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Rest In Peace

August 15th 2014 : Steven C. Appelbaum lost his battle with cancer.  

His family appreciates all of the tremendous support this community has given him through his 6 year fight.  

Thank you.

 

STEVEN C. APPELBAUM : A LIFE WELL LIVED, a tribute by Marc Appelbaum

born: February 28, 1943

died: August 15, 2014

 

One unfortunate thing my father unintentionally taught me (and what’s even more unfortunate is that I have unwittingly passed the same down to my son), is to put off today what you can do tomorrow…so with that, I of course waited till last night to start writing a eulogy that should, for all intents and purposes, have taken months, maybe even years to prepare in order to capture the full breadth of such a multi-faceted man.

However, I started thinking about what I might want to say a few days ago.

I was toying with the idea of “what is the Measure of a Man”. I thought that that would be my starting point because my Dad was a man.

A man’s man.

A lady’s man.

A man about town.

A man of mystery.

A man for all seasons.

A man with the Iron Fist.

A man with the Golden Gun. Actually his is aluminum, but…but seriously:

A man who could be counted on.

A man who could be trusted.

A man who had tremendous capacity for empathy.

A man who cared.

A man who cared a lot.

A man who cared a lot about a lot of people.

So…last night I decided to do a bit of research on the Measure of a Man.

  • The Ancient Greek Philosopher Plato says “the Measure of a Man is what he does with power”. Principal…High School in the South Bronx…I thought- this is a good tip off point for discussing my Dad.
  • but JK Rowling says “if you want to see the Measure of a Man, watch how he treats his inferiors, not his equals”. Now this is a really appropriate place to start the discussion of my Dad.
  • However, Ann Landers says “The Measure of a Man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good.” Great place to start.

Then, I read Sydney Poitier’s quote on the Measure of a Man. Poitier quotes his own father who said “The TRUE measure of a man is how well he provided for his children.”

It is here that I will start the eulogy.

And so, what I want to do is tell you about the greatest gift that my father provided for me. I think this will truly illustrate the essence of this remarkable, very special person, one of the most important people in my life: Steven Charles Appelbaum, my Dad.

The greatest gift my father gave me was to teach me how to love unconditionally. 

Unconditional love is known as affection without any limitations. It can be also love without conditions or a love which has no bounds and is unchanging. An example of this is a parent’s love for their child; no matter a test score, a life changing decision, an argument, or a strong belief, the amount of love that remains between this bond is seen as unchanging and unconditional.

In ethology, or the study of animal behavior, unconditional love would refer to altruism, which in turn refers to the behavior by individuals that increases the fitness of another while decreasing the fitness of the individual committing the act.

In psychology, unconditional love refers to a state of mind in which one has the goal of increasing the welfare of another, despite any evidence of benefit for oneself.

Well…these definitions certainly jive with a few of the quotes of what is the Measure of a Man. So…we seem to be coming full circle here. I think this last definition is extremely fitting. I will read it again: unconditional love refers to a state of mind in which one has the goal of increasing the welfare of another, despite any evidence of benefit for oneself.

 

My father as a working man

It is almost impossible for me to quickly sum up for you what my father’s career meant to him. My father was the hardest working person that I have ever met. My father cared a tremendous amount about his career and worked very hard at it.

He started his professional career in the NYC Board of Education as a Business Ed teacher, and then after years at several different teaching positions, including Drivers’ Ed, he worked his way up to Assistant Principal, then eventually the pinnacle of his career path, a High School Principal. He was super-proud to be the CEO of his company.

My Dad, like most people, got into the profession of his choice to do what that profession entails…he became a teacher to teach. A furniture maker makes furniture…until he wants to grow his business and then that furniture maker has to make the choice to continue making tables and chairs or to become a businessperson and leave the the furniture making to others while he runs his business. It’s no different in the NYC Bd. of Education, where the higher you climb the further you get from the thing it was that led you down that path in the first place. You go from being a teacher and working directly with the students to being an administrator and although your policies effect the students, you start to interact less and less with them and more and more with the administration and parents as you become a “businessperson” in that line of work.

My father, had the ambition to reach the top of his chosen career ladder, but never wanted to lose touch with what was important about being in education: having a positive effect on the students.

I could go on and on and on about what his “kids” meant to him and more so what he meant to his “kids”. He called them all “his kids”…sometimes to the dismay of my sister and I.

This was his professional passion. His kids. He literally has 50-something year-olds that continue to write to him on Father’s Day each year. They reach out to him on his birthday. They reach out to him for advice. All ages, from all different years, from all of the different schools he was involved in, from all different backgrounds, religions, ethnicities. Franklin K Lane HS, Wingate HS, Prospect Heights HS, Alfred E Smith HS, to name a few. They reach out to him to tell him about the tremendous positive impact he made in and on their lives.

I would imagine most of you here are connected to my father on Facebook so you must have seen “his kids” putting his face as their profile picture in solidarity and saying the most wonderful of things about my Dad.   If you haven’t seen it, please go and take a look. That is one measure of a man.

That is also by definition the definition of unconditional love where one has the goal of increasing the welfare of another, despite any evidence of benefit for oneself. There was no benefit at all for him to take the tremendous amount of time he did; to make the impact he did. It wasn’t part of his job. The NYC Bd. of Ed. does not pay you by the amount of students you help in their personal lives. The Bd. of Ed. does not increase your pension for every kid you turn from the hard streets of NY into a positive member of society. The Bd. of Ed. doesn’t recognize the impact you make on families’ lives. They cannot possibly measure the impact my father’s positive influence has had on his kids and his kids’ kids. He has made an absolute difference in so many young people’s lives. The positive effect is immeasurable. He didn’t just have the goal of increasing the welfare of another (which is the definition of unconditional love), he succeeded in increasing the welfare of a tremendous amount of others.

The evidence of benefit for himself? There was none that I’m aware of, not in any physical sense.

My father’s work ethic and professional legacy embodies the definition of unconditional love. I know that my Dad’s legacy will continue on. It will continue on indefinitely in all of us here and in the countless “kids” he has touched along his very successful and meaningful career and beyond. The untold good he has done and the whole-hearted self-sacrifice which he gave to his work will be a monument to him, and the memory of his good works will be handed down to the next generation by those who have had the great honor of knowing him and witnessed the great good he has done.


My father as a husband

…I can only speak to this as a 46 year witness…but I must say, my parents, to me, exemplify what a happy marriage is. I don’t know too many people my age that can say they are actually happy in their marriages. I’m not sure I know many at any age. Most seem to just put up with their spouses at best as they move through their lives, but are they actually happy? I honestly can’t think of many.  My mother says she had a very happy marriage. I am so thankful that my father fought hard and was fortunate enough to make it to his 50th wedding anniversary, which my parents just celebrated in the Bahamas at the end of June. 50 years married, and according to my mother, every one of them happy years. I believe I can speak for my sister in saying from what we know, we both absolutely agree.

As far as I can tell, my father loved my mother unconditionally.

My parents didn’t necessarily see eye to eye on everything:

they were extreme opposites politically;

they didn’t like the same types of vacations;

my mother (once you get to know her) is extremely sociable and wants to go out all the time, my dad who might have been a bit cranky at times, needed just a little nudge to get out the door to go socialize;

my father was a bit of a neat freak…some people might say anal, my mother on the other hand, well…in the house, let’s just say her organizational habits may have rubbed him the wrong way every so often.

The takeaway here is that they made it work. They always made it work. They taught my sister and I how to compromise, how to be fair, how to share, how to be kind and respectful to one another and to others. How to be both sympathetic and empathetic. How to be strong willed but giving.

Dr. Benjamin Spock says “…that the surest Measure of a Man is the harmony, style, joy, and dignity he creates in his marriage, and the pleasure and inspiration he provides for his spouse”. My mom was happy for 50 years. This is one measure of a man.  My dad loved my mom deeply and unconditionally.

I can’t just pay tribute to my Dad without also paying tribute to another person whose daily life personifies the gift of loving unconditionally.

That person is Sheila Appelbaum, my Mom.

I could never begin to tell you all that she has done to help Dad (really through their whole lives together), but most importantly as of recent to keep him alive and hopeful, to be his true advocate since his first bout with cancer in 1995, and more pressing in the last 6 years, to fill his every day full of love and hope, even when some of those days were frightening and bleak.  You will never know how much she gave.  And when the rest of us were on the verge of falling apart, Mom kept it together with her unbelievable strength, and unconditional love.  There aren’t enough words to describe the depth of her giving and love to Dad.  I can’t look at you right now, but Thank You Mom.


My father as a friend

My Dad taught me how to be a true friend. He became a true friend to me, especially in his later years. I could talk to him about anything, and I did. I could ask for advice without fear of judgment. I could count on him to be there when I needed him most. That to me is the definition of a true friend. He did not teach me to be a friend just by being my friend. It was not something he taught me purposefully…it’s not something we ever even talked about, but I learned through his example. He has today so, so many long term friends who have known him and loved him since they met him starting when he was a kid in elementary school, High School, college, Camp Lokanda, Lindenmere, and Swago, from every job he has ever had, from his life in Staten Island through his life in Boca Raton and his work in FAU. People love to be friends with my Dad. He is a true friend. He may be hard to break into in the first place, but once you get through the tough exterior to the mushy center, you are his friend for life.

Its been said that in considering the measure of a man, you can simply count his friends.

I personally would go one or two steps further and say it’s not just the number of friends, but the number of long-term friends; the number of friends who really know who you are and still remain your friend. Additionally, I believe it’s the quality of those friends. My dad has so many long-term, true friends. He loved them unconditionally and they him. I am so glad I can count myself part of that group. That is one measure of a man.


My father as a proud grand-father

I remember when my wife was close to giving birth to my daughter, the eldest of his four grandchildren…he was not pleased at all to be on the verge of being called a Grandpa at 51 years old. I can get where he was coming from since 51 is only 5 years away for me…

But once Aliya came into the world, he was a Grandpa and he loved it. He loved her. He loved her unconditionally. He then loved Alex my son, then Jesse my nephew and Mr Sammy my other nephew. He loved them all uniquely. He had different names for each of them, he had trademark little moves he did with each of them. He was a Grandpa and he loved it. His love for them was endless and unconditional. His love and his light and his wisdom and his kindness will always be with you.

 

My father as a father

…well, I left the most important part, for me, for last. It’s very late at night as I write this and I just cant get through this section without falling apart. Everyone in the house is sleeping after a tough, tough week.

Let’s see if I can get through this….

My Dad was the best Dad.

He was there for everything he needed to be there for.

He was hard and he was kind.

He was tough and he was gentile.

He was always there for us. Always.

If Sydney Poitier’s father is correct in that “the TRUE measure of a man is how well he provided for his children”…then my father’s measure is immeasurable. He provided my sister and I with everything we ever needed and more.

He was proud of every one of our accomplishments both big and small.

I am so proud of him and all of his.

He provided me with the gift of unconditional love.

Not only did he give unconditional love to me but he showed me what it meant to give it to others.

To care.

To matter.

To make this life matter.

His life mattered.

That is the TRUE measure of a man.

 

 

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7.30.14 Here Goes…

Hi All, I think that JULY 13 WAS THE LAST TIME I HAD AN ENTRY.  I don’t really recall all what was going on except for the fact that I went into the hospital to do a 3 minute brain scan. The scan was conducted on a hard slab and when it was over the tech noticed that my right arm just flopped down on its own. that did it! Suddenly, my gurney was in the hallway attracting a flow of medical people as a result of my right arm going limp for all of a minute and a half. The ultimate result, was being put in the hospital for a week. during that week i was visited by a string of neurosurgeon, my oncologist, my internist, and a string of others where after popping in all hours of the day and night asking me to squeeze their fingers, put up resistance to their up and down hand pressure , then ask me how I as feeling. I am sure they  Medicare  nicely with no indication to me what was going on. As of a week ago Friday I’Ve been transferred from the hospital to a rehab center just a few minutes from where we live. My main problem here, and a have to say treatment here has been very good, is that my right leg has feeling on my skin but absolutely no motor control. Therefore in the last number of weeks I’ve gone from cane to walker to wheelchair with a right leg that supports nothing. Will muscle control return? Who knows, there is certainly no medical results, prognosis or even agreement among the various Drs. So on we go. The most frustrating part is not knowing what is causing this except that they feel it is coming from my brain and therefore the Ommaya reservoir to be able to put medication into the liquid of the brain. A 50/50 chance that I will regain my motor movement of my leg. The rest of my body is getting stronger through OT and PT. Put all of that together with a berserk  blood sugar count caused by steroid, a further weaken right leg, caused by an unnecessary drug, having to depend on people to do things for you that I’ve never needed doing in 71 years, which all makes for a not very pretty picture. So here you have a medical update of Mr. Positive since the diagnosis of esophageal cancer in 2008. Have I lost the feeling of a positive outcome? Nope! But it is not easy to maintain especially when there are no answer forthcoming. So there you have it,how long I will be locked up in here I have no clue. We will see what the Oncologist says on Friday and how the next shot goes. I am sure you know but I want you to know a piece of what Sheila is going through here because you can hear it in my attitude. She has been and continue to be supper through the ups and downs of this episode. Bottom line to this is you now have some of what we are at now and we keep hoping that the direction from here on will stay positive and that we get some good news soon. Stay positive. Be kind. Make someone smile. Gary Slattery Happy Birthday, Jesse and Alex Happy Birthday, Susan Brody Happy Birthday.IMG_2020

Stay tuned…….

Ready for this one? I certainly was not.

We get to Boca Regional yesterday at about 3:30 for my CT Scan of the Brain and then to do some intake stuff for pre op at 4:45.  They do what they do paperwork wise and then I am on the CT table.  This thing, was like being on a rock and it really screwed with my back.  However, it was really a quick test and as I was being switched from the gurney to the chair, I grabbed Clarence for leverage and the tech noticed my right arm just flopped on the gurney.  Maybe I got up too quick as I think I did feel light-headed but was not really sure.  The one thing I did know was that the right arm went limp and within about a minute or two, was back in action.  No more limp mode at that point of as of blogging with the right hand right now either.  The strength was back almost immediately and that was that. But, as soon as it was seen by the tech that was that.  No dinner with Jeff, Andy and Sheila (and what a dinner they had).  And there I am off to the ER (right around the corner) speaking to three Doctors in the hallway before moving me.  My strength was OK, the smile was straight, no slurring of words – all appeared as is – ok.  However, they were not going to release me after the scan once the arm went limp even it is only for the minute later.  Well, let me tell you that I could not even recall all that did in the next couple of hours.  I was admitted to the 9th Floor Neurosurgery floor, which by the way is the top floor of the Hospital.  I feel as though I am in the penthouse.  It is now 11:30 PM the following night and guess where I still am residing?  Room 9-11 with a view of forever (see below), scans of the Carotid Arteries, a CT Pelvic Scan, another brain scan, chest x-ray, and other stuff I cannot even pronounce.  So from a brain scan to dinner with Jeff and Andy, I am in Boca Regional Hospital being poked, stoked, tested, and being treated by some of the best people imaginable.  Even the food here is good.  Although, that could be in my imagination.  Can hospital food possible be good?  You know what, their pot roast and mashed potato was quite satisfying.  But tomorrow Sheila is bringing me a bagel, lox and some Muenster for lunch.  So, on we go.  Anyway, they were not going to release me with the possibility of whatever this could be without checking every which way from Sunday to at least try to ensure they did not send home someone may toss off a stroke because he said he felt OK.  So, that is where I am and like it or not, it is for my own protection – and theirs.  And by the way, I was seen today twice by a neuro something or another, a neurosurgeon, a stand in for my internist and a regular flow of others.  Look out Medicare and GHI as those bills are going to be rolling in.  I love it when a Doc happens to walk by two minutes after i return from the most recent scan and I hear, “Oh you are back.”  A minute and half  later after, “Squeeze my fingers, does this hurt, lift the right leg, push down with the right foot. touch your nose with our index finger.”  But hey, they gotta do what they gotta do too.  They are seeing pictures of this little doo dad in my head that one Doc said it was in a part of the brain that had no connection to the moderately dead right leg and the neurosurgeon indicated that it was located in the motor something that would have a direct effect on the right leg. Are they looking at the test results of two different people.  We will see tomorrow. You know what?  Don’t wait for Wednesday.  Lets get in there on Monday, plant the Ommaya Reservoir, test the brain fluid, find the cancer and chemo it out.  If of course that is what is hiding in there.  Hey, what it is it is so let’s do it before it does any more to me.

Long paragraph up there.  So, it is now Sunday morning and i am going to sleep with only Sheila and my bagel and Nova on my mind.  Keep some good thoughts for all kinds of things.  Smile even when you don’t particularly want to do that. And for heaven’s sake, be kind to people, be nice to people and do the same for yourself.

This picture is not great but check out the view from my hospital bed.   And, Stay Tuned.  Happy Sunday.

IMG_1989

Med Schedule Update – Just FYI

Hi All,

Got some more funny stuff and some not so funny stuff but all of it moving forward.  Man, am I getting good with Clarence.  He opens doors, closes drawers, picks stuff up – I am getting very adept in his uses.  Tomorrow at 4:00 i have an appointment for a CT scan of the brain.  Monday at Noon, I have a pre op eval from my Internist.  On Wednesday mooring the Ommaya Reservoir will be implanted under the scalp about three inches above my right eye.  One hole in the head coming up.  The Doc is trying to get me in to the hospital early enough on Wednesday so I can go home that afternoon.  If the anesthesia is not gone, or there is any other concern, I will be discharged the next morning.  

I never buy insurance for gadgets or for flights.  I guess with my track record, this time I did.  This afternoon I cancelled Jet Blue for July 17 (surgery on the 16th), the Middletown Marriott, the Tammiment and the most unfortunate, Jesse and Sammy’s Visiting Day.  I hated to do that. And, we were going to take Alex out for dinner during the following week from the Tammiment.  But, crap happens and this crap is on me.  Too bad Sheila gets to miss all of this as well.  For better or worse I guess.  We are both doing what needs to be done.  One of Steve’s Silver Linings – Sheila has been cooking her ass off and I am loving it – all of it.  She is really something special.

Stan and Tobi, thanks for the good thoughts.  Beth, what can I say?  Jo, after all those years to have been able to see you at the Tammiment would have been terrific.  And here we were so close and illness strikes again.  But, I ain’t done yet.  Mindy, thanks for the earlier call and the need to hear the Voice.  I understand that, appreciate that and did enjoy our conversation.  

That’s my schedule folks for next week so we will see how all of that goes and where we go from there.  Florida is in the 80s with rain most afternoons, which we need desperately – maybe not 3.26 inches in under 2 hours but the rain is good – we are so green.  Have a good rest of the week, think good stuff, smile and be kind.     Stay tuned…

Post Full Frontal Splash Down

Good Morning.  Wow did I wake up with a burr  under my saddle today.  Took care of  a bunch of stuff this morning.  Good feeling.  To the point from yesterday – I’ll tell ya I would have loved a picture of that scene.  It happened so quickly I can’t imagine what the fall out looked like but am aware of the landing.  I can still feel it.

I am a ‘T’ shirt person.  I probably have over 60 ‘T’ Shirts which I wear all the time.  Concert shirts, names of places, restaurants, bars, vacation spots, Brooklyn and NYC spots and whatever else goes into the mix that just bring me comfort.  Now that I am thinking back, we went to Italy a few years ago with friends and their travel agent told them, I guess him in particular, not to wear identifiable ‘T’ shirts in a foreign country so as not to draw attention.  Funny that I do just the opposite.  I get some great comments from people just passing in stores and on the street.  Some interesting conversations about our pasts have blossomed – hey, just a matter of personal preference.  But, with all the shirts, I have probably four that have a chest pocket.  Yesterday I was wearing one with a pocket so instead of wearing my reading glasses on my neck of the shirt, the reading glasses were in the pocket.  After the fall and the ride home, I got into the house, went to the bathroom to put some peroxide on my elbow, changed my ‘T’ shirt and headed to my couch.  I then asked Sheila if she saw my glasses. Now in the overall scheme of things one pair more or less of a pair of reading glasses is not a big deal.  BUT, in this case, this pair happens to be a wire frame, older than all the others and just my favorite pair of reading glasses.  i just like them and could not find them.  I am in total control of where my glasses are and select which pair I am using depending on where I am or which I grab but I do know where they are.  I could not find these.  Sheila and I both took a look around and they were not around.  Then it hit me.  They were in the ‘T’ shirt pocket and when i went flying forward from the chair I thought the only other possibility was that the glasses zipped out to the sidewalk or street and could easily have gone a number of feet without being seen especially just wanting to get up, back into the chair and into the car.  As I said, onc pair of glasses more or less is probably no big deal but I really liked these – just got attached to them.  So what did Sheila do?  She offered to drive back to the Medical Center to see if the glasses were somewhere on the ground.  I said not to bother as I have others and we had just gotten back anyway.  Well, being wiped out mentally with the preceding few hours I did hit the couch and promptly fell asleep.  I got up  two hours later and for whatever reason glanced at my desk and there were my glasses.  Sheila had driven back to the Medical Center, looked around on the ground and then asked the Valet if anyone had returned any reading glasses.  From the driveway, no scratches, no marks just the return of the glasses and thanks to Sheila, I had them back.  Big deal?  To me, yes.  I don’t know if I would have done it for myself but Sheila took care of business for me.  I thought that was super.  

Not too much going on today so far.  I did get a call from the neurosurgeon today indicating there was no clot in my leg vein yesterday.  A bit of good news in the middle of all the crap is nice.  One less thing to think about.  They do appear to be scheduling the Ommaya Reservoir for next week so we’ll see how that goes.  That is it.  

Have a good one, stay on top of your situation and medically, if you feel something is not the way it should be get it checked out.            Stay Tuned…

Below is not a great selfie but the camera does not lie.  I just wanted to see my glasses and check out my chin.  I look like I forgot to shave but the beard is on its way back – slow but returning.  

Old glasses and new beard

Old glasses and new beard

Think I'll ever get back to this?

Think I’ll ever get back to this?

Still Vertical? Well, Sort of…

It is the end of Tuesday, July 8, 2014.  What do I have to show for it?  A lot of sleep time today.  This day beat the crap out of me.  But, Sheila and I did get to laugh – a lot actually.  Again, what choice do we have?  Sheila is really super and I admit to not being at all easy the past couple days.  She is out playing cards tonight.  Good for her as I am here with a NCIS repeat and you.  

WE got to the office of the neurosurgeon at about 8:30 AM  I did the usual paperwork, which by the way has lessened considerably since with Boca Regional as the anchor, has all my records, scans, write-ups and whatever all in the same file.  The whole deal is accessible through the system.  We met with the doc who showed us scans of the brain, showed us the patches (small and in one area of the left brain) and told us what he thought, which was not much at that point.  He gave them a pretty nasty name with a not super outcome but could not verify how solid that was – thank goodness.  He also could not tell how long they have been there (old, moderately new, brand new) and had no clue if they are the cause of the loss of feeling in my right leg.  And by the way, Wendi the Walker has been super.  The stability factor of this one for walking is really good.  Pulling my right leg along can’t be helped but it works getting me around as I think it is probably not too good to hang in one place for any length of time.  But wait, there is more to Wendi the Walker and its ability to become a transporter – not a wheel chair, but a transporter.  The neurosurgeon cannot understand why the loss of feeling is happening in only one leg.  He indicated that it may have nothing to do with the head but could indicate a need for spine decompression as the scans did not show anything really overt they did show some old, bad, compressed, out of shape – everything.  So, they will look at that as well.  Then we spoke about the swelling of the past three days of my right ankle.  His concern was, even with no pain, my body may be throwing off a blood clot in the leg vein or artery. He indicated he would not wait to get a sonogram completed to ensure there would be no hospital, Heprin, Blood Thinners needed to clear the clot. Being it was about 10:00 AM,  when can we get this done?  By 11:30 AM, in another facility, the job was done.  The nurse could not give me the results but indicated she would fax them immediately to the neurosurgeon.  She did say though that they were sending me home.  There was my answer – no clot.   Anyway, the surgeon asked me about the Ommaya Reservoir and how I felt about that.  I know he is on the conservative side and I tend toward aggressive treatment.  My feeling, I wait for none of this.  See what it is, diagnose, treat, keep the fingers crossed.  Not working? Try something else.  I really do not want to wait for things to lets-see-what-happens while they get worse.  But, I leave decisions in their hands.  That is their job and not mine.  I do let my thoughts loose so they know I am OK either way.  The neurosurgeon is willing to do the Reservoir in consultation with my oncologist.  It looks like next week it will happen.  Remember The Good, The Bad and The Ugly?  This incision on the front right of my head with the resulting port and little pipe running along under the scalp will be a definite part of the new head landscape and will definitely fit the Ugly category.  Hey, that is why they make hats.  Want to know the worst part?  The scar?  Nope.  The bump?  Nope.  The general anesthesia operation to insert the OR? Nope.  Possibility of complications?  Partially.  The worst part is not being able to take a shower for FIVE DAYS.  FIVE DAYS.  Talk about ripe.  But, you know me, and I know how great the first shower is going to be.  See, there is a silver lining everywhere.  You just need to look for it, see it, feel it and experience it.  

So we left the office of the neurosurgeon and Sheila had converted Wendi Walker to the transporter mode.  I sat on the seat and Sheila pushed me.  She told me to wait in the chair by the exit while she brought over the car.  I said, “Nah, let’s take the chair to the car.”  Along we rolled.  Along we rolled.  And then, there was a maybe a half to three-quarters of an inch of raised sidewalk.  In front of me was a guy standing speaking on his cell.  Three seconds later there I was at his feet.  I could not get up as the bad leg was folded under me (lucky it did not break).  I moved the leg and the guy helped me up.  Helped me up?  He hoisted me up.  Back in the chair I went with a bloody elbow and a scraped knee.  Could have been much worse.  The title of this Blog was to be, “Your Mom Tried to Kill Me Today,” but she said it was my choice not to wait for the car by the building.  I could not blame her for that.   Then in the car she said maybe it would have been better if I had been reversed and facing her instead of being faced forward.  I said, “Oh sure that would have been perfect.  I would have been flipped out of the chair on my back, head cracked on the pavement and no need for the  Ommaya Reservoir.”  Did we laugh at the scene?  Yes, we did.  We also laughed subsequently trying to dissect how this happened.  Well, while trying to come up with a how this happened, there was no mystery.  The wheel hit the rise, stopped short, pitched me immediately forward and out of the chair to the sidewalk.  Done.  No further reason needed.  Again, this Walker becomes a transporter and not a wheelchair.  It does not have that kind of stability and just reacted to a bump in the road with me along with it.  Hey, come on.  What else can you do  but laugh as long as I got up, got back in the chair, stopped bleeding and will not use this thing as a transporter again unless it is on a smooth floor.  No more sidewalks.  Another adventure completed.  

What next?  Oh, at about 3:00 we got to Lynn Cancer Center as I needed my chest port flushed.  This needs to be done every 5 or 6 weeks or so if not being used for chemo therapy just to ensure it is working fine.  The RNs in the facility were super today as they are every day.  The knew about my leg and we spoke about  how they listened to me that day about the headache and the leg and stopped treatment and starting asking questions mainly  because in all the years they have known me they all said the same thing, “Here is a guy who never complained about anything talking about his head and leg.  We listened”  And thank goodness they did.  Super, Super collection of RN Humanity.  Port flushed, went home and promptly fell sound asleep on the couch for almost two hours.  This day beat the crap out of me.  Sleep was excellent as I awoke feeling terrific.  I have some aches and pains from the chair dump but pain means I am alive.  I am not ready for the alternative at this moment.  

Next steps – the neurosurgeon will confer with my oncologist and I believe they will agree on installing the OR next week.  I could go home that same afternoon or if not scheduled early in the day, the following day discharge from the hospital.  If the procedure happens and when it happens remains to be seen.  I am ok with it if it will help diagnose and treat cancer again.  A few more days will tell. Meanwhile I am hanging in there, not overly comfortable sitting or moving but hanging in there.  So when asked how I am doing, my usual response, “Still Vertial,” is not totally true at this point as I am spending more time on my butt but I am up and about accompanied by Clarence and Wendi.  Sheila is always there taking care of business and cooking away.  There is nothing she gives me that is not the best.  And by the way, I do go to the refrigerator and take care of my food business as I will not be waited upon but  by the same token do not hesitate to hit Sheila with a few, “Sheila can you do me a favor and get me a…”  She is good though.  That is why I’m glad she got herself into the game tonight and tomorrow afternoon again.  She needs it and I need to push myself to do for me as much as I dare to take on.  I am also contemplating going to the gun range with Wendi Walker with my guns in the carry box which will be a challenge in itself.  Whether I go or not remains to be seen but to want to go is good and figuring the logistics of it is healthy, I do  believe.  

I am not going to bore you with all this for a while until I have something definitive to share.  So if there is radio silence for a bit, I hope you understand.  if not, I just might find something to ramble on about that I will share with you.  And you, you have the delete button.  Feel free to use it. As I said before, I really do this for me more than I do for you as I need it for my own head.  It is good for me and I use it as needed, which is often.  

Have a good rest of the week.  Think good thoughts, take some time to smell the summer rain, be kind, smile and make someone else smile.  

Stay tuned…

 

Another Monday… More Support… Neurosurgeon Tomorrow…

Hi All,

First thing this morning our Medical Associate faxed the prescription for the Walker.  I was really psyched to get my hands on this thing as I felt it would help me get around with much more ease than just Clarence.  Naturally, there were a number of choices.  Could I have gotten away with the Medicare Freebie (worth $109) ?  Sure.  But, did I really want to walk with the basic aluminum model with the rubber slider and the cut up tennis balls on the rear legs so you don’t kill yourself?  Nah.  I went from that one to a 3 wheeler, to a really classy one that was really quite heavy for both of to lift to one that has 4 wheels, hand brakes, a seat, a reverse option that reverses the bar across the back, brings down feet so it can become a transporter – not a wheel chair but a transporter chair.  I tried it out and found I was walking pretty OK with the Walker.  Now, realizing how your life can turn on a dime,  i offer you these little tidbits just as food for thought.  There are many things to be considered when making these selections including the price they charge over and above Medicare.  I will not shortchange myself on what will ultimately get me to move around more safely, more effectively, more efficiently  and with a definite added stability factor on all levels.  Hey, if one cannot go for the out-of-pocket difference, that is one story.  But if the need arises, check them out fully and do what will benefit your head, body and condition.  And for those of you who drove a Candy Apple Red ’49 Merc, check out the color of Wendi the Walker – Candy Apple Red. 

This was just a quickie Monday update on my new acquisition and some reality to be plugged into your own situation.   All else is good as for someone who watches almost no TV is hooked again on old NCIS shows.   Tennis yesterday was quite amazing but for the rest of the day I channel surfed and could find nothing that lasted for me over 2 minutes worth.  But, that is me.  I am just not entertained by mundane and pedestrian dialogue, acting that is not worthy of a high school production and a story line that allows me to come to a correct conclusion within minutes.  And then, if I do find something that holds me for any more than 5 minutes and the commercial hits, I am gone.  Mindless drivel aimed at the American public who still believe, “If elected, I promise…”

OK, no negativity – too late I guess.  I am in control at the moment.  Lets see where this goes though.  We meet with the neurosurgeon tomorrow morning at 9:00 AM and we will see what he has to say.  He is a surgeon.  What do you suppose he is going to say?  Lets cut!  Hey, whatever he needs to do to move forward is where I am going.  And then, we hope for the best.  So far so good s lets see what goes this time. Keep the good thoughts coming.  Actually, I just felt like writing a bit and only a bit is what this was.  So, I will end with some other little personal pieces.  And those will be followed by three pictures – Clarence, Wendi and my dome.  

Jeff, thanks for hanging yesterday.  I am sorry I forgot to dispense some ’43’ with our Casino game (wow, what a throwback to the late 60s that was) which would have been great with the game.  Next time.  

Jill, don’t ever hesitate to suggest based on your experience and our experience.  You know me well enough to know why I avoid 99.8% of that kind of stuff from well-meaning, well-intentioned people who believe what they will based on their own experiences and that of others.  I pay doctors.  However, with you, bring it on when the urge hits.  Your insights yesterday were appreciated.  

Sara, enjoying the plant stories and whatever.  Not that my mind is being consumed by any of this but I prefer to think about the greenery.  Next!

While I admit I like being in my own head, no tumult, no hanging out that is intense, people need people – within reason.  Marsha and Neil, thanks for the later-on-this-evening visit as shooting the bull will be a nice change from the past few days.  Please, no Board of Ed Stories.  I have had enough of those both in my experience and in post retirement conversation.  It is behind me and that is where I want to keep it.  Memories of my kids and staff is all I need.  The rest – flush it.

Ok, that is it.  Be good, be kind, smile live in the present, look to the future and learn something new each day.  Waste no time as there is not a moment to waste in this lifetime.  Waste no time but take some time for yourself.        Stay Tuned…

Clarence Cane                                                                                        Wendi Walker                                                    My DomeIMG_1987

Clarence CaneWendi Walker

A New Low… Literally…

Hi Happy 4-thers,

       Do you guys have habits?  I suppose everyone does of one type or another.  I guess as well that some are considered to be good habits and some bad deepening on the ultimate outcome and reason for being.  Or, as in my habit, well-intentioned with a different conclusion caused by something extraneous to its original intention.  I guess I could say I do not have too many habits, good or bad, but there are reasons for most of them.  My Dad had a couple of rules that became habits of mine.  Don’t lie and put things back where you got them so they are easily found next time.  Make sense?  They do to me.  And, that is what counts.  Hey, I know people who do not know the difference between a lie and the truth.  My Dad’s point always was that you needed to be very clever to be a decent liar.  Most people do not recall what they said or why they said stuff so they get snagged.  Not worth the effort.  Anyway, back to the point.  I rise in the morning a good hour or two prior to Sheila.  For years, I put my clothes in the living room prior to going to bed so when I get up in the morning, I shut the bedroom door behind me so she does not hear me messing with my coffee and whatever and I dress in the living room so as not to disturb her.  Now with the leg thing, it is not just an act of slipping my leg through the underwear and gym shorts, but have to sit down to accomplish this even semi efficiently.  This particular evening, I decided to save steps in the morning and set my clothes on a high stool right outside the Port St. Lucie kitchen nearer the coffee maker and refrigerator and further away from the couch.  Good idea, right?  Nope.  Understand that when you cannot feel your toes or most of your foot surface, things happen that if you are not observing, your head wonders what is happening.  So there I was putting my foot through the leg hole of the underwear and the seam of the leg hole got caught between my toes.  I got it in but now the second foot got caught by accident.  I bent over almost touching the floor to extricate the seam from between my toes.  I was pretty close to being folded in half and quite near the floor when the feeling, what is left of it, remaining  in my right leg buckling it and sending me crashing (a two foot high crash) to the floor on my right elbow and back.  What could I do?  I laughed.  Stupid.  I saved steps and almost massacred my back and elbow.  Still hurts today but not as badly.  The place is pretty sound proof but Mama Sheila’s Radar caught me.  The three of us, Sheila, Clarence and me got me back to my feet (foot) and on I went for my coffee, bagel and Babybel morning appetizer.  Unbelievable.

We decided to pack it in and head for home.  In fairness to Sheila, why should she have to sit in with the exception of meals when we could both be more comfortable at home?  When we got home, we canceled the Marco Island Resort for this coming week and for a mere $89 get to use it again within a two-year period.  Of course we had already paid the exchange fee, deposited our stay for another $89 and will pay another exchange fee to use it again for all in all about $400+ when for $34 we could have had trip protection, but live and learn.  Have to keep learning.  Of course on the way home who can not stop at Chowderhead’s in Jupiter for some stuff I won’t describe as you will picture me in Hell with a Lobster Claw Cracker in my hand.  Home, moderate pain in the back, dragging the right leg but comfortable as can be in my own home.  

By the way, after my initial surgery in 2009, over the next year or so, just changing my eating habits to about 6 small meals a day, I said I could bring a multi billion dollar diet industry to its knees with that change at no cost to anyone.  But who listens?  You all would rather do all this fad shit which lasts no longer than the actual thought.  I took off over 80 pounds and have not put one ounce back since 2009.  But hey, who am I?  Well, now i have discovered Part ll of Steve’s Miracle Weight Loss System.  Destroy your right leg via cancer in the head, get a cane, give it a name and (GET THIS) I have been eating like I don’t know what and have taken off another 8 pounds due to the additional energy used in the management of Clarence coupled with the constant observation of Clarence placement followed by foot placement to avoid toppling over.  The balancing act, the muscle use, the bouncing off things the mental stress of watching and measuring each step to ensure no toppling and whatever else goes into all that has removed another 8 pounds in under 6 days.  I’m kidding about being happy about this.  It is true but I am not happy.  Less meat on the bone means more possible damage.  But hey, who am I?  Just someone wanting to raise the score to Steve 5 – Cancer 0 but this looks like a nasty one.  We will know more on Tuesday by mid day.  

Now for my next major challenge of the day.  We have a reservation at the Club tonight for July 4 dinner with another 12 people.  #1, I abhor those big dinner things for a variety of reasons but I do them because it is a nice crew of Folk.  #2, it is taking me 10 minutes to walk from the front bedroom to the kitchen.  To get from Valet Parking to the seats in the Main Dining Room will probably take me to the other side of dessert.  Neither of those really has to do with anything.  I have zero urge to get any more clothes on me tonight other than my NYU ‘T’ shirt and gym shorts.  Second, I do not see myself sitting in one place in the dining room for dinner as I am totally not in the mood for this circumstance and have zero tolerance for a DJ Rocking the 4th away with my Kasha Varnishkes.  So now to get out of this even semi gracefully which will not happen as Sheila will not go without me and I want her to so she can hang with her friends for a bit.  We’ll see.  I’m not going. I do want her  to go.  

Friends, do not lose yourself to anything or to anyone or to any situation.  Things change with us, within us, without us all too quickly.  Look at me.  One minute walking all over the Bahamas, the next minute, 10 minutes from one room to another and not knowing exactly what it is, if it can be treated or what the ultimate outcome will be.  Go figure. I am not saying to go around worrying about anything as fear for a moment is fear for a lifetime as far as I am concerned.  But know that if and when the time comes, kick ass as best as you are able.  Don’t be scared, don’t be doubtful don’t fear the future  JUST BE!  BE YOU!  Like what you are.  Like who you are.  KICK ASS!  Be Real.  BE YOU!

And you know what, my mantra is noted below both pictorially  and in Text.  Thanks Steve Jobs.  i never lose sight of this.  If I do then I know my brain is in big trouble.   Stay Tuned…

IMG_1984

Today, I Added another ‘Y’ Word – Adaptability.

Hi All,

For the last day and a half, the right leg has gotten a bit more difficult to control.  The next step (NPI) was to go for a Triple MRI scan of the spine to determine if the leg thing might be emanating from the spine or vertebrae.  The scan was done at 3:30 today and at about 5:00 my oncologist called to tell me it was completely clear in all aspects.  Good news?  Yes and no.  We know what it is not but that does not leave much else to chance.  It does appear to be coming from the space between the skull and the lining of the brain.  Good news?  Nope!  But, it could still be a benign growth in there although with my cancer magnet record, I would put money on cancer cells putting pressure on an area of the brain that is causing the leg thing.

So having said that, what do I do for me while the Docs are doing for me as well.  We returned from Port St. Lucie for a Bagel Works Tuna Salad Platter, some take-out Multi-Grain Bagels, a quick trip home and then off to the Spinal MRI.  Prior to the Tuna Salad Platter, I had been thinking about getting a cane for some support on the weakness and the loss of feeling in my right leg.  A CANE?  Holy Cow!  Holy Cow my Ass.  If it helps I am doing it.  First stop, a medical supply store.  You have to see some of crazy looking canes they carry.  I got a nice wood one with a comfortable handle and I am off to the races – snail races.  What a difference this thing makes.  No mental piece to it.  You get the looks sort of quickly that say, “Better you than me.”  Hey, true.  But, if you want to do for you, one needs to do what is going to work.  But I will tell you, it does drain your energy doing something new like this.  It is very energy draining.  But it works.

So along with whatever else I believe I am, I am adaptable – have adaptability.  Here is me, (horrible shot but the camera tells it like it is) with my new support system.  What a difference a $34 piece of wood is making.  

On we go.  The Doc who does the Ommaya Reservoir is off until July 8 so we are trying to get an alternative to get the Cerebral Fluid tested.  We’ll see how that goes tomorrow.  Sheila and I leave again in the morning for Port St. Lucie to finish out the week – She, Me and Clarence Cane.  All else is good.  Sammy got to Camp yesterday and today we already got a picture of him playing tennis.  Jesse, who knows where he is?  Probably fishing in the lake already.  I was just going to show you my cane but could not resist Sammy and his racquet.  

Have a good one, do what you need to do for you and smile.  The rest is the rest.  Do with it what you will.

Stay Tuned…

IMG_1940 IMG_1942

 

 

 

 

Philosophy, Emotionality, Mentality and Physicality – Complacency, Me and Maybe You…

Hi All,

Let me begin at the end of the Title.  I added the ‘Maybe You,’ in case what I am saying with you listening in  has any impact on your thinking.  If not, that’s fine because I am really speaking to myself here while encouraging  you to hear what I am saying.  I’m no genius, no sage but as you know I am a heavy-duty people observer, watcher, listener and most important, I think I know what is good for me and what works for me.  I push none of my thinking on anyone.  I  offer any of my conversion to myself to you as you eavesdrop on my thoughts and choose to do whatever you will including deleting.  

Over the years, the word complacency has crept into a few of my poems and other forms of my writing.  To me, complacency is an enemy of change, of progress, of forward thinking and in carrying the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it,” to a too all-inclusive degree.  Something does not have to be broken to make it work better.  Being 71 years of age, and not feeling any of that number until about a week ago, who thinks about left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot, when taking a walk?  Complacency is the feeling that all is ok and will probably remain that way.  And then, BAM.  There I was today going to breakfast with Sheila in Port St. Lucie at the Berry Fresh Cafe; great Pecan, Strawberry Challah French Toast.  I walked from our apartment and stood against the car until Sheila arrived.  I got in the car, careful to make sure my shin did not catch the lower corner of the car door and then making sure my right leg was all the way in so I did not block the closing door with my right foot which now tends to get itself caught between the door frame and the bottom of the door. I don’t think it is there but it is so I need to look for it and to move it.   We got to the restaurant and from the front door, through the restaurant to the outdoor dining patio, I looked for chair backs to grab, obstacles on the floor, door sills, strollers and whatever as my right leg seems to find all these things.  

So what does this have to do with my title?  Complacency allows me, encourages me, not to think about any of those items throughout my entire life.  And then suddenly, you want to remain upright?  You become super cognizant of all those items and more.  The philosophical part of it is that one must always be ready for stuff to happen – good, bad or indifferent.  And, in my case, I need to deal with those circumstances.  Is “Why me?” going to solve anything?  Nope!  Is feeling sorry for myself going to change the situation?  Nope!  So why go negative?  Negativity is going to change nothing but my smile and bring on thoughts that are counter productive to my general mental well-being.  BUT, that is me.  I will not bury myself in negativity – neither mine nor yours.  But, by the time we got back after breakfast, I was ready to crash.  We got into the house and I headed for the nearest chair.  Off came the shoes and socks.  Ahh, a bit better already.  Eating at an outside table with the 91˚ temperature in conjunction with the hot coffee, the French Toast, the jeans, the steroid body change – I was smoking.  Off came the pants and on went the shorts.  Better.  Off came the baseball cap and the perspiration literally flew in front of my face like those close up boxing shots of a boxer getting hit on the jaw and the camera picks up the flying sweat.  It has become emotional as it is being controlled by something over which I have no control.  It is mental because I do have to have to think about those things that always happened automatically.  It has a physicality to it as I am concentrating on where the leg is, is not, is going, where I want it to go that it is not and all other related issues.  And you know what?  All of that is exhausting.  I am not used to it so it is making me tired – mentally and physically.  I will get used to it and hopefully it will get no worse.  Wishful thinking?  Probably.  But, that remains to be seen based on the point of emanation – head or vertebrae.  I will stay in control of me and that is what is very important to me.  I still have stuff to do and want to do it as best I can.  I am just always amazed how these infirmities come on in seconds and take over daily actions.  Fine one minute and no feeling in a leg the next.  Unbelievable.  So, DEAL WITH IT!  Hey, don’t kid yourself though as there is always the thought that it will get worse before better or never better again. Who knows?  But, the big but, is not to allow it take over the daily living.  What you will allow, will continue.  What you cannot do, you cannot do but NEVER stop trying.  

Is it hard to smile at times?  You bet it is.  But that dos not mean you should not give it your best shot.  I don’t care if it financial, physical, mental, or whatever, I still believe that pain and suffering in this life in inevitable. BUT, misery is optional.  

So where do I go from here?  I go for three MRH scans tomorrow at 1:00 to see if any of the leg thing is being generated by something other than the head.  We go from there.  I will shortly have a consultation with a neurological surgeon o discuss the implantation of a Ommaya Reservoir in my brain to get brain fluid samples and to infuse chemo.  Scary stuff?  Sure is but I do have faith in those doing the procedures.  We have coma a long way and while complications can appear with a hang nail, I trust them to do what needs to be done so we can all move on.  As i asked before, “Will my getting nuts over what has to be done change anything?”  Yes – it will make things worse.  So lets mover forward and take what comes.  Of course my thoughts are more concerned at the moment with our Keuring delivery that was supposed to arrive tomorrow evening while we were home but instead was delivered Saturday evening while we were in Port St. Lucie and hopefully is still sitting by my front door.  We are home tomorrow by about 11:00 so it should be OK.  See, that I worry about.  Nuts, huh?  Hey, that’s me.  I am more concerned with what’s around me than I am with me.  I think that is healthy.  But again, that’s me.

Well, I just took my steroid and am waiting for it to kick in – not that I feel it but it is protecting the possible swelling under my skull and has totally eliminated my headaches.  Now let’s get after that leg numbness.  

Peaceful thoughts and good memories go out to the family and friends of Susan Gardner – friend of Gary, Tom, Mary and me from Florida, NY.  She made the decision that the chemo was not working and took her own route which I thought was very courageous.  I did not know her as did the others (she was like 16 the last time we met) but she was a super person and will not be forgotten.  

Nancy, with all the crap that went down with the EC, the chemo and with the 10 years subsequent to your surgery, and now with the leg thing, “Keep on, Keepin’ on.”  It was good to hear from you from Canada and to know you are taking care of business and still checking in with me sharing the EC Awareness material.  It is certainly appreciated. 

Elaine and Ed, I’m glad you are back from your North Carolina surgery trip and that the para-thyroid is history.  Now get adjusted to it and you as well, “Keep on, Keepin’ on.”  I did get the phone message and will be home tomorrow.

To all the others who read the Blog entries I sent out, it is appreciated that I got so many, “I hope it goes well,” comments.  You listened, it is appreciated and you kept me psychologically comfortable.  I full well realize that different people need to act and react differently.  You do what you need to do and so will I.  You listened and you, for the most part, responded in kind.  See my smile?

To all, I hope you had a pleasant weekend and that this week gives you what you need.  Oh by the way, about a week ago I asked my kids, Seth, the Grandkids for 6 Lotto numbers each between 1 and 53.  Today I get a text from the youngest of the crew, Sammy,  wanting to know if we won any money.  He also told me they went to Peter Luger last night for pre camp dinner and I spoke to him and Jesse this morning as they were being driven to the camp bus.  Those kids are super.  Did we win any LOTTO money?  Can you imagine?  Them, I love.  Visiting Day 2013 This is a shot of them last summer on Camp Visiting Day – with my Baby.  Hopefully we see each together on July 19.  Right around the corner. 

I have given a bit of my metal landscape here in conjunction with some of my new physical stuff going on.  Let us now get a good diagnosis and do what needs to be done. 

Enjoy the summer.  Enjoy each other.  Try writing.  Seize the moment.  The next turn in the road may have a hazard around the corner.  If so, navigate it, take it as it comes, work with it and kick its ass.

All the best.            Stay tuned…

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