Friday, December 28, 2007

Valient Effort

I tried, I really tried.

I went yesterday to donate blood again. I'm O negative, and that is a useful blood type, so I try to donate regularly. The last three times I have tried, I was just slightly too anemic to donate. I've been taking iron supplements so that I could donate. So when I went in yesterday, I was still under the count the first time they checked it. But another nurse came in and tried again on a different finger, and I was OK.

Unfortunately, when I laid in the chair to donate, they couldn't get the needle in the right place. They kept moving it around and pulling it in and out. Finally they gave up and tried the other arm, which isn't as good as the first one. I was a brave trooper, and told them to keep trying.

They finally got the needle in, and it looked OK, but the blood wasn't coming out at a fast enough flow. After 10 minutes, they only had 200 units, and it had slowed to a trickle. So they pulled it out and we gave up for this time. The worst thing is that they can't use it if it is less than 650 units, so the whole thing was a waste of time and energy.

As they were poking around, I kept thinking about Gail and all the people on dialysis and how my momentary pain was so miniscule compared to what they go through day after day. I was still very disappointed that none of it worked.

Wait till next time!!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas Baskets

We got the last of the Christmas baskets delivered last night! Hooray! We are doing better than last year, when a few of the baskets just never got delivered. They rode around in the back of the car getting more and more neglected and bedraggled.

Now we can put our suitcases back in the car for the imminent trip to UCSF.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Shift Happens

All the insurance issues are worked out, so now we are just waiting again for the call. I told Gail that I was surprised they hadn't called yet this morning. See, they called us the day after Thanksgiving, so I figure they will call us the day after Christmas this time. So, any minute now.

We sang for two services on Christmas Eve. At the second one, Dave preached such a wonderful sermon; I was in tears through the whole thing. I think the stress and fear is getting to me a little. People are so sweet and solicitous about me, and I always assure them that I am doing fine. I tell them that my worst day is still better than the best day Gail has on dialysis.

But there are occasional moments when I can put my shield down for a few minutes and actually feel how scared I am. It says a lot about FCC that I feel safe enough there to allow those feelings to come up.

Later that night, about 3:30, Gail woke up having a bad insulin reaction. She wasn't doing very well, so I got up and got her testing kit. By the time I got her tested, her blood sugar level was 56 or 59, which isn't too bad. But she was pretty out of it.

Then Tizzie, who was sleeping in her crate, started whimpering to go outside. I took her downstairs and she RAN outside to do her business. When she came back in, she didn't want to go back in the crate, and I realized she'd had an accident in there. Clearly the result of the big delicious barbeque beef ribs the pups had enjoyed earlier in the day. She continued to have effluence from both ends of her alimentary canal for the next hour or so. As a result, I was awake from about 3:30 until about 6:00.

After we dragged ourselves up in the morning, Gail and I took the pups to Lighthouse Field to drain some energy off them before we opened presents. Tizzie had another accident in the car (thank goodness for the hammock we put back there for them to ride in!). We pulled over to the side of the road and were trying to clean up the worst of it. A woman was walking by, and she suddenly greeted us, and it was our friend Laurie whom we haven't seen in years, and whom we have been trying to get together with! If Tizzie hadn't had her little problem, we wouldn't have seen Laurie at all! It was just great to see her!

It just goes to show; even the shittiest situations can have a wonderful result!

May all your shitty situations turn out wonderful in 2008!!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Nerd heaven!

Gail has talked to the insurance people, and we believe that she is back on the active transplant list. We both think we will get another offer soon.

BTW, we don't just sit around thinking about the transplant all day everyday!

For your information, I am about half-way through War and Peace! And, believe it or not, I am loving it. The new translation is wonderful. I had no idea it would be a funny as it is. It reminds me of Jane Austen in its wry look at society's foibles.

I am very anal-compulsive about it, because it is such a beautiful hardback book. I have a book cover on it to protect the binding, which is good because the thing weighs about 40 pounds and is rather difficult to cart around.

And (nerd alert!!), I ordered some little brass page points from Levinger so I can mark the passages I find particularly delightful without writing on the pages. So much more civilized than post-it's, doncha know!


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Good to Go

The news from UCSF is good. Our transplant coordinator took the angiogram results into the meeting of the Board of Surgeons. They pronounced it good, and said they don't even need to see Gail again. The coordinator sent a letter to the insurance company telling them that the surgeons had approved her for transplant. So as soon as the insurance company acts, she'll be back on the list.

We are both thinking that we will get the call soon. Last night at church choir rehearsal, we were all going over the dates and call times for the next couple of weeks, and both of us feel like there is a good chance we won't be here for some portion of those services.

A very nice couple from back east visiting their son have been singing with us for the last month or so. They will leave to go back home after Christmas. Last night, they gave Gail a beautiful hand knitted prayer shawl to keep her warm. It was so sweet and thoughtful of them. We are so touched by the love and generosity people show us all the time.

And our friend Genevieve is undergoing her transplant while I am writing this post! Her sister donated a kidney to her, and her operation was scheduled for today! I thought of her first thing this morning, and have been thinking about her all day!

Our fingers are crossed for all of us!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Waiting for the surgeons

The cardiologist has faxed a copy of the outstanding angiogram to the Board of Surgeons at the Transplant Center. Our coordinator is giving the information to the surgeons this morning. We are hoping that the surgeons will recommend to the insurance company that Gail be reinstated on the active list. We are scheduled to see them again on January 7th, but we want her to be on the list between now and then.

The coordinator will call back today (hopefully) and let us know what they say.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Sleeping it off after the angiogram

Here's a photo of Gail right after the angiogram. Very peaceful and relieved.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Angiogram A OK

The doc just came in and told me that everything was fine. He didn't have to do anything! This is the best news we could have hoped for.

Hopefully this means that she will stay on the active transplant list through the holidays.

She slept for a while at the hospital, and we just got home.

OK, so far, I've gotten all my wishes. So I guess we get the transplant call tomorrow!


So things are a little bolloxed up. It has been a year since Gail started doing dialysis, since she got the cardiac catheter installed, and since she has been active on the transplant list. Now her insurance company is requiring her to undergo the same tests she did last year before they will authorize the transplant.

The only test she is worried about is the angiogram. When she had it last year, she had a little narrowing of one of the blood vessels in her heart and they did a minor balloon angioplasty. That kept her off the active transplant list for a couple of months, mainly because they used Plavix during the antioplasty. She also says that the angiogram was, if not painful, then at least uncomfortable. She remembers feeling the little tube thing moving around in her heart.

So tomorrow morning she is going in for the angiogram.

She is a little afraid of the discomfort. She is afraid that another year of being a diabetic may have done more damage to her heart. She is afraid that she will be off the transplant list for the two months which will include the end of December and the beginning of January, when more organs become available. Since we have already received one offer from the transplant center, it would be particularly hard to be taken off the active list now.

I am hopeful that everything will be fine tomorrow, that they won't have to do anything more than the angiogram, that we will be home tomorrow afternoon, and that they will call with a transplant on Tuesday.

Keep those thoughts and prayers coming!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

She's tired

I came to pick her up after dialysis yesterday and got there about 35 minutes before she was done. She was fast asleep in her chair with her sweatshirt and her blanket over her. I left to get her a replacement pillow, and when I returned about 25 minutes later she was still asleep. She stayed asleep until her time was up and the buzzer went off.

She said it makes her feel like an invalid to wake up and see me there, but I like it. I feel like I am on guard, allowing her to safely rest. It feels very peaceful to me.

I have graduated. Now the nurses will let me stay near her chair while they take her off the machine. I guess they know that I'm not going to faint or do anything that would endanger her. I like that too. It's nice to be trusted.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


One of the nurses at Gail's dialysis center used to work on a pediatric transplant unit (think a moment about having THAT job!)

As she was taking Gail off the dialysis machine on Saturday, she told us that she thinks we will get called before the new year. As macabre as it is to talk about it, she said it was really evident that the number of organs available for transplant markedly increased during the holiday season. Probably related to increased drinking and driving.

We wish no one to come to harm, but people inevitably will. We only hope that those whose time has come will have already made the decision to donate their organs.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Feast of Christmas: 25 Years

We went to the 25th Anniversary of Music for the Feast of Christmas last night. It was a lovely concert and a lovely party afterwards. I have sung in the last 20 years worth of concerts, so it felt very strange to be sitting in the audience. Looking up at so many people we have known for so many years, Gail and I agreed that those people up there are our family.

They performed a number of pieces that I have sung in the past, and I was so proud of everyone for doing such a great job. Unless you have sat through a semester's worth of rehearsals, I don't think you can know how much work and effort and time and skill go into putting such a great concert together. I am reminded over and over what a consummate artist Cheryl is and why we would all walk over broken glass for her.

The Youth Chorus also performed in the concert, in honor of the 25th Anniversary, and they were terrific. At the party afterwards, a bunch of little girls in their concert finery were playing around on the dance floor in the middle of the room. I was MCing the party, and they just stayed there like a little mosh pit full of twittering blackbirds. They swirled around the floor following the microphone around as we interviewed long-time members of the chorus and sang Happy 80th Birthday to Iris. They they just hung on to Cheryl while she talked and thanked everyone. So we had 8 years olds and 80 years olds, and everyone was happy. Now that is a strong and vibrant community.

Driving home after the party, I asked Gail if she felt loved. She responded that she did indeed feel well and truly loved by so many people there. It made her feel very good. It was a lovely evening.