Monday, July 31, 2006

The Dog Walker

A couple weeks into my mouth being wired, I started thinking to myself, "how is this going to change me?" I was a psychology major in college and I am aware of the effects of conditioning on a person's mind. Would I lose my desire to talk, given the frustration that it causes me? Or would I lose my ability to smile, given that smiling causes me pain as the wires dig into my lips? Or would I become claustraphobic, having lived in a trapped state, with my mouth held shut by an outside force? There's still no telling if any of these will happen, as I am now only about halfway through this process (can you believe it's been a month?)

But what I do know is, something about me has changed. Something shocking and unexpected. You see, before my injury, taking Chloe for a walk was for the expressed purpose of making her tired, so that she would not be as hyper and at the same time attain her necessary exercise. These walks were infrequent in nature and usually lasted about 10-15 minutes, once around the block.

You see, I'm not really that friendly with people in my neighborhood. Most people who walk dogs (like my buddy Bristow) think it's some big giant party and all the dogs are friends and want to talk and socialize. They get to know all the local dog's names and "talk" to them and give them treats as they gossip with the other dog owners around the dog park. What in the hell is this all about?!!

Look, buddy, you're a creepy old man who lives in a house around the corner with dead bushes in the front yard. I don't want to talk to you, normally. And I especially don't want to talk to you while your dog sniffs my dog's ass and gets their leashes all tangled up.

And look lady, my dog can't talk, so stop telling her how beautiful she is and asking her her name. She ain't gonna tell it to you and I'm not gonna talk to someone who communicates with dogs in front of complete strangers, either. And you certainly may not give her a dog treat, because I don't know who you are and I wouldn't let you give my kids candy, and until I have some, Chloe's my closest thing to a kid.

Yep, that was the old J-Man. I'm not sure what made me so jaded. Perhaps it was growing up on 3 acres where my old dog would run free and rarely interact with other dogs. Or maybe it was because I talked with complete strangers all day on the phone, and as I've mentioned before, this makes me want to do anything but that when I'm not working.

So, I would redirect my walks to avoid people, cross the street if another dog was coming, and tug Chloe on like we were in a hurry when interaction could not be avoided.

That is, until about a week ago. As if by some great conditioning miracle, I sat in my study, randomly turned to Chloe and said the magic word..."walk." She goes bonkers whenever I say this, howling and running in circles. Using the Dog Whisperers guidance, I calm her and we exit the house for a walk...a walk that has escalated each day to the point where we are walking about 1.5 miles every day. And when other dogs approach, I give Chloe a moment.

I gave her more than a moment when this hot chick was walking her little dog, Mr. Big, and usually I even begin a conversation with the other walker. Mostly it's been about my jaw because it's a little weird when a wild-haired (yeah, still not cut) man with what appears to be braces slurs his words as he holds his beagle. So usually after I say a couple things, I excuse my slurring and explain that my jaw is wired shut.

Regardless, Chloe and I are now becoming social. She doesn't get a mohawk (not sure why she does that) when every dog walks by, nor does she cower, and I don't loath an imminent conversation with a "five minute friend." We're growing and the positive reinforcement is encouraging the learning.

I still don't try to take Chloe in the direction of other dogs, and it's always stupid when someone asks Chloe her name, but hey, miracles don't happen overnight. But Pavlov would be proud, we're both learning and it has increased my walking to a daily occurrence.

How has the injury changed me?....It's left me so bored, not answering the phones at work, and sitting here alone, that I have become what for the past two years, I have mocked. Yes, I have become a Dog Walker.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


So, two nights ago, I'm lying in bed, dead asleep at around 12:15 AM, when I wake up suddenly. I'm not totally sure what woke me because I was still in the daze that accompanies being shaken awake (I've had many stellar cell. phone conversations this way). Anyway, after I gain my bearings, I realize that it is very dark in my bedroom. Then I hear it. It's my alarm system, making a chirping sound like someone just opened a door...but with an added beep.

Things are really clearing up now and I finally realize that my alarm clock is off and everything is power is out. It wasn't storming or even windy outside, that I could tell, as I made my way to my window to look out and see what's going on. Oddly, the houses across the street and the street lights are on. What the heck is going on here? (chirp, chirp...there goes that damned alarm again)

I'm still sort of in a dream state since it's dark and my mind is racing with all the possibilities of what's occurring. For some damned reason, my mind came up with the idea that someone broke into my basement and cut all the power to stop the alarm from going off. It seemed reasonable enough at 12:15 in the pitch black...especially in the high crime area of North Bethesda. Now I'm in a mild panic. Chloe is slowly stretching in bed, and looking at me pacing around the room looking for some shorts like I'm a mad man. Some watch dog, didn't mean to disturb your wonderful slumber.

I keep listening to see if I hear anyone, but the place seems quiet. (chirp, chirp) Once I locate some gym shorts, I stumble over to my night stand where I usually keep a maglite, just in case. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find it and my cell. phone isn't there either. Great. Then I remember that I left my cell. phone in the bathroom. It's even darker as I enter the bathroom, which has no windows and therefore absolutely no light coming in from outside, but I find my phone and open it to give me a "flashlight." I walk back over to my night stand and see that the maglite was actually on top of it, rather than on the usual shelf inside, and I'm set to patrol the house.

The alarm is still chirping with regularity as I slowly creep out of my bedroom and peer over the landing down stairs. Chloe is following behind me like a cowardly Scooby Doo, wanting no part of a trip down the stairs either. I make my way to the study to see if anything is odd out to the front of the house. Again, the houses across the street to my front all have power. What the hell!?

I still haven't heard anything other than the alarm chirp, so I think calling the police would be a bit drastic, and I can't really talk that well with my mouth wired shut anyway, so I figure I'll go check things out myself.

With maglite and cell. phone in hand, I stealthfully head down the stairs with Chloe two steps behind me, running through the attack moves that I will use on any intruder before bolting to my bedroom to call for police backup, in my head. Nothing strange about that. Once I get to the first floor, I look around and see nothing odd, slowly scaling past the stairs to the basement, en route to the kitchen. Nothing odd going on in there, so I decide to grab myself a butcher knife, just in case. Yeah, I watch way too much TV.

At this point, I'm short on hands, and my damned gym shorts don't have pockets, so I straddle my cell phone over the elastic in my shorts and armed with a butcher knife and maglite in each hand, I make my final leg of the patrol, down to the basement. I'm still sticking with my original thoughts that this is where the intruder is, and I have now devised the plan of blinding the intruder with the light before lunging at him with the butcher knife. Sadly, this is not the first time in the last month that I have done this. My door chime randomly went off a couple weeks ago at like 3 AM without a power outage and I made these same rounds. Yeah, apparently after midnight and home alone I become a crazed Steven Segal wannabe. Who knew??

Chloe finally takes the lead on the final few stairs as I open and examine each closet and room in my basement, before finally ending at the breaker panel. No intruder. No breakers off. And Chloe wants to take a piss.

I let her out back, do a quick patrol of my backyard and finally notice that the row of houses connected to mine is black as Wesley Snipes. Guess we've got an isolated outage. After Chloe finishes up her business, I make my way upstairs and kill the chirp on my alarm, which has been eerily beeping every few minutes during this whole ordeal.

Once I've got that solved, I head upstairs to call Pepco and see what they have to say about this. Thankfully, they have a fully automated system so I don't have to talk, and it informs me that they are aware of the outage and that it should be resolved by 3 AM.

Not sure if I'm gonna wake up when the power comes back on, so I call my little brother and tell him to give me a wakeup call at 7 AM the next morning.

Thankfully, I was awoken by the power returning on at around 1:45 AM and I reset my alarm, as my brother forgot to call in the morning. Should've figured when you call someone at 12:30 at night and give them instructions for the next morning, they're likely to be forgotten.

So, I survived the night and evaded the attack of any intruders. I still locked my bedroom door and put my laundry basket in front of it, just in case. Like you would have done any different.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Where for art thou, Beer?

After a month of consuming almost 40 gallons of liquid, none of which contained a single drop of alcohol, my liver had been asking me what he had done to deserve such a wonderful break. Well, little fella, break time is over.

This past Friday, the long wait came to an end as I joined my brother and one of my employees, Matt, at Caddies in Bethesda for a couple beers. As I have stated in past posts, I have now attained the ability to drink out of glasses and bottles, and my speech, though slurred through the wires, is somewhat recognizable in normal circumstances. I figured I was up for it; plus, I'm going crazy here not being able to do normal stuff, and being newly single and alone piled on top of that just makes things exponentially worse.

So, I sucked up the fact that I wouldn't be hitting on any ladies for fear of scarring (yes, you read that right) them and just went to re-establish my relationship with Miller Lite. To my surprise, the bouncer at Caddies was an old employee of mine, Hector, so it was nice to see him and have him give me a "Holy shit, what happened to you!?" as I walked in the door. Solid start, I'm not self-conscious or anything.

We walk in and do a once around the first floor before heading upstairs. Kevin and Matt are trying to meet up with some ladies that they know, so when we don't locate them upstairs, we grab a brew and decide to just shoot the shit for a while. Unfortunately, I hadn't realized how much louder a bar is than a normal setting (yeah, even Caddies?!) and it is a struggle for either of them to hear me. No wonder ventriloquist use microphones. This forces me to lean in on most conversations, which can border on being kinda gay, especially if the listener turns the way you weren't expecting. No, I will not make out with you!

And I will not go into many of the details of the evening, because quite frankly it wasn't all that impressive, though a nice return to normalcy...or so I thought. Here are some of the finer points from the remainder of the evening:
  • Upon meeting up with the ladies, my brother is not quick enough to take charge of the conversation before the girl he knows starts making her own introductions and makes her way to me. I'm uncertain what to do, but I extend my hand and try to say my name despite the noise. Unfortunately, the "f" is pretty much the hardest sound for me to make and when I do open my mouth, she gets a gander at my 'grill'. She definitely took a step back, like I was about to expel acidy spit from my mouth, before she put two and two together and realized that I was Kevin's brother...the one with the broken jaw. Yeah, I'm not self-conscious or anything.
  • After one beer, I'm buzzing. After two beers, I'm bloated. After three beers...wait, I was too full to finish a third beer. And I drank three waters, just in case. Wow, tolerance and beer belly volume dwindle rapidly.
  • Apparently the beer numbed the feeling in my lips so that I couldn't feel the wires digging into them throughout the night as I spoke with different people. When I awoke on Saturday morning, the inside of my top lip looked like ground beef and the bottom one was not far off.

So Saturday and Sunday, I enjoyed an inability to move my swollen lips as I sat around my house all day rinsing with salt water, only leaving the house twice to walk Chloe. Looks like drinking is gonna have to take a few more weeks off. Enjoy the break, liver. Start rebuilding.

Wow, weekends really aren't what they used to be.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

The Transformation

Here is a pictorial of the change that has occurred in the last 3 weeks. I will re-post this each week with a new addition until the final transformation includes all 9 weeks.

This is a picture I took maybe three days before I broke my jaw. I was still weighing 185 lbs. and could actually open my mouth.

Here is a picture of me two days after I broke my jaw, but before my surgery (Week 1). My face is badly swollen, making me look like I put on 40 lbs. and my jaw looks distorted.

Here is a picture of me from July 11 (Week 2). The swelling was gone and I was down to 175 lbs. but still looked somewhat normal. I hadn't discovered that I could use an electric shaver at this point, so I had a goatee.

Here is a picture of me from July 19 (Week 3). I am down to 170 lbs. and looking somewhat emaciated. I have been able to shave though I hadn't gotten my moustache yet, because I don't own an electric shaver and just use one of my employees.

This is a picture of me from July 26 (Week 4). I am still at 170 lbs., but I am trying to make a positive of this whole ordeal by lifting as much as I can (which ain't much when you eat only liquids) so that may be part of the reason my weight is holding. Some minor swelling in my jaw from the wires irritating my gums also makes my face look less drawn, so overall I'm looking somewhat normal, though skinnier than usual. Though, in this particular picture, I feel like I look about 10 years younger.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Path I Must Take

The option has been staring me in the face each time I visited the grocery store. I have fought the urge, knowing that once I went down that path, that I could never return...that I would never be the same. Though my mouth being wired has taken much from me, my pride had remained in tact. But I could not withstand any longer...I am too weak.

Two weeks into my life eating liquid foods, my body has become weak, I have not eaten anything resembling real food since June and I needed to make a choice. And my choice was to go down the baby food aisle.

Yes, the J-Man has crumbled. Ensure is great. Chicken broth and Cream of Potato soup are palletable. And milkshakes made with canned fruit are a pleasant treat. But nothing can compare with something that claims to be Turkey and Rice.

So there I stood, at 12:00 PM today, shaking from hunger and the added strain of 100 degree heat, pushing a cart through Shoppers Food Warehouse. I knew I was out of soup, so I had filled my cart with Chicken Broth, Cream of Potato, and a new Italian Tomato soup I had just seen, as I made my way to the Ensure stand. Positioned by the Pharmacy, my eyes were drawn to the right, adjacent to the medical needs. There it stood...the baby foods. I grabbed three containers of Ensure and gently strolled over to the tiny little jars.

I'll just see what this is all about. Maybe I'll give one a try, just to see. I mean, I went to Wendy's yesterday and ground up a cup of their much lower can I go. And then, like a 7-year old on Christmas, I could not hold back the glee as I saw some of the names on the bottles: Chicken Noodle Dinner; Ham and Gravy; Turkey and Apples. With each label I read, I found myself saying, that sounds good, and plopping the petitte container into my cart.

Gerber Original...sounds good. Oooo, Gerber Tender high brow. Ooohhh, Beech Nut we're talking.

Before I knew it, I had grabbed almost 12 jars and began to gaze around like a timid thief, wondering if people were around, wondering why this unshaven, (hey, I said I could shave, I didn't say I would) skinny man was piling up on the baby stuffs. I reclaimed my body control, re-read one of the labels, and realized I was not yet at the third stage of baby food (Stage 3 has small bits of food to aid in learning to chew...I'm not at that stage yet). I returned a couple of bottles to their place and made the shameful walk to the cash register.

Yes, I am buying baby food with the intent to eat it myself. No, I see nothing wrong with that. It's not like I'm eating dog food or something. I mean babies are just small people...and they like sucking on titties. Now we will simply have TWO things in common. Well, three if we include shitting your pants, but you try and tell me you could stop that when all you eat is liquids and you feel the urge to rip one. Errrrr.

So, I'm back at home, unloading my groceries. I am now truly shaking with hunger as I reach into the bag and pull out the Gerber Chicken Noodle Dinner. I read it could be heated, so I spoon the paste out of the jar and into a bowl. Unfortunately, it is still a bit too thick for me to easily suck it through the gaps in my teeth (damned babies!) so I am forced to add some water to thin it out a bit. After 30 seconds in the microwave, I begin my feast. It is a bit bland, perhaps for the sake of the babies and perhaps because I diluted it with water, so I grab some salt, pepper and garlic powder (they...and soy sauce...fix anything) and the taste of real chicken hits my tongue again.

If you've seen a baby, you'll realize that despite my loss of weight (down to 170 lbs. now) they are considerably smaller than me. So I grab for the Tender Harvest Chicken & Wild Rice and throw that one back as well, along with a cold Strawberry Shake Ensure.

I have walked the path I once walked. I have returned to my humble beginnings. At 28 years of age, I will soon be routinely eating Gerber's finest again.

Don't care what people say.
Just follow your own way.
Don't give up and use the chance.
To return to innocence.
That's not the beginning of the end.
That's the return to yourself.
The return to innocence.

Ooooyy, iiiii, hiiii, ooo, iiii, eee, iii, ooo...

Friday, July 14, 2006

Adapt and Survive

We're at 11 days of living with my jaw wired shut and living under the conditions I had assumed in my earlier post just weren't going to cut it. If I'm going to last this 8 weeks, some changes needed to be made. I needed to go Darwinian style and adapt to my environment in order to survive. And that's just what I've done.

Can't shave...I don't think so. Turns out an electric shaver does not require me to stretch my face in any direction in order to get my moustache and under my lips. So long homeless J-man.

Eating through a straw...I don't think so. Looking like a tard sucking broth through a twisty straw is a thing of the past. I have been training my lips and have now restored my ability to eat with a spoon and drink directly from a glass.

Letting my hair grow long...well, I kinda like this idea, so I'm sticking with it.

Eating only Ensure, yogurt, and chicken broth...I don't think so. Nothing was gonna keep me from Chinese food for 8 weeks, and my vast knowledge of the Chinese food menu presented me with the obvious choice for transforming food into liquid...Ma Po Tofu. I had to have someone else order the delivery, but the people of Beijing Szechuan were happy to hear that familiar delivery address on the other end.

No masturbating...well, nobody said anything about that. Thankfully, that was something that I never had to do without.

Adaptation in order to survive. Soon, I will master the art of ventriloquism and it'll be like nothing has changed. Well except for the fact that I'm still eating freaking liquids!!!!

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Deaf Scammers

Looks like the Africans have found a new way to scam people and waste your time. No longer are emails their only means of trying to get you involved in a shady they are using the deaf phone relay system. And my mom and my company were their latest target.

Monday afternoon, our phone rang and it was the hearing impaired relay service. For those of you who don't know what this is, it is a way for deaf people to contact others via the phone. They type their conversation into some device they have and then a relay operator acts as an intermediary between this typed message and the person they are trying to call. We used to have a deaf client, so I am used to this type of procedure, as was my mother when the phone rang.

We actually haven't heard from our deaf client this year, so my mother assumed it was her at first, until the new caller identified themself as John Mark. My mom is easily rattled by these types of conversations as I usually handled all these calls in the past, but given my wired mouth state, she had to take it. She ended the conversation confused and under the impression that the man wanted us to install a new heater at his house and wanted to know the price. He provided us with an email address and I typed up a very rough estimate for a heater installation, given that he didn't provide her (I told you she gets rattled) with any specifics to the installation. I indicated that we would need to examine his pool equipment prior to presenting a final proposal, but got him in the ballpark.

So, yesterday this same "deaf" guy calls back and indicates that he doesn't want to have it installed but rather wants it shipped out of the country. I've never shipped anything out of the country before, let alone a 220 lb. pool heater, so my gut tell me to send this guy somewhere else. I instruct my mom to tell him to try and find the heater online from a company that does that sort of thing, because I don't want to be bothered with it.

She again gets rattled (man, I wish I could talk again) by the man's persistent requests and asks me what it would cost for the heater, and says that he said he'll handle all the shipping. I say it's about $2000, to which he says he'd like to order one. Well, what the hell!? If he's gonna handle the shipping, he can buy my heater. I definitely need a credit card though. So, she gets a credit card number...which actually worked...and he sends me an email with the shipping company's email address, as well as the address for where it is being sent.

Up to this point, I have no idea where this is going, but when the email arrives and says they want it shipped to Ghana, I know something is up. Nobody ships stuff to Ghana. And why would they choose our company as opposed to an online company that would definitely be less expensive. You see, we can't compete on price with the online guys, our draw is that we stand behind our products and are local...which doesn't really seem to work when you're dealing with Ghana. Anywho, I send their "shipping company" the info on the heater and they write me back to say that the shipping costs will be about $2000.

This seemed about right, but who am I to know...I don't ship crap to Africa. At this point, I'm getting very wary of the whole deal, and when I read that the shipping company only accepts Moneygrams and Western Union payments, I decide this is not something I want to pursue any further. Plus, I don't know what exporting laws and shit are and whether I need a license to ship products overseas. This is becoming a headache I don't need so I send John Mark a note that he's just gonna have to find someone else, because I don't know the specifics of shipping and don't want to waste any more of his and my time if this might not even be possible.

But he doesn't want to take 'no' for an answer. He calls and emails back, begging that we do this and pleading that he will pay for all shipping costs. His credit card worked...but this just seems too fishy. I give him the send off and once that is finished, I figure I'll do a google search and see if this is something anyone has seen before.

Sure enough, there's a couple articles basically outlining the exact same thing that happened here and indicating that in most cases the credit cards that are used are stolen and eventually get revoked.

Well, I guess my gut was right. Too bad this is gonna give deaf people a bad name when they really do want to buy a pool heater. I guess the biggest tip off should have been the fact that they wanted us to send a pool heater to Ghana.

I mean, why the fuck would you want to heat a pool in Africa anyway?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Good and the Bad

It's been one week of having my jaw wired shut today, with only 7 more weeks to go. And though I'm in very little pain, except when I sleep, the inconvenience of not talking normally and having to eat only foods I can sip through a straw is already starting to wear on me. In this week, I have discovered some new things regarding life with your mouth wired shut, some are good and some are bad. Here's a breakdown of a few of them:

GOOD - I have already lost 10 lbs. and can see a four-pack on my stomach now. Perhaps by eight weeks, I'll see the whole six-pack.

BAD - The reason I've lost 10 lbs. is that my diet has consisted of Ensure, yogurt, and chicken broth

BAD - I can't shave around my goatee area because I can't stretch my face for my razor, so I'm stuck growing a goatee for the next 8 weeks

BAD - I don't want to go to my haircut girl in my state of being and my hair was already long, so it is going to be really long come September. Combined with the goatee and the weight loss, I should look like a homeless guy by week 5.

GOOD - I was scheduled for jury duty on July 18, and now I don't have to go

BAD - I was scheduled to go see Nickelback on July 26, and now I don't want to go

GOOD - I don't have to talk on the phone with clients and hear them bitch for the next 8 weeks

BAD - I tried to deposit my paychecks at an ATM yesterday and realized I can't lick the envelope, so I had to drool on my fingers and rub them on the envelope

BAD - I can only sleep on my back with my head tilted straight up or slightly to the right

BAD - I tried to mash taco-flavored chicken with salsa and cheddar soup in a blender, only to waste 20 minutes of my time making a concoction that clogged my wires and ended up in the trash.

GOOD - A milkshake is considered a good meal

BAD - I can't brush the teeth on the inside of my mouth, so I can feel plaque building up each day, and all I can do is rinse with mouth wash and deal with it


BAD - It seems the "BAD" are outnumbering the "GOOD" and I've still got 7 more weeks of this

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Fantasy Baseball - Mid-way

Well, I'm tired of writing about my jaw situation...though I have some other nice stories to come, so I thought I'd turn my attention to fantasy baseball as I've done in the past. Last year, I made some mid-season predictions to go along with my beginning of the year picks and thought I'd continue the trend this year, as well as give an update on my fantasy performances thusfar.

In the 3 leagues I'm in, I'm in 2nd in two and 4th in the other as we sit today, though two of them I've been in and out of 1st place from day to day. Most of my great luck thusfar can be attributed to the absolutely ridiculous hitting of David Ortiz the last few weeks. This guy is gonna start getting the Barry Bonds treatment soon, though Manny batting behind him is making that a tough decision for managers to make. I hope the break doesn't cool him off.

In addition, my formula of stud starter (Halladay/Schilling) coupled with 2-3 high K starters (Bonderman/Haren/Myers/C.Young/RJ) and a high K closer seems to be keeping my pitching staffs pretty solid, thanks to Jeremy Bonderman especially. All three of my teams have the potential to win it all, so with just a few tweaks, I think I can pull out at least one championship...maybe more if I'm lucky.

And here's some predictions for you all to consider as you make your second half moves in hopes of taking home the cash.

Players to TRADE AWAY

5) Justin Verlander, SP Det - This kid is a stud and was one I was hoping to grab in my keeper league. And that's where his value lies. If you're in a keeper league, hold onto him (and his hard-throwing counterpart, and possible future closer Joel Zumaya), but if you're in a one and done league, now's the time to bail. All young fireballers have a learning curve and he's been fortunate enough to have the stuff to get around it. The hitters are gonna catch up with him as the footage mounts, and then they're gonna start bringing him down to earth. Trade him and his amazing start now for a more proven veteran.

4) Nomar Garciaparra, 1B LAD - I'm happy to see that Nomar has bounced back from all the injuries in the past, but I just can't see him lasting a full season. Minor injuries are to be expected, at a minimum, in the second half and that's a headache you don't want from your 1B. See what his value is and consider dealing him's probably not gonna get any higher.

3) Bronson Arroyo, SP Cin - The Arroyo train is starting to loose steam. He has lost 2 of his last 3 starts and is starting to get hit a bit harder. Last year, his second half was considerably worse than his first, with an ERA jump over 1.00. His stats still look amazing, thanks to his ridiculous start, but that'll only last for so long. Send him packing like the Red Sox did. You won't regret it though.

2) Miguel Tejada, SS Bal - The magic is gone. Miguel is not a happy camper and will likely bring up the trade desire issue again, which will bring down his stats in the second half, a la 2005. He's a great player, so he's not gonna turn into Aaron Hill or anything, but you probably drafted him expecting stud abilities and you might wanna deal him now so you can get someone who will bring that for you down the stretch.

1) Mike Mussina, SP NYY - I love the Moose, but this is a no-brainer. He's 37 years old. He hasn't played a full second half of the season in 3 years. He hasn't posted an ERA below 4.00 in 3 years, and it's been on a constant rise for the last 2 months. If you haven't moved him yet, you better hurry.

So, if this is who you should get rid of...who should you get? Well, here you go.

Players to TRADE FOR

5) Randy Johnson, SP NYY - Tons of magazines and writers will tell you that the Big Unit is done for and that his high homerun totals (Schilling and Beckett have more, BTW) and ERA above 5.00 are signs that he's not even worth starting in some leagues. Hope that the RJ owner in your league thinks the same way and see if you can grab him while he's low. He had a bad 1st half last year, but his K numbers and Wins are still there, and 4 of his last 5 starts have been good ones, with the bad one being against the ridiculously good Mets. The old man's not done, and he could be the guy that pushes you over the top.

4) Bobby Abreu, OF Phi - Oh, how the mighty have fallen. This was last year's Home Run Derby champ and now he's got 8 HR in the first half. Unless he's injured, which the 17 steals would suggest otherwise, he's just waiting to hit a groove. See if you can get him now, as he's probably gonna be back with a vengence after a nice break.

3) Prince Fielder, 1B Mil - If you're in a keeper league, you should consider this even more important. Prince has Ryan Howard-capabilities, but is still hovering under the radar thanks to a recent slump causing a drop in his batting average and the fact that he plays in Milwaukee. Howard had 300+ AB last year, and now look at him. Fielder has had 300+ AB in the first figure it out.

2) Adrian Gonzalez, 1B SD - This is my sleeper pick of the bunch and one you likely could just pickup off the waiver wire, if you're lucky. A former #1 pick, he's a solid line drive hitter who I've been reading about since he was in Texas. San Diego isn't that great of a hitter's park, but he's at least getting ABs and is putting up some decent numbers for a young guy. He's finally logged about 450 AB, so he should have his shit together. Look for a solid second half from this virtual unknown.

1) Mark Teixeira, 1B Tex - The guy that kept Gonzalez out of the Rangers lineup and eventually sent to San Diego is actually having a worse year than Adrian. But that has to change. I'm sure the guy in your league that drafted Teixeira (probably in the 1st round) is very bitter right now and may not be willing to deal in hopes he'll turn it around. If that's not the case, move in now. Teixeira will likely do some work during the break to turn those doubles (30!!) into homeruns.

And there you have it, my second half Fantasy predictions. Take it or leave it, but don't say I didn't give you a chance to catch me in the standings.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Living Through the Wire

Well, surgery was a sucess on Monday night and I am now back living without the assistance of my family in my own home again. The last few days have been very odd and I'm sure the next 8 weeks are going to be very difficult and annoying. So, here's a quick recap of how things went down.

I went to the oral surgeon's office on Monday morning to have another set of X-rays taken of my jaw so that he could make his final diagnosis. Unfortunately, all of the X-rays were in paper form so I never got a CD-Rom copy so that I could post it for you guys, so you'll just have to deal with this artist's rendering of the skull and my red additions showing the locations of the breaks.

After seeing the breaks, the surgeon was pretty sure that he would need to cut open the bottom of my chin and attach a metal brace to the bone to help support it in place, since it had shifted out of place so badly. This is the first time during the whole process when I became geniunely scared. He also mentioned that there is a nerve in that portion of the face that if it is damaged could cause constant numbness or a tingle there on my face. Now, I'm not wanting to look like the guy from Braveheart, with a scar across my face, or old JR from WWE with a numb face, so I'm starting to freak out inside. Before he says he'll do this, he's going to wire the jaw shut and see how things go back into hopefully, it will not be necessary. I'm not optimistic at this point, and I'm just hoping that women aren't as shallow as men when it comes to facial issues when all is said and done and I'm trying to find the new J-woman. But I digress.

Action needs to be taken quickly, so I am scheduled for surgery later that day back at old Shady Grove Hospital. Now, I'm not gonna start bashing on the hospital again, but let me just say that they once again shat the bed on making me wait and even the nurses were wondering what took me so long to get there, as they were expected me at 4 PM (I arrived at 3:45) and I didn't make it up to the room until 5:15. Luckily, I was very early for surgery and was really only called in that early since they wanted to give me some IV fluids, since I hadn't eaten anything all day...per their requirements. Surgery wasn't set til close to 8 PM, so I sat bare ass in my gown in a bed for the next 3 hours, thinking about how life is going to be with my new hardened Scarface look.

The moment arrived soon enough and it was off to the operating room. I have never had a surgery before, so as they wheeled me into the stark room, I was less than impressed with the overall appearance. The walls were covered in cream colored 3 X 3 tiles, there were no colors anywhere, the walls were lined with metal tables on wheels, and steel refridgerator looking things, and at the center of the room sat a long bed under to large lights, resembling a UFO, one with 5 lights, one with 10. Two nurses were there and helped me onto the operating bed, before stretching me out in a Jesus pose with all sorts of devices attached to each arm. My legs were then strapped into some other type of warm wrapping as the anesthesiologist arrived. It was July 4th weekend, so he pleasantly introduced himself as my bartender and within moments I'm out of it.

I awoke to the feeling of a nurse wiping vasoline off my eyes (they put it on during the surgery to help them from drying out) and quickly discovered the new addition to my mouth, as I unsuccesfully tried to open it to grab some air. After giving the nurse the thumbs up that I understood her, I gave her the thumbs down that my mouth hurt, so she gave me some morphine and it's on to morning time.

I slowly awoke in a bed in the hospital, and gathered my bearings quickly. I was still attached to all the IVs and still had some vasoline on my eyes, which I rubbed at. Dozing in and out of sleep for the next few hours, I discovered that they brought me some food to eat. I vaguely remember the surgeon coming in and checking things out and a nurse showing me how the bed worked and telling me to eat when I could, since it had been over 24 hours since I'd last eaten.

Here's where things become a little weird. Like a small child, I reached at the food and utensils, unsure how to get this food into my stomach. Before me sat, a cup of water with a straw, hot water in a mug, broth in a bowl, apple juice, lemon italian ice, jello, tea bags, and a packet of lemon and honey, plus two spoons.

The water was easy. I took a few sips and all was good. I have no interest in tea, so the hot water is of no use to me. Broth, eh? Let's give this a try. I use the spoon to bring a spoonful of broth to me, but it's likely too hot. I have no way of blowing on the spoon with my mouth, so I exhale through my nose onto the broth, spilling some on my blankets. There's still some left as I bring it up to my lips and tip it back towards my teeth. It pours in through the gaps in my teeth and I get the flavor of something other than water or milky Ensure for the first time in 3 days. I want more, but this process grows tiresome quickly and I maybe make it through 10 spoonfuls before I move on to the apple juice. You don't even wanna know how my attempt at the jello turned out...and I was smart enough to avoid the italian ice after the jello incident. Once the soup cooled even more, the idea crossed my mind to use the water straw to finish it up. Hell, a guy's gotta eat.

So, I did just that, and a new method for eating has been learned, and soon to be perfected.

By mid-afternoon I'm at my parents' house and I'm learning my new routines. Three days have now passed, I've come to master the use of the twisty straw and now have my new regimen to deal with for the next two months.

  • Wake up
  • Rinse mouth with salt water (repeat this every 2 hours)
  • Take 2 teaspoons of antibiotic through straw (repeat twice more each day)
  • Rinse mouth with regular water through straw to remove coating left from antibiotic
  • Drink 8 oz of Ensure or some other liquid food (repeat 4-5 more times each day)
  • Rinse mouth with regular water through straw to remove coating left from Ensure
  • Drink water through straw, just because I'm thirsty
  • Brush teeth with baby toothbrush with pictures of sheep and bunnies on got a problem with that?!
  • Rinse mouth with mouthwash since I can't brush the inside of my mouth
  • Rinse mouth with regular water through straw to remove coating left from mouthwash
  • Put tons of chapstick on my lips
  • Take 2-3 teaspoons of painkiller every 4 hours or whenever needed (this stuff tastes like shit)
  • Don't talk too much, because there's a good chance you're cutting your lips on the wires when you move them around, requiring you to rinse with saltwater and take painkiller more often

Yep, that's my life now. A few new routines that I'd gladly do without, but they say you build character through adversity. It's just weird because these routines are like those I encounter when I'm sick, but I feel perfectly fine, so I'm confused with what to do. Regardless, I can't work outside (per the doctor) and I can't really make it through a full day since I'm living off of 32 oz of liquid each day and I've already lost 7 lbs since Friday night. Can't say I'm gonna complain about sitting around most of the day watching movies or playing video games...that's just how it's gonna be for a little while I guess. I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

You Never Know

You wake up every day and go through your everyday routine. Hell, I've even written about the monotany associated with all the routines I've established in my life and how I just seem to follow them, waiting for the next new routine to be added. But sometimes, you don't get a routine added. Sometimes, your entire routine structure is shot to hell and you're left to try and figure out how you'll cope with the hand you've been dealt and establish your new routines, regardless of whether they were your choice or not. In my case, the choice was not mine.

I woke up Friday morning like any other weekday, made my way to work and handed out the daily schedules for all my crews. It was slightly different today since my brother had left early for a 4th of July vacation and two of my employees had requested to start 2 hours early so they could take a break in the middle of the day to watch the Argentina game. These little adjustments I can deal with. I had known about this stuff in advance, and had planned and altered the schedules accordingly. As the day came to the end, I grabbed myself some Popeye's fried chicken (one of my other employees had gotten some and it smelt good), took my dog for a quick walk and headed off to my Friday night football game.

I had made plans to meet up with my buddy Dave later that night and had a wedding I was scheduled to go to on Monday night, so I was looking forward to a nice vacation of relaxing and having a good time with my friends.

The game began and we went down quickly, 6-0. Their team consisted of about 8 - 220 lb.+ black guys and 3 really shifty fast black guys, so they played to their strength and simply ran the ball at us. I got pancaked, our linemen were non-existent, and our other DBs couldn't catch up to this guy's speed, so it didn't look good for us.

Our first drive, however, things are looking positive. The DB covering me is biting on all my double moves and I get wide open on a stop and go only to have the ball thrown behind me. Probably could have caught it, but I'll get the next one thrown my way. Their safety noticed this and shifted over to my side, allowing our other receiver to beat his man 1-on-1 on the next play for a great TD catch, and after the 2-point conversion, we're up 8-6.

I'm on the ensuing kickoff team and the ball lands between their two rows of receivers and bounces back towards mid-field. I've recovered two kickoffs before and no one seems to be around as I lunge to cover the ball.

And then it's black.

I'm dizzy. I'm not sure what happened. I try to open my eyes, but there is still a haze in the top 3/4 of my vision. I stumble around on all fours, unaware of what is going on, and taste blood in my mouth. My jaw begins to throb and I'm beginning to get some bearings as I search the inside of my mouth with my tongue. My tongue is numb but I definitely feel the side of my bottom front teeth and unmistakenly know that some teeth are not where they need to be.

For years, I have had a recurring nightmare where one of my teeth becomes loose and falls out and then as my tongue moves to push it out, another comes loose, and then another until I am spitting out all my teeth and wake up in a sweaty mess.

Was I living this dream now. In my half conscious state, I couldn't be sure. I tried to get to my feet but the haze had not lifted and I stumbled back to the ground. I yelled that my teeth were missing and scrambled on all fours with other teammates and opponents looking for them, but to no avail. I guess I had swallowed them. In either case, I needed to get to the hospital. One of our players assisted me to the sidelines to grab my stuff and I stopped at the bathroom to examine the seriousness of my condition. I had not really opened my mouth since the event, for fear of spitting my teeth out or doing more damage to myself, and as I stood in front of the mirror and opened my mouth, a pool of blood flowed into the sink revealing my lower jaw. My teeth had not fallen out as originally thought, they were about a half inch lower than my other teeth as the jaw bone between them had cracked.

That was all I could see as my mouth quickly refilled with blood and the mess I made in the Sportsplex was already looking like that of a horror movie. My parents, thankfully, had come to this game, and drove me to Shady Grove Hospital to address this issue.

You would expect that when you walk into an emergency room spewing blood from your mouth and explaining that your jaw is likely broken, that they would see you very rapidly. Not the case. After standing in line for 10 minutes, I (my dad) filled out some paper work and we sat in the waiting room for them to call my name. After waiting an additional 30 minutes, in which time I begin to shake, become dizzy, shiver (which is really bad when your jaw hurts), and think my tongue is cut and I'm about to swallow it, and my father is begging the coffee lady for ice and the Staff for rubber gloves to put it in, they finally called my name. In disgust, I spit about a pint of blood on their waiting room floor for making me sit. I was tired of drinking blood anyway.

When the triage nurse finally asked me to open my mouth, you'd swear I'd just shown her a crime scene photo, as she shuddered back and quickly ran to grab a doctor. I told you they should have seen me immediately. A doctor comes out and has a hurried tone as she requests they get me in the back quickly for antibiotics because I have split my jaw all the way through.

Two hours later, 7 X-rays, and a visual inspection by a different doctor on staff and I am left with this glorious diagnosis.

You have broken your jaw in two places. One from the center of your mouth back at an angle to the right side of your jaw. The other on the left side where the jaw connects to the rest of your skull. You're definitely going to need to have your jaw wired shut and it'll probably be like that for 6-8 weeks, so I hope you like milkshakes. Unfortunately, it is Friday, June 30 at 11 PM and no oral surgeon is available to see you until Monday. Here's a prescription for pain killers and antibiotics and the phone number for the surgeon for you to get in touch with.

Fuck you. Fuck you very much Shady Grove Hospital. Fuck you for making me sit for 40 minutes doing nothing, then another 2 hours while you filled out paper work to give me some drugs and nothing else. And fuck you for expecting me to live with my face like this for the next 48 hours minimum. Yep, Fuck You.

So, it was off to the all-night CVS to pick up my drugs and my Ensure for dizzert so that I could live in a drug-induced commotose state on my parents' couch until Monday. And the light at the end of the tunnel is a new set of routines that involve an inability to talk normally, the necessity to eat only liquids through a straw, and the discomfort of permanently clinching your teeth together for 8 weeks.

And if you were wondering, an email from a teammate of mine confirmed that the player on their team who missed the ball as it bounced over his head towards me, kicked me in the face as I dove down, jolting my head back until it could not bend back anymore, before my jaw cracked under the force. I dropped the ball when I fell unconscious.

And the day started off so normal. You never know.