Remember the guy with the quids? His name was Rob. My nickname for him was Broccoli Rob which I thought was kinda clever (on account of he was like a vegetable, get it?). Broccoli Rob was the kind of guy who would call you up to ask if you wanted to play golf, then not only not show up for the round, but disappear out of your life for 9 months, not answering any phone calls or e-mails or anything. Then one day he'd call you up and pick up the conversation seamlessly from where he left off as if no time at all had passed -- all while you're stuck on the other end waiting for him to take a breath so you can find out what the fuck happened to him. The worst thing is that the stories of his disappearances weren't really stories at all. He just got drunk and forgot about our plans, then felt like he had to avoid me until I forgot to be mad.
I fucking hated Broccoli Rob for that. I would never do that to you. I will tell you now that I love being here and if I'm ever gone for a stretch, I promise to come back with a good reason. Even if I have to make something up.
To whit, following are updates on a some of the things that have kept me away.
1. My Health.
I will offer here that my testicles have been seen and touched by more people during the past month than during the entire decade that was my 20s. In some cases the doctor attending to me would disappear from the room only to emerge moments later with 4 or 5 "colleagues" -- people who I imagine are not actually doctors, but maybe curious neighbors or drinking buddies to whom the doctor had lost a bet -- all anxious to glove up and have at 'em. Makes a boy feel special.
With all that attention came a slew of uneasy conversations, peppered with words like hydrocele. debridement. cyst. hernia. surgery. tumor. removal. pre-cancerous. biopsy. The list goes on. And after all that pain and all that prodding and all that inspection and all that worrying, it turns out there's absofuckinglutely nothing wrong with me. Chronic ball pain -- while cause for my primary physician to freak out and, in turn, scare the piss out of me -- seems to be pretty common at my age. Who knew?
Probably worth pointing out that my primary care physician is a woman and is thus excused for gaps in her testicular knowledge by virtue of the fact that she does not possess the equipment and cannot be expected to fully understand the mystery that is men. This being said, I must say that I stand by my choice of her as my health advocate as I am now old enough for annual digital rectal exams and she has the tiniest fingers I've ever seen.
So I do have a hernia, but it's a belly button hernia and the surgeon essentially said it's a few clicks more complicated than clipping a toenail. Further, he said that if I felt at all apprehensive about the procedure he'd be happy to give me a box of Kleenex and a copy of Beaches on DVD because obviously I'm a woman.
I also had a growth on my right thigh biopsied and some pre-cancerous cells on my cheek frozen off. No big whoop. Part and parcel of being Irish.
To summarize: Healthy as a horse, albeit a horse with slightly achy balls.
2. My Job.
One day as I was sitting at my cubicle I heard a loud explosion and the sounds of screams. I looked out the window and saw that the Barclay's building across the street was under attack by what appeared to be an alien spaceship. Long story short, a small band of us hid out in the basement where, after a long period of trial and error, we learned that these aliens died when water hit them. Crisis averted, world saved. But it took a lot of time.
You remember Ethan, right? The kid this blog is supposed to be about? Well, Ethan's 1-month post-op check-up was rescheduled several times -- conferences, alien invasions, guest ball touchers ... you know, that kind of unavoidable stuff. That visit finally happened yesterday morning. Wanna know how it went? Well, I can sum it up in one word: Normal. Ethan has normal hearing. Specifically, in measuring 4 ranges of frequencies, the 2 middle ranges show him at 25 dB which falls within the normal range. For ultra-low and ultra-high range he has mild hearing loss, but he still scored 100% on test word recognition. And since in math we are taught to round 1/2 up to 1, we're calling it normal and considering it an amazing win, made even better by the likelihood that Eth's hearing will actually get even better with time.
Dr. Brad was, again, damn near giddy when he looked into Ethan's ear and saw how well everything had healed. He let me look through a set of magnifying lenses and showed me how the prosthetic bone is visible through the ear drum he created. I personally was struck by how many tiny arteries were already in place, bringing blood to the area. Admittedly I don't know shit about shit, but I know when something looks healthy and Ethan's ear looks to atresia repair surgery like Usain Bolt looks like to track and field.
Most important, at least to Ethan, is that he's now officially clear to run and jump and swim and be a little kid. And to that end I gotta tell you that I am so proud of that little guy. He has taken such amazing care of his ear during his recovery period, being very careful to avoid percussive activities and water. In fact, since the previous trips to Virginia were all business and left little time for leisure, we decided to make this trip special. We drove to Williamsburg and did Busch Gardens the day before with my brother and his wife (who are amazingly gracious hosts). During a river raft-style ride, a considerable amount of water got dumped on Ethan's head and he nearly freaked out, worrying that he was going to be in trouble for getting his ear wet. It was the kind of thing that makes you want to pick him up and hug him, which I did. And I sat him down, looked him in the eye and assured him that he is no longer at risk and has nothing to worry about. That he is healed. That we are celebrating the successful end of a very trying time in our lives.
Other special things: Ethan turned 6 this month. He also lost his first top tooth at dinner in Williamsburg on Saturday. The Tooth Fairy found us and left $10 under Ethan's hotel pillow, which he promptly spent on a light-up sword in the Oktoberfest Pavilion the next day.
4. The Pussy Game
The boys made up a game that they now play all the time. The gist is that one of them pretends to be a mean old lady and the other pretends to be the mean old lady's cat. The old lady walks around saying, "Puss-ay, puss-ay," and when the cat comes by, the old lady beats the living shit out of it. Now, when Ethan plays the old lady, he sounds just like Lovey Howell from the Gilligan's Island. Try to imagine that for a second -- A 6-year-old boy wandering around like a proper, gentile old lady saying, "Puss-ay, puss-ay." Now if you can sit there while this game is being played and not damn near blow an o-ring trying not to laugh, you're a better person than I. So the other night Sandi and I were hanging out while the boys played the Pussy Game and we decided we'd had enough. "Guys, knock it off, OK? You're getting too violent." Ethan: "It's OK, daddy. We're not being rough. We're playing 'Old Lady' pussy." Pop goes the aneurism, don't the aneurism go pop.
"You can't help that. We're all mad here." -- The Cheshire Cat