Monday, March 31, 2008

The doctors are starting chemotherapy today. It's dangerous for Charles in his condition, but they've got to get the lymphoma into remission soon. They're using only 30% of a normal dose of drugs.

Time to read the 23rd Psalm.

UPDATE: MD Anderson wouldn't take him without a $150,000 deposit up front. Charles' insurance is inpatient care only. He pays for his own outpatient services. And they would be expected to come in near the above figure.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The doctors in Jackson assure me now, after several days' observation and strengthening, that they can treat my brother wiith chemotherapy.

I'm still anxious, but happy.

If I'm ever sick, please make sure I go to that little hospital.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Just a note, you psychologically disfunctional drivers in Jackson -- if you jack with me, I'm driving an Infiniti G35S, not a Ford Escort Wagon.

I'll blow your doors off then cut you off, you halfwits.

I didn't spend thirty years in Dallas for nothing, snotwads.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

I don't know what's going on. I'm back in Jackson tomorrow. But the VA says we might have a case of Agent Orange contamination.

UPDATE: This is all a nightmare.
Thirty years later, I still love this song

And this one.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

And the ride just got wilder. Charles has a 20% (hematologist guesstimate) chance of surviving chemotherapy. He needs a bone marrow transplant, which means a different kind of trip to Houston and MD Anderson.

UPDATE: Yes, I know a lawyer.

UPDATEII: Lyman reminds me that local doctors have a finding from Duke confirming sarcoidosis.

Monday, March 24, 2008

This has been a roller coaster of a month, kids. I'm about whipped.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Yes, kids, I've been in Jackson.

Big Charles (the bird, Charlie, won't go by that name anymore. He prefers Charles, always did, so Little Charles. We all Tennessee Williams in my family), continued to decline. We hiked down an ambulance and went to the local emergency room.

Taking Peg Britton's advice, I didn't leave his side, and found myself at the same hospital he was in before.

Barely known to me, the doctors had been working in his absence, and we have a new diagnosis -- Hodgkins lymphoma, from the Mayo Clinic.

Charles has a rare presentation, where it went straight to the bone, thus the confusion. But it isn't that rare, it's exactly the disease that killed that son of a bitch my grandfather (the one who kept my pretty mother in the cotton field).

I gave the doctors a ton of necessary information, and now we have a treatment protocol. They're happy, and so am I.

I'm back in Jackson on Tuesday.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Humorous Pictures
see more crazy cat pics

What can you do at 4:30 in the morning other than look at silly cat pix? But I had to send this one on to my sister.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I made it to Nancy just in time before her ski trip to have my shaggy hair cut.

So, I'm going to Houston with a sleek haircut and a fast car.
Somebody is emailing from Spain telling me I need to insert a clock on my blog.

"We need to be diferents and creatives."

Look, Hon, I'm going to drive for the first time in Houston in ten or so days, God willing. That's plenty diferents and creatives for me, you know?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Charles is doing okay. His fever came down and he's been resting, but damn if I can get him to take much in the way of fluid. How easily he forgets how lousy he felt Saturday night.

Low fevers and fatigue are symptoms of sarcoidosis. And the Prednisone screws up his sleep, as it does for so many others.

When did you last see a pair of bronzed baby shoes?

These were Lyman's first shoes, dating from 1946.

(I threw mine away. They were bonded to an ashtray base. And chipped around the tops where I'd picked at them as a child.)
As part of my current course of at-home nurse's training, we have a patient presenting loss of energy and appetite, and a fever of 101.2. I gave Tylenol. The ICU nurse said her standard for medication is 101.4, but the nurses in emergency couldn't understand why she hadn't suggested it at about 100.6.

We already have a call in to the primary care physician and a bag packed for emergency if necessary.

Lord, please, help me to remember to put a sweater in the car. The hospital is &*%$#&@! cold.

Monday, March 17, 2008

And hey, send up a prayer or a thought for Peg Britton if you have any to spare.

UPDATE: Peg's son, Dane, 56, died last night, March 18.
What's a little night in the emergency room between friends?

Charles was looking and acting peaked (peke-ed) Saturday evening, so I tapped on the door of the ICU nurse across the street. (Do I have resources, or what? I didn't even think of the nursing director next door.) She was kind enough to come take a look and suggested that he at least needed to go to an after hours clinic.

So Charles and I spent Saturday night in the emergency room. As it turned out, all his results were good, except for his hydration level. A couple of liters of IV fluids and a hefty shot of steroids later, he was asking what was on offer to eat. At 3:30 in the morning.

Then he was bright and bushy-tailed at 9 in the morning while I felt like I'd been run over by a tour bus.

Family values, indeed.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Charles and I have been teaching each other about interdental devices.

I like his Oral B Ultrafloss because it's substantial and rough.

He likes our Doctor's Brushpicks for his bridgework.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Sometimes, it's just not about you or me.

A Ms. E. Carroll wrote an email to me about three weeks ago. She was this pretty girl's mother.

Per her advice, we are going to Houston for an appointment on the 31st of this month.

She found me through this blog. When you get past the garbage, that's what blogging can do.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

He didn't see the rheumatologist. Her representative took us aside, and said that after reviewing his file, the doctor couldn't figure out why the doc at CMMC had referred Charles to her. She could see nothing that she could do in her specialty. Seeing her would be a waste of resources.

Of course, she didn't review the file until this morning, so that was a wasted trip.

Except -- listen now -- for lunch at Schimmel's. I haven't tasted food that good since Gabrielle's in New Orleans. Simple food cooked really well. Charles had Cajun shrimp over grits. I had a fried Florentine chicken with cheese sauce, accompanied by exquisite mashed potatoes and speckled butterbeans for $12.95.

I make a lot of mashed potatoes and butterbeans, but believe me, they never taste like those.

So for Charles, Houston is the next destination. There's a specialty clinic for sarcoidosis there associated with the University of Texas Health Science Center.
Good morning, earlybirds.

Here we are at the Cabot Lodge in misty Jackson. ( shows the rain stopping by 9 a.m.) Lyman and his son stayed here when Lyman's father was in hospital up here.

It's a nice place. The Colombian Supremo coffee you can make by the cup in the bathroom is quite good. But then, it's five on a rainy morning. It would all be good.

There were complimentary cocktails and popcorn in the huge lounge area last night for a couple of hours, ending at 7:30 p.m. Wireless Internet access in the rooms free of charge.

Charles finds the facilities comfortable and easy to navigate.

Dinner last night was take-out Mideastern fare from the Aladdin Mediterranean Grill, located nearby, a few blocks up North State Street and just around the corner on Lakeland Drive. Charles had four lamb chops on a plate with salad and baba ganuj that were plenty tasty, and I had a falafel plate with hummous and salad that was just fine. Dolmas and foul (a fava bean dip) were appetizers. All for about $32, which we considered more than fair.

Checkout here is at noon. We need to decide whether to pack up and be ready to leave from the doctor's office, or return here for a rest before we go. I think we'll leave our things here. I can always leave Charles in the car while I run in and grab our things if he wants to move on.

I've found everyone friendly and helpful here so far.

Monday, March 10, 2008

My brother and I are off to, ahem, Jackson for the night so we can keep an 8:15 a.m. appointment tomorrow with a rheumatologist.

He'll be making further treatment decisions regarding the sarcoidosis.

Le frere is doing quite well considering that he was taken to Jackson presenting symptoms of RENAL FAILURE ::blink::, something I only learned from reading the attending physician's report among the papers in the four (4) manilla envelopes of documentation regarding his case.

Must say, I'm glad I didn't see confirmation that we nearly lost him before now.

His system was shutting down because his platelet count was too low to maintain his body's integrity.

Live and learn, hunh?

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Time for a pancake countdown!

How many minutes after I eat a short stack of Betty Crocker recipe pancakes do I have to lie down for a nap?

I estimate 20 max.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Kids, yesterday it was 70 degrees outside. This afternoon it's sleeting.

Charlie has picked his Native American nickname -- "Charlie Big Toes."

UPDATE: And snowing.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

I missed my mother-in-law's birthday yesterday. She turned 88. So I called her this morning. Part of the conversation went like this:

MIL: I don't feel 88.

J: How do you know? You've only been 88 one day.

MIL: I see those other people who are 88 and they're old. I mean old and feeble. I know I'm old, and I look old, but I don't feel old.

And she sounded like a 27-year-old. (Though she insists on 18.)
The big brother is doing very well.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

At 51, I have finally learned how to cook a good scrambled egg.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Talk about good!

Daube is something of a traditional New Orleans dish. The beef is so richly flavored, I'm convinced that it was cooked just so to make a little beef go a long way.

The satisfaction with the food grew into a sense of fat repletion.

My honey cooked this for the first time this week, giving further good reason to keep coming home.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Diane puts up her menu plan for a month from time to time. I thought I'd offer a simple, quick and tasty dish that would be easy to prepare after a work day. We found the recipe in the Baton Rouge Advocate food page.


1-1/4 lb. round or sirloin steak, 1 inch thick
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup water
1 medium onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt (we use fresh garlic + salt)
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger (we use fresh minced ginger)
2 medium bell peppers, cut into 3/4 inch strips
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 medium tomatoes
salt and pepper

1) Trim fat from beef; cut into 2 x 1 x 1/4 inch strips. Heat oil in large skillet. Add beef and cook, turning frequently, until brown, about 5 minutes.

2) Stir in water, onion, garlic salt and ginger. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 12 to 15 minutes for round steak, or 5 to 8 minutes for sirloin. Add green pepper strips during last 5 minutes of simmering.

3) Cook rice.(Out of order when using standard rice. Recipe calls for instant. Ha!)

4) Blend cornstarch and soy sauce; stir into beef mixture. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir 1 minute.

5) Cut each tomato into eighths and place on beef mixture. Cover; cook over low heat just until tomatoes are heated through, about 3 minutes. Serve with rice.

Makes four servings.

Notes: When we cooked the beef, much water cooked out. Better to use higher heat and brown small batches, but if it should happen to you, drain the beef when cooked, reserve the liquid, then add enough water to make one cup to complete the recipe. Lyman thinks half of onion should be reserved and added at same time as green pepper for crunchiness. Also add more tomatoes, perhaps double, fresh ones especially, if available. If you use canned tomatoes, drain the tomatoes well, reserving the liquid, and use this liquid as you would your water.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Which Beatles song are you?
Your Result: Here Comes the Sun

You're an optimistic to the core, and you usually ride out tough times with the future in mind. Winter is your least favorite time of year. Your positive attitude is not overbearing, and others welcome your encouragement.

The Space Between
Hey Jude
Eleanor Rigby
All You Need is Love
Twist and Shout
Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite
Yellow Submarine
Which Beatles song are you?
Quizzes for MySpace

(Thanks, Tony.)

Saturday, March 01, 2008

This page needs some art. So here's a brand new picture of Lucy and Charlie.

He's still trying to convince her to preen his head. Lucy still will have none of it. Dominance, you know.

Something that I'd like to tape is the sound of Charlie surfing the Internet. He has that "blip" down pat.
Every comment I try to leave today is being disallowed for some reason or other.

So, Jordana, I've been reading one of Jonathon Gash's "Lovejoy" novels, and he writes reverentially about the Dulwich Picture Gallery's collection of old masters.

If other readers don't know, Jordana is in London for a goodly stay with her favorite gentleman and four and half children.

Dr. Fooms, Kim's brother, is reading Nero Wolfe novels. Great fun and best done while munching Peanut Butter M&Ms. No milk, though. It puts me right to sleep. (Talk about staid.)
I certainly hope we haven't left anything in Jackson we can't do without, because I don't think I could stand that boring drive a third time this week.

Geez, I've become staid in my second half-century.

UPDATE: Ohhhh. So THAT'S where you adjust the lumbar support for that car seat. That addresses a sore point.