Saturday, March 20, 2010

Gilda's Club -- Cancer Support for the Whole Family

This morning, Sabine and I joined Gilda's Club (it's free!) as a place where we can get support during our illness.  It is named after Saturday Night Live's Gilda Radner (Rose Rosanna Dana, and a host of other great characters.  (See  It's free and a get community asset.

After our new member session this morning, we went to our first event there -- Laughter Yoga!  After a somewhat sad time of listening to other new member's cancer stories, with many mutual tears shared, we went off for an hour of laughter led by the Madison Laughter Club (See

I think one of the benefits of joining others who are fighting cancer is the wonderful resource will all can be to one another in both our joys and sorrows.

Yep, I am a devotee.  Why?


1. Laughter is a strees buster.
2. Laughter strengthens the immune system.
3. Laughter is aerobic exercise (really!).
4. Laughter is anti-aging.
5. Laughter is internal jogging.
6. Laughter is a natural pain killer.
7. Laughter can control high blood pressure.
8. Laughter can help dump depression and anxiety.
9. Laughter alleviates bronchitis and asthma.
10. Laughter just makes you feel good.

And I would add an eleventh reason, a laughter group is the place where I can tell one of my corny jokes and everyone laughs!

THINK SPRING (even though we woke up this morning with three inches of the white stuff on the ground)!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Targeting the Fistula

I felt like Robin Hood this morning -- one needle, one stick in each buttonhole -- two arrows flew and hit their mark!  We just got our catheter-removal appointment confirmed for UW Hospital on the 28th of this month.  Canoeing and pool time are in Sabine's future.  We are both getting comfortable with using the new "connecting" method for dialysis.  Robins have been seen, Sandhill Cranes heard... Spring is coming.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


Thankfully, the Mazomanie neighborhood was not roused out of bed by our screams!  Instead, all went relatively well.  Only one attempt needed on the Arterial buttonhole and two one "re-stick" on that still-troublesome Venous buttonhole.  Whew!  A little pre-treatment anxiety and the potential of inflicting pain on my beloved.

So, it's party-time tonight and our celebration tongith at a "sock-hop" at the home of one of our support group couples -- "Come on it's twisting time like we did last summer, it's twisting time, twisting time is here!" (or something like that ala Chubby Checker).

To calm our selves Sabine and I started taking Tai Chi and we both are liking it.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Home Visit

Today, our nurses from the home dialysis program, Dawn and Lila, came out for a visit to see how I was doing with the "cannulations" (read: needle sticks). 

We got to the cottage early in order to reposition the machine, Sabine's armrest -- logisitics and supplies.  So we were ready to go when our nursing team arrived.

Let me first say that I thought this was going to be easy -- I mean, how can you miss a big vein?  Turns out, "often."

Well, it wasn't too bad.  I made the first connect (arterial) on my first stick.  But then the elusive upper part of the fistula (and narrower) became, again, challenging.  A couple of needles, some deep breaths, another attack, palpate the vein, and then EUREKA -- connection.

All went well during the treatment and now I am breathing easier!

Tomorrow I am on my own (but with Sabine's encouragement!).

Oh yes, another positive note: Sabine is scheduled to have the tunnel catheter removed at the end of this month (those plastic tubes she has had in her neck for two years) -- think swimming, canoeing!

Thursday, March 11, 2010


What's that?  Pride goeth before a fall?  Perhaps... over-confidence?  But this morning (our final in-clinic visit and my supervised "buttonholing") went south.  It took multiple attempts to finally get into the fistula and Sabine was a real trouper as first I probed and then Xinliu!  And then tomorrow we have our "home visit" to get cleared for solo flight.  I'm a little anxious with all this but I think we can still do it.  They key I learned this morning was don't give up with the blunt buttonhole needles and go back to the sharp ones.  Keep on trying, be persistent and take a couple of breaks.

The image on the top is the fistula needle set and the other image is the "blunt" needle that is inserted through the "buttonhole" we have established over the past few weeks.

Stay tuned for tomorrow's report and pray for me!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Rounding the bend

And heading for the backstretch.  Today, I cannulated Sabine's arm at the dialysis center and all went well (this time we were using a home dialysis machine in the center and under one of nurse's watchful eye)!  We will come back on Thursday again and then on Friday we will have a "home visit" at the cottage in Mazomanie --THEN, we are on our own!  And, God-willing, the plastic catheter will be removed from Sabine's neck and she will be back in the pool (well, it's a little frozen right now)!

Report by Change Nurse David

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Still Poking Around

Well, we are just about there -- "there" being an established "buttonhole."  On Monday, we planned on using the blunt-end fisula needles for the access.  I got the lower arterial needle in right away (I was told we had a good "channel" established there, but ran into problems with the upper venous needle and had to go back to a sharp needle to gain access to the fistula.  Tomorrow we will be back at it again.  This has been a long procedure with some initial setbacks in establishing the surgical fisula connection in Sabine's upper arm.  But now we are confident we are in the homestretch and will soon be sent home doing the dialysis through the fistula.  In the meantime, we do two days at home (through the catheter) and three days in the dialysis clinic in Madison.  Summer's coming -- Sabine feels the water (which she has been prevented from entering due to the tunnel catheter in her neck) beckoning!  THINK SPRING!