Thanks to the Groin Queen

Another Tip of the Hat to the Groin Queen.

Here’s me thanking everyone who posted, messaged, emailed, called, or asked to my face: “How are you doing?” after my most recent tour of Hollywood’s celebrity-filled Cedars-Sinai Cardiac Care Unit. (Sworn to secrecy, I am…. No, not really. There was just no good dirt to dish. Sorry TMZ.)

I really appreciate your concern. So…

Dudes (and Dudettes): Thank You All. I’m truly touched. And, just so you know, I’m much better. There are no longer elephants standing on my chest. So, that’s a plus.

But, Doctor’s orders: No more carbs, fats, meats, dressings, stairs, heavy lifting, drinking, exercise, couch potato-ing, grocery-toting, child-carrying-to-bed, hot-tubbing, toilet-scrubbing, laundry-folding, sex, piano-moving, trash-taking, or anything else in life that is part of living.

Well… Maybe ‘some’ dressings are Ok.

Let’s see how long this lasts… Um, too late. (I won’t tell which ones… But I love Italian dressing. There might be others. Wink.)

The drugs are kind of kicking my butt — excessive tiredness, confusion, fatigue,… RomneyMania. It’s crazy!

Things back at home seem to be returning to normal with the girls…


I’m putting on a T-shirt…

Julianna enters the room (she’s eight): Daddy, why do you have such a big belly?

Me: Please, not now, Sweety. I have no energy for this.

J: It’s as big as a bouncy house!

Me: Honey, really? After the week I had? I’m sick.

J (realizing she’s crossed the line): Well, a bouncy house for… Babies. (Raising her finger for emphasis) “Tiny” Babies.

For the record, there are no preemies on my stomach. Just so you know.

The girls jump on me…. Doesn’t matter. They never let up. All in all, not so bad.


Again, I appreciate that everyone is concerned about my heart health. I’ve heard from so many friends (some I haven’t talked to in years). You all warm my (dubious) heart.

And, I’ve gotten quite a delightful number of excessively long hugs and back rubs from my lady friends. I have absolutely no complaints there. None at all. Not a one. In fact… Doctor’s orders: She prescribes more excessively long hugs and back rubs from lady friends. “Excessive,” she says. (Hugs over the Internet are good, too.)

If you have no idea what I’m talking about… You can scroll down and read my two-part story. (Caution, there’s a little bit of foul language involved. But, I almost died, so, ya know… deal with it.)

And, of course, CHEERS to Vivienne the Groin Queen who wouldn’t leave my side (or my groin) when I needed her most. (If I had a dime for every time I’ve said that…)

Stress Test, Part II

Now where was I?…

(for background, see my previous post.)

Oh, yeah. On the operating table.

So the doctor slides the wires through the incision in my groin, up the arteries, and into my heart. She does a balloon angioplasty (the tech dude is confused over which size to use: Is it an 8 or a 10? Whatever.) And then the Doc installs a stent. (That’s basically a scaffolding that keeps the arteries open.)

In about 45 minutes, I’m done. I was awake for the whole thing (though the narcotic Fentanil… Mmmmm.) I saw everything on the plasma flat screen. Fascinating stuff.

It’s over.

They wheel me into my recovery room and tell me that I can’t get out of bed or move my leg for at least 6 hours because I could bleed out through the incision in my femoral artery.

Now, I know what your are thinking.

WARNING: Yes, you are again entering the Too Much Information Zone. But, you have all asked:

Didn’t you have to pee?

Skip this section if you must, but… Herewith is another Public Service mostly about pee:


Since I was about 3, I have done everything possible to NOT pee while lying flat on my back in bed. It is ingrained in my brain. And, for the most part, I have been successful in that. (Sorry for that one time, Honey. I was dreaming of rain…)

So, the nurse hangs a plastic bottle over the bed railing and tells me to “go to town.” Easier said than done.

By about 6:00 pm, I kinda sorta need to go. It’s been about 7 hours since the last time I went potty, and pressure begins to build.

Without getting too graphic, I position my personage in such a way that using a bottle is actually feasible. I’m not bragging, mind you. Statement of fact. (Yeah, bragging a little…)

Only, I couldn’t quite pull the trigger. 40-something years of not peeing in bed is hard to overcome in one night.

I watch the Olympics. Catch the Dodgers game. And flip on CNN. Finally, Anderson Cooper announces that Paul Ryan will be the Vice Presidential candidate with Mitt Romney. This pisses me off.

And, before I know it, the bottle is half full.

Thanks, Anderson!

P.S. Note to Pee Bottle Designers: PLEASE round the edges. No one wants to encounter any sharp 90 degree angles down there. Believe me!


Welcome back…

So, a couple hours after surgery, I still have this “pressure bandage” on my femoral artery that is stopping me from, you know, bleeding to death.

The nurses finally determine that my blood is “thick” enough to start clotting again. Vivienne (the attractive, young, Asian nurse) is charged with the task of removing the patch, and giving me a regular bandage. (The fact the Vivienne is young, attractive, and Asian is totally irrelevant to this story. But, I felt compelled to inform you. That’s how I roll.)

Here’s the REALLY SCARY part.

Vivienne comes into my room. She tells me that we’re going to have to “push” for 10 or 15 minutes. I have no idea what she means. I assume she is going to push saline into the IV in my arm.

No. I am wrong.

She whips back my hospital gown (Hello, Boys!), removes the pressure bandage, and literally begins Pushing on my incision with every ounce of her 95-pound body.

Um… Ow… Damn… Shit.

“Gotta stop the bleeding,” she says.

“Yes, please…” I retort.

It hurts for a couple of minutes. Then, something weird happens. I get really hot and begin sweating profusely. Then, I hear the alarms from the heart monitors start beeping loudly.

This is not good.

I look over at the display. My heart rate has dropped from 62 to about 38. My blood pressure has gone from 110 over 70, to 60 over 40. I don’t like these numbers.

Vivienne says, “You’re vaso-vagal. You’re crashing.”

Now, I know that, as a dude, any word with that many V’s and G’s cannot be good. The word “crashing” also causes some concern.

Do you remember George Bush the Second? He was eating a pretzel and passed out. It was in all the newspapers (yeah, a dead medium, I know.) He hit a nerve with the pretzel. That’s the Vagal nerve that runs from top to bottom in your body. It’s basically the 911 of the nervous system. Screw with it, and it will shut your ass down.

Vivienne screwed with it. My ass is shutting down.

Viv keeps telling me to breathe. She asks if I’m getting tunnel vision or feeling dizzy. My blood oxygen level drops to dangerous lows.

She asks me how I feel: I’m confused. All of the above. Kinda sleepy, too.

Then, Viv begins yelling at the top of her lungs for the other nurse on-call:


Now, (working in LA) I have seen enough episodes of ER and Chicago Hope and Grey’s Anatomy (and Scrubs, for that matter) to know that when a nurse is YELLING for help, things usually don’t end well for the patient. Holy Shit.

Real life: My nurse is yelling. Fucking YELLING! Top of her lungs:


I’m scared to death. Almost literally.

I try to keep my cool. But, seriously? Do I die here? Like this? In a hospital bed with a pretty Asian girl pushing on my balls? Not heroically? No… Not heroically.

Vivienne is practically doing a headstand on my crotch to prevent me from bleeding out. I’m thinking that whether or not I die in the next five minutes depends on the tiny hands of my attractive Asian nurse. (Again, attractive and Asian are not relevant. But, this is MY story.) She did have tiny hands, by the way.

Abbie shows up. She opens my IV fully, and starts squeezing the bag. They are trying to add fluids to my system so my blood pressure will increase. Gradually, my BP increases, as does my heart rate. I begin to feel more normal.

I don’t know how close I came to dying. But, close enough. Shit.

Abbie tells me that Vivienne is known as the Groin Queen. Viv is not thrilled with the title. “Don’t call me that, please.” But, she’s been pushing on my groin with everything she’s got for over a half hour. Her fingers are numb. She’s as exhausted as I am bruised. Did I mention the bruises: Ow. That shit hurts.

They wrap me in a regular bandage. I’m fine.

Vivienne, wherever you are: Wear the Groin Queen crown with pride. You saved my life.

But, given the amount of fluids they put in my body, I’ll keep filling up the pee bottle. All night long… Nurses are great!

I get discharged the next morning, with a newly found respect for the Olympic bikini-waxed swimmers and divers.

So, after that, everything pretty much went according to plan, The incision in my groin clots up (by the way, none of the countless women who surveyed my groin complained. I’m just sayin’…), my blood pressure comes up to normal, as does my heart rate. I’m feeling pretty good.

They send me home with a bag full of meds. I’m not supposed to do any heavy lifting for at least a month. Unfortunately, that means lots will fall on my wonderful and already-over-extended wife Lynn. I’ll try to not feel guilty on garbage day.

Loving my wife (it’s so much harder for her than me. Totally.)

Stress Test

I know I haven’t updated the old blog in a while.

Did I tell you about the time I almost had a heart attack last week?

No? Sorry. Where are my manners?

I hope I haven’t lost any readers.

So, for the last few weeks I’ve been having an on-and-off pressure in my chest. I chalked it up to the constant pool play with the girls. “I must have pulled something,” I thought. “I’m just sore.” Though deep down, I knew I was just in denial.

Moving some boxes around at the office last Wednesday, that nagging pressure came back. Only, this time, it took about an hour for me to feel normal again. In denial no more, I called my cardiologist. (As an aside, you might ask: Why does he have a cardiologist? Another funny story there. Seems that this isn’t my first heart episode. At the tender age of 39, I received a stent in an artery in my heart. Good times.)

Thursday, my cardiologist hooks me up to the EKG. Perfectly normal.

Doc: Why are you here?
Me: Chest pains.
Doc: Do you wanna get on the treadmill?
Me: That’s why I wore my jogging shoes.

The ultra-sound guy scans my heart’s “before” image, and he hooks me up to another EKG machine. I get on the treadmill and start walking. About 30 seconds later, I get that pressure feeling in my chest. The doctor points at the screen, she says something doctory to her nurse, and cuts the test short. Ultra-sound guy does the “after” picture.

The next few sentences out of her mouth include the words: Scary. Serious. Very Bad. Dangerous. Scary (again). I miss most of everything else she says.


We arrange a “procedure” (never a good thing) for the next day (Friday) at Cedars-Sinai Hospital. The doctor sends me home with a bag full of blood thinners and encourages me: “Don’t get too excited tonight.”

Thanks for that, Doc.

I break the news to Lynn and try to explain it to the girls. “Daddy is sick. He has to go to the hospital.” Beyond that, what does a five-year-old understand?

WARNING: You are about to enter the Too Much Information Zone. Some of you may not want to read the following, but I offer it up as a Cautionary Tale, a Public Service. It’ll be safe to read again the next time you see this line:


Now, as I said, I have been through this before. They slide a wire up through an incision in your groin and into your heart. And, the most important thing I learned through the whole procedure is: It is important to shave your groin yourself. Believe me, don’t leave it up to some vindictive nurse with a single-edged razor and no shaving cream to go anywhere near your… you know. Given everything I went through last time, the worst part was the razor burn. I am not kidding.

So, Thursday night, I draw a bubble bath, light some scented candles, put on some mood music, and ease into the tub.

Naaah! I’m just kidding.

Actually, I have to decide between taking the super-dose of blood thinners ASAP versus taking care of my “business.” I determine that I don’t want the blood-thinner-themed headline to read:

Man Bleeds Out After Cutting Self While Shaving Down Under. No, Not Australia.

So, I whip out my… beard trimmer to take care of the underbrush. Then, I take a NEW razor into the shower. I enjoy a rather lengthy shower. (And, by “enjoy,” I mean, I really didn’t “enjoy” anything (get your minds out of the gutter)).


Hey, y’all. Glad you’re back. We didn’t talk about you at all. (Ahem!)

Lynn has set up our babysitter (thanks Adina!), and we head off to the hospital. The procedure is supposed to go at 1:30. My doctor tells me: Expect 2:00.

3:00 comes, and they wheel me into the “Cardiac Cath Lab.” My doctor makes a bland few jokes. And, my nurse is arguing with another nurse over whether or not so-and-so meant what she said when she accused her of ‘whatever’ and how she will NEVER be forgiven. What a FUCKING BITCH!

“And, how are you feeling, Mr. Otero?”

I have no choice: I smile, “Um… Ok. I guess”

We begin.

My cardiologist is literally within arm’s reach, but she seems like she’s a mile away. She fishes a wire up my femoral artery and into my heart. I watch the whole thing on a TV monitor. Even though I have no clue what I am looking at, it is extremely cool.

My doctor says, “You are about 90% blocked in the same artery as before. We need to do a stent.”

I’m in no position to argue.

…And so it begins…

Five-year-old Isabella is all about the Female Empowerment of the Olympics. Girls Rule!

Eight-year-old Julianna, though, seems to be developing other tastes…

Julianna: Ooo! The Olympics! What’s on tonight?

Me: Well, there’s women’s diving.

Julianna: No, thanks. Any boys?

Me: Um, no. There’s ladies’ bikini volleyball.

Isabella: Daaaad… It’s called “Beach” volleyball.

Me: Whatever.

Julianna: I’ll pass…

Me: Oh, later there’s the Girls’ tumblers. It’s a big one! You’ll love it!

Julianna (shrug): Well… Let me know if there’s any Boys’ swimming. I want to watch them.


Now, where exactly is my shotgun?

It’s Pronounced “Bikini”

Mommy and Daddy are watching some mindless TV.

Five year-old Isabella enters: Daddy, can we please go into the pool now? I already got on my two-piece Zucchini.

Daddy is feeling subversive.

Me: No, Honey. That’s not a “Zucchini.” What you are wearing is a “Cucumber.”

Iz: Daaad! Cucumber?!

Me: Yes, people frequently confuse the two since the zucchini and cucumber look so much alike.

Iz: Mommy! This isn’t cucumber, right. It’s a zucchini.

Mommy glances: Sorry, Sweetie. Cucumber. Common Mistake.

Me: Did you remember to close the fridge?

Iz: Mommmmmmmy! Dadddddy!

Me: Ok, go get a towel.

Iz: Yay!

Mommy: And some Ranch dressing.

Isabella doing her best Bigfoot impersonation in her “Zucchini Suit” from our recent camping trip.

By the way, if you haven’t already clicked over to my good friend Gretchen’s blog Second Blooming, I kicked in a guest blog post the other day. Give it a read.


The Olympics the other night was: For the Ladies.

Men’s Synchronized Diving. Men’s Swimming. And, Men’s Gymnastics.

Lots of guys in tight Speedos or, even, shirtless. (For my WeHo friends. Hi, y’all!) You get my point.

I haven’t seen this many packages since last year’s Christmas rush… And, I work for UPS!

(Umm…. No, not really.)

Up until now, I thought the official Olympic bikini waxer had her hands full with the female swimmers and gymnasts and volleyball players. (As far as I can tell, they’re doing a great job… And, I have a Big-Screen Hi-Def TV. That’s something I would notice…)

But, good God! The manscaping required for these male athletes must be a full-time job. I mean, where do you draw the line? Belly-button? Armpit? Mid-thigh? Knee? Calf? Ankle?… Little piggy?

Even Lynn stopped complaining about the skimpy women’s uniforms while watching the guys. (Methinks she likey.)

Double standard? Um… Yeah, still….

But, Dude! You’re not the Maytag repair man. I don’t need to see that much crack unless you’re connecting my fridge’s ice maker. Divers, please, pull your damn shorts up.