Yet Another Journal

Nostalgia, DVDs, old movies, television, OTR, fandom, good news and bad, picks, pans,
cute budgie stories, cute terrier stories, and anything else I can think of.

 Contact me at theyoungfamily (at) earthlink (dot) net

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» Sunday, April 30, 2023
The Future Bares Its Teeth
In 2016, when James had his first heart attack, his kidneys were also in bad shape, not just from the heart attack, but from years of metformin and glypizide for his diabetes and Motrin for his back pain. Couldn't do much about the Motrin, but wish we'd known about the diabetes drugs being harmful.

His kidneys also took a hit after the second heart attack. Both times when he came home from the hospital, he just made sure to drink an adequate amount of liquids and both times we got his creatitine count down from 4's (the highest is 5) to low 2's.

2018 hit us hard: in March he had a cardiac effusion and in April a pleural effusion. After the cardiac effusion they inserted a permacath in his chest and put him on four hours of dialysis three days a week. He came home from the first dialysis session in a complete meltdown after he found a poster at the dialysis clinic which called the permacath "the white tubes of death" (since they're an infection vector). Once you are on dialysis permanently you have surgery on your left arm and have a fistula inserted to do the dialysis through so you can do stuff like take a shower (without the help of Glad Press'n'Seal) and go swimming.

But a miracle occurred. When he had the pleural effusion they discovered that the cause of his kidney problems turned out to be his prostate gland. It was enlarged and blocking his urethra, so that even though he was constantly peeing, he wasn't peeing enough. Urine was backing up from his bladder into his kidneys. Once they put a Foley catheter into him, the urine poured out. His weight went down, his creatitine went down to 2.1, his GFR went up (this is good). In October 2018 he had a TURP, which basically "Roto Routers" the prostate out so it doesn't block anything. And after a couple week's recovery, he could pee again. His creatitine would never be normal (under 1.3) again, but the kidneys were holding their own.

And he's been fine, and was fine until last August. Three days after having a series of shots that were supposed to alleviate his back pain, his urine output was halved. No one could put a finger on the shots being the cause, but one of the side effects possible were severe urination problems. His just wasn't severe enough. So James ended up in the hospital three months in a row. He had a cytoscopy and, although the prostate had grown back some, it had not grown back enough to block his urethra. The urologist says it's some sort of bladder sensory failure due to the diabetes, that he wasn't getting signals to pee enough and was retaining too much urine. That's when he put James on intermittent catherization, and we now have that down pat, although UTIs do spring up with annoying regularity (if the stupid urologist would let us use disposable catheters, it might be avoided, but he won't). After the third hospital stay, James' creatitine numbers were up to 4.6. He's presently down to 3.8.

All his appointments with Dr. Kongara (the nephrologist) since October have been benign. He navigated us through Jame being too dehydrated and other problems. But Thursday he dropped a bomb on us. Based on the creatitine not being very much better and his GFR being so low, he thinks James needs to see the vascular surgeon pretty soon and get the fistula inserted since it seems now that dialysis appears inevitable in the future and he doesn't want James to have to go through the thing with the permacath again.

I was all for the fistula surgery the first time it was offered since it appeared to be inevitable and seemed to save James from something worse. It would be less fearful for him, worrying about that permacath. But then we beat off the Dialysis Monster and breathed a sigh of relief. And now five years later it's returned, like an 800-pound grizzly bear showing its teeth and poised to attack, and I am completely, emotionally undone. We beat it off once and I don't see why we can't do it again, if we could only try properly.

I can't seem to make him better no matter how I try and it fucking hurts.

We have an appointment with the vascular surgeon on the 31st.

In other "wonderful" news it appeared James had some sort of food poisoning or something on Wednesday night and was up till 4:30 a.m. on the toilet. It finally loosed its grip and we slept until noon. Good thing it wasn't the week we get the grass cut.

Not to mention a friend of ours ended up in the hospital for a few days after a small stroke. This is the second one she has had and such news is very disheartening since she's already battling cancer.

Plus we had a stark reminder about getting older and "things happening." James was cleaning out the clogged hall bath toilet on Monday and sat down on the edge of the tub to give himself a breather. The towel under him slipped and he ended up sitting crossways in the tub, totally unhurt, but totally stuck, with his knees over the edge of the tub and his feet about a foot off the floor. Of course there was no purchase in the tub to him to push himself off from, and he couldn't turn himself sideways, and at 5'2" I'm about as useful pulling large things up as a canary. So, yes, the fire department made a visit to our home that afternoon; a fireman grabbed each arm and merely pulled him up until he could put his feet on the floor and that was that. I made lots of jokes about Emergency, but it really was a jolt of what could happen should one of us be alone.

The one bright spot of the week was Apria finally coming to pick up the oxygen bottles we've had cooling their heels in the garage since James got taken off portable oxygen in December. Thank goodness they aren't in the way anymore.

And we took a box of junk to Goodwill, too.

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» Saturday, April 22, 2023
Unexpectedly Delightful
As Miss Emily Baldwin said in The Homecoming: A Christmas Story, "The nice thing about life is that you never know when there's going to be a party."

We'd had a nice week, especially compared to the killer one we had a few weeks back when we had six doctor's appointments between the two of us. We'd gone out to lunch on Friday at Bay Breeze with Alice and Ken, and Mel and Phyllis, and I'd enjoyed my baked stuff shrimp so much. We'd also made stops at Walmart (although I'd bought the wrong size of something) and done the shopping and stopped at Ollie's Discount Store to get new rubber tiedowns for the big trunk that's in the bed of the pickup truck. Today James was going to clean up the kitchen a little, I was going to make chicken cacciatore, and he was going down to the mancave for a little bit.

I was on Facebook during breakfast when it happened: someone posted in the Metro Atlanta Geeks group that this weekend was an Atlanta Film Festival event; they would be showing the short film Night of the Cooters based on a Howard Waldrop short story, and that the producer, George R.R. Martin (yes, the George R.R. Martin of Game of Thrones fame) and Vincent D'Onofrio (the star, director, and also producer) were going to be at the event, which was being held at the Rialto Theater in downtown Atlanta.

Vincent D'Onofrio at the Atlanta Film Festival
Yes, you probably know how this is going to end. I mean, this would somewhat make up for November and not being able to go to RI Comic Con because stupid Apria needs three weeks notice to give someone a portable oxygen generator. (Hopefully, that stupidity will be covered in another entry.)

So, I looked it up. It was only $15/each! And parking was only $4 with their validation. The only terrible part about this would be driving downtown. Downtown Atlanta is someplace we only go when there's DragonCon. It's not a proper downtown, like NYC or Boston: there are no movies, no department stores, no real other stores except for high-priced specialty shops—it's pretty much all high-priced restaurants, hotels, a few clubs. I had a friend who visited here from NYC several years back and he called me—he had just eaten a meal and wanted to do something interesting afterward, and there was nothing to do unless you wanted to go to the Hard Rock Cafe and get your eardrums drilled out. (The Aquarium wasn't open yet, granted, nor the Ferris wheel in Centennial Olympic Park.) Driving to and into downtown Atlanta is a frank f*cking nightmare; there's always an accident somewhere on the freeway, people race at the on-ramps and off-ramps like maniacs, it's filled with one-way streets. Even when I had my PT Cruiser I never felt safe driving down there (I still have PTSD about that accident and hate driving anymore), and we would have to take the power chair on the truck.

Nevertheless, we lit a fire under ourselves and did it anyway. I cooked the chicken and we ate about 3 p.m., then tried to relax until it was time to leave. We took the back streets because there was indeed an accident on I-75 south, but after turning right, left, and going around Robin Hood's barn to avoid traffic and closed streets (it routed us around Mercedes-Benz stadium, the one with the weird opening roof, which I refer to as "The Origami"), we arrived at the parking garage, parked, rolled downstairs, and discovered James couldn't get the chair between the gates to get into or out of the garage. So we took the elevator back up to three, basically went out the door we were parked next to, and came out a half-a-block from the front of the theater!

We were unfamiliar with the venue, but everyone was super nice. We validated the parking ticket, got checked in, used the restroom—and discovered they were doing a real "red carpet" event like you see at movie premieres, but in a very small space. I had brought James' small camera with me because I didn't know if they allowed photos, but the press was there, and even people there who weren't the press had cameras and phones. I wish I had known and I would have brought my wonderful Panasonic camera, but alas. I did get a few half-decent pictures, but the Panasonic would have been killer.

And yes, George R.R. Martin and Vincent D'Onofrio did come out and they were interviewed by different press people (I saw one woman there from WABE, the Atlanta PBS channel). I was something like three feet from VDO at one point. He looks really good, dressed all in black with a black baseball cap and taupe-and-black sneakers. (Seriously, I ended up with one photo of his hands; he has such damn beautiful hands, and almost always in motion.) The real photographers were nice to me and let "Miss Miniature" get in a couple of times. I ended up taking most of the photos with my phone, though.

Finally it was movie time. We took the elevator up to the mezzanine, and then James had to get in the wheelchair lift to actually get into the theater proper. (The wheelchair lift lady was really sweet.) We got seated right behind the loge and had a nice clear view of the screen, which was apparently brand new and we were watching the first showing on it. There was an introduction to the film and a welcome to the guests (the host listed VDO's credits and the two things that got him the biggest applause were Bobby Goren—yay Criminal Intent!—and Wilson Fisk), and then we got on to the movie.

VDO talked about this film a few times on Twitter and I had read about it and watched the preview. The film is 35 minutes long and is funny, wry, irreverent, and absurd, but delightfully entertaining. It takes place concurrently with the H.G. Wells story The War of the Worlds and also riffs slightly on both the famous 1938 Orson Welles adaptation and even what I thought was a little nudge at the 1950s film version. The film is rotoscoped in a way that combines the live action with some animated inserts, giving it a graphic novel type of look. A Martian cylinder lands outside the sleepy small town of Pachuco, Texas, where previously the only problems were Sheriff Lindley's terrible case of constipation and two small kids in town who swiped a bunch of peaches. The sheriff, deputy, and other townspeople must determine the best way to fight this menace. We were chuckling throughout, and even on the way home and getting ready for bed were quoting lines from the story.

Afterwards there was a Q&A with D'Onofrio, Martin, some of the other cast member/production staff about making the film—questions about working against a green screen, getting funding for short films (movie "angels" typically want to fund long films that will play around the country, not short films that only are seen in certain cities—you know, we have all these streaming channels right now; why not one just for short films, the kind that get nominated for Oscars every year but no one ever sees because they only play in NYC and LA?), filming in New Mexico, etc. This is a particular project of Martin's, as he is filming three other Waldrop stories in the hopes of one day combining them into a full-length film.

Anyway, we had a great time; when the Q&A was over, we just trotted the half-a-block back to the parking garage, followed the line out the gates, beat the phone GPS into submission (she wanted to take us home through I-20 and I-285; with all the trucks on I-285, a nightmare route), and finally got on the freeway–

–only to run into an accident on I-75 northbound. We amused ourselves by repeating favorite Cooters scenes and lines on the extra 30 minutes it took us to get home.

So, to put it mildly, "A good time was had by all."

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» Sunday, April 16, 2023
All Booked Up, and Empty As Well
It was a "booky" week. Monday we made our monthly trip to Canton. It was a lovely day, we had a nice stroll through Books-a-Million, and then a delicious lunch at Uncle Maddio's. I tried having some proscuitto on top of my pizza along with the bacon and black olives. Proscuitto tastes pretty good after it's gone through a pizza oven, nice and crunchy! We also went to BJs to buy fruit cups and other necessities.

And finally, finally it was Friday and time for the book sale. I did not realize Ina Caro had another book besides Paris to the Past! Found a book about Native American culture. Found Victoria Thompson's newest book. And another about emergency room nurses. And other interesting things. Also found two books for James, one about the Battle of Britain and another about a series he loves, Ice Pilots. Found out only when I got home that the latter was autographed by two of the cast members.

Did more dubbing this week (so now most of it is finished), made sure our tax payment to the IRS got postmarked at the post office.

And found out about a totally unexpected electronics recycling day on Saturday thanks to Twitter. I managed to get the old printer (which was still in the foyer) on the hand truck and out the door more easily than I figured, then I mounted it on the chair lift and bungie-corded it down. The rest of the stuff we tossed in an expendable box and off we went to Jim Miller Park and got rid of it all.

Uploaded the last of my long fanfic on Sunday. Onward to the next story!

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» Sunday, April 09, 2023
Easter and Other Cotton Tails
We are spoiled, and it began the day James retired.

We have no bedtime anymore. Unless we have to get up early—and we try to make appointments so that they're 11 a.m. or later—we don't go to bed at least until midnight (for a while, until I set the timer on the television to turn it off at midnight, we were staying up to watch Barney Miller on FEtv, since it follows Emergency!). By the time we shower, medicate, and I treat whatever outbreak James has on his left leg this week, then read for fifteen minutes, it's 2 a.m. We get up between 9:30 and 10 a.m. and by the time breakfast is over, since James has been making delicious homemade oatmeal every morning since the first of the year, it's eleven or after. (And, yes, I know this is going to play hob with Tucker's dog walk once it gets really hot. I already have a rash from the few days it's been warm.)

So it was literally hell this morning to have to get up at 7:00 a.m. to drive Tucker across town to get his teeth cleaned. We had to get him there before nine so we could pick him up by 2:30 (and when we got there they said 4:30, and I said, "The doctor said that if I got him here before nine we could have him by 2:30," so they took him back and said 2:30).

Now we had to hang around Perimeter Mall for almost six hours. We started out with breakfast at Panera. I have been spoilt by James' oatmeal; Panera's was as heavy as a rock. Combined with a bagel, it sat on my stomach for hours. Then we went on to the Container Store to get a few things, and next the Barnes & Noble next door. I needed something I thought I might find in Michael's, so we went there, and we also checked out Hobby Lobby.

We ended up having lunch at Tin Drum. Sixty dollars for two meals out. Incredible.

Finally it was time to pick up Tucker, who blinked at us sleepily. The bill was over $800. And we got stuck in traffic on the way home.

A couple of more appointments for James this week, the usual chores.

We went to Lowe's one afternoon for a paving stone; I put it over Snowy's grave and also put up a little white bird metal ornament where the birds are buried.

Anyway, I left the DVD recorder/VCR unplugged for a week and now it seems to work fine. The reason neither it nor the Chromecast (which were both on the same HDMI switcher) were working was that the USB electrical plug for the HDMI switcher died. A new plug solved the problem.

Spent a long cold Saturday dubbing stuff off the DVR. Then Easter Sunday was nicer: watched Here Comes Peter Cottontail and The Easter Promise, we had ham and potatoes for dinner with half a Lindt dark chocolate bunny for dessert. Later on it was time for Call the Midwife.

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» Sunday, April 02, 2023
The Kindness of Strangers / Too Many Appointments
This was the week of six health-related appointments. But the thing that was the most special was an instance of the kindness of strangers.

You see, sometimes you find angels where you don't expect to find them. Tuesday was our semi-annual inspection of the HVAC system. The HVAC guy's name was "Ferris" and he went up in the attic and then out to the compressor to check everything out. Well, the filter was toast, so he went with me into the garage to get a fresh one (they warned me when we installed this unit that it was cheaper to order the filters from Amazon, otherwise the company would charge us about $150 each) because I couldn't reach up high to where it was stored. He was very jolly and funny, and said if I needed anything else to be "fetched up high" he'd get it for me while he was here, so I confessed that the help I needed was a little different—I needed a hole dug.

You see, since the 21st Snowy's little mortal remains have been stored in the freezer (yes, with the poultry, in a plastic bag). I'd hoped someone could bury him for me, but most of our friends have physical problems as well. So after the inspection was finished, James and Tucker went out on the deck, and Ferris dug a hole next to Pigwidgeon and Schuyler's graves, and we were able to lay Snowy to rest. He was so sweet; even asked me if I wanted to say a few words. I told him we missed him, and laid the little cardboard Amazon box into the hole, and Snowy was covered up and that was done. I have a little place out there, with a garden ornament I hand painted with Testor's paint: a butterfly and "WISH" at the top, and a resin stone with bluebirds on top of it.

In the meantime Monday we had to go to Kaiser Cumberland to get the second of James' shingles vaccine. Wednesday I had a bone-density scan in the morning and then James had physiotherapy in the afternoon. Thursday James went to the podiatrist in the morning, who said I'm doing a good job trimming his toenails instead of us going every six weeks. In the afternoon I had my annual visit with Dr. Mobley. Made the mistake of getting a pneumonia shot; could hardly lift my arm for the rest of the weekend. Friday James had another iron infusion.

That's quite enough, thank you. We also picked up Pill Pockets for Tucker because we have to start giving him antibiotics before his teeth cleaning on Tuesday.

The one fun thing: Ken's birthday party at Outback!

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