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Friday, March 28, 2014

If Nothing Comes Down, Then I'm Forced to Swim Up


Blogging Tunes: Chum Rehearsal 3/19/2014; somafm: drone zone; TOR@PHI (via Slingplayer); Kentucky/Louisville (via Slingplayer)


TL; DR: I started this blog post in January 2014 on our flight to Mexico (to see Furthur Paradise Waits) and haven’t been able to find the time to finish it until recently. If there’s one thing that tells me, it’s that it’s time to close it down.  For good.  For real.  Forever.

Oh, and I joined a Phish tribute band called Chum.

Chum playing Rift at the Boom Boom Room - 3/7/2014

- - - - - - - - - - -

As I look back on this crazy journey, there's so much I want to say and so many people I want to acknowledge, that's it's hard to know where to begin.  If that opening sounds like it has some finality to it, that's intentional.  95% of all AML relapses happen within the first 3 years.  The 3 year anniversary of my transplant is in two days.  I'm down to two meds (Acyclovir and Gleevec) -- both at half the normal dose.  If all is well at my next appointment, we will stop all meds.  Forever.

So let's start here: I am so unbelievably lucky it's astounding.  I mean, right now, as I type this, Heather and I are on a flight from SFO to Cancun on our way to see 4 Furthur shows.  Most of the band (we saw Bob, Phil, Jeff C., and Sunshine) are on our flight.  Heather's parents are at our house watching the kids, so unlike the heads a few rows in front of us with the screaming infant, we're happily/peacefully on our own this time. :)

If that's the yang, here's the yin: I've been fighting a flu for the past 7 days.  I definitely feel better than earlier in the week, but definitely not 100%.  Also, I got a ticket for "failing to come to a complete stop" at a stop sign yesterday, driving Floyd to his flag football game.  The cop showed me the video.  Fine.  He's right.  By the letter of the law, I didn't come to an absolute complete stop.  But I probably slowed to 1 mph at corner that's at the bottom of a little hill, where you can't even really see what's going on in the intersection until you move beyond the stop line to glance left.  Also, later that day when I drove home, I watched 5 cars in a row roll through the same stop more egregiously than I did.  How's that for annoying?

Still, let's put it all in perspective.  Ticket, a fine, possible points.  Yeah, that all sucks, but 3 years ago or so, I was given about a 40% chance of survival, so if I have to choose...

When your daily routine is all about survival, you sometimes forget about actually enjoying this short precious journey called life.  Well, right now, at 35,000ft, I'm really enjoying it.

So the intention here is for this to be the final blog entry.  I say intention largely because I don't want to jinx it like last time.  So if it turns out there's another entry after this one, so be it.

Anyway, I would like to dedicate it to two very important groups of people:

(1) Everyone who helped Heather and me when we needed it most back in Nov/Dec 2010 and the following Spring when I was recovering.
(2) Everyone who has, in some form or another, mentored me, or otherwise profoundly influenced my life.

This list of folks for (1) is probably 100-long.  You all know who you are.  If you're reading this and saying to yourself, "hey, I'm one of those people," please take a virtual bow and acknowledge yourself and your family, and know that we remember (and are thankful for) each and every person who helped us.

The remainder of this blog post is dedicated to (2).

There are two mottos I've been living by for years -- I can't remember whether someone explicitly taught me the first one or whether I eventually just realized it at some point.  Essentially it is: (a) "always surround yourself with the smartest people you possibly can.  Learn from them *and* figure out what you have to offer them.  Once you figure it out, offer as much as you can and keep learning.  Do this genuinely and selflessly."  The second motto is easy, albeit cliche: (b) "work hard, play hard."

Let's talk about (a).  Did you ever have a moment when you realized that there people out there that were going to be 10x / 100x better than you at something?  Happened to me when I was 12.  I had broken my collar bone a couple weeks before the end of the school year, so I couldn't go to my normal camp that year.  So, for the last two weeks of the summer, after I healed, my mom signed me up for two weeks of Atari Computer Camp at Lehigh.  Talk about a game changer -- I loved it so much that I went back the following year for the full eight weeks.  In those first couple weeks, I met a kid my age who had written a game that was as cool as some of my favorite Atari games. "So THAT'S what a future killer computer programmer is doing at 12," I thought.

I befriended the young genius -- whose name escapes me -- and tried to learn as much as I could from him while figuring out if there was something I had to offer him.  Turned out there was (related to some sound programming stuff that I won't bore you with.)  That was a defining moment for me.

For the 30 years I've lived since then, when I meet smart people (that aren't pricks or prima donnas), I try take the same approach.  What can I learn from them?  Is there anything I have to offer that can help them, in return?

Many of such folks wound up naturally playing a mentor role, while others, simply based on what they had to teach me, nudged me down a positive path.

Let's start with family.

Dad.  I do not have one of those dads you see featured on some ESPN kid/dad tear-jerker story where the dad played ball with the kid 4 hours a day, the kid grows up to play pro ball, and owes all his success to those hours.  Mentoring doesn't have to be about that.

Like most kids, I learned a good deal from (and did a lot of stuff with) my dad.  But two extremely valuable things stand out above all others: work ethic and love for playing piano.  When you're a kid, you think everyone's life is just like yours; of course nothing could be further from the truth.  The two images of my dad imprinted most deeply on my brain cells are 1) his sitting at the dining room table writing on his legal pad and 2) his sitting at the piano (usually playing Bach, Beethoven, Debussy, or Mendelssohn.)

I thought every dad worked after dinner some nights and went to see clients on the weekends.  But as I grew up, I realized that my Dad's work ethic was as good as it gets -- perhaps too good -- and, mostly by osmosis, I had inherited this ethic without its specifically being *taught* to me.

Re: piano - I could write a book on this topic.  Suffice to say: my dad was good.  He only played classical, so we really didn't connect on the actual music much.  From an early age, I was into pop and rock -- stuff like Fleetwood Mac, ELO, and the Eagles.  Then onto Genesis, Yes, Pink Floyd, and Zeppelin.  My dad thought most of that was "noise." I can only imagine where our relationship (and my playing) might have gone had he be into rock or jazz even the slightest bit.  Still, in his prime, he played very well.  Didn't appreciate that then; do now.  Now I get to fill my house with song (mostly Phish these days) for my kids, just like he did for his.

Mom. Simply put, my mom supported me in whatever I wanted to do.  Through all my crazy twists and turns, having that support along the way was the most valuable thing in the world.  Unconditional love and eternal support. She even joined me at a Dead show at the Spectrum in 1994.  Thanks, Ma!

Dave. Comparatively speaking, My brother and I weren't all that close growing up, but when I really needed him, he was always there.  If there was something important -- girls, school, beer, stuff like that -- his advise was tops.  As adults, we've grown quite close despite the 3000 miles separating us.  Dave was bummed that he wasn't a genetic match for my transplant, but looks like it turned out for the best.  Now that I've had his immune system in me for almost three years, I can't imagine a better match than, Martin!

College influences.  UMass wasn't my first choice for school, but I can't imagine any place having turned out better.  I owe the following people (in approximate order of appearance) more than I can likely give back for their mentorship during my undergraduate years:

Scott K.  Scott was the best freshman roommate and is a lifelong friend.  He turned me on to the Grateful Dead, took me to my first show, opened my eyes to the unknown, and always did the right thing when it counted.

Arlene Norkin. My Calc 3 prof, who I randomly bumped into at a winery in Sonoma a few months ago -- how weird is that?  At class registration, somehow I talked my way out of Calc 1 and Calc 2 even though I hadn't taken the AP Calc exam in high school.  They awarded me the eight credits for those two courses, and there I was in Calc 3.  Hardest class ever (well, at that point.)  Arlene spent countless office hours sessions with me.  She didn't spoon feed me, but rather, she helped me learn fundamentals, removed blockers, and pushed me in the right the direction.  I wound up studying for her class about as much as my other 4 classes combined that semester, got an AB on the final and a B for the class.  Positive reinforcement for the work ethic!

Albey Reiner - the life changing professor.  I had gotten a tip that Albey's "Biology of Cancer and AIDS" class was, bar none, the best Gen Ed class at UMass.  It was also, as a freshman "impossible to get."  Well, I signed up for it, and somehow, I got it -- one of a handful of freshman who did.  Why was the class so great?  It was just... Albey.  Sometimes, he'd spend the first half of the class with the lights off... "talking" to us.  Not necessarily about the course material but about anything that spoke to him that day. I put talking in quotes, because sometimes it felt more like channeling.  The guy was just... enlightened.  After visiting him for office hours one day, I literally felt like I was floating across campus.  To this day, I have never experienced anything like that encounter with Albey.

- - -

Friday Jan 24th -- Playa del Carmen

I had every intention to keep this blog post going through the Mexico trip, but there was way too much going on.  With "excursions" by day, Furthur shows by night, and my still not feeling 100%, any free time in between found me napping/sleeping.

I'm finally feeling close to normal today, and I have a few moments sitting at this awesome steakhouse bar in Playa Del Carmen during halftime of the Monchengladbach/Munich futbol game -- doesn't look good for Gladbach -- while Heather shops, so I'll continue briefly.

We took a cab into Playa today.  It's a very cute little beach town.  The main drag (5th Ave) is 100% tourists, like Fisherman's Wharf in SF, but about 10x cooler.  Lots of fun shops, restaurants, and bars, all a block away from a nice beach with warm ocean water.  I got too much sun on this trip as it was (e.g. sunscreen was forbidden at Xel Ha) so no beach for me.

OK, I just got another 1800 margarita and the second half is about to start.  I fear Munich has this one, but you never know.  [Final update: Munich 2 Gladbach 0]

Here are a few pics of one of the excursions we took in Mexico:

Snorkling in the Cenotes

jg zipline!
H zipline
Look closely at our feet
And a pic of Furthur:

Four nights of this!  Wheeee!


- - -

Saturday Jan 25 - on the plane from CAN to SFO.

Continuing with UMass mentors...

Jack Carson.  Jack turned me on to Tangerine Dream, pulled me into the Animation Lab, pushed my keyboard playing to the next level, and got me into recording and sequencing music.  Jack and I ultimately worked on numerous projects in the lab and were in yeP! together for years.

Adam Lavine / Dennis Chen.  These guys founded the animation class and were the first entrepreneurs I had ever known.  The software we used in the lab was so bad, they decided to write their own.  The formed a company, and built a great product (infini-D.)

Dave ("dave.dave") Cotter.  Tetreeece, Buffalo Wings, Ice Cream, Star Trek, and ...... :)

Bev and Stephen Woolf - my surrogate parents.  Bev was the professor who sponsored the aforementioned animation lab.  Once I took on a bigger role with the lab, somehow, she, and her husband Stephen (a brilliant architect and awesome piano player) sort-of became my parents away from home.  I don't really remember how it happened, but I'm glad it did.

Westy/Tasha.  Erik and Tasha (Westland) were like my big brother and sister at UMass.  When I was freshman, they were juniors (I think.)  They took me under their collective wing, helped me navigate the CmpSci dept and took me to "big kid" parties.  I had both surrogate parents *and* siblings.  :)

Mike Sirowitz.  Timeline-wise, this is a bit out of order, since I first met Mike when I was 14 -- he was the tour leader on my Baron Teen Tour.  Best summer of my life as a kid.  While Mike and I kept in touch over the years, it wasn't until several years later that we really re-connected.  Via separate paths, we both got into to the Dead, and in Fall 1990, when I saw my first run of shows at MSG, Mike's apartment on the Upper West side was my home base.  Though he preferred to do shows Wharf Rat style, he was very accepting of my non-Wharf Rat ways.  :)  10 years my senior, Mike has played the mentor role for me ever since those shows.  He even kicked down some cash when we asked friends and family to help yeP! make its first album.  Thanks, Mike!

Eric J. Simon (not the philly one.)  If there was one person who epitomized the way I thought life could (and should!) be at age 20, it was "ejs."  I met ejs on the rec.music.gdead usenet group.  He was a hardcore deadhead taper and was not shy about partying. :)  Right around when I was started really getting into the Dead, ejs hooked me up with countless shows (his killer 0th gen DAT Auds), invited me to net.head taper parties, and offered up his place for any/all Boston shows.  The thing about Eric that was so amazing to me was that while he was seeing (and taping!) all these Dead shows, he was also getting his PhD at Harvard.  Talk about a role model.  "Work hard, play hard?"  No one did it like ejs. Obligatory shout out: ejs' new book is about to rock the College textbook world.  Go ejs!

Greg Deocampo and John Paluska.  I first met Greg at MacWorld San Francisco in January 1991.  I demo'd Infini-D for him and the next thing you know, we're talking about Phish -- he happened to be friends with Trey and Paluska (Phish's manager.) If it wasn't for the animation lab (and Jack, Adam, Dennis, and Bev) I would have never even been there to meet Greg.  That summer, I worked for Greg at his startup (CoSA) in Providence and helped produce a computer animated video to the Phish song, Esther.  The video recently resurfaced on YouTube.

Greg introduced me to JP which led to my gig consulting for him (and Phish) on and off for the next two years.  Again, talk about role model.  JP saw Phish, thought they were awesome, and essentially took over their management, running the entire operation from the late 80s through mid 2000s.

Steve Cook - my first big-boy-job manager.  When I graduated UMass, I got a job (with a little help from some other smart people like Lory Molesky) in the CmpSci Department being a Mac Sysadmin.  Steve was my manager.  To say I was a little green and borderline unprofessional -- I think I showed up barefoot for work a few times -- would have been an understatement.  But Steve saw my native genius (a Multipliers reference) and helped shape/guide me.  Of course I totally kicked ass for him -- remember the work ethic! -- so it was mutually beneficial.  As yeP! got more serious, Steve worked with me to cut down my hours so yeP! could tour, and I could still keep my job (and be productive for the department.)

Joe Kiniry.  When Joe was a grad student, he worked part time for the department under Steve.  The guy got more done in 10 hours than most of the full-timers got done in a week.  Another smart guy to learn from.

Jian Ghomeshi.  yeP! and Moxy Fruvous played several gigs together in the mid-1990s (like this one at the Middle East in Cambridge.)  Jian and I became fast friends, and, among other things, our passion for music, hockey led to a deep, ever-lasting friendship.

Heather.  Words can't describe.  I love you, monkey!!!!

- - - - - - - - - -

All the UMass/post-UMass/yeP! stuff and all the related mentorship led up to my eventual move to San Francisco in 1999.  You might think that I had used up my supply of mentors, but, in fact (in fact!) the mentorship was just getting started.

At BEA/WebLogic, I met the smartest people I have ever known.  I liken that core WebLogic crew to the Edmonton Oilers in the early-to-mid 80s.  Somehow all these amazing players (Gretz, Mess, Curri, Coffey, Anderson, etc.) ended up on the same team when they were all in their early 20s.  Similarly, PaulA and BobP (the WLS founders) were able to assemble an amazing group of engineers.  And me?  Shit, I just got lucky: Joe Kiniry happened to connect me with one of the WLS engineers through a geeky email dlist he was on.  Next thing you know, I got hired on as a Tech Support engineer.

The following BEA/WLS folks (in no particular order) all acted as some form of mentor or teacher to me from 1999 through 2005 as I grew into a Senior Support manager role.  You guys are all awesome:

Dean, MarkG, SamP, br, brown, pcal, ScottD, PaulC, GeorgeK, PaulR, BobP, LaurieP, PaulA, MikeM, EricH, AB, Sriram, cfry, rwoollen, and nickd.

I truly believe I gave something back to each and every one of these people, but for two in particular, it remains extremely lopsided.  Without GeorgeK and Chris Fry, I don't think I could have gotten the chance to build CCE at Salesforce.  Of course, when I did get the chance, the work ethic I'd be honing for the past two decade kicked in and set me up for success.

Finally, it was time to run the show without a net and free from the assistance of any mentors.  I was ready.  For the first year at Salesforce, I navigated pretty much on my own with a little help from Benji, who has since become an incredible friend and mentor, but at the time didn't know all that much about Support <-> R&D Interface.

A year and a few weeks into the Salesforce gig, all this Leukemia craziness happened.  Here's a link back to the beginning of the blog in case you joined us late.

Between then and now, several new mentors have emerged: Benji, Kirsten, Parker, and even Marc himself, not through direct mentorship but through all he's done with Salesforce's philanthropic model, without which, we could not have achieved our $250k goal for Light the Night last year.

I'd also like to acknowledge my first career coach, Maynard Brussman and my current coach, Bill Bennett.  Thanks for the continued help, guys!

Time for sleep. Big day tomorrow: flying to LA for a Chum gig @ Saint Rock.  Can't wait to see Laura Hess!

Last, but certainly not least, a blog entry wouldn't be complete without a few recent pics of the kids.  So here are few for you:

Floyd eating us out of house and home (at the deli)
Orion too!

Happy Floyd at Tripp's Super Bowl party
Floyd and me at Flyers/Sharks - Feb 2014

Floyd the "Hot Rod"

Orion on his 4th birthday

Floyd (#28) lookin' like LeSean McCoy
Orion's sick crush (and a tumble) - play it!

It's ass is fully kicked.

-jg

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Talk About Your Plenty, Talk About Your Ills

Blogging tunes: Lemonchill - The Chill Spectrum

It's been a pretty amazing few weeks with several big milestones.  I didn't intend to blog so soon after my last entry, but the news is too good not to share.  Plus, there's a call to action.

So here's the latest and greatest:

First and foremost, I saw Dr. Damon on Monday and finally got two pieces of info I've been waiting to hear for a long long time:

He said, "I really don't see your AML ever coming back" <--- ding ding ding ding!
He said, "I think we can get you off the tacrolimus" now

Now we've all known -- or at least I have -- that the first bullet was coming, but it was really great to hear.  The second bullet, for me, really symbolizes my full recovery.  Once we're completely off the tac, two other meds can be phased out too.  Here are the specific post-appointment instructions:


1. Decrease tacrolimus to 0.2 mg 3 days per week for 2 weeks - if you are fine, then stop tacrolimus.
2. Contiune Gleevec at 200 mg daily
3. Continue Acyclovir at 800 mg daily
4. 2 weeks after stopping tacrolimus, then stop fluconazole
5. 4 weeks after stopping tacrolimus, stop septra
6. Return to clinic in 2 months


You kinda get used to taking a crapload of meds when that's what you have to do, bur I'm ready to be done with them.  Going from 5 meds to 2 will be huge.  Of course I'll probably need to be on the Gleevec for some time, and all I can say is, thank goodness for top-notch medical insurance -- that 200mg of Gleevec daily costs about $4200/month!  My co-pay?  $20.  Jeez'l peez'l.

Next, and arguably more important, my donor Martin and his girlfriend Jenny had their baby! Welcome, Simon!  He almost feels like a nephew!  :)  He was born a few weeks early, but he's doing just fine.  Here are some pics of the little guy:

Cute, little Simon

Happy Jenny and the little guy

As soon as they get him home, I'm sure we'll have some pictures of Martin holding him in his Eagles, Phillies, or Flyers gear.  We know he'll be all safe and snuggly with his Eagles bear:

Snuggle, Simon Snuggle, on the road to victory!

In other news, Floyd and I have been doing regular Garage Band sessions on my new iMac.  How appropriate that this happens in the garoffice?

Here's Floyd tracking some vocals and playing along to a Phish loop I sequenced.  He can actually play a simple (4 or 5 note) melody over a little loop.  Pretty cool.

The purple track is his vocal

now if I could teach him to use more than one finger

Last, but certainly not least, we are only days away from the San Francisco Light the Night walk benefitting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. While I've hit my personal $10k goal -- THANKS EVERYONE!! -- we're a bit behind in our HQ fund-raising efforts this year, so if you haven't donated, and you're so inclined, please consider supporting this amazing cause by donating directly to the Salesforce HQ Technology team.

Let's (walk to the) End (of) Cancer

This year, Salesforce.com is walking in 20 cities across North America!  Fortunately, most of the walks are in October and November, so the non-HQ teams still have some time to fund raise.

We're going great, but we've got a ways to go!


Thursday, August 22, 2013

This Has All Been Wonderful But Now I'm On My Way

Blogging Tunes: none; just the whir of the fans in the garoffice

For the non Phish fans, this blog title is a lyric from the song Down With Disease.  And that's about how I feel right now!  The past two Wednesdays I biked to work, with my San Rafael neighbor and Salesforce co-worker, Rob Lamb.  Not to the ferry, but all the way to work in San Francisco.  That's 22 miles, yo.  I think I can safely say that I went and kicked its ass at this point.  I have two doc appointments in a couple weeks -- Damon and Arron -- and I know in my heart, soul, and blood, that the news will continue to be good.

Yes, we are wearing dorky sfdc bike jerseys (thanks, Jay!)

Also, last Saturday we went to Saanvi's birthday party which was at a pool in Foster City.  Gaurav took some awesome pics, and when I saw this one...

3 Greene boys in the pool - 3 years later!

... I figured it was time to replace the old banner with something more current.

Old banner (Nov 2010)

New banner (Aug 2013)
Yeah, I know, the composition of the new banner isn't as good.  You graphic artist types will have to forgive me; I am le tired.

Three other quick points:

1) Martin and I continue to exchange emails just about every day.  I sent him some baby loot and he sent back this beautiful picture of Jenny and him holding the Sleeping Monkey onesie I got in Tahoe.  Can't wait to see their baby wearing all the Phish and Philly gear (what else would I send them?)

Why'd you send my monkey on the train?

2) Today was Floyd's first day of Kindergarten.  "Long nights, short years" has never rung more true.  Looks like Coleman is going to be great for him.

Phish shirt and a rainbow name tag - what more do you need?

3) I am on a mission (via Salesforce) to raise $250k for the Leukemia & Lymphoma society's Light the Night walk this year.  If you are so inclined, please consider supporting this great cause.  I'm trying to raise $10k of the $250k myself and my donation page is here; the Salesforce National Page is here.

$31k is awesome, but...

We're a long way from our goal, so we need your help.  Many thanks to those that have already donated. If you are interesting in walking in your city/town, click here to find the Walk nearest to you. e.g. here's a link to the Philly walk.

Salesforce CCE walking in 2011

I went and kicked its ass,

-jg


Sunday, July 21, 2013

You and I in a Little Toy Shop

Blogging Tunes: Air - Talkie Walkie

If you're one of those people who usually skims my blog, scrolls down to look at the pictures, or otherwise moves quickly over my meager scribing -- hey, I don't blame you, at this point, with all the healthy reports I might too -- this is a time to STOP and READ.  Because, other than the news I shared back in January 2011 about finding a 10/10 match, this is probably the most exciting blog post I've ever made.

Ready?

I've made contact with my stem-cell (bone) marrow donor, and he is super cool!

yeP! It's true.  It's been 2 years and 4 months since my transplant and now, UCSF, in conjunction with the bone marrow registry here in the USA has connected me with my donor through the German registry (called DKMS) and we now know whose blood is flowing through my veins.

His name is Martin.  He's 27 and he lives in Germany.  Here he is with his girlfriend:

Jenny and Martin
Over the last few days, Martin and I have been exchanging emails and it's been an absolutely incredible experience.  We are just starting to get to know each other, but we're already connected in a way that's borderline impossible to comprehend.

Who is he?  Why was he a perfect genetic match for me?  What compelled him to join the bone marrow registry?  If he hadn't been in the registry (and my transplant came from someone else) would I be in as good health?  Would I be alive?

These are just some of the questions that have been floating around my head for the last couple years, and now I get I to find out!  To the question of, "what inspired you to join the marrow registry?" Martin responds:

"What inspired me? I just wanted to help somebody. Here in Germany there is a lot of advertisement of DKMS. I think it's still the biggest database of donators  (3.7million so far). Someday I saw an ad on a website with Lukas Podolski, a German football-player).


A professional athlete with a Q-tip! Why don't we do this in the USA?

I think it was spring 2010. It was now possible to purchase a set of q-tips to do the typing by yourself at home - by doing a cheek swab and sending it back to the lab - very easy without any needles and pain. I ordered five sets, because i have a big family (5 brothers, 1 sister) and asked them to register too. One of my brothers also got that message to be your possible match, but later after blood analysis, they found out that mine characteristics had been more exact to yours."

So two blood brother are both matches for me?  Does that mean we are related?  If so, how many generations ago?  Martin registered in Spring 2010 and I got sick 6 months later?  I mean, how cosmic is that?  Totally mind-blowing!

That advertisement is so cool.  I'm going to contact bethematch.org and tell them about this. Imagine a baseball slugger holding a Q-tip in an ad for bethematch.org!  Hey Tracy S., want to help me make this happen?

Martin also sent me another picture -- the photo of his DKMS certificate, which he put on his living room wall and looked at every day... thinking of whoever it was that needed his stem-cells and wishing him well.

Martin's DKMS certificate

Check out the date on the certificate.  It's exactly one day before my transplant.  Think about the coordination involved here: I went into the hospital 8 days before my transplant to begin a week's worth of chemo and other preparatory measures, and then one day before my treatment, they draw Martin's blood and fly it 5600 miles west to UCSF. Wow.

So now what?  I don't really know.  Martin and I are just getting to know each other. Hopefully, I'll get to meet him one day.  I've been travelling to Dublin once a year for work, so maybe next time I get out there I can detour to Duestchland.  Or maybe he and Jenny can come visit us in Marin.  :)

Lastly, I want to leave you all with a the words of an Air song.  It's from the Talkie Walkie album and it's called Biological.  Ever since I used one of the lines from this song as the title for my transplant blog entry -- did you know that (just about) all of my blog post titles are taken from song lyrics? -- I couldn't listen to it without thinking of my anonymous donor. But now, I will forever think of Martin.  Clearly it's just a love song, but still...

AIR
Biological

Thousands of hairs
Two eyes only
Its you

Some skin
Billions of genes
Again its you

XX XY
That's why it's you and me

Your blood is red
It's beautiful genetic love

Biological
I don't know why I feel that way with you
Biological
I need your DNA

Your fingerprints
The flesh, her arm, your bones
I'd like to know
Why all these things move me

Let's fuse ourselves to be as one tonight
A part of me would like to travel in your veins

Biological
I don't know why I feel that way with you
Biological
I need your DNA


I've been waiting a long, long time to write this blog entry.  It feels really fucking good. Thanks, Martin.  You have lots of fans here in the States!  Go Borussia Mönchengladbach!

Full ass kickage,

-jg

Thursday, July 11, 2013

That Was Yesterday

Blogging Tunes - Various Artists - The Chillout Spectrum

Quick update and all the news is good:

  • Saw Dr. Damon on Monday.  Everything continues to track in the right direction.  We reduced my Tacrolimus down to 0.2mg and hope to be completely off it within 3 months!
  • Gleevec continues to help wtih GVHD and my range-of-motion is getting better and better.  I can now do 2 or 3 half push-ups with minimal wrist and forearm pain.  Only a matter of time now.
  • Been biking to the ferry three days a week and my energy is good.
  • On the carcinoma front, the lip is full healed.  There's still some weird sensation, but that's to be expected as the nerves re-form.
  • Follow-up appointments with both Damon and Arron (Mohs surgeon) in September.
On the personal and work fronts, a ton has gone on since my last blog: trips to Paris and Dublin; Marin Fair; Lots of baseball with the kids; and so much more.  No time to post about any of that.  See my Facebook wall for most of the good stuff.

Two things I will share:
1) The Salesforce National Light the Night team has been established for 2013.  We are planning to walk in more than a dozen cities. and have a goal of raising $250k to fight blood cancer this year.  Please donate to your favorite sfdc employee once s/he has registered to walk.  My page -- completely lame an unmodified -- is here.
2) I just got an email from UCSF with the name and contact info of my BMT donor!  I've been waiting 2.5 years to learn who saved my life, and I now I know.  Very cool moment.  I will be reaching out to him via email, and, sharing this blog with him.  There may be a little, a lot, or nothing at all to post here related to my donor.  Some people don't put it all out there like I do, and I wouldn't blame him in the least if he doesn't even answer my mail.  It's not about that.

OK, fine, here's one pic of the kids from this morning.  They love to go outside first thing in the morning (in their jammies) and drop hit wiffle balls over the fence in the back yard:

wiffle jammies kids

Kick it!

-jg

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I Got Mine

Blogging Tunes: Ry Cooder - Chicken Shack Music

It's been exactly four weeks since my Mohs surgery and my lip is completely healed.  It still feels a little weird to the touch, and when I run my tongue over it, but its totally closed up.  It's hard to describe the sensation... it feels like it's not entirely solid under the skin -- probably because it's not.  And the nerves are in a weird state -- probably becauase they are growing back.

Go back one post and look at the pictures (if you have the scroats) and imagine that THAT healed on its own in less than 4 weeks.  Amazing.

Anyway, all this means I can actually go out without worrying about shit getting on my lip and use real SPF lip balm, which, in turn, means I can think about biking to the ferry again!  Shooting for Friday this week.

I feel like the last time I said I didn't need to blog anymore I sort-of jinxed it, so I'm not going to say that now.  I have a follow-up appointment with Dr. Arron and Super Z next Wednesday and I need to make an appointment with Dr. Damon.  Though he reduced my Tac to 0.25mg (via email/Mychart - yeah!) I still haven't seen him in awhile, so I probably should.  My guess is it'll be after I get back from Europe.  I'm heading to France (br's wedding) and Dublin (work) from June 5th to June 15th!

I'm blogging from the ferry so I can't really add a bunch of pics, but here's a video of Orion crushing one at AT&T Park last Sunday for Little League Day.  If you look closely you can see Floyd in his Grasshopper's jersey trying to make the play in left field.


Kickin' it like Orion be crushin' it, yo!

-jg


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Reba Dangle Ladle From Her Lip

Blogging tunes: somafm Drone Zone

Quick break from work -- shortest update ever: saw Dr. Arron's colleague -- one of the other Doctors -- at UCSF dermatology yesterday.  Unfortunately, both Dr. Arron and Super Z were at some conference.

Lip is healing "perfectly."  "Couldn't be any better," said the guy.  Just gotta keep it gooped up with Aquaphor and covered when I'm outside (to protect from the sun.)  A few more weeks and I'll be eating spicy wings again (touch wood) -- at which point I'll be bugging Dr. Damon about lowering my tacrolimus.

One nerdy thing to note.  I used Flywheel to get to UCSF Zion and back.  Very cool experience and cheaper than Uber.

And now back to your regularly scheduled kicking,

-jg

Friday, April 26, 2013

Ah Bretta Fresh Air

Blogging Tunes: La Grosse Radio Reggae - www.lagrosseradio.com - 192kbps CBR, MP3 Internet Radio

Been listening to this reggae/dub station out of France a bit for the past few days.  It's about 50/50 hit or miss, but it's a nice change of pace from Drone Zone when I'm doing something that doesn't require concentration.  As I start this entry, this Warrior King song was on.  The title of this blog post is what the chorus sounded like to me.

It's been 9 days since the Mohs surgery and things are going reasonably well.  It's still quite difficult to eat anything other than really small bites (since I don't want any food to touch the affected area), all beverages are consumed with a straw, and brushing/flossing is still a challenge.  All small potatoes I guess.

Yesterday I sent the latest pic of my lip to Super Z who said it looked like it was healing very well.  I guess we'll find out for sure next Wednesday when I have my follow-up appointment. Earlier in the week, she even said I could stop covering it (with a bandage/band-aid) as long as I keep it gooped up with Aquaphor.  That was real help since the neighboring skin on my face was getting irritated from all the band-aid adhesive.  So every couple hours, I go upstairs, wash my face, and re-apply the Aquaphor.  I still have to keep it covered at night -- and I do.

Even though it still looks a little scary, I'll probably start coming to the office next week -- I've been working from home this whole week, and I'm getting a bit stir crazy.  Hopefully a few more days of healing will do the trick.  I did get out yesterday to play my weekly hour at Little Arrows.  That always puts a smile on my face and gives me a little boost.  Setlist was as follows:

Hello Song (silly fake intro) ->
Hello Song ->
Red Rain ->
Me & My Uncle ->
Mexicali Blues
The Logical Song
Bohemian Rhapsody
Take The Long Way Home ->
Bathtub Gin ->
Piano Man
Eight Days a Week
Throwing Stones ->
In Your Eyes ->
Goodbye Song

So, other than having to work from home, and the aforementioned pains in the toucas, it's pretty much business as usual.  I'm still on all the post transplant meds which limits my energy, but I've been living with that for 2 years now.  The only thing I had to cancel was my trip to Florida for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's National Leadership Conference. Christine Landers is just going to have to represent!  Go Christine!

The good news on the the LLS front is that my co-worker and good friend Oliver Demuth and I have been able to make some progress on the framework for how Salesforce is going to hit its goal of raising $250k for the LLS this year.  More news on that as we kick off the fundraising.  If any of you non-Bay-area readers are interested in playing a leadership role in your town's Light the Night walk, please find a walk close to you and sign up, or get in touch with me at jg [at) johngreene {dot] org.

And last but not least, a PotD (Picture of the Day) -- an action shot of Floyd doing his morning laps around the kitchen and living room.


Yesterday he did 200.  At least he's getting his exercise.  Full video is below:


Kick-a-rama,

-jg


Friday, April 19, 2013

The Grass Was Greener

Blogging Tunes: Pink Floyd - Pulse Concert, Live at Earls Court 1994 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kcRF9Jxvz_M

It's been a weird 44 hours or so since they sent me home Wednesday.  Pretty quick in and out given the extent of the surgery (in at 9:15a, out at 2:30p) but considering Dr. Sarah Arron and "Super Z" (my nickname for her super-cool fellow) does 10-15 of these every Wednesday, I guess they have it down pat.

So how am I feeling?  I'm a bit low-energy but improving.  As I've said to the friends I've been texting with: "This took a lot out of me -- literally and figuratively."

Yesterday, I mostly rested, but today I feel like I can do a bit more, so I've been slowly catching up on work email and keeping tabs on the Boston situation. The biggest PITA is eating.  First day was all soup through a straw.  Now, at least, it's small bites of regular food.  Takes about 5-10x longer than usual though.

The question for the day is: to Trey or not to Trey.  My medical team cleared me to go to the show tonight, but I just don't know if I'll be up to it.  On the one hand, I feel like rest, rest, rest is the best thing.  On the other hand, getting out and enjoying a few hours of normalcy might be just what I need.  This will ultimately be a game time decision.  If I can get caught up on work, take a walk around the block, and still have energy, maybe I'll go.

This thing is going to bandaged for a few weeks at least, so I might as well get used it, right?

As promised, I've also uploaded a few pictures to johngreene.org.  I would not advise clicking if you are squeamish in the least about surgical procedures. I can't imagine what it would have been like if this weren't "so superficial" (quote from Sarah and Z) -- I mean, it feels like half of my lip (in the affected section) is gone.  Of course it also looks worse because the area is 1) pumped up with numbing stuff 2) swollen.  Hopefully in a few days, everything will at least return to normal size.

OK, ok, so here are the pics:  *WARNING THESE PICTURES ARE GRAPHIC AND ARE NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART - CLICK AT YOUR OWN RISK*
  • Picture 1: area marked with purple ink and numbing agent applied (not too bad)
  • Picture 2: Mohs1 Stage 1 complete (WARNING!)
  • Picture 3: Mohs2 Stage 2 complete with additional numbing agent/swelling (WARNING!)
  • Picture 4: All Done (just a bandage)
And just so this entry isn't 100% gore and 0% fun, here's a pic of the boys from last Sunday on the Coleman/Dominican 101 overpass in San Rafael.  Floyd said, "let's walk into town to get breakfast," which is a far cry from the normal, "I just want to watch TV," so of course, I obliged and gave Heather a few hours off to boot:

Floyd does not get points for color coordination
Kicking away,

-jg


Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Mohs Update 5: Finishing Up

Well, it's done. I'm going to look like someone who lost a fight for several weeks, but it went as good as it could. Dr. Aaron doesn't even want to do an MRI as she thinks it's extremely unlikely that the cancer invaded. Follow up in two weeks.

We're also not doing any repair or plastic surgery. Apparently, this is just going to..... heal. Doesn't seem possible to me considering what it looks like right now. And yes, I took pictures, and no I'm not going to post them here. At some point I will upload them to johngreene.org and provide a link for those brave souls who want to see.

Now I gotta get home and rest. Ice for 15 mins of every hour on this big pressure dressing. Tomorrow, just a bandage. Oh, and I'm probably going to have to shave my whole face since they needed to shave quite a bit for the dressing adhesive.

The weirdest thing about this whole experience was the smell of burning flesh when they were stopping the bleeding after removing the cancerous cells. Couldn't feel it, but could smell it. Wacky.

More soon.

-jg (iPhone)