Posts Tagged ‘hospital’

Cancer No More

October 18, 2013

Thursday October 10th, 2013 – Sparta, WI

In all my years of gallivanting around North America, I can only recall a couple of times when my schedule happened to work out conveniently. I am notorious for having horrific routing over most of my career, and the stress from it has probably already shaved some years off of my life.

I’ve got some more coming up in a couple of days, but for now I’m exactly where I want to be. I’ve got a show tomorrow night in LaCrosse, WI and that allowed me to take a ride to Sparta, WI with my friend Bill Gorgo to visit our mutual friend Jim Wiggins on his birthday. It was a special birthday for Jim as he was just released from a nine day hospital stint after having major surgery.

If anyone can relate to the misery of nine days in the hospital it’s me. That’s how long I had to rot when I was in for my own surgery in 2011. It seems like two lifetimes ago now, but it was an unexpected obstacle in an already difficult life. I wasn’t expecting it, and it changed me forever.

Other than total financial disaster, I’m much better for it today. My type 2 diabetes is in check, and I could have easily lost all my plumbing. Any time a man has his junk sliced up like sushi it gets his undivided attention. ‘Testicle’ is a funny word – unless it involves surgery on one’s own.

I’m just now getting to a point where I can talk about it freely on stage. I’ve done it a few times and it’s gotten mixed responses. There’s a fine line between comedy and sympathy and there has to be just the right mixture of funny in place to get laughs rather than ‘oohs’ – or stunned silence.

I’m still working on it, and hopefully I’ll be around a while longer to polish it into a closing bit. Anytime severe discomfort and someone else’s genitals are involved, it’s always a guaranteed hit with a crowd. ‘America’s Funniest Videos’ has proven it for years. Nothing follows a crotch hit.

Jim Wiggins had a crotch hit of his own as he had his prostate and bladder removed. That’s not funny in the least, but life plays no favorites – even with comedians. It’s our job to find the funny in a lot of things that don’t seem glib on the surface, and I have no doubt Jim will use this as fuel for future routines. We can’t help it. A true comedian always looks for funny in every situation.

Sometimes that’s what keeps us going. Life can be downright frightening, and if anyone could come even close to relating what Jim was feeling it was me. He had a lot more done than I had to have, but I know how lonely and intimidating it can be laying alone in a hospital bed waiting for some stranger to carve into your bean bag like dark meat on a turkey. It makes sleep impossible.

I wanted to make sure I saw Jim on his birthday, but Bill and I weren’t sure if he would still be in the hospital or not. His hospital was in LaCrosse, so either way we knew we’d see him but it’s much better that he was at home. He was tired and moving slow, but he looked remarkably good. We didn’t know what to expect, but he exceeded our expectations. We were just glad to see him.

The best news of all is that he’s now cancer free. He had gone through three painful bouts with chemo, and that’s now over with. Now the thing to focus on is healing, and Bill and I focused on that as we sat and visited. Jim eventually nodded off to sleep, but I knew he was glad we showed up. I was glad we did too. For once my routing made it possible for me to be in the right place.

Comedian Jim Wiggins 'The Last Hippie In America' no longer has cancer!

Comedian Jim Wiggins ‘The Last Hippie In America’ no longer has cancer!


Health Issues

August 16, 2013

Thursday August 15th, 2013 – Fox Lake, IL

   Although I barely remember it, when I was a wee lad I spent about ten days in the hospital with a pretty serious case of pneumonia. From what my grandparents told me in later years, they were not completely sure I was going to make it out. I must have been three or four years old at most.

   From what I heard through childhood, the doctors told me I’d be susceptible to pneumonia for the rest of my life. Oh, boy! There’s something to look forward to. I suppose it could have been a lot worse, as kids get all kinds of diseases. Some of them die before they grow up. Life isn’t fair.

   As I grew up, every few years or so like clockwork I’d get sidelined with a miserable infection that knocked me out of commission for several days. It always seemed to be in the summer when I was out of school, and I remember how cheated I felt. Why couldn’t I get it in the school year?

   It’s been a long time since I’ve had ‘the crud’ as my grandparents used to call it, but I’m afraid it’s back by unpopular demand. I started to feel all congested on Sunday out of the blue, and then on Monday a barking cough came along with it. I’m not a doctor, but it sure feels like it used to.

   I don’t think it helps that I’ve never had my tonsils out either. For whatever reason the doctors chose to leave them in, and it’s been another source of random infections. Every once in a while they swell up to the size of raviolis and I fight a brutal sore throat for a few days. Then it’s done.

   My entire medical history has been rather freakish at best. I didn’t have the chicken pox until I was 19, and I don’t know of anyone else who had them that late. Supposedly it can cause one to be sterile, so maybe it was Mother Nature’s way of preventing me from spreading my freak gene.

   Another thing I found odd as a kid was that I contracted pink eye – TWICE. Who gets it once? None of my friends ever got it, and I don’t know how I did. The doctor said I probably got it at a public pool where I was taking swimming lessons, but who knows? I just remember it was icky.

   Other than those few glitches though, I’ve been remarkably healthy. I’m not one of those types that catch a cold every year, and I’ve never ever had a flu shot. It seems like those that get a shot are always the first ones to get sick, and I’ve never trusted the procedure. I’ve taken my chances, and so far I haven’t caught the bug. If the Black Plague comes back, I’ll think about a shot then.

   If it’s in the cards for someone to get a disease, they’re going to get it. Genetics have a lot to do with everything about our lives. My grandmother was a compulsive neat freak to the point of her constantly scrubbing her telephone receiver, doorknobs and toilet seat. She’d bring a Tupperware container filled with soap and water in the car when she went somewhere in case she needed it to sanitize something. Wouldn’t you know it that she of all people happened to contract ringworm.

   I found that to be hilarious as a kid. Here’s the one person that could give Felix Unger a run for his money on cleanliness, and she gets ringworm. Gramps found it funny too, and it was the start of one of their biggest arguments I had ever seen. Grandma had ZERO sense of humor about it.

   Another weird case was Andy Kaufman. Somehow he managed to contract lung cancer but had never smoked a cigarette in his life. How does this happen? It’s some kind of genetic freak show, and none of us can control it. The instant that one single sperm hits the egg, our destinies are set. I shouldn’t complain that I get a coughing spell every few years. At least it’s not pink eye again.