Greetings blogosphere. First of all, full disclosure – this is not Tony typing this post – this is Jeff, Tony’s good friend first and foremost, and the videographer of his youtube channel secondly. I’m stepping in today to ghost write this, since Tony has other matters at hand, as you can imagine from today’s title. The title of the post is not meant to shock you, but I just don’t know how else to broach the topic except to just put it out there, front and center. What I’d like is to get you, our reader, from point A to point B quickly (point B being where we are currently today, and point A being about a year ago when this all started) since we have kept you in the dark for so long. We apologize, but we ourselves for quite a while were not exactly clear what was going on. The video we posted here, if you have not yet seen it, will give something of a storyline as to how we got here.
And that’s how it unfolded. There we were, everything rolling along, just having a great time shooting videos and coming up with new recipes, and BOOM, suddenly we were dealing with this in a big way. Over the last year we kept shooting episodes when we could, but it was obvious that this was not something we could ignore. My own schedule had become busy, and even when we were able to find time to shoot it was often that the medication Tony was on would completely sap him of energy and it was not unusual for me to go over to Tony’s for a couple of days and only get in a couple of hours of shooting.
Sometimes I would call and he seemed fine and would talk my ear off for an hour. Other times I could barely reach him. When I would drive up to Westchester, either to visit or to shoot, I was not sure how I would find him and how he would look. In short, most days quite honestly, I would be a bit fearful that I would not find my usual bouncy jovial Tony. It’s a bit like going to the zoo and having mixed feelings when you see a lion or polar bear that just looks like he could be doing a lot better. Somehow, on some days, he did find that vibrant healthy energy… whether by force of habit, or by soaking up the energy of the sun, I’m not quite sure – but he got a hell of a lot of work done during some stretches during this past summer. I’d come over and he would show me the stone paved outdoor shower he built, or the enclosed garden he had just finished in like… a week. I’m not talking about a little flower garden. I’m talking about a huge structure with posts driven 4 feet into the ground completely covered in wire mesh with a hinged door in front, large enough to play one-on-one basketball in.
“OK… just did this little project in your spare time, did you?”
But then he would collapse and sleep for 20 hours to recover. That’s how up and down life was the past year, not to mention sudden trips to the emergency room… at this point, too many to count. One time I dropped him off at Mt. Sinai hospital in New York to have the doctors go over his numbers to see how things were going. A short time later I pick Tony up and he’s in a good mood. The numbers are all heading in the right direction. He’s feeling so good at that point he wants to take a trip over to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx to maybe pick up some seafood at the market before hopping on the metro north train to go home. Feeling reassured, I head back home to Brooklyn to catch up on a few things in my own life. Hours later, something crosses my mind and I give Tony a call to chat. I hear stuff going on.
“What’s going on there?” I ask.
“My doctor just called and told me I have to go straight to the emergency room. I’ll call you later.” he answers. I was up there a day later to find him still at the hospital, getting an infusion to correct dangerously low levels of potassium.
Well, that was one of many dramas that we don’t really need to delve further into. I think you get the picture. So where are we now? We are at the point at which, on the one hand, it may be difficult to hear the words “We are out of options. You need a liver transplant as soon as possible.” but on the other hand is a clear sign post from which to move forward. As soon as that became the clear message, it was a whirlwind of activities and decisions.
I’m happy to report that it has been going well for Tony. He went just last week to Ohio for what was initially a kind of visit, or a scouting report, to see what would need to be done before moving out there, but apparently it went so well that the decision was made that this trip is the actual move out there- he will be there till the new liver comes through, and he has reason to hope that this procedure may happen sooner than expected. We all have our fingers crossed for this. He’s thrilled and confident in his medical team, and they have made him feel very very optimistic.
From this point you will be seeing posts from Tony straight out of this new chapter in his life, and now that this has all been disclosed, we’ll keep you informed like you are family. Tony, of course, wants to be in touch with you and let you know what’s going on, so he will be communicating his thoughts as he goes through this. Keep an eye out. And of course, there will still be recipes. Some things you can count on.
Friends, give Tony your wishes and love. He’s a tough guy, but we could all use a little hug now and then.
Jeffrey Chuang (producer/editor of Ask Chef Tony)