Sometimes, it feels as if we are eavesdropping on day-to-day conversations rather than just hearing the usual litany of platitudes and regrets.
I have always believed in full disclosure. When I announced that I had a recurrence of salivary cancer that required surgery, I had no idea when I went into the hospital on June 16 that I would still be here on August 16.
On June 16 they removed the cancer in my right jaw area, including a section of my jaw bone. It was successfully reconstructed. On July 1, I was packing to leave the hospital when my blood vessel ruptured. We have since learned that the rupture was caused by a breakdown of tissue surrounding the artery as a result of radiation treatments I had three years ago.
I had a particularly intense form of radiation called neutron beam radiation, which is more effective for certain cancers, but which is also more debilitating to healthy tissue than conventional radiation. Finding a solution to protecting the arteries is what has kept me in the hospital, and in bed, since July 1. As you can imagine, it is no fun being hospitalized this long. Fortunately for me, I have received excellent medical care at Northwestern Hospital led by Doctors Harold Pelzer and Neil Fine. This is a unique situation and the doctors are moving cautiously, but they are enthusiastically optimistic about my recovery. I have also had the loving support of my bride Chaz, and good friends and colleagues. I am a lucky man.
I have learned, however, just how quickly one loses strength when confined to the bed for a long period of time. I will need rehabilitation to regain my strength, including voice rehabilitation to strengthen my vocal cords. The doctors have had me on a tracheostomy collar to keep my airways open during the period of surgeries for the ruptured blood vessels. Your vocal cords are like other muscles, they get rusty when they are not used daily. I may have other treatments or procedures as prescribed by my doctors, and so I hope you understand that while I believe in full disclosure, I also need the time and privacy to heal.
I am happy to report that despite all, I am doing well. I started physical therapy, I communicate with friends on a daily basis, I play my iPod and listen to songs with Chaz and the doctors and nurses, and I write. Don Dupree, the Executive Producer of “Ebert & Roeper” installed a plasma TV and DVD player in my room. I am going to watch "Half Nelson" and I hope Kevin Smith was right. I also thank my good friend Jay Leno for sitting in my chair in my absence, and, of course, thanks to Richard Roeper.
I thank all of you for your prayers, your well-wishes, your gifts, cards, e-mails and flowers. I don't have a crystal ball, so I can't tell you when, but I sure look forward to being back on the movie beat.
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