Monday, July 30, 2007

Nutty stuff

So I went in to "the Resort" for a visit on Friday--my ankles and hands had been swelling up lately, and I'd gained like 7 pounds for no explainable reason, so I thought (with some maternal prodding) I'd call and let them know what was going on.
We did PFTs, NIox, Diffusion levels, labs, all that good stuff. Everything looks OK, so we're on lasix (a diuretic) for a bit, to reduce the swelling and hopefully get rid of the extra weight that has magically appeared. We'll see...

Sunday, July 29, 2007

1,000 hits!

Wow, thanks guys. :)
Nice to know someone other than my parents read this!!

Cooking with the kiddos

Last night I had the Rugrats (aka, the kids I baby-sit for :)) over for a few hours, in which we watched Matilda, played Scene It? (Jack's sports version....not so much for me ), had dinner and I taught the kids how to make chocolate chip cookies.
This was a lot of fun, actually. I had them read the recipe and tell me how much of each ingredient we needed. I taught them the difference between measuring white and brown sugar, and Helen learned how to crack and egg and beat it, which made Jack happy because now Helen can "make him scrambled eggs," as he gleefully informed their dad when he came to pick them up. They watched me mix the ingredients and helped shape the cookies. We made a bunch of trays, so they got to take quite a few home, and I hope they didn't eat them all in one sitting! I also got to teach them the difference between baking powder and baking soda, and show them what real vanilla beans look like (they were pretty amazed that it came from the orchid plant). I love cooking, as we know, and it was alot of fun to be able to teach some basic things to them, since I was about Helen's age (12) when I began to really start baking; I'd been making spaghetti since i was eight!

The cookies we made, by the way, are the best chocolate chip cookies ever. They bake wonderfully, freeze wonderfully (GREAT at Christmastime) and a really easy. I know you probably want a recipe. But I don't know if I'm will to share my secrets.

I also made them cornbread for dinner, following Danielle Bean's super-easy, and super-good, cornbread recipe, which you can find here.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Bookshelf time!

It's been awhile since we've had a book update, so for those of you who care: (all two of you...ha!)

--I am almost done with the Great Jane Re-Read; I just have to finish Sandition, which will probably happen today. I loved Lady Susan and the Watsons. I may start her juvenalia, which I've never finished, but we'll see. I also want to read her nephew's biography, A Memoir of Jane Austen, which, again, I have but have never read. :)

--Still reading Ovid's Metamorphoses, but that takes a lot of time and concentration so I'm not reading that as often.

--Picked up FS Fitzgerald's This Side of Paradise at the Book Loft last week, so that should be good. :)

--Just finished Ann Pachett's Truth and Beauty, which is a memoir of her friendship with the author/poet Lucy Grealy. Very good, and it makes me want to read the rest of her novels; so far I've only read Bel Canto, which was fantastic, about a group of Souther American terrorists who take over a birthday party for a Japanese business executive, at which a world-famous Soprano happens to be singing (yeah, I enjoyed the soprano part...lots of opera talk!).

--Still reading W&P. This might turn into the Great Fall Russian Novel Project at this rate.

--Also still reading B XVI's book--I plan to make more progress on that today...You know, in between cleaning bouts...ha.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A little old but--mice helping the Lung tx cause

First lung transplants in mice lay groundwork for new drugs to prevent transplant rejection in humans

By Caroline Arbanas

July 11, 2007 -- Lung transplants have been performed successfully for more than 20 years in humans but never before in mice - until now. Surgeons at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have developed the first mouse model of lung transplantation, and they're hoping it will help explain why the success of the procedure in humans lags far behind other solid organ transplants.

Several School of Medicine researchers discuss the importance of an accurate mouse model for studying lung disease in humans.
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Ultimately, the mouse model could pave the way for developing new therapies to prevent lung transplant rejection - a major problem that limits the long-term success of the procedure. The mouse model is described in the June issue of the American Journal of Transplantation.

Five years after lung transplant surgery, only about 45 percent of patients are still alive, according to the U.S. Organ and Procurement and Transplantation Network. This compares with five-year survival rates of about 70 percent for heart and liver transplants and about 80 percent for kidney transplants. About 1,000 lung transplants are performed each year in the United States.

"The high failure rate of lung transplants is a huge problem," says lung transplant surgeon Daniel Kreisel, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor of surgery and a lead investigator of the research. "Unlike other organs, lungs are constantly exposed to bacteria and viruses in the environment, and we think this exposure increases the risk of chronic rejection and the eventual failure of the organ. This is why the mouse model is so critical. It will allow us to understand the molecular mechanisms that control lung transplant rejection."

Lung transplants are the only treatment option for end-stage lung disease, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cystic fibrosis, pulmonary fibrosis and certain congenital lung defects. Following a transplant, patients must take drugs for the rest of their lives that suppress the immune system and prevent it from attacking the new lung. This leaves them vulnerable to upper respiratory infections, which can quickly develop into pneumonia.

Kreisel and others suspect that these illnesses alter the immune response and increase inflammation, which eventually lead to chronic rejection. They note that mainstay immunosuppressive drugs simply are not effective at preventing chronic rejection for lung transplants, and they hope the mouse model will reveal why.

"The current hypothesis is that lung transplant rejection is linked to chronic inflammation from transient viral or bacterial infections, and this can be aggravated by the fact that transplant recipients are taking immunosuppressive drugs," Kreisel says.

Mouse models for heart, liver and kidney transplants have existed for years, but developing a similar model for lung transplantation has proved to be a real technical challenge. Mouse lungs measure less than an inch in length and the pulmonary vein and artery, which carry blood to and from the heart, are as thin as human hair.

Mikio Okazaki, M.D., a postdoctoral fellow, adapted the lung transplantation technique used in rats to the mice. He uses synthetic cuffs to join the donor vessels with those of the recipient. Okazaki has successfully performed several hundred lung transplants in the mice, and the team's analysis indicates the model simulates the same immune response that occurs in humans following lung transplantation.

Before Okazaki and his Washington University colleagues developed the mouse model, researchers had been studying lung transplantation using a nonphysiological mouse model in which a small section of trachea from one mouse was transplanted under the skin of another. Although it was simple to create, the model did not accurately mimic lung transplantation. "It was a very artificial model that had little to do with reality, Okazaki says. "We think the new model will be far better for studying the underlying immune mechanisms that lead to rejection."

The new mouse lung transplant model has an advantage over those in rats and larger animals because the genetics of mice are well documented and their genes are easier to manipulate. "With the mice, we can selectively delete genes to study their function in the transplanted lung or in the recipient, which we've not been able to do effectively in other animal models," says Andrew Gelman, Ph.D., an assistant professor of surgery, who is a lead investigator of this research. "By understanding the genes that control lung graft survival, researchers will be able to better guide the development of therapies to counteract chronic rejection."

The mouse model also will allow the researchers to investigate how other transplant-related complications affect the long-term success of the procedure. Many lung transplant patients experience gastric reflux, and doctors suspect this acid exposure damages the lining of the lung and further exposes the organ to pathogens. The mouse model will let researchers evaluate whether gastric reflux increases the risk of lung rejection.

Additionally, the time between surgery to harvest a donor lung and transplant it into a patient is widely suspected to affect its overall function after transplant surgery. The mouse model will help pinpoint the inflammation that underlies damage to the organ when it can't be transplanted quickly and may lead to ways to prevent such injury.

Based on mouse models of other solid organ transplants, researchers have learned that different groups of immune cells contribute to rejection in different organs. "Rejection of the lung differs from rejection of the heart in terms of the cells that participate in that rejection," says Alexander Sasha Krupnick, M.D., assistant professor of surgery. "Every organ is different. What we've learned about rejection of the heart in mice does not apply to lungs. So we are thrilled to finally have an acceptable mouse model of lung transplantation to help us discover ways to increase the success of these transplants in humans."


Okazaki M, Krupnick AS, Kornfeld CG, Lai JM, Ritter JH, Richardson SB, Huang HJ, Das NA, Patterson GA, Gelman AE, Kreisel, D. A mouse model of orthotopic vascularized aerated lung transplantation. American Journal of Transplantation. June 2007.

Grants from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the Thoracic Surgery Foundation for Research and Education, and Roche Pharmaceuticals supported this research.

Washington University School of Medicine's full-time and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children's hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient care institutions in the nation, currently ranked fourth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children's hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

In memory

One of the Children's transplant patients died yesterday, which makes everyone involved in the program sad, especially since we're a tight-knit group (there aren't too many of us, yet...and those of us who were transplanted earlier [like this one] tend to know each other fairly well since we were the founding patients, so to speak). Any time I hear of a transplant patient's death, especially one of the Children's kids, I am reminded of how truly fleeting life is for all of us and how grateful I am for my transplant. We need to be grateful for every day, every moment that we get, because you never know when it's going to be it. Rejection, for us, can happen any time, and sometimes there aren't even any symptoms. In this case, the little boy was sick for a few months, but he seemed to be getting better. His mom had just talked to my mom the other day about the possibility of baby-sitting for them sometime.

It has been a sobering day for all of us. Prayers and good thoughts would be especially appreciated. He had a great family who loved him so much, and they are wonderful people. His short life was totally filled with love.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Harry Potter!

For my thoughts and impressions, go

In a word? AWESOME!!!!

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

I'm still here :)

I'm still here, no worries, life has just been crazy lately!
Saw the new Harry Potter over the weekend (popcorn coming!), then yesterday I was reading, reading, more reading, and today I had my fitting for my bridesmaid's dress for Di's wedding, dinner at home and baby-sitting the affectionately called "Rugrats," which involved Scattegories, power point and the Reds game. Whew.

Anyway, on Thursday I go to The Resort for my two year tests...woohoo! This involves a bone density scan, the 6 minute walk, a VQ scan (basically some sort of scan that looks at gas diffusion in my lungs), and a visit with Dr. Hardin in the endo clinic. Oh the joy that will be mine! :) But then I'm good until September...amazing!

Things going well over here, still in the job hunt (just looking around, anyway). Going on three years now. :)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007


What Emily Means

E is for Edgy

M is for Magical

I is for Influential

L is for Lucky

Y is for Young

Well I agree with "lucky," especially given today's date!!!
I hope "M' and "I" are true. And I guess 25 is still young.
I am only edgy occasionally. :)

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Anniversary

At 8:45 this evening, it will be two years since we got "The Call" (check the archives--July last year--for more on this). And I can remember it like it happened two minutes ago.

I was so tired. I was actually trying to think of a better excuse than "I'm exhausted" to leave on my boss's voice mail. It was Sunday night and I was taking my pills, sitting on the old indigo couch in our family room. Mom was on the love seat and Dad was sitting against that, watching TV. Bryan and Mel were hanging out--they were on summer vacation. I had about three more pills to take. Mom and Dad had almost dragged me up to Easton that day, where I'd bought a new Coach bag (the only thing good, thus far, about that day) and I'd had a fish sandwich at Fado. Well, I'd tried to have a fish sandwich. I don't remember how well that went but probably not very. Dad had to drop us off and pick us up at every store, because I couldn't walk around the complex. In fact I didn't even really want to be there. But I was.

So it was Sunday night--"the beginning of another week," as they say on Pollyanna. My cell phone was, as usual, sitting on the end table by the remaining pills, mocking me. Not ringing. As usual.

So here I was, considering which pill to take next, and the phone rang.
I had caller ID on my cell, so when I saw Karen's name, I tried to keep my face neutral. But I knew what it was. Even though we were friends, she wasn't going to call on Sunday night just to chat.

And It Was. I had new lungs waiting for me, somewhere in Minnesota. The new lease on life had come. A day like today, struggling through heat, forcing myself to put one foot in front of the other, wouldn't happen again. Well, it would (as we did rehab) but it wouldn't be because my body was disappearing.

It was a long night. We left for Children's around 1 a.m., all of us piled in mom's silver Civic (dad was driving). The sky was cloudless, the stars brilliant. I didn't say a word.

Bryan and Mel slept on the couches in 4AE's multi-purpose room. I slept. The nurses didn't quite know what to do with me. :) Mom and Dad and I listened as Karen and Dr. A came in with updates. Fr. Mark, thanks be to God, came.

At 7 I was taken down to pre-op with my parents. Then I don't remember anything else.

An amazing, incredible day. My gratitude is simply overwhelming. I saw an organ donor plate yesterday that read "THNK YOU". Two words are so inadequate to express what the Gift of Life really means. But it's all we have.

And I have had two years with my family and friends. I have traveled to new cities and seen new things. I've joined new organizations, met new people, seen new babies be born and new marriages take place. I've watched my cousins and my godson grow up. And, of course, I've been reading.

If you're not an organ donor, think about it. Become one. Check out some of the links in the side bar, especially Lifeline's. Because you can save someone's life, and she will thank you forever.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Anniversary party!

The Second Annual Emily's tx anniversary party is tonight, so I am taking a break between making Large Quantities of Food for Hungry People. :) We're going mostly Mediterranean (Greek, actually) since it's so hot, and I've got two cakes that I, personally, am just ready to devour.

Pictures up later.

I cannot believe we're coming on on two years. Amazing.

Popcorn: Ratatouille!

My favorite Pixar movie ever!!! Not even kidding.

Remy the rat wants to be a chef. But, um, he's a rat. So he takes to living a secret life, cooking and watching Chef Gusteau's TV show in a nerby house, until the crazy woman who owns the house discovers Remy and his brother, Emilie, and shoots out her house (literally, she owns a shotgun, it's pretty funny), causing all the rats to escape. Remy gets seperated from his family and is guided by the ghost of Chef Gusteau to the chef's former restaurant, conveniently name d(what else?) Gusteau's. There, Remy saves new hire Linguine's job by fixing a soup he had destroyed. Well the soup is a hit, and the new head chef, who is a bit wacky and not a fan of Linguine, tells him to re-create it. Which, of course, he can't--at least not without Remy. Nicknaming him "little chef," they manage to re-create it, and Linguine moves from garbage boy to chef, working along side the lovely Colette, with whom, of course, he falls in love. And Linguine ends up not being who we all think he is...

It is a great movie if you like cooking and food, which, as we know, I do. The food is incredible to look at. Pixar's animation is, of course, impeccable, and the fur! Oh my gosh. There were moments where I could've sworn I was looking at photographs.

You might think with rats as the subject, there might be a tendency to go for the low humor. Not so. The garbarge shots are limited, and there is no "potty humor" in this movie, thank God. I would actually say this is a movie geared more for adults and older kids. I think little kids will enjoy the gags (there is plenty of visual humor), but really, the plot is more adult, and the setting is certainly more adult (a Parisian French restaurant). While we do see the rats in the Parisian sewers, we don't spend a lot of time there.

The soundtrack is incredible; I need to get it. I absolutely loved it. The cinematography is also great, with the street shots of Paris being very realistic and well thought-out. I want to go to Paris immediately. I also want to cook a nice big tray of Ratatouille! If I find a good recipe I'll post it.

Gee, can you tell I loved this thing? It was just awesome.

Oh, and the CI was great too!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Of telephones and tune-ups

I had my second CI tune-up today (go back next Thursday for another), and today we mostly refined some of the programs and added another speech processor, called SPEAK. So I have two now--ACE (the original) and this one. Next week I'll decide which one I want to use for good. I also started using the telecoil, which is the CI's phone deciphering channel. If you call me on the phone, this is what I use to understand you. :) It can be set to a variety of ratios, so I can either hear only what's coming through the phone, or the phone in conjunction with other sounds (like sirens if I was on a cell phone, or whatever). Right now it's 75% phone and 25% other noise, which seems to work OK thus far, even if people's voices do sound a bit odd (like Greedo in Star Wars). But I can have an actual phone conversation--I've had two today!--which is pretty cool. I just have to turn to the telecoil program before I talk to you. So if you call me, it might take me a minute to answer while I adjust my head. :)
Hopefully I'll be out to see a movie tonight--I really want to see Ratatouille, and check out the CI in a theater!

Gee, think I want to see this one?

Monday, July 02, 2007

Tune-up 2

Is occuring tomorrow, when we set the "C-levels" (I forget what those are, at the moment), but it should be good times...continuing hearing improvement.
I could actually understand the homily yesterday!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Hearing :) :)

Great weekend spent w/ my family in Pittsburgh; it was my cousin Di's wedding shower yesterday, plus my grandma's 77th birthday AND my parents' 28th wedding anniversary. And I heard everybody! I was able to have actual conversations! Some of the kids took awhile to get used to, but overall it was great! I was very excited.
I was also excited to be able to hear the homily in Church. Woohoo!
I go back to see Beth and have the CI tuned some more on Tuesday, so everything is going well so far. I'm really happy with it.