Thursday, September 04, 2008

And now...

Gail and I went to the first rehearsal of Symphonic Chorus last night. It was great to see everybody again. The group is going to perform the Messiah in Dublin in June, so we will be learning it all year. I won't be able to go to Ireland because of budget hearings, but it is fun to sing anyway.

Gail is doing great. All her numbers look good (except her white blood count is very low...) and she is feeling good. She is planning to go back to work half time next week. That will be a major change for her and the puppies (who are almost two!). Part of our plan is to get them some new bark collars so they won't disturb Marlene and Bert while Gail is out of the house. They have gotten better, but they still bark a lot. Herding dogs do that, I guess.

I am stunned by McCain's choice of Sarah Phelan as VP. If she were a man, it would be a joke. As it is, it is really frightening. And the wildly enthusiastic response at the Republican convention last night is even more frightening. If I were a Republican woman, I would be so offended by that choice. That's the best woman they can find???

Thursday, July 17, 2008


Life is good. We are sitting on the deack of a restaurant in South Lake Tahoe looking out at the lake and READING BOOKS!

We went on a long hike yesterday and may ride a zipline later today after a little more digestion has happened.

We have played Scrabble and tried Cribbage.

we are beginning to feel relaxed.

Monday, July 07, 2008

To Do List

Well, we have finished off our To Do List:

Rehearse and perform Elijah: Done

Prepare miserable County budget: Done

Get married: Done

4th of July Party: Done

Wedding Reception: Done

Kidney/Pancreas Transplant: Done

Whew!! It has been quite a spring. We are ready for a break.

This time of year always seems so free and open. I always want to take on new projects that I don't have time for during the year. I want to learn more photography skills (again), and Gail and I are working out three times a week.

We are going to Sorenson's for a few days next week, and we plan to read books till our eyeballs fall out!

Summer is here!

Our Wedding Cake

Our Wedding Cake
Originally uploaded by gr8what
We had our annual 4th of July party and incorporated a little more wedding festivities in between Who's on First and hot dogs. We ordered a real wedding cake and served it at the party. I think it was beautiful!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008


For you folks living the good life in places other than California, I want you to know that I paid $4.88 a gallon for gas this morning. Share my pain...

We Got Married

Originally uploaded by ja_hughes

It was a great day!

Just a great day all around!

John and Robin escorted us in, and Cheryl and Dana were our witnesses, and Sachi was there with us, and it was lovely.

I'll do a longer post later, but it was a wonderful day!

There are lovely photos all over the place, such as here:

and here:

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Perfect Day

1. Go to the gym to work out, spend 30 minutes on the eliptical machine
2. Get Gail and the pups and go to Kelly's for breakfast.
3. Go to the Farmers Market.
4. Go to the store where I got Gail's diamond ring in November and find out we can order one just like it for me.And maybe still on sale and maybe in time for the wedding.
5. Sit outside a coffeeshop in downtown Santa Cruz drinking ice tea, watching people go by, and reading The Yiddish Policemen's Union, listening to Gail laugh out loud while she reads her book.
6. Be very grateful..

Friday, June 06, 2008

We're getting married!

Gail and I
Originally uploaded by gr8what
So Gail and I are going to be the first couple to get married in Santa Cruz County on June 17th at the romantic hour of 8:00 AM. It will be webcast live by the County Clerk's office, so our friends and family all over the world will be able to watch! We are all atwitter about it around here!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Good Week

Things are going very well. Gail is feeling good and is getting out and about a little. We go back to UCSF next Tuesday, and we think everything will be fine. She is on a new anti-rejection drug, Rapamune, and so she is quite immune-suppressed. But she is doing great!

I am getting a little traction at work, and that is good.

We went to Gay Pride last Sunday, and had a good time there as well. First Congregational Church marched in the parade and had a service at the park, and a good time was held by all.

Then I went to the church for the Children's Choir concert, and they were wonderful and charming.

It's been a good week.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Lat night I dreamed that I was running. It was one of those nice running dreams where I felt strong and fleet. I chose not to wear any clothes on my run because it just feels better to run that way. (!)

I ran all the way across the County, past John and Cheryl's house. but when it was time to turn around and run home, I was too tired. I tried to run, but I couldn't get my feet to move. I tried to count off as I ran to get a rhythm, but I couldn't do anything but take tiny little steps. Plus, it was a little weird now to be unclothed.

The story meandered along, with Gail coming to help me, etc. But I think this means I am still really tired...and maybe I need to buy some new clothes.


Originally uploaded by gr8what
On Saturday, I went out into the fire area with some families to see if their houses had burned. One house was lost, but another family found their two kitties and were able to bring them out safely. Our lives are filled with both tragedy and joy.

I took this picture off Dove Lane, off Eureka Canyon road. There are firefighters everwhere, digging in the duff to get the fire out. You can see from this picture how hard it would be to put a fire out in these big old redwoods.

Monday, May 26, 2008

The Gang

The Gang
Originally uploaded by gr8what
We had lunch with John and Cheryl, John and David, and Danielle and Aaron. It was so good to see them all again.

Friday, May 23, 2008


I guess life was just getting too easy, what with Gail doingvso well after her surgery and the budget printed. So now we have a fire in the Santa Cruz mountains.

Gail and I are fine. The fire is no where near us. I worked as Public Information Officer all day yesterday and back today.

John and Cheryl's place was a little too close for comfort, but they're OK.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Reserved Parking!

Originally uploaded by gr8what
Wow! I never got my own reserved parking place yet!


Originally uploaded by gr8what
I was asked to speak at the Cabrillo Scholarship Awards Ceremony this year. What a fun thing!

Here is what I said:

I first became part of the Cabrillo community in the mid-1980’s, when I joined the Cabrillo Symphonic Chorus. I’ve stayed around ever since, taking classes and singing in various choirs.

One of the great things about singing in a choir is the opportunity to travel: Join a choir – see the world. In 1994, my mother, Peggy Phillips, went with the Symphonic Chorus for a trip to Eastern Europe. My mother was not a singer, but she sat in the audience beaming at us for every concert as we sang our way through the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, and Hungary. She made a lot of good friends on that tour, and always enjoyed visiting with them whenever she came out to see me.

When she died six years later, I wanted to do something to honor her memory. She had been a second grade teacher for many years in West Texas, and she and my dad raised four kids all of whom graduated from college. Because she was an educator and because she had such a good time with us on tour, I decided to establish the Peggy Phillips Vocal Arts Scholarship in her honor at Cabrillo.

I am fortunate to still be singing with the choral program, so I usually know the students who have received my mom’s scholarship. And that gives me a lot of pleasure. And you know, my mom would have loved this today. She would have loved knowing that some student’s life was going to be a little easier, that some student might be able to stay in college, because of a scholarship in her honor. And if you knew my mom, you know she would have loved being the center of attention here today.

I don’t know what you think Cabrillo students are like, but in my experience, I can tell you they are a broad and varied bunch. I have known absolutely brilliant students, and talented ones, and really funny ones. I have watched so many of them become adults. Some of these kids have solid, intact families supporting them all the way, and others… not so much.

But what they do have at Cabrillo is a place that is committed to helping them along their way, that can allow them to experience the world in a new, larger way, a place where they can find a passion that will last them the rest of their lives. Whether it is their Cabrillo teacher calling a colleague at Indiana University to get her student accepted, or whether it is the Women’s Educational Success program providing a bus pass and money for books to a single mother in the nursing program, Cabrillo is a place where bridges are built. Bridges between students and teachers, between the campus and the community, and bridges between the past and the future.

My mom’s scholarship isn’t the only one I have contributed to and that I listen for every year. I also listen for the Betsy McCarty Nursing Scholarship, which was established to thank a wonderful colleague of mine who was retiring after many years in the County Health Department. Betsy is still around, and her scholarship will be around even longer to help a whole string of students enter the profession that she loved so much and was so very good at.

Each year, I sit out there in the stands and listen for the Rosmarie Greiner Peace Scholarship. I studied Aikido with Rosemarie over 25 years ago. She was a committed peace activist, and it delights me no end to know that her work is being carried on at Cabrillo long after her untimely death.

And I sit and listen for the Stan MacGregor Scholarship, because I sang with Stan for many years, and a kinder, funnier, more brilliant open-hearted man you cannot imagine. To hear his name announced is to remember how much I loved him and what fun we had together.

So I sit here every year and I wait to find out which music student is getting my mom’s scholarship, and I find out which nursing student gets Betsy’s scholarship, and what lucky fellow gets Stan’s scholarship, and what earnest soul gets Rosmarie’s. Because I loved all of these people, and all of these people loved life (and Betsy still does), and they all loved learning, and they would all be so happy to know that there is a part of them still here and still making a difference in the world.

Cabrillo is very good about thanking the people who donate to the college, and I appreciate their thanks. But, here is the truth. Us donors? We are the lucky ones in this story. Not because we get to sit in the shade, although I am really grateful for that today.

We are lucky because we get to honor with a scholarship someone we love who made a difference in our lives. And, in doing that, we also get to make a difference in the life of a student we may not even know.

We get to acknowledge them for the good work they have done already, and we let them know how much we believe in them and the good work they will do.

I can think of nowhere I would rather be, and no one I would rather be with, and no greater gift than this.

Thank you

Betsy and Gail

Betsy and Gail
Originally uploaded by gr8what
We went out afterwards for a bite.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Wedding Bells!

The California Supreme Court ruled today that banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional! I think this means that Gail and I can get married! Wow, twenty five years, the purchase of two homes, the death of three parents, the transplant of one kidney and one pancreas, and someone in a position of authority finally thinks we deserve the protections and benefits of marriage.


There will undoubtedly be further appeals and rulings and legal shenanigans, but this is a wonderful step forward. And we still won't have the federal benefits for a while, but it is still nice to celebrate the decision.

I asked Gail when she wanted to get married, and she thinks after her 6 month transplant anniversary. Maybe on Feb 13th, the day we were married in San Francisco.

Good news!

Sunday, May 11, 2008


Gail is recuperating nicely. She has even been driving a little, which is exciting and scary at the same time. She drove herself to church this morning, and enjoyed being there in the congregation without having to stand up and sing with the choir all the time.

Those nice people from church are going to go to a place in town called Fresh Prep where they will make a bunch of meals for us, and bring them to us to put in the freezer. It is so sweet of them, and I really appreciate it.

It is hard for me to accept help, much less ask for it. This may be part of what I should be learning from this experience.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Definitely better

We went back to UCSF yesterday for Transplant Clinic. It was good. All her blood counts are perfect, her temp is stable, both organs are doing what they are supposed to do, and everything is looking good.

They reduced one of her 17 medications from everyday to Mon, Wed, Friday; reduced the number of times every week that she has to go to the local lab for blood draws from every Monday and Thursday to just Mondays, and we don't have to go back to the clinic in SF until May 20th. Plus they approved the reduction to the amount of blood pressure meds she is taking.

So all in all, it was a very successful visit.

She is still tired, but it feels more like she is just recuperating rather than anything being wrong underneath or on top of the surgery.

I am frantically trying to make up for the three weeks lost at work. Whimper!!

Saturday, April 19, 2008


Hmmm...Gail seems a little more cheerful this morning. Maybe between the increased anti-depressant and the lowered blood pressure medication, things are moving back into place. Hope is peeking out!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Blood Pressure

I have been worried about Gail's mood. I know that she is only 3 1/2 weeks out from surgery, but she is very low energy and not her usual cheerful self. We have adjusted one of her meds to counteract a drug interaction we know about, and that has been a little bit helpful.

Then I thought maybe her energy was low because she red blood cell count was low. Often when she was on dialysis she would start getting very low energy when her blood count was low. They would put her on ProCrit, and she would perk up again. So we went in to see one of her very nice nephrologists to get her set up for ProCrit in case her blood count was low. But when we were there, her latest blood work showed that her blood count was in the low/normal range. So that doesn't appear to be a problem right now.

But the doctor was just checking her over before we left, and her blood pressure was only 70 over 40! She was fine, not dizzy or anything, but the blood pressure needs to be high enough to ensure that the pancreas is getting good blood flow. The doctor recommended that she be admitted to the hospital overnight to get a saline drip. Gail did NOT want to do this, and I could see she was getting ready to dig her heels in. So I suggested that we go out to the waiting room, get her a big ol' bag of Cheetos and a lot of fluids and let her tank up. Then we could check her pressure in an hour or so.

Fortunately, this worked, and we were able to go home. We went back in to check it this morning, and it was OK.

It looks like her new kidney is doing its job really well, and she may not need so much blood pressure medication. Anything we can do to reduce the amount of medications she is on would be a very good thing.

And maybe low blood pressure has been contributing to her low energy level.

It is hard for me to gauge whether I am just impatient for her to get well, or if her energy level and affect really are being negatively affected by something. We are going back to UCSF for transplant clinic on Tuesday, so we will discuss all these things with them then.

As for me, I am very tired. Work is overwhelming, and it is very hard to spend an entire unplanned morning at the doctor's office when I needed to be at work.

If I can just make it through June....

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Things are going well, finally.

I am back at work a lot, and Gail is staying at home with the pups. She is still really tired and low-energy, but she is not in much pain. She takes herself on a little short walk most days. She has to have blood drawn locally on Mondays and Thursdays, and that is time-consuming, but not a big deal.

So things have settled down. I think now she just has to recuperate from the surgery itself. The transplant center says all her blood numbers are perfect.

Things will be blissfully boring for a while, we hope!!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Jiggity Jig!

The docs came in said that they didn't get enough tissue from the pancreas biopsy to rule out rejection. But her temps have been normal for 36 hours and all her blood work is "perfect." So they are discharging her this afternoon and we are fine with that.

We are going to be more careful about not tiring her out and screening people for colds. The docs said that we should avoid people with flu or diarrhea (duh!). They also said to avoid babies because they never wash their hands. They didn't think masks were necessary unless we are hanging around people with TB.

So I think we are heading home to take up our lives again.

I asked Gail how many nights she thought we have been home since the surgery, and she said 3, which is exactly what I would have said. But we were home for nine nights! It seems like we have hardly been home at all.

It's gonna be great!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

April 9th

Gail had her biopsy this morning around 10. Then she had to llay flat on her back for six hours. After a few hours she got to eat something, but couldn't keep it down ( think Vesuvious). Once that was over she felt OK.

We haven't received the results from the biopsy yet, but we think we will get them in the morning. And w think we will come home tomorrow. Finally.

Monday, April 07, 2008

April 8

All the test results have come in (including the CMV) and they are all negative. So we know lots of things that are NOT causing her elevated temperatures but not what IS.

So she will have a pancreas biopsy tomorrow with ultrasound. If they can get the tissue they want, they will be able to tell if there are any early signs of rejection. If they do find indications of rejection, she'll stay here for a few more days while they give her prednisone.

But we don't think that they will find any rejection. We think that the biopsy will turn out fine and they will send us home on Thursday without ever knowing what is causing the fevers. The doc said that sometimes people with pancreas transplants have unexplained fevers during the first month. And I think that is what we will end up with.

We have been playing Scrabble. How would you like to play with someone who plays VIZIER one day and ZEALOUS the next? I keep thinking that her medical situation will give me an edge in Scrabble, but no such luck.

It got so bad today that I went to a yarn store and bought some yarn and needles. Gail started knitting lessons and I am working on a nice simple washcloth. Now, that's scary!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Quiet Day

Regardless of what the blog header says, it is about 8:30 on Sat night the 5th of April.

We have had a quiet day at UCSF. Gail had an ultrasound this morning and a CAT scan this afternoon. Lots of tests have been taken, but no results yet on any of them.

I don't think we will be home until we get some results. Her temp has been stable today at about 99 degrees.

They tried to give her a new IV today, but couldn't get it seated right so they will have to try again tonight. Her arms are really bruised and sensitive so she is pretty apprehensive about it.

I am pissed because she never got fed today. I know she couldn't eat before the CAT scan, but that was hours ago and they have brought her nothing. The cafeteria is closed so I can't get her anything.

That is the only thing that hasn't been handled well here, and I don't like it.

Back to UCSF AGAIN!!!

Gail is resting now. She is receiving a unit of blood, and that is making her feel better. Her temp went up to 102.2 again, and they put ice water floaties around her. That brought her temp down to normal, so that is good.

The medical transport will be here at 9 pm to take her to SF. I'll follow in our car.


I think we are all so delighted with Gail's progress that it is easy to forget what a complex and significant ordeal she has undergone. She IS doing great but she still has a long way to go.

Back in the ER

I think everything is going to be OK, but it is a little scary.

Gail called me out of rehearsal and told me she was in trouble and needed help. She had gotten chilled and checked her temperature. It got as high as 102.2. She called UCSF and they said to bring her into the Emergency Room.

So we've been here almost 5 hours. Her temp is normal now and her blood work looks OK. They did an ultra sound of her organs and they looked fine.

So I think they are just going to keep her overnight for observation. Hopefully they won't send us to UCSF.

She's sleeping now. I hope they have all her meds for tonight...

I hope we are able to figure out why her temp spiked. All I can think of is maybe she didn't stay hydrated enough. But I don't know if that can cause a temp to spike.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Church Check-In

Gail felt up to going to church yesterday. We were a little nervous about people welcoming her back too boisterously, so we sort of snuck in late and sat at the back.

It was Dave's last service before his sabbatical, so everybody was there to see him off. As she was welcoming everyone, Heather announced that she had seen Gail and me come into the sanctuary, and that we were back for the first time after Gail's successful kidney and pancreas transplant. The room filled with the sound of people clapping, and then they started stomping their feet (led by the choir, I am sure), and then they all stood up and clapped and cheered some more. They kept clapping for a really long time. It was an incredibly sweet moment and meant so much to us.

We stayed through communion and then left early. Gail was pretty tired but really happy that we went. She rested or slept for the rest of the evening. She was hurting a bit, so she took something stronger than Tylenol, which she rarely does, and that made her feel better. We went out a little this morning, and she has been sleeping most of today.

Tomorrow we go back up to SF for the transplant clinic. I don't think she will get her staples taken out until next week, but her incision is beginning to look very good to me!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Home Sweet Home

We had a very restful night in our own home last night. Gail is feeling well enough to go out to breakfast this morning. We even walked briefly around the farmers market. I bought her some brussels sprouts, which I don't like, but I guess I'll cook them for her. (Yech!)

It is wonderful to be home again. It is wonderful to be typing on a full size keyboard again. I did all the blogging for the last two weeks on my phone, and it wasn't the easiest thing to do. On the other hand, it was way easier than carrying even a laptop around.

We're trying to get organized around here! Enormous quantities of new medications to bring in and a surprising amount of old meds to get rid of somehow. We have a bunch of vials of insulin in the refrigerator taking up space that she doesn't need any more! Other diabetic equipment and supplies as well. It's pretty amazing.

Thanks to all of you yet again for your support. I have about 80 emails saved that we got over the last two weeks. I am going to print them out for Gail to read again. It meant so much to both of us to hear from you!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

We're Comin' Home...Again!

The docs cleared Gail to come home this afternoon. They'll remove the IV and let her go. I am really glad we came up here. She is much stronger and more well rested than she was when we came home before.

She looks so good that it is hard to remember that she has undergone such a huge surgery.

When they remove the IV, it will be the first time in 5 years that she hasn't had a tube of some kind inserted in her body.

I am so happy to bring her home. Again. And better than ever.

C Dif Free

They just popped in and told us that her test for Clostridium Deficile turned out negative, so that is good news.

Now we know one thing that didn't cause her problems. We still don't know what did cause them, but it's a step in the right direction.

But wait! There's more!

Things are very quiet here. Gail is napping. She is still having bouts of diarhea, but she is is on a saline IV so we aren't worried about dehydration.

WWill probably be here till Saturday, but it's fine with us. I have decided that they didn't discharge us on Sunday. They just gave us a 2 day leave for a little R+R. We've come back to finish ourvtour of duty.

Plus we are in a private room and that is infinitely more comfortable.

It's not best hotel we've ever stayed in. But it's not the worst, either!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Small Setback

We are back in UCFS tonight. Gail was having diarhea and vomiting all day. After consulting with her doctor we decided to readmit her so they can give her an IV to be sure she doesn't get dehydrated.

She is a little sad and a little scared, but we are both glad she is here. This way no damage will be done while they figure out what's going on.

Our friend Mary said, That's just what happens.One step forward, one syep backwards, and the tango continues.

And the dance goes on!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Back for our First Check-up

Gail is doing great (how many times have I said that in the last 8 days!!). Her strength comes back a little each day, and she is sleeping well at night. Yesterday I took her to the Medical Clinic here in town for a blood draw. She will have to go in every Monday and every Thursday for the foreseeable future to get blood drawn. The Transplant Team will monitor her this way.

Today we are driving back to San Francisco for her first transplant clinic. We'll do that every week for a couple of weeks and then it will taper off.

We are learning her new medical regimen which mainly involves the ingestion of 17 or 18 different drugs at various times of the day. It is definitely doable, and will soon be second nature. At the moment, it is taking quite a bit of concentration and much fumbling of papers.

Headed home

Headed home
Originally uploaded by gr8what
Gail came home on March 23rd wearing the socks Sarah knitted for her so many months ago. She is doing great. Our deepest thanks go out to all of you who wrote and called and visited. Your support made all the difference!

And words cannot express our gratitude to the person and his or her family who donated her new kidney and pancreas. The expanse of our joy was deepened by your sacrifice.

Look ma! No central line in my neck!!

We measured the success each day by how many lines and tubes were removed. This was a great day, because the central line was removed.

She walks!

She walks!
Originally uploaded by gr8what
Notice she has her glasses on! Nothing wakes you up quite like having your glasses on!

She did a good amount of walking around on the floor, building up her strength so she can come home. Everywhere she went, she had to drag the IV pole around, so that sort of slowed her down a little.


Originally uploaded by gr8what
Here is Gail a day or two after surgery! She is out of the ICU and in a regular patient room on 9 Long, the kidney/pancreas/liver transplant unit. She has an oxygen tube, a nasal/grastro tube (to keep her stomach empty), and a central line into her neck to deliver drugs.

In the ICU

In the ICU
Originally uploaded by gr8what
Here is a picture from March 17th or 18th. Gail is in the ICU, sitting up. She has many inscrutable tubes going in her and out of her. She enjoyed having friends visit her, even tho she got pooped out pretty quickly!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

And then...

The doctor just took the dialysis catheter out after 17 months. That is a huge deal. Having it removed is like the closing parenthesis.

He tild her to be sure not to get dehydrated. "Be sure you eat plenty of salt and drinks lots of fluids" he said, to our amazement and amusement.

I think we wull head home around 6 this evening.


Gail is doing great. She still has one IV in, but it's not hooked up to anything. She is free to get up and walk or pee or anything she wants without pulling the IV pole behind her.

She looks better than she has in a very ling time.

Her blood sugar after brekfast was 120!!! Normal!

We are pretty sure she'll go home today. They are going to to take the dialysis catheter out this afternoon, and we wikk see how she is feeling after that.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Saturday Morning

They took the central line out of her neck late last night and they are going to take the remaining IV out today. They have cleared her to start drinking liquids.

Not much else to do but send her home tomorrow!

Poop Happens

And when poop happens, nose tubes can be removed. And life is easier without a tube up your nose.

After last night's hard time, today was much easier. She got a bed bath and felt much better.

She still isn't taking anything by mouth, but that should happen very soon.

Much progress today along with three visits from three dear friends, right when we needed them the most.

Friday Morning

Gail had a rough night. Now that the foley catheter is out, she has to get up and pee every two or three hours so her sleep is disturbed.

The night nurse was nice but scattered. She was emptying Gail's drains and did something that suddenly hurt her. It surprised her as well as hurt her and that was upsetting.

Then in the middle of the night, she got up to pee and got chilled and couldn't stop shivering. So that scared her.

The euphoria of the transplant is beginning to fade, and the grind of recuperation is beginning.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Thursday Afternoon

Things continue to go well.

They removed the foley catheter, so Gail is more comfortable now. She walked for about 20 minutes and even climbed a short set of stairs. We are feeling very confident about her being able to climb the stairs at home.

The only thing we are worried about now is the puppies trampolining off her belly, as they sometimes do in their doggy excitement.

Her pancreas is still sluggish. She went down for an ultrasound this afternoon to be sure there aren't any problems.

More Good News

The docs just came in and said she's doing good. We are still waiting for her to pass gas, which means her digestive system is working.

They said they are planning to send her home on Sunday!

Woo hoo!

Day 3, 8 pm

Things are still going well. Gail looks good and she walked around a little this afternoon. She felt very proud of herself.

A friend of ours visited who saw Gail a couple of weeks ago. She said she looks much better now than she did then, before the surgery!

I agree. Her color is good, her eyes are bright, and she is sleepy but not exhausted. That's a big change!

They took the bandages off today. It is a very long incision right up the middle of her belly. I took a photo if you want to see. It's interesting in a gruesome sort of way!

One of the nurses began giving us instructions on how to live after transplant, which mostly consists of what meds to take when, and on how to recognise infection and rejection. It's not as complicated as we feared it would be. We can do this.

It was also the first time in many years that we have been the recipients of a presentation about the importance of safe sex. That was fairly amusing.

Lots of you have sent emails and they are wonderful. Thank you so much!

Wednesday, Day 3, 11 am

Gail continues to do very well. She slept well and she looks great. They will make her start walking around today, which I think she is both looking forward to and dreading at the same time.

I have been reading your emails to her and she loves them.

Unfortunately, I don't have time to respond to each one, so I hope this thanks will suffice for now.

We are filled with gratitude!

Day 2

Gail is in her regular room now. It is blissfully quieter than the ICU.

She is still hooked up to lots of tubes doing inscrutable things, but she is in no pain thanks to the wonders of modern day pharmacology.

Her dad and Mary came today, and Cheryl and Kathy and then Dave. It was great to see them but it did wear her out.

She has been sleeping since she got here.

And the second day was good too.

Still good.. She hasn't had

Still good.. She hasn't had any insulin and her blood sugar is dropping, so we are very happy.

She is getting ready to sit up for the first time

Day 2 I just saw

Day 2

I just saw Gail this morning and she is doing fine. They will probably move her out of intensive care today. She is still very groggy.

Monday, March 17, 2008

So her blood sugar is

So her blood sugar is dropping, that means her new pancreas is working. Gail has been a diabetic for 35 years. And now she's not.


She's out! The doc called.

She's out!

The doc called. The surgery went well. Very little loss of blood. And get this! He said the organs are both working already!

Gail has been in surgery

Gail has been in surgery for four hours with two to go.

I am feeling supremely confident that everything is going to work out great. It's good

They took Gail into the

They took Gail into the OR at about 6 am. The doc said the surgery will take about six hours. We didn't get much sleep, but she looked good.

It looks now like Gail

It looks now like Gail will go into surgery at 4 or 5 this morning. Then she'll be in the ICU for a day or two.

So far so good.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Call! There we were

The Call!

There we were having a bowl of gumbo (me) and a grill cheese sandwich (Gail) when the transplant center called this afternoon.

We drove to UCSF and we are sitting in a room waiting for things to happen.

it could still be a false alarm, but so far so good.

you can send us email at

Friday, March 07, 2008

Racing Stripes

Racing Stripes
Originally uploaded by gr8what
And here is a picture of it from the side.

I haven't chosen to give it a name yet. Any suggestions?

MINI at the Beach

MINI at the Beach
Originally uploaded by gr8what
Look what I got!!

It's red! It's cute! It's just like my Vespa except I can drive it in the rain and it won't give me "hat hair!"

I'm a happy camper!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Good Bad Good

Good: The dialysis center runs a fairly extensive blood panel on Gail every month, and her bloodwork continues to be very good. Her calcium and phosphorous and iron and all that stuff is in the normal range.

Bad: She is getting more and more tired all the time. Part of it is mental; it's hard to be waiting all the time month after month. But I think it is mostly physical; machines can't fully replace two functioning kidneys. I try to encourage her to come home early and take an occasional day off from work, but she worries about not having enough leave time at work to cover her surgery and recuperation.

Good: I don't know what our horoscopes would say, but we have been graced with the reappearance in our lives of a number of old friends. At a 70th birthday party for a friend, a whole group of us got together for the first time in years. Lots of changes have happened since we last had seen each other. Several of us were single again, two were in wheelchairs, Gail on dialysis, one with a son in prison, one with a newly minted law degree, several retired, and all of us glad to see each other again. And, to add sweetness onto sweetness, we have also made contact with some long lost dear friends from Aikido.

Somehow we lost contact with these beloved people because of some temporary friction or unpleasantness. But all that is lost in the past now, and doesn't even make an appearance. All that remains is very sweet, and it is very good.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

We're Number 1!

We talked to our transplant coordinator yesterday, and he said there has been a little movement on the list. A man got called for a transplant yesterday, and once his transplant happens, Gail will be number one on the regional list.

Now you may have thought she was already #1 on the list. Well, she was at the top...among the handfull of people at the top of the list. But now, she really is the first name; assuming the other transplant happened.

So, my little statistician brain tells me, if they did 19 kidney/pancreas transplants all last year, and Gail's blood type (A) is 34% of the population in the US, then...ticka ticka tocka...she would be an appropriate recipient for 6.5 transplants a year, which is ... one about every two months.

So, statistically speaking (aka: having nothing to do with the real world), she should get a call in two months, which would be in the end of April, which would really comply with the Principal of Inconvenience. That alone give great credence to my prognostication!

However, there are few things in the world quite as random as the availability of organs, so we'll keep our suitcases packed and ready.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

New Dryer

Our old clothes dryer that we bought at a garage sale 20 years ago has finally started wheezing instead of drying. Time to replace it! We stop in Sears and choose a nice gas dryer to be delivered today.

At home, Robin is puzzled about our choice. He doesn't remember seeing a gas line in the laundry room. We dismissively assure him that it is a gas dryer; nobody in Santa Cruz would ever have an electric dryer because they are so expensive.

He considers our firm and unequivocable response and doesn't say anything else, because his mama didn't raise no fool.

Today the new dryer is delivered, and the set-up guy points out that we do not have a gas line in the laundry room.

Gail and I are baffled; Robin is galantly trying to control his snarky smirks.

And I call Sears to request a replacement dryer of the electric persuasion, to be delivered in a day or two.

It is simply amazing to me how two ostensibly intelligent people can so firmly believe something to be true in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

There's probably a lesson in this somewhere, but who has time to think about it?

I need to go read some information proving that gay marriage will be the end of civilization.

Monday, February 11, 2008


Because we have been expecting the call from the transplant center "any day now" (for the last year), Gail has not wanted to make an appointment with her endocrinologist (her diabetes doctor). I finally bullied her into it, and we went this morning.

He was fairly gracious about someone showing up out of nowhere after 16 months of absence with no lab work and having lost a glucose monitor. He wants her to meet with the diabetic educator to do a three day sensitivity test to get her insulin pump calibrated correctly. This is a very very good thing for her to do. Her blood sugars have been all over the place, and we have not calibrated the pump since she went on dialysis. It is a difficult three day test where you have to fast a lot and wake up in the middle of the night to test your blood sugar. The idea is that you need to see how much insulin your body needs on its own; then you figure out how much you need to add when you eat something. She hasn't done one of these since she went on the pump a number of years ago. And it makes sense that it would be affected by being on dialysis, but we don't know how.

But Gail is a stubborn, obstinate monkey, and just can't see why she needs to keep seeing him since she won't be a diabetic anymore once she gets the transplant.

I hate it when we act so stereotypical. Humans are just silly.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


Like the good citizens we are, Gail and I both voted on Tuesday. For the first time in our 25 years together, we split our vote. But we don't care, because we know we'll be united in November when it really counts.

Because it was such a momentous event, I voted with Gail at our regular precinct, rather than just voting downstairs at the Elections Office. When we walked out together, Gail was just beaming. I asked her why, and she said she felt like she had just taken communion, all holy and virtuous.

She is so cute.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Cheryl and Joe

Cheryl and Joe
Originally uploaded by gr8what
This is the introduction I gave for Cheryl at the awards.

“Somehow it has all added up to song.”

That line, from The Peace of Wild Things, the work Cheryl conducted with us in Carnegie Hall, pretty much sums up Cheryl Anderson: But other songs can add to this story.

In Aaron Copeland’s The Tenderland, we sang “The promise of living, the promise of growing is labor, and sharing, and loving.”

Cheryl is an alchemist: it is her life’s work to turn lead into gold, to transmute the common into the extraordinary. The gold she creates is music brought to life; the common material she is transmuting is us, her singers. That transformation happens through her labor, her sharing, and her loving.

It takes a lot of labor to do what Cheryl does. As a matter of fact, most people think that Cantiamo is Italian for “Let’s sing.” Actually, it means “You’ll work harder than you ever thought you could!” We have decided that the Cantiamo motto is “Nos mos somnus ut nos es mortuus:” We’ll sleep when we’re dead.” But we don’t mind working that hard because first of all, we know Cheryl is working harder than we are, and because she shares with us her deep love and passion for the music we are creating.

In The Rune of Hospitality, we sang “I saw a stranger yestere’en: I put food in the eating place, Drink in the drinking place, music in the list’ning place, and he blessed myself and my dear ones.”

These words remind me that Cheryl loves to party, and dance, and eat great food, and have a wonderful time with her friends. We have closed down more restaurants in more cities than I can remember; we have sung more 20-part, no-melody happy birthdays to strangers at adjoining tables than I can count, and when Cheryl is around, we are always the last table to clear out after a wedding party, a bat mitzvah, a post-concert celebration or, well, after anything actually. If the song had included putting shoes in the shopping place and hound dogs in the howling place, it would have really described Cheryl.

But as fun as she is, the real reason we love her, the reason we would walk over broken glass to sing for her, is because she makes us better than we think we can be.

Harry Kemp wrote “But chief of all thy wondrous works, supreme of all thy plan, thou has put an upward reach into the heart of man.”

That’s what Cheryl has done for us. She has taken a bunch of little kids and students, teachers and doctors and the occasional bureaucrat and turned us into singers who perform at Carnegie Hall. She opened our hearts to dreams we didn’t dare dream, and she helped us make those dreams come true.

“Somehow it has all added up to song.”

Ladies and gentlemen, it is my honor to present Cheryl Anderson.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Door Mat

I came into my office last week and found this doormat, a gift from another canine-loving friend of mine. I think it adds quite a bit of class to the office!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Gail and Beau

Gail and Beau
Originally uploaded by gr8what
Our friends adopted 3 (!!!) little two-month old Blue Tick Coonhounds! I can't imagine anything sweeter in the world. They are all legs and ears, and they haven't figured out how to use their legs very well yet. In honor of the Louisiana heritage of Blue Ticks, they are named Beauregard, Savannah, and Julep.

We spent several hours just sitting and holding them, smelling their puppy-breath, and playing with their ears. Those are probably among the best hours of any of our lives.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Where in the World?

There is a cool web site where you can check off all the countries you've visited, and it will map them for you. Now this is an anal-compulsive travelor's dream-site!

I checked all my countries, and the map is pretty impressive. It is misleading, though, because the whole country shows up even if you've only been to one part. I've been to parts of both Canada and Russia, and it looks like I have traveled the entire top tier of the world.

Clearly, I need to head south of the equator! Just as soon as we get Gail's spare parts installed!!

You can fill in your map here:

Now where do YOU want to go?

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Dinah Shore

I actually was named for her. My mom was in bed listening to the radio with my dad when she started having contractions. The story goes that Dinah was singing when my mom's water broke, so they named me after her.

Personally, I liked Carol Burnett a lot better!


My name has always been a trial. People always are confused...Dina? Donna? Diana? Dana?

For many years, I could say, " Like Dinah Shore," and people would know who I was talking about. But all good things come to an end, apparently.

Yesterday, I was talking to a guy who looked to be in his 30's, and he was asking how to spell my name. When I gave him my standard response, it got no traction with hims whatsoever. He had no idea who Dinah Shore was.

I reminded him that she used to date Burt Reynolds, and he said, "Who didn't?"

I could feel my life dripping out between my fingers.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

UCSF Again

We went to UCSF on Monday to see the surgeons again. Everything was fine, and it was pretty much the formality that we expected it to be.

We saw Dr. Hirose again, and he did tell us one interesting thing. The US is divided up into regions, and each region gets organs within its region and disburses them to residents of its region. But, if a kidney patient is a perfect match of all six factors, that patient gets the kidney no matter what region the organ or the recipient is in. Which is good for the recipient. But, the transplant center that gets the organ has to donate another organ back into the national system. Somehow over the past year or so, UCSF has developed an organ debt, so they have had to give up some organs that were procured in their region.

Because of this, UCSF only did 19 kidney/pancreas transplants last year, when they usually do about 30. That probably kept Gail from getting called.

Dr. Hirose thinks this is not fair and disadvantages his patients. He is trying to get this system changed.

I don't think Gail was particularly upset by this. Both of us were just relieved to learn more about the process. And it does provide a better answer to why she hasn't been called yet. So that is good.

When we left UCSF, we both felt like it may be another year before she gets her transplant. We mentioned that people had suggested that we move to other regions where the waiting list for new organs are shorter. He thought about it, and said that he thinks we should stay here. Another transplant center might not take her because of her age, so he thinks it is better for us to stay with UCSF, which we are happy to do. He said if we were waiting for a liver transplant, though, he would recommend that we move to another region. That was pretty shocking. I guess because without a replacement liver, you die. Whereas with kidney failure, you just go on dialysis.

We have never seriously considered moving; but it was interesting to get more information about it.

We met her new nephrologist today, and we liked him a lot. It sounds like he will be following her mainly by seeing her at the dialysis center, which will be good for her. But it means I won't be there as much and may not know as much about what is going on. But I guess that is OK.

He asked her why she wasn't doing peritoneal dialysis. She hasn't considered it because a transplant has been immanent for the last 13 months. If she doesn't get a transplant in time, I guess that will be an option for her. But we are still hoping for the transplant.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Weirdly Wrapped

Weirdly Wrapped
Originally uploaded by gr8what
The surprise package turned out to be this wonderful industrial strength juicer! It made a great bird, huh?

Wrapping Weirdness

Wrapping Weirdness
Originally uploaded by gr8what
This was one of the presents from Robin and Sachi. Neither of us had any idea what could be inside this weird bird!

Coughing in the New Year

After my last posting, Gail and I both got really sick. We had already planned to take the first week in January off because we badly needed a vacation. Unfortunately, we were both too sick to do anything but stay in bed and sleep. I hate wasting vacation days being sick.

She got so bad that I took her into Urgent Care yesterday, during the worst rain and wind storm in years. We saw a doctor who is a friend of ours, who is very good and kind. He sent her for a chest x-ray, and it looks like she may have been developing pneumonia. He gave her some high-powered antibiotics, and she felt much much better this morning.

I was so sick that I didn't go into the EOC during the rain storm. Chris went in my stead and did a great job. Thank goodness!

We have an appointment to go to UCSF Monday to meet with the surgeons again. We don't expect any difficulty. She is still a good candidate for a transplant, so we think it will be pretty much a formality.