Slurry Beta

Infrequent ruminations on nothing.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Life is Precious

I've had a strange week and a half. One of my strangest.

My nose was broken when I was a kid and I wish I could say that it was in some sort of fist fight but it was, in fact, from a baseball I missed while playing catch with my Babe Ruth coach. He was throwing hard. I was scared and barely put my hand up to catch one of the balls and it hit me right in the face and broke my beautiful nose. Ever since then, I've had no ability to breath through my left nostril and very limited ability through my right. You don't care, I know, but bear with me here.

A few months ago, after doing some disability research for a case at work, I realized that my busted ass nose may be negatively affecting my sleep patterns. So I went into the doctor to get it checked out. Multiple appointments (one with the oldest, most awesome E.N.T. doctor ever) and an awkward sleep test later and I'm signed up for a septoplasty operation in June. Before I can undergo the operation, I had to get a pre-operative physical to make sure the Slurry Parts were all in working order.

My doctor was a somewhat high strung, thirty something female with a surprisingly gentle touch and warm hands. (inappropriate? yes.) Everything checked out fine, we rapped a bit about testicular health, she took some blood and said they'd call me if anything irregular showed up on the lab test.

Two days later, she called me to tell me that I had elevated cholesterol, my liver function tests were abnormal and my precious liver was producing certain enzymes at four to five times the normal amount. When I asked her what that meant she started dropping words like "Hepatitis A, B, and C," "liver scarring," "liver transplant", and "possibly resembling Cirrhosis." She said that whatever the condition was would require anywhere from significant lifestyle changes to an organ transplant but they wouldn't know until a definitive diagnosis was reached. First, a follow-up test was necessary to find out for sure if my liver was consistently over producing said enzymes and if it was, they would have to do a series of imaging scans and biopsies to diagnose the condition and deduce its severity. Needless to say, things got serious very quickly.

I scheduled the follow-up appointment with Dr. Gentle Touch for her next available time, which happened to be the morning after I was to return from the Twins-Brewers series in Milwaukee. Now, if there was ever a time NOT to check my liver function, it was after three days of professional tailgating and extremely inappropriate behavior with a dozen of my best friends. I called to reschedule but that was the only possible time for the next month and a half. I don't know much about being on a transplant list but I'm sure the general idea is "the sooner the better" so I kept the appointment. I don't play a professional sport so bypassing people on the transplant list because of celebrity status was not a realistic option. That's right, I'm talking to you, Alonzo Mourning.

When you think you might have a condition, internet research is enormously depressing. WebMD is the worst; you could type in something like "itchy nose" or "broken fingernail" and it will shoot back "cancer" or "ebola virus". Has anyone else found this out? When you type something in, it gives you the worst possible scenario like it ranks search results by how many people are clicking on a topic and not by likelihood or severity? Nobody? Not reading this anymore? Fair enough-I don't blame you.

Anyway, despite the dark cloud hanging over me and my largest organ, Milwaukee was spectacular. I had initially intended to turn it up to about 12 or 13 but kept it at a modest 7.5. Slurry B made a brief appearance to keep the crowd happy/annoyed and everyone held up their ends of the bargain by making the most of the 36 hours we were all in Sin City....wait, Beer Town.

So I reported to my appointment on Monday for more discussion on what my future may hold, which was basically more tests if the second lab results came back with the same readings. I wasn't optimistic. They took more blood. It ruined my day. I yelled at my boss. At the gym, I shouted things like, "You can beat this, Slurry! C'mon!" while smoke billowed out of the treadmill. It was a rough couple of days.

Yesterday, my phone rings and it's Dr. Gentle Touch. She tells me that my liver function tests came back completely normal and I have nothing to worry about. It was a 30 second conversation and that was that. It seems I'm just fine. She still wants to see me in July but it looks like I get to keep my liver for the time being. I'm glad because we've sure been through a lot together, through the good times and bad. I'm still going to keep up with the workout and diet routine, though, but with a little less intensity and desperation.

So the moral of the story here is: don't ever go to the doctor.

Friday, May 11, 2007

The Man is all up on me

Yesterday, I received a ticket for jaywalking. I was crossing the street in my usual way after fetching my morning beverage (used to be coffee, now Superfood) and I was summoned over by a cop standing on the corner. He wrote me and three others for a 25 dollar jaywalking ticket while two mounted officers looked on and pondered the significance of their jobs.

Okay, I admit it. I crossed an empty street against a red light so technically, I deserved the ticket. But it just seems slightly ridiculous that, living in one of the most dangerous cities in the United States, they bother detailing police officers to Capitol Hill street corners to catch a handful of office workers on their way to the coffee shop. I witness felonies in my own back yard on a daily basis.

Well, The Man got the best of me this time but I'm going to keep on shining. Patiently. While I wait for a green light.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

NASCAR Weekend

My Saturday at Richmond Motor Speedway actually started on Friday night. Two Slurry Beta favorites, The National and Arcade Fire, were playing a double bill at Constitution Hall and by some divine force, I acquired four tickets before the show sold out in three minutes. It was an absolutely fantastic show and we were all pretty fired up afterwards so we decided wet our whistles at a nearby saloon. The basement was empty so there was convenient access to the bar, which is a DC rarity on weekends. Things spiraled out of control quickly as I attempted numerous times to leave by ordering more drinks (Slurry B is not known for his advanced skills of logic after mixing alcohols). We closed out the bar and I was incredibly hungover Saturday's trip to Richmond, VA to watch cars drive in a circle. I prepared poorly.

So Saturday afternoon eight of us (some people I knew, some I didn't) met up in Arlington to board the Booze Bus, which was actually more of a Booze Limousine Bus. Leather seats, wet bar, tinted windows, track lighting, TVs, a driver named Dave and tons of light beer. Pulling up to a sea of Winnebagos, tents adorned with confederate flags, and old trucks converted to tailgating stations, we stuck out like a sore thumb. We parked next to a group of Bobs, Ricks and Bills (maybe a Skeeter?) standing and drinking outside an RV next to a flashy Corvette, which was there for purely ornamental purposes. One of the gentlemen was wearing a Viagra racing jacket without irony---a common NASCAR occurance. I think it's only a matter of time before some racing team signs a major deal with Tampax and it becomes perfectly acceptable for southern men to wear Tampax merchandise.*

The three attractive women of the group stepped out first and one of the guys immediately popped his head into the bus and said, "Is this thing full of broads?" They were disappointed to see the rest of us were dudes. Handsome, yes, but not the correct gender. We hung out for a bit while our new friends took pictures of the girls next to their ornamental Corvette.

Our parking spot was about 1.5 miles from the racetrack so we headed down to the tram loading area to see if we couldn't grab a ride on one of the shuttles. The shuttles looked like roller coaster carts on wheels and were pulled by pick-up trucks. They didn't appear to be the safest form of transportation and, sure enough, they weren't. As soon as we got in line, an ambulance rolled by to tend to an unfortunate female spectator who had fallen out of one of the shuttle cars. According to an eyewitness, Yogi, the woman yelled, "I'm going to be a millionaire!" as she was placed into the ambulance. She had no previous legal training, to my knowledge. She did, however, manage to bring the entire shuttling operation to a screeching halt. We decided to walk.

The beauty of NASCAR - and I think everyone can appreciate this - is that you are allowed to bring one cooler per person into the stands, provided they are in a soft container of a reasonable size. We filled everything we could possibly fill with cans of beer: pockets, backpacks, mini-coolers, etc. Dragging that stuff for a mile and a half was a pain in the ass but being able to cradle a can of my own nice, cool Coors Light (Montana's official beer) made it all worthwhile. And, yes, I realize that it's Republican beer but my sense of nostalgia trumps my liberal tendencies on special occasions. Plus, the cans are ergonomically designed and have this really sweet can liner that locks in the rocky mountain freshness.

The tickets we had received were from one of the girls' father and were technically for a client company of his, Warren Oil, an outfit in Dunn, NC that manufactures motor oil, lubricants, and other petroleum products. We were told that if anyone asked, we were part of the marketing department. So naturally, we needed a Warren Oil slogan to randomly shout at each other in obnoxious, drunken fashion. I believe the prevailing slogan was "Great lube at an honest price." I tried valiantly to have my "If it exists, we can lube it" slogan catch on but it ultimately fell flat. Only time will tell which slogan was better. Or it won't.

In true anticlimactic fashion, they called the race off after 12 laps under caution because of rain. We drove all that way for about 25 minutes of actual car racing. Luckily, we did so in a bar on wheels, which we happily returned to several a few more hours of good times that I vaguely remember. I would like to extend a special thank you to the person who did not bring hard alcohol on the bus as I would still be in bed.

*I may be the only person in the world who has not seen Talledega Nights so if this joke is already in the movie, I apologize and will take it out. I don't steal other people's jokes, Moroni.

Friday, May 04, 2007

It's Go Time

Readers, I promise to write about something more than my mustache soon (like a minor but comical incident involving a cat, a rat, and my house last night) but this is important.

There are certain moments in our lives that define us as human beings; moments that we pinpoint as both the beginning and end to major chapters in our human trajectories. I have three of these, and only three: wrestling my first grizzly bear at age five, swimming from the headwaters of the Missouri River to New Orleans at age 12, and seeing my first television at age 18. Now I feel like I'm on the verge of another monumental life event. I haven't been able to sleep for days. I crave only raw meat, sauteed asparagus (with a hint of garlic and lemon juice), and Skoal. I find myself cutting all of my jeans into shorts. I can only drink Busch Lite beer and do so in large quantities. And strangest of all, my 'stache has been emitting a pale red-then-white-then-blue glow when I come within earshot of country music.

That's right, you guessed it. I'm taking my mustachioed mug to a major NASCAR event in Richmond, Virginia this Saturday. This will stand as a true test of all that I've been working for the past month. True NASCAR fans are sharp and can spot a phony a mile away so it is absolutely imperative that I am properly prepared and maintain a cool head, which may be impossible to do on the Booze Bus we're taking down to Richmond. Let's just hope the hair on my upper lip can hide the fear behind my eyes.