Saturday, June 25, 2016. Six days since my last post. I have parainfluenza to thank for that. I should have known that something was off when suddenly I was able to sleep for 2-3 hour clips at any point in the day. All of which started last Saturday afternoon. Other than an Entourage-esque cameo at Father’s Day brunch last Sunday (which was successful, as I was able to destroy an everything flagel with the works in record time), I spent most of Father’s Day in bed. I was telling myself I was resting up for Game Seven, but the reality is this virus — which I probably caught from one of the kids — was working its way through my system.
After barely being able to hang with the Nelson/Halpern side of the family, I was equally relegated to bed when Drew, Alexis and the girls came to say hello on Sunday afternoon. Jake did, however, join me in bed to watch Ghostbusters, which was even more entertaining than I remember when I saw it with my Dad in the 80’s. And I got some great Father’s Day gifts from Jen and the boys: a new wallet, Knicks pajama pants, a soft Syracuse t-shirt and a pair of under armor sweat shorts. These were true gifts from my perspective — things that you need but that you would never buy for yourself. [I liked my existing wallet, but there was no doubt it was time for a new one. Yet I would never have bought myself a wallet, even on a solo venture back to the mall. Same goes for the pajamas, the t-shirt and shorts.]
But the highlight of Sunday was, of course, watching the Cleveland Cavaliers break the 52-year championship drought. While Brandon went to bed early, Jen, Jake and Ryan stayed up until the very end. We watched the first half in my office and the second half upstairs in our room (after a brief call with Popa at halftime to effectively concede the game because we were down 49-42). Although I faded out for portions of the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth, I was up and sitting on the edge of the bed for at least the last seven minutes of the game. Watching LeBron hit that second free throw was the equivalent of eating half a box of Pepto Bismol and achieving immediate relief.
Everything to be said has been said. When you have LeBron you are never out of a series (I said that on June 16th by the way). That is fact. I will never forget after Speights missed that last desperation three from the corner (which would not have mattered anyway), jumping up and down with Jen, Jake and Ryan in the front of our bedroom cheering for the Cavs. And seeing LeBron hug Love and go down to his knees with real tears streaming from his face. The power of sports is special. And it’s real. For everyone who says it is just a game, go back and watch the end of Game Seven and the 15 or so minutes of activity after and tell me it is just a game. I don’t think the boys will ever forget jumping up and down and dancing with Jen and me after that win. I also know many many people from Cleveland, both in and outside of the area, will remember that moment as well. Hats off to Joe Posnanski who captured it best.
Monday got off to a slow start. The parainfluenza (without me knowing) was really kicking in. There was a quick trip to the bathroom to throw up and then an unsettling ride into the city with Evan for blood work. At first I thought it might have been Evan’s driving (sorry pal but you drive with a heavy foot), but when we had to pull over right after paying the toll and before merging onto the FDR so I that I could leave my scrambled eggs on the side of the road. At that point I knew something else brewing. It turned out breakfast on Monday would be the last time I would eat until Tuesday night. I had blood work and a quick visit with the Dr. on Monday morning, where everything seemed fine. While there was a possibility that I would need a blood or platelet transfusion this past week, it turned out those numbers were good. The only count that was low was my neutrophil level. Approximately 50-70% of white blood cells are neutrophils. These are mature white blood cells that help protect against disease and fight infection. The normal range for a neutrophil count is 1,500-8,000. When neutrophils are less than 1,500, this is called neutropenia. It is not uncommon to be “neutropenic” when you have leukemia or are otherwise going through chemotherapy (and there are certain dietary retractions you must follow to avoid bacteria — think pregnancy diet). During my original hospital stay, I was neutropenic and required a shot to help boost my numbers. On Monday, my neutrophil level was 200.
After Evan dropped me off at home around 1130 am, I ended up getting in bed and did not leave again until Evan picked me up yet again on Tuesday (late in the afternoon) to take me to the ER. In between, I missed Ryan’s birthday party on Tuesday afternoon and ran a fever close to 101 (any fever over 100.4 F necessitates a trip to the emergency room especially when your white blood cells counts are low because an infection can be extremely problematic). This led to an overnight stay at my home away from home — NY Presbyterian Hospital. And what do you know, my room of choice (14-228) was waiting for me! After several hours in the ER getting pumped with antibiotics and fluids — where Drew and Evan kept things light through regular interaction with many special “general population” guests in the ER — we finally made our way to my room around 8 pm. I was out of it because of a shot of Benadryl after a mild allergic reaction to one of the antibiotics. I actually was surprised and thought it was a coincidence when we ran into Justin in the elevator (but he had been there and I had just been out cold). I briefly recall listening to Brad and Justin talk about houses in Short Hills and I am pretty sure I had a dream (in between getting my blood pressure tested every two hours) about the house they were discussing. [Obviously I need to give Jen a huge (and permanent) shout out. In between throwing Ryan a birthday party, with both Jake and Brandon in attendance, she was working her phone to make sure I had a ride to the ER and would be taken care of appropriately upon arrival. I am her fourth child and incapable of doing any of this myself. In between, she reminds me to stay hydrated (which I do not do well), and takes care of everything else for me and the boys. All I do is get treated. Jen literally does everything else. I don’t say thank you enough or show nearly the appreciation that she deserves. Instead, I unnecessarily take out my frustrations (which there are many as of late) on her.] Antibiotics and a white blood cell booster shot were administered over night.
After a few tests early Wednesday morning, including a flu culture (where they shove a long q-tip up your nose (sucks)), Jen came to the hospital and we met with the doctors late that morning. That is when we learned I had parainfluenza (the doctors were in complete hazmat suits, which was a giveaway I had something). They said there was nothing that could be done, other than having the virus run its course over 5-7 days. So we packed up, got discharged and went home. I “napped” in the car, and then again in bed, once we got home. I don’t remember having much of an appetite on Wednesday either. I did, however, watch nearly the entire Cavs victory parade on the NBA channel. Approximately 1.3 million people lined the streets of Cleveland to celebrate. Exciting. Remarkable. Inspiring. But I still don’t get why a bunch of the guys refused to wear shits.
The highlight of Thursday was getting some alone time with Jake and then hanging with the entire family before we sent him off to summer camp yesterday morning. Jake and I went to see Central Intelligence in the afternoon (enjoyable movie with an underlying message about the effects of bullying, which continues to be a growing problem). By the way, I left the car unlocked in a major parking lot with the keys inside during the entire movie. [I would chalk that up to cancer and “chemobrain,” but as Jen told me, I do stuff like that all the time when I’m healthy.] We then had dinner at home as a family and all five of us went to Ralph’s for water ice. I did not feel particularly good, but just looking at my wife and kids made me feel better. Cancer sucks but I am one lucky guy.
There is a lot to be said about Jake leaving for camp yesterday morning and camp more generally (which I will cover under separate cover), but for now — as I sit here on Saturday morning after sleeping for 14 hours last night — I am feeling better for the first time in a week. My embrace of the nap may have been a complete head fake, disguised instead as parainfluenza, but I guess time will tell.