Sunday, May 27, 2018

My Father In Law was the real deal

He served in the infantry in France. He never really spoke about his experiences, not directly.

I recently had the honor or organizing his army records.  The letter below was dated 30 December 1944.  It describes his actions that earned hes first Bronze Star

Which is a worse memory? Watching your buddy get blown to bits, or killing the man who just did it?

When can we stop asking that question?

Be nice to a Vet.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

History everywhere

As a New Yorker, it's easy to take history for granted. For example, my wife works in a downtown office building. Today it is a WeWork facility. But when the building was built it was the Cunard Building, the side of the building has a bank ATM booth. If you look above the doorways it says first-class and second class. It's the building people went to get the refund if they purchased a ticket on the Titanic to go back to Europe. Right outside her office door business big statue of a bull. People lined up to rub its bull parts. But a few feet away is Bowling Green Park. The fence around it is kind of imperfect because in 1776 George Washington ordered his soldiers to cut off the decorative crowns and turn them into cannonballs. Nobody notices the fence. Whatever, this post is not about my wife's office.

This morning I was waiting for the bus on the corner of 34th St. and Sixth Avenue and I noticed this plot on the wall

"In this building on April 10, 1947 Jackie Robinson received his historic call from the Brooklyn Dodgers and changed America. He lived on the 11th floor in room 1169 in the former Malipin Hotel" Somebody took out the sharpie and wrote the address on the plaque. 50 W. 34th St.  Look below for a Google Street view. The plot can be seen just above the head of the guy holding the roly suitcase

It got me thinking about all the great moments in history and the people that were there. I guess for the most part when you're in a historical moment you probably don't know it. By that Jackie knew what was going on. Was he nervous or calm? Happy or angry?

Saturday, May 12, 2018


Updated for Sabrina May 12th 2018

Yesterday was exciting but it turned out only to be a warm-up for today. Yesterday I got to see Sabrina's senior showcase at her high school. To the left is a wide shot of the whole thing and you can click here for an album containing all the images.

But today was really exciting. Today one of Sabrina's pieces was on exhibit in a Brooklyn gallery. To the right is the flyer for the event. Yep, that's Sabrina's work! Check it out. Today through June 9th. What About Us? Sponsored by ArtsConnection and the Dedalus Foundation. 254 36 Street between second and third avenues in Sunset Park Industry City, Brooklyn.

Pride is an understatement. So many people were congratulating her, thanking her for a painting and for the description that went with it.


Alright, I got my hand out of the splint and I could use a computer mouse again. So before I start talking about my accomplishments, let me tell you about my kids.

You may or may not know that I have twins who are now high school seniors. And wow, has high school changed a lot in New York City in the past 30 years. I went to Sheepshead Bay high school because it was the school closest to my home. It was the 70s. We sat on radiators because there weren't enough desks. The teachers and security guards were our drug dealers. Being mugged in the hallway on the way to the bathroom was taken for granted. I survived. Four years ago my kids got to choose which high school they would go to. It was a frustrating process but the outcome was wonderful.

My daughter is winding down her experience at LaGuardia high school. Officially called The
Fiorello H. Laguardia High School Of Music Art and Performing Arts, unofficially called "the school they made the movie Fame about". It is also the school people think when they receive their Tony, Oscar or Grammy. She's not in the drama or vocal departments Her program is art. And she made this self-portrait. It was part of an art exchange program. She got to see a performance of Dear Evan Hansen and the star of the show got to have her art hanging in his dressing room.

When my kids was still in fifth grade I got my first paid gig helping organize a running race. It happened to be on New York's Governors Island. A New York City public high school just opened on the island and the kids were the bulk of the volunteers at the race. Part of my job was to supervise them and I was kinda nervous because I wasn't used to dealing with teenagers, my kids were only eight years old. But they were amazing. They all were on the super early ferryboat and did everything they had to do from filling water cops and keeping them from blowing into the harbor to picking up the ones that didn't make it to the garbage pails. My kids was still three years away from choosing high schools but I asked these Harbor School students what they thought of their high school. "My kids are still in fifth grade but should they go to the school?" Their enthusiasm was remarkable. They jumped up and down telling me how excited they would be if my kids would join them. And that attending their school was the greatest decision we ever made.

So for the next 2 1/2 years I kept the idea of choosing the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School as a choice for my kids. And it turned out to be an excellent fit for Nicholas. Because he attended the Harbor school he got a chance to present his work at the New York City science and engineering fair. He can do it better than me but let me try to explain what his project is about..
Using the scientific method he has been experimenting with different types and different shapes of concrete that can be used to build the seawall that surrounds New York City. He has been supervising the people who pilot and maintain small boats that his scuba team traveled on to place samples of concrete around the perimeter of Manhattan Island. Using underwater cameras or by retrieving the samples he has been determining which samples of concrete will attract the most sea life and last the longest.(I know you can't read Nicholas's poster board here is a link to the document on Google drive so you can zoom in.) So, he is basically trying to figure out how to improve the perimeter of Manhattan Island so that more sea life will be attracted to it. The sea life will help clean the water. (Nicholas, please improve my description of your life's work in the comment section below)

We are waiting for all the acceptances/offers and then decisions get made. But, wow check out this email one of my kids just got,

Dear xxxxxx,
Following the recent tragic shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, students across the country have rallied together to advocate for change in gun control policies in an effort to prevent future mass shootings. Some high schools have stated that students who peacefully demonstrate through walkouts and other non-violent forms of protest may face discipline and even possible suspension.

We want to remind our prospective students and our current community that xxxxxx was founded on the belief that courageous public discourse fosters a just and thriving world. With that in mind, Xxxxx will not rescind admissions offers to prospective students who face discipline for peaceable protest. As is our practice, we would ask that students let us know if they have been found responsible for a disciplinary violation.  However, to reiterate, given that thoughtful dialogue and civil, civic discourse are central to our institution, disciplinary violations for peaceful demonstrations or walkouts will not jeopardize a student’s admission to Xxxxx


Vice President of Enrollment Services and Dean of Admissions

Needless to say the school is in New York City

Monday, May 7, 2018

My 31st marathon was about 33 miles

I know breaking a lot of rules by calling this a marathon. There were a lot of things missing that are all required to call something race. There was no clock, no one kept track of how long it took anyone to complete the distance. Nobody said"GO"!. We wore bibs with numbers on them, but those numbers were not associated to anybody's name or gender or age. The course wasn't measured by anything accurate. There wasn't a mass start.Honestly, nobody cared if you took a shortcut.

But yesterday, I completed a marathon. In fact an ultramarathon. It was the premier event of the NYC Shore Walkers; The Great Saunter. A walk around the perimeter of Manhattan Island.

Yeah, it wasn't a race. Hundreds of people met at Fraunces Tavern. Many of us sat around and had a cup of coffee and a danish. When we felt satisfied we started out at the most southern point of Manhattan made a right turn and headed north. We had maps but basically we were told keep the water on your left. Everything was nice and casual. There was no getting lost, there really wasn't much stress. Everything was flat and our path ahead was always obvious. We walked past the new World Trade Center, alongside the Highline, past the buildings where they are ripping off Trump's name on the west side. We sow some very surprising art somewhere around 160th St. We actually got to see the artist in action, stacking his rocks.

And holy moly! I was just scrolling through my friend Lisa's photos that she shared on Facebook and wanted to use this one because I remember when it was taken. I remember the feeling I had and we all probably had, that we felt pretty good. We were still relaxed at about mile 13 and speaking for myself I totally forgot that we were about to have to go uphill. But a thing I didn't notice until I just looked at the picture now is that those stones are right behind us. Nikki gotta go to school

That happy feeling totally ended when we walked underneath the George Washington Bridge. The path that went around the perimeter of Manhattan Island ended and we had a make a hard right turn into the Forest of Inwood. It takes a lot of uphill walking to be the spot where you can take this picture.

It wasn't all downhill from there. It was down and up and down and up and down and up some more. Also, when we left Inwood Park we did not go back to the perimeter path around Manhattan Island. The path is still being rebuilt from Superstorm Sandy if it ever existed at all. We walked through the neighborhoods of Inwood, Washington Heights and Harlem. Walking through the city streets was almost as challenging as walking up the hills. I remember thinking how lucky the out-of-towners were who got to see these authentic New York neighborhoods.

I knew what the route would look like heading back downtown on the Eastside. We walked past Gracie Mansion,then had to go back on first Avenue so we can walk directly past the front of the UN. We also walked right past the building where I have my occupational therapy and I had the surgeries on my hand and wrist.  

Then we went back onto the path along the water to spot I was really looking forward to putting my feet on. A little less than four years ago I was hospitalized in the NYU Langone Medical Center. I was there twice. The first time for a couple weeks where they put a central line in my carotid artery and did five days of plasmapheresis, then another five days of IVIG treatments. Then they checked me out and I went to rehab. However, it seemed those previous treatments didn't work because I was still getting worse and went back to Langone for about a week where they did chemotherapy. For both those visits I had the same view from my window. I was looking at the path along the East River where it passes Riverside Plaza. I thought I would take a moment and take a picture of that window or may be uploaded Facebook video. But, it was already dark and is no time for monkey business at mile 27 of 32. So I just turned around and whispered thank you to all the medical professionals that brought me back from quadriplegia. 

I'm in the middle of reading Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, the part about the Leadville 100. One of the quotes from the founder of the race is really sticking my head today. Thank you Lisa, Janet, Marvlyn and Jackie.And a big thank you to everyone in the Prospect Park Track Club tell me I'm inspirational into my other friends/athletes from Achilles International show me what inspirational is.

4 years ago
So now it's two days later and improve reading this (STFU, I proofread), and it's May 7. I don't need Facebook to remind me that May 7 is a big date for me. I think about it almost every day because it's the day I walked into the hospital. I didn't know I wouldn't come home for 135 days. I didn't know that May 7 would be the last day I would walk unassisted for over a year.Well, this year May 7 turns out to be a Monday, the first Monday of the month. And on the first Mondays of every month my track club meets and everyone gets to stand up and talk about their weekend. Yeah, tonight I'm going to get to stand up and say
"Yeah, I just finished my 31st marathon, this one happened to be an ultramarathon, it was 33 miles and it was my second marathon in less than a year."

Friday, April 20, 2018

Back to Boston

Yesterday I walked into one of my doctors offices just to refill a prescription. They said that I could call them. I replied that I happend to be walking by... That their office was between my home in Park Slope and my next doctor's appointment up by the UN, and that it was a nice day so I was walking there. One of the other people in the office looked up and said oh yeah you're the runner, did you run in Boston on Monday?

Naw, I drove up with a bunch of friends to watch. It was the least I could do for my friends and teammates looked at the same weather forecast that I did and made a conscious decision to both run 26.2 miles as best as they could and face hypothermia at the same time. They knew that they were going to be running into the wind with a moderate to heavy rain while it was 40° for three or four or more hours.Then, my doctor stuck her head out of her office and looked up and said, "You would've started and finished that race if you would've had the chance." "In a New York minute" I answered.

That's what I might've been thinking when my friend Noah snapped this picture of me. Or maybe how lucky I thought I was that the wind was coming at my back and not in my face like everybody who was running.I also remember what was going through my mind when I chose to lean on that poll. That I was able to keep my hands warm and dry but there was nothing I can do to keep my feet from getting soaking wet. I decided that I would stand by that poll until I felt my feet were too cold to allow me to walk back to the car safely. It was the least I can do to support my friends and teammates who are out there in T-shirts and shorts.

I really feel it was worth my time to stand out there in the rain. Just for this moment for my friend Shan to take a step backwards on the course just to give me a high five. Just to see that smile. He actually showed up in his finisher's poncho where we were all eating lunch and told me that the highlight of his race was seeing me and giving me a high five.

Believe it or not, driving up to Boston to see the runners has a lot to do with my neuropathy......Going back to Boston was kind of a big deal for me. Four years ago was a year after the bombing and I felt compelled to go cheer for the runners. I borrowed a friend's minivan and six or seven of us drove up for the day.

Let me try to explain what this has to do with Guillain-Barré syndrome. GBS and its lovely variance are  autoimmune conditions that are triggered by something. Something that gets your immune system a little awake and then it doesn't go back to sleep when you're fine. Sometimes it's a surgery were something is implanted in your body like a lap band, or an actual virus, or a flu shot. The immune system kind of goes"oh, what's that? Okay, I'm done with that, but now I'm confused I'll make up a new enemy, all go off and destroy this guys nervous system!"

So now let me tell you a little story going backwards in time. On May 7, 2014 I walked into my doctor's office. I told her that there was something wrong with my hands and feet. About two weeks earlier I had crazy pain in my feet and shins and ignored it and then it turned into weakness. I told her that three weeks earlier I had the worst food poisoning of my life. After we watched the Boston Marathon we found a hole in the wall barbecue place to get a bite to eat. I remember saying that maybe it's not a good idea to have the pulled pork because I have to drive 200 miles and get everybody home. I remember thinking chicken was more safe than pork. The doctors confirmed that my autoimmune condition was triggered by food poisoning from undercooked chicken.

Anyway, I was talking with a fellow GBS survivor about how to deal with the fear of relapses. I told her we can't live that way. We can not get worried about geting worse again. In fact, I don't let my mind dwell on what could happen if I have a relapse. When my mind is idle I'm thinking about how I will qualify for Boston.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Nothing in this blog post is true

I am lying.

I'd like to review some of the ways that I have made/saved money in 2017.

I have been making money by filling out surveys online. Basically, from two different companies. One has been Inboxdollars. Lately, I've actually spent more time getting paid to watch videos than filling out surveys. I've learned that you can open multiple windows at the same time and get credit for watching multiple videos simultaneously. I don't bother doing many surveys because the likelihood of spending a few minutes answering questions and then finding out you disqualified is quite high. They don't give any credit for attempting a survey except sweepstakes  points that are basically useless. In 2017 I've received checks (real paper checks that I've deposited in the bank) for little over $360. Since I started in September 2015, I've gotten checks for about $1200. You can get started in inbox dollars and by clicking this, and please do use this link to join I will get a small commission.

Since I've just done the math I realized I've learned a lot more money from Branded Research. In 2017 they deposit $1730 into my PayPal account. Again, that's real money that I'm able to do whatever I want with. They offer chances to do surveys that pay between 10 cents and a few dollars. You're told upfront how long the survey might take and what the reimbursement will be if you finish or what you'll get if you don't qualify. Click here if you're interested in joining, and again please use the link I'm offering because I will get a small commission if you join.

So out that's about $2000 that I can easily count from sitting around and answering questions.  I probably got between $500 and $1000 more from surveys from other little companies I don't always read the questions and sometimes just make sure that I don't answer the trick questions incorrectly. Trick questions come like this.

  • Yes or no... is your diet entirely made up of plastic?
  • Please click the third choice.
  • Have you been to a store in the past 12 months?
Or they might ask you your age twice. There's some information I always give incorrectly like which bank I use all where I get my health insurance. But I try to be consistently incorrect so I don't get disqualified for answering a question differently within the same survey. Sometimes, from the first couple of questions you can tell what they're looking for. I'll never lie about being in the military, but I learned that I'll say anything to get qualified for survey.

I also have been getting cash back from two different companies. The one I've gotten the most cash back from is Upromise. In 2017 (not including December) I received $1847.95 from Upromise. Since I joined you promise in 2002 they have given me $13,254.29. They open up some sort of online account which are supposed to save for college but I've had them send me checks that I deposited into the bank. I earn this money in multiple ways. First, one percent of every single thing I've use my credit card for. Yes, my credit cards says Upromise on it, other than that it's a regular MasterCard. Upromise is also like an online shopping mall. If I stop there first before I go to the vast majority of websites I will buy from anyway I get up to 5% back from those websites. And when I say up to 5% it's honestly usually 5%. I also get 5% cash back from some of the restaurants I go to anyway. But wait, I get an additional 5% when I go shopping at these online stores or restaurants because I'm using the Upromise credit card. So that's 10% back on a lot of stuff. Also, and this is big, I often have the opportunity to buy things for other people like my co-op or my running club who pay me back usually before the credit card bill even comes up. They're paying me back for the cost of the item that I bought. So for example last year when I bought furniture for my co-ops basement multi-useless room it cost about $1500 and I got reimbursed that exact amount. But Upromise also gave me 10% of $1500 for making the purchases through them. You can join Upromise by clicking here. Again, please click the link I provided because I will get some sort of commission. If you have a problem let me know and I'll send you a direct invitation.

I also get cash back from shopping at Ebates. You have probably seen them advertised on TV. They deposit money directly into my PayPal account quarterly. In 2014 they gave me $77. Since 2000 they gave me $737.83. They're a lot like you promise and that they have a website that's like a shopping mall and before shopping at popular websites you just start at their website and they split the commission with you. You get back is a lot less than Upromise, but, I'd like to point out that most of the $77 was cash back on purchases that I also got cash back from on Upromise. Shopping through Ebates is honestly a lot simpler than Upromise and you often see the cash back in your account within minutes of making a purchase. But you have keep an eye on purchases through both companies they both "forget"to credit my account with the money I've earned and sometimes I have to send the customer service people a reminder that they owe me money. If you want to join Ebates click this link and again please use that link so I can earn a commission.

There also programs that don't work anymore. I think the companies used them to lure you into their stores with rebate programs, but people do not use them because .....  Some corporate mega drugstores used to provide a circular or an online page with what rebates were available during any given month. I would check out the circular at the beginning of the month and often things would go on sale and the rebate would be for the entire purchase price. To get the rebate all you had to do was go to their rebate website and enter the store code, date and receipt number from your receipt and they would know what you purchased and a few weeks later you get a check in the mail.

One day I noticed two things. Their receipts are given out sequentially and the person in front of me online was buying something that had a large rebate. I waited until the day before the rebate program was about to expire for that month and entered my rebate online. Then I hit backspace on my PC and reduced the receipt number by one digit. I got credit for the purchase that the guy in front of me online made. Boom! I'll let you do the math. They had no limits on the amount of receipts you can enter in a given month. Lots of free money. They've since made their website much clunkier and hitting backspace after you enter a receipt number brings you to a place we have to reregister for the rebate program.

Also, there was a corporate big-box office supply store that offered a $99 rebate on a $99 printer.(Of course, the catch was that it didn't come with any ink and ink for that printer was incredibly overpriced.) So it wasn't hard to buy a printer, enter your online rebate from your receipt number and then go return the printer. Repeat, repeat, repeat. They've since made it so that if you return an item after you apply for the rebate they won't accept your return.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

What you probably do not know if you are not a runner

Okay, you probably know what GPS is. You are likely to have used it to find your way from point A to point B. It's an app on your phone or device in your car that uses satellites to figure out where you are. You turn it on and it figures out where you are using satellites and you enter a location and it uses maps to tell you how to get there.

Runners and other athletes use this technology differently. Instead of being told how to get somewhere we use the data to review where we have been and how fast we've been going. We also can use it in real time to see how fast we are going. So after a run you can download your data and see your pace, changes in altitude how these hills might of affected your run and it even draws you a map.

Some runners realized that you don't have to run from point A to point B or repetitive loops of a park. You can run in a predetermined way so that your map gets interesting. My friend Linus took this to the next level. He calls it GPS art, route art, or as he coined it, gwriting.  Check out his continually growing album here.

He can turn exercise into art about exercising

Or, send a greeting to a special friend. Please take a moment to notice how much work and planning line is put into this.. He's rounding certain corners and turning his GPS on and off to draw lines through streets

You can take it to the next level and make it a group activity.

You can get really crazy

But is the thing. If you want to have a lot of fun you can make it an event. For Hanukkah, Linus took a hard look at the streets of New York City and found an appropriate place to draw a menorah. So we carpooled and ran to Rego Park Queens where we got some strange looks from the residents and ran in the shape of a menorah.

Yep, we did that. Click below for the video of it's production

Since it was about 35° and I didn't want to make my teammates wait around for me to finish running all the crescents I just did an out and back. I went old school here and re-created my route on Google Pedometer. My friend Jimmy so perfectly pointed out that my route art was a Festivus pole

Saturday, December 2, 2017

All the emotions.

It's been almost a month since I finished the New York City Marathon. The soreness is gone from my legs and my electrolytes and rebalance themselves. But my mind is still recovering from being totally blown.

It really wasn't what I imagined. I had anticipated an emotional release that would turn me into a pile of goo at the finish line. But I had to use what energy I had left to stay on my feet. I also thought I would start crying like a baby when I passed my running family and my real family in Park Slope. But at mile 7 thousands of runners were literally rushing past me.

This is what I wanted to say. This is the speech that went through my mind millions of times. This is where I went on the treadmill or in access ride or in the middle of the movie.....
Thanks Larry

3 1/2 years ago I had a lot of really bad days. A lot of times where I needed to close my eyes and go to my happy place. What do you do when they leave you alone in the hospital room after they tell you you'll be fine in a year? What you think about when you're left alone if you had asked someone to help you press the buttons on your phone so you can call your kids? How do you keep from freaking out after you realize you can't even hold the jar to pee into while laying down? I close my eyes and went to my happy place.

I still had all my memories. The smiles I got from strangers when I pushed my kids in that gigantic running stroller over the Brooklyn Bridge. Doing speed work in Prospect Park within earshot of Bob Dylan performing at The Bandshell. Watching the sunrise over the lake in Prospect Park when it was frozen solid. Or coming around the lake and seeing the fall colors and for a moment thinking I was in New England and then realizing that Mr. Olmsted planned it that way. Or remembering finishing a 20 miler at grand Army Plaza and filling my belly with cool water as the cherry blossom petals fall on the back of my head. I remembered what it was like to run that last mile in the Club Team Championship. I remembered being in a starting corral in January and staring at the time and temperature on top of the Midtown building and seeing the temperature change from 9 to 8°. Sometimes I remembered where all the mile markers were in the New York City Marathon, or how good it felt to run around the perimeter of Manhattan Island. Sometimes I stared at the picture my wife took of me holding our kids after the first marathon I finished after they were born. I just remembered the look on my wife's face as she was taking the picture.I remembered calling my patents after I finished my first marathon, and the next 28.

But then there came a time where I stopped consciously choosing to send my mind somewhere else, I stop deciding where I needed to go. My subconscious mind started taking me away from my reality when I wasn't deciding to take that minivacation. I found myself drifting off into the same fantasy over and over again. It was a beautiful place but it often came at inappropriate times. I thought that I was developing some sort of mental disease. Then I embraced it because it was wonderful and if anyone deserved a psychological defect it was me.

It was a wonderful place to go, but it wasn't a place I had been. Well, it was a place I had been but I wasn't going to it like a memory. My mind was taking me there because it was a vision of where I would be again. It was a multidimensional vision. So now I'm not sure if I'm really here or I'm just imagining this again. I knew I would feel the weight of this finisher's medal around my neck. I knew I feel is wonderful pain in my quads. I knew I smell the pizza. I've already felt the tears rolling down my cheeks in my imagination. I already heard my own voice thanking my teammates from the Prospect Park Track Club and Achilles International. I already thanked Nicoletta, and Larry and Janet and my son Nicholas for taking all those steps with me.

So all I have left to say, and I'm not really sure if I'm really here or from just imagining it again is, "I also finished the New York City Marathon yesterday!"

Below, you can see and hear the words that I was actually able to get out of my mouth.

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Get on up (Update November 2017) NSFW and TMI. Not safe for work and too much information!

Update: November, 2017
I might've finished a marathon three weeks ago, but that was a leg thing. They don't work that well but I was able to make them work for 9 hours and 52 minutes. But my hands are almost FUBAR, [Almost Fucked Up Beyond Any Repair]. My elbows work fine. But my wrists and fingers not so much.

If I hold my arms out with my palms facing towards the ceiling I can lift my fingers up. But if my palms are facing down I cannot tell my hands upward. I can make a fist but there's not much strength behind holding the hand closed. Also, the slightest amount of pressure can stop me from opening my hand from the fist. That adds up to not much function. When I reach for things my hands hang limply from the wrists, and when that happens I can't close my fingers. It's been 3 1/2 years since  GBS took the motor function away from my hands and my neurologist told me that at this point no amount of time or Occupational Therapy is going to bring them back.

So it's time to make what works work better. And move around the working parts to bring some function back to those fingers. Two weeks ago I underwent surgery to fuse the joint in my right wrist. Now when I reach for something my hand does not flop down, it stays straight and I'm able to close my fingers. When that heels I'm going to have the tendon used to move my hand around moved to the back of my hand so it opens up the fingers.

To the left is a picture I was able to take of my right hand before surgery. That's me trying to make a fist or trying to lift my hand, it looks the same. To the right is what they did to my hand.

It's been a little over a week and I still haven't had the stitches removed and it still in a cast. But now I don't have to put a contraption on my arm to hold a fork, a spoon or a pen.

Update: October 17, 2017

Another surprise update in that I got to regain a little part of normal life without thinking about it. Coffee. Coffee! Yes coffee!

When my kids were born I immediately started using a travel mug to drink my morning coffee. I just figured a lid would be a good way to protect my coffee from my kids. Oh, I'm sorry I mean protecting my kids from the coffee. Then I got to realize that I like it that way because I can take my time and it would stay hot. In the hospital they often woke me up at 4 o'clock in the morning for medication or just to make holes in my arm and then I wound up being awake until they brought breakfast at 8 AM. I had no problem ingratiating myself to the nurses so that they would bring me coffee from their personal pots. But I didn't want to make them stand there and bring it to my lips so I drank it with a straw.

I kinda got used to drinking everything with a straw.  I guess weaned myself off of using straws for cold drinks. And a while back I announced my happiness when I was able to hold a beer with my hands. But at home I kept a straw in the coffee. I'll have to admit it never occurred to me to stop using the straw because I had so many in the house. But last week I had one left and I figured I wouldn't buy any more straws. And so this morning I just drink my coffee out of my travel mug like a regular person. I think I'll be using the travel mug for a long time. I like my coffee to stay hot and since it takes all ten fingers to hold the mug, I don't need to burn myself.

One more small step towards getting my regular life back.

Update: June 2, 2017

I didn't think I'd be updating this again for a while, but today I had a little breakthrough. Using a credit card is a lot easier than cash because paper money and coins tend to fall out of my hands. It's much easier to just hand my card to the salesperson. But sometimes you have to handle the card yourself. In those cases,using the chip reader is a lot easier than swiping because it's easy to stick the card in the slot wait a moment and then pull it out. 

But until today, the ATM machine at my local bank didn't really work for me. You have to insert the card and pull it out rather quickly. My fingers haven't been that good at pulling it out rather quickly. This challenge hasn't stop me from trying, but if I try to many times the card will not work anymore. But I'm not shy, I had no problem going into the bank and asking the nice manager for some help.

But today, I forgot that it was a challenge. I just walked up to the machine stuck my card in and out in the proper amount of time and then press those little buttons and got my hundred dollars. #FUGBS

Update: December 10, 2016........................................................

As a review, I walked into my doctor's office on May 7, 2014. She set me straight to the hospital with a little note that said I had Guillain-Barré syndrome and by that evening I was unable to stand on my own. When you can't stand you can't stand in front of the toilet. So in the hospital, and in rehab, and for a while after I got home, I had to use a smooth wooden plank to slide from a wheelchair onto a rolling commode. A few months after I got home I was able to keep the commode over the toilet and get myself there with a walker. But all this time my hands were healing much slower than my legs so when eventually I was able to get on and off the regular toilet I was still unable to cross the finish line and use toilet paper 

So while I came home from rehab on September 18, 2014 I haven't been independent in any sense of the word. It was about a year before I was able to use a fork and a spoon myself, or bathe myself, or brush my own teeth. But in the year beginning the summer of 2015 I slowly gained the ability or purchased the tools so I can handle most of the activities adults take for granted. I had the round doorknob replaced to the back entrance of my apartment building with a lever and a pushbutton combination lock so I didn't have to use a key. I also put a giant rubber band on my apartment door so I can pull it closed and got a funky keychain so I can get in and out of my own apartment without leaving the door unlocked. So basically, by the end of the summer of 2016 the only thing that kept me from spending my days alone like an adult was the fact that if I needed to use toilet paper I would be as they say 'Shit out of luck.' 

So I figured out which bidet would work for me and had it installed. Then my wife and I were figuring out all the other little details that would need to be arranged for so we wouldn't have to pay someone to hang around with me all day. We bought a new coffee maker (I'm sorry planet Earth we got a Krups machine) .... Figured out how to leave the lids a little open so I can have lunch. I even asked the staff at the YMCA where I work out if they would mind helping me with some of the contraptions I need to pull the bars on some of the devices (When they smiled and just said "that's why we're here", I was overjoyed). One of the last little humps that I had a figure out how to get over was putting my own socks on. You wouldn't think that would be that hard except I still don't have the grip strength in my fingers to pull them up.

If you've been paying attention to my blog you would've known that on September 25 I fractured one of the little bones in the foot. I didn't need a plaster cast, but I did have to wear a boot that was secured with Velcro straps. Since the neuropathy in my hands hasn't healed as well as my feet I was unable to get that boot on and off. But earlier this week I was given the green light by the orthopedist to just take it easy wearing regular shoes.
So, exactly 31 months from the day I walked into my doctor's office and was told to hurry up and get to the hospital because you have a life-changing illness, I walked out of a different doctor's office knowing that I can begin to resume a normal life. This week I was able to say goodbye to the person that I had hired two years ago to help me do almost every activity I needed to do. Now, I can wake up, get out of bed, and do everything you do in the bathroom. I can make myself coffee, get dressed and leave the house. I could choose to go to the gym or take a bus or subway in a different direction. With a little bit of advance planning I can go into a restaurant and by myself lunch or go into a grocery store and bring some food home. 

I can compare my disability to slavery and institutional racism. But I think I can appreciate what it's like to have your freedom restricted.

Home Alone

Out Alone

Fuck you GBS

I'm free at last

Update October 22, 2016 .....................................................

It's been a long time since I updated this post. Maybe too long. Maybe I should've bought a bidet months or years ago. But now I have one.
Now that I purchased this model from
Overstock this pops up as a Facebook ad.

So my dear reader, you only have to use the tip of your imagination to think of the indignities I had to go through about once a day because my fingers and wrists are is about as useful as a big of carrots. 

Now, I can get on up whenever I want to go, as long as a home. 

It might be a long time, if ever before I get to update this post again. But a lot of people only sit down on their own toilets....

..... And if anyone says I told you so, I'm you spend a few days at your place thanking you....

December 2015..................................................................................................................................

On the third to the last time I visited my friend Paul in hospice, I witnessed something no one should ever have to see. We were chatting for a while he asked me to hand him the buzzer for the nurse. We ran so many miles together he didn't ask me to leave because he had to pee. When the nurse came in he said he needed some help getting to the toilet. She then said something like, "We talked about that Paul, remember what happened last time, your legs are too weak, we have to bring you a bottle."  Nobody should ever be in the room with someone who was told they already stood in front of the toilet for the last time. 

Fast-forward a couple years and I'm in the intensive care unit this time. Remember, I walked into the hospital, but once I was there they did n't let me walk around too much. The morning of my second day I buzzed for the nurse and told him I had to pee. I made it to the bathroom but when they let go of me in front of the toilet I almost hit the ground. They said after this we'll bring you a bottle.  In that moment I was with Paul again

For a couple weeks I was able to hold the bottle, and then neuropathy started to affect my hands worse. For four months while I was hospitalized and a few more months at home I couldn't even stand and be at the same time. Then for a while I was able to stand, but I didn't have the hands to deal with the rest of the process, so I still needed a person and a bottle. A couple months ago I was able to work out the process of peeing, but pants with zippers and buttons not so much.

Last night I decided to push the envelope a little. For the first time in almost 19 months I just got up, walked to the bathroom, took a leak, and came back to the living room without asking for help. This is big. This means, that if I wearing the right kind of pants I could use a public restroom by myself.

October 2015............................................................................................................................................

I need to give this one more update. And it's also time to describe some of the processes I had to go through in various hospitals.  You don't really have to read this, because it is NSFF(not safe for work) and TMI (too much information)

When I went to the emergency room I was just wearing shorts and a T-shirt. I difficult to be moving.  I actually get my shorts on for about five days in intensive care. Then one evening a couple of nurses aides came over and said hey you want to take a shower? I had been out of bed and for five days, and wasn't thinking much about showering but it sounded like a good idea. They put me onto a thing that was like a combination of a wheelchair and a beach chair. They rolled me into a little room that had a shower and then they peeled me out of my clothes. I said out loud goodbye dignity", because I actually sort floating away like a balloon into the hospital  For the past year and a half I've been struggling to get it back.

Where do the boy parts go?
When I walked into my doctor's office back in May 2014 I knew I had problems. But one of them like was myself. Prior to all the weakness that occurred in my arms and legs, I had incredible pain. Kidney stone level pain. And I've had kidney stones and have been told I be prone to more. So I keep oxycodone around. When I had this pain I self medicated little. I didn't know that oxycodone doesn't work on nerve pain, but since the pain to go away I just took more oxycodone. It didn't help, it did make me happy but it did make me really constipated. So being a quadriplegic and totally clogged up was not a fun combination. All my fifth day in the intensive care unit I mentioned to my nurse that I got a problem, that I had not pooped in five days. She said yeah we know if nothing happens tomorrow it's all of our problem. So in the middle of that night I rang the bell.

So.....I'm in intensive care and having gotten out of bed or pooped in five days. They bring over this chair with a little hole in it and tell me that they will help me get on it. I look at it and say "but where do my boy parts go?" The nurse says don't worry about it do what you gotta do. Okey-doke he but IP when I poop. So they hit me up on that thing, but as I predicted I became a frigging fountain. Sorry.

The constipation all effects of the oxycodone lasted for about a month. I stayed on a once a week schedule during that time. In acute rehab they had better rolling commodes with my boy parts, and they actually rolled me over a real toilet. But the first two out of three poops I had at Rusk required a plumber after I was done. I don't know about you, but have ever were able to look back and say holy shit that was the biggest poop I ever had. Well, I looked back and four turds and each of them was the biggest crap I ever took in my life.

Yeah, I got regular and came home from the hospital.  That was 13 months ago. But I still needed a sliding board to get over onto a raised commode. It took me a few months but then I was able to put the commode in the bathroom and use a walker to get to it. Then the walker became unnecessary. But, I couldn't even stand in front of the toilet.

So in the spring I was able to pee standing up. It was really exciting to recycle that portable uranal.

A few weeks ago I started up Occupational Therapy again. It's great. I'm just ask questions like what do you want to do that you haven't been doing. There's been so much I've been afraid to try, but lately I've learned that I can yes drink from a glass, no more beer through a straw.

The third week of OT I said that I didn't know if I could get up off a regular toilet. So we tried it in the therapy gym. Without holding onto anything and without taking my pants down I easily sat down on a toilet. And then I got right back up! FUCKING WOW. 

Yeah, I still need a little help in the bathroom with those things that require fine motor skills from the fingers. But raised arm commodes and urinal jars are behind me. (Pun intended)

August 2015..................................

life's been getting better, been spending four or five hours out of the house it any given time. I just have to make sure I go before I go.

April 2015 ...................................

I wrote this post below back in August when I was in rehab.  Lately, I've been posting about my progress how far I can walk the fact that I can handle a flight of stairs now.  But my whole day revolves around personal needs that I need help with.  I don't need a sliding board anymore, but I can't just go anywhere.

Written from rehab in August 2014

Sometime in the next 24 to 36 hours you're going to feel the need to go to the bathroom. You're going to get up, go to an appropriate place, take off an appropriate amount of clothing, sit down for an appropriate amount of time, and when you're done you're going to clean yourself. Hopefully get up and wash your hands leave the room and move on with life.

If you are a believer thank your god that you can do this without pressing a button, and calling for help, using a sliding board and a commode chair that was specifically adjusted for your height. If you're not a believer just don't take taking a shit for granted.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

"Welcome Back"

I'm still trying to digest the fact that last week I finished my 30th marathon.

Four years ago I was a pacer in the New York City Marathon. I was the guy who held up a sign that said 5 hours and those that stuck with me finished the marathon in 5:01:30. I thought that was the guy that would do that every fall and I thought every spring I was gonna go find a rural marathon and see how fast I could do it.

Then GBS happened. I got a freakishly rare disease that nobody ever heard of and doctors lined up to tell me I'd be fine in a year. WTF, fine in a year isn't something you tell someone to make them happy. It might be something a gardener would say about someone's shrubbery, but I was a human being. Whatever, I've accepted the fact that I'm never going to be fine.

So after I finished this marathon I got like a gazillion Facebook comments. The one comment that meant more to me that all the rest of my came from a friend I've met through the Achilles running club. From a man who knows exactly what it's like to be beaten down by something that's not in his control. A man who had climbed out of that deep hole. A man who prefers to be called by his superhero name, "The Ultimate Running Machine". John Pierre summed it up in two words, "Welcome Back!"


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