Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Dad's Good Leg Goes Bad

This morning as he was getting ready to go, Dad's right leg (the "good" one) was bothering him. It was hurting so bad he couldn't put any weight on it. I had him sit in the wheelchair and took him to the kitchen for breakfast. Then I had to take him out to the car in it; he needed the wheelchair for the rest of the morning. Later, when he saw his Primary Care Physician (PCP), Dr. Nakano, she sent him for an x-ray of his right leg. She also prescribed a 5% lidocaine patch, plus acetaminophen 3 times a day, both for the next 7 days; then the acetaminophen on an as needed basis.

The visit with Dr. Nakano today was really for his follow-up appointment for the fall he had last Monday. This was his 1st time meeting her, she replaced his previous PCP, Dr. Kramer, who moved to a different branch of Kaiser last October. Dr. Nakano was great, her specialty is geriatrics & she worked at the Veterans Administration (VA) hospital as a geriatrician just before she moved to Kaiser so she could work with patients across a range of ages. She said Dad passed all the neurological tests showing he had no lasting effects of the fall he had last week. Yay! Now we can concentrate on the leg.

On Friday, Dad goes to the VA to get fitted for a walker. I am trying to get him in to see a physical therapist also for the pain in his right leg. Dr. Nakano said either the VA or Kaiser could prescribe physical therapy and both can have the therapist come to the house to work with Dad. If he can't get it from the VA, I will let Dr. Nakano know that he will need a physical therapy referral from her for Kaiser.

After we finished taking care of Dad's medical needs, we went to the lab for Mom's cross match for her transfusion on Thursday. She had a great conversation with Corbin, the phlebotomist. He used to live in Hilo and was asking Mom about her experiences growing up on the Big Island, which she was very glad to share.

Because we spent so much time at Kaiser, we went to lunch at Zippy's to give me a break. Mom had the chicken noodle soup, Dad had the beef stew plate, and I had the wun tun min. Dad ended up not eating any of his meal, we took it home. I think Dad's leg was bothering him more as well as sitting in the wheelchair for so long. Tina and Nicki, 2 of the servers at Zippy's, came over to say Hi to Mom & Dad, who used to go to Zippy's much more frequently when Dad was still driving. Tina & Nicki said they always wonder what has happened to their senior customers when they stop coming in.

Because of the leukemia, Mom's immune system does not work as well as it should. The doctors say that an infection is what will ultimately kill her. There are several things we do in order to minimize her exposure, such as, wearing a mask when she goes out of the house, wiping the table down at the restaurant with a disinfecting wipe, using hand sanitizer after she handles a menu or other items that are germ magnets, and washing produce in a solution of vinegar, water, & salt.
Papayas soaking in produce wash.

At dinner, Dad walked out to the kitchen on his own! He said his leg was a lot better, a lot less painful. Yay, for lidocaine! Since the patch needed to be removed before Dad went to bed I gave him the acetaminophen so he would have some pain killer in his system to help him get to sleep. (Twelve hours is the maximum time for the patch to be on; we'll start tomorrow morning at a more normal hour.)

Happy Retirement to Curtis! Today was his last day of work, he now joins the ranks of the many retired Baby Boomers. Because they did not have a retirement luncheon for him at work, his co-workers are actually having 2 luncheons for him over the next week. Then next week, he goes to Las Vegas with his LV buddy; they went to Vegas when his buddy retired a couple years ago, so now they're going for his retirement celebration.

Monday, January 30, 2017

ATK Gluten-Free Blend

Last night I made a batch of the America's Test Kitchen gluten-free flour blend. I haven't tried to make anything with it yet, I'll probably do that on Thursday evening with a batch of fluffy dinner rolls so that I can share some with Aunty Judy when she comes over on Friday.

I have a working phone again! I went to the Verizon store this afternoon and Tekoa helped me out. I told her what had happened and she said the only way for my phone to be functional again was to do a factory reset. She told me since I had 4 more backup PIN tries to try the other possible PINs until I had none, then she would do the factory reset. Amazingly, the very next number combo I tried unlocked it! So the phone is back up and running without having to go through a factory reset. And now I know my backup PIN! Bonus! Note to others with Verizon: Tekoa said that the profile section that you can get to in the MyVerizon website that allows you to enter a PIN is for the MyVerizon log in, NOT for the phone itself.

Ever since before Christmas, Mom has been saying she needed to wash her hair. But ever since then she has not been able to do it. First it was the dizziness and then after we did the exercises that Dr. Pham suggested and the dizziness went away, it was the "cold" weather. On Friday I got her to agree that if she did not wash her hair by the end of Sunday she would allow me to take her to get her hair washed. I had contacted Shaun earlier and he said he would be working from 11 to 7 at Supercuts. So after her blood draw this morning, we headed to Supercuts. (She had no choice since I was driving.)  And she was very, Very, VERY upset with me. But after Shaun got started she loved it! (I was pretty sure that would happen.) In fact, as Shaun was drying her hair she decided she wanted to come back in 2 weeks and get a haircut along with a shampoo! On the drive back home we talked about other options that were now opening up for her. (Sorry no photos, the phone was still locked up. But I'll get photos on the next trip.)

We called Aunty Florence today when we got back so that Mom could talk to Aunty Daisy. Aunty Daisy, Scott, & Wakana arrived in Seattle yesterday. She will be staying with Aunty Florence for a couple of days while Scott & Mark get her belongings arranged in her new studio apartment at an assisted living residence. Aunty Judy will be visiting with them in a couple of weeks. If Mom's doctor visit on Wednesday goes well, we will make arrangements to got for about a week after Sarah, Kaia, David, & Randi's visit in mid-February.

The weather is a little "cold" tonight. For Mom. She's all bundled up, 2 shirts, a vest, leggings with fuzzy socks, lying under the covers with her heating pad. And 2 cats.
Mom's fuzzy socks from Lori.

Happy Birthday to Jennie, Kevin, & Julie! Happy Belated Birthday to John, Maggie, & Kathy!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Math Story Problem

Get a pencil and paper, boys and girls! It's Math Story Problem Time! Mrs. Loi made a bunch of jin dui for Lunar New Years this morning. Mr. Loi called and asked me to meet him at his driveway since he does not like to cross the street by himself. Mr. Loi gave me 6 jin dui and I gave him 2 jabon. Dad ate 1 jin dui, Mom ate 1 jin dui, and I ate 1 jin dui. Then the Loi's daughter Catherine came over with 4 more jin dui. Dad went back to sleep, I went to work on cleaning up, and Mom was left alone in the family room. At lunch time there were 3 jin dui left. How many jin dui did Mom eat before lunch? (Answer at end of post.)

The Lois have lived across the street from us for as long as I can remember. Like Mom & Dad, they used to live in an old wooden house, with a large mango tree in front. They had several very successful Chinese restaurants in Honolulu; the one I remember the best was Hong Kung. They had 3 at one time and could have easily moved to a more exclusive part of the island. But they liked the neighborhood and rebuilt a larger house and stayed. They have 4 children, 2 still live here in Hawai'i; the grandkids come over after school and stay with them until they are picked up by their parents.

I think my phone has been bricked, hence no photos of the yummy jin dui. I am hoping it is a temporary condition. I woke up this morning and turned off the wake up alarm that I have set on the phone. When I looked at it a few minutes later, the screen had a different look. There was a keypad, an Emergency Call button, and the phrase, "Enter backup PIN". I did not recall having ever set up a backup PIN, I entered what it might have been if I had set one up and a message scrolled across the screen, "You have 8 more tries." I think this is the problem the FBI ran in to when they tried to get into the phone of the perpetrators of the San Bernardino shootings. The one where they wanted Apple to help them get in. Unlike the FBI, however, I can't hire a private contractor to get in to my phone.

I got in to My Verizon and got in to the profile section. I was able to enter a PIN but when I tried it, I got, "You have 5 more tries." (I tried a couple other numbers before getting in to the profile section.) Then I read the fine print and it said I had to wait 24 hours to use the new PIN. So I will try again tomorrow. In the meanwhile, I can receive calls but I can't make any or use any of the other functions of the phone. Thus, the brick.

Happy Birthday to Dave, Jerry, Suzi, & Paul!

Answer: 5. Yes, she ate 5 jin dui before lunch! And Mrs. Loi does not make small jin dui for Lunar New Years, the ones she makes are about the size of a tennis ball. But Mom still ate a bunch of lunch so its OK that she ate so many.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Happy Lunar New Year!

After breakfast today Sandy, one of Mom's mahjong buddies, came by with a present for Lunar New Year, which begins tomorrow. She brought a box of dim sum and a Chinese roasted chicken from Royal Kitchen.  Guess what we had for lunch!
Dim sum & roasted chicken from Royal Kitchen.
Here's the legend of what's in the dim sum box; we're not sure what "MR" is. Or is it "MK"?

Sandy stayed a while to talk with Mom and shared some info about the mahjong group. We found out Mitsie broke her shoulder in December when she was on Maui returning from a funeral; she fell while she was walking on a flat surface. (I used it as a teaching moment to tell Mom that is why I keep telling her to use her cane.) Betsy had some back pain, which went away, but then she started having pains in her knee and is now also walking with a cane. Sandy herself was having problems with her sciatica. Needless to say, they have not played mahjong since the week before Thanksgiving; they are hoping to all be well enough to play in February.

I checked out the orange tree after I hung out the laundry. I have been watering it regularly; its got a whole bunch of flowers again. The flowers are scattered around the entire tree. The clump at the center bottom of this photo is the same one seen in the photo on January 16th; it had 11 tiny oranges then, today there was only 1. Hopefully each of the new bunches of flowers will yield at least one full grown orange.

When I went to the humane society today I heard a bunch of frantic peeping as I got out of the car. I looked around & saw a bunch of chicks trying to get up on to the curb near where the hen was scratching around in the grass. They finally made it and joined the hen at the puddle of water. It's going to be interesting seeing what happens to the 8 chicks since there are some feral cats running around the grounds of the humane society.
Chick #8 is out of the photo, running around in the parking lot.

The blood stain in Mom's 100% cotton nightgown has been in it for about 5 weeks. Oxi-Clean did an amazing job on it; the blood stains are now very faint. According to the Oxi-Clean directions, some stains will take more than one soaking and washing.

The blood stain in Mom's black 100% cotton nightgown has been there for about 4 weeks. The blood stains are also faint, like in the flannel nightgown above. But since it has a dark background and busy pattern, its very hard to see when the nightgown is being worn. The Oxi-Clean does not appear to have affected the vibrancy of the colors.

The food stain on my 50%cotton/50%polyester sweatshirt has been there for a couple of years. The Oxi-Clean got more of the stain out than all the washings that the sweatshirt has been through since getting stained. I will try a couple more soaks and washes to see if more comes out with each treatment. I will also be buying a larger container of Oxi-Clean!

Happy Birthday to Misha!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Attack of the Roofers!

The cats were on high alert this morning. The neighbors lost some shingles during the windstorm last weekend & decided it was time to replace the roof; it's the first time they are putting on a new roof since they built the house. The roofers showed up just after breakfast; the cats kept a close eye on them.
Shiro in the middle bedroom keeping an eye on the roofers next door.

Xander & Shiro ended up sleeping with Dad on the other side of the house instead of in the middle bedroom. They didn't seem to like the roofers being so close to the middle bedroom; they could see them walking around on the roof next door. (Chibi went & hid under the living room couch as they were unloading the new shingles.)

Just before lunch we discovered a bunch of ants running around on the breakfast counter. Not exactly sure where they came from, they could have been looking for some of the bits of food that Mom drops when she eats or perhaps they are from the food that Mom leaves (uncovered) on the butsudan.

Nitrogenie closed on January 15th, so I needed another ice cream place to take Mom & Mrs. Vea for a treat. So I took them to 8&1/2 Desserts! The entry ramp is a little steep but Robert (the owner) & I were able to get them safely in to the shop. Robert also brought in a couple chairs for them to sit on. They were overwhelmed with the number of choices but Mom finally settled on mango with shoyu, Mrs. Vea had vanilla, & I had the 8&1/2 Perfection (a blend of 8 types of chocolate). We took a quart of vanilla home for Dad.
Mom & Mrs. Vea enjoying ice cream at 8&1/2 Desserts, new Subaru in the background.

Because Mom has a low platelet count she bleeds more than most other people when she scratches herself and breaks the skin. Last week she left 2 very large blood spots on the sheets. I tried soaking them, then washing, with limited results. I also tried soaking them in Bac-Out also with limited results. I finally tried Oxi-Clean, after seeing commercials about it. And the commercials were honest about the results! But I have no before & after pictures for you. So today I took the before photos for several of Mom's blood stained clothes and one of my food-stained sweatshirts. Check the blog tomorrow for the after pictures.

Today I also started a batch of jabon mui. I altered prune mui recipes that I was able to find online using the ingredients list from the jabon mui that I bought from Uncle Clay's House of Pure Aloha. But I wasn't able to run out to Uncle Clay's to get Grandpa Mui's All Natural Li Hing Mui Powder, so I had to use the regular stuff with artificial coloring and aspartame. The mui has to soak for a minimum of 3 or 4 days. If this works well, I will get Grandpa Mui's and make another batch; I have a large source of jabon rind.

Happy Birthday to Ann & Robin!

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

You've Just Crossed Over Into the Twilight Zone

Last night, or more correctly, this morning, when I left the ER at 1 am, I felt like I was crossing over into the Twilight Zone. When I entered the freeway there were 2 cars far ahead of me and no one behind me. The cars went around the curve and I never saw them again! Two other cars passed me but that was it, nothing in the rear view mirror; I could hear Rod Serling's voice ...
Your next stop ... the Twilight Zone.

This morning Mom had an appointment with her oncologist, Dr. Chan; she has a check-up every 2 months. But shortly after 7, I got a call from AJ, one of the oncology nurses. Dr. Chan was out sick today so Dr. Nguyen was going to see Mom. I was trying to get Mom out of the house by 9 am for her 9:40 appointment so I could make a quick check on Dad. Unfortunately Mom had trouble focusing on getting ready, she thought sweeping the floor was more important; she also kept looking for Dad. We finally left about 9:25 am and got there about 5 minutes after her appointment. While Curtis wheeled Mom in, I went to check her in. Then we had to wait for an opening when Dr. Nguyen could see her; Curtis had to leave for a 10 am meeting.

Even though Mom was the cause, she did not like waiting for Dr. Nguyen; she wanted to see Dr. Chan. In spite of that, Dr. Nguyen was very nice to her. And she had a great check-up! Dr. Nguyen said last January was the last normal blood counts that Mom had, but in hindsight she was showing early signs of the acute myeloid leukemia. He said only about 10% of elderly people with AML survive a year.

I asked Dr. Nguyen about the 10 to 23 days average between Mom's transfusions. He said it was just a side effect of the life cycle of red blood cells and not to focus on it. He said red blood cells live for 120 days when they are made by the body; when they are transfused, they last 2 to 4 weeks. Dr. Nguyen said they will continue with the weekly blood tests and transfusions as needed. He said the main thing is to keep Mom from getting infections; he was pleased with how we have been caring for her wounds with the Mepilex Ag, Medi-Honey, etc.

After we were done, we went to visit Dad in the Clinical Decision Unit (CDU). The only thing they do in the CDU is monitor people to see if it is safe for them to be released. For Dad they did a CT scan testing every 4 hours to track what was happening with the subdural hematoma. We arrived about 11:30.  Besides a change of clothes I also brought Dad some Nutter Butters! He was very happy!

I found out Dad needed to have another CT scan so I ordered lunch for him, then Mom & I went to the cafeteria and picked up our lunch. Dad had a hamburger with milk and ice cream, Mom had roast beef with mashed potatoes and peas, I had a Philly cheese steak with coleslaw. Dad ate almost all of his burger, Mom raved about the mashed potatoes, I think the coleslaw was the best part of my meal.
Lunch at the Ristorante CDU!
The coleslaw was the best part of this meal.

Mom is a terrible visitor, she complained almost constantly while we were there. One of her biggest complaints was about being cold, but when I offered to get her a warm blanket she said she wasn't cold. I finally overrode her and got a blanket, which made her warm but gave her something else to complain about (me making more work for the nurses & laundry people). She kept wondering why we were there visiting Dad, I kept telling her I wanted to check if he was going to be released today. She kept saying we should have called before we came, she forgot that she had a doctor's appointment this morning. She also kept complaining about why the doctor and nurses and other staff did not show up immediately.

Dr. Chawla came in about 1 pm and told Dad his last CT scan showed that all the blood had been reabsorbed, which was great news! She said the last thing Dad needed to do was meet with the physical therapist, if he could safely pass those tests he could be discharged. While we waited for the physical therapist, we had unexpected visits from a couple of people. One was the chaplain, the other was Wayde, the dietician. The doctor had noticed that Dad lost 10 pounds over the last year so she asked Wayde to stop in. He asked about Dad's eating habits and ended up recommending Boost, which is similar to Ensure but more economical to add more calories to Dad's diet. Kaiser carries Boost at their pharmacies and the Moanalua cafeteria and sells it at cost to make it easier for members to purchase. He brought us some samples for Dad to try.

Tanya the physical therapist also came by about 2 pm. Tanya's tests were the last one that Dad had before he could be cleared for release. She had Dad walk around the floor with a walker, go up & down a few steps, and walk with a cane. I told her Dad had an appointment with the VA physical therapist tomorrow to get fitted for a walker; she was very happy to hear that. Dad passed all of Tanya's tests, she told Dr. Chawla, and Dad was discharged about 3:30. And Mom was very happy! But it was disturbing to me that during the time between leaving Dad's room and driving the car up to the pick-up area, she forgot that he had been in the hospital at all!

When we got back I was so tired, I took a nap; so did Mom & Dad. I woke up around 6 pm and checked in on them; neither of them was hungry so we skipped dinner and I let them sleep. Today I had originally planned on making whole wheat rolls for Aunty Judy because she likes them; obviously that all changed when Dad fell. So I began making them when I woke up. Mom wondered why I couldn't make them earlier in the day or tomorrow; she didn't remember that we had spent a good portion of the day at the hospital and I need to take Dad to the VA tomorrow.

About every 6 weeks or so, I go through Mom's purse and check around her chair for used face masks. No matter how many times I tell Mom that she needs to change the masks so bacteria don't grow on them, she still insists on saving them to use later to save money; she doesn't understand that she needs to avoid getting an infection. I have decided not to argue with her, I just find them and get rid of them. Here's tonight's find.

Happy Birthday to Karen, Gloria, & Barbara!

Monday, January 23, 2017

ER #1/11

This is my first visit to the ER for 2017! But if I look at a year long period starting from June 12, 2016, then this is visit #11 for me. This time it is Dad who is in the ER, Mom is at home with Curtis. I had just finished making dinner and had sent Mom to let Dad know. It seemed like she was taking a long time to get back, even with using her cane so I went to check. Mom was in the main bathroom on the toilet. When I opened the bedroom door, Dad was lying on the floor. I asked him if he was all right & he said, "Where am I?" He did not know what he had been doing just before & did not know why he was on the floor. He did not have any visible injuries & said he was all right. With help he was able to get up & sit on the bed. I told him I was taking him to the ER since he passed out & we did not know if he hit his head.
I missed it when Dad was hooked up to the monitor. This is one of the ER overflow rooms; the portable monitor is apparently in another room.

Mom kept getting in the way as I helped Dad up. She also kept trying to help but really wasn't able to do anything. She also could not understand what Dad was doing on the floor. I knew I could not leave her alone, so I called Curtis to come and stay with her; it would take him about 30 minutes to get here. I got Mom's wheelchair, got Dad in to it, wheeled him out, & got him in to the car; I learned a lot from 5 days ago when we had to move Mom through the house in the wheelchair, it was a lot easier this time even with Dad weighing an additional 45 pounds more than Mom, who hovered nervously around us the entire time. I had called the neighbors to see if anyone could come & stay with Mom until Curtis came, but no one was home. As I started the car up, I asked Mom to go in the house so that I would know she was safe. She did, but then as we backed out, she came out in to the garage again. To tell me to call her when we got to the ER. For the 5th time! When I saw that Jamie's car was home, I quickly stopped to ask her to stay with Mom until Curtis came; she did. Mahalo, Jamie! That put me more at ease while I drove Dad to the ER.

Nurse Monica & Dr. Ishida examined Dad. The only other thing he volunteered to them was that the right side of his head hurt. Felip the phlebotomist came by to get the blood sample. Nurse Tony took Dad for the x-ray. Nurse Monica took him for the CAT scan. Dad didn't want to wait for the results of the tests, he said they wouldn't find anything wrong with him. But Dad was wrong, that bump on the head gave him a subdural hematoma which means they are keeping him overnight and doing another CAT scan tomorrow to check on what's happening. Dr.Ishida said most likely it won't get any worse, but they want to make sure and observe him tonight. Everything else came back fine. Problem for me is that they are so busy it may take several hours for a bed to open up in the hospital wing before they move him. I will stay until then so it is easier on Dad and the staff.

Forgot to mention yesterday that I picked up a bunch of stuff to make a gluten free flour mix for when David comes to visit in February. The recipe is from the America's Test Kitchen book, "The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook." The top row of ingredients are what is in the standard mix; the xanthan gum is added for baked goods that use yeast, the little bag with the red dot is psyllium husk powder which is added for baked goods without yeast. So now I'm ready! I will definitely try it with the Fluffy Dinner Rolls. And probably a quiche shell. And maybe also brownies, gotta have brownies!

Happy Birthday to Lisa!

Sunday, January 22, 2017

wind·fall ˈwin(d)fôl/ noun

Noun: windfall; plural noun: windfalls
An apple or other fruit blown down from a tree or bush by the wind. 
A piece of unexpected good fortune, typically one that involves receiving a large amount of money.

"windfall profits", "the inheritance from Uncle Larry was an unexpected windfall"
That's what I found this morning when I looked over at the front lawn as I was picking up the paper. There were 11 pomelos on the lawn yesterday after dinner; there were now 32 of them lying around!
There's just as many still on the tree.

After lunch I stacked them up. As I was rounding them up, I gave 2 away to some ladies who were walking by. I had to throw 3 away; one was cracked and full of bugs, the other 2 were very green and hard, I think they were on the same branch and came down with the ripe ones.

And the garbage bins were also not where I left them last night. Here's what they looked like this morning.
But where's the black bin?
Oh, there it is, on the other side of the driveway!
Here's how they were lined up to resist the wind. Usually there's a couple feet of space between them for maneuvering.

Happy Birthday to Jesse!

Saturday, January 21, 2017

How Many Umbrellas Do You Need in Hawai'i?

I was organizing the bookshelf by the garage door this morning. I needed to make more space on the shelf so that I could put away the cookbooks that Mom got in December. I had not really noticed what was on top of the other cookbooks until I started the task. I have not figured out why there are so many umbrellas here. But now when Mom says she needs to get an umbrella I can let her know that she already has an umbrella and doesn't need to get another one. One of these days I will find the 3 nail clippers that I have bought for her since I arrived 7 months ago. I get a new one every other month or so, clip her nails, then it disappears in to the black hole next to her chair. And I buy another one. Again.
There are nine umbrellas here.

I also found the recipe book that Myrtle put together for the family reunion in 2001. Everyone was asked to contribute 1 or 2 recipes. Kai sent in Pie de Queso (Mexican Cheesecake) and I submitted teriyaki chicken and bulgar pilaf.

It was a dark & stormy night... We were without cable tonight, which also meant I had no wi-fi connection. But the wi-fi outage only lasted for about 2 hours (though it did go out a 2nd time for about 5 minutes as I was trying to post). The wind actually started earlier in the afternoon; tonight gusts got up to 40 mph according to the news. When I went out after dinner to check that everything was still OK, I found that the wind had knocked a lot of the ripe pomelos off the tree. I decided to wait until tomorrow, when the wind stops, to go and pick them up.
Note the pomelos on the tree towards the left that are blurred due to the wind action on them.

Found out today that David will also be coming for a visit while Sarah & Kaia are here! Since he's gluten intolerant I picked up these 2 cookbooks from America's Test Kitchen a few months ago. I am excited to start using them. The 1st volume has a make-your-own gluten-free flour mix that is then used in the recipes. The 2nd volume has a make-your-own whole grain gluten-free flour mix. There are a lot of recipes that are also vegetarian, so they will also work for Sarah. David's girlfriend Randi is coming with him.

Happy Birthday to Maki-san & Jina!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Transfusion #17

Mom's main nurse today was Nurse Staci; she was assisted by nurses Sandi & Rowena. They started with the platelets today; she also got 2 units of packed red blood cells. Mom brought a treat for the nurses, a box of Japanese cookies. I like these cookies as gifts to groups of people since they are individually wrapped.

I did a quick calculation on Mom's transfusions. This was #17 over a period of almost 29 weeks.This means she has had a transfusion about every 12 days. If we only count the 13 packed red blood cell (PRBC) transfusions, she gets those on average about every 15 days. After Mom was first diagnosed, she was getting a PRBC transfusion about once every 23 days during the first 2 months. During the second 2 months it was about once every 10 days. During the most recent 2 months it has been about once every 17 days. I would have expected the most recent 2 month period to show more frequent PRBC transfusions than the previous 2 months but that wasn't the case. Since her diagnosis, she has had a platelet transfusion about once a month.

Curtis wasn't able to make it for lunch today due to a change in his schedule. I had to go to the cafeteria because the farmers market was yesterday. I decided to try the Carolina pulled pork, over rice since Mom prefers that to a bun, and cut corn. The lunches that Curt brings are better.

I gave Nurse Rowena a flier about Momo; the street she lives on starts a block from us & is only 3 blocks long so she is relatively close. She said she would post it at the bottom of the hill where a lot of people walk by. She also showed it to Kim the ATC receptionist who also lives in the area; they both love cats & are feeding one at the facility. Nurse Rowena also said that there is a couple that feeds cats in several areas in the neighborhood; she said she would let them know about Momo. Nurse Rowena said that the couple also goes to Kapiolani Community College in the evening to feed cats; KCC is several blocks up the hill from us.

Happy Birthday to Bo & Amy!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

When It Rains, It Pours

When Mom woke up this morning there were 2 large blood spots on the bedsheets. And she had an even larger spot of blood on her nightgown. Because of the itching, she scratches a lot and can open up sores easily because her skin is so fragile. With her low platelet count, when she bleeds, she bleeds a lot. I thought the blood was from a scratch on her breast, but I soon found it was from a sore on her arm. It seeped through the 1st bandage I put on, but the 2nd one held. I called Dr. Chan's office to let them know what was happening; his nurse said Dr. Chan wanted Mom to have a transfusion of 2 units packed red blood cells, but she would ask him about the platelets due to the bleeding.
Sore on Mom's arm, still bleeding after 1st bandage.

Aunty Judy arrived early, shortly after we finished breakfast. She has come over a couple other times to help when Mom was needing more supervision. She was super! Not only did she come to spend time with Mom, she also brought milk chocolate covered cherry cordials (one of Mom's favorites) & gave me money to buy lunch.

I started by doing grocery shopping for things that Curtis can't get or it comes in too large a quantity at Costco. I included some heat & eat entrees. I also picked up a couple of Japanese plate lunches and a rotisserie chicken for dinner.  While there I got a return call from Dr. Chan's office, Mom is going to also get platelets on Thursday; but we need to get the cross match done today.

I got back just in time to drop off the lunch, put the cold items in the refrigerator, & catch Xander and get him to his 11 o'clock appointment with Dr. Sue at the Cat Clinic; I left the rest of the groceries in the car. I also woke Dad up so he could eat lunch & get ready for his 1 o'clock appointment. Dr. Sue said Xander's asthma was sounding better and he was also looking better. We will be continuing the prednisolone tablet every other day until I run out of this prescription. Then I will pay attention to his reactions to the vog, various flowering times, etc. He goes back to see Dr. Sue at the end of February.

I got back home with enough time to get a quick bite before taking Dad to his annual physical with Dr. Young at the Spark Matsunaga Veterans Administration Medical Center. But when I walked in the door Aunty Judy told me Mom was very dizzy & couldn't stand up to go to the bedroom to lie down & rest. I got the wheelchair out of the car; working together, I lifted Mom to a standing position while Aunty Judy pushed the wheelchair under her. We got her to the bathroom, then the bedroom, while Dad was getting dressed. All that burned up the time I was going to use to grab lunch, so its a good thing I have put on a few extra pounds! Just before we left, Mom was having trouble breathing; Aunty Judy propped her up in bed and that helped a lot.

Today was the 1st time I have been to the VA medical center, it is next door to Tripler Hospital and is the same shade of pink. We went in from the parking lot that Google Maps directed me to. It turned out to be on the opposite side of the building from the module that Dr. Young works in; it was a long, slow walk to get there. We were able to check in at a computer kiosk as soon as we got in the doors; they paged Dad twice while we were on our way there but we finally made it. I gave the nurse a copy of Dad's blood work results that were done by Kaiser in September.

Dr. Young was impressed with Dad's results as well as how his heart and lungs sound. The only issues Dr. Young needed to address are cholesterol, weight loss, pain in Dad's left ankle (the same one he asked the Kaiser doctor about), and ear wax. Dad's cholesterol is 287 mg/dl, preferred range is less than 200; Dr. Young told Dad to watch his consumption of fried foods. Dad's weight had gone from 150 pounds last year to 140 today; Dr. Young told him he needs to eat more than his usual 1 meal a day, its not good to be losing 10 pounds per year. Dr. Young said he did not know what might be causing pain only when there is no weight bearing or movement; he told Dad to check if lying in different positions in bed made his ankle hurt less, then sleep in those positions. Dad came in complaining that he was having trouble with clearing his ears, Dr. Young found his left ear was full of ear wax; he is sending a prescription for drops that will soften the ear wax so that it can be flushed out. While there Dr. Young asked Dad if he wanted a walker to help make moving around easier; Dad said yes so Dr. Young will set up an appointment for him with the physical therapy unit. I sure hope I will only have these few problems as I age! I picked Dad up at the entrance closer to Dr. Young's module, now I know where to park for the next visit.

As we were leaving I called home to have Aunty Judy help Mom get ready for her trip to the lab for the cross match. I grabbed my phone and dialed the number and the car linked to the phone! Mom answered and sounded much better than when we left. I ended up talking to her through the car while we left the parking lot! (Mom thought it was amazing when I told her I was talking to her through the car. Dad thought it was pretty cool, too!) Now I need to figure out how to dial a number through the touch screen in the car.

I was glad that Mom was feeling better & was ready to go when we got home. Since Dad doesn't need supervision, Aunty Judy left shortly after we did so she would have less traffic to contend with on the way home. I'm also glad that you don't need an appointment for the phlebotomy lab; it's first come, first served. Mom's blood draw was uneventful, which was fine with me. On the drive back Mom said she really enjoyed spending time with Aunty Judy.

When we got back home it was around 3:30 & I finally had time to grab a couple of pieces of sushi. Then it was back to work, unloading the rest of the groceries from the car and washing the fruits and vegetables. I use 1 cup white vinegar, 3 cups water, and 1 tablespoon salt to make a solution to remove bacteria & bugs from the outside of the produce. I soak the produce for 3 minutes in the solution, then rinse with clean water, spin dry if needed, and store in a clean container in the fridge. I do this for all the fruits & vegetables, even the ones where you don't eat the skin; cutting in to one can introduce bacteria on the surface in to the part you do eat. It's similar to the reason why nurses & doctors swab your skin with alcohol or iodine before they give you a shot or cut you open, to reduce the chance of introducing bacteria to your insides while going through your outsides. I have found that berries last longer when treated like this.

I am really glad that I thought ahead and got the rotisserie chicken. It made preparing dinner so easy. Sometimes you just have to rely on fast food to get you through the day!

Happy Birthday to Doreen, Andrea, Geoffrey, Dean, & Van!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

First 100 Miles

On the way to Mom's blood draw I reached 100 miles driving my new Subaru! But I couldn't stop to take a photo, so here's a photo of it over 100 miles.

While we were driving around today, I had the temperature on Mom's side of the car at 85 degrees and her seat warmer on the lowest setting; Mom said it was perfect. On my side the temperature was 70 degrees and no butt warmer; also perfect!

I am expecting Dr. Chan's office to call tomorrow morning to set Mom up for a transfusion later this week. She has been complaining that her neck is sore because her head is too heavy and her neck is too long; her favorite complaint that usually shows up in the few days before she needs a transfusion. She is also sleeping a lot more. I signed up for access to Mom's file through the Kaiser website; I got an alert this afternoon about 4:30 that her test results from this morning's blood draw were available. Her hemoglobin is at 7.2 gm/dl and her platelet pack is 6K/uL. Dr. Chan's criteria for a transfusion is when Mom's hemoglobin goes below 8 gm/dl or her platelet pack is below 10K/uL.

One of the errands we did today took us past another view of Leahi. This is number 26 in the series. It was taken from 11th Avenue, looking southwesterly.
Leahi #26 from 11th Avenue, looking southwesterly.

Here's another baby picture. This is my friends' Anne & Mary Kay's grandson Jace, born on 11/28. His mother Kathy was the one that made the all-Korean food rehearsal dinner for the wedding I returned to Washington in July for.

Happy Birthday to Kathryn & Jon! Happy 7th Anniversary to Everett & Alyssa!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Green Thumb Day

After breakfast this morning I decided to start the lettuce, plant the ginger from Aunty Doris, and plant the purple sweet potato slips that I rooted. I put the ginger in the old toilet tank that has been used as a planter for Chinese chives (nira) and green onions (negi). The lettuce seeds went in to the long planters that we had put them in last year. And the sweet potato slips went in to the large planters that I originally got for Mom a couple years ago for her eggplant and tomatoes. Since I will be doing the watering, we should be able to have more success with getting things to survive long enough so that we can harvest them.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) on the left (little white bits showing through dirt) and Chinese chives (Allium tuberosum) on right.

I examined the orange tree to see whether there were more oranges on their way. Right now there are about a dozen oranges ripening on the tree. I found some flowers and a bunch of mini-oranges! There are 11 tiny oranges in the clump below; in a few weeks most of them will drop off, leaving 2 or 3 to get nice and big. Since I arrived, I have been trying to water the tree daily so that the oranges can develop properly; I think its helping. These are the most oranges I have ever seen on this tree.
Top to bottom: flowers, mini-oranges.

I forgot to mention yesterday that the reason it was a slow day was that I had a serious case of cramps in my calves, a side effect of the 5 mile walk the day before when I was distributing fliers of Momo. Since I arrived last June I have not done much exercise because Mom can't walk much anymore (and even if she did, the pace is not very challenging). And she and Dad can't be left alone long enough for me to really do much. I really need to get that WiiFit fixed. My calves are better today but still tight.

Speaking of Momo, I got another call today about him. A woman living on 8th Avenue called to let me know that she and her neighbors have organized a little group to watch for him. She says one of them works at City Mill & is taking a different route to work to check other areas; I wonder if I have run in to that person in one of my many trips to City Mill? BJ & Carrie brought the cat they thought was Momo to the house tonight; but it wasn't him.

I hope we find Momo soon; there has been disturbing news about cats recently. Last night a cat was shot on O'ahu about 25 miles from where we live. A week ago a cat was shot with an arrow at Nanakuli, about 30 miles from us. And a month ago a cat in Kona on the Big Island was shot with an arrow. Only the Nanakuli cat has survived.

Curt & Lori dropped by with the Costco groceries and lunch. And poi donuts! Mom & Dad both really like them so she got a whole box for us. She also bought a box for their house. I will freeze a few to eat at a later date.

During lunch I noticed Mom talking while she was eating; like when a young child does this, food was falling out of her mouth. I don't know if she realized she was doing this or if she forgot that she spilled food so she did not pick it up when she was done. Mom has a thing about roaches scurrying around the house, I think she would be horrified to know how much food she dropped.
Roach-eye view of the food Mom dropped during lunch, char siu in the background.

During Mom's modified Epley maneuvers today she had no dizziness! Yay! We can stop the exercises! NOT. About half an hour after we finished her exercises, she came shuffling into the the kitchen looking for something sweet to eat and got dizzy while looking around. She was so dizzy she needed help back to the bedroom. We will continue the exercises because it has helped a lot to decrease the frequency and severity of her dizziness.

Happy Birthday to Karena!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Slow Day Today

I decided to get a pizza for dinner. Tonight I tried Domino's large 3-topping carry-out special, its supposed to be the same price any time. According to their ads on TV its supposed to be something like $8.99 no matter what day or time you order it. I asked the guy who answered about the ad; he said it was a little different in Hawai'i, it's $10.99, with tax it becomes $11.51. But that's OK, a 3-topping large would be $20.50. On the way home I had to go past the old Honolulu Stadium. It is now a great little park for community events. 

Mom's dizziness seems to be getting better. Today during her modified Epley exercises she said she was not dizzy and she did not have any dizziness this morning. We need to keep this up for another day to make sure it is under control.

Xander was  not having a good day. After dinner tonight he threw up all of his dinner. I am trying to get him in to see the vet on Wednesday for his geriatric check-up so they can take a look at this, too.

I got more info about Momo today. I went to talk to Scott after lunch. He showed me where he feeds his cats and where the cat he thinks is Momo shows up every so often. While we were talking, Scott's neighbors BJ & Carrie came out to see what was going on; they live behind Scott. When we told them about Momo, and Scott showed them the flier, Carrie said she had seen him yesterday morning. I asked her more questions, she verified that the cat she has seen is Momo, or his twin. Apparently he is quite comfortable around Carrie and she can pet him. She will try to pick him up and give me a call the next time he shows up.

Happy Birthday to Dr. King & Randy!