Friday, September 13, 2013

Extra Life 2013

Those who know me know that I'm not one that normally seeks out for help or assistance.  But this time, I need your help. 

In 2008, a gaming podcast called Sarcastic Gamer started a charity to help raise money for pediatric cancer through gaming with all proceeds going to Texas Childrens Cancer Center.  They helped raise $115,000.  When I joined the following year, I was blown away by this.  I mean, $115,000... from gamers?  The year I joined (2009), Sarcastic Gamer and participating communities helped raise over $170,000.  When Extra Life expanded to help local children hospitals outside of Texas for more ailments than just Pediatric Cancer Research in 2010, they helped raise over $451,000.  That amount was more than doubled in 2011 when they helped raise $1.1 million for 175 children hospitals around the world.  

So, I need your help.  On November 2nd (or 3rd), I pledge to do 25 hours of gaming over the course of the following 2-3 days.  For that 25-hour pledge, I'm only asking for at least $1 per hour.  Only $25, that's it.  Yes, that' s probably a Blu-ray movie with tax.  A nice lunch with a friend?  How about a movie plus popcorn, alone?  A child who needs help with his/her treatment could really use your/our help!  I've already donated to my page and also to the page of 2 gaming friends of mine.  Please join me.

Thank you.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013


9/11/13 Update

Well, the procedure was a success. Once the doctors got in there to deal with the stricture, they also found a small gallstone. Once the stent was put in, whatever "sludge" that had been backed up started flowing smoothly. Unfortunately, I now have to have a tube sticking out of my abdomen for up to 3 months until the time for this stent to be removed. Hopefully, it'll be much less than that. 

As of 2:30pm, I've been visited by 4 of the doctors and, due to my progression the last 36 hours, they like my chances of me going home today. 

I really hope so. While I'm off from work, I'd like to walk Angelise to school in the mornings. 

Right before the procedure Monday afternoon, I received a pleasant visit from Brian. Since the procedure, I've been put into a different room on another floor.  Since that time, Jonathan sat in with me on Monday.  He and Amy returned early yesterday while Javier and my co-worker Boureima visited later in the evening. Thanks, everyone, for taking the time. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

9/9/13 Update

Yesterday was a relatively quiet day. Had a couple of doctors stop by in the morning to go over what's expected of the procedure again. So nothing new to report there. 

My buddy (and LCVG brother) Joey stopped by sometime after the doctors left and sat with me for about 2 hours. We talked video games (primarily the new consoles), comics and family. I even threw in some football talk in there. He was nice enough lend me his B.P.R.D.: Plague of Frogs hardcover book which I'm looking forward to diving into since it's a highly well-reviewed series. Upon asking him for some new comic recommendations, he suggested East of West, the new Batman/Superman series, The Bunker and Lazarus.  I immediately purchased and downloaded them via Comixology.  I've yet to start Lazarus but East of West was amazing, looking forward to seeing where that series is heading. Batman/Superman was ok but I'm sure it'll get better.  The Bunker, however, was my favorite. Both gripping and creepy, I'm excited to add this book to my regular reading rotation. So thanks Joey, for both recommending some great reads AND helping put a dent in my iTunes account. ;)

Maria arrived in the late afternoon/early evening for her overnight stay. She helped me shower (not easy with all of these cables everywhere) and shave. Shaving was the biggest relief. I've showered since arriving but hadn't shaved and my head started looking like a chia pet convention. Plus the hair under my chin was driving me mad. It was quite satisfying going back to my silky smooth chrome head. 

After the shower and grooming were taken care of, Maria jumped in my bed for a couple of episodes of Luther on Netflix. Some of the smiles we were getting from the staff were priceless as they'd walk in and there was Maria and I, in my bed, with my iPad on our laps watching tv. Luther, by the way, highly recommended. Idris Elba is fantastic. 

Well, as I finish this off, i just had a visit from a group of about 5 doctors letting me know that it's almost time. So, I'm off to get this done. See you all on the other side of the anesthesia. 

Saturday, September 7, 2013

9/8/13 Update

So after a few days of grilling my doctors with questions and more online searches, I have a more clearer understanding of what's going on. At this moment, they won't rule out a gallstone but don't think it's the culprit.  When I asked them if the inflammation in my bile ducts could be a result of me already having passed a gallstone, they replied yes and that would leave tissue scarring on my gallbladder but the MRI didn't detect any such findings.  So, until they get in there on Monday and see what the actual cause is, they're going with stricture. 

Defined as "abnormal narrowing of a bodily canal or passageway", stricture would mean that they'd have to put in a stent or similar tube into the affected duct to help widen and maintain ample passageway.  Once I know more, I'll pass it along.

I would like to thank everyone for the outpouring of love and support. I've received many well wishes via Facebook posts, text messages and phone calls and it all means a great deal to me so thank you all so very much. 

I would also like to thank my co-worker John. When I stumbled into work Tuesday morning, John took one look at me and told me I looked like I needed to be at the hospital. For the next few minutes, he continued to insist on walking with me to the hospital. It wasn't until I told him I didn't think I could walk that he jumped on the phone and called for an ambulance. Paramedics arrived within minutes and quickly strapped EKG pads and cables on my chest and an IV in my arm. It was a rough ride to the hospital but if it weren't for John, it could've been a whole lot worse because, as the saying goes, I'm as stubborn as a mule and probably would've held out longer.  So thank you John. Thanks for getting to work before me for once. :p

That first day was spent in the ER until 1am when I was finally admitted to a room. Before that though, I received visits from John, my mother and Jorge. On Wednesday (my first day in the room), I received a visit from Jonathan, his lovely girlfriend Amy and another co-worker of mine Boureima.  On Thursday, Jorge returned and hung with me for a few hours as we talked tv shows and video games.  Jonathan returned Friday and sat in with me.  Yesterday, i had a surprise and pleasant visit from my boss Robert followed by my family: mom, Jorge, Angel & Angelise. Thank you all for finding the time to visit. 

I share the room with an elderly gentlemen who is awaiting a heart procedure on the same Monday as I'm having my procedure done. He's a nice enough, well spoken man but tends to be bothered by silly things. One evening, Maria and I heard him speaking to his sister on the phone about how this place has turned into a motel since there's a young woman staying on the other side of the room with the patient. Maria didn't like it but I just grinned and chalked it up to the elderly sometimes voicing their opinions on petty things. He was already in the room when I arrived and has a great view of the East River. I, on the other hand, have the luxury of being on the side of the room where I don't have to continuously cross in front of him whenever I need to relieve this over active bladder. 

This whole week would've been a whole lot worse if it weren't for my amazing wife Maria. Right after John called the ambulance for me that Tuesday morning, he called Maria to let her know what had happened. Maria, who at that time is normally getting ready to leave for work, instead headed straight for the hospital. When I arrived at the ER, it wasn't long before I was rushed off for a chest X-ray. When I returned, Maria was already there waiting for me. Those first two days, she missed work, tended to my every need and slept overnight on a chair with her head propped up against the wall. When Jonathan visited on Wednesday, she briefly took the time to head home for a shower, change of clothes and pack a bag for an extended hospital stay.  On Thursday, she decided to head to work but would return the moment I informed her of a start time for my procedure. Poor woman was at work all of 2 hours when she received my call informing her that my procedure was about to get underway, that very moment. We had been told that it would take place during the afternoon so we were totally caught off guard and, in addition, was about to truncate her return to her job. Nonetheless, she bolted from her job without a second thought.  Through all of this, she's had to make time to go shopping for groceries, kids shoes and school supplies.  Things we were going to do together this last week before the beginning of the school season. 

On an even more personal note, the beginning of this year was a difficult one for us. We were dealing with some serious marital issues and, by May, agreed to a separation. But right around June, we sat down and thought about what was the one thing needed working on more than anything.  That happened to be communication.  Once we established that communication would be our prime focus to help salvage our marriage, everything else quickly fell into place.  Since June, this has been a rediscovery of love, passion and, most of all, understanding and patience. Other than the birth of our kids, I've never been happier... more in love. 

As we approach our 25th wedding anniversary, I want to thank you Maria for your strength, understanding and patience. Without any of those, June wouldn't have happened. 

Thank you for being my pillar. 

I love you!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Life throws me a curveball

Many have called/texted inquiring about what happened after hearing from my mom and wife so I decided to just post an update here. 

Since Tuesday morning, I've been at the hospital for an infection in my digestive system. 2 x-rays, a cat scan and a sonogram all returned negative results on my stomach, gallbladder and pancreas but an MRI showed elevated numbers in my liver. After numerous tests and meetings amongst the doctors, they concluded that a small gallstone is the likely culprit, although nothing had shown up on any machine exams. 

Their conclusion is that the small, yet undetectable gallstone is creating a partial blockage in my bile duct thus creating these elevated numbers in my liver which are helping detect the infection. 

ERCP (Endoscopic Retro Cholangiopancreatography) is the procedure used where a flexible camera is inserted through the mouth, down the esophagus, into and through the stomach which is where the opening of the common bile duct exists. So, though it seems excessive and highly intrusive, this is a simple enough procedure for the doctors to perform on a patient with a normal anatomy. Unfortunately, I'm not that patient. 

As a gastric bypass patient (of the Roux en-Y variety), most of my stomach had been stapled closed meaning that any direct line of passage to the common bile duct has been cut off. 

So what I'm now looking at is a hole in my stomach so that air can be pumped into the sealed portion of my stomach and they can perform a sonogram-like procedure to best determine the route best successful. 

First part has been done today. I sit here with my new hole until Monday when the second (and hopefully last) part takes place keeping me out of commission for the foreseeable future.

Sorry for the lengthy post and I hope all I wrote is accurate since its a combination of my doctors words and some online searching. 

I hope to see you all soon enough. 

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Date Night - 8/2/13

Started my day with wanting to give Maria a surprise by showing up at her job and treating her to lunch.  Grabbed my iPad and made my way to her job in Manhattan via the subway, which I hadn't used in a few years.  Of course, riding the subway isn't without it's drama.  Due to track work, had to catch the train one stop uptown to board a downtown train.  Not surprised to see 1980s inconveniences at 2013 fares.

Once in Manhattan, I stopped off at Maurice Badler Jewelry located on Park Avenue between 58th and 59th Street to pick up a Pandora Bangle bracelet which she had hinted at wanting a few months prior.  When she stepped out for lunch, she was pleasantly surprised to see me sitting on the church steps next door with a Pandora bag on my lap.  From there, we went to Fresco On The Go, an Italian eatery owned by the family of Fox 5 Good Day New York's Rosanna Scotto.

Greek salad for Maria, Penne for me

After eating, we walked towards Park Avenue and found a bench where we could just hang out until it was time for her to return to work.  Once she did, I made my way down to 45th Street and Lexington Avenue for a visit to Midtown Comics.  Though I no longer buy physical comics, I still like to go every once in a while to browse the aisles and also to see the new statues.   Nothing new caught my attention but I still plan on purchasing the Spider-Man and Punisher statues pictured below.  I'm just waiting on an in-store sale.  They recently had an online sale at 40% off but their shipping was $27.  Thanks but I'll wait for an in-store sales which can be as high as 50% off.  

Black Costume Spider-Man Statue by Bowen Designs

Punisher Classic Statue by Bowen Designs

After spending 30-45 minutes at Midtown Comics, I headed over to Grand Central Terminal to visit the Apple Store.  With almost 2 hours to go before Maria's departure from work and my iPhone battery at 36%, I sat at one of their stools, charged my iPhone and started reading on my iPad.  Once Maria's work day was done, we met at the 42nd Street subway station and headed down to Fulton Street to spend our evening at the South Street Seaport.

At the Seaport's Pier 17 with the Hudson River behind us

Pier 17 has a small but pleasant collection of shops and restaurants, an outdoor cafe and a food court.  

 The British are coming

Fan of Nightmare Before Christmas' Jack?  This store is for you

Ship departing from Pier 17

For dinner, we decided to give Cabana Nuevo Latino restaurant a try. Started by waiting at the bar for drinks (yes, I know I don't drink) followed by a nice meal.  Price was a bit high but the food was really, really good.  Maria had the Paella Marinera while I had the Parrillada.

Baileys Irish Cream

Parrillada -  Mixed grill platter of grilled chicken breast, churrasco, longaniza sausage, morcilla and spanish chorizo with a side 
order of saffron flavored rice with frijoles

Paella MarineraShrimp, octopus, calamares, scallops, clams and mussels simmered with 
saffron and garlic in a caldera of valencia rice

Ended our night by taking a walk over to City Hall.  The walk from the Seaport to the subway station and from the subway station in the Bronx to our apartment was pleasantly autumn-like thanks to a cool breeze.  A beautiful ending to a beautiful day!

Summer Movie Challenge 2013 - Week 13

Our 3-week update brings us to a new person at number one.  Excellent repeat performance of Despicable Me 2 and the solid debut of The Wolverine has propelled Joseph to edge out Larry for the top spot in our challenge.  

Larry, meanwhile, has been able to hold on even though his last movie released over a month ago.  With 300: Rise of the Empire having been moved back to 2014, Greg has to count on Grown Ups 2 have solid legs to keep from dropping any further in the challenge. 

Science fiction movies don't generally make much more than $100m so I don't expect Elysium to help me much.  Jorge, having been hampered with bad debuts from Red 2 and Turbo, is looking to Smurfs 2, Planes and Kick-Ass 2 to help him escape from last place.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Summer Movie Challenge 2013 - Week 10

Three weeks later and we have a few changes to point out.  First off, the week 7 results differ here from my last post because I was working with a combination of actual numbers and estimates.  I've since made the corrections and todays post are 100% actual numbers.  Second, the leap frog between Joseph and Jorge continues with Joseph taking the biggest leap between them thanks to Despicable Me 2.  And third, Larry has finally taken the lead thanks to Monster's University with Greg (thanks to the good repeat business of Man of Steel) nudging me down into 3rd place.

The fight to stay out of last place continues this coming weekend when Red 2 and Turbo both release for Jorge while R.I.P.D. bows for Joseph.  The battle for 2nd place continues next week when the first week totals of Grown Ups 2 and Pacific Rim are updated.

Want to point out that Jorge and Joseph have joined Larry in posting some incredible ROI numbers.  Larry continues to lead after only spending $10 on a $110m+ return for Now You See Me.  World War Z has grossed $167m+ for Jorge on a $17 purchase.  Finally, Joseph thus far has received $184m+ on his $20 investment of Despicable Me 2.  Nice going guys.  

Friday, June 21, 2013

Summer Movie Challenge 2013 - Week 7

The Man of Steel has arrived and, with that, we get our first change in the standings.  Thanks to the success of Fast & Furious 6 and Man of Steel, Greg has vaulted over Larry for 2nd place and is the first player in our challenge to have 2 movies cross the $100 million mark.  By this time next week, Greg will have both movies over the $200 million mark.  Unfortunately though, he only has Grown Ups 2 left to help him compete in this challenge since 300: Rise of an Empire has been pushed back until summer 2014.  

This week has World War Z and Monster's University releasing.  For Jorge, he's looking to take 4th place from Joseph, who's next movie isn't for another 2 weeks.  Larry is looking to take back 2nd place from Greg and fight for the #1 spot which I will definitely be relinquishing after this week.  With 3 weeks before my next release, I expect to drop a few slots.

On a side note, Larry is winning the ROI race where's he's getting a nice return for bidding only $10 on Now You See Me.  Next week, Larry has White House Down releasing.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Summer Movie Challenge 2013 - Week 4

I decided to wait a few weeks before posting an update on the challenge.  Since my last challenge post, we've seen the release of 4 new releases: Star Trek Into Darkness, Fast & Furious 6, The Hangover Part 3 and Epic.  Out of the 4, only Fast 6 has had an impressive first week.  

Star Trek, while doing solid box office, hasn't kept pace with the 2009 reboot.  Hangover 3 has not only made half of what Hangover 2 made opening weekend, it actually opened lower than the original did back in 2009.  Epic, while not a sequel, comes from studio Fox which also released the Ice Age Movies, Robots and Rio.  All of which had higher opening weekends than Epic with lower budgets. 

As I post this, new releases Now You See Me and After Earth are not doing well enough to unseat Fast & Furious 6 from the weekend top spot which means highly unlikely they'll do so for it's first full week ending Thursday.  

This upcoming weekend has The Internship and The Purge releasing, neither of which are in this challenge so it's an open week for the 5 previously released movies to make as much as possible before Man Of Steel bows the weekend of June 14.

I'll update the week after Man of Steel releases.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Philadelphia Comic Con 2013

Made a rare June trip to Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with Joey this past weekend for the purpose of attending the Wizard World Pennsylvania Comic Con with Romier.  As I mentioned previously, I brought Angelise along to visit and play with Anya, Abigail and the newest member of their family, their dog Lucy.  Thanks to Sara for watching over the girls.  

Cosplay pics.

Some pics of the Back to the Future Delorean complete with hovercraft.  :)

My favorite cosplay are from Bioshock Infinite.

Elizabeth and Booker DeWitt.

Robert and Rosalind Lutece

On our way back to New York, we stopped at Friendly's for breakfast.

Angelise loves the Minecraft game so much, I just had to get her this Steve 
head costume mask and pick axe.