Friday, December 26, 2008

Clean-shaven



After 11 years, and a lot of begging on my part, Dave has given me the gift of a clean shaven face! Alas, as he walked down the stairs and into the kitchen to "surprise" me, he was met with traumatized expressions from both boys! Davey started to cry and Joey told him (quite sternly) to go get into his car, and find a new mustache!

Needless to say, I love the clean shaven look! The 80's are over and I think my husband is incredibly handsome, either way, but I really like seeing his upper lip!

Dave sent out an email to a bunch of friends, starting an improptu poll, as to whether or not he should keep his mustache off. So far the "keep it offs" are winning! Of course that means a bit of therapy for the children! :)

What do you all think? Vote now!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

To all our friends who have followed our crazy journey these past two years: Merry Christmas, Feliz Navidad y prospero Ano Nuevo! We love you!

...remember, Jesus is THE GIFT !!


(Luke 2:9-12)And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. (10) And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people. (11) For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. (12) And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”

(Luke 2:13-14)And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, (14) “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”

Friday, December 19, 2008

Some pictures...







These are just some fun pictures of the last week that I wanted to share. The tree looks prettier than in this picture, if I don't say so myself! But I am not the best photographer...
We are looking forward to baking more yummy things this week, and wrapping presents and watching Christmas movies and having hot cocoa!! Good times at Christmas!!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Great News!!

Dave spent the whole day up at Cedars Sinai getting another IVIG antibody infusion, which is just protocol at this point. But 8 hours later he is tired and HUNGRY. :)

While he was there, the transplant coordinator called him to tell him that his labs are stellar! His creatinine is now 0.9, which is completely within normal limits of a person with TWO working kidneys. Praise God!! Plus...get this....they have decreased his anti-rejection meds about 70% from where they initially started him. He was a high risk going in, but he is doing so well now, they can start tapering the meds.

God is so good. We are humbled by this; yet another example of answered prayer.

Thanks for your prayers and support!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Frustrated!

After years of trying to figure out how to get back into the medical field, and then deciding on becoming a PA, today was my first orientation at one of the three area universities that has a MS in Physician's Assistants. To my sad surprise, the program is two 27 unit semesters of lecture and classroom studies, and one entire year of clinical rotations. The rotations are awesome. They place you, and it could be as far away as Lake Arrowhead or the inner city. The tricky part is that the rotations are broken into 4 weeks of each major specialty, so your hours are whatever your supervising physician's hours are.

I am a mom. I have a household to run. I am a home schooler. How on earth am I going to do this???

To top it all off, as I sat there in the lecture hall, toggling somewhere between depression and exhilaration, the speaker gives an example of someone who really should re-think their commitment to the program. Are you ready for this? The example he gave was a "...mother of young children, married, who lived farther than 30 minutes from the campus, like Orange County." When he was asked (by another student) how far was too far, his answer was, "...oh probably Mission Viejo."

Seriously, was this divine intervention or just plain bad luck??

I am praying about this, and hoping God will continue to guide me in all of this career stuff.

Tomorrow I will begin checking out more options, and see where I land.

Tonight I am going to have a cup of cocoa and take a hot bath....

Monday, December 1, 2008

Weekly Clinic

It took the better part of three hours (THREE HOURS) to drive up to the hospital today. There must have been accidents galore, or something weird, because what is usually a long two hour trip during rush hour was nearly unbearable. Plus, Dave and I don't like the same music. I love praise music in the morning, but when I am driving in stop and go traffic, I need Creed or Nickleback or Daughtry to keep me from zoning out. Dave likes country music. I like a little country, but not a lot. Sort of like Donny and Marie...ha ha! So we end up playing a game of "my turn" with the radio stations. Then it happened. As I am stuck...literally sitting on the 405, my fuel light starts blinking. Oh no!!

We finally got up to Cedars Sinai at almost 9:30 AM. That's late, really late. Dave is supposed to have blood work done between 8 AM and 8:30 AM. No way that was happening this morning. But we made it; better late than never.

It seemed that everyone we talked to at the transplant clinic had heard about Dave's eventful Friday. It was pretty funny when even the receptionists were asking him if he was planning on staying out of the hospital longer than a week this time. I told them I was convinced that he must have a weird love of green jello, and it just tastes better in one of those adjustable beds!

We got his lab results this evening. Good news! Every level looks really good. They are bringing down his rejection medication, which indicates that his body is taking well to the new kidney. His blood sugar has stabilized, which I was pretty concerned about. His creatinine levels are completely normal!! Amazing results!!

We will be going back on Friday for another clinic and more blood work. Maybe I will ask Santa for a helicopter this year! That would be a lot easier than driving!! :)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Back from the hospital....again. Surgery #2 in 10 days

Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, Dave woke up with intense abdominal pain. Nausea and vomiting to the point where I almost called 911. We both thought that he was rejecting the new kidney.

I spent two hours back and forth on the phone with the doctors at Cedars. They wanted me to bring him in. But I couldn't get him out of bed, downstairs and into the car. Not to mention the fact that I needed to get someone over here to watch the kids. Dave, who barely complained about pain after any of his procedures, was now yelling and saying his pain was at a 10!

When I finally got him downstairs (I'm sure an angel helped me) and into the front seat of the SUV, he was still yelling in pain. How on earth was I going to drive this man to Cedars, which is about 90 minutes away??

By divine intervention, I was given the clarity to skip the freeway, and take him into Mission Hospital, which was a mere 5 minutes away ~ with a full trauma center.

After an initial evaluation, some preliminary labs, and copious amounts of pain meds and anti-nausea meds we were told that he had an infection but they weren't sure where it was coming from. Then they used words that someone with a little knowledge can freak out about....like "acidosis" and "septic"....holy cow!!! Treatment for that would run the risk of hurting the kidney.

They took him down to CTScan his abdomen, and the next thing we knew the surgeon was in our room checking him out. Great, a surgeon! Cutters! What now??

The doctor began asking him to pin point the area where the pain was coming from. Then began pushing on different areas. As I saw him feel for Dave's right hip bone, then do a sweeping hand motion and press right on his APPENDIX....Dave nearly jumped off the table. I think I must have given an very loud "Whoo-hoo". Strange reaction by most people, I will admit. But the alternatives to Appendicitis were blood infection or Staph. I would choose an emergency appendectomy any day!! Poor Dave. But...thank God we can fix this!!

Dave was told he needed surgery ASAP. The surgeon was going to try to do it laproscopically, which would mean three small holes to fashionably go with his long scar already on the abdomen. Cool....chicks dig scars! :)

Dave came through the procedure wonderfully. He was in and out within an hour. No rupturing and no perforation. Thank God....all he will need is another oral antibiotic.

We, once again, see how God is in complete control. Even in what we see as utter chaos, His plan is coming together. The surgeon (who was just an on-call surgeon) has a specialty; appendectomies done laproscopically. Ha! That was pretty amazing! Then we have the issue of should I or shouldn't I have driven up to LA with Dave in such pain. God allowed us to be seen in a reasonable amount of time and Dave was able to get medicine to calm him down so his body wasn't in such agony for hours. God is good.

Even with an emergency appendectomy (which is in no way tied to the transplant....it is truly a fluke of timing) we are thankful!

He is home, once again.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Gift of Life

John....our hero. This amazing, loving, noble, selfless man, who gave Dave back his life. Thank you doesn't even begin to say enough to him, but yet that's all he wanted.

In keeping with John's request, we kept mum on who Dave's donor was. There were some friends who we did share this information with, but those were the people who wouldn't accidentally share this news with the dear aunties or other cousins that would set the gossip phone lines on fire. John wanted what he was doing for Dave to be kept private. He wasn't doing this for any glory or atta-boy praise from others.

The day of the transplant they took John into surgery about 2 1/2 hours prior to Dave. I sat with April, John's brave wife, and we knew what was happening to our two husbands was something that few people will ever experience. We became sisters that day. In a similar way that Dave and John became brothers. There was a new connection between the four of us that would be special from that day forward.

When John's surgeon came out to the waiting room to give us the news that John had made it through his portion of the surgery, and most importantly that he was fine; I remember just sobbing in relief. Thank God, he was ok. Thank you, God that you allowed him to give this gift of life to Dave, without having this action compromise his health in anyway. Thank you, God.
April and I just hugged each other tightly. One down, and one to go. We knew that at that moment Dave was in the middle of his transplant. Oh dear Lord, please be with my husband....

About two hours later, our surgeon, Dr. Dafoe (yes...he is related to the Green Goblin), walked into the waiting area with news about Dave. He said that the kidney was already functioning. It was a robust kidney, and it appeared that Dave's body was taking to it, just fine.

Upon hearing this news, I was overjoyed! Again, tears of happiness started streaming down my face, only to be interrupted by the words, "But there may be a problem with his breathing". What did he mean. "his breathing"? Did it have something to do with his Wegener's flaring? Could there be lung scarring? What exactly was going on???

Dr. Dafoe told me that Dave's O2 saturation was low. Probably in the high 80's. He had fluid in his lungs. He was intibated from surgery, and they may have to put him on a respirator. Scary, scary words..."a respirator". He said that he would go back in 10 minutes to check on Dave and see what the recovery team had decided to do. But to be rest assured that they were working on him. Again, my mind went to some vague memory of a code blue being called in the ER....working on him.

Amazingly I felt peace within this crazy, scary time. I felt as though I was being held by Jesus, himself. I can't say that I knew he would be ok. I didn't. I just felt like whatever happened IT would be ok. Ten minutes went by excruciatingly slow.

Dr. Dafoe walked back out and told me that they had, indeed, removed the intibation tube, and that Dave was now breathing on his own. Praise God!! Thank you, Lord!! His kidney was working and the excess fluid in his lungs was being removed through that robust little kidney!

Dave was in recovery for the next six hours.

During this time, John was able to go into his suite. A suite at Cedars Sinai is truly that....a suite. They mimic something from the Four Seasons. It is a VIP floor where the rich and famous stay. It is the Club Floor! They graciously treat all organ donors as the 'stars' that they are.

As I walked into the room, John was asleep. April, John's mom, his two little girls and John's brother were in there just hanging out. Yes, the room IS that big. John woke up just enough to ask if Dave was ok. I held on to his hand, and told him that everything was fine. I thanked him for saving Dave's life. I kissed his hand, which was the only place I could reach! John is a BIG guy...and I am...not. :)

The truly amazing thing is the look that John had in his eyes. I recognized that look. When a woman gives birth to her children there is a look in her eyes that God allows us to have. It is the look of life-giving. Life, the most precious of all gifts, is not something that God takes lightly, I assume. John had that glowing, holy, life-giving look in his eyes. It was God's Spirit I saw. He was being blessed, even as his actions blessed us.

Thank you, John. Your gift has given Dave his life back. Your gift has given our family another chance to be a family and not have to live around a dialysis machine. Dave will have the energy and will that he once had. He can play with his boys the way he used to play. He can clean out his garage and dabble in some woodworking projects, again. He can paint the bathroom. He can take us on a vacation, and not worry about having to take a four hour nap every day. But most of all, we can have a future. Thank you, John. We are forever grateful to you, April and the girls. We love you all.

Monday, November 24, 2008

You know you are in a hospital in Beverly Hills when...

We made it home on Saturday after a very eventful week up in LA. The people at Cedars Sinai were just wonderful! I want to work there when I grow up!! They took such excellent care of Dave, and made sure I had a nice bed beside him on the nights I stayed up there. The nursing staff was top notch! The doctors....well, what can I say...they (with the help of our God) saved my husband's life!

I knew I was in LA when, on the day of Dave's surgery, I was waiting in the recovery waiting room with a well known actress ~ who was also waiting to hear about her husband. We ended up becoming good buddies, sharing our novels (although neither of us had enough brain power left to read beyond a 4th grade level that night) and phone numbers. I think the term "networking" sort of fits, as we talked about philanthropy projects we were interested in helping, and as I ended up giving her my card so I could work with her at an event scheduled early next year at the new Ronald Reagan building at UCLA. Too funny!!

Reality came back into focus as both of our husbands finally got their rooms, and we hugged as we went on to different units of the hospital. Only in LA, baby!

Oh...there was a Starbucks in the lobby, too. How cool is that? I am still coming down from my skinny vanilla latte' highs of last week.

Upon waking from the cloudiness of anesthesia, Dave was already looking better than when he went into surgery. Amazing how that little kidney was already fast at work cleaning all the gunk out of his bloodstream. When I see how our bodies work, I am always shocked by those who think we just evolved from some slime that crawled out of the water.

Although the trip to Beverly Hills was grueling from south Orange County....and I really do get the whole road rage thing, now...I am so happy that God led us to this facility. As a Christan, my faith is what glues me together. It was not a cross, but rather the Star of David that shone down from the outside wall of the hospital entrance. Faith abides inside. That gave both of us a a huge sense of comfort! Faith in the one true God and His abiding love and power.

We have made it home, and Dave is doing great! He continues to lose weight, and his body is functioning again! Praise God!

Monday, November 17, 2008

As I am packing the bags for our little trip up to LA, I wanted to stop long enough to say "thank you" to our friends, and family. We have been lifted up in prayer by people all over the country! Both Dave and I are truly humbled at all the love, support, and encouragement that keeps coming our way. When I put a bulletin out that prayer is needed, I get responses almost immediately! We are blessed by you!

I probably won't post on the blog until next week. I will be calling people while I am in traffic on the 405 this week, so you might get a call, sometime!

Again~ thank you for the prayers and love!! God has brought us this far for some purpose. While we are not sure what that is, we remain faithful to His call and His plan for our lives.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Tuesday is the Transplant!

The day of the transplant is quickly approaching, and I have so much to do that I feel like I should be wearing roller skates (gee...that dates me!) so I can get it all accomplished.

Dave had his final IVIG therapy yesterday, and they took one last blood test to make sure the cross match is good with the donor's, after all of these antibody treatments. We have been told that the results will be in by Friday, and that no news is good news. If we don't hear from them, have our bags packed and ready for Tuesday morning!

It was sort of funny the other day, as we sat in the transplant center's examination room talking to the nurse coordinator. She mentioned that Dave would no longer be able to eat anything raw (which is what had already told him....but we won't go there). He realized that "raw" meant sushi! I swear, I thought he was going to get up and say something like, "Thanks, but I'll stay on dialysis". So I promised him a weekend of awesome Japanese food. Ahhh... the sacrifices I make! ;)

As I sit here, and try to concentrate on the events of the last two and a half years, I am focusing on the blessings that God has allowed into our lives. Especially the awesome people who have blessed our lives so abundantly through prayer, friendship, service and constant encouragement. Without these trials, we never would have experienced these blessings so fully. So, while the road has been difficult, and while (speaking only for myself) I wish I could have remained in a state of denial most of the time....I have received so many personal blessings. Thank you!

I will keep you all updated as best as I can through next week. Most of you have my email or my cell phone, so feel free to contact me, anytime.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Off to Atlanta

This is the weekend I have scheduled to go and visit my brother in the great state of Georgia! Since I have never been to Atlanta, sans the airport on my way to Disneyworld, I am pretty excited.

Dave will be here with the boys, and be helped with some wonderful babysitters and my mom. So things should run smoothly for three days. Right??? Why then do I feel so gosh-darn guilty about leaving?

So...if you're in the neighborhood, and feeling well (seriously...) please drop by and visit Dave and the boys while I am away. Of course you may find the three of them watching some Godzilla movie, wearing their underware, and eating cake frosting with their fingers! :) It's good to be a guy, or so I hear!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Two down...One to Go..

Yesterday was round two of the immune suppressant therapy treatments. Dave had an infusion of chemotherapy that lasted from 9 AM until 5:30 PM! Even though it was a loooongg day, he did great! Just a little tired, but no real bad side-effects. Not even nausea.

Being the stubborn man he is (hint...I was ticked), he insisted on driving home in the lovely LA rush-hour traffic. I must have asked him 20 times how he felt, nag that I am! (Note to self: hide blackberry AND car keys after surgery!)

So....we are down to one more IVIG antibody treatment before the final blood test to determine how well this transplant will take. I found out yesterday that the doctor who is treating Dave for anti-rejection, Dr. Stanley Jordin, is the on who treated George Lopez a few years ago. He has this amazing track record, and is really well known throughout the medical industry~ he even did a spot on Oprah!

Next on the agenda is the Pre-Op scheduled for two weeks from now, followed the next day by the last IVIG treatment.

Please continue those prayers, that the cross match between Dave and his donor change for the better. Thanks so much!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Yes, We Watched Grey's Anatomy

Thanks to all our friends who emailed, texted and called us last night to tell us about tuning in to Grey's Anatomy. Once we got through all the silly 20-something drama, the storyline was pretty interesting.

Johns Hopkins was the actual facility to do this 6-at-once kidney transplant, back in April. It was pretty amazing! It gave a lot of hope to many who have been on the UNOS list for several years, and who have a potential donor who may not be a good match for them. Medicine is pretty awesome! I have been reading how they are taking a person's own stem cells (no fetus stem cell use) to grow a bladder. Places like Johns Hopkins, The Mayo Clinic and Cleveland Clinic are conducting these mind-blowing clinical trials right now.

We go back to Cedars next Thursday for the Rituxan infusion. Things are going well in every other way. Well....except Dave's profession. I mean, could you pick a more stressful job right now? If anyone has any suggestions how I should keep him away from his blackberry, MSNBC or Bloomberg during recovery ~ please let me know. You know, besides duct tape and tasers. Those I have! :)

I'll write more after next Thursday. God bless~

Monday, October 20, 2008

One down....

We went up to Cedars Sinai last Friday to begin Dave's anti-rejection therapy. Amazingly, this is the only place in the Western United States that does this therapy! People come from all over hoping to make it through the program and qualify for this particular antibody treatment. We are so blessed to be not only part of the program (yes, it is considered a medical trial), but to have the doctor who created this therapy as one of Dave's nephrologists. Again, God is blessing us, greatly!

We began the day by meeting with one of the research doctors who spoke about statistics to both of of us regarding the trial and success rates, etc. (Like we have an option at this point?!?) She was extremely helpful, and explained to us that while Dave's cross match with the donor is not perfect, there's a good chance that they can tweak his immune system enough so as to make the transplant take. Good news! *Stats have not been our friend throughout this adventure, so we would rather rely on God's power of intervention than on science's manipulation, alone. God has gotten Dave this far, so we will trust that He will get us through the rest of this process.

Dave received the 'good' antibodies through dialysis. He felt fine, afterwards. No difference, at all. They are synthetic, but there is still a chance for allergic reaction~ so they watched him closely for four hours.

The worst part of the day was hitting the 10 FWY at La Cienega at 4:30PM, Friday! It took us two hours to get home, going a steady pace of 20mph for much of the trip! Man, I hate LA traffic!

The Myfortic (immune suppressant oral medication) was started this weekend, and he's had no ill effects from that, either. Yay!

On October 30, Dave will get an infusion of a Chemo drug to further ring down his immune system. Then one more antibody infusion on November 12, a week before his 'tentative' surgery.

Yeah, I said 'tentative'. Because if by some chance his cross match is still positive (which is bad), then we can't do the transplant. Please join us in giving this back to God, and trusting that He will allow everything to go forward, enabling Dave's surgery on November 18, as scheduled.

Monday, October 13, 2008

His Grace is Sufficient

I apologize to everyone for not keeping up with this blog, like I said I would. Between home schooling and completing my own degree PLUS the ministry work I am so busy these days. But enough excuses…Get a cup of tea, because I wrote a mini-novel. :)

First, for the update: Dave will begin his anti-rejection therapy this Friday up at Cedars Sinai. They will begin with giving him antibodies that are called “good” antibodies. Since he has a large amount of the “bad” antibodies that will attack the transplanted kidney, he must increase his amount of the good ones. Sounds simple enough.

This weekend he will orally begin taking the chemo therapy drug to start bringing down his immune system. In two weeks they will begin giving him infusions of chemotherapy to further bring down his immune system, getting his body ready for the transplant.

We have begun what I jokingly refer to as our "quarantine" period, where the kids can have one friend over at a time, as long as that friend is healthy. Not a lot of visitors at once can come over and as of next week, Dave will have to work mostly from the house. It’s really important to minimize germs in our home right now, so his body doesn’t have to fight anything off with a compromised immune system. This becomes even more important AFTER the transplant.

Honestly, if I don’t already have OCD, I am sure I will by January!

Many of you are fellow believers, so hopefully you will understand what it is I am about to say. We are scared. We are thrilled. We are anxious. We feel blessed in so many ways. I guess we feel all of that and more at once. AND that’s OK.

Sometimes there is a political correctness about being a Christian, where we don’t want to express our true fears and our true doubts. I have issues with faith. There, I said it. I love the Lord so much, and I trust Him as much as is humanly possible….most of the time. But there are times that I feel so weak and so abandoned. It is these times when God sends a friend my way to give me renewed strength. He always does this!

Case in point, we have had a really bad weekend with stress and fear. You can imagine what poor Dave has gone through at work these past couple weeks. Add that to the stress of his health, and you can see what a mess things can become…and they did. I had a paper due on Sunday for one of my classes, which I was just not able to complete. If you know me, I am never late with assignments. No, not perfect, but a bit obsessed with being on time. However, this weekend I just couldn’t complete it. We needed to be there for each other this weekend. To get into God’s word; to pray and seek out the Comforter. To be a family.

I wrote to my instructor to ask for an extension on this paper. Long story short…I got an email this morning with not only a huge extension, but a beautiful prayer attached. She is a Christian!! She ended up calling me this morning and we talked and cried (silly girls!!) and we shared our hearts over the phone…miles apart... and we prayed together. What a blessing God gave me. Unexpected and truly perfect! God knew that I would need this woman in my life way before I even signed up to go back to school! Our Father is amazingly wonderful. His love is so abundant.

While I am ashamed that I have moments where I lack faith, those moments do exist. I am so grateful that His Grace is sufficient, because I am so weak.

Thank you to all my friends who have blessed me and my family throughout these couple of years. I honestly am humbled by your love and your generosity! My faith, while not perfect, has been strengthed by so many of you.

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Richard Nixon Presidential Library












We took the kids to the Richard Nixon Presidential Library for a field trip this week. The library is in Northern Orange County, in the city of Yorba Linda. That's about 30 minutes from where we live. What a great time we had browsing the many interactive displays that they had.

One of the most awesome things we saw was a piece (rather large) of the Berlin Wall. David is standing beside it in the pictures I have uploaded. Amazing piece of history! We also got to see Marine One, the helicopter that was used for Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford. There were displays on the Space program, and the famous China visit that the Nixon's made.

I really found that this trip was highly educational not only for the kids, but for me and Dave, as well. We will definitely be going back~ especially for those research projects that will be coming up in Spring!










Apologies.....

I have to apologize to many of you who became concerned when I wrote that our insurance coverage was ending in December. I should have used the word "changing". We will have insurance. We just aren't sure what carrier, and what coverage we will be getting. Luckily Dave's surgery will have been in November, so we are still covered at a reasonable rate for that.

Sorry if I worried anyone. It was really unintentional.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Life, Fear and Faith

When I started writing this blog, several months ago, I never imagined that we would be dealing with anything more scary than Dave's health. But in the last few weeks we have seen our economy take a hit. Personally, we have friends who have lost their jobs, virtually all their savings, their company's compensation -stock packages and some major individual assets. Crazy, crazy days!

Today we found out that our own health insurance will be canceled at the end of the year. That would be a scary thing if I had just a regular need for pediatricians and the occasional doctor visit for Dave and I. But with a major surgery looming before us, as well as covering all the donor's care...I'm a little worried, I won't lie. We will be getting insurance....it's just we aren't sure who will be the carrier.

I try to fall back on my faith, again. I know that as a child of God, He will not leave me, ever. My needs will be met and my family will be taken care of. I rest on that truth. It becomes even more evident, in this life-journey I am on, that I sometimes fall into believing that it's Dave who meets our needs ~ not God. That is really mixed up thinking on my part, for sure.

Today I find myself looking deeper into what it is I truly believe. Who will take care of my boys if something happens to their dad? If something happens to me? There is no financial institution or stock/retirement package or medical insurance that will meet their/our needs. It is through God alone that our needs are met. From whom our real blessings are given.

Faith is tough. It is not tangible, but it is measurable.

I pray for all whose lives have been touched by the current turn of events in our economy. All our friends and friends of friends who have lost so much and who are trying to hold it together for their own families. Maybe it's time we simplify our lives or at least re-prioritize them. It certainly is the time to re-evaluate from where (or from WHOM) our true security comes.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Trip to LA and down Memory Lane

Last week was quite a week! Dave, being in the investment industry, went for a rather eventful ride on the rollercoaster of the DJIA and NASDQ. Man, I think everyone was happy when Friday finally rolled around. There was a story in Christianity Today last week that talked about the people on Wall Street praying more these days than ever before. Yeah, no doubt!

On Saturday the family took a car trip up to Beverly Hills to map out the hospital and surrounding areas. We still can't find a decent place to stay that is less than $400 a night. It's pretty sad when you can get a cheaper room in Hawaii than the mid-whilshire district!

Cedars Sinai is a pretty impressive complex. Beautiful, and big, and somewhat immaculate for a hospital. In fact, in the years since getting out of medicine it has always surprised me how dirty a lot of the better hospitals are kept. Cleveland Clinic and UCLA are prime examples of hospitals with great reputations that are just so impacted that there is never any time to clean before a new patient gets plugged into an open room. No wonder MRSA is on the rise in our health care facilities!

Across the street from Cedars is the Beverly Center, a very upscale shopping mall. We took advantage of the fact that the kids were needing a break from the car, ad walked around this multi-level, shoppers dream. We have a lot of the same stores down in OC, so I wasn't blown away. Then, my son David saw it....the place he had only dreamed existed. The Ferrari Store! Seriously, there is a Ferrari Store in Beverly Hills.

I guess it's the place where you can get dad that cool Ferrari cap to wear as he drives the family minivan! No, really...there was everything "Ferrari"; to include a Ferrari LEGO playset. My boys live, breathe and almost eat LEGOS. We had to get one. We got the playset and a die cast Ferrari and spent way too much money and got our huge testosterone rush. Then went back to the car (not a Ferrari) to make our way back home. My son, still wearing a huge smile on his face after visiting boy-Mecca.

On the way back we decided to take a detour and head through Hacienda Heights, where both Dave and I grew up. Fun, fun, fun walking down memory lane! We showed the kids the houses we grew up in, and the church we attended and Dave's high school. We even showed them our cool mall...ok, it wasn't that cool....but the movie "Back to the Future" was filmed there, so it was our idea of cool for most of the 80's.

When we finally got home we were officially pooped! But had a pretty fun day.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Surgery Date Changed

We have moved up the date for surgery to November 18, 2008. Dave will start his anti-rejection treatment in mid October. We can't believe it is moving so fast, after so many months of waiting. Praise God!!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Homeschooling Update

I have gotten so many emails asking how the home schooling is going, that I thought I would write a little something on the blog.

If anyone watched the season premiere of SNL, you saw the skit depicting the kids on the home schooled team competing with the kids from the public schooled team. Of course the home schoolers were Amish and didn't know anything about REAL biology (gremlins are what carry O2 throughout the bloodstream), but it sure was funny!! It pretty much sums up how some people in our extended family feel about the whole home schooling thing. I guess I shouldn't take it too personally when someone asks me, in a rather worried tone, if I feel smart enough to educate my 5th grader. I DID pass the 5th grade once before! :)

But, really, I don't take it too seriously. I know that David and Joe are so happy. So much less anxious. I am too. Plus they are able to let their God-given creativity flow through the learning process.

David was really into the events of 9/11, and what had actually happened that terrible morning. So I let him research it, and asked him to use the facts to write a fictional story about that morning. He did an awesome job with character development, and wrote a great 5 page story.

Another great advantage to our new adventure is that we are able to start our day with scripture and some praise music. Making God our first focal point of the day really puts the rest of the day into perspective. It grounds me. I can only hope it is doing the same for the boys.

Thanks for all the encouragement. Keep sending it, okay?

Friday, September 12, 2008

Surgery Date

When things start happening around here, they really start happening!!

The transplant is tentatively scheduled for December 2, 2008. Wow! A real date!! We even got a list of hotels / apartments that I will start checking out next week. It looks like we will be up there at least a week, maybe two. Of course Cedars Sinai is NOT in the low rent district, so the kids and I may be eating happy meals every night~ or cold cereal. Totally worth it, though!! (Besides, I love mini wheats!)

It's really happening....yay!!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

THE TRANSPLANT IS ON!!

Dave's and his donor's cases have been officially approved for the transplant at Cedars-Sinai !!

They are talking about doing surgery within the next 5 -8 weeks. We will keep everyone posted...thanks for the prayers!

(I can't stop smiling) :)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tomorrow's the Day

We have heard from Cedar's Sinai that the board will meet tomorrow to go over Dave's case, and hopefully approve him for transplant. We could use your prayers on this. Hopefully we will hear something tomorrow or Friday~ and then Dave will be sent to the Immunology Dept for treatment!!

I'll keep you posted....

Monday, September 8, 2008

A Favorite Quote

Just something nice with which to start the week. Plus, I just love this quote.....

"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved. "-Helen Keller

Saturday, September 6, 2008

It's a Match

Most of you already know that we now have a matching donor for Dave's kidney transplant. Thrilled is not a big enough word to describe how we both ....no, all four of us feel! Also very, very blessed and humbled at God's compassion toward's our family.

The case goes before the medical board at Cedar's Sinai's transplant department this coming week, and then we should hear back from the case coordinator soon afterwards to set up something for Dave and the surgery team.

From what we remember, it may take anywhere from one to four months on the anti-rejection medication before they will schedule surgery. Dave will be doing special infusions, since his rejection factor is so high. Another way that God's blessing is evident: Cedar's is one of the few places in the nation that handles cases like Dave's. Of course we would never have known it, but had we been at another facility, chances are good that they would have labeled Dave's case as non-transplantable. His life would have been limited and ultimately shortened due to needing ongoing hemo dialysis. God is good, indeed!!

I will keep you all posted through this site....thanks for all the encouraging words you have sent to us. We love you all!!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Palin Rocks!

I have a new hero, and her name is Sarah Palin. Wow! What an incredible speech our soon to be VP just gave! Go, sister, go! Truth be told, I like her a little better than McCain. :)

McCain & Palin 2008 !!!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Update from Yesterday's Testing

The donor's testing went well. There is a concern about the donor's blood pressure, so they are performing a 24 hour blood pressure check. This is a non-standard test, so it has us and him a bit worried.

We will know about all the test results next week. If those results and the blood pressure results are good, then the whole case will be presented to the medical board for the transplant approval. This could be another two weeks.

From what we understand the testing is now over.

Please continue the prayers....we will let you know what happens next week.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

More on Home Schooling David

It's official, we are home schooling. Poor Dave, not in his wildest dreams could he have ever imagined that I would have gone this direction or that he would have agreed to it. God is pretty amazing!

The challenge now is to convince some of our extended family that we are not going nutty. We will not be raising goats in the front yard, doing all our own baking and canning, and I will not be wearing long dungaree dresses and braiding my hair. Well, at least not right away! :)

Truthfully I sort of feel like I am walking on ice. I haven't got my footing yet with a daily direction, but thankfully I am using the many friends I have who home school already as valuable resources. We will figure it out. Everyone keeps telling me not to stress about it, just enjoy the experience. Ok, I'm having fun....now what?

We did meet with David's school principal. What a great man! He is a Christian and totally believes in home schooling. Isn't that wonderful!?! He was more than accommodating, and will even let us use the school as an umbrella to cover any of the state requirements we might have.

How is Davey? He is really good. He is not anxious at all, and seems to be enjoying the independence he has from a more relaxed form of learning. We really think this is a good thing for us, whether for a "season" or indefinitely. God will lead.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Home Schooling

For the past three years, I have felt that God was trying to get me to listen to Him about homeschooling my kids. I did the Jonah thing, and sort of ignored Him. Maybe if I hum loudly enough the thought will flee. Besides, I am not good enough, smart enough nor do I have the time to home school my kids....come on, God....my plate is full.

So as I sat here doing my own online homework the other morning, the thought came again. I call it a thought, but it was sort of a voice (no, not in the schizophrenic way) in my head telling me to home school David. I replied like normally....hmmmmm. But this time, no good. It was like there was something (or someone) pushing me forward into this craziness of researching home schooling options.

I called Dave, who was buried under work stuff, and started my conversation with, "Honey, you know that thought I get every year before school starts.....? " He replied, "You want to home school, right?" He's so smart! Knowing that Dave was not on board with this method of teaching, I felt compelled to do my homework and get as much information as possible to present to him. Trying to make it more of a fact seeking mission rather than a decision I wanted to validate. Ladies....you know what I mean, right? Husbands don't take too kindly to being pushed into a corner, even if you feel like God is doing the pushing. So, I had to handle it gently.

Now, a few days later, after a lot of prayer and some uncharacteristic patience on my part, Dave is also on board! We spoke to our son, who will be entering the 5th grade and he was pretty good with the idea. We assured him that there will be times (a lot of times) where he will socialize with other kids. He will still have his Wednesday night church group, and could even join another AWANA's group where some of his friends go, if he wanted. He's good with it. I am at peace, even though in all reality I should be really nervous about this undertaking. But it must be from God, because with the decision came clarity and peace. Pretty cool!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Updates and Baptism




We have received some more good news. Cedars called and it looks like Dave's cousin is actually the best match of the group. I guess his results got stuck in immunology, because Dave has this high rejection factor that they will have to work around. He would reject pretty much everyone without strong anti-rejection medicine. I am now #3 on the list.

So we are proceeding forward with the second battery of tests. These are a bit more invasive, but they are actually for the benefit of the donor; making sure that they are not physically putting themselves in jeapordy.

Now for some awesome news! My son David was Baptized this Sunday at church!! As a mom, to know that your child has personally accepted Christ, and has made this important decision on their own....wow! What a blessing! Pastor Steve Baptized David, and then the entire church held hands, sung and welcomed him into the family! It was so beautiful. Needless to say, we are so very proud of David.

Friday, July 11, 2008

A busy time

I apologize for not posting in a few weeks. Things around the Strnad household have been very busy. Knowing what Dave does for a living, you can imagine. I have been trying to pray through my worry during these tricky economical times. I am mostly concerned with the level of stress in his life and not wanting that Wegener's disease to come out of remission. We are both constantly reminded that God is in control and to give it back to Him, daily....sometimes many times in a day!

We had a vacation week planned for the last week in June, but it fell through due to the market instability, and Dave needing to be around to get his clients through this weird time. We are hoping to take a few days off during the upcoming weeks, and take the kids to some fun places around Southern California.

VBS starts this coming week, and follows into the remainder of July. I usually work at least one of those weeks, and this year is no different. We have a lot of great churches out here, so the kids go to three different VBS programs every year. This year, Davey will even get to work at one. He's a big kid of 10, now! Joey just completed two weeks of church camp at the Church of Christ. He had a great time during the past two weeks!

The kids are also keeping busy with music lessons, fencing lessons, and swimming. Busy, busy!

I just finished my first block of classes, and am proud to say that I was able to pull off two A's for the first two courses. I am now taking two more classes, so I hope I can maintain that average. Not bad for an old lady! :)

Nothing new on the transplant front. Unfortunately, we lost a family member last week, so most of our attention has been helping the immediate family get through their loss. We are hoping to hear about my testing within the next three weeks, sometime.

That's about all for now.....I hope all of you are doing well and enjoying your summer break.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Update on Dave

My brother heard back from Cedars Sinai and he is the front runner in the transplant race. While we are happy there is a front runner, we were surprised a blood relative (Dave's cousin) wasn't more compatible. Ric has said all along that he will be there for us, God bless him. But he wants to be last resort. Understandable, since he has his life over in Atlanta and is thinking of getting married next year. So, after contacting Cedars again, they are going to let me test for cross matching to Dave. I will be sent all the testing stuff hopefully next week. Ric tested well in 3 out of 6 cross matches, which for a non-sibling is really good! If I test as good or better than him, then I will be Dave's donor. A sibling has a 50% chance of testing well for 5 out of 6 cross matches, and only a twin can be expected to test 6 out of 6. But, since none of Dave's siblings have come forward, we will work with what we have. He still has a high rejection factor that will have to also be worked with prior to the transplant. Please continue the prayers. I am considered a high risk because of some medical history, compounded by the fact I had kidney stones when I was pregnant.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Ahhh...summer

Summer! I am so jazzed that it is finally here. This school year has been so busy for all of us. Both kids need a break, and so does mom! I just love summer…the warm weather, the mornings at the beach, the afternoons in the pool and the endless barbecuing, which has become my favorite way of cooking.

I love being outside, able to enjoy my morning cup of coffee in the crisp morning air; the smell of grass and jasmine still lingering in the air. I enjoy the mocking birds and the occasional blue birds that fly by, singing their morning songs. The wind chimes that so softly make their music in the background with each gentle breeze. The world is clean and new and fresh and pretty. I enjoy all of this before anyone else in the family gets up. It’s my summer-morning ritual. It’s a great way to begin the day. Ahhhh…..summer!

Friday, June 13, 2008

Sugery went well.... AND Had a bad scare!

Dave had his minor surgery yesterday, and everything went well. We were able to talk the anesthesiologist into using twilight sleep instead of general, so the recovery was pretty quick.

OK, now for the big scare! It doesn't involve Dave...no, this time it involves my son Joe. Joe's philosophy in life, at the tender age of almost-6, is that it's easier to get forgiveness than permission.

Yesterday while he was playing outside in the back, he climbed up on the slide /platform that we have against the back wall. (note: this location was bad, and I knew it....). We have a nice, elderly lady who is our next door neighbor, who Joey has taken to calling "grandma". Everyday she tends to her roses, and most days Joe sits on the platform and talks to her....non-stop, until she goes back inside. (Picture Denis the Menace and Mr. Wilson). Well, yesterday while I was in the kitchen and watching Joe and making dinner (multi-tasking like most moms), I look out and he's gone. Gone! Within seconds of my last glancing at him, I couldn't find him outside.

I then heard a whimpering coming from...yes, you guessed it..."grandma's" yard. He scaled our 10 foot fence and fell or jumped into her yard. I couldn't climb the slide quickly enough before my mind imagined him with two broken legs or a bleeding head wound! Thank God she doesn't have a dog! I got up to the platform and looked over to find him standing up, no blood, with a little tear in his eye, saying, "Mom, can I come home?"

The way our yards are situated, her yard is about two feet lower than ours, and ALL concrete: hence the fear of a gaping head wound! But there he stood, totally (Thank you God ) unscathed, and bare foot!! I couldn't reach him, so I told him to go to the back door and knock. He did, and scared poor "grandma" almost to death! "What are you doing there!?!" was all she could say!

Joey did get home. He is fine. This has renewed my belief in guardian angles! I'm sure Joe has a few, who work around the clock! All I know is that I am going to need to start talking to my hairstylist about color, very soon!!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

No News

We have received so many emails this week from people asking for updates. Thanks for the concern! Sadly, there is nothing new this week. I talked to the people heading up the organ donation department at Cedars, and they are still waiting to hear back from the immunology department. I guess there was some mild rejection noted between Dave and his cousin, so they have passed the results onto Immunology to see if the anti-rejection therapy could solve the rejection factor. Still waiting....

Thanks for the encouragement! I'll update as soon as we have a direction.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

What a week!

I honestly can’t remember a time when I felt so much anger toward another person. I hate that feeling! When you are a happy person, anger tends to take its toll on you in ways that are somewhat unfamiliar. Depression is an aftermath that I am currently dealing with. And I keep thinking, if I have depression, what must Dave be feeling? It’s been a tough week.

Thank you to so many of our friends who have called and let me vent (once again) over the phone. I bet you never knew just how fast I could talk?? It’s a West Coast thing. We tend to talk exceptionally fast! :) I really needed you guys this week. Kim…you are my life saver, my sister! Let me know how much I need to chip in for your phone bill! Todd will probably want to kill both of us! Why did God put such good friends so many miles apart???

The one lesson I think I have learned this week, is that God will use even the bad stuff for His purposes. If you-know-who had not come into our lives when he did, we might still be at UCLA, waiting on “whatever we thought we were waiting on” to get Dave on the national transplant list. When we thought we could expedite the surgery at another hospital we got on it, immediately. Cedars ended up having an even more successful transplant program. Now we have things moving ahead with two other possible donors and we are at a place that can handle Dave’s rejection factor. So, all in all, we still owe what’s- his- name a debt of gratitude. (OK, so I’m not there yet….)But I do have faith that God will help us find a way.

We are still waiting to hear about the other’s results. They don’t want to test me unless they have to, which I understand, but am not happy about.

To my other (local) girlfriends….Chinese food time! PF Changs, in either Newport Beach or Mission Viejo. Let’s make plans, soon.

Again...thanks for all the prayers. They keep us going, really!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Scam....Sham....Shake-down ????

I remember hearing those words, "...If something looks too good to be true, it probably is." Being an optimist, I don't usually hold on to that philosophy. I believe that people are innately good. I believe that there is a common brotherhood among men, and that we will strive to do what is right, even when faced with opposition. I know...I have been called Polyanna many times before!

So, how do I take being shaken down for money? It has never happened before, that is until last night.

Dave and I met with our new friend, ("the kidney donor"...I won't mention his name here) out in Riverside to discuss how things were progressing. He showed us his test results, which were stellar! His kidneys virtually function at a 50% capacity on each side, which is a real rarity! Most people have a 60 / 40 ratio, and the donated kidney is of course the lesser of the two. His other results were just as good....a prime candidate to donate a very good kidney!

Then it happened. Something neither of us saw coming. He started talking about money. How a man in NYC had contacted him and was willing to pay $500,000. for the organ. How donating his kidney would adversely affect his health insurance coverage, his life insurance premiums and how he would be worried if he could afford school, should there be a complication. How his dream of being a firefighter would be lost, and how money would at least be something to fall back on.

Stunned, Dave and I just sat there and listened. Of course having second thoughts about donating an organ to another person is normal. We would be surprised if he had not had second thoughts. But the money kept coming up. A lot of money. There was never any talk of money before...in fact he was the guy who said he hated injustice, and that the rich are the ones who can afford to buy organs, and that he was NOT in it for money. We took him at his word.

First, it's illegal for us to buy someone off. Secondly, it just seems a little too strange that all of a sudden there is talk of money....and was this his final offer? Would the amount progressively go up? Should we have brought an attorney into this whole altruistic game? Probably! The weirdest thing was that he told us both his pastor and nephrologist told him not to feel badly about taking money for his kidney. They told him there was nothing wrong with doing that. Now, I may not know what church he attends, but I have worked in the medical profession. There is no doctor that I have ever met or would want to work with who would condone selling one's organs. (Especially a doctor that runs an organ donation program at a leading teaching hospital.) It goes against the very thing they stand for. But even if they did personally believe in it, there is no way they would tell a patient to go to the highest bidder.....no way! I would also assume that most men of the cloth would opt to tell one of their congregants to abide by their sense of right and wrong. Pray for clarity. Maybe steer him towards integrity over asking for a dollar amount. But there are wacky churches out there, so perhaps a pastor did give him the advise to sell to the highest bidder. Who really knows?

The qustion that keeps haunting the two of us is will this man be coming back to us for more money with every health issue or financial issue he ever has? While we would certainly accept responsibility to pay higher premiums on his life insurance or make sure that he has health insurance the rest of his life, we would do it legally. We would owe him a so much, of course! But now we are just worried that this will turn up and bite us, maybe continually for many years.

All we can do at this point is hope that Dave's cousin John is a good match. My brother and I didn't test yet, since we thought "the kidney donor" was a done-deal. So we will do our testing this week. I wouldn't be able to donate until next year, anyway.

Poor Dave. I feel so badly for him. We do have faith that God will get us through this. Better we find out now that there was something strange going on, than the day of the surgery when all is set to go.

Thanks for the prayers. We know God will provide a way.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Everything is looking good!

We received word from Cedar's Sinai that Alex's results are back, and everything looks very good! The next step is to have the surgeon look over the other donor's information and blood test results and decide who is the best match for Dave.

I can't tell you how happy we are to hear that things are progressing so quickly.

On an opposite note, Dave was scheduled to have his hernia repair this last Friday, but somehow the nurse, who booked the surgery, forgot to put it on the doctor's schedule. That was a bit alarming! Although, in retrospect, it was a good thing. Dave had a business trip to New Orleans that he had literally just ended. He was pretty tired from the travel and extended time without dialysis. It worked out well that he had this weekend to just rest.

Keep those prayers up. Things are really looking like they are coming together, possibly even scheduling the transplant for the late Summer.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Back to School.....no,....really!

I’m a 40 year old sophomore! Yes, I guess you can say I am going through a mid-life crisis, now. Although it might have been easier to get a sports car! After several years of thinking about going back to school, I have finally plunged into it. I thought about going further with my nursing career, maybe going for my practitioner’s license, but since I have been out of the field for so many years, I would have to re-do a lot of my sciences over, anyway. Let’s just say I am pretty rusty!!

After a lot of thought, and prayer, I am going for my B.A. in Communications, with an emphasis in business marketing. What will I do with that? Well I guess that part is up to God, and wherever He may lead me. I don’t worry about that stuff these days. :) The bad part is that a lot of what I took in college for my nursing is not transferable to this degree. Like I said, I’m a 40 yr old sophomore. How funny is that?

I’ve been in class for over a month and am doing great. I love being back at school, and using a part of my brain that I sort of had to dust off! It’s good to be busy in a productive way.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Officially Open

Just wanted to let everyone know that Dave's case was submitted to the transplant committee yesterday, and they have approved him!! Once we are all tested, we will proceed with whoever is the best match, and get the transplant done (hopefully) by the end of Summer. We went to Outback last night with the kids, to celebrate! What a huge relief. God is good, for sure!

Thank you for the prayers!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Testing Begins

Dave’s case did not make it to committee last week, but we are expecting it to go through this week. After a few days on the phone with all sorts of business office people, they have allowed Alex to test for donor compatibility. He went down to LA yesterday, and we should know within 2 weeks if he is a match!

We got Dave’s histology results back yesterday, and I haven’t a clue how to read them! There is one area that is concerning us, and that is this value that sometimes indicates a higher rate of organ rejection. The number should be below 30% (essentially his body would reject 30% of all donors). His number is 66%. We freaked a bit on that. But I spoke to the nurse in charge of Dave’s case, and she said that at Cedar’s they can do an infusion of some kind of Immuno-globulin thing that will decrease his antibodies. I know…too much jargon! What it means is that they have ways to deal with this sort of situation! Thank God!

If Alex is a match in the other areas then things are looking good to move ahead! Please continue to lift this up to God. We are so thankful for your prayers!!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The latest.....

I have received a lot of mail requesting and update on Dave, and I thought this might be the best forum to give everyone that update.

First, he did great on his stress test! The doctor was very impressed with the strength of his heart and the relatively good health that Dave is in (minus of course his end stage renal disease). Funny, about 10 years ago if someone were to mention to either of us that our health was good, we would have thought, “Well, yeah...so what?”

The reports were faxed over to Cedars Sinai this past Friday. When the transplant committee checks things over, supposedly on Thursday, his case will then be officially OPEN!! This means that all of the potential donors can get their blood tested, and we can see who the best match to Dave is. All of us have submitted our paper work, so we are ready to go.

For everyone except Alex, who has already had all the invasive testing, there will be more testing to follow, but we'll cross that bridge as we have to. Most of the other stuff is to make sure the donor is a healthy candidate, and that his/her life would not be adversely affected if he/she were to donate a kidney. As of right now, Alex is still on board and seems to want to donate to Dave if the blood testing shows them to be a match.

One very interesting thing happened this past Thursday morning. I received a call form a lady in Arizona, looking for Dave. Thinking it was your run-of-the-mill cold call, I told her who I was, and offered to assist her. To my amazement, she got Dave’s info online at matchingdonors.com, and wanted to speak to him about being a donor! Isn’t that amazingly wonderful???? I mean, God has really been raining blessings on us this past month from all over the place.

We now have 5 people, including myself, that will be tested to donate to Dave.

Thanks for all your prayers, and well wishes. Thanks also for lifting him up in prayer at your churches and prayer groups. We are witnessing the miracle of prayer on so many levels.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Looking Good

Thank you for all your prayers today! I just wanted to fill everyone in on what the latest is...

Dave has been initially cleared through Cedars Sinai. All he needs to get to them are results from a stress test (and I will schedule that this afternoon for next week). After that test gets read and sent to them, they will present his case to their committee and then once he is approved financially and physically ( which is more a formality, now), he will be on the active list at Cedars. It's at this point that his potential donor(s) can test. Then ( I believe) the transplant can take place relatively soon after all that. We are really hoping to get this done sometime within the next few months!

Things are really moving ahead at a great pace. Once again, thank you for all the prayers, and positive messages we have received. Please pass on word to your prayer warriors, churches and friends who have held Dave up in prayer. Share with them how grateful we are to all of them, and how God is working in this matter. :)

Friday, April 11, 2008

News....

I wanted to share with everyone an update on how things have progressed from the email I sent out on Wednesday. Could you all tell how frustrated I was?!! Oh my, what a day!

Once again you guys have prayed us through a very difficult time! We remain eternally grateful! We finally got approval to move ahead at Cedars Sinai. Dave will go through the evaluation, and then onto meeting the surgeon and the entire transplant team next Friday. His testing for organ compatability will begin that day, too. Then his donor can re-test right away.

Things are moving along at a really great pace. Much quicker than at UCLA! Funny how now, in total retrospect, we can see God’s hand at work. I guess that’s the trick to having faith during the times that look the bleakest. I'm afraid I still often stumble in that area.

Please know how much Dave and I appreciate all your love, support, and prayers! We love you guys!

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Update on the meeting

Since I'm not ready to send out an "all points bulletin" just yet, I will briefly cover what went down at today's meeting between Dave and the potential kidney donor.

It went well. Really well. While the donor still plans on meeting with a couple other possible recipients within the next couple weeks, the two guys got a chance to talk in depth and sort of bond a bit.

The next order of business is for Dave to contact the transplant program's director at UCLA and demand that testing begin ASAP. They have given us the run around and not medically cleared him to begin testing, which will be addressed, rather sternly, tomorrow. Once Dave gets some testing done we will compare it to his potential donor, who has already had his testing, and see how compatible the two are. That's a big issue, and really the place we need to start.

So as of right now, our plan is to get up to UCLA and get this ball rolling!

Once testing has been completed, we can transfer to another program or stick with UCLA, whatever would be the most advantageous for all concerned.

As always, your prayers are truly appreciated!

Friday, April 4, 2008

A kidney donor may have been found!

We may have found a potential kidney donor who will be meeting with Dave this Sunday. It's all happening so quickly, that we are a bit blown away. This is the third conversation and first actual meeting between them. He got Dave's info from an online matching program....and while we weren't too sure that such generous (truly altruistic) people actually existed, I guess they do!

If I may be so bold, if you are a person who believes in the power of prayer, please lift up this situation, my husband and his potential donor in prayer this weekend. Whether or not Dave is the recipient, we know that this generous, heroic man will give someone the gift of life. Amazing! We definitely pray that God leads him to the right organ recipient.

I believe that God's timing is perfect, so if this is the answer to our prayers, we will be thrilled. But if not, we know that ultimately God is in control.

Thanks so much!!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Medicine's Cutting Edge....Re-growing Organs

Medicine is so cool!! I just have to say that! There is research going on right now that one day (possibly soon) could help people, like Dave, who need organ transplants. Of course the research needs investment capital to further this study...but it’s truly amazing!

There is this substance that can be taken from a pig’s bladder. It’s called extracellular matrix, and surgeons have already been using this protein and connective tissue mixture to repair tendons. It holds some possible secrets behind the emerging new science of regenerative medicine.

Essentially this substance tells the body to start tissue regrowth. Scientist do believe that every tissue in the body has cells which are capable of regeneration, it’s just finding which cells, enough of those cells, and then (in theory) directing them to re-grow.

Successful finger, skin and even bladder regeneration have already been documented!

This is so exciting for people who are on transplant lists. Obviously if a person’s own cells are used to regenerate an organ, there would no longer be the need for anti-rejection meds after the transplant. That would lessen the severe side effects and drastically decrease the chance of cancer in these patients.

Amazing stuff!!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

...Happy Eas...Resurrection....um...What?

I really need to know when it became politically incorrect within the Christian community to use the word “Easter”. I didn’t get the memo, evidently.

Last night as I was paying for a daily devotional at my local Christian bookstore, I wished the lady behind the counter (who is easily 20 years younger than me) a “Happy Easter”. To my surprise she corrected my terminology. Huh??? She says Easter is a pagan holiday, and therefore we now only say Resurrection Day….not Easter. Excuse me? When did that occur? I mean, yeah I’ve seen the phrase. So I tell her, “I still use “Easter” to mean the same thing.” “Well, it’s not”, she continued.

It is this very uptight, condescending behavior that is turning people off from our faith. I mean, come on. I’m hardly glorifying the pagans by buying a daily devotional! We do, however, decorate eggs and the Easter Bunny still comes to our house. So, is that something I should hide from other brothers and sisters in Christ, for fear of being judged? What has happened to all of us? Honestly, when I was a kid….we had egg hunts at church! Now, it’s considered by a lot of Evangelicals to be right up there with worshipping a tree! Have we really become that sanctimonious?

I hope that during this holiest of seasons, especially during the next few days, we can keep our eyes, hearts and minds on the true meaning of what it is we are celebrating. Our Lord died for us, so that we could be forgiven and made whole….and then he ROSE, so that we could share eternity with Him! Let’s celebrate Christ’s victory over death, and through Him, ours as well!!

Happy Easter! He is Risen!!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

California and our Wacky Education System

Living in California you are pretty much guaranteed a wonderful climate, awesome beaches, really nice skiing conditions in winter, beautiful sunsets, and…… total insanity when it comes to the education system!

If the news of our current education crisis hasn’t reached all of my friends throughout the USA, let me put it like this….it’s bad! We are currently laying off hundreds of teachers in just the LA /OC area, alone. Our classroom sizes will be immediately affected, causing ratios of over 30+/1 in most grade levels. Taxing the teaching resources that are left, and quite honestly, NOT putting our children first!

Many of my friends have chosen to home school their kids because of so many disagreements they have had with our education system throughout the years. Yes, core beliefs that there is a God who is our Creator was one reason that many opted to teach their own children at home, before the ideas of evolution without any mention of the theory of intelligent design were going to be taught to their little ones. But there was also a strong belief that they could teach their own children more effectively at home. It is a safe, loving, and nurturing environment. The kids socialize with other home schoolers during the day. Sometimes home schooling is done to get a kid through a rough patch, either emotionally or educationally. There were times when I also toyed with the idea, but instead we decided on private school. We are blessed to be able to give our children this option, but there are many who can not.

The California court system has now said that home schooling our children, without a teaching credential, is not allowed. Tens of thousands of kids in our own state face the chance of being truant. Their parents face possible charges and fines if they continue to home school without the teaching credential.

Now I ask you, with the state of education going through all this current upheaval, where classroom sizes are increasing, and staffing is decreasing, why would any caring parent choose now as the time to put their kids back into the system? Why take away our right, as parents, to choose what’s best for our kids? They are OUR kids, after all. Not to mention that most home schooled kids do well above average on their yearly state mandated tests. So, what’s the real issue here? Could it be MONEY???

The district gets about $45 a day per child, IF they are in school. They lose that money if the child should (gasp) get sick and miss a day or two….or worse yet….are home schooled.

I’m not a credentialed educator. I highly respect teachers. I think they are completely under paid, over-worked, and when the poop starts rolling down-hill from the big boys on the school boards, it’s the classroom teachers that are at the bottom of the hill. They have to perform under extreme conditions (I ask you…how would YOU like to have 35 fourth graders in one room?) They have to teach the kids not only the basics, but that which will enable them to score high on the state tests. It’s all about the numbers. If a school does well on the test, the district looks great, then the principal looks great, and, oh yeah, the teacher…well she was just doing her job!

I support my friends who home school their kids. I will vote for whatever will enable them to continue to have the right to choose what’s best for their own children. I also wonder how high this particular case is going to go. We suspect to the State Supreme Court.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Off to Sacramento

Well it's official....I have a big kid! Today my son David has flown up to Sacramento with his 4th grade class to tour the state capital and do assorted fun stuff, like panning for gold at Sutter's Mill and hiking in the foothills. He is so excited! All the kids are hoping that Governor Schwartzenneger will be there to greet them!

If you read this post before Friday night, please cover their trip in prayer. That they may have a wonderful yet safe adventure. Thanks!

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Upset about a possible over-sight in treatment

Dave is seeing his Nephrologist at UCI today, to go over some recent blood tests. There is one thing on my mind that I am hoping to get answered. Why didn’t they perform plasmapheresis on Dave at the initial on set of renal failure? I have been reading that this procedure, while uncommon in the US, is widely used in both Europe and Japan in treating certain types of auto-immune conditions. It works by cleansing the blood of the antibodies that causes tissue necrosis (tissue / organ death).

At the time of Dave’s initial kidney biopsy, his renal function was about 30-40%. While that is not considered stellar by any means, it may have improved if the antibodies had been removed from the bloodstream early on. Could he have regained adequate kidney function? Could dialysis and even the need for transplant have been avoided? I guess we will never know for sure. I doubt the doctors are ever going to admit over-looking any treatment that might have prolonged Dave’s life or the life of his own organs.

I encourage anyone who has a medical condition to become their own expert, quickly. You are your best advocate. I have only a little knowledge, and have been able to at least ask some relevant questions throughout this process. If we had just let the doctors do whatever they initially wanted, we would not have been able to stop the Cytoxan prior to the Rituxan infusions, causing a high probability of a neurological development. Don’t be too trusting when it comes to your own health. Get involved!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Update on Dave

I got a call from UCLA yesterday about my eligibility to be Dave's donor. When I was pregnant with Joey, I had some problems with kidney stones. I never had them prior to that and I haven't had any since giving birth over 5 yrs ago. So chances are good that my little stone problem was caused by hormones. But...I still have to go through some testing to make sure I am not producing stones now, or look like I have potential to do so later on. That's where we'll begin in about two months. Dave still needs to accomplish some preliminary stuff on his end before any donor can begin testing.

We did get some GREAT news! One of Dave's cousins has come forward, requesting information about being his donor. God is so awesome!!

Dave has been OK. Even though he got a flu shot, he ended up getting some flu-like virus this past week. But thankfully it has stayed in his upper respiratory tract, and has not gone into his lungs. We are still closely watching it.

That's about it for now.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

When the Flu attacks....

For the last 15 years I have managed to not catch the flu. The last time I had this super-bug I was traveling home from NYC, and was so sick, all I did was sleep and ....sleep some more. If I had gotten on the wrong plane, it wouldn't have mattered. All I wanted was a soft spot to die...or rest, whatever.

So fast forward to now. This has been my family's sickest year on record. And I'm referring to 2008. I have a little guy in Pre-K who is currently building his immunity by catching every virus that crosses his path. Then, being generous, he shares it with his older brother. Dave and I have remained ok, until now. But It finally caught up with us...the crud...the headache, fever, chills, and malaise. Man!! I can not be sick!! Too much to do.

But here I am sitting in bed, with my 5 year old who shared his virus with me over the weekend. While Dave and Davey have just left for the doctor's . Yes, we are all UNCLEAN!!

This is a lame post, but it's my way of venting. I hate not feeling well. I am usually immune to getting sick, really. But this cold / flu season is the worst I can remember.

Ok, I'm going to watch another episode of SpongeBob and then maybe we can take a nap???? Please!!!

Anyone know how many days until Summer???

Monday, February 11, 2008

Medal of Honor Winner's Gala


Dave and I were guests at the Congressional Medal of Honor Winner's Gala this past Saturday, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. It was a great evening, and we were in the presence of true heroes from every branch of the military. Not being in his dress blues, Dave felt a little strange, but I was so proud of him, and the service he also gave our counrty!!

We started out by touring Air Force One, which was truly awesome. Before being retired, it had served 7 Presidents, ending with George W. Most of it's air miles were under President Reagan, so that's why it resides at his library. We were able to see the President's quarters and walk through the whole plane before the evening's festivities began. You can imagine how many canisters of Jelly Bellies were in that cabin!

There were a ton of government dignitaries and military personnel present. Several actors were also there, to include Gary Sinese, Tom Selleck , Kevin Sorbo and Miguel Ferrer. We had the chance to spend a couple minutes talking with Gary Sinese, who has gone over to Iraq and Afghanistan several times to entertain and suport the troops. What a very nice, and humble man!

It was an honor for us to be included in this wonderful celebration!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

We need a National Healthcare Package for ALL

Christianity Today has a great article on the need for a revised national healthcare package. While the War on Terror and the economy are incredibly impotant issues, the issue of healthcare for all (especially all children) is one which more time and effort need to be given. It is one issue that I need to see addressed by the candidate I support. Anyway, I will just post the link to the article, since they are much better at articulating this need than I am.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2008/february/19.20.html

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Autism Spectrum Disorder and the allergic child

As many of you know, my son Joe was diagnosed last year as being on the autism spectrum. Joe is considerd very high functioning, and our main focus in therapy continues to be bringing out the language which he already has, but sometimes chooses not to use. We also have issues with behavior, like eloping and being a bit less focused in a classroom enviornment than other kids his age. But as far as intelligence goes, we are blessed that he is able to keep up with ( and in some areas even surpass) his peers.

I have been researching the co-exsistance of enviornmental and food allergies in children who are on the spectrum. It's very interesting, and to me, holds a bit more weight scientifically than the whole immunization hoopla. Granted, I also believe that in the past thermisol did pose a hazadardous toxicity and possible negative neurological effect on kids who where exposed in larger quantities. But the drug companies have been removing thermisol from antigens for several years, now. The autism "epidemic" continues to grow. The other possibility that might still involve immunizations as a possible cause for spectrum disorders also involves allergy and the introduction to the immune system of a substance that for most would not cause any reaction. But for some might cause a neurological type of reaction.

Allergy in autistc kids seems to be quite common. Many have food allergies to wheat, dairy and nuts. Joe is allergic to peanuts, and so we also keep a nut-free house ( food-wise, not individuals living here) :) Then there is the ever increasing in popularity gluten free diet that many pediatricians advocate in helping treat behaviors in ASD (Austistic Spectrum Disorders). Does it help? I dont know. While I would love to try a gluten free diet on Joey....I am a wimp! When I was working as a pediatric nurse (long before I had kids of my own), I would be the first to instruct the parents to be parents....but here I am, unable to take food he loves away from him. The truth is that he is a picky eater, and while that isn't uncommon in little ones, kids with ASD sometimes have sensitivities to food texture, taste, and smell. It's not always a put-on. They are just reacting to something in the food they don't like. So there are times I feel fortunate that he eats the few things he does!

The interesting thing I have been reading, is that the CNS and immune system form about the same time in-utero. Both function similarly, recognition then reaction. Whether it's a specific memory that you have from your 5th birthday party, or the taste of a food that gives you hives...it is all conneted. Somehow, it makes me wonder if symptoms of ASD are heightened when the child is in an allergic state. Say for instance, a simple cold or nasal allergy....do these conditions make behaviors worse? If we treat allergies with something, like Zyrtec or Claritin on a daily basis, would the behaviors improve? The same can be asked about a child with ADD or ADHD. Both of those neurological conditions may also improve when allergies are kept at bay.

Interesting idea, isn't it?

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Peritoneal Dialysis... possible alternative

We have been doing a lot of research into alternatives to the hemo-dialysis that Dave is currently doing three times a week. While Peritoneal dialysis is not necessarily new, it is not usually the first course that most nephrologists will take with their patients in kidney failure. So he has done the hemo-dialysis now for several months, and it is really difficult to have any kind of normal life three days a week! Poor guy is exhausted the whole day afterwards, and then still has to try to work either while being hooked up to the machine or when he finally gets home.

From what I have read, Peritoneal dialysis (PD) is often used by younger people who do work or who still lead fairly active lifestyles, that is us...for sure!!

It is done through an exchange between fluid (dialysis solution) placed in the peritoneum (abdomen area) and the blood barrier that is in the abdomen. It works through diffusion...the waste products from the blood are pulled into the solution and then the fluid is emptied by the patient every 4 -6 hours.

It sounds like a very promising alternative! We will begin talking to the doctors at the dialysis center this week, and getting their opinion on whether or not Dave is a good candidate.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The testing begins....update on Dave

Dave is still going through dialysis three times a week. He changed his days to T/TH/Sa, but while that gives him three full days at work, it decreases the time he gets to spend at home, so that may not work out. Although with the Market doing what it has for the past two weeks, he was happy to be there to put out all kinds of fires! Wow! What a time to be in investments! With the year in politics going full swing, and the uncertainty of the election looming, it's going to be a bumpy ride for the next few months.



As we are getting into the swing of this new year, it is now time for me to begin the testing process to see if I am compatible to be Dave's kidney donor. We know that by blood typing alone, I can donate, because I am O Positive (the universal donor). So now I will go through tissue sampling and a battery of tests that will check the function ability of my kidneys.



It would have been such a blessing if someone from Dave's family would have come forward to donate. Not only because it will be difficult to have both of us out of commission for at least a week, having two little kids to care for. But the rejection factor is so much lower if the donation were to come from a sibling or even a cousin. He'll have to take many more anti-rejection drugs receiving my kidney than he would have to take if the donation were a relative. The scary thing is that these drugs, while preventing the body from rejecting the new organ, also carry with them a higher incidence of causing certain forms of cancer. We continue to pray that God will touch one of his relatives' hearts, and a miracle will happen! If not....we rest assured knowing that He is in control.



One good thing is that we have been blessed with a number of people who are incredibly kind and want information about donating. My brother is one. Then we have three friends who want to offer, and by blood type are matches! God really has blessed us!! I try to remember that when I start to feel so overwhelemed with fear!



Dave has put off his hernia surgery until the end of February. We have been invited to an event at the Ronald Regan Library in early February, honoring the Medal of Honor winners, so he didn't want to be hindered in anyway from enjoying the festivities that evening! Me either....it's a black tie event, so it should be really fun. Something that we certainly haven't done in years! The only real dancing we've done is at weddings, and the Chicken Dance really shouldn't count as dancing!!



Ok.... will fill you all in as stuff happens.