Sunday, July 28, 2013

Larry's Transplant And What Happened Afterwards

There is nothing routine about surgery and that is a given. It doesn't matter how skilled the surgeon is and how many he or she has done, you can never predict the outcome. Every patient reacts differently to the procedure. You hope that everything comes out well with minimal or no complications.
                Thursday mid-morning, which was about 1:30 a.m. in the Philippines, I got a text message from Ninette. I had been waiting for an update about Larry’s kidney transplant but didn't expect it that late, so it must have been urgent. I called her back and Ninette’s sister Tika answered. I don’t exactly recall the chronology of events as related to me by Pica, but she told me that Larry had complained about having difficulty urinating and they found out that a blood clot was blocking the urethra. While the surgeon was taking care of that problem, it was discovered that Larry had some bleeding from an unknown source and had to be rushed back to the operating room. This is where it gets confusing to me. As I understand it, when Larry’s anesthesia wore out in the recovery room, he woke up confused and started tearing out his IV lines and whatever else was attached to him. Because of this, the nephrologist thinks that the donated kidney from Ninette might have been traumatized that it would take longer for the graft to heal. The surgeon later informed Ninette that when they were taking care of the bleeding, they noticed some unidentifiable fluids which was not blood. Could it be leftover bile from Larry’s gall bladder which was also taken out at the same time as the kidney transplant?
                Larry was then sent to the ICU after the bleeding was stopped and was kept sedated. An endotracheal tube has remained in place and at that time he was considered to be in stable/critical condition, which sounds like an oxymoron. I hardly slept that night worrying about his condition. I received another text message Friday morning requesting me to call. This time I was able to talk to Ninette and she said Larry needed more blood transfusions plus dialysis because the electrolytes weren't clearing fast enough even though the new kidney was already producing adequate urine. Otherwise he was more mentally alert. That was a brief relief which enabled me to pass out Friday night and sleep till early Saturday morning. When I turned on my phone, there was a text message from 4 hours earlier. I immediately called back and Ninette said that during Larry’s dialysis, his blood pressure dropped to 80/60 so they had to stop. He was also having tachycardia (rapid pulse) going up to between 160 to 180 beats per minute. To add to that, he had developed a slight fever, which in his immunocompromised state is not good news. Remember he had to take a lot of immunosuppressant medications prior to surgery to lessen the possibility of rejecting then donated kidney. However, his doctor said that using signals, Larry had asked him how the new kidney was doing. The doctor told him that it was working, which apparently brought tears to his eyes.
                Ninette appears to be recovering quite well physically. She had been allowed to sit up in bed the day after the surgery. But of course she is experiencing a lot of emotional duress due to Larry’s condition. To make it worse, she couldn’t visit Larry in ICU because she had developed a cold. I continue admire her for her love and courage despite what is happening. In case you don't already know, she donated one of her kidneys to Larry.

The last six months or so, I was concerned about my brother ever since he said he had end stage renal disease, but only in these past few days that I've worried so much because of the challenges for Larry which keep on popping up. Just like last year with Mama before she died, I dread every phone call, text message or email that comes bearing news of another setback. I have to remain positive for my brother because if he is fighting, the least I can do is keep myself together. It's just a helpless feeling. You want to solve it but you can't. In my mind, I keep on exhorting Larry to keep fighting, hoping that mental telepathy works with prayer. Otherwise, what else can you do except trust the medical staff to do their job in trying to make him well? Larry has already made so many major lifestyle changes so he could qualify for this transplant and it seems unfair that he has to go through these complications. It makes me scared to think what else is coming around the bend. I’m hoping for better news at the next update. Please…
          Newsflash 7/28/13 8:47 A.M. : Robynne, Larry's niece just posted an update on Facebook which I'm copying and pasting here: Hi everybody. Ninong is doing so much better today. The slight fever he had yesterday is now gone, his BP is back to normal, he is responding really well everytime they lower the pressure on his ventilator, although his heart rate is still irregular, it is not zooming up anymore. If he continues to respond well to the doctors lowering the pressure on the ventilator, they will take it out tomorrow morning and he will be out of the ICU in the afternoon and if he stable after that. His new kidney is doing well too. Thank you so much for all the prayers you have been offering for him. My family and I cannot even begin to express how grateful we are. Please do continue to pray for him. Thank you again!
Also, I know that he is feeling better because he already did a silly face out of nowhere when I visited him earlier in the ICU and nodded like there is no tomorrow when I asked him if he is bored .

Public comments below, private comments: E-mail Me!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Signal Hill Time Trial Walk

When I woke up early last Saturday morning (July 20th), the question in my mind was: is it going to be a jog/walk with AREC (A Running Experience Club) for a mostly flat 6 to 10 miles, or with the Long Beach Area Walking Club for 6 miles up and down hills (5 major climbs)? With slightly sore thigh muscles from doing a short spinning workout the previous day, I decided it was going to be Signal Hill because I didn’t think I would be able to do a jog/walk workout. Believe me, my muscles get easily sore nowadays due to the cholesterol medication. Besides, since I’ve been using my GPS watch again, I wanted to find out how fast I could cover the course strictly by walking, and compare it to the flat walk with AREC a couple of months back in 13:05 minutes per mile pace over six miles. I’ve tried walking as fast as I can at Signal Hill before, but without the GPS watch, I wasn’t sure exactly what the distance was even though it was advertised as 6 miles. This time, equipped with the Garmin, I was all set to do a time trial. It was going to be one of those non-socializing days so I had to leave the rest of the group behind.
When I hit the first mile which included the steep Hill Street at 14:05, I knew it was going to be a fast walk if I could keep it up all the way. So I kept on pushing which made it feel  just as tough walking as fast as possible uphill as it was running. When I was gasping for breath during the steep climbs, I exhorted myself to push more and go faster. I don’t know if I actually went faster, but at least I put in the effort. And when I crested the hill, I tried my best to follow through and keep the pace up. So on it went on the roller coaster terrain of Signal Hill with me slowing slightly on the dirt trails for fear of slipping, then picking it up again on the pavement.
          At the pace I was going, I wondered  if I could catch up with the tail end of the walking group in one of the loops. Was I hoping to lap somebody? It was in the back of my mind but wasn't expecting it, however with 1 mile to go for me, I caught up with 3 people and a dog who had 2 miles to go and passed them. When I was almost at the 6 mile point, instead of turning right towards where the finish was, I turned left merely because I was curious to see where a certain street (Combellack) led to before turning back. Thus I was able to extend my walk another mile. When I hit 7 miles, I clicked off the GPS watch and checked my average pace. It was 13:34 minutes per mile. My goodness, that’s only a difference of 29 seconds per mile compared to my fastest pace on a flat course! How exhilarating to be able to walk that fast on a hilly course. My time for the 7 mile distance was exactly 1 hour and 35 minutes.

Since this was a time trial, does that mean I’m going to do it again in a few weeks to see if my walking fitness level has improved? Frankly, I don’t know if I can walk any faster than that, but I guess we shall see down the line if the spirit moves me again to try it.
Public comments below, private comments: E-mail Me!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A Perceived Transgression at Work

          SLANDER - 1: the utterance of false charges or misrepresentations which defame and damage another's reputation; 2: a false and defamatory oral statement about a person.

          Apparently I'm being blamed or accused of something I didn't do. It all started at the beginning of the shift when one of my co-workers was ignoring me when I told her where to find the chart dividers. At first I thought she was upset over how I was motioning to her and directing her to where the chart dividers were, but a few minutes later when I asked her something, she told me not to talk to her. So I didn't, because I did not want to further inflame whatever perceived transgression I did. Normally when this co-worker comes in to work, she immediately says hi to me, but on this particular evening, she came in with an angry mood.
We still had to do our jobs so we went through the motions of what we needed to do but without talking to each other, while I remained clueless as to why she was angry at me. When another co-worker asked her about her upcoming schedule change, she said she doesn't want it anymore and wanted to keep her old schedule. This, after working with her for weeks on the change so she could have every other weekend off like everybody else.
          I don't talk much at work anyway, so when she told me not to talk to her, it wasn't much of a stretch for me. However, having someone being angry at me for no apparent reason was bothersome. I learned from someone else that our supervisor was going to show up to talk to my upset co-worker but no one knew the reason why. I heard much later into the shift that someone anonymously emailed the human resources department some pictures of my co-worker sleeping in the hallway and using her tablet computer, and she was called in to explain what she was doing. With such evidence, she almost got fired. How this connects to me, I don't know, because I wasn't the one who sent the anonymous email. But since I'm the one who knows a bit about computers in our group, my co-worker mistakenly assumed that I may have been the one who did it. Thus her silent treatment began without her telling me why she was upset at me.
          First of all, I have never reported anybody to human resources or even our immediate supervisor, because I believe that whatever I report about any of my co-workers will also affect me and not just the person being reported. It's one of those "he who is without sin, cast the first stone" situations. Therefore the whole shift of workers suffer if that happens. One way or another it's hard to avoid drifting off to sleep in the hallway for a lot of night shift workers, and just about everybody uses their computers, tablets, or the hospital's computers to surf the web.
          Perhaps the person who sent those pictures to human resources had some kind of altercation with my co-worker who until now got along very well with me. As far as being blamed for sending the pictures and who actually sent them, well, that's the mystery. Heck, they can check my computer, cellphone, camera, or even IP address and they will not find any evidence of me doing such a thing. And if they wanted to delve deeper into this, digital photos nowadays contain lots of information, from megapixels to date and time they were taken, and even what kind of camera they were shot from (EXIF data). Forgive me for going into CSI mode (or more likely - geek mode), but if I can have access to those digital photos, based on all that available information, I can prove that I was not the one who took nor sent them to human resources.Thus, my conscience is clear because I remain totally innocent.
          Miss S., if I didn't like working with you, why would I put you in the same schedule as I have? Unfortunately, you have accused the wrong person. I should be very angry that you think I would do something like this. Instead, I'm terribly disappointed.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

In The Company of AREC Runners

This appears like I'm doing some sort of duck walk with my butt sticking out, however it just shows how difficult it is to do the heel to toe walking technique. Looks funny, doesn't it? Photo courtesy of Dave K.

          Last week AREC running club members received an email saying that new t-shirts were available for those who haven't received this year's beach towel for being a member. I picked up my towel a couple of months ago but it had remained unused and sitting in my closet. I sent a message to Kevin B. who was distributing the new shirts to find out if I could exchange my beach towel for a shirt and he said yes. Thus the reason for me showing up at the AREC training run last Saturday morning. Having done a jog/walk last Thursday, I thought I'd just do a very brisk walk with the club for the shorter distance of 6 miles just like I did 2 months prior when I was able to cover the distance at a 13:05 pace (my fastest walking pace ever).

          So there I was last Saturday morning with the club, a walker amidst all the runners of which about 115 showed up despite the 4th of July holiday weekend. Man, this club is really going strong! Before the pre-run talk even started, I began my walk so as not left too far behind when all the runners finished later. Like I said, I was only planning to walk but started inserting some short jogs in between walking intervals. This soon transformed itself to slightly longer jogs with shorter walk intervals. In the meantime, I kept looking behind me to check if the runners were catching up. I stopped at Stephanie's water station and drank some Gatorade and thanked her for being there, then continued my walk/jog (now a jog/walk). About a quarter of a mile later, I felt a tap on the back and the two leading AREC runners (Brian C. and Dylan B.) had caught up to my early start. They must have started later than usual because I was almost at 4 miles at that point. Pretty soon more runners were passing me (Johan D., Mike S., Kate R., etc.) and even though I couldn't run continuously, it felt good to be among the company of runners. I even saw Jennifer S. whom I ran with about 3 times last year. Oh, I forgot. Stephanie's water stop was supposed to be the turnaround point for the 6 mile distance but I continued on and jog/walked up 6th street hill before turning around. The longer distance for the day was 10 miles but I didn't want to go that far, so when I reached the corner of Bayshore and 2nd Streets, I turned left instead of continuing to Ocean Boulevard. Since I wasn't following the exact 6 or 10 mile route, I had to make adjustments so I could hit at least 9 miles by the end. One thing I noticed at about 3 miles and around Naples Plaza was how the numbers or the Sole Runners training group had diminished dramatically, while the AREC group has grown.

          When I reached 7 miles, I could feel my legs tiring which I attribute to the lingering effects of statin myopathy. Although my thighs and hips don't hurt as much, they still get tired more than usual. But at least they don't feel injured. It seem that the doctor reducing my Atorvastatin dose to 10 mg. three times a week has helped. At this point the duration of my jogs equaled the duration of my walks because my jogging stride started to deteriorate, and I did this until I reached the finish line.

          When I finally clicked off my GPS watch which I haven't worn in months until last Thursday, I didn't know what my pace was. I was thinking maybe around 12:30 because when I did a jog/walk on Thursday where I felt I jogged more than I walked (actually I jogged the first 2 miles and jog/walked the rest up to 4.69 miles), I ended up with 11:44 pace. So when I checked my average pace last Saturday for the 9 miles I finished, I was ecstatic to find out that I did an 11:25 pace, deteriorating stride and all! I would have never expected that and I can only attribute that pace to being in the company of the runners in my club. To tell you the truth, never mind the pace, after I finish these things, I still don't know how I'm able to cover these distances nowadays especially when they are over 6 miles. For that, I remain thankful.

Public comments below, private comments: E-mail Me!