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Transplant Athlete
Saturday, November 29, 2008
  Poor Cavalier

My poor little old 1995 Cavalier is really struggling these days...Even with hypermiling, my gas mileage is dropping off precipitously. This last tank was just under 35 mpg, my guess is that if I was driving normally, my mileage would be in the low 20's. I can definitely feel the loss of power when driving, it feels like she is full of 300 lb football players. I'm downshifting on climbs that wouldn't have fazed her before. I'm pretty sure I can fix her, but I know it's going to take a long time to do it.

The last time I had a real mechanic look at her, he said there was a loss of compression. The car is old, so I'm guessing the seals are pretty much gone. I'm loosing oil and coolant (as evidenced by the stains on my driveway). Because the seals are bad, I'm losing compression (loss of power).

Also, the "KA-THUNK" in the steering is getting louder, I'm afraid if I don't repair that also, I may end up going straight when I'm supposed to be turning (or vice versa).

I've already told ABL we should look into buying a new(or used) car. I think the Chevy Cobalt might be an appropriate replacement, but we're also looking at something with more seats like the MAZDA5.

 
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Wednesday, November 26, 2008
  Jim Poses A Good Question

Jim said...

I have a question.

Why would you not prefer the catheter to the shunt in your arm. With the shunt you have to pierce the skin for each treatment. With he catheter you just hook up and go. I know there is a potential for problems wiht a catheter but your BLOG seamed to indicate it was really bugging you even without any problems.

I'm working in the field, developing new dialysis equipment and wanted to understand your thoughts on catheters.

Thanks,
Jim

Getting stuck three times a week with very large needles isn't my idea of fun, so why would I prefer it to a catheter?

When I first decided to go on dialysis, I asked myself this same question. All the doctors and nurses were telling me that an AV Fistula was the "Gold Standard" for access. I had serious issues with the limitations that an AV Fistula would present. The short answer is...I'm deathly afraid of the catheter. When they first placed it, they said don't get it wet, that's the same thing they said about Gizmo and look what happened there.

Seriously, they said if it gets wet, it will get infected, and the infection will follow the catheter straight to my heart. It definitely makes showering a challenge. I've been on immuno-suppressants for 8 years and had more than my fair share of infections; even though I've recently discontinued the immuno-suppressants, I still carry the fear of getting infected. I suppose if I hadn't had a compromised immune system for so long, I probably wouldn't be as afraid of the catheter.

Jim's right, the catheter is faster, and more convenient. I drop into the chair and they hook me up. The catheter is about 10 minutes faster than getting stuck in the fistula. That would save me 30 minutes a week or about a day a year.

I have a 9 month old girl and she tends to grab the catheter as she's climbing all over me (it's hidden under my shirt, but she seems to grab it at least once a day). I think I was told that they used a suture to keep the catheter in place, but mine has pulled out. My catheter is definitely hanging lower and at some point it will be so far out, that they will need to place a new one(if I still need one).

My dialysis times have been pretty consistent at 3.5 hours each time. The catheter is at a lower flow rate (250 versus 350 for 16 ga.) which means I'm getting more dialysis in the same time with the fistula, I suppose they could shorten my dialyzing times if they wanted because of the higher flow rates. According to one website I found, using a catheter for more than three months presented a risk of "excessive morbidity". I don't know about anybody else, but I make it a rule to avoid excessive morbidity...

The fistula has its own risks; clotting, infection. But, I feel that the risk of infection is lower with the fistula and the consequences of an infection through the fistula are lower than the catheter leading straight to my heart.

I'm not a doctor, so I probably have some of this wrong, but this is my understanding of the situation. Also, as I've stated, my background/fear colors my judgement in choosing an access method. Yes, it makes me think about getting another transplant post haste.

I hope that answers your question Jim.

 
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Saturday, November 22, 2008
  Dialysis

I desperately want this catheter out of my chest, but the Doc says my fistula has to be able to support the larger 16 ga. needles for 2 weeks before we can talk about that. On Tuesday, I started with the 16 ga. needles and there were no problems. Thursday, I went through the whole treatment with 16 ga. When the machine started beeping to tell me that the treatment was over, I tried to get the recliner to an upright position and I felt like there were mini explosions going off in my arm. My vein ballooned up and I was in incredible pain.

I wanted the needles out right then and there, but they need to return the blood that's inside the machine. They take the Arterial tube from my arm and connect it to a bag of saline. The saline pushes the blood through the pump, filter, and back into the venous line into my arm. Since my venous line was now blocked, they had to switch the tubes, they disconnected the venous and attached it to the Saline. The fluid then returned to my body through the Arterial line.

That'll teach me...

 
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  Performance Bike Stores

I've got about $70 in a Performance Gift Certificate and in their Loyalty program and I really want a Mountain Bike, but I don't want to spend a lot of money. I can't afford a full sus rig, but I do want to have disc brakes. So, I'm watching the two cheapest bikes that meet my limited requirements. They had been just a hair under $300. I received an email this week from Performance saying they were going to have a 15% off sale this Saturday.

I checked the web today, to get a feel for how much cheaper the bikes would be; lo and behold, Performance raised the prices on the two bikes I was looking at. They raised their prices so much, that with the 15% off discount I'd be paying more than their normal everyday price on the bikes (about $6 more). When your customers don't know the normal price, that's marketing genius; they'll be blinded by the 15% off signs and spend more. But, when they do know the price, it's just plain irritating.

 
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Thursday, November 20, 2008
  Rough Hands

I ran my hands across a blanket and they were catching and snapping at the fabric. ABL grabbed them and said, "Oh your hands are rough and manly..."


Me: "uhm, what were they before?"


Arnold Schwarzenegger: "puny girlie hands..."

 
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Wednesday, November 19, 2008
  Venison Dinner

Around 8:20 this morning, I had this feeling that I should call my wife and tell her to slow down. Things had started off rough for her; she couldn't find the power cord to her computer, she lost her token(which allows her to login to her network at work), and she was running late. Ten minutes later, I got a call from her, she had hit a deer on Old Ox Road, just a couple of miles from home. She was panicky, so I told her to call the cops to get a report filed. Then I went back to eating my Corn Chex.

I dropped RJ off at school and asked TG if we should rescue mommy...TG blew me a kiss, so off we went.

I went down Old Ox to 28 and didn't see her, so I just assumed the cop had let her go and she finished her errands. I went home. ABL showed up later in Zinger's truck. Apparently, she took the long way home to avoid making a left hand turn out of Verizon (yeah, we almost didn't buy our house because ABL didn't want to make the left onto Crestview without a light). So, I hadn't gone far enough when I went down Old Ox.

I had been thinking it was just a little bit of sheetmetal damage, something I might be able to bang out. I truly wasn't prepared for the utter destruction to come. The front right side of the vehicle was crushed in. The deer had pushed the grill into the radiator and the Escape was bleeding gatorade colored coolant. The hood wouldn't open, so I couldn't really tell how bad the engine bay was. Most likely, the radiator and fan were up against the engine block. She started up, but I won't drive her any farther than I have to. Luckily, ABL crashed about two blocks from a body shop that I've used before and had a great experience. So, we'll try to get the Escape to limp over there later today.

ABL is fine, but she's shaken up. I think mostly because she had a bunch of hunters pull over and fight over the deer, before they slashed it's throat (why she looked, I'll never know). Then they threw it in the back of a pickup truck. No sense in letting it go to waste...

Since she can't drive a manual transmission, I'll be her chauffeur for the next week or so...Zinger has pictures, so check the link above, I don't know when he's going to post them.

 
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Sunday, November 16, 2008
  I Almost Hit A Cyclist Last Night

Everyone knows I'm passionate about cycling, which is why I was pretty shook up last night. I was leaving dialysis around 8pm, when I thought I saw some movement on the street. I waited an instant and a cyclist appeared in my headlights. He/she was bundled up and riding a mountain bike. No Headlight, No taillight, no reflectors, no reflective vest. The cyclist was wearing dark colored clothing, heading downhill at a pretty good clip on a wet road. If I had pulled out, I doubt the cyclist could have stopped in time to avoid hitting my car.

When gas prices spiked, it forced many people out on to bikes. What I can't understand is why these people don't spend the $20 and buy a headlight/taillight kit or at the very least lash a flashlight to the handlebars...At least this person was wearing a helmet, most of the time I see people riding through Herndon without helmets or lights. Scary.

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Monday, November 10, 2008
  Weekend Fun

I took RJ and Q ice skating this weekend. Q did pretty well, she was able to skate on her own and only fell a couple of times. RJ, definitely has his mother's ability to skate, which is to say I was hunched over most of the time picking him up off the ice. O my back is killing me. He'll get better though, his mother, not so much...

I hit some kid who was skating parallel to me, then swerved right in front of me before falling. I very nearly hit a tiny little girl as she went against the flow of the skaters. I went right, she went right, I went left, she went left...It was a game of chicken that would have been devastating had my fat mAss hit her mass, think 18 wheeler versus VW Bug.

We then went to Eastern Mountain Sports to look around and the kids climbed on the rock wall (it's really small), then we stopped at Starbucks for a really expensive hot chocolate that the kids refused to drink because it had whipped cream on it...Argh.

We finished off the day by watching Throwdown with Bobby Flay where he goes up against Tony Luke in a Philly Cheese Steak competition. Q was rooting for Bobby to win. Which is when I thought I should giver her a few rules to live by.

  1. Never go in against a Sicilian when death is on the line.
  2. Always bet on black.
  3. Never bet against a fat guy in a food contest...

ABL added "If someone asks you if you're a god, you say yes."

 
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Thursday, November 06, 2008
  Verizon Revenge

I wrote a post awhile ago about Verizon Tech Support. Since then, Our Vonage Phone Adapter stopped working. Vonage blamed the Verizon router as being "overly aggressive" and wanted me to disable the firewall on the Verizon router. Uh no thanks. I've heard what goes on when you have unprotected internet... I'm jiggy with it. I've got the 411.

I'm guessing my MAC would have survived fine without the firewall, but the Vonage tech made it sound like a lot of work and I already have a lot of work to do. We've been without a home phone for about a week. Our calls have been routed to our cell phone which as you can imagine is getting expensive. This week, the router with the Aggro firewall quit working, so Verizon is sending us a new one that was supposed to arrive yesterday.

Speaking of things that broke down in my house...Tuesday morning, I checked my AV Fistula for the pulse, and it was hard as a rock and there was no pulse. My best guess was that it had clotted, so I ran over to the Dialysis clinic and had them take a listen with a Stethoscope. No Joy. Wednesday I went in for some minor surgery to open the Fistula back up. They numbed me up with some local Anesthesia. Then they started shoving pipes down my arm. They called them Cannulas, but I'm pretty sure they were the same stuff I just used to replace the plumbing in my house.

They injected contrast dye in to my veins to see which were blocked up and they determined that my Fistula was scarring over and had reduced flow to a trickle. They gave me something to make me sleepy and then it was lights out for me. They stuck a 4 mm balloon in the site and opened it up and then they took a 6mm balloon and opened up the rest of the vein. I really wasn't supposed to operate heavy machinery or lift heavy machinery afterwards, but I had driven myself there and needed to get home.

 
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I've gone through kidney failure twice. The first time in 2000, my mother donated a kidney; and again in 2008, I'm on dialysis waiting for a breakthrough in immuno-suppression medicines before seeking a new kidney.

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Warning Signs for Kidney Disease:

  • High Blood Pressure
  • Burning or Difficulty when Urinating
  • Frequent Urination at Night
  • Blood in your urine
  • Cola or tea colored urine
  • Swellig of the eyes, ankles, or feet
  • Lower back pain unrelated to physical activity


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