Category Archives: health

Weekend Update (No Not Saturday Night Live)

Well we are playing with medicine again. The other day they put Dale on a 100 mg diuretic. He lost 10 pounds in two days. His creatinine level was up a little again so we are on a roller coaster ride again. They stopped the diuretic and upped the prograf which is anti-rejection.

We think they should have put him on less of a dose of diuretic to begin with and maybe we wouldn’t have gotten in this shape. We keep hoping they know what they are doing but a lot of it seems like a guessing game as they tweak the meds.

They did another ultrasound and everything looked fine but they don’t want him to wait til Monday to do labs so we will go over to Baylor Sunday and they will check his labs then and see how we are doing.

The ultrasound and extra labs are because he had the early rejection and they are being extra careful but it is worrisome and spending extra time doing medical stuff is not Dale’s idea of fun.

BJ and our daughter came to visit today and that helped a lot. We made a trip to the Whole Foods Market just because we could wander around there for hours. I bought some orange cauliflower to cook tomorrow and I have chicken breasts marinating. We are bored and mostly just want to come home and we know the best way to get there is to get well. I’m sure the sentence about chicken will net me some interesting spam – where would be on the internet without spam! I never thought about the origin of calling all the junk spam – guess I will have to research it. It makes perfect sense though – all fat, sodium, and mystery “meat” – absolutely no nutritional value – yep, that’s spam.

I know this is a pretty random post but that is the kind of mood I am in. I made a visitor’s pass to hang in BJs car at the apartment so he wouldn’t get towed because the office is closed on the weekend. I used a bobby pin and a surgical mask. Jessica thought it was funny and took a picture.

you do what you gotta do! I’ll post again after we get the next labs!

The Sun Is Out!

Dale is not much for computers but since he started reading what I write about all this, we go to the coffee shop to update the blog and check email and before I even get to it he is asking what the comments are for the day or who we have email from.

I always make sure I show him email from Earl – a good laugh is wonderful medicine and you send some of the best jokes! A good laugh also helps when a person is on a steroid roller coaster!

We have told the kids to not even try to come this weekend if the weather looks bad and that will make for a very long weekend but we’d rather have that than worry about them on the road. I hear that our Christmas decorations are going up and that things like Chicken and Rice Casserole are being cooked (thanks to help from BJ) – I can’t wait to see everything when we get home. Thanks son for filling in for us and going to your sister’s band concert!

Dale’s labs showed the potassium was back down a bit. we went to the Farmers Market today just for something to do. It was pretty chilly but the sun is out and it seems warmer.
Dale Farmers Market Dallas 12/13/07

You are all making us cry with the comments!  Thanks for all the support and BJ thanks for hauling my kids around!

Dale’s creatinine was down to 3.4 today so it is coming on down but his potassium was up kind of high.  It was explained to us that the body is going through a lot dealing with all the new medicines and the kidney trying to get woke up and working right and that all these things should balance out.  Dale asked how long before they start backing down on some of the meds and the doc said the first milestones would be at one month and three months so if everything is stilling going well at one month then he should be able to take less meds and that should help him feel better. He is a walking chemical plant right now – he says he should rattle when he walks!

He takes 3 different anti-rejecton, two antibiotic, sodium bicarb, a diuretic, a pepcid (probably to keep his stomach from freaking out over all the other stuff!), an after meals pill, 2 blood pressure, and a few more I can’t even remember.  One of the anti-rejection drugs he takes is 3 capsules 4 times a day!

He has to go have labs drawn again in the morning to check that potassium. If it isn’t one thing right now it’s another!

It is brrr cold now too.  I guess winter held off as long as it could.  I will be happy as long as there is no ice.  No one in Dallas will be safe if I have to drive on ice here.   We are going to go back to the apartment in a few moments and stay warm and dry!

I talked him into buying a cardigan sweater the other day – he has always worn pullovers.  He liked it so much we went back and got him two more.  He looks a little like an absent-minded professor in it.

First Weekend Out After Transplant

My son got here last night (thanks to his debate coach and the two fellow debaters that came along to keep her company!) and BJ brought my daughter today. It was fun and good to have them all here. I miss the kids. We went out for lunch adn then all of us went to the Whole Foods Store. I felt bad because our grocery trip was paid for by someone and that store is pretty expensive. Dale can wander for hours through the produce and cheese sections. I got some good pasta sauce and steamed some broccoli and made a pasta dish for later. He got some grapes and some apple and blueberry breakfast sausage to try.

So far he hasn’t had to give himself insulin since we left the hospital so I hope that’s a good sign. It isn’t going low – just not high enough to need insulin.

We are sitting at Cafe Brazil right now so I can use the internet. It is so crazy – yesterday it was 80 degrees and today it is 40 and misting rain. It is foggy enough that we can’t see the top of the buildings downtown.

Tomorrow is Dale’s first appointment at DTI and we will get labs drawn and see if we are still doing well with the creatinine. He is feeling pretty good and got a good shower for the first time this morning. He is having to sleep in the recliner – he isn’t used to laying flat and his incision needs to heel a bit more before he will be comfortable in bed all night.

We’re Out!

Dale was dressed and sitting in the chair waiting at 6:00 this morning and that was NOT a good thing. We had to wait for rounds, wlicenseplate.jpgait for the med sheet to be updated, and wait for the nephrologist to look him and the meds over and pass judgement. It was after twelve by the time we got out and everyone was so nice but Dale was tired and not too happy that he had to wait so long. He is now free til Monday morning when we have to be at DTI (Dallas Transplant Institute) at 8:00 AM.

That will give us time to visit with the kids and get his medicine lined up for the next few days. He swallows a handful of pills twice a day and a few in between. We have the large economy size pill organizer and we will get it filled tomorrow.

First day out we came back to the apartment and unpacked and ate lunch. Dale got a nap and then we went to get his prescriptions filled and stopped by the Whole Foods Market for some healthy goodies.
Another nap, time to check sugar, take evening pills, eat, and then we will go over to the coffee shop next door where we can sit out a a picnic table and I will have internet access so I can publish this!

We ended up in the Baylor lobby online waiting for our debating son to get here instead of the coffee shop but this will work too!

Discharge Morning!

Dale is walking the hall as I write this. They haven’t even brought breakfast yet and he is already packed and ready to get out of here! We have a few questions to ask before they turn us loose as far as medicine and transplant clinic appointments and then we will be out of here.

My son’s debate coach is bringing him to us after the meet today and he will spend the night. BJ is bringing my daughter tomorrow and they will spend the day and then they will all go home together so we will have a little family reunion. I won’t have internet at the apartment – I tried to go through AT&T wifi but there isn’t a hotspot close enough believe it or not so I will have to write and then zip over to the coffee shop down the block to actually publish and check email so I may not be posting quite as often but I may post several at a time.


Creatinine is down to 5.1 so while we would like it to move a little quicker at least it IS moving in the right direction so we shall be out of here as soon as the nephrologist checks him out!


The ultrasound looked the same or better than the last one so we are hoping that the creatinine level is down in the morning.  If it isn’t they will do the angiogram because evidently sometimes there are blood flow issues that do not show up on an ultrasound.  We won’t know til they get the labs in the morning but we will start pestering as soon as we are up and around for them to check!

Tuesday Morning Transplant Update

Not much to tell – Dale slept well last night. His sugar was close to normal today and he is feeling pretty good except his side is tender where they took the biopsy. We are waiting to hear the results but at least they brought him breakfast this morning. The doctor seemed encouraged because of the urine output.
We met a nurse over here who lives one street away from us and also works at PRMC North. A friend there told her about us being here and it turns out she walks her dog on our street and has spoken to Dale before. She has come by to visit several times and was going back to Paris this morning so came by and left me her phone number in case I needed her to bring us anything. People have been so kind.


Okay here is the lowdown.  The biopsy did show some rejection so they are upping his steroids. They seem to think that will jumpstart it so he will be Macho man on steroids for a few days and it will drive his sugar up but hopefully the creatinine will come down and the naughty little kidney will start playing nice!

Thank you to all who are sending prayers and good wishes!  We appreciate it more than you will ever know!

Pre-Surgery Sunday to Monday

Yesterday we got Sondra home.It was a rainy cloudy day and again today the weather was cold and wet. This morning we went to both the church we attend now and the church we had attended for ten years before this, and got prayed over at both places.

A cousin of Dale’s and his wife and family came from out of town to be there for prayer at the first one. We have missed folks from the second and it was especially good to see and hug old friends. After the service they had us come down front and most everyone came and stood with us for prayer. We were talking to a few at the end and I looked up and the daughter of a friend was standing there just looking at me. It took a moment to realize that she couldn’t speak but she had big tears in her eyes. I hugged her and told her it would be okay.

We had just enough time to eat lunch and load up the car for Dallas. We made it back to Dallas after limping along through slow traffic and went to pick up the keys for Twice Blessed House. Instead of having us one two bedroom they had two one bedroom apartments which meant two deposits and two payments. I hope to talk to someone about that tomorrow since no one for the actual apartments was here tonight. No one let us know anything was different and we had called to confirm our reservation so I am not happy about that. We were tired, grouchy, and hungry and went to eat and to Target to pick up some things that will be needed.

I don’t have access here which is a disappointment but I’ll have to live with that. Through all this my nine year old nephew has been wonderful. He dealt with the flight cancellation, road trip to Texas, staying over night with strangers, driving two hours from the airport to our house, sitting through two church services, driving back to Dallas, all more maturely than I did, I think. Tomorrow is tests and dialysis. The rest of the sisters will be driving in as well as my kids so they will all be here for the surgery Tuesday morning.

Posting from Baylor Monday morning!

Thankful Beyond Words

I can’t even write about it without getting weepy and maybe I can blog about it later but today the folks I work with did a really nice thing for us and it will help us as we head for transplant land this weekend.  People do not always realize how they become the face and hands of Jesus,  I don’t handle receiving very well.  I want to be the one who does the giving and being on the other end is humbling and confusing for me.

I am ready for this to happen and for everyone to be fine and me be back at work hopefully being a better person for it.

Transplant Itinerary

Dale got a letter in the mail yesterday giving him a general timeline. The day before the transplant he and his sister both go to the hospital at 8:00 in the morning for labs, chest x-ray, and EKG. After that his sister is free til she sees the surgeon at 2:00 but Dale will go to the transplant center to see the nephrologist. At 12:30 he will see the transplant surgeon at the Heart and Vascular hospital and then back across the street at the main hospital to turn in consent forms. Dale will have to go to a local dialysis center at 4:00 for one last dialysis (we hope) which takes about 4 hours. Both he and his sister have to be at admitting at 5:30 the next morning. He will need surgery to get a rest!

His sister is scheduled for surgery at 7:30 and he is scheduled for 9:30. From what we understand they do two a day so we are first shift which sounds like a good thing to me. We get the docs when they are fresh and not too tired!

This is getting real.  As long as neither Dale nor his sister catch a bug between now and then it will happen. One of the fellows that Dale knows from the dialysis center drove to Dallas after being called because they had a match.  When the center makes these calls they call the first three possible matched on the list.  By the time this guy got there they had already found someone higher on the list who was a better match.  I can’t imagine gearing yourself up for that and then having to drive back home.  We are lucky we have a living donor for Dale.

Homemade Bread Season

The weather is finally starting to cool here and that always makes me start thinking about vegetable soup and homemade bread. Someone asked me to share my bread recipe and I’m going to in this post.

The bread that I make is called sour dough but it isn’t a true sour dough. It is made with a starter and I will share that recipe first.

You begin with 2 pkg. of yeast and dissolve it in 1/2 cup of warm water. Next you “feed it with a cup of warm water, 2/3 cup sugar, and 3 tablespoons of instant potato flakes.

Cover and let mixture sit out on the counter all day, then refrigerate for three days. A plastic butter container works fine for this. In three days you will take the starter from the refrigerator and remove a cup (just throw it away this first time). After you have removed a cup of the mixture you will feed it again and this is how you will feed your starter from now on.

1 cup warm water

3/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons instant potato flakes

Let the starter sit out all day again and then place back in the refrigerator. The starter has to be fed every three to five days whether you make bread or not. If you do not wish to make bread, repeat the above procedure. If you wish to make bread follow the instructions below.

Remove starter from the refrigerator and feed it and let it sit out for about 8 hours. If you have a healthy working starter, at the end of the day it should look bubbly on the top and fill the house with a yeasty smell.

Now you will remove a cup of starter and pour it into a large mixing bowl. Put the rest of the starter back in the refrigerator.

To make the bread you will add the following to the mixing bowl containing the starter:

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup oil

1 1/2 cups warm water

1 1/2 tsp. salt

6 cups of flour (bread flour works best but you can also use some whole wheat)
I usually add 4 cups of flour and using a wooden spoon mix the batter well till you can hold the spoon sideways and the batter kind of stretches as it drips off the spoon. This “stretchy” look happens when you have mixed the dough enough to release the gluten. You can then fold in the remaining 2 cups of flour. Cover the mixing bowl loosely with a dish towel and let rise in a warm place overnight. In the morning punch the dough down and turn it out onto a floured surface. knead it a few times and divide it into three. Knead each loaf and place into three greased loaf pans. Cover with a towel and allow to rise again for 4-6 hours in a warm place.

Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes.

The key is having a good warm place for the dough to rise. The level of humidity seems to have some affect as well.

The also makes wonderful rolls – just divide into nine mini-loaves, knead each and place in an 8″ X 8″ square dish and continue as you would if it were in loaf pans.

This bread makes the absolute best toast and smells soooo good!

Playing Catch Up And Some Links On Internet Safety And Ethics

There had too many things to blog about this weekend so I’m just going to try to combine it all into one mish-mash of what’s been going on in my little corner of planet earth.
First – we have a date for my husband’s kidney transplant. November the 27th if he and his sister are both free of infections, colds and flu we should be doing the big swap. It will be our Thanksgiving this year – ironic isn’t it? Dale has already made jokes about being the turkey that will be carved and yes he has a sick sense of humor. It’s probably the thing that has kept our marriage going strong all these years – we are both a little twisted.

I worked the tab room at my son’s school’s debate meet. It was kind of sad to realize that this is the last year I will have him in debate. I am in my usual Scarlett O’Hara mode where all that is concerned – I’ll think about that tomorrow.

My daughter wants to go to Texas A&M Commerce next Saturday for a College Open House thing. She is now thinking about going into education. Her dream is to be a photographer and I am encouraging her to do that but I’m also happy that she is looking at something that will let her make a living while she is building on the photography.

There was so much to read and blog about this weekend and I will try to share the best of it here. Because there is so much I won’t get in depth or I would have to leave a lot out.

Although Blog Action Day is over this article Plastic Ocean just made me crazy so I had to post the link and tell a little about it!

A vast swath of the Pacific, twice the size of Texas, is full of a plastic stew that is entering the food chain. Scientists say these toxins are causing obesity, infertility…and worse.


This picture of a sea turtle with a plastic band around it’s shell almost made me cry. I’m not an animal nut but I believe in being a good steward of the planet including pets and this is just sickening. The article is five pages long and the news is not good. The ocean is full of tiny plastic particles that are entering the food chain and will eventually find their way into us.

Moore says. “You could take your serum to a lab now, and they’d find at least 100 industrial chemicals that weren’t around in 1950.” The fact that these toxins don’t cause violent and immediate reactions does not mean they’re benign: Scientists are just beginning to research the long-term ways in which the chemicals used to make plastic interact with our own biochemistry.

What this means to our kids and their kids genetically is unknown but it doesn’t take a scientist to figure out the news probably isn’t good. I just hope that scientists will start focusing on ways to improve the situation.

One thing I took away from the article that I did not know is that cans that contain foods have a plastic layer on the inside or that there are really only two types that are actually recycled – soda bottles and milk jugs and there is no way to make them into the same items without causing more problems so they generally end up recycled into things that go nowhere near your mouth. Glass, paper, and metal are much better bets for recycling without adding to the pollution.

There is a large number of resource links for cyberethics at the Virginia Center for Technical Education. There are links to websites on plagiarism, internet safety, copyright and more. One site lists the ten rules of “netiquette” of which my personal favorite was “adhere to the same standards of behavior online that you follow in real life” Here! here!

TotallyWired is a great source of information on online safety. One recent article explained how gangs are using social networking sites like MySpace. Another on Cyberbullying gives a balanced view of some of the problems with these sites – online harrassment can often be blocked – it’s in offline reality where the conversations spill over into the real world that often have real consequences.

once you make something digital it’s very hard to prevent it from being copied, forwarded or misused in some way if someone has it out for you, and that most teens are still shocked that certain photos or communications that were meant to be private turn up in incidents of harassment or bullying. According to the report, “one in 6 teens (15%) told us someone had forwarded or posted communication they assumed was private.”

Bullying has been around since big cavemen picked on little cavemen. People don’t change – the tools do.

Blogging For The Environment

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day Today is Blog Action Day, and thousands of bloggers will be posting about the environment. I’ve been thinking about the past, present and future. My grandmother grew up in a family of 14 in Scotland and moved to Canada at a fairly young age. she raised her family with a war and a depression. She had an entirely different perspective on the world than I do. I remember these things that she used to do. She saved scraps of bar soap and those net bags that onions come in. When she got enough slivers of soap she would make a little bag out of the netting and sew it up with the soap inside. That was a pot scrubber.She baked and when she made pies, there would be some pie dough left that was trimmed from around the pan. She would either roll that into strips and brush with cinnamon and sugar or she would roll it with currants (sort of like raisins) and make little tarts.

My grandmother knit. I still have a copy of the original sock pattern that was the official pattern from the red cross to knit socks for soldiers. I managed to knit one sock and lost patience. She knit many socks and sweaters. She would take scraps of left over yarn and knit strips about two inches wide. She would just keep adding on new pieces of yarn so she would end up with a long multicolored strip of knitting. She then sewed this into a tube which was stuffed with cotton and then coiled and sewn together to make a pad for a wooden chair

Nothing was wasted, you made things, made do, re-made, patched. Now we work hard away from home so we can afford things to throw away. Recycling doesn’t always have to be about re-manufacturing. I think we need to have more conversations with our grandparents.

I was better about recycling when I was a stay-at-home mom. I had more time and less money! I made a lot of my own baby food. I discovered that you could cook vegetables and then line a cookie sheet with waxed paper and drop “plops” on it and freeze them. You can then put the “plops” in a freezer bag and take out what you need. We had a vegetable garden and I sewed a lot when the kids were little. I made playdough, and I used a roll cardboard that was a “second” being discarded by a factory in the area to cover the kitchen table for the kids to finger paint.

Now we have paper towels, disposable everything, even automobiles are manufactured to have a shelf life. My grandmother was greener than I am.

I’m going to make an effort to do better. We already added insulation in the attic to help on the electric bill and I am slowing replacing light bulbs with the CFL bulbs. We bought cloth grocery bags to try to cut down on the plastic bag waste. We replaced old faucets that dripped and we have plans to replace some appliances with newer, more energy efficient models but that will happen as we can afford it.

I’m going to use some of the hints from the Green Geek and make adjustments on my computer as far as turning off the screensaver and other energy saving computer tips! I’m also going to research ways to save water since our water bills have gotten outrageous, and that even though we buy bottled to drink and cook with because the taste of the water locally is so bad at certain times of the year.

Keep It Simple Part 2

I’m going to tackle this list as it comes to me which is not necessarily in order of importance. In my first post I talked about a post from on simple living where you make a list of four or five of the things that are most important to you. For me it is a hunger to have beauty in my life. It has to be a personal interpretation – something that catches me unaware and evokes an emotional response. Something that makes me want to keep the memory/sensation/whatever it is and yet know that I can’t because it’s an elusive thing that doesn’t remain. A part of a song, a painting, a line on a piece of furniture, a phrase in a book – something in nature, there are so many things.

I was a big fan of Judy Collins in the seventies and one of my favorite songs was “Bread and Roses“. The song was about women’s rights fighting for our daily bread, but for roses too. I think that everyone needs roses (beauty) in their lives. We can choose simplicity in our lives without giving up beauty. In fact, it may be easier to see the beauty around us if we “declutter” our lives.

I found this site via my feedreader today. Artist Peter Callesen uses paper to create surprising art.


I hope you will go to his site and look at what can be created with simple white paper and an idea. Simple, whimsical, beautiful – made me smile. I hope it makes you smile too.

My Favorite “Handy” Man

He does great work and this summer he completed several projects just for me! I’ve been meaning to post this for awhile and just couldn’t get the pictures and everything together.

Once Dale felt well he couldn’t sit still and I couldn’t have him in the house all summer long so he spent a lot of time out in the shop. The first thing he made me was a footstool on castors with a removable lid for storage. I’m sitting with my feet propped up on it as I type this post. It’s comfy and movable and I love it.


We read a lot of paperbacks so he built some bookshelves to put under the window in our bedroom and then I found a picture of some interesting shelves and he decided he wanted to make them as well, so now they are on either side of that same window.


In between the large projects he made some little things for my desk – a pencil holder, a box to hold my card files and an easel to use with my working cards. Notice the joints on the boxes. Isn’t he talented??


The best and most complicated I saved til last. We just call it the crooked legged table but it is such a pretty and unusual design. I showed my handy husband a picture of a similar table in a magazine some years ago and he said he could make it. I argued and of course he had to prove me wrong! There are no nails or screws – only pegs. I think it and he are amazing!


There were other projects including new doors on the end of the shop and various repairs around the house. He also made a garden. Now that school has started he will start cooking again and I am looking forward to that creativity that made sawdust all summer filling the table and my tummy as the weather turns cold.

For now I have a few more projects for him while the weather is still warm. I think I will keep him.

(addendum – the bottom shelf on the table looks unlevel but it isn’t – it’s an optical illusion)


“Keep It Simple Stupid!” Is a motto I should have etched into the inside of my glasses lens so I would constantly have it in the corner of my line of vision.

One of my favorite websites that I feel embraces this idea is CommonCraft and they had a wonderful piece recently titled “Super Simple vs Needlessly Complex“. It showed a picture of a young man pulling a device called the Q-drum which is basically a rolling container for water with a rope attached. One person can easily haul 20 gallons of water with this simple tool. The comparison image showed a Japanese toilet that had 17 buttons on it. The picture of the Q-Drum came from an article on simple design that can be found here. My attention was grabbed by this quote:

The world’s cleverest designers, said Dr. Polak, a former psychiatrist who now runs an organization helping poor farmers become entrepreneurs, cater to the globe’s richest 10 percent, creating items like wine labels, couture and Maseratis.“We need a revolution to reverse that silly ratio,” he said.

Amen Dr. Polak – sign me up.

So how do I make these changes on a personal level? I am starting with some of the suggestions in the article Simple Living Manifesto on the Zen Habits blog.

For the cynics who say that the list below is too long, there are really only two steps to simplifying:

  1. Identify what’s most important to you.
  2. Eliminate everything else.

Of course, that’s not terribly useful unless you can see how to apply that to different areas of your life, so I present to you the Long List.

The long list contains 72 ideas with links to help on some of the individual suggestions. This seems like a “complex” list but if you start with the first which tells you to identify the four or five most important things in your life and make those your priority. The next two are evaluate your time and your commitments and ditch whatever is not in line with your most important things. Everything else flows from there. The blog author states that the entire list will not work for everyone – to just choose a few that work for you and concentrate on them.

I’m going to spend some time working on my “Most Important” list and post about it later. I also want to think about how simplifying would translate to education.

The internet is the great “leveler”. Anyone can find information on anything – anytime. That information doesn’t mean a thing if the learner can’t read, comprehend, or aggregate it into something meaningful to them. If we distill what is the most important skill in education today wouldn’t it be reading even in the higher grades?

We work harder to have more which means we need more to organize and take care of the more we worked for which means we need to work more to pay for it all. We eat junk because we don’t have time to cook good healthy food because we are working so hard so we have to work more (or at least make more money) to afford the junk food that ultimately makes us sick which means we have to make more money to pay for the medical bills. We teach our kids that they need a good education so they can have nice things and a nice job but if the above life is what we are showing them and if they are seeing it all as pointless I vote with them.

I don’t think simplicity is the goal so much as the way to achieve the goal. If we are so tied to all the stuff and the working to sustain it then where is the meaning? How often do we even have time to stop and think and question if there is meaning in our lives? Why should this generation educate themselves to have a live that has no meaning?

That’s the context for the questions I am asking myself while I work on my most important list. I want to be productive. I want to have meaning. I want to be present in my life, in my family, and in my job. I want a little solitude. I want to be as healthy as my choices can make me. I want my kids to see meaning in my life.
Do you have a list? Am I the only one who struggles with this?