March 19, 2009

My love affair with Apple is back on!

Last Thursday, I wrote that MobileMe deleted all of my data when my account expired because I hadn't updated the credit-card information in my account. When I had contacted MobileMe support I was told that my data was gone forever and there was no way to restore it. I was quite distraught.

Well, I have good news to report! On Tuesday, Mike from MobileMe Support called me to say that they had been made aware that I was less than pleased to find all my data gone when I tried to renew my MobileMe subscription. He said that MobileMe engineers would be able to recover my data and that they would set me up with a temporary three day account so I could download and backup the data myself. Much relieved, I told Mike to go ahead and bill me for the full subscription. That's right, I'm a paying MobileMe customer once again.

After going through some account verification protocols for Mike to confirm that I was really the owner of the account, he had the MobileMe engineers begin restoring my data from "the vault." After the initial phone conversation, Mike and I coordinated the rest of my account restore over email. In the final email Mike made sure to remind me that "... this recovery was an exception to the MobileMe Terms of Service, which advise that MobileMe members are responsible for backing up their own data. Apple will not be able to offer future exceptions of this nature... To prevent data loss in the future, we strongly suggest that you back up your iDisk files regularly to your Mac, a flash drive, or other storage device. The more backups you have, the more protected you are. I urge you to back up this data right away." Needless to say I'm backing up my iDisk to my MacbookPro right now with rsync.

I'm very lucky this all has a happy ending. This situation isn't really unique to MobileMe and I can't blame them. They were, after all, simply following the ToS that I agreed to (but of course didn't read) when I signed-up seven years ago. Let this be a lesson to everyone to never keep only one copy of your data no matter how much you might trust that one copy--nobody's perfect. Hopefully my initial overblown reaction to this doesn't damage MobileMe or Apple's reputation in anyway. Of course without my overblown reaction I probably wouldn't have gotten my data back. ;-)

December 16, 2007

Services for Mom

The wake for Mom will be from 3 - 9 pm on Monday, December 17, at Steuerle Funeral Home, located at 350 S. Ardmore Ave., Villa Park, IL 60181. There will be a short prayer service at about 7:30 pm during the wake.

In lieu of flowers please feel welcome to make a charitable donation to any of three charities: St. Alexander Parish Building for Tomorrow; Wellness House of Hinsdale, IL; or Colon Cancer Research. Building for Tomorrow is the Gathering Space building project for my mother's parish. The parish now owes approximately $700,000, and this is the first time the parish has had any debt. Building the Gathering Space and the church refurbishment have been very important to my parents. Wellness House, located in Hinsdale, IL is a large charitable cancer support organization and was very important to my mom during her cancer treatment. Colon Cancer Research is very important to my family for obvious reason.

There will be a small viewing in the St. Alexander Parish Gathering Space prior to the funeral mass from 9 - 10 am on Tuesday, December 18, 300 S. Cornell, Villa Park, IL 60181. The mass will begin at 10 am and last approximately one hour. Cemetery services will be at the Abraham Lincoln Veterans Cemetery near Joliet, IL at 2 pm. From Villa Park to the cemetery, the travel time is approximately 1 - 1 hour, 10 minutes. We will then return to the Villa Park area for a meal at Villa Nova Restaurant around 4 pm.

Mom, Riley, & Grace, April 2006

December 13, 2007

Olivia Natalie Baker

July 28, 1944 - December 13, 2007

Mom & Dad, Waimea Canyon, Kauai, March 2007

December 12, 2007

My Parents

My parents have been married 42 years and six months, today.

Christmas, 2004

December 11, 2007

I love you Mommy, Part 6

When I was a kid growing up, I remember watching TV and, from time to time, on a show someone would be rushed to the ER and their husband or parent would spend the night in the hospital room with them. They would always seem so heroic, having to spend the night in some uncomfortable chair and in the morning everything always turned out alright. As a kid, I wondered when that would happen to me. When would I spend the night in the hospital at a loved one's side? When would I get the chance to be the hero, so everything would be all better the next day? Well last night I got that chance. Only not everything is alright and I certainly don't feel like a hero.

I haven't written about my mom in over a year. Since that time I've taken two vacations with her. The first was to Kauai in March. That was the trip of a life-time and I'm so glad I took it with my mom and dad, and with Kate. The second trip was to Pentwater, MI in June.

Growing up, my family took a vacation to Pentwater every summer in our crank-up pop-up camper. I loved camping with my family when I was kid. It was my favorite week of the year--every year. The last year we went was the summer before I started high school. That is, until the summer of 2006, when the whole family returned, only this time we added my brother-in-law Chris, sister-in-law Jenny, and my four nieces. And we stayed in a cottage instead of a pop-up camper. We went back again this June as well. Both trips to Pentwater were greatly enjoyed by everyone in my family.

Since the last time I wrote, my mom has also had twenty-six chemotherapy treatments--every other Friday for a year. During all this time she has continued to work, sing at mass, and participate in many of her volunteer activities. And even though she had each chemo treatment at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, just a few minutes away from my office, I never once visited her while she received them. Every time I was just "too busy" and said I would go next time. The first weekend of November, my family got together at Elmhurst Public House. My dad told me Mom would really like to see me there... but I blew it off. I had just seen everyone the weekend before to celebrate my dad's, grandpa's, and niece Caitlin's birthdays all at once, so I thought that was good enough. I decided it was more important that I go through the process of upgrading my hacked/unlocked iPhone to the 1.1.1 firmware. And I promised myself I was going to finally visit my mom when she had her chemo the following Friday. But of course history always repeats. That Friday, Google hosted Lunch 2.0 and I choose that over visiting my mother again. I told myself I would really really really go to the next one. Well that Friday may very well have been my last chance.

On Friday, November 16th my mom had a very bad pain in her back and my dad drove her to NWM ER that night. Kate and I met my parents at the ER when they arrived. Turns out the pain was caused by blood clots in her lungs. She was very lucky that it did not cause a pulmonary embolism. The doctors admitted her and started her on a prescription of Lovenox. She was released on Monday, the 19th.

My family had a great Thanksgiving. Combined with Kate's family get together before that, I ate so much food I'm lucky I didn't burst. Everyone was happy and thankful to be together.

Monday, November 26, kicked off a series of doctors appointments for my mother. That monday started for my parents at 4:15 am when they woke up to get ready to travel from the west suburbs to downtown. After a CT scan and other tests and meetings with doctors, they were back home after 4:30 pm. It was a very long day and she was very tired. While the CT scan showed no change in the liver tumors, the oncologist thought her chemo regimen had about run its course and we should make a change in treatment. My mom had developed a large amount of fluid in her belly, which the doctor was concerned with. On Thursday, November 29, she had the fluid drained from her stomach. Two and a half liters of fluid were drained before my parents headed back home. It was a very difficult day. On Monday, December 3, a stent was put in the main blood vessel of her liver, which was greatly constricted by the tumor. Again, a very difficult day. By the time my parents got home, she was totally exhausted. The doctor told us that she would have a couple of days of discomfort, but by Thursday she should begin to feel better.

It didn't turn out that way though. She felt worse and worse as the week progressed. She was in such pain that my dad called her oncologist at 3:30 am (waking her out of bed) on Friday morning. She told my dad to take her to the ER now. Mom refused to go, telling my dad she would be okay. As Friday progressed my dad decided that she was going to go whether she wanted to or not. Reinforcements came in the form of my sister Debbie and her husband Chris. They convinced Mom that she needed to go to the ER. So back we went to NWM's ER on Friday night. I once again had Kate in-tow for another hot date sitting in the waiting room. In the ER, Mom had more xrays and another CT scan. We even recognized some of the nurses from the 3 weeks ago stay which is not a good sign that you remember those people. She was admitted into the Prentice wing at about 4 am Saturday morning.

What I've left out from above is that my mom has barely eaten much of anything since her trip to the hospital three weeks ago for the blood clots. We understood that she might not have much of an appetite, especially with all the fluid build up pressing on her stomach. But my mom never told any of us that it was physically painful for her to eat. We didn't find that out until she told the doctors when we got to her room in Prentice that night. Not wanting to be a burden or to make us worry, she never told us how bad it was.

My mom's blood clots are the likely chain reaction that started all her recent troubles. The blood clots stopped blood flow to a section of her lungs and destroyed the tissue there. The dead tissue is now infected and has caused pneumonia. This is likely the main source of her worst pain, but it doesn't stop there. She also has two hernias. One is about the size of a softball and the other the size of a golf ball. She is far too weak for surgery to fix the hernias.

Last night, my dad, Debbie, Kevin, and I had a long appointment with the oncologist, Dr. Mary Mulcahy, in Mom's room so she could listen. This was an absolutely amazing visit with her doctor and she showed us things none of us had seen before about my mom's case. She was able to pull up all of my mom's CT scans. Dr. Mulcahy stepped us through the last two years of CT scans showing us the progression of the tumors in my mom's liver. She showed us charts of my mom's test readings over time and showed us how one particular reading has jumped up considerably over the past few weeks. That combined with my mom's symptoms are a sign of liver failure caused by bile not being allowed to drain from her liver. The readings should be accompanied by dilated bile ducts in her CT scans though, and that is not the case. Dr. Mulcahy is going to consult a liver specialist because at the moment she is stumped.

This leads me to last night. I just couldn't leave my mom alone last night. She is so out of it from the pain medications that there is no way she would be able to hit the nurse call button if she woke up in the middle of the night and needed something. So I finally got to spend the night at a hospital. It was the worst night of my life. After my brother left at 11:30 pm, I laid down on the couch to try and get some sleep. Unfortunately, every five to ten minutes my mother would moan that she was in pain. "Oh it hurts," or "would you help me, please?" were the phrases I heard repeatedly. When I would ask her what she needed me to do, she would only answer "I don't know, just help me please." I've never felt so useless. I definitely did not feel like the heros I saw on TV.

At 3 am, the nurses came in to give her more pain meds and check her vitals. They also shifted her into a new position in the bed. When they left, I laid down again. A moment later my mom was moaning and asking for more help. She was all hunched over on the side of the bed so I straightened her up and stuck a pillow between her and the railing. I asked if that was better but only got an "I don't know" response. I turned my back to grab another pillow and before I turned around again, I heard my mom's unmistakable snore. I immediately knew things were better. I left the pillow where I grabbed it and laid back down on the couch. It was 3:10am. I fell asleep to the soothing sounds of my mom's snores and didn't wake up until 5am when the nurses came in to check on things and give her more pain medication. Back to sleep I went and things went just as well as the two hours before.

At 7:30, I woke to my mom moaning that she hurt. I called the nurse. At 8 am she finally got her pain meds, a full three hours since her last. God love small victories. The rest of the morning has been fairly peaceful. I woke her up to feed her two pieces of a hard-boiled egg (which she hated) and half of a cup of orange juice. She hasn't complained of much pain but she has been extremely out of it and sleeping virtually the entire time. I hate to see her like this. I don't know what is better, hearing her complain about the pain, or seeing her so sedated that I can't have any kind of a conversation with her.

There is plenty more to this story but it's late Tuesday night and I need to get some rest. At the moment I don't know what else to say other than these two words: cancer sucks.

June 05, 2007

Just What Are Cicadas?

This is easily the best video I have seen on the 17-year cicadas that are right in the middle of their outbreak in the Chicago 'burbs. Thankful I'm in the city and miss out on their constant song.

click-thru to article if you don't see the video

April 12, 2007

Third Time's a Charm?

My Shattered Window, April 12, 2007

Well for the second night in a row and the third time in nearly a month, someone has smashed in one of my car windows. Just like last night, it was my driver-side window. Unlike last night, it doesn't even look like they made any attempt at all to get in my car. Initially when I found the car, the window was almost completely intact but shattered. There was just a hole near the side mirror where you could reach the handle. My door was locked so if they got in, they would have had to open it from the inside. But when I tried to do it, the middle section of the window, that is missing in the photo, fell down. So my guess is they didn't even try to get into my car or anything. They literally just broke the window and took off. Or perhaps my brand new window shattered all by itself? Can that happen? Could I have had a botched window replacement? Anyway, the same company that fixed it yesterday is on there way here to do it again today. I'll let you know how it goes.

April 11, 2007

The World is Out to Get Me

This is definitely one of those days. So I woke up this morning to find that hoodlums broke into my car for the second time in a month. The first time was while I was on vacation in Kaua'i just a few weeks ago. Yeah I know I need to blog about Kaua'i. If it will make you feel any better you can check out my Kaua'i pictures or read about Rachelle's trip since she was there at the same exact time although we never managed to get together while we were there.

Anyway back to today. So yeah woke up to find my driver-side window smashed in and the inside of my car not only covered in broken glass but also in rain and snow. The weather this morning and today has been exceptionally terrible. It's been switching off between snow and rain non-stop. What a disaster... I couldn't even tape up plastic since combined with the cold (1º F) and the constant snow/rain I could never get the duck tape to stick to my car and/or the sheet of plastic. Oh yeah guess what... they didn't even steal anything. They broke my window so they could get into my car with nothing in it to steal. They sifted through my center console, moving my gum packs around, but came up empty. They didn't even bother to take the two dollars of change I had in my car.

At least this time I didn't bother calling my insurance company and instead just opened up the yellow pages and called an auto glass company directly. It ended up being $60 cheaper this time by not using the company my insurance recommended. They even offered me the option of going with a used window, which would have been another $30 less, but I went with a new one anyway. The guy didn't do as good a job of cleaning all the broken glass out of my car but I'm sure that had something to do with the fact that he was being snowed and rained on while he did it.

I really would have liked to have called and filed a police report this time but since my license plates are two years expired I couldn't. I really didn't feel like tacking a $75 ticket onto my already crappy morning.

So I had planned to go to the DMV on my way into work and get my plates taken care of. That way the next time my car is broken into, I won't have to think twice about calling the police. So after dealing with trying to park in the loop and walking through more snow and rain, right as I finally get to the DMV, I was paged that one of our slave database servers just went offline. So I had to ditch out on the DMV and hightail it into the office and save our web cluster from collapse. Then it was off to the datacenter to fix the server. Turned out to be a failed power supply. Luckily we had a spare power supply on hand because we've been trying to troubleshoot yet another one of our database servers that has been randomly rebooting itself every few days. It has been doing that for the past month and we have yet to solve it. We finally got HP to send us a new mainboard which we just now replaced while at the datacenter fixing the other new server problem. We'll see how that goes.

So yeah I'm pretty sure the world is out to get me. I think a good capper for the day would be for me to slip in a giant slush filled puddle and have my MacBook Pro and/or iPod ruined in the process. Then maybe when I get home and try to login to World of Warcraft for the first time in weeks to relieve some stress maybe I could find out my account has been hacked and all my items have been sold. That would be just perfect.

December 08, 2006

How do smokers do it?

NINE FUCKING DEGREES!!!I seriously don't know how smokers do it. Every single day as I walk from the Merchandise Mart Brown Line stop to my office on Randolph, there are always smokers outside MM. When I get to our building there are always at least three of them outside the door smoking, all day long. As I was walking in today, from my view of the smokers as I walked up the sidewalk, just over their heads was the sign from the end of the block reading -12 C. That is negative twelve people! I didn't know exactly what that was at the time in Fahrenheit but it's gotta be fucking cold. I tell you what, if it was me I would figure out how to quit that habit pretty damn fast. Heck, if supermodels were outside my office right now giving away free sex I wouldn't do it. It's so damn cold outside. No way in hell I would be out there sucking down cancer sticks.

October 12, 2006

I love you Mommy, Part 5

It's been quite a while since my last update so anyone trying to keep track of my mother's fight with cancer through my blog is surely wondering what's happening. Things have kinda been less than stellar over the past month. As you know, her first Therasphere procedure went very well and it appeared to knock out the tumors in the right lobe of her liver where the procedure was targeted. On August 30th she had the second procedure to target the tumors in the left lobe of her liver. On September 26th she had CT and PET scans to see how well it worked and we got the results on September 28th. This is where the bad news comes in.

Instead of shrinking, the tumors in her left lobe actually got larger and the tumors in the right lobe were back already. On top of that, the PET scan showed new "hot spots" in other areas of her body. The "hot spots" don't necessarily mean cancer has actually started in these places, but it is a sign that the cancer is definitely trying to spread. The plan now is to put my mother on a fairly aggressive treatment of chemo to knock out the hot spots and hopefully make a dent on the tumors in her liver. By aggressive I mean that this round of chemo is really going to kick her ass and her hair is very likely going to fall out.

On top of all this my mother developed a hernia from the major surgeries to her abdomen (colon and liver resections) and it had really started to bother her. The doctors decided it was best to have surgery on the hernia now, because it was only going to get worse and it would be impossible to do later while she was undergoing chemo treatments. Chemo attacks new cell growth, so it's counter-productive if you are trying to heal from surgery. So the plan was to get the hernia surgery out of the way as quickly as possible so we can start chemo once she's had time to recover. From here I'll let my dad take over as he recaps it best.

Dear Friends & Family:

I don't think I have sent an email lately with the latest news. Natalie had hernia surgery on Friday, 10/6, at Northwestern. Fortunately, it was laproscopic. Thus, chemo will start probably in 2 - 3 weeks since the cancer is growing again in both lobes of the liver and there are some new spots showing up on a pet scan. The hernia itself was 10 centimeters in diameter and almost a perfect circle. That is fairly close to 4 inches and it is no wonder her stomach had been really bothering her for the last 5 weeks. She just didn't let on how much it really did hurt. As soon as she was awake after surgery she said the stomach pain was gone. We obviously have a whole lot of respect for Dr. Eric Hungness.

The concern was that if the surgeon had to do an "open" hernia surgery chemo could not start until early to mid December. This was not what we wanted. Thus, chemo should start within a couple of weeks.

There was some concern that the surgery could not be done until 10/20. However, the MAN upstairs smiled on us and there was a last minute cancellation so we could use the operating room on 10/6. It was a welcome relief to have the planets align in our favor for a change!

The surgery went well and I was able to bring her home on Saturday afternoon. She was there about 32 hours. Paul was with me all day and until we went home after dinner about 10 PM. Debbie was able to get to the hospital about 4 PM and I gave her a ride back to Wheaton. I was very glad and thankful that they were both there.

There was one bit of humor for the day. Paul did a classical reading of one of his mother's romance novels for us with some ad libs thrown in from the perspective of "if I was writing this trash I would have said it this way!" Debbie and I were in tears we were laughing so hard, especially with Paul's voice impersonations. I think this has possibilities of becoming a family tradition with Uncle Paul.

Natalie is walking and resting, feeling stronger each day. She is going to go "cranial prosthesis" shopping on Thursday in preparation for the chemo. She will probably return to work on Thursday or Friday to just get some necessary things done in 2 - 3 hours. She does find her job life-giving and intends to keep at it. Afterall, the quality of life and getting something positive out of each day is what counts. This is no time to feel sorry for ourselves or about our situation. WE ARE GOING TO KEEP ON LIVING and hope each of you do the same.

Thank you so much for your prayers. Keep them coming. The next 6 months will be a challenge. We will be in need of some divine intervention. God's Speed and God Bless.


PS In case you didn't figure it out, a cranial prosthesis is a wig! Make it a great day.

I was hoping to end this post with the picture of all of us on our family vacation at Pentwater, MI in August, but I'm still waiting for a certain sibling to send it to me. So instead here's a picture of my niece, Riley, riding a pony. More pictures of my nieces here.

Riley Riding a Pony

August 01, 2006

I love you Mommy, Part 4

Well it's been a long time since I gave a status update about my mother and it's long overdue. As you know from my last update the cancer in her liver started to come back and she was set to have a PET-scan and have the doctors figure out what her next steps in the fight would be. After the results of the PET-scan, the doctors decided that the best course of treatment for now would be Therasphere. While not really a new treatment, it is one that is only done about 4000 times a year by a handful of hospitals. Fortunately, Northwestern Memorial is one of them. (I really should have gone there for my appendectomy.) While it is FDA approved, the FDA is still accumulating data so my mother will have to fill out a report afterwards.

You can watch a video of how Therasphere works and also CBS2 news report about it. In fact my mom's doctor for the procedure is in the CBS report.

She had the procedure done on July 5th and last Thursday, July 27th she had CAT and PET-scan's to see how well it worked. Today we got the results and it was great news! The procedure was successful for the lobe that received treatment. On August 30th, she will go for a second treatment to do the other lobe. Keep her in your prayers that everything goes well.

May 23, 2006

I love you Mommy, Part 3

My parent's got the results of my Mom's CAT-scan today at Northwestern Memorial. I met them for lunch. Well it was not the results we were hoping for. There are some spots that have formed around where she had the radio frequency ablation therapy before. When they burned out the tumor in that spot before they did the standard amount of coverage around it to hopefully get all the cancer cells but apparently it was not enough, whatever microscopic traces that were left behind have grown. Her left lobe still remains clear of cancer (at least that is detectable by the CAT-scan.) She will have a PET-scan next Tuesday to search for any microscopic traces of cancer any where else that are undetectable by the CAT-scan. Keep her in your prayers so they don't find anything else. Assuming they don't it looks like her options are for either more of the RAF therapy, or to have a port put into her leg to do directed chemotherapy on the liver. Surgery won't be used except as a last resort if all other options have been exhausted. Because of her previous liver surgery, her liver is to the point where there is a high risk of liver failure if they take out any more of it. Hopefully it will never have to come to that. She still feels great and has gained fourteen pounds since her surgery in January. She is full of energy and is determined that this won't stop her from enjoying many more fruitful years of her life. The doctor told her NOT to cancel our trip to Pentwater, MI in August. I meant to post some pictures from our family get-together on Mother's Day earlier, but now is as good as any time and better late than never. More pictures after the jump.

Family Photo, Mother's Day 2006, Taken by my Dad

Continue reading "I love you Mommy, Part 3" »

April 20, 2006

Bridge Jumper Dies in Apparent Suicide

As reported by the Sun-Times about an hour ago, the jumper didn't make it. I have to say when I read on that he was being rushed to the hospital in any condition other than dead I didn't believe it based on what I witnessed, but I was hopeful. You've got to wonder what drove him to do it. :-( From the Sun-Times article:

Someone on a tour boat reportedly threw “life rings” to a man who jumped in the Chicago River from the Randolph Street bridge in the Loop on Thursday morning, but the man later died, an apparent suicide.

Updated: Randolph Street Bridge

Some poor soul apparently jumped or fell into the Chicago river near the Randolph Street bridge this morning. As I was walking on Wacker from the MM Brownline stop towards Randolph a series of fire trucks went racing by and turned the corner at Randolph. Five minutes later when I got up there, I saw that the trucks had stopped right there. Then I saw the crowd looking over the edge on the bridge. I stayed to watch for ten minutes and snapped a few pics with my camera phone. I never saw who was in the water so they must have been submerged for at least fifteen minutes. Just before I left they finally got the diver into the water. I had to take off and get to work so I never got to see the diver come up or the conclusion of what is likely a tragic tale...

Update! According to it was a suicide attempt. From the article:

A man was taken to an area hospital in serious condition Thursday morning after divers from the Chicago Fire Department rescued him from the Chicago River in the Loop where he jumped, reportedly in a suicide attempt.

Rescue workers responded at 8:46 a.m. after the man jumped in the river near Randolph Street and Wacker Drive, said Fire Media spokesman Josh Dennis.

The man was pulled out of the water and was on his way to Northwestern Memorial Hospital in serious to critical condition as of 9:45 a.m., Dennis said, adding it may have been an attempted suicide.

"He pulled his car over there, called his girlfriend and then jumped," according to Central District Sgt. Charles Popielarz.

And now the pictures I took with my camera phone:

Chicago Fire Department on the scene.

The "Mayer Daley River Cleanup Crew" taking their sweet time.

Chicago Police show up, fashionably late as usual.

Diver's almost ready to jump in.

Look out fo tha choppa!

Diver jumps in the water.

Diver submerges and all you see are bubbles.

April 07, 2006

First Post, Sans Appendix

Well it's been a crazy nine days. Last Thursday and Friday I was in the Virginia/DC/Maryland area for work. Then starting Saturday night at 3:30am I had tremendous pain in my mid abdomen. It hurt enough that I didn't get any sleep Saturday night. The best way I could describe it was that it felt like something was "stuck" in my stomach. So I had lunch at Salt & Pepper on Sunday and I started to feel better after that but I still had some pain. A little bit before dinner I felt achy all over. That was a bad sign but anyway I had to get ready and head over to my sister's for dinner with my folks. Had dinner and I felt even better after that. The pains in my stomach were now coming and going so they had become tolerably. But by the time I was ready to head for bed I had developed a numbness in my lower right abdomen. My dad had appendicitis when I was kid, and even though it's not supposed to be hereditary, the thought had entered my mind more than once over the past several hours that I was in pain. I got out of bed and looked up the appendicitis symptoms on WebMD. None of the symptoms really applied exactly but still this couldn't be ignored. I called my Dad to see what his symptoms were before he went to the doctor. He told me he didn't not have the traditional appendicitis symptoms. The best way he could describe it was that no matter what position he was in or what he did, he could never get comfortable. And well that pretty much described my situation.

So I grabbed my iPod and Harry Potter part one which I had just bored from Jennifer at dinner and headed to Illinois Masonic Hospital on Wellington and Halsted at about 12:30am. After about 30 minutes that had me in a bed and hooked up to an IV and drew some blood. They told me they were going give me a CAT scan so I was going to have to drink the "milkshake." They brought my barium sulfate drink at about 1:54am and told me that an hour after I finished it, I could have my CAT scan. I finished it by 1:58am. It's definitely not something I would ever drink voluntarily, but I wanted to get this all over with as fast as possible. About 2:12 the orderly came to take me up for my CAT scan. As I was rolled past the doctor he told me that my blood test came back negative so things were looking good. The test your blood to see if your white blood cell count is elevated, as a sign that you are fighting an infection. Mine was normal. So when I got back from my CAT scan they never changed my IV bag because they figured I was going home. After an hour I came out to of my room to ask if anyone was going to do something about my IV and the doctor said probably not. It was annoying because I bleeding up into the tube. Few minutes later an orderly came and unhooked the bag but left my IV in. Then about 5:20 my nurse came in with a large IV bag and hooked up and told me the CAT scan showed appendicitis and I was going to have surgery. Around six, my to-be attending surgeon came to talk to me about the surgery. He told me I would likely have my surgery in the afternoon. I asked if I could get a phone so I could call my parents to let them know what was happening and when my surgery was going to be. He said he's bring me a phone soon. Twenty minutes later he came back with a phone and told me my surgery was going to be at 7am. So I dialed my folks and told them to move their butts because I was going under the knife in forty minutes.

Well long story short, after getting shaved I had the surgery and spent three hours in recovery. Three hours because my pain management tech couldn't seem to get it through his head that morphine wasn't having the pain reduction effects on me that it has on most people. One thing that the morphine did do was knock me out... for a while. I woke up from surgery in the most pain I believe I have ever experienced. And that was pretty much the case each time I woke up after my morphine shot over and over again. Eventually the tech gave up and just sent me to my room. Thanks a lot. Once to my room, the coherence reducing effects of morphine started to wear off and I was able to tell my nurse that morphine was not cutting it and they needed to get me something else. So finally they brought me something else. Which did work better, but only for about an hour and they would only give it to me every two. Better than nothing I guess.

With my pain killer issue some what under control, now it was time to make best of my hospital stay. Good luck with that. I was sharing my room with a Romanian gentleman that had HUGE foot long incision across the left side of his skull and probably something like eighty staples holding is head together. Yikes! Anyway, he had about a dozen visitors that day with most of them all there at once. All shouting at each other in Romanian. Now some people might find this to be a comical situation. And usually I would be one of those people except that at the time all I wanted to do was sleep and it was not going to happen with all that racket. I can sleep through pain. I can sleep through noise. What I can't do is sleep through noise and pain together. Seeing as how I didn't sleep at all Saturday night, and I had been up the entire time since before I arrived at the hospital and until they put me out in the OR and except for the moments of morphine induced unconsciousness during recovery and pure exhaustion during the day I hadn't really gotten any sleep in 60 hours. At least with all the noise and pain it did keep me awake so I could enjoy the Cubs spank the living crap out of Cincinnati 16 to 7. After the NCAA championship game was over I wanted to watch the Daily Show, but at this time the nurses came in to try and get the Romanian to sleep. If they could get him to sleep it would be the first moments of silence since I was wheeled into that room. I didn't want to stop that from happening so it was lights out for me too.

Things went good until about 2am when the Romanian woke up and started to yell the word "azzutol" every ten seconds. This marks the time when I started paging the nurses every 10 minutes asking them to move him to another room so I could sleep, and that I need more pain killers. Finally at 3:30am they moved him to another room and it was glorious let me tell you. Glorious! I could finally sleep... for a couple more hours. Then a nurse came into to mop the room. That's right. Apparently they have nothing better to do so they thought they should clean up the empty half of my room and make as much noise as possible at 5:30 in the morning. Because god forbid if I could actually get three hours of contiguous sleep. That would just be too much to ask. So finally she was done cleaning but my pain meds were completely worn off and I needed more now. So I paged the nurse and one came in and I asked for pain medicine and she said she would tell my nurse. Twenty minutes later I was still in pain and my nurse was no where in sight. So I paged the nurse again. "What? You no get pain pills?" NO! Finally forty minutes after I originally paged to get my meds finally my nurse shows up with my injection. Thank god! Things went smoother from here. Probably a because I complained to James, my new competent day time nurse, what shitty night I had.

Anyway my next focus was on trying to fart and then eventually poop. Neither of which happened that day but I did get to finally eat and drink something. Let me tell you, that serving of chicken broth that I had for breakfast was quite possibly the greatest tasting chicken broth I've ever had. Of course it could have just been the circumstances. I had beef broth for lunch. That wasn't nearly as tasty as the chicken broth. Tuesday night went much better. I was now off IV pain killers and on Vicodin. For dinner they gave me roast beef and mash potatoes with gravy. I felt nervous about eating it since I hadn't passed gas yet, but they gave me the all clear. Sleeping was great without the Romanian although when I woke up Wednesday morning, upper back pain from being in bed so long had eclipsed my gut pain. I was definitely ready for more Vicodin and the nurses could not get it to me fast enough it seemed. I finally passed gas Wednesday morning a bit before lunch and it was glorious. After lunch my dad took me home to my parents house where I plopped myself down on the couch and took a nap until dinner. Had dinner. Watched some TV. Took more Vicodin. Drank water. Went to sleep. Thursday morning I decided to go without Vicodin though until I finally took a dump since Vicodin has a tendency constipate. Granted they gave me a stool softener to go with it but I figured it could be that much more effective if I just took the softener without the Vicodin. I took a couple walks outside Thursday morning and after lunch I decided I was ready for a nap. And I knew I wasn't going to get much rest with the pain I was in so I took a Vicodin. But it was all good because I took about a four hour nap, got up and took my first dump. It was glorious! The rest of Thursday went pretty well. Had dinner. Watched some TV. Took more Vicodin. Drank water. Went to sleep. So yeah thins pretty much just get more and more boring from here. I'm watching the Cubs home opener as I finish this entry which I have been typing up bit by bit since Wednesday. So far they are winning 1 to nothing in bottom of the 2nd thanks to Lee's HR in the 1st. I like it. Well I think this is good enough. When I feel up to it, I'll write about my trip to Virginia that preceded my trip to the hospital. And now I leave you with a picture of my incision and painfully swollen gut from Wednesday night.

February 01, 2006

You are invited to D&B

My birthday is this Saturday. I'm turning the ripe old age of 28. :-) I invite you all to celebrate with me at Dave & Buster's in Chicago this Saturday, February 4th. It's short notice as usual, but hopefully you can make it. I plan to show up around 7-7:30. If you want to join me for dinner at 7:30 let me know incase I need to make reservations. Otherwise show up some time after and I'll see you there. The address is 1030 N. Clark, Chicago, IL.

I love you Mommy, Part 2

It was a long day on Monday as my Mom's surgery was bumped to a later time because her operating room was needed for some other emergency. Despite the delay, in the end it was successful and we are all thankful. Six months ago the plan was for my mom to have a bisection to remove the right lobe of her liver and the two tumors in it. About a six weeks ago though, the CT and PET scan's showed that a third lesion had developed in the left lobe making a bisection impossible. This was very bad news at the time. On monday though, the surgeons were unable to find the third lesion at all. They proceeded and completely removed the larger of the two remaining tumors including a full centimeter of healthy tissue all the way around it (about the size of a baseball in all.) They then used a procedure similar to radiation therapy, but that is administered directly while the surgeons have "access", to "zap" and kill the second tumor. Removing this tumor was too dangerous to remove due to it's proximity to a major vein. I went to see her again tonight and she is doing very well. She is doing her best to break all the recovery time records she can, the over-achiever that she is. Time will tell if the cancer is gone for good, but keep the prayers coming and my mom WILL beat this. Read my Dad's email that he sent to all our family and friends after the jump.

Continue reading "I love you Mommy, Part 2" »

January 04, 2006

New Era @ FeedBurner ;-)

Yesterday was my first day at FeedBurner. Let me know if you want stickers. So far so good. Got my new powerbook set up. The new screen rez is sweeeeet. I also took it upon myself to go ahead and burn my blog. Not much else going on. Finally got my whole toliet overflowing problem fixed... for the time being anyway. There are likely some major problems with the main-line. It's now mainly in the hands of the condo association though. They need to have a plumber cam it (run a camera through the pipes) to find the exact problem and will most likely have to tear up the concrete outside my door and replace 3 more sections of the main-line. Good times indeed!

September 28, 2005

welcome to fall

Let the rainy unbearable traffic season begin!

June 21, 2005

i love you mommy

So remember when I said I received the worst news of my life a few days ago, well I now have even worse news than that. I was cryptic last time because I simply haven't accepted it myself. I just can't believe it's real and I really want to wake up from this horrible nightmare. My mom has been diagnosed with stage three colon cancer. The CT scan results she received today shows it has spread past the walls of her colon and two lesions have developed on her liver. Tomorrow she will have a PET scan to hopefully confirm that there are only two lesions on her liver. She will also have a CAT scan of her chest to make sure that the cancer has not spread to any other organs. Assuming they don't find anything more, she will have surgery on Monday at Northwestern Hospital in Chicago to remove the right half of her colon. She will spend four to seven days in hospital and after that it will take four to six weeks at home to recover from the surgery, leaning more towards six. Once her doctor feels she is up to it, she will receive three to six months of chemotherapy to stop the growth of the lesions on her liver and lucky, hopefully shrink them some as well. After that she will have another surgery to remove the lesions and surrounding tissue from her liver. This second surgery is the most severe and carries the highest risks. With stage three colon cancer that has spread to the liver, my mom has a 35% chance of survival over five years. Having said that she is handling this very well and is optimistic and in good spirits. She is very comfortable with her doctor at Northwestern (referred to her by a friend of my parents who had colon cancer eight years ago) and is determined to beat this at all costs. Please keep her in your prayers. We need all of them we can get.

August 12, 2004

there is shit everywhere

Life sucks. It sucks hard. Why was there traffic at 9 o'clock on the way home tonight. So lame. Life sucks. It sucks hard. This is a picture of some of the geese that hang around the office shitting all over the place. It sucks. I chased them around and took pictures. I also got a little video of it as well. Life sucks. The only thing good in my life right now is that Seinfeld is on right now.

May 28, 2004

on the verge of seizing

So as I was driving to work this morning on 90 and things were looking pretty good. There were no clouds in the sky and it was sunny yet cool. I had all the windows open and the my iPod cranked way up. It's Manish's birthday, so he was going to be out of the office. It's always a bonus when the boss is out. Then all of the sudden BAM!

Out of no where this like giant probably like two foot by two foot piece of heavy vinyl (I'm guessing) tarp flips up from under the car in front of me and smacks flat on the front of my car. I didn't stop because like what the fuck good is it going to do to try and stop on the shoulder of I-90? Anyway I kept going and decided to get to the office as fast as possible where I could then checkout the damage to my car. The whole time thinking oh fuck how much is this going to fucking cost to fix. I wonder if it would be covered under comprehensive since like it wasn't really an accident or anything. I mean like the same kinda thing could happen if like a big piece of shit fell from the sky and hit my car while parked ya know? So 15 minutes later as I was waiting for the light to change at off ramp from 294 to Willow Rd, I smelled motor oil and I was like "oh shit that better not be me."

So I finally got to the parking lot and came around and looked at the front of my car. There is black shit all over my front, but it doesn't look like any real scratches, so I'm hoping it will buff out fairly easily. But then I noticed a trail of drips on the blacktop. I touched and sure fucking much it was motor oil. I look under my car and the shit is just pouring out from under my engine. FUCK!

I ran inside and washed the oil off my hands, and of course there were no paper towels in the boys bathroom so I yell, "whoever used the last paper towel and didn't replace the roll is an ASSHOLE!" Then I told everyone what happened and Mark was like dude let me take you to my buddy he's just by the McDonalds. So we go outside and there is like half-quart of oil spilled out on the parking lot already from the like five minutes I was inside. So we race over to Semeria Imports and Larry comes out and looks at it. "Yup you've punctured your oil pan. This is cheap and easy to fix. One inch higher and it would have hit the block and you would have been really screwed." So he runs back in to the shop and grabs an oil bucket to put under my car (since I was leaking oil all over his blacktop parking lot). As he puts it under the pour goes down to a trickle and then stops. Yeah so yeah I had like three minutes of oil left when I pulled into his parking lot. Talk about timing. Anyway in the end it was only like $68 p/l, which I am so thankful that was all it was.

October 01, 2003

congratulations are in order

Of course in addition to congratulations to the Cubs for their first game win against the Braves...

Congrats to Ryan and Robin on the birth of their bouncing baby girl Mckenna Rose, born Sunday morning!

Congrats to my friend Valerie and her boyfriend Noah on passing The Bar!

August 18, 2003


I said I don't have anything to say. What are you blind?

May 27, 2003

my return

I'm back to the world of blogging. A lot has taken place since my last entry in April. Let's see to recap the last six weeks, I tore my right MCL rollerblading, went to the Dada concert, had my first MRI, paid $500 for a knee brace, and started six week physical therapy program, saw Identity, went to my cousin Shawn's wedding, saw The Matrix Reloaded with the guys from work, saw X-Men 2 with my mom, closed NTR's bank account with Kai, saw The Matrix Reloaded with Kevin and Jenny, went to Valerie Breslin's graduation party, and last but not least, saw Bruce Almighty.

April 15, 2003

taxes are done

I'll talk more about it later, but for now I'm going to bed.

April 08, 2003

visualize whirled peas

That's what the bumper sticker on the SUV in front of me on the way to work said anyway.

April 07, 2003


There was Chevy Cavalier in front of me in the Portilos drive-thru tonight. It had the license plate "DRKGRUV" and a "Free Kevin" bumper sticker. I wonder if that is for Kevin Mitnick, of course now he is free though. They also removed the "Cav" and "r" from Cavalier and then put an "N" on the end of it so it spelled "alieN". They knocked off the "Cheve" and "t" from Cheverolet and put "DISCO" infront of it so it spelled "DISCOrole". Google search for Discorole comes up empty. I wonder what it's supposed to mean.

these skates were made for walkin

Finally bought a pair of in-line skates on Saturday. Got a pair of Salomon Preface ALU skates from the Skate Shack in Westmont. They are probably a tiny bit too small (my toes are right up against the front), the next size was just too loose in the ankles.

Went skating around the block a few times on Saturday and Sunday. Feel on my ass a handful of times. I'm sad it snowed today. Now I won't be able to skate for probably several days now.

i think they are trying to kill me

Ate at the Thai Orchid on Friday night as usual. Orderd Pad Sie Ew with Tofu, spicey. Holy shit! I think they are trying to rub me out because that was the most red pepper I've ever seen asembled in a single place at one time. Every piece was covered in it. I ate it anyway. It wasn't really hot in my mouth, but oh boy was it hot once it got into my stomach. I think I have a ulcer now. I wake up in the morning with an internal burning sensation just under my chest. Yikes.

April 01, 2003

i'm circling problem purchases on the visa bill

Went to Max Madsen to purchase an extended warranty for my Eclipse. Extended it to 100,000 miles or 5 years with $0 deductible which depleted $1325 from my checking account.

On my way home from work I caught up to an unmarked Crown Victoria with Illinois Sherrif plates on 294. He was going 70 mph and I kept my distance and never got closer than 50 feet. Eventually an Infiniti full of teenagers ( the fuck do teenagers get to drive Infinities?) drove by us at probably 75 mph. I doubt he was going faster than that. I had a train of people behind me not willing to pass but for some reason this chick decided she had the balls to do it. The cop let her go ahead of him for about 2 minutes before he changed lanes behind her and then got right up behind her. Another 2 minutes and then on went the lights. What a dumbass. I was glad though because now I was free to go my usual 95.

Stopped by Galyans tonight. Their new shipment of skates was far from impressive. Didn't really add much to the stock and they still had no Salomons in size 11. I'm beginning to think there is no size 11. I can't think of any rhyme or reason behind it but maybe they only make 10 1/2 and 11 1/2. I guess I'm off to the Skate Shack in Downers Grove afterall. If I don't find something there better, I'm probably going to get a pair of Rollerblade Evo 8 from Sports Authority.

March 31, 2003

some people just don't try

I went to the Sports Authority in Arlington Heights on my lunch hour to check out their inline skates. They have a much larger selection than Sportmart. Unfortunately, I still didn't find a pair that fit me just right. They feel either too big, or they hurt my right foot. It feels like it's being squeezed. I think I must have wide feet or something. I was trying on pairs of skates for over 40 minutes and not once did anyone come up and ask if I was finding everything ok or anything. Nothing. Not that they could really help me since I tried on virtually every pair and didn't find anything that fit, but it would have been nice to at least have been checked on. On my way home from work I went to the Sports Authority in Downers Grove. They seemingly had a larger selection, but only one pair close to fitting. They felt tight enough in the ankles and they didn't cause my right foot to hurt. So obviously instead they hurt my left foot. I was there for probably about 40 minutes and again no one came up to me. What the hell are they doing over at the Sports Authority? I spent practically a combined hour and a half in their stores and not once did a sales person every try to help me. It's not like they were busy...I saw a bunch of them walking around. I don't know. Maybe I smell bad or something. Quite a contrast from Sportmart where the sales guy wouldn't leave me alone on Sunday...too bad their selection was total crap. Well Galyans get's their new stock in tomorrow, so I guess I'll check it out and see if they got anything that fits. I ought to check out the Skate Shop in Westmont too. A local shop specializing in skates might be my best bet.

Well it's time to watch Six Feet Under on my ReplayTV. I can't wait!

March 30, 2003

brenda is coming back!

Tried to go shopping for some inline skates today. Went to Sportmart. They had one style over $100 from K2. The size 10 seemed to fit well enough, but it really made my right foot hurt and the 11's were too big. Damn. Went over to Galyans. They seemingly had better selection, except that their stock was low and they didn't have any that fit at all. They get a new shipment in on Tuesday. So I guess I'll have to go back then and see if anything fits then.

I'm so excited that Brenda is coming back to Six Feet Under. I can not wait! Unfortunately, I'll have to wait until it airs on Monday since I'm going to The Ataris show tonight at House of Blues. Good times.

March 26, 2003

i am going to hurt tomorrow

I went roller-skating tonight at Rainbo Roller Rink on Clark which closes on Saturday. :-( This is like the 4th time ever that I have gone roller-skating and the first time since the 5th grade. I didn't break anything thankfully, but I did fall down a lot. The first two times I fell, I landed right on the locker key I had in my pocket both times. Ouch! I have a pretty decent bruise already (about 2 inch diameter). I wonder what it's going to look like tomorrow. I have a feeling that by tomorrow my knees should be fairly bruised as well and the meaty parts of both my hands are pretty sore. My left hand actually feels weak when I try to open it. Oh yeah...I am going to hurt when I wake up tomorrow.

February 21, 2003

it's like summer out

So it's like 51 out today. Damn it is awesome! Drove to work with the sun roof open. Had Jesus I (off the new Zwan album) cranked and on repeat the whole way in. I think I blew out one of my speakers. I guess this message (archived) makes all the more sense now.

October 14, 2002

Is that him?

My dad and sister ran in the Chicago Marathon on Sunday. I had to meet my dad at the 20 mile marker to give him a dry shirt to change into with an American flag on it. Then I was supposed to meet him at the 25th mile marker to give him an American flag to carry across the finish line. Sounds simple enough right? Well my next door neighbor, Danny, and I were at 31st and I forget what to hand off the shirt. A bit after the 4:50 pace runners we see my dad. After we give the shirt to my dad he tells me that he wanted the hat we brought too. The hat was in my brother's car who had just left to go to the finish line to try and see my sister finish. So Danny and I head down 31st to Michigan and start heading north to 18th. The 25th mile marker was around 20th street. I call my brother and tell him he needs to come bring the hat. He meets us at Michigan and 18th and then we start heading east along 18th. This of course doesn't go through to Lake Shore Dr. where the course is. So after Dan and I have run 2 miles to get where we were, we have to start back tracking south. ARGH! At 20th street there is a bridge to go over the train tracks separating us from Lake Short Dr, but it was blocked off by police. We ask them how to get to race and they tell us to keep going south and look for the train signs. Okay... We pass McCormick place as we go about a mile south (that's 3 miles for those not keeping track). A little after 26th street we see an unguarded set of stairs going up to a bridge that goes over the train tracks. We start going up. From the top of the bridge we can see the race south from us crossing the train tracks. Doh! Well it wasn't a bridge that went all the way across the tracks. It only went to the middle of the tracks to a landing platform for people to board trains. Crap! So we jumped the railing and crossed the tracks on foot only to be greeted by the barb-wire fence surrounding the McCormick place parking lot. We climb up track light overhang and jump the barb-wire fence. We cross the parking lot and we finally get to the race. We were at the aid station at the 24th mile marker. We stand their a bit then start walking north towards the 25th mile marker. Not too long after the 5:15 pace runners go by. SHIT!! Did we miss my dad? We would have to have slowed down a whole half hour for us to not have missed him. I didn't know what to hope for? That my dad was keeping his pace and missed us? Or that he slowed to a crawl so we could meet him. Well in a panic that we missed him we start full on sprinting towards the 25th mile hoping we might catch him. We get to the 25 and practically collapse with exhaustion. We wait there hoping to see him and eventually we do. Turns out he just ran out of gas at about 22.5 and was walking the rest. So we were able to get him his hat and flag afterall. So we decided to walk along side him until we get over the last bridge before the finish where we can then exit the course and meet him after. We get half way over the bridge when a police officer stops us and tells us we can't go over and that we have to backtrack [again] and go under some underpass to get to the finish from there. So we go back sound under the underpass only to be greeted by more police telling us we have to go further south to some back path along the lake. So we keep going south I don't know how far get to the bike path so we can now change direction again and head north on the bike path. Well long store short, [too late] after who knows how many miles north again we finally get to the finish area and head to the Charity Village to meet up with everyone. Damn my feet and back are killing me today.