#2, and I’m Not Talking about Pencil Lead

30 03 2008

If you want to know anything about what my family is like, I don’t think you will be disappointed if you go here. My nephew’s story of having to use the bathroom in the woods is priceless, as is the cartoon drawing by another nephew. (Adult nephews, not kids). Warning: Don’t click on the link if you despise reading about poop. I’m sure no one who visits my blog falls into that category, but just in case…





A Swell(ing) Journey Part V

28 03 2008

Wednesday brought another road trip to Louisville. This time, it was to have a CT scan with contrast/dye. The previous scans were done without the contrast in an effort to avoid the dye that can be harmful to kidney patients. However, the transplant surgeon felt there was a good chance that the cause of my swelling had not yet been found because no contrast had been used.

So, I spent a 10-hour day in a hospital bed, hooked to an IV, which provided pre-dye and post-dye protection for my kidney. Despite some confusion at the hospital, the scan was completed. I received results today. The good news is, the dye seems to have done nothing bad to my kidney. The crappy, frustrating news is, this test still did NOT reveal any possible cause for the swelling.

At this point, the doctors are consulting and working on other possible causes while I hobble around like an ogre. Someone is supposed to call me Monday to tell me what to do next, which could be to see a urologist. All the “obvious” potential causes have been ruled out. I mentioned “Filariasis” to my transplant nurse during a lengthy phone conversation this afternoon. This is a weird condition I found while searching online that can cause swelling. It occurs when a human gets worms in their lymph nodes. I don’t feel like I have worms, but, hey, who knows what this is? Anyway, the nurse did not seem to think this was very likely. Her response to me: “Matt, get off the internet…now.” I did…except to write this short blog, of course. She is probably right. Upon further inspection, those worms are generally only a problem in tropical countries I’ve never visited. I guess the worms around here are not attracted to lymph nodes.





The Incredible, Expirable Egg (How to Keep Neighbors From Having a Fight)

21 03 2008

There are two types of people in a marriage. Those who heed food expiration dates and those who disregard them.

One of the laws of the universe is that an expiration heeder (EH) always marries an expiration disregarder (ED…not to be confused with erectile dysfunction). EH’s and ED’s tend to argue about these dates. EH’s find themselves secretly throwing away food (and stuffing it way down in the bottom of the trash can so that their ED partner will not see it) in an effort to save their family from the pain and suffering of botulism. ED’s make a fuss about wasted food and money and talk about how expiration dates are not real and the food is still good.

My name is Matt, and I’m an EH. My wife is Allison, and she’s most definitely an ED. We have spirited discussions about our food perceptions and the potential lack of safety of various foods that have occupied our fridge for some length of time. Who is right?

There are variables that muddy the picture. Some of the time, food is clearly marked as having an expiration date. EH’s love this. It is clear and concise and tells you the exact moment an egg becomes fraught with danger. ED’s do not like this, as they wish not to be told by anyone when a food has reached the disgusting point. ED’s much prefer their food to say either, “Best before” or “Sell by” dates. This gives them the leeway they crave. ED’s believe that eggs, for example, are still good weeks after the “Best before” date. Apparently they are satisfied eating a egg that is “not at its best” but is still probably not going to kill you. EH’s wish that manufacturers would just grow some cojones and put a definitive date on the things. If you give an ED an food inch, they’ll take a mile.

Here’s when things really get fun. Sometimes, an egg carton with have only a date with no words. This, of course, is interpreted by EH’s as a strict “Expires by” date while ED’s believe this to clearly be a “Sell by” date. In these situations, separate vacations may be needed to help cool things off.

Well, I was faced with an interesting spin on this whole food thing last weekend when we were dog-sitting for our neighbors, who had gone out of town. On Saturday morning, my toddler made it clear to me that she would eat an egg for breakfast, and ONLY an egg. This was a small problem. We were out of eggs. After trying to tempt her with a variety of edibles that we actually had in the house, such as cereal, hash browns, waffles, pancakes, etc, she reiterated that she would not even consider eating anything other than an oval thing that comes out of a chicken.

The easy solution hit me! Our neighbors were gone, and we have a key to their house in case of emergency, such as needing an egg! Surely they had them. I wouldn’t have to make a quick trip to the store in my sweatpants (many of you know what happened the last time I tried that.)

I made my way over there, whistling a happy egg and toddler tune. In no time, I’d have a yummy scrambled egg whipped up, and no more would I have to listen to the early-morning screams of “I DON’T WANT A WAFFLE!! IT’S YUCKY!!!”

I entered their abandoned abode and went directly to the fridge. I opened it, and *GASP* I was immediately faced with a dilemma. They had two egg cartons. There were four eggs remaining in the first carton, and they had an expiration date (that’s right EXPIRATION, not BEST BEFORE, at least in my opinion) of a few days prior. Since I am an upstanding EH who cares about preventing food poisoning in my only child, I could not take one of those eggs. The problem, however, is that the second carton, with a beautiful expiration date well into the future, was full. If I took one from that carton while a few eggs remained in the top carton, it would be obvious at some point to my neighbors that one had been used, which could lead to a case of mistaken identity and a huge fight.

I know my neighbors well, and I am certain that one of them is an EH while the other is an ED. Once one of them realized that an egg had been used from the bottom carton, either the ED would be angry with the EH for not using one of the older, “still-good” eggs, OR the EH would be angry with the ED for being a hypocrite and taking one of the EH’s new eggs after endlessly preaching that expiration dates were for fools.

I like my neighbors, and I could not be the cause of marital discontent. I stood there, with the fridge door open (I can picture my parents in heaven admonishing me for letting all the cold air out.) What was I to do? I closed the fridge and decided I was going to have to mull this situation over for a bit. While thinking, I did what anyone would do. I walked about the house eating some of their potato chips, found some old love letters my neighbors had written to each other (they were buried at the bottom of one of their closets), plopped down on their couch, put my feet up on their coffee table, and started reading. At some point during an “I miss you so much” letter, the solution finally came to me! I would just take the whole, full egg carton home, go the grocery later that day, and give them a whole new egg carton before they ever got home. That way, my toddler would get her much-needed and completely safe egg. We would have all the eggs we might need that day. My neighbors would have an even newer dozen of eggs to go along with their decrepit, expired partial carton, and they could work out what to do with the 4 rotten eggs themselves!

Satisfied with my decision, I stuffed a few of the love letters in my pocket, brushed the chip crumbs off my shirt, grabbed the unspoiled dozen eggs, and headed home. They’ll never even know how I saved them from an argument. Man, I’m the best neighbor ever.

p.s. My kid didn’t want the egg once I had made it.





A Swell(ing) Journey Part IV (Update in comments)

14 03 2008

There may actually be an answer in sight to the crazy, severe swelling that has knocked me for a loop for the past month. A few things have transpired since Part III.

1. The MRI, unfortunately, did not discover the cause of the swelling.

2. The heavy doses of the water pill have helped, a little, to at least give me some relief and improved movement and energy. It has not been enough to be able to return to work or go back to “normal” but has been enough to allow me to do a few more things out of the house. The main problem with this, of course, is that it is just symptom relief. The other frustrating thing is that one day there will be some improvement and the next day a step back.

3. From doing my own research about a blood pressure drug that I have been taking (or more specifically, my switch to its generic version not long ago), it was determined to be worth a shot to change medications. It is POSSIBLE this is the culprit. I am still hopeful this could help, and the medication switch just happened in the past couple of days. The doctor thought it might take several days to see a difference.

4. My wife, daughter and family continue to find ways to become even bigger sources of joy and happiness, and I do not want anyone to think I am spending all of my time in despair. I have my bad moments, but, overall, life is still a splendid thing. I watched my daughter frolic and smile and even take turns on a playground yesterday in a manner that elicited a compliment from another parent, and my heart is still full from the experience.

Despite my hopes that the medication change might just fix everything, a different answer may be slowly coming to light. Today (actually just within the past hour), I received a call from the Louisville doctor’s office about my latest labs (blood was drawn yesterday afternoon). As many of you know, I received a kidney transplant (due to a kidney disease) about five years ago. The possibility that something (possibly kidney rejection) was going on with the transplanted kidney was, of course, a leading candidate as a cause for the swelling. However, lab after lab over a three-week period continued to indicate that the kidney was pumping along, happy and healthy. This prompted a barrage of other possibilities and tests (see Parts I, II, and III for more), which eventually showed healthy heart, vascular and liver function, among other things. Basically, more and more potential causes were ruled out. During this time, the doctors seemed to continue to suspect the kidney, but the labs and tests kept indicating otherwise.

Well, the labs from yesterday finally pointed to a potential chink in the armor of the kidney. The creatinine level that shows how well your kidney is cleaning out your blood, finally worsened a bit. It was worse than it has been since a couple weeks after the transplant in 2003. It was enough that the doctor wants the lab repeated on Monday.

Though kidney trouble is certainly not what I’m hoping for, it would be preferable to me to at least know what has been causing me to have a bloated lower half. Even if it’s the worst case scenario, I believe that there is possible treatment for kidney rejection, and that it does not necessarily mean immediate loss of the kidney. The labs for Monday are scheduled. Best case scenario: It is possible that yesterday’s lab was just an anomaly. It is possible that the creatinine change is due only to the fact that I’m taking the water pill, and maybe the blood pressure med switch will solve the swelling.

I will keep you posted. I will continue to appreciate your thoughts and prayers, and I will have a lot of fun this weekend with my family. I have a nephew coming to town. We’ve always been close, but he’s lived pretty far away for many years now. It will be fun to see him.

p.s. Here is an actual pic of the kidney I stole received from my sister:

It’s sad to think my own body might be attacking something so adorable.





How to Scare People at Wal-Mart

7 03 2008

Those of you who come here often know that I am hobbling around with swollen legs and feet right now. Mostly, I’m stuck in the house, except for fun-filled trips to various radiology places for MRIs, CTs and other interesting initials. Basically, I’m able to make one little outing a day before feeling pretty wiped out. Yesterday, however, was a test-free day. Since a winter weather blast was soon to pummel nearly the entire Midwest, I made the decision to hit the Super Wal-Mart. We needed just a few items to tide us over, and this was the one store where I could get everything I needed in one place.

Due to my current condition and the fact I was going in the middle of the day on a work day for most people, I made the bad decision to venture out of the house in the following condition:

- I did not shave

- I made only a half-hearted attempt to fix my morning hair

- I wore my relatively out-of-style glasses instead of bothering with contacts.

- I wore a sweatshirt and sweatpants. The sweatshirt is decent. The sweatpants, however, are awful. They are very worn. They are baggy. They are the homeless-man, mentally-ill man, “Ma’am-can-you-spare-a-dollar”-man kind of sweatpants.

[My wife sketched it here.]

As if this was not bad enough, one of the few items I needed to buy was a package of small girl’s underwear. Our toddler is in the potty training phase, and we needed more.

As if this was not bad enough, you need to know that I take shopping seriously. I’m not a just-grab-what-you-need-and-throw-it-in-the-cart kind of guy. I’m married to a CPA so I compare prices, quality, etc. In addition to this, our toddler is a bit fussy about clothing. This was not a simple decision. I had to find primarily pink ones, or she might throw a fit about it. I had to weigh the options between tagless or not. I looked at the material, etc.

So, there I was, scary and all criminal-looking, in the middle of a normal work day, standing, unshaven, in the little girls’ underwear aisle, with a couple of packages in hand, studying.

After a minute or two, I began to notice mothers steering their children away from me. I decided I better just pick one before I had to have a conversation with a dreaded Wal-Mart security person. I wanted to shout, “It’s okay. I have a daughter and a job. I’m just sick.” However, I’m afraid it would have been only the last three words that would have stuck out.

I made a quicker-than-I-would-have-liked selection and got out of there.

Luckily, the other items I needed were not at all suspicious (milk, bread, etc.) Can you imagine if, by chance, we had also needed things like rope or binoculars? Yikes, I think I would have been detained.

I’ll just stay home today.





A Swell(ing) Journey Part III

3 03 2008

The MRI was finally approved by my insurance company. I’ll be having it this afternoon. It will take a day (or maybe two) to get results and then decide what can be done. I’ll let you guys know. Thanks again for the positive thoughts.

looks like a good time!





They Are As Bad As We Are

2 03 2008

Recently, my wife wrote that she might be more like a guy than she had thought. Apparently, so is her office mate (who presents as very feminine and nice).
My wife was on the phone at work, getting some needed information from a male at some place of business. While on hold, my flirtatious sweet wife mentioned to her office mate that the man had a very nice voice.

Without missing a beat, the office mate, who has seen the man, stated, “Oh, he’s UGLY.” She did not stop there (certainly egged on by my wife). She added, “His face looks like a large animal stepped on it.”

Yes, they can have their “Guy Cards” now.








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