Thursday, May 30, 2013

Book Review: Detroit: An American Autopsy - Charlie LeDuff

Its 11:22 pm

Detroit: An American Autopsy
Charlie LeDuff
The Penguin Press
287 pages

    I have often written on how lucky we Metro Detroiters are to have such great journalists. Each TV station here has several elite reporters who have won countless Emmy's and Pulitzer's. They are not afraid to write the truth or expose it and often go in harm's way to get the truth,no matter what.

 Sometimes in going after the monster a journalist must often ask themselves,am I becoming what I set out to expose? This is the central recurring theme in Charlie LeDuff's expose of Detroit,what is more broken,the city or myself?
  To say this was a hard and uncomfortable read is putting it lightly. Charlie opens the book with how he came to land back home in Detroit after stints with major newspapers in New York and Los Angeles.
His opening story is a pretty telling...trying just to get some gas and he almost gets robbed. If it wasn't for a fellow reporter's gun that Charlie (while not knowing if it was even loaded) pulls out,he would have been become the victim,just as so many people are in the city.
  Reading Charlie's book....three things become clear,the vein of corruption run deep in the city,there are some very dedicated men and women who fight fire and violence with the least amount of support and equipment and that Detroit is beyond saving,it really is the worst hell hole in America. The politicians who are supposed to be running this city are ripping it off by either stealing from it or worse,just don't care about the people.
   And the average citizen,they almost have no chance unless they move out from the city. They stay,they get caught up in the pure hopelessness that is Detroit.
 What really makes this a stunning read is Charlie himself,he is a true son of Detroit and his family reflects that...they are pretty a totally fucked group trying to hang to their sanity. Sadly,many of them don't..he writes how both his sister and her daughter both died horrible,empty deaths.His brothers are fighting to keep the American dream and not getting it.He is fighting his own demons,he knows he is slipping into alcoholism and he even writes about a drunken fight he has with his wife that lands him in jail.
  He rides along with the brave men of the Fire Department and writes of the heartbreak when one his friends  dies because a building falls on him. The fire was a arson that the building owner paid a man 20 bucks to set.
There are many other stories of sadness....there really isn't any Hollywood ending for Detroit.
Finding dead bodies half frozen in ice,following a strange case that sees a little girl get killed and how destroyed that family becomes. There are a few bright spots,the way the city sometimes will rally around a person who really needs it the most.
   But one comes away is the sense of hearing the death knells of once was the most important and richest city in America. And if we don't LEARN the lessons of Detroit,it could spread elsewhere.
Since this book has been published,we have seen even more corruption,more fire houses shut down,equipment stolen,police officers killed and a rampant,racist killing culture sweep the city. The so called "Men of God",the so called religious leaders have been shown to be just as greedy,vile and dishonest as any city leader.
  This is a powerful read book and I urge you all to check it out.

You can get this book at Amazon and most major bookstores (those that are left).

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Re-engage Maverick!

Its 5:33 pm

    What started as a cool and rainy day has turned into a humid one with some thunderstorms rumbling across our area. The storms have kicked up to my north and I haven't heard anything but the sound of a drizzle.
  The couple of days have been slightly neighbor Al broke out his grill and smoker yesterday and made a feast of ribs,burgers,brats and a pork loin. His kids and his special lady all came over to enjoy a good meal. I came over and "helped" him out,all I did was move a piece of fencing out of his way. Once we got the smoker going,we made coffee and talked for a while. We checked out the new neighbor's dogs as they romped across the lawn with each other.

 As we chatted,we heard a rumbling in the sky and pretty soon we saw what was causing it...the Yankee Air Museum was open and running for Memorial Day. They were offering rides in of their restored planes,a B-25 medium bomber. The B-25 Mitchell was made famous during Col. Dolittle's daring raid on Tokyo.

The museum has between 1 and 3 Mitchell's in it and for a fee of between 400-600 dollars,you can get a ride around the area. They also offer the same ride for a B-17 but we didn't see that plane yesterday.
 As a matter of fact,we don't if our annual airshow will even happen this year because of the budget cuts. I takes a LOT of money to put a Blue Angel team in the air and with the Republicans screaming for budget cuts,well the airshow will be a casualty of that. We can only hope enough private owners can offer up thier planes to help keep the interest going. As much as I love the old prop planes,I'm going to miss watching F-18s scream over our house leading up to the show.

  Came home long enough to grab my keys and make a run to Dollar Tree where I got a couple of mini phone books. I posted on my FB wall about our phone book being misplaced and having to replace it. I also got more trash bags as well. Then it was off to Meijer where I got fresh milk and some bread. I told Deb,our regular cashier the news. She was saddened by the news and asked if I doing okay...I said I was doing alright and came home. Basically,this what I need to be doing right back into my life. Making two small runs was a good start....
  But it still comes up...I made some coffee and prepared mine and then Lori's. I don't know why that happened only that it did and it hurt like a mofo. I ended up drinking water instead and put my items away.
Went over and had dinner at Al's. Watched the Tigers hold on to beat the Pirates,6-5. Justin Verlander looked pretty good as he struck out 13 while throwing 97 mph. After the game,I came home and started for the 3rd time to put away the laundry on the bed....which I again failed to do.
   Got a phone from my old friend Monte in Arizona. His brother has cancer and we talked about that and how I told him to tell his brother to "ask questions,just don't accept every answer". Monte and I talked about various things,he let me talk quite a bit. I now also have a open invite to visit Arizona. I haven't there in about 25 years.

Monte,during his One Step Beyond days.

Went to sleep early for a relative change...slept well for the first time in months. Only woke up twice during the night....

  Today I got up and called the exterminator that Lori and I used three years ago when we had a nasty case of carpenter ants. JC Honey is his name and he is a master of pest control. I had not seen a single ant in the house until Saturday night when I saw a little sugar ant. I called JC right away because I just can't afford a out of control ant problem,this was another tiny step forward.
   Called my job and spoke to my FES/HR guru,Pam,who said to come on down and talk. I cleaned up,brushed my teeth and drove down to the job.
After asking how I was doing,Pam and I talked schedule while waiting for our store manager to clear his call,he too,wanted to talk with me. After talking to both of them,I headed out...talking to several folks who asked how I was doing. (Sorry again, this weekend if we work together,I promise)
  I felt a little lighter on my feet,I need to go back to work,ASAP. Because bills wait for no man.

Lori's brother is selling Comet for me. We are using the proceeds to buy the headstone for the burial plot...we each are contributing 1,100.00 towards that which is very fair. My share will come from the sale of I had to make a run to the Secretary of State to let them know I was transferring the title to her brother. That was a hard thing to do....I think I'm going to hold off my yard sale idea until August,I am not in any hurry to lose any of her things right now. I am just not ready...
  I drove home feeling my job,our HR person is a very nice man named Justin. He has a family and he is a Naval reservist who trains firemen. He has served two tours overseas and is very proud of his service as he should be. He is the man I wrote about whom I teased last college football season when San Jose State shut out Navy,12-0.
  He and I enjoy a lot of the same music and he loves Stevie Caballero,the pioneer skateboard legend.
He really is the soul of our store,he is liked by everyone.
 So why am I uneasy? Because he is now on active duty in Afghanistan...manning a security check point! Think about this for a second and know that the Pentagon is even more fucked up then average citizen realizes. You have a Navy reservist manning the most dangerous job the military has going today. 12 hours a day,during a troop withdrawal and some dumb ass brasshat decides to put Justin in a job that a far more highly trained Army infantryman should be doing. You don't slap 4 weeks of basic on a man and stick him in a hellhole and in a front line position like that. What made this worse was he was told he wouldn't have to go and he was scheduled to rotate back...but he was smart enough not to tell his son. For wouldn't you know it,the day BEFORE he was supposed to come home,he was told he was once again heading back overseas.
 What a total FUBAR this has turned out to be.

We are waiting for his information to be posted at my job,when it is,I will post it here so the folks here will take the time to send him a letter or care package.

Started work on the next installment of "8 Questions with....." I think this interview will be quite fun and just a reminder....we still have 2 free CDs of Carl Henry to give away as with 3 free 3-books of romance writer Jan Romes.  All you have to do is leave a comment on their interviews (and have a Amazon account if you want Jan's book). So I hopefully will have that up and running very soon....

To those of you who have started sharing my blog with your friends and family,I'm very thankful. I know a new chapter is about to start for me but for now,I like to linger in this for a little while.

You can find on Twitter @Jinzo_2400

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Our last day together.

Its 4:47 pm

   My dearest Lori,
                  As you know your loved ones and friends gathered yesterday to say good bye one final time.
The day was a perfect match to the one on 19 June 2004 when you and I were married. A bright blue warm sky shone brightly...I slept but a little Friday night but it was a dreamless sleep,I asked God to grant me this boon at the very least.
  Your family arrived at around 4:30 pm,it was good to see Brian and Brenda,Uncle Len and your dad. Brenda and Brian made a sprint to Kroger's to get some items for dinner. I had cleaned out the fridge but just hadn't been to the store to replace anything.
   Brenda made a very nice dinner and for the most part,it was a nice night....your dad asked for the heater back that he had bought for you as his was "wearing out". I had no problem doing that just wish his timing would have been slightly more tactful but at 91,you don't have to be tactful anymore. He also started berated Len for not seeing your momma more which did upset me. But Brian slammed the door on that and your dad was okay for the rest of the visit.
   I am downsizing now and that started with cable,I don't have Comcast right now so there wasn't any Tigers game to watch and nobody wanted to watch a movie. While Brian kept the peace between Len and your dad,Brenda and I chatted again. She is a very sweet woman and her and Brian are a smart match. She has really mellowed him down quite a bit..we had a nice chat. Pretty soon it was their time to leave and they left for the hotel....Brian would be back to pick up the Rodger Young to pick up his Aunt Jo in the morning.
  I was up bright and early,I sat in the tub and read Charlie LeDuff's book on Detroit. I can understand why you had a hard time reading it,it truly is a 3rd World city and broken beyond repair.
  Marlene(Crash's mom) agreed to drop me off at the church at 10:20 am. I slowly got dressed,fed Derek and walked down to Marlene's.
She dropped me off and said she would be back at 11: 15 am.

  I walked into the church and said hello to Bam Bam while Debbie was on the phone. Soon she came out and as we started going over the service,Deb and Michael showed up. She had made a beautiful picture display of your life but as you were so photo shy,there wasn't many as I would have liked...but it was enough.
   Donna Browne came out and was the first person who I talked to. Her husband also came out,he was nursing a nasty looking elbow injury. She was very pretty and perfectly perky,she also brought out CHESTER for me to meet. What a sweet dog he is,he jumped out of his car and headbutted me and then licked my face. They had to leave early but it was lovely that they came out. I forgot to tell Donna of our ritual....whenever we drove down Ridge Road and passed Proctor,we would both say "Hello Chester!"
Oh! His tumor that he had when you lasted saw was benign and Chester is in good shape!
   As I walked inside,the hearse arrived at the same time and Matthew from McCabe Funeral came and met me. We went over several small details before going to talk with Debbie and Father Casey.
   I stood inside as the viewing was just about to start. I know some folks were surprised that you were bald but I explained how you hated that wig and felt much better without it. Your dad was very emotional and started crying as he saw you,I let him have his private moment. He is very shaky on his feet now,Brian,Brenda and myself all have told him he needs a cane sooner then later. I helped him sit down and then our friends and family started coming in.
   My stars....there were so many people! There must have been about 100-120 that came out to pay their respects. Our angels,Melanie and Terry came out,your entire Lane Bryant team,Kathy Robinson,Ruth Petrus,the mighty Karen Taylor (she looked awesome as usual),Vesna and Sonya from LB Corporate.
Alana from Ms. J looked sooooo cute,Lori! Marriage and motherhood suits her so well...The Farmer Jack team show up in Theresa and Scuba Steve. Theresa really was a rock for us,wasn't she? My team from work showed up,Howard came out and stayed about 40 minutes. I found this just incredibly touching as this weekend is our store's "Black Friday" and you know how crazy a store can get. About 15 other folks came from my work. I met Michelle Ball and Trish Brown for the first time,both are sweet and very compassionate. Michelle does a ton of cancer awareness fundraising,Trish was kind enough to let post my blog on her page.
   And speaking of the blog....I am sharing it with everyone now. I know some folks may be upset because they didn't realize just how hard we were in the soup. I am sorry for that,truly. But know they know and I know they'll even more be proud of you and will be inspired by your bravery and courage.
  Amy Lange and her wonderful husband Michael were kind enough to videotape the service.
The service started and after we folded the shroud over your casket,Father Casey spoke....we sang,prayed and then I gave your eulogy. I was so honored to do and I couldn't imagine anyone giving it because who else knew you better then me? I did very well,I made it through without crying and I kept your secret as well.
 After I sat down,Deb did a reading and Father Casey conducted a lovely service. Oh my I miss you so much already! The days now are long,the nights are just awful.
  I held it together until the end when they wheeled your body out,I cried...I still am wondering how many tears does a body make. Brenda and I walked out together and I once again talked to our friends,co-workers and family.
  I wasn't really planning to attend the lunch afterwards,I was pretty drained after the service but I had to take Aunt Jo because my car was the only one low enough for her to get in. We ate at Antonio's and it was a nice lunch,I sat with Deb and Michael. We talked about you and flying. Deb shared a funny story about flying with you that I had never heard before.
   Soon we all went our ways,Bonnie was kind enough to take Aunt Jo home and I think I'll be having lunch with Bonnie and Paula tomorrow.
Brian and company followed me back to the house. While they changed clothes,I gave Uncle Len a piece of art and your mom's wedding ring to Brian as you requested. He was very touched,your dad wanted Brenda to wear it but she declined out of respect that your momma is still here with us.
 We said our good-byes and they headed home....the house was quiet once again. I washed and emptied a load of dishes,looked at email and Facebook. I then went outside and got the picture display out and put it in the house.
   I called Al,we were supposed to go watch a movie but he actually had two funerals to attend...we were sort of tired,we decided to wait until a better time. We sat on his back porch and enjoyed some iced tea and just talked. Our new neighbor Erica walked over,she found out about your passing from Marlene and gave me a sympathy card and a cake. It was a very kind gesture. It started getting cold so I headed back to the house.
    I gave Derek a can of Fancy Feast,he was very,very happy to get it.
I put on a DVD,"Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" on and just sat there watching it without really seeing it. I was dreading the darkness once again...but a phone call from San Jose was a Godsend,my good friend Pam Kelly with whom I had done several projects with,called me and we caught up for 2 felt good that someone reached out and just talked. Afterwards,I brushed my teeth and filled my water tank and went straight to bed. For the first time since you have left,I slept easy.

A Farewell

Good-bye! - no,do not grieve that it is over,
The perfect hour;
That the winged joy,sweet honey-loving rover,Flits from the flower.
Grieve not- it is the law. Love will be flying-
Yes,love and all.
Glad was the living- blessed be the dying
Let the leaves fall

- Harriet Monroe

I love you Kitty.

I like to thank the following people from the bottom of my heart:

Dr. John Armstead
Dr. Carolyn Johnston
Dr. Jessica Shank
Dr. Youssef Rusk
Melanie Perry,RN
Terry Vandervoost,RN

Amy Rauch Neilson (R.I.P.)
Don Neilson

Amy Lange
Michelle Ball
Deb Garfalo and Michael Rodriguez
Marlene Marion
Howard Campbell
My team at HD 2703
Cheryl March
Al Nether
Kathy Rafeski
The Lane Bryant Team in Canton (+ Vesna and Sonya)
The Majestic Family
The Eppers Family
The Rios Family
Lisa Ann Walter
Kerri Appleton
Brad Benke
Monte Lebo
Renee McKrill (give me some time)
Tiffany Hendra
John Branch,Jr.
Theresa Ingison
Monique Parent
Pam Kelly
Michelle and Bradley Myers (two of the best!!!)
Lacye Presley
Kimberly Dozier
Jessica Clackum
Arbor Hospice
Dr. Devin Wahlen
Heidi Swanson Cole
Howard Burkeen
Monique Powell

If I have forgotten anyone,please forgive me....

Saturday, May 25, 2013

a request

Its 10:53 pm

    In 12 hours and 15 minutes,I will look upon my Lori for the last time through mortal eyes. I ask God to give me strength to be strong for her friends and family,to comfort them in their grief and suffering. Let my eulogy show people how incredible Lori really was and how her life impacted so many others in such a positive way..there are so many people to thank who have stood tall with us on this journey,we wouldn't had lasted as long as we did without them.

Friday, May 24, 2013

One Week and Counting (originally posted 29 March 2011)

Its 8:47 am
     I am posting some earlier blogs that I wrote on my FB page before moving over here. A lot of folks haven't seen these as of yet. 
  Tomorrow is Lori's funeral. Yesterday I talked with Debbie over at St. Thomas a Beckets about Lori's life. Tonight I'm writing her eulogy....15 years crammed into 3 minutes. How does one do that? Debbie says she has never had a spouse give a eulogy in the 20 years she has been at St. Thomas...which sort of stunned me. I can't think of a better person then a spouse as who knows you then the person who shared your life would?
   Yesterday was a bit more rugged,like I told someone,the nights are the worst. The sheer weight of the pain,good times and talking in bed or just watching her sleep (I did that a lot!!) just comes roaring in. The only sound I hear is my tears rolling down my face or a gentle purring sound from Derek as he keeps looking at me and sleeping in Lori's spot. Its why I am up all night...restless.
  One highlight,Devin,the foot surgeon from Dr. Fallat's office, invited me to go listen to Ziggy Ansah speak at a LDS church in Livonia. The place was packed but not uncomfortable. Listening to him speak,one wonders if he has the temperament to play in the NFL. His speaking voice is very soft and you can see he is unused to public speaking. He just seems more suited to be a school teacher then a defensive end in the NFL...I asked Ziggy if San Jose State was the toughest team he faced last year,he said all the schools were the same,he enjoyed playing against everyone. 
  Afterwards Devin and I talked for a while,he shared an amazing story about a young man whose foot was badly injured in an industrial accident. Two different teams of doctors wrote off the foot and said that man would lose his leg at the knee. Devin said in a last ditch effort,they asked Dr. Fallat to look at which Dr. Fallot said "We can save this foot". Devin and Dr. Fallot then led the team that indeed saved this man's foot and spared him a crippling life altering loss. The two other teams? know which hospital they were from if you have read this blog regularly.
   Devin is wrapping up his time here with Dr. Fallot,he is leaving for New Mexico for a new job come the end of June. Our loss is New Mexico's huge gain. 

Je'Rean Blake- I still remember and I still mourn. 

 This is my entry I wrote right before Lori's surgery to remove her uterus.

Its 10:26 am
    The countdown has started,next Tuesday will my wife and I at the U of M Cancer Center where she'll be under going surgery to remove her uterus. I feel like a sea wall in Japan right before that tsunami hit,effective 99% of the time,totally wiped out during a real deal. I'm struggling to find a way to calm her fear and despite trying all of my known tricks,I admit...I don't know what to say other then she in the best of hands and that many,many people are praying for her.
Enjoyed our day off wife did her work schedule while I was culling out old coupons and putting in the new ones in our binder. Of course I had help with this in the form of Derek jumping up and laying across the new coupons. How does a cat go from jumping on a ottoman to looking he has been sleeping hard in less then a minute??
  Finished this about 45 minutes...yes,45 minutes,you haven't seen our coupon binder.
First big stop was the post office....then we went to our old stomping grounds of Northville. Had lunch at Papa Vinos and popped over to the Barnes and Noble and picked up Fangoria 302. New editor Chris Alexander has really stepped up the quality of the zine and while I have always been a fan since meeting Tony Timpone at my first horror convention ages ago,the fresh energy has made Fango that much more fun to read.
  Next we headed to Joe's Produce in Livonia....then picked up some birthday cards for my pops and nephew.
 The day was sunny and cold...old man winter is still trying to hang out with us. What makes this a bit funny ...its Tornado Awareness week here in SE Michigan. Last year was a pretty active one for us...Michigan gets about 16 twisters a year but we had 27 of them last year,including one that hit a nuclear power plant about 40 miles away.
  Its sort of hard thinking about tornadoes when your local weather guy is still saying "snow".
As we head back to our house,we drove through Plymouth and saw a new (for us) consignment shop called Home Again.
It was located outside of downtown which is a real shame. Plymouth used to be one of the coolest places to chill...lots of cool shops,a used CD store and a nice bookstore. Plus our favorite place,Gabrialas,where we got our Cat Meow pieces.
Now its all changed,its mostly restaurants now. All the shops that made going to Plymouth fun are gone which is why we rarely go there anymore.
   But Home Again was pretty sporty,lots of funky pictures,lamps,jewelry and other home ideas. We were the only customers in the store and it was relaxing walk about looking for something fun. We settled on a piece of art,a beautiful pair of candlesticks and some fun earrings...all for 20 bucks!  It definitely deserves a return visit.
  Came home and unpacked the car and watched Dancing with the Stars. My boy,Hines Ward,wasn't too shabby and danced well. Thought Kirstie Alley danced very nicely as well and as long as she improves,she has a good chance to finish in the Top 3.
Well,that is all I got....thanks for reading.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Tonight I Fall

28 August 15
11:51 am

I know looking at this entry and the few after it,I appear "out of it" in my writing. Well you would be right,I was. Looking at this now,I see I was truly deep in the fog that was Lori's passing. One just can't fathom the sense of loss and pain when something like cancer steals into your life and takes half of you away,the far better half.
  Please know that I was just trying to stay upright while getting Lori's funeral together,taking care of so many things all at once with very little help. But one thing I will say,this song and the singer who sings it....they are both amazing!

Its 12:51 am

For Monique

    As some of you may know,I was working as a talent buyer in Palo Alto,California when I first met Lori.
I worked at two clubs for my friend Jacek Rosicki,he had me book the Tuesday nights at the Agenda Lounge. It was my 2nd time working for Jacek,he had hired me at the Club Oasis in San Jose which at one time was a hot club but had slowly fallen out of favor with fickle club goers.

 What once was a great live venue was eroded away by the old owners booking the same six local bands over and over. This destroyed the local bands fanbase and kept away the average music fan.
   Jacek hired me to book the Oasis,a 1,000 person,21+ club. I walked into a hornet's nest and despite my best efforts,I failed to turn the live music scene around despite booking some great bands. This led me into ripping into a local music journalist named Carla Hay,who wrote for BAM magazine. She was a terrible writer who had zero interest in the San Jose music scene and was very,very unpopular. Our little tussle in a middle of a show led Jacek and me into a meeting where we both agreed I needed a break. I left the Oasis and pondered my next move. I was feeling shaken by the Oasis because I knew I had let Jacek down. This was the only time in my entire career that I ever lost my temper in regarding a band/media writer. Not to say I didn't get upset but I never lost control like I did that night.

I did a summer series for Pam Kelly at the Cameras that did pretty well (thank you Lisa Dewey!) before I moved to Mountain View for the next 18 months. While there,I got a job at Tower Records and continued to book small shows for local bands and booked another great summer series at a local coffee shop that got some decent press.
   During this time,Jacek had bought the old Marsugi's building in San Jose...the same building where I had gotten my start thanks to Joe Kelly,who was the buyer at the time. Jacek invested a ton of cash into making his new venture into a great restaurant downstairs and a upscale club upstairs.
  The Tower Records store was just down the street from his main venue in Palo Alto called The EDGE. Jacek had brought aboard Jimmy Arceneaux to book both EDGE and also some shows at the Oasis. Jacek used to come back and drop off fliers for his upcoming shows at Tower. It was on 2 straight Friday night shows at the coffee house where I had a great crowds that Jacek dropped off fliers. He and I begin to talk about the Agenda and what he thought might be a good idea,a live acoustic night. He asked me what I thought and I said it could work if we had a budget to book with. He agreed and gave me a 8 week trial period to see what I could do. I had a lot to prove and I hit the ground running..after a show that Jacek himself booked with singer/actress Mare Winningham,the stage was mine.

  The shows were awesome...and not always acoustic either. Mixing both good strong local bands along with kick ass national acts,I regained the trust of Jacek. I knew I had come all the way back when he asked me to come to the EDGE as Jimmy's office assistant. Jimmy and I were a great team,he knows more about rock and roll,metal,glam rock then anyone I know. We had some amazing shows under Jimmy,including a crazy night with UFO where we had to break up a fight between famed guitarist Michael Schenker and UFO's drummer,a awesome show with Cheap Trick in which I had to run for most of the night because Jimmy was doing the famous Cheap Trick high step! I never saw anyone get more stuff signed then Jimmy did that night.
   I was still doing shows at the Agenda....and one afternoon,I booked a band called Save Ferris. I had caught the name in a few underground zines at Streetlight Records. It was a ska band fronted by a beautiful vocalist named Monique Powell. I got a press kit and put on the CD demo....and was blown away. Monique was indeed as beautiful and had powerhouse vocals as I had heard. I told Jimmy I had found the next big thing and showed him the press kit.
   The night of show came and we had a killer crowd because college radio plus Todd Inoue from the Metro helped give the show a big push. Our room quickly filled up with local bands,hipsters,college sound man,Rees Roberts,worked with a miracle getting a large band on such a small stage,at the time they played,they had 7 band was very crowded.
  As soon as Monique started singing,you knew it was something very special...she was singing pop/ska but her voice was beyond that. Save Ferris was a tight knit band and it showed in their performance,the club was jumping and the crowd was alive with excitement.

  Afterwards Monique and I had a chance to talk downstairs,we were standing outside so she could cool off. I remember looking at her and saying they wouldn't be back at the Agenda again,they were a band that was going to get signed to a deal,her vocals were just that strong. And I was right,we saw Save Ferris again,but at the EDGE as a part of a packaged tour.
   When Save Ferris was signed,I was sent a copy of their debut CD "It Means Everything" which I still own. But the 2nd album which was called "Modified" in where Monique's true vocal power shines most brightly on a beautiful song and one of my all time favorites "Let Me In".
  I connected with Monique on FB and while I don't think she remembers our shows (out of thousands played) I sent her a message a while ago asking about the origins of that song. I never got an answer until yesterday....

  • I know we don't "know know" each other, but KNOW that my heart goes out to asked me what "let me in" was about awhile was a song Brian wrote for me when I lost a love and I felt I couldn't breathe for four months afterward. Our situations are very different, yet...there is no such thing as love lost. And I know that now. Love is only ever gained and remembered and felt. Love really really really never dies. And to you my distant friend, I send a message of strength and a heart full of love. You are not alone. Warmly, Monique

Below are the lyrics to that song....

 "Let Me In"

I've been watching you and all you do
For quite some time
Knowing all the ins and outs of you
I should've known what was on your mind
But all the world is spinning round and round
Inside my head tonight
I will fall into the darkness
And I fear I will never see the light

So let me in
All that I wanted from you
Was something you'd never do
So let me in
Oh please tonight
Don't let this end
I'll Fall

Through no light the darkness seems to be
So very strong
How does one alone against the world
Find the strength to carry on?
What happened to the way we used to love
It seemed as though life had just begun
But now that love has come and gone to fade away
Like the setting sun
Cuz' you won't let me in.

All that I wanted from you
Was something you'd never do
So let me in
Oh please tonight
Don't let this end
Cuz' I'm starting to fall
So let me in

It was all that I wanted from you
It was something you never knew
To let me in
But not tonight
For this is the end
I fall

                                                                      written by Brian Mashburn

And this is how it sounds with Monique singing it....

       Lori  and I loved listening to music together,while our tastes were a wee bit different,it was one of our favorite things to do,especially on some of our exploring trips. The rule was simple,whoever was driving got to pick the CD. John Denver,The Rolling Stones,Dan Fogelberg and James Taylor were some of Lori's favorites. She also wasn't afraid to listen to someone new and that how she also became a fan of Monique's voice.
  This song has never meant more to me then tonight....while I have always enjoyed it and it moves me to tears,its tonight that I UNDERSTAND it. Here in my darkest hour,my heart grieves but is comforted that love never really dies. I'm heading to bed know,my soul feeling a bit better is a great healer and I will sleep easy tonight.

Thank you Monique.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Medical Update: Hospice and acts of kindness

Its 11:02 pm

    Once again I'm home in a empty house...the last 72 hours have taken me to my limits emotionally wise.

I haven't had a chance to write too much because I pretty much have been giving Lori round the clock care...I would sign in FB,exchange a political barb with Frank Sinatra (aka Monte Lebo,our club manager at the EDGE),post a quick update and then back to Lori.

  The miscue at the U of Michigan has really turned ugly. What Lori has had to endure is almost beyond believing.
  We were passed over to Arbor Hospice about 10 days ago. The original set-up was a aide to come 3 days a week to help change/bath Lori. A nurse was scheduled for a single visit per week. A good plan on paper,right? Nope...its been non-stop every it pain management on a Saturday,medical equipment on a Friday and trouble with her g-tube that brought out a 11:45 pm visit.
  Every day,there has been a crisis of some sort...but the fistula has been the topper. It started out with a constant urination,I had to change Lori's pads over and over. This started getting worse on started affecting her sleep and because she was losing hydration,the urine started to really smell. We increased her water intake and continued to administer her gravity I.V.
  Towards the end of Tuesday,Lori suddenly developed diarrhea. It started coming through her fistula and in came in wave after wave. Pretty soon,I was back on the line to hospice asking for help. They sent a aide who helped me change and bath her while I quickly tossed in a load of laundry.
  Wednesday came about and it started out well....very little discharge and I was thinking we were okay.
But Lori started getting very thirsty and I gave her ice water and ice chips. She started getting restless and I had to adjust her bed setting several times. Kassie,our regular aid came out and showed us how to use a Hoyer lift. We put Lori in a medical recliner for the day. The sling was a bit small so she had Arbor order a larger sling.
  Lori was doing first but suddenly all hell broke loose,she had another attack. I started cleaning her as much as I could but the recliner was narrow,it made for a real challenge. Another call and soon Kassie came back over to help me lift her back...Lori started having a incident while in the lift,when Kassie went to help her,the lift started tipping...I grabbed it to steady it and we managed to get Lori back on the bed...Kassie changed her again and left....and 5 minutes later,it happened again. From 3:30 pm to 1:30 am,I was either changing her,wiping her,laundry,redoing her bed padding,getting water with no break to speak of
I slept til 5:30 am and went back down and repeated the cycle. There is nothing special about what I did...she is my wife and there isn't anything I wouldn't do for her...Kassie came again and this time we sat her in a bigger chair so I could at least clean her when needed.
  We decided to buy a bigger recliner so she called up Gardner-White and bought a chair unseen. I was downstairs doing laundry when she called. She said we could pick it up in two days,I called Big Al and he said he would help by providing his truck.
  The attacks became more frequent and the living room,which had been put in such order,slowly became littered with empty bags,towels,cups and trash bags. I would no sooner change her,clean up and get her some cold water before she got sick again....I called the hospice nurse for some advice.
Thursday night came on and due to the fact she was thirsty and had went potty so much,I did two bags of I.V. fluids.
At 3:45 am,I couldn't keep my eyes open and I staggered up stairs after one last cleaning. I set the alarm clock for 7:15 am and was out before my head hit the pillow.
Friday,7:34 am....I awoke with a start....I heard Lori calling my name...I went downstairs and had the single worst moment in my life...Lori was askew in her bed,she had had several incidents during the night,her briefs was full and there was a mess on the floor. I have never been more fucking ashamed of myself then at that moment.
   I started to clean her up...there was just so much wrong,I called for the hospice nurse and our family friend Cheryl,who came over.
 I cleaned Lori up the best I could and called for the social worker,we needed to go to hospice today. But Lori didn't want to go...I explained what was going on and that I was being outmatched here. When Kassie came over and spent the entire 60 minutes trying to clean her,I made the call and asked for Lori to be transferred to Arbor Hospice.
  They sent over an ambulance for Lori...while I couldn't ride with her,they wouldn't let me drive because I was so tired. Cheryl drove me and I slept there almost the whole way.
   Arbor Hospice is a beautiful 26 bed center. There are 4 wings,each staffed with a nurse and a aide. Lori was having so many incidents,they couldn't really keep I gloved up and chipped in. I noticed the odd stares I got from the staff as I cleaned Lori up,help roll her over,change her bedding,etc...
 I talked to the director,Dr. Marx and his resident,Dr. Breck on what we would do to slow down Lori's diarrhea. Dr. Marx suggested a medicine that would slow her stomach creating digestive juices,it sounded promising and soon after we went home.
Had a rough night at home...was overly tired and didn't sleep worth a poo. Got up,showered,grabbed some items when the phone rang,Marlene had left me a goody bag of snacks for my trip to see Lori.
She and her friend Joanna,also came over and cleaned up the bottom floor of the house. Big Al mowed the backyard with his riding mower...I'm very lucky to have such great friends.
  Saturday was supposed to find me at the Motor City Comic Con to finally meet Casper Van Dien and Dina Meyer from "Starship Troopers" with my fellow geek squad from work,instead I was making the trek back to Ann Arbor. Before I fell asleep on Friday,I sent out a request to any of my friends who were running/walking in the Komen Race for the Cure to write a quick sign on Lori's behalf and send me a picture.
Our friend Amy Lange at Fox 2,who ran as part of Amy's Angels (Amy Neilson's support group),not only created a sign for Lori but mentioned her fight on the air.

and here is the sign again:

And my friend and sports journalist Tom Leyden also created this sign:

Lori and I were so touched by this kindness....again,thank you so much and I'll be at the Race next year with my own army to help raise funds to stop this monster once and for all.

I am going to post this so I can take a quick nap before work.

Friday, May 17, 2013


Its 1:48 am

   Living through the longest 48 hours of my life....

Lori is getting closer to leaving now. She fought the most valiant fight for the past 3 years and we both can see the finish line now. They say after a while most caregivers go from asking for a miracle to asking for release and peace to their loved one. I'm at the point now..I just want her to go home to heaven now.
Yesterday saw us battle the fistula,today she developed diarrhea out of nowhere,totally perplexed because she hasn't eaten anything for a while now.
   I have been on my feet for about 40 of the past 48 hours cleaning her and changing the bed sheets with some assistance from hospice and Marlene (Crash's mom) who I had to call to help me set up the gravity drip I.V.
  I'm heading to bed now....

Monday, May 13, 2013

Medical Update - A good week

Its 4:25 pm

   Just wrapped up an amazing weekend here at Casa de Sullivan. I'm struggling to express how blessed we are with some of the great family,friends and co-workers in our lives.
Our house has been transformed into a a place of deep love and warmth these past two days.

 What a whirlwind of activity these few days...Howard Burkeen finished our ramp and bathroom projects last Tuesday,one Wednesday we officially entered hospice care and I took delivery of Lori's bed and then sprinted out to buy two mattress covers and sets of fitted sheets. I made it home in time to see Lori arrive by ambulance.
   After getting her inside and making her comfortable...the hospice intake nurse and social worker came by for a chat. They told us all supplies will be provided by them from now on. We will have a aide come three times a week and a nurse will stop by once a week to change Lori's dressings on her port and g-tube. They will show me how to change the g-tube dressing this week.
  The next chore was the house,it was not only cluttered but messy...and I had to learn a lesson here. Lori and I had the same goal in mind but different views on how to get there. I wanted to move things out of the house,to free up room so I can work better. I was getting frustrated because I felt all I was doing was moving one chair from one room into another. Lori was upset because she felt maybe I was trying to downsize before was she gone. That wasn't the case but taking a look back,I can understand her point. We are planning a big yard sale in June and everything going into garage was being sectioned off for the sale. I had to reassure her that I wasn't having a "fire sale",I only wanted to have room. She was feeling down when our friend Cheryl came over so I let the two talk while I started to build a shelving unit for our supplies.
    I'm sharing this private moment because that is the nature of a serious illness,its not all harps and swelling music. Cancer takes a serious chunk of a unwary caretaker/giver's heart. You're watching your soulmate die very slowly and there is not a damn thing you can do...feeling her getting weaker,lighter each time you lift her up to change the sheets that are covered with waste,eating less,losing muscle mass...the hands that squeezed mine in joy at our wedding,now squeezing because of the pain. You as a caretaker have NO control,which is why you find yourself insisting that the easy chair go into the living room despite your spouse asking it be put in the dining room. Then realizing what does it matter,just shut up and do what she wants...because its also her only control as well. Talking to the social worker,we're very proud of us...we are as united and loving as a couple she has seen at such a young age handling this. A lot of couples don't make the illness gets worse and the results become more evident of what is coming,many folks crack and break under the pressure of watching a loved die so slowly and painfully. It doesn't mean they are weak or don't love their spouse anymore,its almost a act of self-defense,to save your heart. I can promise you,that has never ever crossed my mind...the one thing I am working hard at in keeping my feet nailed to the ground because like I shared with brother,I don't want to stay here without Lori. But I know I will...I have a duty to keep her life and memory alive,of sharing with people just how an amazing spirit she has.
   As Cheryl worked inside,Deb (Lori's best friend) and her boyfriend Michael showed up ready to help. Soon the house was a beehive of activity as we all cleaned,scrubbed,sorted and yes,moved out to the garage at Lori's direction,a lot of stuff.
  I had to change Lori so she sent Cheryl on a grocery run...and then her brother Brian and his wife Brenda drove in. Deb and Michael went upstairs to work on getting the guest room ready,it was clean but the bed was full of clothes and hangers.As I changed and washed Lori,her brother standing aside just watching me (he could only me and not what I was doing). I got her dressed and comfy and went back to work. He said "How do you do it?" Its pretty easy do it out of love. There is nothing heroic or superhuman in taking care of someone you love...
  Brenda brought a ton of food and started cooking as I went to get ready for work. Howard Burkeen came by and finished putting the final touches down on the ramp as well as take measurements for the small ramp on the doorwell in the front door.
  Cheryl came back and for 45 minutes it was like a party,laughter,good food cooking,Derek being super friendly and furniture being moved.
Before I left,I had to go over the Meds list with Brian. Early Saturday morning before all the excitement and fun got started,we had a pain crisis that had me calling the on call hospice nurse. The problem is she can longer really sit in a chair or a couch..if she does,it can cause much pain and on Friday night she over did it.
The on call nurse came out and showed me what hospice intake had left in my fridge,a emergency "comfort kit" of which one of the items was liquid morphine. The nurse broke the seal and gave Lori 3 small doses of morphine. This settled her pain level down greatly and the nurse contacted the doctor who then authorized me to administer the morphine should the need arise again.
 I explained this to Brian,on what to do and how to do it....he looked highly nervous. Once I went over it slowly,he was fine and off to work I went.
  My work has been absolutely been awesome in dealing with me about this illness. As I mentioned,my manager is a cancer survivor,two ladies have lost their husbands to this monster and one left her alive when she went to bed only to dicover he had passed away during the night. One of the women who lost her husband,Linda,has really charged forward to arranging for cards to be sent to Lori,our head cashier,Pam,gave us a huge basket of personal items that we need but just don't have the time to get....soaps,dishwasher soap,toothbrushes,etc. When resources are thin,small things like that mean a huge difference. Other folks have started to help with drinks and dinners. Its so amazing....when good people hurt,its so easy to see what you can do to help..and more then once someone has said that since we have been kind people,this is God's way of helping us. That may be true but I rather have my wife back for another 30 years....
   My co-workers struck again last night...I have only entrusted two folks with this blog from my work,Dianne and Susan. They know that Lori is now home and in hospice care this week. So when I checked in,people were amazed. "You don't need to be here" and "You need to be home"...I would like nothing more then  to do that but I also have a duty to any company who employs me. We are so short staffed now and sadly,people tend to call off far too much still. When this happens,it affects our bottom line and puts crazy stress on those who have to pick up the freight. Up to recently,I had never missed a day until Lori's cancer got really bad. I am of that fact...I could care for my wife and still work to help pay our mountain of bills.
  As I was at my station when two wonderful people got really upset that I had to be there...they called the manager on duty and insisted I be allowed to go home that night and one of them volunteered to do my work as well..So they basically "kicked" me home...I got to spend a quality night with my family as Lori dozed and we watched the Tigers play. Before I left,my new department head,a lady named Kathy,baked some of the best muffins I have ever ate. I shared them with my family for breakfast. What a wonderful gesture that was...
  Sunday saw me back at work and this time I worked my shift training a new employee.
Got home and had lunch with Brian and Brenda. We talked about the yard sale and Lori said how she wanted to sell Comet but it needed some work. Brian decided that he would drive the car back to his place,get it fixed and sell it,he felt he would be to sell it more quickly then we could. His friend is a good mechanic and would be willing to help. I admit,I was pretty sad seeing her car leave...just another symbol of her not being with me...but with hospice costing 5,000.00,we need the help...isn't it something that dying costs so damn much in this country?
  Lori got a beautiful card from the lovely actress/talk radio hostess/author Lisa Ann Walter over the weekend. Lori remembered her from "Shall We Dance?" which she had seen in New York with Deb. But since Brian and Brenda didn't know her,we found "Bruce Almighty" on cable and watched it. Brian commented on how beautiful she is and asked how did she know us. Well.....that is a story that I have shared before in this blog so if you want to know....but Lisa Ann,thank you so very much.
 Its now 7:25 pm on Monday night

    Lori is resting easy,her team from Lane Bryant have come by the last two days for great visits. It has really perked her up...we had hoped to go on a outing but just quite aren't ready as of yet. But we are going to try and get her using a walker as soon as I post this. So off I go....

Thank you all so very much for your kind words,thoughts and deeds. It has made our journey that much more meaningful. To those of you who know us in real life,please reach out and contact us,its okay..we would love to see you.

Before I go.....I wanted to leave you with two more entries from animal activist Elaine Hendrix's "Love and Compassion" video blog....

Summer of 13 question

Its 4:29 am

    What big summer movie are you looking forward to seeing this summer?

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Medical update-Saturday

Its 7:47 pm

    Just wanted to post a quick update.....

We are not going to get our last summer of fun...Lori is now housebound and we have entered hospice care.
She is resting comfortably now but had a bad afternoon of pain that had me calling for our hospice nurse who showed me how to dole out a dose of liquid morphine.
  The surgery that we had was a complete and utter failure,the g-tube in her stomach hasn't really stopped her vomiting and it only destroyed what quality life we had left. She now has uncontrollable bowel movements and I have to change her under garments about 6-8 times daily.
  The Monday where they gave her the fentanyl patch is the reason....her bowel movements were slow to start with,the Narco slowed them even more and when they gave her the patch...her bowels stopped working altogether and that is why we ended up in the E.R. last Saturday because she was literally throwing up her own poo.
  This was a major mistake and we are so very saddened by this turn of events...I feel totally crushed.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Summer of '13

Its 7:01 pm

    Been a long day here....Lori is still in the hospital and is getting ready for one more surgery. The team is going to put in a vent in her side to allow her bowel to drain more freely. Its a risky surgery but given what we are facing,what do we have to lose? We're just hoping for a quick recovery time so she can come home.
I didn't go to the hospital today because I had so much to do here today,paid bills,decluttered like mad and Howard Burkeen brought his crew over to paint the bathroom and build two wheelchair ramps for us.

   Today marks the one year anniversary of Amy Neilson passing away. Those who have followed our journey know how much I have written about her and how much she helped me deal with Lori's cancer.
Last night,I connected with her husband,Don,on the phone last night and we chatted for 3 hours about everything connected to this ordeal.
  I am so thankful that I was able to talk about my fears about the last days...Don gave me several pieces of good advice and I am taking them to heart....when Lori and I talked this morning we both agreed that we are going to do the surgery,we want a last fun filled,friends and family filled,activities when we can filled summer.
No gloom and doom....just to live what life we have left to the max....and if we get to the Fall,so much the better!
   Some things we are hoping to do....
Plant some flowers
Attend a concert
BBQ with her co-workers
Soak up some sun
Have me walk a 5k in June
Have her family come over
Game night
Walk around the block
Christmas Tree Shoppe run
Finish the latest Dan Brown book
Meet my nephew Brayden

  So I'm going to really push extra hard and ask each reader to help send Lori cards this summer....I want our mailbox full every day,small bundles of sunshine that she can open and enjoy. Feel free to post our address in your church,your volunteer groups,neighbors,whoever. I want her to know how loved she is and how her life has been such a victorious one.
  Spent time with hospice today arranging to have Lori's hospital bed ready to be delivered when she is ready to come home.
And as I mentioned,I also had some help getting the upstairs bathroom painted along with a hole in the den and also two wheelchair ramps. Howard Burkeen,who installed the bathroom lights in our lower bathroom,is one of the nicest contractors you would ever hope to meet.He knows our situation and insisted that we only pay for a worker and materials despite my insistence that he charge us his regular price. He refused and headed out to get the paint that we needed for the project.
  Add to this kindness....a dear reader from Florida,Heidi,wrote how she was moved by Lori's will to live and wanted to do something to help. The kind person sent a very generous gift that is going to cover the making of the two ramps. This is the 2nd person who has donated money to us and we are very humbled.
And very grateful as well. Lori has asked me to work the bare minimal at my job,enough to qualify me for insurance when she gets dropped in August,she wants me to be close to her this summer...this has really left me in a true quandry,I want to do that as well...but just how feasible is it? We still have many bills to pay and that ambulance run is going to cost a pretty penny. Not complaining,just stating fact. Ambulance runs are rarely covered by insurance and that is anyone,anywhere. I want to be smart about this...I don't want to deal with this illness and go into debt as well...
And to my two co-workers who are reading this.....not going to happen.
I'm sure we'll figure something out that will be smart and allow me to spend time with Lori.

Called Lori to say "good-night" and she sounded very talkative but very tired. I'm hoping they are giving her something to help her sleep. She mentioned that Dr. Johnston sat with her for an hour while she talked about plans for the summer. Before Dr. J left,she upgraded Lori's "diet" to include popsicles. Pretty cool if you ask us!

Derek Jeter is starting to look for Ginger now,he hadn't really before but I heard him meowing last night and pop his head into her favorite sleeping area. When I popped the can to Fancy Feast,he headed into the small bathroom because that where I had to put him while I fed Ginger. He thought she was getting fed and was getting a head start to the bathroom. He looked at me and meowed when I called him back and placed the plate in front him. He seemed a little confused...

Our little dove is still sitting on her/his eggs,the trellis is suddenly going all green and the bird is slowing fading into the greenery.

 Don't forget to check out my newest interview with novelist Jan Romes,we still have three free books to giveaway! Sort of fun to see folks from Russia come by to check her interview. Going to start work on my new "8 Questions with...." tomorrow night with a very talented local artist. Might even be a freebie there as well! Stay tuned!

Anyone been watching "Person of Interest" this season? Its my favorite show on TV and I feel its the freshest,most complex shows I have watched. Just digging the blazes out of the writing the second half of the season...and if Amy Acker isn't one of the more under rated actresses working today. Her sweet demeanor as Root sends shivers down a spine because she is also crazy as hell as well. And I'm not entirely sure if she is really a bad guy or not as the people she has zapped have all deserved it....

On the music front,I see my old friend Ken Helwig has a brand new band,The Emptys",ready to roll out their debut show this summer. Maybe if he reads this,he'll send his old friend a demo CD so I can check his new tunes. Just a thought.....

I guess that its for now...thanks for reading!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Medical Update: Back in the hospital we go...

Its 11:38 am

    Sitting in the ER for the third time...this time via ambulance. After two very bad days wrapped around a decent one,it fell apart on us yesterday. Lori couldn't keep anything down as all and she absolutely craved water. Despite our best efforts via water,ice chips and 2 bags of hydration,she was still dehydrated...her mouth would go dry within minutes of drinking anything....Dr. Shank advised me not to feed her for two days before re-introducing food. But since Lori wasn't hungry,we stayed with the water.
   Yesterday was just awful....I'm not sleeping very well now and despite my CPAP machine,I am awake at the slightest of sounds now. After sleeping lightly Thursday night,I woke up at 8 am and got ready for Ginger's last morning. We loved on her before I took her to see Dr. King.
   Most times its just so sad when a beloved pet gets ready to cross the Rainbow Bridge but despite crying at the her dying,I believe Ginger is merely walking ahead of Lori so she'll have a guide at Heaven. Ginger was a classy lady and she really loved Lori.
She went very quietly,she knew it was her time.
  Came home and did checked on Lori and told her how Snackers went out in my arms and I had whispered Lori's saying to calm Ginger down (she didn't like being held except by Lori,by yesterday however...I could hold her with no problem) "We got you,Ginger" before she took her breath here on earth.
  I met our new neighbors,Justin and Erica,while I buried Ginger in her casket. They like very nice folks and very friendly. I thought it was kind that they talked with me while I dug through the clay to fit her casket it. I wrapped my San Jose State t-shirt around her before closing the casket,saying a prayer and filling the grave.
  Lori by now was throwing up small volumes pretty much every 10-15 minutes and drinking /eating ice chips. She had no real pain,but her urine was starting to smell far worse then before,we both thought her UTI had returned so we restarted her ampillcin in hopes of getting ahead it.
   We arranged that her cousin Bonnie would sit with her while I went to work. When I got to work,I was greeted by a co-worker,Susan,who had offered to bring me a dinner. She made a huge bowl of spaghetti and meatballs,rolls and a slice of cake. That has been only the 3rd home cooked meal for me since March 1st. I'm a little leery of trying to cook anything because of the smell would trigger a vomiting reflex in Lori.
Got home at 8:30 pm,thanked Bonnie for staying and then the long night started...already beat,I spent the next 10.5 hours emptying and cleaning her vomit bucket,cleaning the toilet,refilling her cup with chipped ice. Also soaked and wrapped her big toe,did 3 loads of laundry,cleaned the kitchen,changed Derek's box,paid bills (which never end) and even managed to cobble an entire 12 minutes to eat.
   Lori just couldn't get comfortable,be it laying down or sitting up. I asked her several times if she wanted to go in to the E.R. but the fear of that damn NG tube kept her saying no.
 I tried many times to sleep but just as I would start to doze off,she would have to use the bucket or toilet.
The stench was getting so bad...this was a major concern so I called the visiting nurses and asked for a nurse to be sent out in the morning for a set of vitals and assessment.
  Lori suggested I get her some Depends and I really resisted that because I didn't want her laying in her own waste,so I called U of M for advise. I was told it would be "okay". So at 3:07 am,I went to CVS for a pack and then Tim Horton's for some coffee.
  I could feel my eyes want to close while waiting for my coffee...I rolled down the window and cranked up some Concrete Blonde on the CD player.
  Back home,I swapped out her underwear for the Depends and rinsed them out,cleaned the buckets again (you have to bleach them out) and tried again to get her comfortable.
I gave her a ampicillin and two Norcos at 7:45 am,at 8:05...she said she was in major pain and asked if I would call 9-1-1,which I did. I asked for a no siren call. I didn't want to wake our neighbors...8:14 am,Canton Fire arrived on scene,stabilized her,brought her down and put her in the bus. By 8:40 am,we were on our way. Marlene came down to secure the house while I called Cheryl and asked if she could pick me up the hospital later.
  The E.R. was empty and we were rolled in straight away...this was by far the best experience we had of the 3 so far. We had a doctor in a instant who called Dr. Johnston ASAP.
  We went for X-Rays but Lori was just throwing up too much and that meant only one I ducked out at 9:25 am,Dr. Johnston and Dr. Ruesk turned the corner. It was here that I have leaned that this will be over in a matter of weeks and not months. The cancer has basically grown around her bowel now and is slowly clamping down..she did say that we could put in a vent that might help drain her waste but it would be a open wound and that might limit her mobility. After a couple of more questions,she went in to examine Lori while I posted a update on my FB wall.
  When I got back,the news was what we expected,a NG tube. I only asked one thing,that the team be ready for a clean entry because the last time was such a major CF of an ordeal.
 I stepped out as not to stress her or myself out and checked to see if Cheryl had come and she was indeed waiting,I updated her on what was going on and then ducked back in. In the 20 minutes I had been gone,they had drained almost 3 liters of fluid from her stomach. The reason it smelled so bad? It was body waste,her obstruction was so bad that she was retaining her own poo. I watched as the fourth tube started filling up...but Lori's spirits were good and she said the NG insert was pretty painless compared to the ones before,our nurse,Chris,was amazing. He was funny,caring and compassionate. We swapped Exorist quotes and made Lori laugh.
  They wheeled her away to X-Ray and I went and talked to Cheryl again. Seems like she and Marlene had taken over our house..our neighbors were asking what was going on,because we are so quiet,some of them had no idea of just how dire our situation really is.
   Marlene brought them up to speed and then went inside our house and cleaned our linens and the bathroom. I also learned that she had cut our grass when I left for work yesterday afternoon. I knew my yard was bad and I was going to ask Big Al if I could borrow his riding mower as the grass was too thick for my smaller one. But not only did Marlene cut the grass but has arranged for 3 other neighbors to cut it as well.
  We have been so touched by the sudden outpouring of support,this has been such a lonely fight..the cards slowly continue to trickle in and she looks forward to seeing them,she is seeing how they are coming from all over and wonders how people know. I tell her that she has touched more lives then she realizes.
  The staff told us they were admitting her and we headed back up to the 8th Floor where the nurses once again came over to greet us. Once she was settled,we left as I was absolutely on my last dregs of strength. I bought Cheryl lunch and she came in and continued what Marlene had started while I made the phone calls to her family. Soon,Cheryl left and I picked up the clean linen from Marlene and then went to bed.
Later on,I will be headed back to U of M and bringing Lori her kit,we're hoping that once her stomach settles,we'll be able to bring her home. We have hospice coming out this week with a bed and I will need to set up my living room....

Please keep the cards coming....

Lori Sullivan
45249 Lemont Road
Canton,Michigan 48187.

Thanks for your support and messages.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Medical Update: Careless mistakes hurt

Its 7: 44 pm

      Just thought I would share my 2nd YouTube video with my readers. This is the dove that has built a nest on our trellis. Hope you enjoy!

Medical update:
   One of the doctors on Lori's oncology team made a terrible mistake on Monday in ordering a pain management drug called Fentanyl. Its a small patch of a incredibly strong narcotic. Its so controlled,you can only get it via the hospital.
  The plan was to have Lori take Fentanyl for pain and only take her Norco for sudden breakout pain. This is a transdermal system medication,it gets absorbed via the skin.

We were told that the first patch wouldn't really kick in until the 3rd day and that was when we would stop taking the Norco unless really needed.
Lori was okay Monday night but she said she could feel the patch yesterday and it was making her feel a bit weird. We chalked that up as normal as we weren't told about any possible side effects.
 I got this morning,did a bunch of errands and helped Lori as she was experiencing a small series of what we called "spittles". Not true vomiting but nasty nonetheless.
We were excepting our wheelchair delivery today between 9:30-11 am but since I was scheduled for work at 10 am,no one would be here to help take delivery,Lori said to leave the doors unlocked and she would just have the driver come in and drop off the chair. Now I know my neighborhood is safe but I'm wasn't so crazy about that idea. We called Cheryl (Autumn's mom) to see if she could sit until the chair was dropped off. She agreed and that was the plan.
   It was 10:40 am and I'm helping a guy buy a lawnmower when one of co-workers says I have a phone call...I know this has to be Lori so I answer it. She fell when she heard the doorbell ring and was yelling for the driver to come in. Worse,she couldn't stand up,she was too I looked at my supervisor who said "Go! But be careful!". I gathered my things and jumped in the car for the 4 mile drive home.
   I got home and saw Cheryl's car in the driveway,parked my car and sprinted upstairs. Lori was sitting on the floor and started crying when she me. I did a quick patdown to make sure she hadn't broken anything which she hadn't.
   But she did suffer a nasty toe injury,her big toe on her right foot got caught and the nail bent backwards and tore.
   After I calmed her down,I said I was putting her in bed....she was pretty amazed that I could lift her so easy...guess it was a Bruce Banner/David Dunn moment.

   As we sat there,Lori says "They never should have given me Fentanyl. On the packaging,it clearly says "Don't take if you have a obstructed bowel or narrowing of the bowel or intestines".
Wow...what a total shock to hear this!
  I put her in bed and saw that she had bruising and also had caught the nail on right big toe and it had come off the nailbed. I cleaned this up the best I could and later on (talk about a twist of fate) called Oakwood for an appointment with Dr. Fallat,who we had seen before. At first they had no openings but they found us a slot for 3:45 pm on Thursday.
  Lori called the maker of Fentanyl and told them what happened,the rep said that there was no way Lori should have been allowed to take their drug. She took Lori's story and said they would have to report the incident to the FDA.
I in turn,called the U of M to let them know what had happened and for someone to explain how could they order Fentenyl for someone in Lori's condition. I also called patient relations to express our uneasiness with what happened.
  Cheryl was very kind and volunteered to get some needed items for us while we made our phone calls.
We took off the patch,while it takes only 12 hours for the drug to start acting,it can take 8-11 days for it to be worked from your system. Lori was vomiting quite a bit by now so we did hydration...this was turning out to remind us of the time before she went to the hospital for 13 days. I had to swap buckets and used bleach to clean them everytime. The smell of the bile was the worst so far...
Lori couldn't get comfortable,she lay down,5 minutes later she would be sick...she would sit up and still throw up.It was a minor miracle I got 20 minutes to wolf down a Subway tuna,let alone try and cook anything.
  Finally I decided to call the hospital again because of the smell of the bile. I talked to the doctor and we revisited what had happened. First I was told that Fentanyl was a normal drug given but after I explained in more detail of our visit and what happened on Monday,she changed her mind and agreed that the Fentanyl was a far too aggressive a treatment in relation where Lori is at.
  We pulled way back on our fluid intake based on the doctor's advice and the vomiting has almost vanished,Lori is enjoying a diet of ice chips today.
  I paid off our bill today and checked in with our two angels,Mel and Terry,who were happy to see me but deeply saddened by Lori's future.They both are coming over very soon to say "hello" and spend some time with her.
  I got a call back from the patient relations person and we chatted. We agreed that they will pick up the cost in relation to Lori's foot injury today,which I think is very fair. The real challenge is coming up....I have to get her down the stairs and back up,we have a order in for a medical recliner from a local hospice.
  So we are off to have that toenail removed,I'll post a update later tonight.