Archive for June, 2008

Back To Work

June 30, 2008 1 comment

Saturday was the 8 week mark for my kidney transplant, and today, I returned to work for the first time since May 2 (a full month earlier than originally planned). 

I had been getting up by 7am during the week, so the 6am work wake up time wasn’t much of a change. Everyone was glad to see me back (especially the doctors and the nurses in the other department that were covering for me while I was out), and many still can’t believe how much better I look.

The work day was fairly steady, but not terrible. My job in the clinic is to field advice calls from parents, take care of prescription requests, orders, referrals, and anything else that comes along, so that the doctors spend their time seeing patients. When I was gone, they sort of “winged it”,  which is why they were glad I was back.

Their was an interesting call from a parent. She told me that her daughter had a “panic attack”, and had threatened suicide. I talked to the daughter, and she told me that she just threatened suicide to anger her mother, and had no intention of doing so (I believe her, because I first asked her how she was going to commit suicide, and she told me that it was just to get mom mad; not that this proves she wasn’t suicidal, but it does make it less likely). So, the mother called the police, and they hauled her off to the Emergency Department to another hospital in the back of the squad car. The physician there apparently asked her to sign herself in to an in-patient psychiatric unit, and she refused, so he evidently told her that if she didn’t, he would seek in-voluntary commitment. When she found out she might be visiting the Hotel California (“You can checkout any time you like, But you can never leave”), her mom called me to try to get her a Psych evaluation at our facility. It turned out that they discharged her and she did get an emergency psych eval today, but I don’t know what happened after that.

This should be a lesson to all teen-agers (and adults). Unless you mean it, NEVER use the “I’m going to kill myself” ruse to manipulate someone. It could very easily backfire, and you’ll end up with a not-so-nice 72 hour stay in a locked Psych ward. I worked in Psych for over 3 years, and saw it happen numerous times. Once you are there, you have to give advance notice of intention to leave, so by signing yourself in, it will still be several days before you can leave, should you change your mind. If you are involuntarily committed, then you CAN’T sign yourself out.

I also found out that I’m getting a raise. It’s been since January 2007 since I had one; I’ll know by Wednesday what it will be. I’m sure it won’t cover the increased gas costs, but I’m certainly not the only one in that boat. I figured out my gas mileage the other day, and it’s going to cost me $8/day just in gas to get to and from work. Since it’s a rural area, public transportation isn’t an option (a taxi is $80 each way). I support Drill here, Drill Now, Pay Less

I realize that the talking points of those with the opposite view try to negate this, but if we were to allow more domestic drilling AND ease up on the regulations for the licensing of refineries, the cost of oil would start lowering even before the oil was available; knowing that more oil would be available would be a disincentive for commodities traders to buy oil futures.

The other argument is that “it will take 10 years before that oil would become available”. My take on that?  When I was going through the process of getting placed on the list for a kidney transplant, I was told it would take several years before I got one. If you use the same logic, I shouldn’t have gone through all of that. Of course, I would still be on dialysis if I hadn’t… Sometimes, I just don’t understand how so many people believe these illogical arguments.


Weekend away

June 30, 2008 Leave a comment

We were away for the weekend, which is why I haven’t posted recently.

On Friday, we drove to Lancaster (PA), did some shopping at the outlets, and on Saturday and Sunday went to a Celtic Music Festival, The Celtic Fling at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire.  This is our 3rd year going there.

Our favorite band this year was The Screaming Orphans, a of 4 sisters who are originally from County Donegal, Ireland.  You can definitely hear the influence of The Cranberries in several of their songs. Since it’s been a few years since their last album (they have another album coming out this Fall), I got the impression that they have “branched out” since then, as their shows had a mixture of Cranberry-esque, traditional Irish, and even a version of “Jolene” by Dolly Parton.

We ended up seeing 3 of their shows. Even Kevin (our 16 year old son) asked to go back to see them, which really surpised us, as he usually listens to the usual teen-favorite Hip Hop.  We did see them last year at the Ceilidh (pronounced Kay-lee), which is the end of the day show that has each performer at the Fling do one piece. We had planned on seeing their full show last year, but they were held up on the PA Turnpike, and were late, so we missed them.  You can hear samples of their last album here (on the left hand side of the page).

We also got to see Scythian, which is a perennial favorite. They are from the D.C. area, and play a WIDE variety of music, although it’s mostly Celtic Rock (I even heard them do a Flogging Molly tune at the Saturday night Ceilidh).

I have new pics up of the weekend on Flickr as well.

Both Patti (Jackie’s sister) and Kevin had such a good time, that they want to go back next year.

A word of warning to those who live near us and drive. Today is our son Kevin’s 16th birthday. He will soon get his learner’s permit, so WATCH OUT!  HAPPY BIRTHDAY KEVIN.

Prograf Level

June 26, 2008 1 comment

My Prograf (FK-506) level is low once again, and I’m not sure why.

2 weeks ago, it was 5.1, so my dose was increased by 1 mg a day to 3mg and 3 mg (12 hours apart).  Last week, my level was 7.1, so they kept my dose the same. This week, it dropped again to 5.1 (so my dose is increased to 3 mg and 4 mg). The only difference is that when it was 5.1 both times, I had it drawn at the hospital, and it was run that day. Last week, when it was 7.1, it wasn’t run until the day after, because it was drawn at a “satellite” clinic, and wasn’t delivered to the hospital in time for it to be run that same day.

I doubt whether that would affect it, but maybe it would. Other than that, I can’t come up with any thing that would affect it; I didn’t miss any doses, I haven’t changed any of my other meds, etc.


Transplant Day 53

June 25, 2008 4 comments

Today, I had my routine post-transplant follow up appointment with the Transplant Coordinator and Transplant Surgeon as well as labs. They were both thrilled with my progress. In fact, I don’t have to go back for another month, and labs in 2 weeks (it had been doctor appt every 2 weeks and labs every week).  And, I’m going back to work on Monday (yeah!).   

My creatinine is 1.2, and Dr. Varma said it will probably stay there. My Prograf (FK-506) level isn’t back  yet, and my blood counts are stable. My hemoglobin is still low (9.2), but that’s apparently not a concern.

I stopped off at work to give them my return to work note, and everyone kept saying that the difference in how I look now as compared to before the transplant is amazing. I can’t see it that much, but I sure can feel the difference.

Also, I no longer have to keep accurate numbers on my input and output; I’ll go by the color/concentration of my urine to determine how well hydrated I am.

I’m going to stay on my Magnesium at bedtime, as I notice a bit of an improvement in my Neuropathy. I’ve been able to cut back on the number of nights I’ve had to take Tylenol #3 due to the numbness, tingling, burning, and restlessness in my hands and arms.

It’s not often that I win anything, but I posted an anecdote on WhiteCoat Rants‘ blog, and won me a high-quality Pediatric stethoscope, courtesy of Boardman Medical Supply!

Kevin and I made our annual father/son  pilgrimage to Maryland on Monday to get fireworks. Although it’s not yet specifically been identified, he inherited my fireworks gene.  The prices from last year were to have risen noticeably, but I think that since we got there earlier this year (last week it was 3 days before July 4), we hit a lot of good deals.

Transplant Day 50, Random Ramblings

June 22, 2008 8 comments

Hard to believe, but it’s been 7 weeks since my transplant. I never would have even dreamed I would be feeling this well at this point. Some people still have pain at the transplant site for months after, but I can’t even feel that the kidney is there (although I can see the protrusion a little). I’m finally almost fitting into the pants I wore prior to transplant, so the swelling has noticeably gone down.

When it comes to pizza, this guy is clueless. He’s obviously never been to Old Forge.

Speaking of Old Forge pizza, we went to Revello’s last night. Yum!

Not that we do it often, but when we go out for steak, our favorite chain restaurant for that is Texas Roadhouse. The next time we go, I’ll be sure not to send my steak back…

If actions are truly louder than words, then Al Gore has proven that man-made global warming is a bunch of bunk.  His home’s energy use has increased 10% in the last year. Of course, there is ALWAYS an excuse when the hypocrisy of these nanny-staters is brought to light. The response is that he uses “GREEN” power, so that’s OK. But doesn’t he say that we all should cut down our energy use? The average US home uses 11,400 kWh per year, yet his abode uses an average of 17,768 kWh per MONTH. Hey, I don’t care how much he uses, except for the fact that he expects everyone but HIMSELF to decrease their energy usage. Since he is using so much energy, maybe a new nuke plant in his neighborhood is in order; after all, nuclear energy is carbonless, so it’s GREEN energy…

Transplant Day 48, Labs

June 20, 2008 2 comments

I’m doing well this week. It’s killing me that it’s so nice outside, yet I can’t do any yard work (due to mold spores in the soil).  Yesterday, though, I did trim some branches from the tree in our front yard with Kevin’s help.

I got my labs back late yesterday, but I didn’t post until I heard back from the nurse today regarding my Prograf (FK-506) level.  My labs continue to be stable. My Prograf is up to 7.1 (from 5.1 last week; I increased my dose by 1 mg daily). I thought they wanted it up to 8-10, but they are OK with the 7.1. My creatinine is still down to 1.2 (awesome!), my glucose was low at 63, but I hadn’t eaten prior to my labs, and my calcium is up to 9 (I’m now taking Citrical). Speaking of which, my GI/Bariatric doc advises Calcium Citrate over Calcium Carbonate, as it’s more easily absorbed. WonderLabs has decent pricing on Calcium Citrate in various doses and combinations with other vitamins/minerals.

As for my blood count, it’s stable. My white count is still predictably low, my hemoglobin and hematocrit are the same. I’m amazed that with a hemoglobin of 9.5 that I’m not tired. That says a lot for how tired I was from the kidney failure.

When I messaged the nurse yesterday to get my labs, I also asked about my PPD. That’s a shot they do to screen for Tuberculosis. I get one yearly for both my full-time and weekend nursing jobs. The weekend employer is particularly adamant about having this done on time (and rightfully so). Anyway, I wanted to know if I could get a PPD, or if they could use the x-ray done after my IV line was placed in my neck prior to surgery.

The response from the nurse?  “I will check with the docs and get back to you. We do not have many patients as anal as you! ”   I’ll take that as a compliment!

I’ve had several interesting search engine queries that lead to my blog; looks like it’s soon time for another Searches That Pointed To My Blog  post.

For those that want to email me, here is my address (it’s a graphic rather than text so that I can avoid bots snagging my address):

Transplant Day 46

June 18, 2008 3 comments

 I had my weekly labs today, but won’t get the results until tomorrow. Based on the fact that I have more noticeable hand tremors, I assume my Prograf level is more towards therapeutic than last week. Other than that, my weight is stable, BP is good, and my urine output is still at least 100cc/hour on average.

There is a potential (key word here) treatment for Polycystic Kidney Disease that may involve a drug used to treat Rheumatoid Arthiritis (Enbrel, which I am very familiar with as I work with a Pediatric Rheumatologist). Of course, this is research that has not progressed to humans, so it may be a while to see if it pans out. But it’s a start…

Tonight is a “solstice moon”. This low-hanging moon will appear huge. Hopefully, the sky will be clear enough for you to see this. Explanation here.

I’ll post my labs tomorrow.