My Oscar Adventure



I didn’t have to go far to have an Oscar adventure today. I was walking Tanner this morning when my German neighbor, a hair and makeup artist, approached me on the sidewalk in a panic.

“I am 10 minutes late to do hair for my Oscar clients, and my car won’t start, and I cannot get the Uber app to work,” she said in on breath.

I had no trouble believing this. She has a classic convertible, and it often takes a while to start in the morning. That car is probably responsible for one-fourth of the smog in the LA area.

“You want a ride?” I asked.

Today is the Super Bowl of the hair and makeup world, and she didn’t hesitate.


I grabbed my keys, scooped a very confused Tanner (um, what about breakfast, dad?) into the car and picked her up. As we sped down Santa Monica I asked who her clients were. She’s working on the folks from Citizenfour, the Edward Snowden documentary. I can’t tell you how happy this made me. She’s also doing hair and makeup for German director Wim Wenders, whose work I must now familiarize myself with. She was very kind and very thankful. As repayment, she offered to cut my hair, which sent both of us into hysterics.

Now, I’m not saying I saved the Oscars today. And I’m not saying that if Citizenfour wins and so many people become aware that their government is acting illegally that we finally elect the right folks to run this country and peace breaks out globally that I have helped save the world today. Let’s leave that for the historians to decide. What I can say is that you don’t get a ton of chances to help your neighbors in LA, because we’re an independent and private lot, and it was nice to give her a hand.

(Tanner survived the trip and got his breakfast and is now resting comfortably on the couch.)


Eff It – We’re Going

Monday, January 19, 2015
On Sunday morning the swelling in my foot started going down, and it felt like five Christmases. Nintendo Christmases from the 1980s. The best kind of Christmases. The foot felt about 20 percent better. I still went to acupuncture, took my meds, drank my juices and ate more tendon soup. (It’s the only meat-type substance I have eaten in days. I feel like I don’t even know who I am anymore.)

Monday morning it felt about 10 percent better than the day before. For the first time since last Tuesday I was mobile enough that, if I had to work, I could have had a normal workday, albeit while wearing my Iron Man Boot.

Went to the doctor on Monday afternoon, and he looked at the bruise that remained, saw that the swelling had gone down and did not seem horrified by the thought that I could soon be on a 20-hour flight before spending 11 days in foreign lands. He said I’d want to keep the boot on for 7-10 days and stay on the meds and ease my way back into shoes. We still don’t know if it’s gout or bursitis/inflammation, and the foot’s not totally healed, and we’ve probably had better ideas, but we decided: We’re going. The Griswolds are going to Southeast Asia!

Follow me at http://instagram.com/joedonatelli for pics.

I’ll be blogging as well. (A lot, if my foot goes wacko again.)

Direct all prayers to St. Julia of Corsica, the patron saint of feet.

– @joedonatelli



My Day of Doing Everything Possible So We Can Go to Asia

Saturday, January 17, 2015
If my foot isn’t healthy enough for us to go to Asia on Tuesday (see yesterday’s post if those words make no sense to you), it won’t be for lack of trying.

Friday night was a disaster. I tried to help Jen research some things for our trip, but the pain was such that I could not concentrate and retired to an Epsom salt foot soak and then bed. I felt terrible about abandoning the planning session, but the pain, even while prone on the couch, was intense—like being hit in the foot with a giant hammer that was made out of the trophy assemblage of lesser hammers it had bested. I went to bed with the sincere hope that Saturday would be a turnaround day.

I got up Saturday, feeling well-rested. Took my meds, drank a lot of cherry juice and carrot juice, which are supposed to help, gulped down water, avoided meat and cheese and booze, took oregano oil supplements and rested most of the day, only leaving the house for acupuncture.

It was my first time doing acupuncture. Acupuncture, for those of you who don’t trade medical advice at Whole Foods, is the stimulation of specific points along the skin using thin needles. I went to one who came highly recommended. She was great.

Treatment by acupuncture

She asked me some questions about my health. I answered honestly. She asked to see my tongue. I stuck it out. (Whatever heals my wheel, man.) I laid down on a cushioned massage table with my pant legs rolled up. After washing her hands she stuck a few dozen pins at strategic points in my ears, hands, legs and feet. None of them hurt more than a pinch. She checked my tongue repeatedly. Each time I stuck it out I secretly hoped she found my tongue impressive, the kind of tongue she could brag about to her acupuncturist friends. “You should have seen this guy I had on Saturday,” I pictured her saying. “He had the Michael Jordan of tongues.” Then the other acupuncturists would stare into their glasses of wine jealously.

When she was done pinning me and inspecting my tongue, she turned down the lights. Something about the combination of enduring the novel trauma (microscopic as it was) of being pricked repeatedly and then the lights going down set my body in a deep, comfortable ease. I relaxed, nodding off for a few minutes here and there. I laid on the table, undisturbed, for between 20-30 minutes. When the lights came back on I felt rested. I can see why people do it. You feel good afterwards.

I didn’t see or feel any immediate results, but I didn’t expect there to be any. I see acupuncture as another of the things that is going to help—not the single thing that will make it all better.

My acupuncturist wondered if the problem might be my tendon and recommended that I have tendon pho for lunch. I grabbed some on the way home. When you suffer a non-life-threatening injury, everyone has advice, confirming what I have long believed–that most people want to be helpful and useful and we are not, on the whole, an awful species. We’re more nurse than criminal, most of us. Last night my mom called and rattled off about a half-dozen home remedies for gout and bursitis. People have been sending me tips on Facebook and sending my wife texts. My wife took our dog outside this morning, and when a neighbor asked how my foot was, an Orthodox Jew who happened to be walking by at that exact moment recommended I take a certain medicine without breaking stride.

As of Saturday night, my mobility is the same as 24 hours ago. I’m still wearing a walking boot and moving slowly. I’ll have another update tomorrow.



We’re Traveling to Asia on Tuesday and I Can’t Walk Right Now


Friday, January 16, 2015
I went to bed last Sunday night a perfectly healthy human being. (Well, healthy for someone who willingly watched the Golden Globes one-and-a-half-times.) I awoke on Monday with a sore toe. Not the toe exactly, but the area that attaches the toe to the foot. The toe-al, joint-al region, as it were. By Tuesday the area was swollen. By Wednesday morning I could not walk on it. When I touched it, it was like all of the pain of being a Cleveland sports fan was concentrated in a two-inch area of my foot. I worked from home and went to the doctor.

My doctor looked at my foot, asked a few questions and said it might be gout, which made me simultaneously feel like a pirate and also Wilford Brimley—the Dread Brimley. She took a blood test and prescribed one med for the pain and one med to reduce the amount of uric acid in my body. It’s the uric acid that causes the gout. I worked from home the rest of the day and went to bed at about 8 PM because unconsciousness was the preferable option.

Got up Thursday, tried to put on a shoe and was unable to. The swelling and the pain made it unbearable to walk. On a scale of 1-10, in regards to pain, it’s about an eight or a nine when I put pressure on my left foot. Worked from home again. Thursday night my doctor called. The amount of uric acid in my blood was normal. (As one ages, one realizes that medicine is so much very expensive groping about in the dark.) It could still be gout, but it might be something else. She didn’t think it was staph because my blood levels were normal.

On Friday I went to see a podiatrist in Beverly Hills whose office housed a 60-inch HD flat screen airing a show in which millionaires make over their homes. I think it was called, “Places You’ll Never Live If You Keep on Going to The Doctor.” The podiatrist didn’t rule out gout, but he said it might also be bursitis and an inflamed joint, because I have bunions, AKA the side-al, point-al nether region of some people’s feet. The podiatrist gave me a walking cast and said to stay on my meds and come back on Monday. Why Monday? Because–cue the saddest violin–my wife and me leave on a dream vacation to Southeast Asia on Tuesday.

We booked this vacation because last year was sort of a lousy year for us in ways that don’t necessarily make us special by any means. There is an eternal wheel of lousiness that spins forever, and it afflicts many people, and last year was our turn to get run under that wheel. To be honest, we’d been lucky to avoid it so long, and we weren’t ground to small bits by it, so we consider ourselves more fortunate than many. Still, after our year-long churn, we decided to book this trip to Southeast Asia as “something good for us.” We’re taking our luck back, we decided. In your face, universe.

Well, right now I am currently avoiding any food or drink that could contribute to gout. I have lost four pounds this week. (The no-meat, no-cheese, no-booze diet gets results, my friends.) I am now wearing a walking cast and wince (a manly wince) when I step. My wife is, at this moment, buying several home remedies at Whole Foods in an 11th-hour bid to heal my own lousy wheel and get me healthy for this vacation. I am going to the acupuncturist for the first time tomorrow. It’s that serious.

Are we going on our trip? Will the Dread Brimley leave port?

Your guess is as good as mine.

I’ll let you know.



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