Friday, January 23, 2015

The Fragility of Life and Lung: My Dad's Severe Pneumonia Story

As published on The Huffington Post

The first message arrived midday on a Sunday, picking up the latest in the long paper and electronic trail that chronicles our family's health.

Mom, Jan. 4, 12:49 p.m.: Yesterday morning Dad woke up very sick. He has a terrible cough.
Mom, Jan. 5, 2:52 p.m.: Dad has the flu.
Mom, Jan. 6, 3:40 p.m.: Doc said Dad has to get down fluid. He spit up water twice. If he can't, I have to take him to an urgent care clinic. Don't come home! This is highly contagious.
Dad, Jan. 7, 2:15 p.m.: I will be visiting the doctor again today. I had a very bad night last night and I am very weak. You must stay away from the house.

When I was 4 years old, my dad lived on red meat and his total cholesterol reached 300. His doctor began him on Lipitor -- a cholesterol-reducing medication -- and told him he must change his lifestyle through diet and exercise or else he'd have a heart attack.

When my dad played music with his band on Saturday nights, my mom would take my older brother, JD, and me to Pizza Hut. This was our only chance to eat pizza. My dad quit eating most everything besides poultry and broccoli. My dad hasn't eaten steak in 27 years.

Mom, Jan. 7, 4:40 p.m.: Dad lost 6 lbs from not eating. He keeps wanting to go to the hospital. Yesterday the doc told him he didn't need it.
Me, Jan. 7, 5:00 p.m.: Holy crap. I've never seen him want to be admitted to a hospital before.
Dad, Jan. 7, 6:11 p.m.: The doctor has added a strong antibiotic to calm the cough. I hope that it works. She was confident that it would work. I also had a chest X-ray to determine if I had pneumonia.
Dad, Jan. 8, 9:02 a.m.: The X-ray led to a pneumonia diagnosis.
JD, Jan. 8, 9:12 a.m.: Man this is scary. Anything we can do? Keep reading, here.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

My Dad is Sylvester Stalloneing Pneumonia

My dad has been at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center since Friday, January 9, 2015, with the flu and pneumonia. Many of his wonderful family, coworkers and friends have been reaching out to us to wish him a complete and speedy recovery. I decided to collect these messages in one place so please post a comment here for my dad if you wish (by clicking the "comment" link below). You are not required to include a Sly reference in your comment, but it can't hurt. If you and my dad share mutual friends then please share this with them.

I will not update this blog like a CaringBridge. There is nothing wrong with CaringBridge but since I pretend that all my blog posts are of high quality, I'll forgo quantity updates. I also do not know if my dad would appreciate public updates. We are thrilled that so many people care about my dad and want updates, but we can't keep up with the number of inquiries. For groups (for example, his coworkers and his Sylvester Stallone fan club members [joke, I think]): please designate one point of contact to obtain updates from me, my brother or my mom.

Thank you.

XOOXOXXOOXXOXOOXOXXOXOOXXOOXOXXO
-the Rubenstein family


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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Benjamin, Here’s What Your Year Looked Like!

Apparently my 2014 was too boring for Facebook to create my 2014 Year in Review. Or I didn’t really post anything, leaving Facebook nothing to work with. Regardless, I missed out on something horrific and I hate missing out. So I created my own Year in Review.

January
You got a little fatter—not enough to collect navel lint, but enough to feel heavy while rock climbing and for the button in your climbing pants to pop. You were too frugal to buy new pants so you continued climbing with unbuttoned ones. You were thankful your harness kept your pants on.

February
Your friend died of cancer and you don’t need a Year in Review in order to remember her.

At Some Point in Early 2014
You quit using dating websites and apps, all of them, because they wasted your time and the girls ignored you, probably because you popped your pants.

March
You made a cat video. Check that off your bucket list.

All Day Every Day*
You spoke to audiences who may or may not have been forced to listen, and you signed books.

*which means, like, a bunch of times

May
Your older brother, JD, recently said he can’t remember a single thing he did in 2011 and barely remembers what he did in 2014. Just kidding, Lolo, of course he remembers getting engaged to you! We all can’t wait to not remember your wedding next year.

June
You were a candidate for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Man & Woman of the Year campaign and your fundraising team raised over $50,000. Hopefully LLS won’t use your donation on hookers and blow unless researchers think that hookers and blow can improve the quality of life for cancer survivors.

Summer
You spent two amazing weeks in Europe: one week as a solo traveler and the second with your Americans-temporarily-living-in-England adopted family, Mr. and Mrs. Stroopwafel. You stayed awake for essentially 48 consecutive hours, until 4 a.m. Greenwich Mean Time the day after arriving in London, in order to participate in your fantasy football draft. Le’Veon Bell skyrocketed you into the championship which you lost by four points because Russell Wilson scored 38. You can’t even force animosity towards Wilson because he fights childhood cancer.

You ate soooooo many stroopwafels in Amsterdam that you finally caved and bought new rock climbing pants. You later returned to online dating for one whole day—specifically the app JSwipe, which has the motto “Finding someone to take home for Matzo Ball soup is finally as fun as it should be!”. As it turns out, girls ignore you for reasons beyond your pants popping.

September
You predicted, as always, that your beloved Washington Redskins would win the Super Bowl.

September
You made a new Super Bowl prediction.

October
Over three years after you began the project, your second book Secrets of the Cancer-Slaying Super Man published. You hope and believe that Secrets is a great general leisure read; and can be a wonderful resource for families of sick children, schoolchildren learning about overcoming struggles, and oncology nurses and social workers. You will devote yourself in 2015 to reaching this goal.

End of 2014
Your new roommate, CantSleepWontSleep, has prepared a meal in the apartment just twice in two months and has eaten out the rest. This led you to reconsider your frugality, and how wealth is often simply text on a Web page that waxes and wanes for many reasons beyond the amounts you spend and save. So you bought a Starbucks latte.

Happy New Year!
Facebook did not create your 2014 Year in Review but Google+ did. Since Google+ could not differentiate who is in the photos stored on your computer, your Year in Review ends with a lovely girl from Chicago rock climbing at Brooklyn Boulders Chicago. You met her once. You did not take the photo. At least you were there (on a different climbing wall away from the photo). See you next year!
video

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Thursday, December 18, 2014

U.S. Needs to Claim Justin Bieber (Before Putin Does)

As published on The Huffington Post

Justin Bieber and I have much in common. Besides age, wealth, status, success and possibly gender, our only other differences are that he sings horrific music, has stupider tattoos, and doesn't have United States citizenship.

This is the partially true story proving why that must change.

Mr. Bieber, a Canadian citizen, likely entered the United States as a business visitor to perform for Usher. Usher loved Mr. Bieber, signed him, and they produced three number one albums by the time Mr. Bieber turned 18 years old. Mr. Bieber now has 12 times as many Twitter followers as the pope, or what he calls "Beliebers," and an estimated net worth of $200 million.

Mr. Bieber obtained an O-1 nonimmigrant visa in order to temporarily remain in the United States. To qualify for an O-1 visa he just had to demonstrate distinction: a degree of skill and recognition substantially above that ordinarily encountered. Lucky for him, Randy Jackson was his adjudicator.

I pitied Mr. Bieber as he matured into a young man. We shared a desire for fame and girls, but his art caught fire and mine didn't, and he became surrounded by unhealthy means and influence. Mr. Bieber succumbed just as I succumb to the office candy bowl because it is there and free and crushes my otherwise superhuman willpower. Keep reading, here.

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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Everyone Needs a Doppelgänger

In 2013 it was written, and in 2014 it was sealed.

The German term “doppelgänger,” dating back to 1851, was used in fiction and folklore and meant a spirit that looks like a living person. Often, the look-alike signified bad luck, illness or even death. Doppelgänger is now in the top 20% of terms searched on Merriam-Webster.com and we view it positively, simply meaning someone who looks like someone else but who is not related to that person.

The first time I recall hearing "doppelgänger" was last fall, and I immediately began searching for mine. Though everyone needs and ultimately has one, the catch is that you cannot actively find your own doppelgänger because, according to ruBENstein folklore, that signifies horrific luck, the plague, and eternal suffering. Your doppelgänger must come to you spontaneously or be presented to you by someone else.

My coworker presented me my doppelgänger just a few days after I learned what the term meant last year, and last week JT validated my doppelgänger when he texted me out of the blue, “Has anyone ever told you that you look like Brian Hoyer?”

Author Benjamin Rubenstein and Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer are doppleganger look alikes
 Author Benjamin Rubenstein and Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer are doppleganger look alikes
Michigan State-product Brian Hoyer started the Cleveland Browns game on September 18, 2013, when quarterback Brandon Weeden sat out due to injury. He threw 54 passes and completed 30 of them, with three touchdowns and three interceptions, in a 31-27 victory over the Vikings. The following week fake Ben Rubenstein went 25-38 with two touchdowns in the Browns 11-point victory over the Bengals.

I was playing some good g-damn football.

Later that week while watching me play on Thursday Night Football, I took a bathroom break and felt a sting in my knee. I suspected the worst: fake Ben Rubenstein tore his ACL. His season ended right there. I would get the chance to play again in 2014.

The Browns drafted Heisman Trophy-winner Johnny Manziel, also known as Johnny Football. Manziel and I competed to be named the starting quarterback during preseason. Is it selfish to root for myself when doing so hurts another upstanding citizen? I beat out Johnny Football for the Browns’ starting quarterback job earlier this year. I beat Manziel, I beat Manziel!!! But I have played poorly and I am the backup in today’s game.

Ah well, you can always have a backup doppelgänger when your previous one starts to suck.

My Brazilian friend showed me my new starting doppelgänger.
Author Benjamin Rubenstein and Brazilian comedian Paulo Gustavo are doppleganger look-alikes

Most of the results after I search for Brazilian Paulo Gustavo are in Portuguese, but I did see the word “humorista” several times. So if I can’t play football anymore then I guess I’ll be a comic, and apparently really popular on Instagram.

Johnny Football rules. Go Browns.
Johnny Manziel Flips Middle Finger to Fans

Have an open mind regarding your doppelgänger. Unless your doppelgänger is the new Renée Zellweger, in which case find an immediate backup who just vaguely looks like you.

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