Add to Your “To Do List”

Monday, June 6, 2016.  I finished a phenomenal book yesterday.   The Last Lecture, written by Randy Pausch with Jeff Zaslow.  At first I was marking every page/lesson that I wanted to mention or otherwise remember.  At page 87 (the book is just over 200 pages), I stopped and realized that I was going to mark nearly every page.  Read the book.  Not for me, for yourself.  It is awesome.  Here is a link to buy a copy .  And here is a link to Professor Pausch’s actual last lecture (which I have not yet watched).

Special thanks to Matt K. for the suggestion.  Matt is a former associate, fraternity brother of my brother-in-law Brad’s and a friend of mine.  Matt, I know I busted your chops for five years.   Yet you always busted your ass for me — and I appreciated it every time and still do now.  I know we will stay in touch.  Thanks not only for the recommendation, but for following up to make sure I had read this book (which I had not)!  [By the way, I am not giving Matt’s full last name because I was recently reminded (and am suddenly cognizant of) how very public this all is and how many people prefer privacy for a whole host of good reasons.  Apologies to anyone I have offended to date.]

I decided that I am NOT going to really discuss the book or otherwise reference any specific teachings/lessons (because frankly each lesson/teaching is important).  But I will say that Professor Pausch’s last lecture only amplifies that things can always be worse.  Always.  Thinking about his story (and the stories of so many others) only makes me feel guilty when I complain because so many people are dealing with much worse things, like sudden death and terminal illness.  [Shout out to the greatest of all time, Muhammed Ali.  He fought Parkinson’s for three decades.  He once said “[i]mpossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it.  Impossible is not a fact.  It’s just an opinion.  Impossible is not a declaration.  It’s a dare.  Impossible is potential.  Impossible is temporary.  Impossible is nothing.”  Read a great article today authored, in part, by Michael J. Fox, honoring Muhammed Ali.  ]   The Last Lecture is the definition of a book that helps puts things in perspective.  5 million copies  of the book have been sold and it has received worldwide attention for a reason.  I was frankly surprised I had not heard about it.

The book is so engrained in my brain that I noticed, when I was reading the Sunday Styles at points yesterday and this morning (because I had not finished yesterday), the weddings of Kathryn Farley/Richard Lipton, Andrea Hawksley/Andy Lutomirski, and Juliana Shulman/Stephen Laniel [as an aside, I don’t typically include commas before an “and,” but that was the only way to get a link to the NY Times wedding announcement (so whatever….).]  With the exception of the Hawksley/Lutomirski announcement, which I still would have noticed because Andrea’s mother works at a former Kirkland restructuring client, I would not have noticed these weddings before reading The Last Lecture.  And I am not going to tell you why.  You will just have to read the book to figure it out.

 

Over Easy (Moron)

Monday, June 6, 2016.  My first post since Friday.   This requires an explanation as I had intended to post every day (or at least until I didn’t have something to say).  So when I didn’t post, I got a bunch of notes asking if all was OK.  Which I appreciate very much.  Both because people are reading this, but more so because so many people continue to remind me how much they care.  And, of course, stroking the ego is always a good thing, especially when you are literally lying in bed!

There is a famous saying that “payback’s a bitch.”  I have even heard someone say that “karma is a bitch.”  Fancy way of saying that something bad is going to happen as a result of something else.  So on the day after that I wrote about my favorite word donkey, would it not make sense for me to be the biggest donkey of them all?  King Donkey.  Sir-donk-a-lot.  Moron even works.

As I ate my over easy organic eggs this morning with a piece of grainy bread (from Whole Foods) and sautéed spinach, all prepared by my mother — who thank g-d came to Scarsdale yesterday at the perfect time — I realized I have one person and one person only to blame for having to lay flat for the last 36 hours because of a splitting headache, nausea and dizziness.  Me, myself and I (I love the song by G-Eazy and Bebe (this is the title for those unfamilar)).

This past Wednesday, on my first of four consecutive days of treatment, I had a Lumbar Puncture.  This was my third “LP.”  [They start using acronyms once you become a veteran.]  A lumbar puncture is a fancy way of saying a spinal tap.  It is a procedure in which a small amount of fluid that surrounds the brain and spinal cord is removed and examined.  At the same time the fluid is removed, sometimes medicine is also placed into the spinal fluid.  Each time that I have had an LP, in addition to testing the spinal fluid for cancer (which fortunately for me they have not found), I also get an injection of chemo.  The type of cancer I have has a way of getting into the spinal fluid so they need to make sure to cover those bases, treat me even if it is not there, and test my spinal fluid for the rest of my life.  But it is the extraction of fluid that leads to nasty headaches.  They tell you to drink caffeine before and after, and you must lie flat for at least 1 hour post-LP.  I read the information they provided to me at the very beginning of my treatment and did not see any directives about the days that follow.  One would have to believe, however, that taking it easy for the few days after the LP, and probably laying flat and resting, would make logical sense.  There is also a huge disclaimer at the end of the Lumbar Puncture document they give you that says, among other things, “[t]his information is brief and general.  It should not be the only source of your information on this health care topic.”  How could I really believe that if I lay flat for 60 minutes (and not a second more), I am out of the woods?

After my first LP, I did not experience side effects until 2 plus days later.  Didn’t know what it was from, but I had a terrible headache and threw up (it was my second Saturday morning in the hospital and Brad had come over for breakfast — he brought me pancakes).  I don’t remember getting a nasty headache after the second LP.  [I will say that I get agida before each and every LP.  Probably explains why Jen conveniently did not tell me I was getting the LP this past Wednesday.  I should have paid closer attention to the calendar and I would have seen it myself.  When we walked into our designated treatment room (all of which I will discuss under separate cover), Jen asked the nurse about getting some anti-anxiety medication.  I was totally confused as I was felt decent and was ready for chemo.  It all made sense in a few minutes when I heard that in addition to 4 different chemo treatments, I would be getting the LP too!]

I did not exactly take it easy after my LP on Wednesday.  There was a walk in Central Walk with Ev on Thursday, a 4 plus mile walk on the treadmill Friday (with an incline) while watching The Revenant followed by biceps, triceps and rear delts in my basement (I am still a little sore).  There was also Jake’s baseball game in the hot sun on Saturday, and I couldn’t exactly stay seated for the three full innings I attended.  I even tried to take Jen to dinner on Saturday night at one of our favorite restaurants (Andrea’s 25 in Mamaroneck on Boston Post Road).  Although I had a headache brewing Saturday afternoon, I did not really feel badly until we were in the car on the way to the restaurant.  Jen, of course, suggested we turn around, but I really really wanted some alone time with Jen and thought sitting at a table in a restaurant we both loved would be perfect.  Turns out there was no table available, but we sat at the upstairs bar (may have been the first time ever I sat at a bar and did not order a real beverage).  I didn’t tell Jen I was so incredibly nauseous I thought I was going to throw up at the bar; instead, before the entrees came I told her it probably made sense to get things wrapped up and head home, which she of course had been suggesting the entire time.  I even remember telling her I had a terrible head ache and we looked up on my phone whether or not headaches could be a side effect of chemo.  We both specifically discussed and agreed that we were well past the LP and that the headache could not be related.  We were wrong.

[We go to Andrea’s 25 a lot.  We go with friends.  We have been with the kids.  It is just a great place to have a good meal and a good time.  And all the people there are genuinely good people.  They take the kids back in the kitchen and let them prepare their own desert.  The kids love that.  And I don’t think we have been there on Saturday night and not had a great time.  So when Jen pushed Carmine, whom we know well, for a table and said it was important because I was sick, Carmine started asking what was wrong.  Was it the heat?  Flu?  While I have played the cancer card, I am not looking to play it for a handout.  But when I didn’t shake Carmine’s hand or give him a hug (as I always do), I figured I should just tell him what was going on and that this was just a speed bump- I would be back in a few months sitting upstairs with all our friends and making noise.  His genuine concern was much appreciated.  His paying for our dinner, however, was totally unnecessary.  I definitely was not telling him that I had cancer so that I could get a free meal.  I was telling him because I actually like him and was I uncharacteristically “non-friendly” when I didn’t give him a hug upon entry; he deserved an explanation.  But I do very much appreciate the gesture and I guess that is why we like the place so much.  The people there are really just good people and it makes you want to go back.  Donna — apologies again that I had no cash in my wallet.  Jen is bringing an envelope today and we will leave it at the front.  And sorry we didn’t get there yesterday as promised.  [Time and time again that happens to me — no cash in my wallet. (Randy Pausch (I know you’re out there somewhere) you were spot on in your book, which I finished yesterday.)]

As soon as Jen pulled into our driveway, with the entrees sitting at my feet, I knew I was going to be sick.  Barely made it out of the car.  I threw-up a ton (sorry to the Miller’s who brought over appetizers; lots of celery and humus in our driveway on Saturday night).  Even after I threw up, I had a nasty headache.  So bad that I after speaking to my in-laws and watching my father in law try to wash away the barf with water from the flower pot, I had to lay down.  I woke up around 11:30 pm and ate my chicken scarpiello in 30 seconds.  I thought that was why I felt like I was going to throw up again.  That sensation did not go away for hours.  Nor did the headache.  So we (Jen joined me) laid down again in the study and Jen rented the movie How To Be Single.  I didn’t fight her on it as it secretly looked decent.  She passed out within minutes and I sent her upstairs to bed around 12:30 am.  I wanted to turn off the movie and go sit at my computer to write a post that night.  But I couldn’t.  I liked the movie too much.  Undoubtedly a “chick flick,” I really liked this one.  Come to think of it, and I can admit this, I like most all “chick flicks.”  There is something to be said for a romantic comedy that isn’t trying to win an Oscar.  You have no expectations.  In fact, you expect it to suck.  But they never really do.  They entertain you.  Which is exactly what this type of movie is supposed to do.

When the movie was over at 2 am, and since I had slept a few hours earlier, I tried to do my post for the day.  It was not going to be a long post because of the time and how I was feeling, but I only made it through two paragraphs.  The headache was too much.  I could not finish and had to lie back down.  [A draft was saved and I am going to finish it today.  I also plan to include a separate post I was thinking about from yesterday but just could not type out.]   I woke up at 4 and got myself into bed.  It was not easy making it up the steps and I woke Jen to let her know.  She of course did not sleep the rest of the night and I quickly passed out.  But the headache was still bad the next morning.  After missing Jake’s basketball game (the third one in a row), and having trouble getting out of bed, I finally called the clinic at Jen’s insistence.  I also eventually emailed my doctor.  She called me within minutes and explained this was all related to the LP (again, I have the best doctor and she is the best for lots of reasons, including her responsiveness (something I have always strived to achieve 24 hours a day).  She also said that because of the way I have been reacting to the LP’s, we may need to figure out a different way to get chemo into my spinal fluid (she mentioned a brain port, which she briefly explained and said sounded much worse than it is!).  In the meantime, I needed to lay completely flat and hydrate myself.  I also would need an MRI to see if anything was wrong (you can look up whether it is grammatically correct to say “a MRI” or “an MRI.”  I am correct).  When I told Dr. Roboz that my next day of treatment was Wednesday, she said I might need to come in sooner if the headache is not better.  And after an email exchange yesterday, she said suggested if the headache was really bad I should get admitted to the hospital, get an IV and start running some tests.  But I had a sense that I would be better this morning and needed a good night’s sleep.

Last night was one of the better night’s sleep that I have had.  While I had a pretty bad headache when I went to sleep last night (holding Jen’s hand), I woke up and felt much better today.  And then it hit me.  I thought I was in the clear from the LP after laying flat on Wednesday for 60 minutes.  When I asked my mom to make me two eggs “over easy” this morning, I was chuckling to myself as I hadn’t taken it so easy after the LP and thought it would be poetic to eat eggs over easy (which I really do like).  I certainly did not take it easy after the LP.  I am pushing myself, like I do with everything, and trying to keep things as normal as possible, especially for the kids.  Yet I am recognizing that the harder I push the less I am going to be able to do.  It was much more important to go Jake’s soccer game on Sunday afternoon (which I missed because I had to lie flat all day) than walk several miles and lift weights on Friday.  Kind of like eggs over easy.  And there is no right way to eat eggs over easy; everyone’s preference is different (some like the eggs cooked through, others like the eggs runny).  While I am somewhere in between, I’m thinking to myself I may be best served now and in the future letting the eggs cook a little longer — thinking about the little things more (like I would with any major decision) and not rushing everything.

Donkey

Friday, June 3, 2016.  This could be my single most favorite word.  Many of you reading this know that.  For those of you that don’t, I will explain.  But I have a confession to make.  As much as I use this use word and have effectively trademarked it for use in every day life (you can use donkey as a noun, verb and everything in between), I am not the originator or creator of the “use of donkey” as a table wine.  The credit is owed to Ryan Philp, whom I shared an office with when we were summer associates at Weil Gotshal in 2002 (after our second year of law school). Ryan sent me an email on May 17th.  No title.  The text:  “[h]ow you feeling donkey?”

[A great lawyer and an even better person, Ryan and I have stayed in touch over the last 14 years.  We didn’t even join the same practice groups, but we had a connection right away and have been close ever since.  I still remember going to his house in Toms River that summer and hanging with his parents, brother and cousins (all great people).  We went to each other’s weddings (and I am sure his family still talks about that Sussberg guy dancing like a donkey the entire night). [An awesome wedding — Jen and I had a blast.]  We got together  6 months ago for dinner and a night out.  He came to see me in the hospital.  He has called to check in and make sure I am doing OK (like so many of my friends and colleagues, for which I am incredibly appreciative).  And wouldn’t know, of all times to call, he called me tonight well after I had started writing this post and determined I would finally give credit where credit is due.   Who doesn’t believe in karma now??]

I was actually inspired to write this post yesterday when my brother sent me the picture below of my adorable nieces, Mia and Violet.

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Beautiful right?  My response to the picture (through text) said “[s]o pretty.  By the way, I know those donkeys.  We used to have one!!!”   Truth be told, and as beautiful as these two little girls are, the sick individual I am first noticed the donkeys.  We definitely had one of those.  Partly because of my infatuation with the word donkey; partly because the kids love sitting on them.  I have a pretty good memory.  I pay attention to details.  And wouldn’t you know, when Drew was over today, look what Jen found for him in our basement…

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The fact that it was the same color as the ones Mia and Violet were riding was something I did not remember.  But we have had that donkey for a good 7 plus years.  It hurt when Drew took it home today.  That said, I am happy they will have it and I can promise you one thing:  Drew and Alexis (and hopefully my nieces at some point) will ALWYAS think of me when they look at that donkey.  [The reality is the only reason I got comfortable with Drew taking the donkey today is because I know I am going to get it back.]

According to Wikopedia (which at this point you should know is one of my go-to sources):

“The donkey or ass (Equus africanus a sinus) is a domesticated member of the horse family, Equidae. The wild ancestor of the donkey is the African wild ass, Eafricanus. The donkey has been used as a working animal for at least 5,000 years.  There are more than 40 million donkeys in the world, mostly in underdeveloped countries, where they are used principally as draught or pack animals.  Working donkeys are often associated with those living at or below subsistence levels.  Small numbers of donkeys are kept for breeding or as pets in developed countries.

A male donkey or ass is called a jack, a female a jenny or jennet, a young donkey is a foal.  Jack donkeys are often used to mate with female horses to produce mules – the biological “reciprocal” of a mule, from a stallion and jenny as it parents instead is a called a hinny.”

See http: http://www.en.wikipedia.org/Wiki/Donkey (internal citations omitted).

Did not know until tonight that a female donkey is called a “jenny.”  I feel an even deeper connection.

A donkey, however, is so much more than a domesticated member of the horse family.   You can call almost anyone a donkey.  Someone you dislike, someone you love, someone that is acting like a jack ass.  And it is a much better word to use because it is not a swear word and people may not know that you are using it in an angry vs. loving context.  For example, I think I used donkey to describe a half dozen people today.  The person I spoke to at car insurance agency about coverage for my tires and rims (I was only calling to inquire about my deductible.  But it turned into so much more, including a report of the accident that will raise my insurance whether or not I pay for the damage out of pocket).  She was a donkey.  And I was a donkey too, as I made this very same phone call when I pulled into our beloved housekeeper’s parked car in the street in front of our house.  [I also pulled into our baby-sitter’s car when it was parked in our drive way, but I paid for the damage (to both cars) out of pocket without making this donkey-like phone call).  Steph was donkey (and I told her so) when she took the train to our house tonight, but did not realize that she got on an express train to Harrison that did not stop in Mamaroneck or Larchmont.  And I told Carrie that I would be happy to pick up her kids and shuttle them around to sports tomorrow (post chemo) since her donkey of a husband is playing golf from 7 am – 8 pm in a tournament for third day in a row.  You see, donkey can describe so many different people in so many different ways.  Basta even called me a “little donkey” (when referring to me as a summer associate) in the video that everyone from Kirkland put together for me (which I absolutely love).

Sometimes you can use donkey to describe how you feel (just add an “ish” at the end — “I feel donkeyish today,” like I did for three plus months before that fateful Sunday April 23, 2016).  There are songs about donkeys (you know you know it — 69 Boyz, Let Me Ride That Donkey     ).   You can even have a donkey chair (with two stuffed Eeyore’s care of Marcus).  Below is my chair from the hospital and my new reclining chair in my office at home.  Are you not yet convinced that the donkey is my favorite animal?

 

Try using donkey in your everyday life.  I promise you will be able to describe any number of people, both positively and negatively, and use the word in happy and angry moments to always lighten the mood.  And then we can all properly thank my good buddy Ryan Philp, who finally is getting the credit that he deserves (that I have robbed him of for years).

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Lots of people are wondering how I am doing this week.   I have purposely not written about the week of chemo until the fourth day in a row is over (tomorrow).  Let’s call it the need for a clean sweep (like the Cavs in rounds 1 and 2, but clearly not the Finals).  I did feel pretty good today.  Almost as good as I felt in my yet unwritten “Chapter 2.5 — the 10th Floor” (which is coming soon).  Walked 4 miles (slowly, while watching The Revenant) and did some light weights in the basement.  Treadmill shot below. [In case you are wondering, I am superstitious and always stop on either 18 or 44 seconds.]

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I am looking forward to the weekend; it officially starts tomorrow at about 11:30 am…….

Tire Insurance

Thursday, June 2, 2016.   Almost two years ago (it was June 16, 2014 to be exact), I went to Mamaroneck BMW and traded in my car for a car I always I wanted.  [I know we should not define ourselves by material possessions.  But I have realized, now more than ever, that we truly only get one chance to live this life and there is no reason not to enjoy it.  To that end, I am in the market for a used Wrangler.  Have wanted one since high school.  Fortuitously saw one with for a sale sign on Griffen Road today and called the owner.  We will see if I can negotiate a deal first with the owner, then with Jen….]

I still remember the name of the sales rep (Craig), who I used to run into at the gym down the street from the dealership.  He also called me several times after I leased the car because he had my second set of keys.  It took me a year to pick up that set of keys (the dealership is less than 2 miles from my house).  Craig was insistent that I get tire insurance.  He told me that while the car had “run flat” tires, the tires go flat all of the time and that the insurance coverage, which would be spread over the life of the lease, would without question pay for itself.  All I needed to do was have four flat tires over the 36 month lease.  That sounded like a lot of flat tires to me.

If I had one complaint about the car, it would be the tires.  The “low tire pressure” sign is constantly on and I often find myself driving over to the station at the Four Corners (at the most inconvenient time) only to find out that there is a nail in the tire or I hit a pot hole and it requires a new tire immediately (the roads in NY after the winter are beat-up and I am a moron that likes to drive into the city on days that I am not traveling).  Turns out that “run flat” is a stupid name for these tires.  They should be called run flat for 20 minutes and get a new tire.  But I didn’t know this at the time.   So I hemmed and hawed — and debated with myself — whether I really needed the tire insurance or was just watching a guy up sell the shit out of me.  After texting a few friends, all of whom said the insurance was a must, I gave in and got the tire insurance (come to think, I think he had to redo all the paper work because I changed my mind halfway through the documentation process).  I did not, however, get the added-on rim insurance (which covers the rim if there is rim damage only; if the tire is damaged and it causes rim damage, you are covered).  I had to draw the line somewhere.  Jen thought the tire insurance was unnecessary but I think I scored some points when I told her I did not get the rim insurance (which I used to try to deflect the fact that I also got the sport package). [As to the rim insurance, man was I pissed that first week I had the car and screwed up one of the passenger side rims on the side of my drive way (spacing out as I pulled in).  Or when I did the same thing parallel parking at Brother Jimmy’s with Tauber or the same thing (yet again) parallel parking two weeks ago at a Monday night baseball game for Jake.]

Well, Craig was right.  I have had at least four flat tires over the nearly two years.  And I effectively made it six when I was distracted on May 21 (with Jake and my brother-in-law Justin in the car) and ran into the curb on Heathcote Road destroying both passenger side wheels and rims.  [I can admit I am not a particularly good driver.  Just ask my father.  I had multiple accidents in high school.  As well as a couple fender benders in college (Slavin, I still remember first night of senior year like it was yesterday).  I also got a ticket the very first day I got my license (was leaving Alan Minter’s house, taking a left on Jog to get home, and the light was red for what seemed like an eternity.  It was late and no one was around (except for the cop).  I really thought something was wrong with the light).  But the May 21 incident, I am chalking that one up to cancer.]

I called BMW early last week, explained I needed two new tires and rims, and made arrangements for them to pick up my car and leave with me a loaner (the whole home exchange arrangement is a great service by the way).  The “exchange” happened mid last week.  I just assumed everything was getting fixed and I actually thought to myself earlier this week that I should call and check on the status.  Yesterday, post chemo (4:16 p.m. to be exact), I got a message from my office that “Matthew of IAS called re: your claim at BMW Greenwich — needed to verify some info…”  I read the email fast and must have missed the IAS reference (not that I would have known what that meant anyway).  I just assumed he was from the dealership.  I was feeling like garbage yesterday afternoon but I called him right back soon after I got the message.  He said he was calling to verify what happened with the car and how it was damaged.  I told him.  He seemed confused and asked if the road was damaged or it was me that had hit the curb.  I paused and realized I was talking to an insurance adjuster.  He was giving me a chance to modify my story.  But I didn’t.  I told him it was my fault, 100%.  He asked me to hold.  He came back in less than 60 seconds to tell me my claim was denied.  I said I did not understand since I had tire insurance for this very reason.  He explained that there was an express exclusion for damage caused by the driver hitting a curb. Obviously.  He had been calling because the dealership reported that the damage was caused by a pothole.  I said that was not the case and explained to Matthew it simply was not worth telling him a lie as I was dealing with bigger things, including a recent cancer diagnosis.  I could tell Matthew felt terrible.  I as not looking to make him feel, was just being candid.  And I have always felt — even before I needed some luck on my side — that these little lies catch up with at some point.  It just wasn’t worth creating a story to save $1,200 (which actually turned out to be $2,587.91 after I spoke to the dealership today; I gave Jeff at BMW some crap this afternoon because I wanted to understand why it was more than double the price for the dealership to fix it as opposed to the insurance adjuster.  He then sent me an itemized invoice and I get it.  Jeff, as I said to you at the end of the conversation, I did not mean to come across as a d*ik.).  Matthew felt so bad he started coaching me on appealing the denial if I paid this out of pocket.  He then asked me to hold again.  This time he came back even faster and told me not even to bother appealing, it would be denied!

I am not a spiritual person but I have always believed in karma.  [I also subscribe to the school of thought that you have to go out of your way not to say hello to someone you know when you run into them on the street or in a store etc.  Isn’t it just easier to say hi?]  According to Wikopedia, karma means “action, work or deed.  It also refers to the spiritual principle of cause and effect where intent and actions of an individual (cause) influence the future of that individual (effect).  Good intent and good deed contribute to good karma and future happiness, while bad intent and bad deed contribute to bad karma and future suffering.”

I could have easily told Matthew that I hit a pot hole.  I probably would have needed to extend the lie and not mention the street I was on as they could easily have gone and seen there was no pothole on Heathcote Road.  Then again, it is a long road.   But it just wasn’t the right thing to do.  Cancer has nothing to do with it.  I’m not looking for a pat on the back, and I have definitely made my share of mistakes over the 38 plus years I have been around.  I do, however, have a conscious that would literally be eating at me had I made something up to save $1,200.  Don’t get me wrong:  it is real money and every dollar counts, but if there really is an exclusion in the tire insurance policy that Craig forced to buy, it would have been fraud to tell Matthew I hit a pot hole.  I think about that stuff.  And whether it is karma or something else, I have always had a sense that this stuff catches up with you at some point in some way.  So I will pay the dealership to fix the car, I may or may not buy that Wrangler, and I will definitely get the tire insurance the next time around.  Oh, and I could use some good karma.

 

 

Chapter 1 — The Beginning

June 1, 2016.  On the day that I was back in the hospital for the beginning of the next phase of chemo (Wednesday through Saturday this week and the same next week), I thought it made sense to go back to the beginning.  The moments after we got in our car on April 26, 2016 following my diagnosis (right after being misdiagnosed), and our very first day at New York-Presbyterian, the University Hospital of Columbia and Cornell, starting about 20 hours later on April 27, 2016.   [I empathize with Mark Herlizch when he describes the four months of doctors’ appointments (and missed diagnoses) before someone finally decided to take the MRI of his legs.  Mark (and his mother) knew something was wrong.  And with continued pain and no answers, you keep knocking on doors until you get an answer. You deal with the consequences once you get the answer.]  Now that we knew I had T-Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma, it was time to get to work.

The car ride on April 26th from the White Plains assigned oncologist’s personal office in the Bronx back to our house in Scarsdale was eerily quiet. I was on pain meds from the biopsy the day before.  But I had just been told I had cancer and the doctor’s “quick research” suggested there was a 50% survival rate.  During that car ride, I immediately began thinking about the sample set used to get to 50%. And I kept telling myself you can’t just give someone a percentage like that in a vacuum.  Lawyers also hate when clients ask for percentage likelihood of success.  I googled a few things in the car, which obviously makes you crazy.  I also knew that Uncle Mike and Lenny were fast at work doing whatever they could to immediately get me to the best doctor for my condition.  Everyone knew this needed to be treated ASAP.  [Uncle Mike is Michael S. Nussbaum, M.D., F.A.C.S.  He specializes in surgery at UFHealth, University of Florida Health in Jacksonville, Florida, serving as the Program Director, Surgery Residency; Program Director, Minimally Invasive Surgery Fellowship.  Uncle Mike is my mom’s little brother and we have been close since I was born.  He called my mom when all of this was happening and told her this was his world and he was going to make sure I got to the best doctor.  Lenny is Leonard B. Nelson, M.D., F.A.C.S. He is a pediatric ophthalmologist at Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia where he serves as Co-Director of Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus Service. In addition to being my father-in-law, he also happens to be a true friend and one of the smartest people I know.]

When we pulled into the driveway, I got out of the car a bit groggy. I walked down to the front of our circular drive (that is where I get best cell service) to make a few phone calls. At this point, our family and closest friends knew something was wrong. But no one knew I had T-Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma. No one knew it would require immediate treatment.  Word was starting to get out that something was wrong.  I started getting some incoming calls and texts from friends of my parents. And as I made a couple of phone calls to my closest friends/partners, the reality of the situation was taking hold. I knew something was very wrong on Sunday (and weeks before if I really think about it). But actually hearing that you have cancer and need immediate (and intense) treatment takes it to a new level. And I just couldn’t get that 50% survival comment out of my brain. Did he say 50-90%?  Because that is what some of the articles on google said.  I just could not remember. Some articles did not even reference 50%, but instead said 80-90% get to remission (although a high percentage deal with the disease yet again after remission). Whatever.

I spoke to a handful of people. I remember speaking to Basta. When I told him the Dr. said there was a 50% chance of survival, there was a long pause. After the long pause (I probably said something along the lines of “I win jump balls,”), he wanted to know if I had called Nicole. I had not. I knew Nicole and Russ were in Disney and I really did not want to ruin their trip. I had thought (based on misinformation from Chris), that Nicole was coming back Wednesday or Thursday.  But it turns out she had not left until Monday.  I knew I needed to get in touch with her and wanted to make sure she heard about this from me. On the work front, I had only spoken to Paul, Chris and Edward (all of whom were and have been phenomenal friends, providing support, advice and guidance, along with all of my other partners who I realize are truly friends not partners).  [I still laugh when I think about Edward asking me if they were sure it was a mass and not just some mucus that needed to be flushed out of my system!].  I asked Paul, Chris and Edward if any of them had discussed with Nicole.  They all said no.  I tried her cell but didn’t get her.  So I sent her a text (“Hey. Hope Disney is awesome. Been trying not to bother you with something but got to let you know. Give me a call whenever you can. No rush. And seriously sorry to interrupt.”). I should have called Nicole on Sunday. I’m sorry I didn’t. I am sorry for a lot of things. We didn’t talk for a few months over something stupid (and since I hate conflict, I avoided discussing anything with her). That will never happen again. And to top it off I ruined her Disney trip.  [Nicole, I owe you one (in fact I owe you more than one!).]  I also spoke to some of my closest friends from Beachwood, college and Scarsdale and explained the evolving situation that now officially had a label.  With each phone call the reality was setting in more and more.

While I was making phone calls, Uncle Mike and Lenny worked the phones and their connections.  Lenny had gotten us to a great doctor at Sloan Kettering, but she was not going to be available to see me until Thursday.  Uncle Mike spoke to a close friend of his from over the years who was able to get us in immediate touch with Dr. Gail J. Roboz, M.D., the director of the Leukemia Program at Weill Medical College of Cornell University.  We were advised that she was the expert on my condition.  Uncle Mike and Lenny coordinated and agreed Dr. Roboz was the right choice and that getting in quickly was critical.  Minutes later Uncle Mike called and advised me that Dr. Roboz’s office would be calling momentarily to squeeze me into an appointment for the next morning at 11 am. The last thing I remember was Uncle Mike telling me that I should pack an overnight bag.  Within 2 hours of being diagnosed, I had an appointment with the best doctor.  Lucky and fortunate are understatements (to say the least).  There are people that go months without getting medical care.  Let alone the right medical care.

That night was kind of a blur. This is when food started coming to the house from our closest friends in Scarsdale. Mark Herzlich says he felt a real sense of community when people filled up coolers of food that they would leave behind their house after his mother agreed to let people help. Our friends did not even give us a chance to say no.  I felt blessed that we had such amazing friends (and over the next several weeks a network of support from across the country that was and is truly uplifting).  Our closest friends from Scarsdale made sure we had meals every night that first week. I don’t remember eating much Tuesday night, but there was plenty of food. [And then came packages of food from friends and relatives outside of Scarsdale, the “meal train” that our friends in the Scarsdale community put together to make sure we had dinner during the week throughout May and June and Scarsdale Little League sending us Saturday night dinners, and so many people jumped in to help and support and us.  A thank you just does not suffice. Overwhelming, humbling, and appreciative are words that come to mind. As well as lucky and fortunate. My family thanks everyone from the bottom of our hearts.]

I hung with my mom, Jen, Drew, Brad, Julie and Basta that night. Although I didn’t want it, Basta made me drink some Pappy Van Winkle. I think he knew I was going to be on the shelf for a while. And I will never forget the conversation I had with Paul as he was leaving my house. [Or the response from Paul and all of my partners from work; humbling.]

That Tuesday night before we went to the hospital was one of the worst night’s sleep I have ever had (and that is after several months of tossing and turning notwithstanding the use of every over the counter sleep aid known to man kind). Come to think of it, I don’t think I slept much more than hour or two. I had known there was a giant tumor in the middle of my chest for more than 60 hours.  So maybe it was the unknown that was about to begin at 11 am on Wednesday at NY Presbyterian.  Or the fact that the biopsy was causing me such pain that oxycodone did not really work. Whatever it was, I could not get comfortable. And because I was not comfortable, Jen was not comfortable. So when I moved from the bed, to the study and then back to the bed, Jen moved with me too.  Each time.  With every cough, she stayed awake to make sure I was OK.  With every toss and turn, she was watching intently hoping I could get comfortable and sleep.  All while I knew she was as freaked out about all of this as I was.  I don’t remember asking if she was OK.  I don’t remember telling her that everything was going to be OK.  Giving her the reassurance she needed.  Truth is, that Tuesday night I had no clue what was coming.  I just knew that we were going to see Dr. Roboz at 11 am and she was the expert.  We had lots and lots of friends give us suggestions, all of which we appreciated immensely.  But when Uncle Mike and Lenny agreed that Dr. Roboz was the right choice, there was no hesitation on my part or Jen’s. That was it.  And as I lay there Tuesday night thinking about all sorts of things that you should not be thinking about, Wednesday morning at 11 am could not come fast enough.  Jen always tells me to never wish time away, but I felt like such crap that I needed that night to end.

Wednesday morning I was out of bed early. I was still working at this point. Even sent out some emails and reviewed a few documents around 5 am because I could not sleep.  I was around with the kids. [At this point I had no idea that I was going to be in the hospital for an extended period of time or told that I could not work at all for potentially six months.] To make things even harder, this was “spring break” for the kids.  So the kids were around all of these days, including when we were at White Plains Hospital (Sunday, Monday and Tuesday), and heading to the City on Wednesday for our first appointment.  Jen, of course, made sure things were as normal as possible and all of our friends were amazing helping with the kids.  I think Jake slept over at one of his best buddy’s Miles’ house four times that week. Ryan lived with the Tauber’s, Sheppe’s, and Grossberg’s and Brandon was with the Rumbold’s’everyday.  And Atara spoke at length with Jen about how we could handle all of this with the kids, the school and all of the parents (with a detailed email going out to everyone explaining how people should be careful about what they say as we did not want the word “cancer” being thrown around). Jen did – and was focused on — everything.

I ran to the ACME that morning to pick up a few things for Jen.  My list, which was texted to me, included “chocolate chip muffins, strawberries, raspberries, Bologna, coffeemate and 2 sesame bagels. Land o lakes spreadable butter with red top.”  I am notorious for going to the store and getting the wrong stuff.  I had to ask what kind of bologna she wanted. The response: “Hebrew National. It is with the kosher stuff. Like across from the butcher area.” I needed that direction – never would have found it otherwise. I got what I needed sans the bagels. I had a better idea. I took a right out the ACME and headed to the bagel store in the shopping center. I got the two sesame bagels, a chocolate chip muffin for Jen and for me, an everything bagel with bacon, egg and cheese. I think I even asked them to spread butter on it. Rarely would I eat something like this. But right then felt as good a time as any.  I vividly remember getting home and sitting down at the counter to eat my bagel sandwich.  Jake was still around and I asked if he wanted a bite. He had already had breakfast, so he said no. But then he saw (and probably smelled) the sandwich and wanted to try it (I knew he was going to want a bite). He took a bite and said it was amazing.  He needed a second bite. He also commented that this was something I never get. I just laughed. That would be the last time I would eat with Jake for 16 days.

At this point I shaved and showered. I had already decided I needed to look presentable for my first appointment with Dr. Roboz. First impressions are everything.  Plus, I had not gotten dressed in 3 days. I wore jeans, my favorite white rag and bone shirt and the Air Jordan’s that Jen and the boys got me for my birthday last year (because I never had a cool pair of sneakers in my life).  I drove into the city that morning, with Jen riding shot gun and my mom in the back seat.  It was a pretty quiet car ride.  As we were leaving Helene was on her way back to Scarsdale (after a day in Philly to literally get a change of clothes) so she could be stationed at home with the kids. [Man are we lucky to have 2 sets of parents who literally drop everything for us whenever we need them.]

When we got to the hospital we were greeted by my father (who had flown in on the 6 am) and my brother in the lobby of hospital. It was the fourth day in a row I saw my brother. What an amazing kid. A guy who would jump in front of a bus for me. Drew have I ever told you how proud I am of you and the man you have become?

The five of us made our way to the third floor. The elevator opens to the front desk and then the sign hits you right between the eyes: Ronald P. Stanton Clinical Cancer Program. Awesome. Here we go. I checked in with Jen, gave them my insurance card and my parents and Drew looked for seats. I was as friendly as can be to the person at desk, but I was quickly scanning the room. It was filled with people occupying the orangish/brown cushioned chairs. There were 2 computer terminals on either side and a Keurig coffee machine off to the left. All of the people filling the organish/brown chairs seemed old. Some were bald. Some had on hats. Others were wearing masks.  And I felt like everyone was staring at me. I hate that room. [We don’t sit in there anymore. In fact, that same day, we figured out that there are smaller side rooms where you can wait. They have the same orangish/brown cushioned chairs, but there are not nearly as many people waiting to be called to see a doctor or get treatment. As I later learned, this is the “out-patient center.” The chemo infusion rooms are on one side (I was in Infusion Room #1 today). Examination rooms on the other side.]

We waited for our name to be called. I tried to make a cup of coffee but the Keurig machine did not cooperate. A nice guy told me it rarely worked and we shot the shit for a minute. Nervous chatter I guess. I then got back to my phone; I was still on top of, and responding to, emails. I had a new case filing that weekend and I was still hopeful I was going to be able to be at the first day hearing that next Monday in Houston. I had no clue what was in store.  After what seemed like forever, they called “Sussberg.” All 5 of us went back to the examination room.  No blood was taken, since the assigned oncologist from White Plains had taken enough blood to complete a transfusion the day before. But they took my vitals and I was weighed in. I was 192 pounds, but I had all my clothes on. Plus I figured that bagel earlier in the day contributed a few extra pounds. But 190 is generally my fighting weight. I went back into the room and we waited for the doctor.

The first person to enter the room was Maureen. She is Dr. Roboz’s PA. Not sure there was any medical substance to the conversation, but we hit it off right away. She went to Cornell and graduated the same year as Jen. And her boyfriend was born on January 17, 1978 – one day before me. She lived in NJ, near Rutgers, and commuted 2.5 hours to the hospital, each way!  I remember saying that was crazy and that I am sure it was hard to find time to spend with her boyfriend. [We unfortunately learned today that Maureen is leaving to be at a hospital closer to home. Totally get it, but selfishly wish she was waiting until this is all over because she really is a fantastic person and an even better doctor.  But we will stay in touch.] She also told us about her boyfriend’s sister living close by, and the sister’s three kids, who Maureen loves to spend time with on the weekends. We talked about our kids and the never ending sports schedule on the weekends that we have come to love. We were comfortable. I could tell a sense calm had come over Jen. I almost forgot for a second why we there.

And then Dr. Roboz came into the room. Will never forget what she said. She asked who the victim was. I said it was me and think I sort of raised my hand. Her response: “[w]ell this sucks. But this is all I do.” She went on to say she was going to take care of this and get me better. There was never a discussion of percentages. It was 100%. She said I was going to be in the hospital for 3-4 weeks, with chemo treatments to follow for approximately 6 months and then another 1.5 years of a very strict pill regime. But we were going to get rid of the cancer and get me back to doing what I do. At that point, she told me she had spoken at length to both Uncle Mike and Lenny and understood that I was a partner in a big law firm that restructured companies and worked lots of hours. And that I was always on the phone.  I told her I was hopeful to be in Houston on Monday for a new case.  She said I was done with work for 6 months.  Cold turkey.  I kind of brushed it off because I thought I was going to figure something out.

One of the first things Dr. Roboz talked about was “banking” some of my sperm.  Jen immediately asked her if they could give me a vasectomy. She was not kidding. As much as I have toyed with the idea of having another child, Jen has never wavered. Our three healthy boys (thank god) are enough for her. She is not having another child. Dr. Roboz pushed, said “she didn’t want any chemo babies,” but there was no waiver in Jen. And frankly whatever Jen wants is fine with me.  That was the end of the discussion.

Dr. Roboz went on to talk about the treatment program. Some information I retained. Other information was going in one ear and out the other. Not because I was unfocused or distracted.  It was just a lot of information to process all at once.  Jen asked some questions. My parents and brother just listened. I do remember Dr. Roboz, and at this point both Maureen and Dr. Samuels (another great great doctor) were also in the room, saying that she was an expert here and while I could ask lots of questions she knew what she was doing.  And she would tell me the things I needed to be told. I was sold. I was so comfortable. And I was ready. I wasn’t even phased by the 3-4 weeks in the hospital (although Jen and I had not yet discussed how she wanted to handle with the kids). I think I knew it was going to be shorter. Just like I know it is not going to take 6 months before I am back at work. I like beating targets.  And I wanted to start right then and there. Partially because I was comfortable, but mostly because the sooner we started the sooner this would be behind us.

The next conversation was around timing. Dr. Roboz said she probably could get me started Thursday or Monday because she needed to “match me up with someone.” I was not sure what she meant, so I asked.  She was talking about a roommate. Someone I would share a room and a bathroom with on the 10th floor — which is the dedicated oncology floor.  Other than Jen, I had not had a roommate since my freshmen year of college (RT Corkery – a great guy.). [Was reminded I had a “suite” in Watson my sophomore year; Stu and RT on the right; common room in the middle; Slavin and Sussberg on the left.  That was a great year.  So much fun I forgot I shared room.]  And I was not having a roommate this time around. I also wanted to get started immediately because that meant I could get home sooner. But there were no available private rooms on the 10th floor. Dr. Roboz stepped out at this point to check on something.  She came back a few minutes later and said there was a room available on the 14th floor, which is the concierge floor. Since my blood counts were good, she was comfortable letting me stay on that floor even though it was not her team that would be attending to me.  She did, however, want to make sure we understood the ridiculous price we would need to pay for that room.  Jen, in her typical fashion, said she assumed that insurance would cover most of the cost for a room on the 14th floor.  I knew that was not the case. Dr. Roboz confirmed it.  She then said she would leave us for a few minutes to discuss.  Jen and I make a great team. She has made me conscious about frivolous spending, and I think I have taught her to treat herself to certain things that normally she would not buy. But it was Jen that said I was getting the private room and that the cost did not matter. I had worked too hard for too long to not be comfortable when going through something like this. As silly as it sounds, that was a special moment for me. And it was clear to me that I was with a woman who knew exactly who I was and what I needed (and she continues to amaze me each and every day with the way she is taking care of me). So we gave them our Amex card, made arrangements for the private room and were told to grab something to eat before Maureen performed a bone marrow test and I was admitted to the hospital to begin treatment that very night.

We went down to the lobby and went to Au Bon Pain. Nothing really appealed to me. I ate some type of muesli mix. Drew volunteered to go get us EJ’s, which sounded delicious. I had a turkey burger (with the bun) and fries as we waited in the side room (which we had stumbled upon and I liked much better than the main room) to be called for the bone marrow test. As far as food was concerned, Dr. Roboz told me to eat basically anything but sushi, hot dogs off the street, processed meats and food prepared in dirty kitchens. [I would later be told only to eat hospital food, but that changed about 5 days in.]

As I was finishing EJ’s, Maureen called me in and escorted me to Examination Room #13. I was nervous. The assigned oncologist at White Plains, who really wanted to perform the bone marrow test on me, told me this was going to hurt “bad.” Oh, and I am superstitious. I felt comfortable enough to tell that to Maureen. And she totally understood.  In response, she told me to hold tight; within moments she was back and we moved to Examination Room #10. I liked the #10. I wore that number for 8th grade football. When we got to the examination room, I lied flat on my stomach and pulled up my shirt slightly. I did not even need to change. I was given a local anesthesia and Maureen went to work. She kept asking if I felt anything in my back. But other than hearing a weird scrapping noise, I didn’t feel a thing after the anesthesia kicked in. Within a minute or two, however, I had excruciating pain in my chest, neck and ears. I was laying flat on the 4 ½ inch grapefruit of a tumor that was smack in the middle of my chest and had been biopsied just two days prior. The pain I was feeling was the same pain that I felt from time to time over the last couple of months. I am sure it was nothing compared to the pain that Mark Herzlich felt in his left leg, but I was biting my lip and clenching my fists. It was so uncomfortable and it felt like the procedure would never end. When it did (it probably lasted all of 10 minutes), I got up too quickly but I just could not lay down. I even tried to lay on my back. But the pain was excruciating. At that point I distinctly remember a ringing in my left ear. And then my right. Maureen walked with me outside the room to get me some water. She then escorted me back to the side waiting room where Jen, my parents and Drew were hanging out. Other people were there too. Maureen helped sit me down in the chair next to Jen, I think someone suggested I drink some Gatorade because I was green and that was it.  I passed out. I am told my eyes rolled into the back of my head, I rocked a little bit back and forth with my hands firmly placed on the side of my head and made some weird oohing sounds. I kind of remember running through a grassy field. It felt like an eternity. When I woke up I saw that Jen was hysterical (and had to be removed because she almost passed out herself), my mother was staring at me bug eyed, and my brother and father were looking at me confused (which they often do, so that was not so strange). And my response? “F*ck, I pissed my pants.” I was legitimately mad for about 2 seconds because it was my only pair of jeans. [Not sure why I cared since I have not put on another pair of jeans since April 27th.] But before I could blink, the pain was back and it was even worse than during the bone marrow test.

I was quickly put in a wheel chair and taken by someone, together with my father and mother, to the 14th floor. Jen and Drew went to check me in. There were all sorts of elevator issues and it took us a long time to get there. And when we got there, there was a lot of commotion because I had not officially been checked in, yet I really needed something for the pain. While it seemed like forever, I was soon in bed. An IV was inserted (which is something I cannot stand, even earlier today, but I was in such pain I don’t really remember it). Then they started the morphine and the steroids. I would be hooked up to the IV pole for fluids for the next week.

It took several hours and an increase in the morphine for the pain to subside. But it ultimately did. That night is a blur. I did not have a sense of time. But I do know that Jen stayed with me that night (evidence in the picture I took below). I was exhausted but I did not sleep much. Yet there was a sense of calmness and positivity running through my blood — even though my blood was mixed with cancer. I was in the right place. The support from friends and family was invigorating and I was ready for what was ahead. This was about the time that my entire perspective on life starting changing. And it was only the beginning……

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Random Thoughts

Tuesday, May 31, 2016.  I don’t know where the days go.  Which is a good thing (don’t get me wrong).  There were about a dozen things I wanted to do today that I did not get a chance to do.  One of my favorite things about what I do for a living is the unpredictability of each day.  I like making lists of things, including things I really need to get done.  But when you are restructuring companies, you are a little bit like emergency room doctors and there are emergencies that pop up during the course of each and every single day.  So you can make a list of things to do, but if you look at the list at 7 or 8 pm and are unable to check off any of the items, it doesn’t mean you did not have a productive day.  It means that a ton of shit happened that was more important than the list of things you put together earlier that morning or the night before (and there were probably a bunch of important things to do on that list).  That is what I love.  It keeps you on your toes.  I miss it a lot.  I also miss the people at work and the human interaction that you forget that you have each and every day.  I am a people person.  I enjoy talking to people.  I like being on stage (or in court).  Always did.  So spending this much time alone takes some getting used to.  Not a bad thing, just different.

I do, however, keep myself busy.  And on a day like today, with a long chemo treatment scheduled for tomorrow and the next 3 days thereafter, that is important; every time I think I am fine and have no fear, there is a twinge of anxiety — so I just keep moving and stay busy.

Jen and I are leaving for the city at 730, as we need to be in by 9.  We have to have someone come and help get the kids get ready for school, which I am sure Jake is going to think is strange.  He was asking about whether I would be at his basketball and baseball game on Saturday and I had to explain that I was going to the hospital in the morning and just wasn’t sure at this point.  He took it like a champ, but it kills me to have to tell him I might not be at one of his games.   Jen went out for dinner with her friends tonight and stopped in Ryan’s room to say goodbye when I was reading him a book before bed.  When Jen said she was going out for dinner, Ryan asked her why Daddy never goes out anymore.  Gee whiz.  I didn’t know what to say.  Jen, of course, without missing a beat said “Daddy went out with us last night.” This actually has the benefit of being true, but his comment had much deeper meaning.  These guys know something isn’t right.  But we will get to that in due time…..

  • I have yet to watch a television series or a movie since before this all started.  I intend to, but I haven’t had the time.  In fact, other than a few minutes of Sports Center this morning while I was sitting at my desk, which I don’t watch nearly as much as I used to (I usually watch most mornings when I am on the treadmill), I did not turn on the television today.
  • Got a chance to read the Sunday Styles this morning in bed.  I went to three different places in Margate on Sunday morning around 830/9 am with Jen and Brandon; two of three were sold out of the NY Times, the other store didn’t carry it.  I am cheap and usually would not buy a NY Times when it is sitting in my driveway and already paid for (and now, come to think, I spent $200 on the MLB Network (thanks Basta) and haven’t watched a game since the night I bought the channel!).  Figures on the one day I was ready to splurge (I think the Sunday times is close to 5 bucks), everyone is sold out.  Two wedding announcements caught my eye.  Josh Mankiewicz/Anh Tu Dang        and Abby Volin/Max Polonsky  (links to both announcements included).   They both caught my eye because Anh and Abby are cancer survivors.  Josh and Max stood by their sides as they both beat breast cancer.  Anh actually moved in with Josh when she was diagnosed so he could care for her.  And Max had just picked up and moved to D.C. when Abby was diagnosed.  Two great stories.  These marriages were tested before they were actually solidified.  I wish both couples nothing but good health and good times for many many years to come.  And it is a small small world.  As I was reading over Abby’s and Max’s announcement again just now, would you believe I went to high school with the Rabbi that married them (I would be telling this to Jen right now, excited as can be, but she has been sleeping for 2.5 hours).  Aaron Alexander how the heck are you?  Just looked you up on the web to make sure it was you.  I saw the picture and U Florida religion degree on the AJU site.  It is you.  I am going to get in touch.  You are crushing it.  Congrats.  Got a call yesterday from Dr. J.  Been speaking regularly to Royce and got back in touch with lots of people from the River.  And just to demonstrate how truly small the world is, one of your frat brothers, Jeff Fina, is one my closest buddies in Scarsdale.
  • I did an hour of yoga today and walked 5 miles around the neighborhood.  Listened to some old Counting Crows (one of my favorite bands) during the walk (when I wasn’t talking to a few friends).  I was singing Mr. Jones out loud.  Some guy was getting into his car and just stared at me.  I sang louder.
  • Was sent a story today about David Queesenberry.  David is an offensive tackle formerly of the Houston Texans.  He was waived today with a “non-football injury designation.”  He played his college ball at San Joe State and was drafted in the sixth round of the 2013 NFL draft.  His non-football injury designation?  Cancer.  But not just any cancer, T-Cell Lymphoblastic Lymphoma..  He has been in remission for one year.  He was diagnosed in June 2014; the article in the link above reports a team trainer found his persistent cough suspicious.  I had that same cough.  The article goes on to say, “[w]hile his teammates prepared for the season, Quessenberry battled for his life, going through intense chemotherapy.”  I am sure the Texans had to make a business decision here.  I’m not going to pretend to know what drove this decision or why it was made.  But I feel terrible for David.  That said, I get a sense that David worked out today harder than he did yesterday.  Based on everything I read about him today, he seems to be that kind of guy.  David, I am pulling for you.  You will play again in the NFL.
  • I had eight small (to medium) incredibly healthy meals today.  Humus, anti-biotic free chicken, homemade (by Jen) chicken salad (with hot peppers for taste), greek yogurt with almonds and walnuts, organic eggs with fresh turkey and mushrooms (made by Jen), homemade (by Jen) three bean salad, sweet potatoes, cabbage with carrots, two green teas, lots of water.  Took a trip with Jen to Whole Foods, which was a lot of fun.  Although I got pretty tired at the end (it was after I did yoga and took my walk).  Even packed my lunch with Jen for tomorrow.  We are prepared.
  • Started reading Mark Herzlich’s book (What It Takes, Fighting for my Life and My Love of the Game).  I had trouble putting it down.  Will finish it tomorrow.  What an awesome story and what an awesome guy.  Tom Coughlin wrote the foreword and says he believes “Mark’s story will motivate and inspire anyone who reads it . . .”  No doubt about it.  Mark, haven’t finished the book yet but it is clear you have a higher calling in life.  Looking forward to crossing paths one day.
  • Jen suggested I take Brandon out on scooter ride today.  I didn’t and I should have.  I am kicking myself for it.  Am I spending enough time with my kids??
  • Got a letter and package from a friend of my Dad’s.  They have been working together for 25 years.  I still remember him coming to watch me play basketball my freshmen year of high school in Beachwood (as I told him tonight, I think I went 10-40 from the floor that day; I shot a lot that year.  But Ed Musbach (our coach) told me to hoist it up that season.  So I did.  Knew I shot too much when I led the team in scoring but Streem was the MVP.  Oh well….).  His letter, and the contents of his package, were meaningful in many ways.  But it was the last paragraph of his handwritten letter that will stick with me:  “You ‘keep on keeping on.”  Good things will happen!  I will get the good updates from your Dad.  Stay positive and get 1% better every day.  Enjoy the items.” (emphasis in the original for all my lawyer friends out there).  Hey Dan Harris, isn’t 1% better every day better than 10% happier generally? [Just learned the 1% better every day came from Pat Riley during his Laker days.  Adding it to the summer reading list.]
  • How do people without insurance pay for cancer treatment?  Herzlich dedicates his book to the “twelve million new cancer warriors each year who are searching for hope in the face of fear . . .”  There is no way that all of these people have the means or support to get the necessary medical treatment.  I got a bill today for my 16-day hospital stay.  $233,793.24.  And this will go on for 2 years.  I am one lucky and fortunate guy.  I have insurance to cover these costs.  And I have a support network of family, friends, an unbelievable law firm and a special community of restructuring specialists, all of whom motivate me every single day.  Plus I have an incredible wife and 3 kids and we have a lot to do.  There is no way all twelve million are in the same boat.  I need to and will try my very best to do something about this (and can’t help but think of the lyrics and video for Man In the Mirror).
  • It is 1:55 am.  Jen set the alarm for 615.  As I think about how lucky I am to be going to the best doctors tomorrow for treatment — doctors who will get me back to doing what I am supposed to be doing (but with a whole new perspective on life) — I am not as nervous as I have been.  Although I am feeling better today and know that the next four days are going to have me take a couple of steps backwards, I feel like I turned a corner the last 48 hours.  I have been positive the entire time, but I took hold of a couple of things that I let slip and feel good about it.  No matter how crappy I feel later this week, I’m not letting that happen again.