Friday, December 31, 2010


It's been a crazy 2010. It started out pretty good. In January, I was probably, ironically enough as you will see, in the best shape I have been in for a few years. I was doing physical therapy to stabilize my back that has been a constant battle for the better part of 9 years. I was doing twenty planks with a pushup in between, doing the treadmill for 20 minutes 3 times a week and even started light plyometrics. I went down to Florida, took a class in preparation to upgrade/migrate our servers from Novell to Suse Linux. Spent time with family while I was there and reconnected with a great high school friend. Then March 24th came. I woke up with chest pain, difficulty breathing and headed to the emergency room. I was diagnsed with pericarditis, the inflammation of the sac around the heart due probably to a virus. (I was most disappointed that I had to miss a long prearranged Celtics game with my dad and brother.) So, anyway, for a couple of months, I struggled with fatigue and discomfort. Just as I started feeling better in June, I threw my back out and started physical therapy again.

Move forward to July 5th, and I had the identical feeling to March 24th. Not wanting to go to the ER, figuring I could just see my primary and they could start me on the same course of treatment, I waited until the morning. I mean why incurr the ER expense when I felt I knew what was wrong and what they would do. Well, after going to the clinic, they sent me to the ER due to my EKG being abnormal and I was again diagnosed with pericarditis. I ended up taking 2 weeks off (doctors orders) from work and still feeling exhausted, frustrated that I was dealing with this again trudged along. I had been basically a bystander during my first vacation in April as we rented a beach house in North Carolina, spent the month of June trying to overcome my back, July stuck at home, sick and constantly tired with the threat of not being able to go on our second vaction to The Anchorage. So, I ended up going to see my provider 5 times in the month of July still complaining of chest discomfort and a constant sore throat.

So they gave me more medication, antibiotics and a referral to a otolaryngologist. I spent my second vacation sleeping a lot, doing preventative excercises for my back wishing the pain would just go away.

During the end of the August, I was diagnosed with laryngeal papilloma which I blogged about after having a successful surgery in October. The follow-up from my surgey was all good news and my next follow up is in February. Although, just before and after the surgery, I still was having chest discomfort where they now thought possible heartburn as another bout of pericarditis was ruled out, thankfully. I dealt with a bout if IBS (irratble Bowel Syndrome) which I am still placating. So, off to see a GI doctor. They did an upper edoscopy which revealed mild inflammation. This again was a good sign but I basically went through the motions on my third vacation this year to Capon Springs in October as I was still having night sweats, my back was acting up and food just didn't agree with me, especially ice cream. And to make it worse, the IBS was not helping matters.

So, here we are in December and I have had an MRI on my back showing a disc herniation and desiccation to the point I do stretches every morning, ice, wear an SI belt and use a gel on my back to make it through work everyday. I still fight IBS and pretty confident at this point that Milk and cheese are not friends of mine.

Why do I write this? Well, as a reflection to how this year physically has been a long battle that I wish on not my worst enemy. Although, I have still had a lot of good times:

I got to rent a house on the beach with my family and the Kirkpatricks in NC.
I rented a suite twice this year to watch the Cetics with my family, where we won both games and my family had a FANATASTIC time.
I spent a week with my family and parents fishing and catching the most Bass I have ever caught.
I have witnessed my oldest win a championship in high school football, 11-0 baby.
I have been able to watch my middle child look like pistol Pete and my oldest make the JV team.
I have seen great improvements in my yougest who suffers from seizures.
I was able to spend a week with my family and extended family at the most relaxing place on Earth.
I was able to purchase a carvan that my family has been pining for, for years.

I am even more grateful and thankful to:

My wife who supports me unconditionally and is a rock at my side.
My kids who constantly make me unknowingly proud and smile every day. Make no mistake they know how to get under my skin.
My immediate and extended family who I constantly feel lucky to be part of.

that although I have dealt with my own trials and tribulations, nothing has been "serious."

I bid farewell to 2010, and so LOOK forward to 2011. I hope my appointment on Monday reveals a course to correct my back for good and for the better. I hope my cousin has a fabulous 2011. I look forward to my trip in February to Disney, my trip with my Uncle to Pittsburg, to spending more time with family and friends with less pain and discomfort.

I wish everyone a Happy, Healthy and limitless 2011.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


Well, just as the title invokes, my oldest has turned 16 yesterday. I am taken a-back by the whole actuality of it. Part of me says, "How did this happen?" Part of me thought this would never happen (Well, the theoretical part) but here he is. He is a sophomore in high school, playing Varsity football and doubling up in Math so he can take a college prep class his senior year, a thought of his own volition.

I think the one thing that sticks out more than all others is he seems to be genuinely happy, which at this age, is not a readily occurrence.

16 Years ago, just turning 20, I was truly awe-struck that my wife and I had created this little human being. It seems like it was yesterday. A lot of things seem like they were just yesterday. His first day of Kindergarten, his first steps, both of which I remember clearly. I was by our couch and my wife was in the kitchen. She put him down to see if he would stand before the flop... and he took three steps to me and fell into my arms. (Yes, the kitchen and Couch were that close back then) I remember Unkie giving Timmy a push on the zip line as I video taped it. And in a second, there was just the zip line (he was okay) I have his first father's day gift he ever gave to me that he did all by himself.

I just recently was scared out of my mind as he accelerated into our driveway on a short jaunt in the car, thinking I was going to have to get a new garage door. But he stopped in time. Phew!

I am extremely proud of my son, even more so to be his father. I hope the next 16 years can create as many memories as the first 16. I also hope he can be as happy then as he is now.

Happy Birthday, Tim.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

They're Baaaack... and eradicated (at least for now) too.

Well, for those who know and for those who don't, I had laryngeal papilloma's as a kid from birth until I was 11. I had many surgery's to remove these little buggers. There biggest threat to me was the possibility of blocking my airway. I was in remission until I was twenty-six when they resurfaced. Once again I had them removed by laser. I have a cool picture somewhere, but God only knows where I stashed it. Well, 9 years later and they came back. This is one of those things that no one really knows why they keep coming back or what triggers them.

Often been told that Caffeine can exacerbate the situation, which may be why I have never been a huge soda drinker but I do love my occasional Mountain Dew.

Anyhow, I went for my surgery this past Friday. In at 7:54 and out at 8:24. Although, I don't remember any of it as I was put under anesthesia and woke up at 9:30. Trust me, I was okay with that. They have come a long, long way. I remember staying the weekend in Children's Hospital in an oxygenated tent for this procedure as a young lad. This time, I was there for a whole 5 hours from check in to check out. They sent a bit out to be biopsied but they have always been benign and I am hopeful that trend continues.

So, for the next 48-72 hours I am playing charades with my family and keep my white board close at hand. Actually contemplating going to a Halloween party as a mime. My wife is not a big fan of charades but she is a good trooper. Here's hoping for at least another 10 year remission but I'd be okay with a forever remission too.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Awe Inspiring

You know, sometimes you watch a movie, and get that unexplainable tingling sensation.

You know the one, where you get a lump in your throat and your eyes begin to water. You want to cry but you try to hold it back because you're with other people and they might not feel the same way and well, frankly, society puts a stigma on emotion.

This sensation can happen when you're sad, unbelievably happy, beyond proud or just plain inspired. I have had this a number of times in my life.

I have had it watching "Field of Dreams" when the young "Doc" Archie crosses the line to help a young girl choking on a hotdog. I have had it when my Nana passed away and I read a letter she left my aunt. I have had this feeling when I was away at college and missing my parents something awful. I get it every time I listen to Cats in the Cradle. I had it again tonight after watching this video: Gratitude for Lucy

My cousin did everything: the video, the music, the lyrics, soup to nuts. He is the undoubtedly one of the smartest, most talented people I know. He is as modest as they come. He is truly awe inspiring.

Thanks for just being you, Shawn.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Phone call answered!?

So, a year ago I posted that I had a perplexing phone call. Well, just so happens is I found out my friend is living in Florida. Believe it or not, this past January I had a training for work in Florida. So, I gave him a call.

We got together for dinner half way through my stay. I wasn't sure what to expect. I hadn't seen him in more then 5 years, maybe more. He was there waiting in the parking lot when I got out of training. He looked pretty much like the same guy I knew before except his hair was shaved. And to him, I was the same goofy guy with a mountain man beard. We basically started off our conversation as if I had just seen him last week. I suppose that's how you know you have certain friends that rise above others, not in what they do or say (well, I suppose that's not entirely true) but in how you can pick up a conversation like nothing ever happened and your comfort level is high. Close friends I truly believe are like that. I am lucky to say I probably have 5 of these.

Anyhow, I am glad that I was able to hang with Mike after all this time and still have a great time even if he did kick my butt in scrabble and looks as if I will be seeing him in the near future.

Time does heal.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Trifecta!

Haven't you ever just wanted to goto the airport, jump on a plane and go somewhere? Anywhere? Do something you have always wanted to? And sometimes fret, you may never get to? Well, I did this with my father and brother this past Monday.

All do credit needs to goto my father and brother on this one, but I was fortunate to tag along. And well, I'd like to share the story.

My Dad has said numerous times he has wanted to go here and there and well, he hasn't done it for one reason or another. Life does get in the way, you know. Unexpected bills, job changes, kids, and so much more tend to creep in on those best laid plans.

So my brother called me up on the phone and said, "I want to take Dad to Philadelphia for a cheese steak for Father's Day, you in?"

I replied, "What date?" He said, "Monday, the 21st." "I'm in."

So, Monday morning, I woke up 4:30 to get ready. I got myself to my parents at 6:00am. Plane leaves at 7:05 and we're a half hour away from the airport. Time to go. My Dad was brushing his teeth, getting a bag of stuff, like coffee, water, snacks.

My brother is like, "We got to go. You can't take that bag where we are going?"

Dad is like, "What?" (We didn't tell him anything. My family likes surprises.)

Tim says, "We got to go. We have a schedule. Got your photo id?"

My father says, "Yes, but I don't like being rushed."

Off we go. We get to the airport and my Dad's like, "Are you serious?"

"Yup. Here's your ticket."

"We're going to Philidelphia? I see a Philly cheese steak in my future."

Tim and I smile and we get to the check point. It's like 6:45 now and we all get pulled aside for extra screening. No big deal, but um, we are cutting it a little close. My dad goes to sit down to put his shoes back on and we hear over the intercom: "Berube, party of 3, you're plane is boarded. Berube, Party of 3"

So, now I am sprinting to the gate and my Dad is still tying his shoes. "We're here. They are right behind me." I proclaim.

We were the LAST 3 to board so we all got to sit in the middle seat with strangers. Good times. The ride was only an hour, no big deal. We end up in Philidelphia around 8:30 or so.

Here we are in the airport and my Dad's like, "A McDonald's. Want to get breakfast?" We say sure and off we go. People who know my Dad knows he likes, no strike that, he loves food. And he is a BIG DOLLAR MENU FAN. So, our first meal in Philadelphia was McDonalds.

Then off to the train. Took about a 1/2 hour and we get into town. After negotiating a mall which seemed like an endless maze, we make it outside onto Market Street.

A guy on the road looks at me and says, "You see the Liberty Bell?" I reply, "Nope." The stranger says, "Straight ahead!" I am guessing with my back pack, Boston hat and full beard, I was screaming tourist. So, we get to the visitor's center and first up is the duck tour, I mean, 10AM is a little early for cheese steak. The duck tour was okay. More entertainment then history but still fun. We got little quackers. I don't think they realized what they were getting into giving my Dad a quaker. I mean, he might be 59 1/2 but he definitely has an inner child (which my brother and I boast often). We get on the boat and sits behind us and the endless, "Quack, Quack, Quack" starts with my Dad saying, "I can be pretty annoying" with a laugh, we just laugh at each other as this is HIS day and he's having a blast. There was a quiz time on the tour and the guy was like, "If we get hit by a cannon, then we would be ______" My Dad yells sitting ducks!! and the driver says, "We'll be on the bottom of the Delaware." My Dad says again, a little louder "We'd still be SITTING DUCKS!" A quote I will never forget.

An hour or so later we get back to the center and it's time to get down to business, go eat a Philly cheese steak. We goto Geno's first. I felt it was like having a steakum and wasn't too impressed. Dad and Tim were more forgiving. I got a steak with provolone and onions. The other two got the same but with American. Right across the street was Pats. Time for round two.

Now, this was a cheese steak I was looking for. The steak was juicy (Greasy) and I got it with cheese Whiz and Onions. Added some salt and ketchup. Heaven. Dad and Tim got the same. Then my Dad added Hots! "It's not hot" he says, biting into it. All of a sudden he takes the peppers out and challenges us. Um, if my Dad takes them out, then there is no way on God's green earth I am going to bite. We met some guys from Louisville Kentucky who just came down from Bike week in Laconia.

Two steaks down. Tim's like let's go to Jim's next. My Dad's like, "Serious?" Off to Jim's it is. It's really hot out and we walked about two miles to get there and are starting our trek back. My Dad's like, "They should have a bike to rent? Or a Vespa? How about a Segway?" We laugh and keep trucking along. We come upon a bar called the Wooly Mammoth and have a beer. Then off to Jim's This steak and cheese for me was the best. Tim and Dad still claim Pat's as the victor!!

We go back and see some tourist attractions like Independence hall, the liberty bell, have some ice cream/root beer floats and believe it or not, its time to go home.

I cannot begin to tell you how many laughs we had. We laughed at each other, we laughed with each other. We stopped and had dinner in the airport. Tim and I had this really excellent crabfry bisque and my Dad had crab legs. Absolutely excellent.

Dad bought us T-shirts which we will no doubt have for years to come to remind us fondly of our trip. These will spark so many great memories of our trip!!

On the way back on the plane my Dad was like, "Next Year, Chicago?" We'll see.

As we left him at home, and walking out the door, Dad says, "I think I saw a sub in the fridge."

I love you Dad. Happy Father's Day.

Great Idea Tim. So, I highly encourage you if your contemplating that trip... just take it!