Best Experienced With: Stephen Kellogg; Milwaukee/Roots and Wings
(To properly appreciate my return letter, Lauren From Australia, you may want to cue up this song. It’s the one I listened to while composing our letter and it is a damn fine song. All nine minutes of it.)
Two weeks ago, I received the following email in my WordPress account that has housed “Mind of Mully (Classic)”, “Mind of Mully Biz Haus Shoppe”, and “Vote Mully” for many years.
“Dear Mully. You piss me off. I read you every week for four years and then nothing. Nothing! And the old stuff is gone. I want to buy you a beer! Come to Australia for one of your adventures! Where is your writing? Where did you go? I miss you. Lauren From Australia.”
This is your reply, Lauren. From Australia.
Hi! Thanks for writing. Quit whining. God hates whiners and Steelers fans. Sweep the leg, jump the shark, and buy the ticket….take the ride. Apologies for the writing trailing off. My intent was never to anger you. Heck no. I love you Aussies. You did not attach a photo so I will picture you as a morphed being, using Olivia Newton John, Natalie Imbruglia, and Nicole Kidman as the morphees. You asked why the writing trailed off. The writing trailing off has a backstory. A Tolstoyesque backstory, Lauren, so grab yourself a few of those Fosters oil cans and settle in for a reply letter. Light a candle for the proper background scent. May I suggest cinnamon? Not vanilla, though. Vanilla candles are pedestrian.
Life is all about learnings, Lauren. As ridiculously indestructible as The Lord made the Irish, I have learned that the three to four months post surgery has a tiring effect on the body and mind. When you stack six surgeries together over a twenty-six month timeline as I have done, there is an additive effect. Sometimes, I sleep through entire months, waking with a full beard and an incomplete understanding of both the election and the ever-evolving situation in the Middle East. The end result here has been really, really, really, really bad writing over the last two years. I would write what I would consider to be three amazingly hilarious paragraphs and then fall asleep, only to awake and realize the train of thought was gone or that the first three paragraphs were really, really, really, really bad. Apparently, the body needs time alone to regenerate tissue. Unless, of course, you are a vampire. Which I am not. I despise Goth stuff, en toto.
There are 4,932 three-paragraph missives on a jump drive and they will never see the light of day. Perhaps when we have that beer, I’ll bring them along….printed…along with the big ninety-six color box of Crayolas and we can finish them up with drawings. Then, we can publish them as a coffee table book and make millions.
Several weeks back, on a visit to The Land of Cleve, mom sat me down at the dining room table and quietly said “we need to have a serious discussion”. At first I thought she knew the pharmaceutical companies were after me because they learned that the cancer and psoriasis cures I created over the summer with recombinant DNA would be out by Thanksgiving. That’s our Thanksgiving, Lauren. The one where we celebrate conquering the Indians. With kindness and smallpox. Then, I looked deeper and saw “the mom look”. The look from when I blew up my right leg lighting a coffee can full of gasoline back in sixth grade. The look from when she found unmentionable items in my closet each and every weekend from sixth grade through just last week. “The mom look”. The look that generally led to a grounding.
I flat out don’t have time to be grounded right now, Lauren. Too much to do, you know? I’m right in the middle of repurposing the Space Shuttle program for NASA. And developing an Iron Manesque exoskeleton for President Obama for his January, 2013 visit to Damascus where he will dig the first shovel full of dirt for Disneyland Syria. While praising Mr. Assad for his choice to live as a deposed expatriate tyrannical despot in Fargo, North Dakota. In that downtown Holiday near the Zandbroz Variety book store on North Broadway. Room 411 at the Holiday Inn. That is where Mr. Assad will be for the next few years.
I inherited my father’s eyes, appreciation for mischief, and room filling laugh. I inherited my mother’s love of medicine, work ethic, and appreciation for the disenfranchised and dispossessed. I also inherited my mom’s side of the family’s bad colons and dad’s side of the family’s bad bones. Mom’s side of the DNA double helix has colon tissue as strong as Don Knott’s deputying skills in “The Andy Griffith” show. Dad’s side of double helix gave me bones that break down faster than the Cleveland Indians after Independence Day. That’s our Independence Day, Lauren. The one where we celebrate conquering the limey Brits. With muskets and wiliness. No smallpox, though. We used up all the smallpox on the Indians. My DNA has allowed me to acquire as much free Versed and pain pumps at Scripps Green over the past two years as I could handle….six surgeries worth. First a left hemicolectomy in July, 2010, then a left wrist fusion in August, 2011…followed up rapidly by a second colon resection in September, 2011 and then the right wrist fusion in April, 2012. All the healing slowed down the writing. And the dating.
Back in 2009, my rheumatologist took a set of films and said “we’re going to either map out a plan for surgery or a plan for different medications.” Ever the fan of scars, I chose the surgery mapping option and we mapped out a thirty year joint replacement and fusion plan beginning with the items that most hinder my poor guitar playing (the wrists) and even more poor surfing (the back). Then we will move onto the joints that have kept me slow my entire adult life (the hips and knees), ending with brand new feet in 2027, more bouncy than the bounciest of inflatable jumpy houses. The end result of the orthopedic surgeries through 2027 will be a septuagenarian Irish American competing in the summer Olympics in 2028. And that will be pretty cool.
I now have a frequent visitor card at Scripps Green, more valuable than my Delta diamond and multi-million miler card. Because my Scripps green card virtually guarantees me views like this one below of Torrey Pines golf course when I visit again tomorrow to get my L-4/L-5/S-1 anterior lumbar interbody fusion. Four west has one hell of a view. For five days, I’ll be able to heckle golfers and see the glider port as I punch that pain pump button button for all it’s worth.
Back to mom. She said two things. First, she said “you need to take this spine surgery seriously and understand that you’re going to most likely have more of your colon taken out down the road.” We quickly disposed of that topic when I reminded her that I seldom take anything seriously and we have roughly twenty-six feet of colon, leaving me with at least twenty-two left to play with. That left the second statement that accompanied “the mom look”. It was this. “You need to find a partner…I don’t want to see you going through life alone.” I was able to dispose of that comment by showing her your email, explaining that I have had well over three hundred partners through the years, and arguing that Mark Zuckerberg and the Winklevoss twins virtually guaranteed that we misanthropes would not have to go through life alone back when they were Harvard students.
Enough about me, Lauren. Let’s talk about you. I have questions. Do you own any kangaroos or wallabies? Can you ride the kangaroos? Do they have a special saddle and can you keep your snacks in their pouches when you take them our riding? If you pull those long ears, will they go in that direction? Are the wallabies jealous of the kangaroos? Your national anthem is “Advance Australia Fair”. Is that a national fair? Does everyone go, like they do to the Ohio State Fair? Are there rides and odd, deep-fried foods? Do you have any friends at the Sydney Opera House? If so, can you hook a brother up when I come visit and drink beer with you? I’d like to bring my guitar and sing my acoustic version of TLC’s “Waterfalls” on the stage at the Sydney Opera House. That video would seriously light up YouTube. We’d probably make it onto Tosh.0. You can play the tambourine. But, please, hold it down when I do the rapping part in “Waterfalls”…I like to do that part a capella.
And what of aborigines? Do you know any aboriginal people? Have you ever been to an aborigine formal dance and, if so, did you have to paint your face like I saw the aborigine face painting in my grandmother Mulligan’s “National Geographic” magazines when I was a child? If you did have to paint your face, was it easy to remove the face paint afterwards with a common face cleanser, such as Noxzema?
And some final questions about you and Australia, Lauren Have you seen the movie “Papillion”? How do you feel about your country starting out as a penal colony? Are there any vestigial penal colonies where Great Britain still sends prisoners? Did you like Steve McQueen in that movie? Even when he lost his teeth and had scurvy? Me, too! I liked him in “Bullet” as well. Steve was a man’s man. Can you speak French? When I come visit my friend Rob I. next year, we’re going to drink Fosters in the shade, you and me.
Enough about you, let’s get back to me and your questions. Mostly me, though, because this is the longest I have typed in two years and I’m on a roll. Never stop momentum….that’s a solid rule. And never, ever date people who have more problems than you do. That rule is also solid.
Like most things in life, hospital stays are what you make of them. Four or five days in the hospital can be a great time, with the proper planning and the correct offense. Take slippers, for example. Here are the slippers I bought three weeks ago for this week’s Scripps vacation. They are the bunny from “Monty Python and the Holy Grail” slippers and by Christmas, they will tell tales of these slippers around campfires throughout the Scripps health system. They may even put bronze statue of me in the bunny slippers in the lobby at Scripps Green. Next to the fountain.
Here are the slippers from 2010
Here are the slippers from the 2011….I brought two pair. Because everyone likes choices.
The slippers are pretty critical to set yourself on the laps through the hallway. The laps that show you’re healing and ready to get home. The laps are the hospital’s version of our country’s sixth grade Presidential Physical Fitness test. And I set the damn standard for four west lap walking at Scripps Green. The highest of all high bars and it all begins with the slippers.
I have made quite a name for myself in these laps, Lauren. I am nothing if not competitive and I treat the lap sessions much like Steve Prefontaine treated his preparation for the 1972 Montreal Olympics. I stand outside my door before beginning laps, stretching vigorously and doing a Ray Lewis-like psyche up speech to anyone who will listen…and as much as my IV lines and catheter will allow. Some of the other patients sob, silently, knowing they will have no chance once I hit the floor. Post warm up, I’ll tape my iPod to the IV pole, pull on the pink Skull Candy headphones, crank up Metallica, and start lapping four west. I generally begin at a ridiculously high rate of speed, holding my pee bag above my head and shouting “who’s getting discharged first, you slackers?” and “PASSING on the left!”. I put the emphasis and volume on “PASSING” each and every time. So they know I am passing them.
Then, after lap three, I change it up and do the next two laps in slow motion. Because everything looks cooler in slow motion. Write that down. Everything. Looks. Cooler. In. Slow. Motion. The beginning of “Reservoir Dogs” would just have been some guys walking in front of a brick wall, until they slowed it down and made it ten times cooler. Everything looks cooler in slow motion. A game of jacks. Sneezing. This hummingbird outside my window right now. Pretty mundane activities until we put them in slow motion. These five laps, in aggregate, tend to freak out the charge nurse and that makes me quite popular with the staff nurses. Because no one likes The Man. Damn the Man. In the past, these five laps have gotten me foot rubs. And my insurance plan doesn’t even cover foot rubs. See?
This year, because of the holiday season, I am adding piñata night to my stay. Here’s the piñata. I filled it with mini bottles of booze, Tootsie Roll snacks, and other sundry items. We’ll be having a nice holiday party on Halloween.
I also bought eighteen of these little Halloween flying parachute men and, if all goes according to Hoyle, four hours after the piñata party, I will be standing on the roof of Scripps Green with three of my favorite nurses….empty mini bottle at our feet…..chucking these little Halloween parachute men onto the ninth green at Torrey Pines. And, fortunately, everything always goes according to Hoyle in my world. I will send you photos from the roof, Lauren From Australia. You are welcome.
Three hours ago, I unlocked all 243 “Mind of Mully Biz Haus Shoppe” entries because I could not sleep knowing that I could not have coffee in the morning, given the pre-surgery rules. You know what I miss most during my hospital stays? Coffee! Not beer. I have that pain pump thing in my hand at all times and I do not miss the beer. God, but I miss the coffee when in the hospital for five days. I unlocked them for you, Lauren From Australia. Feel free to read and look at the nonsense to your heart’s content. And in 2039, when I have retired, I will unlock the 107 entries in ‘Mind of Mully (Classic)”. Because of all the swear words. And, again, yes. Yes, I will have a beer with you when I visit my friend Rob Izzard in Australia one day. Until then, thank you for reading my nonsense and thank you for writing.
Bring on the Versed, the three a.m. wake up catheter checks and the disparaging looks at my bunny slippers.
Because as Shane Falco so eloquently put it in “The Replacements”:
Chicks dig scars…..and….most important
Glory is forever.
Speaking of scars, I have a plan for all of mine. Here are the wrist fusion scars. In ten years, I will turn each of them into the cover of the Rolling Stones album, “Sticky Fingers”, with the help of my tattoo artist, Mike Sirot in Pacific Beach. Go ahead and Google that album cover. I’ll wait right here for you to return, Lauren From Australia. See?
The scar tattoo that will be the most fantastic will be on my stomach. There’s a three-year plan. Here is what I have today from the colon resections:
The ALIF incision on Tuesday will be like this:
Last Friday, when I had my vascular surgeon consult, I brought in the following drawings and asked Dr. F. if he would pleas make certain he made his incision precisely forty-five degrees up from the colon resection scars….like this:
Because in 2015, Mike Sirot will be connecting the scars and making this tattoo…..with the square root of 2 equaling 1.414 and everything. And that, Lauren, will be the coolest tattoo in the galaxy. Plan your work.
Work your plan.
Good night. Thanks for writing. Thanks for reading.
“Don’t go chasing waterfalls….please stick to the rivers and lakes you’re used to. I know that you’re gonna have it your way, yadda yadda.”