Saturday, October 27, 2007


Karen, the best t/x nurse in the WORLD, is having a baby!!!
Congratulations to her and Steve!

Karen and I, Christmas 2005, at her house in German Village (she lives in CA now, sob!)--I'm almost 5 months post-tx

Popcorn: Meet the Robinsons

Last night I began working through my massive DVD pile, and Meet the Robinsons, the newest Disney opus, was on the top. I had wanted to see this in the spring when it was in theaters but that was pre-CI, and animated movies really didn't work so well (the characters' mouths often bear NO resemblance to words they are saying), so I waited for the DVD.

I am glad I finally saw this--it is awesome. Truly awesome. I liked it better than The Incredibles, and I really liked that one. This is up there with my top 5 favorite Disney movies, bar none.

The movie tells the story of a 12 year old boy named Lewis who was left at an orphanage as a baby. He spends most of his time creating inventions, which to the dismay of his roommate, Goob, and the potential parents that come to meet him (his inventions have a way of backfiring on him at inopportune moments).

Lewis's newest invention is the Memory Scanner--a device that allows you to "see what you've forgotten." He's hoping the scanner will help him recover the memory of his mother, who left him at the orphanage. Alas, at the fair, the machine is sabotaged and doesn't work.

Enter Wilbur, a kid from the future, who tells him that A Man In A Bowler Hat (yes, that is the character's name) is after Lewis's invention. Lewis is a bit skeptical that Wilbur is, indeed, from the future, so Wilbur takes him there. In the process, they break the time machine that Wilbur's dad invented. So now they have a broken time machine, the Bowler Hat Guy has the other one AND Lewis's invention, and there's going to be some problems with the space-time continuum (as Wilbur's robot buddy points out). So Wilbur has to get Lewis to fix the time machine (without anyone in his family finding out Wilbur took it in the first place, or that Lewis is from the past), get back to the Science Fair, get the Scanner, and stop Bowler Hat guy's evil plans (whatever they may be). Whew.

Wilbur's family, the Robinsons of the title, are, well, weird. The house has singing frogs, some sort of octopus as a butler, and twin cousins that live in flowerpots. Of course, Lewis meets the entire family, and they do discover that he is from the past. So what now? And why does the Bowler Hat guy want Lewis's machine anyway?

I'm going to leave it there, because all these questions are answered much better in the film. :) Great dialogue, funny characters, and best of all, it's a really sweet movie. I absolutely loved the ending. If you haven't seen this, get thee to a video store or Best Buy and pick it up.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

New post!

Over here.

Bookshelf: Left to Tell

Quick Take: A New addition to my book Hall of Fame, and the first installment of Nutmeg's online book club! This amazing story of a young Rwandan woman's faith-filled survival of the 1994 April genocide will blow your mind and deepen your faith all at the same time.

Left to Tell: Finding God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust, by Immaculee Ilibagiza (with Steve Irwin)

"I heard the killers call my name."

That is the first line of a harrowing, uplifting and painful autobiography of Immaculee, a young woman who was a college student home for Easter break when the horrific genocide of April 1994 began in Rwanda. She had grown up the third of four children, and the only girl, with two devoutly Catholic parents who passed their faith onto their children, as well as the belief that all people all God's children, and worthy of respect and love. She paints vivid pictures of her brothers Aimable, Damascene (the brother she was closest to), and her younger brother Vianney. Immaculee had a happy childhood, and she excelled in her schoolwork.
She did not, initially, understand the differences between Tutsi and Hutu that would so change her life. Her first encounter with ethnicity was at the age of 10, when she attended school with older children. Her teacher had a "tribal roll call " (16), and Immculee was dismissed from school for not knowing her ethnicity. The next day, her teacher told her stand up when he called "Tutsi." So she did--and she sawe the horrible impact this emphasis on ethnicity would have first-hand.

As the genocide began in April of '94, she tries to stay at home with her family; hundreds of Tutsis came to the family's property to ask Immaculee's father for help. A few days later, Immaculee was sent to the home of Pastor Murinzi (57), who was friends with Immaculee's father. While Vianney and Damascene eventually joined her, they were only permitted to stay one day. Immaculee, however, would wait out the genocide with five other women for 91 days.

How did she survive?
"I realized that my battle to survive this war would have to be fought inside of me. Everything strong and good in me--my faith, hope and courage--was vuleranble to the dark energy. If I lost my faith, I knew that I wouldn't be able to survive. I could rely only on God to help me fight." (80)

Taking the rosary her father had given her before she left the house, Immaculee immersed herself in prayer all day. When the Hutu killing squads surrounded the house, she prayed even harder. And she learned to pray for forgiveness for the killers.

Her profound faith left a deep impact on me. In fact, as soon as I finished the book, I began it again, but slower this timer, in order to fully absorb the profound insights she had about the nature of prayer, faith and total surrender to God. She knew that only God and His will would help her survive, and that He would give her the strength to handle whatever obstacles she would face during her incredible trials.

I was also moved to tears by the example of her brother, Damascene. (WARNING: HEre be spoilers!) Aimable was in another country, at school, during the genocide, but the rest of Immaculee's family was separated throughout Rwanda as they struggled to survive. Immaculee writes about how Damascene was always her defender, protector, and best friend. Their bond was almost more than brother and sister--it was deeply spiritual.

When Immaculee finds out her brother was killed, she is bereft. But he had written her one last letter:

May 6, 1994
Dear [Dad, Mo, Vianney, and] Immaculee,
It has been nearly a month since we were separated, and we are all living a nightmare. Besides what the circumstances suggest, I believe that a tribe can exterminate another tribe only if it's God's will; maybe out lives are the price that must be paid for Rwanda's salvation. I am only certain about one things: we will meet again--there is no doubt in my mind.
I'm going to try to get out of the country, but I don't know if I'll make it. If they kill me along the way, you shouldn't worry about me; I have prayed enough...I am prepared for death. If I do manage to make it out of Rwanda, I will contact you as soon as the peace returns. Bonn will tell you everything that has happened to me...
Immaculee, I beg you to be strong> I've just heard that Mom, Dad, and Vianney have been killed. I will be in contact with you.
Big hugs and kisses!
Your brother, who loves you very much!

The chapter continues with the acocunt of Damascene's death. After reading it, my first thought was--this young man was a Saint. His life and death should be up for Canonization in Rome. For men like him are certainly in Heaven.

Immaculee's strength, faith and determination are astounding. This book deepened my faith and demonstrates how we can surrender to God's will in even the most difficult circumstances. Immaculee and her family are an inspiration to all of us.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


Wow I seriously need to do a bookshelf and popcorn update! Wow! I have been reading/watching movies like a fiend!

Upcoming, then:
--Rediscovering Catholicism by Matthew Kelly
--Left to Tell (about the Rwandan Holocaust)
--The Gift, Richard Paul Evans
--The Choice, Nicholas Sparks
--Eugene Onegin, Alexander Pushkin
--The Children of Henry VIII
--Elizabeth and Mary

--The Jungle Book
--Knocked Up (yes, yes I know! But I really liked it!)

Whew. OK. These are coming, I promise. Just not today...

Recipe: A Divinely Simple Cake

I love to bake. Cook. Whatever. :) Food is my friend.
So over the weekend< I went up to Sur La Table, and purchased, amongst other kitchen gadgetry, the book Heirloom Baking With the Bass Sisters.
The first recipe I made was Esther Pullman and Mary Brinkman's Irish Sponge Cake.
But this is so much more than a sponge cake. So, so much more.
First of all, it contains four ingredients. Yup--four. It is simple to assemble, bakes for 30-35 minutes (I needed 35) and is, hands down, one of the lightest, most scrumptious cakes I have ever tasted. You MUST try this.

The recipe:
1 1/4 c. sugar, divided
4 eggs, separated
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. cake flour (I used King Arthur All-Purpose and that worked fine)

NOTE: I have a KitchenAid artisan stand mixer. It is a godsend for this recipe. I have noted the various beating levels in parentheses when applicable.

1. Set the oven rack in the middle position. Prehear the oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8-in (mine was 9, also OK) Bundt pan with vegetable spray (my note: do this REALLY well). Dust the sides and the bottom of pan with three (3) tablespoons of the sugar.

2. Beat the egg yolks in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add 1/2 c. of sugar and beat until thick, about 5 minutes.

3. Place egg whites in another bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. (If you don't have two bowls, be sure to clean out the bowl VERY WELL and dry it thoroughly before doing this next step) Beat until stiff (level 6). Add 1/2 c. of sugar and beat again (level 4) until sugar is incorporated.

4. Add egg yolks to egg whites. Add vanilla and continue beating with the paddle attachment at medium speed (4) until combined. Fold in the cake flour.

5. Pour batter into pan. Sprinkle remaining tablespoon sugar on top of batter. bake 30 minutes, or until tested inserted in middle comes out clean. Cake should have a nice yellow color. Place on rack to cool. When completely cool, invert onto plate. Slice with sawing motion. Store under cake dome or loosely wrapped in wax paper at room temperature.

And more SOHC--about those wait times...

Corner again:

Anticipation [John Hood]

The Fraser Institute just published its latest survey of average waiting times for non-emergency surgery and other major procedures in the Medical Paradise of the North. The new figure is 18.3 weeks from the time a patient is referred to a specialist until the completion of the procedure. That's the long wait since Fraser began studying the issue 17 years ago.

Naturally, defenders of socialized health insurance quibble with Fraser's methodology and blame factors other than the obvious. More here.


From the Corner:

S-CHIP May Not Be a Losing Issue for Republicans [Kathryn Jean Lopez]

From USA Today:

WASHINGTON — A majority of Americans trust Democrats to handle the issue of children's health insurance more than President Bush, but they agree with the president that government aid should be targeted to low-income families, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll shows.
Two days before the Democratic-controlled House attempts to override Bush's veto of a five-year, $35 billion expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program, the poll shows that opinions on the issue are mixed.

Fifty-two percent of respondents say they have more confidence in Democrats to deal with the issue, compared with 32% for Bush.

Slim majorities back two positions at the core of the president's opposition to the expansion:

POLL RESULTS: Children's health insurance issue

• 52% agree with Bush that most benefits should go to children in families earning less than 200% of the federal poverty level — about $41,000 for a family of four. Only 40% say benefits should go to families earning up to $62,000, as the bill written by Democrats and some Republicans would allow.

• 55% are very or somewhat concerned that the program would create an incentive for families to drop private insurance. Bush and Republican opponents have called that a step toward government-run health care.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Yup, I am :)

What Kind of Reader Are You?
Your Result: Dedicated Reader

You are always trying to find the time to get back to your book. You are convinced that the world would be a much better place if only everyone read more.

Obsessive-Compulsive Bookworm
Book Snob
Literate Good Citizen
Fad Reader
What Kind of Reader Are You?
Create Your Own Quiz

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Time with Todd :)

Another clinci visit today--Julie was out, so it was just Todd and I. PFTs are good--61 and 57, respectively, so we are almost back to baseline. I am still doing the aerosol treatments for like two more weeks. I have to go back next week for another follow-up, but if that's good then we can start moving the appointment dates back (woohoo!).

AND we're getting a new nurse coordinator, huzzah! Her name is Megan and that's all I know so far. But it'll be nice to have another nurse to help out Julie and Co.

Dr. A is also a Red Sox fan (he's from Boston), so I told him I would covertly root for them. Everyone else in the state is rooting for the Indians, obviously. :)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

For the love of mike...

OK, yes, we know I am against socialized health care and all that. But that DOES NOT mean that I think our system is perfect.
oh no.
For example, most insurance companies don't cover hearing aids. That's right. And they go for about $1,500 a piece, meaning you're shelling out approximately $3,000 for these babies. Apparently insurance companies think you don't need to hear. Yet glasses and dental work are covered by (usually separate) insurance plans.
I think needing to hear is just as important as being able to see, don't you? My CI was covered, but my hearing aids weren't. And then for the CI, we had to proveI needed one before they'd consent. Because, you know, the idea of surgery involving my head is something I like to do just for kicks.

Oh, Canada...

Yup, this is the kind of health care we want!

Canada's Expectant Moms Heading to U.S. to Deliver

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

By Sara Bonisteel

Mothers in British Columbia are having a baby boom, but it's the United States that has to deliver, and that has some proud Canadians blasting their highly touted government healthcare system.

"I'm a born-bred Canadian, as well as my daughter and son, and I'm ashamed," Jill Irvine told FOX News. Irvine's daughter, Carri Ash, is one of at least 40 mothers or their babies who've been airlifted from British Columbia to the U.S. this year because Canadian hospitals didn't have room for the preemies in their neonatal units.

"It's a big number and bigger than the previous capacity of the system to deal with it," said Adrian Dix, a British Columbia legislator, told "So when that happens, you can't have a waiting list for a mother having the baby. She just has the baby.

The mothers have been flown to hospitals in Seattle, Everett, Wash., and Spokane, Wash., to receive treatment, as well as hospitals in the neighboring province of Alberta, Dix said. Three mothers were airlifted in the first weekend of October alone, including Carri Ash.

"I just want to go home and see my kids," she said from her Seattle hospital bed. "I think it's stupid I have to be here."

Canada's socialized health care system, hailed as a model by Michael Moore in his documentary, "Sicko," is hurting, government officials admit, citing not enough money for more equipment and staff to handle high risk births.

Sarah Plank, a spokeswoman for the British Columbia Ministry of Health, said a spike in high risk and premature births coupled with the lack of trained nurses prompted the surge in mothers heading across the border for better care.

"The number of transfers in previous years has been quite low," Plank told "Before this recent spike we went for more than a year with no transfers to the U.S., so this is something that is happening in other provinces as well."

Critics say these border crossings highlight the dangers of a government-run health care system.

"The Canadian healthcare system has used the United States as a safety net for years," said Michael Turner of the Cato Institute. "In fact, overall about one out of every seven Canadian physicians sends someone to the United States every year for treatment."

Neonatal intensive care units in Alberta and Ontario have also been stretched to capacity, she said.

The cost of these airlifts and treatments, paid to U.S. hospitals by the province under Canada's universal health care system, runs upwards of $1,000 a child.

"We clearly want to see more capacity built in the Canadian system because it’s also expensive for taxpayers here to send people out of the country," Dix said.

The surge could be due to women giving birth later in life, and passport restrictions and family separation adds to the stress.

"I think it’s reasonable to think that this is a trend that would continue and we have to prepare for it and increase the number of beds to deal with perhaps the new reality of the number of premature babies and newborns needing a higher level of care in Canada," Dix said.

British Columbia has added more neonatal beds and increased funding for specialized nurse training, Plank said.

"There is an identified need for some additional capacity just due to population growth and that sort of thing and that is actively being implemented," she said.

FOX News' Dan Springer contributed to this report.


From Corner:

I tremble to return to the subject of the Frost family, if only because so many e-mailers in the 72 hours seem to confuse a debate on health care with an analysis of my sexual inadequacy and the accommodational capacity of my posterior. But here's my, er, bottom line: I am opposed in general to government entitlements; and, insofar as we have to have them, I prefer them to be at state level, which at least injects an element of competition and choice into the system; and, insofar as we have to have state entitlements, they should be finely targeted and properly means-tested.

The Frosts will be out of the news in a day or two but the government program they're demanding will be forever. So, given that Nancy Pelosi held them up as emblematic of "the type of working-poor Americans that the program was intended to help", it's entirely appropriate to consider how emblematic they are. Both The Baltimore Sun and The New York Times have stories on the Frosts this morning, and the interesting point is the matter of whether they do, in any useful sense, represent the "working poor":

Mr. Frost works intermittently in woodworking and as a welder, while Mrs. Frost has a part-time job at a firm that provides services to publishers of medical journals.

Mr Frost works "intermittently". The unemployment rate in the Baltimore metropolitan area is four-percent. Perhaps he chooses to work "intermittently," just as he chooses to send his children to private school, and chooses to live in a 3,000-square-foot home. That's what free-born citizens in democratic societies do: choose. Sometimes those choices work out, and sometimes they don't. And, when they don't and catastrophe ensues, it's appropriate that the state should provide a safety net. But it should be a safety net of last resort, and it's far from clear that it is in this case.

Speaking of choices, young Graeme Frost demands President Bush should choose between Iraq and government health care. I'm not persuaded the Frost family are the best judges of the nation's choices. Middle-class entitlement addiction, as the French President and Prime Minister have recently made plain, is unsustainable even in the wealthiest societies. The Frosts are entitled to make their choices. The President has to choose the broader interest.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

SOHC: SCHIP, again.

Brother, can you spare a CHIP? [Mark Steyn]

This would seem to be a fairly typical media trajectory. The Democrats sign up a sick kid to read their Saturday morning radio address. As Paul Krugman has observed, Bill Kristol, Rush Limbaugh and the rest of us heartless bastards on the right were no doubt too busy laughing to pay attention. But the respectable media were very taken by it:

President Bush, are you smarter than a seventh-grader?

Apparently not. Graeme Frost of Baltimore is 12 years old, a seventh-grader at the Park School, and he understands why children need health care and their parents need help paying for it. He explained it during a rebuttal to the president's Saturday radio address. Yes, we know, Senate staffers wrote the speech for Graeme. That doesn't take away from the message. Does anyone really think President Bush writes his own material?

Of course not. And nor does The Baltimore Sun, which did a nice fluffy soft-focus story typing out the Dems' press release and not querying a word:

Bonnie Frost works for a medical publishing firm; her husband, Halsey, is a woodworker. They are raising their four children on combined income of about $45,000 a year. Neither gets health insurance through work.

If it ever occurred to Matthew Hay Brown, the Sun's "reporter", to look into just what kind of "woodworking" Mr Frost did, he managed to suppress the urge.

"icwhatudo" at Free Republic, however, showed rather more curiosity than the professional reporter paid to investigate the story and did a bit of Googling. Mr Frost, the "woodworker", owns his own design company and the commercial property it operates from, part of which space he also rents out; they have a 3,000-sq-ft home on a street where a 2,000-sq-ft home recently sold for half a million dollars; he was able to afford to send two children simultaneously to a $20,000-a-year private school; his father and grandfather were successful New York designers and architects; etc. This is apparently the new definition of "working families":

Had it not been for a federal health insurance program tailored for working families such as hers - ones lacking the income to purchase private health insurance - Frost is certain that she and her husband would be buried under a mound of unpaid medical bills... She and her husband have priced private health insurance, but they say it would cost them more per month than their mortgage - about $1,200 a month. Neither parent has health insurance through work.

Insureblog, also demonstrating more journalistic initiative than Mr Hay Brown, checked out that last bit:

A check of a quote engine for zip code 21250 (Baltimore) finds a plan for $641 with a $0 deductible and $20 doc copays.

Adding a deductible of $750 (does not apply to doc visits) drops the premium to $452. That's almost a third of the price quoted in the article. Doesn't anyone bother to check the facts?

But who needs facts when you've got the human-interest angle sewn up?

Bonnie Frost still can't drive down the road where the accident occurred...

Bad things happen to good people, and they cause financial problems and tough choices. But, if this is the face of the "needy" in America, then no-one is not needy. And, if everyone needs assistance from the federal government, so be it. But I don't think I want to drive down the road where Bonnie Frost wants to take us - because at the end of it there are no free-born citizens, just a nation where everyone is a ward of the state.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

"That messy love stuff"

OK so those of you who read regularly know that my love life is pretty much nonexistent. And most of the time, I'm OK with that.
But part of me often asks, is it because of me or because of things I cannot control?
To wit:
I would like to date someone for whom I do not have to explain My Entire Medical History during like the third date. It would be very nice to date someone who's known me awhile and therefore is aware of all the Medical Nuttiness that Is Me.
This creates the problem of (maybe understandably?) creating fear of attachment. (Which was the downfall of my last relationship. Sigh) Now I guess on some level I can get that. But then the rest of me doesn't. I can't help my situation anymore than I can change my skin color. It's part of me. And if you're in love, should it matter? No, I'm not saying let's be all Moulin Rouge! here and not be practical. There are, of course, real-life considerations (kids, etc.) that need to be discussed. But should fear dictate a relationship? To be totally blunt, we're all going to die at some point. None of us are immortal (at least, that I know of). Everybody gets something. It's the way life is. And if you love someone, then shouldn't you want to be with them no matter how much time they may or may not have? Or what's "wrong" with them?
Maybe I'm being too idealistic. But there are times when I really wish I was in a relationship, and I wonder how much of the fact that I'm not is due to Situations Beyond My Control. Or if it's just me (as in personality or whatever).
It also seems like guys w/CF, or lung transplants, have better luck getting married. I've seen a lot (well, OK, a fair amount) of married guys in the CF clinic. Not so much for the women.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

I love drugs...

OK not so much.
Today the cashier in the cafeteria asked me if I was pregnant. Since I've LOST weight during this most recent IV bout, I was a little bit appalled.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

I knew this already :)

You Are an Angel

A truly giving soul, you understand the spirit of Christmas.

I'm a gummi bear :)

Gummy Bears

You may be smooshie and taste unnatural, but you're so darn cute.

Monday, October 01, 2007

My patron saint

Today is the feast day of my Patron Saint, Therese of Lisieux. For my post on her, and some resources, go here.