Archive for July, 2008

Random Stuff 7/29/08

July 29, 2008 2 comments

This past weekend, we had 2 restaurant experiences; 1 good and 1 bad.

The bad: Grotto Pizza at Harvey’s Lake. For those not in the area, Grotto Pizza, formerly “Joe’s Grotto” (when I was a kid) is very popular both here and in Rehoboth Beach, Delaware. I’ve been going getting pizza from there since the late 60’s. There are 3 in our area. The one is in Edwardsville, and we stopped going there after seeing less-than-hygienic conditions. We then started going to the one at the Wyoming Valley Mall, but after 4 straight visits with extremely poor service, we stopped going there. And Friday night, I watched the bus boy wipe a seat off and then use the same cloth to wipe off the table. I mentioned it to the manager, and she could care less, but said she would tell him about it. Well, about 15 minutes later, the same bus boy dropped a rag on the floor, picked it up, shook it out, and then wiped ANOTHER table off with it. I’m done there. Also, we each had a soda, Jackie had a salad, and we each had a personal pizza, and the bill was $27 plus the tip.

The good: Romano’s Macaroni Grill. On Saturday, we drove to Lancaster on a whim, and went to Romano’s Macaroni Grill. It was very clean, the service and the food was fantastic, and the bill for 2 DINNERS was only $4 more than for 2 PIZZAs the night before.

As I mentioned last week, Jackie had a meeting with the superintendent about her not getting the job (he called the meeting, not her). Well, yesterday, she got a message on her voice mail from the superintendent that he would like to talk to her about their meeting last week. She called him back, but he was on the phone, and is supposed to call her back. Perhaps we have someone here who is a little worried about something?

And speaking of her former job, Jackie was visited at work last week by a police officer serving her a subpoena. She had a student who punched a hole in the wall and caused some other damage, so she was subpoenaed to appear in court. She went today, and after 3 hours, got to leave without testifying: the student plead guilty. The school district will pay her for attending, since she had to take a day off without pay from her summer job, and will also give her mileage reimbursement, since the hearing is 25 miles way to Wilkes-Barre.

We saw a very depressing, while at the same time inspiration movie over the weekend: “The Pursuit Of Happyness”. It stars Will Smith and his son; I HIGHLY recommend it, and it’s based on a true story.

I’m getting even MORE lab work done, but this is for the Procrit. Total Iron Binding Capacity, CBC (which I always get whenever I get labs), Peripheral Smear, and Ferritin. I’ll get these done next week with my next routine labs. I did get my Procrit delivered today, and had it given to me by a co-worker (it’s a shot).

I’m going through my music collection (CDs), and ripping them to my hard drive. That way, I won’t have to go to the basement to retrieve a CD in order to listen, and I’ll be able to add it to my Ipod if I want. So far, I found some “interesting” albums, such as “If I Were A Carpenter” (I grew up listening to my mother playing her Carpenters 8 Track tapes), Tower of Power’s “Back to Oakland” (funk album that I listened to when I was in high school; T of P has an awesome horn section, and I love “Squib Cakes” with it’s Hammond B3 organ and Leslie Speaker), The Badlees “River Songs” (my first roommate was their manager, and another guy in the band was one of my roommates while student teaching), Phil Woods “I Remember” (awesome Jazz album by an awesome saxophonist),  Brahms Sym. 2 and Haydn Variations, and a bunch of other obscure albums. I also have an extensive classical collection from when I was in college, as well as some Alternative albums that I listen to. Basically, I listen to just about anything.

I continue to walk every day on my lunch break. I have a new route, which takes me up a fairly large incline. I feel much better, but have to watch my legs. I had some skin breakdown from my orthotics. Today,  I put lotion on the areas, and it was much better.

Categories: Uncategorized

Medical Article Scan for July 2008

July 27, 2008 Leave a comment

Here is the July edition of my medical article scan. I try to provide a variety of interesting articles. If you see one in the future, you can email me at chronicpositivity at verizon dot net.

Kaiser Permanente Study Finds Keeping a Food Diary Doubles Diet Weight Loss – for those so inclined, here’s evidence of the importance of keeping a food diary.

Irish Coffee Infusion May Boost tPA Efficacy for Stroke – the title is a bit misleading; they don’t actually mean Irish Coffee given IV. The article discusses using an IV infusion of caffeine and alcohol along with tPA (aka ‘clot buster” that started out as a treatment for heart attacks, and is now being used to treat strokes). This treatment may have a protective effect on the brain during/after a stroke.

Positive Thinking is Prescription for the Heart – of course, this study affirms the name of this blog. Optimism is good for the heart (and, I’m sure that it’s equally as effective with other diseases). And this quote is a GEM: “Perhaps we should work on changing behaviors by instilling more confidence in the capacity to prevent having a heart attack, rather than raising fears about having one.

Tattoos Wear Thin For Some Recipients – Women who got tattooed oftentimes sought removal by age 30. Men were less likely to get their’s removed.

Statin Therapy May Boost Survival In Kidney Transplant Recipients – The benefits are related to survival from cardiovascular disease, and do not necessarily affect survival of the graft.

“Snow Flea Antifreeze Protein” Could Help Improve Organ Preservation – a protein found in Canadian Snow Fleas that allow them to survive winter may someday be used to preserve donated organs for transplant.

Transplant Week 12

July 26, 2008 Leave a comment

Yes, it’s been 12 weeks since my kidney transplant, and things are going rather smoothly.

I did find out my Prograf level (FK-506), and it is going up. This week, it’s 10.6, but the nurse said that she would call if there were any changes, so I assume I’m to stay on the same dose.

I got a call from the nurse at VITALine today. This is the agency which will be dispensing and managing my Procrit. Initially, she said that they weren’t going to seek an authorization from the insurance company, because my kidney function is above 60% (when my lab measures kidney function, aka “GFR”, they only quantify anything below 60%; if it’s higher, they list it as >60). In other words, “we don’t think you qualify and/or need it”. But she contacted the Nephrologist that is involved in managing the program (who also happens to be my sister’s Nephrologist), and he told her that I need it. Let’s see; my hemoglobin has not gone above 10 since my transplant, and it’s NEVER been this low in my entire life. And they weren’t going to apply for an authorization? Anyway, I’m chronically anemic since my transplant, and a little boost with a few weeks of Procrit will most likely give me the bump I need to get closer to a normal hemoglobin.

I’ll find out Monday if it is approved. I’m assuming it is, because I had a message from the insurance company pharmacy on my answering machine to call on Monday. If approved, it will be delivered on Tuesday to where I work. I’ll start out on 10,000 units a week, and dose adjustments will be based on my labs. I’m not sure how much it will cost me, but previously, I got a 2 week supply for a $20 copay, so that’s not too bad.

I have been going for a walk on a consistent basis at work. I use my lunch hour, and take a 20-25 minute walk around campus. I pick a hilly route, so that I do get my heart rate up (although the fast heart rate can also be due to the low hemoglobin). I feel better, and with sitting all day at work, it helps to get the exercise mid-day. I hope to increase my speed over the weeks, so that I cover more ground in the same amount of time.

On Tuesday, my blog reached 5000 hits since I started it in April.

Jackie goes for a pedicure on a regular basis (not sure, but I think it’s once a month). Since gas prices are so high, I found a cheaper alternative, and I’ll be going out tomorrow to buy the necessary supplies. 🙂

Transplant Appointments Today (7/23/08)

July 23, 2008 3 comments

I had my monthly appointments with the Transplant Surgeon and the Transplant Nephrologist today. They both said I look GREAT, and there are no major issues.

My labs are still stable and the new kidney is working well. In addition to the regular labs, I also had an Immune Cell Function test done as well as a level to see if I have CMV from the donor kidney, but those won’t be back today. The immune cell function test is a guideline to make sure both that I’m taking my immunosuppressives and that the doses I’m getting are doing what they are supposed to. The CMV “titer” is to determine if the kidney I received that was CMV + has caused me to get CMV. They lowered the Valcyte dose (due to my white blood cell count dropping); this med is used to prevent me from getting CMV, so it will be interesting to see the result.

If you look at my labs, you’ll see that my hemoglobin is stable, but low. The nurse said that they would expect my hemoglobin to be at least 10 by now. However, the Nephrologist decided to put me back on Procrit for a while, to “bump up” my hemoglobin. He wasn’t at all concerned; in fact, he said that since I have Beta Thalassemia, my hemoglobin might take a little bit longer to increase back towards normal.

Other than that, I have labs in 2 weeks, and a return appointment in 3 weeks (it should have been a month, but they didn’t have any appointments on that day).  At the next appointment, I’ll have my 3 month follow up labs to check for Hepatitis B and C, and HIV, since my donor died of a drug overdose. I don’t anticipate any problems. In September, I’ll also be rechecked for BK virus.

If you’re having problems with a low cholesterol or need to gain some weight, this might be the answer.

Random Stuff

July 22, 2008 3 comments

We had a fairly busy weekend. Friday, we took Kevin up to my in-laws to stay over, and on Saturday, they drove to Philth-adelphia to stay overnight, and left early Sunday for Florida for a week’s vacation. They are going to Clearwater, as they’ve done for the past several years.

The weather this weekend was triple H; hazy, hot, and humid. I actually am more tolerant of the heat. I used to be very intolerant, but most of that was the excess weight, and I am especially more tolerant since the kidney failure. Walk through a dialysis unit, and most patients getting dialyzed will have a blanket on. I don’t know why, but kidney failure will cause you to feel cold. And it’s even worse when they turn down the temperature on the dialysis machine. Most nurses kept it above 96 (F), but one nurse I occasionally had would set it at 95.5, which kept your pressure from bottoming out (low temperatures constrict blood vessels, which will help maintain BP). But I digress…

On Sunday, we went to the Back Mountain area of the Wyoming Valley. My mother’s family had their reunion (the Baird Family). It’s always nice to see aunts, uncles, and cousins that you don’t get to see throughout the year, even if for an afternoon. The oldest relative there was my Uncle Ron. He was married to my grandfather’s sister Helen. For those interested in history, he told me an interesting story about himself several years ago. He was born in Wimbledon, England, and when he was 18 months old, his father moved the family to America. His father tried to book passage on a ship, but it was full, so he bought passage on the S.S. Philadelphia. It was actually good that it happened that way, because the first ship which didn’t have any tickets remaining was the Titanic.

Work didn’t start out so well yesterday. I took off a voice mail requesting a prescription renewal, and had to call the mother with a question. When I asked it, she told me that he had died the night before! He had chronic problems, and was 13 years old, but I didn’t expect to be told that. I felt terrible, but in retrospect, there was nothing I could have done differently.

Last night, we went to our favorite restaurant to celebrate our anniversary. I had my usual Crabmeat Casserole and Jackie had the House Tenderloin. I overdid it, though, as I had dessert. Fortunately, I had a plastic bag in the car, and within 30 minutes, my dessert was in the plastic bag. Since having my gastric bypass, I’ve gotten very adept at vomiting while driving, although last night I did pull over.

Talk about a cool product (for geeks who take computers apart just because it’s fun). It’s an adapter that plugs into your USB port, allowing you to hook up a hard drive from a laptop or desktop (IDE or SATA). I’m definitely buying this. UPDATE 7/26/08: After I got this out of the box, it went from a cool product to A PIECE OF GARBAGE! It’s a great concept, but it is cheaply made, and was dead on arrival. This is the FIRST time I had to send something back to Newegg (not their fault).

Jackie found out on Friday (via an article in the paper) that the Alternative Education teaching position that she applied for (and has worked in for the past 3 years) was given to someone else. There were some people that got a call telling them that they didn’t get the job, but she wasn’t one of them. The superintendant had left a message for her 10 days ago to schedule a meeting with him for yesterday to “discuss changes in the district”. I won’t go into details, but the meeting was everything she expected. One thing that he told her was that she can apply for unemployment, but the school district “preferred not to have to pay it” (yes, he really did say that). Fortunately, that won’t be necessary, as she already has a job for September, with benefits, comparable pay, and a much better work environment.

Which is cheaper; a horse and buggy, or a car? The answer may surprise you.

Categories: Uncategorized

Transplant Week 11

July 19, 2008 5 comments

Almost 3 months since my transplant, and I feel great!

I had labs again this week, and my kidney labs are rock stable. My creatinine is still 1.2, and I’m thrilled with that. My white blood cells have risen to almost normal, since decreasing the Valcyte. My hemoglobin is still low at 9.5, but it’s stable, and I’m not symptomatic. My labs last week for my iron stores were good. I found out that the criteria for getting Venofer (IV iron infusion) are a Transferrin Saturation below 20%; mine is 28%, so no Venofer in the near future. My Prograf level is right on the mark; it’s 9, and they want it between 8-10.

I started walking on a regular basis. I walk around campus at work (it’s a medical center campus), and then eat at my desk. The first part of my walk is uphill, and I’ve been walking about 20 minutes/day. I’ll increase that a little each week. One of the issues is that I hadn’t been wearing my AFO’s (leg “splints” which stabilize my weak lower leg muscles), so feet and ankles were turning out, causing pain in my ankle. That’s improved through the week. I’ll also be starting my recumbent bike at home as well.

I have an appointment with the Transplant Nephrologist and Surgeon this week. I don’t expect any major changes, though.

For those of you who follow my other blog at MyKidney, I have a new post about Positive Thinking and it’s relationship to health.

Kevin is now on his way to Philly, and tomorrow will be leaving for Clearwater, Florida with my in-laws. He’ll be thrilled, because he’ll get beach time AND will be fishing a lot as well. I’m not sure where he gets the fishing “gene” from; it’s certainly not from me or Jackie….

Monday is our anniversary. 18 years of wedded bliss. We’ll be going out to one of our favorite restaurants that evening (after work, of course). On a side note, the church we were married in, St Cecilia’s, is being closed, and merging with the “Italian” church about a mile away.
Tomorrow, we’ll be going to my family reunion (the Baird family, on my mother’s side). I really enjoy going, as I at least get to see a lot of the people I don’t see during the year, especially since we live about 45 minutes south of the area where the reunion is.

I did get my hard drive replaced. I used Acronis True Image, and was able to just restore the cloned image from the other drive onto the new one. I’ll definitely be using this program on a regular basis.

Verizon Upgrade

July 18, 2008 Leave a comment

We’ve had Verizon DSL since March 2003. At the time, they offered 1 speed package: 768 kbps down/133 kbps up, which was blazing fast compared to our previous dialup connection. We’ve been happy with the service, as we RARELY had any downtime; our connection was there when we needed it. 

At the time we got it, I remember Verizon having a link on their website to check the distance of the CO (central office). For DSL, this is the number which not only decides whether you can have access to DSL, but also, as I’ve read, will decide on whether you can get a speed upgrade.

My sister got DSL last year, and at the time, they were offering a “starter” package and a “power” package. I didn’t call about it, because my house was 15,000 line feet from the CO at the time we started, and I figured that we couldn’t upgrade. But this week, I decided to call.

When my call was connected to Bangladesh (I have nothing at all against India; but I sometimes have a hard time communicating/understanding when sent to call centers there), I spoke with a very nice rep. He reviewed my account. I was paying $38 and change monthly for my current DSL. He said that I could get the power package for $31.99/month with a 1 year committment, and then $31.99/month after that.

I didn’t give him hell for the fact that I had been paying MORE for LESS and was never told that I could upgrade; after all, it wasn’t his fault (I know, unusual for me). I just told him to sign me up.

Within 12 hours, I had the upgrade. I checked the download speed, and although it’s not close to 3 mbps (it’s 1.5 mbps), it’s still twice as fast for $6 less/month, so I’ll take it.  My guess is that I won’t be able to reach 3.0 mbps, but that’s OK.

If they didn’t offer an upgrade, I most likely would have switched to cable. However, I would then have to switch email accounts, and I like the fact that I have an upgrade to Flickr Pro through Verizon Yahoo, as well as my Verizon email through Yahoo’s portal.

Here are my download speeds before and after the upgrade. Notice that after the upgrade, my FireFox download speed is faster than SlimBrowser (which is a slimmed down version of IE).

Before the upgrade (SlimBrowser)

After the upgrade:



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