Hospiblogging Again

Unfortunately, the First Mate is a bit under the weather again — her dialysis shunt site has gotten infected and she’s back in the hospital again. We’re hoping she won’t have to be admitted, but mostly we’re hoping that she’s feeling better soon. I’ll have an update later on today when I can get back home.
UPDATE: Thanks for the e-mails and the comments on this post. The First Mate’s taking a bit of a nap, so I thought I’d sneak downstairs to post an update. The doctors admitted her to the hospital, so she’ll be staying at least overnight. (I tried to convince her that this was just like a first-class B&B, but she’s tasted the food and knows better.) She definitely has a serious infection around her shunt, but they’re giving her antibiotics and the doctors are hopeful she won’t have to have it replaced. The pain has gotten much better and she’s able to rest a bit now, obviously. I’ll post more as necessary.


The First Mate is getting her first outpatient dialysis this afternoon at what appears to be an excellent facility here in the Twin Cities (in one of the South Metro suburbs, actually). She seems to be in good hands — she’s relaxing in a comfortable recliner while the dialyzer is running. Thanks to the conveniences provided by the clinic, I have network access to the Internet with my laptop, and I’m listening to Hugh Hewitt while blogging and keeping an eye on my wife.
So far, her labs look pretty good and she’s tolerating the treatment very well. Her nephrologist just came by to check on her and a couple of his other patients, and he’s optimistic that after a couple of weeks her energy levels will be back to normal. One of the side benefits is that they will be able to draw blood regularly to check her labs, so they’ll know right away if she’s getting off track.
I’d take a picture, but I think she’d kill me in my sleep if she found out … and I’d deserve it!

First Mate Back on Board

Thank you to all who kept the First Mate in your thoughts and prayers — she’s back home, tired but feeling much better, and significantly lighter, too, after three dialysis treatments. We’ve made the arrangements for her continuing dialysis treatments, so she should do fine right through to the transplant.
However, we got the list of what the First Mate can’t have as grub any longer — and I’m scratching my head as to what the heck she’ll be living on. She can have as much protein as she wants, but not prepared or preserved meat (too much sodium). She can’t eat bran, beans, or nuts and only a half cup of dairy a day (too much phosphorus). You’d think that fruits and vegetables would be a good idea, but there’s half a page of veggies that are off-limits (too high in potassium). Geeeeeez. I thought diabetes was difficult.


Today is the First Mate’s surgery to install a dialysis shunt, and the didn’t start off too well. Her blood sugars were too low and her blood pressure too high, and so the hospital delayed her procedure for a while. Eventually she got settled down and they’ve taken her in for the surgery, which fortunately only requires sedation and a local anaesthetic.
In the meantime, I’m waiting in the hospital lobby with a restaurant pager for them to tell me when the doctor is ready to talk with me. (You can’t have a cell phone on, but you’ll know when your table is ready, monsieur.) After asking about a dozen people if the hospital had Internet access, someone told me about a few workstations they have just off of the lobby. None of them had an access port, but a table nearby has a computer for job applicants. Above the computer is a large sign that reads, “THIS COMPUTER WILL ONLY ACCESS THE HOSPITAL SITE”. Never one to do what I’m told, I took out my laptop and hijacked the network port, and to my mild surprise, I’m on line. Thank goodness, too, as I don’t think I could read another magazine from the last century.
I’m sure this story would amuse the First Mate if I told her, but seeing as she’s convinced I’m addicted to the computer, I think I’ll keep my mouth shut. I’ll update this post later on to update her condition, as long as my secret remains undiscovered…
UPDATE, 2:56 PM CT: The First Mate’s procedure went well, and now she’s getting dialyzed for the first time. Her blood pressure is already dropping and she’s dozing through most of it. I’ve hijacked the network access point again and I’ll check on her in a bit to make sure she’s still doing well. The dialysis unit is in the ICU, so there’s no place for me to sit while she’s up there.
UPDATE, WED EVENING: The First Mate had a successful run on dialysis and is resting comfortably at the hospital. She’ll stay a couple of more days and have a couple of more runs on dialysis before they release her on Friday. She’s looking a bit better already, and I think she’ll be feeling a lot better tomorrow and Friday after her treatments. Dialysis is a fascinating process; if you’d like to know more about it, check this out.

The Kidney Chronicles

For those of you who have been kind enough to ask about the First Mate, I just wanted to give you an update on her status. The collection of doctors we’ve gathered have decided that her kidney function has dropped off too much for her to wait for the transplant for treatment, and so she will be starting dialysis tomorrow. She’ll go in to have a shunt installed in the morning, have a dialysis treatment, stay overnight for observation, have another treatment in the morning, and hopefully will be ready for release in the afternoon. While it sounds like a setback, this actually will help relieve the symptoms of kidney failure that trouble her the most, and should be a marked improvement in her quality of life. We’re both optimistic.
One of our friends from Twin Cities Marriage Encounter (where we volunteer as board officers) has volunteered to donate her kidney to the First Mate and so far, the tests have been going well. She needs to go through an extensive physical evaluation still, but her tissue match is excellent. If all goes well, the transplant should take place in a couple of months. We’re also hoping for a cadaver pancreas transplant — if we’re really lucky, we’ll be able to time it so that both can be done at the same time. If not, the pancreas will be done a few months later. So things are definitely looking up. Fortunately, we live in the capitol of transplants, as the University of Minnesota pioneers most of that research in the United States.
Keep your fingers crossed, and I’ll continue to keep you updated. Here’s the First Mate with the Little Admiral from last Christmas:

How I Got My Christmas Spirit Back

If you can’t get Christmas spirit when your granddaughter is playing on a toy you just put together for her, then you are either dead or your last name is Scrooge:

We had our son, daughter-in-law, and the Little Admiral over here from about 3 pm to 9 pm, and the First Mate cooked up a great prime rib dinner for all of us. After we opened gifts and ate, we watched the DVD of our Thanksgiving trip that I made as one of the Christmas gifts I gave to family members. We talked to all of our (immediate) family out West, and we did a video conference with my Dad and his wife.
Was Santa good to you all? Santa was definitely good to me. I got two tickets to a Notre Dame football game next October, when Stanford comes to town. I’ve always been a huge Fighting Irish fan and going to Notre Dame for a game is something I’ve wanted to since I moved to Minnesota. The First Mate and I plan on spending a few days around the game at South Bend, checking out the Notre Dame campus. I also got some gift cards (significant shopping ahead! woo-hoo!) and a really nice burgundy shirt. My son and daughter-in-law bought me a calendar of Ireland and the DVD of A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Kevin Kline, a movie I always wanted to see but could never catch — I love Shakespeare, mostly because it’s challenging.
But most of all, God was good to me because he gave me such a wonderful family. I hope God showers his blessings on all of you as well.

Twas The Night Before Christmas …

I’ve had trouble getting in the Christmas spirit.
It’s been a busy month at work, and since we flew out to visit family in California over Thanksgiving, the First Mate and I kind of feel like we’ve already had our Christmas. We finally got our shopping done, mostly for the Little Admiral, this past weekend. (Nothing like last-minute shopping to kill any Christmas spirit that might be struggling to grow anyway.) I worked today in order to make sure that the office will be okay over the four-day weekend — my department is a 7x24x365 group — and when I left, I hoped to get a bit more spirited.
Since my son and daughter-in-law celebrate Christmas Eve with her family (we’ve always been a Christmas Day family anyway), the First Mate and I always try to go to Mass on Christmas Eve. She’s been baking all day long, so I offered to buy her dinner to give her a break. Bad idea. Who knew everything closed up at 5 on Christmas Eve? Even Denny’s was closed, for Pete’s sake! We wound up at an El Loro Mexican restaurant and ate too much food. It was pretty good Mexican food for Minnesota, too.
We thought we’d have to rush to find a place at Mass, so we chowed down and ran over to the church as fast as possible, to walk into an empty room, except for the practicing choir. Mass was terrific, and when I got home, I finally had to face the task I’d been dreading: gift wrapping. We watched “A Christmas Story” while I wrapped the 1,173 things we bought the Little Admiral and the two things we bought the son and daughter-in-law. How did I do? Well, take a peek at this and see what you think:

BREAKING NEWS: NORAD had been tracking Santa, but the French cancelled his flight due to security concerns. They’re claiming Tom Ridge made them do it.
Merry Christmas, to all of my friends in the blogosphere. I’m going to take a healthy swig of Christmas spirit and head off to bed.

Christmas Hustle & Bustle

In case you couldn’t guess, blogging was light today while I did some Christmas shopping and decorating. We went to see our families for Thanksgiving this year, and so the holiday season hasn’t had much impact on us; the First Mate and I have both been feeling a lack of Christmas spirit, and so we haven’t decorated or shopped at all before now. Due to the expense of traveling to California with our son, daughter-in-law, and the Little Admiral, we had warned our family not to expect too much this year. (And then we promptly spent more than we planned, of course.)
Anyway, we’re still working on our house and the gifts, mostly for the Little Admiral, but due to an unexpected Christmas bonus, I was able to purchase a long-desired digital camera. I bought the Canon A70, mostly due to the higher quality and the fact that it uses compact-flash memory, which I already own. In order to justify this expenditure, I’ll post evidence that I actually did something to decorate for the holidays:

As you can see, I do a great job of decorating! If you look closely — and I know the quality isn’t that great as I had to save the image in a low-filesize format — you’ll see that I left the bottom third of the tree undecorated. I figure this is the only way to keep the Little Admiral from decorating the room with my tree decorations … Here’s the Little Admiral with the First Mate, last night while we were babysitting:

Happy Thanksgiving!

A Happy Thanksgiving to all of you from Captain’s Quarters! As we continue our vacation, I can’t help but to think how blessed I am for my life and my family, even with all of our problems and challenges. Sometimes I think my life truly started when I got married ten years ago, even though I joke that it seems like 20, which usually earns me a slap on the arm.
Yesterday we spent a great day at Disneyland. Now, I grew up in Orange County; I went to Disneyland (and Knott’s Berry Farm) about a thousand times when I was growing up, so except for the newly added attractions, it’s been old hat for me whenever I go back. But my sister works for Disney — we get in free, and so we’ve usually gone there on every trip back to California. At the end of the day, we’ve always had a lot to joke about: all the commercialism, the cheesy music, the prices (we pay for the food & merchandise!), the crowds, and the silly parades.
This time, though, we took the Little Admiral, even though at 18 months I thought she was a little too young to enjoy Disneyland. I was wrong. She loved Disneyland, the rides, the big characters walking around, and all of the sights and sounds I have been taking for granted. I got video of her riding Dumbo with Mommy and Daddy, and saw the surprise and delight in her eyes when that elephant took off at the beginning of the ride. We have video of her laughing and running up to Minnie and Goofy and giving them hugs (and I thought they’d frighten her — ha!). Best of all, I got to hold her during two showings of the holiday parade and watch her as she saw Santa at the end, waving and saying “hi”, and completely enraptured by the music. And there’s nothing better than holding your granddaughter like that while she’s in such delight of the world around her.
So, on Thanksgiving, I’m thinking that while it’s good to be cynical with government and politics, perhaps I should be less so with the other things in life: family, friends, and places like Disneyland, where a young girl can be delighted with sounds, sights, music, and just being alive in the middle of a whole lot that’s good and wonderful. Yesterday, “The Happiest Place on Earth” was not just a slogan, and you know what? I am so thankful I got to be there to see it.
Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. May your day be filled with wonder and goodness.