Thursday, March 28, 2013

Best This Is What I Have Been Up To

Ok, so. I've had this fake elbow and partial ulna replacement since the end of 2000, and when I say "fake" I don't mean something made out of metal but the bone of a dead man was used to replace my own elbow and ulna because they were full of bone cancer. Got it? Then at about Christmas (2012) I began noticing strange symptoms around my elbow, symptoms that progressed into painful redness and swelling and I stopped being able to straighten out my arm all the way.  It took a few visits to the doctor to determine that I'd developed a bone infection just below my elbow. Who knows if I caught it from something or if it had been living in my fake elbow for twelve years, cooking itself up and getting ready to attack, but this infection was bad news. Basically the #3 worst health news I could have received, given my history. Doctor said the elbow had to come out. I didn't like it, but I couldn't disagree. Once the tire finally hit the road the surgery was scheduled real quick (for February 28th, in other words, a month ago today).

Me illustrating that I cannot straighten out my arm on the morning of my surgery.

Something I want to emphasize and clarify: my doctor wanted to take the elbow out. The plan wasn't to put anything back in. Which sounded crazy to me and goes against everything I ever understood about the skeletal system. But that's how I'm living now (spoiler!): no elbow with most of my forearm gone. And now I can say that I've seen for myself that it seems my exptert doctor was right, you don't need a bone between where your elbow was and your hand is. I'm living in the future, you're all stuck in beta bodies.

Moving on . . .

Because she is good and because she is my mom, Mom flew out to help me out before and after the operation (during the operation she had to stay in the waiting room).  As I said weeks ago, we ate at Parm with the Hanlons her first night in the city. The next morning I had to get up bright and early for my surgery. Just kidding! My operation was in the early afternoon. I didn't have to show up to the hospital until 11 or something. And what hospital was it? Why the one across the street from Carol's old place!

Upon arrival I signed a lot of stuff and waited in a lot of places and met many nurses and doctors. A lot has changed since my last big operation—for example, now there's hospital underwear to go under your hospital gown.

I had a few needles stuck in me but by far the pre-surgery thing that hurt the most was when my surgeon came by and signed my infection with a Sharpee that felt more like a dentist's tool being scraped against the angry bone. Not sure why he signed it...either giving me his autograph or signing off (literally! Ha!) on which elbow was coming out, I guess.

Then the nicest nurse in the world appeared and walked me back to the operating room. As usual with me and my surgeries, I only had one concern: I didn't want to die during the operation. But if that were to happen I surely couldn't have asked for a lovelier grim reaper.

 It's odd to walk into an operating room instead of being wheeled into it. Strangely participatory, too much volition remains. You have to cooperate in the strapping of yourself to the table and the minor adjustments made for the sake of your comfort, a comfort that matters for maybe four minutes, while you watch all these busy people busy themselves with tasks that seem to have nothing to do with you when you know that doing terribly violent things to you in your sleep is their business. The anesthesiologist came in and got me set up and goin, I counted to 20 before the record ends, asking myself in those lasts moments, "I wonder if I'll remember this when I wake up?" Then deciding, "I must remember it if I'm thinking it now." Was it drugs? Or had I become unstuck from time?

I woke up in the recovery room a few seconds later, but the clocks said two hours had passed. My arm was intensely swaddled. Mom came in for a minute and then was told she could come back in an hour. To the post-surgical, an hour is like five minutes for a human. An anesthesiologist put a giant needle in my shoulder (gigantic! I'm so glad I didn't see it until after) for a nerve block to cancel the pain in my arm. It numbed my chest, it numbed my mouth (for a few hours I could not speak except in the "I've lost my voice!" style. I found this exciting) and made my eyelid droop but it did not take away the pain of having half my forearm removed. Much to do was then made of getting me properly infused with a proper painkiller. A very adequate anodyne was found. Eventually I'm taken upstairs.

I don't know why my knees look gigantic.  There's nothing wrong with them.

Upon arrival in my shared room I have two concerns: pain and hunger. I go a good hour without anything for pain and the passing of time has begun to slow down to the measure of men as I return from the land of the post-surgery light speed creatures. It seems like everyone has overlooked this need. It takes a while to get it squared away, but eventually I'm put on a bit of morphine.  It just doesn't muddle my mind like it used to.  Too much opiate experience, I guess. Then I ask if I'm allowed to eat. No one is sure, but an orderly unassociated with the conversation appears with a plate of (holy smokes!) salmon in saffron sauce and sautéed kale. I wolf it down. NYU has the finest hospital food I've ever known.

The story does not get much more interesting from here. (But please, read on!) The main issue is staying comfortable and getting myself properly arranged on the bed. Before going home mom gets me KFC and the new issue of Lucky Peach.

Even in a post about a trip to the hospital this blog is nothing but food photos.

All my Thursday night NBC comedies are repeats. My chicken tenders are DELICIOUS, one of the best things I've eaten so far in 2013. I don't sleep a wink. My roommate is a terrible snorer. My night time nurses are very strange visitors, it isn't clear if they know how to operate my bedside machinery (pumps and such, you know). Once morning comes I'm able to sleep pretty well—this is my hospital style, up all night, asleep all day—but I'm not at the hospital much longer.

From my window I can see a cool rooftop playground and Emily's old place.

Example of me getting ready to leave the hospital.

The hospital was very big on setting goals.  The only goal I was willing to set during my short stay was to have a good lunch.  My nurse invented the other goal.

Lunch #1

Lunch #2

By noon, ish, I'm out (having arranged the delivery of two lunches before going. I couldn't get enough of that NYU hospital food!) I was back in the street. Look at me! Basically the same as when I went in a day before, right?

Mom and I celebrate my escape efficiently with Red Mango while my prescription is filled at the Walgreens next door. Can you tell which yogurt is mine and which belonged to Mom?

 Coming Soon: Exciting Tales of Recovery!

Friday, March 22, 2013

Best New Babel

Here's something I didn't know until this week: construction is well underway for "432 Park Avenue", a new 89 story, 140 unit, 1400 foot tall luxury apartment building on Park Avenue. When completed in 2015 it will be the tallest building in New York and North America, if you don't count the spire on the new World Trade Center building. Why aren't we all talking about this super tower that will soon be casting its money shadow all over the city like a sun dial all the time?!

Now here's the crazy thing about it: Apartments in this building Start at $20 million and top out at $80 million. Start at $20 million! That means you could kidnap basically anyone coming out of the building and the ransom would have your family set for generations. As shocking as the entry price is, I call baloney on the top price, too. Only 80 million to live on the top of this building? The top floor apartments of the new, not yet complete One 57th street building go for $90 million and that building is just 1000 feet tall. The most expensive NY apartment listing yet is $100 million for a penthouse at 15 CPW. There's got to be a supervillain dying to break all those records for a lair higher than any apartment or observation deck in this whole country.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Best Other Favorite Lingos of 2013

All my internet wishes have come true and my three other favorite Lingos are now* online.

(*"now" here used loosely)

First of all, "Fievel", a suspense masterpiece.  Everyone was on the edge of their seat during this one, tittering nervously.  Like a doofus I happened to be looking away (not out of fear but distraction) at the climactic moment.

Fievel from Alan Buchanan on Vimeo.

Next, "Utah Names", which I did NOT realize was already internet semi-famous.  I move to revoke their award for Best Documentary!  But still I like the video.  Simple concept executed simply.  That's the way to do it.

Finally, I'm fond of this Young Men Give Dating Advice short because it features Christian, the kid I tutor each week.  Which one is he?  The funniest one.  You should be able to figure it out.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Best Informational Film

The Lingos, the Manhattan Stake's annual film festival, were Saturday night.  For an evening that has been known to sometimes try one's patience more than entertain, this was a surprisingly strong year.  Good little movies were in the majority this year and the runaway crowd favorite of the night was Robert's explanation of the Harlem Shake.  An informative and lighthearted little documentary, the crowd was cheering Robert's name by the end of the film.  Check it out:

And now check out how badly Robert trounced the competition in the People's Choice voting:

There were a few other fine Lingos this year that I'm really hoping show up online soon, particularly "Fievel" and "Utah Names", to name two.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Best Cowboy Book I've Ever Read

Last night I finished Warlock by Oakley Hall. It's a western from 1958 that nearly won the Pulitzer back then and is lauded by authors such as Michael Chabon and Thomas Pynchon now. Basically, if the new edition of your 50+ year old cowboy book has got a great big blurb by Pynchon on the back there's nothing I can do, I will be reading your book.

Warlock was a little hard for me to get into at first for a silly and simple reason: all the cowboy names. I had such a hard time telling Clay apart from Curley and Cade, distinguishing between two Gannon brothers and so many judges and generals, marshals and deputies. But as the book moved along it got easier (partly due to the reduction in the size of cast thanks to shoot outs and murderings) to remember who was who and the last 100 pages were a regular "I can't put this book down" situation. The table of contents had clued me in on some ominous chapter titles and I was dying to see how they'd play out.

Although I don't think I've read any cowboy novels besides Warlock, I'll still dare to say this must be one of the best there is, just based on what I think other westerns are like.  You could certainly read it as a straightforward cowboy adventure (a year after its publication it was made into a straightforward Henry Fonda cowboy film) but its also ready to be appreciated as a real western tragedy of more complex character arcs and trying moral decisions. If there's anyone out there that's read this book can we please talk about the journey of rustler turned deputy Johnny Gannon? Please?

In conclusion: I say Warlock is a fine, fine book. An excellent addition to any bookshelf in want of more Americana or a brain in need of tumbleweeds and shot outs and the pondering of the meaning of it all.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Best Special Day Made Even More Special

Patricia and I met 10 years ago Wednesday...we think...and it was so snowy that day. Friday we had a good, solid snow so Patricia and I took a commemorative anniversary snow walk through Battery Park.

 Everything was nice and lovely and then I saw something that I only barely dreamed I might see.

The famous and mysterious Wild Turkey of Battery Park! And on a snow day!

If you're not sure if you've ever seen me when I was real happy, I suggest you see me when I run into the wild turkey of Battery Park.

I wonder what it's like to be the wild turkey of battery park. Do you think he wonders where all the other turkeys are?

ADDENDUM: A little Googling can teach you so much about that turkey.  Like that he's a girl, he's named Zelda, and he's very old.