Saturday, March 29, 2008

Some Remarkable Progress


Kara got out of the hospital yesterday. With the help of some new enzymes and medications, she has done very well with the liquid nutrition that her doctor has prescribed. She is also eating vegetables and some meats, which is really good news. I was concerned that the kangaroo and yak were just going to sit in the freezer forever.

The goal is to get Kara home. To that end, my mom is here for a few days to help me get things cleaned up and put in order. For example, I still need to finish tile work on the office door, and the Christmas decorations are in boxes that need to return home to the attic. But hopefully it will only be a few more weeks before Kara is home with us again.

I wanted to get a good start on the projects today, but we ended up spending a good chunk of the day with Kara in Dallas.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

A Quick Brag Post

Several weeks ago, Anna took her reading TAKS test. This, of course, was the cause of great consternation and high anxiety.

Today she informed me that her score for the test was 98%.

I asked her to please remember this when it's time to freak out about the math TAKS in a couple of weeks.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Kara Update

Kara has been eating some foods, and is able to drink the liquid nutrition. She is still in the hospital, but may be out as early as Friday.

I have been picking away at various projects while she's been gone, and I don't know how in the world I can possibly be done before May, let alone Friday. But I guess we'll just have to make it work somehow.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Home

We made it home. The house is still here, the cat still has food and water left, and the Christmas decorations are still out.

Carly's return trip report:

Total time: 24 hours, 46 minutes (no dawdling at the hotel today!)
Moving Time: 20 hours, 14 minutes
Trip Length: 1458.9 miles
Overall Average: 58.9 mph
Moving Average: 72.1 mph
Maximum Speed: Less than last time (which is interesting, because my mom was riding shotgun on the way up)

Girls go to bed in 20 minutes. I go to bed in an hour. Yeah, I realize that probably won't happen, but this is my delusion, after all.

Photos and writer's conference updates go on the other blog tomorrow.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Greetings From Moonlit Colby, Kansas

Yesterday was a great day - I really enjoyed the LDStorymakers conference even more than on Friday. And I took pictures. I'll post an update and the photos on my writing blog. But not tonight. It's time for bed.

I didn't go to the Whitney Awards last night, because we had a big family birthday party for the five people with March birthdays. Plus there was an Easter egg hunt for the kids. It was really nice to spend that family time. This trip was so busy I really didn't get much of that during the rest of the week.

We got up this morning at an hour that was both too early and too late. We drove for eleven hours or so. I don't have the full details, as Carly is in time out down in the car for taking us to an agricultural warehouse and telling us it was our hotel.

The girls did well again today, though not quite as well as the first drive. This is understandable, as they we were all fresh and excited for the drive up. Now we're worn out and our bottoms still hurt from last weekend's road trip. We went a little past half way today.

My goal is to get home by 7:00 pm CDT, which will give us about 90 minutes to unpack and unwind before bed. 5:30 is going to come way too early on Tuesday!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

More Notes From the Trip

I should really be sleeping now, but I was awakened an hour ago and just can't get back to sleep. A perfect opportunity to blog!

Yesterday was the first day of the LDStorymakers Writer's Conference. I enjoyed the panels and workshops, but the highlight of the day was meeting some wonderful people that until then I had known only from the blogosphere. I had very nice visits with Tristi Pinkston, Candace Salima, Autumn Ables, Marsha Ward, Marcia Mickelson, Stephanie Humphries, Shirley Bahlmann, Rachael Ann Nunes, Janette Rallison, Annette Lyon, plus quite a few others wonderful people whom I met for the first time.

I took my camera, but it never came out of my bag the whole 13 hours I was there. Bad, bad delusional blogger! I will repent and do better today.

The girls had a lot of fun playing with their cousins. Alyssa was recovering well from her sixth tooth extraction, which occurred on Wednesday. Poor little mouth! She and Auntie Noreen spent some nice quality time together, the results of which are recorded in a photo on my Palm and will be shared as soon as I find my hot sync cable.

Kara is continuing to make progress with her new treatment. She is scheduled to be done with PPN now, and has been given the green light to eat a little bit of "real food" along with her liquid nutrition. No word yet on when she'll be leaving the hospital.

It's hard to believe that we'll be on the road headed home tomorrow. It's been a great but busy trip, and I have no clue how I'll get everything ready to leave by then.

But I'm sure we'll manage. That's what delusion is about, after all.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Trip So Far

It's been a busy couple of days - but busy in a (mostly) good way. Monday started with a trip to the dentist for Alyssa. The poor kid had one filling and five (5!) extractions. Yowsa!

It was good to see everyone at work. We had a St. Patrick's Day potluck barbecue. I got up early and made Irish soda bread - it's a Carey family tradition.

Today after work we went to Ikea for dinner, then Carly guided the girls and I to The Kings English Bookshop so we could meet James Dashner.

As mentioned earlier on this very blog, I was given an Advance Reading Copy of his book The 13th Reality - The Journal of Curious Letters, and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Unfortunately, reading time has been scarce so I'm still not done with it, but I've read about half, which is more than enough to know that my nieces and nephews will like it. I picked up three for the cousins who just had their birthday last week.

It was really great to meet the Dashner Dude in person. He seemed like a decent guy on his blog, and meeting him only confirmed that suspicion. He's presenting at the LDStorymakers Writing Conference this weekend, so I look forward to seeing him again.

Now if I can just find time in the next two days to finish off my Boot Camp homework!
(Sorry, Tristi - James distracted me...)

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Road Tripping with Carly and the Girls

The girls and I are in Utah tonight. We just spent the last two days out on the road. My mom drove back with us as well.

As road trips go, it was really pretty good. Although there was a threat of bad weather, and we saw quite a few snowflakes, the roads were clear and dry most of the way. And the girls were as good as gold, and better. DVDs and electronic games are a real lifesaver in the car.

This was the first long road trip I've ever made with a GPS, and it was really nice. We've named her Carly. She talks to me, and I talk back, so I figured she needed a name.

Carly is a Garmin nuvi 200 - just a simple, entry level GPS, but she kept us on the straight and narrow. Well, except for that little detour through Podunk County, Kansas. I'm still not sure what that was about. I told her if she ever directed me to get off the freeway and take the little red road, I wasn't going to do it.

Now, driving from Texas to Utah isn't terribly hard, especially since we picked the I-35-70-25-80 route - only four roads to remember, and no real need for directions. But where Carly really came through was helping us find places to eat and exchange our Redbox movies.

It's a funny kind of man thing really. I don't like to ask for directions, but getting directions from a technological gadget, that's just plain cool!

Also, as a true geek, I appreciated the fact that she knew not only where we were going, but when we would get there. And she kept all of the statistics for our trip.

Total time: 25 hours, 10 minutes (does not include overnight accommodations)
Moving Time: 20 hours, 41 minutes
Trip Length: 1456.7 miles
Overall Average: 57.8 mph
Moving Average: 70.4 mph
Maximum Speed: Classified

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Some Good Things

We got a few bits of good news on Wednesday - good news worth sharing.

1. Anna's purse was returned to her. She forgot it last week after her acting class, and we worried and fretted for a week, given that nearly everything she owns of value was stashed inside. Her teacher had picked it up and put it in his dressing room for safe keeping. Big time relief.

2. Kara's antibiotics seem to be helping. She is feeling a bit better, and can tolerate her new PPN better.

3. Kara's new Gastro specialist seems to be on the ball. While the doctor assures Kara of a long and difficult recovery, she seems to truly understand the problems with Kara's digestion and is confident she can help. While not giving a specific time line, she said Kara will be in the hospital for a while. At least she isn't another one of those trying to write Kara off as someone with a mental problem who just needs a psychiatrist and an eating disorder support group. (If it were only that simple ...)

4. We still had some lemon bars left from my birthday. Yummy.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

It's Like This...


It's been quite the week, trying to help with Kara in the hospital, keep down a job, and prepare for a trip back to the home office. We are very fortunate to have both Grandmas in town to help out.

This is the kind of cute hair that you get when Grandma can spend a couple of hours combing it out and clipping it up in curls.

And now you know why Alyssa is nicknamed "our little Hermione."

Monday, March 10, 2008

100 Things About Me

I didn't know about the whole "100 things about me" tradition for the 100th blog post until around post 230.

I have now made it to post 300. Here are my 100 things, a few posts later than traditional.

  1. I was born in Provo, Utah
  2. I lived the first year of my life at Wymount Terrace – BYU’s married student housing
  3. I have four younger sisters
  4. They were all born in Omaha, Nebraska, where I lived for the next ten years
  5. Our family moved to Laie, Hawaii when I was 11
  6. Music has always been very important to me.
  7. I started piano lessons at 6
  8. I stopped piano lessons at 11, when our piano failed to make the move to Hawaii
  9. Our family owns two pianos now – one is over 100 years old
  10. They are both in the storage unit right now
  11. I really don’t play the piano very well.
  12. But the years of piano lessons gave me a good foundation for music
  13. I played the saxophone in the concert and jazz bands
  14. And the xylophone in the marching band
  15. Our marching band played in the 1983 Citrus Bowl parade
  16. I earned the money for the trip by picking pineapples in the summer
  17. I picked pineapples all four high-school summers
  18. In the summer of 1983, or family bought a house on Iosepa street
  19. We found some of the most amazing things cleaning out the back yard
  20. One thing we found was a sled, which is not something you expect to find in an overgrown sweet potato patch in Hawaii
  21. I gave the sled a fresh coat of paint and took it to the school as part of my Citrus Bowl trip luggage
  22. The sled didn’t actually make the trip, but the look on the band directors face was so worth the effort
  23. I also sang in the Laie Choral Union with my dad
  24. My freshman year at BYU-Hawaii, I took three different girls to the same movie one week at our local dollar theater. I thought I was hot stuff.
  25. Over the course of the next year, I dated two of the girls.
  26. The first relationship ended on a date to watch Star Trek IV during opening week.
  27. The second relationship ended on a date to watch Star Trek IV at the dollar theater.
  28. I don’t much enjoy watching Star Trek IV
  29. That year I played Young Ebenezer in Scrooge.
  30. I also played Father Drobney in Don’t Drink the Water
  31. I worked in the PCC Brass Band, playing the tuba,
  32. And the baritone
  33. And a whistle made from rolled coconut leaves.
  34. I even took the mic several nights a week to MC the band concert
  35. I applied for a job at McDonalds, but they turned me down
  36. Which was good, because I ended up working at a flower shop instead
  37. To date, the flower shop job was the most enjoyable I ever had
  38. Especially giving neck rubs to the girls working on the flowers
  39. I served my mission in St. Louis, Missouri
  40. After my mission, I saw a cute girl in band class
  41. I saw the same cute girl in the computer lab
  42. A friend introduced me to that girl at a devotional
  43. I asked her out to the movie
  44. We saw Beaches. It was sad, and I cried
  45. She said that was why she married me
  46. Married couples at BYU-Hawaii live in TVA. We were in building R
  47. I got a degree in computer programming at BYU-Hawaii
  48. I was the Computer Lab supervisor my senior year
  49. I had the David O. McKay scholarship there, too
  50. And I was in three bands at the same time. That was crazy
  51. After graduation, we moved to Austin, Texas
  52. I got a job at Apple Computer
  53. I learned that Technical Support is not my dream job
  54. At my first performance review, my boss said “You’ve done a great job. If we were giving raises, you’d get a big one.”
  55. After 4 years in Texas, we moved to Utah
  56. Technical Support at Novell was not much better than at Apple
  57. So I moved to software testing
  58. And I became a dad
  59. Twice
  60. I love being a dad
  61. I taught programming classes at Utah Valley State College part time
  62. One day I asked myself why I was teaching computer programming, but not actually doing it
  63. I didn’t have a good answer, so I asked my boss if I could start programming instead of testing
  64. Now I write printer drivers for really, really big printers
  65. And some small printers, too
  66. We live in Texas again, this time just west of Fort Worth
  67. I am fortunate that my company lets me work from home
  68. I want to be a pilot some day
  69. I have one hour in my log book
  70. A friend of my dad took me on my first airplane flight as a child
  71. Remembering aerobatics I had seen on TV, I asked if he could do any tricks
  72. He did a couple of power-on stalls. That was good enough
  73. Years later, that same friend flew us from Las Vegas to Provo. I got to fly most of the way
  74. I signed up with Angel Flight the day I found out about it
  75. I was the Utah Wing Webmaster for a while
  76. I was the Utah Wing Leader for a while, too
  77. When I was 10 I played little-kid football
  78. I loved playing football, though I wasn’t very good
  79. I kept garter snakes in a box under my bed
  80. My parents found out about the snakes when Grandma announced that either the snakes went, or she went
  81. Grandma lived with us for many years
  82. I had a pet rat, too. It was officially sanctioned
  83. I built model airplanes in my youth
  84. I should have spent more time at the beach
  85. I took up running a while back
  86. I really need to take up running again
  87. I love to read
  88. I don’t get to read nearly enough any more
  89. One of the best parts of being a dad is reading bedtime stories
  90. My love for reading has long made me want to write
  91. I tried writing as a teen
  92. I hated everything I wrote as a teen
  93. I finally don’t hate the things I write
  94. I don’t love the things I write yet, but I think I’ll get there some day
  95. I do love keeping a blog
  96. I appreciate the people I’ve met while blogging
  97. I hate Daylight Savings Time – won’t someone please rescue us from this fiasco?
  98. I like watching Hayao Miyazaki movies
  99. I think we should eat pizza and ice cream once a week
  100. I turned 40 today (though I don’t feel a day over 65). Happy Birthday to Me!

Hospital Photos

Sunday was a pretty good day. The girls and my mom came to visit at the hospital, and we took pictures.

This is Kara and the girls.

This is the whole family.

Here is Kara with the two grandmas.

Mother and daughter.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Report From the Front

I spent the night here at the hospital with Kara, so her mom could have a break. My mom is here to help with the girls, and she's going to bring them over this afternoon for a visit.

I haven't decided if I'm going stay here tonight or go home and help get the girls to school tomorrow. It's quite a morning routine, much like running down an icy hill. And there are two buses at the bottom.

The hospital experience has been a mixed bag so far. There are a lot of really good people here to help. As with nearly everyone in the "real" world, they all have fairly significant fragrances.

Kara's line is still in - there is a glimmer of hope that it can stay in. They aren't using it for her antibiotic or her electrolytes, though. For that she has a heplock - a short line in her arm.

She began reacting pretty bad to her saline and dextrose IV, but Jenny and I comforted her with songs, and she soon relaxed enough to sleep. We both slept as well as is possible with nurses coming in every 2 hours to check.

I ate a banana and stale raisin bran for breakfast, because they had put away the real breakfast in the cafeteria. I thought I was plenty early, but alas, I had not sprung my clock forward.

Don't even get me started on DST again...

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Staph

Kara's blood work came back showing she has a staph infection. Standard procedure with an infection like this is to pull the line and treat with antibiotics. This presents a couple of problems.

First, although Kara is having a hard time making it through even half a bottle of TPN without debilitating pain, she was at least getting the nutrition from that half bottle. She's been eating a few things, but not without equal amounts of pain.

The other issue is that historically she has reacted badly to the antibiotics after two or three days.

This is a situation where there we have to pick the lesser of the evils. I'm afraid the only real option is to have the line pulled and start the antibiotics. The only other option is to try and see if her regular doctor would treat the infection with the line in place (which he as done in the past), but I feel it is very likely that the line would need to come out anyway.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Grand Delusion

I promised Autumn I'd give her a little background on our current situation. It's a little confusing if you haven't been following along. It's a little confusion even if you have been following along. I'm not going to go into much detail on the medical side - just the specifics of who is living where.

In 2004, Kara had become sick enough that she asked her mother to come and stay with her while I took a week-long trip. That visit lasted for seven months, and involved visits to clinics in California and Mexico.

By the end of 2004, Kara had gained back a fair amount of strength, and we believed that she was finally on the mend. Part way through 2005, though, she began to lose ground again, and on Halloween Day Kara and I flew to Dallas so she could get treatment at a clinic that specialized in environmental illness. The trip was supposed to last for a few weeks, but Kara was still not much better when she came home two months later.

In February 2006 she returned to the clinic, and made some progress. In the spring of 2006, it became clear that Kara would not be well enough to return by summer, and I felt impressed that our family needed to be together. I began looking at the possibility of moving.

I had already been allowed to work remotely during my trips to Dallas, and I approached my boss with the possibility of working from Dallas on a more long term basis. This idea was met with approval, at which point I began a fairly long period of fasting, prayer, and temple attendance that confirmed my impressions to move our family to Texas.

While Kara had been living in some condos in Dallas that had been renovated to be more environmentally safe, her doctor strongly recommended that she move out of the city pollution. We sold our home in Lehi and bought one in Willow Park, about 50 miles west of Dallas - far from the pollution, but close enough for occasional trips to the clinic for testing and treatment. The market conditions were good for us to make this move, as our house in Utah had appreciated significantly, and real estate in Texas is quite affordable.

The plan was for us to sell our house in Utah, pay off our medical debts with some of the gains, and use the rest to remodel the house in Texas. With the family together, and Kara able to live in a safe home far from the pollution of the city, the thought was that she would make a quick recovery.

Unfortunately, the anticipated improvements to her health never came. Kara was unable to eliminate her trips to the clinic, so although we were all together some of the time, she was still spending four days and two nights in Dallas each week. And just before Thanksgiving this year, she moved back into the condos near the clinic, unable to manage the drive back and forth to Willow Park.

Kara's mom has again come to help. Last night Kara was admitted to the hospital with dangerously low electrolyte levels, despite being on TPN. Hopefully they will be able to finally give us the miracle that we have been seeking for more than half a decade now.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Baby Instructions Part 3

One more day of child care instruction - we should all be experts by now.







Monday, March 3, 2008

Baby Instructions Part 1

I was going to do a boring blog about how high fructose corn syrup in a can of tomato soup made my children grouchy today, but then I got an email from my sister that made me laugh till I cried.

Always one to share the mirth, I have shamelessly appropriated these images from the baby instruction manual. I plan to get three full posts out of these things.