Say Goodbye to Number 29

I had a tooth removed Monday morning. No saving this one. It came out in two pieces. Three stitches followed.

Number 29 was a second premolar, lower right and toward the back. It was heavily involved in chewing before its untimely demise.

Before she did her work, the periodontist injected some ‘caine’ into the nearby gum. That allowed her to do things no human would willingly tolerate. Once the shots wear off you feel the full effect!

Pain pills made me ditzy. They didn’t help my pain, which was continuous and intense.

Advil was the answer. Finally starting to feel better.

This is a three procedure event. One down, two to go.

My Answer Has Been Disappointing

Lots of phone calls today. People are calling to ask how I’m doing. My answer has been disappointing.

“Not great.”

Lots of phone calls today. People are calling to ask how I’m doing. My answer has been disappointing.

“Not great.”

I’ve been living with leg pain since late July. Nearly five weeks ago it became severe enough to keep me from working. Since then I’ve seen doctors, gotten an X-ray and MRI plus two epidurals–steroid injections directly into my spine. Ouch!

The first steroid injection made a big difference. I am significantly better today than two weeks ago when I got it!

The second injection totally eliminated my pain for 24 hours. The pain has gradually come back. I’m where I was.

It’s back to the neuro specialist tomorrow. He might recommend another epidural. He might recommend back surgery. There will be a serious discussion.

I know many of you are concerned about my condition. Thank you. I am gratified.

I can deal with the pain. It’s just time to get rid of it. It is frustrating to have this problem control me!

Every time I post an entry about my condition advice follows. I read them all.

Have surgery. Don’t have surgery. Chiropractic. Acupuncture. Massage therapy.

Some of you have endorsed doctors based on success in single cases which might or might not be like mine! This blog is not the place to get my medical advice!

None of this is easy. I won’t make any moves hastily. Helaine and I understand the consequences of our decisions.

The status quo is not acceptable.

Today’s Word: Subrogation

If you’re insured it’s a cost without a benefit.

For those wondering, I’m not cured yet. I am still hobbled by pain in my leg caused by a pinched nerve. It is being pinched by a herniated disk.

Sounds (and is) complex!

The busted parts are in my back. The pain is in my leg. I’m still having difficulty coming to grips with that.

I’ve seen three doctors, had an X-ray and an MRI. I’ve also had two epidurals–all the fun getting an injection in your spine should be!

My journey has not ended.

The medical bills have started to dribble in. I will have a significant responsibility just with my co-pays and deductibles.

Without insurance… well I just can’t imagine.

I am appreciative of my employer’s insurance plan, but this is just one more reason we need a national single payer insurance system&#185.

Costs from an illness like mine can easily grow beyond anyone’s ability to pay. How many thousands of dollars have you put away for a random rainy day? I am thankful this will not be my problem, but I get it.

My main concern is getting better. As I’ve discovered, pain is no fun.

I am hoping my insurance company wants me well too, but I know that’s not their only concern. For instance it would be great for them if they didn’t have to pay my claim. That’s the reason for the letter I got today.

The letter has my insurance company’s name and logo on the top. They didn’t send it. It comes from “a leading independent provider of outsourced insurance subrogation, claims recovery and cost containment solutions for the healthcare payor and property and casualty industries.”

“Subrogation,” that’s the operative word. Subrogation means my insurance company would like to find someone else responsible for paying my bill. If my pain was caused by an auto injury or some on-the-job accident the cost wouldn’t be their responsibility.

I cannot blame insurance companies for exploring this option. No one… no company wants to pay a cent more than they owe! Mitt Romney’s, “I pay all the taxes owed. And not a penny more,” works here too.

Here’s the problem, subrogation isn’t free. Sure individual insurance companies will save money on individual claims, but subrogation itself costs. Subrogation doesn’t reduce how much money is paid, only who pays it. It could save my insurance companies money.

Oh, cmon, who’s kidding whom? My boss and I pay for subrogation. It’s part of my insurance bill and it provides no coverage or care.

If you’re insured it’s a cost without a benefit.

I called the subrogation company tonight. “Unusually high call volume,” so I tried their website. I went back to the phone after I realized all the options on their webform were aimed at finding my pain was caused by an accident or injury someone else could pay for. The questions were written in a way that made it difficult for me to answer honestly.

My phone call lasted under five minutes. Case for subrogation closed.

I wish the woman on the other side would have said, “I hope you feel better,” as we parted. It isn’t part of her concern.

I’ve come to the conclusion most people opposing single payer healthcare have had little interaction with today’s for profit system. If we had national healthcare this defensive cost would disappear and the money could be spent on getting people well… or lower premiums.

&#185 – Go ahead, call it socialized medicine. That’s fine with me.

My Back, Back In The O.R.

I am home and back on the sofa. Today was another ‘procedure’ at the Yale’s Shoreline Surgery Center in Guilford, or as it’s called internally “The Yale Beach Cottage.”

I am home and back on the sofa. Today was another ‘procedure’ at the Yale’s Shoreline Surgery Center in Guilford, or as it’s called internally “The Yale Beach Cottage.”

It’s a pretty simple treatment.

I was wheeled into the operating room where I got up and transferred myself to another gurney. Last week I had to be helped as I rolled between the two.

At this point I was head down, eyes closed. I do know there was a fluoroscope over my back–basically a real time X-ray. It allowed the neurosurgeon to properly aim his syringe.

Not yet! First a few shots of lidocaine (or something similar) to deaden the area.

Now the main event! The epidural placed a steroid directly on my herniated disk. It hurt, but nowhere near as much as last week. My time in the O.R. couldn’t have been more than 10 minutes.

My upper leg and butt are still a little numb (the cause and effect of my problem are in different places but both felt the effect of the lidocaine), but it seems there’s less pain. I’ll know better tomorrow and the next few days.

Call me cautiously optimistic. Even if this doesn’t fully fix my problem I can get one more injection before considering more invasive treatment.

I’m in love with the nurses at the SSC. Linda was there from last week. Mary was with me as I recovered. She is possibly the world’s most Irish person! I wish I remembered more names.

Word is as Yale/New Haven rolled out this new facility in Guilford, management wanted an experienced staff in case of unforeseen problems. That’s why it’s loaded with confident grown-ups. I approve.

Almost as impressive is the gadget in the photo. It’s an Exergen Temporal Scanner, though you can call it a thermometer. Yes, items like this are sold over-the-counter, but it was a first for me to have this magic wand brush across my forehead and neck and immediately display my temperature.

It’s magic.

Hell, if the epidural works it’s all magic!

Waking Up With A Cramp

I reached down toward my calf, the source of my pain. It felt like a steel brick, rock hard and protruding from the back of my leg.

As I remember it I woke up today already flying through the air off the bed and toward the floor. I’m not totally sure if the yelping had begun when my eyes opened. If not, yelping wasn’t more than a few milliseconds away.

I reached down toward my calf, the source of my pain. It felt like a steel brick, rock hard and protruding from the back of my leg. Massaging hurt. Not massaging hurt too.

Too melodramatic? Maybe. Let’s just characterize the pain as “cruel” and be done with it.

I don’t get cramps often. This was a doozy.

Helaine was down the hall in the shower. The radio was on. She was oblivious to my plight.

I remained prone trying to figure out what to do until the hurt began to subside. Now, nearly four hours later, I’m hobbling around like Walter Brennan on “The Real McCoys.”

I know–all men are babies. We complain too much. I’m just calling this one as I saw it.

So, how was your day?

How I’d Change Baseball

I don’t think it’s good for the game… and by ‘the game’ I mean ‘the fans.’

mlb-logo.jpgIt’s the last day of July. It’s the Major League Baseball trading deadline. Two reasons not to like the day.

August has always been the lesser summer month to me. Not sure why. Maybe it’s the finality associated with it.

My objection to MLB’s deadline is a little more flushed out. I don’t think it’s good for the game… and by ‘the game’ I mean ‘the fans.’

Teams should work with whomever they had when the season began. They should be able to move players up-and-down from their farm system, but not team-to-team.

No more ringers–and isn’t that what trading to get Lee or Halladay really amounts to?

No–let me use a stronger term. They’re mercenaries.

Contending teams trading for stronger players and mortgaging their future for short term gains upsets the natural balance and chemistry a team has. Think Terrell Owens and the Eagles, but imagine it in mid-season!

Picking up players also removes certain strategic components of the game-within-the-game just as having a designated hitter does.

At the same time it’s disrespectful to the fans of the ‘donor’ team. Remember them?

Cleveland and Toronto I feel your pain even though, as a Phils fan, it’s my potential gain.

I Hope This Is True – Diabetes Cure

Don’t bother reading the boxed text unless you’re a physician. Even then you might skip it. It’s from the journal “Cell.”

In type 1 diabetes, T cell-mediated death of pancreatic β cells produces insulin deficiency. However, what attracts or restricts broadly autoreactive lymphocyte pools to the pancreas remains unclear. We report that TRPV1+ pancreatic sensory neurons control islet inflammation and insulin resistance. Eliminating these neurons in diabetes-prone NOD mice prevents insulitis and diabetes, despite systemic persistence of pathogenic T cell pools. Insulin resistance and β cell stress of prediabetic NOD mice are prevented when TRPV1+ neurons are eliminated. TRPV1NOD, localized to the Idd4.1 diabetes-risk locus, is a hypofunctional mutant, mediating depressed neurogenic inflammation. Delivering the neuropeptide substance P by intra-arterial injection into the NOD pancreas reverses abnormal insulin resistance, insulitis, and diabetes for weeks. Concordantly, insulin sensitivity is enhanced in trpv1−/− mice, whereas insulitis/diabetes-resistant NODxB6Idd4-congenic mice, carrying wild-type TRPV1, show restored TRPV1 function and insulin sensitivity. Our data uncover a fundamental role for insulin-responsive TRPV1+ sensory neurons in β cell function and diabetes pathoetiology.

What that exercise in ‘academic speak’ says is, Canadian scientists might have found a cure for diabetes. If true, this is amazing news.

In a more human friendly article from Canada’s National Post:

In a discovery that has stunned even those behind it, scientists at a Toronto hospital say they have proof the body’s nervous system helps trigger diabetes, opening the door to a potential near-cure of the disease that affects millions of Canadians.

Diabetic mice became healthy virtually overnight after researchers injected a substance to counteract the effect of malfunctioning pain neurons in the pancreas.

Operative words: “healthy overnight.” For families of diabetics, that little phrase is the answer to years of prayers.

You probably know I’m involved in the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. I am touched by the stories of the families affected by diabetes. It’s no less tragic when it’s Type 2, or adult onset diabetes.

Children with diabetes have a life span more than ten years shorter than non-diabetic kids. And then there’s the daily trouble and worries that come with being diabetic.

Each year I say, “I hope this is my last JDRF Walk.” Maybe I’ve already walked it!

I sent the article and a brief note to Mary Kessler, who runs the local JDRF chapter.

We are all very excited-thanks for sending it on to me.

Try not to get too excited about it yet, we have had these miracles before and they did not translate to humans-but I am keeping my fingers crossed.

She’s right. Some exciting progress, using stem cell research, fizzled only a few months ago. What looked very good at the outset was just an empty promise.

Still, if there’s going to be a cure, it’s likely to start with an announcement like this one. My fingers are crossed.

T.O To Go

A few minutes ago, Helaine yelled to me upstairs. “Are you going to write about the Eagles in the blog?”

That was her way of saying, “Write about the Eagles in your blog.” OK – who am I to resist, especially after such an emotional victory.

If you’re not a football fan, let me get you caught up in about ten seconds.

The Eagles are Philadelphia’s football team. They used to have a player… a star player, named Terrell Owens. Though he was a pain in the ass, he was our pain in the ass. At least he was until he became such a pain he threatened to create dissension within the team.

T.O. was let go.

A guy’s got to earn a living, so Terrell to his number 81 and went to the Dallas Cowboys. In Philadelphia, the Cowboys are tied with the Taliban, Al Qaeda and Kim Il Jung at the bottom of the popularity polls.

To make things a little juicier, T.O. was involved in some sort of incident with the Dallas police. Whether he attempted to commit suicide or just had an accident – who knows? The next day he was practicing on the field and smiling. It was weird.

Today the Cowboys came to play the Eagles for the first time since Terrell left. Fox saw fit to make it their marquee game, shown nationwide at 4:15 PM EDT. Anyone even peripherally connected with sports was talking about it. There was no end to the hype.

Quickly, the Eagles went to a 10-0 lead. Helaine and I pinched ourselves. Then we remembered, this is football the king of non-linear games. Ten points in the first quarter means nothing.

We were so right.

The game seesawed back and forth. Donovan McNabb, Eagles quarterback had a pretty good game. T.O. was ineffective. Still, the game was close.

Late in the fourth quarter, the Eagles were up by seven, when a missed tackle, long pass and offensive pass interference penalty (all on the same play) moved the Cowboys eighteen feet from tying the game.

We had seen this before. So close – yet so far. When the Giants tied the Eagles in week two, they went on to win. Would the same fate befall the Eagles again?

Simply – no.

With the Cowboys charging, Drew Bledsoe threw to the end zone. The pass was caught, but by the Eagles Lito Sheppard who scampered 102 yards for an Eagles touchdown. Case closed.

Here’s the one awful part of this game. We were on an emotional roller coaster, as if it were meaningful in our lives. It’s only a game, but we allow the football season in general and the Eagles in particular to stake a claim on our lives.

Already, in the Eagles loss to the Giants, we took an emotional hit that lasted a few days. We were depressed as if something really awful had gone on.

Even though I can intellectualize the real meaning of football, that’s not strong enough to overcome my emotional attachment. It’s just as bad for Helaine, maybe worse.

The Eagles were picked to finish last in the NFC East. Now they’re leading the way. The emotion has just begun.

My Friend Kevin’s Battle

I have mentioned Kevin before. We’ve been friends for 15 years or so.

Kevin is the nicest person I know. Believe me, this takes nothing away from anyone else. He’s just that nice.

A few weeks ago Kevin called to tell me he was in the hospital. He’d recently undergone back surgery and didn’t sound too distressed. I popped by the next afternoon.

Kevin related the story of having some pain and nausea, seeing the doctor and being told to go to the hospital then – I’m mean then.

It was a blood clot in his pancreas. I’m smart enough to know blood clots can be disastrous. Precaution is good.

When I got back to work, I started researching blood clots in the pancreas. It’s not something I’d heard of before. Then I saw, it’s often a marker of pancreatic cancer.

But Kevin was in none of the ‘favored’ groups. He was a non-smoker, non-diabetic, caucasian with no family history. It made no difference.

The tests came back the next day. Kevin had pancreatic cancer and in a pretty advanced stage. It had begun to spread to nearby organs.

I know all that, because we’ve talked about it. But if you just spoke to Kevin, you’d have no idea. He’s up, positive, sunny. He’s his regular self.

Still, he knows what’s going on better than anyone else could. Pancreatic cancer is terrible. It’s fast and usually fatal.

He’s begun chemo, hopefully to extend his life. Who knows? Nothing’s certain. Dr. Mel Goldstein, who I work with at the TV station, pulled lots of strings to get Kevin hooked with the right people. If there’s a chance for help, he’s properly situated to get it.

It’s tough not to remember Dr. Mel was told he had incurable, fatal cancer ten years ago. He ‘should’ have been dead years ago. That’s why you can’t give up.

Kevin knows his family and friends want to know what’s going on. Some of them are sheepish about asking. That’s human nature. So, he’s started a blog.

Kevin has begun putting entries on The blog is still in its early stages, but he’ll catch on quickly and start foaming at the mouth, as I often do.

We’re throwing a party when he gets to the 1,000th entry.

Sunday With The Eagles

I got home from the JDRF Walk bushed beyond belief. Still, the Eagles were playing on TV, and as a good fan I wanted to watch.

When I say “on TV,” in this case I’m talking about on TV somewhere other than Connecticut. In order to see the game, I had to find a place where they were showing the game. I headed to “Eli’s on Whitney.”&#185

Me in a bar is sort of laughable. I don’t have anything against alcohol – I just don’t drink.

I take that back. Two or three times a year I’ll have a Bailey’s, which is closer to chocolate milk than booze.

Eli’s is centered around a large rectangular bar with seating on three sides. On the walls above the bar, and the walls inside the bar, are TVs. On Sundays, every NFL game is shown. The more popular games have multiple sets. ‘Glamor’ games with Cleveland or Kansas City (or both) have just one.

I walked in around 1:15 PM. The bar wasn’t particularly crowded, so I found a spot near one of the TVs showing the Eagles – Oakland game.

There were groups of people watching together, but I stood off to the side, against a wall, by myself. The only person I knew, at the bar with a date, was watching a different game.

I ordered a Diet Pepsi and some fried mozzarella. I also told the waitress, though I’d be drinking soda, I’d be tipping like I was drinking alcohol. I didn’t want her to spend the afternoon thinking I as a low value customer (which, to her bosses, I was).

The day started very poorly for the Eagles. On the opening kickoff, kicker David Akers fell to the field, writhing in pain. There was a penalty, and amazingly, Akers tried again… only to fall down in pain again. Another penalty. A scrub came in to make a very short kickoff on the third attempt.

All day long that would be a major advantage for Oakland.

The Raiders scored first, then the Eagles. With Akers unavailable, Mark Simoneau came in and missed the point after. The score was 7-6.

Donovan McNabb, the favorite quarterback of nearly everyone but Rush Limbaugh, seemed out-of sorts. Passes went too far… or too short. There were lots of passes which could easily be labeled, “intended for the security guard.”

Oakland’s Warren Sapp dropped one sure interception of a McNabb pass and caught another.

Though the score remained close, the Eagles were going nowhere. Luckily, as bad a day as the Eagles were having, they were playing a team whose entire season will be worse!

Let me cut to the chase. The Eagles went ahead. Then, as time ran down, Oakland tied the score. The Eagles got the ball back with 2:15 to go, moved most of the length of the field, ending up on the 5 yard line with :12 remaining.

Unbelievably, David Akers limped out onto the field. His short field goal attempt was good!

As the ball left his foot, he fell to the ground, again in pain. Close-up shots showed he was crying.

Yes, it was great that the Eagles won, but even better was what David Akers showed. He’s a long standing pro with nothing to prove. But, when called upon, he showed he had heart.

I would guess it’s any sports player’s fantasy to make the big play that wins the game. To do that under the duress of acute physical pain only makes the final victory sweeter.

Actually, I’m just guessing. I was never on anything more athletic than the math team.

&#185 If you’re reading this from somewhere other than Connecticut, you should know Eli Whitney invented the Cotton Gin and had the world’s first assembly line right in New Haven. Sure, “Eli’s on Whitney” is located in the next town north, but it’s the thought that counts.

$3 Pokerstars Tournament Winner

Arthur is upstairs fixing the leaking problem with our air conditioner. He figured it out quickly. From a pocketbook standpoint you’ve gotta hope that’s a good sign. And he didn’t have to drag in an arc welder or anything.

Meanwhile, with him moving around in the attic, I’ve got a moment to write about the poker game I played in last night. I go through stages writing about poker. It hasn’t been touched on here in a while, but I play nearly every day.

Obsessed? Me? Sure.

I’m still playing that $250 we sent to Costa Rica two years ago, so it’s an obsession that hasn’t really cost anything more than time. It’s surprising to me that my passion for the game has grown, because I want to play more every day.

Recently, Helaine and I were at Foxwoods Casino. An older man came up to say hello. He told me he had played Hold’em with me at another table. Then, he proceeded to tell me he was a professional playing at Foxwoods every day.

If everyone played like me, he said, he’d have to change jobs and become a weatherman himself. I took it as a major compliment on my poker skills.

Last night I got home a few minutes before midnight. There was a very small stakes tournament starting. I had played it before. It is billed as a $3 tournament. That is such a lie!

For $3 you’re entered and get $1500 in chips. If you’d like, as long as you have $1500 or less in chips, you can buy another $1500 for $3 more during the first hour. Than, after the first hour ends, you can add-on $2000 more in chips for another $3.

A player who buys in for the $3 minimum has a chance, but is severely handicapped starting so far behind the others.

For each $215 in buys, rebuys and add-ons, there is a $200 + $15 entry awarded to another, larger tournament. In that one (played on Sunday afternoon) the prize pool is guaranteed to be $500,000 cash. More frugal players (like me) cash the entry in, getting $215 in cash to play other games.

I went for the whole $9. Others in the tournament played wildly the first hour, busting out and reloading time-after-time.

Let’s get rid of the suspense. I cashed out in this tournament, taking home $215 for my $9.

PokerStars Tournament #9607798, No Limit Hold’em

Super Satellite

Buy-In: $3.00

506 players

Total Prize Pool: $5223.00

Target Tournament #9356555 Buy-In: $215.00

24 tickets to the target tournament

Tournament started – 2005/07/05 – 23:59:00 (ET)

Dear ctwxman,

You finished the tournament in 1st place.

You qualified to play in Tournament #9356555 and are automatically registered for it.

See Tournament #9356555 Lobby for further details.

If you choose to unregister from this tournament your account will be credited

with $215.00 Tournament dollars. Tournament dollars can be used to buy into

any tournament.

Visit our web site at for more details.


Thank you for participating.

As the tournament started, I could see I was at a wild table. People were being very aggressive. At the time I looked at that as a problem. As we continued, I realized these people were just putting more money on the table which was getting shared by all of us.

I finished the first hour significantly up – somewhere in the top-100. Unfortunately, I needed to be in the top-24 to win.

My goal was to play very conservatively. In a tournament like this, where you can accrue enough money to have a stake significantly larger than the ‘blinds’ , it’s often (not always) possible to hold on until good cards come.

That’s what I did – and I did it successfully. I don’t remember any bad beats, though I did lose a few hands. Finally, I took another player all-in, won and wound up in 11th place. It was a good place to be, but there were still hundreds competing.

At that level I really turned conservative.

Steffie had come downstairs. It being the summer, she’s got no reason to go to sleep early. We sat on the sofa in the family room and watched TV while I played on a laptop. Having Steffie there to joke and laugh with was the best part of the game. She is very observant and disarmingly funny.

She probably doesn’t know what good company she is.

I haven’t written this in a while, but the goal in a tournament is not to win. The goal is to not lose! In no limit Hold’em, you can win a million hands – but you’re still busted out of the tournament if you go all in and lose just once.

Players were being shed at a fairly steady pace. We paused for five minutes at 1:00 AM, then 2:05 and 3:10. Those left had larger stacks, but the blinds were getting larger too. There was no chance to sit on a lead yet.

We took our break at 4:15 and once we returned things started to slow down. Some players, sensing their chips would not hold them, decided to slow the play down, hoping that would give other short stacks playing on other tables, more of an opportunity to go out first.

I’m not sure if that strategy works, but it’s a pain in the butt as the play stops while the online clock counts the player out of a hand.

I looked at my chip count and saw where I stood. I had peaked at 8th place. With the number of players down to 50, I decided I wouldn’t play any more hands! I had more to lose from playing than I could possibly win. It was likely I could float my way into the money… or so I thought.

I folded AJ twice in a row. I was dealt two Queens – folded without a bet.

As the deal went around the table and the blinds passed me by, my stack began to shrink. Now I was in the mid-teens with 8 or 9 more players left to go before the payout.

I started calculating. Maybe I wouldn’t last long enough?

And then, the player to my left realized he didn’t have to play either! As long as no one else was playing a hand, he would fold and the chips (my blind, his blind and a table’s worth of antes) would fall to me.

I had too many chips for him to challenge me, so he didn’t! There was no upside to either of us being aggressive.

The tournament had gone from 500+ to 27. We were spread among three tables – all now being displayed on the laptop. Play had become grindingly slow.

Finally, a little before 5:00 AM, the last player folded. I had (along with 23 others) won!

I’m usually very critical of my play&#185, but I was pleased. For the most part, I’d stuck to my strategy. When I strayed, I hadn’t gotten beaten up too badly. Skill got me close and luck too me the rest of the way.

My winnings in 23 months of play are minimal, but it’s been very good cheap fun. I’m still astounded it’s lasted this long.

&#185 – It would seem you should be able to control your own play, but often emotion gets the better of you, taking you into hands you shouldn’t be in and costing you chips. The most important asset a poker player can have is discipline. That’s usually in short supply around me.

Be Careful Ad Libbing

I work on TV and when I’m on the air, everything I say is an ad lib. Yes, the anchors and sports reporters read most of their copy, but for some reason the weather person has always been afforded this privilege.

Ad libbing can sometimes cause problems. I often speak with ‘salty’ language off the air and have to be careful I remember when I’m on.

My biggest ad lib problems have come when I’ve said something innocent and it turned out to have a second meaning. It is interesting, from my vantage point, to see the anchors biting their tongues, trying to keep from busting out laughing.

As it turns out, my ad lib problems put me in the same boat as Bill Clinton. Here’s an email I got this afternoon from a friend.

Yesterday on NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams, which I am sure you never watch, he had an “exclusive” interview with former President Clinton, who talked about the Pope, his relationship with his new best friend, former President Bush and his health. When asked about this kind gesture offering former President Bush the only bed on the government jet when they were on the recent tour of Tsunami-affected countries, Clinton shrugged it off and said, “I can sleep anywhere.” OUCH!

Mr. Clinton, I feel your pain.

Party for Dr. Mel

About 7 years ago, one of the people I work with in the Weather Department discovered he had cancer. Dr. Mel Goldstein, known by everyone as Dr. Mel, had multiple myeloma, a cancer of the plasma cells. Mel had discovered his disease after back pain from a car accident just wouldn’t go away.

Today, Mel and his wife Arlene threw a party. They have a home right on Long Island Sound just east of New Haven. The weather was perfect, making their view of the Sound even better. Long Island was clearly visible on the horizon.

I remember going to Mel’s home right after he found out what he had. I was with Jeff Bailey, our webguy at the station. We went to install a PC at Mel’s house so he could track the weather from home. We hooked up the computer and a modem and then proceeded to show him how to search using Google. This was a while ago and not nearly as many people were web savvy.

We reached the site of the Multiple Myeloma Society. It was a good first example, because Mel and his wife were desperate for information. We all read along silently, not realizing that the page contained a reference to the average time from discovery to mortality – how long someone normally lived after finding out he had multiple myeloma.

I don’t remember the number, except it was was under 1,000 days.

Obviously, Dr. Mel has outlived those projections. This is not to say the disease hasn’t taken a toll, because it has. Not only has he lived with the specter of death, but also the physical pain caused by the cancer’s effect on his bones.

He has lost 6-7″ in height and walks with a cane. At the station, we’ve installed a ramp to allow him to reach the studio floor easily. At home, a small motorized chair saves him from walking the stairs to the second floor. I know he is in pain each and every day.

Today’s party was to celebrate another milestone in living beyond anyone’s expectations. But this is not a story of luck. He is alive because of his own persistence. Dr. Mel became his own best advocate for care. Though not a medical doctor, he became an expert on multiple myeloma and was able to help his physicians guide his own treatment.

Without dedication, Mel would be dead. If he had given up, gone through the motions with his cancer treatment, he would be dead. But he chose not to die. He chose to aggressively fight.

There is no cure for multiple myeloma right now. There is therapy which is working. How long this fire hose treatment will keep the flames down is anyone’s guess.

Meanwhile, today was worth celebrating.