Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Into each life...

Bernie and I took a walk in the rain late this afternoon. Normally, he’s out ahead of me searching for lizards, but in the rain he stays right by my side. I can’t decide whether he’s sticking close because the occasional thunder is scary, or to make sure the Alpha is protected. Either way, it’s a nice feeling.

I needed it today. I don’t know why, but I’m in a down period; the old hypochondriac coming back. I’ve been looking forward to this vacation we’re planning with every fiber. And now I’m worried that something is going to happen with my health to get in the way. My lung function is down slightly – it's only about 120% of what would be predicted for a man my age and weight. I know. That’s silly. But it’s down from 140%. And I’m a worry wort.

Maybe I should do like Bernie. When we got back from the walk, he just shook off the rain, walked into the kitchen, and waited for his treat.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Seperation anxiety

I think it affects all of us at one time or another. I remember how afraid I was sometimes when I was alone restricted by the oxygen concentrator. What if something happened; a fire or lightning strike, a burglar? I couldn’t even run.

This afternoon I got another prospective on separation anxiety. I had to go to the eye doctor to get my eyes checked for a new pair of glasses. When I came back Bernie was overjoyed to see me. Until I found the new mat Harriet had bought to put in front of the stove in the kitchen. My best estimate is that it was in 20 to 25 pieces.


Monday, August 24, 2009

Just like Bernie

Did I mention we had to take Bernie to a canine dental specialist a month ago? Apparently, when he was a young puppy at a rescue center in Marion County, his litter was exposed to distemper. Fortunately, Bernie didn’t come down with that lethal disease. But he did have a very high fever. As a result, the roots of some of his teeth are not great. After an examination, the dental specialist pulled three of his back teeth and bonded all of the rest of them. From here on in we have to make sure he doesn’t chew on bones – or his favorite treat, ice cubes. Oh, and I have to brush his teeth every morning with a plastic thing I put over my finger covered with chicken flavored tooth paste. He loves it!

Sometimes I think Bernie and I get closer every day. I had to go to the human dentist specialist today because of a sensitive tooth. As you may know, one of the side effects of long term Prednisone use is bone loss. By now, you’ve already guessed. He pulled it. And right now I’m brushing my teeth with…Dewars.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

A good feeling

I should explain why I haven’t posted much here lately. I’ve been busy working on an old novel. It’s something I started writing while I was sick, back in 1996. It feels good to get back to it, good to find something to do with this new life.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Our "broken" health care system

I was on the Internet for an hour last night taking part in a lung transplant chat group. There were men and women from all parts of the country who had suffered with all kinds of respiratory problems; COPD, IPF, CF, etc. I was the baby of the group, having had my transplant in May of 2008. One young lady had a double lung transplant in 1997. We talked about all manner of things. Our medications, our travel plans, our caregivers, our donor families. Our hopes and dreams for the future.

Think about it for a moment. You’re dying and then a team of doctors and nurses come along and replace your diseased lungs with healthy ones. Giving you a new life. Absolutely incredible!

I’m sure there are improvements we can make in our health care system, but if Washington thinks we have to replace it with a government bureaucracy, there’s something in Washington that’s broken.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Big Seven Oh

Yesterday was a great day, beginning with a telephone call at 8am from 12,000 miles away. My dear friends Geoffrey and Ruth Ingall wished me a happy 70th birthday before turning in down under. In the excitement, I forgot to remind him that he would be 67 today. However, I made up for it by sending him a rude email this morning. Later in the day Harriet and I took my 91 year-old mother out to Mimi’s for a warm family dinner.

I’ve been amazed at how many folks have wished me Happy Birthday, particularly those old friends I haven’t been in touch with for a while. Thanks everyone!

But possibly the best feeling was at lunch today. My niece, Christine, invited my to join her at Dexter’s, a trendy place in Winter Park. Over gorgonzola burgers and a bottle of Whoop Whoop Shiraz we talked about everything from her new friend to my new novel. When the waiter came with the check, she told him it was my birthday. I had had enough red to ask him how old he thought I was. He put his finger to his temple, squinted at me a moment, and then said, “Fifty-seven?”

The beautiful thing is that I never saw her slip him the ten dollars.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Another lesson learned

One of the things the doctors impress on you before you begin treatment for rejection is the fact that Solumedrol has some nasty side-effects. I think I mentioned problems with sleeping, increased appetite, indigestion, dizziness, and weakness. If I didn’t, I should have.

Another thing you need to be careful about is your blood sugar. The array of medications that transplanted people are already taking tends to lead to at least steroid induced diabetes. For that reason, most of us measure our blood sugar every morning and every night. In my case, the transplant team wanted to keep my normal level under100. Being realistic, they accepted 150.

Solumedrol can make that number spike through the ceiling. It’s not a surprise to see it jump to as high as 400. The doctors told us that. We knew that. But it can be controlled with injections of insulin. No problem. All you have to do is take your blood sugar before every meal -- morning, noon, and night. Then inject the indicated amount of insulin.

But what happens if you’re feeling so good about your recovery a few things slip your mind? Like lunch? We found out last night. When Harriet got home about 7pm and noticed that I was flushed. With a silly grin. About twenty minutes later, we finally decided to check my blood sugar: 514.

We followed the instructions in the Transplant Handbook. I took 18 units of insulin and said “Duh!” Everything was fine this morning.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


On the first of our walks yesterday Bernie and I had another face off with Kid Rabid. The cat which is not quite half his size began stalking Bernie from across a long lawn. I’d guess he was fifty foot away, crouched down in the grass, head down, moving in a threatening step by step crawl toward the dog.

I had to demand obedience from Bernie. I insisted he heel and walk away with me, but he resisted. So, I made him sit. He did, and then lay down on his own, facing and riveted on Rabid. Every muscle in his body tensed.

I’m not sure why; maybe I’ve just gotten tired of trying to control myself in the face of threats, hold down my anger, stop reacting. But against my best judgment, I leaned over to Bernie and whispered one word: Okay.

Rabid escaped at the last minute by scrabbling over a neighbor’s fence two homes away. I don’t think we’ll ever be bothered again.

And something else occurred to me looking into Bernie’s smile afterwards. Maybe sometimes the thing to do is attack.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The home nurse and the couch

She arrived a little late to give me my first of three IV treatments of Solumedrol. But that was no problem. It was Terri, the nice lady who has worked with us before. In fact, her son is a friend of Mark’s and is in a band in North Carolina. So we had a good conversation while the IV was dripping. Bernie knows her too and listened while she told a story about her two dogs.

The only problem was a couple of hours after Terri left. If you know anything about Solumedrol or prednisone, I think you’ll understand when I admit that I ate the couch.

Don’t tell Harriet. I’m blaming it on Bernie.