Archive for January, 2014

Philly snow

Friday, January 24th, 2014


Here’s the worst of the weather we saw last winter in Pennsylvania. Mere child’s play compared to what they’re going through right now. Current temperature in Newtown, PA as I write this: 16 degrees. Tomorrow’s weather: 18 and snow showers. Tomorrow night’s low: 6 degrees. No thank you for that. Great Art courtesy of the exclusive iPhone-cam, taken from my former office window, and part of my famous Garden series.

That view was very nice, by the way. There were frequent deer sightings throughout the year, and four beautiful seasons of green (leaves and grass), red (leaves), yellow (leaves), brown (leaves and grass), and white (snow, duh). I spent many happy hours looking out that window when I should probably have been working.

Let’s look at the latest Shannon news, shall we? Yes we shall. She continues to improve. While yesterday’s post reported that the bronchoscopy didn’t reveal anything in her lungs, today’s report is a bit more detailed. Also more correct. It turns out they did find a bit of pneumonia. I asked one of her doctors exactly what kind of pneumonia they found. He checked and reported that it was H1N1 virus and a smidgen of fungus. Apparently, there are no bacteria to speak of in there. So she would have never gotten better in Las Vegas, since they were essentially treating her only with antibiotics. So I’m glad we’re here.

She continues to get stronger and better. She spent pretty much the whole day sitting up, which was a bit of a stretch. She also got up for a shower. It feels so good to be clean, doesn’t it, Loyal Readers? So that’s all good.

Shortly before dinner, we went down to get Shannon’s other lung area drained. ¬†This time they got a liter of fluid out from the area outside her left lung. That’s a lot of fluid. They tell us it takes a little while for everything to rearrange itself and start working properly, but she reports that it’s already much easier to breathe. And no wonder. With 1.6 liters out of there, there’s just a whole lot more room for her lungs to expand. Optimism reigns.

Didn’t get an update on her white cell count today. I do know her platelets were at a nice healthy level, though. So there’s that.

Nothing else new today. I really need to get some work done and it’s quite the struggle with my pathetic internet situation both at the hospital and at my cousin’s house. I’ve got to get things working somewhere pretty soon and get some stuff done. Decision: I will.

Mark reports that he got his Nevada driver’s license today. Hooray, Mark! Good on ya, mate.

And that’s about it for today. I’ll leave my Loyal Readers with this exciting Morrowlife Employment Agency job opportunity: pot-belly pig terrorist!

See you on Monday.

Loyal Raptor

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014


Here’s Andy back in March 2012 with his shiny new Ford Raptor. At least he wishes it were his truck. Itu might have other ideas about that. Great Art courtesy of the exclusive iPhone-cam, taken in Canton, Michigan during our March 2012 visit there, and part of my famous Machinery and Vacation series.

Boy, has a lot of water flowed under the bridge since then.

No post yesterday. My cousin’s Internet connection was on the fritz. That’s why I’m blogging from the hospital this afternoon, just in case. They’re paying good money for Internet service and absolutely not getting their money’s worth. Betsy tells me they’re switching providers soon. Couldn’t be soon enough for me.

Shannon’s having a pretty good day today. Her strength continues to increase. It’s still not great, but it’s improving. She was able to get up this afternoon to take an actual shower for the first time in a few days. That makes her feel a whole lot better. She’s currently sitting up in the chair and watching HGTV – also a significant step. The sitting up part, not the HGTV part, that is. Although I’m guessing my Loyal Readers had already figured that out. We live for clarity.

Her white blood cell count is down to 8.8 today, which is another good number. It continues to slowly decrease, exactly as we hope and expect.

Today’s big news: they did the bronchoscopy yesterday! It went very well. She has had zero pain and no problems at all as a result. The tentative report this morning was that they didn’t find anything in there. I’m not sure what that means yet – I wasn’t here when the doctor came over to talk about it and Shannon doesn’t remember exactly what he said. But any data is good data. We’ll probably know more about it tomorrow.

Anyway. Her lungs are increasingly clear. One of the nurses was listening to them through her stethoscope this afternoon and said she didn’t hear any crackling! That’s the first we’ve heard that report in about a month. And it was music to my ears.

They also did the procedure where they suck out the fluid outside her lungs yesterday. At least they did half the procedure – the right side. They got about 600 ml of fluid. I asked how much fluid a healthy person would have there. The answer: a tablespoon or two. So she was a bit high. They’ll drain the other side tomorrow, if the schedule maintains.

So we have good news on all fronts today. Nothing negative to report at all. Yea!

Happy birthday to Katy! I’ll leave it to her to reveal her age. I just want to say she’s been a major light in my life since the day she was born and she’s grown up to be a brilliant, witty, loving, gifted, wonderful woman and a fantastic mom. I love you, Katy!

And that’s about all I have to say about this wonderful day. I’m really feeling happy and optimistic today. The future looks bright! I’ll leave my Loyal Readers with this combination exciting Morrowlife Employment Agency job opportunity and shocking food violence news: crime-fighting cucumber!

See you tomorrow.

Hospital sushi

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014


Here’s my lunch from yesterday – sushi and a smoothie. Now what could be better than that? The nurse commended me for my bravery, but I ain’t scared. It was avocado and fake crab. Nothing raw in there at all. I may be brave enough to eat hospital sushi, but I’m not stupid. Great Art courtesy of the exclusive iPhone-cam, taken in Shannon’s hospital room yesterday at lunchtime, and part of my famous Food and Medical series.

I think it’s time to take a few new pictures, don’t you, Loyal Readers? Let’s not all speak up at once, now.

Okay, now for the reason my Loyal Readers are all here. Shannon had a pretty good day today. I believe the electrolyte replenishment project is going well, although slowly. Her arms aren’t shaking anymore, so she can hold her own drinks. She’s able to speak a bit more clearly. She stood up on her own this evening. So those are some good signs. Her electrolyte numbers were looking better as well. I’m assuming her recovery from that little episode has been slower than we expected due to her generally sick condition at the moment.

In other good news, her white cell count was down to about 10 today. That’s down from 13 yesterday and 15 the day before. That’s the direction we want it to go for now. She’s been getting a lot of platelets this week, which is also typical and expected. So we’re doing well on the leukemia front.

On the pneumonia/pleurisy front, there’s also some progress. The results of a nasal swab they did the other day are back and she definitely still has H1N1 influenza running around inside her. They treated her for that the first week or so in the hospital in Nevada, but then they shifted entirely to giving her antibiotics. So I think I understand why she wasn’t getting better after the first week.

They didn’t do the bronchoscopy today. Instead, they did an ultrasound of her guts to try to figure out if her intestines were causing problems. We haven’t heard the results, but she’s probably okay gut-wise, which is good. The bronchoscopy is now scheduled for Wednesday. They’ve scheduled and canceled it five times now between the two hospitals, so it will be quite a thing if it actually happens tomorrow.

Her infectious disease guy says that even though we know she still has the flu, he wants to do the bronchoscopy anyway, just in case there’s something else in there too. They really need to identify it so they can figure out how to treat it. They’re also working on whether it makes sense to stick a needle through her back to get some of the fluid from the outside of her lungs too. We’ll know soon whether they’re doing that one.

While we’re waiting for the bronchoscopy, they’re not letting the grass grow beneath their feet. They’ve started Tamiflu at a dosage twice what she got before, and they plan to continue it for quite some time – weeks or months – until the virus is well and truly dead. They’ve also kicked up the antifungals. In addition, they’ve given her something I didn’t know existed: intravenous immunoglobulin, or IVIG. It’s a blood product that contains antibodies from donor blood. It has several uses, but the apparent use here is to give Shannon yet another tool to fight off the bacteria/virus/fungus that’s ailing her. Check out the Wikipedia article – it’s pretty interesting.

I asked the infectious disease guy how long he expects Shannon will need to stay in the hospital. He said he never predicts. I said I respect that, but we would certainly appreciate some kind of guideline we could use to plan. He said to expect to be in the hospital longer than days but shorter than months. So weeks, I guess. Not fun, but doable.

Had a phone call with John this afternoon. We continue to get closer to having a releasable product and all the materials we need for the show next month. But there’s still so much to do! I think we’ll get there, but we’re starting to scramble.

Man, do I hope we sell a few copies of this thing. Please, forensic doctors and dentists, buy, buy, buy!

And I’ll leave my Loyal Readers with this rare combination food violence and Morrowlife Employment Agency job opportunity: kidnapped pig!

See you tomorrow.

New monitors

Monday, January 20th, 2014


Here are my new monitors. I got them for the conference at which I’m exhibiting in February. One of them is currently sitting on my desk, though, being burned in. Maybe I should burn in the other one too. I’ll have to think about that. Great Art courtesy of the exclusive iPad-cam, taken in my living room the other day, and part of my famous Electronics series.

Okay, even I will admit that’s not exactly Great Art. But it comes as close as I can today. And all of my Loyal Readers should definitely buy some of those excellent monitors. And they should of course click on my link to buy them.

Well. It’s been quite a weekend. Shannon was scheduled for the long-awaited bronchoscopy on Saturday morning so we could finally find out what’s going on inside her lungs. Instead, they told her she has pleurisy and they didn’t need to find out what was inside her lungs. So they didn’t do it. Again. It’s now rescheduled for tomorrow morning. Sigh.

She’s had a pretty rough time of things the past couple of days. Sunday morning started pretty much as usual. They unhooked her from her IV pump long enough for her to take a shower and the day started. I came over to the hospital in the morning, worked for an hour or two, and then left to go back to the hotel to do Shannon’s and my laundry. After spending a couple of fairly relaxing hours sitting outside and reading while the laundry washed and dried itself, I folded everything, put my stuff back in my room, and headed back to the hospital with Shannon’s stuff.

I was pretty much shocked by what I found there. She had suddenly become extremely weak, to the point that she could barely get out of bed or even speak in a complete sentence. She has remained pretty much that way since. I wrote an email to her doctor asking for his help and he came over today to see what was going on. He took a look at her latest blood work and discovered her electrolyte levels had fallen dangerously low due to fluid loss brought on my the diuretics they’ve been giving her for several days to try to remove the fluid from her lungs and chest cavity. He started her on fairly high doses of potassium and magnesium and said we should see rapid improvement.

Sadly, she started improving, but fairly quickly stopped and even got a bit worse, I believe. When I left the hospital a little after 9:00 this evening, she once again couldn’t stand up or even sit up in bed. I don’t think she’s dying, but I’m very worried about her. We need to get this figured out and fast.

On the positive side, her white cell count is falling, as it should as a result of the round of chemo she just finished. The blasts are above 70% now, if I heard correctly, so it’s pretty clear she still needs frequent chemo to remain in remission. While the doctor was here, I talked with him briefly about how this would be a very convenient time for us to get another stem cell transplant. He’s promised to look into it after she’s back on her feet and cured from the pneumonia/pleurisy.

On that front, the infectious disease doctor was over this afternoon. He mentioned a lot of things that could be going on, but he thinks the most likely reason the antibiotics haven’t completely cured her is that there might be some virus (she originally had influenza A, as my Loyal Readers will recall) or fungus in there too. So he’s adding a bunch of antivirus and antifungal medications and pushing hard for the bronchoscopy tomorrow so we’ll know for sure. There are all kinds of other obscure things that could also explain the problem, which is why he thinks the test is so important. It really needs to happen.

As far as I’m concerned, pleurisy sounds like a 19th century disease. Maybe they should check her for consumption and ague while they’re at it.

And that’s about it for today. I’ll leave my Loyal Readers with this exciting Morrowlife Employment Agency job opportunity: beer-stealing pig! And the best part is that there’s definitely an immediate opening.

See you tomorrow.

Dry ice

Friday, January 17th, 2014


Here’s a glass full of bubbling, boiling water. Kind of. It actually contains dry ice. I believe I mentioned several days ago that my brother Chris sent us a Christmas gift of meat and other stuff from the nice folks at Omaha Steaks. Since Shannon has been in the hospital so long, we haven’t had a chance to cook and eat any of the stuff. However, I did spend a bunch of time over a few days playing with my dry ice. That’s the block of dry ice there in the background.

Actually, it turns out there’s not a lot of things you can do with dry ice. I broke off little pieces and put them in water. Then I ¬†. . . umm . . . broke off more little pieces and put them in water. Actually, that was it.

Greetings from Duarte, California! Shannon came this afternoon via air ambulance and I drove. We had a couple hours’ notice, so I got everything packed back up, drove over to the hospital, picked up Shannon’s stuff, and left for Duarte about an hour before she did. And . . . I beat her! She called me just before she got on the airplane and I was 99 miles away from here. I got to the hotel, checked in, got into my room, and Shannon called again to let me know she was on the ground. I finished unpacking, went over to Rubio’s for a delicious fish taco dinner, went to the nearby Trader Joe’s for a bit of browsing and the purchase of some delicious-looking orange creme soda, and got the call from Shannon that she was safely ensconced in her room. So I came over to the hospital.

I have a lot of confidence that they’re doing the right things here already. They’ve started testing her blood, they’ve done a chest x-ray, and they’re doing a CAT scan tomorrow morning. Then they’ll probably do the bronchoscopy and figure out what’s going on in her lungs. Then she’ll start getting well. Simple!

My trip was uneventful. I didn’t need to make any stops, so I didn’t. The traffic going towards Las Vegas was heavy, but ours was just fine up until the last couple of miles, and even then it moved. So it was a good day.

I miss Mark already. I really hope we’ll be home soon.

No work was done again today. Tomorrow for sure. I have nothing else to do now but work and be with Shannon. And sometimes both at the same time. Life’s good.

And I’ll leave my Loyal Readers with this exciting Morrowlife Employment Agency job opportunity: detective rat!

See you on Monday.