Thursday, February 28, 2013

Thursday Evening---Sandi

Spent most of the afternoon at the hospital with Sandi. Once I got by the sign on her door which I had not seen on any other door until today.


 
While the bone marrow test results are not back yet, they do have the results of the PET SCAN. The news was not good as the cancer has spread further and appears to be growing in overall size. This was not a surprise as we had all kind of expected more growth based on what has been happening in recent weeks.

  
Despite the fact her blood sugar was so high today,  as it was yesterday, they have kept on with chemo. Today was the planned three drug day with all of them running at the same time by IV drip in through her port and PICC Line. At this point tonight only one continues as it won't finish until late tomorrow morning. That particular drug runs for 24 hours.

 
While this is all running into her they are also running saline and potassium into her and giving her a lot of insulin along with a couple of other things that are supposed to help with the blood sugar problem.

The current plan is for her to get yet another drug early tomorrow and then be released very late in the day. She then will have to return on two separate occasions at some point in the next couple of days for shots to finish this first round of chemo. What that schedule is and what the schedule will be regarding round two we don't know yet.


 Kevin

Sandi Today--Thursday

Blood sugar remains very high, but they seem to be continuing on with the chemo. She has eaten and they have started the pre-meds. Once those are done she will start the 3 chemo drugs today with all three going in at the same time. One of the three runs for a full 24 hours. After that is finished I am not sure what happens as we have gotten conflicting information on her planned schedule.

Thank you again for your prayers and support. We also thank you big time for your donations as we have now just barely made the rent. That is assuming social security does their part on time tonight and I receive my small social security disability payment as scheduled. One never knows for sure until that is done.

More later today when I am back home.....

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Chemo continues

as Sandi has now had the first two drugs of this particular chemo cocktail. Tomorrow she gets three different chemo drugs with one of them going a full 24 hours continuously. The only issues so far are that she is critically low in magnesium and potassium and her blood sugar is stroke level high. The potassium and magnesium is being addressed by drip IV. The blood sugar is being addressed by insulin and other meds to lower the levels.


The picture above was taken by Scott this afternoon while we visited.

Chemo Has Begun

Chemo finally started late last night around 9 pm when they started giving her the pre-meds. These are the anti nausea and other things that work to make her more receptive to chemo and to able to tolerate it. The first chemo drug entered her body just after 10 pm. According to the nurses late last night, this first round of chemo will run around the clock until at least late Friday.

I will be taking Scott over to UTD in a little over an hour and then head over to Medical City to see her.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Tuesday Update

Today was a very long day for Sandi. She was supposed to have her PET SCAN this morning and it kept getting pushed back. At first that happened because her blood sugar was way too high and that took several rounds of insulin to push it down. All while she could not eat or drink, have her blood pressure pills, or anything. Finally, when it was low enough, those in radiology at Medical City Dallas decided it would be better to have her do it tomorrow. Fortunately, her cancer doctor learned of this and got things back on track.

This PET SCAN that was finally accomplished this evening is important as he will compare it to the one back in December that first detected the cancer so that he can chart the explosive growth. It also serves as a baseline for treatment from this point.  They also could not start chemo until that was done.

Tonight she is getting her first food of the day (hopefully way better than last night) and will be watching NCIS and trying to relax. It looks like the new plan is to hold off on the start of chemo until tomorrow morning because everything got fouled up today.

This also means they can finally give her some pain med. 

Apparently the port was wrong for chemo at Medical City so now they have installed something called a PIC LINE into the muscle of her right forearm. This allows them to hit her with two chemo drugs at the same time as the port only allows one at a time.


So, its been a long day of hurry up and wait today. Hopefully, tomorrow she can finally start the chemo.


I hope this all makes sense. I am absolutely exhausted. Part of it is the stress, but a major part is the physical effort for me. It is taking a huge toll already and we have just started things. Does not bode well at all.


9 PM UPDATE----Sandi says they have started the premeds into her. That is the anti nausea stuff and some other things and usually puts her to sleep. They plan on giving her the first chemo drug about ten tonight.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The News On Sandi

I am finally home and Sandi is in the hospital at Medical City Dallas. Will be in several days.

The took some bone marrow from her left hip today to analyze and make sure she is a candidate for all this. If she isn't, there are some possible treatment options apparently, but the major hope here is that she is a candidate.

The plan is they will do another PET SCAN to get a baseline on her and then start high dose chemotherapy. She will have a session this week which will require her to be in the hospital so they can monitor it as this is much more powerful than they used before. After an unknown number of sessions of that---and assuming they can use her own bone marrow stuff----once they get her back into a temporary remission they will put her back in the hospital for three to four weeks. During that time she will be in quarantine while they harvest her bone marrow, take her own stem cells out of the bone marrow, and then inject her back with her own treated stem cells.

A couple of weeks later they would start more chemo at  a lower dose to try and kill the cancer and not damage her new improved stem cells. The odds on all this working are very low and the risks of something going very badly wrong seem to be pretty high. Not what one wanted to hear as things are significantly worse than we had previously understood to this point. She has not given up and said for me to make sure that everyone knows she is still fighting and very grateful for your prayers and support.

They are doing some sort of emergency paperwork for Medicaid and Social Security disability as well as helping with paperwork for various cancer foundations that may---or may not---be able to financially assist us with medical costs and do some sort of support services. All that will take time that we don't have, but they are trying to get the paperwork moving for us.

Medical Monday--- Sandi

It is another one of those days that we spend somewhere doing something medical. Today it will be at Medical City Dallas and the initial appointment with the doctor and staff that will be handling Sandi's bone marrow transplant, chemotherapy, and god knows what else. Her first appointment is for a minimum of three hours so it is going to take a while. Not to mention the drive time for this as well as shuttling Scott back and forth to UTD.

So, I am going to be offline most of the day. Will update when I can.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Make Mine 4X, Please

and preferably out of something that won't shrink.......


Review: "Faithful Unto Death: A Sugar Land Mystery" by Stephanie Jaye Evans

In Sugar Land, Texas, just outside of Houston, folks are not supposed to die. Not in this world of perfect master planned communities of perfect lawns, perfect homes, and powerful Home Owners Associations. Everything in sight is to be aesthetically pleasing at all times. Dead bodies are certainly not supposed to be laying out in plain view.

But, that is exactly what Graham Garcia did messing up the ambiance one Monday morning. He was murdered and his body was left where it fell on the golf course near the tunnel under Alcorn Oaks Boulevard. Unfortunately, on her way to school and away from teen drivers on nearby streets, thirteen-year-old Jessica Min found him. It would have been golfers on any other morning and she would have been spared the sight. Instead, she found him as the golf course was closed for grass maintenance. Having seen more than a few crime shows Jessica knew not to touch the body. Instead, as quick as she could, she went back home and told her mother.

The first Walker “Bear” Wells knew about the death was when Detective James Wanderley walked into his office like he owned the place, asked a lot of questions that were about everything else, and then finally got down to it. Back in the day “Bear” played football for The University of Texas as a starting right guard.  These days, he writes theology books, leads a congregation, and tries to take care of the people of his church. While Graham Garcia was not a member of the congregation, the rest of the family was.

A little over 48 hours earlier Bear had a meeting with Graham Garcia. While Detective Garcia wants to play 20 questions, Bear’s focus is on the family and their suffering. In his mind that makes precedence over everything else. He ditches the detective, picks up his wife, and heads over to see what comfort he can bring in their time of need.  His attempt to help them will lead to many questions and his active involvement in this complicated mystery from author Stephanie Jaye Evans.


Faithful Unto Death: A Sugar Land Mystery is a complex and extremely enjoyable debut novel. Along with observations about the wealthy master planned communities, there are plenty of observations about the role of faith regardless of religion, parenting, family, and other topics.  These observations are asides and an integral part of the characters in such a way that they do not detract at all from the mystery.

A mystery that has plenty of plot twists and turns with no artificial inducements as the reader is taken for quite a ride. This is a book that starts slowly, builds steadily, and leads readers to quite an ending.  In short, Faithful Unto Death: A Sugar Land Mystery is an intense riveting read that skillfully works on every level and does not preach to readers. Simply put, this is a very good book and well worth your time.

The next book in this series SAFE FROM HARM is scheduled to be released on March 5, 2013. So far it is not listed in my local library system, but, hopefully that will change.

Faithful Unto Death: A Sugar Land Mystery
Stephanie Jaye Evans
Berkley Prime Crime
2012
ISBN# 978-0-425-24773-0
Paperback
344 Pages
$15.00


Material supplied by the good folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library System.


Kevin R. Tipple ©2013

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Is this so wrong?

I don't think so.....

 

Sandi

Sandi earlier today with Kayla. Picture taken by Karl.....

 

Review: "Looking For Yesterday: A Sharon McCone Mystery" by Marcia Muller


As detailed in the previous books in this long running series, Private Investigator Sharon McCone has had a quite a few cases over the years and a number of them have been a bit odd. This latest one with Carolyn Warrick has the hallmark of being odd and, as another year begins, one that may have more challenges than worthwhile.

Carolyn who goes by the name “ Caro” is a very vocal advocate for gun control. Three years ago she was arrested, tried, and acquitted for the killing of her best friend Amelia who allegedly was trying to take her boyfriend. Part of her defense in this love triangle gone wrong murder case was that she came from a family shattered by gun violence and would not use a gun to kill. The opportunity to be the focal point of a media crusade for gun control during the trial failed to materialize. Now she has another chance thanks to Greta Goldstein who will co-author a tell all book on the case with Caro. Not only does Caro want Sharon McCone to definitively prove the jury got it right in her complicated case she wants vindication for their verdict.

Despite misgivings and lots of other things going on, McCone takes the case. It isn’t long before Caro Warrick is dead, a victim of a killer who is just a small part of the potential threats arranged against McCone, in this latest in a long running series.


While the actual case and investigation and other facets of the book are borderline interesting, the constant over the top pro-gun control preaching is distracting and unnecessary. Readers are hammered throughout much of the book, to the detriment of the plot and secondary storylines, on the issue of gun control. Several characters involved, including Sharon McCone, are adamantly pro-gun control with the specter of the mass shootings of recent years constantly thrown up to readers as proof of the need. Unfortunately, this is done so often that it stops the already very weak story and becomes the sole focus of the book to its detriment.

Much of Looking for Yesterday: A Sharon McCone Mystery reads like a spleen venting rant in favor of gun control. Once you get by that and her smaller rants about abortion, what is left is a weak and disjointed plot that stumbles and staggers its way to a lackadaisical conclusion. Hopefully, with this out of her system, author Marcia Muller will get back to writing mysteries that actually entertain and do not spend the majority of the book brow beating readers.

You can easily skip this one.


Looking For Yesterday: A Sharon McCone Mystery
Marcia Muller
Grand Central Publishing
November 2012
ISBN# 978-0-446-57335-1
Hardback
293 Pages
$25.99


Material supplied by the good folks of the Plano, Texas Public Library System.


Kevin R. Tipple ©2013

Food Bank Saturday

A big time thank you to the  SEVEN LOAVES ministry (food bank) for being there for us again this month. Much, much appreciated by all of us.

As you can see from the tag on the donation widget, things are very desperate. Please help if you can.

Kevin


Friday, February 22, 2013

Damn Straight......

and cue the cool music.....

 

FFB: "The Seventh Hypothesis" by Paul Halter -- Double-Take


This week for Fridays Forgotten Books and in honor of Patti Abbott once again collecting links, we have a double take for you. First Patrick and then Barry consider THE SEVENTH HYPOTHESIS by Paul Halter. Their takes are a bit different on the novel as you see below…..


On a night in August of 1938, police constable Edward Watkins is walking his beat when he comes across some strange sights. It seems that somebody is walking around the streets of London in the garb of a seventeenth-century plague doctor. Soon afterwards, Watkins has a conversation with an odd character calling himself Doctor Marcus, a doctor of crime. Suspicious, the officer is convinced that the doctor has hidden a body inside a nearby trash can—a suspicion that Doctor Marcus confirms! Watkins looks into them and finds they are all empty, much to Marcus’ apparent surprise. So the mad doctor skips off, but as a parting shot he tells the officer to look into the trash cans once again just in case. When Watkins does this, he discovers to his horror that there’s a dead body inside after all.

But how did it get there? And where did Doctor Marcus disappear to? All this seems like it is nonsense, but a few months later, Dr. Alan Twist and Inspector Archibald Hurst are visited by a man named Peter Moore, secretary to Sir Gordon Miller, a prolific author of mystery plays. According to Moore, Sir Gordon received a visitor in his study and the two men had a verbal duel of sorts, which ended in a murder challenge. The two men toss a coin, and the result will determine which man will commit a murder. That man must try and pin the blame on the other, and under no circumstances are the two players allowed to refer to the “game”. Unfortunately, Moore could not see how the coin landed...

Before long, Peter Moore is found dead, shot during an attempted burglary inside the home of his own employer. Dr. Twist and Inspector Hurst hurry to the scene of the crime, and they attempt to solve this complex mystery. Hurst instantly comes up with six hypotheses, but Dr. Twist isn’t entirely convinced, and postulates that there must be a seventh hypothesis to explain everything. This is the plot of Paul Halter’s La Septi√®me Hypoth√®se (The Seventh Hypothesis), a book that has been translated into English by John Pugmire.

The Seventh Hypothesis is quite possibly Paul Halter’s masterpiece. This is a book with such complexity that it leaves The Fourth Door, The One-Eyed Tiger, and The Demon of Dartmoor straggling behind as though they were padded by extensive social commentary. There is so much meat to this story and you’re never quite certain what on earth is going on until the end… even if by some chance you tumble to the secret behind a trick or two before the end. There are at least two impossibilities in this novel. The first has an excellent and simple solution. The second is a bit more complex and harder to guess, but I liked the solution to the first one a little more. Just as much fun as the impossibilities are the verbal duels, which seem like they were inspired by the verbal duels in Sleuth, with revelation after revelation further complicating the plot despite there being only two principal actors.

The most notable achievement is that Paul Halter effectively gives you a mystery with only two suspects and challenges you to guess which one has committed the crimes. You have a 50:50 chance, right? And yet Halter manages to calculate just how your brain will work. Hmm… you say to yourself. It seems impossible for X to have done it, so he’s got an elaborate alibi that will get busted wide open, but if that’s the case it means Y must have done it to frame X, but if that’s the case, it must be an elaborate double-bluff designed to get you to think Y has done it when it was really X, but if that’s the case… I made my official guess near the start of the novel, but must have changed it a good five or six times before I got to the end. This is quite simply a diabolically ingenious detective story, a masterpiece of plotting at its finest! In fact, I wouldn’t hesitate to call this one of the best detective stories I’ve read all year long.

To write this review, I read both versions of the novel. My French edition is found in an omnibus released by Le Masque, and I bought the English translation in Kindle form. I can highly recommend both of these editions. John Pugmire has done an excellent job of getting to the heart of Halter’s writing style. I can’t define it in technical terms, but I performed the only litmus test I can offer: I read one chapter of the book in French, read the next in English, then switched back into French. All three chapters felt like they were part of the same book: an accomplishment for which John Pugmire must be lauded. He finds that sense of play: Halter challenges his readers to solve the crime and then leads them on a merry chase down several garden paths simultaneously. He doesn’t propose to give you an insight into the human condition: this is merely another installment in what John Dickson Carr called “the grandest game in the world”.

Overall, The Seventh Hypothesis comes highly recommended for fans of complex Golden-Age-style plots. This is one of Halter’s best efforts and one of Dr. Twist’s most complex cases. It ends on a wholly satisfactory note, and the solution is diabolically ingenious. The writing is most agreeable, with a sense that the whole thing is a challenge to the reader: a challenge Halter won hands-down. This is plotting at its finest, and is not to be missed under any circumstances!


Patrick Ohl ©2013
The nineteen-year-old Patrick Ohl writes reviews of the books he reads on his blog, At the Scene of the Crime. In his spare time he plots a takeover of the world, being careful to factor everything except for Bruce Willis into his equations.



THE SEVENTH HYPOTHESIS (1991) by Paul Halter

English translation 2012 by John Pugmire

Reviewed by Barry Ergang

I'm a huge fan of French mystery novelist Paul Halter and have been ever since John Pugmire began translating his works into English. Halter can devise complex plots as well as any writer from the Golden Age, including his inspiration, the great John Dickson Carr, and is unequivocally a genius at formulating "impossible crimes," often surpassing acknowledged masters like the aforementioned Carr, Hake Talbot, Clayton Rawson, and Edward D. Hoch.

Having read the short story collection The Night of the Wolf and the novels The Fourth Door, The Lord of Misrule, The Seven Wonders of Crime, and The Demon of Dartmoor, I approached The Seventh Hypothesis anticipating another wild ride through the realm of the impossible.

Its opening chapters did not disappoint. They begin on the night of August 31, 1938. Police constable Edward Watkins is making his rounds when he hears footsteps, looks around, and sees the odd-looking shadow of a pedestrian. He goes after the latter, gets a look at the actual person, and is stunned by what he sees:

"...his senses had not betrayed him and the extraordinary image was still burned into his mind: the ankle-length coat; the gloved hands; the wide-rimmed hat; and, instead of a face, a white mask in the middle of which was a beak at least a foot long. Even though he had never seen such an individual in the flesh, he had seen enough illustrations for there to be no doubt in his mind: the man he had seen was a plague doctor."

Still later, Watkins comes upon a formally-dressed man looking through the contents of a dustbin. A doctor's bag is on the ground beside him. When Watkins asks him his name, he says he's Dr. Marcus—"Doctor of Crime." He claims to have put a body into the dustbin, but Watkins quickly determines that it's empty. There are two other such containers, both of which also prove to be full of everything but bodies. The constable is pretty certain he's dealing with a mental case. As the latter departs, he recommends that Watkins have another look in the first dustbin.

"The man was even madder than he'd suspected," the policeman thinks. "He'd hoped to make him believe there was now a body inside the dustbin which had been empty mere moments ago. It was not only absurd, it was manifestly impossible. With a smile, he lifted the lid.

"He could not believe his eyes: there really was a corpse inside."

In pursuit of Dr. Marcus, he encounters a colleague, Constable Harvey, to whom he explains what has happened. When Harvey goes off in search of "reinforcements," as he puts it, Watkins continues walking along the residential block when a window opens behind him and a couple, Mr. and Mrs. Minden, ask if he's found their lodger, a young man named David Cohen. Watkins, of course, has no idea what they're talking about, and thus asks for an explanation. They add to the bizarre nature of his evening when they explain that they run a boarding house and that Cohen had taken sick earlier in the evening. He had evidently summoned medical assistance because three doctors—one of whom was Dr. Marcus, who told the Mindens Cohen had the plague—tried to carry the lodger out on a stretcher. Something happened and Cohen bolted, literally vanishing into thin air. Watkins describes the body in the dustbin and the Mindens say the description fits Cohen.

A few days later, Scotland Yard Inspector Archibald Hurst relates the incidents to his friend Dr. Alan Twist, the eminent criminologist. The two discuss them at length, each speculating about what might have occurred and how but not getting anywhere definitive.

A few months later, a man named Peter Moore calls on Twist and Hurst. Moore is the secretary and sometime chauffeur for Sir Gordon Miller, a renowned writer who specializes in mystery scenarios. "Theater and cinema producers fell over themselves to get each new production. His name alone was a guarantee of success...His assessments on matters of mystery fiction carried enormous authority, and many were the authors secretly jealous of his fertile imagination." The story Moore relates involves Sir Gordon and Donald Ransome, a gifted  American actor who has been in England for the past five years and who has appeared in most of Sir Gordon's productions. He once also proved himself to be a skilled improviser during one such production when another cast member fell ill during the performance by "supply[ing] a completely different resolution to one of Gordon Miller's most complex plots by extemporizing an entirely new ending. It was a prodigious tour de force which caused many to believe the author had found the perfect interpreter of his plays."

The outlandish episode Moore reports, which reminds the detectives of a fatal event in Sir Gordon Miller's past, suggests a potential link to the crime Constable Watkins discovered. Not long after this meeting another crime occurs, this one in Sir Gordon's home, and Hurst and Twist earnestly begin their investigations into a case that involves a bizarre and dangerous wager and as elaborate a cat-and-mouse game as any in mystery fiction.

There are moments in the novel that might remind some readers of Anthony Shaffer's brilliant drama Sleuth, but they lack the kind of scintillating dialogue that delineates Shaffer's characters in addition to advancing his plot. And therein lies my biggest problem and greatest disappointment with The Seventh Hypothesis. I've pointed out in reviews of other Paul Halter works that his efforts at characterization are extremely slight, that plot is everything. Nevertheless, he usually manages to provide enough basic information to enable the reader to differentiate one character from another. But except for Sir Gordon's habit of rolling some steel balls around in his hand in a manner reminiscent of Captain Queeg in The Caine Mutiny, nobody's behavior stands out in The Seventh Hypothesis. Compounding the problem, everyone sounds alike; more than a few times I found myself paging back through the book (not as easy in an electronic edition as in a physical book) to identify who someone was who'd appeared earlier because nothing about his or her speeches or comportment had made a lasting impression. Halter is fond of the old-fashioned device of narrative within narrative—i.e., having a character relate events that he or she witnessed, including actions and dialogue, in a formal bookish manner rather than in a realistic conversational style that reflects the character's unique speech patterns and idioms. Therefore in this story, Louis Minden sounds exactly like Peter Moore. 

Readers for whom the puzzle and detection aspects of mystery stories are paramount will not only be more forgiving than I of The Seventh Hypothesis, they'll probably applaud it, because as always Halter does a stellar job in those areas. Those for whom even a modicum of characterization is indispensable might share my disappointment, impatience and, frankly, eagerness to get to the last page so as to start reading something else. But even John Dickson Carr had his lapses, so I look forward to reading more novels by Paul Halter—and other French "impossible crime" writers—as John Pugmire translates them into English. Keep 'em coming, Mr. Pugmire!

Finally, in the realm of trivial passing thoughts, let me mention that as soon as I came upon the name Gordon Miller in the novel, it struck me as familiar, but I couldn't recall where I'd heard it. During the course of writing this review something clicked, and I went to the Internet Movie Data Base to determine if my recollection was right or wrong. It turns out I was right. In the Marx Brothers' movie "Room Service," Groucho plays an impecunious producer named Gordon Miller who is trying to avoid eviction from a hotel and find backing for his latest production. Did Paul Halter know this and use the name deliberately? Or is it purely a coincidence?

Hmm, mystery writers and their detectives seldom believe in coincidence....


Barry Ergang © 2013

 Barry Ergang has numerous books from his personal library available for sale at http://barryergangbooksforsale.yolasite.com/  He'll contribute 20% of the purchase price of the books to our fund, so please have a look at his lists. Formerly the Managing Editor of Futures Mystery Anthology Magazine and First Senior Editor of Mysterical-E, winner of the Short Mystery Fiction Society’s Derringer Award for the best flash fiction story of 2006, his written work has appeared in numerous publications, print and electronic. For links to material available online, and fiction available for e-readers, see Barry’s webpages.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Writing

For some time now Sandi has been pushing me to get back to work writing my own fiction stuff regardless of what is going on with her. That is much easier said than done. Not only are there my own health issues, the money stuff, the messes with the food stamp folks and insurance stuff, and all the rest of it, there is the fact that with the way things look for her, I really feel like I should not be working on my own things. It seems very selfish of me to be worrying about my fictional characters and stories.

Beyond the physical issues and the constant pain I am in every minute, I am flat out exhausted. I am sure some of  it is the depression that I have dealt with for years. Been medicated for it at different times in the past. Being medicated ended up causing in large part my congestive heart failure. But, it is more than all that.

Something is missing and I can't seem to find it so I could get writing again. I look back at some of the things I wrote that have been published and they read like somebody else wrote them. Somebody I don't know anymore. I'd be happy if the below was my only problem as that used to be the main one......


Interesting Reading Elsewhere-- Glenn Walker at Bif Bam Pop!

I had heard of Orson Scott Card before the growing controversy regarding him and the new Superman comics deal. Years ago, I read a couple of his books  as they were required reading for a couple of my classes back at UTD.  They didn't really do much for me and so I didn't read any more.

Like Glenn, I had no idea about his personal beliefs regarding homosexuality. I also don't know that that those beliefs mean he should not write the new Superman comic. In an interesting piece, Glenn Walker explains why Orson Scott Card should absolutely not be working on the new Superman project. You can read it here in his piece titled "Superman Vs. Orson Scott Card."

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

WTF-- Another Wednesday Twisted Funny

Just in case the one this morning was not edgy enough for you.......


 

Stuff for Sale


Things are very rough here money wise which is why I updated the donation button over to the left. I had hoped that we would never have to ask for any help again, but, Sandi's new bout with cancer and unpaid medical leave changed everything. Donations are always helpful and very much appreciated, but if you would like to have something physical for your dollars, here are a couple of ideas.

My wife, Sandi, has been making craft projects for years. What first was done as gifts for family and friends has expanded and she has stuff  at http://www.ioffer.com/users/sanditipple She has lowered her prices to the rock bottom to move things.

Back in 2010 l Karl set up a deal at Amazon for selling things under his online moniker of THUNDERCATSNYY. is store sells video games, movies, my old books¸ and other items. The store is at: www.amazon.com/shops/thundercatsnyy and changes almost daily because he adds things to replace stuff he has sold. 

And last, but not least, take a look at Barry Ergang’s books from his personal library for sale at http://barryergangbooksforsale.yolasite.com/ He sells a few and adds a few a couple of times a week so even if you looked before and did not find anything that strikes your fancy, surf over and take a look. Barry is once again contributing 20 percent of what he sells to us to help us out. You can also his fiction at  http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B005GXMF86 and http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/cassidy20.

Thank you for the support.

Kevin




WTF--Wednesday Twisted Funny


I did the double major deal of this and History back in the day. So, this one brings a chuckle....





Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Quick Update

Sandi is doing okay. She has been hurting all day, as expected, but there have not been any other issues. So far, so good.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Sandi is Home

Sandi is already home and things went much better than expected. The cardiac surgeon was unable to put the port on her right side due to the damage caused by the last one and what happened to her with the chemotherapy before. So, he inserted it on her left side, along the collar bone, and thinks it may cause less pain than the last one. We certainly hope so.

She is currently in considerable pain and has taken a pain pill that should alleviate that and help her sleep. It also is the final step before she sees the bone marrow transplant doctor next Monday as to what he can do for her. I wish we didn't have to wait another week as that will let her cancer grow still more, but she clearly needs the recovery time.

Needless to say, I am a wreck. So, I will play catchup later on e-mail and all. But, I did want to say thank you for all the messages, prayers, and support. It is much, much appreciated by all of us. Thanks as well to the unnamed donor who made a donation yesterday as things are also once again very bad from a money standpoint. Much, much appreciated.

I will keep you updated.....


Kevin

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Tomorrow

Assuming everything goes right, by this time tomorrow Sandi should be back home. At least, we hope so. We have to be at the hospital at 5 am so we shall be up around 4 am to get ready. By 7 am they are supposed to start operating on her to clean out the port site and remove a lot of scar tissue and debris. Once that is done the cardiac surgeon who has operated on her twice in the preceding months including last time when she had at least two bouts of arterial fibrillation will put the new port in place.

The current plan is then for her to have several days housebound at home recovering and then we see the new cancer doctor down in Dallas next Monday. This is the guy who is going to evaluate her for the bone marrow transplant deal. Hopefully Sandi will be a candidate for that, despite the fact that her bone marrow was full of cancer the last time and all her other issues, and that it can be done in conjunction with chemotherapy. If it can't be done, we don't know what plan B will be or even if there is one.

But, the first step is to get the port back in her. Between shuttling Scott back and forth to his classes at UTD tomorrow, I will be at the hospital for the duration. The nurses have seen enough of me, including my crashing to the floor, that they know how I have to lie down and all and work with me on that. Despite their help, this sort of deal does a real number on me anyway. As long as this is going on with Sandi I can't pursue further my own ongoing and worsening medial situation that very well may be MS. Somebody has to be able to drive and I am it in these parts. No other way around it.

I'm going to be radio silent on the lists and groups and out of touch as I am not taking my laptop to the hospital and running the risk of falling and breaking it. Things are bad enough here without that happening. Both Karl and Scott are on Facebook so there may be an update there as I let them know how their Mon is doing once the surgery is over.

As soon as I am back home I will update folks as to how things are......

The Latest Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arkansas Insurance Stupidity

It just never stops.

The mail yesterday brought another very unwelcome letter from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arkansas. They have been Sandi's insurance company the last couple of years through her job at Wal-Mart. They screw-up a lot and manage to create huge problems for the doctors as well as us. Her coverage with them ended at the end of the year as she, like everyone else at Wal-Mart, was shifted over to Aetna with a higher deductible and lower coverage. One hopes they will be better as Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arkansas constantly interfered in Sandi's medial care by refusing to pay claims correctly, listing her as not having insurance because they had failed to credit her premuim payments in a timely manner, and numerous other issues. Just last month they re-figured her knee surgery bills again for the sixth time and suddenly denied services they had authorized back in in October 2011. Of course that was appealed.

I wasn't surprised when they pulled that re-figuring deal as they have been trying to get out of things since Sandi was diagnosed with cancer. They constantly pull this sort of thing on all sorts of bills--whether they are hers or on Scott as he is on her insurance---and blame new federal regulations when that isn't remotely true or something else bogus. It is what they do and are very well known for such tactics according to the medical folks we have to deal with.

So, I wasn't surprised when they denied the initial claim for Sandi's Pet Scan back in December.  They always deny the pre-authorization and the initial claim as they say it isn't medically necessary. The fact that she was a cancer patient in remission and had to be checked every three months wasn't relevant. Having gone through this each and every time, putting us and the doctors through a lot of stress and paperwork, I thought I knew what game they were playing and therefore wasn't worried.

But, yesterday they reached a new height in stupidity. They have again denied the December Pet Scan saying "medical criteria" was not met. They know the Pet Scan found Sandi's cancer was back. They also know and--at this point--paid correctly the claims for the two surgeries she had in December that were attempts to get pathology samples from the mass by her heart. So, they denied the test that found her cancer and yet had no problems paying the hospital bills that were incurred trying to get pathology samples of the same cancer.

Makes as much sense to me as paying a claim for treatment of a severe sunburn and then denying the sun exists.

So, we will appeal yet again and send a copy to the doctor so that his staff can again send the paperwork documenting again what they already know. We will also forward a copy of everything to Texas Health and Human Services since, once they get their stuff together and approve us for food stamps and Medicaid, they will automatically investigate and review all her medical stuff. Like the medical folks, they are well aware of this insurance company and have had to assist us with this kind of problem before.

It is just ridiculous how Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arkansas consistently makes everything harder than it  has to be......

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Review: "Four of a Kind: Four Tales of Mystery and Suspense" Edited by Douglas Quinn


 If it isn’t obvious by the cover and the back cover synopsis, Four of a Kind: Four Tales of Mystery and Suspense is an anthology containing four novellas that revolve around playing card games. Poker to be exact and the game plays a major role in each novella. In each case, poker isn’t the only game being played where the stakes include life and death.

After a brief introduction by author and editor Douglas Quinn, the book opens with “Papa’s Girl” by J. R. Lindermuth. It is December 1957 and young soldier Danny Penkovic has made it as far as Ballyn, Pennsylvania on his quest to get home. A snow storm has shut down all forms of travel, including his bus, so he plans to spend the night at the terminal waiting for the first bus in the morning. That is until Tony Anskis makes him an offer to spend the night at his place and meet his daughter, Anna.

“Jigsaw” by Carol Culver Rzadkiewicz follows with her tale of Lester T. Hayes, private detective.  Lester Hayes owns Ace Detective Services and times are not good financially speaking. So, when Samantha Chandler, a wealthy woman who is also self-proclaimed psychic, throws a lot of money at him to play in a tournament he agrees. He agrees even though he knows there is something off about her and the situation.

Douglas Quinn’s character Webb Sawyer makes an appearance next in “I Lost my Happy Days” where a business, a boat, and more are at stake. Dave “The Wave” Meekins and Webb served together long ago. These days they both live on North Carolina’s outer banks where Dave runs a successful charter business and Webb does what he does. He has skills and when his skills are needed he makes his money. So, when Dave gambled his boat “Happy Days” and lost he turned to Webb for help.

“Millie McCall’s Full Moon Poker Night” by Sara Williams closes the book. The setting is the San Juan Islands where Jim Halprin is asked to fulfill a commitment made by a friend. Ben Bridges is injured and needs Jim to attend a poker game in his place. Just a few hours later Jim is in place and meets the unique Millie McCall. An heiress that rides a Harley, walks in the surf under a full moon, and does a few other strange things in this tale.

A game of deceit, poker, binds these tales together in Four of a Kind: Four Tales of Mystery and Suspense. A book where deceit is a major player in its own right. As prominent as any character, deceit is the dealer in each case where hidden agendas abound, money flows, and treachery runs like a raging river. These four very different and good novellas contain numerous twists and turns to keep readers guessing long after the last card.




Four of a Kind: Four Tales of Mystery and Suspense
Editor Douglas Quinn
White Heron Press (CreateSpace)
October 2012
ISBN# 978-1479397457
Paperback
396 Pages
$15.95

Material supplied by Editor Douglas Quinn for my objective review.



For further reading on this book you may wish to scroll over to Kings River Life where there is a review from last December as well as brief explanations from the authors involved as to how each one of their stories came to life. Interesting reading at: http://kingsriverlife.com/12/22/four-of-a-kind-four-tales-of-mystery-and-suspense/


Kevin R. Tipple ©2013