Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hard Work, But She's Up To The Job. I Hope We Are.


"The Ro still rocks."
- The first thing she said, while struggling to manage massive pain.

- Reply to 0-to-10 pain scale inquiry.

"Is there anything I can do to help you through this difficult time?"
- Uttered to her dad as he lost his shit at her bedside.




OK troops. Bit of a sucker punch to report. We're back to two surgeries now. We just met Dr. Abel, who gave us full details on today. The team was about ten minutes away from finalizing. All of the screws are implanted, and both of the long rods were in place. At that point, something went wrong on the neural muscular monitoring system. The neuro physiologist said that he lost contact with the responses from the machines. The surgeons removed one rod, then the other, in an effort to re-establish a feed and rule out anything but a glitch. When the monitors still did not respond, Dr. Abel made the call to stop. Being unable to determine whether this was a technical problem or a real loss of neuro muscular reaction, it was the only course of action he deemed correct. The very very very good news is that Ro is ok. She is in ICU right now, and responding to touch sensation. Everything is working.

I'm sure that if you're reading this, you're feeling a little destroyed. I also know firsthand that there's no way out of that reaction, except through. That said, please focus on getting through. That's what we're doing, and we're going to be depending on you for help. We're on our way in now to see Ro. More soon.


Tick Tock Drip Drop


No news. We haven't heard from the op room since around 9:30. On the upside, people have left the Lounge, thus opening up some of the fluffier chairs. Ellen has made friends with everyone remaining. She now knows their names, along with the names of the patients for whom they are each waiting. She has details on the various ailments and conditions of the patients, along with an impressive workup of the medical histories of those in waiting. Meanwhile, the Camp Guard has deputized Vickie. When he wanders out for a latrine break or a sandwich (or both), Vickie is in charge of answering the Red Phone and getting the call to a verifiable Immediate Family Member. She has crossed over, and can no longer be trusted.


Call in from OR: This is going to be a single surgery procedure. I'm typing this as I hear Ellen repeat it into the phone. So it's official. No halo, no second surgery next week. OK. I am not crying. I'm just yawning. This place is so boring. Huhhhhhhhhhmmm. Shut up.

OK. So.


So ... the charge nurse in the O.R. tells Ellen that there will be "a few" more hours of surgery. Vickie, our cardiac surgical nurse, confirms that "a few" means 3. It's currently 1:30, Mom. Nine hours of anesthesia will mean a pretty slow wake up. This long day just got a little bit longer, but very well worth it to avoid a second operation.

Thanks everyone for following and caring so very much. It's been quite helpful to keep me busy with the updates. More on the way anytime we get news ... or I just need to keep my fingers busy.

Taken this morning at 7:00 am


They Are Moving Us Again


I know we passed the cafeteria and two parking garages, but then I lost track ...

We were settled in to sturdy new chairs of rosewood and padded supple cushions when one of those administration types walked up on us. She was wearing a Hello Kitty blouse that was designed to resemble scrubs, but they were not scrubs, clearly. I knew right away she was going to be a problem. These chairs recline.

"Are you waiting for someone who is in surgery at this time?"

I knew that the wrong answer would result in her taking charge of our situation. Once she seized control, she would hang on like a rabid badger. I took a chance. "Yes, we are."

"We're getting ready for a service meeting here and we'll need you to move to the Surgical Family Lounge."


We fell in with dozens of other displaced waiting room waiters as we were told to follow a chipper young lady in a red smock. As you go through life, never, ever allow yourself to be lead by someone in a smock.

"Say, Target. Where you taking us?"

"Just to another lounge. They have coffee!"

We trudged through the lobby and down a long hallway, where the crowd stopped short. Eventually, we rounded a corner to a bank of elevators. Our group piled into one of them and Smurfette pushed floor 5. When we exited, we walked to a large door - SURGICAL FAMILY LOUNGE. It was packed to overflowing with the people who had been herded along with us. The chairs are wooden desk seats. Ikea. They do not recline.

At least we got in. Many of our comrades were not so lucky. As the room filled up, Emily Elizabeth herded the remaining throng back to the elevators. It was clear to me that she had no idea where to take them next, but she was bent on maintaining her leadership status.

"Excuse me," I said to the Camp Guard, "the charge nurse in surgery said she would call the 1st floor waiting room with updates, so ..."

"The 1st floor "lounge" is transfering calls here from the O.R."

"Oh ARE they?"

As I write this, Ellen and Vickie are executing a daring escape from this fool's paradise. They will get word of our plight to allied forces. A card game has sprung up in front of me, blocking my exit path. It is too late for me, but I'm certain I will be avenged.


Call In From OR


Charge nurse just called to say surgery is well underway. Everything
is going well.

Sent from mobile

Pegasus Rescue. Amazing People.

Off We Go

Buy The Ticket, Take The Ride


We arrived at UVA at 6:10 and by 6:30, Ro was in a gown and cap. We
met a cavalcade of nurses, IV techs, surgeons, interns, and various
paparazi. An IV line was started with no trouble at all. At 7:30, a
doc started some versed. Happy juice. We are now in chairs with
Vickie. More later.


Sent from mobile

Rollin' Out. 4:00.

Monday, March 30, 2009



Maybe let's say you're scheduled for a 3:30 am wake-up call so that you can make the two hour drive to having major surgery. Let's say you're left with a few hours of time to pause and reflect and try to find the handle on the situation. No one would blame you for having a little bit of a freak-out. Maybe you'd just retreat to your bedroom and stare at the ceiling. Or maybe you would compete in your school forensics championships.

While others plan to go trudging onto the bare stage with a lined sheet of paper in-hand, head down and reading to the floor, maybe you would just throw caution to the wind and leave your cheat sheet at home.

It's an unlikely scenario, but let's just say that's what you do. After the parade of parental well-wishers are done patting your arm and giving you their best We'll Be Thinking Of You Tomorrow ... You Know ... When You Go ... Uhhhmmm ... To Get The Uhhhh ... YOU'RE GONNA BE FINE speech, maybe your name is announced and you stride on stage alone and begin:

I am weary of the Garden, Said the Rose;
For the winter winds are sighing,
All my playmates round me dying,
And my leaves will soon be lying
'Neath the snows.

But I hear my Mistress coming,
Said the Rose;
She will take me to her chamber,

Where the honeysuckles clamber,

And I'll bloom there all December Spite the snows.

Sweeter fell her lily finger Than the bee!
Ah, how feebly I resisted,
Smoothed my thorns, and e'en assisted
As all blushing I was twisted
Off my tree.
And she fixed me in her bosom
Like a star;
And I flashed there all the morning,
Jasmin, honeysuckle scorning

Parasites forever fawning
That they are ...


Now let's say you're doing smashingly well up to this point. Then it happens; a bad case of Blank Brain. The next stanza is nowhere to be found. Everybody is looking at you and the auditorium has fallen absolutely silent. Many of the onlookers are betting you're about to break down in tears and run off stage. But instead, let's say you stand there on that stage, absolutely calm. During the extended pause, anothor enormous ice shelf in the Antarctic breaks loose and tumbles into the icy water and the FDIC takes two more banks into receivership. Then ... ahh yes, there it is. You simply continue:

And when evening came she set me In a vase
All of rare and radiant metal,
And I felt her red lips settle

On my leaves til each proud petal

Touched her face.

And I shone about her slumbers Like a light
And, I said, instead of weeping,
In the garden vigil keeping,

Here I'll watch my Mistress sleeping
Every night.

But when morning with its sunbeams
Softly shone,
In the mirror where she braided

Her brown hair I saw how jaded,

Old and colorless and faded,
I had grown.

Not a drop of dew was on me,
Never one;
From my leaves no odors started,

All my perfume had departed,
I lay pale and broken-hearted
In the sun.

Still I said, her smile is better Than the rain;
Though my fragrance may forsake me,

To her bosom she will take me,

And with crimson kisses make me
Young again.

So she took me . . . gazed a second . . .
Half a sigh . . .
Then, alas, can hearts so harden?

Without ever asking pardon,

Threw me back into the garden,
There to die.

How the jealous garden gloried In my fall!
How the honeysuckle chid me,

How the sneering jasmins bid me

Light the long gray grass that hid me
Like a pall.

There I lay beneath her window
In a swoon,
Till the earthworm o'er me trailing

Woke me just at twilight's failing,

As the whip-poor-will was wailing
To the moon

But I hear the storm-winds stirring
In their lair;
And I know they soon will lift me

In their giant arms and sift me
Into ashes as they drift me
Through the air.

So I pray them in their mercy
Just to take
From my heart of hearts, or near it,
The last living leaf, and bear it
To her feet,
and bid her wear it
For my sake.

When it's all over, let's say you win first prize in the poetry division. Why not? We're just making this up to pass the time and try not to panic. Right?


Surgery Christmas!

Saturday, March 28, 2009

The Wonders Of The World They Wrought


So far, for the x-ray series, CT scan, consults, and blood work, we have racked-up $600.00 in medical bills for our latest adventure. Out of this amount, our insurance company has paid $540, and our co-pay has been $60.00. Since some of the people reading this are my co-workers who are covered under the same policy, we thought it might be good to keep a running tab. We'll try to rate the coverage based on out-of-pocket expenses as well as our interactions with the company.

The doctor's office has secured pre-approval from the insurance company for all the procedures. Already, we're well better than par for the course. After getting word of this, I called the insurance company and had them confirm it. This proved unnecessary, since they had also mailed us a pre-approval status report. So to this stage, we have zero complaints. Historically speaking however, insurance company desk jockeys have earned a reliability rating just a scotch below the average dispatch office for a cab stand in Rio. During festival.

The name of our Blue Cross / Blue Shield provider is ANTHEM. It doesn't help their branding efforts much that whenever I say ANTHEM, I think of the song by Rush ... which is on an album called Fly By Night.

Anthem = Fly by night insurance.

If the coverage continues as it has so far, maybe all my word associations will take on more positive imagery.

Anthem scores a perfect 5 Geddy Lees on the
TNP Insurance Rating Scale.
For now.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Pre-surgical Consult


Sketches drawn by Dr. Abel to help explain exact details of implanting
titanium rods onto a spine. This was drawn on the tissue paper they
put on examining tables. It will be torn off to prep for the next patient,
and we will be billed $129 for it.

The mighty mighty F150 was rolling south just as the sun was peeking over the trees this foggy morning. Ellen drove separately in order to stage her car at UVA Medical Center for next week. When we arrived at Kluge Children's Rehab Center, the joint was packed with kids in wheelchairs, kids in various braces, tired looking parents, and what appeared to be every proud parent shadowing every med student in the complex. We waited in a short line for our papers as a guy playing a guitar sang to anyone nearby in the waiting room.

Getting zee papers een order

Within a couple of minutes, we were handed a sheet of coded stickers and some paperwork. Just about every person we met from that point on peeled off one of the stickers and slapped it onto a different piece of paperwork. Throughout the entire process, systemic failure seemed imminent, but never happened. It was like being backstage at the circus. We sat in the Arts and Crafts area which was clearly designed for three year-olds, until we heard our name loudly mispronounced.

I built a Legagel.
It's a bagel made from Legos.
Eat it.

The meeting with the primary surgeon and a 3rd year resident commenced. Ellen had her notebook and pen out and was firing off questions and using correct medical terminology. Dr. Abel never broke eye contact with her, as I - once again the under-achieving student with the good head on his shoulders if he'd just apply himself more and at least bring a pencil to class - faded into the corner of the room. The doc said rather matter-of-factly that it's quite possible that this procedure could get done in one surgery. The one problem I have with this guy is that he's not much on emoting. He's so studious and scientifically minded that everything he says comes out with the same delivery:

"Instead of two surgeries, your child may very well only need one, thus eliminating the need for a week of ICU care with a halo bolted to her skull, followed by putting her under dangerous anaesthesia and cutting her wide open a second time."

Is said in exactly the same tone as:

"I had oatmeal this morning. It was good, probably because of the raisins I added in."

Nonetheless, it didn't get past us. Dr. Abel says that they reviewed the MRI, and he feels there is a fairly good chance that they can get the spine loosey-goosey enough in the first go. I could give you all the details, but as I stated above ... no pencil. IF this is the case - and this highly skilled surgeon threw in a lot of IFs - it means that Ro will go in hospital on Tuesday and be wheeled out of there FOUR DAYS LATER, instead of 12 to 14 days. So, if you're the praying type, do us a favor, will you please?

After this meeting, we floated out of the Kluge Building and drove to the surgical unit at UVA proper. There, we were processed all over again by a lady named Diedre who's sister and mother kept ringing her phone while we sat with her. See, her mom is very worried about money, and her sister thinks she's making mistakes in the way she's budgeting. One gets used to this. If you travel anywhere with Ellen, you'll find that everyone she meets tells her at least one intimate detail of their personal life. Again, I was happy to go unnoticed. We finished up the day with Ro giving up some bluh-bluh-BLOOD-duhhh mmwuhhhuhhuhhuhhhhh. We had a good interview with a nurse, who told us where to be and what to expect Tuesday morning, and we were gone. Well, not quite. Turns out Ellen and that nurse met at a meeting, literally 20 years ago, and remembered each other. I don't remember the name of my high school.

This weekend will be Normal. We will act Normal and live Normal and enjoy it as much as possible, because starting Tuesday morning, things get weird.

Halo measurement. JUST IN CASE

This is the woodshop, where they build the halos.

This is a Master Chief from
Halo 3. Awesome.

Here is an example of the rods. One of the 1 inch screws (left pic) is drilled into each side of each of the vertebrae. The rods shown here are outdated and not nearly as hip and cool as the newer rods. Ro's titanium rods will be 5.5mm in diameter and weigh a little more than your cell phone.


Heading for UVA. Preliminary Stuff.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Let Me Know If There's Anything I Can Do


By Ellen
TNP Contributing Editor

Hello everybody who is anybody!
Many of you have asked what you could do for Ro in weeks to come.
I have an idea that I think would be fun for her. I am writing to suggest
a card shower before surgery as kind of a pep talk, we are thinking of you,
etc. any kind of positive message before she goes into the hospital for 2 weeks.
As a reminder, she will be having surgery March 31st and April 6th. Those dates are fast
approaching. Too fast for me, not fast enough for her.

Anyway, for anyone interested in participating here is her information

Ro* (she writes it with a star)
c/o VTC
5395 Main Street
Stephens City, VA 22655

Thank you all so much,
Please keep the prayers coming!

For those of you saying, "wait, what? surgery? duh?"
Click dis here- http://nationalspost.blogspot.com/2009/02/there-was-no-cat-i-feel-so-used.html


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Step One: Isolate The Problem



Haiku Twitter Day


Here are the haiku tweets we tweeted on twitter. They are featured here, on Haiku Twitter Twuesday.

# Haiku day is done. It's been fun writing these tweets, but I'm sick of it.

# "Spare thirty billion?" "You used to just ask for change." "Change came," said Citi.

# "Damn'd spot! Out I say!", Shakespeare wrote that in a play. That boy had talent.

# That sunshine feels nice, warming me up at my desk. Should have called in sick.

# Congrats to Mohan, new dad to a baby boy. May you get sleep soon.

# If I were a tree, what kind of tree would I be? Trigonometree?

# #Ticketmaster down. Servers unavailable. Service fees still charged.

# CDW, you keep sending direct mail, but I never buy.

# Dining at my desk. Black beans and rice burrito and a bag of chips.

# Fast and furious, haikus fly like ninja stars. Well done ... off to lunch.

# @jeffreyvtc A haiku has five, not six syllables to start. Better luck next time.

# My phone is busted. My email is on the fritz. Greatest day EVER.

# RT@polsaway Nice Ausie meteorological haiku: Cyclone all at sea. Google Earth weather turned on. Just rain, no wind puffs.

# My coffee went cold, like our daily encounters. Farewell, barista.

# Soundbooth CS4 - get the VTC training. I am such a shill.

# Haikus are easy, but sometimes they don't make sense. Refrigerator. (admittedly stolen)

# Retweet this challenge: Poetry in one-forty. Twitter Haiku Day.

# Attention Tweeters: Happy Twitter Haiku Day. What's your best attempt?

# Curse you, Monday morn. Ye gods, my head is hurting. Get me an aspirin.


Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Jim Bowedout


"Good night, Wesley. Sleep well. I'll most likely kill you in the morning."

Jim Bowden got the ol' heave-ho today. Yes, the headlines say he "resigned", but everybody knows that means. Oh yeah, you know what I'm sayin'. You get the picture. Just to put a nice sharp point on it, Nationals President Stan Kasten spoke immediately after the recently former-GM finished his emotional announcement to the press. He started off nicely enough. "Today, I just want to talk about Jim and all he accomplished," Kasten said. Then he immediately did not talk about Bowden at all.

"I can tell you that we are not missing a beat. Our staff has a meeting tomorrow morning -- first thing. I'm not going to say anything to you about the next steps for a while. There is a reason for that. It would be unwise to speculate or guess what's going on. I have some things I'm working on and things I have to think about. I assure you, we will not be missing a beat. We have a really deep staff here."

"umm, thanks Stan ..."

Lots of Nats fans really really disliked Jim Bowden. Just ask these guys. That said, the staff and management of TNP thought he did a fairly reasonable job. The problem, ever since the team got ownership, has been evident; Bowden had a knack for preventing an abandoned, leaky old barge from completely sinking, but he was not so good at running a cruise liner.

So long, Jim. We truly wish you well - that is as long as you're not actually guilty of skimming cash off poor kids in the Dominican Republic. If, however, the FBI have good reason for investigating you, then we hope your sorry ass lands in a Dominican jail. Otherwise, you know, best of luck.

The really big question looming in our little head meat is this; now that the guy who fired our closer over the radio is gone, would Chad Cordero consider coming back? No? Wait a second hang on could we just



good DAY.


Paul Harvey 1919 - 2009

I didn't like him. Didn't like his pseudo-folksy delivery, or his live read commercials. I didn't like his politics. He was that mean old man, disguised as everybody's uncle, who secretly poisons neighborhood cats. Anyway, he's dead.

I don't like your jerk-off name, I don't like your jerk-off face,
I don't like your jerk-off behavior, and I don't like you, jerk-off.
Do I make myself clear?