Saturday, December 22, 2012

My 76 Year Old Friend Running Around The World

Bob Rebello’s Worldwide Marathons For Kidney Cancer Newsletter –December 2012 

In memory of John Rebello
If you knew John you would have liked him
“He was a good son, a good brother, a good husband, a good father – and a good friend”

American Cancer Society’s kidney cancer statistics for the year 2012

About 64,770 new cases of kidney cancer [40,250 men and 24,520 women] will occur in the U.S.   

Worldwide over 100,000 will die of kidney cancer and over 200,000 will be living with kidney cancer

The window of opportunity for me to meet my 1999 commitment to raise $100k for kidney cancer research by 12/31/012 is rapidly closing.  With only 14 days remaining I must raise $9,274.00 for me to meet the $100k commitment that I made to the team of doctors at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center who have dedicated themselves to finding a cure for kidney cancer.
As I was, when I started my charity in 1999, I am very confident that I will meet my commitment to raise $100k by 12/31/012. I am confident because of the fact that in just the last 2 years my charity has brought worldwide awareness about kidney cancer to over 9,500 people from over 100 countries and all of the 50 U.S. States. Over the last 2 years my website has had 7,000 visits from over 100 countries and all 50 US States; I have 2,400 followers on Twitter, and 190 followers on Facebook. I believe that within the 9,500 worldwide followers there are 188 generous and caring people who will donate $50.00 each over the next 14 days to get me to the $100k by 12/31/012. If you have already donated – thank youIf you have not donated yet I would appreciate it if you would consider joining the 1,149 people who have donated to this worthy cause over the last 14 years.

To Donate By Check:
Make the check payable to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and mail to:
Bob Rebello
1399 9th Avenue #918
San Diego, CA 92101
To Donate By Credit Card:
If you’d like to make a donation by credit card go to my website www.bobrebello and click on Donate
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center’s Tax ID # is 042-103-881.

You can follow the donation status by going to my website [], Twitter [] and Facebook [].

The only other 1999 commitment that I have not met– but I will meet – is to run more training and race miles then the circumference of the earth [24,901.5] by 12/31/012. As of this date I have run 24,718 miles and I only need to run 183.5 miles over the next 14 days [13 miles/day] to meet my commitment. It is going to be very difficult for me to meet the commitment as my right knee that I injured in my May 2012 Copenhagen marathon has not healed yet. You can follow my daily miles run and how many miles remaining before I reach the 24,901.5 miles run on Facebook [] and Twitter [].

December 2, 2012 “Surprise Marathon” - St. Croix Virgin Islands Marathon  

On December 2nd I finished my December “surprise’ marathon, my 19th and final marathon for my charity, which was held on the beautiful Island of St. Croix, Virgin Islands. It was a very difficult marathon for me to finish due to my knee that I injured in the Copenhagen marathon in May. While I was in St. Croix I had the pleasure of staying with my good friends Larry and Louise Williams. I plan on finishing my St. Croix marathon story by the end of next week and when it is finished I will put it on my Blog and my website.

Listed below are my corporate sponsors who have generously donated their “Best in Class” products and services to help me meet my commitments. I greatly appreciate their continued support over the years – thanks to each of you - I could not meet my commitments without your support.

Corporate Sponsors: Asics, Riggs Creative Group, Road Runner Sports, National Franchise Services, Wigwam Mills, Medicept,
                                     Napolitano Real Estate, BluRose Media, Phase [n], Sole Luna Café, Enjoy,

Bob Rebello                                                                                                                                

Thursday, November 29, 2012

On The East Coast

My journey continues.  During my trip to Mexico I was the recipient of lots of recommendations for ways to improve my back pain.  My sister, Rachel sent me a link that resonated.  This link takes you to an article, a review of the book, The Anatomy of Hope by Jerome Groopman.  Dr. Groopman takes you on his journey to learn and teach how to use hope in the treatment of pain and illness.  His own quest led him to Dr. James Rainville , a physician in Boston who runs a spine treatment program.  

After my trip to visit the shaman ended abruptly with his untimely demise, I read up on Dr. Rainville.  He seems to be doing some interesting work that is somewhat counter intuitive.  From what I understood, rather than doing anything to reduce or eliminate the pain surgically or with meds, Dr. Rainville recommends going right at the pain using aggressive physically therapy.  If you read the articles you will see that his approach is based on research and data, not faith or magic.  His approach is to strengthen the spine, while realizing that the pain is a reality but not an obstacle.  We all have various levels of pain thresholds, where we perceive pain, and pain tolerance, our ability to cope with the pain.  I happen to have a very low pain threshold.  I experience the pain at levels were others may not feel it.  And I have a high tolerance for pain.  I've been able to function despite chronic and sometimes severe pain.  

Many of you may not know that three years ago after my sixth spinal surgery, I went on a medical leave from work and then onto long term disability.  The surgeries were the result of a life time of wear and tear from my sports, football and ice hockey, as a younger man.  My first spinal surgery happened when I was just out of college at the age of 23.  The last five have occurred since 2001.  

This trip to Boston has been quite a bit of work.  Big difference between this one and my trip to see the shaman a few months back.  If I think about it, that trip was fun and interesting, but really had me putting all my faith in another.  This trip is hard and grueling but has me taking all of the responsibility for my own healing.

The schedule has been as follows:  My daughter and I flew into Buffalo to watch my son play hockey over the weekend before Thanksgiving.  The following Monday I had my appointment with Dr. Rainville.  He was pretty amazing.  The appointment took the better part of an hour.  He asked me for my history, then he reviewed my recent MRIs.  He showed me what he was looking at on the films.  He constantly referred to research while debunking numerous myths about back pain.  He tested my strength and movement and shared his approach.  He, and the visiting doctor who was observing, were pretty amazed and amused at my surgical history.  He's not a big believer in surgery.

The bottom line to the appointment was this:  I have back pain.  I should get myself in the best possible condition with exercise and I need to make my life about something bigger than pain. Pretty simple.  The time spent with him was very much like a mini Landmark Forum, if you know what that is.

With that he prescribed me to go to his physical therapy facility 2x a week for the next 3 weeks where I will be taught to stretch and strengthen my spine.  His back boot camp is normally a six week program.  I'm traveling and can only stay for 3 weeks.  Lisa Childs is the senior physical therapist.  She and Dr. Rainville founded the Spine Center at the New England Baptist Hospital in 1997.  I met with Lisa the day after my appointment with Dr. Rainville.  She spent an hour and a half with me.  As she walked me through my stretching exercises and some of the exercise equipment I am working out on, she also debunked many back pain myths citing research.  For instance, one of the exercises they have me doing is to lift milk cartons off of a shelf, but using my back rather than bending my knees.  The research shows no difference in pain by lifting while bending your knees or not...and using your back contributes to strengthening it.

After my first session with Lisa, I headed to NYC for Thanksgiving with my family then up to Vermont to watch my son's hockey tournament.  I was stiff and sore from the exercise, but where I would normally just hole up and stay in bed, I didn't let the pain stop me.  I was not very good at doing my stretches during the holiday.  A lot of eating and traveling got in the way, but Lisa said something that stuck and made me do more than I would have otherwise.  She said to consider my home stretching like brushing my teeth.  I always make time to brush my teeth.  Just make it a priority and stay focused on it.  So I did.  I give myself a C+ for the weekend, but that was better than I would have done.

I've had two more session this week and I'll go twice more next week before heading home.  Lisa is training me so that I can go to the gym when I get home and continue on with the program.  She's pretty amazing.  She called me on Saturday during Thanksgiving weekend to see how I was doing.  I'm to be in contact with her when I'm on my own in San Diego.  She is encouraging me to come back to Boston to check my progress when I get a chance.

My experience of my pain is shifting.  It's still there, but I don't give it the power I did a week and a half ago.  I have visions of this approach actually working for me.  I can envision sticking with the program, and getting back to a more normal existence.  I can picture going back to work, exercising, reffing ice hockey, maybe even playing.  How cool would it be if I could swing a golf club and play a round of golf with my buddy David.  This guy has nothing to do with Dr. Rainville, but everything to do with inspiration and imagining what is possible if I don't stop.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Walking the Dog

Whenever I walk my golden retriever, Roo,  at the park, beach, woods or canyons, when she gets far away and doesn't see me she seems very concerned until she looks up and doesn't see me.  Then she spots me and all is well. I'm not sure if she's nervous about losing me or concerned for me that I've lost sight of her.  It's kind of endearing either way. 

When she pees I give her an enthusiastic "good girl!"  She's nearly six.  I think she thinks I'm an idiot.  

I take Roo to a nursing home on Monday afternoons to visit patients.  We had her tested a year to become a therapy dog. She's very calm and people just love to love on her. Every time We visit, when we step out of the elevator onto the second floor the same lady is always there, in her wheelchair, in her house robe in the doorway to her room.  Every time I see her she pets Roo and tells me the same thing; "They know! They know who likes them".  I always smile and agree with her. "They sure do". 

It's such a sad place. The nursing home. It's amazing what a few minutes with a silly dog can do for a person.  

Brandon!   Well we did it. It only took a week.  I put the word out on Saturday night that Brandon was not going to be able to play hockey at SDSU this season due to his family's finances stemming from his dad's stroke.  See previous two blog posts for the full story. 

The response was inspiring.  From the closest friends to the kindest strangers. Hockey people and not.  Friends of friends, friends of strangers, hockey coaches, players, teams, rinks, parents and fans.  

I went to the Aztecs season opener last Friday night.  They won. Brandon played.  His parents and twin brothers were there.  I met the coach prior to the game and turned over the $1000 plus that I'd collected.  I will be delivering most of the balance at the game this Friday night.  They play a tough Colorado State team this weekend.  Come watch!

It looks like we should come in slightly above our target.  If so, any excess will be given to Brandon's parents to help with their bills. 

To see the look of appreciation on Brandon's face when he spotted me during warmups made me aware of the miraculous immediate offer to step up by all of you.  Pretty cool again.   We made a lot of people happy.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Well On Our Way

Great response to my last post putting out a call to the San Diego hockey community and beyond.  As you may recall, our friend Brandon Nevarez, a junior at San Diego State University, was planning to not play hockey for the Aztec's club team this year, after playing hockey every season for most of his life since probably the age of six.  Again, this was due to the hardship that has befallen his family due to a massive stroke suffered by his dad a couple of years ago.

I was at a preseason exhibition game last Friday night for the Aztecs.  Brandon was playing.  I saw his parents and went to say hi.  They then told me Brandon was only playing tonight, but would not be able to play this season due to their financial situation stemming from Robert's stroke.  By the way, not to embarrass, Robert, but I'm pretty sure he was visited by an angel during his hospital stay.  He went in for surgery, experienced a blood clot, which went to his brain.  He then fell into a coma, only to then suffer a massive stroke.  Robert's life was over.  The doctors were saying, if he survived he would surely be brain dead.  I was talking to Robert's wife, Barb and she was telling me that they were preparing to have him moved because the facility where he was staying was not authorized to "pull the plug".  That's how far gone he was.

And then he woke up!  So that was good.

It's been a couple of years and Robert is a living, walking miracle.  Things are still difficult for him, but he's an amazing human being, as are his wife and kids.

Anyway, back to the task at hand.  I started this fund raising effort the next day after the exhibition game.  That was Saturday night.  I wasn't sure what to expect, but then Keli, an online Scrabble partner from Canada sent me a message that she would like to donate.  Cool.  Then a few minutes later I got a message from Phyliss in Bonifay who offered to send a check.  Then Paul, whose son plays defense for SDSU with Brandon pledged $100.  Then Greg, a dentist from Scripps Ranch and hockey player/dad/coach made a pledge.  Next Brian, one of Brandon's youth hockey coaches who now lives in NY State offered to contribute $500.  Paula, Karen and Mike, all hockey parents from San Diego contributed.  Dan, another Canadian Scrabble friend and Montreal Habs fan donated.  Marty, Greg and Tim, all San Diego adult league players chipped in.  Larry, Jamie, Skyler and Debi...all friends and hockey families who grew up with Brandon were next.  I've heard from the professional San Diego Gulls All-time scoring leader.  Dave, who's daughter plays D1 hockey for Union College and son is also the goaltender for the Aztecs is making a meaningful donation.  (just got back from my mail box-Checks from Frances, Danny & Monica, Mike and Paula!!!  Thanks you guys!)

Last night I contacted Brandon to let him know what was happening.  I asked him how would he like to play this year.  He responded that unfortunately he was not going to be able to.  I broke the news to him about the generosity of you all and he was speechless.  The first thing he said was how could he thank everyone. So we've made a young man, his family, his teammates and his coach very happy.

The season and home opener is this Friday at the Kroc Center at 9pm vs. Long Beach.  Come out and support the Aztecs and Brandon(#18) and please keep sending money!!!! Still need about $1000.

Update: Tuesday morning, 9 am.  I just called Brandon's parents.  I wanted to make sure it was ok with them that I disclosed the above story about Robert.  They hadn't heard yet about what we are doing here, so I got to break the news to them.  They were stunned.  I asked them what they were doing Friday night. Nothing.  How about going to the hockey game.  Well, since Brandon isn't playing they aren't going...What if I was to tell you Brandon is playing.....ta da!!  So we'll see the whole family at the game.

Hope to see you too.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Bit Out of the Ordinary

So, I posted this on facebook earlier and we've gotten a great response.  Some of my friends were asking if I could post it so they could share this with some of their friends to help out with this please excuse the break in my normal blogging while I share this with my friends and friends of my friends:

To the San Diego hockey community and anyone else who might be interested.  Your help would be greatly appreciated.  We have a friend, a kid who that our son grew up playing hockey with on the San Diego Junior Gulls.  His name is Brandon Nevarez.  Brandon and his family have no idea I am making this request.

Brandon's dad, Robert, had a massive stroke a couple of years ago.  Robert fell into a coma and was days away from having the plug pulled.  He made a miraculous recovery and is up and about.  But the family is strapped.  Brandon plays hockey for San Diego State University.  This is his junior year.  SDSU is a club team playing ACHA DII hockey.  Brandon is unable to play this year due to family finances.  I wanted to do my part and see if I could help raise the $2200 needed to allow him to play this season.

I've asked if anyone might know of a fundraising website I might use to help collect the funds.  But in the meantime, people are sending checks to my address at: 3625 India St #301, San Diego, CA 92103 and making them out to SDSU Hockey and writing Brandon Nevarez in the memo field.  Some people are comfortable sending the money directly to my paypal account.  If you wish to use paypal, send me your email address and let me know how much you'd like to contribute and I will have an invoice emailed to you so you can handle it that way.  Pretty simple.

Thanks a ton.  I would love to help Brandon out.  At this point he and his family are unaware I'm making this request, but they will know soon.  Hard to keep this quiet.

I put this on facebook earlier this evening and we are already at over $800.  If I end up with more than we need, I will give the funds directly to the Nevarez family to help out with their finances.

Thanks for your generosity.

Steve Balaban

Don't Talk To Strangers

It's 102 degrees in San Diego today. Nice relief from yesterday's 106. There were three little kids, brothers I'm sure, waiting for their parents who were in line at the coffee bar.   All three had in the same San Diego Padres caps and Oceanside t-shirts.  I said something to them but none responded.   Ah, their parents taught them well, don't talk to strangers.  How's that gonna work out for them?  Assuming they are never kidnapped and survive childhood, how are they going to succeed in life where most people you meet are strangers?  Oh well, their problem. 

It seems I inspired a friend if mine who has back pain to do something about it.    I stopped by my friend, Susan's house the other day. She read my blog and followed me on my journey to Mexico.  She was very excited to share with me a new back treatment she discovered.  It's called "the M.E.L.T method".   Here is a link:

I'm not sure what MELT stands for, but it involves rolling on a foam roll to achieve spinal decompression and strengthen your core   There's a good YouTube video on the website. I've tried it and it seems to provide some relief. I found a place called Blossom Pilates in Hillcrest that has classes in it. Also, there is an instructor at the Scripps Ranch swim club who gives classes.   

I stopped by Blossom Pilates yesterday and scheduled a MELT session for Monday.  Hopefully Debbie, the instructor, stays out of harms way until then.  I'll let you know how it turns out.  

Off topic but, I'm not a big fan of Tupperware.  Sure it does its job just fine.  It's when it's off the clock that it bugs me.  I don't know about your house, but we've never had a good way to store our Tupperware.  It's always a pain to try to match up the tub with the right sized lid.  I hate fishing it out of the pantry closet.  I hate pulling it out of the dishwasher and putting it away.   I try to let others deal with it when possible.  Sorry Kyle. 

Finally, I spend a lot of time following the political discourse in this country.   I don't want to make this blog political, so I'll refrain(for as long as I can) from pissing some of you off with my views.  They are well known among my Facebook friends.  At any rate, I get so frustrated, angry and bemused at "the other side" that I occasionally attempt to elevate the discussion beyond partisan, identity based opinions to the larger picture.  It doesn't usually work.   This morning I determined to try to see my opponents as their highest and best truth/self.   Sadly, for a few that appears to be hateful whackos.  

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Hope and Change!

I've never had  much faith in hope.  It occurs to me a simplistic,  positive thinking, mind over matter that somehow excuses one of not taking action or responsibility.  

I didn't  particularly intend for this blog to be about my back pain.  However, it is almost always on my mind.  I've been through just about all the standard therapies and then some.  I started with a major surgery soon after graduating from college. That was followed with my early adulthood spiritual quest.  Among other spiritual disciplines I explored Rolfing, acupuncture, chiropractic, yoga, tai chi, certain let's say-medicines, long distance running and cycling.   

Fast forward to the last dozen years and you can add five additional spinal surgeries, spinal decompression, traction and steroid epidural injections, ACT(active release therapy) etc.   

I'd pretty much given up and resigned myself to living out my days with this deteriorating spine.  That is until recently with my trip to see the shaman.  

So, looking back on my trip to Mexico I am starting to see that the theme was unacknowledged hope.   Hoping for a miracle.  Hoping for a magical cure.  No real action or responsibility. Rather a suspension of skepticism, an openness.  It was a fun adventure and I'm glad I went but I  can see a hole in the logic.  Just saying. 

I mentioned getting plenty of generous suggestions and recommendations from friends.  Earlier this year my sister, Rachel, emailed me the link to a review of a book called, Anatomy of Hope.  I skimmed it but it didn't make much of an impact at the time. 

She sent me the link again this week in light of my quest and for whatever reason I was much more open to it his time.  You can read the book review  here.

This review led me to Dr. James Rainville who has a spine clinic in Boston.  Here is an interesting (if you are dealing with back pain) article and youtube video here and here. Dr. Rainville's approach is counter-intuitive.  Rather than resting and protecting your back from pain, he runs a "Back Boot Camp" where you aggresively strengthen the muscles of the back with out regard to the pain.  Look at the youtube clip for a better explanation.

I think I found my next journey.  I'm planning a trip back east this fall to visit family and catch a few of my son's college hockey games.  I think I'll include a visit to Dr. Rainville to look into this hope thing. 

Update. I called and scheduled an appointment with the good doctor.  Should I warn him about my recent history with healers?  

Oh yeah, I was visiting a friend the other day and after telling her about my recent near miss with the shaman she offered me a few drops of healing water from Lourdes.  So I have that going for me.  

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Saturday Afternoon

Lying on the couch  Kyle's at work. Roo is wiped out.  Every so often I think maybe riding a bike might be good for my back.  I give it a try and usually end up paying for it for weeks.  

I tried it today. We'll see how it turns out. I took Roo. She was a champ. She ran along side me without a hitch. Meaning without a problem.  Of course she was "hitched" with her leash. Anyway, she was very impressive.   It was about mile and a half each way.  Flat in both directions. We sat and had coffee with friends at Cafe Italia listening to a band play Average White Band, Tower of Power and various other 70s funk and soul. 

Anyway we are crashed out, me on the couch and Roo in her crate, watching TV. I just saw one of the most meaningful TV shows in my life.   I watched Louis CK's show on demand from this weeks show on FX. 

I've been a fan of his for a few years but only just recently discovered his show.  It a little bit Seinfeld/Curb-like. Only not Jewish and more realistic, less silly.  Sometimes funny, often awkwardly painful. 

On this week's episode Louis gets a break, a shot at the big time.  The show is shot in a semi, quasi (is there a difference?) reality style format.  It follows him in his life and on stage doing his stand up routines. His humor is very personal, occasionally a bit too crude for my liking, but it's very honest. 

In this show he is presented with the opportunity of a life time.  His reaction and how he deals with it, the way the chairman of CBS makes the offer is one of the most genuine authentic moments I've seen on TV in a long time if not forever. 
Here is a link to the main scene:

I have a fascination with stand up comedy.  I have a secret fantasy that I might be able to actually be a stand up comedian.  I have no real "talent". I can't act and I certainty can't sing.  I'm actually banned from singing in my house.  I have been for a long time.  I even shutter myself when I try.  

You may or may not know this, but I have been on a medical leave from my work for over two years due to my back condition.  I want to go back to work and if Enrique  had lived or my next surgery is successful or if I connect to god directly and heal myself I hope to return to work.

I don't honestly think I could have a successful career doing stand up.  For me, standing up might even be a challenge but I think I could have fun and I think I could make people laugh. I did many presentations for my work as a financial advisor over the years and people always laughed at me.  And I wasn't trying to be funny. 

At any rate, I was thoroughly engaged in the way Louis CK deals with the opportunity to change his life forever.  I feel like I'm at that point, albeit without the offer from a major network.  But I  am at a point where I can choose to continue heading in the direction I'm going or take a chance and deal with the uncertainty of A new challenge.  Stay tuned.  

Next up, a nap and a quick cleanup so my wife is happy when she returns from a long day of making women happy and beautiful.  

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Home, the Aftermath

Home. The aftermath. 

Funny going into Bread &Cie, a local bakery, this morning.  I was relieved when the cashier spoke to me in English.  

There's this Asian lady who must live or work across the street from our loft.  I think I see her more than any other human being on the planet besides my immediate family.  I've never met her. But I see her all the time. She drives a little green convertible Mazda Miata.  I am pretty sure she's never seen me. 

I was sitting in the parking lot  in my car with Roo, waiting for a space to open up so I could go get a pastry and a coffee. I was at one entrance to the small lot.  From the opposite entrance in pulls my neighbor in her green Miata. Next a car's back lights go on, then the white reverse lights.  Aha. Someone is leaving.  The Miata lady notices, slams her car in reverse and claims the space.  Not very neighborly.  I toot my horn politely, throw her a WTF shoulder shrug.  She notices my agitation and offers to back out, but by then another car was leaving and I politely waved her back into the stolen spot. 

I parked and waited in the car listening to a fascinating debate on NPR where Condi Rice's convention speech was being discussed.  Just then I felt the presence of a being approaching.   Nope, not Hermanito, although I did invite him into my dreams again last night.   It was my stranger neighbor apologizing for taking the spot. She approached from behind so we never made eye contact.  I was going to introduce myself and tell her we are neighbors but she disappeared.  Not magically like a spirit.  I just lost sight of her.  America is strong on defense.  We don't need to attack Iran to prove it. 

Next I took Roo, my golden retriever and constant companion to the outside seating area of the bakery/ cafe, hooked her up to a chair at an empty table and went inside to order.  When I returned a man was sitting at my table with my dog. He took my table.  I guess leaving my 80 lb pup at the table meant nothing.   

Without saying a word, I unhooked her leash and moved to another table. 

I don't usually get pissed at this kind of stuff.  There's always another parking space or table. 

I have fantasies of getting pissed and reading stupid people the riot act.  But I'm not very good on my feet like that.  Give me a few minutes and I always come up with the perfect response for the situation.  Never in real time though. 

Next time I see my neighbor I'm going to introduce myself.  

I've spoken to quite a few people today who followed my adventure in Mexico. Lots of good advice, feedback,  offers of other options, names of good doctors etc. 

My mom spoke to a spiritual healer and he said the lesson for me was to connect with god directly and I didn't need a medium.  Great advice and a conclusion I even came to myself. Problem is I don't think I have quite enough faith for that.  Not yet anyway.  Well see how that goes.  I don't want to offend anyone but I'm not entirely sure of the whole god thing anyway. 

What I was enjoying about my journey to see Hermanito was that it didn't require my faith.  I was free to be skeptical. It would either work or it wouldn't.  

I imagine a large portion of people who followed my experience thought it was pretty dumb. I know I would. But given the serendipitous way that the opportunity unfolded, believing or not, I knew I couldn't pass up the chance.  Too bad serendipity didn't call a week earlier.  

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Day 3 Part 1

6:30 pm. Wednesday.  Heading home.  At the aeropuerto in the aeroplane ready to fly nonstop to Tijuana.

Seems like I've been in Mexico for a week. I can't believe it's only been three days.

Unfortunately the opposite of what I had  been hoping for is happening.  I'm going home with more pain than when I arrived.   Too much tourista stuff.  I get a nasty burn down my back, hip and leg when I walk or stand for any length of time.  We did too much walking and standing.

Darn you Enrique.  Why'd you have to go and die.  You couldn't have waited a week?  Are you even aware of the inconvenience your untimely death has caused me?   Probably not I suppose.  

I kid.  Everything happens for a purpose and in its own time.  This may or may not be true but it's a handy interpretation for times like this.

I enjoyed my time in this city.  Sofia and Marco were the most gracious hosts. I'm going to refer to them as "the kids" for the remainder of this post.   Easier than typing their names over and over.  I'm sure Jose would have been the perfect spirit guide.

The kids really wanted me to stay longer but once my plans changed I felt all of my other commitments calling me.  Paying bills, helping Kyle get off to work, transferring money into my kids bank accounts, walking Roo, finding a good back surgeon?

I did recite the prayer Domingo gave me. Both last night and this morning. In awful Spanish.  Hermanito did not appear in my dreams last night. But if he heard my prayers I'm sure he had a good laugh.

By the way, let me thank all the people in Mexico who speak English and apologize to those who don't. So, I didn't get what I came for.  What did I get?  Jose repeated an old quote I've heard many times. He said "if you want to make God laugh, tell her/him your plans."

I did get the generosity of friends.  I got the support of friends and family. I discovered I can entertain people and make them laugh with my writing.  I got that there may or may not be unbelievable miracles in store whether one is a "true believer" or not.   I got that my quest continues; to be a good person, to be generous to others, to take better care of myself. I'm not searching for an elusive moment of enlightenment or happiness.  I learned a long time ago that "this is it".  But to not shut the door to possibilities beyond my current awareness.

I also got what a big ass megalopolis Mexico City is.  I couldn't really see that from driving around the city with the kids. I was expecting it to be crowded, dangerous and polluted.  I found none of that to be true. However, flying out of the city I saw how enormous it really is. That's a big town.

I'm still not buying the stuff they show on that Ghost Hunter reality show.  I'm sorry but that's pure, let's call it, entertainment.  Sorry kids.

On the ground in Tijuana.  

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Day 2 Part 3

Well boys and girls.  Not quite sure how to tell you this but the shaman is on the roof. *

It's all fun and games till somebody dies.

I spent my day enjoying Mexico City,  Mexican food and Mexican friends.  We drove to the house where Hermanito through Enrique gives the initial consultation to 20 or 30 faithful followers.  We arrived at about 5 minutes till 8pm.  We were to meet Jose who would stay with me and translate everything.

We stood at a large wooden door at an old stone house.  A couple, an older woman and a younger man joined us at the door awaiting someone to answer our knock.

Word were exchanged in Spanish among the couple and Marco and Sofia.  While my Spanish is lacking, I thought I picked up something about no consultations tonight. Say what!

A large older gentleman opened the door and greeted us.  His name was Domingo.  I'm pretty sure he asked if I was there for a consultation.  Something that has gone on every Tuesday night for the past 25 years.

I was led over with my friends to a small table and was asked to sit down.  It looked like I was about to be asked to fill out some paperwork.

A conversation ensued in Spanish among the 3 of them with Domingo doing most of the talking.  After 2 or 3 minutes Marco looks at me and says, "something very bad has happened".

I thought I heard the word El Salvador spoken during the conversation and I thought Marco was about to tell me Hermanito had gone out of town.  Great!   I come all this way and this is what I get!

Then Marco tells me, "Enrique died on Saturday night".   Say what!!

Well that was deflating news. I felt badly.  Not just for me. But for Jose and Sofia and Marco and Natalia.  I felt bad for Domingo and the volunteers who were gathered.  And I felt bad for you. Because like me we will never know what would have happened.  Was this the real thing or a scam? Could I have actually healed or even improved my shitty back condition. Could this have helped you or someone you care about.

I can't say we'll never know. The door is open. But we won't know by the end of my week here.

I have so many mixed feelings about the whole thing.  I was hoping to continue writing about my adventure through the entire process.

After a while Jose and his girlfriend, Aleana arrived. They were met and informed of the news by Domingo.  They were also shocked.

After it sunk in, the 5 of us walked several blocks to a cantina where we talked, drank some beer, tried putting it all in context and moved on.  We joked, laughed, I texted my family to fill them in.  It was an impromptu Mexican wake.

They all felt so badly for me. I felt badly for them.  They lost their spiritual leader and friend.  While it may appear a wasted trip for me I've had and am having the time of my life.

Jose had asked Domingo what can be done for me.  I was given a card and a sheet of paper with two prayers. One for the morning and one for the evening. I am to read them in Spanish each day.  While Enrique's body has passed on, Hermanito is still with us.  So maybe he visits me in my dreams.

I was told that when Pachita, Enrique's mother died it took two years for Hermanito to start using Enrique as a medium.  Maybe Hermanito Cuauhtemoc, the last Aztec emperor will reappear in a town near you.

So I suppose this part of the journey is over.   I'm having to much fun writing about it so I will search for excuses to keep the blog going.   I'm planning on changing my flight to return either tomorrow or Thursday.

I'll be back soon.  Hopefully Hermanito will be as well.

 *this refers to the old joke where the sister leaves her cat with her brother while she goes out of town.  She calls to see how the cat is doing but the brother abruptly blurts out the cat died.  After getting over the initial shock the sister tells the brother he could have broken the news more delicately.  For example you could have said the cat is fine but he's on the roof and I can't get him down. Next time I call you say something like the cat fell off the roof and he's stuck in the tree.  Keep it going like that and after a few more calls I would be better prepared for the sad news.  Then the sister says, so…how's dad doing.  Brother answers, uh…dad's on the roof. 

Day 2 Part 2

Haven't done much yet today.  Slept till 11. Hanging out with Marco and Sofia.  I shared my blog link with them and Jose.  I hope this won't get awkward.  Marco assured me to feel free to not restrain my comments.  So I guess I can tell you. Marco is really ugly!   Just kidding.

There's no tv in the apartment.  But it does shake and roll a bit from time to time.  I was sure we were having small earth quakes, which by the way, are the best kind to have in Mexico City. But when I asked Sofia told me they were just big semi trucks driving by on the street below.

There is a school, I think it may be a kindergarten down the street.  I think it is recess all day long.  The kids seem to be having way too much fun for school.

We are going out in a bit to tour the center of the city.   My back is really aching so we scheduled a deep tissue massage with a friend of Marco's for 5:45 pm then on to My consultation with Enrique Hermanito Cuauhtemoc the shaman.  By the way. Hermanito means little brother.  And the street where I am going for my massage is called Cuauhtemoc, also the name of the shaman, the last Aztec emperor and Jose's middle name.  Small world.

I think it's time to go find some Mexican food. 

Day 2 Part 1

Many questions answered.

I have a much better idea of where I'm going, who I'm seeing and what I will be doing while I'm  here.  This entry while called Day 2 Part 1 will actually cover the end of yesterday.   I finally got to where I am staying and to bed at 3 pm local time, which you may recall is 2 hours ahead of San Diego time.

The shuttle dropped me off in a thriving business district called Santa Fe.  Everything there is brand new or still under construction. International Corporations everywhere. The shuttle ride from the airport in Toluca to the hotel where I was dropped off took about a half hour. It was dark out and I couldn't see well, but what I could see didn't match up with what I thought it would be.  It seemed much "nicer".

First mystery solved.  Marco and Sofia pulled in to the hotel driveway in an SUV. Hugs and kisses and a quick drive through what they described as a poor area, but looked to me like old world Spain. Hilly, very interesting housing, street dogs making there way comfortably up down and across the very narrow streets.

Near the top of the hill we pull up to a large gate, with signs indicating a garage sale written in Spanish. This I was told since, as you know my Spanish is limited to only those menu items that have stuck in my head over the years. The gate opens from the inside and out popped Jose.  Before I could greet him, his adorable, female beagle, Chiara, zipped out and around greeted everyone. She was adorable.

The home was more of a compound. A number of older buildings arranged behind the gate and wall separating the property from the street.  There were horse stables, but no horses.

We went into the house got comfortable and talked for maybe an hour or so.   It was fairly late, around midnight. Jose's girlfriend, Eleana and his younger teenaged son, Andres were asleep.

The four of us started to talk about what this is all about.  Jose was trying to gauge my level of consciousness and spiritual awareness.  I told him of my earlier quest and some of the paths I explored.   I mentioned "A Course in Miracles" and his eyes lit up. I'll let you look it up but suffice it to say its a course.  In miracles.  I've owned the books and spent some time reading them years ago.  Jose has read and gone through the course 3 or 4 times. Impressive.

The next hour was spent with me asking some and answering other questions.  Mostly, Jose shared his experience and examples of people he knows who have been to see the shaman.

For clarification the shaman, who's given name is Enrique, channels the healing powers of Hermanito Cuauhtemoc.  Cuauhtemoc was the last Aztec emperor.

Jose explained the entire process to me which consists of a number of meetings.  Tuesdays, tonight, are for consultations where Hermanito examines and prescribes the treatment. It may or may not be "surgery".  Typically it is but some are "healed" during the consultation and have no further need.

On Wednesdays you go back and are told what you need to do or get in preparation for the procedure that will be performed on Thursday night.  This is also where payment is made.

Ok. I know what you are thinking and it's easy to question the legitimacy of all this. The payment is about $100.  I'm suspending my skepticism for now.  I'm honoring Jose's commitment, passion and enthusiasm for the process.

Jose is 60 years old.  The epitome of health.  He's a college professor teaching Sustainable Development. He's experienced this personally and witnessed his family and friends undergoing miracle after miracle.

Who am I to poo poo the world and word of my host.  The good news is, according to Jose, faith and belief are not a prerequisite for results.  So I'll be a happy willing participant in this crazy experiment. And you my friends will know how it turns out when I do thanks to the miracle of Facebook and blogspot.

After saying goodnight Marco drove Sofia and me to their apartment in the middle of Mexico city. This is where I'll be staying. They have a lovely 3 bedroom apartment on the 4th floor. In Mexico City buildings 5 floors and taller have to have elevators.  This building has 4 floors. I'm gonna get some exercise. I don't mind.   After Thursday, I'll be in bed for 3 days anyway so no stairs.  That's going to be the tough part. Lying in bed for 3 days. Yikes.

Oh yeah, they rearranged the apartment for my stay and moved their bed into the guest room for me.  Their bed is my bed.  These are really good people. I feel badly but they insist.

On the way to the apartment we stopped for Mexican food.  My third Mexican meal of the day.  I had a delicious pollo quesadilla and a tamarindo.  We discussed politics, both U.S. and Mexican.  Marco and Sofia impressed me with there understanding of both.

Before bed I finished the previous entry to this log, blog, journal account and found out my wife, Kyle created a blog for me. I'll be posting both to Facebook for now. If I get feedback i may only post the blog. But both for now.  By the way, Kyle is a girl for anyone who doesn't know.  It's caused confusion in the past. Not that there's anything wrong with that.  

Day One Part 5

On to Toluca. 

On the Tarmac.  Just me, my thoughts and a few hundred Mexican travelers.  Once again no Internet, so I'll either need to strike up a conversation with the mom and her toddler or entertain myself with my thoughts.

I should be in Toluca in about an hour. Then a short shuttle ride to somewhere where I will be met by someone.

Just so you understand, this all started with a conversation this summer with our friends Natalia and Sofia and Sofia's boyfriend Marco.   I think it's going to be Marco who meets me in Toluca.  I'll either be staying with Marco and Sofia or their dad Jose.  I think Jose is behind all of this.  But back to the dinner with these guys this past summer.  Natalia and Sofia are sisters.  They've become very close to us. Our talk around the table ended up being about their experience with Hermanito Aztec dude. They couldn't say enough good about the healing powers of this person who they referred to as a shaman. It all sounded beyond belief and it remains there at this time.

I didn't think much about it, at least not seriously until last week.  We were eating at Burger Lounge in Little Italy, where Natalia works.  The subject came up again and my mother in law's sister got very excited and started pushing for us, her and me, to drive her camper van down this week.  Road trip!!  She abruptly disappeared from the scene but the seed was planted, wheels were set in motion, there was no turning back…so with that being said at the end of the day I'd run out of clichés and found myself looking up airfares.  It's ridiculously cheap to fly from Tijuana to Mexico City, about $100 each way.  They don't tell you about the cost of shuttles and travel visas plus Mexican food at the all day layover in the airport.  But still pretty reasonable.  

Anyway, people were asking how this came about so I thought I would explain it to you. 

Oops. I never turned my phone off and now we are in the air.  They are much more chill about security in Mexico than we are in the states.  I guess Al Qaeda doesn't hate the Mexicans for their freedom the way they hate us for ours.  Did I mention I didn't have to take my shoes off at security. 

I haven't spoken to the mom and her toddler, but it turns out there are three little ones. Ten minutes into the flight they are adorable.  Please Hermanito, keep them that way.  

Other than my excitement, curiosity and anticipation of this experience, I'm next most interested in meeting the girls' father, Jose.  He's a college professor. Not sure what he professes, but I'm interested to meet the man who raised such great daughters. 

Jesus Cristo.  The kids are now screaming but the flight attendant handed me a bag of chips so I'll be ok. Sabritas.  Must be Mexican for Lays.  

Ginger ale? No. Sprite?  No. 7-Up? Nope. But they do have Fiesta.  Tastes like Sprite. Gracias.

Wheels down in Toluca.  I was just thinking I would never do something like this in a million years with out the enthusiastic urging and support of Natalia and Sophia, Marco and their family. They are completely taking care of me for the entire week. Again we shall see how this goes, but I'm just present to their enormous support and generosity   Makes me want to be a better person  Pretty awesome. 

I've only encountered one person all day who spoke no English.  The clerk at the shuttle counter. Didn't stop us. She spoke Spanish. I spoke English.  A little bit of pointing.  I understood the word pesos so I handed her money and she gave me a ticket. Easy enough. 

On the shuttle. I'll soon know who's meeting me and where I'm staying. Long day.  

I've just completed living but not writing part 6, but it's almost 3 am so I'll write it up after I sleep.  I spent time with the kids and Jose. Learned tons and I'm getting excited.  My consciousness has been expanded and I'm looking forward to the next few days.  Lots to share.  By the way. I'm in Mexico City, no longer Toluca.

Day One Part 4

I’m leavin’ on a jet plane. Don’t know when I’ll be back again. 

Except for all the people speaking Spanish around me and the tv’s are only broadcasting in Spanish you’d never know this was Mexico. I’m forever in debt to you American Express. No seriously, I owe them a lot of money. But I do appreciate this perk. Nice to belong to a club. 

Just having access to the Internet makes life so much easier. 

Not much happening. At least on the material plane. Not privy to the spiritual plane yet. Not really sure when that kicks in. I’ve been perusing news and enjoying my online access for 3 1/2 hours. Only 4 more to go. 

I found out Max managed to miss all of his first day of college classes because his classes were all scheduled during his hockey practice times. So he’ll start college tomorrow. What’s the rush?

I learned Donald Trump’s big convention surprise was cancelled due to the risk the winds from Hurricane Isaac posed to his hair. Will we ever find out what it was going to be?

More Mexican food. Preparing my body and soul for herbal teas and fasting. 

Whoa. Time warp. Remember I couldn’t figure what happened to those 2 hours. So according to my iPhone I arrived in Guadalajara at 1pm. I thought I was supposed to land at 3. I’ve been sitting in the Amex VIP lounge for 4 1/2 hours. Just for the heck of it I decided to ask one of the waiters, que hora. Turns out I did lose 2 hours but my phone didn’t show it. Its 7:30 not 5:30. Glad I asked. I board in a half hour, not 2 and a half hours. 

Gonna pack up and board now. See you in Mexico City.

Day One Part 3

Ever notice how ghosts are just hosts with a G? I’m gonna guess you haven’t.

My jet has a name. It is Daniela. Really. It’s written in big letters on the side of the plane.

I just read online that Michelle Bachman says we are looking at a spiritual hurricane. I can get that. Said no reasonable person ever. But in my current state, and for the 1st time ever I’ll give her some slack. OMG. What if I come back a conservative!

I love the uniforms the pilots and flight attendants wear in Mexico. So sixties. Great hats. They take the hats off during flight.

I’m the only gringo on the plane. I’m not even going to understand the safety talk. I wonder if I look like a gringo. I bet I could pass for Mexican if I could speak and understand the language. But that’s not gonna happen. 

Pretty sure the male flight attendants are gay, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Fell asleep just as the plane took off. Looks like I slept for maybe 30 minutes. Only 4 more hours until my 5 hour layover in Guadalajara. Still not feeling in the spiritual groove.

I bought myself a Fresca at the airport. I haven’t seen one of those in many, maybe 30, years or more. Uh oh, here comes the flight attendant with the drink cart. What do I say? No thanks, I have a Fresca.

Look at it this way, no matter what happens with this psychic surgery, at least I’ll be answering the question for all of us. Imagine if it works. You will all be heading for Mexico City soon. You might want to wait to book your flight.

I’m gonna say nada, gracious. See if I can pass for Mexican. Damn. I said nada, thank you. I don’t think she bought it. I think they know now. Yep my cover is officially blown. She came back and asked me a question in Spanish and I answered with “huh?”

Keeping this journal is more fun than traveling with someone. No one but me to tell me how idiotic I am. Well, looking around it appears maybe more people than I are having that thought. At least they are thinking it in Spanish so I don’t understand.

The farthest south I’ve ever been is the Caribbean. Not sure if Mexico City is further(or is it farther) south.

It’s kind of disturbing to actually be aware of the thoughts I’m having. I wonder if they would be the same if I wasn’t writing them down.

Yep. They are the same. I’m funnier than I realized. Probably not as funny as I think though.

Here’s what I know about the process I’m embarking on. Tomorrow I go for a consultation. Then I rest, diet and drink herbal tea for a day. Thursday I come back for the “procedure”. Here’s an article I found online:

Then I rest for 4 days, dieting and drinking herbal teas. I fly back home next Tuesday. After that I’m not supposed to drink, have sex or drive for 40 days. How in the hell am I not going to drive for that long!!!!

This is exactly who I’m going to see. Hermanito Cuauhtemoc. Most of the article is about his mother, Pachito. She died and Hermanito now runs the family operation. Convenient that he was able to start channeling the same entity. I’m still not too sure about this. We always joke that I need a spine transplant. Now I’m getting one. Hot damn.

There’s a little kid on the plane crying in Spanish. He’s having a Mexican meltdown. Annoying in any language.

Speaking of idiots. If you’ve read this far and you think I am one for going on this trip then you just don’t appreciate my desperation. It’s no fun going through life with this amount of chronic pain and without being able to do so many of the things I love. I miss skating and being able to play hockey with my son the most. I would give just about anything to get that back. So this trip may be quixotic and far fetched. But as i said, I would do just about anything. Desperate, hopeful. I’m not expecting much, but I’m pretty sure there’s an actual scalpel with my name on it somewhere north of the border. So I’ll give it a shot.

Sometimes I feel semi-normal. Then I catch my reflection in the glass or someone I know will happily let me know how stiff and in pain I look. Thanks for letting me know. I had no idea. I’m not happy about this aging thing. I think of myself as the hockey jock I was in college, then I move and I am reminded I’m no longer that.

Just two more hours to Guadalajara. I may have miscalculated. It looks like Guadalajara is at least one time zone ahead. Maybe two. Either that or we are crashing.

Well we didn’t crash. Not sure what happened but I landed 2 hours earlier than I thought. So now it’s a 7 hour layover.

I found my way to the American Express Centurion Club. Nice. A little VIP action. Free wifi. I’m camping out here for the time being. 

Day One Part 2

Wow. It’s already 9:30 am. Where did the time go. For some strange reason I have Internet. Please god don’t let me find out I’m paying roaming charges. I hoping it’s wifi at the airport but I don’t appear to be on a network.

I should probably start acting like I’m on on a spiritual quest like in the middle of a Carlos Castaneda novel rather than a tourist but I’m not feeling it.

This is the first flight that I can remember that doesn’t involve me going to watch Max play hockey. I’d rather watch hockey. Unless of course this actually works. My kids are scratching their heads. I poo poo the dumb ghost hunter reality show they are so fascinated with. It’s about the stupidest thing on TV next to Snooki, the Kardashisns and my fav, Honey Boo Boo. I do not believe in haunted houses and ghosts. I crack up at how serious the hosts of the show are. And yet I’m willing to entertain the possibility that a shaman in Mexico City can be a medium for an “entity”(ghost?) of an ancient Aztec spirit and might be able to do something about my pain. Nah. I don’t believe that either. And yet here I am.

 Boarding in 15 minutes. Going in to spiritual mode. I see Don Juan. See ya on the other side.  

Day One Part 1

My day so far:

Pachito Monday morning. On the shuttle to tj airport. My psychic experience. After being enthusiastically enrolled in the amazing healing powers of Hermanito, I figured why not! I’ve already had six actual surgeries on my back. What harm can a psychic surgery do at this point. So I bought a round trip ticket to Toluca, a town about an hour east of Mexico City. I’m unsure where  I’m going, who I’m staying with or what’s in store. But I’m open. Well, sort of. I’m skeptical actually. How can this possibly work. I spent an important early part of my adulthood immersed in a spiritual quest. Science of mind, a Course in Miracles, rebirthing, yoga, est. I “found myself”. Met my wife. Never looked back. Over a quarter of a century dealing with the “real world”, working, raising 2 kids and living my life I’ve lost my connection to that quest. I’ve also lived in varying degrees of constant pain. It’s worth a shot. Hermanito here I come.

I’m sitting uncomfortably on the bus. About to cross the border. Gotta remember to turn off my roaming. Ok. Done. Just figured where the data roaming button is in the iPhone. I’m still reeling over the $4200 bill I got from AT&T after one week at one of Max’s hockey tournaments in Toronto. 

Bus stopped in San Ysidro. At least I think that’s what the bus driver said. My Spanish is not so good. Nearly nonexistent. I understand enough Spanish vocabulary. It’s just when they start talking real fast I get lost. 

Really, how in the dickens is someone going to heal this back with psychic mumbo jumbo. Yeah. I’m pretty skeptical. 

Uh oh. Some guy in front of the bus. Speaking Spanish. No idea what he’s talking about.  Oh yeah. It’s 7:09 am. I got up at 5:45. My flight isn’t till 10:30. Then I have a 5 hour layover in Guadalaraja. Woohoo. Gonna be a long day. 

7:15. Leaving the U.S. I haven’t been to Tijuana in years. Curious. No one has checked my passport yet.  I wish I’d learned Spanish when I was younger. No idea what is going on. I guess he was asking for a donation. I didn’t give. 

Hola Mexico. I’m in your country now. Hospital. Insurance companies. Taxi cabs. Dentists. Big line of cars entering the U.S. They asked to see my airline ticket, but not my passaporta. 

Thank goodness for the nice lady behind me. My translator.

I haven’t see any drug cartel killings yet. Probably too early in the morning. 

I’ve never been to this part if TJ before. It’s only a half hour away from where I live in San Diego but its worlds apart. I can’t imagine where they could put an aero puerto with all these hills. 

I really have no expectation that this experience will help my back. 

I gave the currency exchange lady $180 in cash. Did she give me the right amount of pesos? 290 pesos for travel visa? I think that was about $37. 

Airport check in. A bit out of my comfort zone but I breezed through. I like the security here. Got to keep my shoes on. 

People seem different but they are really the same everywhere. At least in airports. Same gift stores, lines at Starbucks, news stands, people going their separate ways. Just not as many attractive people as I see at most airports. Just me so far!

8:18 am. Getting hungry. Mexican food perhaps. Airport Mexican food in Tijuana. How bad can it be? Ordering huevos con machaca and fresh oj. 

I’m curious. The shaman’s name is Hermanito Cuauhtemoc. My host’s name is Jose Cuauhtemoc. They are not related. How does that work? I guess Cuauhtemoc is a very common Aztec name.

Machaca, not bad. 

No internet no wifi at the airport. I’m pretty addicted to my iPhone. Facebook, news, check my bank account, pissing off my conservative friends, seeing how badly my UBS stock is doing. Maybe I won’t cure my back pain, but at least I can handle my iPhone addiction. 

Only 2 more hours till my flight. 

Kid working behind the cash register at the restaurant. Totally focused on his phone. I used to be like that. Kids today. I swear.  I’m pretty sure I just paid airport prices for my machaca. I think it came to 70 pesos. I gave the waiter 100. Never saw him again. I love knowing what’s going on. 

Glenn Beck was right. The Apple cords are too short.