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For first time readers...my journey begins here: THE VERY FIRST BLOG POST (CC1)

Meaning of life

"The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away." ~ Pablo Picasso

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Expect Nothing. 
Embrace Everything. 
Love Everyone. 
Find Peace.
B

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Heifer International

I BOUGHT A COW!!!

"Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?"

There are several animals and other needs you can buy to help this charity. You can even buy a partial share in an animal. When you donate your hard earned money to a charity are you sure what your money is used for or how much of it goes to "executive expenses" that never reach the needy?

As you scramble for that last minute tax deduction, think about buying an animal for Heifer International. The business model is a sustainable method of using funds and not just throwing cash at the problem feeding only a select few. Your dollars buy something with a perpetual result, not just feeding people one time. It provides things they need to grow their own foods, teaching them that with their own hard work and your gift they can be independent.

Your gift does not just benefit one person. Families who receive your gift become donors as they pass the gift on to other families in their community. This allows them to help countless others as you have helped them.

If you can donate even a small amount, please help.

May you all have a blessed New Year!

Peace B 

HEIFER INTERNATIONAL LIFESAVING GIFT CATALOG


Wednesday, December 25, 2013

UNTO US A CHILD IS BORN...

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL, AND TO ALL A GOODNIGHT!

My First Christmas Card
Mommy & Me
On a cold snowy winter's night in Detroit, Michigan, a child was born. My mother was dressed as Santa because of her big baby belly. She Ho-Ho-Ho'd one too many times delivering gifts and her water broke. Mommy then delivered her most precious Christmas gift ever, Me!

I wrote this for my mom as a gentle reminder of that exhausting Christmas day:


Hello Christmas!
by Brian N. Walin

It’s all warm and cozy, my cheeks nice and rosy. I cuddle and coo, like most babies do. I want to stay in here, with my mother so near. It’s just a small bedroom, though could use more headroom.

I hear noise surrounded, I’m kind of astounded. The music I hear is about a reindeer. I hear my Dad bellow, and Mom shakes like Jell-O. They’re having so much fun, but it’s my time to be Son.

I squirm and I kick and I even pick. And all I can hear are words of St. Nick. On Dasher, on Prancer, I’m sure you all know. But my Mom is showing, it’s my time to go. The party must stop now, it’s my time to drop now. I haven’t a care, I soon will be there.

So off we go rushing it’s my party now. I can only imagine, Mom feels like a cow. She turns and she twists, she’s barring down hard. I can only hope now, I won’t pop in the yard. We get to the Doctor he’s waiting inside, I’m kind of excited about this whole ride.

It’s my time to jump out, but I still have some doubt. I think I will stay in here, if just for one more year. It’s really not that bad, but I can hear my Dad. “Let’s go you small squirt. I want to see my lad!”

So out I go bouncing it’s so good to see, that I have become part of this family. It’s so great to see you, you’re all here for me. Then out of my eyes I spy a small tree. All of the sudden, a nip and a tuck, this just can’t be happening, it must be bad luck. A slap on the ass follows this all, and then I feel pain and I start to ball.

Why did you do that? I’ve done nothing wrong. I’ve really been so good, all evening long. There’s no need to hit me, I’m sure you will see. I’ll try to be real good, for this family. Don’t hit me now, I just want to stay. I promise I’ll brighten all of your day. Just give me a chance and teach me real well. I promise I’ll try not to put you through hell.

This day has been trying and awfully hard, but I thank God now, I’m not in the yard. I really can’t tell what had gone wrong, but I’ll always remember the deer from that song. It seems to be clear about those reindeer. That’s how it all started with me being here.

A swoop and coddle with cloths that do swaddle. I’m warm and I’m cozy my cheeks again rosy. I just need some sleep, I won’t make a peep, just let me drift off and start counting my sheep. This room is much bigger, it just seems so right. But I need my sleep now, I bid you good night.

December 25, 1960

©2005 Brian N. Walin (All rights reserved)


First day on the job and already napping. I just popped out and boy am I exhausted!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Christmas Tree

Wish We Could Be Together At Christmas

I know some of you might have read this story before, but every year as the tree goes up I stop in peace to pay tribute to my wonder father. I think this Christmas story bears repeating. Happy Holidays! Peace B 

I grew up in Michigan. My aunt had a very realistic imitation Christmas tree manufactured by Mountain King, which I loved. I searched high and wide to find this tree, to place in the lobby of my new restaurant. When I was unable to locate one, I mentioned to my father during one of our nightly phone calls, “When I return home for the holidays this year, I’m buying a Mountain King to bring back to California.”

I searched for that Mountain King tree in California with no avail. It seemed the majority of Californians purchased real trees. I never agreed with the idea of cutting down a tree just for a few weeks of self gratification. I admit, they are beautiful and fill a home with a heavenly aroma, but I can’t kill a tree for that reason. Just the thought of the shear national number of trees cut only for this reason each year, makes me ill.

I was only in business for 6 months as the holidays approached. I wanted so badly to return home, to Detroit, to see my father for Christmas. I was born on this day and this has always been my favorite time of the year.

It wasn’t going to be easy, but I thought I could slip away between December 24 and 26. I was expecting business to be slow those days, but knew New Years was going to rock, so I had to return before. The crew was still green and I was still learning how to run a business. I don’t know what I was thinking, but I was going home! I missed my dad.

Nightly, I spoke with my father on the phone to discuss the day’s events. I’d bitch or brag and he’d listen and offer advice when he could. My father was a good man with the best work ethic of anyone I’ve ever known. He was a good listener and always offered sound advice.

Al Starkey and his wife Marge were new Little Caesar franchisees and had come to my restaurant to learn, while they waited for their first location to open in Monterey, California. Al and Marge were much older. Well... all the other franchisees were much older. I was the youngest franchisee at the time. Al wanted more experience running a Carry-Out unit and I needed the help, so it was a win, win.

I remember that day so clearly. It was a busy dinner rush and I was working the register. In the beginning, I had a hard time letting anyone touch the money. We had 4 phone lines that were constantly ablaze during the dinner hour. As I opened the cash drawer to make change, I heard an employee say, “Brian, it’s for you.”

“Is it an emergency?” a question I would ask anytime a personal phone call came in during a busy hour. I always heard a no, but this time the employee said, “Yes, it is!”

I was handed the phone and had a bad feeling in my gut. It was my Aunt Carol. This is a woman who NEVER calls. All she said was, “Brian, are you sitting down?”

Instantly I knew there was something wrong with my father, but before I had a chance to calculate it, she tearfully said, “Your father is dead.” At that point everything stood still. All I remember is sinking to the floor behind the front counter with the cash drawer left wide open and unattended as Al swooped down like an enormous eagle and scooped me up in his arms as I screamed, “NO!” with tears streaming down my face.

I wasn’t supposed to fly back for a few days and I wasn’t near prepared to leave at this moment. How will the restaurant run while I’m gone? I will need to be away now for more than a few days and I only have one assistant manager in my employ. I had no manager since that was my role. Who will make the deposits, get bank change, place the food order, pay the bills? Who’s going to sign the payroll checks? I will be thousands of miles away and for how long? What am I going to do?

It was all a blur, but in less than 12 hours I was on my way to the airport and a Corporate Little Caesar Supervisor was being flown up from Los Angeles to run my restaurant until I returned. There wasn’t anybody else closer to help. My restaurant was the first in the Bay Area.

When I arrived at the San Francisco airport, there were people everywhere, sleeping on luggage. The airport looked like a homeless shelter. Dozens of flights were canceled due to inclement weather. I waited in such a long line staring blankly at everyone and everything, not knowing how I even got to the airport.

Al had called our corporate headquarters and made arrangements for the supervisor and then managed to get me packed and rushed to the airport. I was on autopilot without a clue what was happening.

As I approached the United Airlines ticket counter, I handed the lady my ticket. It was for a flight on the 24th of December and today was the 22nd. I vaguely recall the conversation, but it didn’t go well. She assumed I was just trying to get on an early flight, because of the holidays. All flights out of SFO to Detroit were booked for days because of the weather.

I explained my father had died and I had to return home today. She accused me of lying, sighting that I already had a ticket and that she was sure I was just trying to leave earlier. She asked for proof of his death and requested a copy of his death certificate. With that I exploded. All my emotions came spewing out. “I don’t have one! He just died!” I snapped. With authority she responded, “I need to see some type of proof.”

I became enraged, belligerent in fact. “My father is dead dammit! I’m not lying to you! What the hell is wrong with you? Why would I make something like that up?” I was so loud and she was so offended and scared from my anger she called security.

I was escorted, screaming, into a private room, calling everybody, "Crazy!” It was I that was falling off the deep end. The security officer calmed me down and asked if there was a way to call the funeral home for more information. Once they confirmed my father was indeed deceased, EVERYBODY’S demeanor changed. My coach ticket was exchanged for a first class seat and I was on the next plane to Detroit. They couldn't do enough to make up for their mistake.

Seated next to me was a young boy, perhaps five years old, traveling alone with a large bag of toys. The flight attendant was well aware of my dilemma and apologized for the seating arrangement, but that was all that was available. It didn’t matter, just keep feeding me drinks (Black Russians) for the next 5 hours and I’ll be fine. I just want to go home!

I drifted off to sleep and the young boy escaped from his seat. That was just fine with me, until a very angry man stood before me, screaming at me, “Keep your brat and his toys out of the isles! His sh*t is everywhere!"

Apparently the lone child took out all of his toys from the paper bag his mommy packed and had strewn them all over the coach cabin without a care. As the angry man verbally assaulted me, I stood up to explain he's not my kid and fired back at my assailant, telling him to go f*ck himself. I think it took the entire flight crew to restrain the two of us. If this would have happened today, with all the flight regulations they have, we both would have been jailed.

They escorted the man back to his coach seat, picked up all the toys throughout the cabin and instructed the boy not to leave his seat again. I requested yet another drink, as the little tyke said to me, “You don’t like me, do you?”

“Right now? NO, I don’t!” I scowled, and the little boy pouted as tears welled in his eyes. “Look,” I said to him, “Let's make a deal. I’ll make you a tent to play in if you just be good, deal?”

That made him happy and I pulled out his tray table and shrouded it with an over-sized blanket. He disappeared into the darkness of the blanket and quietly played with a toy. It was peace on Earth…well peace at 35,000 feet anyway!

When I arrived, I was pleasantly plumbed from all the free liquor. My Aunt Carol was waiting at the baggage claim to pick me up. I insisted on immediately going to the house where I grew up. My aunt didn’t think it was a good idea. “Your father died in that house.” She expressed with concern. My two aunts and a neighbor were the ones that found my father dead in his arm chair.

“I don’t care. I didn’t see it and it doesn’t bother me. I want to go home!” I insisted. When we arrived, I let myself in and closed the door leaving my aunt outside, so I could be alone with my thoughts. I don't even recall saying good-bye.

As I entered my home I was in awe. Before me, lit up so beautifully in the living room, was the most precious gift I have ever been given. There stood the most spectacular Mountain King Christmas tree I have ever seen. It was decorated in all blue and green. My father, being the perfectionist that he was, had purchased strings of blue and strings of green lights. But, to make it perfect, he managed to exchange every other bulb, so they were arranged: blue, green, blue, green, blue, green. He knew only I could appreciate such an effort. Can you imagine the time that took?

The Most Beautiful Christmas Tree EVER!

There were blue satin bells and blue satin balls hanging, yards of blue and green tinseled garland, blue tinsel icicles, all topped with a huge blue velvet bow. To perfectly finish it off, wrapped around the base was a tree skirt that was made for my first Christmas birthday by a loving aunt. It was spectacular! Through my tears I spied a Christmas card propped at the base of the tree. I felt my father in the room with me as I slowly reached down to read the card:

“Wish We Could Be Together At Christmas. You were the best Christmas present I ever had.   Love Dad”

As I read, endless tears streamed down my cheeks. I fell to my knees and whimpered uncontrollably, gasping for breath. How did he know we would never see each other again? "Wish We Could Be Together At Christmas???" He knew I had a ticket to come home. I reread the card over and over “Wish We Could Be Together” It still read the same. How did he know?

The Most Beautiful Christmas Card EVER!

I cried myself to sleep that night and quenched the moon with my tears, curled up like a baby beneath the shimmering blue and green until daybreak fell upon the room, the wetness in my eyes still present from my crescendo of tears.

After the funeral there was so much to arrange and many bills to pay. When my father’s credit card bill arrived, the story of the tree gained clarity. My father bought the tree and decorations the very day he died.

My father died after he finished putting up and decorating that wondrous tree. Judging by his time of death, 11:05 PM, December 20, he purchased the tree that afternoon, spent hours putting it up and decorating, and began his nightly ritual; getting ready for bed, showering, putting on his PJ’s, then sitting down to watch the 11 o'clock news in his favorite tangerine colored Naugahyde armchair, seated within his bedroom. He passed away in that chair of a heart attack. I was told it was so massive, he probably never knew what hit him.

Two years passed and I could not bare to reconstruct the tree. It never made it into my restaurant still dormant after being placed back into its original box. I kept it for myself thinking someday I might put it up in my home, but it hurt too much to even look at the box. Eventually I gave in and thought, “He wanted me to have this tree to enjoy. He died giving me this tree to enjoy. Dammit, start enjoying it!" So, every year you will find dad’s tree lovingly displayed at Christmas, decorated as he left it for me to find, with the tree skirt and his card beneath.

To Dad,
Wish we could be togetheaChristmasYou were thbesfathea socould evehave.

Love Brian

Thursday, August 1, 2013

LIFE KEEPS GETTING IN THE WAY OF ME DYING!

TODAY I MADE MY FINAL PAYMENT TO MD ANDERSON CANCER CENTER for saving my life and most of you will be sorry for the rest of YOUR life! It's like paying off a house! When you do that you have a mortgage burning party...what do I burn for this occasion??? :-)~

NO I don't condone smoking...just thought it was a funny photo

BILLS, BILLS, BILLS

When the bills begin to pile up and all you want to do is survive...what do you do? I have met so many people who struggle with paying medical bills while trying to live a comfortable life in the process. Most hospitals and some doctors will allow a reasonable payment program to be set up giving you the opportunity to make a fixed monthly payment. Be proactive about this and don't wait until you start receiving collection notices. But when life saving services run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars like mine and you still have a 30% co-pay, you could be faced with an amount equivalent to a house payment.

For this reason even people who have good health insurance are forced into bankruptcy just to stay alive. Sometimes the entire family ends up sucked into this downward spiral at the darkest hour. I've met a few who have had to do this and I often wonder what I would do in that situation. For me, so far, I've been lucky. I have the resources and the access to some of the best medical care available. And as I pay off one hospital, I continue to incur more debt in the next. Even when you are considered cancer free, there is still some maintenance with a watch and wait protocol as well as other lingering problems associated with treatment. There are things I need (or want) that I'm not able to have because of the mounting debt I've incurred, but I'm one of the lucky ones who has the resources to stay ahead.

As I look around the house I realize how much I let go, because I was just too sick to care or was too afraid to spend any money, so I wouldn't lose my home if things got really tough. YES, I can be a tightwad...I prefer the term "frugal" thank you very much! Perhaps I shouldn't have worried so much about not getting things done, but when the roof starts leaking, the house hasn't been painted in over a decade, a second car that hasn't run in over 3 years is sitting in the driveway, and you're sleeping on a 30 year old lumpy mattress, it's probably time to get motivated. Because I've seen the financial devastation of others along the way I can't help but worry. I started my career early, made a lot of money, and invested well. My life was planned out so that by the time I was 50, (2 years ago) I could do anything I wanted in comfort.

I was going to travel, see the world, and set up a foundation to help others in need. I had two great ideas. I wanted to create a hospital camouflaged as a dude ranch, run like a vacation resort, for terminally ill patients providing one last positive family memory and a non-profit restaurant chain that could sustain itself financially providing housing, jobs, and food, for the homeless. (Another blog for another day) As most do, I planned the perfect life. For some it's only a dream, but for me it was happening, I worked hard and it looked like nothing was going to stop me. But as what happens with most dreams, reality slaps you upside the head and you snap out of it. Failed heath put the brakes on faster than I ever knew possible.

My father used to say, "If you have your health, you have everything." I never paid attention to that because I was very healthy my whole life until one day in my early 30's that all ended and life became more difficult. I didn't plan well in the event of a medical setback. Who really thinks about that when you're young? My business wasn't set up to run without me and I wasn't smart enough (or too cheap frugal) to put all the insurances in place in the event I lost my income. My father used to also say, "You can be insurance poor if you over insure, so choose wisely." My problem is, I didn't choose much at all. According to the Social Security Administration: "Studies show that just over 1 in 4 of today's 20 year-olds will become disabled before reaching age 67."

There are programs like AFLAC, mortgage disability insurance, and long term disability insurances that are available, but good luck qualifying after you're diagnosed with a severe illness. Fortunately for me I had several business that provided me the income not to worry too much about not having those extra coverages. Although if they were in place, I would not have had to dramatically alter my lifestyle. However, by the time I was 38, it became obvious I was no longer able to continue the fast paced life I was leading, working 16 hour days and wearing several hats in the process. My health was failing and I knew I had to sell everything and downsize in order to survive and maintain a comfortable life. This was a pivotal financial move I had to make or I would have gone into bankruptcy for sure. The dreams of traveling the world came to an end. The hunger to give back and set up a foundation to help those in need sadly vanished as I became one of those in need.

REMEMBERING THE FALLEN

My life now is not at all what I expected or planned for, but I'm alive. When I look at others who lost their life to cancer, I get angry. I truly believe that if I didn't have a team of lawyers and accountants guiding me, access to the best doctors across the country and have the resources to pay them, even with health insurance, I would not be here. I often think of a fellow tongue cancer patient, John who posted here regularly before one day he didn't return my email.

John was a very entertaining fellow. He had a quick wit and a caring soul. He used to make me laugh because he would email me recipes for biscuits and cookies. I would think to myself, "I'm on a feeding tube just like you. What the hell am I supposed to do with a Snickerdoodle recipe?" He was always upbeat even when sharing his darkest fears. He even took the time to share his greatest accomplishments as he battled his enemy. Sometimes we don't appreciate the little things in life, and we take something as simple as swallowing for granted, but to a man that lost his tongue to cancer as John did, it's the greatest feat in the world. Because of my similar journey, I understand. This email from John's shares one of his greatest accomplishments during his battle:

"Is the doctor in?

Well, At 6:15 this AM I was able to swallow water for the first time in over 8 weeks.  Now it is only little tiny bits of water. Nothing like what you all can swallow.  BUT, I'll take it.  for the first time in a long time, my throat feels moistened.  When I took some water into my mouth and tilted my head back, I swallowed. I could feel the water go all the way down,  from the back of my throat to the bottom of the belly.  Man I tell you, the things we all take for granted. 

 Just thought I would share, 
 JR"

John was a hard working man, lived in Indiana, did not have a large income, and no savings. He exhausted his insurance and was unable to continue to pay his premiums. He was on a feeding tube and was unable to afford the life sustaining liquid formula he required, the same that I was on for over two years. This canned formula was about $36 a case and he needed a minimum of six cases a month. Typically Medicare (or Medicaid) will pay for this IF you're already on the program. Unfortunately for John, he was already on his feeding tube after his tongue was surgically removed still trying to work his way into the Medicaid system after being rejected once or twice. He waited too long to begin the paperwork and he didn't have the resources to pay the mounting debt he was incurring.

One of his last emails still resonates with me. He was trying to stay in good spirits. John was a real trouper, but he really was scared and financially destitute. He was contemplating hiring a disability attorney to get his Medicaid coverage. Every ounce of his energy was used to hang on to life, he no longer had the energy to battle the paperwork too. When he told me he couldn't afford his formula, I was infuriated. Yes, he should have started the disability paperwork sooner, but when you think you will get better and you're just too exhausted to even worry it, things slide. But there is no reason why a person should have to starve because of paperwork when he obviously qualified for assistance! I was so angry!  I sent John four cases of formula and a case of pouches (required to pour the formula into) just to get him by. I never heard from him after that.

One day I got an email from a relative thanking me for my kindness and telling me of John's passing. I never met the man, but I mourned his loss as though he was my brother. I can't even write this without crying because in my mind he didn't have to die.

 I carry with me a lot of survivor's remorse. There are so many such people from around the world I have met through this blog and sitting around in hospital waiting rooms who are no longer with us and I ask myself..."What have I done differently to still be breathing?" The standing family joke is...God doesn't want me because he's afraid I'll takeover and reorganize the place! A fair assumption.

Had I not been surrounded by the right people with the resources to afford the level of care I needed, I would be having dinner with John right now. I try so hard to live a good life, to respect the fact that I'm still here for some reason, to make others happy and laugh and give back the very best I can. I love giving small gifts of appreciation just to see others smile. I enjoy engaging in conversation to help others see life from a different perspective in an effort to make them think and become better people. I know I'm so fortunate that I'm still on this rock to do so and yet there just seems to be something missing...a sadness that looms overhead.

 I've had a great life even if it didn't work out as planned, but more importantly I still have a life! I only wish there was more I could do. I think I mourn the fact that I will probably never see all that this world has to offer. I have always had a hunger for knowledge and new experiences. Unfortunately, lately those new experiences have been mostly shrouded in the medical arena. Perhaps I'm just bored, maybe a little depressed, and still feeling useless. But it's time to get those projects done before the house falls down around me. Life just keeps getting in the way of me dying!

Peace B

JOHN'S HEAVENLY RECIPES

Snickerdoodles

These cookies will be the perfect slightly crunchy on the outside rim and chewy in the center. I have worked on this recipe for one year off and on.  This is exactly how I make them and they turn out every time.  It is also less grams of trans fat and can be 0 sugar if using Splenda.  How about that...a Cookie that is better for you.

2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp cream of tartar plus one half pinch
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup (softened to room temp)  Smart Balance 50-50 butter blend ( You could use real butter I think, but DO NOT  use margarine.  IT WILL NOT WORK!
1/2 cup Crisco butter flavored shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar ( You could substitute Splenda Granular sugar- use same amount)
2 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract

Cream Butter and shortening
Add eggs, vanilla and mix some more
Add all remaining ingredients except for cream of tartar, mix well, then add the cream of tartar and mix well again.  ( It is exactly what I did) 
Preheat oven to 375

form into 1.5 inch balls and roll in a cinnamon-sugar mixture.
1/2 cup sugar
6 T cinnamon

Or how ever you like the mixture.  Some like more, some like less.

Place on ungreased cookie sheet,flatten a little and bake for exactly 10 minutes.  no less than 9 minutes and NO MORE than 10.

Let cool for one minute and scoop cookies onto a cooling rack to finish cooling.  ( otherwise the cookie will continue to cook)

(Side note)  If you have an idea to just cook for less time to allow for cookie to continue to cook on pan, DON'T.  This this will make the cookie cakey. Also use echo bakeware. Do not use air bake pans!

Biscuits

Ok, I know this may sound odd and you may want to substitute or change the way you do this.  Do NOT fall into temptation.  It may make a biscuit, but it will not make the correct biscuit. So exactly as I say and you will have a most wonderful product.
First tip.  Everything must be chilled for 2 hours.  We all know that you will have the buttermilk and cream already chilled. Chill the flour and salt and lard as well.  THIS IS IMPORTANT STEP!  Chill it all for no less than two hours.

2 cups of Gold Medal Self Rising Flour plus (1.5 Tablespoons reserved)
1/2 t of salt
1/2 c of lard  YES LARD Shortening will not work.  (Read the labels, same amount of fat)
1t of cream of tartar

2/3 c buttermilk
2/3 c half and half

Preheat oven to 475 Spray a pan with cooking spray.  I used a cast iron skillet for my pan.

Mix flour and salt together well.  Then add lard.  crumble with you fingers until crumbles are no larger than pea size.  Just rub the lard and flour with your fingers.  Do not over mix.  (Do not use your hands, they hold heat)  Use fingers

Now make a well in the mixture and pour half and half and buttermilk into well.   Mix until just mixed, do not over work, you may use hands but be careful not to over mix.  The dough will be sticky and wet.  Scrape you hands off and use the reserved flour on your hands and a bit into the mixture to fold dough so that you can turn it onto the rolling board.  OR as I do.....the counter.

Pat the dough out until about 1 inch thick and cut into biscuits.  I used a glass to have nice big ones.  Put into pan and bake in oven until golden brown.   About 15 min. or so, depends on how your oven is.  NO PEAKING, peaking all the time will cause the temp to go down.  Use your lite to see how they are doing.
I use an egg wash to get them nice a golden.
1 egg
2 T milk

mix well and brush onto the top when just starting to turn brown.About 10 minutes into the baking process.  They will rise well and be light and fluffy. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

FUN WITH WARREN BUFFETT... AND COMPANY

Berkshire Hathaway Rules

Well I've been busy! As my Canserversary approached I planned a weekend getaway to Omaha, Nebraska early May. What better place to celebrate life than the heartland? It was by invitation I was asked to join the Berkshire Hathaway stockholders weekend strictly for fun. I have been given much encouragement throughout the years by Warren Buffett and his loving secretary Debbie Bosanek, whom I adore. They have both been so kind and uplifting throughout my unpleasant journey with cancer .

Warren's first wife Susan, who also had tongue cancer, had been using the same doctors that I started with in San Francisco. This opened communication with Warren and Debbie that has made me realize that there are still a lot of wonderful people left in this world. You just have to find them.

Last year Debbie asked if  I'd like to attend the annual meeting and I thought it would be a lot of fun. I was worried if I could make the trip at all. At first I planned to drive and take Dicky, but my doctors didn't think it was a good idea with a biopsy looming. The thought of taking a personal trip kept me on a positive track for months as I looked forward to Debbie's annual dinner party at Piccolos for only the fun people, which turned out to be 100 of her closest friends.

The Ticket To OZ


While on the plane I sat next to a woman named Pat who was accompanying a young high school student, Emma Buchanan, who won a contest to meet Mr. Buffett because of a essay she wrote. She was one of five across the nation to receive the this honor. Emma won the trip through the GENYOUth Foundation Adventure Capital Campaign. Each of the five students won $4,000 for their schools to start programs to educate their communities about healthy eating, exercise, and healthy living. They were so very excited about attending the annual meeting and meeting Mr Buffett.

Mr. Buffett and Emma Buchanan

I arrived two days before the annual meeting to assure I had plenty of energy for the weekend and that I was rested for the private dinner party Friday night. Debbie kept insisting it was only for the "fun" people. So I had to make sure I had my fun on! It was a very diverse group of fun people for sure. I enjoyed the evening immensely!

Warren Buffett discusses business with GENYOUth winners

After the party I went back to a quiet hotel room that the Berkshire office had arranged and found a box of See's Candy on my bed. At the party Debbie had given us a bag of really cool M&Ms imprinted with the likeness of Warren. How cool is that? It was turning out to be a real sweet weekend. The following morning I awoke to a lobby full of cameras and press. There were bright lights and interviews, make-up chairs and camera crews that seemed to show up out of nowhere! It was like someone flicked a switch and there they were LIVE on CNN. Add to that the 40,000 stockholders that filled the arena that morning and I was a bit overwhelmed.

YUM!
The Candy Man Can

 I spent 20 years attending conventions and suppliers shows and hearing about company plans and goals for the upcoming year, but I have never seen it done on such a grand scale. This was HUGE and it seemed to go off without a hitch. The entire city of Omaha plans for this event. This is not a weekend for the faint hearted.



I started the morning early. Thankfully the hotel was attached to the venue by catwalk, so I didn't have to walk far or stand out in the cold rainy weather. Once we were allowed in, I made my way to the suppliers show to watch Warren and his pal Bill Gates throw newspapers with a few select people in the crowd. It was a madhouse with even more camera crews and TIGHT security. I couldn't even look Bill's menacing bodyguard in the eyes. He had a very intimidating stance and I usually flinch for no one.

I put $500 down on Crazy Lady in the Third Race
I ran into Pat and Emma from the airplane. Emma was throwing newspapers with Warren and Bill and beaming ear to ear. We walked the suppliers show together with the group of students she was with as they gushed over the exciting meeting with Warren. One young man in the group was 9 years old and already had his own business cards and let Mr. Buffett know that he would make a run for the Presidency in 2060. I have no doubt given this kid's tenacity he will win! I enjoyed their company very much, young, intelligent, productive, and kind with unbelievable communication skills.

It's Mister Bill

We checked out all the suppliers represented by Berkshire Hathaway as some of the students were being interviewed by press. I found it interesting how diverse the company is in its holdings. I know Warren is the stock market genius, but I've never seen him in this light. He's always been just a kind man to me. We've never discussed money or the stock market or even business for that matter. In fact I don't even think he has a clue about my business experience and I find the whole thing rather nice. I'm probably the only person on the planet that feels this way. Though there have been a few times I've wanted to pick up the phone to ask a money question and I stop myself because I don't want to ever be intrusive.

The whole weekend I had a sad feeling tugging at me. I wouldn't even be here if it wasn't for Susan Buffett. There isn't a day that goes by I don't think about Susan and what she went through before she died. She fought hard and survived tongue cancer only to die of a stroke shortly after. So unfair and such a kind hearted woman. We shared a common charity in San Francisco, Glide Memorial Church, though I didn't even know of her at the time. Our paths might have crossed, yet we never met.

I once took our Love Kitchen (a semi decked out with a complete portable pizza kitchen) rigged to feed the homeless and help with emergency situations to Glide and fed over 2,200 people in one afternoon. Gosh, that was almost 25 years ago. It was a very humbling experience and I was educated that afternoon by Reverend Cecil Williams and the never ending stream of the destitute. It taught me that not everyone who lives on the street is a derelict or crazy person. There is a lot of real need and tragedy out there. It helped me realize that giving back to the community is not only necessary, it's emotionally rewarding. But that's another story for another blog.

The LOVE Kitchen

You all know I tend to go off topic a lot here, so I'm sure you're used to it. Now back to the annual meeting... I wanted to sit next to the group of students and their chaperons, but I was told they had to watch the meeting from a conference room in the hotel. So, I was forced to view the spectacle alone. The arena was packed and people were standing in the aisles. I won't go into too much detail because I don't know what I can talk about, but it began with an impressive video showing the GEICO Hump Day Camel  commercial that's now on TV. GEICO is one of Berkshire's investments. Then came a lengthy question and answer phase that I kind of zoned out with. Though some of the comments from Warren and Charlie Munger were very entertaining.



I began to realize I was there to see Debbie and Warren and the whole business side of the equation that half the world was there to see disinterested me. I'm not sure why. I've always enjoyed many of the topics discussed. And yes some of the 40,000 in attendance came from all over the globe to hear Warren and his partner Charlie speak their profound financial wisdom. I found some of it interesting, but it was missing some of the meat for me and it was just too crowded to be much fun.

I have a different perception of Warren, I guess because investments have never been a topic. I see him as a kind man, a person with compassion. Though I'm not stupid enough to go head to head with him in business, I certainly would be honored to work along side with him. Respect is a hard thing to come by these days, even harder in business, and even harder yet the longer you're involved in it and Warren's been at it a long time. And this is one man with integrity whom I can respect.

The day after the meeting another one of Berkshire Hathaway's holdings was throwing a stockholders event at a local mall. Borsheims has got to be the finest jewelry store I've ever been in. They brought in suppliers and designers from all over the country for this event and they brought their bling with them. In the mall there was  a ping pong table set up and Warren and Bill tried their best against against US Olympian Ariel Hsing.



Later on Warren sold jewelry directly to stockholders with an appointment at crazy discount prices. But don't think he was pushing the cheap stuff. Although I'm sure he'd be glad to sell you the cheap stuff if you paid enough for it. The private room cordoned off with red velvet ropes and heavy security held nothing but the best money could buy. Here is just a sample of what you could pick up for a cool $250,000. This is a Christopher Designs of New York original, with 18 carats of exquisite diamonds. Just the thing to make your honey melt. If you're interested let me know. Maybe I can get you a discount. :)

How to make a woman happy 101



When I look at Warren I see a fun man, young at heart, who in his youth once convinced his friend Kerlin to strip naked on a golf course and fish golf balls out of a pond at midnight. The man who played the Ukulele and sang  "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" to put his children to sleep. The man who never left his wife's side as she battled her way through tongue cancer in San Francisco. I hope I see the real man, even though most define him by his monetary accomplishments. That has no interest to me.

Warren encouraged me when I tried out for America's Got Talent with his witty banter that just made me appreciate him even more. Oddly I'm missing the whole mogul side of the equation and I can't put my finger on why. He has a lot of my father's qualities and I guess that makes me feel differently about him. In fact my father made his living as a paperboy on the streets of Detroit as a kid during the depression, so the whole newspaper throwing contest brought back a flood of memories of my dad that weekend. I left Omaha tired and rather sad for a number of reasons...mostly because I miss my dad.

THANK YOU DEBBIE FOR YOUR GENEROUS HOSPITALITY!

Dicky kept reminding me not to forget him. He's not very happy he was left behind...maybe next year.

Peace B













These kids are an inspiration. A video from the GENYOUth weekend in Omaha.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

ORAL CANCER CAN BE CAUSED BY ORAL SEX

 "Michael Douglas' Throat Cancer Caused By Oral Sex, Not Smoking Or Drinking"

Michael Douglas' spokesman Allen Burry has released a statement explaining that the actor was just saying that oral sex can cause cancer, not that it necessarily led to his diagnoses. "In a discussion with the newspaper, they talked about the causes of oral cancer, one of which was oral sex, which is noted and has been known for a while now," Burry said.

It's about time someone in a high profile position has the courage to openly address this subject. As embarrassing as the conversation may be, it needs to be discussed, especially with the younger generations.

Without wanting to get too specific, this particular cancer is caused by HPV, which actually comes from cunnilingus," Michael Douglas reveals to the Guardian. He explains that HPV, transmitted through oral sex, was responsible for his throat cancer. This is not a disease that only smokers get. HPV and Oral Sex Facts

TALK ABOUT IT...KEEP THE CONVERSATION GOING. 

Peace B

Sunday, May 19, 2013

ORAL CANCER - IT'S NOT JUST FOR SMOKERS ANYMORE

Oral Cancer and the HPV Connection 

I'm an oral cancer survivor that doesn't fit the "normal" oral cancer profile. I'm always asked if I was a smoker. No, I've never smoked, but I was subjected to many years of secondhand smoke as a child. I am not a heavy drinker. More so when I was younger, but even then 2 or 3 drinks a week and now maybe monthly. I haven't knowingly subjected myself to carcinogens, but then there is the debate with plastic water bottles, charred red meats, and microwave foods including popcorn, etc. There could be some possibilities there, but none of those have enough evidence behind them yet. No matter...I don't fit the profile of an oral cancer patient.

After my surgery at MD Anderson, while sitting in a waiting room, a nurse asked if I would answer some questions for a new study they were conducting. It got rather personal as she began to ask about my sex life and "oral" habits. At that time I was told they were conducting studies to show that HPV (Human Papillomavirus) might be the cause of some oral cancers. They were beginning to see a lot of new patients like myself that didn't fit the typical profile. They also noticed that patients were much younger than they normally see.

For years, ever since I learned of the connection with oral cancer to HPV, I have wanted to write a blog especially for younger people and those that participate in oral sex. Let's just estimate...MOST OF THEM! It's something that MUST be talked about, but is such a sensitive subject. How do you explain that if you have oral sex with a person that has the HPV virus and then kiss during lovemaking, that it is possible to transfer the virus to the oral cavity which could lead to oral cancer? And that person might not even know they carry the virus! HUM...I guess I just did...Well then, years of pondering resolved. That wasn't so hard afterall.

When I try to explain it delicately in public, which I try as often as I can...I usually say, "If you play in the basement and then go play in the attic, you can transfer the HPV virus to the oral cavity." OR "If you travel down South and then return to the North..." Occasionally I get the head tilt and I have to give a more graphic explanation.

Even Michael Douglas can't seem to give the full impact as he eludes to it as a "very common virus, one responsible for the vast majority of cervical cancers" that may be responsible, but doesn't touch on how it's transferred. I wish this PSA was shown more often so people can lean. AND I wish people today still didn't have such a hangup about talking to your children about sex when such important life threatening information needs to be passed along. This would be a great time to explain the importance of safe sex practices and the usage of a dental dam.

TALK ABOUT IT PEOPLE!! ORAL SEX + MAKING OUT  (could) = ORAL CANCER



GET SCREENED NOW!!
Peace B

Sunday, May 5, 2013

LOCKS OF LOVE

Splitting Hairs

I have been growing my hair out since last summer to donate it to Locks of Love. Frankly it's been very hard having it get in the way...long stray hairs everywhere. It kept me pretty miserable for many months, but an event came up this last weekend that I wanted to attend. It was time to cut it off and move into a sportier model!

BEFORE


AFTER!

I hope it goes to good use. Please think about growing your hair or if you already have long hair, have it cut for a good cause. Locks of Love is a public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in the United States and Canada under age 21 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis.

Peace B

Saturday, April 13, 2013

THE ROLLING STONES


CHIPS OFF THE OLE BLOCK!

A week before my appointment with Dr Otto, the Ear/Nose/Throat doctor at Moffitt Cancer Center I was fighting kidney stones. I've had them before and for many years. Ever since Vicodin was introduced to my medications, the likelihood of noticing them was minimal.

In the past they have always been small and like grains of sand. Still painful to pass, but less noticeable when taking a painkiller regularly for other issues. These were much more intense than my normal stones. Even with the pain medication my lower back flanks felt like I had an elephant sitting on them. A few days earlier I had a massage and had my therapist concentrate in that area thinking it was my standard back pain caused by my compressed lower vertebrae from a long ago fall off a roof. (STOP LAUGHING!) It's actually a pretty funny story that left me with a concussion standing outside in my underwear in a daze...but that's a better story for another day!

A few days after the massage all hell broke loose and the pressure and pain were immense and I had taken my maximum dose of Vicodin. After a conversation with my dietitian who said to drink plenty of water, which I knew, but to also stay way from coffee and tea, something I did not know. Oddly I bought a new Keurig Vue coffee machine for Christmas and had fallen in love with their Southern Sweet Tea. So, I was drinking way more tea than I normally do.

Some of the medications I take require drinking lots of water to avoid these stones, but I have been in a much warmer climate and hydrating is a 24 hour job it seems. To add to that...I really don't like plain water. During our conversation I asked if using a vibrator (NOT THE KIND YOU HAVE IN YOUR NIGHTSTAND!) was a good idea. I have this monster of a handheld programmable heated vibrator that was given to me as a gift. This is not your grandmother's hand vibrator! This is an industrial strength model.  I remember when my step-father had stones they dunked him into a vibration tank filled with water...so I thought using this might be a good idea.

The Sharper Image Programmable Vibrator With Deep Heating

As it turned out after wielding the weapon across my back the pain subsided a bit. I shot out a dozen stones over the next few days, more than I had ever seen at one time and figured I was done. Boy was I wrong. The morning of my ENT appointment had arrived with Dr. Otto and I was in so much pain I couldn't even talk without gasping for air as I attempted to cancel and reschedule the important first meeting. We were to discuss my facial issue which by now has been all forgotten as I can only think about giving birth! That afternoon I proudly popped out six little babies...well four little ones and two the likes of which I have never seen come out of my body! AND before any of you ladies chime in with "It can't be as bad as actually giving birth," just remember your vagina is bigger and designed to dilate as one of it's natural functions...my penis is not! Have you seen the size of a Ureter????

Ladies and gentleman, may I present...
MY ROLLING STONES!


In case any of you are wondering how these are retrieved...no I did not go fishing! As part of my mountainous medical arsenal I use a strainer for this very purpose. Like any good Boy Scout/cancer patient/should be a real doctor by now must have on hand, ready for any emergency! DAMN I'M TIRED....GOODNIGHT CRUEL WORLD!

Peace B

CLICK HERE: For The Management of Ureteral Stones

WELCOME TO MOFFITT


WELCOME TO MY WORLD...

Where to start? I had my first appointment at Moffitt Cancer Center with Dr. Raj. I stayed up the night before my appointment to put together as much of my records as I could copy from my online portal at MD Anderson Cancer Center to satisfy the powers that be. After I had finished at 4 AM I looked on the Moffitt patient website to check my appointment and get directions. I noticed it asked me to fill out a questionnaire before arrival. I figured no big deal until I open the page and it was VERY extensive. It took me almost an hour to complete and by now it was 5 AM and I had to get to bed.

Always entering a new hospital facility can be a daunting experience, but this was a rather pleasant one. When you sign in I was amazed by a really cool device I had never seen before that allows the cancer center to track you anywhere in the building. I call it Lojack for patients. It's no bigger than a wristwatch that attaches to your wrist. It's a WiFi location tracking system made by Ekahau. The best part...You don't have to sign in at every station for each appointment. You only sign in upon arrival and then head to the lobby of you next appointment and sit down and wait to be called. I wish all cancer centers utilized this little device. SO COOL...SO CONVENIENT! I'd love to see the tracking system monitors, how it works up close and also wonder how many people it can track and how far. In fact if I had children I'd find a way to connect this to their cell phones for their own safety. I'm sure that's already been thought of.

Ekahau's Location Tracking System

FIGURING OUT WHAT'S WRONG WITH MY CHEEK

Dr Raj is a very kind doctor who listens to her patients. I was very impressed with her. She went over my history and was rather concerned about a few things that as she went on talking about, made me a little nervous. As she explained I grew ever more silent and all I kept hearing in my brain was, "Oh crap! Oh crap! Oh crap!" That's the PG version for those of you who really know me!

My face has been reconstructed and cut up and things added and taken away. I'm like a patch quilt when it comes to my face. I have issues with scarring and this has apparently led to some pressure on the structure of my face, the bones. I was warned from the very beginning that due to the radiation it would be very dangerous to have any kind for dental work or extractions done without the possibility of repercussions in the future. My jaw could actually shatter if someone unfamiliar with the affects of a radiated jaw bone worked on me. This got me thinking I should probably avoid barroom brawls too! I suspected this because my upper teeth are no longer aligned with my lower teeth, yet the bite of my jaw seems normal. I guess I never realized as the skin healed and began to scar and tighten my face that this could also become a problem. As a cancer patient potentially facing death you don't often look too far into the future...you only hope there is a tomorrow.

This problem could also be a product of how I have learned to chew my food again. After I began eating real food after being on a feeding tube 2 1/2 years I had to learn some new tricks if I wanted to eat some of my favorite foods again. This involved puffing my cheeks up with air to move food around or drinking fluids and using them to swish the food around in my mouth. I don't have a very mobile new forward tongue so this can make it harder to get food where it needs to be just to chew. There are times I still have aspiration problems, but not often, so I have to be very cautious to "think" while I chew which is something that most people don't have to do because it is an innate ability like breathing.

For years all food had to be cut into VERY small pieces and placed by fork to the molar area to chew. Any type of food like a sandwich that you would normally just pick up and shove up to your lips had to be eaten this way. Only recently have I mastered sandwich eating the traditional way with great practice and even then my bites are so small it takes me twice as long to finish.

ANYWAY...after Dr. Raj looked everything over including photos I had taken of the face issue the day it happened she concluded that a facial PET Scan and MRI should be ordered to eliminate the possibility of cancer and something new she brought up based on my facial structure and the scaring.

Ever since surgery in 2007 I have had all kinds of skin issues, sinus trouble, problems with my sight, and even some hearing problems. Some might be age and some repercussions of surgery and radiation. Because this anomaly on my cheek might not be cancer, but something as menacing  she brought up something I had never heard of before, CSF - Spinal Cerebrospinal Fluid. Basically a brain fluid leak! GREAT now I'm going to lose with smarts I have left and they are all going to drip out of my nose!

Now here's an opportunity to raise some money on EBay. Let's market this a "Brain Drops" my loss is your gain. With just a few drop you too can become smarter than a 5th grader! What? It would help offset all these medical bills!!!

For the last year my nose tends to run even if I attempt minor household takes and even tends to run when I eat...very inconvenient. I had assumed it was just allergies which I've never had a problem with but if I take Claritin for allergies it seems to help. I NEVER would have suspected CSF! Bit by bit cancer steals everything from a person not matter how strong. Though Dr. Raj prefaced this as "the worse case scenario" I was concerned because I had all the related symptoms. So, she scheduled the scans and an appointment with Dr. Otto an Ear/Nose/Throat doctor after the results are in.

LET THE SCANS BEGIN!

I returned a week later to have my scans. I'm always amazed by the equipment and have enough experience enough now to compare them. My PET CT scans went very well but the MRI is always the worst and it was next on my schedule. It honestly wasn't too bad but I still want to know WHY they all don't let you listen to music during these things. My very first MRI gave me head phones...it was downhill after that and I was already spoiled. Nothing has compared since. The day went like clockwork, not one hiccup...no complaints.

YES, that is my alien head on the computer screen! lol

After a few weeks of wondering how many brain cells I had lost to this potential CSF I met with Dr Raj again to review my scans. Straight to the good news...NO CANCER...Better...NO CSF...HOWEVER...what is the problem with my face????? Only answer so far is a maxillofacial sinus problem. As she explained the small nipple like protrusion could actually be a sinus bone. I don't think so because it's seems like soft tissue unless this bone in similar to the cartilage like we have in out nose.

I asked for copies of the scans so I could post them and even had to fill out paperwork for their release, but so far, weeks later, I have received nothing. SO...now we wait for the ENT to determine what the hell is wrong with my face. Still tired...still in pain...AND STILL BITCHY!

Peace B

WELCOME TO MY WORLD...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

SOCIAL MEDIA SAVES THE DAY

Get it! Get it! Good boy!

This last week I have felt like a dog chasing his tail. My primary care doctor gave me a referral to see Dr. McCaffrey at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, who is a Professor and Chair of the Head and Neck Department because the issue from my cheek might be cancer related. My doctor was a fellow who studied there and he thought there should be no problem getting me in.

So...I called to book an appointment and the chase began. I was told that they would not book an appointment unless I had an "active" cancer or tests results showing such. I explained that I have been a cancer patient with MD Anderson since 2007 and though I don't know if my cancer is active, I'd like to establish myself with doctors there. Since they would not take me at Moffitt I was told I could book an appointment with Dr. McCaffrey off site at USF. Humm...So I can't see him at Moffitt unless I have active cancer, but I can see him at USF to determine if I have active cancer so he can see me at Moffitt? Get the tail...get the tail...get it!!!


OK book the appointment and the soonest I could get in was April 26. I'm not happy, I'm in pain, and by next month this issue might be healed up. What happened next I could not have ever imagined. Since I use a lot of social media I decide to post my distress on Twitter: "@MoffittNews VERY DISAPPOINTED I am a patient with MD ANDERSON and have a referral from Primary Care and can't get in #gettingtherunaround" 

Within hours I received this tweet: "MoffittCancerCenter ‏@MoffittNews @DoctorSwill We're so sorry to hear that. Can you direct message us with your contact info? We'd like to look in to this for you." I send my information and the phone rings with an understanding person taking my information to book my appointment at Moffitt. I was able to book an appointment only a few days away with a different doctor at a satellite  Moffitt Center. I didn't have to see Dr. McCaffery, and since I could not see him until late next month, I booked the soonest appointment.

I never, not in a million years, would have dreamed that Twitter had more power than a doctors referral, especially a referral from a doctor who studied at the hospital! GO TWITTER!

The next day the head administrator for Moffitt called me to see if I still needed some assistance. He said it was his day off and there was some communication going around about me and he wanted to make sure it was resolved. I COULD NOT HAVE BEEN MORE IMPRESSED!

I was so grateful and relieved and thought we were done....my bad. When I hung up the phone it dawned on me that the person who booked my appointment for 1:40 PM on March 19 promised to send a verification email and I had not received it yet. So, I called to ask about it and was told they had no record of me...at all.

After some further confusion we start again. Since the 1:40 appointment was given to someone else, I was booked at 2:40 and then I had to give all my information all over again. She said I need to bring my records from MD Anderson. I explained I don't think I can have them in 3 days, I'll do my best.  I'm told it's more important to show up for the appointment and the records could be ordered. So... I don't worry. Ahh...we're done right?

WRONG! The phone rings the day before my scheduled appointment and I'm told I can't come in without my records. WHAT? I explained what I was told when the second appointment was booked and again I'm told I cannot be seen without my records in hand. Now I'm pissed.

Back to bitch on Twitter, along with a phone call to the head administrator and here we go again. Get the tail...get it...get it. Round and round we go and the dust clears and I'm told...just come in we'll work it out.

I've heard a lot of great things about Moffitt. A neighbor went there for her breast cancer and was very happy. You all remember Bob Pemberton, my hero, the brave man who with his last breath helped me write the three part - Spotlight On Cancer "Dead Man Talking" leaving a powerful message here on BTGD for all to learn from? He too had great things to say about Moffitt as he battled his own tongue cancer. That was the most powerful thing I think I've ever written here.

I'll reserve my opinion for now. If getting an appointment is this confusing, I'm worried about what is to come. I will say, all but one person I spoke with went way out of their way to help resolve the problems. That in itself is a big plus in my book. There will always be problems, mistakes, and miscommunication, but the proof is how they are resolved in the end.

A HUGE THANK YOU FOR ALL WHO HELPED GET THINGS ON TRACK!

Peace B


Stay tuned for my first H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center visit and a new battle that might begin!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

IT'S OFFICIAL...

I AM SO TIRED OF DEALING WITH THE AFTERMATH OF CANCER! 

For years I have dealt with shrapnel coming out of my neck. If you are a regular here, you've read the posts. It seems that the leftover bits of Doppler wire that was placed in my neck during my surgery in 2007 are being rejected by my body years later. The wire was placed to allow a Doppler ultrasound machine to check the blood flow to the newly placed radial forearm free flap taken from my forearm that was now in my mouth replacing my cancerous severed tongue. This was necessary because if the blood supply stopped the new section of tongue (radial free flap) could die.

When the wire was no longer needed the doctors just yanked it out. I remember thinking how odd that was to just pull. I even questioned the doctor about it. I felt the wire snap and was told that it would heal and any parts remaining would not cause a problem since they were made of a surgical grade material. Well I can tell you that's a load of crap! My neck has NEVER fully healed.

For years and up until last month, SIX years after surgery I still have small bits of wire making their way out of my neck. The first time it happened, I felt it and thought it was a stiff stray hair. (Pulling Hairs) Since most of the hair on my face that was subjected to the radiation field is gone now, I thought I'd just pull it out with tweezers. So...I tugged. One small problem...this little "hair" was lodged in an artery and wasn't a hair at all. It was in fact a left over bit of Doppler wire. When I yanked it out I had a nice stream of bright red blood that shot it's way across the sink and ran down the mirror. The pumping blood looked pretty cool for a moment until I realized the severity of the situation. Well that was a fun night. Last month another small piece made it's way out and once again my poor ravaged neck is beginning to heal.

This all came out of my neck, one piece at a time,over several years

Now if that's not enough...many of you know I have been dealing with an "infection" on my cheek for years. At least that is how it has been treated. Every three or four months for years this bump rears it's head and the doctors throw antibiotics at it and it goes away for a few months. Guess what....IT'S BACK and it's most likely not an infection and probably never was.

Dr. Kim who was at MD Anderson began the antibiotic regime, I can't recall how long ago, but years. And even though I have had countless CT scans and MRI's nothing has been brought to my attention that this might indeed be cancer. It's possible that this could have been a result of all the radiation to the head and neck. I took 60 grays (gy) over a six week period near this area after surgery. (Radiation Dosages)

When this thing rears up it's painful, but now the pain shoots all the way up to the back my eyeball like a bolt of lightning. On my last visit to my new primary care doctor he also prescribed antibiotics. I took the 7 day supply and asked for another week because it still looked puffy.. I think the second was a 10 day supply and he used a different drug in case the "infection" was resistant to what Dr. Kim had prescribed. It seemed to heal up, but a week after finishing the second round the lump was back and this time it popped like a grape. The skin pealed back and I was left with a dangling thing and a very bizarre knotted lump. The dangling thing is still in question, but appears to be a blood clot. It has a vein running in and out with a small sac in the middle. Even more gross is the knotted lump left on my cheek that if touched I feel it at the back of my eyeball.

Blood Clot removed from cheek
Because of my new insurance I can no longer go to MD Anderson since they are "out of network" but I have a few other options. It might just be a lump that grew around the suspected clot (a mass of nerves) or it could be that the cancer has come back. I'm not thinking cancer only because this has been in the process for years and it's not very big. Painful? OH HELL YES!

I'm not expecting this to be serious at all, but I am SO TIRED of fighting. Life doesn't seem to get any better. I know I should be so grateful. I can eat, speak, drink fluids. I've been off the feeding tube for years. I can walk fairly well, my eye sight is good after the cataract surgeries and I have a wonderful puppy to keep me company, but I'm still depressed...tired of fighting...tired of this kind of shit happening and wondering when will it all end.

There comes a time when a survivor must think... I won the big battle, but the little ones keep coming. Is it worth fighting if there is no end in sight? I should be grateful. I am one of the lucky ones. I know this. I've been saved, but what is the real cost and how much can one person take? Sometimes I question the reason for fighting so hard just to have your quality of life drastically diminished. Living seems to come at a great cost...at least to me anyway. Cancer doesn't just attack the flesh, it tears you apart emotionally, gradually beating you into submission.

I'm tired of being in pain. I'm tired of wearing bandages. I'm tired of looking ugly and people staring and asking questions. I'm tired of people saying "I'm sorry." I'm tired of all the drugs. I'm tired of doctors and nurses and needles and tests. I'm tired of coffin like MRI's, CT scans, and X-rays. I'm tired of talking about cancer. I'm tired of people treating me like I know nothing...that I'm just a sick old man. I'm tired of not being happy. I'm tired of not wanting to go out in public because of all the above. I'M JUST SO F'N TIRED!!!

And I'm probably a little bitchy too...

As I finish this post I hear that Valerie Harper has three months to live from terminal brain cancer and once again I am humbled. It sounds like she is taking the news gracefully. The world's Rhoda Morgenstern might not have much longer to live. May she have my kind of luck and be around for a long time.

Hello? HELLO? This is Carlton, your doorman. I just want to let you know there's a ton of people in the lobby that just want to say, "I LOVE YOU RO!"

Peace B

Words To Live By:

"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service to others." -Mahatma Gandhi