It was a cold a rainy day…

You know, I woke up this morning to the sounds of my daughter chirping about how excited she was that there was snow on the ground.  Apparently, the white stuff fell a bit overnight; being from Atlanta, my daughter does not get much of a chance to see snow, so even the light dusting we got here was exciting.  The snow, however, switched over to rain/drizzle and it ended up being cold, and rainy, and breezy.  A perfect day, I’m sure you will agree, for going to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.

My mother lived in NYC for many years and my wife and I would consistently talk about going to the Islands, but always put it off because of weather or some other circumstance.  Thus, this morning, MaryBeth asked if we could go.  “On the bright side, there won’t be many people there,” was one of her selling points.  Of course, there weren’t many people there — the weather was horrid.

But went we did and my wife and eldest son enjoyed themselves.  My daughter enjoyed herself somewhat and my younger son had a good time, except that he kept stepping in puddles and he (over the day, I believe) lost a semblance of feeling in his toes (though, nothing that a nice cup of hot chocolate couldn’t fix).

Tomorrow we head home.  It has been nice visiting with family and tremendous kudos go out to my brothers children who have given over their rooms to my mother and my family.  It’ll be nice, however, to be back home soon.

On the health front, I have been generally okay; though, my diet has been less than exemplary this weekend and my stomach has pointed out as much.  Tomorrow, it’ll be back to regular eating habits (well, maybe Tuesday, ’cause it’s always hard to eat right when traveling).

Merle

Tree choppin…

My brother and his family have a tradition of going to a ‘cut-it-yourself’ farm and cutting down their Christmas tree on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Today we gathered the gang and went to go a chopping. There were several to choose from, but in the end it was a 6+ foot douglas fir that was chosen. My sons helped cut it down, which was a treat for them (having only had the experience of unpacking and setting up our artificial tree). Despite the cold, we had a good time. We then went to the Chatterbox (a burger joint) for a late lunch and then came home to watch the parade once again. Actually, Sid had not seen it, despite several screenings at the house.

The good news was that I was able to do a capture of my NBC premiere as a pirate. In the clip below, I come in from the right side of the screen and say, “Arrr. Happy Thanksgiving!” This is the same clip as Karen had posted a couple of days ago, but because my brother has a widescreen TV, I wasn’t cut off from this clip. I did not, as Karen did though, copy the rest of the pirate “time” on NBC…though, as Karen points out, I end up in the middle of the screen for another couple of seconds. And with that, for your viewing pleasure…

Cheers,

Merle

The Day After

Hello all. I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. I had a BLAST in the parade. It was amazing how appreciative people were for my just simply stopping and shaking their hands and wishing them a Happy Thanksgiving.

At the beginning of the parade, there was an announcer who called out each group as they were invited to join the parade. Apparently Sid talked to the organizers because when they invited the Pirate Planksters (my group) to join the parade, the announcer said that there was a “special guy” in our group and he called out my name. It was very cool.

I was, after all was said and done, incredibly tired. My throat was (and still is) pretty sore. I guess spending 3+ hours yelling, “Arrrrrr” takes a toll on one’s throat. While we were waiting for the parade to start, there were several news crews doing remotes from the starting area. Being a ham, I started calling out to the news folks. my clown posse and I were on Fox News channel and Fox 5 in Philly and I think Orlando. I was also interviewed on CW11 here in NY. What can I say, I had a blast and I’m a media hog! :-)

I did have several pictures taken yesterday to share.  Also, Sid copied the parade and there is a clip that shows me on screened for a bit longer and bit more clearly than the clip that Karen put up.  I hope to have it posted later today or tomorrow.

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving!

Merle

This first picture is just me without my facial hair. In the instructions for parade participants, it said that men with facial hair will only get minimal makeup. I wanted the whole Monty, so I shaved off my facial hair for the first time in over 20 years. It feels very odd and, according to MaryBeth, I look funny!

Once I got my costume, I went to get my makeup on. I was expecting them to put clown white on me and the whole works, but instead, the person who put my makeup on, drew on … FACIAL HAIR. Everyone around thought it was very funny that I had shaved off my facial hair just to have it painted back on.

I spent a lot of time with a family of clowns (Lynn, Brooke, Eric, and Adam). We were the original Insane Clown Posse. We walked all around the starting area. We were the clowns that were interviewed on Fox News and the Fox5 channel, etc. In case you cannot tell, I’m the one on the right.

1

Finally, I went and found Sid and had to show my appreciation for getting me into the parade.

More Pirates

Still guest blogging from K.  It took me this long to figure out how to convert video from my Tivo.  :)

I believe Merle shows up at about 40 seconds, right in the middle of the screen. 

Direct link to the larger version of the video (about 15MB):
Macys_Pirates.wmv

Pirates … ARRRRR!

Guest blogging for Merle while he’s in NYC.  He texted me this photo to post on his behalf:

ks

Travel Sucks

…the energy from me.  All things considered, flying from Atlanta to Newark was relatively uneventful and painless.  Our flight was delayed because of air traffic here in Jersey, but we passed the time away well.  The boys played their gameboys and my daughter introduced herself to EVERYONE.  To say that she is outgoing is an understatement as she would say hi and and talk to anyone who was within earshot.

All in all, I am doing okay, but I’m tired.  Whether that is from the travel or the fact that I woke up at 5a and could not get back to sleep is unclear.  Nevertheless, we are here and getting settled.  Tomorrow is the big day and it will start for me probably some time around 4:30a or so.  We have to leave the house tomorrow morning by 5a so we can get to the right place to get costumed and for me to get my makeup applied. 

One change from an earlier post, it is CBS rather than ABC that is carrying the parade in addition to NBC.  CBS will be broadcasting from Columbus Circle, which is closer to the beginning of the parade.  Thus, if you are watching on CBS, look for me sometime around 10:20 and if you are looking on NBC look for me around 11a.  I will say that my brother gave me instructions on how to maximize the chance I will get on TV on NBC (i.e., where to walk given where the cameras will be placed).

Have a great evening and wonderful day tomorrow.

Cheers,

Merle

ps. A belated happy birthday to my sister-in-law, who apparently has given up aging as if this birthday.

I can be taught…

I learned something last night: I’m not ready to move off of the morphine yet.  I have been winnowing my way off of pain medications for a while now.  I have, for all intents and purposes, not had any of the oxycodone for almost a week now.  Last night I thought, “I’m doing so well, perhaps I don’t need the morphine!”  I was wrong.  Oy, was I wrong.  It’s not that the pain came back at full strength, but I had a very hard time getting comfortable.  It was so bad, actually, that I did take an oxycodone just to help get me through the night.  I’m back on the morphine and I’ll keep up with it at least through the Thanksgiving Day holiday (and you can bet I’ll also have some oxy  with me for after the parade).

I also learned something at work today.  Now for those of you who don’t know (or don’t remember), I work in a 10 story building and my cube is on the 10th floor.  It’s a great view from up there — of course, I have to come out of my cube to enjoy the view, but such is the way of things.  But I digress.  I pride myself on the fact that, prior to my surgery, I have walked up and down all 10 flights of stairs almost exclusively since moving into the building last January.  I used to brag that I could count on one (and then two) hands the number of times in the 8+ months of being in the building that I had actually taken the elevator.

Upon my return from surgery, it took a while, but I had actually gotten back to where I could walk up and down the whole 10 flights.  And then I started chemo.  I began to notice that I was having more and more trouble walking up the stairs, particularly the week after my chemo.  Indeed, as recently as this week (remember I had chemo last Wednesday), I was disappointed in myself that I was only able to walk up to the 6th floor on Monday and the 7th floor today.  I was able to remind myself today, though, that one of the side effects of my chemo is that my white and red blood cells are depleted.  If my red blood cells are depleted, less and less oxygen is getting to my muscles, and that might have a detrimental effect on my ability to walk the stairs. I don’t know if I am rationalizing things, but I felt better being able to explain why I was so out of breath after only walking up 7 flights.

Tomorrow, my family and I will be traveling up to New Jersey to stay with my brother Sid and his family.  Don’t forget to look for me during the parade.  Unfortunately, I cannot promise I will be doing some action that will distinguish me from the other pirate clowns (but, if I can figure something out, I’ll do what I can).

It’s a couple of days early, but I want you all to know how very Thankful I have such a great group of supporters.  I continue to have, on average, more than 200 visits to this website each day.  Now, I know that some of you are checking multiple times per day, but that number says to me that I have a lot of people checking up on me, and that makes me feel great.  Thank you to each and every one of you, both from the U.S. and abroad, who support me by reading my blog from time to time.

Thank you!

Merle

The Really Important Information

Interested in how Merle is feeling?  Naw, not really!  What you probably really want to know is where in the parade will Merle be.  Well, I got the info.  But before I tell you, and since I have your attention, I did want to say that I am feeling pretty good today (‘cept I was cold all day).  By the end of the day, though, I was pretty pooped and am getting ready to head up to get into bed now (at 7:15p).

As for the parade.  I will be in a clown unit that is 2 units behind the Spongebob Squarepants balloon.  The Spongebob balloon is 9th out of 13 balloons, so I’ll be coming in the 2nd half of the parade.  According to my brother, if I make it on TV, it’ll be between 10:20 and 11a on NBC (probably closer to 11) and around 10:20 or so on ABC.  He said if you are counting, it’ll be after the 11th commercial (though, I did not ask on which network).  The float just behind me will have Cedric the Entertainer, so if you are watching and they announce Cedric coming up, you know that I’ll be right before that!

I’ll have more info as it comes in!

Merle

Merle and Macy’s Parade

I was once again chastised this evening for not blogging in a couple of days.  This past weekend was good. The pain continues to be subdued.  I am really only taking the slow-releasing morphine now.  I am able to lay down without pain and I’m sleeping; all in all, this is a marked improvement over last couple of week.  Thus, I haven’t really had much to blog about, but chastise I’ve been, and so I will attempt to make amends.

As I have mentioned previously, this coming Thursday I will be participating as a clown in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.  I have been asked on several occasions how this came to be and so I thought I would tell you the story.

I have often looked up to my brother Sid (and have mentioned him here in the past).  Let me just say that this may be a somewhat inaccurate history, but the important facts are generally accurate.  Way back when, Sid was hired as seasonal help at Macy’s.  He did such a great job that he was hired full-time and quickly impressed management enough that he became manager of his department.  Sid quickly (or so it seemed) moved up the corporate ladder at Federated Department Stores (parent corporation of Macy’s) and eventually, when he left the company, he was a step or two beneath Vice-President and was in charge of Macy’s intranet.

While working at Macy’s Sid began to also participate in the Macy’s Day parade.  At first he was a balloon holder (one of the many folk who hang onto the ropes underneath the balloons to keep them from flying away).  He then moved up to balloon captain (the person who tells the balloon holders what to do) and then balloon pilot (the person who watches the weather conditions and tells the balloon captain what to do).  Sid was even the co-director of the entire parade one year (it was pretty cool seeing him interviewed on network television).  Since leaving Macy’s though, Sid has continued to participate in the parade.  Luckily, he has enough stroke at Macy’s that he was able to get me the gig as a clown in this years parade.

There you have it!  “How Merle got into the Macy’s Parade!”

Early on in my battle with cancer, I thought that if this is my last Thanksgiving (and I hope that it’s not), I wanted to do something pretty cool.  I think being in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is pretty damn cool.

I was recently texting with Sid and I told him that I have been feeling the need to have more contact with my family.  Thus, we are going up to New Jersey this week for 5 days of immersion with the Hamburger Family.  Similarly, the other side of my family gets together each year to celebrate Hannukah (that’s right, they get together for an event called Hamburger Hannukah).  While my entire family cannot go up for financial reasons, I will be flying up to represent.  This will be the first time I have attended Hamburger Hannukah in at least five years.  I’m looking forward to seeing my other side of the family for the same reasons as I am looking forward to Thanksgiving; if this is my last holiday season, I don’t want to be left wishing I had gone this year.

I realize this type of thinking is somewhat maudlin and, as I have said, I do not expect that this WILL be my last holiday season, but it couldn’t hurt to be safe.

Merle

The Day After

Well, I must say that I am surprised.  I expected to get several comments about my stooping to an all new level of geekiness when I was blogging from the chemo chair.  :-)

I am pleased to say that I seem to be dealing better with this latest round of chemo.  I was a little nauseous yesterday afternoon and evening, but generally seem fine today.  I’ve had a bit of fatigue today (I ran out of gas around 3p), but all in all, I seem to be doing pretty well with the chemo.

Dr. Kauh was willing to consider that the pain in my abdomen might have to do with scar tissue adhesions, but he said that adhesions didn’t explain the rash (which is smaller than it was last week) on my tummy.  He wants me to continue with the antibiotic for an additional 5 days to make sure that we get rid of whatever is causing the rash.

The pain in my abdomen is generally tolerable.  While I am still taking the slow-release morphine, I have cut back substantially on the oxycodone.  I don’t seem to be walking around as carefully as I had been and I am able to lay down without being in extraordinary pain.  The pain is worst when I am laying down, though and  moving while laying down is still challenging.  The pain continues to wake me up at night, so I am still taking the oxy in the evenings, but as I said, I’m taking much less than I had been.  Perhaps I’ll be able to do without them completely next week.

Thanks for your thoughts and well wishes.

Merle