Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Learning every day

Here in Western PA the streams look dead. No fish, no greens. Nothing. It's so sad compared to the clean rivers of Washington. Well, except the Yakima. That one is a bit muddy in teh Columbia Basin area.

Anyway.....I found this description that helps clarify why the streams in this area are what they are. I acquired this info from SwampWalker14 a GeoCacher.

"This cache is located at an active Acid Mine Drainage treatment system called JB2. You are probably wondering what Acid Mine Drainage is. Acid Mine Drainage (or AMD) is contaminated water runoff from old coal mines, either strip mines or underground mines. When a mine is abandoned, water collects and floods the mine. When the coal-bearing rock is exposed to air and water, the oxidation of metal sulfides, often pyrite, within the surrounding rock creates acidity. The AMD, or mine water, is high in acidity and dissolved metals like iron and aluminum. The metals stay dissolved in the AMD water until the pH rises to a level where precipitation can occur. This makes AMD water look like a red, orange, or even a yellowish color. If the AMD contains lots of dissolved aluminum, the water will look pale blue like spilled milk. AMD is a big problem in western Pennsylvania because it smothers the tiny creatures called macroinvertebrates that fish need to live. AMD spoils people's drinking water, stains everything it touches and smells like rotten eggs. AMD pollution can kill all the life in a stream.
The JB2 Treatment System treats AMD flowing into Raccoon Creek from an old underground mine. This treatment system works by settling out (or precipitating) the AMD water in a large, shallow basin filled with high pH limestone. The shallow basin exposes the AMD to air. The air makes the dissolved iron settle out onto the limestone bottom. The limestone raises the pH and reduces the acidity of the water. This filters most of the iron out of the water. Next it flows over a dam where more air mixes through the water, and into a bed of larger limestone. This cleans the water even more. Then the water passes under Joffre-Cherry Valley Road to another settling pond where even more iron drops out. The JB2 Treatment System removes over 15 tons of iron, 2 tons of aluminum, and 105 tons of acidity from Raccoon Creek every year.
This cache is off of Joffre Cherry Valley Road. The treatment system is on both sides of the road. There is a gravel parking lot you can use. There are no trespassing signs on the wooden fences surrounding the ponds. But I have land owner permission to place the geocache here. If you would like to look at the ponds please stay on the outside of the fence. This is a simple cache to find. I hope this will teach you a little about the problem with Acid Mine Drainage. There are brochures in the cache about the Raccoon Creek Watershed Association and the Independence Conservancy. These are volunteer organizations whose members working hard to clean up Raccoon Creek."

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

1st Transplantiversary

Josh celebrated his own 1st transplantiversary on the 26th.Read his account of how it went.

Data correction

I posted on Thursday March 15, 2007 that a person dies every 17 minutes waiting for an organ.

That was wrong.

The current national average is 17 die every DAY. Not one every 17 minutes.

What's the difference?

Well, 17 per day equals 6,205 per year. (The number used varies from 15 to 18, with most using 17 per day).

One every 17 minutes would equal 30,917 per year. (Given 60 minutes to an hour, 1440 per day, 525,600 minutes per year).

No one corrected me on this error. I caught it myself. So that means that:
1) No one actually looks at the info I post.
2) The info I post is easily accepted as fact because I am a damn intelligent and very honest person.
3) The dismal web hits I am actually counting are bots and don't know data from errata.
4) I am the only one actually reading the details of this blog.
5) All of the above.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Numbers for the week

I watched the numbers on OPTN go from 95, 599 most of the day to 95,611 between 5:00pm and 5:12pm. It was kind of weird.

April is Organ Donation month.

I emailed a contact from a local organization that is "one of 58 federally designated not-for-profit organ procurement organizations (OPO) in the United States". I had heard from one of the representatives well over a month ago and they had offered to send me some trinkets that I could use to give to the subjects of my interviews and for my project. Even after two follow up emails, I haven't received anything. While the trinkets are not that important, I was just really excited that at one point, the potential for recognition and the very real possibility of legitimacy was just over the horizon for the One-A-Day-2007 project.

Unfortunately it's just one of the few things that have failed to materialize lately. I was also to have been invited to a staff meeting for a similar purpose, but since there hasn't been any follow ups from that organizations, it too will fall to the side.

I would like to think that everyone is gearing up for April and the organ donation month. But I seriously doubt it.

A return to lucidity

We went shopping this weekend for the birthday of a current visitor. The recipient was dragged along to the mall and I was actually able to talk and ask a few questions. Since most of the conversation was just conversation, I don't remember a lot of the details of what was said. Then again, I had a specific question I wanted to ask and the rest was more or less verbal fodder.

I wanted to know if he was happy that he made the decision to go ahead with the transplant. His response was "yes". The reality was that it happened to him very fast. A phone call, then admittance to the hospital and hours later up on the guerney to the operating room.

He did say he doesn't remember anything (or at the most, very little) from the time he went to the operating room until he went to the 12th floor. That was several days after the surgery. Even though we all had short conversations with him, he doesn't remember any of it. From the time he arrived on the 12th [floor], then memories come back to him but covered in some haze. After he had been there a few days, it becomes more clear until his move to physical therapy. Then it's business as usual since he's been home.

Right now, there is some major fluid retention in his left hand. The same hand (and three fingers) that has been affected by the damaged nerve during a operating room procedure. His legs and feet swell quite a bit too. But even though those are obvious issues, he says he feels better every day. We just need to figure out why the swelling is happening and how to prevent it and to make sure it doesn't turn worse.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Quote Of The Day

"Reading quizzes were easy. Finding a socially acceptable table in the cafeteria was hard. Make a game show about that." - Mary Beth Ellis In an article about the show "Are you smarter than a fifth grader" on

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

I have been wrong before

No one likes to be wrong. Few admit it when it happens. I am one of those few.

When the recipient was undergoing the transplant, two family members came to visit and help. I kept saying that we will need the help more after the surgery and when the recipient goes home.

So here we are, a month post surgery and I can say "I was wrong".

He is doing very well from the accounts I have heard. There is a nurse that comes weekly to check on things and there also a next door neighbor with a medical background. The biggest issue is still blood sugars/insulin and the fingers of the left hand. Once those are in check, then I think things can go much better.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Med updates

It sounds like the recipient is doing so well the doctors said to come in once a week for tests. It started out on Monday and Friday every week but now it's only Friday. The biggest hurdle to overcome now is the diabetes and working on the occupational therapy exercises to regain the movement in the fingers of the left hand.

I don't have details, but I will try to get some this week.

Friday, March 16, 2007

A new high

It looks like the U.S. hit a new high today regarding the number of people waiting for organs. With that in mind, April is National Donate Life month. I have a permalink on the right nav bar.

Waiting list candidates as of today 4:45pm
All 95,502
Kidney 70,545
Pancreas 1,745
Kidney/Pancreas 2,373
Liver 16,944
Intestine 232
Heart 2,819
Lung 2,820
Heart/Lung 124
All candidates will be less than the sum due to candidates waiting for multiple organs

Transplants performed January - December 2006
Total 28,926
Deceased Donor 22,200
Living Donor 6,726
Based on OPTN data as of 03/09/2007

Donors recovered January - December 2006
Total 14,748
Deceased Donor 8,022
Living Donor 6,726
Based on OPTN data as of 03/09/2007

You can't get to heaven in an armored car

On the iPod:
Direct Current was the band and "I Believe" was their CD. They were a Christian band from the early 90's and are no longer performing together, but I listen to their only CD often. Right now, the song "Show me the way" is playing. My favorites are "I Believe" and "It is finished" which has great message and absolutely incredible vocals. It gives me chills when I listen to it. I know each of them personally, but only keep in touch with one of them, the lead singer.

"....he chose to forgive..." "....He spoke His final is finished....."

Close but no cigar

Over the week in NC talked to several people about organ donation. Nearly all of them were literally seconds or just a few minutes. I handed out a few cards and in a few circumstances, I was able to actually hold a conversation with someone.

The young woman at the Philly airport didn't transpire. I was at the airport, but my flight from RDU was late getting there and we were of course late leaving. Thus, late getting to Philly. I was at the PHI airport, terminal "D". Except the I arrived there just after 5:00pm so she may have left by then. I looked down to where we met on Monday, I didn't see the kiosk/table she was at. So I just got into line for my flight back to PIT.

That flight was late too.....then once we got on board, the pilot said the plane had to be powered fully down and according to the FAA passengers cannot be on board when that happens. For me, it's all good. For others, it was ALL bad. No one really had a cow.

When we re boarded about 20 minutes later, the younger/high school passengers too it upon them to try and sit in the "first class" row. But this airline doesn't have a first class. Me...I walked straight to the LAST row, window seat.

During the time we were waiting to takeoff and the other passengers to board, I struck up a conversation with others around me.

((My dilemma: I want to be accurate without divulging the careers of these people))

We talked and discussed organ donation and who in my life had received a liver recently. They allowed me to take pictures but had to recant after a short conversation. We did have a good talk and although the loss of the images was a personal disappointment, the overall goal of the Organ Donation Awareness project is AWARENESS. The portraits are secondary.

Med updates

I have been remiss in my updates for the recipient.

He was released from the UPMC system last week, Friday 3/9/07 (I hope that's the right date). He was home over the weekend and went back for some blood tests Mon 3/12/07. The results of those tests allowed him to stop taking a few medications. His blood (diabetes) is out of whack so he must test his blood often. Prior to the surgery and new liver, he was able to control it with his eating habits, if you can call it control....LOL

This morning my daughter updated me with her version of his health and well being, "he's doing awesome!" she told me.

Today he had another checkup and it resulted in a few more medications being removed from his daily regimen. The fewer the better right?

As of last night, the only leaking he had was from the incision under his arm. I don't have an update regarding the three fingers on his left hand. So I will assume they are better but not 100%.

Punxatawny Phil ought to be skinned

He was dead wrong for us in his own "hood".

Here is our forecast:
Allegheny County

Today: Snow showers with the potential for 2 to 4 inches in most regions with higher totals in the Laurel Highlands and near I-80. High 35. Wind NE 10-20 mph.

Tonight: Chance of snow with up to an inch possible. Low 23. Wind N/NW 5-15 mph.

St. Patrick’s Day: Mostly cloudy and with a chance of snow. Little additional accumulation. High 35. Wind NW 10-20 mph.

Saturday night: A chance of flurries. Low 20.

Punxatawny Phil ought to be skinned

He was dead wrong for us in his own "hood".

Here is our forecast:
Allegheny County

Today: Snow showers with the potential for 2 to 4 inches in most regions with higher totals in the Laurel Highlands and near I-80. High 35. Wind NE 10-20 mph.

Tonight: Chance of snow with up to an inch possible. Low 23. Wind N/NW 5-15 mph.

St. Patrick’s Day: Mostly cloudy and with a chance of snow. Little additional accumulation. High 35. Wind NW 10-20 mph.

Saturday night: A chance of flurries. Low 20.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Up against the window

Up against the window, I have a good view of people in the A terminal. To my left, is a young man, perhaps in his early 20’s reading a book. Across from me is an Asian couple sharing a DVD on a laptop. The man is much more entertained by the movie then his companion. He regularly jumps and giggles to himself as the scenes change. She….is…. unmoved. Slightly in front and to my left is another couple. They are Caucasian. She with a brown open crochet type covering on. Not quite a sweater, but not a doily. It’s dark brown and matches her leather sandals quite nicely. He in tennis shoes like most of the men in the terminal. Next to them a few empty seats down is a trio of men. One looks to be the “leader”. I see him as a former football player with not enough talent but plenty of enthusiasm. His hair is short and graying. He wears a checkered yellow shirt tucked smartly into his khaki Dockers. He probably coaches his son’s baseball team now. He can’t sit for long always getting up and checking the sports scores.

When I follow someone with my eyes, watching them for any clue to their current situation. Is it business or pleasure? I can only imagine where they have been. What they are doing and where they are going.

The reality of my fear is truly unfounded. While I may have had a few people turn me down for a picture. Nearly everyone will listen to me for a few seconds to several minutes of my chatter about organ donation. No one has any idea about the number of people that are waiting for an organ. They don’t consider that one person will die every 17 minutes waiting for an organ. One that will not arrive. I don’t know what caused the death of the patient the first day the recipient was in ICU. It could have been a sickness, accident or natural causes. I remember seeing the distress on their faces. I could almost feel it.

DATA CORRECTION [I erroneously posted that "one person dies every 17 minutes". The actual accepted number is "17 people die every day".]
What's the difference? At 17 per day = 6,205 deaths. If it were one every 17 minutes, there would be 30, 917 per year.

All around me wandering in and out of empty blue vinyl seats are people coming or going. There are so many stories that are waiting to be told. A few months ago, I would have called it a “target rich” environment. But now, I am leery to approach a subject in an airport. Mostly because of no way to easily escape. At the mall, I can head out a door to the parking lot. In a book store, I can duck into another aisle filled with fiction or Harlequin books. In the airport. Not so easy to disappear.

To my right is a younger woman with a large diamond wedding ring. It looks to be a princess cut set in white gold. Simple design but pretty nice. It still shines so she probably hasn’t been married too long.

In most public places, people tend to put barriers between themselves and others. Separating us from “them”. Normally it’s distance. In an airport, it’s seats. On my left is the young man two empty seats (one with my camera and laptop bog on it) then myself. To my right are two more seats and the young woman. She too, has a bag on one of the two seats. So between the three of us there are seven seats with 5 taken up. Psychologically, no one will sit in between us. There really is only one seat. Sure, we can move our bags, but we won’t. They are our barriers. The protective cocoon we put up.

To the young woman’s right are two college age guys. They are sitting in the two seats immediately next to her. I can see her discomfort. She ahs made “innocent” glances their way to see if she approves of their proximity. Getting up and moving to another seat would be rude. Something that’s probably not acceptable here in the south. But yet, these two young men got up and moved to the area the trio was occupying. Now the woman is alone in her small space. When two of the trio return, there will be a dilemma. Sit next to other “men” or remain standing and wait for another set of seats to open.

The “leader“of the trio has returned. He’s standing now. One of his colleagues has his own bags on one of the seats and if he were to sit next to it, he would violate the “man law” of sitting too close.

Being up against the window is entertaining to say the least.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Thing I have learned

You can wash your hair with hand soap. But toothpaste leaves you smelling minty fresh.
Clean glasses in a hotel room, might not be.
One persons dump is someone's sanctuary.
Never eat at a chain restaurant, unless somone else is buying.
Drive around at night when there is less traffic and you can see the store signs.
Share what you know about the area with somone else.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Words to live by

Josh is one of the recipients I keep in touch with. He is just shy of his 1 year Transplantiversary. He spoke at an Atlanta hospital for parents that have children waiting for an organ. Here is some of what he told me:

The Q&A was awesome. It was a ton of fun. It was a very informal meeting which had me and another transplant recipient sitting at the head of a table and fielding some rapid fire questions from parents. I found it pretty exciting because you didn't really have time to "think" about your answers. It was very honest, up front, and occasionally funny because of some of the answers. I think that the parents were relieved to see that their children still had the potential to be productive citizens and live a normal (what is that anyways?) life.

Many of the parents of these children are scared about relationships with others as well as how much activity their children can handle. Most of the questions centered around relationships, exercise, and getting a job. I am sure that as a parent those are some of the top things you want to be good in your child's life so I was kind of expecting those type questions. I think some of the parent's fears were calmed.

I was invited back this summer to do sort of the same thing with a group of 15-20 year old recipients and those waiting. I am excited about that as well.

I also talked to him about the article that was blogged about last week. He does have a cap but wasn't all too worried about it right now. The state he lives in also has a program for organ recipients. Not all states have these programs and most likely, aren't all that advertised.

A word from our sponsor

Not really, but I did get in touch with one of my "links" there in the right column. Ed has been living on the MELD/donation list for a few years. He has some really good insight that I have below.

FYI...regarding the "waiting period" I'm facing, it has to do with the

condition that brought on the liver damage in the first place. Essentially,
the bile ducts from the liver to the intestines were blocked for 10 years or
more, slowly killing the liver (very slowly, thus I had no symptoms as it
happened). Now that the docs have opened the ducts and have me on meds to
help regulate things (and I'm off alcohol, tylenol, and other things that
the liver doesn't really care for), things have stabilized.

The reason for waiting, beyond just the MELD score issue (I'm currently
hovering around 14), is that when the surgeons in Miami look at both overall
quality of life and total length of life, to do the surgery now might
decrease the quality (due to the drugs I'll be on afterward), but more
importantly they probably would be decreasing my total length of life. But
if we wait another 10 years, and then do the surgery, the amount of time I
gain "on the other side" would be greater than if I didn't do anything.

And then I don't know if you're a religious person or not, but I am, and
I've got a large group of people praying for a "miraculous recovery," with
the possibility that I'll never go through the surgery at all. And going
from "you'll need a transplant in 6 months" to "let's wait 5 to 10 years"
feels like a step in that direction.

[....] In the end, though, you're right...we need more donors. Period. I know too many people who need the surgery asap, and none of them deserve to wait any more than they already

Thanks for your interest in this topic, and all your work!

The really interesting part is his diagnosis and prognosis. He had been given 6 months at first. Then through medicine and prayer, the doctors have suggested he wait for 5 to 10 years. How's that for amazing?

Zoom zoom zoom

I am driving a VW Passat this week.

Out of all the cars I have driven on my travels these past two and a half years, this ranks second. The reason it isn't first, isn't all too clear. But lets review the VW:

It's sporty. I had lots of head room. (A small little thing that matters to me).Few blind spots if any. I can see next to me and behind me easily when doing a head check. The gauges are nice red and electric blue. Very cool at night. The acceleration is very very nice. Not so much for the gas guage, but great for ACCELERATING AND MERGING into existing traffic. Something W-PA drivers could learn!

The seats are leather in my model and could use a little more depth. You slide a bit and I haven't been driving crazy. Maybe it's the teflon pants I am wearing. They are all the rage now.

I haven't listened to the radio or CD, but it has an AUX input so I could listen to my iPod. I would assume it will sound nice. By the way. The car is quiet. Except when accelerating and you can hear the motor winding up. The accelerator pedal feels like it's in three stages. First is slow idle like creeping up in traffic at a stop light. The second is on acceleration. It gets real stiff then BREAKS free. The car surges at about 20 mph. That's probably the one thing I don't like about the car. It needs a S M O O T H E gas pedal. It can be stiff or soft. But needs to be smoothe.

What was my first choice? The Cadillac CTS. It the more sporty of the TS series. I think....I have driven the DTS, the B I G New Jersey/New York "family" style of cars. I felt way too small. Or the car ws WAY too big. I couldn't even fit my arms on the arm rests. But the CTS was a little smaller. At least it felt that way to me. I am sure I could have my models mixed up. Sorry 'bout 'dat.

So, VW or Caddy....since I can't afford either it really doesn't matter.

Monday, March 12, 2007


I was heading to Raleigh/Durham NC for the week and I had a flight change so we stopped in Philly. With about an hour before boarding, I decided to walk around the concourse for a bit before taking my place in line to board my Southwest flight. I have to say, my flight form PIT to PHI was a little bumpy, but the plane was nice. It was comfortable and not very full. I think this is my first experience on a SWA flight so it was a good first impression. If this was the typical experience for SWA, I might make them a larger portion of my air options for travel.

Back to Philly.

I walked down concourse D with no real direction to go. Well, left or right is all I can choose from so I choose left. I actually wanted a smoothie, but alas, there were none to be found.

Towards the end of the concourse, there was an Air Tran kiosk/table set up with two young women running the show. As people approached, they did a great job of trying to pull in various travelers to slow or stop to hear their spiel. As the man in front of me was targeted, he mumbled something I couldn’t hear, but the young lady at the booth noticed me looking at her with a big smile. (I was smiling and she was smiling).


Since I made the cardinal sin of eye contact in the course of a sales pitch, she said “I see you laughing” My reply was “I’m smiling, not laughing”….

I didn’t hear her own retort but it was very pleasant. I kept walking a short distance more then came to the end of my proverbial road. No smoothies there either.

As I returned back, I knew I had to go through the gauntlet. She was looking at passengers coming from her left. I was approaching from her right. By the time she turned, I was already within a few feet.

You came back?” She squealed.

Of course”. I went on to say she had a difficult job….and she interrupted (nicely) that “why is it so hard?” “I get to talk to lots of people, I hear where they are coming from and going to”

We went on to talk a little more about her perception which was all positive. As we spoke, I looked in to her brown eyes and couldn't help but think that she would be so much fun to be around.

Finding an opportunity, I mentioned that I too have to approach strangers, asking them about their organ donation status and in many cases, I ask for a picture. She happened to be an organ donor. Her reasoning was that she won’t need them (after she dies) and if they can be of some help to others, then it what should be done.

After a few minutes of talking, I tried for a photo, but she used her current hair style of pig tails as the reason of her denying my photo op. It’s okay, I told her. While I like to take pictures, it’s still about the awareness of organ donation.

I did ask that if I am coming back through Philly on Thursday, if I could perhaps seek her out for a photo? She said yes. It will be very rare opportunity that I can get a second chance for a portrait. I can say that when traveling, I never get a second chance

Friday, March 09, 2007

Quote Of The Day

“They never had to worry about having enough food to eat and were never deprived growing up. They don’t have to look back and compensate for any deprivations they had.” - Bill Bartmann, author of Billionaire Secrets to Success

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Good news

It sounds like the recipient will be discharged from the hospital tomorrow.

Today (and possibly other days) he headed down to one of the cafeterias to eat. Anything he wanted. Oh yeah, that was nice.

He has also baked a pineapple upside down cake in the Physical Therapy kitchen. Not sure how it turned out, or if he shared it with others.

An aftereffect

This was brought to my attention by a faithful reader.
In a nutshell. Once you receive an organ in a transplant, you will still fight for the rest of you life OR until your insurance runs out.

Here's the dilemma. Do you get the transplant to extend your life. Will your insurance support you? And for how long? Once insurance runs out (like a lifetime cap) what next? The article uses a $13,000 per year for medicines. That's a bit more than $1,000 a month. Or the cost of a decent middle class house in the fringe of the suburbs. (Or a couch in NY City).

I have to say, I didn't think about this aspect of organ donation. Even though I am obviously advocating DONATION, someone has to be a recipient. The recipient also has a burden to bear in finances after their life has miraculously been extended or saved. How about a pediatric patient. Some little boy at the age of 3 needing a liver. For the next year, he's probably good to go. But insurance will run out, maybe it's at 13 years old. Now he's a lively teenager. He maxxed out the lifetime benefits. The parents can't find more insurance and now they can't afford to buy the medicines that will keep their son's liver from being rejected. His health worsens. He gets jaundice. The liver fails. He dies a week before he turns 14.

That was of course fictional.

Or was it?

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Review no. 2 (BIG restaurant review)

Dinner time! I saved all day. A bagel for breakfast and peanut M&M's for lunch. I was hitting the town for dinner.

When in Omaha, EAT MEAT! What kind? COW!

I don't remember how, but I found a place called Brother Sebastion's. The reviews were all positive, except one lady that said she got food poisoning two years ago.

The restaurant is actually in a very strange location. It's also in the end of a sort of low budget almost run down strip mall off a side street. It's definately not a location you would stumble upon. You have to know it's there to find it. It's not really even viewable from the main street.

The overall theme is a Monastary or a Mission. Very low keyed pseudo spanish style design on the outside with music you would expect to hear if you were in a monastary. On the inside, it's a cozy, segmented intimate design. Once you get into the restaurant foyer, there is a bar to the left and the hostess table to your right. Behind that is a glass enclosed wine room. Filled with cubes of wine from floor to ceiling. It's very dark inside, especially if you have come in from a bright day. It only take 10 or so minutes and your eyes will adjust, but at first it's almost a detriment.

I asked if I was dressed appropriately and the hostesses joked to each other (and myself) if they should let me in. They did and I thanked them for it. :)

The reason I asked is because the web site says "smart casual". I was dressed in tan colored jeans and a button down collared shirt. As I walked through, others were dressed from blue jeans to suits. (I didn't wear my hat though).

They walked me around the the wine room down a hallway. On either side you could see the outlines of doorways that were rooms. These rooms were the dining areas. One door to the right was a smallish room that had the salad bar. One room on the left had intimate booths with black leather buttoned bench seats that would fit four to a table. Each booth was seperate from the others by walls of red brick from the tops of the booth to the exposed wood beams in the ceiling. The only lights are the very low main lights, an over head stylish period light and a table top candle. The smller rooms only had six boths to a room. Like I said, very intimate. In a few of the rooms were gas fireplaces with very large flumes. This added physical warmth as well as ambiance. But it also made the booths even that much more intimate. So much that one could get a little risque with a significant other and possibly not be seen.......

Even though I didn't get a tour of the place. I could see another area that had a table for 6 to 8 and possibly 10 diners. In that same room was at least one table for two and possibly two tables for two along the wall. The walls were like I said, adorned with red brick in some of the areas. The medium sized area had the ends of stacked wine barrels so it looked like a winery barrel room. It was, very cool indeed.

Most of the wait staff wears maroon robes similar to what a monk might wear. (No hoods or rope belts, I am sure OSHA had to have their say in the uniform).

Another area across from the room I was in was larger and could possibly seat 20+ people in a few large tables. I didn't get a good look at it, but it sounded like a large crowd was already there. Another room had one wall as one of the other wine rooms. It too was stocked with wines floor to ceiling in cubes.

Now to the menu. It wasn't so full that you couldn't make a choice. Typical fare of red meat, fish, chicken and some pasta. They did have a lunch and a dinner menu. Of course I decided on a steak before I even looked at the menu. That's why I was there in the first place. My choice was a Stuffed New York Strip. They stuff it with crab and shrimp and side with hollandaise and asparagus. When I asked the waitress about her favorite (which was a Filet Oscar) it had hollandaise and asparagus. I mentioned I didn't like asparagus and wasn't sure what hollandaise was (REALLY!). I choose the NY Strip medium well. It took about 30 minutes for my meal to come. But before I get to that point, let's talk about the wine list. It was quite wonderful. Many many choices and at the time of my visit there were 155 wines in their list. I selected a German Beerenauslese from the Rhine region. It's a very sweet wine, normally sold in a half bottle and always twice as expensive. But if you like sweet wines, these are tough to not drink. The nice thing about the German wines, is they have enough acidity so they don't taste like cough syrup. This was one of them. I only had a glass ( I was the only driver) so it was an expensive "glass" of wine. I implored the waitress to try it since I was going to leave it. She should share it with others too so they can try something different.

After my foood arrived, I tried to open my baked potato, but it was incredibly hot. Right out of the oven. If they microwave them, you couldn't notice it. The texture was of a potato that had been cooked completely in the oven. I like that.

The NY Strip was a bit over cooked. Not by the chef, but by my order. I should have choosen medium, but in every other restaurant that means bloody. I like my meat barely pink and HOT. He he, insert joke here--->

This was just gray, with a slight hint of pink. Unfortunately it was over cooked, I really couldn't taste the stuffing. Again, it was my decision for the order. I am sure it would have been wonderful had I selected the right cooking option.

My steak did come with a hollandaise and broccoli on the side as well as sour cream and whipped butter for the potato. The pre dinner bread wasn't anything special. It was warm but very little flavor. The butter offered was also in the little foil packets and they were cold. Kind of a let down to have to tear into those stupid little things while your bread cools off. I would have preferred the whipped butter. It melts better.

After dinner I had a few options. Normally I order cheese cake. This time I had a strawberry shortcake. It arrived in a to go box (something I requested). It was a very nice sized serving that was VERY cold. The cake was layered with cream in the middle, whipped topping on the sides and the right amount of strawberries.

Something I learned a few years ago, I put to the test again. I had a bite of the strawberry shortcake then a final sip of the Beerenauslese ( remember, it's a sweet wine). Unfortunately, the BA was very thin when tasted after the sweet strawberries. Alone, it's fine.

But honestly, there is only one wine that has been able to stand up to a test like that and it was the Chateau St. Michelle 2001 Eroica, Single Berry Select. That, my friends is the best wine "I" have ever had. Many don't like it because of the sweetness. But it can stand up to a dessert or stand by itself.

All in all, the ambiance, the staff, the food are all time and money well spent. I wish I was there with someone else, but it was still a worthwhile visit. If you are ever in Omaha Nebraska, I would wholeheartedly suggest a visit to Brother Sebastion's. Without the wine, the dinner was about $45.00. Slightly spendy, but still a nice place for dinner.

Just don't stay at a Holiday Inn, if you want the Internet to work (well).

Cholesterol LDL , HDL or BDSL

I am at my second Holiday Inn ("HI")of the week. I checked out this morning at one in Council Bluffs ("CB") IA (Iowa) expecting to go home today. Well, it didn't happen. Now I am in one in Omaha.

Today is review day. No pop quiz either.

Both HI's have crappy Internet connections. Perhaps many lonely business travelers are surfing porn sites, but still, these connections should be better. At the CB HI, I couldn't access Bloggers log in page. ((Yes I did a restart, dump my cache and all that technical stuff)). At the HI I am in now, the connections are just plain slow. The SB HI also was a smoking room and I could tell. It was horrible, but there was a residual odor. It looked great from the outside, but you get into the rooms and you can see the mileage those rooms have received. ((I won't make any crude "mileage jokes here")) but I am laughing as I type.

This Omaha HI is pretty nice. The rooms are very clean and well equipped. They are under going a remodel, so there is a bit of a mess outside. My only complaint is the leaking toilet. I'm already unpacked for the night so I really don't want to change rooms. When I first heard this noise, I thought it was a "piccolo-pete" fireworks going off outside. A semi loud whistle then it tapers off. But I went into the bathroom and realized it was the leaking toilet. So, I shut off the water. BAND-AID.

BTW (by the way) my title references cholesterol LDL and HDL the good and bad kind. The BDSL means "Bad DSL" as in Internet connection. :)

.i'm in one of those moods. (where only I understand my really bad/dumb jokes)

Monday, March 05, 2007

In the heart of a nation

Here I am in Omaha Nebraska. This is what I would call a little big city. It covers a lot of area, but when you drive around, it has a homey feel to it. Everyone here is incredibly polite and patient. I think the farther west one goes, the more patience there is to be had. I am definately not used to driving the speed limit. EVERYWHERE. So if you come to Omaha, don't be in a hurry, the roads are full of farmers that are kind of used to not getting anywhere very fast. And I mean that in a good way.

I ate at a steak place tonight that was DELICIOUS. Very clean and I think fair priced. Well for one anyway. for a family of four it could get spendy. I didn't look over the menu much becuase I saw what I wanted right away. If you wanted meat, this was a good place to eat.

My waitress was named "M". Well, it wasn't really, but for the purpose of the blog it is. (You know I don't ID anyone). We chatted a decent amount, and I wanted to talk more, but she was working and I do talk tooooooo much. ((I am starting to recognize that too)).

After my check was paid, I offered her a business card about the One-A-Day-2007 organ donation awareness project and I bluntly asked if she was an organ donor. Normally I try to ease into that. This time I just felt I should put it all out there. She is. And I continued to ask what helped her make that decision.

She wasn't sure. But it seems to be the right thing to do she told me. Later she mentioned that she was nervous about the first time she had to make that decision on her first drivers license.

We talked a little more and I mentioned my preference to taking action sports pictures to portraits. "This project and the portraits are very difficult for me" I went on to say. But the Awareness project is about the conversations about organ donation. The portraits are secondary.

I think, when she asked if I wanted to do more portraits, I may have missed an opportunity. I was too damn busy talking to realize that until after I left. I may have been able to get a picture of her, but I just plain missed it.

That is one if the job hazards per se. I don't get a second chance. I have one, single moment in time to determine the possibility in a complete stranger and make the request to take their portrait. It's truly a shame because some of these people I meet are an incredible joy to talk with. I can only imagine how much fun it would be to spend an hour shooting pictures. When I travel there is zero chance to ever meet this person again. But the reality is that I don't know if many of the people I talk to about the project ever actually visit the web site. Everyone says they will, but I RARELY hear from them if they do visit. I don't have any way of tracking visitors other then by the counter on the page. It would probably knock me out of my shoes if someone emailed or called and said "hey, I want you to come take my picture".

I mean really, that would make me so damn happy I wouldn't be able to stand it. It's a pipe dream, I know. But in order to achieve your gols, you have to dream right?

"M" had one of those faces that I could imagine in a painting. She had a great face. With her great smile, dimples and great teeth. I think she had straight hair and really cool glasses. It all looked....well, picture perfect. I love looking at peoples hair because of the way it can frame a persons face. It doesn'tmatter if it's short, long, red, white or brown. I am an equal opportunity photographer. I just like taking pictures of all people. I spend all my waking time looking at people and I imagine how they would look a certain way, or in a certain light. I guess it's a sickness. LOL, but I enjoy it.

As we were talking about other small talk, I mentioned that she reminds me of what I think my daughter will look like when she grows up. Except the hair. Then again, my daughter wants to color her hair, so it could end up being a different color than it is now. LOL

Anyway, I got to share my story of 'my' attempt to be an organ donor and the status of the recipient. I also shared the numbers, which I have below for you all.

This weeks numbers from OPTN.
Waiting list candidates as of today 10:30pm
All 95,223
Kidney 70,311
Pancreas 1,747
Kidney/Pancreas 2,394
Liver 16,931
Intestine 230
Heart 2,813
Lung 2,810
Heart/Lung 131
All candidates will be less than the sum due to candidates waiting for multiple organs

Transplants performed January - November 2006
Total 26,690
Deceased Donor 20,492
Living Donor 6,198
Based on OPTN data as of 02/23/2007

Donors recovered January - November 2006
Total 13,582
Deceased Donor 7,386
Living Donor 6,196
Based on OPTN data as of 02/23/2007

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Weekend update

Physical therapy (bike peddles, stairs and other exercises)
Occupational therapy (remove marbles from macaroni noodles and other exercises)

That's about all I have from last week. Since there isn't anyone there on a regular basis, I am not getting my updates. Yes, our visitors have all gone home. Now is the calm before the storm so to speak.
I am heading out of town tomorrow on the first of three consecutive trips in three weeks. The recipient will be in the hospital for about another week at least. But it appears that those three fingers in his left hand have not gotten any better. It is entirely possible (remember I don't play a doctor on TV) that he might have nerve damage. There is an incision under his arm (the armpit) that has a dozen stitches in it. So if a doctor decided to slice into that area for some reason....a nerve could have been cut.
If there is ANY positive outlook with this specific situation, it's not his writing hand. Hopefully, through therapy he will regain control and fine motor skills but I am very sure it will not be a short term fix. We are probably looking at YEARS and YEARS of therapy and even then, he may not ever get the fine skills or strength of the pinky, ring and middle fingers of his left hand.
**NOTE: If I get corrected on the assessment and outcome, I will post a correction.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Who or what next

Okay, this week I have managed to piss of:
A few family members
My wife
My kids
My boss
My neighbors

I woke up today with a small headache. Knowing full well it would turn into a migraine. It must have been the three sweet teas I had at lunch Wednesday. It's the caffeine that does it for me.

Today, I was performing an online transaction to help a very dear friend out. The card was declined. Well, several phone calls and an hour later my card has been flagged as possibly compromised and the credit card company won't tell my why or how. So my account was closed.

Normally, this probably wouldn't bother me too much. I only use the card for traveling. Well, I am traveling MONDAY MORNING. ALL my expenses go on this card that is now closed.

I must have shit all over my Karma at some point in the past because there aren't many people I haven't pissed off this week. It looks like all my bases are covered.

.damn it, this week SUCKS!!!!!.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Can't please everyone

Entry Word: compromise
Function: noun
Text: the act or practice of each side giving up something in order to reach an agreement

It appears that in between the pleading for people to share the stories of organ donation, the difficulty of the Organ Donation Awareness project, my son being sick and me sleeping on the floor of the bathroom with him, the recipient possibly getting a bed sore, or even the remote possibility of him having a stroke and the difficulty that we will undergo taking care of the recipient and his wife when I have to go out of town for my own job and the questionable care the recipient was receiving in the hospital.....I have upset someone.

I rarely hear from the readers of this blog. There are a few dedicated ones, and I am pretty sure I respond you you all. So either I do an absolutely incredible job communicating the situation here or some people just don't want to comment. No problem. Sometimes no comments probably mean I am doing a good job. Thank you.

This blog is a delicate balance of Organ Donation and personal accounts. It's a compromise. My compromise is that I don't identify anyone by name unless they are already a public persona. I already get flack from some family members that I even have a web presence. I can't imagine the 10 of you a day divulging the family secrets that I have here on the already know everything. Maybe it's the one or two random readers that accidentally find the blog. But do they return? I will never know.

It started out as a documentary effort of my journey as I try to donate my own liver to save the life, or at least extend the life, of the recipient. Most people would do that for someone they are related to. A few would do it for a non blood relative or close friend. A very minute number of people would do it for a stranger. I know this because I talk to people about organ donation several times a week. I know this because there are more than 95 thousand people waiting for an organ. I know this because there are 6 thousand people that will die this year when they don't get an organ. I know this because I am living it!

I was willing to do it for someone that is not my blood relative or my own offspring. I even asked if I could donate my liver altruistically. That means that if for some reason I couldn't donate to the recipient then my liver (parts of it anyway) would go to someone that is waiting but cannot get one from their own relative or a deceased donor. I was denied at that point too. But I wanted to do it.

So when someone gets upset because they didn't like a sentence or paragraph of what I ambiguously wrote in a blog post it upsets me knowing they fixated on a small portion of the whole work that is contained in the blog.

Why am I getting this upset? I put my whole being into this blog. I put my heart out here and I am very, very careful to post very accurate information as I hear it, see it and experience it. While there might be other blogs and web sites that can make the same claim, it's this one that you are reading. If I didn't put out my true feelings on this blog then it would be misleading and a disservice. Remember, I started this blog so other organ donors could know what it's like to go through the process of donation. I wasn't able to get to that point, so I report what it's like to experience knowing a person that has received an organ. In this case it was from a from a deceased donor.

Out of all the activities going on in this blog and there is one thing upsets you, then I am sorry that there are people in this world that can't see the forest for the trees.

The funny thing about this is that two people that rarely talk to each other (from my understanding and recollection), even though they live only a few miles apart, have talked on the phone. At least I can sleep tonight thinking I brought people together......

And to be absolutely fair, you had people stand up for you. Here is something that was said on your behalf:
This was from an email "The comments seemed a bit hurtful to those reading it, I am sure. I know when this much STRESS is flying around it is easy to point fingers........." Another comment was made on your benefit but I can't remember the exact statement so I won't put it here to maintain the integrity and accuracy of the blog.

To end this post, I wasn't pointing fingers to lay blame or cause guilt. I was just commenting that what did happen, was what I expected to happen. Or more accurately, wasn't a surprise when it did happen.

Facts, figures and the future

My 9 year old is home sick (as if you all didn't know from yesterdays post) and he had his head on my shoulder reading my replies to some email coming in from the blog posts.

He asked "Why do I have to be 18 to donate my organs?
I replied "You don't have to be 18, you are already an organ donor because you told me you wanted to be a donor."

We then went on to discuss what would happen if he was in an accident, or died before he was 18. Because his mom and I know he (and his sister) want to be donors, we will honor their wishes. From that, it would allow another child or several children (or even some adults) to be able to live through his (their) gift.

He responded to the effect that he was happy with how it would work out. He understands this process at NINE years old. Can he fully comprehend it. No. But for those of you that know our family, you know we are a very forward and honest bunch. We don't leave much to question.

Brutal honesty isn't something we shy away from.

Another thing that came up was the numbers. I went back in the blog (there is a search option at the TOP LEFT of the header). I found the first OPTN numbers I had posted on Nov 17, 2006. There were 94,126 people on the organ donation waiting list. Last night (around midnight) there were 95, 225. This morning around noon there were 95, 203.

What does that mean?

I had to use a calculator for this, but from 11/17/06 to 3/01/07, there were 1,077 added to the organ donation waiting list.

From midnight 2/28/07 to noon 3/1/07 (12 hours), TWENTY TWO people either received an organ or died waiting for an organ.

These numbers are pretty small considering the amount of people that die from other causes. That is why I am so hard set about discussing them. These numbers are totally within the boundaries of correcting them. Once they get to a certain threshold, they may very well be out of reach. PLEASE, share this blog information with others. I am not doing this for "the recipient" I am doing it for the 95, 214 (as of 3/1/07 1:10pm) waiting for an organ and the estimated 17 that die every day not getting an organ.

I did get some confirmation from an organization about the numbers that die every day. Obviously, it is impossible to know who will die when. So the current accepted average is 17 per day. That is 6,570 per year (365 day year) do not get an organ.

A good note was that the average was up to 18, but because of the many organ donation awareness programs that are currently in process, the number has dropped to 17. What is the difference from 18 to 17, it is 365, of course. ((I didn't need a calculator for that one)). LOL

To finish off this particular post, this was shared with me today from someone I communicate with via email.
"the reason I got into this is because I watched a close friend die waiting for a liver that never came. She was only a teenager. Losing her compelled me to promote donation through [ ]. So, I definitely understand how your [the recipient] illness turned you into an advocate."

To ME, it's seeing, hearing and sharing these stories that help motivate. Yes it's emotional. But I see the numbers, and can apply the logic to the process. I can really see that the number of people that need an organ, the number that die every year and the number of deaths in the US are all in the realm of possibility.

Next on the agenda

The recipient is still having problems with the pinky, ring and middle finger of his left hand. Initially they thought it was from pressure from an IV in his under arm. Then after that came out, the numbness and limited movement was still there. Today, a physical therapist (I think) came by and the current thought is this is a result from a possible stroke. They will be doing some more tests to see if that's the case. But it's been over a week and I am sure the residue from a stroke will be long gone my now.

Regardless, they are looking at moving him to a physical therapy floor where he can still be monitored for the liver donation as well as begin physical therapy.

The doctors looked at the "bed sore" and they said it's not a bed sore. They haven't told us what it is, but they say it isn't a bed sore......

We may never know if he had a stroke. But in hindsight, he did have some really bad slurred speech. Of course, I am very positive it was from the medication. Then again, I didn't stay at a Holiday Inn last night, nor do I play a doctor on TV.