Friday, March 16, 2018

Dinner with Old Friends

Friday night dinner with salmon in the menu and a semi Lenten feast with Western Rite Orthodox friends.  I have known Tari and Mike Choiniere since the early eighties as Tari and I worked the Cath Lab together for a few years till we moved to Cedar Rapids in '87. While we don't see each other often we decided recently to reconnect and meet every month or so.

 I wanted to make some nice Mediterranean style appetizers with some large shrimps. I started with 2 pounds of 16-20 size shrimps cooked and peeled. To this I added 1 tin of calamari with about half the sauce.

I love this calamari for its texture and smokey taste. Its cheap and delicious too.
To the seafood I mixed in some olive oil and the juice of half a lemon. A bit of parsley, some sliced pickled garlic and ground pepper rounded out the main ingredients. So light and tasty.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Eating Omaha...Via Farina

Yesterday was a busy day. The weather was amazing and we set out for an adventure which turned out to be an all day affair.
Firstly, we went shopping, of course. Hit all our major spots and I found another pair of smaller slacks for work. A few hours of that was about all I could do so we went home to rest up as we had plans to hit Lauritsen Gardens about 230. Stopped by Mackenzie's house to deliver a ottoman we picked up for her at Homegoods on the way down.

We walked through Lauritsen for a few hours and enjoyed the gardens in the green house then on to the Old Market for quick refreshments at M's Pub. While there, since no tables were available and bar seating was uncomfortable, we decided to dine at Via Farina on 10th street.

We started with a few appetizers including toasts with burratta and prosciutto, a crowd favorite. Then some fried cauliflower and a shaved Brussels sprouts salad.

All of this was followed by a delicious pepperoni pizza, thin, chewy crust with charred spots and dotted with fresh mozzarella. So tasty, definitely a spot worth visiting again and again.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

My ‘Alive’ Day...February 22

Today marks the 20th anniversary of my heart attack. A strange thing to celebrate perhaps but the event had a significant impact on my family, especially the kids.

My folks attended the Scout ceremony since I was laid up in the hospital.

That Saturday night, we had been in the hot tub before going to bed. I was restless and went downstairs to experience classic symptoms of wrist, left arm, shoulder and then jaw pain. I had been working in the Cath Lab for 20 years by then and my current position at Immanuel was particularly stressful and I managed a very difficult staff. Being on call was taking its toll on me as well as the late hours and everyday struggles. 

I went upstairs to awaken Brenda and ask her to take me to the ER. She smartly refused and called the squad instead who showed up to find me writhing on the floor in the family room. Brenda was making arrangements for the kids and the neighbors were awoken to the squad parked in the circle where we lived. One of our neighbors was the EMT on duty that night. The started an IV and applied patches and a BP cuff. I have been in enough of these situation to realize the ECG was not good and my pressure was through the roof.  Everyone was trying to calm me down but I knew this wasn’t good. I just wanted to get moving.

When the squad asked where we wanted to go, Brenda said Immanuel though Methodist was much closer. So we went to Immanuel which later proved to be somewhat of a mistake to have my own staff work on me. As it was the moment we arrived, I coded and required resuscitation, being shocked several times back into rhythm. Procedures these days are much different as squads are trained now to respond in more expeditious ways to these emergencies. 

I was cathed that night after being administered tPa and being intubated to find the clot in my left anterior descending was resolving but a blockage persisted. I was brought back on Sunday to place a stent. Today, tPa is rarely used and most stents are deployed during the initial Cath. In the world of cardiology, the last 40 years have been very fluid in terms of treatments and studies for what preserves the most heart muscle. I was dismissed from the ICU to home  on Monday. 

On the following Friday, I suffered a second heart attack and was recathed and stented yet again due to acute closure of the original vessel. I did not code this time but extended the damage to my injured heart. I attended rehab faithfully, quit smoking and joined the YMCA. I went 5 days a week for years. I felt reborn somewhat, alive again. 

Monday, February 19, 2018

Valentine's Dinner

This year, as in years past, Mackenzie came over for our traditional Valentine's Day feast. We had our usual dinner of filet, lobster tail and asparagus with bearnaise sauce for the steak. I ate very little because I over estimated my stamina and wore myself out. I really ate only bites but the dinner was delicious and the leftovers made a delicious pasta with Alfredo on Saturday night.  The rest of the week has been better and my appetite has been much better since. We have made frequent short trips out to shop for groceries and smaller clothes. Each outing gets a nap afterwards but I'm really doing better everyday.

Milk Bread Rolls

Rather write out the recipe for these amazing rolls I made I thought I would simply give you the link. Not sure why but this worked like charm. Tender, perfect texture and flavor.

Fresh out if the oven...they look commercial.

After the last rise and brushed with egg wash.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Special Requests

Meatloaf. Who knew? I have had several requests for the recipe of this meatloaf I made.

So, normally I don’t make meatloaf except on Brenda’s birthday but I wanted an easy, high protein snack for my recovery and my tastes since surgery have been rather unusual to say the least.

I generally make meatloaf stuffed with something and free form so the grease drains away.  This time I had leftover ricotta, provolone and an open jar of Rao’s pasta sauce.

3 pounds ground beef at least 80/20.
1 pound ground pork
5 slices white bread soaked in milk
2 eggs
1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
Medium onion finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic minced
1-2 tbls Italian seasonings
1 teaspoon ground fennel seeds
Salt and pepper
I used the Kitchen Aid paddle attachment to mix this into a cohesive mass.
I lined a rimmed baking sheet with plastic wrap and spread the meat in an even layer.
Apply the toppings which  could have included a bit of leftover charcuterie I had on hand but forgot about it.
Use the wrap to tightly roll the whole thing into a tight spiral. Line the pan now with parchment and position the meat in the center. Shape and compact. Remove all the plastic wrap.
Bake at 350 to an internal temp of 165 degrees. Towards the end I like to glaze the loaf with a 3 T ketchup, 2t Dijon, 2 T brown sugar mixture and bake it on till shiny. Enjoy.

Monday, February 5, 2018

Two Steps Foward, One Step Back

We gave it our best shot and tried to remain home but the nausea got the best of me despite doses of Zofran. I pretty much brought forth three days of home living and attempts to eat. So muchso that Brenda became alarmed and called the surgery team on call and was instructed to come directly to the ER. Ben was awoken and headed over to package me up and take us to the ER.

Once there, a quick NG was inserted followed by more vomiting, a cold tip to the CT scanner and the admitted back to Werner for therapy, more contrast studies and IV nutrition. No food, no water and a great hunger. i am now empty, really empty.  
I am not sure I have ever desired food or drink more in my life but fear the result if I take it in.
Meanwhile everyone has been kind, coming to visit or texting me. I have been able to get some rest, pray privately for relief and be bored to tears. I hope the worst is over. I feel everyone pulling for me. Nothing left to do but get better.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

There’s No Place Like Home

I came home today without fanfare but grateful to be on my way to recovery untethered by the hospital. I can get up at will, won’t have my sleep disturbed and forgo the constant blood sugar monitoring. I can sleep in my own bed, lay about on my own sofa but I am on my own to manage my pain which can be intense.
I, of course, still have the worlds best nurse at my side and can enjoy all the comforts of home.

Day 2 at home

With all that said, pain control eludes me and removes my appetite. The pills help but make me sleepy and I only need them every 6-8 hours. Eating is a challenge. A bowl of cereal sends my gut into rebellion, bloating and discomfort.  Nothing  sounds good to eat while just a few days ago I downed an Arby’s roast beef.
Nights are fine and I have deep restful sleep but mostly on my back and cannot sleep much past 4. Brenda and I are learning the fine art of appliance placement as waking up dry is always the goal. So far just one mishap after a long nap.  Just takes time. Trying not to get too debilitated to get up and move but it’s easy to do for sure.
As soon as my gut realigns itself I will be fine. Looking for mostly bland, non interactive food but protein intake has to remain a priority to heal all these wounds.  Tried the shakes and even Ensure and Boost. Not appealing even if it’s made blended with ice cream. Right now, I am the incredible shrinking man. 

Sunday, January 21, 2018

A Weekend of Family and Friends

On Friday there was a cancellation that allowed me to move my surgery up to Monday, the 22nd. I scrambled to get all my ducks in a row as we planned to entertain friends for the weekend.

Matt and Lori arrived Saturday about noon bearing gifts and well wishes. Nick stopped by to say hello before we ventured out to lunch at Local Kitchen then on to an art opening downtown. All designed to keep me occupied and distracted from what lies ahead.

That night, Ben, Hannah and Mackenzie stopped by for dinner and dessert with the Fangman’s. We had a nice late evening filled with laughter and solving the worlds problems before settling in for the night. I got up early this morning to make a breakfast casserole, although I was on clear liquids all day. We lingered over cups of coffee before finally sending them on their way back to DesMoines.

Later tonight, after I began the process of deep cleaning my insides in preparation for tomorrow’s events, Ellen and Mark stopped by as well as Nat from Brenda’s work. More laughs and distraction for me  as the evening winds down and I hope to sleep tonight. Lots of texts and emails from well wishers. Going to be a tough week but looking forward to getting back home and recovering. Kind of dreaming of cheese burgers but hardly ate much all weekend. Maybe I will be hungry by Wednesday or Thursday. we go.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Bladder Cancer Facts and Realities

Just because I was interested in this type of thing, I found the American Cancer Society has some facts and figures regarding these types of cancer.

About 62,000 men are affected each year, 18,000 women.
About 12,520 deaths in men. Three times that of women, 4720.
More likely a white man's aliment, over 55 average diagnosis is 73.
Men have a 1 in 27 chance of developing this type of cancer.  Women have a 1 in 89 chance.
50% are confined to the bladder, inner layer. 1 in 3 will have invaded further but still in the bladder, most of the remaining cases have spread outside the bladder and 4% of the cases are spread to distant sites in the body.

General survival rates run about 77% at 5 years for all stages. 70% at 10 years and 65% at 15 years.

Stage 0 is 98% survival
Stage 1 is 88%
Stage 2 is 63%
Stage 3 is 46%
Stage 5 which has spread throughout the body is only 15%.

I am currently diagnosed at T1 without looking at my lymph nodes which will be taken during the surgery, biopsied after the surgery.

So according to Tim McGraw, what happens when you get that kind of news? Well, I really have no interest in going sky diving or riding a bull named Fu Manchu. I think we tend to think romantically about what we could do or spend to see specialists. In reality, I appreciate everyone's concern but I have no interest in going to Mayo (nor could I afford it) or Rochester, NY.  I am going to trust what God has in store for me here in Omaha.

I am not about to take about to take a trip around the world but am interested in having the most minimal impact of my life and my family's. I don't like a lot of fuss or bother and chose my diversion accordingly. I tend to look for low maintenance, easy care solutions with lower overall risks.

I do intend however, to take the time off allotted to me and not rush back to work or even think about work. We have had plenty of time over the years to investigate the "What if Tom gets hit by a bus" scenario and nothing came of it so people will have to learn to survive without me for a bit. It will be a little rough because folks have no idea how far my reach goes in getting the daily machine to operate.


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