Wednesday, February 11, 2009

one year since surgery

Karaoke – ‘cantobar’ – on Friday was an absolute bust. Not only didn’t they have ‘everything’ as I had been promised, they didn’t have anything except for... you guessed it, Richard Marx. By the time I had convinced Spoon to duet with me, they had already moved on to trashy teenage ‘gasolina’ disco. We soaked our sorrows at the Red Door and then night-capped at Bar Británico:

On Saturday, we popped by the neighborhood carnaval for all of forty seconds for fear of getting foamed fore dinner:

and a few drinks at a Moroccan restaurant in Palermo:

and then sat the night away at a really cool milonga in Almagro:

We got up early on Sunday for the first time that week to go to the street fair:

before grudgingly leaving for the airport and our respective ways. I nearly froze to death in the exit row (they actually leave the door partially ajar), but managed to get some sleep on the way back. I got into Kennedy around 4AM and had to walk thirty taxi lengths to get to the front of thirty sleeping cab drivers. #1 was also drunk. He drove on the shoulder, weaved in and out of lanes and was furiously honked upat. I made him promise to sleep it off.

Sherman came down for Ethiopian food and some great live soul music on Tuesday. I got a bit of a head cold and am taking it easy. Today is the anniversary of my brain surgery and I dug up this bit I’d written just shortly after the operation:

So they came for me around 7 - I still have my hair at this point. I hadn’t slept much the night before (about two hours), but was pretty used to that after a month of very little sleep. I had already lost my mind at this point from it.

They put me on a stretcher and whipped me down to the second floor. The ceiling lights were flashing by just like on TV. I felt OK, strangely - confident, but not exactly relaxed by any stretcher of the imagination.

“Every Where You Go, You Always Take the Weather” or whatever that song is called was playing – c’mon you know the one. The orderly parked me over some complicated-looking device and started plugging things in.

Someone asked if I spoke Czech and someone said “trošku” (a little). I barked out, “Mluvím dost!!” (I speak enough!!) Turned out to be my neurosurgeon who was just making sure that people spoke to me clearly and slowly throughout the procedure. Yet another example of me making an ass of myself in front of my neurosurgeon.

I woke up to the sound of high-pitch drilling to the left side of my head... and to pointless Czech-chick giggle hoohoo elsewhere in the room. After what seemed to be an eternity, I got up the courage to make some noise through shallow breath and clenched teeth, so as not to lose an ear to the laser.

Prosím? Prosím! Prosím?!” I ventriloquized louder and louder, until the catty chit-chat came to an abrupt end and a nurse put her head in my face. “Vý jste po operaci, Pane Gisondi! Po operaci!” she beamed. I fell back into dreamland only vaguely understanding that the operation was over.

The next thing I saw was my Mother, Mary and Irina in full-on OR scrubs and masks, eyes asmile, mouths liplessly shouting muffled questions and commands in French and Russian for some strange reason. I responded in kind to their seeming satisfaction. I had some numbness in my left foot, but everything else seemed fine.

I saw my neurosurgeon in the hall and thanked him profusely. He looked very upset. I thought it was because of the numbness in my left foot. I told him, “Well, you had to cut something, don’t worry about it.” He looked at me aghast and then just whispered, “Metastaze.” “Whatever, thanks again!” I said. I only found out what he meant several days later...
And I wasn’t thinking about where I was going to be a year from then, I was thinking how grateful I was to be alive (and not a vegetable) that day. A lot's happened since, but it’s great to be in Brooklyn after a year, suffering from a little head cold and eating homemade chicken soup at Tim’s.


damien mitchell said...

sheesh. crowded house just before they put you under. at least you knew things couldn't worse from that point on.

Liz said...

Ain't you magnificent, pane G.!
Nepises dost, ale. Clearly having too much fun. Hope Brooklyn gives you more. UK sleety.
E x

Anonymous said...

One year later and lokin good. James and I just watched the video. I think we can submit it to the travel is Awesome. Will post a couple on my facebook. Love ya baby. Ann

maire said...

i remember sitting with your mom waiting for you to be 'po' that 'operace.' we actually bumped into klenner in an elevator, which is how we heard it was over and it had been a success.

that's when we leapt into our surgical clothes and went to test your language skills (which were, and remain, mad).

see you...soon!

Mary said...

To add to Maire's comments: We also had to convince you that we did not assist in the operation as you thought you were still in the operating room and the three of us were in there with you. Maire also had read that some people who have brain surgery actually wake up speaking a language they did not know beforehand. We were kind of hoping that you would be in that group, and we could sell your story to the "Enquirer." (Only kidding). Love you - glad you spent Xmas with me. Mom

mike said...

I forgot to mention Irina speaking to me in Czech and that one of you said something in Spanish that I had to correct. Thank you both (and Irina, of course) for being there when I came to. It meant a lot to me.

Jiffz said...

"Weather With You" was the third single off Crowded House's 1991 album "Woodface". It peaked at #7 on the UK charts. Another great post, Mikey. What a year, eh? See you at the station a week from tomorrow, eh? Send me details, please :-)

Anonymous said...

oh man, hearing the drill? retch! was it the original of that 'weather' song or was it vondrackova doing a cover?

Anonymous said...

Ahem - back to Buenos Aires please. I never got to express what a good time I had spending with you in BA. You are an excellent travel companion and I even have The List...very impressive and we crossed off a lot of items. Check out some of the unedited video footage on my FaceBook. Isabel Vespa (aka Ann)

Anonymous said...

What fantastic photos you take Mike. Looking forward to seeing you again post-peregrination. Whoohoo Mikey back in Prahahaha! Crazy seeing the pix of Ann. She doesn't age at all.--Valentina

The Great Unwashed said...

Great post mikey. Hear you'll be back in czeco this weekend, I'll miss you as I fly out tomorrow. But Lets catch up when I get back from Afreeka. Maie

Ingrid said...

I wrote you a really brilliant and maudlin post in response to this, but either you hated so much you took it down, or the system ate it. ;-)

Suffice to say, I am hugely glad you got the chance to share this little anniversary entry, and I'm also (slightly less) glad i'm not the only one in the world with an irrisistible compulsion to correct language and grammar. One tends to lose more friends that way, but I guess the upside is that the ones who stick must really love you. ;-)

Which, btw, we all do. Happy travels onward! xox.

Ingrid said...

Also: I'll risk any remaining dignity to state for the record that I really LIKE that Crowded House song. Even better than "Chocolate Cake" which was the other big single on that CD. ;-)

Liz said...

Wanted to say - the one red bottle in the lower corner really makes that picture of the silver-headed siphons.

Anonymous said...

one year on and still kickin, many happy returns, and returns and returns, to all the lovely moments and great places you've been to in the last year. You're an inspiration to us all Mike. xxx sonya

Una on Tour said...


I saw this in the Irish papers today and I thought that you especially would get a kick out of it!

thinking of you as ever,


Shay said...

Call soon.

Love Always....

Anonymous said...

Wow, Ann sure got a lot of pictures on the blog - way to go Ann. Have there been any pictures of that Jiffy guy?

Anonymous said...

One year! It's hard to believe what you've been through. That description was frightening! Stay strong, Mikey. I hope we can hit some kickin' karaoke in Praha...

Kiss kiss,

Gail said...

So psyched you're back! Overjoyed that we had another year together. Let's keep it going. Love you.

Oh, and there's a little blonde moppet who wants to say "Hello" or "Dag" or "Ahoj" to you.

Much love,
Gail, Joost, Atreyu, Sophie & Knaeckebroed :-)