Saturday, March 1, 2008

where is everybody?

Just five comments since Tuesday? I realize that having a massive brain tumor, wedged and growing between my cerebral cortex and pretty important bits like speech and movement, completely removed without any ill effects is infinitely more interesting than skin cancer in my lung and lymph nodes, so I’ll try to spice up my blog posts in future ;-)

Here’s a before and after shot of the tumor and lack therein thereof:

As you can see, the tumor and surrounding edema looked like a little laughing devil of all things (MRI from January 10). The space left in the after shot (February 12 - one day after surgery) is cerebrospinal fluid that is decreasing daily allowing my brain to return to its normal, shapely self.

My not-so-fly-by-night (they have a beautiful office next to Kotva) traveler's insurance company, Slavia, cancelled my policy that was to begin on Friday, the 22nd of February. They did or will, however, pay for almost everything, apparently, up until that date. So, I have no insurance and am paying out of pocket for all further treatment until I can sort this out. I begin chemo at a monthly cost alone of CZK 50K ($3030) – 80K ($4850) on the 11th of March.

I pulled my crown out in the middle of ‘Atonement’ on Thursday night on a ‘Mike&Ike’ that Jiffy had sent in a care package a couple of weeks before. Luckily, he was sitting next to me, so I could put it in his hand and gross him out. Glad he didn’t eat it. And very glad it wasn’t one of the ‘Jaw Breakers’ he sent me. Too many MRIs and a tube down your throat during surgery can loosen dental work.

Unfortunately, I had chewed on it a bit before realizing it wasn’t a Mike&Ike anomaly, but my very own crown. I had it stuck back on yesterday at the dentist with some temporary glue, but it looks a mess. Didn’t get a picture, sorry.

My Mom accidentally hit me in the head (right in the spot) with her umbrella during an incredibly light drizzle yesterday on our way to see my neurologist. I was pretty livid, but I’m fine.

Despite those little setbacks, I feel (relatively and under the circumstances: less than three weeks after major brain surgery with chemo looming in less than two) great and am getting better everyday. My strength is gradually coming back and I’m gaining weight, as I’ll need both for the chemo. I’m sleeping about five and a half hours a night in two sessions.

I’m even having a little party today at St. Nicholas Café in Malá Strana, Tržiště 10 – same street as the US Embassy – from 4PM, if you feel like stopping by. I’ll be gone by 10PM, though. Tomorrow, we have lunch at Ivan’s house in Nusle. More on why I have such a close relationship with my former roommates and why Czech neurologists are so beautiful in future posts.

Me and Jiffy and my first alcoholic beer since January 14. Didn’t and don’t miss it. Who would have thought that all you need is a brain tumor to quit drinking :-)


bex said...

hey darlin..spice up the blog posts?? I'm still reelin from post number 1.. those pictures are incredible. wow. If others are like me they have sat in front of the screen wondering what to say...its the time when we wish we could say perfect things at the right moment...and we rarely can come up with those words. But you are in our thoughts daily and I'm sure that your strength of personality and determination will see you through well as all the friends you know you
unfortunately not gonna make it today as am at home with Bobby with some nasty thing he picked up on the plane(virus-not person)Sending all the best stuff I can (in the good energy,love ,hugs and all that special stuff) your way and will see you very soon.

Anonymous said...

i truely love the head scarf.
Chemo huh! so, you need to get yourself a juicer, a good one, and you need to start drinking more carrot juice than you think is possible. Imagine it's beer.
there are a few reasons for this,
1: when you start Chemo, not only will you more than likely not wanna eat, you may not have the strenght
2:juice is a direct source of vital vitimins and your system doesn't have to work to hard to digest it.
3: carrot juice in particular cleans and promotes good kidney and liver function, the skin is cleansed and feed from the kidneys (which is why when we drink too much carrot juice we start to turn orange- i kid you not)
further- your diet in the next few months is crucial-
there's a Swiss gentleman called Vogel whose diets have helped people recover from cancer -The Nature Doctor is the title of his book-
building your immune system will help cope with Chemo (which has different effects for different people) but different foods can help to suppress certain types of cell growth. e.g. stay away from pineapple, great for healing because it promotes cell growth! which you don't want now.
a friend of mine- a student of chinese medicine, says cancer cells need lanolaic acid to grow, if you cut it out of your diet they can't replicate.
It's quite possible when you mention any of this to your doctors they will either
a: freek out or b: look at you funny.
that was the reaction when my mother mentioned it to her breast cancer doctors.
I think they think you're talking alternative medicine- but you're not, you're talking complimentary medicine.
my mum is clear now, by-the-by.
anyway, look for a juicer that's easy to clean, they don't come cheap but it will be worth every korun, cent or penny.
looking forward to seeing you in May if you haven't been whisked off to a trail programme somewhere.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mike,
Hello from NY - we're all rooting for you here. Very much appreciate the blog. Please don't stop with the humor and painful details.
Love, Tim H.

chihuahua lady said...

yay!! jiffy is there with you too, that is great!! me and johnny are too, in disguise as inconsequential people on the next table who you may not realise it but only came there to be in proximity of you

all power mikey, thinking of you every day

Anonymous said...

Gliobastoma, schmioblastoma. We’re still here.


Eve (Jeff's wife) said...

I wish I'd seen this yesterday, we'd have come to see you at the cafe.

Thinking of you.

Sarah Loving said...

thinking of you as well. wtf is up with your policy being canceled? i'm really sorry and glad they are paying up until the 22nd.

Shay said...

I just hope that you did not have to punch, slap, or in any other way become violent toward James during your visit, Mike.


Maie said...

Ello darlin'

I am coming to Prague at the end of April for a few days from the 24th.

Look forward to seeing you then!

clare said...

Mike, so great to see you yesterday, and to meet your amazing mum. I have that book for you, so let me know when you have a spare moment, or alternatively I can pop it in the post - whatever's easiest. Keep getting better,
Clare x

Anonymous said...

Hey bro,
I was over at Mohonk yesterday and thought about how we slipped in there during college. One of the first early encounters with danger and being on the wrong side of the law. Looking forward to the next adventure! Hope you're convalescing and getting in top form for the chemo. I am with you in spirit. Don't drink too many non-alcoholic beers.

Pamela said...

Silly attention-phisher! You know we all love you. You have tons of people from around the world checking out this blog on a daily basis - who else can claim their cancerous mole brought the world together?
And please ...don't "spice" up your medical situation for more posts. I'll give you more posts. Just get better. That Vogel diet sounds like it's worth checking out.

PS - All I have to say about the before/after shots of your head is $#@% $#@&%!!!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Mike,

Definitely still here. I confess I worry about what to say also, but if you don't hear from me for a few days it's just me being on drugs and incoherent, not because I don't wanna know how you're doing.

As it happens, I've been prepping for my own surgery Tuesday, nothing too major, just been putting it off for awhile and now I gotta go do it. A friend flew in to help me out while I'm laid up so I've been showing her where stuff is. Like the grocery store, the thermostat, extra TP, pharmacy, Martha's phone number...

I am now enjoying a bottle of wine, just in case I don't feel like drinking anymore afterward either. I promise I will check in as soon as I make sense.


VM said...

Cau Mikey, sorry I missed your post until today. Would have loved to see you at St. Nicholas. But then again, I'm just at the waxing edge of cold, so perhaps its better I didn't. Keep positive. I know it's hard, especially when the weather is gray. Get yourself good and strong before the chemo. Maybe you can host a juicing party and everyone can bring his/her favorite fruit/, DON'T try to juice a's just not worth it!
Thanks for all the updates!

Anonymous said...

well OK, here is my post Mike. I know that not posting here might seem a little weird but than again I am not suffering from lack of information :)
huuu...I don't wanna be evil so I won't post what you should do before jumping into any of these diets, because I'm sure you know ;)
kisses Vrat

Diego said...

Hi Mike, you may remember me from the time you came to Buenos Aires, Sarah and I met with you for dinner at some Asian place. Just stopping by to say hi and send you my best wishes.

BTW, here is an essay by Stephen Jay Gould, I don't know if you found it during your research but I thought you might find it useful:

Anonymous said...

Still here, still sending you Mclovin' from the USA. And I mean it--if you need something from the States, just say the word.


Anonymous said...

still love you. just busy. thik kat and karl will be standing in for you at wedding, still no confirmations yet. ann

James said...

Your in our thoughts here in Denver Mike. In fact Ann won't shut up about it. Just kidding. We are wishing you nothing but the best.


Anonymous said...

Geez Mike. We would have commented sooner but you've trumped my sorry predicament. I just had a hysterectomy 3 weeks ago (my doctor informed me that he "doesn't collect ovaries," so I'm grateful not to be going through early menopause, though I do wonder what the doctor does collect and where my uterus and cervix wound up. Hmmm...). But brain tumor? Damn. So I've been pouting. Sorry. Lou and I have been reading your blog. And it's terrific - now, if I had had a brain tumor... But seriously, we're both really proud of you for being so stoic, and for sharing your acerbic observations and tremendous wit with us and the rest of your motley admirers. We would have given anything (maybe not my ovaries) to be at St. Nick's. Love from your Australian cheerleaders, Heather (post-op) and Lou

Anonymous said...

we want a fresh post! 3 days without news? you gotta be kidding after you got all of us addicted to your blog :)
(can't beleive that you didn't come up with this idea earlier :)

maire said...

"little" party? by my estimate, the guest list must have topped 40. a very good time, mike.

JJB said...

Hiya Mike

Wow man you are making the Czech medical system look good with that brain surgery.

I think the bandanna and beer combo is very passe, (makes me think of those "tramping" guys). Anyway, I'm sure you will get your taste for beer back when the hair grows back.

Nice seeing you. Martin and I wish we could come (could have come?) to your soiree at St. Nicholas

Eat up and sleep well!

Joy (in Singapore - where karaoke is an artform)

Anonymous said...

hey mike - hope the party was fun. post some pictures for the rest of us who couldnt make it..... especially any more action shots of you in your bandana.

take care,

Anonymous said...


You and J. look very much like I remember you both - all philosopherish.

I was so happy to hear about the success of the operation. I wish the news could all have been that good. But I'm convinced you'll beat it. The attitude counts for a lot - and you're obviously up for the fight.

If I was there I'd make a bowl of paté for a party of 20 ... so you could wolf it all down before heading off to karaoke.

Je t'embrasse!

Susan (sister of Maire)

p.s. Could you translate for the Canadians? What did you lose your crown eating??