Monday, 24 June 2013

More ice chips,please?

No longer in a Step Down room,I was  demoted to a standard ICU room and once again,I found myself hooked up to a smorgasbord of wires,and tubes.
The morning after the Stroke,I woke to the sight of my MOTHER and HEART SURGEON holding hands and crying together. At that point,I couldn't move my fingers,hands, feet or legs. And it ended up being a Month until I could move my fingers and six months for wiggling my toes.
Due the swelling in my Brain,the only form of food or drink that I was allowed for 4 days was a limited amount of Ice chips. A family Member or Friend would place a spoonful in my Moth every four hours  and that would be it for nourishment. Finally, late on the fourth day,a cherubic Speech Pathologist administered a Swallow Test. The Test determined if I possessed the ability and control to swallow or not. Passing it would bring me back to the Promise land of Diner food and Fresca, failing would limit me to a I V Smorgasbord.  Of course,I passed the test of GRAHAM Crackers with flying colours. Almost five days with no food and limited drink,pushed me to make for lost time. By week's end,I was averaging a box of Melba Toast a day.

Thursday, 20 June 2013


As of Sunday the Blood Thinners appeared to have finally stabilized My Blood I&R level. The Consensus was that I would be home bound by Tuesday the latest. Anticipating it might be my last supper at Bellvue,I had my family order me a Turkey Burger from the Sun Flower Diner,my favorite Manhattan Diner. I  topped off my meal with entertainment in the form of watching the Golden Globe Awards. I was in luck because  the Hospital TV set only picked regular Channels. I managed to remain awake for my of the Meaty TV awards,but by 10 pm,I started to dose off. What I took for tiredness was actually weakness, so during a routine Nurse's visit,  my slurred speech was her spot on give away that I suffered a Stroke.  A Blood Clot had Attacked the right side of my Brain,severely effecting my Left side. By midnight,I was once again on the Surgical table. However,this time I wasn't has lucky as I was two weeks prior. They were able to contain the Brain swelling that was caused by the Clot,but they weren't able patch up the Clot all together.
Later that night or earlier that next morning, a weekend, fresh out of MED SCHOOL, Neurology RESIDENT shared his assessment with my Parents and Uncle. He swore to them,"your Son will never walk, use his left hand or swallow again"  With that,MY Mother replied with,"YOU Stay from my SON and never show your face at his room again. To make matters worse,the Stroke caused me to lose a patch of hair from the spot on my Scalp where the Clot spit it's Venom.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Doc,will my Dick work okay?

I was rapidly becoming the Mayor of the ICU FLOOR. And I now held the equivalent to the key to the city;Authorization to shower in the Doctor's private showers/locker room. It was now the Friday morning of the 2nd week of my residency at BELLVUE HOSPITAL MEDICAL CENTER and I was transferred to a Step Down room. STEP DOWN  rooms are the most Medically liberal rooms on all of the ICU Floor and the last step before being discharged from the joint.
Upon returning to my new room from what felt like the best shower in the world,I was greeted by friends,Toby and Adam. They surprised me by flying in from LA. A brief break from their band,H20 playing their special brand of HARDCORE music around the world,allowed the boys to help their pal get through the biggest test of his life.Coupled with anticipation of going home in 3 to 4 days,Toby and Adam, dumped a dose PMA (POSITIVE MENTAL ATTITUDE) into the IV that was tapped into my left arm. See, five days prior to suffering from my Dissection,TOBY and I both had the letters LYD (LIVE YOUR DASH) on our bodies. The dash is the space on a TOMBSTONE that symbolizes the years that a individual lives. And now I as fighting to keep mine flowing. WHO WOULD  HAVE THOUGHT?  LIFE is so PRECIOUS and IRONIC!
A few more of Toby's pals swung by and my good friend,Ben Lynn made it a point to use his lunch break to join in on the festivities as well. BY the time,Doctor D and his team made their last rounds before the weekend break,there was a practically a drug/booze free party in Full Effect in my Step Down room. My SUPER Surgeon and his team basically paid me a visit so that they could prepare me for the next 3 months of at home recovery.The Good Doctor crystal clearly explained that  3 months of no activity besides walking, sudden bursts of depression and  a loss of appetite were all to be expected. My Aorta was fixed by starting with an Incision nearby an Artery in my Groin,so naturally,  I was concerned about Sex. Of Course,I bluntly asked,"DOC,will by Dick work okay?"
I guess I was a little surprised to hear,"yes,you'll be just fine down there".Saturday began with Oatmeal with Toby and Adam, followed by two days of visits from various filmmaker/Actor pals, my Brother IN Law  and John Joseph,The toughest Vegan you'll ever know.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Protected by the Ghosts of the EASTMAN pavillion

The start of the second week of my residency was surprisingly simple and relaxing. IT primarily consisted of taking short walks,exercising with two appointed Therapists and spending time with numerous visitors.The point was for my body to rest while it stabilized under the use of Blood Thinners. Turn of the Century New York. Newspaper men  dubbed a section Of Bellvue,Eastman Pavilion after,Notorious street Ruffian,Monk Eastman. According to Lore,Monk earned a slice of Bellvue because his violent antics were responsible for recruiting so many folks into becoming residents of the Hospital. With that being said, it was during the second week that I came to the conclusion that the restless spirits of the Turn of the century were watching over me in Bellvue.
During wee hours rips to the bathroom,I'd peer out my Window and would swear  that I witnessed an old Horse drawn Ambulance transporting a injured body to the Emergency room.ON a particular evening,I spotted a Turn of the century, NY police officer pacing the hallway.  I was convinced that the spirits of strong Arm men and Tammany Hall politicians of yesteryear were watching over me for entire duration of my residency at Bellvue. I even found myself asking a Nurse for a old Mason Jar instead of a plastic Urinal. That's they used back then.

What was most important was  that I was eating well and that my Blood level was starting to balance itself out. The quicker that happened,the quicker I would be discharged
Pancakes from  the Sunflower Diner and Horseradish  and Beets  salad from Veselka were the most memorable meals that were bought for me that week. Thursday would be the first of 3 straight days of interesting guests. Having flown straight in from Business meetings in LA , my Brother,David stopped  by for a short and sweet visit around 5:30 pm. Bellvue is strategically built near a couple of half way decent Pizza Joints,which allowed David to grab a NEW YORK slice or two before jumping on the Silver Bird back to London.
Bearing a Pastry box full of Red Velvet cake,my parents friends,the Weinberger's showed up around 7 pm. Good thing,I wasn't Diabetic. I played catch up  and made small talk with them until another visitor showed up. Fresh out of a 14 hour shift in the ER,Dr.Brendan Connell paid me a visit around 8 pm that evening.
Along with Dr.Novik, Dr.Connell was responsible for tending to me in the ER and using the a portable ULTRASOUND MACHINE to detect that I had a Aortic Dissection.
Though it had only been 9 days,it felt like so much had happened since I had been rushed to the Emergency room by Gotham's finest Paramedics. THE Good Doctor just wanted to reintroduce himself and explain to me  first hand how they made the discovery of what was going on within my HEART.  HE and I are long over due to grab a drink sometime.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Corrections and CAT SCANS

It was now Sunday and after 3 days of anticipating,I was finally transferred out of the communal hot box and into a private ICU room.But before I could get settled in,I was required to report to the Radiology floor for  a CAT SCAN  After completing the scan,I had to wait for the transfer aid to finish his Union lunch break before he could return me to ICU floor. So,basically I was loitering around the hallway unattended in a Hospital bed.  Being that BELLVUE is a City Hospital, it has a Corrections area and provides  Medical care for Riker's Island's ill and injured inmates. Unknown to me at the time,the basement floor is shared by the Corrections and Radiology Departments.
I spotted a Corrections   Officer pacing the Hall, while he waited for the two patients under his watch to finish up their respective Scans.  The two criminal patients were handcuffed to each other,leaving their other hands free. The  officer wore a  holstered Glock.
I couldn't help but think that I would make for an ideal hostage. because of the physical condition I was in. And I figured it wouldn't be too difficult for one those guests to remove the  Glock from the Officer's Holster and pull it on me,while the other guy distracted him. All I Kept telling myself is "I'm not in shape to defend myself if the shit hits the fan". finally, after only waiting 15 minutes,the Transfer Aid arrived and swiftly returned me to my new room on the ICU floor. My Sister was waiting there for me to return,so of course,I Had to share the details of my journey to the basement.I remember getting excited and  mentioning something about filing a complaint, regarding having to wait for the Transfer Aid to finish his lunch break during a potentially dangerous situation.
Now that  I was in a private room,I was able to actually relax,rest a little, and the most important thing;check my phone. See,my Mother had taken my phone out of pocket of the Pants I was wearing when I rushed to ER.  It was now Sunday evening,and I was reading and hearing  messages that were sent between Tuesday  and Sunday. Most of them were from Friends, acquaintance's and Family members, who were informing me that I was in their thoughts and Prayers. I happily hold my Cousin,Eric responsible for that because he served  as the Liaison  between my  family and friends..Eric  swiftly delivered the News of what had happened to me. Sorting through all of those messages was a surreal experience because I was conscious of where I was in the process,when each of those messages was delivered. Say that someone text me on that Thursday,saying that they just "said 50 Hare Krishna prayers for me", I recalled that i was i a medically induced Slumber at that point,and felt their Prayers washing over me. THE ONLY WAY TO OVER POWER A MEDICAL DEBACLE IS TO HAVE FAITH.

Thursday, 6 June 2013


The Recovery room in CCU was a hot box that I shared with 3 or 4 other guys that also were lucky to be alive.One Poor SOB had a tracheotomy and  a Heart surgery of sorts,so he was forced to communicate via a  push of a button. So, every few minutes,I would awake to  the sound of a Nurse scurrying over to his bed side. Another one of  my roommate's also survived an Aortic Dissection. However, he suffered from a stroke soon after being admitted to the Emergency room. In the relative scheme of things,I was flying high.
The room was a cluttered  hot box with the five patients  and the Nurse's who were assigned to each one respectively.  This being the case, a 1 visitor,per patient at a time rule was implemented. To make the set up even more crowded,I was attached to and kept alive by over two dozen Wires and Tubes.
The heat,chaos and discomfort of the situation made me  appreciate what injured Soldiers of both THE CIVIL WAR and GREAT WAR  endured while in Triage.  IT was around this point in time that fragments of songs from my youth and adolescence  were floating around in my head,keeping me sharp and reflecting on the severity of  the situation I survived. In other words, the music of FISHBONE ,BAD BRAINS and SUICIDAL TENDENCIES  are partially responsible for keeping this boy alive and kicking.
On my back in the Cot of a bed,I made a pact with myself that I would do my best  to work cooperatively  with all the Doctor's ,Nurse's , their aid's, Technicians and anyone who was tending to me. I started by passing gas,belching,urinating and other basic bodily functions,besides sleeping. Next I was drinking,eating and walking around. All the while, I  was telling the Nurse's,Nurse's Aids, and Doctor's,"LET ME HELP YOU, HELP ME"
My first morsel of food was a piece home made Challah Bread that was baked from the hands of the Matriarch of the family of a Orthodox Jewish man,who also had a residency on the ICU Floor of BELLVUE HOSPITAL. Spending so much time together in the ICU waiting room, my family and Moishe's family quickly became friends. And nothing brings Jews together quicker than food and kibbutzing at the expense of a visit to see a sick family member.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Who's the President of the United States?

Surgery to replace the Valve in my Heart  officially began at 6:30 on a Tuesday and lasted to almost 3Am Wednesday .  My life saving Surgeon,Abe DeAnda.  was heartfelt and honest when telling my family, I'm "not sure he'll make it to the Operating room" And he was just as blunt , post surgery, when telling them,"All I can tell you is that he's alive" Thinking that he may have to go back in to do  some additional  fixing on my Arteries,My Surgeon and his team left me paralysed in a medically induced Coma for two days.  The sharp,to the point voice of a the Recovery room Nurse and a image of my Cousin's scraggly Beard is what I remember awaking from my Slumber. First I saw my parents and Uncle. Then I saw my Sibling's and my Cousin. This had to be serious business,because my Brother,David flew in directly from Beijing to be with my Family. And finance pros like,David Abrams don't postpone Business opportunities for anything less than ICU.
Now that the Family got to see me in a quasi conscious state,it was the Nurse's turn to see where I stood. Of Course, I knew my name,age and that I was in Bellvue Hospital. New York's east side. Then, she asked"Who's the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES"?  With the quickness,I replied,"BARACK OBAMA for now"  That was all my Family needed to hear to know that I was alive and kicking. Once my family left me sleep in the Recovery room, my body and soul realised that it had two options; let go,closing my eyes for an eternal slumber or fight. I chose the latter option and have been doing so since that moment.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Can Somebody, please get me a Fresca or something?

According to Freddie and Burt,I farted and then laughed at it when the Paramedics transferred me from my couch onto the stretcher.
It was at that point that I made the subconscious decision to always use humor to add levity to most situations ,masking the high stakes of what life throws my way. New York's finest made the most logical  choice by rushing me to the closest,oldest in the nation, and best Hospital for Trauma care, BELLVUE HOSPITAL.
Upon arriving in the Emergency Room, it was determined that my Heart had been bleeding for close to two days and that it resembled a Heart that had  been stabbed repeatedly. By using  the Technology of a portable Ultra Sound unit,Emergency Room Doctors determined that I suffered an Aortic Dissection (my Aorta exploded). They believed that if I didn't arrive when I did that I might not have lived much longer.Those same Doctors expressed to my Family that any other Hospital would not have operated on me because my Condition was considered a  high risk. Therefore, I most likely would have expired had I been brought to any other Medical Center in the Metropolitan area.I provided the Emergency Room Doctor's and Nurse the phone numbers of my Uncle and Parents.Then one  of  the Doctor's informed me that I had an Aneurysm in my Heart. I Guess that all of the internal turmoil had caused me feel hot, thirsty and dry in the throat. Being that parched and uncomfortable,I found myself asking the Nurse,"Can Somebody,please get me a Fresca or something?" Being that I was minutes from going into Surgery,the answer was no,you can't have anything to drink. The last thing I remember is an IV being inserted into my arm and attempting to count down from 50 to 0. I don't even think I made it to 30.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

LIsten to your Heart.

"I passed out the moment I crawled into the back of the Taxi. That appeared to be normal behavior for me,considering that i had a knack of falling asleep on the subway and waking up just in time for my stop. My Subway naps could range  from a one stop deal to an hour long jaunt from deep in Brooklyn all away to  the Yorkville section of Manhattan. However,what prompted me to hail the Taxi wasn't normal behavior. I was walking back from a unannounced visit to my Primary Physician, when a sudden  sharp pain rained all over my upper Back,Neck and Shoulder Blades..
Not that I've been ever been smashed with a Sledgehammer,but that's what I equated the sensation that manifested itself in my upper body. Miraculously, I mustered up enough strength to hail a taxi instead of  attempting to soldier on  by mere foot power.  Unusual for my healthy lifestyle,a shortness of breath and a funky feeling inside had been bothering me for over 36 had began on late Sunday evening,January 1st 2012.  Due to NEW YEAR"S EVE falling on a Saturday, most businesses were closed on Monday,making January 2nd the official NEW YEAR"S Day.So that's what  told me to wait until Tuesday to get my Shortness of breath checked out. Honestly,I didn't think anything of it,and was only making a visit to Doctor Drulinsky,as a "BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY",good measure. I had been recently been putting in over 70 weekly running miles and,sparing with Golden gloves,calibre boxers 2 to 3 times per week. So I considered a shortness of breath to go with the territory of training hard. I woke up that Tuesday and took it to the streets for a lightly paced 6 mile run,regardless of the shortness  of  Breath. I guess I just worked through it and told myself it was nothing.That seemed to work so times before. And it's okay because that's what the Pro's do. Or at least in my warped mind they did.
At the Doctor's office,my Echo Cardiogram came up negative and my Blood Pressure read as normal.
The good Doctor dismissed me for the day,but he referred me to a cardiologist of his liking for the next day,and a full physical the day after that. He agreed with me,that  it probably was nothing.
I do confess,I still felt funky inside as I left the Doctor's office in midtown.
AS the Taxi pulled up in front of the building and I  crawled out of it ,I was greeted by  my Doorman and pal,Freddie and the Building Superintendent,Burt. Had I not been the wisecracking, joke, smack talking  pal who enjoyed hanging out withe doormen and Porters in the lobby,Freddie would not have confronted me about my  more than peculiar pale complexion. Had I just been a guy who lived in the building,Freddie would left me be to stagger myself out of the Taxi,through the lobby, up the Elevator,to my apartment, where my nap on the couch would have turned  easily could have turned into a dirt nap.
After two minutes of arguing with the boys, I gave in to having an Ambulance called for me. Burt called and waited in the lobby for the Paramedics. Meanwhile,Freddie escorted me up to my Apartment, assisted me onto my couch and waited by my side. According to him,I was foaming at the moth,my eyes had rolled back into my head and my pupils were fully dilated.
I guess the funky feeling inside and the shortness of breath was my Heart trying to tell me something.