Cold Gone – Surgery Pending – Law School – Puppy!

th-3The cold that I had for most of January finally left me during the last full week of the month.  It never became pneumonia, but for like ten days it felt like it was trying to move into my chest.  Although I never actually went to the Doctors office I did communicate with him several times about how I felt and he told me what drugs to take to prevent it progressing and eventually to get rid of it all together.  The old me (prior to transplant), would have just ignored the cold symptoms and just kept on working thru it.  The first time I got a cold since my transplant (late June 2015 or 3 months post transplant) I basically did just that and wound up in the hospital with pneumonia.  So this time I was determined to do any thing I could to prevent that from happening and thankfully I was successful – this time!

th-4So I finally did get to the plastic surgeon to see about removing the remains of the cyst on my neck that developed in late December.  the Emergency Room Doctor did cut it open and broke up all of the puss filled balls and started to get it to drain.  Then I went home and continued to force fluid/puss out of the hole and keep the opening they cut into it open so that it could still flow.  It has gone down considerably but my primary care doctor feels that it should be removed.  I saw the same surgeon that took out a similar cyst on my chest in November 2015.  He agreed that it should come out but since it is continuing to shrink into itself, he wants to wait like another 2-4 weeks before scheduling the surgery so that when he takes it out, it all comes out and there is nothing left of it.  So hopefully I will finally get this removed by the end of February.

91a4a5d27cc2cd41e4f523379b9b10d6In other news Kate just returned from a week-long business trip to Sweden.  Apparently she had a very nice visit but wasn’t able to see a lot of sights since she was working with the IFP office – it was a business trip.  Carolyn is currently in her final semester at Ithaca College and also sweating out the waiting on her law school applications!  She applied to 9 schools and has already been accepted  to 5 out of the 9!  Financially she was offered a full tuition scholarship to one school and a $30,000 per year renewable scholarship.  The other schools she has been accepted to have indicated that merit/financial need offers will come in the coming weeks.  Once she knows all her options she will have to arrange campus visits and make the all crucial decision!  Visits can be combined into 3 trips since the schools she is applying to are centered in Boston, Washington and Hartford!  The goal is to attend the best school that you can, but still come out with the smallest debt load!   I have completed the FAFSA, still have to finalize the CSS Profile.  I get to do the easy part – Carolyn has to make the decision!

thFebruary is also new puppy month – and we can’t wait!  We lost our family dog and cat within a week of each other last June.  Frodo and Snickers had been with us for a long time and it really hurt all of us, more than we realized at the time.   We are getting a Goldendoodle, not the one pictured above, but it should look fairly similar as this picture is of an eight week old puppy.  Our puppy was born on January 1, 2017 and will be ready to bring home the last weekend in February.  It is a boy that we are planning to name Griffin, but this may change when we meet him.  This is becoming a family road trip weekend as Meg and I planned to spend the night before picking up the puppy in Hagerstown, MD, so I invited my sister, Carol,  to come visit and since my daughters haven’t seen Carol in a while they are coming as well.  We hope to visit for part of the afternoon and evening and then have breakfast Sunday morning and then go get the PUPPY!  So now my efforts have to be put towards making sure my cold doesn’t return and to get the house puppy proof.



Preventing Pneumonia Again


The past two weeks have been fairly miserable for me.  I have a minor cold but it has laid me up so that I can’t really do anything around the house or errands etc…  The main concern is to prevent this cold from becoming pneumonia like has happened before.  With my suppressed immune system ( an unfortunate side effect of my kidney transplant ), a simple cold can become pneumonia very easily, and pneumonia is something I don’t want to mess with again.  The cold started as a sore throat and now is be-boping around between my throat, chest and head.  I will have a couple of nights in a row where sleep alludes me and then I will have a day where all I can do is sleep and that cycle seems to be repeating.  Every time I think I am about to kick it out of my system for good, it comes back even stronger!   Frustrating!!!

th-4Meanwhile, while sick I am trying to get the permit application for the room addition completed and submitted so that when the winter ends we can start construction.  We have two permits to get approval for – first the Naugatuck Valley Health Dept. needs to review it based on the septic system and how close the new construction is to all parts of the septic system and will the system handle the capacity and then the City of Shelton (Zoning office and the building office) needs to give final approval.    After several trips to the NVHD, once Meg drove me and the final time Carolyn took me there, we finally got the permit complete and submitted.  After all the hassle and four trips to Seymour, I was called after one day and the first permit is approved and I can pick it up at their offices early this coming week.  Now I have to get to work on the permit for the City of Shelton.  I am not anticipating any problems, but it is a city department and they exist to create problems!


After a month at home with us Carolyn has gone back for her final semester at Ithaca College!  She got home like 10 days before Christmas and left on Thursday, January 19th!  It seems like she had just gotten home like last week, but she had been here a month and while we had a great time with her home, I am sure she was bored to death with her parents.  While home she did get her kitten that she had been longing for and we all had a blast playing with him!  She also finally completed her law school applications and submitted them.  I was hoping to start the FAFSA application and show her how it is done and what is involved, but it was tough to do with my cold because it is impossible to concentrate especially on numbers.  So now my to do list has FAFSA – 2016 Taxes – City Permit Application, and to get the house ready for our upcoming Puppy!  See future blog posts for more details on our puppy, who was born on 1/1/17 and will come to CT at the end of February!

Back to the Emergency Room – AGAIN!

physician_postcards-rcc39a422536c42eba13942dde885be9d_vgbaq_8byvr_512I thought I was going to get thru 2016 without having to go to the Emergency Room and that plan was going very well, right up until December 28th and I wound up at the Yale ER!  I had developed a large cyst/abscess on my neck and my GP & the Yale Transplant Center wanted it removed as soon as possible, which translates to the ER.  I hadn’t been to the ER since 2015 and was hoping to avoid any trips to the ER in 2016.  As far as ER trips go, this was as different an experience as I have had.  The ER was over crowded so I had to wait to get a room but it was like 1:30 PM.  My past trips had been very early in the morning (6:00 AM when I went in with pneumonia) or late in the day (7:00 PM when I went in with a salivary gland issue) and I was admitted right away.  Also because it was so crowded they were determined to everything to make sure the visit was as quick as possible so that I could leave and make the bed available to the next people.


Once in my room, a doctor (granted it was a young doctor that was under the supervision of an older experienced ER doctor)  came by, even before the nurse was able to get to the room.  Because it looked like she would get to cut open my cyst with a scalpel she was eager to treat me so I saw her attending physician and together they performed an ultra sound on my cyst.  It was a cyst that was filled with puss filled little balls so they agreed that they should cut into it and then cut farther into it and break up all the small balls of puss.  About a half an hour later they returned and after numbing the cyst up with lidocaine, they cut into it and started cutting deeper and deeper to get at all balls of puss.  It was really flowing well so they bandaged it up and sent me home with instructions to change the bandage frequently and to follow-up with my regular physician in the coming week.

img_1462For the first day or two the cyst continued to drain, but eventually the wound started to scar over and it stopped flowing.  Meg and I were able to get the wound re-opened using techniques for removing scabs that I learned when I was on dialysis.  This way we were able to keep the wound open and flowing for more time so the size has gone down considerably but isn’t totally drained yet.  I am having a follow-up with my primary care physician and we will see where we go from there.

img_1464I have been continuing to learn some new skills for my wood working hobby.  I am currently working on several wood carving projects.  They vary from some art projects to lettering projects.  Basically I am trying to gain some proficiency in different techniques that I am learning thru an online carving course.  I have a small set of carving gouges and several chisels but I need some more and hope to acquire some specific carving gouges and a set of chisels.  I hope also to continue learning to use the lathe.  I took a pen turning class and that went well and hope to take another class or two and eventually learn bowl turning.  I plan to rent some time at the Woodworkers Club until I get proficient enough to warrant getting my own lathe.  I am trying to concentrate on small projects that I can do well.  The carving is starting well, we will have to see how it finishes!


Kitchen Finally Complete!


So the tile for the back splash was finally delivered to the store in Fairfield on Saturday, but by the time I found out about the delivery, it was after the service department closed (12:00 noon).  I was finally able to pick up the tile on Monday morning at 7:30 AM and was back at home with it in time for the tile contractor.  The tile was installed on Monday and the grout on Tuesday and it looks beautiful.  Under the cabinets is a basket weave design in a cream & brown colors to match both the counter top and the cabinets.  The design over the stove, is a herringbone pattern, in similar colors but, in a larger tile surrounded by pencil tiles.  It works like we had imagined and we had it in for Christmas, which was the goal.  Meg was inspired by the back splash in the kitchen of the HGTV Dream Home in Florida.  It was a black and white basket weave that went all the way to the ceiling (like a 12-15 ft. ceiling) over the cabinets.  It was a very dramatic effect, and while ours doesn’t go up to the ceiling, and is in different colors in our kitchen, it still has the dramatic effect we were after.


The week before Christmas I took a class at the Woodworkers Club of Norwalk on ‘How to Turn a Pen.’  I had not used a wood lathe since shop class in Junior High, which is a very, very long time ago!  It was a very good class and because it was postponed from the day before due to snow, there were only three of us, myself and a guy from Ridgefield, and his young son.  After a brief introduction to the lathe, the instructor did a demonstration pen turning and then we were let loose on our own lathe and had at it under his helpful eye!  We made two pens each in the time allotted although the pen blanks were pre-drilled for us so we got to start with loading them onto the lathe and then turning them.  I made two pens, both in cherry,  that I gave to my daughters as Christmas presents.  The pens look very similar to our new cabinets in the kitchen and while there is a very light stain on the kitchen cabinets and no stain on the pens they look very close to each other.  Using the lathe was easier than I expected but the potential to make a mistake is there and you can easily ruin a pen quickly.  I enjoyed the experience, primarily because you go from a collection of parts to a completed, finished and working piece in a short time.


We had a great Christmas!  Carolyn is home from college for a month and the week before Christmas she got her main present – a new kitten!  The kitten, which, is now named Ollivander (Ollie for short), is a lot of fun, and is really into the Christmas tree and the low hanging ornaments he can get to.  Kate & Kenny also came several days before Christmas but had to leave to go back to Kenny’s family in MA right after we opened presents and had Christmas breakfast.  We had our usual Christmas Dinner for Christmas Eve and then went to church at 10:00 PM. and then home for the usual last minute wrapping, finishing hand-made gifts, stuffing stockings etc…  Finally got to bed around 2 AM and then we had to get up early so that Kate and Kenny could keep to their schedule and leave by like 10:30 AM.  The dinner was great (roast beef tenderloin!), but we have to go with simpler side dishes rather than the real complicated like we always seem to do.  We had an involved process with the roast so we can switch to basic baked potatoes rather than the twice baked potatoes, or a simple vegetable instead of the stuffed mushrooms where there are like 18 ingredients that have to be prepared and cooked before stuffing the mushrooms.  We did go to a simple but very good Creme Brule for dessert, rather than the very involved Daquoise or Bouche du Noel we seem to do most Christmas Dinners.


No real big plans for the New Years!  Carolyn’s new boy friend will be visiting and I think they are going out to dinner with some of Carolyn’s friends and then the horde will descend on our house to continue the celebration probably playing with the cat, board games, and eventually watching the ball drop.  Meg and I will probably do lobster or swordfish at home and then struggle to stay up until midnight!

Hopefully Not Premature Excitement


After months of ignoring my repeated emails, and phone calls, and getting nothing but total silence regarding the boat I am supposed to receive as a part of the HGTV 2016 Dream Home Grand Prize, HGTV has lit a fire under the boat company and they have been heard from.  Originally ordered in late May it sounds like it will soon be ready – knock on wood – (according to the company president)!  Supposedly the hull has been laminated and it is out of the shell, and now is ready for the engine to be installed and the interior rigging etc…  I have asked that, since the docks are now in for the winter, and the lake is about to ice over, that they hold on delivery until the Spring – this will save me winter storage fee and defer the taxes on the boat for a year!  Feeling somewhat positive about this prospect, Meg and I went to Candlewood Lake to visit the Marina/Dealership where the boat will be delivered!


We had a very good visit and learned a lot.  We met with the sales manager and told our story, and he told us about some recent issues with the boat company regarding customer service, but he also told us that the quality of the boat is as high as ever – which is very good news!  We also met with the owner of the marina/dealership and he told us that the president of the boat company had been in touch with him about taking delivery in the spring, which is somewhat re-assuring.  They also assured us regarding some of the issues we had regarding using/driving the boat and summer/winter storage at the marina etc….  We are confident now that we should have a great first year with the boat using their marina on Candlewood lake as a home base.  Now this is still all dependent on the boat company actually coming thru with the delivery in March.


The tile for the back splash in the kitchen was scheduled to arrive at the tile shop today so the tile contractor can start installation on Monday so the back splash will be completed for Christmas.  Unfortunately, UPS tried to deliver after the tile shop was closed so they could not deliver the tile and will try again on Monday!  I had originally scheduled the tile contractor to come on Monday so that he could get everything installed for Christmas.  Tiling the back splash is scheduled to take three days starting on Monday, but I don’t know if he can work three days starting on Tuesday into his schedule.  Everything is very up in the air right now and to quote Col. Hannibal Smith, “I love it when a plan comes together,”  I don’t do particularly well when a plan doesn’t come together.


Carolyn got home from college yesterday and her main plans for Christmas break is to buy/adopt a kitten!  The kitten will live with us for a month or so until Carolyn returns to Ithaca for her last semester.  Kate & Kenny (who is allergic to both live Christmas Trees and Cats/Dogs) are coming to Connecticut for like 3 days and will be here for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning.  While Meg and I have gotten used to living empty nest style, we are really looking forward to everyone coming for Christmas!  I have a considerable amount of work to get done before the holidays including some presents to carve – hopefully they will turn out well – and present shopping, food shopping, decorating etc….  Meg is working thru Friday, so I am trying to get as much done as possible, so that she doesn’t have to try to get everything done in the evenings.

th-6Merry Christmas to all!

I hope that everyone has a great holiday with friends and family!

No End Of Projects


So it has been about a month since my last post.  Since then the kitchen has been finished and we are really enjoying using it.  We still have the back splash to finalize, but we have selected it and met with our tile guy. We will order the tiles and other materials and hope to have the back splash installed by Christmas, but it will be tight scheduling with the Tile Contractor.  Other than tile the only thing left to do is a window treatment, and that is Meg’s domain and I’m not allowed to enter into it!  This past weekend, we emptied the Pods Storage Container, and today they came and finally removed the Pod from our front yard.


In other construction news, we are in the planning stage for the next part in our Dream Home Conversion.  We are going to put on an addition off of the kitchen.  If you look at the picture at the top of this post you see a doorway, on the lower left, to the outside that has been covered with plywood.  This is where we took out a large sliding glass door so that we could re-size the opening to the same size and placement as the opening on the right into what is now the living room.  The addition will be about 16′ x 20′ and when completed it will become the living room/family room, and the current living room will become a formal dining room.  Now we are in the middle of designing the new addition – where to put windows/doors/deck etc….  Then we have to finalize the layout and submit the paperwork first to the Naugatuck Valley Health Dept and then to the City of Shelton so we can get permits to proceed.  Our goal is to break ground on the project when the weather breaks in the spring and we can start the foundation work.

th-12Health wise things are continuing fairly well.  I saw my primary care physician in November and got the usual BP issues / Weight Issues / See Heart Dr. / See Eye Dr. etc…  I did get a new one to see a Neurologist regarding some uncontrollable shaking in my hands and balance issues.  These are some normal side effects to the anti-rejection medicines I take for my kidney however those side effects usually stop after a few months and I’m going on two years so my Dr. wants it checked out.


Today I went to the transplant center for my 3 month check up for my kidney function.  I went in early for a blood draw so they didn’t have all the results back at my appointment.  Usually the traffic is awful when you are trying to get to the hospital for a 9:00 a.m. blood draw and usually there is a long wait at the blood draw station and then in the waiting room at the Transplant Center.  My kidney function has been great and I have no reason to expect that to change.  they want to see my BP lowered so they also increased  a dose of one of my a BP medicines.  They also refilled my arthritis pain medicine prescription.  I had run out around Thanksgiving and my knees are in a lot of pain so hopefully now they can get back to normal and I can do some walking again!

Kitchen Project Concluding


So progress on the new kitchen continues and we hope to be done this coming week.  On Monday they will install the counter top and then we can connect the Dishwasher, Sink, and Range.  There also are several pendant lights to be installed and the electricians are installing some lights in my basement.  The painting also should be done on Monday as well as we only have left the hallway doors (two coats) and then one coat on the walls in the kitchen and the halls.  Everything has gone very well with the project both in terms of timing and especially the quality of the materials and workmanship.  After they install the counter top we will have to go shopping for the back splash.  We have some ideas, but are not positive about what we want to do, so we are hoping to go with our Kitchen Designer for her help with colors, etc….


Once we get the kitchen done we have to start concentrating on the addition we are going to put in off the kitchen.  If you look at the picture at the top of the page of the kitchen, on the left edge appears a doorway that is covered with plywood.  That was a large sliding glass door (out to a porch that is falling apart) that was taken out and the opening was re-sized to eventually be an opening to the addition which will serve as our new living room.  Our current living room will be changed into a formal dining room with a sitting area in front of the fireplace.  The first step in this process is to figure out exactly where our septic system is so that we can plan how big and where exactly we can build.  This week I will be meeting with the Valley Health Agency regarding our Septic System and whether or not we need a property survey so we can make some decisions about the size/location of the addition.

th-21Re-doing the kitchen has disrupted our lives, but not to a major extent.  We set up a kitchen in the guest bed room (same room I did Dialysis in) and we borrowed a microwave from Kate, used an old  electric fry pan, bought a toaster oven and used the grill so cooking wasn’t a major issue.  I did have to do dishes in the bathroom sink, which is a pain in the neck.  The biggest headache will be to unpack the pod that is in the front yard holding most of the items from the guest bedroom (moved out to make room for the temp-kitchen), the Garage (moved out items so we could fit cabinets, appliances and construction materials) and the kitchen/dining area items.  We also have to bring up from the basement the boxes of dishes/glasses/silverware/pots and pans etc… that we packed up and put in the basement.  The biggest challenge is carting them back upstairs.  My strong man son-in-law, Kenny, carted all the boxes down so no thought was taken to how heavy the boxes were.  Now I have to cart them back up and while I don’t have a limit to what I can lift like after surgery, I don’t have the strength I used to have – so this could take a while.