotherapy.  They said...  oh, I forget what they said exactly.  Now where did I put all my oncologist's bills?

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Places for your stash?

This weekend, Mrs. 270 and I took the kids to Seven Springs for snow tubing and skiing, well, ski lessons because none of us know how to ski.  It was opening weekend, and the place was pretty empty on Friday, so we had the snow tubing lanes almost all to ourselves.  Overall, the boys had fun.  I 'm not sure what they enjoyed more, the snow tubing or the endless supply of cereal and fruit at the breakfast buffet.  One could get the impression that we don't feed them at home.

We had a couple of crashes on the snow tubing slope and a few falls in the beginners' ski area.  Mrs. 270 suffered the worst damage with a dislocated thumb.  Thanks to the tumor, I had a few leftover Percocet in my bag, so she didn't have to wait for the emergency room doc to write a prescription.  One fortunate thing about being at a rural Pennsylvania ski resort on opening weekend is that the emergency room in nearby Somerset wasn't crowded.  Heck, this ER was, at best, one-twentieth the size of the Shady Grove ER but there were only one or two patients ahead of her.  She left the ER with her entire forearm in a splint.  It was quite upsetting for her.  Not the pain or the awkwardness of wearing the splint, but the fact that the color of the Ace bandage didn't go with any of her outfits.

Back to the snow part. When we arrived at Seven Springs, Mrs. 270 and I realized that our outerwear would not keep us sufficiently warm and dry (the kids were properly attired).  So we headed to the ski shop.  This isn't usually a good idea because only the desperate buy stuff at the resort shops.  I tried on some skier pants, but ended up buying a pair of snowboarder pants (on sale of course).  In addition to being baggier than the skier pants, the snowboarder pants have lots of pockets, while the skier pants have none.  Even snowboarder gloves have zippered compartments.  "What," I wondered "do snowboarders carry with them on the slopes that skiers don't?"  Then I remembered Ross Rebagliati, the Canadian snowboarder who tested positive for marijuana at the 1998 Winter Olympics.  He won his event and gave a new meaning to the term "Pot of Gold."

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Breaking News - Updates Later!

My friend complains that I don't update this blog often enough.  Umm, did I write "complain?"  That's no way to talk about someone who just bought me lunch to fatten me up before surgery.  I meant that she made the polite suggestion that I provide more timely information to those extremely concerned about my health.

I got nothin'.

It's pretty much eating and exercising until surgery in January. After that I'll have lots of stuff to write about.

Lunch was really good though.  If you go to P.F. Chang's, try their Banana Spring Rolls - slices of banana wrapped in pastry and fried, then served with coconut-pineapple ice cream.

Grazie amica!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Training for surgery

I never played soccer at at high level.  I was on my high school's junior varsity team.  An ugly foot injury prevented me from spending my senior season on the varsity bench.  Of course, I didn't play at all in college or in grad school because (a) neither school had a soccer team and (b) what did you not understand about my lack of talent?  Only when I moved to MoCo, did I start playing again in a weekly pick-up match, with many foreign post-docs (and a gangly domestic one).  So I quickly developed a three-fold strategy:
1. pass to the Frenchman,
2. pass to the Spaniard (sorry, not you. The other Spaniard),
3) pass to the Brazilian

Early in my pick-up soccer career, I picked up a bad ankle injury.  Later on, I picked up a bad knee.  So nowadays, if I run for more than 1 minute, I have to wrap my knee and ankle and take ibuprofen.

But the doctors want me to get in better shape before surgery.  The surgeon says I should focus on cardio exercises and the oncologist says I should do some weight training to build muscle mass.  It's a good thing I didn't ask the gasteroenterologist and the radiation oncologist too, or I'd have to add pilates and jazzercise to the regimen. So now I'm resuming my pre-cancer exercise routine - OK, truthfully, I slacked off months before the diagnosis. 

Instead of actually running, I use an elliptical. It's not one of the fancy ones with many electronic controls and readouts.  It's a pretty simple one that displays the wrong speed and the wrong distance. That doesn't really matter, my goal is to get up to 20 minutes in the "green zone" of the display.  The yellow zone means I'm moving too slowly and the red zone means my ego thinks I'm a lot younger than my body is.  The lack of any lateral motion saves my ankle.  In addition to the joint-sparing, no impact workout, I can use the elliptical in any weather and, when I get tired, I don't have to worry about how far from home I am.  I also have a knock-off of the Total Gym - you know, that resistance machine advertised by Chuck Norris and Christie Brinkley.  I bought the knock-off because I'm cheap and because it's reasonable for a limited amount of upper and lower body exercise, but I'm not going to get buff with this.

So, If I keep to a rigorous schedule, I'll be in decent shape for surgery.  After surgery, of course, I'll lose weight and stamina again and have to start all over again.  If all goes well though, I will be in game form when the World Cup starts in June.  With the current injuries to our crucial players, the US will need a good bench warmer.  I hope the gangly guy gets in shape too.  We may need him on set pieces.