Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dad Back in Rehab 2010

Dad finally moved to rehab yesterday, now that the doctors are comfortable that his kidney is back to functioning well on its own. Dad was transferred to a different facility than before, because his on-going leg pain in his right leg prevents him from returning to aggressive rehab.

He no longer needs speech therapy because his ability to speak has now fully returned thanks to the second brain surgery. Though as result of that surgery, his hairdo is still very punk. He started being able to read on his own again about two days ago. And now he can sit up for an hour or two which he couldn't do in rehab before. He still can't walk much or without assistance. He worked on his left leg today, and will be working on upper body strength.

Because his kidney is working again he can also metabolize the kidney cancer drug Sutent. The lower dose had no effect and his tumors got larger. He will start on a higher dose today or tomorrow, and hopefully that will take effect.

Mom continues to be a superhero and helps care for dad 12 hours a day every day. That's a more rigorous schedule than even Big Law attorneys have.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Dad's Kidney Working 2010

After three days of dialysis and a little patient waiting, dad's kidney is working on it's own again. We are all tremendously relieved. My mother, who I am pretty sure is superwoman, is positively exuberant. Things are still a struggle but at least dad isn't immediately threatened. I'm glad I was able to spend the whole week with dad and with mom.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dad's Dialysis 2010

We are not catching a lot of breaks here. The dye used in dad's second leg embolization caused his one kidney to fail. The doctors didn't even mention this possibility to us because he had already had a procedure with the dye and had no ill effect. That coupled with the news that his tumors had grown made for a bad weekend.

Finally the doctors decided to try dialysis for three consecutive days. Monday was day 1. I grilled the doctor before he started the dialysis machine on everything including why he was choosing one port spot over another. The doctor assured me that any risks were minimal, especially the way he did the procedure. I tried to explain to him that our luck was such that the most unlikely bad things were going to happen to us. The doctor started the procedure, and we discovered he was allergic to the regular dialysis chemicals. He had respiratory trouble and a team of people had to come in and treat him with a nebulizer and tons of Benedryl. Not good. One nurse said that in 19 years of working there, only one other person had ever had an allergic reaction to the normal dialysis. They changed him to a radiation-based dialysis (which they only had available because of that one other person with the allergy). He was extremely cold (and I have never seen him cold before) and uncomfortable throughout the procedure, but that seemed to be the result of the original distress.

The next two days of dialysis have been uneventful, but his kidney has not started functioning again. And without his kidney he also can't go back to taking the kidney cancer drug Sutent. But right now he looks good, and feels okay, except for the pain in his leg and the exhaustion he feels from all the other medication. Hopefully the doctors tomorrow have a good plan for us.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Dad's Second Leg Embolization 2010

Yesterday dad had another leg embolization on his most painful leg tumor to cut it off from the blood supply. The first embolization was done with wires and this one was done with alcohol. We went to Teaneck Holy Name hospital for the surgery because apparently they are the regional embolization specialists. The surgery cut off about 80% of the blood flow so it is considered successful. However, the actual alcohol is very painful, so he temporarily has more pain than he did before the surgery. He is on a lot of pain medication so his rehab is on hold. Hopefully once the alcohol exits his system, he should go down to less pain than before. The doctors also got his dangerously high levels of calcium down. Hopefully when he recovers he will be going back to some sort of modified rehab.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Baby Connor 2010!

Becky and Brandon had a precious little preemie Connor. He was born at only 26 weeks and at 1 pound 15 ounces, but he was healthy and breathing well. We are all pulling for his speedy progress.  Preemies are often released from NICU at around the time they were due, so for Connor this should be in December sometime.

Connor Graves 2010
Baby Connor

Connor Graves 2010
Becky looks in on Connor

Connor Graves 2010
Brandon soothes baby Connor

Monday, September 13, 2010

Dad's Second Leg Ct-Scan 2010

Since the weekend began, dad's leg pain has been at an all-time high and has made it impossible for him to continue with rehab to walk. He's on his way to the ER now to have the leg scanned again so that we can figure out if there's something we can do to alleviate the pain.

Update: More bad news. The tumor in his leg grew so we're trying another surgery to cut off blood supply to it. The tumor can't be cut out because it's vascular.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Rachel's 30th Birthday 2010

Rachel had a three-day birthday celebration, which is exactly what you should do when you turn thirty. Janice was in town visiting so we joined her for the final leg of her celebration, her surprise party at her apartment. Tim planned the party and made her the most amazing cake. My friends Christina and Dan went too, and I finally got to meet some of Rachel's sisters.

Rachel's 30th Birthday 2010
Blowing out her candles with help from her son Isaac

Rachel's 30th Birthday 2010
The awesome cake that Tim made and decorated

Rachel's 30th Birthday 2010
With her Cake Boss hubby Tim

Rachel's 30th Birthday 2010
GW Girls at the party: Rachel, me, Christina, and Janice

I was biased towards this particular day of the birthday weekend because Rachel and Tim recently had baby Eleanor and I was eager to meet and hold her. She slept the entire time and was highly cooperative. Both Christina and I offered to adopt her.

Rachel's 30th Birthday 2010
Holding new baby Eleanor

Happy birthday, Rachel!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Spoke to Dad on the Phone!

Because he can talk again! (Though it's not 100% yet.)  If speaking to your parents whom you love isn't one of the happiest, most exciting things in your life, it's time to reconsider your attitude about life. Like right now.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Labor Day Cookout 2010

Mad Men BBQ
When we moved to the suburbs and started having unironic conversations about tax breaks and parking, we knew we would need to do something redemptive, like holding long cookouts with hundreds of beers and scores of hamburgers and sausages.

On Sunday lots of fun, sexy people welcomed our new backyard with good company and laughing and fights about where to acquire the best pastrami. I'm proud to say all five boroughs were represented, as well as Philadelphia, Long Island, and probably other places. Michele and Briggs celebrated their 31st birthdays without even a little crying! Then, when it got really dark and we finished listening to The Chronic, we watched the characters in Mad Men act even worse than the worst-behaving people at the barbecue, which was frankly a little disappointing. Maybe next time.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Friday, September 3, 2010

If there's anything I can do...

Absolutely all of my family and friends have sincerely offered their help.  Most of the time I can't think of anything they can do to help, but by virtue of having had offers from everyone, every time I do need someone, I have a full mental Rolodex of people to turn to. I have had family and friends give medical advice, legal advice, rehab facility advice, send food, and one time when I thought I would actually need physical help, I felt like I knew who to turn to (even though I ended up not needing it).  All of this is to say thank you.  Even if I haven't yet called upon you to help with something, your offer is of immense value.  And if I have asked you for something, it means the world to me, no matter how small it seems to you. Love you.

Moving dad to rehab tomorrow.
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