This story was written in one hundred thirty-seven minutes while listening to Government Mule’s “Soulshine” a few dozen times. If you care to listen to the proper background tune whilst reading, click that button. If not, don’t. Your choice. People like choices.
This is the beginning of the story………………………………..
If you like stories, this is a story. The best part of the story happened four years ago today.
First, an admonishment I received from an HR department ten years ago. I used to like to make bumper stickers. At the beginning of one project, I made bumper stickers that read “sometimes you say the serenity prayer…sometimes you say ‘fuck it’ and throw it into fifth gear.” The lesson (as you may have surmised) was that we were under the gun and had to get the project completed in a very short period of time. Human resources did not share my sense of urgency, my love and command of the English language and the certain je ne se qua that is my leadership style. There were no further bumper stickers after that one. That was a damn fine bumper sticker.
This is not just a single story……it is several stories that happened over a four day period in 2010, culminating in “The Decision” by Lebron James where he announced on national television, in possibly the worst television show ever broadcast to take his talents to South Beach, while I lay in bed, discharged from the hospital after a five day stay and six hour surgery, all whacked out on pain pills and champagne….four cats batting at my catheter pee bag like Napoleon Dynamite batting at the tether ball game during recess. More on that later. The laser focus here is not on the cats or the pee bag or the catheter or Mr. James. The laser focus is on a fascinating Sunday with Stevie J Clark. And I have had more fascinating, surprising and interesting days than China has rice. These are several stories. Vignettes, if you will.
These four days were precisely four years ago right………….now. LeBron James had his ESPN “The Decision Special” on July 8, 2010. His ridiculous television show took place six hours after I was discharged from the hospital; a hospital that shall remain nameless to protect both the guilty and the innocent. I had the first part of my colon and the back of my bladder removed on July 2, 2010. We had the “ high on Jack Daniels & Coke and other assorted things John Lennon filming session” (link below……and that is what this story is about) on Sunday, July 4, 2010. It makes for a damn fine story. A story about saying “fuck it” and throwing it into fifth gear, a story about one of my favorite days ever, and a story of solid friendship.
Two evenings ago, a friend (who proudly proclaimed she writes like Emily Dickinson) told me I write looooooooong things. I do. I am verbose, yet precise and detail oriented. God and the devil are both in the details, depending upon your point of view and whether you are a “glass half full” or “glass half empty” person. I am not so much Tolstoy-long, but definitely Faulkner-long….with the improper paragraphination, the run on sentences (using ellipses as a crutch)…yet, without Faulkner’s flair for the dramatic and allegory. This one is going to be long. Very long. Longer than the longest one ever…the explanation of Match.com and probability theory. This one is almost as long, but not quite as long. Here. Have a look………..
See? That’s a pretty long piece. It is a rock solid, ture piece. This piece will be longer. Get a cocktail. Or a bottle. Just don’t ask for any of mine. I have to write this thing and I am damn thirsty. I can’t do everything for you. Get your own damn cocktail.
This is the intro to the story……
The intro is also long; however, you need some background to fully appreciate the “ high on Jack Daniels & Coke and other assorted things John Lennon filming session” (link below……and that is what this story is about) that subsequently happened on Sunday, July 4, 2010
In April, 2010, the evening before I was to fly to New Orleans for both a spine surgery convention and, more importantly, Jazz Fest, I had the following feeling in my stomach for seventy-two hours. The feeling of an angry, rabid mule, possessed by Satan (or perhaps the spawn of Satan), kicking me in the stomach. Repeatedly. With the mule getting progressively angrier with each kick. My flight to New Orleans was at 9 a.m. At two a.m. I jumped in the car with my briefcase and suitcase and drove to the hospital so that I could get fixed up and make my flight. Because Pearl Jam, Government Mule, and Elvis Costello were all playing. And I really, really, really wanted to see Government Mule cover Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs” once before I transcend and become some sort of god on another celestial plane.
There are two hospitals within a mile of each other near my house. I chose the one with the better ocean view. One is east of the 5 freeway, far away from the ocean. The other abuts the Torrey Pines golf course and has views of the Pacific Ocean from virtually every room. The former, east of the 5, has an emergency department…the latter has an urgent care. I pulled into the hospital next to Torrey Pines at two fifteen a.m. Monday morning, walked into the urgent care and said “I am broken…please fix me so that I may catch my nine a.m. flight to New Orleans to see Government Mule cover Black Sabbath’s “’War Pigs’.” The physician on call took my blood pressure, saw it was 237/130 and suggested some pain relief.
I replied….”perhaps I have not made myself clear…I have a nine a.m. flight to New Orleans and my car is in your parking lot with all my luggage because Pearl Jam, Government Mule, and Elvis Costello were all playing Jazz Fest and I have a spine surgery meeting to attend. You really need to get with the program here…fix me up and get me on my way.” Four hours later, after a CT scan that showed a pretty cool looking mass thing in my belly, they admitted me and gave me a most excellent room on four west, overlooking the Torrey Pines golf course, the Pacific Ocean, and the hang gliding port there on the cliff.
Plan your work. Work your plan.
We have a relatively broad family history of colorectal cancer in my family…..and that’s not part of this story. Give that we are Irish (God’s chosen people), everyone has beaten their challenges like a rented mule or a red-haired stepchild (your choice). Plus, my theory is everyone has cancer anyway…..some of it is just better hidden or dormant. So, why stress or have anyone else stress. I need someone to come to the hospital on April 19, 2010 who I didn’t really know and who knew no one I knew to get my briefcase out of the car and to bring me a few items I needed for that first five-day vacation next to Torrey Pines golf course. Hospital stays are like an all inclusive resort package…..you get free food and cable…..plus, you get free drugs. As much as you want of all three. And my room overlooked the damn ocean. It looked like this:
I had met Stevie J Clark four months earlier, in December, 2009 and he was the perfect choice. Called him on the phone and the convo went like this:
Me: “Stevie JC….it’s Mully…..can you please bring three books, a yellow legal tablet, and several pens to room 428 at (name of hospital redacted)?”
The conversation was that short. No questions……..winner, winner…chicken dinner. He showed up two hours later with three books, a yellow legal tablet, and several pens…then proceeded to go grab my briefcase from the car. He brought in the briefcase, asked “you need anything else?” When I said “nope”, he said “OK…well, see you…..” and left. That is why the only person I have ever had come to visit me in the hospital is Stevie JC. If you plan on getting hospitalized soon, PM me and I’ll give you his digits.
Yadda yadda….spent the next three months getting a bunch of tests and five scopes, my general surgeon thought it might be cancer and when the swelling finally went down, we scheduled some OR time on July 2, 2010
This is the end of the background intro section…………
I have a bunch of subcategories of rules, despite my disdain and general disregard for rules, in general. The most important rule subcategory is you do not do anything that harms children, women, or animals. Similar to this is you never judge anyone by his or her race, religion, gender, etc. Each hold similar heft. Secondary to these (by a large margin) is the three parter: I will not ride public transportation, wear a nametag or wear special shoes for work. All three are good rules. Another combo rule is that I will never ask anyone to help me move or take me to the hospital because the corollary is I do not ever want to help someone move or give them a ride to the hospital. Rides to the hospital tend to be intensely personal and who has the time to take someone to the hospital?
That being said, I used my car service to take me to the hospital for my surgery on Friday July 2, 2010. Not knowing what to expect….that was my first surgery ever (because God made The Irish in an indestructible fashion)….I spent the week before the surgery planning the video we were going to shoot in my hospital room with Stevie J. Clark. In my overnight bag were the following items, along with my hair product and tooth brush: fifteen large white sheets of poster board, a full set of many colored Sharpies, rolls of tape, an animal costume, my iPod, and a pair of dinosaur feet slippers. Stevie JC and I were planning the shoot for over the weekend, depending upon how the surgery went and other variables such as the tide, wind velocity, his ability to get my guitar and all his video gear past the nursing station, and whether the stars were aligned properly in the east.
Surgery went from 7 a.m. until 1 p.m. I cannot recall any of the surgery because I was asleep. Just imagine that it went really, really well and there were machines beeping, some sort of “HISSSSSSSSS” sound coming from the ventilator thing and Metallica playing in the background. Really loudly. That is how I picture it.
Here’s what it feels like when they spend six hours cutting out parts of your colon and bladder and then reattach the parts of your colon that still look good. It feels like an angry, rabid mule, possessed by Satan (or perhaps the spawn of Satan), is kicking you in the stomach. Repeatedly. With the mule getting progressively angrier with each kick. Similar to what brings you in, but with the extra added benefit of waking up with a catheter in your privates. For two weeks. While your bladder heals. The key to getting discharged is to get the two halves of your colon speaking to each other in a civil manner. The key to starting this conversation is walking….taking laps around the nursing floor as much as humanly possible. Hence, the dinosaur feet slippers and the iPod. If you are going to work out, you need music. And everyone loves dinosaur slippers. Everyone. Except, of course, commies.
The first day, Friday, I was able to make one lap. One very slow, very methodical lap. Like this:
On Saturday, I was able to make five laps. For most of the day, It felt like an angry, rabid mule, possessed by Satan (or perhaps the spawn of Satan), is kicking me in the stomach. Repeatedly. With the mule getting progressively angrier with each kick.
On Sunday morning at 10:30 a.m., Stevie J Clark called me, extremely drunk, from the beach with his partner in crime, J-Hof. I had allowed no one to visit up until that time because I was having a series of bad hair days. The conversation went something like this:
SJC: “DUDE! We are coming there at 1 p.m. to film!!!!!”
Me: “Are you stoned and drunk……or just stoned….or stoned AND drunk.”
SJC: “I can’t really give you those types of details on an open line, but I am at the beach with J-Hof, we have your guitar and the tripods and the cameras and we are coming there at 1 p.m. to film.”
Me: “No…that is not happening. I feel like an angry, rabid mule, possessed by Satan (or perhaps the spawn of Satan), is kicking me in the stomach. Repeatedly. With the mule getting progressively angrier with each kick.”
SJC: “Quit being a sissy. We are coming at 1 p.m. Make the signs and get ready for the video shoot. Quit being a sissy, Diesel”
Me: “Stevie JC? Stevie JC? Do NOT come to the hospital. If you can hear me….do NOT come to the hospital. Dude, there is NO way I am doing this thing today….NO way. I cannot DO this. Can you hear me? If you can hear me, BRING WHISKEY!”
I had ninety minutes to make the signs with the Sharpies and the poster board, and line up a big shot of morphine at 12:59 p.m. (to go with the pain pump thingie they give you….because a bolus shot is a good idea when you have to shoot a video and It feels like an angry, rabid mule, possessed by Satan (or perhaps the spawn of Satan), is kicking you in the stomach. Repeatedly. With the mule getting progressively angrier with each kick. I also had to gather up my nurse friends to have them distract the charge nurse from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. (allowing us ample time to shoot), script the fake John Lennon/Yoko One “bed in” thing where they sang “all we are saying,……is give peace a chance”….thereby turning it in into “give Jell-O a chance instead.” And I had to write the lyrics for “Give Jell-O a Chance” And I had to clean up and put some hair product in….because we were filming. Oh, and I had to do some more laps to get the colon halves talking again.
J-Hof and Stevie JC rolled in at 1 p.m., sixty seconds after my bolus shot of morphine carrying my guitar, tripods, and cameras. They were hammered and laughing. Like, really hammered. And loud. The morphine bolus shot kicked in three minutes later, as J-Hof pulled out a two liter of Coke, three big 7-11 Slurpee cups, and a fifth of Jack Daniels…..and as we had cocktails, I no longer minded that they were really, really hammered and really, really loud. Nope. Not even a little bit. Because what was the charge nurse going to do? Kick me out and give them detentions?
Plan your work. Work your plan.
This was Keisha….she ran interference for us:
The nurses on our team distracted the charge nurse and shut us into my four west room for sixty minutes of filming. We made this knock off video of the John Lennon/Yoko Ono bed in and “give peace a chance” BBC interview in less than an hour. Looked at from any angle, in any type of lighting, it is not a particularly amazing video….however, given the utter lack of planning and thought that went into the video. And given the fact that our collective IQ’s during that single filming hour were less than the average temperature in Phoenix, we did OK. Phoenix in January, not Phoenix in July.
This link will take you to the “Give Jell-O a Chance” video. Have you been having cocktails? It is far, far better to watch after a few dozen cocktails:
That Sunday was one of my favorite Sundays ever. It was four years ago today. Thank you, Stevie J. Clark, for saying “fuck it” and throwing it into fifth gear. And thank you for the whiskey.
I took a cab home from the hospital several days later, once my colon started communicating properly again. The nurse walked in with the discharge papers, smiling, and asked “who is picking you up, Mr. Mulligan?” I replied “I have not met the man yet; however, I am going to bet he speaks with some sort of accent and was a nuclear physicist AND a brain surgeon in his native country….” Have you ever noticed that you will never, ever, ever, ever find a cab driver who says “oh, yep, I drove a cab in my other country, too.” Nope. You will never, ever, ever hear that sentence. They wheeled me out front in my surf trunks with my pee bag attached to my leg (see above……fourteen days with a catheter so the bladder could heal….this was day six. That is eight days shy of the full fourteen). The cabbie looked at the surf trunks and the pee bag with concern, I told him that it was made of a space age polymer, tested by NASA for years and he had nothing to worry about. Then, I asked him to please stop by a liquor store on the way back to Bird Rock. Because I was all hopped up on pain meds, had more waiting for me at CVS, and…..by golly….LeBron James was announcing his decision in less than three hours. And that LeBron decision needed far more than Percocet. Far more. The cabbie stopped by the liquor store.
I got home and followed the nurse’s instructions to change out the leg pee bag to the permanent pee bag and hung the permanent pee bag on the bed while I opened the champagne. Four minutes later, I fell fast asleep to the first seven hours of the ESPN special on “The Decision”. Poor time to sleep when you have five cats…as I did at the time. Little known fact. Pee bags dangling from bedposts are as attractive to cats as catnip coated real mice holding popsicles made of raw salmon. I awoke thirty minutes later to all five cats playing tetherball ( a al Napoleon Dynamite at recess) with the bed mounted pee bag. I screamed at all five of those damn cats (they scattered like the French at the beginning of WWII) rapidly changed my catheter back to the leg mounted pee bag (which was dead sexy anyway…..it’s HOW you wear something, not WHAT you wear) and proceeded to watch LeBron James tear another piece if Cleveland’s heart out in the most annoying fashion ever. This was precisely when Mr. James decided on “The Decision”. Those are the guilty pee bag tether ball players……….
That was this week, four years ago. That’s a pretty cool week. And I know cool weeks. Better than 99.6% of the population.
It was not cancer. We got that damn video shot and laughed non-stop about it for a month. LeBron got two titles. I got some cool scars. And if there is a lesson we all took away from Shane Falco in the god-awful and overacted football movie “The Replacements” it is this: “pain heals, chicks dig scars, and glory lasts forever.” Amen, Shane Falco. Amen.
Write that Shane Falco quote down.
You are welcome.
This is the end of the story…………………