Thursday, December 16, 2010

Colon Cancer One Year Later

Up and walking the day after my operationIt has been just over a year since I was diagnosed and operated on for colon-rectal cancer. Fortunately the cancer (stage I) was discovered early. It was revealed after I had my first colonoscopy at age 51. I had several more tests to determine the extent and location of the cancer. The doctors determined that the cancer was located just a few centimeters from my sphincter muscles. Luckily my surgeon believed he could save my sphincter and I would not require a permanent colostomy pouch. Instead I would have a temporary ileostomy bag. After I healed from the surgical removal of my rectum, the ileostomy would be taken down and I would be hooked back up “normally” again.

Leaving the hospitalOn November 13th 2009, I had my rectum removed at Kaiser Permanente Hospital in San Francisco. The surgery went well but I had a number of complications over the next several months dealing with an infection and abscess. I was in and out of the hospital a several of times. I spent close to a total of four weeks in the hospital between November and January. For the next 5 months I had an ileostomy bag hanging from the right side of my belly. The end of my small intestines was pulled through my abdominal wall so that waste could be discharged without passing through my healing colon. The care and management of this was time consuming and required lots of fidgety work. It was not as uncomfortable as I feared but it was really bizarre to have a piece of my insides hanging out. Finally in mid April I had my last operation to restore my colon to “normal”.

Me and my Ileostomy BagThis so called “normal” was a totally new reality. One does not usually think about their rectum and its function. I learned that the purpose of the rectum is to be a temporary holding area for your poop. When it fills up, it sends a signal to your brain telling you it is time to go. If all is well, you don’t think about it more then once or twice a day. For the first month out of the hospital I found myself going 60 to 80 times a day. My colon was doing its job of pushing food waste along (peristaltic waves). But there was no rectum at the end to collect it. I felt like a rabbit pooping little pellets all the time. Although the surgeon has shaped the last part of my colon to act like a small rectum (transverse coloplasty pouch), I was going to have to train it to act like one.

Fortunately, a friend of a friend came to may aid. He had a similar operation a couple years back and had a strategy that worked for him. He had found a bowel-training program that worked with a combination of Metamucil (psyllium, a dietary fiber supplement) and antidiarrheal medications such as Lomotil or Immodium.

First walk around the block at homeIf you are interested, the bowel-training program can be found HERE. My new regimen consists of starting off the day with a large meal. I then stay close to the bathroom for a couple of hours. When I am ready to go out I take an Immodium or two. Lunch and dinner consists of very, very small amount of food - no more than a cup or two in size. It is followed by a very concentrated shot of 3 teaspoons of Metamucil dissolved in a couple ounces water. I don’t have any food restrictions. However, I have learned some foods are no longer easy to digest, especially beef and corn for example. Other than at breakfast, I can’t have hot liquids such as coffee or soup. Rich and sweet foods (cakes, cookies, chocolate, etc.) also are limited to mornings. Some days are a real challenge and I can’t go more than a few hours without thinking about and physically clenching and squeezing my butt muscles to hold it all in.

Things that are a challenge:
- Can’t take for granted that I can always control when I poop.
- If I don’t stick to my eating and Metamucil program, there are unpleasant consequences. Gone are the days of eating whenever and whatever I want.
- Eating, drinking, sex, going out to a movie or a play are no longer spontaneous activities. They now require planning, organizing, and preparation.
- Wherever I go, I need to carry a bag of supplies: Metamucil, Immodium, spare underwear, extra toilet paper and underwear pads.
- Keeping a sense of humor when my body betrays me.

All healed one year after colon cancer surgeryWhen I start to get overwhelmed or depressed about the situation, I try to remember the positive outcomes:
- I am alive, active and productive. I am working part-time. I can travel (we spent the month of August in Scandinavia). I started running again.
- I didn’t need radiation or chemotherapy or a permanent colostomy bag.
- The procedures didn’t make me impotent or have erectile dysfunction or urinary incontinence (all possible side effects).
- I have lost 15 pounds from my high point. My clothes fit better and friends say I look healthier. I would still like to lose 7 to 10 more pounds.
- I have the most wonderful and supportive husband. He has taken great care of me in a multitude of ways.
- The doctors, nurses and staff at Kaiser Permanente have been first rate. I could not have asked for a better health team.
Previous entries about my surgery and recovery: : 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
I am GuyDad's colon

Monday, December 06, 2010

Heart Healthy Hanukkah??

Heart Healthy Hanukkah
Latkes on the griddle. Mmmmm.
Eight tips for a Heart-Healthy, Low-Fat, Low-Cal Latkes for Hanukkah:

1) Cook latkes on pancake griddle, spraying with olive oil spray instead of frying in oil.
2) Oven baked the latkes. Place them on a greased baking pan and bake them in the oven. They can be finished under the broiler or on the griddle.
3) Use egg whites or egg substitutes instead of whole eggs when making the latkes. This will reduce the fat and cholesterol.
4) Serve low or no-fat sour cream as a topping. Non-fat yogurt, light Greek yogurt or cottage cheese can be substituted too. Use applesauce with no added sugar.
5) If your recipe calls for regular flour, replace it with whole-wheat flour. This will increase the fiber content.
6) Don’t use salt. High sodium intake contributes to high blood pressure (hypertension). Other spices to consider: dill, parsley, sage, rosemary, black pepper, white pepper, garlic, cinnamon, nutmeg, and onion.
7) Think far wider and more creative than just starchy potatoes. There are delicious recipes for sweet potato, butternut squash, zucchini, celery root, carrot, cauliflower, broccoli and turnip latkes. See our list of 21 types we made this year.
8) For Gluten-Free latkes use rice flour in place of the matzah meal or flour.

Tonight, I am making my 15th, 16th, and 17th varieties and probably will flip my 850th latke tonight. Two more nights with two more sets of guests (friends and family) after tonight.

Friday, December 03, 2010

That's a Lot of Latkes

My husband says, "Even though Hanukkah is a relatively minor holiday on the Jewish calendar, it is one of my favorites. Each year, we invite friends & family to join us during the 8 nights for various latkes dinners. (This year, we have about 20 people coming throughout the week-plus.) I don't do just potato latkes but instead explore lots of varieties, planning meals where 3 or so kinds of latkes combine for a fun and delicious time."

"The Complete, Planned List for the 8 Nights"
- Tuna Latkes
- Carrot Latkes
- Crispy Cod Latkes
- Cottage Cheese Latkes
- Butternut Squash & Sage Latkes
- Sauteed Mushrooms & Onion Latkes
- Herbed Spinach Latkes with Feta/Yogurt Sauce
- Italian Apple Latkes
- Sweet Potato Latkes with Spiced Maple Syrup
- Cheese/Rice Latkes
- Garlic/Rosemary Potato Latkes
- Sweet Potato/Apple/Carrot Latkes
- Spinach & Zucchini Latkes with Smoky Creme Fraiche
- Wild Rice and Vegetable Latkes
- Jerusalem Artichoke and Parsnip Latkes
- Fish in Potato Latke Crust with Horseradish Cream
- Tuna Steaks on Potato Sage Latkes
- Vegetable Latkes with Dill Sour Cream
- Ricotta Cheese Silver Dollar Latkes
- Apple Latkes (different than above)
- And Just Plain, Traditional Potato Latkes

From The Regulars Comic. By the funny and talented Karl Hampe. "The Regulars is a fun, snarky take on what might happen if a gay, urban attorney burn-out wound up running a coffee bar."

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

A Festival of Light and Warmth

We have over a dozen menorahs or hanukkiyot (the plural of hanukkiyah) that we will rotate lighting over the next eight nights. E is planning some where between 12 to 18 different types of latkes recipes he is going to prepare during the holiday. E goes way beyond the traditional fried potato pancake. They are delicious.

Wishing you a very bright and happy festival of lights!

Today is also World's AIDS Day. I am remembering several very talented friends and co-workers that died of AIDS. I worked with them at San Jose Repertory Theatre and American Musical Theatre of San Jose (aka San Jose Civic Light Opera) in the 80's and 90's. David DeLong, David Lemos, Ken Holamon, Jeffery Struckman and Peter David Heth.

Hanukkah is also a festival of freedom. In so many countries in the world, being gay, lesbian, bi or transgendered is still criminalized. U.N. member states recently voted to remove sexual orientation from the list of recognized grounds on which people should be protected from extrajudicial execution. On this Hanukkah, please let Secretary Clinton know how you feel about this.

Next week, a critical international summit-the first in 11 years-is bringing together dozens of world leaders to discuss security and human rights. It's time to rally international support against homophobia and anti-gay violence on the world stage!

Please consider sending your letter to Secretary Clinton with a simple click here:

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Family Turkey

We had a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday with 5 of our 6 kids and one grand-dog. The oldest son was away traveling in Asia.
E prepared an amazing meal. Roast turkey with apples and onions, two kinds of stuffing: wild rice with spinach and sausage & walnut mushroom stuffing, garlic mashed potatoes, old fashioned candied yams, holiday brussels sprouts, green beans with pecans and Clementine sauce, gravy, cranberry sauce and three deserts.

Who says gays can't have families? We have the best!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

TSA Inspects and Fondles Gay Dad’s Meat

Let's see the meatEveryone has to have a TSA story these days, right? Two weeks ago while traveling home from a family visit in Tennessee, we were pulled aside by TSA agents in Nashville and Denver. Right there in front of everyone in the security screening area, TSA agents requested to see our meat. So we pulled it out and showed it to them.
E’s father sent us back with 20 pounds of frozen pork sausages to give to one of his grandsons. Every year E's dad buys a hog or two and has it butchered and processed into packets of sausages that he gives to family and business customers.
gay porkUpon leaving Tennessee, we packed our frozen pork packages into our carry-on luggage for the trip home and proceeded through airport security. Our bag was pulled aside. TSA personnel made us pull out our meat. They had to verify that it was really frozen meat. They also checked it for explosives by rubbing their special residue cloth on the outside packaging. (While our sausages aren't explosive, they are spicy hot!) Once they were sure it was safe we were allowed to put our meat away and continue to the boarding gate.
Nobody touched our junk, just our meat. That’s our story.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Gay Sports Fan

Drinking beer is part of being a sports fanI am about the furthest thing there could be to a sport fan. Generally I have no interest in team sports. Never have. But I am married to loyal and dedicated baseball fan. My husband has had season tickets to the SF Giants for a long time. I have learned and found it fun to attend games with him. Just don’t ask me too many questions about the game or the players (everything I know is listed below). When I first met my husband he had season tickets to San Jose Sharks hockey and SF 49er football as well as baseball. After the first couple years together, he dropped the hockey and football tickets for season tickets to the San Francisco Opera and several other theatre companies. Ooooh, do I love this man!

The Giants Win the World SeriesAnother interesting fact about us is that we do not have TV hookup. No antenna, cable or satellite. Thus to watch the out-of-town playoff and World Series games, we had to go to our local sports bar. This was a blast. Imagine a large bar filled with younger, excited, drunk men!

Now imagine being approached by a guy wearing a press badge. I can only assume we fit his readership demographic…mature, intelligent, sophisticated newspaper readers. I think among our friends we are the only ones that have to read the morning paper at the breakfast table.

We achieved the following 1.5 minutes of fame in our local Palo Alto Daily News. They reported the following the:

“Happy Giants fans live it up locally”

Torture turned into hysteria Monday night in Palo Alto after the Giants won their first-ever World Series title since moving to San Francisco in 1958.
When rookie catcher Buster Posey caught a swinging strike three to clinch the championship, a celebration of seismic proportions erupted inside The Old Pro on Ramona Street as the orange-and-black-clad fans raised their hands and looked around for someone to hug -- be it a friend or a stranger.
With fans standing on top of tables, the crowd stretching onto the sidewalk sang along as Queen's "We Are the Champions" blared.
Well, was it worth the wait?
"Oh, my God. Yes!"
Those were the words of Ed Jones, who like the Giants moved to the Bay Area from New York -- except he did so in 1969 as an 11-year-old. A season-ticket holder along with Eddie Reynolds, who moved from Virginia in 1978 and was born in Tennessee, the pair spoke during the third inning about the way this rag-tag, misfit group of Giants captured the imagination of fans.
"I think this is unique because in both baseball and football there were always major stars," said Reynolds, dropping names like Joe Montana and Jerry Rice as well as Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Barry Bonds. "This time it's a different lineup, different set of stars and we didn't expect it."
"There is no MVP," Jones said. "It's an ensemble award."

Let's Go Giants!Don't I sound like a total jock? I can do "sports talk". Except using the word "ensemble". That is a theatre word. Oh well. When I sent the new link to my family, my bother responded with: “Who are you and what have you done with my brother? My "real" brother believed a sports section was provided only to cat owners to line the litter box.” True, very true.

Real gay sports fans and athletes should visit to get the latest news, photos and jock talk.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Vote Naked

Vote Naked
Yes, you can vote naked but it has to be by male mail. The Election Day is Tuesday, November 2nd and you already had to have requested a mail-in ballot and have it in hand.
If you have a mail-in ballot, send it in now or take it to your polling place on Tuesday. All valid vote-by-mail ballots are counted in every election in California, regardless of the outcome or closeness of any race. But they must be received by Election Day.
Fill out your ballot now. After you have voted, insert it in the envelope provided, making sure you complete all required information on the envelope.
Remember, you must return your naked voted vote-by-mail ballot by
1) mailing it to your county elections official today;
2) returning it in person to a polling place or the elections office in your county on Election Day (Tuesday); or
3) authorizing a relative or person living in the same household as you to return the ballot on your behalf.
Regardless of how the ballot is returned, it MUST be received by the county elections office by the time polls close at 8:00 p.m. on Election Day. Late-arriving vote-by-mail ballots will not be counted.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Gay Halloween Costume Idea

If you are a procrastinator and haven not decided on a Halloween costume yet, here's a good last minute idea. It will save you time from digging around in the back of your closet.

For Halloween, go as a gay guy, and then just keep being gay forever!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Giants: Castoffs, Misfits and World Series Champions

My husband is a major Giants baseball fan. He has had season tickets for years.. ever since the new San Francisco stadium opened. During this post-season, he is having a time of his life as the team makes the game truly exciting. The sports page describe there tension filled games as "torture." The Giants weren't suppose to make the playoffs or the World Series. Many of the top players were recently pick-up in trades or brought up from the minors and are not that well known. Here is a quick look at some of the Giants' players.

Aaron Roland and Andres Torres congratulate each other

Andres Torres with his tongue out having licked the competition.

Relief pitcher Brian "Fear the Beard" Wilson receives a ball from catcher Buster Posey

Brian "Fear the Beard" Wilson with his roommate in the harness, Pat "The Machine" Burrell doing a remote interview for a sports talk show. Check out "Kenneth in the (212)" blog for the video and more pics.

Pat "The Machine" Burrell working out when he was a Phillies player

Pat Burrell

A pensive Posey

Couple shots of catcher Buster Posey

Cody Ross tangled in arms

Jonathan Sanchez and his Dad

Jonathan Sanchez

Juan Uribe and Edgar Renteria

Another Juan Uribe and Edgar Renteria doing jazz hands

"Shotgun" Matt Cain

Pablo "The Panda" Sandoval and Travis Ishikawa hug

Travis Ishikawa

Freddy Sanchez all dirty

Freddy Sanchez sandwiched between Juan Uribe and Aubrey "rally thong" Huff

Tim "The Freak" Lincecum throws hard

Tim Lincecum shirtless with short hair

Madison Bumgarner with former Giants catcher Bengie Molina

Monday, October 11, 2010

National Coming Out Day

October 11 is National Coming Out Day. Today’s entry is about a movie that deals with this subject in a very spiritual, organic way. It is also an unusually tender ghost story set on the Peruvian seaside. It is called “Undertow” or “Contracorriente”.
"Undertow" begins with Miguel, a village fisherman, about to become a father. However, it turns out he has been having a "down-low" love affair with an artist and outsider, Santiago. When Santiago drowns suddenly, he returns from the dead to ask Miguel to find his body and bury it according to the village rituals so he can be at peace. For Miguel, to fulfill Santiago's wishes means he would have to admit to the relationship to his pregnant wife and the townspeople. But failing to do so would sentence him to eternal limbo.
This film resonated for E and I because it deals with coming out after being married to someone of the same sex. This story deals with coming to terms and discovering your authentic self. It grapples with the effects of what the truth could mean to relationships and the response/condemnation of the village/society. Ultimately it tackles the question of what it means to truly love someone and let them go.
We saw the film a couple weeks ago in San Francisco. It is now playing in Los Angeles. Go see it, and help it gain enough attention for other cities & venues to want it. Or make a note to look for it when it comes out on DVD.
Undertow (Contracorriente)
2009, Peruvian with English subtitles, 100 minutes
DIRECTOR: Javier Fuentes-León
STARS: Tatiana Astengo, Manolo Cardona, Cristian Mercado


Friday, October 08, 2010

October Theatre

There is some great theatre playing around the San Francisco Bay Area.

On stage at ACT in San Francisco is Bill Irwin’s take on Molière’s “Scapin”. He is reunited with Geoff Hoyle and other early Pickle Family Circus performers as well as A.C.T. regulars. See why the New York Times describes Irwin “a love child of Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, Marcel Marceau, and Danny Kaye." Plays through Oct. 23rd.

Earlier this week we saw the controversial musical “Jerry Springer: The Opera”. The SF theatre company ‘Ray of Light Theatre’ is presenting it at the Victoria Theatre on 16th St. It is not often that a show surprises us as much as this one. For a non-Equity cast, it was amazingly professional. It is blessed with a cast of over 40, all who had opera quality voices. As the story progresses into Hell (very Faustian), the singing raises the roof to the heavens. It is shocking, obscene, over-the-top funny and has to be seen and heard to be believed. But hurry, it only plays through Oct. 16th.

One of the major theatrical excitements this fall is the trilogy “The Brother/Sister Plays” by Tarell Alvin McCraney. A different theatre company is doing each play. Part One, “In the Red and Brown Water” started at the Marin Theatre Company. Their last performance is Oct 10. The Magic Theatre is presenting part two, “The Brothers Size” through Oct 17th. Part three, “Marcus; or The Secret of Sweet” starts at ACT on Oct 29 through Nov. 21.

Our local company, TheatreWorks, is presenting “Superior Donuts” by Tracy Letts. It is playing through Oct 31. Letts is the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of “August: Osage County”. This new play is a story of a former '60s radical who owns a rundown donut shop in Chicago and his energetic but troubled young African American assistant who wants to update the establishment with lively music and healthy menu options. This is one of the best productions we've seen this year in the Bay Area.

At San Francisco Playhouse, they are presenting the west coast premiere of “Sunset Limited” by Cormac McCarthy (novels: “The Road”, “No Country for Old Men”). A startling encounter on a New York subway platform leads two strangers to a run-down tenement where they debate the meaning of human suffering, the existence of God, and the propriety of White's attempted suicide.. On stage through Nov 6.

For an unusual San Francisco treat, don’t miss “Pearls Over Shanghai”. Thrillpeddlers celebrate the 40th anniversary of the gender-bending theatrical troupe The Cockettes with this psychedelic musical inspired by sin-soaked Old Shanghai and Busby Berkeley movie musicals from Hollywood’s Golden Age. Plays weekends through December 19.

Tony and Emmy Award-winning actor Mandy Patinkin is at Berkeley Repertory Theatre in “Compulsion” by Rinne Groff. It is a play that tells the lightly fictionalized story of an obsessive writer's determination to bring “The Diary of Anne Frank” to the stage—no matter what. The character is inspired by a real journalist and screenwriter who helped publicize the existence of the diary, and who came to believe that the chance to adapt it for the stage had been stolen from him. Plays through Oct. 31st.

Anita Bryant Died for Your Sins” is being done at New Conservatory Theatre Center through Oct 24. It is a coming-of-age story set in the 1970s. 15 year-old Horace Poore is trying to make sense of the tumultuous social/historical events surrounding him. His sexual awakening is hastened by images of Olympic swimmer Mark Spitz and former Miss America/orange juice promoter/anti-gay crusader Anita Bryant. Pushing him along are his idiosyncratic parental units, a draft-dodging brother, and a very dreamy gym teacher.
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