Saturday, June 30, 2007

Playing the Tag Game

I'm following the instructions on Nicole's site for this whole tag thing. I'm sure I'm doing it all wrong, but that's never stopped me before.

My roommate and I once: I worked with a guy who always referred to Kara as my roommate after we were married and living in TVA. I guess this is technically correct. We once went away for the weekend, but left the alarm clock set for 6:00. It was a really loud buzzer that went for over an hour.The neighbors finally found the circuit breaker and cut power to our apartment.

Never in my life have I:
Been arrested.

High school was : So long ago. How did it get to be 20 years? 21 years?!?

When I’m nervous : I get quiet.

My Hair: Is cut with clippers using the #2 guard every couple of weeks. The shorter my hair is, the less obvious my ever-growing bald spot is.

When I was 5 : I had a shirt with a number 5 on it. My sisters had shirts with a 4 and a 3 on them.

When I turn my head left : I see much less unfinished work than if I turn my head right.

I should be : Out folding the rest of the laundry. It will have to wait until tomorrow.

By this time next year : Kara and I will be going out to eat in fancy restaurants and spending the night in fancy hotels. (Hey, this is my delusion, remember?)

My favorite aunt is : What kind of trouble are you trying to get me into here!

I have a hard time understanding : Much of anything these days.

You know I like you if : I ever gave you apple butter.

My ideal breakfast is : Made by someone else. ANYONE else!

If you visit my home town : Beware the giant cockroaches!

If you spend the night at my house : You'll probably need to sleep outside. There hasn't been anyone come to visit that didn't have to visit outside due to scents on their clothes and person.

My favorite blonde is : Anna

My favorite brunette is : Alyssa

The animal I would like to see flying besides birds : Me and mine. The pilot delusion is still very strong. Someday.....

I shouldn’t have been : So self conscious all of my life.

Last night I: Was awakened by a very loud thunderclap. I'm glad the girls didn't wake up.

A better name for me would be : Impossible to imagine.

I’ve been told I look like : Tom Cruise. Don't laugh! I never said I believed it, but that's what I was told. Both Tom and I looked much different 20 years ago.

If I could have any car, it would be : A Thing. Unique, unusual, and topless!

Friday, June 29, 2007

Now Dad's calling....

I got a concerned call from my dad yesterday. He has seen the stories on the news about floods in our area, and wanted to check in.

Yes, the places talked about in the news are all around us, but for now we are high and dry. Our house is on a hill, so I think we'll be OK. I haven't been able to get the lawn mowed for a few too many weeks (dry spells in the weather and my schedule have not matched up) but other than that we're doing OK.

Just thought you'd like to know.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

More of the same

I made it to 7 hours and 15 minutes working yesterday. No chance of a repeat today.

Anna had another game day party. Five kids showed up, and they had a great time. Alyssa was at school, so that helped, I'm sure.

Kara is still trying to get over the hump with her foods. She's eating, but having some trouble. Not like before she went on TPN, but we need to get the issues resolved before the weekend. I'm going with her to Dallas in just a bit, and I'm planning to spend the night.

The girls are spending the afternoon with one of Kara's visiting teachers, who had a son at Anna's party this morning. I let the girls know that they would be going with her, and that I had packed them an overnight bag. A minute later, Alyssa shows up with their toothbrushes and hands them to me. Sometimes I think she's the smartest one in the house.

They'll be sleeping at one of Alyssa's friend's house. They have two cats and a dog, so the girls should do just fine.

This is really hard for me. One of the reasons I went to the trouble and expense of moving is that I hate farming my kids out all of the time.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Mommy Says "Update Your Blog"

I know it's time to carve out a few blogging minutes when my mom calls and says "There's nothing new on your blog - is everyone OK?"

Yes, we're OK. Not much more than that, at least for the moment, but OK will cover it.

Kara has been doing well with eating, although not everything is moving as smoothly as we would like. We went to her doctor together yesterday, and he was excited with the way she is handling her food. She has lost 10 pounds since her PICC line came out, but that is just what he expected.

He wants her to hold off on having a new PICC put in. He has been concerned for some time that the polyurethane in the PICC line was causing problems of its own. She has noticed quite a few improvements in different areas that she attributes to the PICC line being out. If she does need a new line, it will be a different material.

She is eating very selectively, and on a rotation diet. That means she eats one food at a time, and doesn't eat that food again for a while. The doctor wants her on a 14-day rotation, which will be a bit of a challenge but I think we can manage.

Coming up with 14 different proteins is a little tricky, especially since she is not doing any seafood. Beef, elk, venison, buffalo, game hen, and lamb have already been on the menu. Ostrich, quail, and chicken are in the freezer, awaiting their turn. Some candidates for the remaining five slots are rabbit, turkey, pheasant, kangaroo, bear, antelope, and camel. It could happen.

The other 2-3 foods she eats each day are vegetables. That adds up to about 35 different veggies. I won't try and list them all. I will say that I admire Kara for being able to eat a pound of asparagus puree for breakfast. She is also rotating through some different oils (safflower, avocado, coconut, etc) which she was not able to do for quite some time before she got her PICC.

Making food takes a lot more time than getting a bottle out of the fridge. Couple this with trips to the hospital last week and the doctor this week, and I have been unfortunately whittling away at my vacation time. Sick time ran out the week before last. But I've been working very hard whenever I can, and I am deludedly hopeful that I can put in a full day at the "office" tomorrow.

The TPN was very expensive, but covered at 100% by insurance. Rabbits and artichokes are not covered at all. Still, both Kara and I have felt for the last little while that we were on the verge of some very great progress. I really think this could be what starts it all.

In other news, Anna lost ANOTHER tooth

Friday, June 22, 2007

Quick Kara update

This has been one of those weeks where there was too much going on to blog about. Here's a quick update.

Kara has both a blood clot and an infection where her PICC line was. She is on blood thinners and IV antibiotics. She was in the hospital until Thursday afternoon, when she was finally released.

She did OK last night. She's going to infuse her antibiotic this morning, and then we're headed off to Dallas this afternoon to see her regular doctor.

Without the PICC line, she has to eat. There are several foods that she tested at the allergy clinic that she didn't react to, and most of those her gut has been able to tolerate. She has to eat one food at a time, and rotate those foods so each has a chance to clear her system before she eats it again. So far she has eaten rice, beef broth, apple, pear, zucchini, and green beans. In the bullpen are papaya, yucca root, mango, buffalo, butternut, rutabaga, and yellow squash

She is scheduled to get a new PICC line on Tuesday of next week. Thank goodness. I'm tired of running the blender already.

In other news, Anna lost a tooth.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Do You Want to Play a Game?

Anna loves to play games. She has quite a few of them, but unfortunately she doesn't get to play much now that her cousins are a thousand miles away. The games she likes best are just too advanced for her sister, and when Kara and I have time to play with the kids we can't very well exclude Alyssa. So the games sit in their boxes.

At the beginning of summer, I suggested to Anna that she might want to invite some friends over for a game party while Alyssa was at her weekly speech therapy sessions. She liked the idea, and began calling her friends.

The first was scheduled for yesterday, and I was determined that she have it - even though Kara was in the hospital, Alyssa's therapy was postponed until Thursday, only one person had left a message saying they would come, and we couldn't figure out who that person was.

It was a boy, and Anna hadn't invited any boys. He left his name, but we couldn't make it out.

Anna's Mystery Man, as we referred to him, called again Tuesday morning asking for directions. This was the first time they actually talked talked on the phone, as Anna issued most of her invitations by leaving voice mail. It turns out that one of Anna's friends has a crush on this boy, and she had given Anna his number instead of hers at the end of the school year. Anna believes this was accidental, so I will believe it, too.

They played several games, ate a lot of good snacks, and in all
had a fun time.

Hopefully Anna can get a little better turn out next time.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Fort Worth ER

It was a dark and stormy night. Lightening flashed ahead as we drove east on Interstate 30; the gentle rain growing more intense with each passing mile. Weatherford was closer to our home, but Fort Worth offered more and larger hospitals, and a well-equipped ER was our top priority last night.

I took my wife's left hand in mine, and gave it a reassuring squeeze. It felt cold, no doubt caused by the swelling in her arm restricting the blood flow down to her fingers. We didn't know if the swelling was from an infection or a leak in her PICC line. It didn't really matter. Her left arm was a full four centimeters larger than the right, and it caused her great pain. Something was not right.

Kara called the two nearest hospitals to check the wait time for Emergency services. Harris Methodist had a very long wait. Baylor All Saints had none.

I turned towards Baylor, and drove straight into a series of raging rivers. Our trusty little pickup sat high above the road, but more than once I had to drive on the left side of the street to keep the engine dry. Had we chosen to drive the Honda, the water would have easily flowed over the hood at several points.

As advertised, the waiting room was nearly empty, and the intake nurse processed Kara's information quickly. It was a long time before anything else happened quickly that night.

Our goal in visiting the the ER was to have Kara's PICC line pulled. I thought it would take about thirty minutes. Kara felt it would take a couple of hours. The elapsed time was actually closer to five hours, and the line didn't get pulled until Kara had been admitted to the hospital.

It turned out that the swelling was caused by neither an infection nor a leak. The problem was blood clots - several of them - and that meant heart monitors, blood thinners, and a fifth floor room with a view of south Fort Worth.

The sun was rising by the time Kara settled in her large, comfortable bed. I unfolded the miniature cot and remade it upside down so the steel crosspiece was under my knees instead of my ribs. Then with both shoulders hanging over the edge of the brown tube frame, I managed to find a couple of hours sleep - despite the changing of the guard outside our room and the repeated flushing of nuclear-powered toilets.

Kara will be in the hospital for at least a couple of days. She is scheduled to get a new PICC line tomorrow or Wednesday. To hold her over until then, I have pureed three zucchini and cooked two quarts of organic brown rice.

Bon apetite!

Saturday, June 16, 2007

There Are Better Uses for a Friday

Caution: Severe whining to follow.

So I went to Dallas Thursday night and stayed with Kara so I could help her out. The pain in her arm was pretty bad, and she was not feeling well.

Friday morning, the pain was better, and the swelling had gone down quite a bit. She got an appointment at the hospital to see the doctor who did her PICC line, and he agreed that it needed to be replaced. We discussed all of the options, and decided to have a different kind put in. He was pretty sure they had one in stock.

The doctor said to come back at 4:00 and he would work us in. His exact words were "bring a book." This meant that I would miss Anna's little play from her acting camp at the local high school. Anna assured me before I left on Thursday that this was no big deal for her, but it was for me.

So Kara went and did her testing at the clinic, and I went back to the little picnic table outside and continued doing my job. Now, one problem with Kara being in the clinic is that she has to turn her cell phone off. This meant that she didn't get the call from the hospital saying that they didn't actually have the other PICC line on hand.

Due to the fact that the clinic is upside down an backwards, we didn't get the message that the hospital left with them, either.

To compound matters, we realized that Kara didn't have a StatLock in the medical supply delivery she got yesterday. This is important, because the PICC line clips to the StatLock, and the StatLock sticks to the arm. Without this, the doctor sutures the PICC line in place. This would not be good.

So in my ignorance, I dropped Kara at the hospital and made a mad dash through Dallas Friday afternoon rush hour traffic, just to get a piece of medical equipment that we didn't even need. This made me unhappy. I was not necessarily mad at anyone in particular (except for maybe the dingleberries at the clinic who about as reliable as a first-generation Hyundai), I was just extremely frustrated with the situation.

About the only consolation that I have is that we are told video from the play will be posted on-line. I will put up a link when that actually happens.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Why does it always have to be SOMETHING?

Kara's PICC line started hurting yesterday. I changed the dressing again this morning, and the insertion point looks OK. The pain is actually about six inches up her arm. Now today she has a fever.

These are not good signs.

So Kara's Visiting Teacher is looking for someone to take the girls for the night, and I'll go to Dallas. Hopefully it will turn out to be nothing. I'm going to think positive and resist the temptation to be sarcastic.

It will turn out to be nothing.

How I Survived My Summer Vacation - Day 3

Wednesday gave me a glimmer of hope that this summer thing just might work out. Kara was here, so that helped some. I've decided that Anna's number 1 job is to play with Alyssa. That won't be all she does, but if she can do that for several hours a day, it will be the biggest help to me.

They are both spending a fair bit of time in the office with me on their computers. Anna does her Webkinz and NeoPets and Club Penguin things, and Alyssa plays Bugdom. It's a fun game that came with our iMac some seven-odd years ago, and I am very pleasantly surprised at how well she can do it. It's a fairly complex arcade-style game, and she can go through several levels.

I was able to put in all of my hours yesterday, and then some. I got an update for the firmware on the laser printer I've been working on, and I dedicated quite a bit of time to rewriting the driver. I sent the printer a beautiful picture of the sunrise at Laie Point.

The printer printed out a semi-colon. (sigh)

Anna spent the afternoon painting rocks. I never could quite figure out why, other than she had paint and rocks and time on her hands. I suppose that's good enough.

Alyssa asked for a bike ride, and I thought that was a good idea. We have a standard little course that we follow. It's two miles long. I'd like to get us into shape to do an 11 mile ride next month as part of the Parker County Peach Festival.

We'll see.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Do Over: First Day of Summer Break

While yesterday was technically the first day of summer, Kara's PICC line change took over and I didn't get a good sense of just what to expect with this summer schedule. (The change went well. I invested a total of 7.5 hours, what with travel time and waiting. The actual procedure took 10 minutes.)

So, today basically counts as a Do Over. Or, to misquote a saying that I don't like anyway, "Today is the second day of the rest of my life." Here's how it went down.

PBS was not coming in today. This was bad. I risked my life to climb the roof and scoot the antenna as far up as the cable would allow. Now all of the channels come in great, except for 8. We don't need that until AFV airs on Sunday.

Anna is taking a summer acting workshop camp thing at the local high school. This means Alyssa has three hours with which to get bored of the TV and ask me to take her to the park.

After lunch, I told the girls that they were going to have 90 minutes of quiet time. Anna bargained hard for only 60 minutes, but I stood my ground. They slept like logs for 120.

Before dinner, I managed to get Anna to do a couple of small jobs (under threat of severe pain and computer loss), and Alyssa only asked to go to the park a couple of dozen more times.

Instead I took them to the library, where we loaded up on books and videos for the rest of the week.

Now I get to try and put these little nappers to bed. Hopefully they will go to sleep in time for Kara and I to have a few minutes peace.

Monday, June 11, 2007

The Radiology Waiting Room

PICC line replacement is usually not something that is scheduled in advance. Instead, it is a "fit you in as best we can" procedure. We're grateful that we could be accommodated, but under these circumstances, the waiting room really earns it name.

I got to Dallas at 2:30, and we were checked in and in the waiting room by 3:00. It's now just after 5:00, and Kara has just been called back to the operating room. As procedures go, it's a fairly simple one, now that the holes are already in place. It's really just a matter of slipping out the old line, and slipping in the new one.

Hopefully it will end up being that easy.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Another PICC line adventure

Kara's PICC line is leaking. Again.

So much for my well-thought-out summer schedule. We're going to try and get it replaced tomorrow.

Cookie Crew

I went to the public forum for the Environmental Health symposium yesterday. The first two speakers were really helpful and informative. I wasn't particularly interested in the second two topics, so I did some grocery shopping and indulged the ultimate delusion. The last speaker was a bit of an alarmist (we'll all be dead by 2050, you know), but in all I'm glad I went.

Last night after I got home, we made sugar cookies. We don't try to cut them out into shapes right now. We just roll them into balls, flatten them out, and make pictures and designs with whatever we can find in the kitchen.

We have some fruit juice based food colors that we use. Some are a little better than the others. (Can you pick out which color is supposed to be blue?) Plus, the black currant juice concentrate adds a nice, tart kick to the cookies.

Friday, June 8, 2007

The Taste of Blood

The taste of blood usually means you've done something wrong. What was the cause of that hot, metallic taste today?

Bar fight? Nope.

Football/Basketball/Soccer injury? Negative.

Sword-swallowing gone amiss? No, but closer.

Cut lip while trimming mustache? Umm, no comment.

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Dr. Wheelwright to Lead Seasiders

This is old news by now, but I thought I'd blog about it anyway.

Yesterday, President Hinckley announced that the new president of BYU-Hawaii will be Dr. Stephen C. Wheelwright. He will be replacing President Shumway, who is retiring to become the president of the Tonga Temple.

I was a bit sad to hear about President Shumway's retirement, but I know of his very deep love for the Tongan people, and I know this will be a fantastic move for them. President Shumway will be a great Temple President, and I can't thing of anyone better suited as a Temple Matron than Sister Shumway!

I've known the Shumways for nearly thirty years now(!), and it will be odd to think of Laie without them there.

The little I know about President Wheelwright comes from his bio and the video announcing his appointment. His professional credentials are certainly strong, and h
e seems like a good man. Only time will tell, but I get the feeling he will be wise and humble enough to recognize and work with, rather than against, the unique culture and atmosphere that makes BYU-Hawaii what it is.

I wish both Presidents (and their wives) the very best in their new positions.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Star Wars Stamp Editorials

We ran out of stamps about the same time the rate went up. So, I got a couple of pages of Star Wars stamps. It's been fun matching the stamp to the piece of mail.

Here are the five I've used so far:

Stormtroopers - bill for a medical lab.

Amadala - registration for a girl's volleyball summer day camp.

Darth Maul - paper work to the driver's license people.

Yoda - registration for palaeontology day camp.

Boba Fett - renewal for septic maintenance contract.

What stamp will YOU get?

Attack of the Vampire Flies

They're baaaaaaaack.

Warm weather and constant rains have brought back the mosquito - the unofficial state bird of Texas (as well as most of the other 49 states - so says Google).

I've lived with mosquitos nearly all of my life. They were the unofficial state bird of Nebraska, as well as the unofficial state bird of Hawaii. I got bit, I itched, and I dealt with it.

Yesterday, however, I finally retreated. It was the first morning in quite a while where the lawn was dry enough to try and mow. I did about 10 passes, got about a dozen mosquito bites, and killed probably 30 of the little buggers.

I gave up and came inside. I went out in the early afternoon, when it was too hot for mosquitos, and finished the job.

These bites have gotten pretty big - about the size of a pencil eraser. This is a nasty variety we have out at the moment.

Anna got a half-dozen bites waiting for the bus. I think she's allergic to the mosquito bits. The poor kid has welts the size of quarters - or bigger! Today she chose to watch for the bus from the house, then make a mad dash. I don't blame her.

Unfortunately, in a household where scented laundry products are banned and personal care products must undergo a simple yet stringent compatibility test, finding an acceptable and effective insect repellent has not been easy.

But it's obvious that the search must go on.

Saturday, June 2, 2007

Marigold's Bogus Journey

On Friday, Marigold passed from this earth. I've been asked not to discuss this unfortunate event in detail, and I will honor that request.

I will just say that I was surprised to learn that betta fish can jump.

Anna thinks that we should replace her two deceased fish with a hamster.

Those negotiations are ongoing.

An Unexpected Vacation

We ended up taking a little unscheduled overnight vacation this weekend. We did not get to fly anywhere, unfortunately. I did see a Piaggio Avanti fly overhead, though, and since they are pretty cool I thought I'd include a picture.

With this week starting on Memorial Day, Kara's schedule at the clinic in Dallas got pushed off by a day. Her plan was to spend the night in Dallas Friday, get a half-day in at the clinic today and then come home.

The house where she is staying is better than most, but not as good as this one (if I do say so myself), so she needs to take one of the big air filters with her. Due to an unfortunate miscommunication on Friday, the filter didn't make the trip.

We discussed our options, and decided that the girls and I would bring the filter to her, and spend the night. It was just like a little vacation. Not the best vacation, but the kind that sometimes happens at the last minute.

There was only one bed and a couch, just like at a cheap motor in. Anna ended up sleeping in the bed with Kara, I was on the couch (Kara assured me that the bed and my back would not ever become friends) and Alyssa was on the floor. Which meant Alyssa was on the couch with me on three separate occasions throughout the night. I was very hot, and Alyssa didn't help that at all.

The people upstairs were talking in regular voices, and walking with regular steps, but this was enough to keep me awake. I didn't have any ear plugs in my computer bag, so I stuffed Kleenex into my ears.

This morning I took the girls to eat at the deli in Whole Foods, which is a couple of blocks away. Alyssa wanted one of everything in the hot case. Anna wanted none of anything. I got Alyssa and I some food, then we walked across the street to the Chichen Itza Bakery, where we got her some Mexican bakery things. (It was during this part of the adventure that we saw the Avanti, just in case you were wondering.)

We sat in a covered patio back at Whole Foods for our breakfast. It was nice in that I didn't feel in any hurry to finish eating or go anywhere or do anything, and it was at this point I started thinking of our little trip as a mini-vacation. And just like on a real vacation, neither of the girls ate much of the breakfast that I worked so hard to get for them. For fun we played at a park, and then we split up to get lunch on the way home.

When we got home, all of the work that I was supposed to have done today was undone. I decided to leave it undone. If the world wasn't going to stop spinning, I was going to spend the rest of the day recovering.

Just like after a real vacation.