Saturday, May 28, 2011

One step forward

Since the surgery it's been a case of ups and downs, of moving forward and falling back. I feel like I'm falling back a bit at the moment. When I was first able to talk, it wasn't very difficult to do so. I don't know if it was a combination of meds and damaged nerves, but there was little pain and the majority of my problems stemmed from the sutures in my mouth and the numbness/burning pain in my tongue from the nerve damage. The ability to swallow had returned and I was moving forward, drinking liquids with relative ease and even eating semi-solids like mashed potatoes and soups. Right now talking is more difficult than ever and swallowing is hard.

I feel like, right about the same time the pez-hole closed in my neck, swallowing became harder. Whatever liquid I drink, a portion of it comes out of my nose. Yeah, runs right out of one or both nostrils. I feel like my throat muscles are pushing the liquid up rather than down and into my nasal passages. I mentioned it to my day nurse, who visits me every morning to check my progress, and she assured me that it was normal and I am probably just having to re-re-learn to swallow. Unfortunately, I don't feel that this is quite the case, as I can feel a gap in my hard palette where air passes through when I do certain things in my mouth and throat and that same area is where the liquid seems to escape out and up. Sure enough, a look in my own throat with a mirror (not an easy thing to do when you can't open your mouth too wide) reveals what looks like torn tissue or popped sutures. I'm hoping that it is like my stoma and heals itself inside rather than having to revisit the area with more sutures. The idea of my doctor poking around in there trying to re-seal the hole is not a pleasant one at all. I suppose I have to give him a call on Monday, as I'm not sure I should let it slide until the 6th, when I have a scheduled visit.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Cancer Challenge!

I've been debating with myself over the last couple of days on how to continue this blog. When I was diagnosed a friend sent me a link to a site that was one man's journal about his bout with Head and Neck Cancer: It was very helpful for me and I was in a mind to do something similar. The problem I'm having is that, after going through part of my own journey, I realized that he had to have left out some of the more painful or negative aspects of it, in an attempt to make it more accessible or at least less scary, I assume in order to be more helpful for others rather than as just a chronicle of his own story.

So what should mine be? A true, sometimes brutally honest chronicle of my trials, or a helpful and uplifting telling to help others in my situation. I think I've come to the decision that, while I like the idea of being uplifting or helpful, I value honesty more and I think that the parts he left out would have helped me more. Don't get me wrong, his journal was very helpful for me and I still refer to it when I want to know more about what's still to come, but I'm the type of person who is comforted by knowing almost too much. I want the spoilers. I don't want surprises. I want to know how good or how bad it will be.

Which brings me to the title of this entry: The Cancer Challenge!

Sounds like a game show or a contest and in some ways it feels like both, but no, I call it the cancer challenge because when anyone talks about what's coming, they don't say, "this is gonna hurt like hell" or "that was the worst thing", they say, "it will be challenging" or "dealing with this next challenge is going to be difficult." Which is all true but is also essentially a softening of reality. While I appreciate the wish to buffer harsh reality, I also feel like I was lied to a little. That might be a little harsh, especially since I'm fully capable of reading between the lines and I know that when people say "challenging", they do indeed mean "tough, painful, hard, scary" all that. I would still like to not have to read through the metaphors and similes and softeners. I want to know the true truth. The really real. I'm sure I'll fall to softening some things myself so I'm not bitter about it, I just want to be clearer and more deliberate in the telling I guess.

I haven't written much of anything of what had happened during the surgery and my time in the hospital and I fear some of the details have been lost. Just reading some of my own previous entries tells me that. I had forgotten some things I had even written down before, so this will be by no means a perfect telling, a concise chronicle. Not this part anyway. I'm a detail oriented writer, but I'm sure my memory has been hazed by time a bit as well as simple bad memory.


We arrived at the hospital at 5:30am. My parents, my daughter and my roommate. Registration was painless and quick, with none of the payment scares I had with the biopsy. I sat in the waiting room maybe 3 minutes before I was called up to get my gown and personal effects bag. Another 5 minutes and I was called into the pre-op room. I believe my mom and my daughter accompanied me this time, but I am not positive. Either way, the process was mercifully quick and scarily fast at the same time. No turning back, as if there ever was a chance of that. I met a similar lineup of nurses, anesthesiologists and helpers as I had at the biopsy. My doctor came in and within a short time I was fitted with compression stockings to prevent blood clots (after donning the requisite hospital gown) and was given an IV. As a presage of problems to come, my doctor is already bitching some nurses out because they have a signed order from him for blood work that he "didn't order". The effects of the drugs are that you tend not to remember a lot of things after that point, but I have a distinct vision of being wheeled down the hall, of being pulled into a room full of people and machines but I can't really place a finite visual image on any of it.

And indeed the next thing I knew I was done and in ICU. I later was told the surgery, which was scheduled for about 7 hours, actually only took about 5. I don't know if that's a good thing or not. I choose to think it was.

Post Op. Day 1

That first day is a blur. I remember people I know visiting me but I can't tell who they were. Some are obvious. My parents and my kid and my roommate, Kevin , for sure, I know my daughter's friend Alix came by as well as a co-worker or two, but I can't think of who specifically. I remember being in pain but not as much as I thought I would be. I do know that I pushed that nurse button for meds on a few occasions. I remember that my first ICU nurse was Jolly, a woman with a kind face and thick Southeast Asian accent. I do know my mother slept in the room with me that night. I don't remember who the night nurse was, but I think her name was Sarah. Nicer than Jolly, but not necessarily gentler. I remember thinking she wouldn't bump my bed or my tubes and wires so much if her rear end weren't so damn big. There were hoses and wires and plugs coming from seemingly every spot on my body. I was attached to an IV dripping saline and where I received morphine every couple of hours as well as an artery tap to pull blood for testing. I had EKG patches plugged to my chest, an O2 sensor on my left index finger, a feeding tube in my abdomen and a tracheotomy tube in my neck. There were major staples in my chest and stitches in my neck, chin and mouth. Sensors beep and boop and do their best to keep me even more awake than the pain. I am aware that I can control some of the alarms going off by taking deeper breaths, or not, or changing positions slightly.
I was hot, cold, sleepy, dizzy, all the things I suppose you would expect, but I wasn't afraid or anything, just glad I was still around. I cannot sleep much at all and the hours drag on in uncomfortable misery, yet still not as bad as I had feared. I do distinctly remember thinking it wasn't worth it though. That I understood why my roommate was mad that they had saved his life after a drunk driver had taken it.
I am reduced to writing everything on a small pad of paper, which is infinitely more frustrating than one would think.

Post Op. Day 2

Jolly is still my ICU nurse. I push that button every time the pain mounts too high and I am rewarded with a Pavlovian dose of morphine. The sensors on my chest beep incessantly, warning me of too-shallow breathing, of interrupted O2 sensors, of things I felt were more dire but had no way of knowing their meaning. More visitors from work and family friends. Alix's parents, my newish friend Amber, my roommate's son Cody. I can smile and write things to them but I still can't talk and it's frustrating for me as well as disheartening to my visitors, who can't do much beyond tell me I look great and ask how I am, only to get a thumb's up or a 50/50 waver of my palm.
My night nurse is Amy. Also nicer than Jolly but not gentler. In some ways she was less gentle but easier to talk to and ask help from. I hesitate to say 'more considerate' because after the entire ordeal I realize my perceptions on this count are a bit bent. I get the impression that these nurses choose ICU because their patients are essentially out of it and unable to complain or protest or plead.

Post Op. Day 3

Sleep is still a lost cause. I think I average an hour at a time with a total of about 4 hours sleep every 24. Hard to tell really though. Jolly is still my day nurse, and we're slowly becoming enemies. I am acutely aware that it is a cultural/communication issue in some ways. She is not being mean, but I feel like she is less than sympathetic. Hoses and tubes are pulled without much concern as to what they're attached to or how the yanking affects me. Gowns are tugged, catching on my drain pumps, which are the more painful of the many things stuck to me. IVs are injected into me at speeds more swift than is comfortable. Food is pushed though my PEG tube into my stomach at speeds that make me nauseous, which prompts me to try and explain why I am uncomfortable with each of these, in writing, which is received most often incorrectly. I think I wrote "mean, lazy, bitch" at one point and showed it to my mother. Too much water in my feeding tube to make feeding quicker, yet makes me nauseous. Meds pushed in too fast, causing pain at the point of injection. I am told Morphine makes my breathing too shallow and that I need less dosage, which makes me anxious because the pain is an 8 out of 10 at times and less meds is definitely not an option. Yet less meds is what I am getting. Each note I write to Jolly is half-read and her assumptions lead to more presumptions and I am getting angrier with her by the hour.
At one point I meet Dr Page, my doctor's associate and I explain my problem in writing. He's a genial man who asks pertinent questions and actually waits for an answer before coming to his own conclusions. I hear him consulting with Jolly and I think Amy and he mentions Dilaudid over Morphine. My heart rises a bit at this and yes indeed, I am given Dilaudid and yes, the pain decreases.
The trach tube comes out today and is replaced by another type that will let me speak. It's not terribly painful, but my doctor, who hasn't visited me at all until now, finishes the procedure quickly and not very gently. He asks me to say "good morning" which I do and then he breezes out. I am told by Jolly that I should cough, but I can't manage to do so at all. She takes to opportunity to show me the suction version of coughing, which feels both like choking and suffocation at the same time and forces me to cough all the same. Not fun at all.

Post Op. Day 4

More of the same, except that my day nurse has changed from Jolly to Lorna, another Southeast Asian woman, but much more petite and quiet than Jolly. She seems downright skittish, but more gentle as well. Communication is still a problem. Not that we can't understand each other, but the feeling that there is a cultural problem doesn't go away, indeed it gets worse. Each complaint is taken more and more as an attack on her abilities rather than a complaint about the specific issue. Yes, I am in pain and need more meds. No I don't think you're keeping them from me out of spite. Yes I understand everyone's afraid of my doctor, but I am in pain now and need help now, not later when the doctor can be there to 'yes' or 'no' the dosage size or frequency. At one point I am in such pain from the lack of meds that I write a long treatise on why I need meds and how I feel like I am being treated like I'm already fully addicted to narcotics and need weening already. This becomes the worst part of my entire experience. The feeling like everyone is more concerned about me becoming addicted and therefore possibly a lawsuit threat rather than dealing with the very present and real pain right now. In fact, simply by including the word addict in my writing, all the discussion turns to how she feels I am accusing her of treating me like an addict and how she feels hurt that I would put that on her. "What will you do, when you are home and there is no dilaudid?" "I will cry like I am now, but my pain is right here, right now and it can help me right now. I will deal with the 'no-meds' then!" It's all I can do to not grab her and scream voicelessly "I'm the patient, you big baby! I need help and kindness and I don't need to worry about hurting your goddamn feelings!!"

In the morning I am greeted by Sam. She says she's my respiratory therapist and writes her name on the white board; RT:SAM. That is the extent of what she does. I never see her again.

One of my nurses, a male nurse I can't remember the name of, takes the day shift, I think. He's pretty much an absentee nurse and he informs me that my drains will likely come out tomorrow. He warns me that Dr. Rothman is less gentle than he could be. Great. Dr. Rothman comes in sometime in the morning and changes out my trach tube, from the plastic one to a shiny chrome version. It's not as bad as the suction but only slightly. I don't choke at least.

Sleep is still a long missed dream. I get an average of one hour every ten.

Post Op Day 5

My day nurse is the male whose name I can't remember for the life of me. My doctor has visited me again. This is not a good thing. He sweeps in, reprimanding me for asking for too many meds and lecturing me on addiction and such while he snips at fishing line sutures in my lip and mouth. It feels like punishment for being bad, how rough he is, and all I can muster is "I understand." He continues his monologue about addiction as he moves to my drain tubes. I have 4 of them and he pulls them out two at a time, like he's starting a lawn mower. They look like small hoses going in, but under the skin, they spread out wide with many holes for drainage, like the tentacles of some plastic squid snaked under my skin. This is by far the most painful thing I've ever felt but I'm glad they are out and over with. He chastises me one more time and drifts out, griping at the nurse because there's no cork on my trach tube to help me speak better. Since he did the entire changeover, I can't imagine who he thought was going to install that thing, whatever it was. The staff look like they're thinking the same but say nothing.

Post Op, Day 6

I feel rather neglected now. Apparently I'm off of ICU status but because of my doctor's pull at the hospital, I stay in ICU like all his patients. This apparently gives the nursing staff the freedom to ignore me more. I stop pressing the button and grit my teeth through most of the pain. Diane is my night nurse now and she's an angel compared to the others. She gives me a rough bath in my bed. Heaven. She gives me meds when she can. Only Lortab (vicodin) at this point, which doesn't nearly mask the pain at all. I stop complaining about it and accept that I am going to have to deal.

The male nurse is again my day nurse and he's a nice guy, but still rather absent. Various hospital help drift in and out offering advice on feeding at home, physical therapy and such. All very routine and perfunctory, but pleasant nonetheless. A nurse representative shows up to ask how my stay has been. My parents were present at the time and we nicely, but specifically talk about the many problems I have. She is of course very concerned and kind and consoling, yet clearly too late to do anything for me. Despite my experiences and my mother's ire over earlier nursing staff behavior, I do tell them that at this point, with the perspective of five days behind me that I would welcome Jolly back with open arms, despite my feelings about her care. As hard and harsh as she was, in many ways she was much more professional and thoughtful than the others, with Amy and Diane being the exceptions.

Post Op. Day 7

As if the hospital gods have heard me, Jolly is my final day nurse. She takes out my staples, something I had dreaded, but she does it absolutely painlessly. We joke about what a big baby I am and how I don't trust her not to hurt me, but it really does come across affectionately on both our parts, like she knew I would realize she was better than most, despite my issues. I am discharged in the early afternoon and after much waiting around for paperwork and food and supplies and such, I am finally free and on my way home.

Exhausted and happy to be out, my parents drive me home and I go to bed. To not sleep. Still the only meds I am allowed are weak ass hydrocodone (vicodin). The dosage I receive is in no way going to last the 11 days the bottle say. In fact, it is gone in two. But that's a later post.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Well, I'm back

Finally home.

Very tired and sore with almost no energy, but I'm happy to be home.
No more trach tube. No more drains, no more EKG wires and O2 sensors. No more ICU with it's smells and sounds (too many beeps) and awful bed and odd nurses who take complaints about pain like personal attacks on their abilities or intentions. No more waking at 7am after finally getting one hour of sleep to be greeted by a doctor with zero bedside manner and scissors or some other sharp object.

I will write more as I can, but I think I've overdone it already today and need to get some rest.

Thank you to everyone who sent me wishes, prayers, thoughts, brownies, etc. You kept me going, truly.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

"Ten percent of nuthin' is...let me do the math here...nuthin' into nuthin'...carry the nuthin'..."

Well, T minus nuttin is about here. Just had my last bit of real food; slice of mah key lime pie. Last drink; Dr Pepper.

Met with my primary care physician: Dr Tognacci. Nice guy. Talks too much. Knows Dr Rothman. In fact, Rothman worked on his father's cancer and his dad is still around.

Went to the hospital for the pre-op meeting. A couple of new bits of info. I will have the trach tube in for longer than I hoped. Probably at least until I am discharged, maybe longer, so no talking with visitors. Feeding tube will be in for a lot longer, especially if I am going to have radiation. The tooth I might lose will be in the lower front and that's because of the way they need to break my jaw to hinge it open for access to the tumor. I had thought one of my molars that was close to the tumor would be the one to go.

I will be in ICU for 7-8 days. No limit on who can visit or how many visitors I can have except how many I have at one time in my room - around 2 at a time. I can use a phone but can't speak due to the trach, but I can txt. The first days I might be a bit out of it and not remember visitors or what was said.

That's all I can think of right now. I might be able to update this later, but I'm not sure. Thank you to everyone who gave me support, no matter how small. You guys rock and definitely helped get me through this.

No power in the 'verse can stop me. Peace.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Okay, They Gotta Stop Doing This

I swear I've got enough stress without people freaking me out. It's totally my fault for not catching it right, but anyways... I was at Olive Garden with Kaia and my mom and dad and the hospital called. She wanted to register me over the phone and asked all the usual questions; birthdate, ss #, all the usual. Then she mentions that my insurance, Cigna, covers my operation up to $4500. I mentioned that I had thought it was only $3000 (I actually think she was combining the in-patient and out-patient allowances, but whatever) and she explained that there was an extra $1500 for something I didn't catch. She said that the cost of the operation was $71,000.00 and with my insurance setup to only pay $4500, they would need 10% on the morning of the surgery, or $7000.00. "Will you be able to pay that Wednesday morning?"

She had been talking, doing her little info-person thing and hadn't given me a chance, but I finally was able to tell her that I had secondary insurance and that it was Access. Maybe it was me, but she seemed relieved that I wouldn't be screwed with my awful insurance. I gave her my Access number and she looked it up and came back with some numbers that I didn't understand. I asked her to repeat it and she said that according to Access I was approved (duh) and my eligibility was from 4/11 to 5/12. I asked her again and she said, "yes, you're covered and coverage started on 4/11 and will stop on 5/12. I said that the people at Access approved me the second day I went to the office and that they said my coverage was retroactive to April 1st, the day I applied. She said that "should be right" but it doesn't say that on her screen and repeated the dates. I was kind of dazed and didn't know what else to say. All I knew was that I was freaking out because she just said my coverage stops on the day of my surgery and I was going to have to go to the DES office again (ugh!) to straighten this out, so I thanked her and hung up and went back to the table. By this time my appetite was gone. I told the family and we were all understandably annoyed. Both my mom and I were ready to go tear some new ones at this point. We decided we needed to go to the DES office at the hospital since eligibility is their thing. I know this because the second time I was there they wouldn't help me with anything because "they only deal with eligibility."

We went back home, got my numerous folders of info and headed to the hospital. We stopped at the closet they call Access (seriously, it's about as big as a small bathroom with four cubicles and a mini-office in one corner. The sign on the door actually says something like Sprinkler Room on it. No wonder the women working there are bitchy). Today the door says "knock please". A woman I hadn't met before came to the door. She was nice looking, as in friendly, but a little creepy. Anyway, I quickly explained the problem and asked if she could help me and she went back to her computer and printed out my info. I started to try to explain my problem in more detail when I looked at the dates on the paperwork and knew immediately that I was the one who had made the mistake. I couldn't help but laugh at my silliness and at how relieved I was.

The dates 4/11 and 5/12 weren't month and day, they were month and year. My Access wasn't going to expire on May 12th, it would expire in May of 2012 - a year from my start date. So there was no problem other than my own brain and my willingness to believe I was going to get screwed again. I thanked her like 6 times and we went home.

So long story short - no problem at all. Plus? I made Key Lime pie with raspberries and raspberry puree:

Monday, May 09, 2011

Who's scruffy lookin?

My brain feels a bit scruffy. It's that weird period between when I can feel the meds wearing off and the pain is coming back. It starts in my ear. I think that's the most involved nerve bundle being pressed upon by the mass. It always feels like this overlap makes me fell the most 'high'. Like the natural endorphins are shaking hands with the opiates on their way out.

Spent most of the evening doodling on some old Converse sneakers I bought a long time ago from Ross because they were the right size and cheap. Problem is they were sky blue.. Just took me a while to get to remedying that.

Saturday, May 07, 2011


It's getting to the point
where I'm no one anymore.
Sometimes it's hurts
so badly I must cry out loud

Damn you vicodin, you used to be my friend, but now you go away too soon and all I'm left with is this small tumor-shaped badger trying to claw its way through my eye and ear holes. are you doing that? It's like you got little freddie kruger arms dug into the top of my skull trying to pull it apart at the craggy sutures holding my head together.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Phoenix Landing

I've kinda let the website fade away but I still like the name, so I gave it to my hat. I bought this white hat at Target about a year ago, thinking it would be a good canvas for something and you don't often see hat blanks like this.
Anyway, got tired of seeing it there not getting colored or worn, so I took it out and started doodling. After realizing sketching was a waste of time I just started drawing and let it go where it would.

This is in progress:

And this is the "finished" piece. Quotes cuz I'll probably still futz with it for a while.

Pre-Op Visit

It's about a week out I guess and the scheduler, Sarah, called to set up a pre-op appt (this happened a couple of days ago), so here I am again, in the doctor's office and of course there's a problem with AHCCCS and my other insurance and the bills and I think I'm going to die of stress related brain embolisms before I can be cured of cancer. Apparently since I don't have a Primary Care Physician I can't use this doctor with AHCCCS because I didn't get a referral from my Primary Care Physician that I don't have. That would be fraud, ya know, to go to a Specialist without getting a referral from a Primary Care Physician. I guess Tank forgot to port-load that program for me cuz I didn't get that training. All I know is I've been coming here for two months and now they tell me that the thing I told them day one (no primary physician) is now going to keep me from getting the surgery. Oh but wait, I have other insurance. Yes, yes I have Pizza Hut's meek little tic-tac of a health plan that seems poised to save my life, literally, simply by the fact that they can be considered my Primary Health Insurance Plan and the ADCCCS becomes my Secondary Insurance Plan, thus solving the dilemma of who referred me to Dr. Rothman. I think. No, as Kevin would say, "everyone's God willing". We figure it out by saying, "here, call this number tomorrow."

So it's not long of a wait and Marsha sits me in the scary dental chair in room 4. Rothman shows up maybe 5 minutes later, smiles and shakes my hand warmly, which is so not like his previous meetings with me.

So he pretty much starts out by saying that this should go about as smoothly as my biopsy, as far as I was concerned. I'd meet him for a few minutes about a half hour before surgery. I'd meet the anesthesiologist. The nurses would give me an IV and ask me a bunch of questions, then they'd wheel me out and down the hall and the next thing I'll know is I'm waking up in ICU. I won't have any tubes or hoses in my nose or mouth. I will have a breathing tube installed, along with a feeding tube, as I won't be able to swallow. I imagine the breathing tube is for the swelling in my throat from the surgery which probably wouldn't allow me to breathe normally.

This all takes place on my right side, left if it's your point of view. He explained again how normally he would go in through the mouth with robotic surgical tools, but my kind of tumor prevents that. So he has to take apart my jaw on that side, which will be repaired with titanium. He indicated the chin area when speaking so I would think that's where the bone is broken so that half of my jaw can just be kinda moved out of the way. This also includes slitting me from collarbone to above my ear and probably up my chin to, and maybe including, my lower lip. It's called Radical Neck Dissection. Do not google that.

Once he can get at the tumor from all sides he'll remove it, the idea of course is he'll remove all of it. This will leave a tumor shaped hole in my face which must be filled. Tissue and muscle will be taken from my chest, which I described before, but what I learned today makes it cooler. The tissue and muscle will be moved under my skin. They kinda snake it up under my skin, past my shoulder and up into my neck and jaw area, with all the original attendant nerves and blood vessels still intact, so that it is my own live tissue being used to rebuild my neck. If they had gone with the other procedure, the one I really wanted, they would have had to painstakingly rebuild the circulatory network, I guess by matching veins with veins and arteries with arteries and nerves with nerves and so on. If he'd explained that the first time I totally would have gone with the chest method.

Then it's sewed back up and into ICU. Day 2 they'll get me out of bed and walking around. I told him all I cared about was being able to pee standing up. None of those bedpans. He said I'll spend 7 days in the hospital. Day 3 they'll probably start me on physical therapy for my chest, shoulder and neck.

I ask him if I should start looking for an oncologist and he says no, he's an oncologist. This is all he does. When the time comes, if we need to add a little radiation or chemo to the plan, he can take care of all of that. Arranging for a Radiologist or a Chemotherapist(?) He's said it like that a number of times; "If we need" radiation or chemo after surgery. It's encouraging. He tells me to call him if I have any questions, that he will call me back if he's not able to talk at the time and I believe him. Very reassuring. In fact, the whole visit was more encouraging than any previous one. More than all rolled together. And I still could barely keep from falling apart when I left. I think it's the holding it all in while we're calmly talking about breaking my jaw and swinging it out of the way like a gate on a fractured hinge, right after my neck has been cut open like a frog tied down with pins, so they can scoop out a golf ball sized piece of my neck and then pull some chest meat up under my skin to fill in the hole.

Sat in the parking garage and called dad to tell him about the meeting. Find out that my kid is now employed. Woot!

I forgot to ask about the blood stuff - my mom and dad want to try to donate blood if it's needed, and Kaia's friend Alix did too, but I forgot to even ask if it's even an option, if it's needed.

Overall I feel much better emotionally than I have for the last few days. Sorry if I've been grumpier than usual.

Oh yeah, sorry Kevin, I shoulda told you that I was going to get some awesome food. It was kinda spontaneous. I couldn't really help myself, Mikado was on the way home and well, tuna tataki! I'm not going to get my hopes up too high, but if I don't have to have radiation, then my fear of losing my sense of taste might not even happen.

Wednesday, May 04, 2011


People have been known to call me Grumpy

Fast Five Bucks Wasted. Plus Four.

No epic meal today, just a seriously opposite of epic movie with Kev and Cody. Fast Five, or whatever its called.

I don't think I could list the ways in which this movie sucked. It would take up far more time than I'm willing to put into it, considering the time I already wasted watching it in the first place. For all those "Who cares? It was fun" types out there, yes, I can see what you'd find fun in it. There were nice cars driving fast (though really, 2 races and 2 mediocre car chases are kinda disappointing in a car street racing movie), there were hot girls, good looking guys and some not too terrible jokes here and there. There were some beauty shots of Rio, if you count soft-focus, magic-hour shots of some of the crappiest slums in the world, as beauty shots. There was some drama too I guess.

I'd also like to point out how lazy and terrible movie posters have become.

Let's see...
-Terrible writing with equally terrible jokes delivered with equally terrible timing.
-Dumb guys standing around with hot girls feeding us the idea that street racing is sexy and cool and ballsy, despite it being dull, stupid and often dangerous with bystanders being killed a percentage of the time.
-Product placement gone mad. Seriously, two Dodge Chargers couldn't pull a full bank vault through the shitty streets of Brazil, much less one. They sound awesome when you're revving it, but once you actually need some power, sounding awesome isn't what you need. Real awesome is what you need. And besides, it's Brazil. Why the hell would every third car be a second-rate Dodge or Chrysler?
-Predictable. So predictable that it's impossible to ruin the film with spoilers as 1. There isn't really a plot, and 2. no one was surprised by any of the 'surprises'. Gee, you didn't know Dwayne would switch sides? I guess you're the 3% this movie was shooting for. Oh and the girl from all the other "movies" who's now hooked up with Buster the Great White Hope? She's now preggers with his spawn, gawd help us. And oh yeah, she can't drink alcohol, but she CAN drive fast cars and jump out of trains and shoot guns and be shot at by guns - those are all cool with expectant mothers.
-Ego strokefest. So much time is spent re-racing the old re-races from the other "movies" that I almost forgot about the other races that were inherent to the plot. Oh, yeah. There weren't any.
-Pandering. How many female cops have you guys met? I'm not saying they're ugly or a little muscular for my tastes or 'butch', as they say. I've actually met a few women cops that were both good cops and fairly pretty, some downright beautiful. Most were plain and butt-ugly though, just like their male counterparts. What I haven't ever seen, like ever never not ever ever never seen never never is a cop ever like Elsa Patakay or Gal Gadot (hmm, I found my long lost sister, Gal!). To say these girls are too beautiful to be cops (much less street cops in Brazil or elite manhunter navy seal-esque super cops) is like saying Steve Buscemi is too ugly to play the story of Brad Pitt's life. Ha! Iss funny becuss iss true.
-Contrived. It's too stupid and ridiculous to explain how contrived the end scene, errr, scenes (because it never damn ends) are, other than to say; with the number of times they had to improvise and change plans on the fly and add new peeps and new allies and still end it all like Ocean's Eleven, like it was all part of the "plan", you know, the "plan" that was abandoned and reworked ya know, in light of all this new evidence, man, cuz you're not ya know, like we know you're not privy to all the new shit and all. All we needed was a little faith I guess. Or peyote
-Acting. The lack thereof. I'm certain the Japanese guy is the Lawrence Olivier of his generation, in fact I'm fairly positive he must be some J-pop star because the man had range, son! I swear his mouth moved once and the words were totally synced up right. He didn't cower, hand to mouth and scream "Gojirra!!!!!" once! In fact, he did nothing. Nothing at all. No! Wait! That's unfair! He did smile at the Givenchy runway model as she bested all the men in driving in a circle really really fast. Without even spraining her Pocky sized ankles doing all that shifting. Especially since shifting 8 times in 12 feet is pretty impressive, especially while drifting around hallways in a warehouse, especially considering she was driving a 4-speed.

Half the time I felt like that Directv commercial where the kid is taunting the "cowboys" in the movie he wants to watch tonight, and later, on the sofa, watching the cowboys having a bar fight and the kid asks, "They know they have guns. right?" A lot like that. Not only did every single bad guy take the obligatory double-tap center mass, but not one good guy was even grazed, except for Goose, of course, because there has to be some heartwarming shit among all the carnage. Ya know, to go along with the baby announcement, brother/sister reunions, bro hugs, and "Seems like old times?I'm too old for this shit" stares. Goose had to die so Maverick can be the solo pilot he always wanted to be and Iceman could go on to become fat and gay and do a tv show.

So yes, I highly recommend Fast Five.

Monday, May 02, 2011


Aside from watching Game of Thrones and all the excellent character building (though I will say that King's Landing looks a little bit like the old Rome sets. Not impressive enough), I was kinda slack today and didn't do my other job; waiting for other people to kill my cancer. I didn't call the Mayo Clinic and I didn't find an oncologist and I haven't yet got a family practitioner yet even still as of now yet.

I did, however, get a lot of phone calls starting around 7:00am. I had a difficult time getting sleep last night. I think it was around 5 when I finally managed. So I figure 2 hours before the calls started. It used to be that I could just turn off my ringer and not worry about it at all. Now I can't miss any calls, ever. Sarah from Dr. Rothman's office called to say I had a 3:15 pre-op appointment on Wednesday, May 4th. My mom called around 9:30. I talked to her and I remember most of what she said. Wrote down some. Donna called around 1:30pm. Didn't answer.

As for my 10th meal before I can't anymore, I had Gang Ped Yarng, basically Thai yellow curry with duck, lychee, green peppers and tomatoes. Never had curry with duck or lychee. The lychee were good but the duck was a bit tough. Still awesome. I had ordered spring rolls, but they gave me steamed dumplings instead. Hard to complain.

Almost finished

I suppose I could work on it for a week or two longer, but sometimes ya gotta just pick up the marker and say "no more". I did want to add a little more color to the yellow brick road.

I wasn't up for drawing, as my meds have been making my hand less than steady, and my brain less than focused, but I still wanted to do something for Colleen and all of the awesome scrapbookers who've stood up and sent me their cards and drawing and more importantly, their hearts. For you guys:

Click the image for a larger version

Missed one

Well, I didn't get to have my 11th epic meal. I guess I'll have to get 2 tomorrow. Still got my heart set on Panang Curry. Anyway, I had to improvise and made some killer omelets. Sauteed onions, chopped spiral ham, a little cheese. I put some chunky salsa in mine. Cilantro and a pinch of basil over the top. Close enough for bucket list food.