February 2007

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It’s been a while since I updated my favorite lunch spots. Back in October 2005, my favorite spots were:

1. Swing Thai
2. Tokyo Joe’s
3. Anthony’s Pizza
4. Wahoo’s Fish Tacos
5. Chipotle

There has since been a shake-up. Swing Thai went from fast food to a sitdown place. I still go there but only once in a blue moon. The updated list:

arrow 1. Tokyo Joe’s. Big White Chicken Bowl with brown rice, usually peanut sauce, and — here’s the shocker — a half-order of broccoli. That’s right, after a lifetime of Veggie Jihad, I am making peace with the green. If I can do this, there’s hope for the Israelis and Palestinians. I still hate cooked peas and lima beans. That’s non-negotiable.
arrow 2. Schlotsky’s. Sandwich or pizza. But taste fatigue is hitting me hard. A month ago I would have put this at #1 but it’s plummeting now with no sign of when it will pull out of this dive. I’ll let you know.
3. Someplace else.
4. Someplace else.
arrow 5. Anthony’s Pizza. Taste fatigue is hitting here too. I’ve eaten a lot of Anthony’s pizza over the last eight years.

Prospect to Watch: The Smiling Moose Deli, it’s growing on me even though it cracks the psychological $10 barrier for lunch. They’ve got the best bread of any sandwich place. Other spots: Chipotle, Wahoo’s Fish Tacos, Silver Mine Subs, NY Pizza (near my house), Philly Cheese Steaks, The Spicy Pickle. As you can tell, my lunch spot list is in turmoil. I’ll let you know how it shakes out. Anybody know of a drive thru deli?

Dry Run!

Here are some photos Ted took during last Saturday’s dry run…

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Sarah, Mom and I in the hospital room on 7-West at University Hospital. I got the call at home around 4:30pm last Saturday and headed to the hospital within an hour or so. Usually there is not a huge rush to get to the hospital because it takes a long time to procure the donor lungs. My Mom picked me up and Sarah picked up Ted and we met at 7-West. We all missed my Dad tremendously. Had he been there, he would have flashed us his trademark grins and kept us lively with his enthusiasm. As my Mom said, he was with us in spirit.

It wasn’t just the event that brought him to mind. The University Hospital surgical waiting room doubles as the ICU waiting room. In ’98, my family waited for me there while I underwent my first transplant. Almost exactly a year ago, we waited there until we could see my Dad in the ICU. And now, my Mom, sister and brother would be waiting there during my second transplant. I always say (and believe) that I have the easiest job. The docs put me under and I wake up with a new lung. The hard part is being in that waiting room.

hospital

Wackiness did ensue at times. We would end up spending about four hours in the room on 7-West. For the first couple hours, I was still riding on an adrenaline high. We probably all were. As you can tell, I’ve changed out of my street clothes into a hospital-issue gown. Normally, I refuse to wear hospital gowns. I decided the day they are operating on you is the exception. However, next time I’ll wear sweats until I leave for pre-op.

hospital

Ted and I, the one photo he did not take. The chief cardiothoracic surgeon (Dr. G, who was my surgeon in ’98) called my room and told me the donor lung was out-of-state. He was about to get on a plane to go check it out.

hospital

First blood. I indicate where they stuck me for some blood tests. The cardiothoracic surgeon who would be the #2 surgeon for my surgery spoke with us for a few minutes. He said we could expect surgery to last four to six and a half hours. Shorter than my double-lung was in ’98 but longer than a standard single lung because of scar tissue and other issues. He said they were planning on going in through the left side of my old scar, which was interesting. I thought I’d be getting a new scar. (Part of it will be new.)

hospital

Ted gets artsy, Sarah and Mom from my POV. Note the clock. Early on, we were told I’d be moving to pre-op between eight and nine. Not long after this pic was taken, we got the word, “Off to pre-op!”

hospital

Nurse Shannon gives me some meds as I’m wheeled out of my 7-West room.

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My triumphant departure from 7-West!

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Mom gives me last minute advice in the elevator on the way to pre-op. We waited in pre-op for about 45 minutes. The surgical nurse gave us the rundown as far as what to expect and the anesthesiologist was about to start a line in my arm when a couple surgeons arrived. Bad news. The donor lung was badly bruised and could not be used. The bruise had not shown up in the x-ray but was revealed upon closer inspection.

This led to my not-so-triumphant return to 7-West, where I got my street clothes back on and we all went home. We were all mentally and physically exhausted and I think we all slept well that night thanks to sheer fatigue.

This was my second dry run. The first was back in September 2005. Let’s hope the third time is the charm!

I’m still mentally recovering from getting The Call on Saturday, and then having the surgery canceled at the last second. It’s like being told you’re dropping over Normandy on D-Day and just as the plane crosses the coastline, the pilot comes over the radio and says, “Never mind. We’re turning around.” I am disappointed because I do need a new left lung. But I also feel relief because this is major surgery and who knows what could happen. My life is currently limited but it is a good life. Maybe I could go on like this forever? I know I can’t. I need that surgery. And I’m back to disappointment. In the midst of all these feelings is a sadness for the donor family. First they lose their loved one. Then they decide to give this great gift but find out the gift cannot be made. I remember how disappointed we were that we couldn’t donate my Dad’s organs.

Mc balloonSo I’m sitting in my house thinking all this over and I find myself staring at some helium-filled balloons that a friend kindly sent me for Valentine’s Day because she knows I’m valentine-challenged. Then I look over at the dog, who is happily sleeping. Then I look back at the balloons. Dog. Balloons. Dog. Light bulb.

I imagined McCaffrey would frolic all over the house as he did energetic battle with this mysterious red heliumosaurus. I feared I would be unable to keep up with him with my camera as he ran upstairs and to and fro. I chuckled as I tied the balloon to this collar and let go of him as if I was opening a rodeo gate. And… nothing. Fearful staring but no running. Some calm walking. (Is it still up there? Yup.) Mainly resigned confusion. (What is happening to me?)

I see now I should have used one of the smaller balloons and I should have tied it closer to his head. I had to stuff the balloon under my weight bench’s leg curl to be sure I had one photo featuring both McC and the balloon.

Mc balloon

McCaffrey, to his credit, refused to be my dancing monkey. I respect his integrity. He knew nothing of balloons before this experiment. He still doesn’t know much. But he knows they exist, and he knows they are strange, and when he enters a room where previously a balloon gripped the ceiling, he will look up at the balloon, accounting for it. Once he accounts for all the balloons, he goes about his business and simply yields to them all ground rights under their airspace.

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