Friday, June 27, 2008

Organ Donation Chronicle - D plus Six Weeks

This last Wednesday marked the six week mark since the operation. I was in Chicago most of this week on my first business trip since the operation. I was talking to Lakeview Coffee in the car on my way to Motherrocker, John the Armenian, Miss Dukes, and Wife and he chided me for not giving an update on my sister. I hate to admit when he's right.

Sister Judy is doing pretty well. It was a rough go for her right after the operation. She was pretty weak from the kidneys malfunctioning. Plus which she's probably a bit less stoic than I am about dealing with pain (I think she was hitting the brown narcotics button pretty good at the hospital). Then she got one of these nasty hospital staph infections and had to go on an intravenous anti-biotic. It ended up taking her a week longer than me to get out of the hospital. Everyone should remember that Judy and I aren't exactly spring chickens either (60 and 57 respectively). We were definitely on the upper end of the spectrum of the age that they will do this.

So with that in mind, Judy is out and walking again getting in 30 to 40 minutes a day. She started driving. They have reduced to almost nothing the drugs they were giving here when her kidneys were malfunctioning meaning my kidney is doing what it's supposed to (better damn well! We don't traffic in no shit body parts!). They have greatly reduced the amount of immunosupressive drugs they are giving her. She complained to me that she was getting bored - that's a good sign. Finally, I've noticed a change in her communication. She's always had severe ADD and has trouble staying in a conversation before bouncing to another subject. Now she is stopping herself when she does it and allowing the other person to keep talking - a big change. We're definitely a lot closer than we were.

On my part, I'm feeling good. It was a little scary the first time on Monday when we went to the airport and I was feeling twinges with the various lifting - limited as it was. I was really glad Mrs. de-I insisted on coming on this trip. Fighter Pilot Girl emailed me and asked how Wife liked being the sherpa! You can bet that I didn't pass that one on.

By the end of the trip I was feeling much more confident and lifting quite a bit more but still trying to stay in the range of control. I can definitely still feel the incisions and definitely am not ready to go back to my sumo wrestling classes.

Finally the spiritual changes keep deepening. It's like the lessons are being absorbed deeper and deeper into my being. It is having a particular influence on my business.

So overall I'm super glad for my sister, I'm super grateful for having had the experience and I'm super ready to heal completely :)

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Ricardo - Enabler

In every case of abuse there are those that are abusing and those that enable the abuse. Ricardo, one of my associates in Chicago, clearly is in the later category. Now I will admit it doesn't take a whole lot to get moi into the abusing mode. But Ricardo does it with such smoothness and finesse that you hardly even see it coming.

Yesterday, we are in the Chicago office. Lakeview Coffee has left for the day when we get a phone call that a prospect Lakeview has been developing is going forward with us. Yay we're all happy and pumped. I'm staying with Ricardo this time around so we're heading to his place. Originally we had planned to buy some fish to grill up for dinner - nice - modest - controlled. So as I said we're heading to his place feeling good about the sale and I say, "we should get a good bottle of wine to celebrate the sale. Joe would want us to do that." Rich of course concurred. So we get said good bottle of 2003 Bordeaux and nice 2007 Tavel to start out with.

Then I say, "You know Rich we really can't be eating fish with this red wine. How about some lamb chops" Well Rich is full agreement mode. Never a word such as no we should stick with our original plan or anything like that. So we get to Whole Foods and I say, "You know Rich, a nice piece of cheese would be great after this meal. Do you like blue cheese?" Well of course he does. And we'll need some chocolate for the Armagnac you have at home for after the cheese of course.

Right, so our modest fish dinner has now morphed into shrimp cocktail, lamb chops, roasted asparagus, sauteed fennel with pecarino cheese. Tavel with the shrimp. Saint Estephe with the main course. Some how in the midst of all this I notice that we have completely polished off the Bordeaux, and finished half the Tavel. And during this whole period the enabler is calmly pouring, encouraging, smiling.

That's all right he got what was coming to him dealing with me and my after effects this morning.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Adapt or Perish - I

A Social Commentary Post

Most people don't have much familiarity with history let alone a archeology, paleontology, or geology. If they did, they wouldn't be so smug about their belief that the US is the greatest best nation on earth or their belief that we totally deserve and are entitled to the lifestyle we currently enjoy regardless of its relative cost compared to the rest of the world.

Here's a quick quiz for you. Over the 5,000 years of recorded civilized history, how many recognized political dynasties or regimes have lasted over 1,000 years (defined as a continuous dynasty of kings or other polity such as republic)? Answer - Perhaps one or two if we count the Roman Republic and Empire as one polity or the Eastern Roman Empire and Byzantine Empire as one polity. Scanning over Chinese, Egyptian, Persian, Indian, Ancient American, as well as, Medieval and Modern history, one finds that it is rare for a dynasty or polity to go much beyond 200 to 300 years. 400 plus is long indeed.

What follows is usually a period of disunity or chaos. Often that may be followed by the rise of another dynasty or polity with the same cultural subset (China, Ancient Egypt, England from Medieval through early modern periods) or they just disappear.

Why bring this up. Who cares? Maybe we should. After all our republic is now in its two hundred and twenty sixth year (depending on exactly when you start counting). And we are certainly facing a number of changes (I think big changes) in the political and economic environment.

Let's consider one such change - their are billions (plural) of people who over the last 20 years have found that they have the economic ability to pursue a material lifestyle path similar to our own (around 600 million if we count both the US and Western Europe). So now we have billions of new consumers who want cars, electronic goods, home furnishings, the ability to eat more meat, better homes, travel, etc. And that number is increasing even more rapidly as nations such as China, India and other push their development.

Yet the world supply of raw materials (oil, metals, grain production, etc.) that can be used to produce such goods has not increased at anywhere near the same rate. When we have an increased demand for a stable quantity of goods we have? Right, price increases. Now think about this. What chance do you think there is that these new economic powers are going to go back to where they came from? What chance do you think that they are in fact going to pursue bringing even more of their population up the economic curve? What chance do think there is that we are going to be finding and producing substantially more minerals, petroleum, foodstuffs? What does that mean for our ability to maintain the current US lifestyle and the prices that we have been accustomed to?

More to come....

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Make Sure Your Loved Ones Have the Number of the US Consulate

When Pulisha and husband Tim de Buffalo moved to Albuquerque, I knew that the intensity of sports fan viewing activity was going to jump dramatically. However, like so many events in history, we tend to discount the fanatical thinking that they are a fringe element when in fact their dedication and commitment mean they are likely to take over complete control. And when the fanatics take control you can count on the personal freedoms going out the window and tyranny taking its place.

Thus you can imagine my shock and dismay when I found out recently that our little corner of the world is now within the borders of the Peoples Republic of Tim! In the PRT you quickly learn that there orthodox sports rooting dogma that must be followed at all costs. All teams from Buffalo - Good. All teams from Boston - Bad. There are more such but I will skip the detail.

Naturally I assumed that the NBA finals would be exempt from this as there are no Buffalo based teams in the NBA, at least not for around 30 years. I am not a fan of Boston (comes from my years growing up in a NY rooted household in Connecticut). And not being a big basketball fan and disliking the cult of personality that one often finds in basketball, I tend to root for teams that favor teamwork and unselfishness over the big ego superstar. Hence I wanted Boston with their three very had working and long-time unrewarded players, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.

But logic is not a requirement in a dictatorship. Seems the Supreme Uberfan Tim likes the LA Lakers after his short stint in LA. Soon I am getting barrages of propaganda text messages and emails from the PSSPRT (Party for the Sustenance and Support of the People's Republic of Tim). I'm being requested to attend mass party meetings to support SUT's rooting for LA.

When Boston won in a blowout (39 point advantage in the last game!), I get threatening emails warning me of what will happen this fall if I fail to toe the line as support the proper teams. You may be aware that the PRT has a reputation for extra-legal activities against opponents of the regime and has used bioweapons before. We are on the look out for small blond and red headed bio infected devices headed our way.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Pu's in Adult Land

We had the distinct pleasure on Saturday to visit the discerning palates of noted blogger Pulisha of Pu's Corner fame and her husband Tim de Buffalo. Pu's Corner is noted for its brilliant but highly rare posts on the realities of raising three young children.

This is the first time that I have done cooking in earnest since the operation. And in spite of planning, restraint in the construction of the menu, I over did it. This was the first time the the Venerable Capitan Pu and Tim de have been to our house with out the hoard. At first Wife and I were a bit bewildered because we couldn't understand Captain Pu until we realized she was speaking in complete sentences without a single phrased interrupted by an exclamation toward a child. A great time was had by all.

Our Menu (inspired by reader suggestions)

  • Crostini with Roasted Cheese or Proscutto
  • Beef Jerky Risotto w/a mushroom ragout and salad
  • Steak w/red wine butter and Spinach in olive oil and garlic
  • Poached peaches with fresh rasberries and vanilla ice cream

Making a Stock

I sauteed beef ribs with onions, carrots and celery, broiled same to really get flavor development, then put in my fluids and final flavors

Reducing Red Wine with Shallots for the Butter

The Butter before Cooling

This looked a horrible pink color but ended up tasting great

Blury Picture of Risotto Cooking

Could it be the wine or was it just fatigue? Last winter I was playing around with making a meat sauce by reconstituting beef jerky. I ended out with a very intense flavoring agent. I had some in the freezer and used it as the base for my risotto

The Venerable Captain Pu and Tim de Buffalo with Cheese Crostini (looking remarkably like grilled cheese - ya but it's high class cheese!)

Captain Pu - The Happy Warrior

Venerable Pu was helping me out with the risotto when I was pooping out.

Risotto, Mushrooms and Salad

Steak and Spinach

Ready to Dig into the Main Course

Our Wines: A Chateauneuf du Pape and a Bordeau

Food Model de Buffalo Modeling Poached Pears

Two Bottles of Wine - Not Enought

So we broke out Durnstein, Austria's best grocery store apricot brandy

Thursday, June 12, 2008

One Good Turn Deserves Another

You never know what's going to happen when you post to all humanity on the internet - you might even rethink putting a picture of your 60 year old self with celery coming out of your nose (actually didn't rethink that at all!).

However, because of the series of postings that I did on my recent kidney donation, I got a comment from a lovely young lady who donated a liver lobe (I think I have that right) to her brother in 2006. As a result of her experience she has set up a foundation for living donors, The Greatest Gift Foundation. She also has a blog associated with the Foundation and posted a lovely comment related to my experiences.

If anything I have written, has given any reader an interest in this topic, I would strongly suggest you visiting her. I think her effort is well worth supporting.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Normaliy Seems More Attainable Daily

After a this weekend when I felt totally wiped out, I had a great day today. It was my first three meeting day since I got back and I felt fine. I'm convinced the naps really make a difference even if it they are only 3o minutes or so. I had plenty of energy for making dinner for Wife which she always appreciates.

Thanks for all the ideas for Saturday's first course. Wife and I have come to conclusion and I think it will work out great. Hopefully, I will have my energy and mind together so I can take pictures while I cook and post a true foodie entry.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Sending Out An SOS

I may not be The Police but I could use some ideas from all you foodies out their. This weekend I have Tim de Buffalo and Pulisha coming over for dinner. I belong to this wine club where I get 4 bottles a month and typically T and P graciously agree to be tasters. For once they have successfully gotten a babysitter and so will be coming here for dinner. This is the first time I've had and excuse and hopefully the energy and stamina to really cook in a long time.

I have two bottles left, both reds, one a Chateauneuf du Pape and the other a Bourdeaux so I need to make two courses that go with strong reds. The main course is no problem but I'm having some problems coming up with an interesting first course. I was thinking of doing a duck salad with duck skin cracklings but Mrs. de-I is not a duck fan. Or something similar with salmon but T is not a fish eater. Or I thought of some cheese type of thing but Pu doesn't eat cheese. Then I thought about a fresh made pasta with a very strong meat broth/sauce but that's a lot of work.

I need some ideas foodies!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Two Steps Forward, One Step Back

I was cruising along last week feeling gradually better by day. On Friday, I had a meeting in downtown ABQ (yes we actually have a downtown). I got the location wrong. So I parked in a garage and walked a number of blocks back and forth until I called them and realized I was on the wrong side of downtown. Went back to the car and drove to the meeting.

On Saturday, I was wiped out. I also didn't take a nap on either Friday or Saturday. Sunday was another day to do just about nothing. I did nap. This healing up business just wants to go at it's own speed.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

But What If I Miss The Big Guy?

The graphic above was done by AinA for my new business book. If you substitute the "de-I for "Gross" and "Organ Donation" for "Net", you have a good idea of how my mental and emotional condition has been over the almost two years that we were dealing with the decision and follow through on donating the kidney.

Now that it is over, I'm finding that there is this hole in my psyche...the hole where all the thinking, planning, worry, anxiety, fear, blah, blah, blah was. You know that it is dominating your thinking but until it is over I don't think you realize just how much of your energy and emotions it fills up.

So I'm sitting with Mrs de-I having dinner tonight and I'm reflecting on this, telling her it's like this big open space and like there should be something filling it, some new anxiety or obsession. Or, I tell her, I suppose I could just learn to live without all that.

She just smiles and nods.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

It's Soooo Quiet

I'm not sure if I know how quite to act without a life changing circumstance hanging over my head. Business keeps picking up. I'm pretty mellow. Mrs. de-I is getting back into her routine. I wonder if I can actually live like this over some longer period?

Monday, June 2, 2008

Slooooowwwwwlllly Getting Better

Major surgery - Smajor surgery - I want to be better now. Did I mention that I am not the best of patients. I don't recall any of the hero stories I've read over the years mentioning a whole lot about the long painful recovery period. Blah, blah, blah.

Actually things are coming along just fine. I feel like I'm getting little bit stronger each day. I was bit worried about a couple of things but I talked to my outpatient coordinator at Hartford Hospital and everything was within normal parameters. She also gave me the OK to start driving (which is good because I already am) but to use common sense. Actually all the street bumps from driving (more than a non-abdominally challenged person would realize) seems to be one of the things that jumbles around my tender innards.

I'm actually starting to get the beached ship of my company back in the water and going again. I got a commitment for two new engagements with existing clients. If any of you remember the scene from the movie Young Frankenstein where Gene Wilder is pounding on the lifeless hulk of Frankenstein and scream "Live!", that's what I feel like.

Fact Stranger Than Fiction

Since many of you also read Pu's Corner I'm sure that you've said to yourself, "that can't be real. No real life can be like that." Au contraire. We saw the Pulisha clan twice this weekend, once here and once at their place and I will verify in all truth that THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT ANY GIVEN MOMENT IN PULISHADOM SOUNDS LIKE. What is equally amazing is Pu's ability to maintain her train of thought in a conversation when every successive sentence she speaks on a given topic is interrupted by two to three commands or exhortations to her brood. Quite a feat of mental legerdemain.

That Guy Going Postal Is Probably Tim De Buffalo

This coming weekend Pu goes away for her first Air Force Reserve weekend meaning Mr. Tim will be handling the Pu clan all by himself. Wife and I told we unfortunately had a trip to Argentina this weekend and would not be able to assist.