On a wheeled horse I ride. i.am.rollerman

Archive for 2010|Yearly archive page

You Can’t Kill Me, You Don’t Have the Paperwork

In Life, spinal cord injury, wheelchair on November 6, 2010 at 9:22 pm

Since no "paperwork" was filed that the dog on the left might have been dangerous, please ignore the picture of said dog knawing on a human leg while a man on crutches passes to the right.

Wait, did I just read that?

An Ulster Dutchess County NY man has been sentenced to six months in jail for killing a dog.   PLEASE: I am in no way condoning this guy’s behavior, but the Judge’s “key point” (his words, not mine) on his verdict in this trial was whether the dog was dangerous.

Quote  from the Kingston Daily Freeman:

“…The justice said that, while there was ample testimony that the dog was mean and aggressive, there was no finding by the court that the dog posed any danger.

Earlier in the article, the dog’s owner states:

“…Humphrey (the deceased) was kept chained in a garage on the property because Sturgess (the dog’s OWNER) had said the dog was aggressive.

Further from the Judge:

“The fact is there was no complaint, no paperwork filed on that dog,” Smith said. “A citizen cannot say, ‘That’s a dangerous dog.’  …”  

So,  since no one saw a rationale need to report this to the authorities, thus their justification is baseless?

“Hello, I’d like to report an angry dog.”   Authorities: “You’re calling…why, Sir are you high?”

“Hello, I’d like to report an angry dog.”   Authorities: “Sir, did you realize calling on a frivolous matter is a felony?”

“Hello, I’d like to report an angry dog.”   Authorities: “Tell him to lick himself, I do that when I’m angry…or I wish I could, at least”

Maybe I should have fallen on the pavement

After five years with the same wheelchair cushion (aka “fart magnet”) and seat back, it finally needs to be replaced.  I receive an email from my wheelchair supplier, “…the new cushion and seat back will be $365.00.”

Now, i’ve already met my annual $2K out of pocket deductible AND $2K out of pocket medical durable goods deductible (yes that’s $4K in ADDITION to my $6.5K premium, so I’m well past $11K, that just ME individually) so I’m thinking this most likely be covered at 100%

Silly man!  Up charge! I must pay a premium of $365 in order to get the item prescribed to me.

You see I apparently made a poor decision six years ago to get a higher end more durable wheelchair than the insurance company felt necessary.   I figured, I’m only going to be in the thing ALL DAY, that I’ll spend $4K of my OWN money to UPGHARGE to a better model. (Finally tally: insurance company $1.8K + me: $4.5K = Wheelchair: $5.3K)

So the same hypocrites that stress preventative care want to fiscally punish me again for having selected a chair that has most likely prevented a $20K surgery on my clickety-click clavicles?    Throw me a bone, as in two clavicle replacements.

Ignore the Man behind the curtain in the wheelchair

I’m not supposed to be in the blustery NY MSA this week.  I’m supposed to be in Southwest Florida.  Back in the business travel saddle again after a six year hiatus.

It was not in the cards.  My mind the victim of a vicious slap flight with my bodies’ auto immune system.  My Left Foot?  Hell, my entire left leg, bigger than Oprah’s during season three.   My left heel currently playing fresh air parent to a tennis ball sized blister.

I’m on the mend.  3X daily hits of Keflex and Carnation Instant Breakfast taken orally, not topically you big silly.

Fun Paraplegic Factoid

You can take an air gun and drive a nail through my leg, no pain here. Run a 747 over my foot, nope, can’t feel it.

It’s cold and blustery out, I can feel the cold, so shut the f’in door already!

Four Festering Future Posts

I’ve got four topics that I’m now working on now that warrant dedicated blog posts.   Tell me which one first:

Hair-icuda.  My home is overrun with them.

Sallie Mae. No, not a mentally challenged former girlfriend, rather Freddie Mac’s stalker sister.

The Land of Tat: The magical final destination of many household items

WTF with all the packaging? I’m congested.  Now I’m congested, have a gash on my thumb and think I have carpal tunnel syndrome.

Scratch a dog behind the ears, they love it.  Send me A COMMENT below.  C”mon it only takes a minute and you don’t have the paperwork to put me down.


New Format, Same Old Crap

In Family, Life on November 4, 2010 at 12:46 am
NYS Gov-elect Andrew Cuomo’s new ladyfriend looks like Mandy Pepperidge from “Animal House.” Cuomo claims not to be an “Albany Insider,” so does that make him a…wait for itwait for it.

Thought I’d mix things up a bit this week.   Instead of a well crafted single topic posting, I thought I’d opt for  “poop-ettes”instead of a single subject stool. (I know, I had you at “stool“)

Note for the readers of this blog,  this is an interactive forum.  Laugh out loud, and LEAVE A COMMENT on the thing that made you launch.   Object to something, LEAVE A COMMENT.    This is a hard gig, it’s like playing to a room of one-armed people. Do they want to clap and just can’t?, or do I really suck.   LEAVE A COMMENT!

Mystery Solved: After 30+ years I finally realized that I was “mis-informed.”   Watching the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert rally on DC, they had Cat Stevens playing.   For so many years I thought the song was “Ride on the Pizza Train.” True, an unusual vehicle to deliver pizzas, I thought he might have been c0-sponsored by Pizza Hut and AmTrak.

In the “Shut Your Pie Hole” department

Brett Favre, please shut up.   New additions: Brad Childress, coach of the Minnesota Vikings,  Randy Moss, temporary team-mate of the pant filled one.

Any sports announcer extolling Brett or his streak: case in point  Troy Aikman.   I remember Aikman getting hit in the head too many times which forced his retirement, perhaps proof that too many concussions do cause brain damage.

Good Old Boys “..drink whiskey and rye and sing about this will be the day that I die…?, not f*ck around on their Wives

In the “I Didn’t Realize I had so many Friends” Department

I’m the kid with the full keg again and everyone wants to be my friend.   “This is George Pataki calling…”  “This is former NYC Mayor Rudy G calling…”  This is “still Dead President Reagan calling”   I’m suddenly the guy on everyone’s short list to call.  Funny, that phone wasn’t ringing today.

Please, ” Put Carl Paladino back in My Pants” department

NYS candidate for Gov, and dead twin for my (rhymes with “wrote’em”), with all its characteristics and hue.  If you look like a “wrote’em” you need an image makeover.   I felt the message, but I also felt the urge to scratch.  Harry Reid not too far down that list either.

Did He Just Say That?

Andrew Cuomo denies he’s an Albany-insider.  His Father was NYS governor for three consecutive terms.  Was Andrew kept in an idling car on the Quebec border for those 12 years?  Please…   One positive:  His girlfriend reminds of “Mandy Pepperidge” from Animal House.

I Know Why the call it the Blackberry Storm

Cause the thing makes me stormin mad!  I don’t use it as a phone, rather a glorified MP3 player and camera.   I can finally say what most men wish they could “yes, I’m hung…or at least my Blackberry Storm is.” It’s got one more week before I switch back to my circa 2002 Sansa “Hung like a flea” E200.

Attention Family Members

I know that all of you think you know more than me, but quicker than I can say “I was never NOT on the Dean’s List” listen up anyhow:   The answer is not always to “crank up that thermostat.”

Try the following first:

Closing the door keeps the cold out. Not placing a laundry basket on a heating vent lets the warm air in.

Try a sweatshirt first, you only have 15 on your bedroom floor.  Don’t insulate your floor, insulate your body.

If I’m cold, that is different.  I am a SCI living cadaver, we don’t have the ability to regulate our body heat like you do.

Given that, I pay the heating bill so I should choose when I want to piss my money away.  Don’t like it?  Buy another sweatshirt to insulate your floor with.


TimeWarner Cable, my name is Satan, go ahead please.

In Life on October 31, 2010 at 7:45 pm

"Thank you for calling Time Warner Customer service, My name is Satan, go ahead please."

It had been a SRU* week as they say in the trade, until 12:14 p.m. on Thursday.  (* Sunshine, Rainbows and Unicorns — meaning no problems)

Without warning an app that I had been troubleshooting for three weeks and had just pinpointed the fix loses its connection to the big boxes outside of DC and promptly sh*ts the bed. Then a second sign “VPN connection has failed.”  You just sunk my battleship.

I duck my head under my desk and sure enough the broadband modem lights are not their normal solid Christmas tree green.  “Must be the cable is out,” I innocently think so I wheel my fat a** into the family room and attempt to fire up the cable box. “This cable box is not authorized.”  That’s disrespectful, but since it is blustery out I still think that the physical cable might be down.

I roll out to the back porch to see if my sales manager telecommuter neighbor is home. He’s not home so I dig the old cable statement out of the bill box to look for a customer service contact.

As requested I “enter in the main phone number of the house.”   Satan then speaks; his recorded message is foreboding “You have an outstanding balance of $606. In order to receive any service today you must pay a minimum of $193.00.”

They’ve got me by the boys. I need the internet to work and the hospital monitors my ticker over it  so I tap in my AMEX #.   No less then TEN seconds of the last number being tapped into the phone my broadband modem comes to life.   The Christmas tree is back to full green I’m back online, only five minutes late for a meeting that I’m playing safety net on.

I’m online but TIME WARNER is on my mind, having just released a large bug up my a**. During the meeting I connect to my credit union’s home banking system. Apparently within the past 35 days I’ve paid TIME WARNER over $440 in addition to the$193 just paid minutes earlier.

Due to the labyrinth of meetings on all days called Thursday I must put off my call until the evening. Good thing, I’m sure I avoided having a stroke or blowing a blood vessel in my neck.

It’s now 9:15 p.m. and I reach Tessa. I explain the situation, tell her that I’ve made two payments, both with bank confirmation numbers and that I would like a phone call tomorrow morning on my 703 line to discuss why you folks thought it necessary to turn off my cable service instead of, hmmm, maybe calling or emailing me. You do have my email address; I get a new TIME WARNER promotion every other day via email.

Tessa is apologetic yet cheerful, and I feel, as I lay my dented skull down on my pillow that tomorrow will continue in the “Sunshine, Rainbow & Unicorns” mod us operand i of earlier that week.

Fast forward to Friday morning at 11:30, still no phone call on my 703 line from Time Warner. I leave my office passing through the family room. The house phone is ringing. It’s Time Warner. Hmmm, why are they calling me on this line?   Sure enough it’s someone with a pissy attitude to discuss a “work order” she is following up on.  Since when is returning a customer’s call considered a “work order?” Satan has returned and I am now prepared for the worst.

She’s not calling me on the number that I requested they please call the night before.   A simple request, not a power play on my part. I have all the call materials already assembled at my desk. My 703 line is a speakerphone, which I need in order to keep conversation notes entered in via my keyboard. They probably didn’t understand my request since I only repeated three separate times and didn’t have a “select # button”  associated with it.

Satan bellows: “You claim you made your last payment xx days ago, but I only received it this morning…” “In addition you claim that you paid us $xxx 50 days ago, but according to my records that payment was $1 short, so we consider your entire account 60 days past due.” C’mon Satan, keep poking that unchained dog with a stick and see what happens. 

“In addition, since we were forced to shut your account off you must now pay a $7 service fee.”

Fido has taken his last poke. My back fur is standing on end and my less than straight teeth are bared to the gums. I am now in the squatting position pushing out these stool shaped payment factoids for Ms Satan:

– My typical TM bill is in excess of $225.

-On all of my payments this year I’ve round up to the next dollar, except for this particular one.

It doesn’t matter, I am considered totally in the arrears on the entire bill, not just .0044% of the entire bill (notice it all begins on the third decimal point.   It’s not even 1%).
So Ms Satan you just turned off the service of a $2,700 per year customer because they owe you less than a dollar for 60 days? It get’s better.

Mr Satan: “Sir, you claim you made your last payment to us xx days ago. I only received it this morning.

I make all of my payments via a bill paying service offered by my credit union. As is my norm with TM, I set up their payment the day I received their paper  bill, to be received by TM three days before the bill is due.

NOTE: I’m not putting a stamp on an envelope and mailing it three days before it’s due, I’m setting up an electronic funds transfer to take place three days before it’s actually required.

Wait for it, wait for it…

“Sir, just because you have a bank confirmation saying that you paid us doesn’t mean I have the money. It can take up to xx days internally for me to receive the money. Until I receive and credit the money your account is considered delinquent.”

Here it comes Satan, it’s my turn to speak.

Even though you’ve been rude and abrasive and did not call me on the number that I requested three times, only 12 hours earlier, I have selected to simply ignore your faulty logic of turning off a $ 2.7K annual account for a less than a dollar oversight. You have now entered the area of absurd.
Just 13 hours earlier TM remotely and automatically turned off my cable and broadband connection


within ten seconds of me entering the last digit of my AMEX account into an automated remote attendant to “regain services” (a queer us of the word services) my broadband modem lights flicker back on and the haunting voice of Doctor Phil returns to the house,

You are telling me that it take XX in office days for you to apply an electronic payment that you received in-office over XX days ago?
I have a lot more that I wish to say, but I don’t. I tell Satan that I am now far beyond angry and I am going to hang up now, for their benefit and mine.

Before hanging up I tell Satan  “…I expect and would appreciate a follow up phone call on this matter on my 703 number…”
Just like “all of the nice girls” on prom night, I sit by the phone waiting for a call that I know I won’t come.

In My Dreams I am a Dancer, that’s just the Impression That I Get

In spinal cord injury, wheelchair on October 28, 2010 at 12:21 am

Not the ballroom dances that I learned attending classes with our dinner club back in the mid-90’s or the graceful moves that I could make on ice skates.  I could out skate anyone….not bad for a guy now 6’2″ and 225+. * (*Truth be told I’m self taught. I’ve got the movie “Ice Castles” in my DVD collection)

I don’t dream that I am Fred Astaire, Baryshnikov or one of the pillow-biters on Dancing with the Stars.

No, in my dreams I am Ben Carr.  If you don’t know who Ben Carr is, you’ve probably seen him but never knew his name.  Carr is the dancing guy for the Boston based Ska band the “Mighty Mighty BossTones.”

Carr is not exactly graceful, but he is inventive. His interpretation, I believe, is based solely on what he hears. His inspiration, most likely the joy he feels when listening the BossTones.

Carr, then a follower of the BossTones was added to the band one evening after a club owner wanted him to leave after helping the band setup because he was under 21. Frontman Dicky Barrett told the club owner that Carr was “with the band.” Thus Carr’s stint as the band’s dancer began.

See Carr’s dancing through out the Bosstones’ video “The Impression that I Get.”

My days are not spent worrying that I won’t walk again. I know I will. Friends tell me they have dreams of me walking again.  I just don’t want to walk, I want to dance like Ben Carr.

A Shotgun Marriage of my a**hole and my neck

In spinal cord injury, Spinal Cord Pain on October 26, 2010 at 4:36 pm
“…People say ya look like M.C. Hammer on crack, Humpty
That’s all right ’cause my body’s in motion
It’s supposed to look like a fit or a convulsion…”

It’s either 20 of 12 or 20 of 6.  I doesn’t matter.   I feel it.  I taste it. It’s my a**hole being pulled up towards my belly button.  It’s also my neck being sucked down into my a**hole.  An unseen force is trying to wed my a** with my back, and I don’t take too kindly to this shotgun wedding.

Guilty as charged.  I’ve unleashed this beast.  When you poke a big dog with a big stick, expect it to bite back big. Full bore unencumbered muscle spasms. My mid-section is shaking more than Michael A. Fox on a Celebrity Cruise to Alaska.   I feeling like that dude in Digital Underground’s  Humpty Dance video. (shout out to Mike Finch for this).

This all a byproduct of my weekend regime aimed at core fitness.

“Take things slow” the Mrs says.  I reference the “1983 Christmas tree incident.”  That piehole shuts quickly.

Metaxalone.  My current cure for the civil war between North and South.  Finally peace returns to my body…until 5:40 when the thrill ride begins again.

Calling in enforcements from Dr  C.   I can see Baclofen at 40 clicks.

Post Script:   Mrs. Neidermeyer arrived with the Baclofen.   Peace is returning to the kingdom

Taking the “bene-” out of -its

In Work on October 25, 2010 at 10:20 pm

An annual rite of passage for us folk who work for a mega-conglomerate, re-enrolling for coverage by our healthcare provider de l’annee (that’s French for “of the year” I’m trying to class up the blog postings up a bit..).

A new wrinkle this year is we also have a new benefits website.

Please got to the following http://benefits.bigcompany.com

I can dig it.  I like doing everything online without having to speak with a “customer service representative.”   It’s not the conversation I detest, its the pre-conversation aural stool that I must endure:

“Pulse uno para el español that’s “Press one for Spanish”  For those not playing the versión en español of our home game.

(This is NOT meant to be a dig on my Spanish Peers.  Aren’t you all sick of hearing this on every call introduction?  Most, if not all of you speak English AND Spanish.  Not many of us gringos can speak Spanish AND English.   Score one for team Hispania)

“This call may be monitored for call quality.” Not their goal.  We need to record any conversation in lieu  of any future litigation.

“If your call pertains to… press…” What number do I press if I’m beyond annoyed, 11?

Then it’s the pompous on-hold music. Its purpose to elicit the image of “a reputable institution of high morale standing.”    Sorry.  When I hear harpsichord music I think of the Addams Family and when I hear that other ditty I think of “Grey Poupon Dijon Mustard.”    “Pardon me, would you have any Grey Poupon?”  “But of course!”

Finally after ten minutes I bail on the call, without speaking with either Amélie or Pierre. meunier au revoir! (That’s French for see you later sucker!)

I once again attempt to use the web site.  I tried to use it this weekend but I didn’t have an important bit of information, my employee ID #.

“Your employee ID# can be found on your pay stub” (reads the help button on the screen)

I joined the company 18 years ago before the internet and have always had direct deposit.    The last pay stub I saw was back in 1980 when I worked at Convenient Food Mart, store 182 (holler to all my former homies!!).  I finally locate my employee ID # on one of my employer’s intranet sites.

Next, “Enter your temporary password” (which is the last four digits of your social security and your first four characters of your birthday).   Again I am stumped.  What is my birth date?  I can’t call my Mother, she’s deceased.  What if I’m Chinese, should I subtract a digit?   I call my Wife; I’m back in bizness.

After signing in, the first step is to pick a new user name and a password.   So much for the foreplay, real decisions need to be made now, schnell, schnell!

(To be continued)

Put that “Junk” back in your Trunk

In People on October 25, 2010 at 6:31 pm


I’m tired this morning,  having stayed up to watch the Vikings vs Packers game on Sunday night.  The Packers won and Brett Favre was knocked around more than a pinata at Pedro’s birthday.

For those not aware of the titillating under belly of NFL happenings, Favre is under NFL investigation for sending inappropriate text messages to a member of the NY Jets organization while he was with the Jets back in 2008.  Apparently receiving unsolicited messages of this nature constitute ‘sexual harassment’ in the workplace.

Favre has admitted to sending the text messages but none of the photo variety.  Favre claims that he did NOT send pictures of his ‘junk’ to the NY Jets employee.  The Mrs. and I disagree on many issues, but the one topic that we both agree on is “junk” is called “junk” because it looks like “junk.”

Even being the proud owner of the perfect set of “junk” I don’t have pictures of it on my desk nor would I send a picture of it to anyone other than my Urologist.   One thing that was hit hard by God’s “Ugly Stick,” the “junk”.

Favre ain’t stupid, although he tries to appear that way when the situation fits him.    He is vain, so any pictures of his “junk” are most likely hanging in his locker or perhaps being knawled by the dog from the Wrangler commercial.

Where Favre is stupid (callous in my book),  is that he’s a married man (true, shotgun in nature.)  His “junk” or any text messages referencing it should be between he and his Wife.   If he does claim (which I believe he will) that the messages were only sent because he was lonely and in need of companionship.  Well in that case, that’s what his “junk is for.

Dear Penthouse Forum…

In Life on October 21, 2010 at 4:31 pm

Excuse me, but is that a golf ball in your front pocket?

Another bit of my childhood died today in the passing of Bob Guccione, the former publisher of the now defunct Penthouse magazine.   What teenage boy of my era doesn’t remember the phrase “Dear Penthouse Forum…”

I haven’t read a Penthouse in years, and who remembers ever buying one?   My buddies and I would always snitch our Father’s copy knowing that we would never get called on the carpet for it.

...and speaking of the carpet not matching the drapes.

My last memory of Bob Guiccione was back in 1986.  Back before I became a Father I was an avid (but poor) golfer.  I was playing the back nine at the Dinsmore public course in Staatsburg, NY.

Coming down the fairway on one of the final holes I shank my drive over a rock wall of a private residence that borders the course.  The residence of none other than Mr. Bob Guiccione. (Prior to Uma Thurman purchasing the place after catching Ethan Hawke playing holes on another course.)

Neighbors remember Ethan as a regular court jester. "Go on Uma, pull my finger..."

I grab my long rough wedge from my bag, as it lay on the lip of the fairway.   As I stride toward the back gate of the rock wall I can’t help but think:

“Dear Penthouse Forum, I was golfing the back nine at my local course when my errant drive ended up beneath a chaise lounge  in the backyard of a young blonde who was sunbathing nude.

She got up from the chair, her ample pert bosoms heaving and dripping of sweat and sun tan oil.  I couldn’t match the carpet with the drapes, because this apartment has no rug.

She sees me and fawns “come and get your ball stud, and leave your wedge there.  You need to bring your wood to play in my rough…”

Rest in Peace Mr. Guccione.

P.S. I did get my ball back that day.

This looked like the woman who retrieved my ball that day, except this woman is 50 years younger.

A willowy woman clothed in only a clingy sun dress had found my ball.   With the body of a well toned athlete and the mouth of a long shoreman, she threw me the ball yelling “keep ya f*ckin ball out of my garden…”

Shepard of an Invisible Pack of Kittens

In Friends, spinal cord injury on October 17, 2010 at 6:25 pm

At the suggestion of any old friend/college/co-handicapper/yes u BobJ, I am reading the 1997 autobiography of Jean-Dominique Bauby,   “The Diving Bell and the Butterfly,” on my Amazon Kindle.


Jean-Dominique Bauby "dictating" his memoir and dinner order to Claude Mendibil later seen below in the 2007 film



"Go on, I dare you, pull it..."


I have only read the preface and the first chapter and feel the need to put my Kindle down and state, in my best Bill Clinton finger wagging tone: I have never read this book and only have seen only seen the opening moments of the movie.”

I do remember the book’s title, as it is an awkward pairing of two words:

“The Toilet Seat and the Hummingbird,” or “The Frenchmen and the Bar of Soap.”

“You got chocolate in my peanut butter” “No, you got peanut butter in my chocolate.”

There are no similarities in our injury, vocation or lifestyle, yet we have one bond.


He suffers from an ailment that I’ve never heard of: “Lock-In Syndrome.”   Although in my single days I have seen many suffer from “Locked Together Leg Syndrome.”   Yes, thank you, I do write my own material.

I only suffer from a bad case of Caucasian “I Can’t Walk” disease, the subject of a 1992 Phil Collins video.


He is a Foreign News Correspondent.    True, I do work for a news organization, but my job is to herd undetectable chunks of data to and from different destinations,  fore which I earn the job title of:  Shepard of the Invisible Pack of Kittens.

He is a writer. I am not a writer (yup, here it comes. “Although I play one on TV“). I merely work for a company that employs writers.


Jean-Dominique Bauby died two days after his book was published on March 9, 1997, of pneumonia.

True, I am physically still alive, but I am an idiot,  my spirit dying on July 2, 1987.  (I’m safe, the Mrs. doesn’t read my blog and doesn’t think I remember or anniversary date…what, oh Hi Honey, what, no stop, stop please, can someone please call 911?).


Nous aimerions une pizza avec une paille d'alimentation s'il vous. Translation:I would like one pizza with a feeding straw please.



Our connection is purely in writing style.

For me it’s like riding in the backseat of my parent’s station wagon with the French brother that I never had, playing the age old children’s game “Je sais que vous êtes, mais ce que je suis?”

“I know you are but what am I?,” I would say.

He would repeat: “Je sais que vous êtes, mais ce que je suis?

It would continue until my Mother grew weary.

Leaning into the back seat, with a Benson & Hedges 100’s dangling from her lips,  she would scream (“remember, it’s the 100’s!” she would yell as I rode off on my bike to the convenience store with her permission to buy cigarettes note in my pocket.) “…you two need to cut the merde!!!

Yes, fond memories of the family that I never had.

La Fin

I Died & Went to Heaven 3 Times and All I Got was this Stinkin’ Goatee

In spinal cord injury on October 15, 2010 at 1:18 am

Wait, what, is it my breath? Come back, wait...

December 2005, my first of three months at Helen Hayes Hospital (HHH), East Nyack, NY.  I am there to rehabilitate after a life altering climbing accident that has left me dead three times.

During those days leading up to Christmas Eve, I cannot get an odor out of my nose. My three ward mates “J”, Dave and a Mr X, all claim they smell nothing.   What do they know; none of them had bathed since I arrived three weeks prior.  (Truth in advertising, none of the four of us was physically able to bath.)

The smell is a constant as I’m wheeled into different treatment rooms.  Was someone left strapped into a standing frame too long and lost control of their bowels?  Is the staff wiping down the therapy mats properly?  Unlike a Jennifer Lopez movie, this stink stays with me longer than two hours.

Looking for any clue I ask a ward nurse to flip me and see if I have “…any black friends visiting…”  Dave, a barber from Harlem, shot six times during a robbery hears my request, bursts into laughter, pops two staples and then defecates himself.  (All we have is each other and our humor, yes true story)

During final rounds I ask my SCI Doctor if she smells it.  She says no,  but she tells me something that I’ve heard all too often throughout my life.  “…You’re the one that stinks.”  No, not like that stink on a monkey type stink, but much deeper.

Two things in short supply on my wing at HHH, self-respect and accessible mirrors.  True, there are mirrors, but none I can see into.  Having two “still fresh” titanium rods shoved up my backside, I am unable to pivot my head much past center.

Circle get's the square, I'll take Charles Nelson Reilly to block please.

The following day I am provided with a hand mirror.  Funny, I don’t remember leaving my face this way.  I have a series of scars on my forehead, reminiscent of the forehead artistry of late 60’s Charles Manson.  True, I am German, but neither from that era nor mindset.

My lip reminds me of Angelina Jolie’s, but “lip” is a singular, as in “Willis, don’t give me no lip” or “Willis, give that man the rest of his lip back.”

My top lip is puffy, my bottom lip is not, as in “not all there.”   It’s grooved in the middle, like the mark a garden hose leaves in grass.  The groove is later identified as being from a drainage tube.

I have also grown what appears to be a full dark black goatee.   I’ve attempted to grow goatees in the past, but never a keeper. I am a Kraut, but resemble black Irish and have thus always grown a cornucopia of different facial hair colors.  Now I resemble Clairol color “Che’ Guevara.”  (…Perhaps that explains why I’m having dinner with the Castro brothers.)

Che Guevara

The nurses on the floor admire my goatee.  “Yo Poppi, you so handsome” the Dominican staff would remark. The source of their pleasure, I sooner discover is the source of the stink.

“Honey, I don’t think they told you but you were left on the prone-ing table too long without being turned,” the Mrs. told me.

Back at Albany Med Center, I am in an induced five week coma, in an effort to stave off the ill effects ( see “death” in the medical dictionary) of a full blown case of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS).

I am strapped face down, buck naked into a device called a prone-ing table.  This allowed the doctors to rotate and turn my body to achieve the optimal treatments results, not unlike a chicken on a rotisserie grill.   Why not, I already had the titanium rods shoved up the backside.

My neck is strapped down while my face poked through a 10 CM hole in the bottom of the table (yes, it is appropriate to think of a baby attempting to escape the clutches of the birth canal.)

Can I get an Episiotomy over here at table two?

The problem was the circumference of my head well exceeded 10 CM.  My face may have poked through the hole, but my chin remained pressing against the table’s vinyl surface unmoved for three days.  My chin had suffocated and then died.

Ever watch one of those documentaries on unsuccessful Mount Everest climbs?  You typically see a video shot of a climber’s frostbitten toes, feet, fingers, hands and nose, the darkened purple skin getting its hue from a lack of oxygen.

I hadn’t scaled any mountains, I climbed much higher.    On all three of my summit attempts I am turned back just before the peak.  Each time my Sherpa brother-in-law drags me from the gates, in a shopping cart no less,  and back down the hill.  Sherpa is also my CPA.  This reeks of symbolism.

When I awake from my coma, I am cloaked only is a large swaddly t-shirt that reads:  “I went to Heaven Three Times, and All I Got was this stinkin’ Goatee”

And back to the goatee.  Below the facial hair is a large area of necrotic skin. “Necro” as in I sleep with dead people “Necro”-philia.  That’s right I don’t see dead people, I smell them.  For the past three weeks I’ve been sniffing the early stages of gangrene, right below my nose.  It’s a smell best unsmelled.

Keeping with the “tis better to give than receive” tone of the holiday, Dr. Lecter returns to my room with a single scalpel.   Ever heard the expression “give me some skin?”   And with only the glow of my respiratory monitor to guide her, Dr. Lecter, without any numbing agents, anesthesia or drugs, removes my goatee and then some.  “Well Clarice, how does that look?”

Dr. Lecter

I can’t scream.  It hurts to much scream.  Nor can I speak; (see earlier excuse in this sentence. ) Unbeknownst to Dr Lecter who thought the room to be empty, behind her sat a young girl about eight years of age, the niece of Dave the barber.   I am scarred while she is now emotionally scared.

Post Script: In February 2007 I am at Albany Med Center for “clean up work,” their words not mine. Apparently there is actually a medical diagnostic code for handling the “mulligans.” I am there for my chin replacement surgery.  Soon I shall be free from the pointing fingers of Babes. “Mommy, is that Man Michael Jackson?”

As I’m being wheeled into the operating room, I tug at the Plastic Surgeon’s pant leg.  “Dr. M, can I ask you a favor?  I know we didn’t discuss this earlier, but can you give my new chin some character. I’ve also wanted a distinguished chin.”

“Why certainly Clarice” he replies, “Merry Christmas.”