One-Footed Trip to Southeast Asia A Success

A few weeks ago I wrote about how I sustained a foot injury days before my wife Jen and me were to leave for a big vacation in Southeast Asia. I (quite heroically) said “Eff it,” and we went. I am so glad we did.

My walking cast, which somehow attained the nickname “Das Boot”, caused me to hobble for much of the trip, but it didn’t keep us from doing anything we had planned.

I chronicled much of our trip on Instagram and Facebook, the photos and captions of which I shared are below. And if you want to know more about Hong Kong, I published this travel guide on

But who cares about that? Let’s just get to the damn pictures.

Me and Raymond

Wheels up in San Francisco with my man Raymond. (Raymond is not as amused.)

A photo posted by Joe Donatelli (@joedonatelli) on

Continue reading “One-Footed Trip to Southeast Asia A Success”


Eff It – We’re Going

The Donatellis have put their foot down about traveling to Asia.

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 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

I am trying to get healthy for our trip to Asia. Did acupuncture for the first time. Ate tendon soup. Can you tell I live in California?

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

Will Joe make it to Asia? Or will a bum foot ruin his dream vacation? Stay tuned.


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.



Sorry We Stole Your Stuff

Los Angeles airport employees stole a lot of flyer baggage. On behalf of LA, sorry we stole your stuff, world.


I’m a cautious person. I check the oven every single time I leave the house. For the record, I’ve never once left the oven on. I hardly use my oven. It’s not like I’m cooking so much that oh-geez sometimes I lose track of when I’ve activated a major appliance that starts controlled fires. But before I can walk out the door, I have to make sure there aren’t four blue flames leaping from the burners threatening to engulf my kitchen with slight warmth.

Cautiousness extends to other areas of my life. I sometimes park my car, walk into Ralph’s grocery store, start shopping, walk out of the store and check to make sure the car is locked, which it always is. Making matters worse, when I go outside to the parking lot I’m also worried that someone will see my unattended grocery cart and go, “Hey, I want all the exact same stuff” and then check out with my food.

Longtime readers know my policy on backup shirts.

So naturally I don’t pack anything of value in checked luggage, which I assume will be ransacked by thugs the moment the conveyor belt rolls it out of sight behind the ticket counter. My packing strategy has always been to bore would-be thieves with earth tone shirts and cheap tennis shoes and socks that once contained elastic. There is even a name for the way I dress. It’s called Normcore, which is the style of intentional blandness. Thanks to my lifelong commitment to Normcore I own absolutely nothing worth stealing.

Anything slightly valuable I bring with me. My laptop is old and slow and heavy, and it’s missing the letter J on the keyboard, which is why my byline is sometimes Hoe Donatelli. If I didn’t carry my laptop onto the plane, I know with absolute certainty it would end up for sale in the back of a van filled with laptops purchased by down-on-their-luck screenwriters in Silverlake.

Normally my caution is a burden—a waste of time and energy. I know this. I’m totally aware of it. I act this way because that’s who I am. But every once in a while my mania is vindicated, as was the case recently when police revealed that as many as 25 Los Angeles International Airport baggage handlers had stolen thousands of items in what Los Angeles Times reporters Richard Winton, Kate Mather and Dan Weikel call “one of the largest property heists in airport history.”

“Basically everything of value — be it electronics, jewelry and items — that could be stolen in seconds would be removed from bags,” LAX Police Chief Pat Gannon told the Los Angeles Times, guaranteeing that my paranoia will continue for decades to come. “They’d just open up the suitcases and rifle through them and pocket valuables.”

The baggage handlers were employed by Menzies Aviation. The company said it believed the alleged thefts were “limited to a handful of employees, acting independently,” which means, in my legal opinion, they probably won’t face RICO charges.

I can’t say with certainty exactly what RICO charges are, but I’ve watched enough detective shows to know that when a group of people conspire to do something bad, the cops back at the station usually have a meeting with the district attorney where the cops say they don’t have enough evidence to nail the guys, and the DA says, “We’ll nail them on RICO charges,” and the cops are excited that they can interrogate these lawbreakers, but then later the local cops get all bent out of shape when the feds come in and set up in the good conference room and muck up the case.

Los Angeles owes an apology to the travelers of the world. I personally did not take any personal electronics or jewelry, but I’m sorry that someone stole your stuff. I’m sorry that this will be a worry people have every time they fly to Los Angeles. There are already so many things to worry about here—earthquakes, mudslides, traffic, whether LA is going to get a pro football team, etc. When people come to Los Angeles, they should expect to have their money taken by our muggers and car rental taxes, like normal cities.

My advice to anyone flying here: carry on your valuables. Most airport employees are good, honest people, but you’re going to have a few bad apples in any bunch. LAX employs 45,000 people.

On our honeymoon to Italy I remember being so relieved that our bags had arrived in Rome. The thought of dealing with a lost or stolen bag on foreign soil filled me with dread. We were going to be traveling all over the country, and our phones were turned off most of the time to save money on roaming. (Telecommunications companies should definitely be busted for roaming charges under RICO.)

Even if our bags were found, how would they get to us? They wouldn’t. I’d have to buy all-new Italian clothes, and I can’t pull off that kind of look. Our honeymoon photos would have shown a beautiful woman in nice clothes with a man dressed like a Las Vegas nightclub owner from the year 2019.

“Nice photos, Jen,” our friends would have said to my wife years later. “Too bad your husband didn’t go with you on your honeymoon.”

Oh, that’s him, my wife would say, it’s just hard to recognize him when he’s not wearing jeans and an Ohio University sweatshirt.

Then our friends would have pretended they knew it was me the whole time, ha-ha-ha, but they would just be acting polite, and on the car ride home they’d say, “It’s odd that Joe didn’t go on their honeymoon.” “Trouble in paradise, I guess.”

Somewhere in Japan right now there is a couple who got married in Los Angeles trying to explain to their friends that the man in the Mickey Mouse T-shirt standing next to the woman in a bridal gown is the groom, and their friends are just sitting there and nodding politely and silently judging the groom for going Normcore at his wedding.

That’s on us, LA.

Joe Donatelli publishes The Humor Columnist. You can follow him on Twitter: @joedonatelli.

Photo by Prayitno/more

UPDATE: In Canada they don’t steal your stuff so much as they do drop it 20 feet in the air.