293) Crampy Pre-Halloween

October 30, 2008

El Milagro:
As I walk into the dialysis room the dressy-uppy insurance lady chases me down to say that she talked to my wife and is going to talk to our insurance contact at the university... I am taken aback. Liz is in Philadelphia. I respond, "Really. Shes in Philly". "Well I called your home and a little girl told me her cell number..." Oh yeah, I think... cell phones... and I am snapped back into 2008 from wherever I was where communications with Philly are impossible. Okay. So, since I haven't looked into this deal about ending my insurance and having to go onto
medicaid they will do it for me. Supposedly, insurance companies cap coverage for dialysis at 33 months and that'll be in December for mio. Then I'll have to be covered by Medicare and will have to pay a premium (YCCCHH) Every once in awile Sherry the Social Worker asks me if I have found out about my insurance caps and I promise to do so... and then a month or so later she asks again and I promise again... and so it goes. Lizzie did check once and she thinks that our insurance covers me without caps. Now the dressy-up lady is on the case!

Kate the Physician's Assistant is here today, taking her time with all the patients. For this reason the nurses don't think much of her... she is too slow. The patients get the benefit of her slowness cause they all get a doc-type to really listen to them... instead of the usual drive-bys or the less than usual walk bys that Venkatesh does. Kate gets to me before I get to my chair and says she is concerned about my phosphorous still being high (6.3). As usual, I know nothing. Haven't been eating cheese or tomato sauce or chocolate or ice cream or any of the bad things. I report to her that I actually had plain tacos at La Fogata* in San Antonio, a place where it is very difficult to eat so simply. She isn't impressed... but Rosie the Tech overhears me and she is impressed. So, we don't figure it out and I re-commit in my brain to ensuring I ALWAYS have binders in my pocket. I really think that what happens is that I don't do enough binders cause I always am forgetting to take a pocketful with me out into the world. Kate muses over the whole thing and then asks me to up my Phoslo to five per meal.

Then the dietician who is filling in for little Jordi follows and gives me my report and smiles. I settle in to my chair and listen to the O'Bama McCain Report... which used to be All Things Considered but now seems to only be about these guys running down the far side of the hill towards their eventual crash at the bottom next week. We've all voted already and the whole thing seems anti-climactic now. My only worry is the Noriega/Cornyn race and I don't think Noriega has a chance... but we can always hope for the best. Oh well.

It is Thursday so I am ready to watch Survivor and Gray's Anatomy to take my mind off the races, today's anxiety-provoking SFBT Class, and my hugely busy last week of trips to San Antonio (Board Retreat), Conroe (consulting on the New STAR Contract), and Ft. Worth (Ethics for one of our big agencies up there). I am tired and I doze thru most of the TV until Survivor and then I doze thru some of that. I have finally selected my favorite survivor; Sugar from Brooklyn**; the cute little pin up girl that is really no dummy. Tonight she basically stood up and moved away from her first ally, Ace... and watched coyly as he was voted off the island. Is she the lady praying mantis they keep showing? Or some sort of deadly spider? We'll see.

Gray's An
atomy is some sort of drivel this week, with all the usual characters doing their usual character flaws. Dr. Bailey, played by fellow Texan Chandra Wilson, is really the only character I enjoy watching anymore... she is a good actress and even in her earlier work on Law & Order she was great fun to watch. In this show she carries the show in many episodes, from my perspective. As I've said a number of times though, I am getting tired of this night-time soap. Tonight I watch half-heartedly and am almost happy to have a little cramping problem in the middle of he show... as the cramping starts Rosie turns me off for awhile as these funny cramps pop up around my body (a new experience). First there is this tightening in my right foot arch. I massage it and move my foot around. Then I get a small cramp in my left thigh and I rub on it... and then it leaves and comes back in my left foot bottom. By the time I have Rosie turn me off it has run over to my right calf and I can tell you from experience that for me, calf cramps are the worst. I rub and hit and slap my feet together so hard I feel like I might break a heel. Then I try all sorts of calisthenics to get rid of it. Takes about 5 minutes after she turns me off to really relax again. So I am off he machine for some time and then back on for about 15 minutes at the end. By then I am really ready to go home and Rosie unhooks we share the costumes we will wear tomorrow and wish each other a Happy Halloween!

Notes: In at 77.7 and out at 74.8 kgs. [My friend Judy corrected me (Medicare, not Medicaid)]

* La Fogata online at http://www.lafogata.com/
**Sugar's page online at http://www.survivor.com/17/jessica-sugar-kiper


292) My Second Infiltration

October 24, 2008

El Milagro:
Since I am in SA tomorrow for my Board Retreat, I am in here again for my almost ridiculous final weekly dialysis, nine hours after my LAST dialysis! I actually get here at 5:50 am and have all my stuff for the board meeting in the truck: overnight bag, notes, supplies, camera, etc. I get seated by 6:10 in the corner, and Susie the Tech from Cloudcroft cannulates me. Yes, she lived in Cloudcroft, NM for a few years, operating a bed and breakfast. I share with her my love of Cloudcroft and we are just as happy as clams until she infiltrates* me. At first I think it is an infiltration and mumble it but as she is pushing pulling blood it seems like the setting is okay... but, then when she hooks me up to the machine and it shoves the blood in I yell, "OWwww! Infiltation!" and she quickly pulls the needle out to the point where it backs thru the back wall of the fistula and almost out of my arm completely. Then Rita the Nurse, floating in the background, rushes in to reset it. She marks my swelling arm with a ballpoint pen and sets the needle and both of them apologize emphatically, as several other techs and nurses come to see what the yelling is about. Carrie the Tech winces for me to show she gets that it hurt. We are all sorry for this event.

Susie the Tech continues to apologize for the next five minutes and I tell her something like, "Hey. Its okay. Your stories about Cloudcroft make up for it. I love Cloudcroft and you recognizing the aura of that village in the sky make you okay in my book." Rita the Tech brings me an ice bag that we balance on my arm and I pull my hat down over my eyes and turn on KUT's Morning Edition, low volume, and try to go back to sleep. Dozing in dialysis is possible: sleeping soundly, not. I doze until about 9:30 and then the noise of the increasingly busy center keep me from even dozing. I listen to the jumble and the radio until it is time to de-cannulate.

At some point Ann the Nurse comes by to ask about my meds... am I taking two still? She call s Dr. Venkatesh right then and gets her to approve my "new" prescription of taking two Ropiniroles at a time. I thank her for her immediate checking and she smiles.

I get outa here at about 10:30 and zip over to Kim's house to drive with her to San Antonio.

Notes: In at 75.2 and out at 74.8

291) In the Media: Transplants/Paired Exchanges

October 23, 2008

El Milagro:
the Nurse and Kim the Nurse are my hooker uppers today... Jo doing the actual poking and Kim standing around behind her, adding the data to the computer and listening to the conversation. Jo is looking at buying her son a new Toyota FJ and he isn't even out of high school yet... lucky kid! And then Kim mentions her Rav4 and I limply say I buy used and want a Solara Convertable as my next car.

I give Jo my pill bottle I brought from home for the name of the new "requip"-type med I take for my RLS and she takes it away to record it and write a note to Venkatesh about me taking a higher dose cause one just ain't doing it anymore. The twitchies come earlier and stay later these days.

My agency's Board Retreat is tomorrow and Saturday down in San Antonio, so tonight I spend time catching up reading the necessary reports in preparation (an hour's worth of time) while listening to NPR ATC.

Upon finishing I tune in to the TV and catch a Natalie Cole interview on Entertainment Tonight* About her dialysis, Cole said, "
I had a lot of time to think. The first thing I knew is that I will never work the same way again. Three hours a day, three times a week [during dialysis] I just sit there and am glad that there is something to keep me going." Sound familiar? Everytime I hear about a celebrity dealing with kidney problems, I am glad, in a way, cause it publicizes 100 times over what we little people in our non-famous blogs and reports can do to spread the word about our plight and needs.

It's Thursday so, of course, I watch Survivor (not much to report here... I don't even have a favorite this time really... maybe "Sugar"... and afterwards switch over to Gray's Anatomy and find the show revolves around the story line of a 6-way kidney transplant this week.** This is GREAT advertising for kidney transplants! Within the multi-person, multi-diagnosis, multi-ethical issue, multi-doctor quagmire episode many of the concerns related to paired exchanges were played upon in this popular hospital soap opera, and for me, it was interesting to see kidney transplants played across a "hip" TV show.

So I am immersed in the show and some of he staff cruise by and I mention that the show (which interests these dialysis staff) is about transplants and paired exchanges and then add my own soap box statement about our Austin Transplant Programs' ridiculously SLOW development of a paired exchange process ("in development" now for as long as I have been on dialysis), and my efforts thru Moritz and my transplant social worker to encourage their speeding up the "development" (See Posts 104 & 197). And, in expressing my dissappointment, an un-named staff shares with me that the reason for the non-development of Austin's program is due to the Austin - San Antonio connection for transplants. According to this little birdy, Austin has many more people who donate kidneys and most of them shoot right down the freeway to San Antonio. San Antonio's influence over the Austin Transplant Program keeps the program from developing any paired exchange program because that would decrease San Antonio's use of Austin kidneys. I don't understand the birdy's explanation... and, they add, "It was a political decision Jack... and there will not be an Austin Paired Exchange program unless Austin pulls away from their "agreement" with SA!"

If this has any basis in reality it is time for someone to begin to find a resource for bringing this story to the people thru the news media. I intend to look into it a bit and begin to write letters to the Statesman and my legislators if there is anything to the information from the little birdie. It is time for Social Action!

So it goes on a Thursday nite in dialyland.

Notes: In at 76.8 and out at 75 kgs.
* Singer Natalie Cole may need a kidney transplant, retrieved online from
** Gray's Anatomy, Season 5: Episode 505 ~ "There's no I in team".
Retrieved online from


290) Parallel Universes

October 21, 2008

El Milagro: I'm here and Rich the Gabby Tech is yakking away as he is sticking me and I look over just as he sticks the first trocar in wrong. I like mine 'one up one down' and without asking or even thinking (it seems), he is shoving the first needle up which can only end up with my setting being 'up up'. I scold him; "Please... when you are sticking me... slow down and concentrate on what you are doing. Ask me how I want the needles set. I don't like it when you are not paying attention to what you are doing." I am angry and he is less than apologetic and says in a seemingly narcissistic way, something like "...okay okay... SORRY". I'm hot about it and spend the next 20 minutes listening intently to NPR to calm myself down.

Later he comes back and has to completely rehook my machine, blaming the machine, and I am not completely sure what he is up to... but I hope that Rosie the Tech comes by to check his work. Meanwhile, while he is doing that tube work, Dr. Venkatesh is visiting with me, reporting on how good all my labs are (except, of course, my phosphorous... which is creeping up again) and I bring up to her about how the meds I take for the RLS seem to be discontinuing to work as well: my RLS is starting to bother me earlier in the day and when I take the meds they wear off in the middle of the night, waking me up with the leg jitters and jumpy toes. We spend some time trying to figure out what the new meds are Moritz put me on. Neither the center or the doc's office has the correct med listed (Ropinrole HCL) so I have to promise to bring the name next time. Venkatesh still is a god-send doc here in this place and I actually like her brief visits... her bedside manner is smiley and she really seems to know her stuff.

She moves on, Rich finishes his re-do on my tubes, and Ann the Nurse comes by to check me and my machine. I settle in.

At 7 I tune in to NOVA and find one of the best NOVA's I have seen in years: A documentary about the metaphorical search for his father by the lead singer of the EELS**. This fantastic show is about father/son dynamics, the structure of the universe, indie rock and roll, travels to the inner sanctum of the physics dept. at Princeton U., and the conversations between old physicists and young (ish) musicians. WOW. What could be better?

And, who among us remembers the 60's and the flash-in-the-pan realty-bending of Hugh Everett's work, now referred to as the "many worlds" theory... but then, in the dawning of the age of Aquarius we hallucinated it as PARALLEL UNIVERSES... my own physics professor (a leading Christian Astronomer who argued that there were only 2 to 3 inches of dust on the moon, based on creation theory) called Everett a 'freak' and us freaks in the audience popped up, saying, "Alright!!" and rushing out after class to experience our own parallel universes. Those early lectures and wonders led me to lots of other thought provoking and exciting reading experiences with the varied works of Immanuel Velikovsky
, Joseph Chilton Pierce, Itzak Bentov, and Gary Zukov. Ah yes! Those were the days!

So, I happily absorb this week's NOVA show and go home happy and feeling fulfilled just from the memories that show brought back. So it goes.

NOTES: In at 77 kgs. and out at 75 kgs.
*The Theory Today, retreived online October 2008 from NOVA, at http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/manyworlds/byrne.html
**The EELS, online at http://www.eelstheband.com/


289) Its Finally Fall

October 18, 2008

Morning: We're
up early for Shayna's soccer game against the Fireballs at 8 am. A brisk morning temperature of 60 brought us out in levi's and jackets for the first time this fall. Winds were from the northwest at about 3 to 5... just enough for a chill... my coffee cooled off too fast on the field. By half time the kats were up by 4 and coach Charlie was not happy; saying that they had not played the first half like they usually play and he wanted them to play like it is a real game the second half. This pic is of Coach Charlie figuring out the second half roster just after his little speech to the girls. They are heading back to their bench... Shayna waving "hi". They came out and played a livelier second half and at the end the score was 11 to 1! Because of a schedule change, the kats play again tomorrow out at Lake Travis. We celebrated by stopping by the Donut & Taco Palace for breakfast tacos.

El Milagro:
Ann the nurse calls and we agree that I'll come in at 1:30, which woulda happened had I not been overwhelmed by the beautiful weather and my usual habit of driving to work; these are crystal clear skies and I can't wait to see the view of Austin's skyline from the top of the MoPac Flyway. It is like a postcard! So, anyway, right at the top of the flyway a little voice in my brain needles me: "Psst. We're really supposed to be down on the Ben White part of the roadway buddie." This realization did not interrupt my enjoyment of the view, but it did cost about 5 minutes of time in my trip to dialysis.

And, of course, my chair isn't ready when I arrive, although it is only about a 5 minute wait so I sit and start reading an article on SFBT with Survivors of Suicide. My chair is in the front corner that used to be my favorite corner back when I was studying the staff and their movements around here. Ann the Nurse does my cannulation and my nursing eval and I am emmersed in Folkways: playing now --> Rise & Fall of Intelligent Design - Rodney Crowell @ 2:45 pm.*

I'm finishing the journal article and another one I find in my bag from last session: a chapter from Insoo and Yvonne's book, Tales of Solutions. Reading and listening:
now playing the Austin Lounge Lizards' Ain't Gonna Rain... and Jason the Tech starts coming by and checking my machine and we discuss briefly tonight's game with Mizzou. Also, Connie the Nurse is here today and she eventually pulls up a rolling stool and sits for awhile catching up on her life and her son's adjustment to 5th grade. She is happy as a lark about son and life and that is good to see... although she always seems to be on the brighter side of life.

Now playing Bob Dylan's Baby Let Me Follow You down from his first album... and now now following with his rendition with the Band, Forever Young/Baby Let Me Follow You Down from The Last Waltz. What great music... and since it is pledge drive*, I sit here planning to pledge (we pledge once a year in the fall). And then I hear that someone has challenged listeners with "if 30 people pledge before the end of Folkways" they'll give an extra $500 and also, right now until 4 people who pledge at our rate also will get the new Band of Heathens CD. "Wait!" I say to myself... "I have a cell phone!" So I pull it out, turn it on, and dial 471-6291 and renew our membership.

The ATC show starts and I listen to the news portion and then decide I don't need more of this and start channel surfing until I find STAR TREK Nemisis!** and it hooks me, as Jean Luc Piccard and Data always do. I happily watch until Jason comes to check on me and interrupts my immersion with the notice that my BP is 80 over 50 something. How do I feel? Just dandy... and relaxed... okay... Jason readjusts my BP cuff and checks it again. I report that I'll concentrate on pulling it up and he leaves and I watch Piccard in a mental wrestling match with Shinzon. Jason comes back at the end of my time and my BP is up aways... he has me stand and it is just under 100 so he asks me to just sit awhile... which I am happy to do because of the exciting conclusion of the movie is happening right now. The movie ends and my BP is up to 110 over 60 something and I shoot outa there to rush home to see UT's home game against Missouri. What a life.

Notes: In at 76.4 and out at 74.4 kgs.
*Pledge NOW at https://secure2.convio.net/kut/site/Donation2?df_id=1601&1601.donation=form1
** Star Trek Nemesis retrieved online from AMG: http://www.allmovie.com/cg/avg.dll?p=avg&sql=1:266560


288) Another Day At the Salt Mines

October 14, 2008

El Milagro: Here on time today. Jo Ann the Tech has me in the back corner today... and it seems they are low staffed... I only see two people per side. Jo Ann quickly pokes me and is on her way. Celeste the Nurse comes over and does my nursing eval and I report to her about needing to reschedule my 10/25 session to 10/27 if possible due to being in San Antonio on the 25th. She says I need to talk to Jay the Boss Nurse, who'll be here tomorrow.

I read my Berg chapter for Thursday's class, listen to ATC and about the time I'm done Dr. Venkatesh comes by for her doctor's visit. As I've reported before, she takes more time with each person and is a hundred times more professional than Rowder was: she carefully reviews each person's binder, bows closer over them to talk to them quietly, asks each person questions and seems to genuinely care about the short conversation. I can no longer call these things "drive bys".

I turn on the ABC News at 5:30 and hear all about the economy's upward surge, the campaign's boring continuance, and other "big" news. I drift off into sleepy land for awhile...

And wake up sometime later to some dumb show... channel surf around until I find an old movie on TCM and drift through it until time to leave. Another day at the salt mines.

Notes: In at 77.6 and out at 74.5 kgs.



October 10, 2008

On the Road to El Milagro: I called at 11 this morning and can come in at noon; come in at noon to see the game with no interruptions. I had thought we could have a game party at home... and then Shayna split and Liz is wandering around doing chores and talking on the phone and there w
on't be any clam dip... so, I am off to dialysis for quietude for watching the game! On the way over I am listening to the game on AM radio and hear the roar behind Shipley running back a kickoff for a TD!

El Milagro: When I arrive and enter the waiting room there are 6 waiters in burnt orange t-shirts screaming at the TV at every good play. All the chairs facing the TV are full so I just stand there watching too... until a commercial... and someone tells me the door is open. I walk in and remember to weigh myself and find my chair on the back wall. Ann the Nurse comes over and sticks me fairly well and I don't really care cause my whole consciousness is on the TV screen watching the 92 thousand red and orange blur in the expanded Cotton Bowl. Ann comes back and does my nursing eval and makes positive comments about the game which I don't really hear thru my headphones. I do notice that almost all the TV's are on the game and there is usually a cheer in the center when something advantageous to Texas happens. There are about 15 burnt orange t-shirts in here too... and I am wearing my "What Starts Here Changes the World" t-shirt.

I watch the game and can't really write at the same time... Texas scores and OU scores and they are ahead and we catch up and then they get ahead again and we are playing really good even without the needed running game... and we catch up and by half time we are only down by one point! Against #1 OU that is great!

Later: WE WON THE GAME! Wow. Texas kept up, wore OU down and then, when Stoops had to resort to
some dirty football, Texas got ahead and never looked back. OU isn't used to being behind and their boys just get mean and nasty when they do (seems like to me after watching OU football for 30 years now). And Colt's Longhorns are so motivated to win that whenever they are losing they play 110% to catch up. The offensive line was really tough today and the defense played their best game to date. What a game! I can't wait to see the changes in the national standings.

So, the game is over and I am happy and the old woman beside me who is someone who has been here a long time is now coming in from the hospital and I wonder why she doesn't get dialyzed there cause she seems in no shape to be here. She is really weak, moaning in pain, and about fifte
en minutes after starting she throws up all over herself and the chair and everything within five feet of her mouth... yellow and chunky. Rich the Tech comes over and stands in front of her with a look of disdain about her behavior, while Ann the Nurse comes and begins to care for her. Rich walks away like he is relieved to not have to act, and Ann asks him to get a toss-up tray which he takes his time getting. Ann cleans the lady up and Rich finally returns with a tray and sets it on the lady and backs off again. (Let me again say, I don't much care for Rich's manner or his behavior of only being of use when some other staff asks him directly to do something.) I later mention to Kim the Nurse and Rosie the Tech that I think that the woman is in pain and needing more attention and both of them, without breaking confidentiality, explain that she has recently had surgery and is heavily medicated for pain. I should ask why she is here rather than in the hospital, but don't want to get too involved. I can't ignore her pain though, and it makes our OU win a little less stimulating.

I don't want to watch more football, having had my thrill of the week... so I find an old movie on TCM; The Haunting* (1963) with Julie Harris, Claire Bloom, and Russ Tamblyn... and it takes my mind off my chair neighbor with her own horrors. This movie is really a good, old fashioned, horror movie; one of those that lets the scare develop in your brain and fantasies, rather than showing lots of blood and gore on the screen. I enjoy the flick and when it is over I am ready to go home.

Kim the Nurse unhooks me and I say a quiet "god speed" to the sick woman whose eyes are only slits of pained consciousness. I can't tell if she hears or gets my message as I walk by.

Notes: In at 76.8 Kgs. and out at 74.4 Kgs.
For an Index of this Blog, click January 2008 on the Side box and page down to #207.
* The Haunting, retrieved online October 2008 from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Haunting_(1963_film)

286) Rosh Hashanah

September 30, 2008

El Milagro: I get Celeste the Nurse to let me in after I knock on the door... it's about 4:15 so I am the only person waiting. My chair is in the Corner and Rich the Talky Tech is here to stick me and report on getting married, going to Galveston for two weeks as a National Guardsman medic, and his plans to take a 10 week course at A&M to become an EMT. "Its much faster than the 2 year class at ACC" and I know better than to ask him if he knows why.

I have reading to do for my own class! Amanda the Tech stops by to say "Hi" as does Celeste the Nurse, who completes my nursing eval... and tells me about befriending her Muslim neighbor after I explain that my tummy grumbles are probably from the huge, tasty, Rosh Hashanah lunch I just had at Cari & Stuart's. She uses that cultural story to open about Ramadan being at the same time now as Rosh Hashanah.

I read my deShazer & Dolan until 5:30 and watch ABC News. (Don't get me started on the News!) I say to myself as I am writing. So, there's really nothing else to say.

Oh yeah... Rosh Hashanah. Services this morning were an Austin news-maker*; Kol Halev having their services in South Austin at St. Edwards University, that citadel of South Austin liberal Catholicism, and, according to Rabbi Kerry Baker's interview in the Statesman, entering into this collaboration with St. Ed's also "offers renewal for Jews. It's about renewing ourselves spiritually and emotionally and psychologically, ...getting back in touch with who we are and getting renewed. ... It's important to get a sense of being recharged, refilled with energy and purpose." There are at least a hundred Jewish students at St. Ed's and I was watching out for one of them at services to say "thanks" but didn't find one. Walking across campus last night on my way to services I got the impression that this small university is a safe haven against the new world: there was a large group of students playing capture the flag around the main tower and it reminded me of boy scouts in El Paso. Also, as I walk 'cross' the idyllic campus I remember my old friend Terry Smith going to St Ed's many years ago and wondered how it was back then. College kids playing capture the flag! I wanna play too.

After morning services we go to Cari & Stuart's for luncheon (as usual), this year with Johnny, who attended services with us. At Cari & Stuarts we have a great lunch and Johnny discovers he loves Cari's gefilte fish cakes! L'Shana Tova!

* Flynn, E.E. (2008) Jewish congregation reaching out to South Austin. Retrieved online October 2008 from the Austin American Statesman website at