My Breakfast with Blassie. Nope. Er, uh My Journey Battle with Newly-Discovered Cancer, One Scary Mofo of a Now Ongoing Ride
By Michael Lano, DDS
I feel most everyone I’ve known in the biz from the boys, office staff of my Los Angeles wrestling office territory home base shooting for Mike Lebell’s program launching from there to shooting for every global newstand wrestling and boxing magazine, fans, etc ARE my extended family. Some of you know I’ve battled and thankfully been in remission from Multiple Sclerosis for years since Mayo Hospital in Minnesota first nailed my diagnosis. Although M.S. isn’t supposed to be “familial” or “genetic,” it appears to run in my family as my great uncle had it as did my mom. Both were quickly wheelchair-bound which I’ve thankfully not had to deal with. Yet. In fact, most can’t tell there’s anything “wrong” with me other than I’m the same goof I’ve always been. Always well-meaning however.
That all changed after a freak gym accident this past Tuesday morning at 7:25 am when I was doing my last exercise thing before leaving to see what ridiculous things the politicians were saying that day on the morning news shows.
The purpose of this is hopefully to help at least one person(anyone) who may be going through benign or like in my case apparantly, malignant cancer not to feel scared and alone. I’m concerned there’s X percentage of us who feel super healthy but may be carrying around cancerous cells, malignant tumors, etc that aren’t diagnosed. Hopefully not but another friend said she was getting a Panorex special X-ray to get braces and they discovered an equally aggressive brain tumor in her case. How do we know? If you can’t palpate(feel) that there’s anything unusual, strange or “wrong” how would one ever uncover or diagnose any cancer going on inside you. Women are wise enough to do monthly self-mammography or palpating regularly to check themselves for the possibility of any breast lesions. Guys, I’m not so sure other than routine Prostate exams that suck, but we all need our doctors to check ’em at least annually. Unless one has known risk factors, some of us might have other stuff missed however. Most over 50 know we should get regular, every 10 year Colonoscopies where you don’t feel a thing. They’re totally easy as one is “knocked out.” You wake up, no pain and you’re all done. Feels like you just nodded off. None of this stuff is “pleasure-cruise” in nature, but they’ve gotta be done to keep us hopefully highspotting behind 100 years.
Any tidbits, shortcuts, tips, etc I can offer for others; is my goal with this blog. It’s cathartic to put what I have to go through and again, I’d be happy if a few read it, maybe becoming more self-aware and catching stuff early. The key is being Pro Active. Demand any/all tests if you think you might need them or if your primary care doc isn’t doing them already. No one likes to hear the snap of the globes going on for prostate exams, but they do save lives. Check out Katie Couric’s site, blogs, etc for example. So that anyone who faces the awful battle to fight cancer can, for lack of a better tired word, “smackdown” cancer. Submit the mofo, put it down for the 3 and looking up at the lights. Yup, all the trite cliches only I can come up with. So with this blog, here goes nothing. Or something.
Basically last Tuesday morning, when I was picked up what I thought was my work-out club’s regular, older, non-bouncing Slam exercise balls, I had no idea they’d recently added new ones that really bounce up like super balls. That look exactly like the old ones. They put these new ones alongside the old, non-bouncing ones we’d always used. I went to bounce what I thought was a regular 15 lb’er and it shot right up high some 6′ at my jaw, nailing it into my head and I fell back on the floor on the back of my head and was ko’d for about 40 seconds I’m told, the trainer said. Began throwing up, pupils different sizes(both hallmark concussion symptoms) so I was ambulanced to lame Alameda Emergency Hospital where I was stuck for 6 hours where they did nothing and finally claimed that I “have a severed Jugular Artery that’s bleeding into my brain,” that they couldn’t help me after multiple botched CT scans and that they were rush-transferring me via another waste-of-time,money ambulance to horrible Oakland Emerg/Crisis unit Highland Hospital. More multiple MRI’s, CT ‘contrast or dye’ scans, and an ultrasound and they claimed that they found 2 golf ball sized lesions behind my neck muscle in my neck which have now been diagnosed as aggressive malignant tumors. This is after Aspirational Biopsies, etc and encompassing several days in the hospital where they have in-house, ASAP labs to focus on the cells sucked out of my reportedly cancerous lesion masses. That next Thursday or sooner, after more lab work, they’ll have to flap open my neck and remove them ASAP, once the lengthy, time-wasting process of “Insurance Preauthorization” is complete.
Suggestion: if you ever feel like your insurance is stalling, delaying or disallowing you to have tests, see specialists, etc; contact them at their Corporate or “Executive Offices.” Go right to the top and complain. Go on “social”(media) and complain. Contact your local market tv consumer affairs guy(ABC and CBS have them in many marketplaces). Seems like we have to shame them into doing the right thing and remember, they’re typically “for-profit” entities. The old squeaky wheel analogy.
Another thing learned: Make sure any doctors doing thick needle Aspirational Biopsies anesthetize the area they’re injecting. After first applying topical 2% Lidocaine to make said shots, needles not hurt so much. In my case, I had an oldtimer who claimed he couldn’t anesthetize the region or my SCM muscle, so I’d have to tough it out, w/out anesthesia. That’s b.s. And led to:
*Worst pain ever with the cancer specialist inserting said aspirational wide needle repeatedly(to try to minimize that intense pain, I was chanting, meditating each time said mofo needle went in there)= having thick aspiration needles inserted into one’s throat, going thru my SternoCleidoMastoid just to try to get fluid out of these lesions that are located unfortunately near my spinal column, Jugular Vein & Carotid Artery & esophagus which one of the masses is impinging upon is scary. And did I say painful? Did I say before 7:25 am Tuesday, I felt fine and healthy. Had no clue anything was wrong or morphing/growing inside my neck near my vocal cords, etc.
Sent the above first to my editors, magazine mates and friends, primarily as an apology if I’ve been late getting results, text, pix to them this week. This is my first day since Tues morning actually at home and not stuck in one of several, “thunderdome” type Animal House Emergency Hospital beds(3 separate hospitals total and you can’t teach that. Or survive it. Jeez-missed Smackdown Thurs night, TNA Tuesday(no loss there) but thankfully Tivo’d awesome Lucha Underground Wednesday at least. No NJPW on AXS Friday due to an ongoing regular music concert for a billion hours? Ok.
*Last Friday and Saturday I felt I was on top of the world. Or at least my world. A major, super great APW spectacular card at a wonderful location Friday night not near the venerable Cow Palace we love so much as usual. This one is a few miles away and across the street from the revitalized, magnificent Original Joes restaurant of Westlake(or what we will always call here in the SF/SJose/Oakland Area, Joe’s of Westlake. It’s like the greatest Italian diner in the world. Or one of them like the also renovated, new Original Joe’s right in the City(San Francisco that is). At Westlake Joe’s in the back, private area they let me go thru with my camera before APW wrestling, they have many of the old classic 50’s and on photos of famous people eating there. Like Pat Patterson and Ray Stevens and promoter Roy Shire who was a great worker in his Professor days himself. There was even a BTW card in nearby Fremont/Newark just across the Bay Bridge. APW was the superior card as usual with Joey Ryan in his first time match with the former WWE star Yoshi Tatsu(who told me WWE kept asking, hoping his dad had been a wrestler so they could call him one of their “second-gen stars” they’re so hung up on he said. They said fans would have a hard time pronouncing or remembering his real name(which he thought was silly and I agreed) so they created his work name out of his dad’s name which was really Yoshi Tatsu. The Shimmer women’s world champ Nicole Savoy was on the card in a terrific match. Legendary Kris Kristofferson’s very talented wrestler son Jody won APW’s top prize in a 4 way with MVP(yup!), Dylan Drake(who’s wife just had their first baby) and champ JR Kratos. Loaded, loaded and always 5 star APW show Friday night(go to allprowrestling.com). The next night I spoke with Meltz at length while I shot cageside the always awesome Bellator show(MMA’s Mr Wonderful defeated superstar King Mo in the main) at San Jose’s biggest, most prestigeous venue in the HP Center/”SharkTank where our SJose Sharks play and are headed towards the hockey finals at the same time oddly as our Golden State Warriors of Oakland are hopefully winning their 2nd World NBA Championship. When Bellator was over I zoomed a few miles over to one of Roy Shire’s great secondary show venues in the beautiful San Jose Civic(now the National Civic) to shoot a legends of lucha great show with old old friends I went out with later like Mil Mascaras, Canek, the original Solar I shot a ton of when he worked in the early 90’s for Japan’s Universal lucha group, Negro Navarro(who put on a mat and chain clinic vs Solar to show off to Hijo de Rey Mysterio Sr(who’s Lucha UGround Trios Champions with Prince Puma(Rikochet) and Rey Mysterio Jr/Little Oscar in a dream team. Tons of other lucha legends like Blue Demon Jr, etc. And they all showed up. So I was photographically at least on top of the world. And healthy. Or so I thought.
*Back to reality and here’s a suggestion I should’ve done myself. If you’re told you’re not getting a shot of local anesthesia like 2% Lido, ask your physician if you can’t take some OTC pain meds with water in advance of any procedure. Ask first however, because doing this in a few instances might be contraindicated. Like with my repeat needle-aspirational biopsies they went in at least 4X for(and I requested ASAP on all the follow-up lab test results which they said were sped up by the fact they do them “in house”) was painful to the max(even w/out the anesthesia I wasn’t given anywhere), because the specialist said they were having trouble reaching both lesions behind that big thick muscle. And again next week at the earliest, they’ll have to open up my throat, laying what’s called “a flap” to take out both growths that’re about the size of golf balls and near my carotid and jugulars, my spinal column & voicebox which makes removing them tough and f’ing dangerous. If you have cancer or have to get it, don’t follow my lead. Have it somewhere else than where mine is(just being sarcastic) Had no idea those little mofos were there at all–if they hadn’t taken the CT scans and Ultrasound exams to see if my jaw was broken during the co ncussion, they wouldn’t have discovered it. That was why I allowed myself to go to Emergency in the first place. I knew I had a concussion from all I’ve read all these years since it became such a hot button issue first in our biz, then in other sports/ent worlds. And I wanted my super sore TMJ, jawjoints checked out too. I wonder how many other people even get possible early-detection for stuff they have, that they’re also clueless on. They said told me to prep myself mentally for possible, eventual rad/chemo to try to knock this out ASAP. OK, there goes my full head of m o f o hair for an old geez of 59 who’s lived his life for wrestling. Well and girls, music and comedy concerts. Bowie and Prince who I photographed stage-side many times. Bowie first in 1972 back home 440 miles south in Los Angeles at the Fabulous Forum. Lord knows what lame corporate name they call it now. The Great Western Forum next to a huge ditch that may house the San Diego, er L.A. Chargers and/or returning L.A. Rams? Not our Oakland Raiders? Whew.
*Hospital Smackdown or Cage Match Brawl
Hilarious that the secondary trauma emerg hospital(Oakland’s Highland Hospital Emerg Trauma Center) argued with the first one I was ambulanced asking why I had 5 IV needles they’d put inside both arms and another on top of my left wrist. They said only one was needed and those suckers hurt too=zero anesthesia as usual before insertion. Not even local topical 2% Lido cream. By late Tuesday night I felt like a total pincushion. THOUGHT: Always ask if more than one IV insertion is necessary. They never used the 4 others. In fact, the same IV they used to draw blood in preparence for all the CT scans I had(and again, demand to wear a protective lead apron over your gonads as CT’s involve radiation-only MRI’s don’t and with MRI’s, bring your own double earplugs-the noise can be deafening) was the same damn one they injected the CT contrast scan dye into me on. DEMAND to see brand new needles being ripped out of sterile bags too. If someone’s trying to re-use a needle or not wearing gloves, mask and protective gear–bolt.
So on a selfish level, to keep my mind off this brand new phase in my life, I’m hoping to blog regualrly here and elsewhere. Again hoping(although who would do full body regular xrays as they’re too general, not really diagnostic nor practical. But any early detection advise I can give any readers, to the boys, fans, whomever. And for someone trying to read everything out there on sports concussions since I finally had one. That was insane(well, Tuesday morning that started all this and unearthed or uncovered unknown cancer. Had no idea and again was clueless anything at all was wrong with me).
*To keep my mind off this shit, going to blog here and elsewhere about my little journey battle. Hopefully offering early detection advise to the boys, fans, whomever. Anyone kind enough to read this stuff. And for those wanting to learn how to take care of stingers and sports concussions. Because after reading and obsessing over them since even before we lost Benoit who I roomed with in Jan of 1991 at NJPW’s Keio Plaza Hotel when he was still working under the Pegasus Kid mask there and I happened to be back covering all the great shows that occur several times daily during New Year’s Week(they celebrate the whole week after Jan 1st, not just the Jan 1st day), I was reading and trying to learn as much about concussions which wrestling “smartened up” on first before other sports. Chris Nowinsky and all his tremendous, important work. Big thank you shout out to Chris.
*I’ll be back in a few days or whenever I learn anything else on concussions, TMJ and cancer that might possibly, remotely assist someone else dealing with the same shit I’m going through. Make sure you surround yourself with positive thoughts, vibes, meditations, uplifting people. And loved ones. Your significant other, if they’re loving and concerned, can really be a life saver. As can your family. Time to lean on them and friends. Work cohorts. The rest of the planet that gives a damn. As former promoter/WWE writer and all around major dude Court Bauer just emailed me, “fight this dude. You can win this. Beat this thing.” Or something along those lines since I’m mentally fuzzy right now after a nurse nailed me with a cortisone shot for pain 5 minutos ago.
Love and Buena Suerto con Effecto to all. If I get redundant and repetitive like today being on all these meds and shots, forgive me. Before I “go” whenever that happens, I hope to finally learn how to be succinct. Well, maybe that won’t happen until the next life. Before I forget, while you’re still able, do anything that pleases you. Fun stuff. Whatever your doctor doesn’t nix, just me saying this but go for it. Get rid of all your excess junk and pare down. You don’t want to be a packrat like me and leave a mess for your loved ones to have to clean up and sell when you’re on that mystic rocket ship going to wherever we might hopefully go.
Just treat yourself as much as you’re able to financially, etc-ly. Since I feel like “S” today from all the new meds and shots, if possible I’m going to finally get out of bed tonight to watch VEEP, Silicone Valley(no, not the old “docu” about divas & knockouts) and the Billboard Music Awards. And CMLL Lucha on the L.A. Azteca Canal channel.
— Dr Mike
*Don’t use ambulances unless it and they are really necessary. If your insurance pays for the majority of their massive(read INSANE) charges like $1600 or so for an ambulance just going a few miles in stage 3 mode(all the noise, horn and light action) like in my case(the distance between the two emergency hospitals), okay. But that money could easily go to help you in your healthcare battle or to help others. Not to some lame ambulance outfit.
Photo credit: Dr. Mike Lano….shown interviewing Grand Wiz/Ernie Roth backstage at MSG in 1973.