Saturday, June 30, 2012

Update on Bill::June 30

Update on Bill: I was way too tired last night to do an update any justice, so here goes:

He had the TIPS procedure done yesterday morning, and everything went well, as far as we know. Nobody from the procedure team talked to us, so we had to go off of what the nurse told us. (and sometimes nurses just get treated on a need to know basis - so often they don't know either. very frustrating!)

Two different doctors at two different times explained the TIPS procedure and what it does by saying that they kind of "roto rooter" a path through the liver to allow more blood to flow through, to ease the pressure that is going on. Because most of the blood just flows through that "opening", it doesn't get filtered correctly, and the result can be encephalopathy. ( Like the article that I linked to says, they try to control the effects of the encephalopathy, which is displayed as confusion, with lactulose and certain antibiotics.

Last night, Bill did seem a little confused, so I made the nurse and the PA aware of it, and they kept a close eye on him last night. The nurse said that he didn't show confusion during the night, and I'm very thankful for that, but sometimes confusion can only be picked up by family members, since they know the patient better and realize when they aren't acting like themselves. I will go back up today and spend some time to see what I can see.

The second issue that was discussed yesterday is that Bill's cancerous tumor was larger than the docs had planned on, measuring 8 cm instead of 6 cm, and that they found some cancer cells in the renal vein, but not as far as the inferior venal cava. What that all means is that they are concerned that he has a higher than average of recurrence of the kidney cancer; they explained that kidney cancer can be found in many areas of the body, not just in the kidney, since it travels through the blood stream. The areas most likely for recurrence to occur is the brain, lungs, and sometimes in the bones.

Because of the higher than average possibility of recurrence, Bill will not be a candidate for transplant at this time. They want him to wait for 2 years and then be reevaluated for a transplant, looking closely for cancer at that time.

The issue at hand is if they gave him a liver right now, and there was even 1 or 2 cancer cells floating around, when they gave him the anti-rejection meds, the cancer would go full blown very quickly, since the anti-rejection meds lower the body's immune system and the ability to fight off threats to the body like colds, flu, and cancer are so low to none.

It has come as a hard blow, though, since we have planned on transplant being a back-up plan after surgery, since surgery is hard on the liver.

Another problem right now that the docs are working on is his kidney function, which isn't very great right now.

Assuming that a person has healthy kidneys, working optimally, they would say that person's kidney function was 100%. Take away one kidney (which is what Bill just had done on Monday the 18th to remove the cancer) and you are left with 50% kidney function. Bill's remaining kidney is struggling a little bit right now, and is only functioning at 30% on a good day. The nephrologists are working with him to help get that kidney functioning better and to ease some of the burden from the kidney with medication. They are hoping that once the newness of the kidney removal surgery "wears off", the remaining kidney will rise to the occasion and start working optimally; very often, the doc said, the remaining kidney will start functioning at over 50%, to try to make up for the lost kidney. That is the kind of recovery we are hoping for.

A lot has happened to Bill in such a short time. I hope that all of you will pray for him, or continue to pray for him if you have already been doing so. I hope that his body will heal from all of these traumas placed on it and rise above its obstacles and do well. I hope that in 2 years he will be cancer free and we can look back at this time in amazement of his progress.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

I'm Back::June 28

After reading a post that I wrote a few years ago and linking to it for my niece to read, I realize that I don't write on my blog like I used to. It made me think of why this might be.

One big reason is time. My life right now isn't condusive to sitting down and really thinking about something enough to be able to write about it well.

But the second reason, and one that *can* be changed is stage fright.

In the past year or so, I have invited real life friends and family to read my blog. Whereas before my audience was mainly faceless bloggy friends, now people that I knew were reading my blog. my ideas. my mind.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy having everyone look at my pics and read my ideas.... it just makes me more nervous to write what is on my mind and in my heart when people that I know read... I guess I just worry what they'll think.

Facebook is nice, but it just gives snippets of life, not, as Paul Harvey would say, "The rest of the story."

I'm going to try to conquer my fear. I'll put myself out there.. or here.. and hope that I am liked in spite of my quirks. That even though my likes my be different than someone else's likes, or my prejudices different than someone else's prejudices, that somehow we can come together and appreciate the differences.

So, with all that being said, I'm going to write a post right now. Not a picture post, but a wordy post....

My brother, Bill, had surgery. He had his kidney removed because it had cancer in it. The docs are pretty sure they got all of the cancer... but a few little cells were found in the renal vein, but not in the inferior renal cava.

He also has stage 4 liver disease. I always say "liver failure", but I have been informed by the liver docs that liver "failure" is what happens when the liver entirely shuts down, which is different than liver "disease", when the liver is just pretty much shot, but still functioning a little.

He was told that his surgery recovery time in the hospital would be 1-3 days... now, 10 days out from surgery, he still isn't home. They are now talking about placing a stint in the liver.... more info about *that* when it comes.

On a different note, I had really wanted to go camping this weekend, if Bill doesn't come home tomorrow, but everywhere is on fire! We have always been a camping family, but maybe we'll have to do something different this year. Maybe a hotel room is in our future...

Anyway, thanks for listening. It is good to be back and talking a bit. :)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Softening a pic::June 26

Today, I was thinking about roses. Specifically, spots of tiny wilt on the edges of petals or itty bitty brown spots on an otherwise perfect rose. Because (spoiler alert): Nothing *real* is perfect, whether it is a person or a flower.

So, I thought about making the pic just a bit softer, to hide the imperfections a bit, and also, well, just to soften the pic a bit. When I looked at filters that attach to the camera lens that do that sort of thing, I was aghast when I saw that they were over $200. Holy moly!! So I looked up how to do it in photoshop and I found this article:

Then I set about to try it out. (Why is it that everything is harder than it looks?? Oh well, after doing it a few times it will be easier.) My version of photoshop was different than her version, so it took me a while of poking around to find the same buttons she was telling me to click on, but it all worked out in the end. This was the result, with the before and after pics:

It will be helpful on portraits too. And it doesn't cost $200+ dollars. AND I can choose to blur one part of the pic and leave the other part unblurred, which will be helpful sometimes.

So tell me, which do you like best? Before.... or after?

Have a super terrific day!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Photoshoot with Rob and Carlie

Last Saturday, Rob, Carlie, & their cute kids met up with Steve and me for a photoshoot. The park they chose was cute and even had some historical buildings closeby to use in the shoot as well. Take a look at this cute family!
Steve helped out by providing comic relief for the kids. At one point, the kids were both laughing and I was excitedly taking pictures. After I was done, Steve told me to look at him. He had a fluffy pink tiara on his head and and some ribbon wrapped around his beard. He said that he had the pink ribbon tied onto the tiara earlier, and would whip it out of his face to play peek a boo with the boys. That's my husband! It is one of the qualities that I love about him: a willingness to be silly. Even in public :)

The boys did great! And Carlie and Rob were even able to get a few pics by themselves, while Steve played with the boys.
Steve and I had a great time, and I think Carlie, Rob, and the boys did too. Success! :)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Malware Worry::June 15

I typed my blog addy onto my computer and was warned that " contains content from, a site known to distribute malware. Your computer might catch a virus if you visit this site." "The Inadvertent Farmer" at sweetgracedottypepaddotcom has some kind of malware affecting it, so I have taken Kim's blog off of my favorite blogs list for now. I wish her blog a speedy recovery and hope that she posts soon. I ♥ her blog!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

From the Garden::June 13

(from top to bottom: sage, lavender, rose, rose in black and white - which do you prefer? I love how the black and white shows so much texture and shape of the leaf, a ladybug - one that I purchased to gobble away the bad bugs on the roses.)

It's finally summer, I think! Things are blooming in the garden, the bees are buzzing, and the sweet smells of blossoms are swelling. It is a great time to be a gardener and a photographer :)

Have a wonderful day!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

New Pics of my Grandbaby Aiden::June 9

All of this pics were taken with my new-to-me Tamron 90 mm 2.8 lens. It is one kick-butt lens and I am one happy lady!

I missed a lot of posting this week. I was only home for one full day this week. Suffice it to say that it was a crazy week! Next week doesn't look much better either, but I'll try to at least put up a pic or two every day.

I hope that you have a wonderful rest of your weekend!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Life on the macro level with MY new-to-me macro lens::June 6

After seeing how difficult macro extension tubes are (think hand saw as compared to the electric saw of a dedicated macro lens) I looked for a used lens in the classifieds. I found a beautiful Tamron lens that I got for half the price of the Canon lens, and I am LOVING it!
And for you gardeners, yes, that *is* morning glory climbing the sage plant..... I will be weeding today! Sometimes what makes a beautiful picture is not the same thing as what makes a healthy garden. ;)

And two from last night:
.... which brings me to the conclusion that the only problem with a macro lens... is seeing that the beautiful rose has aphids!
I hope that you have a happy day full of surprises that are not choking vines or bugs :)

Monday, June 4, 2012

I received my macro extension tubes in the mail today, so of course, I had to play!!

Here are a few of the pics I took of my sage plant that is in bloom:
I am looking forward to playing with macros more and getting used to all of the capabilities. I ♥ new toys! :)

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Railroad Track pics::Sunday, June 3

Last night, Matt & I went for a long ride in the country. We came across working railroad tracks at sunset and I decided that I really wanted to get a pic. We could see for miles in both directions, so I had Matt watch one way while I shot in the other direction. Here is the view I was seeing:
Then, as we were driving away, I saw a different view that I liked too:
We also went down to visit our old swimming holes. "Our" spots were unused; we'll have to go back next week and hope for the same luck! After looking around a bit, we went home. I loved hanging out with Matt and visiting with him on the drive! I'm a lucky mom to have such great kids that like to hang out with me too. :)

Have a wonderful day!

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Another Iris pic::Saturday, June 2

I tried to photograph an iris again last evening, and I think I'm getting closer to what I want to capture:
That's better :) Now, I'll keep practicing. Practice makes perfect, right?
Have a wonderful Saturday!

Friday, June 1, 2012

Flowers, swinging, and stuff::June 1

My sage is in bloom! I don't think there is a more beautiful sight than sage in bloom. The bees agree with me and are constantly feeding. How I wish that I still had Steve's friend, Russ's, macro lens! I was thinking about purchasing a used one... but even used were $450. :( I settled for buying extension tubes & I hope that they work. I also hope they get here soon!

For now, I took my 50 mm lens out to play, and this is the picture we got:
Not too bad, but I plan on visiting more and taking more pictures in the upcoming days.

My irises are nearly finished blooming for the season. I went out a couple nights ago and took a few pictures. If ever I capture the true essence of an iris, I will be ecstatic! They are allusive! They are tall and regal, yet when I photograph them they look short and dumpy. This was the best I could come up with, this time around:
I plan on trying again and again until I can get it right! Better luck next year, huh?

A few days ago, we met Amber and Tino in the park and ate a snack and visited. After they left, Michael decided that he wanted to swing for a minute.
I haven't cemented our plans for today. It has already been a busy week full of doctor's visits and occupational therapy for Michael, so I am going to love a day at home! Maybe I'll mow the lawn, or clean the house, or weed the garden. The sky is the limit! ;) I love that Emily and Matt are home, so whatever I choose to do, they can help me with the neglected stuff.

So what are your plans for the day?