Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Quinton Update: May 30

You may have noticed that I haven't posted an update on Quinton in quite awhile. That's because there hasn't been much to write about. And that's a good thing, trust me.

Over a week ago, I took Q to the Mayo Clinic in Fountain Hills for a CT scan on his abdomnen. Later that day, he had a follow up appointment from his previous hospital stay. Everything looked good, including the CT scan. Good enough, in fact, to warrant the removal of the recent abdominal drain. Another appointment with interventional radiology needed to be made, and we're still waiting for that to happen. (They do things wierd at Mayo....they arrange and set up all appointments and call to inform you where you need to be and when.)

Quinton also gets tired often. He started working from home today, but need to lie down "for 15 minutes", he told me. After his little rest, Q went back to work until lunchtime, but he had to lie down again after eating.

That has been a recurring issue with Quinton. He will eat a normal meal, but his stomach will hurt enough to force him back to the couch. Our theory here is that Q's system is still getting used to accepting food. Remember, he went many weeks without being able to eat anything.

As of this writing, it has been 2 1/2 weeks since Q was last released from the hospital. And as long as his numbers stay normal, he shouldn't have to return. Let's keep our fingers crossed.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

We Have A New Baby!!!!

Her name is Li'l Miss Jango Jones...Jango, for short. JJ, for shorter. She's a 2 year old chocolate point Siamese, whose owner died, and we adopted her from the local Humane Society. She was shy and seemed very extremely dejected when we first saw her. But Q and I took her into a "get acquainted" room, where she was very receptive to our petting and scratching her ears.

Jango is a very vocal kitty--sort of. She cried the whole ride home. She cried while she explored the house. And then...NOTHING! Our new kitty was gone. We searched the house everywhere. Under beds...in closets and cabinets...behind furniture. No Jango. We were so sure she had somehow escaped.

When the boys got home from school, we resumed the search. Still no kitty. Later that night, Kyle decided to check under his bed again. There, among all the Lego boxes, empty water bottles, and school papers were 2 little eyes peering back at him. "MOM, I think I found your cat!!!!" he announced.

We knew Jango was frightened, but I had to get out of her hiding place just long enough to show her where her food, water and litter box were located. She sniffed around her things and ran back under Kyle's bed, where she stayed for another few days.

Fast forward to Saturday. Jango still prefers to stay under the beds, but she's no longer afraid to come out and pay us the occasional visit. She is getting used to us and the boys, and seems to enjoy the attention the boys lavish on her.

We just wish Miss JJ would eat more. The food I put out for her--both dry and canned--goes largely uneaten. Although last night, I found her munching on some of the boys dropped food crumbs under the dinner table. Quinton then theorized that her former owner must have fed her mostly people food. That makes sense to me, but now it's time to break training.

The only way I know how to do this is to introduce new foods until I find one Jango will eat. So far, she's rejected Cat Chow. Purina 1 is out, too. As is every flavor of 9 Lives canned food I've offered. Of course, I can't afford to buy a bag of every food at the store. So this morning, I went over to the dollar store to buy a few kinds of inexpensive cat food. Meow Mix is currently sitting in her bowl waiting for her to discover it.

My next avenue is to visit as many cat food companies' websites as I can find and seek out free samples. I'm also taking Jango to the vet next week. I'll be anxious to see what they have to say.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Survey says.....

I’m always coming across these fun little “about me” surveys. I see them on websites, in magazines, I receive them in e-mails, and I think there was one in my high school yearbook. The other day, Christopher—twin brother, separated at birth—posted one on his blog. Today, it’s my turn. I compiled my own survey with questions I’ve seen in other surveys. I also made up a few of my own.

Name: Valerie

Birthday: March 10

Political Affiliation: Fence Sitter

Favorite Madonna song: “Into the Groove”

Last magazine you read: Phoenix Magazine

Favorite Place to Shop: Toss up between Anthropologie, Banana Republic, eBay, Target, or any book store.

Favorite TV Show that’s no longer on the air: Melrose Place, Knots Landing, and Designing Women

Favorite Cocktail: Jell-O Martini from the Blue Wasabi sushi bar.

Car, Truck, or SUV: Q and I are car people.

Last time you got a haircut: Wednesday morning

Cartoon character you most resemble: Wilma Flintstone…although Q says I look like the pink haired girl from the e-surance commercial.

Cartoon character your significant other most resembles: Q’s a dead ringer for Hank Hill.

Fondest childhood memory: Summers with my aunts and cousins in Iowa.

Favorite Junk Food: Depending on availability, Thin Mint Girl Scout cookies or Oreos.

Your best physical feature: I have great hair.

Favorite House Pet: Skitz. Another Siamese cat would be nice, though.

Famous person you’d like to have lunch with: My movie boyfriend, Owen Wilson

Last Restaurant you ate at: Tokyo Lobby

Time you get up in the morning: 7:00

Favorite Band: Bee Gees, Kiss, Abba, the Supremes, Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, Journey. I refuse to limit myself to just one.

Favorite room in the house: My bedroom

Last package you received in the mail: FM transmitter for my iPod

Cable or Satellite: Cable

Bumper sticker you wish you could have: “I’d slap you, but $#!% splatters.”

Favorite Breakfast: Waffles topped with strawberries and whipped cream

Best piece of advice your parent(s) gave you: Whenever we whined about a bug or spider scurrying up a wall, Dad would tell us: “Well, don’t eat it!” I use this on my boys now.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Family Night Fever

Several years ago, we began the tradition of dedicating Friday evenings to Family Night. These outings could be something as extravagant as dinner at Bamboo Grille followed by a Diamondbacks game at Chase Field. Or they could be something simple like riding our bikes to McDonald's for ice cream. In any case, Friday nights were earmarked for family togetherness.

This family custom went by the wayside months ago when Quinton got sick. We didn't think much about it at the time, but we all missed it. And there was no way we were going to do Family Night when one of our key members was unable to attend. Oh, sure, the boys and I went out and did things while Q was in the hospital. But there was NO WAY we were going to refer to those outings as "Family Night". Not without Dad.

Anyway, last night turned into an impromptu Family Night. We didn't have anything planned. Nobody suggested anything. And nobody expressed a desire to go anywhere. The boys did want to go swimming, and that was just fine with me and Q because we wanted to break in the new cushions I bought for the lounge chairs.

So, what started out as a relaxing evening at home soon turned into a full blown pool party fueled by margaritas (I was the only one drinking), Paul Stanley...I mean, Luke's guitar, and the disco playlist on my iPod. Nothing beats watching Slash rock out to Amii Stewart's "Knock on Wood".

By the time the disco ran out, I was drunk enough to tolerate Quinton's chosen playlist--country. Right around that time, the boys started making pee jokes. I only mention this because Luke cracked one that was just too funny. He announced that "somebody emptied a pitcher of lemonade in the pool". Kyle and I laughed our heads off. Quinton gave me his patented "you're the only one who thinks that's funny" look.

After that, details of the rest of the evening are sketchy. Apparently, I made the last batch of margaritas far too strong. I do remember taking pictures of Kyle jumping in the pool. I got this great shot of him catching some air. I also remember Q and I dancing along to "Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places"--a marginally romantic song, at best--while he sang it to me. He's got a great baritone singing voice.

Unfortunatly, I also remember getting a horrible case of the "spins". No need to tell what happened then, but I really was in a bad way. When I woke up this morning, I saw that Q had left his hospital-issued kidney bean on my nightstand.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Our Pool: Then and Now

I ran across this picture of how our pool looked when it was built 6 years ago. It looks nice, but a little boring and unnatural.

And this is how the pool looks now. Our trees and those in neighboring yards have grown so big and lush. When the pool was built, we had it positioned against the western fence to maximize the late day shade. The next door neighbor's towering sisso tree was a nice bonus. Now, the majority of the pool is shaded over by 2:00.

Quinton's still doing well

He's been home since Sunday afternoon and has been doing well the whole time. Other than occasional bouts of fatigue and weakness, some semblance of normalcy is returning to our home. Q accompanied me on a few errands early in the week, but gets tired so easily that we don't stay out for long.

Last night, we accompanied some of Q's co-workers and customers out to dinner. It was so nice to see him smiling, laughing, and enjoying conversation that was, for the most part, not medical related.

This morning, we worked out by the pool. I skimmed out the leaves from last night's storm, while Q acid washed the chlorinator. Later, we'll probably go out looking for new cushions for the lounge chairs. The ones we have are so old, dusty, and ripped. There's no way we'll get another summer out of them.

Next week, we will be able to squeeze in a few more doctor's appointments before the boys are done with school on Thursday. Anyway, if all continues well, and Q continues to stay away from the hospital long enough, he might be able to return to work in a few weeks.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

What's Wrong With This Picture?

It's Mother's Day and I'm doing YARD WORK!!!!!
Ah, but it needed to be done. After more than 6 months of neglect, the shrubs were overgrown and the grass was half dead and dotted with knee-high weeds.


Quinton's Home Again....

...at least for now. We seem to have gotten into a cycle where Q comes home...he does great for a few days...gets sick...he goes back to the hospital...he gets better...comes home...

Anyway, he's home and for now, he's sitting on the couch instead of laying on it. We picked him up around lunchtime...just in time for a trip to In-N-Out Burger. Happy Mother's Day to me!!!! :-)

After we got home, we spent the rest of the afternoon out by the pool. I felt so bad for Q because with this abdominal drain, he couldn't go swimming. He was able to stick his legs in, but we really wanted to take the full plunge. It was a hot day and the water was perfect. I even got in...AND I got my hair wet!!!!

Hopefully, this time home will be better for Q. He is still pretty weak and still uses a cane for walking. I applied for a handicap parking permit, which should come in the mail soon. I also ordered him a medical alert bracelet that identifies Q as cortisone dependant.

The doctors upped the dosage on Q's hydrocortisone because too little will cause him to get sick again. Apparently, when you feel sick your body naturally produces additional cortisol to fend off symptoms that cause dangers like dehydration and hypercalcemia.

This just goes to show just how rare and complicated Cushing's Syndrome is. So much of Q's treatment has involved trial and error. We are currently seeing this in his cortisol replacement therapy.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Quinton: May 11-13

Yesterday, was a day of many peaks and valleys for our family. Q had a CT scan taken Thursday that revealed additional abdominal leakage. It's unclear if this is new stuff, or leftover from before, but a drain was installed. He also had a fever and chills yesterday.

Q seemed in much better spirits when we talked last night. I didn't take the boys for a visit because last night was their school's spring carnival. They had been looking forward to it for weeks and I had already bought the tickets. Quinton was very understanding. In fact, he wouldn't have had it any other way.

Q did have a good evening, though. He was able to eat most of his dinner and was feeling good. He did ask for pain meds, as his drain site was beginning to hurt. He really wants me to bring the boys in for a visit today. They haven't seen each other since before he was re-amitted Wednesday.

But Q was happiest when Kyle called from the carnival to inform him that our family had won a raffle basket! And this wasn't just any gift basket. This is the one Q would have picked had he been able to attend. It was a sports-themed basket that included pom-poms, baseballs, autographed photos, basketball coasters, USC and LA Dodgers CD wallets, a frisbee, and 4 tickets to a Diamondbacks game in late July!!!!!! All of it was packaged in a wicker laundry basket that the boys said I could keep. YAY!!!

Incidentally, Kyle chose to put most of his raffle tickets in that basket because he wanted to get those baseball tickets for his Dad. I about cried when he told me that.

The boys and I were so wired when we came home...all of us on a high of popcorn, hot dogs, and Coke. After digging through the gift basket, I made everyone take showers. It was a warm evening, and I personally smelled like a stale, perspiring snow cone...if there were such a thing.

So, it was a great evening for all. The only thing that would have made it better is if Q could have been at the carnival with us. Although, I guess he was, in a way. I called him almost every hour!

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Quinton: Readmitted

Yes, it's sad, but true. Quinton was readmitted to Mayo last evening. He is being treated for hypercalcemia, which may have been caused by a lack of cortisol in his system. So that has been beefed up.

He has been on IV fluids since last night. At this time, the goal is to get him re-hydrated and to dilute the extra calcium in his blood.

It is estimated that he will be in the hospital for another day or two. Call me selfish, but I hope he's home for Mother's day.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Quinton's back at the hospital

I had to take Quinton back to the hospital this evening. He began having nausea and vomiting over the weekend. He went to the doctor on Monday. Blood tests were ordered at that time, and all came back normal, but he his calcium level was critically high--a condition known as hypercalcemia. Symptoms of hypercalcemia include nausea, vomiting, lethargy, diminished mental capacity, and abdominal pain--all of which Q has been having.

A normal, healthy calcium level is between 8.7 and 10.4. Quinton's was 16.1. In fact, the lab tested his calcium twice and the results were sky high both times. Hypercalcemia is a very serious condition. If left untreated, it could lead to heart problems, kidney stones, kidney failure, and other bad stuff that my brain is too fuzzy to remember.

Anyway, Q had another doctor's appointmentment today. That's when we were advised to return to the hospital. In fact, the doctor wanted us to go right there after leaving his office. But we needed to run home first because the boys would be returning from school soon.

When the boys got home from school, I met them at the door and informed that we're leaving RIGHT NOW...after they grab their snacks and Game Boys. They both behaved so good through all of today's drama.

They got Q right in at the Mayo ER, but since the boys weren't allowed outside the waiting area, I had to stay with them--Q went back alone. After waiting an hour, I took the boys for dinner at In-N-Out Burger.

When we returned to the ER, I was told Q was still in the back and that I could go see him. I had the boys sit in the waiting area while I went to check on their dad. (Incidentally, being forced to choose between my husband and kids is excruciatingly difficult!)

When I found Q, he was sleeping on a gurney in the hall while he waited for one of those little ER exam rooms to open up. He seemed comfortable, but it was apparent he was going to be there awhile. It was after 7:00 and he encouraged me to take the boys home. I damn near cried. I knew it was what I had to do, but it was SO HARD leaving Q there by himself.

So, that's where things stood when I left. It's 8:30 now so they will probably keep him overnight. I did implore him to call me later when he knows more....no matter what time it is.

More to come.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Quinton's Hospitalization Tote Board

With Quinton in the hospital, life got somewhat repetitive. Days just flowed one right into the next. Sometimes, I would forget what day it was! Below is a list of everyday occurrences we encountered and their frequency*. Some of these are sad, some are funny, but all are true--some more so than others.

--Miles from our home in North Peoria to Mayo Clinic Hospital: 20.
--Miles from home to Arrowhead: 5
--Miles I logged driving to and from any hospital: 765
--Crossword puzzle books I completed: 3
--“Quinton Update” emails I sent: 36
--People I sent these emails to: 29
--Payday bars I bought and ate from hospital vending machines: 23
--Times the vending machine stole my money: 1
--Times we saw a contestant win the car on “The Price Is Right”: 11
--Times we saw a contestant win $1,000 from spinning the “Big Wheel”: 3
--Times the “nurse call” button got hit by mistake: 13
--"Judge" shows we watched at some point: 6
--Flower arrangements received: 5
--Roommates that came and went while Q was at Arrowhead: 4
--Roommates he had at Mayo: 0
--Continuous days Quinton went without food: 46
--Lunches I skipped in case Q’s doctor stopped by: 17
--Pounds Q lost: about 20
--Pounds I lost: 12
--Times the boys and I ate dinner at In-N-Out Burger: 16
--Times we ate dinner at other restaurants: 9
--Anger-fueled meltdowns I had: 8
--Pieces of consolation Fiestaware I bought myself: 38
--Holidays and birthdays Quinton missed by being in the hospital: 4
--Household items that broke down during Q’s absence: 7
--Total number of surgeries Q had: 3
--Days Q was in the hospital: I lost count at 64
--Sharps "biohazard" boxes Q filled up: 12

*Some figures have been tweaked and embellished to add to the humor factor (you can’t actually expect that I would remember this stuff!), but they’re not too far off!!!!

Quinton: May 5-8

After a good, but tiring week, Quinton started feeling sick over the weekend. He started out okay on Saturday, but his appetite was scant, at best. Late in the day, he began having nausea and dry heaves. Sunday wasn't much better.

On the bright side, Q's not running a fever. But his energy level is very low and major effort is required to get him off the couch and out to the car. Not good because he has quite a few doctor's appointments this week. He had one this morning, and another later this afternoon.

In the meantime, I continue to try to get him to eat. I stopped and got him a banana berry smoothie after his doctor's appointment. He said it's helped some, but so far he's only drank half of it. We're hoping this latest episode will pass soon.

Friday, May 05, 2006

PIG TOUR!!!!!!!

Last night, we had our first Pig Tour since Quinton's been home. A Pig Tour occurs when we take all the ice cream in the freezer, sauces, whipped cream, and every topping known to man and gather around the table for ice cream sundaes. This has become one of the best-loved traditions in our family.

We usually have a Pig Tour every month or so. It's always completely unplanned. The boys don't know it'a about to happen until I go to the bottom of the stairs and scream "PIG TOUR" at the top of my lungs. I then hear what sounds like a cattle stampede as the boys tear down the stairs and head to the table.

Sometimes, Kyle might ask me "Mom, can we have Pig Tour tonight?" I always tell him no because that would take away the spontaneity of the whole thing. Pig Tour always has to be a surprise.

Last night's menu choices consisted of Chip 'n' Mint, vanilla, and Blue Bunny's Peanut Butter Panic ice cream. Sauces were strawberry, chocolate, and caramel Magic Shell. Toppings were crushed sugar cone, crushed Oreos, nut topping, green and red sprinkles, and chocolate jimmies. All of it was topped off with very generous helpings of whipped cream.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

One Week Down....

It has been one week since I brought Quinton home from the hospital. All has gone quite well so far. No fevers, nausea, vomiting, or other symptoms that might point to infection. He's eating well and his pain is minimal to moderate. I don't think he's taken a Vicodin in 2 days. He does continue to be tired and he naps often, however.

Despite the fatigue, I have been able to get Q out of the house at least once a day. On Monday, we went out for lunch and stopped by his office to visit his co-workers. On Tuesday, he accompanied me to the grocery store. Yesterday, we attended an awards assembly at the boys' school (Kyle won an award for "extra academic effort" and his name was drawn for "Pizza With The Principal"). He did well, just as long as he was able to sit down often.

Later today, Quinton has a post-hospital follow-up appointment with his doctor over at Mayo--his first of many appointments in the coming days. Wish us luck!

Monday, May 01, 2006

You might be a Fiesta collector if...

--You remodel the kitchen to accommodate all your goodies.

--You're not a coffee drinker, but you still have an individual creamer. You use it to pour syrup.

--You wince when your child sets the table with plates in rose, cinnabar, persimmon, and white.

--You keep a box of broken shards for your next mosaic project.

--Your family is sick of Cheerios, but you continue buying them for the Betty Crocker Points.

--Your birthday present: a diamond pendant? No! A sapphire carafe!!!!

--You change the display in your hutch on almost a weekly basis.

--You install vertical plate racks in you kitchen to prevent the Fiesta from getting scratched.

--The thought of your spouse using the lilac cereal bowl makes you cringe.

--You miss rose and seamist. No Easter table is complete without them.

--Evenings are spent on ebay seeking out Fiesta bargains.

--Your vacation plans include a stop at the Homer Laughlin outlet

--You removed the kitchen cabinet doors to display the Fiesta in all its colorful glory.

The Lucas List

Green Day….sushi tuna rolls….spending afternoons at Color-Me-Mine…. drumming along to “Holiday”…. the Darbys…. Bubble Tape…. the ”Cheaper by the Dozen” movies….loud thunderstorms and street-flooding downpours…. watching music videos on Yahoo Music…. ranch-flavored rice cakes…. his “I do all my own stunts” t-shirt…. going to the antique mall with Mom…. vanilla ice cream…. retired Fiestaware…. Hillary Duff…. getting the “suicide mix” from the self-serve soda fountain…. playing his guitar…. reading Junie B. Jones books with Dad…. sneaking Oreos....experimenting with all the hair products in Mom's bathroom....Simple Plan.... collecting sugar packets from restaurants…. playing “Need for Speed Underground” in Kyle’s room…. Flat Stanley....the Bookie…. Fairly Odd Parents….Kelly Clarkson…chicken nugget day in the cafeteria…. sharing facts from the “Guinness Book of World Records”…. getting to eat the Jell-O from his dad’s hospital dinner tray…. climbing under vending machines to look for loose change…. distorting Mom’s screen on “Beetle Adventure Racing”... rough-housing.... swimming ....collecting bugs in the back yard....Go-Gurt.... playing with his cousins.... more to come....