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Archive for September, 2008

Biden Visits Wilkes-Barre

September 25, 2008 2 comments

Joe Biden visited 40 minutes north of where I live, and he didn’t disappoint. The good-ol’ Biden Gaffe-o-matic was up and running:

But his intended attack ended up confusing some of the crowd.“Ladies and gentlemen, and I say to the national press here, the single biggest tax cut proposed in history for the middle class is being proposed by John McCain,” he said, rather than calling the plan a tax increase.

Of course, that was preceded earlier this week by him saying that clean coal was not the way to go in the United States, despite the fact that Obama’s stand is that he is FOR clean coal.

But no matter; after all, Biden is from Scranton, an area that once thrived on the anthracite coal industry, and in which many in the area are banking on a resurgence of coal. That’s OK Joe; Barack doesn’t need votes up here in Hillary Country (and thus increasingly McCain Country) in a SWING state….

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Kevin and Corbett

September 23, 2008 2 comments

I had a surprise today when I was reading an online column by a local talk radio host. I started reading Small Towns Can Create Big Minds, and soon realized that it sounded VERY familiar. In fact, the teenager mentioned in it was our son Kevin.

The radio host who wrote the column, Corbett (who is also a newspaper journalist),  is a self-proclaimed “left wing radical” and “feminist” who has worked in various areas of the country. For those who know me, you are probably VERY surprised that I would listen to a “left winger”, but I DO like to get opposing viewpoints, and I actually have some common philosophies with Corbett (we both believe that government corruption is ruining this country, and needs to be reined in); I also appreciate the fact that he respects differing viewpoints, and is fairly open minded as well.

I listen to Corbett every day on my way home from work, and got Kevin listening to him as well (although since school started, he hasn’t been listening as much). For those who want to hear a sample, his show is broadcast daily on the Net between 3-7 pm. He also writes frequent columns that can be read here. Lately, local Obama supporters are in an uproar, since Corbett is a Hillary supporter, recently quit the Democrat party and registered Independent, and has been pointing out a lot of Barry’s inadequacies (and those of McCain’s as well).

Apparently, Kevin sent him an email, and it was the topic of his column of September 12 at the link above. Kevin was very excited that he was the topic of a column, as well as the fact that his views had an impact on someone that it would spur them to write about it.

Corbett actually did a one-on-one interview with John McCain yesterday when he was in Scranton. The volume isn’t good, so you might have to turn up your speaker volume. Corbett did mention today that McCain looked healthy in person, despite how the media and other side spins it.

Finally, for those of you reading this that are familiar with “da valley“, check out Let’s Name The Baby Kielbasa (and click the audio link at the bottom to hear Corbett sing).

Transplant Week 20

September 22, 2008 Leave a comment

Yes, it’s been a full 20 weeks since transplant, and everything is going well.

I had appointments last week with the Transplant Surgeon and Nurse, and the Transplant Nephrologist.

Back during the summer, my Valcyte was reduced to 450 mg daily. It had been 450 mg every 12 hours, but my White Blood Cell count took a nose dive, I became neutropenic, and had to decrease it. I was on a higher dose, since my donor was CMV + and I was CMV -. Now that my WBC is up, they put me back on the original dose. My immunosuppression will be decreased at the 6 month mark (around the first week in November), so I will be taken off the Dapsone (prophylaxis for Pneumocystis) and the Valcyte.

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this previously, but I also had a hard area above my incision. The surgeons felt that it was a hematoma (collection of blood), and that it was nothing to worry about. It’s still there, but markedly smaller, so I would think their assessment was correct.

The Transplant Nephrologist reviewed everything, and had no issues. He was a little surprised that I needed Procrit (the other Neph started me on it, and this is the first I saw Dr. G since starting Procrit), as with Polycystic Kidney Disease, it’s very unusual for a transplantee to need it. However, he felt that the Thalassemia Minor that I have was why I needed a boost.

Other than that, I’m eating well (maybe a little TOO well), I’m back walking again at lunch time after a 1+ month break. I wear lower leg orthotics (due to the hereditary nerve atrophy in my extremities), had some skin breakdown on my ankle, had to wait 2 weeks for an appointment for an adjustment, broke them back in after not wearing them for a while, and now am finally back to walking. It feels good to once again exercise, as for the past few years of kidney failure, I didn’t have the energy to do it.

Work has been very busy lately. I really don’t mind; in fact, I’m glad, because the day goes much quicker. We had a suprise inspection last week by the “ISO” aka the Information Security Office. My employer takes information security very seriously for numerous reasons. Most importantly, they only allow those involved in a patient’s care to access that chart. I’ve heard of several instances where employees were fired for accessing the chart of a friend, relative, or other patient, when they had no reason to be in the chart. And unlike “paper” charts, there is ALWAYS a way to check who was in it, as we must sign on to the EHR (electronic health record) before we can access any chart. They also have numerous measures to prevent viruses on the network, with the latest being a ban on accessing internet email (Yahoo, Gmail, etc). Anway, many people were “written up” for leaving computers unsecured and other “violations”.

This past Sunday was an 8 Buggy Sunday. The unusual thing was that I saw them both before and after work. Usually I just see them before work on their way to church, and the middle of the shift when they are returning.  I actually saw a “minibuggy” (the Amish version of a “minivan”). It was an open buggy with 3 rows of seats, rather than the traditional 2 rows, and there were 2 adults and 5 children in it. Of course, none of them were in buggy seats (car seats).

Transplant Month 4, First Post-Transplant Infection

September 16, 2008 Leave a comment
Another month down, and less than 2 months away from the end of maximum immunosuppression. 
Last week, I developed my first post-transplant infection. Not to worry, as it was just a simple, uncomplicated cold. I started out with a severe sore throat, and the next day, began with nasal congestion. No fever (thankfully), and at this point, about 5 days into the cold, I have an occasional cough, and copious nasal secretions.
My labs were done last week, and they are all very good. My Hemoglobin is stable at 11.4, my Iron and Transferrin Saturation are normal as well (labs for Procrit), Creatinine at 1.3 (up from 1.2, but I’m sure that minor fluctuations like this are normal, and I’m not at all concerned), and my Prograf level is 8. I was a little ticked off at the phlebotomist who gave me the tubes to draw my blood. I drew them all, sent them to the lab, and about an hour later, the phlebotomist came over to my desk to tell me that she missed a tube. SO, I had to stick my fistula AGAIN, to draw my Immune Cell Function.

I also had my annual physical with my Primary doc. He was thrilled with how well I am doing.  The only thing I discussed as a concern was that I continue to have poor sleep. It’s been going on since my kidney’s began failing, and is persisting. I usually go to be at 11, and like clockwork, wake up at 12:15 am. I told him that I wasn’t interested in Ambien, Lunesta, etc, as it seems to me that people who take these oftentimes get back into the same problems as the med becomes less effective. He offered Restoril, and I was ok with that, but specifically asked for Trazadone. In higher doses (150 mg), it’s used as an anti-depressant (which I certainly don’t need), but in lower doses (50 mg), it’s used as a sleep med. I started it over the weekend, and so far, my sleep is much improved.

I was hoping to be off Procrit by now, but my Hemoglobin has leveled out at 11.4. I’m still hoping to be taken off of it by next month; time will tell.

We’ve seen a 20 cent increase in gas since last week. Our region is supplied with gas via the Colonial Pipeline, so supplies to the East Coast were disrupted.  I’ve since heard that there wasn’t much damage to it, so I wonder when the prices will come down, especially since crude oil is currently trading at under $91 per barrel.  

A lot of people are worried about the current financial crisis (AIG, Lehman Brothers, the drop in the Dow…), but as Warren Buffett says, We simply attempt to be fearful when others are greedy and to be greedy only when others are fearful.” I only hope that the government taxpayers aren’t forced to foot the bill for these failing companies. The market will be unstable for a time, but everything will eventually work itself out.

 

 

 

 

 

Post Number 100!!!!

September 8, 2008 Leave a comment

Yes, I just realized 11 minutes after publishing this as “Hectic”, that it is my 100th WordPress post, so I changed the title. Other than that, no fireworks, no special graphics, nothing other than the title.

Not much to report health-wise, except that I’m glad that I got my AFO’s (orthotics that support my ankles and feet that allow me to walk without tripping) adjusted today, as I haven’t been going for walks for 2 weeks, and can feel a big difference).

Nothing new here, but I haven’t been sleeping well. I can fall asleep, but I wake up numerous times. I live with it, but I don’t want to start on a “sleeper” such as Ambien, because it may work initially, but then probably wears off. In other words, if I don’t take it, I’ll continue to have sleep problems, and if I do take it, I’ll probably continue to have sleep problems. I have an appointment with my regular doctor this week; maybe he has some suggestions.

Work continues to be very hectic, and shortages don’t help. I mentioned the last time that there is a nationwide shortage of Rabies vaccine. For 3 of the 4 workdays last week, I made and received numerous phone calls from a family with several children, who have a problem with bats getting into their house. I had to call the regional State Health Department office, and since the issue was clouded by the fact that they were previously immunized, and their situation presented several “gray areas“, the regional Health Department nurse ended up calling the state office in Harrisburg, and they called the CDC in Atlanta. When I left on Friday, I thought I had everything settled, but they ended up trying to straighten everything out through Sunday.

And of course, there’s another shortage: pharmacies are having a difficult time obtaining Fluoride. I have no idea why there is a shortage, but the pharmacy in our clinic has it on back order, and doesn’t know when it will be available. In the meantime, some parents are worried, and want to know what to do. Actually, it’s quite simple: if it’s unavailable, and you run out, then you don’t give it. There is no over the counter substitute. Put in perspective, if your kid goes without fluoride for a few weeks or months, it’s just not the same as a seizure patient being without meds for the same amount of time, or a cardiac patient being without Digoxin, or a diabetic going without insulin; you get the picture.
On the weekend, I also had a hectic time at work. Due to privacy considerations, I can’t go in to details, but suffice it to say that at one point I was probably 200/120, and left work quite angry at a family member who, shall I say, did not have the patient’s best interest in mind when a serious situation developed. It’s a chronic problem that had been in remission, but now has been occurring with more regularity, and the family member felt it to be an inconvenience that interrupted important income-producing activities. ‘Nuff said.

Clear the roads; our son Kevin got his learner’s permit last week. Actually, he’s doing a really good job with driving. I let him drive on Friday when we went to Wilkes-Barre. He quickly proved that he’s a chip off the old block, when he got behind a 100+ year old driver that was going very slow, and he passed her (legally). It’s only a matter of time before the expletives start spewing out…

Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bailout. Bad idea, and some people are gonna get REALLY rich off this one. If these agencies messed up, then the market should decide their fate; the taxpayers should not be providing the money to add to the wealth of those who screwed up.

Barack Obama is now criticizing Sarah Palin for hiring a lobbyist to secure “pork” for Wasilla when she was mayor.  Barack should first take a look at what’s going on in Joe Biden’s hometown of Scranton.  Scranton is the county seat of Lackawanna County, and the Democrat Majority Commissioners of that county have hired a federal lobbying firm to secure money for the county. Sounds a lot like what Barack was criticizing Palin for….

Categories: Uncategorized

Random Stuff 9/4/08

September 4, 2008 1 comment

     On Monday, we went to Jackie’s sister’s house for Labor Day. Gorgeous weather, and a nice relaxing day. On the way home, we got a flat tire. It turns out that it was shredded on the inside (I had to drive over 1/2 mile before I was able to pull over), but they couldn’t find anything that punctured it. So, almost $300 later, we have 2 new front tires and the front end aligned. Yes, the tires were expensive, but since we drive so much, I get the top of the line “Touring” tires that have an 80,000 mile warranty,

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There’s a letter to the editor of “Quest”, a magazine published by the Muscular Dystrophy Association in it’s Sept-Oct issue that fits right in with my philosophy and this blog’s title:

I’m 53 years old, soon to be 54.  At the age of 3, I was diagnosed with limb-girdle muscular dystrophy, and in 2002 I learned I had osteoporosis and massive degeneration of my hips.  In spite of it all, I’m still on my feet-walking and swimming twice a week as part of my therapy.  I’ve recently begun taking Boniva for osteoporosis and I still use magnets at night and drink green tea to keep healthy.

But I have to say that most of it is your state of mind.  A person’s state of mind rules their body.  To stay healthy, you’ve got to keep motivated. When we give in to negative thinking, that’s what makes us go downhill.

D.A. Herman
Alliance, Neb.

(Ms. Herman was featured in a portion of this article )
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Kevin’s pediatrician, (and the head of the department I work in) has an interesting story. Dr. M. was doing his residency in Wilmington, Delaware in 1972, and one of his patients was a child involved in a car accident. The boy’s father had a new job, but wasn’t able to make it for the first day of work. Dr. M was in the boy’s hospital room when his father was sworn in to his new job. The father was Joe Biden, and he was sworn in to his first Senate term in his son’s hospital room with Dr. M. present. I told him that Biden better give him an invite to the inauguration if they win! 

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My favorite part of Sarah’s speech at the convention:

I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a “community organizer,” except that you have actual responsibilities. I might add that in small towns, we don’t

quite know what to make of a candidate who lavishes praise on working people when they are listening, and then talks about how bitterly they cling to their

religion and guns when those people aren’t listening.

We tend to prefer candidates who don’t talk about us one way in Scranton and another way in San Francisco.

Of course, I grew up about 20 minutes away from Scranton, and I’m writing this post clutching my Smith and Wesson .357, with my Norinco SKS at my side…  🙂

 

Prior to the speech, I wasn’t sold on either candidate, but was leaning toward McCain (800 million in NEW government spending by Obama leaves me no other choice). Now, I’m cautiously optimistic with Palin on the ticket. The main draw for me is that she goes against the status quo, fought excessive spending, recognizes that we must drill domestically WHILE developing new sources of energy, and she sold her state’s jet on eBay!

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I wonder why US Weekly magazine had such a contrast in covers: Barack and Michelle Obama with the headline “Why Barack Loves Her” vs. the most recent with Sarah Palin and Trig (her baby with Down’s Syndrome) and the headline “Babies, Lies, and Scandal”. 

Well, Megyn Kelly did a great job in interviewing the Senior Editor of the magazine and asking some tough questions (the interview didn’t go well for the editor).

Medical Article Scan for August 2008

September 3, 2008 Leave a comment

I know; it’s September. Better late than never…

Anemia of Chronic Disease: An Adaptive Response?  The authors argue that anemia may be beneficial to patients with inflammatory disease, and advocate restraint in treating mild to moderate forms of anemia. This may be proven someday, as they are now finding that too much injected erythropoietin (Procrit, Epogen, etc) can have adverse effects if used to bring hemoglobin up past 12.

CMV Infections Affect More Than Just Patients With Compromised Immune Systems – researchers have discovered that Cytomegalovirus, which is particularly dangerous to those with suppressed immune systems, can also be reactivated in those with normal

Want A Reason To Love Your Lower Belly Fat?….     Fat in the lower abdomen and thighs is rich in adult stem cells.  Maybe they can set up a plan for those having gastric bypass to donate their extra fat after weight loss to cover the cost of cosmetic surgery?

Does Too Much Sun Cause Melanoma? You’ll notice in the past that I’ve had articles on Vitamin D. This article reports that sun can cause the more “benign” skin cancers, but not melanoma, and that we must strike a balance between the need to protect the skin from cancer and the need to get Vitamin D.

Long Term Weight Loss… – study of women which shows that in order to maintain a 10% weight loss, there needed to be 5 days a week of 55 minutes of exercise. On the bright side, small changes throughout the day can be partially substituted, such as moving around more, less TV, etc.

Total Calories More Important Than Dietary Fat In Diabetes Risk – decreased risk of diabetes is linked to weight loss, and not to specific nutrient content. There are other conclusions in this study, such as consumption of soft drinks was associated to unhealthy behaviors and consumption of fruit juices to healthy behaviors “to some extent”.

Stem Cell Scientist Predicts Health Revolution – immature adult stem cells are predicted to be as important a revolution in the 21st century as antibiotics were in the 20th century.

World’s First Transplant of Both Arms – Last month, a surgery team in Germany transplanted bilateral arms onto a 54 year old farmer who lost his in an accident. The 2 things of interest are the actual procedure and what was involved, as well as the hurdles afterwards, such as immunosuppression and the lack of a blood test to catch rejection.

Positive Thinking May Protect Against Breast Cancer – Yet another study affirming feelings of happiness and optimism as providing a “protective role” against disease (in this case, breast cancer).