Power Up

June 7, 2011

Having your chest on the receiving end of a drill press ain’t the greatest feeling.  Granted, I wasn’t cut open, but it left a slight aftertaste of violation.  So I took a bath in Listerine.  Nevertheless, I’m glad to have finished the paternity test of my baby.  This was a major hurdle before I headed to the delivery room…or chemo chair.

My ribs were just now feeling better from the first thoracentesis and I was getting confidence back in my burps.  But all good things must come to an end, and just like that, I’m sleeping upright on the couch again, hoping not to burp or even worse, sneeze.  Sneeze pains are like the burp pains on nitrous.  They’re absolutely terrifying.  You can’t stop a sneeze even if you tried.  You don’t know how big it’s going to be until you do it.  Holding them in, only makes them worse.  They’re an unpredictable, explosive, lung piercing, good time.

Since that fateful call from my doctor, I had been dieting, trying to be as healthy as I could.  My dad recommended I get myself physically ready for the tough road ahead.  Whether surgery or chemo was on my horizon, my body was going to be put to the test.  My Aunt Suzy told me about a low alkaline diet.  Why not give it a try?  My last meal SHOULD be a kale and quinoa salad.  On a low alkaline diet you remove the sweet, sour, savory, chewy, crunchy, tasty and delicious from your diet.  Then you wash it all down with a glass of baking soda and water.  It’s a low carb, low sugar, low dignity diet.  I recommend it!  The theory is to eat like a caveman: all natural, fruits and veggies…like we did before Happy Meals.  Processed foods, meats, sugars, dairy and carbs are acidic, therefore, harder for your body to break down, causing your immune system to work overtime. In turn, your body becomes vulnerable to cancer and other opportunistic diseases.  Your body is naturally alkaline.  This diet returns your body closer to its natural alkaline levels so your body can be in harmony, etc., etc.  Breathe in…hold…breathe.  The system made sense, so I stuck to it.  Plus, I wanted to look like Gollum before I embarked on my epic journey.

My aunts, uncles and sister, Dani, came over to the house to visit.  They brought over food and we gathered around the dining table and talked.  I ate the paper bag the food came in.  Unlike the normal gatherings where sarcasm is thrown around freely, this meeting is about me and my health.  You can’t help but try to keep the conversation light when we all see the dark cloud hovering over me, raining down uncertainty.  I told them how serious it was…”I haven’t had a beer in three weeks!”

It’s such a weird feeling talking about my situation.  I don’t like talking about myself to begin with, let alone having my family look at me with trepidation in their eyes.  Not the norm.  Taking in my every word, looking for any way they can help out.  The hugs are tighter and they hold a few beats longer.  The handshakes firmer with eyes locked on mine.  Everyone is pouring their heart out to me and I don’t know how to handle it.  Sure the attention is nice, but all you want is for them to make fun of you again.  The norm.

Four of the greatest. Mike, Ian, Me (not counted), Regan, Eliot

I was texting my best friend, Regan.  We’ve been friends since day one (of first grade).  He was the best man in my wedding and I was his.  I’m the godfather of his first son.  If I craved White Castle burgers, he’d offer to drive.  I gave him the update on the biopsy and everything.  My condition had been hard on my friends as well.  He tells me, “stay strong…I need you around.”  You have no idea the impact a simple text like this has.  I know I use the term surreal a lot, but there’s no other way to describe a moment like this.  The guy you normally have BS conversations about the Lakers or what stupid shit you did over the weekend, is now telling you how important you are to him.  C’mon!  Drama like this belongs on Lifetime, not in my texts from Regan.  These moments will buckle your knee and turn you into a sobby mess, but they can also empower you.  “Stay strong?”  I will, brother.

Another scheduled appointment with the oncologist and we wait for the results from the biopsy.  We put on our sunglasses, Erica slipped into her patent leather jumpsuit and we headed back into the Matrix.

22 thoughts on “Power Up

  1. Dude, you are bringing me to tears just reading your posts and the strong connection you have with your family and friends and what you have to go through.
    I know that being a pin cushion for the doc’s has to be tough but what a story you will have to tell your kids and grandkids.
    Something like this certainly makes you enjoy every momment and concentrate on what is really important in life.
    I am going to bore you with a little story about me, which is in no way anywhere as serious as your dealing. Right after college when I got my first real job selling airtime for TV I went to have a bump on my scalp looked at and when the dr. took a biopsy he looked puzzled at what he found. A few days later his nurse called and stated that the doctor needed to see me today. I worked in L.A. and he was in Long Beach, I explained to the nurse that I would not be able to make it in until well after when they normally close. The nurse said he will wait. As you had mentioned in your post “This can not be good!!” I remember calling my girlfriend at the time and saying I was scared. When the doctor whom I had only met the time he did the biopsy came in he had a tear in his eye and stated he did not like what he was going to have to tell me. Boy was I scared. He stated that he thought I had full blown cancer and he had already made an appointment for me to see a cancer specialist up at USC’s cancer institute. When I walked out of his office I was thinking I had just been handed my death sentence. The next day I was at USC and to jump to the end I had left my job had two operations on my scalp and then waited around for a month or so to find out it was non-cancerous. But I know somewhat what you are talking about in regarding to the hugs, handshakes and having your parents look at you with that sad eye. End of story I am fine.
    So my brother hold tight and know you will get through this and be an example for others and as I stated before, have a story to tell your kids and their kids.
    Thanks for your updates and know an army is praying for you and ready if you need anything.

    Stay STRONG.

  2. Jeff,
    This mornings lesson I heard was – C + P = E
    Circumstances plus Perspective equals your Experience – How one handles their ciricumstances (what they have no control of), is based on their perspective (what they do have have control of) will determine their experience (What your experience is going to be) – Thus resulting in “Living Above Your Circumstances!” The Power of Focus…. I believe your doing this by sharing your experinces with your blog – Praying for you daily, Your Father In Law

  3. Jeff my brotha. You capture the moment so well with your words. I think you should quit your day job and become a writer. The way you describe the events and situations bring me right there with you and I know this will help many people now and in the future. I was thinking lets make a movie about our lives. Take care cornhead. HA ha ha. remember that one ?

  4. Hi Hun Bun :D

    Your blog is so amazing. Your writing skills are Jazzy and animated. I pictured Erica in her Jumpsuit lol. Have a Zen-ful day Hun Bun.

    P.S. Ive heard of this diet. The one I’ve heard is called “Primal Diet” From Marks Daily Apple. I might try it. xoxo Mar Mar

  5. Damn You Jeff!!!… Makin’ a grown man cry.

    I remember getting that initial call. I was at work… just another day at the office. I tried to be your rock on the phone and give you words of encouragement eventhough my mind was racing with the possibilities of what this mass was and if it was so advanced that I was going to lose you (pretty selfish, I know). After we got off the phone I walked into my office, sat down at my desk and started sobbing. Is this for real? Why him? What the hell just happened? Thank God I didn’t have any patients waiting for me. I looked at the clock… Shit! I have 5 minutes to compose myself before my next patient. So I try and put on a happy face and take care of my patients the rest of the day, but it’s all an act. On a daily basis I help my patients get out of pain so they can live life with no restrictions. I wish there was a simple adjustment to resolve your ailment. I wish I could take away your pain. I wish…

    My work day is over and I get in my car to drive home. I’m still in a daze from the news, but I’ve made this drive so often I’m on autopilot. Haven’t told my wife yet. I should call her. The moment I hear her voice I break “the fuck” down. There is concern in her voice, “What’s wrong baby? Are you okay?” she says. (I’m not). She has no idea the magnitude of what I’m about to tell her. I’m speaking broken english as I’m trying to tell her “Jeff has a m-m-mass in his ch-ch-chest” between my cries and me gasping for air. I couldn’t tell her much because I was too emotionally overwhelmed to speak coherently so I told her we’ll talk when she gets home.

    I never told you this because I could only imagine how fragile of a state you were in… I know I was. I will always be there for you to lean on when you feel weak. I know you know that, but I need to tell you just in case. I love you brother! As with everything in our lives, we’ll get through this together.

  6. Jeff….you are am amazing writter! Your post made me laugh and cry at the same time! I’m sending lots of love your way! Stay strong, we all need you around! xx, Miko

  7. Oh Jeffy…I love your blog so. But please don’t listen to your friend Keith. I need you back at work…it’s not the same without you!!! : ) And damn you Regan…stop making me cry!!!

  8. Read it, walked away crying, now I’m back now that I’ve regained my composure. I’m so glad you have Regan, your brother from another mother, going down this journey with you. You two have always been so cute, from day one. It’s crazy how much you’ve gone through together, and will continue to go through for many more decades to come. Love you both, and both of your incredible wives. You all are so strong and funny, vulnerable and inspiring. From thinking that Niny was a myth to finding out she actually existed, to Erica and how she’s been there for you every time since you were just co-workers, I couldn’t have asked for a better support group for you, Jeffy. Thank you for being there for each other. I love you all.

  9. Jeff- I think I have shared my new found philosophy and now new saying with you already…but here it goes “I have ____but____DOES NOT have me”. (Fill in blanks with any serious illness). It rhymes with, I cried because I had no shoes until I saw a man with no feet. What we have, we have how we deal with it is what is important. I also changed the meaning of uncertainty which if you dwell on it, life becomes a bitch. The new is, in life there is no guarantee there is no Santa Clause and there is no phone in the bath room so let’s get on with it. From what I see and read on your blog, you could be The Posture Child for Great Attitude in Combat Fatigues ready to fight. I also see how blessed you are to have a loving family and a ton of fiends that care about you. I too feel blessed the same way and have had the same experience with their openness of feelings, hugs, etc. I’m just grateful that they are there and I’m sure you are too.
    Riding in your bus-Tu Amigo, CB

  10. Thank you for sharing your journey with us. I think your blog details are giving me nightmares. I woke up from a nightmare thinking my back was getting drained from pressure I was feeling…come to find out…it’s my 35 pound cat sleeping on my back. All joking aside it’s a lot you, Erica and your family are having to go through and glad to hear the tumor is shrinking and on your way to recovery. Now I wonder why a little pink represents cancer after reading the gorey details I think people should be getting a medal of honor for all they go through…not a pink ribbon. You could write a great sitcom/drama…save all your blogs. They are interesting and thank you again for sharing your experience. We will continue to pray for you and your family!

  11. You have an amazing, tremendous group of friends. I have always envied that about you because it was never my forte. Your entry is once again stellar. The comments are priceless. You are in a terrific zone, Pal. Stay there. Your healing is going on, don’t worry about that. Keep up the entries.

  12. Keep em coming Jeff! You’re an amazing writer… I agree with Keith! You need to quit your day job and become a full time writer.

    Also, reading the text from Regan (while at work) put a lump in my throat. Thanks a lot guys! I should stick to reading this while in the comfort of my own home ;)

    Thanks for sharing your story.
    Prayers are with you and Erica, Love ya xoxo -Ang

  13. Awesome writing, Jeff. That is a God-given gift!!! It’s amazing what one can discover out of an adverse circumstance!!! Maybe you should consider using your gift in a new way. For instance, combining your cooking talents with your writing talents in your own witty way!!! I was relieved to hear the good news about your last results. You and Erica are in my prayers!!! Love you both!!!

  14. Amazing writings Jeff! I was reading the Reagen post in class and almost started crying. Anyways hope you are doing well and hope to see you soon and bring you some Gardena Bowl! ^_^

  15. Pingback: Weight No More – Part 1 | my chemo summer – by Jeff Heald

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