Stu and Lin: Another surgery finished

Friday, February 29, 2008

Another surgery finished
Feb 29, 2008

Lin has just come out of a 2 hour procedure to place a ventriculoperitoneal shunt to control the fluid in and around her brain. This replaces the temporary drain that was placed shortly after the first surgery. She came through this procedure without incident and was just starting to wake up when I saw her. She will most likely return to her previous state of continued improvement in about a day. Just prior to the procedure, Dr. Pribil had Lin moving both lower extremities. I got her to open both eyes just after: she continues to improve even with this latest procedure. Dr. Pribil has reduced some of her meds as the swelling of her brain continues to go down.

We still have a very long road to recovery. Each day brings improvement. When, where and how much is left up someone way above my rank. The Dr. strongly believe Lin will have a good outcome, it's just going to take time.

Stu

I survived my first trip into Mexico!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Los Algodones, Mexico was the destination and new prescription glasses were the game. (Gee, that sounds SO much more dramatic that it actually was....LOL!) Of course the first stop was the Post Office to see if my mail had arrived and if my birth certificate was in it. It had and it was....we were Mexico bound.

It was a true hop, skip and a jump...in fact the entire trip from our boondocking site to Algodones via the Post Office was under 30 miles. We parked the car, $5/day, and headed into town.



Once we crossed we could already see a LOOOOOOONG line of folks waiting to cross back to the U.S. even though it was only 3 pm.



We headed pretty straightaway to the optical shop that Doug had used before, Algodones Optical, since we weren't sure how late they stayed open. After trying on several frames from a wide selection and price range, I settled on two I liked. One for regular glasses and one for sunglasses....IF the price was right. I wear progressive lenses so in the US it's not uncommon for them to run me over $400, even with cheaper frames. Well, the price was right...I walked out with my eye exam and two pairs of glasses (on order, will get them Friday when we return for dinner with a group of RVers) for.....$155!

Doug wanted to get his shoes shined so once we found someone to do that, I wandered a bit just taking it all in. Much of the stuff being sold was either not to my taste (already have enough leather everything) or too big/bulky for my little RV. I did find what looked to be one interesting vendor who was engraving stuff on small leather pieces (like key fobs, etc) but since he was already packing up for the night, I didn't bother him. I hope he'll be there on Friday.

There is a ton of inexpensive jewelry, some handmade, some from China I suspect (as I suspect for many items being sold). Lots of t-shirts, clothes for youngsters, knick-knacks, hats (may have to try some of those out ), pottery (although much of it is probably the cheaper resin), rugs, and more. As I wandered in & out around the shops I found a nice central eating spot with music.



Once Doug was done we continued perusing things, checking out the prices in the liquor stores (some great buys there but each person can only bring back one bottle) as well as the pharmacy prices. I may get some of my meds refilled on Friday...one I can get cheaper at the Wal-Mart $4 price but another is much cheaper there.

Since it was now getting close to 5 pm, we noticed most shop owners were closing up. Most of them pack everything into totes, only to have to take it all out the next day. It was an exhausting procedure to watch. What didn't get packed away was carefully covered and tied down. While wandering the deliveries were starting...time to restock the liquor stores and pharmacies. Talk about tight parking! Check this out....and there were vehicles on both sides of them parked just as close! Eeeek!



We stopped for dinner at El Rancherito, checked out the line (still long) and then headed to another restaurant where we could sit, listen to music and watch the antics of the non-locals, who were obviously having fun. The live music was geared to Baby Boomers and several were dancing and singing along. Vendors strolled amongst the tables, hawking their wares - the best selling item seemed to be the "hair hats" that I first saw in Quartzsite. I did notice that the best sales were being had at tables where the liquor seemed to be flowing pretty freely.





I had ordered a Diet Coke and Doug got a Martguerita which came in a rather large glass. I got a kick out of my Coke being "Coke light" and all the writing in Spanish.



Eventually some of the vendors' children came out...some of the older ones were selling wallets & other small items but my favorite was this little boy who came out with his pet snake and startled several folks...until they realized it was a puppet!



Around 7 pm we headed back out, the line was empty except for some of the folks from the same restaurant...although they had obviously been there MUCH longer than us. My birth certificate was barely glanced at and my purchases smiled at. All in all, a nice day. I'll report this weekend on how well my new glasses work out!

Till next time - keep on rollin',
Froggi/Donna

Stu and Lin: A good day and some more procedures

A good day and some more procedures
Feb 27, 2008

Today was very good and somewhat humbling. I got 3 kisses and plenty of looks, squeezes and head turns. She remains very "sleepy", awake for maybe 10-15 minutes out of an hour. As I said before, today was better then yesterday; tomorrow will be better still. Now for the humbling part; Lin will have another surgical procedure. Lin currently has a tube into the ventricles of the upper part of the brain (it's only good for about 10 - 14 days). The body produces about 1 qt of cerebrospinal fluid each day and absorbs/drains the same amount through various pores and drains. When the brain is injured or surgically "messed with" the natural drainage can be interrupted. Sometimes it never returns to it pre surgical state. In order to deal with that, a shunt can be placed from the ventricles to the abdominal compartment. People live with these shunts for 10-15 years or more without complications. It's one of those things that come with the territory. This will probably happen on Friday.

Lin's slow recovery stems from the insult on her cerebellum, particularly on the left side. As stated in previous postings her left has been slower to respond then the right. As the swelling continues to decrease, function of the cerebellum will increase. During surgery, a blood vessel in that area had do be clamped. The tumor was attached to it and clamping was unavoidable. This has led to some damage to the cerebellum and slowed Lin's recovery. Dr Pribil is sure that the function of her left side will improve dramatically over time and as the swelling continues to go down. Couple that with continued treatment and therapy, Lin will be walking, talking and know what shut-up means (not that she'll listen to me). All that will take time.

Stu

Reporting in from California!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Been a while....

Someone sent me an email telling me that they always knew when I was having fun because I wasn't blogging. Well in this case it's only somewhat true. We left Tucson around 9:30 on Saturday the 23rd. Had a breathtaking sunset to appreciate on my last night there and nice driving weather for the trip to Yuma area.




The trip was fairly eventful until 5 miles out from a planned stop at Dateland, AZ for a "Date Shake" (I opted for hot apple pie ala mode). My new Pressure Pro system started to alert me to high pressure on my inside right dual. It was running at 93, all the other tires were 83-87. After a 30 minute stop it was still over 90 so we let a little air out and it closely matched the other tires. I don't know what could have happened and think I would like to keep it that way. Thank you Pressure Pro!

Here are a few photos as we approached the east side of Yuma. You'll notice a few wild flowers on the sides of the road from time to time.



We arrived at Ogilby Rd, BLM area just west of Winterhaven, CA and in the Algodones Imperial Sand Dunes area, and got set up. I arrived with a sinus headache and took it pretty easy the rest of the day. I went to bed early and was up in time to snap a couple of sunrise photos (you KNOW how rare that is....LOL!)



The headache was a bit better...until the afternoon when I started losing my voice as I do when exposed to smoke and certain fragrances. At the social hour I got a bit lightheaded and went back to rest...before I knew it, it was Monday morning.

The plans for Monday were to head to the Winterhaven Post Office and pickup my mail, if it had arrived. Then we could use my certified birth certificate and cross the border for my first trip into Mexico, visiting the border town of Los Algondones.

We found the Post Office but unfortunately my mail wasn't in yet. It might arrive that afternoon but we decided to just come back Tuesday afternoon and then head into Mexico for a few hours. On the way out of town we saw some migrant workers picking, cleaning & packing up some lettuce. Quite an interesting and well organized operation.



Last night's sunset was beautiful and I didn't even realize how well the flag stood out until I took a look at them today. Enjoy!




Till next time - keep on rollin',
Froggi/Donna

Stu and Lin: More small steps

Monday, February 25, 2008

More small steps
Feb 25, 2008

Today we made some progress. Lin continues to stabilize, in that all the numbers are within the appropriate limits. Her blood sugar remains a little erratic and the staff is adjusting the meds. It seems the Decadron (reduces swelling in the brain) plays havoc with blood sugar. It's a matter of coming up with the correct dose and timing.

Lin opens her right eye on her own and is starting to respond to my voice. I got a hand squeeze which really made my day (can we say tears, little ones). As I talked she would focus on my voice, I could almost see a smile in her eye. She is moving around a lot on her own which is an improvement from before. I anticipate even more tomorrow. We shall see. Each day is better then the last and tomorrow will better then today.

The trach is functioning very well and the feeding tube was placed today. All of this is temporary. As Lin continues to wake up she ca be weaned off of them. She looks 100% better without all the tubes around her face. Dr. Pribil is pleased with her progress and has ordered some PT to help maintain muscle tone. I would expect to be discussing Lin's rehab sometime this week.

Thanks for your emails, phone calls, thoughts and prayers. I appreciate the multiple offers to come down and be with me and Lin. I am doing well and keeping up with a good diet, exercise and rest cycle. Long motorcycle rides are my meditation (weather here has been great - 80 today .. Duane hates me tee hee!)

Stu

Stu and Lin: A few short steps on a long journey

Saturday, February 23, 2008

A few short steps on a long journey
Feb 23, 2008

Lin is not yet awake. She is making a little progress. Lin moves her arms and legs spontaneously and will purposely react to painful stimuli. This is an improvement from previous days. The doctors have replaced the ET tube (in the mouth) with a tracheostomy (yes, she has a hole in her throat). This will allow better control of breathing and will greatly increase comfort while reducing the risk of infection. Her feeding tube will be taken care of on Monday. According to the staff she is stabilizing. Each day the various teams come in and make adjustment to her care. Her “numbers” continue to improve and the wild swings are now minor little blips. All of this is good and a step in the right direction. How far Lin will come back and when is unknown. While science can accomplish many things, the knowledge of the brain is still somewhat mysterious. I can only hope that with these improvements, healing will accelerate and recovery will start in earnest. I have started conversations with the Hospital about the next step. I am not sure what, where etc. that will be. I will be discussing that with her neurosurgeon. Until then Lin and I are blessed with good family, friends, weather and a terrific medical center.

Thanks for everyone’s emails, phone calls, thoughts and prayers, they have been very helpful for me and Lin. I wish I could give each of you a big hug and say thank you in person. Soon!!

Stu

Where did the week go?

Friday, February 22, 2008

Once again, time flies...whether you're having fun or not. I have accomplished several things this week...besides running around with Doug on his errands. I did get my passport application finally submitted. Phew....what a hassle but a requirement for the future. I also emailed and got a couple more certified birth certificates. Since the passport will take 4-6 weeks AND will have to be sent to me by my mail forwarding service, this will allow me to still visit Mexico when the chance arises (hoping to get some discount eyeglasses).

The weather has been pretty nice for the most part, one night of rain and maybe 2 cloudy days...not including today when it's been a little cooler and spitting rain off & on. I managed to get everything done to the rig in preparation for moving, getting fresh water & dumping is all that's left to do.

Some may remember that my bike wouldn't start while in Casa Grande at the Gypsy Journal Rally. I had tried charging the battery but nothing changed and I had planned on getting one while here. Well we unloaded the bike and after a short false start...it started. Hmmmmmm...... Now wondering if maybe I might have some bad gas? It seems to not be running at 100% and is harder to start, but start it does.

The other thing is maybe some transmission issues. The guys couldn't get it into gear when they loaded it in Casa Grande. Today Doug took it around the block and it clunked majorly when he put it into gear, then he had a very hard time getting it into neutral. I called the Parker BMW dealer and my warranty is good until April 2009 so that may be my next stop. Always something....

Anyway, we're headed to Winterhaven, CA to meet up with the Boondockers BOF again. That's just outside Yuma and when my birth certificate arrives, we'll be taking a trip to Algodones.

Not many photos taken but here are a couple of the ground squirrels and some bird who liked to sit on top of my satellite dome and chirp.




And here are some nice sunset photos taken a few nights ago...before the full moon and eclipse that I MISSED! Grrrrr.....LOL!




Till next time - keep on rollin',
Froggi/Donna

Stu and Lin: And continues

Thursday, February 21, 2008

And continues
Feb 21, 2008

The news today is met with some trepidation. The doctor called this morning, he said it is time to remove the Endotracheal (ET) tube and replace with a tracheotomy. ET tubes are not intended to be in for much more then a week. The risk of infection and permanent scarring increases after that time. The same goes for her feeding tube, that will also be removed and place directly in her stomach. All of these procedures are intended to reduce potential risks and increase oxygenation and nutrition.

One of the drains from the tumor site was removed yesterday. This drain was no longer needed as the most recent CAT scan indicated the area was healing as expected. We saw this has a good sign. Hopefully today’s procedures will continue the improvements, albeit small ones. We’ll take what we can. I was reminded by a dear friend that this is not a sprint but a marathon.

Thanks to all of you that have written emails and sent good wishes. I take each day’s correspondence to the hospital and read them to Lin. I really appreciate them; some have made me laugh and others tear up. Thank you!!!!

My dear step-daughter must return home today. I will miss her company. She has been a great help text-messaging and making phone calls to family etc. She will continue to help in that way from MD. Thanks Bev, you’re the best.

Stu

Flash - Crass - Brash - Class

Monday, February 18, 2008

Huh? What the heck is she talking about? Motorcycles... sometimes they reflect our egos, sometimes our alter-egos. Some are flashy, some are brash while other border on the truly crass. Classic lines, new and naked, some chrome bling here, a technical or performance farkle there. Even if we leave them stock, that in itself reflects on how we feel about riding and our bikes.

I mentioned that I had gotten some pinstriping added to my BMW. As you may, or may not know, adding custom paint to a BMW is considered akin to putting plastic rhinestones on a classic blazer (okay, bad analogy but it's all that came to mind...LOL!). BMW riders are into farkles that improve performance or otherwise enhance the riding experience. It's not done to add "dash" or a personal look to the bike.

If you're not into motorcycles and haven't attended any shows, rallies or other events in recent years, here are some photos I have taken over the last six years. I think you can easily see the ones that evoke the image of class, brash, crass and flash.




So when I decided I wanted something custom on my new BMW, Squirt, I knew that it would have to be done with a light hand. No funny frogs, no flames, something understated. I had pre-arranged with an artist friend that we would barter some custom work in exchange for my putting up a website for him. We discussed the color, settling on a slightly darker blue-grey than the stock paint on the bike. He spent some time looking over the lines of the bike and trying to decide how to make it all flow.

When the day arrived, we pulled the saddlebags off since he wanted the pinstriping to flow down the side of the bike. I left the artistic side to him, knowing he understood my desire to keep things on the simple side.



The end result was PERFECT! The color changes with the light and it flows with the lines of the bike.



I will eventually get "The Lily Pad" pinstriped on the doors of the motorhome and possible some light matching pinstriping along the front edge of the hood. Michael, aka Wolf, also is starting to do small, custom-sized acrylic paintings on canvas to fit in those little spots between the overhead cabinet doors. Not sure what I will get as yet but I know it will be amazing. Just check out some of his work on his website, daWolfdidit.

On another note, I managed to snag a few sunrise photos, not overly spectacular - even the birds were sill napping. Shortly after sunrise I got to hear "Reveille" played over the base loudspeakers. Not having been in the military, for me it evoked images from Girl Scout Camp (as does "Taps").



I hope to get some photos of the ever present round-tailed ground squirrels around the campsite as well as the almost daily visiting Gila Woodpecker. Today he thought my awning arm needed to be de-bugged. LOL! Couldn't grab my camera quick enough to get a shot. Earlier in the day there was a beautiful hawk sitting on the trailer beside the RV across the field from me...too far for a good shot though.

Till next time - keep on rollin',
Froggi/Donna