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THIS IS STILL NOT ABOUT HOTELS
By Michael Matthews
May 12, 2011 -- Editor's note: In his previous column, Michael told us, in his usual manner, about his cancer diagnosis, his reaction to it and his first rounds of treatment. We also learned about his purchase of a Porsche (aka the penis extender) and his canny decision to bring pastry to power.

Your enthusiastic response to his decision to talk about these intensely personal matters and to temporarily defer his coverage of hotels has encouraged Michael to continue his dispatches. These latest updates arrived yesterday with a note from Michael. It said simply: "Still smiling." -- Joe Brancatelli

APRIL 29
The Porsche is a dream. I was followed very closely by a sheriff while en route to a checkup at the Oncology Lab. He was bald and I had to wonder if he had been where I was going.

Talking of being bald, I paid a visit on Thursday to my neighborhood barber. Big clumps of my tresses were lying about the carpets at home. Just like when the dog is molting. No option but to have it all off.

I am now bald as a coot and not in that sexy, male-model way. Just to explain how bad I look, the dog barked at me when I got home. On the other hand, I will be saving 20 bucks a month on haircuts! And there's a positive angle to everything. My daughter said I look like a vanilla ice cream cone: white on top, slightly brown below.

Checkups seem to come at least twice a week. There are seven doctors involved and each wants his or her piece of me and the ritual is always about the same: weight, height (Could have I shrunk since last visit?), pee, temperature, blood pressure. Then draw more blood.

The last doctor's visit was going very well until lovely and smiling Nurse Shirley--she has lips like Julia Roberts--showed up with a young man wearing blue scrubs. I noticed a large "A" emblazoned on the garment.

"Wildcat fan?" I asked, referring to the University of Arizona. He smiled and nodded. Which is good, since I didn't sign up to be a minor character in a Nathaniel Hawthorne novel.

Shirley handed him a needle. It had a large tube attached to it and that led to a small vial into which blood should flow. He leaned forward, dabbed disinfectant on my arm, tapped to find a vein and inserted the needle.

Nothing.

"Try again," said Nurse Shirley. More dabbing and tapping and then in with the needle. Oops, nothing happened. Again.

"Have you done this before?" I asked. No reply, just a forced smile. In went the needle again. Another miss.

"My God, man, the vein is that long blue thing going up my forearm. How can you miss it?"

The boy blushed. Nurse Shirley suppressed a titter. "Let's try the other arm," she suggested.

By this time, I could see the poor lad had not only turned puce, but his hands were shaking, too. I mumbled that maybe Shirley should take over before I became a pin cushion. But no, the kid tried again.

Finally, success. No one fainted. Blood flowed into the vial, scarlet red, just like it should be.

It turns out my newbie was a nursing student from the University of Arizona. I won't forget him or he me. And I bet Medicare wasn't billed at a discounted rate.

As mentioned in my other column, I am now tattooed so they know exactly where to aim the radiation "gun." I've actually gotten five tats, three on my chest and one just under each arm pit. If I am ever in prison, I will mix in well with the inmates.

I thought a visit to my regular doctor (that's eight for those of you keeping count) was in order. There followed a detailed discussion on the merits of the new car, my life expectancy and a checkup. Blood pressure? Not bad. Everything else? Okay. He even said I had a heart of someone 20 years younger. He didn't say the same for my lungs.

He gave me some ointment to put on my arm, which is swollen about 30 percent larger than normal. Caused, no doubt, by my allowing a very young and definitely inexperienced student nurse to puncture me.

Here's some good news: Doc is a firm believer in the medicinal properties of pot. I will definitely be returning as soon as I've filled out the necessary forms. For those of you not au fait with Arizona law, marijuana is legal for medicinal use if you can convince a doctor to sign off on it.

I must go and get my pot application filed while my darling wife finds her old copy of The Alice B. Toklas Cookbook. The brownies should be delicious, man.

MAY 11
To you wonderful readers who have been following the recent events in my life: "God bless you!" I am forever grateful. As I pull out of this dilemma, the power of your and other people's wishes have helped me. Thank you.

I think the most amusing and "non apropos" message was from one of my most regular readers: He wished me well until I reach "the final solution." My droll sense of humor caught that one right away.

I told my oncologist that I had received more than 100 E-mails and he told me that's almost as many malpractice suits that he has survived. I just hope that was his droll sense of humor.

Two lovely young ladies attend to me each morning with their super ray gun. They line you up under the radiation gun. You lie on a very narrow slab, your head is in a basket, your arms are stretched above you and your knees are under a bolster. I feel as if I'm about to be waterboarded.

After lining me and my tattoos up, they leave the room and fire the thing. A few minutes later, I'm up and out. I'm scheduled for 42 more days of this, so what the hell are the boys in Gitmo complaining about?

(The radiation treatments are supposed to disintegrate the tumor that has wrapped itself around my pulmonary vein. They are also causing my throat to close up and be sore. A large red patch will appear on my back and the doctor suggests a few other unpleasant things will occur. In the ensuing panic, I have forgotten the specifics. But I will report later.)

After jumping off the ray gun couch this week, I dashed next door to the chemotherapy ward for four days of dosage. I was applauded when I arrived. I thought it was in honor of my bald head, but, no, it was for the arrival of the chocolate croissants. Apparently, the pastry I bring is a great hit and they've been missed during my weeks away from the chemo couch.

What with cookies for the ray girls and croissants for the chemo team, I will be broke by the time this is all over.

To those who have asked, the over/under on my first speeding ticket with the Porsche is still June 15. The penis extension hasn't got a ticket yet and the final solution is not yet at hand.

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ABOUT MICHAEL MATTHEWS Michael Matthews has managed and marketed fine hotels around the world for more than 45 years. He spent 14 years in Hong Kong building the legendary Regent International group. He has also worked with St. Regis, Ritz-Carlton and Rosewood hotels. Matthews is currently based in Arizona. He began writing Do Not Disturb in early 2004.

THE FINE PRINT Joe Brancatelli makes this space available to Michael Matthews in the spirit of free speech and to encourage editorial diversity and the wider discussion of important travel issues. All of the opinions and material in this column are the sole property of Matthews. This column may not be reproduced in any form without the express permission of Michael Matthews.

This column is Copyright 2011 by Michael Matthews. JoeSentMe.com is Copyright 2011 by Joe Brancatelli. All rights reserved.