Monday, July 28, 2008

Weekend riding

This weekend I did a lot of riding in preparation for Bike MS in September and the Tarwheels Bikefest in just two weeks. I'm doing the 100 mile route at in the Bikefest so some additional training was in order.

On Saturday I rode in the Cup N Cone, a Bike MS training ride. This was the fourth edition of the ride and I think the third route. The route goes from Goodberry's on Davis Drive in Cary to the Maple View Farm Country Store where riders stop for a cup of ice cream (banana ice cream and raspberry sorbet were both being scooped). The riders then return to Goodberry's for a cone (or cup) of frozen custard. With that kind of motivation on each end of the route, the ride has become very popular! Several of my cycling friends have said that this is their favorite ride of the summer. I know that the Cup N Cone and the NCBC Summer Rally are probably my two summer favorites.

The organizers reported that 514 cyclists registered this year (up from 370 last year) and more than $10,000 was raised for the National MS Society.

During various parts of the route, I rode with Gay, the Toms, Chris, Cindy, Sandra, Doug, one of the Freds, CBC Bob, Suzanne, and Larry. Tom W. and Chris and I rode the entire route together. Despite the hills on Lystra and Damascus Church, the speed was pretty high.

All and all, the Cup N Cone was as enjoyable a ride as ever!

Yesterday, I had a 3.5-4 hour ride on my training plan. I decided to ride for an hour or so and then meet up with the Team CBC group to ride for two hours and then bike home. Of course CBC Bob was there since he is the one of the main organizers. Last week we did the same 38-mile route and it is very pleasant. The downside to this plan was that I had to get up early so that I could leave the house in plenty of time to complete my 20+ miles before meeting up with the CBC group. Overall, the day's riding went well for another 70 miles in the books and over 4000 miles ridden this year.

Over the weekend I asked several riders about Cycle North Carolina. I have been thinking about doing that this year. DH actually suggested it about two weeks ago and it's been on my radar before but I've never had the vacation time to do it. If you have ridden CNC and have any thoughts on it, please let me know.

Organizing medications

Hannah is doing very well. We were very worried earlier this summer about her because she seemed to have started down that slippery slope. I had very real worries about whether or not she would make it to her 14th birthday (next Monday). Now I'm pretty confident that she'll make it ;-)

Hannah is on a lot of medications right now. Pretty quickly I realized that it would be quite a task to keep up with them all -- not so much of what to give when (we have a list on the fridge for that) -- but with when to reorder what.

That is where Remember the Milk comes in. Hannah gets seven Tramadol a day. Her refill is for 100 pills so she gets that refilled every 14.2something days from the pharmacy. The FortiFlora and Denamarin come from the vet. The melatonin comes from Whole Foods. You get the idea. I have all of these set up as reminders in Remember the Milk (RTM). When to call it in, what the prescription number is and the phone number to the pharmacy (or the vet, etc.) and then I allow time for them to order the Denamarin or count out the Tramadol before going to pick up the medications and supplements. Once I get the reminders in, RTM will e-mail me reminders each morning that I have something due. Remember the Milk has been a fantastic tool for organizing this.

Hannah's refrigerator list:

1 hour before breakfast

30 minutes before breakfast
Famotidine (generic Pepcid) (10 mg)
melatonin (3mg)
Tramadol - 2.5 pills

At breakfast time
flax oil

After work / Late afternoon
Tramadol - 2.5 pills
Famotidine (generic Pepcid) (10 mg)

At Dinner
flax oil

At bedtime
Tramadol - 2 pills
Famotidine (generic Pepcid) (10 mg)
melatonin (3mg)

Happy birthday!

Today is DH's birthday!

He started to celebrate early by taking Friday off to got to Projekt Revolution. This is the second year that he attended. DH went with the same group of guys as last year. I heard especially good reviews of Chris Cornell, The Bravery, 10 years and the Street Drum Corps.

The celebration continued on Saturday with a fancy dinner at the Angus Barn. I went ahead and gave DH his gifts then too. I think that his favorite was his new wallet. He asked for a wallet and I got him one made from duct tape. We ended up bringing a birthday pound cake home from the dinner and called my parents for a cake emergency. They came over yesterday to help us out with that.

Last night I made chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting for him to bring into work.

Tonight, the celebration will continue with our fancy dinner at home. DH's selected crab cakes. Of course more cake may be in order as well...

Friday, July 25, 2008

Visiting Symphony Lake

Last weekend we decided to take Hannah and Emma to Symphony Lake for some playtime near the water. Symphony Lake is actually more pond like than lake like but who am I to judge? It is called Symphony Lake because it's the N.C. Symphony's outdoor venue.

Both Hannah and Emma did really well. Emma was the one that wanted to get into the water which is surprising for her. She must have been really hot! Despite being a golden retriever, she is not a big fan of water. Hannah did seemed to enjoy herself as well.

As you can see from the photos, both girls got wet!

Above, Emma and Hannah lead the way across the bridge.

DH and I are both so pleased that Hannah is doing well.  She is still taking a lot of medications and supplements but as you can see, she is active and happy.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Bike MS 2008: New Bern

In just under two months -- on September 13-14th, I will be riding 175 miles in the Bike MS: New Bern where I will be joining over 2,000 other cyclists in an event benefiting the Eastern North Carolina Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. This 2-day cycling event is a fund-raising effort supporting the the MS Society's mission to end the devastating effects of this chronic, often disabling, disease of the central nervous system.

I participate in the Bike MS because it is fun, that's true, but I truly was inspired by a friend of mine who was diagnosed with MS in about 2003. Cathy is very active and athletic and it really affected me when she started to have health issues. I was shocked when the diagnosis finally turned out to be MS. I've known other people with the disease but they were more Internet buddies or people that I knew in passing. Cathy is an agility friend who loves hiking with her dogs. She canoes with them and really would rather by hanging out in the woods with her canine crew than doing about anything else. I worry for her and with her and really do want to help support people with MS.

You can help by sponsoring my efforts. Each cyclist participating in Bike MS must raise a minimum of $200 to ride. My personal goal is to raise $1500. I want to make a difference in the fight against MS!

Sponsor me by going to

Donations of every size are extremely helpful and greatly appreciated.

I hope I can count on you to help me reach my goal. I'll keep you updated on my training and let you know how my adventure turns out.

Grandma is gone

My grandmother passed away early on Wednesday morning.

She was born in Italy, raised in Wisconsin and moved to Raleigh to be near my mother when my grandfather was ill. After 16 years in Raleigh, she moved to Atlanta this year. I am so sorry that she suffered at all. I am glad that she was not in the hospital for months and months. Even ten days was too long.

A memorial service is being held for her in Milwaukee on Monday. My grandfather held a position at St. Therese where the service will be held and both of my uncles were alter boys at that church.

I'm at a loss for words. I don't know what else to say.

The photo here was take in 2003. It's one of my favorite pictures of her.

Her obituary from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Monday, July 14, 2008


DH and I went to see BeauSoleil on Saturday night at the NC Art Museum. The concert was part of the Arts in the Park series and it was the first time we've seen a show at the venue. This was a great place to see a concert.  We were pleased that picnics are welcome.  We'll be back.

The music was great -- fun music. If you are not familiar with BeauSoleil, they are a Cajun band from Lafayette, Louisana. They sing mostly in Cajun French but performed a few songs in English. Michael Doucet, the lead singer, introduced each song and explained the story of the song for the non-French speakers in the crowd.

I was surprised that with the exception of Michael Doucet, the group did not have a lot of stage presence. That really didn't matter though because there was a lot of dancing going on.  In other words, there was plenty to watch!  (DH does not dance and I was too chicken to go out by myself.)  The two dance floors near the stage were completely filled as was all of the other available floor space. I was surprised that a lot of people literally came in their dancing shoes -- tango shoes mostly but some in cowboy boots as well.

All in all it was a great concert and I would see BeauSoleil again.

Below is part of a song that BeauSoleil played during the second set:

Thursday, July 10, 2008

The OMV thunder ride

Every Wednesday, a group meets up for a bicycle ride called Oh Melo Velo. I've mentioned this ride before. It's a neat concept -- leave at 6 pm, ride until halfway between 6 o'clock and sunset, turn around and ride back the same way. Last night's turnaround time was scheduled for 7:14.

Before heading to the ride last night, I checked the local weather radar. I could not really tell if storms west of here were going to go north of us or not and I decided to go anyway. I checked my e-mail and I got a note from a friend who often does this ride.
You OMVing tonight?  I am worried about the weather ....
I said that I was getting ready to leave and off I went. I've been riding my bike to the group's meeting place. It's less than 10 minutes away by bike. I got there and the turnout was pretty good.

Six o'clock came and we all left. We rode west for maybe 30 minutes and it got darker and darker as we proceeded. When to a turn, one of the riders pulled up and said, "I heard thunder." A small group of us -- I think there were seven of us -- turned and headed back on Olive Chapel Road.

Going east, the sky was much brighter and I started to doubt our decision. Then we approached downtown Apex and as we crossed NC 55, there was a huge lightning bolt to our left. We continued through a residential section and made it to the train tracks before the first drop fell. A train was crossing there; pulling into the CSX train maintenance facility. I could tell that it might take a few minutes and told the other riders that I was heading home and was going around a different way. I went down 1010 Road. It was more than an hour before sunset yet pitch dark. I was nervous on my bike. I had no lights. When I got to my neighborhood, the sky opened up with icy cold buckets of rain and massive lightning bolts. The reverberations of thunder could be felt as I opened the garage door.

That was almost really good timing but in the end, I was soaked.

Grandma's hospitalization

I hesitated to write about this but thought that I should since I have written about Grandma quite a bit.

On Sunday night, my grandmother had a massive heart attack and stroke. The nursing home had her transported to the hospital immediately where they tried to perform a catheterisation on her heart. They were unable to perform the procedure and it is not clear to me if her condition deteriorated at that point or it was the calcium blockage or a combination of the two.

They found that Grandma has a calcium blockage and explained that her heart has been working hard for a long time to force blood through the aorta; however since the heart attack as weakened the heart muscle by 35 – 45% it is no longer able to provide the volume of blood required to overcome the blockage.

In addition, she is being treated for a lung infection which may have been caused by vomiting during her heart attack. Apparently this is very common.

There also appears to be some internal bleeding as her hemoglobin level has dropped to 8.

Today they were able to start removing the respirator which is progress. Yesterday, her resting heart rate climbed to 154 when they tried to remove the respirator and they had to heavily sedate her.

The neurologist determined that she had suffered a stroke in the right side of her brain which is impacting her ability to move her left extremities. They were unable to get her to move her left arm but they got some movement on her left foot. Of course, the major issue at this point is her heart.

My aunt if flying to Atlanta from Paris. She will arrive tonight.

Please keep my grandmother in your thoughts.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Improved liver function for Hannah

Hannah progress report week of 7/7

Hannah is in a good mood and she is doing down the steps the the backyard and up the steps to the office with increasing frequency. A few weeks ago she would hesitate to do these everyday activities that she had done so effortlessly in the past. For the past few days, that hesitation is gone.

This week we had some very good news regarding Hannah's liver function. Both her Alkaline Phosphatase and her ALT (SGPT) values were closer to normal. This is encouraging news.

After her blood work on June 18, Actigall was added to the Denamarin that she was already taking for liver support. That combination has led to a marked improvement in her liver values.

June 3
2821 1901
June 4
June 182108505
July 8476173

Unfortunately, her kidney function is still and issue. Our vet feels that this is an age related decline. She mentioned that Hannah has about 25% kidney function now. According to the IRIS kidney staging, Hannah's plasma creatinine would put her right in the Stage 2-3 borderline area which means keep a close eye on things.

June 3 29 1.0
June 252.0
June 18382.1
July 8451.8

Hannah continues to not want to eat much per meal. If we are going to cook for her at home our vet suggests 1 part meat (lean meat or eggs) to 3 parts starch (mashed potatoes, rice) and a children's or pet multivitamin. In terms of quantity it would be about 1 cup per 10 pounds of dog. Dr. S. stressed that this would not be a balanced diet for 14 years or anything but that it is good for trying to get them to eat.

Finally, our vet suggested that we might want to treat Hananh's Cushing's (hyperadrenocorticism) more as an atypcial Cushings than a primary adrenal type Cushings. In other words, she suggested that melatonin and Omega-3/Linolenic Acid might be a reasonable approach.

Hannah is to continue on the Actigall and Denamarin. She is doing well and we are reluctant to do anything that would make her feel less well for even a few weeks. For that reason, I think that we are leaning towards the melatonin treatment. Dr. S. is not recommending testing by the University of Tennessee at this time.

  • surgery to remove enlarged adrenal gland - Hannah is not a good candidate
  • Lysodren - not a cure
  • melatonin - not a cure. The melatonin and the lignans somehow have a reaction with the secondary sex hormones in the adrenal glands that are elevated
  • keep Hannah comfy - tramadol only
Update: After discussing it with DH tonight, I think that we are going to try the melatonin route. I will talk to Dr. S. about this again tomorrow. I have a call in to Dr. S. now confirming that the goal of this treatment is to better manage Hannah's hormones/endocrine system and that we are treating this as if it were atypical Cushing's.

Update 2: Dr. S. suggested that we treat for atypical at this point in an effort to improve the quality and dignity of Hannah's life. At some point in the future we will probably want to do the University of Tennessee panel but she feels comfortable treating Hannah this way now. If we do not see results or future testing indicates otherwise, we may need to revisit other options. Hannah is somewhat fragile at this point and this is a very safe treatment. We are starting with 3mg melatonin 2x daily (may increase to 6mg in the future) and omega-3 fatty acids with lignans.

Hannah's current medications: osteoarthritis (Tramadol 50 mg (3x daily), Zubrin 200mg), urinary tract infection (Amoxicillin 500mg, FortiFlora probiotic), Denamarin 425 mg, Actigall 300mg, Famotidine (10mg, 3x daily); melatonin (3mg, 2x daily); Purina Veterinary Diets EN GastroENteric Canine Formula dog food

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

WOR butterscotch bars

This year, DH participated in the Carolina Canoe Club's Week of Rivers (WOR) for the second year. For the second year, I stayed home. Seriously, for the non whitewater crowd, there are really no organized activities and I don't mind hanging out with Hannah and Emma. WOR is one of the main events planned by the canoe club and it involves camping and whitewater -- and I think beer too. They go on the Nantahala and the Tuck. It is always Fourth of July week. He went with a friend this year and they returned Wednesday after getting on the rivers Sunday through Wednesday. I hope to have him guest blog about it.

For the past two years, I have made butterscotch bars for DH to take on WOR.

Butterscotch Blondies

3/4 cup butter (softened)
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 bag butterscotch chips (10 oz. bag, about 1 2/3 cups)
1 cup walnuts

Preheat oven to 350°.
Grease 13 x 9 inch baking pan.
Beat butter and sugars in a large mixing bowl until creamy. Reserve butter wrapper.
Add eggs; beat well.
Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually add to butter mixture, blending well.
Stir in butterscotch chips and nuts.
Spread into prepared pan. The batter will be very thick. I use the reserved butter wrapper to press the dough into the pan.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until top is golden brown and center is set. Leave them a little underdone since they will set up as they cool.
Cool completely in pan, cut and serve.

Yield: 36 bars

DH loves these blondies but I can't have them in the house with me they are so addictive!

Source: RecpeZaar

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

What's a canini?

Hannah update, week of 6/30The Brown One continues to be in good spirits. She has been presented with a number of physical challenges but she is generally in a good mood.I spoke with the vet yesterday and we are continuing the Denamarin. That is good because her liver values have improved since she has been on it but bad because she has to have it one hour before breakfast. That means getting up earlier. These days I have to let Emma out, bring the pill and a treat up to Hannah, get Hannah up and pill her (lovely way to wake up, I'm sure), giver her a Yummy Chummy to make sure that she really swallowed and then go back down to let Emma in before she barks and wakes up the neighbors at o'dark thirty.Hannah is not eating all the food given to her at meal time. She is allotted one can of food, twice a day. We are trying to avoid giving her more pills so the vet suggested that we give her some carbs with her meals to see if she tolerates that or not -- mashed potatoes with flax oil, rice with butter or oil, bread.
Last night Hannah had only about half of EN dog food for dinner. The EN comes out of the can in a solid block that kind of resembles corned beef hash. I slice it for her into rounds and then I put the pieces that she had left into the fridge for her pre-bedtime snack. At about 10:00 last night I got it out and sliced a few thin pieced of buttermilk bread for her. I put the EN rounds on one piece of bread and topped it with a second piece of bread. Then I pressed down hard to smash it all together in what Crowzma has dubbed a "canini." Hannah loved it! She took her sandwich and ran off with it, ate the whole thing and came back for seconds. Since she has not been eating well, I made her a second canini. She ate that one too and was very excited. We have been eating homemade bread at home but caninis seem to call for something with more of a Balloon Bread structure so I purchased some of that type of bread on the way home.Hannah continues to go out the front door because the steps are easier there. The last few times she went out the back door, she got "stuck" at the bottom of the steps. I either carry her up or we walk around the garage and take the opportunity to check the tomatoes and peppers. This morning, she had problems coming down the steps from the bedroom. She hesitated and I encouraged her. She made it down on her own but it was an effort. I don't know if it was the vestibular or her eyesight or what. She had no problems when we went out to get the paper this morning. She asked for a canini for breakfast and got one.Hannah has an appointment for blood work next Tuesday, July 8th. Whenever we go to the vet, we weigh her. If she has lost a significant amount of weight, we'll figure out something else with her food.

Hannah's current medications: osteoarthritis (Tramadol 50 mg (3x daily), Zubrin 200mg), urinary tract infection (Amoxicillin 500mg, FortiFlora probiotic), Denamarin 425 mg, Actigall 300mg, Famotidine (10mg, 3x daily); Purina Veterinary Diets EN GastroENteric Canine Formula dog food


What was I doing 10 years ago?

Just starting my job and NCSU and competing in flyball with Hannah. We were trying to get Penny, our black lab adopted for LRNC, to participate as well.

Five snacks I enjoy:
  1. Apple (not the computer, silly!)
  2. Greek yogurt
  3. Wasa cracker with peanut butter
  4. Banana
  5. Cheese

Five Things on My To-Do list today:
  1. Go to Great Outdoor and get them to remove the anti theft thingie from the shorts that I bought on Sunday
  2. Finish my book
  3. Javascript for PDF stuff
  4. Update the wiki with Elluminate/Open Office tip
  5. Call the vet to order more food for Hannah

Five Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
  1. Retire early
  2. Get a cyclo-cross bike
  3. Travel, even if it was just to the beach and the NC mountains
  4. Vacation home in the mountains
  5. Share it
Five jobs I have had:
  1. Fast food joint
  2. Deli counter
  3. Secretary
  4. Tech writer
  5. Computer "stuff"
Five of my bad habits:
  1. Stressing about stuff
  2. Interrupting people
  3. Worrying too much about what other people think
  4. Patience
  5. Getting sucked into the e-mail vortex
Five places I have lived:
  1. Newfoundland
  2. Milwaukee, WI
  3. Wappingers Falls, NY
  4. Waterloo, IA
  5. Ramsey, NJ
Five people I would like to get to know better (yes, this means you are tagged!):
(I did six because I'm pretty sure that at least one will skip this exercise!)
  1. Anne
  2. John
  3. Genny
  4. Beth
  5. Mother of Chaos

Five Random Things:
  1. I never thought that I was vain until after my surgery
  2. I'm worried about Hannah
  3. I wish I was funnier
  4. I kinda really don't want to be the video conferencing goddess
  5. I once told my mom that I wanted a cool name like Amy or Beth.