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Thursday — May 23rd, 2019

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State of the Artist: UPDATE

Hey Grovers! Sorry there isn’t a new strip today, I’ve been out of it for most of the day, walking in a fog. Got the results back from my biopsy, and it wasn’t the news I was hoping for. Cancer. I’ve got a scan tomorrow to see the extent of it, whether it’s confined to the prostate, or if it has spread. I’m sorry, but I have to take another break, while I gather myself. It’s really hard to write comedy when I’ve got this weight on my mind. I hope to be back soon, but depending on the scan results, it may be out of my hands depending on how we’re going to tackle this. I’m so appreciative of the Grovers that have made donations, words cannot express the gratitude I feel towards you all, but I wanted to say thank you for hanging in there with me through this troubling time. Keep this old cartoonist in your thoughts.

See you soon!

State of the Artist – UPDATE

Hey there Grovers! Yes, I’m still alive, but my time these days are spent either in the hospital, being rushed to the hospital, at the hospital getting blood drawn, making appointments with a doctor or in a doctors office. I’m exhausted. It all started last month with the medical emergency of an obstructed bladder, which then grew in size, backing up into my kidneys, making them fail. They drained 5000ml out of my bladder, hooked me up to IVs and I ended up losing 30lbs. Was supposed to have a procedure done to check out the old prostate, do a little cleaning up of it, and then I was supposed to be good to go. However, it didn’t work out that way as I was admitted on a Wednesday & my urologist only did that procedure on Tuesdays, which meant he expected me to stay in the hospital for nearly a week. After a near death experience & the attending physician seeing no reason for me to stay in the hospital for no reason that long, they discharged me. I fully expected to then have the following Tuesday roll around and have the procedure done.


Urologist said the insurance company was balking at paying for me to be readmitted. Called the insurance company & they said the urologist never contacted them or submitted the request for the procedure to be done that following week. Many blood drawings later, I was given instructions for prep to have the procedure done on Tuesday, February 5th. I met with the pre-op team at the hospital the Thursday before & waited to start my prep on the 4th, which involved a cleanse with Miralax. That morning, as I was getting ready to start, I was called by my wife to say she was coming to pick me up to rush me to the hospital…something was wrong with my blood…the platelet counts were off, and my coagulation wasn’t where it was supposed to be…it was in critical levels. Which meant, instead of doing the cleanse with the beverage of my choice, I would have to drink a half gallon of the stuff the hospital had (if you’ve never had the pleasure of doing this, all I can compare it to is drinking a half gallon of warm snot, a cup every half hour). So there I am, in a hospital room, drinking cups of warm snot, connected to an IV, with a catheter, trying to rush to the bathroom A LOT. I hoped each time I would make it holding the IV in one hand & the catheter in the other. Fortunately, I didn’t have any accidents.

To address the bleeding issue, they injected me with a dose of Vitamin K. It brought my levels down, but only temporarily. I attempted to sleep, but every hour, either a nurse, or a lab tech, or a PA would come in, flick on the lights, feign surprise that I was trying to sleep, and make my night miserable. At least it would be all over in the morning when I was brought down to the operating room…or so I thought.

One more blood draw to be sent to the lab & I was brought down to the waiting area in the operating room. Was given all the prep, nurses instructing me on the procedure, etc., and in a few minutes I would be wheeled into the operating room…until the urologist showed up. Due to my bleeding issues, it wasn’t going to be done & I would have to meet with a hematologist later in the day. Wonderful. Hours go by & finally, at 3pm, the hematologist comes in, asks me questions, and wonders why this bleeding issue wasn’t detected the first time they were going to do the procedure. Hey, I was wondering the same thing, doc. Of course, this hematologist only worked with patients in the hospital, so he cleared me to be discharged, and later that night, I was on my way home with instructions to find my own hematologist.

The next day, I was on the phone calling hematologist within my network for the health insurance. First one, oh no, we don’t handle those types of cases, second, ditto, third, oh that doctor is no longer with this office, fourth, nope. Finally, through my wife’s boss, we got a number and got a hematologist appointment. Which was today.

He now has ordered MORE blood tests, which he says can take up to two weeks for the results to come back…two…weeks…So off I go, tomorrow, back to the hospital (because my wife works there and the insurance only covers it if we do the blood work there) to get more blood drawn and hope that we can get the results rushed so I am not waiting another two weeks to FINALLY (maybe) get this damn procedure done. Two more weeks of this damn tether (catheter)…but of course, that won’t be the end of THAT…for at LEAST a week after the procedure (should it ever be done), I have to continue with my tether until I heal completely.

Needless to say I’m beat. I did have two nights in a row where I got to sleep, but for the most part, I haven’t really slept for MONTHS…AND with the teaching position (which I’m only paid if I show up) being so early (1st period – 8am, which means waking up at 6:30am to get ready and strap my day bag to my leg) I don’t get much sleep on the night before I have a class. I don’t have the mental energy to even think about writing scripts or producing comics, for which I apologize Grovers. I’m hoping upon hope that this will be over soon and I can return to Willow’s Grove, but until then, keep me in your thoughts, send good energy vibes my way and drop a coin or two in the old tip jar, find my ko-fi, or ship me pallets of cash. Thank you so very much to John for your very generous donation! It is very much appreciated!

Be well, my friends!

State Of The Artist

See what happens when your favorite comic strip artist goes into the hospital?

About nine months ago, I went to the doctor to get prescription updates. Since it was a new doctor, I had to go through the usual blood work, etc. Not only was I diagnosed with high blood pressure, but some of my other numbers were off, too. While the cholesterol & sugars were fine, my PSA was elevated, along with my white blood cell count a little elevated & kidney function was a bit low. I didn’t actually see the doctor, but one of his physician assistants who focused on the high blood pressure, but felt the PSA wasn’t high enough to be truly concerned about it & she had my kidneys & bladder scanned via ultrasound, but didn’t investigate it any further. She seemed to only want to throw medicine at my high blood pressure. Which really didn’t improve much, and the meds I was put on gave me a laundry list of side effects. Fast forward to January 2019 & I find that the main doctor put my account on hold for the high PSA (funny, the PA said it was elevated, not high), so I had to go back there to unlock it. Told the PA about the side effects so instead of investigating the cause, she threw some other BP meds at me. Meanwhile, I finally visited the urologist, who, after doing his thing (won’t get into the details, but it wasn’t a pleasant thing), he ordered a CAT scan because he said my stomach was distended. Yep, I thought I was gaining weight. But it wasn’t fat, it was water…as in urine…as in my bladder was 5 times the normal size.

I had been feeling out of sorts, fatigued, but thought it was just stress. Fortunately, my wife is in the medical field & showed the results of the scan to the radiologist who said I needed to get to the hospital ASAP. I had a follow-up appointment with the urologist for Friday, but the radiologist said no, get to the ER NOW! So my daughter rushed me to the hospital, where I met my wife at the entrance of the ER & was rushed into a room where they started working on me. The radiologist said by me getting to the hospital when I did, saved my life. What I have is an obstruction of the bladder, which caused it to fill up way over capacity (he’s surprised I wasn’t in distress or it didn’t burst wide open), which caused it to back up into the kidneys, which started to fail. The numbers should be under 2…mine were at 15! I was admitted and they slowly drained the bladder, while giving me fluids to wash the toxins out of my kidneys. As of today, the numbers were down to 5 & with some rest and plenty of fluids, the number should get back down to 2, or if I’m lucky, even lower (lower is good).

Still not out of the woods as the urologist wants to address the prostate. He wanted me to stay in the hopsital through Tuesday & then get THAT procedure done. However, there’s some snags to that…first, it would’ve meant me staying in the hospital for 7 days. I’m not even sure the insurance would pay for that & I don’t even want to see what the bill is going to be for 3 days in the hospital. Second, I couldn’t have it done Tuesday as my wife will be out of town bringing our daughter to a college program (which I was supposed to go help move our daughter in as well, but with my current condition, wasn’t gonna’ happen), so if something was to go wrong with the procedure…so, I have to reschedule THAT, which means being uncomfortable with a certain tube in a certain place for a certain amount of time, which also means, I won’t be able to sit and produce any new Willow’s Grove comics for the foreseeable future (they’ll be back, just don’t know when or how soon), which also means my income may be greatly curtailed as I teach a class at a local high school but if I can’t be there, I don’t get paid.

But that’s all secondary to my health crisis, which I’m probably leaving out a ton of stuff, but I’m still a bit groggy having gotten home from the hospital about 3 hours ago to find the site had a crashed database. The attending physician wanted me to stay one more night to see if my numbers would drop again, but while the day nurse was an angel, the night nurse was the exact opposite, the bed was uncomfortable (too short and narrow), alarms would go off all hours of the night & I didn’t sleep a wink last night or today with the parade of nurses, doctors, etc. going in and out of my room and I pulled some strings to come home today to actually get some sleep. Still got a long way to go, but I wanted to let you Grovers know what was up & why there haven’t been any new strips this week. I’ll get back to them when I am back on my feet, but for now, your favorite obscure cartoonist needs to recuperate & take care of all these pressing medical issues (as well as get this damn tube out!) I’ll keep you posted.