Monday, July 23, 2007

The Past Two Weeks...

The following is a pretty in-depth account of the past two weeks. I wanted to get it down in writing the best I could.

The past couple of weeks have been a blur. I started a normal weekend on July 7 and by the next night was suffering from abdominal pains and severe headaches. Eventually, through the urging of my girlfriend (because I'm very stubborn) I saw a doctor for the pain and eventually wound up in the ER and, ultimately, admitted to the hospital for eight days.

Though the headaches were the catalyst, something else was very wrong. I had turned yellow practically overnight and blood tests showed that my liver functions and levels had gone through the roof, some as high as 10x higher than normal. I was put on heavy pain medication, though that was not enough to keep the headaches away. The pain meds would wear off way before I was due my next dose and I was miserable. Meanwhile, I was extremely jaundiced, hooked up to an IV because I could barely keep food and liquids down and having incredible vivid hallucinations and nightmares due to the pain medication.

Doctors performed CT scans, MRI's, facial X-rays, a spinal tap and, finally, a liver biopsy, along with drawing blood every day. The liver biopsy was by far the strangest of the tests. Because of complications, they had to go 'trans jugular' which, as it implies, means through the neck and jugular vein. I was medicated, but only so that I did not feel pain. I was awake and aware. I could actually feel the needle pulling the tiny slivers of my liver.

While the root cause of the headaches was never fully determined, doctors ruled out aneurysms, various forms of meningitis, liver cancers and other diseases associated with my liver disorder. While I am in the process of getting other opinions, the liver biopsy shows no blockages or signs of my original surgeries going awry. It shows an acute injury of some sort due to a toxin, which could possibly be the weight lifting supplement creatine that I've been on for some time. As I said, I will be getting a second opinion.

After about five days, the headaches began to subside and I was able to go off the pain medications, though, admittedly, I wanted to be back on them if only to help me sleep. Having never stayed overnight in a hospital since my initial surgeries as a baby, I had no idea how hard it is to sleep in a hospital when not heavily medicated. I had a series of roommates, all of which were admitted to hospital at approximately 4 a.m., thus ruining any chance at a full nights' sleep. Even the quiet nights were too quiet and sleeping medication did not do any good.

What helped me through these eight days (along with pain meds!) were the love and support of friends and family members. Everyday was a parade of various people coming to keep me company, even on the days where I was barely able to hold a conversation due to the medication. People brought me Gatorade, snacks, magazines, CDs, cards, flowers and various odd toys like bubble makers, a toy guitar, and something called the 'Grossinator,' which is highly entertaining and emits declarations such as "I'm going to make a big gross fart" at a volume that's too loud NOT to be hilarious.

During all this, I thought about those people stuck in hospitals for longer periods of time with no family or friends. I've only had a handful of friends and family members in the hospital, but I never fully realized how much it means to have that support when you're the one laid up. It was truly humbling and I know that if a friend or family member is ever in the hospital, I will make every effort to visit if only for a short time. It makes all the difference. I cannot stress that enough. My girlfriend has been incredibly supportive through all of this. She was only physically able to be with me for a short time during my hospitalization, but she helped run interference between the doctors, myself and my friends and family, and even kept friends on an online support message board for liver disease patients informed of my progress. I am incredibly grateful and appreciative of her, even if I had difficulty showing it at times. My mother flew up from Florida and my brother, father and aunt were with me practically every day at some point. Once again, I cannot stress the difference this made to my mental well being during this ordeal.

I've always known that I've had a liver disease, but I've never really felt like I had one. The past couple weeks showed me that I am not above getting sick, despite my being so healthy over the years. I eat well, exercise constantly and do almost everything in my power to stay healthy, though I know it's not always enough.

When I was let out of the hospital, I was happy, but more anxious than I thought I would be. Perhaps it's the way a prisoner feels when let out of jail; happy to be free, but with the question of "now what?" looming over. It's been great to eat real food, even if things haven't tasted the same. Hospital food is truly disgusting and I get a bit queasy even thinking about what passes for nutrition. In addition, sleep has still been hard to come by, though it's getting easier each night.

I'm currently out of work, but plan on returning in one week. I certainly need the rest. My color is getting better, but I'm still a bit yellow; my appetite is strong, but things still taste a little 'off'. Sadly, Championship Vinyl had to cancel our final show at Javapalooza last Saturday night, which was pretty hard. We were both really looking forward to it and had an amazing night planned. I don't know if we will be able to reschedule, though we will be discussing it.

My health is my number one priority right now. Things have been improving and the doctor is optimistic, as am I. Once back to 100%, I aim to resume heavy job searching and make the move south. I'm also hoping to play an acoustic show or two, whether on my own or with Championship Vinyl. There are so many changes ahead; it's both exciting and scary.

To anyone and everyone who visited me in the hospital, called to follow up or wish me well, or simply read this blog all the way through: Thank you.

Friday, July 6, 2007

My Favorite Things

Minor Inconveniences
In Enid Oklahoma, a pair of pre-teen sisters (ages 12 and 10) were arrested for abducting their neighbor's one year old son and demanding $200,000 for his return. They broke into the home, stole the baby and left a note reading, "If you want to see your son again then you won't call police and report him missing and you will leave $200,000 on the sofa tonight and we will return your son back safe." It was signed "the kidnappers." The girls' identities were not divulged because of their age.

See, this is what burns me. I think the community has a right to know who these freakshows are. Fuck their age. If they're old enough to commit a felony, they should be old enough to deal with the repercussions. This isn't Africa! You can't just go around stealing babies! I am so sick of hearing about criminals coddled and protected because of their age. Kids are in such a hurry to grow up and do "adult" things like take drugs, have sex, murder people, and now apparently abduction-for-ransom schemes, so why not make them accountable in the same way that adults are?

Meanwhile, in Orange Beach, Alabama, police chased a drunk driver for miles along a highway at speeds up to 100 mph. For a resort town like Orange Beach, a drunk driver is nothing out of the ordinary. However, the real surprise was that the person at the wheel was an 11 year old girl. Oh, and that Alabama has a resort town. Who knew? Of course, her name was not released because of her age. Her BAC was higher than .02, the legal limit for minors. I didn't realize that minors had a legal limit. I thought drinking was illegal if you were a minor. I stand corrected. Again, citizens need to be aware that this bitch is on the road. Her name should be plastered all over the news. She does not deserve protection. Those who violate the rights and safeties of others should not have their rights protected to such a degree. Am I the only person who thinks of this stuff? The world is lucky I have no desire to get involved in politics.

My favorite things….
As you know, I write a lot about things that piss me off, but rarely do I blog about things that actually make me happy. So, for a change, I've decided to compile a list of things that bring a smile to my face, a warmth to my heart and a tightening to my pants. Get it? Here goes nothing:

· I like watching a speeding car get pulled over by the police
· I like it when a celebrity goes bankrupt
· I like it when a celebrity checks into rehab
· I like it when an unfit mother loses her parental rights

Ok, I know those things are kind of mean, but I need to ease into this whole "I like" stuff….

· I like going to sleep next to my girlfriend, Trine
· I like waking up next to Trine
· I like jokes about your mom
· I like it when a shark attacks a bear. (Doesn't happen often, I imagine, but how cool would that be?)
· I like (am fascinated by) all things related to the sinking/discovery of the Titanic
· I like blue whales. (They're so fucking huge!)
· I like the Boston Red Sox
· I like walk off home runs!
· I like the New England Patriots
· I like Special K Chocolatey Delight cereal
· I like Harry Potter books
· I like books on CD
· I like Family Guy
· I like stand-up comedians
· I like piano pop
· I like lifting weights
· I like Tetris (Thank you, Russia).
· I like when the rest of an album is better than the radio single
· I like old WWF wrestling videos from the 80's and 90's
· I like the words "nipple" and "breasticle"
· I like 80's metal bands where the dudes all looked like chicks
· I like fart jokes
· I like when I don't see a good friend for a while and then we get together and it's like nothing has changed
· I like the "c word"
· I like physical comedy
· I like sex first thing in the morning
· I like sex last thing before bed
· I like sex pretty much anytime I can get it
· I like diner breakfasts
· I like maple syrup on EVERYTHING
· I like when people leave comments on my MySpace page
· I like beef jerky
· I like heavy metal guitar solos
· I like acoustic guitar music
· I like performing with Championship Vinyl
· I like writing music
· I like when a reality show gets cancelled
· I like Three's Company
· I like when two girls at a bar kiss to get attention (and free drinks) and no one cares
· I like having a totally ridiculous conversation with Beau that ends with the both of us in hysterics
· I like Hawaiian pizza (w/ ham as opposed to bacon)
· I like sushi. (Ok, I love sushi)
· I like that first spoonful of peanut butter from a brand new jar
· I like movies with happy endings
· I like massages with happy endings
· I like it when overly sensitive, politically-correct people get offended
· I like it when the daughter of some stuffy politician turns out to be gay
· I like the when someone asks someone else, "What's the capital of Thailand?" And then says, "Bangkok!" and punches that person in the nuts. Funny shit!
· I like movies about freakishly huge and out of control animals.
· I like when a girl bends over and her thong shows (assuming that she has any business wearing a thong). This is called a 'whale tail", and no, it has nothing to do with the girl's weight

I also like the weekend!! Enjoy yours!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Do NOT Feed the Strippers!

Breaking News: Bush commutes the prison sentence of Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, thus refuting the idea that rich, old white men just cannot catch a break these days!

Speaking of Bush, I know I crack on him a lot. There's always someone who says, "You may not agree with Bush, but at least he stands by what he believes in." This is a stupid way of looking at it. You know who else stood by what he believed in? Hitler. And Charles Manson. And Osama Bin Laden. Standing for something and standing for something good are two different things. This follows that same idiotic logic as the 'playing God' argument I wrote about in my last blog. Hey, you may not agree with me, but at least...nah!

The big news of last week was the double murder/suicide involving WWE Superstar Chris Benoit, his wife and their seven year old mentally disabled son. True story: I ran into Benoit in the airport in Atlanta last year as he was coming out of the rest room. I said, "Hi Chris," he said, "What's up?" and kept walking. I can honestly say I saw no indication that he could commit such an act of savagery.

First off, I get antsy about the media's liberal use of the word tragedy. Tragedy is a word people love to use to dramatize everything. Benoit murdering his wife and child is certainly a tragedy; however, suicide is not a tragedy; it's a coward's way out. Though, I will say that it's tragic that Benoit's life got to the point where he felt like murder/suicide was only solution.

Another thing that pisses me off how people say things like, "There's no excuse for killing a seven year old," as if killing his wife was excusable. I know it's an attempt to seem empathetic, but I feel it just comes across as stupid and callous. Barring self defense or extenuating circumstances, there's no excuse for taking a human life, be it a seven year old child or a 43 year old woman. I don't agree that either of the murders were any more or less horrific than the other and the enormity of Benoit's crimes should not be skewed because there was a child involved.

Lastly, we all knew the media was going to blame steroids. Why not? We need to satisfy the "why" question and legally prescribed steroids were found in the house. But from what I've read, I do not see steroids as being the culprit. His latest test for steroids was negative and the murders did not appear to be the product of rage, but rather deliberation. He placed Bibles next to each of the bodies; however, no one's bringing up the ludicrous idea that he sacrificed his family to appease God. Right, because that sounds idiotic. Steroids are an easy target given the industry he was in. I do not condone steroids. They have a bad reputation, and deservingly so. I'm not saying I don't think the guy juiced; I'm sure he did. We'll probably never know why he killed his wife, child, then himself, but I'm not buying 'roid rage as a viable reason. There were bigger issues involved.

Wait! Any possibly way to blame heavy metal music? No? Ok, carry on.

Does this make me cynical?
When I saw the news articles about Jessie Davis, the pregnant woman who went missing in Ohio and then was eventually found dead, the first thing I thought was, "Wow, she's made national headlines. She must be pretty."

Shut up and strip!
A judge in Salem, Oregon ruled that lap dances are covered under free speech, thus overturning a city wide ban on "prohibitive touching," or "sexually exciting physical contact for pay." I've never really thought of lap dances as being 'free speech' though if you look at dancing as an art form, then yes, dancing of this nature should be a first amendment right. I mean, if stripping is legal, then obviously lap dances should be as well. Thinking of lap dances and free speech in the same sentence don't always sit right with me (unintentional pun!) I actually think less speech should be involved in a lap dance, and stripping in general. Personally, I don't like it when strippers make conversation. Is it because I don't value them as human beings? No. Single mothers and psychology majors need to make a buck just like anyone else. I just think that when providing a service, a fantasy, talking about their boyfriends or law school ambitions only ruins it. Honestly, I'm not good at playing along. I know the reality is that this girl would not be looking at me if I did not have dollar bills in my hand and I'm Ok with that; however I'm not OK with the stripper trying to get to know me or telling me I'm handsome. I know I'm handsome! And I'm willing to bet my appeal goes up with every dollar bill I stuff into her thong.

Truth be told, I'm not a huge fan of strip clubs in general. Yes, they're a fun night out for bachelor parties and the strippers with bullet wounds, mullets and/or lazy eyes always make for a good time. But the clubs can be creepy. Here's what I mean: Often, there's at least one guy, mid to late 60's, sitting at the front of the stage w/ a wad of singles placed upon it. As is her duty, Lola (or Candy, Bambi, Sherri, insert sexy stripper name here) is squatting down writhing and showing off the goods, while this guy just stares at her bare vagina, mouth agape with an expression on his face like he's doing complex math in his head. The crippling fear of being ever being that guy is enough to keep me away from strip clubs aside from special occasions.

Happy 4th of July