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The Recovery Zone

Even the Hoo Lawyer looked good. Normally, I take nothing positive from encounters with this excellent example of the fine quality of education that can be obtained from Mr. Jefferson’s Academical Village . I find his incessant prattling on about the rigors that come from lounging around his office doing nothing while his overworked secretary toils away paying his outlandish bar bills insufferable. During normal times I will attempt to put great distance between myself and him even before it becomes necessary to dive for cover to escape the spray of Scotch that soaks everyone within spitting range as he drones on about nothing more consequential than his low opinion of algroh. These, however, were not normal times.

That I was even in a position to be drenched as the Hoo Lawyer griped about how, during a recent speaking engagement to the Danville chapter of the Hoo Aid Foundation, the Great NFL Legend had glossed over the little matter of 52-14 was a positive development in itself. I was back in the game.

The Surgical Recovery Zone continues. Surgical Quack describes my recovery as “excellent.” I am not sure I would go that far, since it is my neck that was under the knife and not his. Nevertheless, things are getting better. The numbness on the side of my neck under the jawbone that resulted from an unavoidable slicing of a nerve to get at the offending tumor is receding. Nerve regeneration seems to be a very slow progress, but the cumulative effect is noticeable. The amount of dead area that has to be lightly gone over with my electric razor before applying shaving cream to the rest for the closer blade shave is shrinking. Surgical Quack is measuring recovery through weekly visits; I am doing the same with my morning shave.

Tylenol has been substituted the last week or so for the prescription pain medication I had been taking, save for a few pills I have squirreled away for weekend recreational use. I feel better, well enough to have decided last Friday afternoon to once again venture to my favorite watering hole. Other than the contact with the Hoo Lawyer, it was good to go somewhere other than those visits to the dreariness and up close and personal glimpses of one’s own mortality that come from hanging around a nursing home, just the tonic for someone with a recent cancer scare.

That scare has caused a behavioral change that found me uttering words I had previously thought myself incapable. For the first time in my life, I had entered the tavern carrying no tobacco products. Having one’s neck carved up seems to be a fairly effective smoking cessation program, the best I have found. Thirty-eight years of contentedly consuming the products of both area and Central American tobacco farms down the drain. At this year’s first Tailgate, Cigar Guy will be devastated.

It became quickly apparent that not smoking myself caused me to be somewhat irritated at the Hoo Lawyer’s habit of waving the Kent Golden Lights he chain-smokes in my face. I have never before asked anyone to move their cigarette away from me. That I might be turning into one of THEM will likely be covered in some future missive. The Hoo Lawyer was certainly astounded. Hokie Kev and I will get along much better on the next football away game road trip, although Russian Hokie’s exasperation level might increase. The Teacher, a young lady in possession of a very low opinion of the leaf that put food on her family’s table and paid for the Radford education that allowed her to escape her family’s tobacco farm, is thrilled.

My desire to smoke had ended in an instant when the tumor was diagnosed. It had partially returned following my learning it was benign growth, and then eased away again following surgery when I discovered the damned things tasted terrible. Forcing myself to smoke seemed a pretty stupid thing to do. Getting rid of the last hankerings for tobacco has been eased along through a handy prescription written by Original Quack. This was a guy who had never bitched at me much about smoking, mainly because he had never been able to discover the first shred of evidence that I had ever smoked in my life, much less been happily puffing away since adolescence.

That evidence seems to have been supplied in an airtight case of which the Idiot Nifong can only dream. Neck Quack has griped at me plenty, while Surgical Quack, although mindful that removing tumors of the mouth keeps him in Mercedes and Smith Mountain Lake condos, concedes that it is probably not good for me. Of course, he already has my insurance company’s money.

There remain a couple of problems from the surgery. One is that my jaw does not care to engage in the motion necessary to chew food. It will quickly complain like me about the Hoo Lawyer’s smoking is I do much of it. My diet these days is heavy on clear soups and pasta. I am not yet into Tailgate Gimme Eat trim.

The other complication is that the removal of 1/6 of my supply of saliva glands has caused my mouth to be quite dry. Go figure. I am constantly consuming some liquid. Since the Clubhouse Tailgater who promised to help alleviate this problem with copious amounts of home brew turned out to be a lying swine, I have been left to my own devices. A recent trip to the neighborhood grocery store found me loading up my shopping cart with Coca-Cola [Coke Zero is aptly named], iced tea, green tea, lemonade, limeade, orange juice, apple juice, grape juice, cranberry juice, pomegranate juice [blech!], grapefruit juice, pineapple juice, watermelon juice [not bad], raspberry juice, strawberry juice, vegetable juice and every other kind of juice sold along with all other beverages marketed, including, of course, beer. The check-out girl was quite impressed.

The Recovery Zone is chewing up what would normally be the Dead Zone. The only Dead Zone around here is the slowly-receding one on the side of my neck. Even were this a normal time between the end of basketball and the start of football, there are a couple of things going on that I always watch.

The first is the College World Series. The enthusiasm shown by the college boys is a stark contrast to the ho-hum attitudes of the millionaire major-leaguers. The ACC this year is providing half the field, a remarkable achievement for the league. Not bad for a basketball conference. Hopefully, one of the local nines will bring home the hardware.

The other sports event I am following closely is World Cup soccer. Soccer never seems to quite catch on this country, a state of affairs that has much to do with 2-1 being a wild offensive shootout and 3-0 constituting RUTS. Most Americans seem to prefer a little more scoring in their sports.

I would rather watch Lifetime than the MLS, but every four years I do become an avid soccer fan. There is something about watching the world’s best players engaged in their elaborate strategies of attack and defense that I find quite interesting.

None of those world’s best players seem to be suiting up for the US team. This perhaps has something to do with soccer never quite catching on in this country. This American team was as wildly-hyped as Canes football in the middle-to-late Nineties. They took the pitch carrying great promise and expectations. They were promptly hammered by Czechoslovakia 3-0. So much for that. Let the hype for the 2010 team begin! Even with a disgraceful showing by the home team I will still watch the good ones, a group that seems to include all of the rest of them, since other scores have been much closer.

The Recovery Zone continues apace. It may be agonizingly-slow and is, but things are improving. After three weeks, I felt well enough to once again trade insults with the Hoo Lawyer. At this rate, I should be back in the pink somewhere around, oh, say, September 2.

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