Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A Slowly Developing Picture

Quite a bit has happened since the last post with further events yet to come as well. Where to begin?

The endoscopy yesterday morning had to be aborted before completion due regurgitation threatening to get in the lungs. Even so, the specialist saw an obstruction of the gastric outlet that looked like lymphoma to him. A biopsy was taken to be tested and a PET scan is needed to decide if cancer is still present.

I should rewind a little to explain how this cancels the surgery planned for today. Yesterday afternoon it was thought the nerve damage diagnosis was correct, therefore a drainage tube was going to be implanted into the stomach in order to relieve future build up. They have pumped 1.5 liters of fluids and matter out of him as of today, plus all he vomited before.

Imagine a two liter of soda residing in the stomach with nowhere to go but up to get an idea of what my father has been contending with.

Getting back to the new data, if Dad is cleared of having lymphoma that implies inflammation or scar tissue causing the blockage. Another EDG would be attempted with the goal if placing a stent in the outlet. This may be attempted even if the cancer is present, conferring with oncology is yet to be done.

There are no guarantees we won't be revisiting the original surgery discussed, of course. However, there is now some hope that Dad might be able to eat again even if only liquids or soft foods.

The Achilles' heel of modern medicine is specialization especially when dealing with a problem spanning multiple fields. It is said that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. I'd add that the more links there are, the higher the odds of having a weak link or two. The medical profession is made up humans so imperfection (mistakes) are inevitable.

Despite writing that, I think the rollercoaster ride could have been smoother. It would be no surprise if more bumps are on the way.

Monday, July 28, 2014

July Refuses to Go Gracefully

Normally complaining about a month involves that eternal and universal topic of weather. Yeah, the weather has been weird with ferocious gnats making the good days outside miserable, but it has been the unrelenting bad news that makes me want the month to just leave already.

The latest is my father having to be hospitalized again. After more than 24 hours of vomiting brown blood, he caved and we journeyed to the ER to see now familiar faces. At the rate he’s going, we’ll start being invited to family outings of the staff. Symptoms are the same as two weeks ago, but in greater volume and violence.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Following Through

Despite a paucity of energy, it is time to get reviews written again if only to see if I can still string words together in a coherent fashion. A review is already in the pipeline to get things rolling again. Okay, I only have the DVD out and am looking at it intently, but one has to start somewhere.

In a post in October of a previous year (I will not state which one), a list was put forth of movies that would be reviewed or have their reviews rewritten. Out of 26, only six remain to fulfill the promise made there. That should keep me busy, plus I did pick up the ritzy Criterion Blu-ray release of Godzilla/Gojira which means a rewrite of those reviews at some point.

I had considered finishing out the orphaned anime series reviews started before. However, this is one case where following through is unlikely as much as I despise not finishing a project. Instead, I may write an overall series review as a conclusion for each with other series getting that treatment in the future.

Hopefully, there will be time and energy for all this. It’s hard to believe that July is more than halfway over. Time really flies when you aren’t having fun.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Repeat Season

Summer is known for reruns on television so being back at the emergency room with Dad seems oddly fitting. Once again he's vomiting brown and black blood due to the ulcer. Vitals are good this time around and his hemoglobin is acceptable, so at least that's relatively positive.

The new feeding tube area looks good with no signs of infection for another positive, but he's pretty miserable thanks to hiccups and the vomiting. Anti-nausea medication is being administered through an IV and that's where we stand at the moment.

More will be posted as soon as it is known.

UPDATE 11AM: Dad has been admitted to the hospital.

UPDATE 2 4:30PM: After consultation, the despised NJ tube has been pulled out to see if its absence helps with some of the symptoms. Dad is continuing to be monitored and treated. So far he's not anemic, so there is some hope of his going home tonight. My bet is on an over night stay.

UPDATE Monday 10:30 AM: Yep, they kept him and will be tonight as well. Blood results have fluctuated plus he's low on iron. The latter will be rectified by injections. First feeding via the new tube will be done and it sounds like the old routine will stay in place once my father is home.

That's a little disappointing for we'd hoped the volume of nutrients would be increased allowing greater freedom. Traveling looks out of the question now though he will at least be able to hook himself up without assistance.

Friday, July 11, 2014


I can recall complaining about feeling like I was spinning my wheels in regards to life awhile back. Now it feels like I’m having to run around more than I can handle. Today was a good example of why. But I really need to go back to the events of the last couple of days in order to explain why.

The lead up to my father’s surgery to get a feeding tube implanted in his lower abdomen made for an interesting enough week after the hectic visit by family during the previous week. Exhausted by that, we both were trying to recover strength for the ordeal on Thursday. Of course, things are never that easy around here.

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

If You Love Science Fiction…

…There’s an anime on Netflix you need to watch. Knights of Sidonia started streaming on July 4 with options to watch it in Japanese with subtitles, English, and Spanish. Closed Captioning is a separate option as well. Adapted superbly from an ongoing manga series, Sidonia is a dark, no holds barred look at the possible last days of humanity on a “seed” ship trying to survive in the far off future.

Having taken the opportunity of a free month to try out Netflix again, I decided to test the service with an exclusive anime that adapted a manga I was familiar with. This is their first exclusive streaming deal for an anime and boy did they choose well.

Following the classic structure of following a hero from obscurity to fame during a desperate war, the series is filled with brooding atmosphere, interesting characters, and an intricate plot filled with mysteries slowly unraveled. Rendered in CGI, some people will want to skip it for that reason alone. They would be foolish, to say the least for it is visually beautiful in representing the harsh light of space and the worn interior of the vast ship.

Alien foes are truly alien with questions of whether they are sentient or animals being a major subplot (amongst many) while the humans seem to be having a hard time holding on to being human. Genetic and gender manipulation has been performed to keep humanity going with even darker scientific secrets lurking below the surface. No one is safe and the body count is extremely high with two episodes having casualty rates we normally never see.

Accompanied by an evocative soundtrack reminiscent of the better efforts of synth composers of the ‘80s, the show is often very intense and individual episodes fly by before you realize it. At only twelve episodes the show ends at a point leaving you wanting more and thankfully a second season has been green lighted.

It is tough to give more details without spoiling the story, so I’ll try to list what science fiction it resembles in some way or another. If you are a fan of any of the following, you should check it out: Battlestar Galactica (reboot), 2001: A Space Odyssey, Blade Runner, Dune, Akira, and Evangelion. Knights brings back memories of how amazing anime was decades ago, capturing a lost vibe that made the medium so fascinating.

I should note that it is not for children at all. While rated TV-MA, I’d say it is a hard PG-13 with relatively tasteful obscured nudity that never shows everything (it’s also a necessary plot point), many deaths, blood shed, and horrific alien monsters. Besides all that, there are sophisticated themes pondering politics, war, the nature of humanity, and loss that are a bit beyond kids ability to process. Okay for teens and up is my judgment in the end.

Knights of Sidonia is one of the best animes I’ve ever seen. Don’t be turned off by it being a “cartoon” for it is well worth watching. This may be the perfect series to show people who’ve never watched an anime how serious the medium can be. Go watch it.

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

That’s Not the Headlight of a Train

So after many travails, there is a light at the end of the tunnel in regards to my father’s cancer. After closer review of the PET scan, the radiologist concluded there was no definitive evidence of the lymphoma returning. There are nodules that don’t show uptake that would indicate cancer and the next scheduled appointment for a follow up with oncology is in October.

While we still haven’t had the chance to talk directly to the specialists involved, it appears Dad is clear of cancer. That’s quite a reversal from last week, when things looked dire again. I’m too tired to be relieved, interestingly enough.

UPDATE: I received a voice mail with more information as the holiday week phone tag game got out of control. Final verdict is the spots were pneumonia in the lungs and there is no lymphoma. Now to get him stronger.

Next week brings surgery for a more permanent feeding tube, which is also good news relatively speaking. Poor Dad had to have another NJ tube replaced yesterday when the third one blocked up beyond recovery. It will be awhile before the switchover is made in using the new tube implanted in his side for he has to heal first.

It will make feedings much easier I’m told.

Meanwhile, we are dealing with FFT (Forced Family Time) as my sister is here with her family for Independence Day, though they are actually leaving on the 4th. So things are hectic again.

It is nice to post some good news for a change. Not sure how to handle it, I’ve forgotten what it’s like. Something about smiling, right?