Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Hyperkalemic Periodic Paralysis Sucks.

I know, I know, a couple of years ago I said Epiploic Appendagitis Sucks, and it does, but HypoK PP also sucks.

It might actually suck more because it's an inherited disease (autosomal dominant, if you care) and it doesn't go away like EA does.

Digger's been dealing with it most of his life.  We suspected he had inherited it when he was a toddler and complained of his legs being "sleepy".  It didn't hit full force until puberty hit.  And then it hit like a damn steam-roller.

I know a lot of you are familiar with the equine version of HypoKPP.  The human version is a bit different.  When the body's potassium drops, paralysis sets in.  Most of Digger's teenaged years were spent with him not knowing if he was going to wake up a paraplegic or quadriplegic.

So that sucked.

As he got older, it leveled out a bit and was mostly manageable as long as he stayed on his meds.  However, his dad dropped him from this insurance, which is a whole other story.  What it meant, though, was that I was the one paying for Digger's meds.  Until his doc finally put his foot down and wouldn't fill any more until Digger was seen in the office.

I totally get that.  DEA regs, and all, docs can't just write scripts forever without ever seeing their patients.

No insurance and no job means no doctor's visit and no refills on the meds.

Digger's paternal family has been self-treating with No-Salt, the salt substitute.  It managed to keep him fairly stable for about six months, but last week he hit his tipping point.

We've been dealing with his attacks for so long that they are really no big deal.  In fact, they're kind of a pain in the ass at this point.  We're well beyond the "oh my God, Digger can't move, what can we do to make him more comfortable?" stage and into the "aw, hell, you need us to move you again?" stage.  It's just the ugly truth.  Any family who has dealt with a chronic disease would be lying if they denied it ever gets to that stage.

So when Digger started texting me to tell me he had an attack and needed his brother or sister to go move him, I called them and told them to go help their brother.  They were only about ten feet away from where he was on the couch in their respective bedrooms, whereas I live in a whole different town now.  Monster grumbled, but went and helped Digger get situated again.

A couple of hours later, while I was driving in to work, Monster called and told me that Digger was having trouble breathing.  Crud.  That had happened one other time and I just carried him out to the car and drove him into the ER myself, so I sighed heavily and told Monster I would come on over and take Digger to the ER like I did last time.

I hung up, called work and let my boss know that I would be in much later because I knew it would take some time in the ER to get his potassium level back up.

And then I remembered that Monster and Ashinator live in a basement apartment and that there would be no way I'd be able to get Digger up the stairs and out to the car without hurting one or the other, and quite possibly both, of us.  I called Monster back and told him to call an ambulance.  I'm not one to take calling an ambulance lightly, but sometimes it just makes sense to call in the people who have the tools to take care of the job.  Even knowing that, I felt kind of guilty.

I arrived at the kids' apartment just as the ambulance pulled up, so I gave the paramedic a brief history as we descended into their place.  The fighterfighters (Digger's word since he was a toddler) were already in the apartment taking care of him.  Their eyes were huge and they look kind of lost.

I can't blame them.  HypoKPP is a form of Muscular Dystrophy that only affects 1 in 100,000 people.  As far as I know, my ex-husband's family is the only one in Northern Colorado that has it.  Everyone in the family is pretty well-versed in the disease out of necessity.

Last time Digger was having trouble breathing it was really no big deal.  It pretty much resolved by the time we got to the ER.  This time?  Holy shit, he looked like death warmed over.  His oxygen sats were okay, but he looked like he was headed for some time on a ventilator.  Apparently the paramedic thought so, tooo.  She wasted no time having the fighterfighters load him into the magic wheely chair with the tracks to go up the stairs to the cot.

The trip up the stairs was tough for everyone, despite having the magic wheely chair.  I bet there are a couple of fighterfighters who still have bruises from trying to wrestle the chair up those steep, narrow stairs.  Personally, I think it would have been easier to just throw Digger over a shoulder and fighterfighter carry him up the stairs.

They wasted no time transferring him to the cot and into the ambulance.  Monster and I hopped in my car and couldn't even keep up.  They ran him hot all the way to the ER.  I guess he really upped their pucker-factor.

His STAT potassium was 2.2 mEq/L.  Normal is 3.5 - 5.5 mEq/L.  Patient's whose potassium drops to 1.9 only have a 15% chance of surviving.  Maybe the paramedic was right to run him hot.

I have a lot of respect for the paramedic who responded.  She was one that I did my ride-alongs with when I was an EMT student twenty-three years ago.  (No, she didn't recognize me, it was twenty-three years ago.  I can't even imagine how many snot-nosed EMT students she's seen in that time.)  I had mad respect for her then and have even more for her now.  She listened to what Digger had to say and made sure the ER staff paid attention.  She refused to go clear and back to base until she started seeing some improvement in his condition and she was sure that he was on the rebound.

The miraculous thing about HypoKPP is that once you start the potassium, the paralysis begins to resolve.  It's like giving a diabetic sugar - when their blood sugar is low and you give them some oral glucose, the change is almost immediate.  With HypoKPP, it's not quite as immediate, but it's still pretty amazing.  Digger was taken into the ER with difficulty breathing as a full quad, and within just a couple of hours of IV and oral potassium, had full movement.

He was admitted overnight to make sure his potassium levels stayed stable.  Digger had zero complaints about that.  He became the darling of his floor and his CNA was super hot.

Gotta give him props for that.  The kid gets hospitalized and isn't upset - he's thrilled that he has a hot CNA.  In fact, for the most part, his attitude about his disease is pretty good.  It gets him down sometimes, but his sense of humor about it keeps us all going.

The great thing with being hospitalized was that he got back on his medication regime and is feeling better than he has in months.

But HypoKPP still sucks.

Monday, January 21, 2013

I Miss Grandma Mary and Grandpa Moe

I don't know what's going on with me lately, but come Uterine Explosion Day, I'm an emotional mess.  This is a new, not-so-welcome change.  I suspect it has to do with me getting old.

Anyway, last week while we were buying breakfast, the cashier taking care of Mez reminded me so much of Grandma Mary that I got all teary-eyed.  Damn you, Uterine Explosion Day!  You know, we were so blessed to have Grandma in our family and she lived an amazing life, but sometimes I miss her so much it's like I've been gut-punched.

I managed to get myself under control without spilling any actual tears and sat down to eat breakfast.

One of the best things about SHOT Show is how friendly all of the people are.  Truly, there's not a single stranger among the 62,000 attendees - everyone is that friendly.  So, of course, a couple of older gentlemen sat down at the table next to us, noticed our credentials and struck up a conversation.

We had a wonderful time talking to them - they live in Colorado, too - and as we cleaned up to head over to the show, I got all teary-eyed again.  This time because I miss Grandpa Moe.  Double damn you, Uterine Explosion Day!

Grandpa Moe died long before I started blogging, but I still miss him horribly.  He gave all of us granddaughters theme songs and would sing them to us all the time.  Mine was "Chantilly Lace", Ashinator's was "Pretty woman".  He used to call Grandma "Doll" right up until the day he died.

Grandma and Grandpa could cut a rug like no one's business and some of my fondest memories are of them dancing together.

All I can say is Thank God that today isn't Uterine Explosion Day or I wouldn't have been able to make it through this post.

But, Grandma and Papa, I miss you still.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Brother Husbands

If Kody Brown gets four wives, why shouldn't I get two husbands?

I don't have two actual husbands, but I do have my husband-husband, Jay, and my "shooting husband", Mez.

Though we've only been married a few years, I think it's fairly obvious when Jay and I are together that we're together.  Jay's the saint that has to deal with the day-to-day GunDiva, which isn't always a wonderful thing, especially on Uterine Explosion Day.  Then it's really not a great thing to be married to me.

Mez and I have been friends for nine years or so, and have put thousands of rounds together downrange, so there's an easy familiarity between us, which some people read as us being a couple.  Mez, I think, gets the better end of the brother husband deal, in that he only has to deal with me when we're shooting, and I'm usually in a pretty good mood when we're shooting.

Ever since Jay and I have gotten married, I've secretly giggled at the folks at the shooting range who couldn't figure out who I was "with". The three of us ask to be grouped together when we shoot, because shooting with friends is always more fun.  New shooters, or people who don't know us, are always confused by the dynamic.

While we were in Las Vegas last week, the confusion continued.  We three muskateers pretty much did everything together; I was flanked by two men wherever I went (except to the bathroom - that I did all by my lonesome), one husband up front, one in the back.

At one booth, Jay received a phone call that he had to take, so he stepped out, which left Mez and I together.  I said something about Jay having to take the call and missing all the fun.  A gentleman in front of us asked something and I answered, "oh, it's okay, I've got my other husband right here".  The look on his face was priceless.  Offended, but priceless.  I couldn't leave well enough alone, so I continued, "this works out great, this way, I always have one husband with me".  Finally, the guy stuttered out something along the lines of to each their own and stared stonily ahead.

Jeez, you'd think in Sin City, people would be a bit more open minded, wouldn't you?

All I can say is thank God my brother husbands have a sense of humor and that they like each other.  Thirteen hours in a car together each way could have been a bad thing otherwise.

I might as well enjoy it while I can, because one of these days Mez is going to find the perfect woman for him and then either I gain a sister wife (so to speak) or lose a husband.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

We Made It

It was -4 degrees when we left this morning. 

Just outside of Vail, at the rest stop, it was -11 degrees.  The boys, despite the risk of frostbite, decided they HAD to relieve themselves.  I'da just peed myself rather than go outside at eleven below.

Got into Vegas, it was a whopping 43 degrees.

I must have been mistaken about the desert being warm.  Although, to put it in prospective, it was 47 degrees warmer than when we left the house.

We decided to take a little walk after 12 hours and 45 minutes in the car, so we headed out to walk the Strip.  We walked from Circus Circus to the Bellagio and watched the dancing water...

...and then we walked back.

It was about 4.5 miles; I am far too out of shape for that, but my BodyBugg is happy that I got some exercise today :)

Saturday, January 12, 2013

First Apartment

Do you remember your first apartment?

What do you remember about it?

Ashinator and Monster got their first "very own" apartment this week and I went over to visit.  They literally only have their beds.  No dishes, nothing to cook with.  Pretty much their clothes, toiletries, and their beds.  Micky has a TV and some game system that they can play DVDs on.  But that's all.

So it started me thinking...I don't think I had much more when I moved out of Mom's house.  My waterbed and clothes, I think.

If I recall correctly, we scrounged up a TV from somewhere, but we only had two channels, so we watched a lot of SOAP and ARE YOU BEING SERVED? because that's all we had.

I do remember killing the cactus Mom brought as a house-warming gift.  I put it on top of the TV and was diligent about watering it, but apparently, that's a good way to steam a cactus to death.  Who knew?

We had an office chair of sorts, and I know we had a couch, but I'll be damned if I know where it came from.  I think it was our roommate's.

Slowly, over the years, we obviously accumulated what we needed to furnish the apartment, and I don't recall wanting for anything.  But when you're 18 and out on your own for the first time, the sense of freedom overrides minor inconveniences like not having furniture or dishes or even a trash can.

Wonder what the kids are going to remember about their first apartment in twenty years?

Sunday, January 6, 2013


I love to read, probably everyone knows that.  Last week, one of my fellow WriMos revealed that she had read 38 books last year and I got to wondering...just how many books to I read in a year?

I know that since Jay gave me Eloise, I read more than I did in the past.

So I started a new page to list the books I'm reading, just to keep track.  If you want to see what I'm reading or how it's going, just click the page button at the top of the page.  I know a lot of people are on Goodreads (so am I, but under the real me, not the GunDiva me), but I thought listing my books here would be easiest.

On my Books page, I'll include either a link to the book or the author's website.  You can reasonably assume that any book I post on the page is an ebook, unless otherwise noted.

Since this is the last week of Christmas break, I've been reading up a storm. Like a crazy amount of reading. That's about to come to an abrupt halt tomorrow when I return to work. I will have to read a textbook as I re-do our curricula, so that will cut into my fun reading a bit.

I'll also note if I don't finish a book.  I find that as I get older, I have less tolerance for books I don't enjoy.  Sometimes I'm just not in the right mindset for that specific genre, sometimes I wonder how the hell a book ever got published, and in the case of some self-pubbed books, I'm certain that some authors' mommies and daddies went way overboard heaping praise on their precious little ones' lack of writing abilities.

What are you guys reading?  Have any suggestions?  I've got a fourteen-hour car ride coming up next week and will want Eloise fully loaded before the trip.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Chicken Cordon Bleu Biscuits

Yesterday, Jay and I made up a batch of shredded chicken, which we use as the base for a lot of dinners. One of our favorites recently has been the chicken pot pie.

Out of boredom today, I was flipping through that site I refuse to join, but frequenty get ideas from and found a recipe for Chicken Cordon Bleu Roll Ups.  Since we already had the shredded chicken made up, I tweaked the recipe just a bit.

What you'll need:
  • 1 tube of Grand Rounds (or Whump Biscuits, if you're Mrs Mom)
  • sliced deli ham
  • sliced cheese (supposed to be swiss, but we only had provolone)
  • shredded chicken
Split the biscuit in half and mash flat.
Add a slice of deli ham.

And half a slice of cheese.

Add shredded chicken.

Top with the other half of the biscuit and mush the sides together. 

Place the stuffed biscuits in a greased 9x13 pan.

Cover with the liquid from the shredded chicken
Cook in a 350* F oven for 30 minutes.
They were really yummy, I'll be making them again.

Note: These were yummy, but next time, I'm not going to pour the sauce over the top - it made the bottom kind of soggy.  I'd rather have a crispy biscuit and then maybe add some sort of sauce over the top.