Friday, December 31, 2004
Gaffer: “You want a beer? Have a Coke”.
Punter: “Umm no thanks.”
Gaffer: “Have a beer, why not? I have one going in the back.”
Punter: “Water is great, thanks”.
Stop by the Patrician Grill anytime you’re kicking around King St. East in beautiful downtown Toronto. When the menu says Meatloaf - $6.95, there are no hidden fees, taxes or charges - $6.95 is all you gotta pay. You don’t need to bring a Toronto Sun either – they have extras.
Happy New Year everyone, and best wishes to you and yours for a healthy and peaceful 2005.
Thursday, December 30, 2004
He tested me for numbness by checking reflexes (knees, feet, elbows, shoulders, throat, and eyes.) He confirms a very slight but lesser response on the right side of my throat and right eye. The eye test was particularly funny: he held the corner of a piece of gauze, had me look up, and then gently poked me in the eyeball with it!
He confirmed also his preferred approach as translabyrinthine with a possible secondary retrosigmoid - depending on all the wonderful variables, the stickiness, and ease of removal. (I sure hope that baby pops out faster than a chocolate out of a Laura Secord box.)
More to follow later dear readers, I'm tired out and my sentences are lacking variation in rhythm. I fell asleep on the couch at eight, woke up at nine-thirty and am now off to bed to dig into a bad bestseller before the drapes close again.
Strange dream this morning: leaving shore in a leaky rowboat. Yikes.
Memo to the T-Shirt Printer:
"I'm Not Ignoring You, I'm Deaf"
Wednesday, December 29, 2004
The staff at Sunnybrook has been amazing. Cheryl gave me a list of Dr. Chen's post-op patients and I've been in touch with a few of them, talking instead of typing. My fearless friend Catherine sent me a T-Shirt idea: "I Had A Brain Tumour, What's Your Excuse?"
Now Playing: "Can't Hardly Wait"
Tuesday, December 28, 2004
These beautiful people are fitness types that have touched my life and made a difference to me, again - whether they are aware or not. Much like the ‘muso’ list that appears earlier, this one is by no means complete: Rory Pederzolli, Crispin Redhead, Jason Kaiman, Marci Figuer, Karen Chwaiewsky, Mark Challen, Bruce Waithe, Tracey Cooke, Marysia Czarski, Kevin Lloyd, Todd Mathews, Claudia Deliberato, Melissa Posner, Lisa Marriot, Wayne Bourque, Al Green, Vlad Radanovic, Victoria Bannil, Ting Chan, Lori Blaskavitch, Clarence the Cat, Steven the Constable, Rebecca the Flexible, Kerri the Courageous, Winnie Talan, Meredith Coke, and Shelly McDonald.
About six years ago I was in the midst of adjusting to my new life as regular citizen and day-jobber. I turned a PC on for essentially the first time, and my musician’s schedule changed from going to sleep at 6AM and waking up in a fog at the crack of 2PM, to the day schedule - sleep at 11PM up at 6.30AM. My diet wasn’t the greatest at the time and I quickly fell into long hours at the office, no regular exercise, and no healthy stress relief. The last straw was a trip to the local Mandarin for some eight plates from the ‘buffet Chinois’. I felt and looked like a pasty Duff McKagan (minus the cool hair and cowboy boots) on the eve of the Use Your Illusion Tour. I lay on the couch that evening groaning, pear shaped, and full of regret, and resolved to immediately join a health club and change my wicked ways.
I had been a sporadic exerciser for some years, but I became a regular and serious fitness enthusiast at Al Greene’s Body Alive in mid-town Toronto. When he closed and moved, half his team headed north to Eclipse Fitness and half headed south to a Sports Clubs of Canada franchise.
I became a 6-day a week devotee - weight training and taking Boxing, Hi Low Aerobics, and Cycle classes. Now this was healthy stress relief! My diet greatly improved and I went from 196 pounds down to 155. (My fighting weight is 168, which hasn’t changed in three years.) I was inspired after a time to look into teaching group cycle. I got certified with CycleReebok, and Madd Dogg (SPINNING), and worked on my mojo; putting together a host of ride profiles and music.
Lori Blaskavitch told me that Rory Pederzolli at Eclipse might be looking. Rory, Crispin, and Marci had gone north to hook up with Jason Kaiman after the demise of Al’s studio. I got in touch, and to my great pleasure started teaching Cycle classes there in September of 2002. Rory became my mentor and was incredibly generous with his time as he helped me work on Cycle and another couple of formats (HiLow, and Boxing). I‘m grateful to Rory and Jason - the instructor staff at Eclipse is world class and it’s an inspiration to be in their company.
I soon certified as a Can Fit Pro Group Fitness Instructor with Winnie Talan and picked up some volunteer classes at the Downtown YMCA in order to re-balance the karmic wheel. In early December, just prior to diagnosis - I scaled classes back in order to gear up for the GMAT and the big campaign to get into business school. Plans have changed and I’m still gearing up, but for a much more primal sort of campaign.
I’m going to keep teaching until I go for surgery, and will hopefully return shortly thereafter. The whole fitness trip has been one of the most positive journeys I have ever taken and I know that the sooner I get back into the gym post-op, the better. (Stability Ball will figure quite prominently in my new workouts I’m sure.)
I just had a huge sigh of relief as I read an email from my friend Terry, writing from southern India. He is safe, but sadly many are not.
Death toll to date: 44,000
From the CBC
From the Canadian Red Cross
Saturday, December 25, 2004
Sleigh bells ring – Knowwhati’msayin?
My friend Sonny called me last night from Kinsale, Ireland. It was amazing to speak with him and his sweetheart Anne and really good for me; we had a first-class conversation. Sonny taught me a lot about the really important things in life like music, books, art of every landscape, texture and flavour, family, dogs and cats, the value of friendships, and the importance of keeping good company. He and his family (along with some other Montreal notables) were responsible for my second coming of age - the one that gave me a better grasp of the world around me. Sonny always pushed me (and continues to push me from afar) to be a better musician and a better thinker and to have a sharper sense of humour.
He'd kick my ass with one of his textured cowboy boots for saying these kinds of these things in public, but I can’t help myself. Herb, you son-of-a-gun, I love you. Tess and I will be over to see you and Anne before you know it. Slán go fóill.
We are having some of our people over for dinner tonite and this reporter is cooking a well brined and peppered turkey. Hope all are safe, warm, and happy!
Tuesday, December 21, 2004
Insert blessing count here: I have a warm place to sleep. I have food to eat. I have a wife who is also my best friend. No one is dropping bombs on my house. There are shortbread cookies in the office – [but not for long.] I’m cooking turkey on Christmas day and there will be people there who love me. I have an OHIP number and access to Canadian Health Care. My tumour was diagnosed and I have the great fortune to live about seven minutes away from Sunnybrook hospital, a Canadian centre of excellence for acoustic neuroma treatment. The list goes on and on.
I get the feeling I’m not going to be able get my second MRI or see my neurosurgeon Dr. Pirouzmand until the last notes of “Auld Lang Syne” have broken off like icicles on a Linden tree in the dog park. No worries. Dr. Chen did ask me if I would rather have surgery before Christmas... "Uh, no thanks" and besides, the afternoon television will be better later in the season, there’ll be more snow for Luna at the park, and of course we'll have the added attraction of re-learning balance function on the ice. Maybe I should go the extra mile and attach stability balls to my mukluks.
The waiting, as Tom Petty once sang, is the hardest part. I’m not sleeping as well as I could be and find myself craving an afternoon nap. I also need to limit my consumption of patient stories from the Net. Information and experience are going to help see me through but sometimes ya gotta take a breather and watch a dog show or two on the Outdoor Life Network.
Check out the guestbook and post a greeting. You don’t have to register, and you can use any pseudonym you like. You could post as Madonna or Jude Law and no one would ever know.
Happy Holidays and Warm Wishes To You All.
“Prosperity is not without many fears and disasters; and adversity is not without comforts and hopes.”
Saturday, December 18, 2004
I knew I should've taken that 'HTML As A Second Language' course.
Newbie Land: http://www.anworld.com/
The Kind and Gentle Canadian Perspective: http://www.anac.ca/en/
ANA – USA: http://anausa.org/
Surgery – A Microscopic View: http://www.bcm.edu/oto/cfbd/ansurgbw.html
Patient Studies: http://www.anarchive.org/
What List Would Be Complete Without A Glossary? http://www.anseattle.org/refresglossary.html
The Same Might Be Said For FAQs! http://www.earsite.com/tumors/common_qs_acoustic_neuromas.html
Physicians and Facilities: http://mywebpages.comcast.net/wiggins706/acousticphysicians.htm
Every Picture Tells A Story: http://www.neurinoma.com.br/English/neurinoma.html#1
Cheryl (Dr. Chen’s highly efficient and very capable secretary) provided me a list of post-op patients to call. I got in touch with a couple of them yesterday to discuss their particulars – tumour size, complications, hospital time, staff, family, and time off work. I also need to have another MRI done, this time with an injection of the contrast material gadolinium. We need to ensure the gnomes aren't arguing about foreign policy, which could complicate surgery.
Thursday, December 16, 2004
Here is the skinny: The tumour will be removed via the translabyrinthine approach: The mastoid bone behind the ear is removed and the inner ear is opened. This exposes the internal auditory canal directly. All hearing is lost with this approach. The translabyrinthine approach is, therefore, used only for those cases where hearing loss is already severe or the tumor is so large that hearing conservation is not a realistic goal.
There is no hydrocephalus at present (abnormal buildup of cerebrospinal fluid in the ventricles of the brain), which is as Martha Stewart might say, a good thing. There is an estimated 25% displacement of the brain stem and some swelling, which is of course cause for some concern. Dr. Chen will consider partial ‘debulking’ (great word) if it means a greater chance of preserving the involved nerves.
What can be hoped for at this point is that the cystic portion is of very light consistency and that it is easily and quickly removed. Also, we need to hope that the solid portion of the tumour is not ‘sticky’ or ‘gummy’. This type of consistency will mean it will be more difficult to separate the tumour from the brain stem and surrounding nerves. Unfortunately… the swelling mentioned earlier may indicate the tumour is sticky and therefore stubborn. There is no way of knowing until surgery - fingers crossed.
Dr. Chen is young, experienced, and in his prime. He also says he has ‘great stamina’, which to me seemed like too much information until he added the words ‘for this type of long and complex surgery.’
Wednesday, December 15, 2004
My brother James and his wife Michelle were in town last night and we all went for dinner to an Outback Steakhouse. I need to watch my diet and despite the incredible temptation, did not opt for the 42 ounce Butt Steak. I asked the server to ‘lively up’ the salad with some vegetables rather than just throw down the old iceberg lettuce, tomatoes being hard to come by this season because of all the damaged crops. The hard asses in the kitchen sent a bowl of lettuce out with the suggestion that I have more meat. I saw hot-house tomatoes at Loblaws the other day for $4.99 which provided a mental post-it note reminding me that I’m going to have to get some tips from my neighbour Ziggy next season and convert part of the backyard into a tomato plantation.
It was a good dinner, we had a few laughs and didn’t discuss or dwell on the upcoming heaviness. I gave James a copy of the Dr. Chen provided booklet on AN. (diagnosis / options / risks and recovery.) This has been hard on the loved ones, and I feel for them. 12 hours in a waiting room with nothing but Chatelaine to read would be enough to depress me too.
Next Tuesday is Winter Solstice. The pre-Christian Celts (much to the chagrin of Glasgow Rangers fans everywhere) knew it as the end of the Dark Season and beginning of the Light. The sun will be returning, and days will lengthen until spring comes Feb. 1.
Sure… Maybe in Windsor!
Follow up appointment with Dr. Chen today to plan surgery. I'd like to do it as early as possible after 2005 rolls so I can start recovery and be ready to ride my bike when the season starts.
Tuesday, December 14, 2004
Monday, December 13, 2004
I’ll take all the energy and light I can get right now - I’ll need it for the upcoming months. Why anyone blessed enough to have family and friends would try to go through tough times alone is beyond me. Thanks to this blob, I mean blog, well hey! Everyone is welcome - I've gone public.
95% of the time I feel like a champ and 5% of the time I feel like a chimp, but thankfully the lower primate feeling passes quickly. It was kind of a weird day, but not without some laughs. My pod-mate HM brought me some lovely homemade Tikka chicken to bring home which Tess and I just finished assassinating. This fine fare represents the first of what I hope will be several tastily prepared dishes by those friends talented in the culinary arts. (Uh, of course I ate MOST of the Tikka chicken but you probably knew that.)
I got the lowdown on short-term disability today and cancelled my GMAT prep course. Hopefully I won't find my desk is moved down beside the bike racks when I return in a few months - that would be a Milton moment. No call yet from the neurologist’s office to book the Wednesday appointment - I’m going to call tomorrow morning and make it myself. The prospect makes my palms sweat, but the sooner I go under the knife the sooner I start to recover.
Sunday, December 12, 2004
Sluggo, Howard Lemon, Batstone, The Editors, The CounterClocks, Joe Gatineau and the Mont Bleu Rockers, Bootsauce, Big Bat Taylor, Kid Koala and the Saturday Night Metropolis All-Stars, Brainsmack, Fonzie, ON, Asexuals (if you count a week’s rehearsal on the eve of an aborted by TJ Plenty tour - I do), Skydiggers, Econoline Crush, Groovy Religion, Rusty, The Amazing Sideshow Band, Mousekiss, the Throbbing Purple and Organical.
Thanks and love to you Cats that follow – you’ve touched my life whether you’re aware or not. Of course this list could never be complete:
James Lalley, John Howey, Kevin Chiasson, Dan Anderson, Al Anderson, Dennis Asselstine, Bill Morrison, Tim O' Brien, Craig Kinsman, Dean Batstone, Barry Meredith, Bob Mills, Kevin Cameron, Doug Aver, Dave Ryer, Jay Childerhose, Gary Buffet, Dave Bigelow, Mike Wetmore, Serge Cote, Mark Jarbo, Jay Soetermans, Tim Smith, Ken Bartlett, Wayne Bartlett, Perry Johnson, Alan Baculis, Sonny Greenwich Jr. and Family, Drew Ling, Steven Ship, John Aiosa, John Fryer, Corky Laing, Roy Pike, Denis Paquette, Mike Amstadt, Christian Gagne, Toby, Bat Taylor, The Gossage Brothers, Greg Smith, Alex Macsween, Jerry Jerry, Richard Fallis, Jimmy Ayoub, Paul Harwood, Jamie O' Meara, Kid Koala, John Kastner, Jonathan Cummins, Paul Newman, Paul Arsenault, Chris Barry, James Newton, Don Harrison, Don Short, Don Binns, Art Bergmann, Dave Schellenberg, Sean Friesen, TJ Plenty, William New, Steve Mahabir, John Borra, Glenn Milchem, Ian Blurton, Frank Nevada, Scott B. Sympathy, Billy Rogers, Keith Whittaker, Steve Goof, Steve Banks, Al Miller, Ken Macneil, Jim Moore, Scott McCullough, Mitch Perkins, Bob Vespaziani, Jeff Rogers, Matt Dematteo, Tim Husom, Simon Head, Mark Vyse, Dave Martin, Kris Lefcoe, Rob Stefaniuk, Sean McMurray, Kerri Neraasen, Ron Macey, Andy Maize, Josh Finlayson, Paul MacLeod, Sam Ferrara, Lucy DiSanto, Steve Fall, Big Gord, Trevor Hurst, Rob Morfitt, Dan Yaremko, Ziggy, Eric Terreau, Richard Weisnagel, Cindy Smith, Conrad Rockel, Colin Rosati, Dawna Wright, Andrew Rowan, Ed Barao, Steve Jelliman, Darren Wilson, Martin Tielli, Dave Bidini, Tim Vesely, Dave Clark, Geddy Lee, Neil Peart, Alex Lifeson, Kim Mitchell, Pye Dubois, Terry Watkinson, Dave Myles, Mike Tilka, Gary Mcracken, Paul Delong, Peter Fredette, Robert Sinclair Wilson, Gary Burke, Stompin’ Tom Connors, MisterChiPig, Marc Belke, Brent Belke (and SNFU alumni everywhere), Ralf Hutter, Florian Schnieder, Mark Mothersbaugh, Bob Mothersbaugh, Gerald Casale, Alan Meyers, Lou and the Velvets, Iggy and the Stooges, Paul and the Replacements, Johnny, Joey, Dee Dee, Tommy, John Lydon, Steve Jones, Paul Cook, Glen Matlock, and good old John Simon Ritchie.
The Forum was born initially out of a love for the late night Art Bell radio program, but it's morphed into a place where all manner of esoterica is discussed. (The new Coast to Coast with George Noory, Whitley Streiber's Dreamland, UFO's, SETI, Global Consciousness, Conspiracies, etc. etc.) As you can imagine, these are some folks who are hip to the White Light. (I’m known on the boards there as Johnny Appleseed.)
"Weather Forecast For Tonight? Dark."
Saturday, December 11, 2004
He has some great T-shirt ideas there as well! I especially like "NEUROmantics".
Lorenzo has been kind enough to send me some links to some very enlightening sites. He lives in Ireland, is of Italian descent, and occasionally listens to Pat Metheny. I like him.
I spent a lot of time reading and learning today - information overload.
Dude #1: "What are you doing tonite"?
Dude #2: "Going to see Dimebag Darrell and his new band."
Dude #1: "For God's sake man, don't forget your weapon, I heard the merch guy is dangerous."
Another symptom I've had but took no notice of: When I lie down to sleep my right eye tears up. (And you just thought I was a sensitive guy.) I haven't read about this one yet, but I'm sure it's related. There are worse symptoms to having an acoustic neuroma that's for sure. Note to readers: Any weird symptoms, ask your doctor.
We watched Matt Damon evade capture / murder last nite in 'The Bourne Identity'. Hollywood movies are a mini-vacation from reality. All those car crashes and he just kept going, what a tough guy. "Oh, he's good". I'm going to stock up on read-em fast bestsellers later today, another guilty pleasure I rarely make time for, but I'll soon have the neccessary window of opportunity to enjoy.
Two moviemaker types I gotta catch up with are Kris Lefcoe with "Public Domain" and Rob Stefaniuk with "Phil the Alien". I can't believe I haven't seen their movies yet. I'm a lame-o.
I was registered for a GMAT prep course and planned to write the exam in June in order to get into an MBA program. It's gonna be great when I call Veritas (The GMAT prep company) to get my $200.00 deposit back. They're going to think 'this guy will do anything to get out of writing the GMAT.' "Uh hello Veritas? Ummmm.. I have to cancel the course......I have a brain tumour." My plans have changed however. Now it's Robert Ludlum, Steven King, and and maybe a whole Louie L'Amour kick. I'm going read good books and bad books, and watch good movies and bad movies, and even worse television.
Friday, December 10, 2004
R.I.P. George Lalley. Don't let your big brother Jimmy pick on you in the Afterlife.
Toronto is a great town. I hated it my first year I after I moved from Montreal, but I've grown to love it. Canadians from all over the country Toronto Bash - and I used to be one of them, but this place has been great for me and thanks to Theresa, I've established the deepest roots I've ever had.
There are a lot of symptoms associated with AN - (time to start with the abbreviations), and so far I've had only one. I started to notice some vertigo about a year ago, and think it's gotten a bit worse - I was a little dizzy on the walk. It's usually when I stand up suddenly, no big deal. I am so lucky, my symptoms could be so much worse. Insert 'blessing count' here: Some people in my situation wouldn’t be able to walk the dog!
Where did this come from?
One of my favourite bands is SNFU and they have a new jam called "Heavy Head Dance". Lyric quote from Chi: "French Fries were created in Belgium, not France".
"I'm Deaf, Not Stupid"
"I Survived Brain Surgery, And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt"
"Sunnybrook-Acoustic Neuroma Tour -04/05"
"Where Is My Mind?"
"Heavy Head Dance"
"Preserve the Canadian Health Care System!"
and of course,
"Keep Your Balance - Support Toronto Bike Lanes"
More to follow. Any suggestions? Please email and let me know.
Thursday, December 09, 2004
Tryng to figure out how to post a photo of my MRI - it's quite a photo, and a little ummm...graphic. Stay tuned.
It was great to hear from my friends today.
Sean helped me put up Christmas lights and Eric and Karen say they're gonna bring casseroles, which is cool - they're awesome cooks. My wife is looking good today, and is one tough cookie monster.
Well, it seems the Creator has chosen a particular path of learning and discovery for me.
As most of you know, I suffer from tinnitus – “persistent ringing in the ears”, a condition brought on by years of playing music. My right ear has gotten worse lately, and I decided to get my ears checked a couple of months ago at the Canadian Hearing Institute. These tests included one called an ABR (Automated Brain Response), which confirmed that my brain was not receiving the signal from my right ear. Dr. Wade recommended we do an MRI to determine whether or not there was anything physical ‘blocking the signal’ between my right ear, and my brain.
He called me at work yesterday and sent me to Sunnybrook Hospital to meet with Dr. Chen who reviewed the MRI results with me, and confirmed some disturbing information. I have a brain tumor. Sounds so weird when you say it, almost like some bad cliché’ in an even worse movie – starring me! It’s not small either, measuring 6CM across. 3CM is cystic, meaning soft, and the other 3CM is solid growth. His differential diagnosis is something called Acoustic Neuroma. My only option for treatment is surgery, which I think will be done in January.
Some good news: It’s not Cancer, it’s been growing for perhaps 15 years, and I haven’t had any symptoms. Also, It’s not involved in the brain tissue. In other words, it’s a mass growing on the surface of the brain, but not into the tissue.
Some not so good news: It’s gonna be about a 10-hour surgery. Because of its size – (anything over 3CM is considered large), there are some “compulsory deficits”. (Don’t you just love DoctorSpeak?) 1) I will be permanently deaf in my right ear. 2) I will have to re-learn balance functionality – the best-case scenario for balance recovery is 2 months. 3) There are other risks, but the most likely for me that the facial nerves on the right side of my face will be affected. Dr. Chen told me that there is a 70-75% chance that the nerves on the right side of my face will 100% paralyzed. This kind of a tough one on me, because as you all know, I’m a bit of a vain bastard.
I don’t think anyone knows what the post-op outcome will be until surgery. Positivism counts for everything. Theresa and I are in good spirits, and I’m determined that I will be a record breaker in terms of recovery.
I wanted to let everyone know at the same time. I’m going to do as much research as I can. Please send the White Light my way, and if you pray, please don’t pray to Benny Hinn. There’s something about that guy I don’t trust, but I can’t quite put my finger on it.
Much love to all,