Renal Cell Live!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Thoughts On The Solstice

On December 21, 2005 I nearly bled to death internally. I was getting ready to drive to Columbus for an appointment with Dr SC and suddenly started vomiting blood. I called Dr G's office, Dr SC's office, and my friend Mary who came by and organized the trip to the ER. Funny how snatches of scenes come back; I recall the ER staff unsuccessfully trying to insert an IV in my carotid artery ("Just turn your head, honey, keep your head turned, it's not going to work, BP's down to 74/37"). I remember trying to wave to Saint H on the way to the lifeflight 'copter. I remember being enveloped in a blessed hotpack when I got to the ICU. Everything else until I woke up the next day is pretty much a blur, or completely forgotten; and that's probably good.

Solstice: That shortest day, and longest night signalled the rebirth of the earth to ancient civilizations. It won't pass for me without thinking of my own second chance.

Candy's skimvestYesterday I attached shanks to glass disks, to serve as buttons on a vest I designed for my niece. It involved superglue. Yes, I glued my fingers together. You'd think I would know better.

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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Remembering Carl Sagan

Carl Sagan died 10 years ago today. Suave, handsome, enthusiastic. What's not to like? He gave us all so much more than the "billions and billions" tagline (26 years later, if you say that with just the right level of sparkle, most people get the reference immediately)

I spent the summer between 5th and 6th grades reading everything I could get my hands on about the human brain, and wrote some long report that nobody else ever saw (fortunately, probably). I loved biology in high school. Unfortunately I didn't love physics, trigonometry, and chemistry, and in 1969 the high-school astronomy class was "off limits" to girls. So I devoted myself to history and art, and left my old love behind me.

In 1980, I got a television, after years without one. One of the first things I made time for was "Cosmos." Suddenly science wasn't nerdy; it was a thing of passion and beauty that anyone could appreciate. Watching Carl Sagan reawakened my interest in things scientific, and much of my non-fiction reading now revolves around it.

One of the most popular guests on WOSU's "Open Line" program is Dr. Tom Burns, director of the Perkins Observatory, perhaps our own local Carl Sagan. Last night when Saint H got home I kept him from taking off his coat; we ran outside in time to see the shuttle and International Space Station pass directly overhead, blazing bright in the clear twilight. I'm not a scientist, or an astronomer, just someone who loves to see hard facts made approachable. Science, like history, has been too long maligned for "dry" content. We need more Carl Sagans in our lives!

Report on Monday's trip to the James infusion center: Zometa as usual (followed Tuesday by the usual achiness and doldrums). Hemoglobin level: 13.8, better and better - higher than it's been in years. No Aranesp! Hooray!


Thursday, December 14, 2006

Nothing Much

Yes, I've been remiss in posting. There hasn't been much going on other than that I've had the flu twice in the past two weeks. (And this is the first season I've had a flu shot - hmmmmmm).

I went last week for Aranesp and discovered, lo and behold, that my hemoglobin level was 12.5 - near the level for "normal" human beings. So, no Aranesp! We'll see if this trend continues - I trust it's due to the ferrous gluconate. Whatever it is, I'm pleased. Had I not had the flu I suspect I would be more energetic now, so am looking forward to seeing how this develops. I found this article in the NY Times on Aranesp dosages to be very interesting and thought-provoking.

Maggie is feeling much improved, thanks to fluids, lots of canned food, and lots of attention. Duke doesn't want to share the attention with her, but doesn't mind getting a share of her canned food. They really are children in fur coats.

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Friday, December 01, 2006

Like Mother, Like Daughter

"Her kidneys are failing. Blood tests showed high levels of creatinine and BUN, indicating that the kidneys aren't working efficiently anymore. As waste products build up in her system we'll see more frequent episodes of the confusion that you saw yesterday. She's also pretty severely anemic. There are several causes of anemia, and most are associated with kidney failure. Chiefly, the kidneys secrete a hormone, erythropoietin, that stimulates red blood cell production in the bone marrow. As they fail the red blood count falls."

The doctor looked up at this point and said, "But I don't really have to describe all these symptoms to you, do I?"

The doctor in this case is our vet Dr. Randy, and "she" is my darling little Maggie. We've known Dr. Randy for as long as we've lived in the area; he and his partners have taken care of six housecats and probably 20 strays that have ended up in our hands over the years. We know them very well, and they know us equally well. So they all know about my cancer and the attendant problems I've had.

We can expect probably to lose our baby in the next 8-12 weeks. Fortunately I'm home most of the time to keep an eye on her. If she gets confused or panicked, I put her in my bathroom where there's a litter box, food and water, and her favorite afghan; she responds well to being in a confined space with familiar objects. When I have to leave the house for extended periods of time I'll leave here in there with the door shut so that she keeps calm and I'll know where she is when I get home.

I know that my Blogger profile says I have no children but that is a lie. My children wear fur coats and are eternally two years old, and give their love unconditionally. How ironic that she's experiencing some of the same problems I have myself. Given my most recent post, this is doubly ironic - I talked with Dr. Randy after posting. What wouldn't I give to be able to stop her deterioration? Would I share my own drugs with her? I can't, but I wish I could. The nurses at the James clinic would probably love her, but I doubt she would return the feeling; she only really loves her Mom and Dad.

Each one we lose leaves a hole in my heart.