Elections, Muppets, Hospices, Accents, and More – a link dump.

Kurt Vonnegut motivational posters. One of these days I’ll get around to reading something of his.

Pencil art – but not the way you think.

This article on hospice care is a hard article to read, but worth it.

A practical plan for when you feel overwhelmed is exactly what it says it is. Turns out I’ve been using most of these for years without having read them in a blog, but the bit about doing 15 minutes of fast things, followed by 35 minutes of something hard, is worth giving a try I suspect.

An awesome photo of a really bad shot by Tiger Woods.

Grover does Old Spice Guy.

Awesome use of negative space in IBM “Outcomes” campaign

Tilt-shift Van Gogh

Best Drunk Driving Public Service Annoucement for today’s geek ever:

An interesting look at the evils of shoes and not just heels, but pretty much all of them. I’m a big fan of MBTs, which they diss just a bit, but which increased my balance quickly enough that my martial arts instructor noticed. That’s progress. On the other hand, I’m hearing wonderful things about Vibram Five Fingers, and they’re likely to be my next adventure in shoes.

32 photographs of the solar system by The Big Picture.

Adventures in Culinary Experience.

So. Nighthawk is scheduled for a radiation treatment in two weeks, which according to all things thyroid cancer means that now he gets to spend two weeks on a low-iodine diet (LID). (Keeping low levels of iodine in the system now will result in what few thyroid cells he’s got left — the ones we’re trying to kill so they don’t get cancerous — getting really really thirsty for the radioactive iodine he’ll get two weeks fron now. Somewhere, one of my dozen-odd grammar teachers just cringed in pain at that sentence structure, but doesn’t know why.)

Anyway, the low-iodine diet means avoiding food high in iodine, only eating small amounts of food low in iodine, and mostly eating iodine-free foods.

Or summed up differently, no dairy, no seafood, no soy, no egg yolks or foods containing egg yolk, no chocolate, no iodized salt, no bread/bakery products because they’re probably fortified and/or contain iodized salt, no prepackaged food because it might contain iodized salt, or red dye number 3.

He can have six ounces of meat a day, pasta that doesn’t contain any of the stuff in the last paragraph (which means semolina or rice noodles, or yolk-free kosher egg noodles, thank you Manischewitz!), up to 4 servings of bread that we make ourselves following low-iodine guidelines, or other grains like oatmeal and similar grainy things or salt-free Matzos (thanks again Manschewitz!), sugar, jam, jelly, honey, soda, tea, beer, wine, fruit joices, and all the fruits and veggies you want as long as you’re not including rhubarb, marachino cherries, rhubarb, or the aforementioned soybeans.

Now, add to that the fact that with his Cystic Fibrosis and Cystic Fibrosis related Diabetes, he’s supposed to maintain a 3000 calorie per day diet (minimum) to maintain weight, and he needs to do it in such a way that he can keep his sugar under control.

Yeah, we’re screwed.

But so far in the last 36 hours I’ve baked cranberry-applesauce muffins, made LID-safe beer bread, and made tomato sauce entirely from scratch that wasn’t absolutely horrible. I’ve learned that my stonewear loaf pan is not yet seasoned to the point that it’s safe to bake bread without some kind of Pam. I’ve learned that a butter knife is not the optimal tool for prying bread out of a stonewear loaf pan. I’ve learned that sugar will cut the acidity from tomato sauce. Sugar, brown sugar, some honey, and gee-that-still-tastes-acidic-to-me more brown sugar might, in fact, be overkill.

And no, neither of us have any idea how much sugar’s in any of this stuff, so the diabetes, yeah, that’s been fun.

But I’m learning to cook…. that’s good, right?

An Update: He Lives!

Arrived at the hospital at 7:30. Pre-op started around 9. I read all of Dragonsblood between 7:30 and around 1. It’s worth the read, and is especially good when coupled with an iPod to drown out the soap operas in the waiting room.

(Side tangent:
Seriously, I swear that hospitals ought to be banned from being allowed to show soaps in waiting rooms. It was bad enough that I was subjected to a couple horrible morning shows and a portion of the New York Columbus Day parade when I was in Philadelphia. But it was followed by absolute horrors on the soaps.

  • First, lots of bawling from this grown man whose daughter was in a hospital bed for Lord knows what fabricated reason. Also: some woman lost a baby, and I don’t mean she misplaced it.
  • Then, the next show takes us into the middle of some dead guy’s funeral. Because what we all really need to see when we’re in the surgery/ICU waiting room, with our own personal levels of drama and trauma to deal with, is a bunch of people mourning with the melodrama dial set on “high”.
  • As if that wasn’t enough, the next show started with some guy being drug to his feet by his daughter after having his head all but bashed in by some unknown assailant, and ended with a nice-looking guy who was just trying to ruin someone else’s relationship collapsing on a porch. Sort of like the woman who’d had the stroke, whose kids were sitting a few chairs away from me.
  • And then there was Oprah, who felt it necessary to tell me things about the human body I didn’t want to know.


The TV update-you-on-your-spouse-in-surgery thing in the hospital indicated Nighthawk was in recovery (post-op) by 1:15, which coincidentally was just a little before his mom and brother arrived. I popped out of the waiting room just long enough to greet them, get some yogurt, and totally miss Nighthawk’s doctor, who instead called me and let me know everything went incredibly well and he should be placed in a room soon.

By 4:00 we were hearing rumors that there were no beds available, so I finally cornered a nurse who invited me back to Recovery to see Nighthawk. He was understandably grouchy that he’d been counting holes in the ceiling for three hours. Since he wouldn’t waste energy being grouchy if he was in serious trouble, I took that as a good sign.

Nighthawk didn’t get a room until 6:30. It made for a long day, and he hadn’t even met his nurses yet.

On the other hand, once he was finally upstairs everything was great. I cannot say enough positive things about Presbyterian Hospital or the staff that we dealt with. They had a lot to manage, between the thyroid removal, the cystic fibrosis treatments, the diabetes treatments, and the fact that Nighthawk was running about 4 hours later than anyone’d expected just to arrive, but they did a great job of making him comfortable, making sure he had everything that he needed, and setting our expectations for the night. Nighthawk’s nurse even hunted down a recliner for me to sleep in, so I could stay there with him overnight.

We both caught some frequently-interrupted sleep between the end of Monday Night Football and 6:45, when the first doctor arrived to scope him out (literally) and remove the drain in his neck. After some blood work, a healthy breakfast, another check-in by the docs, and the usual rounds of meds they declared him healthy enough to leave, and he was given his discharge papers before I could even finish my (admittedly late) breakfast.

We were in the car and on the way home by 10:30 yesterday morning. Nighthawk was comfy in his recliner by noon, and I was off fighting with an idiot pharmacy where nobody can count until around 3.

So how is he? He still hasn’t gotten his whole voice back yet but he hasn’t been in any significant pain the whole time (hasn’t even been on pain meds for most of the last two days) and is in a good mood. He’s still pretty damn tired, which I pretty much expect.

To be clear, having the thyroid removed is not in and of itself a cure for thyroid cancer. There’s still much to be done, including treatments with radioactive iodine and scans and balancing of new medications. Whee. But the first hurdle has been surpassed, and we get a short break before the festivities continue.

And how am I? Relieved. And exhausted. Possibly as exhausted as he is. My day today consisted of calling back various doctors to schedule various follow-up appointments, and then visiting my own doctor for another round of battle-the-sinus-infection. (My in-laws, who had awesomely taken JessieDog for the overnight, also stopped by to return her today.) It’s currently just after 11:00, a time I could easily stay awake past two weeks ago, and I’m barely awake enough to write this post.

Tomorrow I go back to work. Tomorrow night I might get working on Saturday’s comic. With luck everything goes back to on schedule from this point forward.

Every day is a new adventure. This week has been a set of adventures I’m glad to say I had overestimated. Thanks to everyone who’d sent their prayers, positive vibes, or whatever, in our general direction.

So. Um. Yeah.

Nighthawk’s been diagnosed with thyroid cancer. He’s having surgery to have his entire thyroid removed on Monday.

So now that you’ve picked yourself up off the floor, here are the details. Thyroid cancer itself is rare but very treatable. It was caught very early. From all indications this should be a case of cutting out the thing that went bad, probably doing some radiation treatments that are standard to the disease, and moving on. He’ll be on drugs the rest of his life, obviously, but he already is (obviously), just for other stuff. The CF and the diabetes certainly complicate matters, but outside of the constant challenge of making sure that each doctor understands the pieces the other doctors specialize in, in this case neither issue directly affects the cancer surgery or recovery.

He’ll likely spend about 24 hours in the hospital. He’ll be home for a total of about 2 weeks if everything goes according to plan.

Obviously this is not minor surgery and we’re both very concerned. On the other hand, there are thousands of people who’ve come through this with nothing more than a new thyroid drug or two to add to their regimen. We’re freaking out in controlled bursts instead of constantly.

So why am I telling you all of this? Well, for one, the comic is half imagination and half journal comic, and as today’s edition illustrates some aspects of this new turn of events are going to bleed through.

In addition, it should be obvious to everyone that he is by far the highest priority in my life, so there’s a chance the comic will be delayed or skipped for medical events. (Right now I give no guarantees for a Tuesday comic.)

And there is a piece of me that, as an author, thinks y’all are going to think it’s over the top to have the character with cystic fibrosis also get diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Believe you me, I’d’ve never planned it this way. It is over the top.

Thanks for reading.

Every day is a new adventure.

We’re lacking comics, sorely.

Fortunately, there are so few people reading this thing anyway, that I haven’t heard any complaints. You’re welcome to complain if you’d like. It won’t get you far, but it’s nice to hear another voice in the wilderness.

Nighthawk’s been diagnosed with diabetes, which was a bit more than either of us were ready to handle. It’s led to a bit more silence on the ‘net than I usually exercise. Some days a person just doesn’t feel like reading half the internet and commenting on it. I prefer to do my worrying in private and wait until I have something concrete to report before worrying everyone else.

It’s also led to doctor’s appointments, researching, asking around, gathering information, and most of all being there for each other — all of which takes precious time.

In addition, it’s tax season, which means almost nothing to you if you don’t work in the financial industry. But where I work, tax season is the functional equivalent of the Christmas shopping season for retail, with tax weekend playing the role of Black Friday. The metaphor is especially fitting this year because Easter and Passover are layered on top of April 15th (17th this year) and that means work, work, and more work. So interspersed among the medical appointments and research and general freakiness have been tickets and calls and overtime, and more overtime, and oh, some overtime.

Case in point: our department was open today, from 8 to 7, despite the fact that it’s a company holiday. I’ll be a member of the skeleton staff working tomorrow as well. (Had I known about the health circus, I wouldn’t have volunteered months ago, but alas, my crystal ball is still waiting to be RMA‘d back to the manufacturer.)

Speaking of hardware returns, did I mention that the file server has been nothing but one big technical glitch for close to a month? Fortunately, I don’t use it to produce the comic or the blog. Unfortunately, it is where I run all my backups, and where I pay all the bills, so life is interesting, as usual.

But at least the dog’s healthy, right? Well, no. She was shipped to the vet for day camp today while I worked because she’s sleeping a lot. A whole lot. Like when we came home on Wednesday at noon she didn’t bother coming downstairs to greet us until 7 pm. And any time I have to ask my husband to go find out if the dog has died twice in one day, it’s time to worry. The x-rays of her lungs and heart came back clean so now we’re waiting on the blood test results to determine if she’s sick or just really old and really lazy.

Oh, and I still have that knitting project to finish.

There are rays of sunshine throughout all of this, mind. The hardware repairs have prompted some upgrades. The diabetes explains a lot, and means Nighthawk will feel better than ever once it’s treated. Seven hours of overtime tomorrow mean I get to work in relative peace and quiet. Tax season is almost over. I get to dye eggs tomorrow. The Phillies look like they’re going to win 3 in a row after sucking like a giant Electrolux when the season began. And when it’s all said and done, I should have a chance to just sit back and relax.