Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Joy of a Laptop Hard Drive that can Breathe

Kim's laptop has been crawling along, rather than running, which is what one wants his/her computer to do. I fought with it today, and won! It is an old Dell Inspiron, and doesn't use a SATA drive, which limits the size. I was shocked to find out that the drive that came with the machine was only 25GB, and it was full to the gills (pardon the Fishy expression). I found a 60GB drive at a good price, and set out to clone her drive. Dell had two hidden partitions (one in FAT16 and one in FAT32). I had to outsmart the machine to clone those partitions, then expand the primary partition to its max size. It is done, though.

Veni, Vidi, Vici!!!! Below are the images of her old and new c:\ drives, as evidence. Now her computer can breathe. The first image is of the new drive, and the second of the old.

9 Miles from Mexico--or "Four Nations, (Hopefully) Under God"

I do not share the pessimistic views of some of my brethren about the nation in which I live. My ultimate allegiance is to the kindgom of God, but I am patriotic. You could almost say that I'm proud to be an American (even though I bristle at the ethnocentricity of our use of that term--ask me what I mean sometime if you don't understand). I'm a strong advocate of leaving the words under God (and, to a lesser degree, of the words one nation) in our pledge of allegiance.

I pledge allegiance to the flag
of the United States of America,
and to the Republic, for which it stands,
One Nation, Under God, Indivisible,
With Liberty and Justice for all.

While I recognize that there are many things that are "not right" about
our nation, it is still a wonderful place to live. If it were not so, nobody would be talking about the issue of illegal immigration. What is the future of our nation? Nobody knows--not even Barack Obama. A Russian professor has been predicting the fall of the United States for years, and has now fixed the date: 2010 (that's only half way through Obama's term). Igor Panarin, a Russian university professor and former KGB analyst, has even created the map. The 48 continental states become four nations, and according to that map, I will live only 9 miles from Mexico (what is now Oklahoma, according to Panarin's projection, will be part of The Texas Republic, which "will be part of Mexico or under Mexican influence"), even without moving. You can read Andrew Osborn's report of this from the Wall Street Journal by clicking here. According to Panarin, I'll be Canadian, but where I currently live is only 9 miles from Mexico!

Monday, December 29, 2008

From One of Our Favorite Places

David & Rose; Jennie, Rose & Patty (3 sisters)--from a very special place overlooking Table Rock Lake.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Pleasant Kind of Quimioterapia

Maybe you don't recognize the last word of this blog's title. Quimioterapia is the Spanish equivalent of the word chemotherapy. This morning in our Spanish-speaking Sunday School class we were discussing prayer items. A pretty constant prayer request these days is for Rose, and her progression through chemotherapy. She has been skipping Sunday School, as she needs to be careful not to be around people who might be carrying germs. She has been arriving for the worship service (shortly after it begins), sneaking in to get the benefit of being there, and then sneaks out shortly before it is officially dismissed (not during the prayer time, Randy :-),).

For several weeks, we have been looking forward to the arrival of our daughter, Kimberly, who is a school teacher in Mexico. She arrived Wednesday, so it turned into a "praise item". Kim is our youngest, and so for a long time, she has been known as Kimmy, or, if we are speaking Spanish, we might refer to her as "la Kimmy." (I am aware that it is not correct to use the definite article before a person's name, but it very common in Chilean Spanish, and so we speak that way). If you pronounce her name in Spanish--Kimmy, it is pronounced in exactly the same way as the prefix to the word quimioterapia. So I was expressing thanksgiving to God for the safe arrival of "La Kimmy." My co-teacher, Phil Casey (Felipe) in Spanish, who enjoys words just about as much as I, stated, "That's a good kind of Kimmy-o-terapia, isn't it?"

I couldn't agree more. We have laughed a lot at her stories. It has been good to have her "at home." So Rose now has two types of quimioterapia:
  1. the kind that pumps poison through her system, designed to kill any lingering cancer cells, and
  2. The presence of our daughter Kimmy, which is the kind of therapy that is pleasant indeed.
Scripture says that children are a heritage and reward from the LORD (Psalms 127:3). Thanks be to God!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Huckabee on Ashlee Simpson (really on a more serious issue)

I'm reading Mike Huckabee's book, Do the Right Thing. I'm not really certain that I had ever heard of Huckabee before the Republican Presidential Primaries. He got my attention when I heard that he was a Baptist minister. He got my attention when I heard that he had lost 100 pounds. He further got my attention when I heard him speak in the debates.I liked him, and thought he made sense as a candidate. I'm intrigued by the concept of the Fair Tax.

At any rate, I'm reading his book, which chronicles his experience as a presidential candidate who was virtually written off as not having a chance. I have not watched his new show (called
Huckabee) on Fox News Channel, but I will probably watch it when I get a chance.

We spent about four and a half hours in chemo yesterday. While they were pumping poison into my wife's body, I was reading Huckabee's book. Chapter 8 is titled Let Them Buy Stocks!, and illustrates how the high-dollar candidates, particularly Mitt Romney, are out of touch with the common person's plight. During those early debates, Romney's arrogance bothered me. I don't really think it was an anti-Mormon bias on my part. His stance on the immigration issue bothered me. It might be that I have too many friends who live in fear of what might happen to them. Anyway, when I read these two paragraphs in Huckabee's book (p. 123), it caused me to laugh out loud:

Not long after, during a debate in Iowa, Mitt Romney was asked what we could do to help the economy. I stood there in stunned silence when he went into his well-prepared, programmed answer about how we needed to invest in more high-yield stocks. High-yield stocks! I wanted to scream out, "Let them buy stocks!" but knew that my wife and team and the rest of the country would probably think it a bit over the top. To this day, I regret not shouting because that moment was perhaps the single most revealing of what was wrong with our party. We had people leading us who knew the country club but not Sam's Club. They knew their golf score from last week but not the price of eggs or milk. The only thing worse than not caring about people who were struggling and barely staying above water was not even knowing they were there!

Interestingly, while I was bashed for saying it in October, by January the other candidates were lip-synching virtually the same message. It was almost as if they had been to the Ashlee Simpson School of Voice.

The reference to Ashlee Simpson was what made me laugh out loud. At least one of my readers will not know who Ashlee Simpson is. She is the younger sister of Jessica Simpson (OK, if you want to know, use Google), who was caught lip-synching on Saturday Night Live back in 2004.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Thankful for Cheap Gas--And Inaccurate Information on the Web

First off, the gasoline prices have kept going down? Is that because Blagojevich was arrested? Over the weekend, Rose prompted me to fill the tank, because 153.9 seemed like such a good price. Knowing when to buy and when to wait is a bit of a funny game, but I decided to wait. This morning I filled up at 144.9. Yoohoo! It doesn't seem that long ago that we were paying close to $4.00 per gallon. My 401(k) has lost so much value I should rename it as my 201(k), but gasoline is cheaper. For that, and for so many other things, I am thankful.

I'm also thankful that not all of the information available on the internet is accurate. I'm thinking of some specific health information having to do with chemotherapy. Rose was zapped full of poison (taxotere and cytoxsan to be specific) on November 24. Since she had contracted a little bit of a cold the week before, we were wondering if they might postpone her chemo treatment, but all of the important levels were within range, so she got the treatment. We went back in for blood work on Dec. 2, and again on Dec. 8. Her white blood cell count was low on both of those dates, making her susceptible to any infection that might come her way. We have been pretty careful about trying to shelter her from anyone who is sick. The lab reports come back with 20 different reports, most of which are unintelligible to uninformed people. So . . . what does an inquisitive sort of a person like me do? I go online to try to figure out what all this stuff means.

Of all the stuff that comes back (20 categories), some are more important than others:
WBC (White Blood Cells)
Platelet Count
Absolute Grans
are among some of the more important categories.

The White Blood Cells are the cells that fight against infections, so a person with a low count of white cells is particularly vulnerable. On November 24, her WBC was within normal range: 5.5 out of a normal range of 4.4-11.3 K/uL. The value on Dec. 2 was 2.4 (below normal range); the value on Dec. 8 was 3.5 (still below normal range, but climbing).

The Platelet Count has not been a problem. On her first day of chemo treatment, we were told that they want the platelet count to be above 100 to receive the treatment. The normal range is 160-400 K/uL. On Nov. 24 her platelet count was 321. The platelet counts on Dec. 2 and Dec. 8 were 392 and 538, respectively.

The takes us to the strange category of Absolute Grans. The real term for this category is Absolute Granulocytes. Sometimes this is reported as ANC or AGC. Granulocytes are a special category of white blood cells. The Absolute Grans is a very important report. Though the normal range is 2.00-6.90 K/uL, we were told on the day of her first chemo treatment that a person has to be above 1.5 to be infused. On Nov. 24, her level was 2.15 (within normal range). This category has been one of the lowest values on her lab reports. On Dec. 2 it was 0.284, and on Dec. 8 it had actually descended to 0.271! There are other categories where her levels had risen considerably, so when they looked at the report, their explanation was that her body is working very hard to get better.

Rose has actually felt much better than her lab reports might indicate. She has been working just about every day (there are only two other people in her office, and they are pretty well spread out--plus they try to disinfect everything for her). In fact, she has felt incredibly better than what she should feel, based on something I found when I tried to figure out what this Absolute Grans category was all about.

Remember, to be infused, she needs to get to 1.5. She's got a ways to go between now and the next infustion date (next Monday). But what happens to a person with a low Absolute Grans level? Read this, and understand why I am thankful:

In some patients percentages might be misleading so absolute values of the types of WBC , i.e., the number of white blood cells multiplied by the percentage seen are valuable in diagnosing illness or following therapy. Persons receiving chemotherapy often have decreased WBC. If a patient’s absolute granulocyte count (ANC or AGC) goes below 2,000 cells, then physicians become concerned about the possibility of infection. A number below 1,000 is cause for greater concern and less than 500 usually lands the patient in the hospital.
Source: Hematology Tests from the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science.

Rose has been considerably below that level of 500 (0.500 on the scale used in our reports), which usually lands the patient in the hospital--for the past two weeks, during which the only day she did not go to work was on Thanksgiving Day itself!

That makes me very thankful! We don't really know what the near future holds. We are in uncharted (for us) waters. I'm reminded of the words from an old gospel song, written by Ira Stanphill:

Many things about tomorrow,
I don't seem to understand,
But I know Who holds the future,
And I know Who holds my hand.

Thanks be to God!

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Hair Today--Gone Today--Make that "Almost Gone"

Right now, I have conflicted emotions flowing through me. I've always had a full head of hair, and have never been tempted to shave my head, as some of my colleagues more prone to baldness have done. I do try to keep my hair short, as it is so much easier to take care of that way. My choice to keep my hair short is both gender-and-culturally (and sub-culturally, if you please) informed. The Apostle Paul spoke of lots of hair on a man being disgraceful, and a full head of hair on a woman being glorious (1 Cor. 11:14-15).

The most serious of Rose's surgeries took place on October 1. One week later (October 9), when she was still in recovery-from-surgery mode, ABC Television had a special Nightline episode, which featured Good Morning America host, Robin Roberts, who was chronicling her journey as a breast cancer survivor. I set the DVR to record the program. Rose was already in bed, but I was still up, so I started watching the program live. About 10 minutes into the program, they showed Robin's decision to shave her head. I started sobbing! Rose woke up about then (I wasn't sobbing loudly), and walked out of the bedroom. She knew that Nightline was featuring a breast cancer story that night, so I went back to the start of the program, and we started watching it together. Together we watched; together we sobbed.

Yesterday, Rose started noticing hair easily coming off her head. This morning, it was more pronounced. In fact, she stopped blow drying her hair because of it. She had previously set a date to meet a friend who was a former hair dresser this morning at 10:00 at a local wig shop. We had been in there before, and knew that they gave a 50% discount to breast cancer patients who had lost their hair because of chemotherapy. Rose just called me. The hair loss was sufficient to get the 50% discount, so they picked out a nice wig. The decision was made, however, to go straight to Crystal's house, to buzz off the rest of her remaining hair. As a man, I don't know that it is possible for me to understand what that means to her. I only hope that I can adequately ease her passage through chemo-induced baldness.

I will probably meet her for a bite to eat before she goes to work at noon. She'll have the new wig on her head--her new look. This was something that we knew would happen, but kind of hoped would not. As we face each day, God's grace to us is present, and we are thankful. We appreciate your prayers on our behalf. May God bless you all!

Our church has just finished an excellent 3-week study on the book of Job. You can listen to some excellent messages (especially the last two) on the church website by clicking here. From the front page, click on the link to "listen to sermons."


I met Rose for lunch, expecting to see her new wig on her head. She didn't cut off all her hair, but it is very short. It should dry naturally, within using a blow dryer. We'll see how long it lasts. I brought the wig home.
(Note added at 1:28 PM, Central Standard Time)