Thursday, April 23, 2015

And Snow in April.....

Babygirl's Saturday lab results came in on Monday. Her creatinine continues to creep downward and is now at 0.98.  Her potassium was also low, a brand-new issue, so we're pushing broccoli and fruit.  Her headaches have been remarkably good, until a pretty bad one this morning.  Her head simply must not like snow.

People are acting like snow in April was just invented, but to me it seem pretty normal.  I recall a Mother's Day a few years back where I snapped a picture of about six inches of snow on my blooming yellow forsythia.  Pretty, but kind of depressing for May.  April snow I can handle, even if it means having to glove up to walk the dogs.

I managed to walk them both together this morning and I didn't die and both of my arms are still in their sockets.  Maybelle is doing pretty well!


Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Days of Sunshine.....

Two sunny, warm days together on a weekend after a long, frigid winter seemed a blessing too big to be imagined.  And to have nothing outside of home planned, nothing at all?  Even more unbelievable!  (Well, we did have to do Friday's forgotten blood work Saturday morning before we went to the gym, but that was a minor setback.  And it had the advantage of staying any possible bad news until after the weekend.)

Babygirl and I went to the gym as soon as it opened, worked out and came home to wake up Squeaker.  Since his Mom and Dad have had a lot of overtime lately, we enjoyed his company overnight.  I slipped out and ran to Sally Ann's Boutique to see if I could find a couple of pairs of pants that wouldn't fall off when I stand up.  I have succeeded in getting back to my pre-KidNeedsAKidney weight, which is delightful except that nothing in my closet fits except a couple of pairs of jeans that I kept hoping against hope would fit again 'someday.'  I got my hair cut and arrived back home in time to make it to a very important appointment.

We went to meet Maybelle.

My old dog, Simon, is 11 years old.  He's an awesome, big little dog, and even though his brother Garfunkel died years ago (we named them right, didn't we?) he's done well as an only dog.  But he's gotten some arthritis, and he won't walk more than a block with me.  I feel a little uncomfortable walking alone in a city at 5 in the morning in the dark.

So I've been cheating on him.  For weeks now I've been checking local rescue sites, looking at available dogs, visiting on visitation days and putting in applications.  (My firstborn is paid for and about to get married, so I was unwilling to sign her away, but it seems like one must do something like this to get a rescue dog.)  I refuse to take a puppy or a very young dog - frankly, I'm too old to deal with that kind of crazy energy.  But this six-year-old looked like she might, maybe, just be slow enough:

It is difficult to tell by looking, of course, because hound dogs always look slow and pathetic.  According to the website she'd been in the shelter a year ago, placed and returned due to 'owner circumstances.'  When I enquired, they euphemistically told me that the owner had to spend some time in a kennel himself, and returned the dog to be re-homed.

Squeaker came along with us, and we put him up on a chair for safekeeping. When Maybelle came into the little room to meet us, she walked up to him, eyeball-to-eyeball, and slurped him right in the nose. Did I mention she's 60 pounds and over three feet tall?  She needs to add another 10 to hide her ribs.  And she drools like Hooch.

It took a couple of days of back-and-forth paperwork, but she's home, snoring on the couch.  She has beautiful indoor manners, and someday (SOON) she'll learn how to walk on a leash without dislocating my shoulder. She ignores cats and wants to be friends with every dog she meets. She looks sad and slow, but she LOVES walks.  I'm thinking she'd LOVE runs. 

But what she loves most is love.  She is the sweetest, happiest-hearted dog I've met in a long time.  Each dog has it's own voice - hers is a Brittish-accented nanny sort, a nice contrast to Simon's "I dunno, Davey...." goofiness.  (Okay, you dog owners know exactly what I am talking about, so stop snickering.)

Welcome home, Maybelle.


Friday, April 17, 2015

Things We Shouldn't Forget.....

While we were getting ready to have Babygirl's most recent biopsy Dr L mentioned that it was her third. 

"No.  It's her second.  She had one shortly after the transplant, and that was it."

Odd, he said.  There appeared to be two previous biopsy reports on file.  But I was SURE she'd had only one.

Until I stumbled across this post:  A Change of Pace....

How. Did. I. Forget. This?

It beggars my imagination to realize that my kid went under general anesthesia for a procedure and I didn't have the slightest recollection of the event.  It frightens me more than a little to consider that our lives have become so absurdly abnormal that I could just blank this out, like a bad first date or something. 

That is just.....wrong.


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

You Impossible People.....

After dinner discussion about the possibility of getting an additional family dog from a local shelter.

Babygirl:  "When I get a house of my own I'm going to get a COOL dog."

Mom: "Can I come visit?"

Momentary pause....followed by snickers, then outright laughter.

Babygirl: ".....well, I guess you can, if you're a ghost!"

Mom: "Do you expect me to be demised?"

Me:  " 'Demise' is not a verb, Mom."

Mom: "You people are impossible to talk to!" I am typing.....

Mom: "You have a blog?"

Babygirl:  "I should do a video blog on YouTube.  But I'd need a video camera."

Mom, to me:  "Buy her a camera! You have the solution to all of her modern problems!"

Babygirl:  (Laughing hysterically) "There is no solution for all of my problems."

Mom:  "You have problems? That's terrible, because it's only going to go downhill from here."

"Thanks, Grandma...."

Hmm....and you think WE are impossible to talk to?


Monday, April 13, 2015

The Annual Financials.....

From a medical perspective it's been a cheap year. 

That's a relative concept, of course. 

Babygirl's Medicare premiums rose to a total of $1258 for the year.   Given what we are seeing in terms of our deductibles and increased medication copayments for this year already, we are going to be losing ground on this one now that the Medicare is gone as of February 28th.

Our medical mileage for the year came to only 2545 miles.  Since in 2012 we hit over 14,000, this isn't bad.  The deduction for this would be $764.

Tolls and parking were a mere $140.

Medication copayments came to $2400 for the three of us, with Babygirl being the lowest contributor since her copayments were largely picked up by Medicare. 

Hospital bills, dental care, eyeglasses and miscellaneous came to just under an additional $1000, bringing the total to an almost even $5500.  That's about $460/month, and it doesn't include my pretax payment of our health/dental insurance, which is another $180/month for the family.

$640/month in medical expenses. 

And not one penny of it will be tax deductible this year because we didn't spend enough for that, thanks be to God. 

I have never tried to get a total of what we would owe if we didn't have insurance.  I see the hospital bills, of course, but I don't really have any idea about the pharmacy bills.  And I'm afraid to ask:  I just don't want to know.


Wednesday, April 8, 2015

The Red Salad Bowl.....

Red is, as you know, Babygirl's favorite color.  A few years ago Aldi had a bright red salad bowl set for sale, so I bought it to cheer her up.  The little bowls have largely bit the dust, but the big bowl is hanging in there.  I use it frequently.

It's my Pill-Hauling Bowl.

I have to sort pills several times a month: For me, for my Mom, and for Babygirl.  We each have a pretty good collection of medications, more than can be grabbed in one run to the pill cupboard. (Notice 'pill cupboard.'  Not 'medicine cabinet.'  There isn't a medicine cabinet in the world big enough for a transplant/migraine patient.)  So I grab the big red bowl, load it up with the dozens of pill bottles, and make a separate run for the stragglers and the pill sorters. 

It's become routine for us, and I don't think about it much, but I did it in front of my Mom last night and noted her level of astonishment at the sheer size of the project. 

How weird has life gotten that it seems normal to need a large salad bowl to carry all of your kid's medicine bottles from one place to another?

She takes twenty-one pills in the morning, and twenty-three in the evening, not counting this weeks' extra steroids.


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Drumroll, Please.....

I got a team call on speakerphone today about Babygirl's biopsy and test results.  I'm certain I've never had test results given by a group before. It was a bit...unnerving.  Like eavesdropping, a bit.

The results were generally very good: The viral studies were entirely negative. There is no antibody-mediated rejection.  There is no cell-mediated rejection.  There is no evidence of damage from the rejection medication.  There are a few neutrophils (bacteria fighters) hanging around for no apparent reason, which is baffling.  There is non-specific evidence of inflammation with no good explanation for WHY it is there, but it is mild.  The final report officially reads: "Mild subacute rejection" but none of the doctors feel this is an entirely correct interpretation of the findings, although none of them could put a better label on it.

Alrighty then.

Well, if you and a team of pathology experts can't quite figure it out don't ask me to explain it any better either.  Just give me the plan.

Since things don't look too bad, they don't want to readmit her.  We are to do a short burst of high-dose rapidly tapered oral prednisone and recheck the creatinine in 10 days.  If things are still not better then the next plan is to increase one of the anti-rejection medications (the mycophenolate) and carry on. 

Works for me.  Let's hope the kidney agrees.