Sunday, December 30, 2007

Parties & Chipmunks

On Monday evening, December 24, we visited Don's father for the traditional Christmas Eve dinner and chat. It was a lovely time. Afterwards, we went to Kadon Enterprises for the annual Christmas party, which was also quite nice.

We had a quiet and uneventful Christmas Day. Don stayed home, while Thomas visited our friend Betsy. (Hi, Betsy!)

On the evening of the 26th, we went into Baltimore to the home of Ann Hackman and Mike Cantrell for the annual Christmas party of Don's crazy high school friends, pictured here. A grand time was had by all.

Today, Sunday the 30th, we saw Alvin and the Chipmunks at the nearby Hoyt's Cinema. Having enjoyed the previews on TV, we were prepared to like the movie -- we were happy to find that we really, really liked it. Great fun!

It was a nice feel-good story, somewhat similar to The Muppet Movie in showing the fictionalized beginning of a popular phenomenon...and neatly subversive in its celebration of alternative families. Neither of us was a particular Alvin & the Chipmunks fanatic, although like all Baby Boomers we had a soft spot in our hearts for the little guys...but we appreciated how the film stayed consistent with the personalities of the chipmunks, who (as always) stole the show.

It was the songs that were the most pleasant surprise. There's nothing like familiar music to pack an emotional punch...when they started doing the Chipmunk Christmas song, they had us.

This is a fun movie with enough to please everybody. For the kids, there are funny-talking furry animals -- what else do you need? And for the adults, there's the nostalgia factor.

Don't get us wrong: this isn't an intellectual challenge or a deep philosophical's just plain fun. If you go into it with the right attitude, you'll certainly enjoy it. (Or wait for the DVD...definitely worth it.)

Finally, here's a picture of the cute boy at the concession counter. Behind him is another cute boy at the concession counter. Who said there's nothing good to see at the movies?

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Books and Movies and MacBooks, Oh My!

A quick post, because Betsy demanded it:

Don's new book A Rose From Old Terra got a good review in the November 15, 2007 issue of Library Journal. The review said:
When former librarian Jedrek nor Talin, now attempting to recover failing technology from the defunct Terran Empire, receives a single yellow rose by special courier, he must travel to Old Terra -- Earth -- to come to the assistance of his old circle of librarians. A voyage to deep space to repair ancient communications equipment places Jedrek and his companions in the middle of s situation that could erupt into interstellar war and destroy human civilization forever. Author and librarian Sakers adds to his 'Scattered Worlds' series (Weaving the Web of Days) a tale of adventure and intrigue as only a group of librarians can do it. A good addition to most sf collections and sure to be popular with library staff everywhere.


On Friday, December 8 we went to the movies for the first time since before Don was in the hospital. We saw The Golden Compass. Great film. A well-realized fantasy world, a good story, great characters...and the Catholic Church doesn't like it. What more can you ask?

Seriously, The Golden Compass is highly recommended. If you're expecting a Harry Potter experience, you'll be pleasantly surprised: this movie has much more depth and meaning than the Potter movies. The world is visually interesting and self-consistent on a much deeper level than Potter, as well. Harry Potter is pop fantasy; The Golden Compass is more the real quill.


On Saturday December 9, Thomas went to a meeting of the DC Star Wars Collectors Club or DCSWCC, along with our friend Betsy (she of the blog update demands). Afterwards, they picked up Don and the three of them went to the Double T Diner on Route 40 for dinner, and then cruised down 34th Street in Hamden to see the Xmas lights. Much fun.


Unfortunately, later that night Don's MacBook laptop, Brainimac 5, took a spill from the couch and hit the floor...hard. The internal hard drive is damaged, and the computer can't even start up. We are hoping that a trip to the Apple Store will repair the damage and recover all the data safely.


Health Update: Don is still recovering. Things have improved...there are actually periods of time when his foot doesn't hurt, and finally he feels that he is regaining some of his energy. But there's still a long period of recovery ahead.


That's about it for now, folks. More updates as events warrrant. Meanwhile, check out our other blogs and sites:

Readers Advice to find good fiction to read
Across the Scattered Worlds for interesting tidbits from Don's imaginary universe
The Scattered Worlds and Beyond for information about Don's writing
Q-Spec for GLBT SF/F/H
Get-A-Life Boy's Legion Blog for fans of the Legion of Super-Heroes
Rants From the Ivory Madonna for seldom-updated political rants
The Star Toys Museum for...uh...Star Wars Toys

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Time To Stop Pretending

Six months ago to the day, my right foot started to hurt.

It’s hurt every day since then.

I went in the hospital, I discovered that I’m diabetic, I had my big toe amputated. I was flat on my back for the better part of three months. I went back to work…part-time at first, then fulltime.

For six months, I’ve been publicly optimistic. “They’ve identified the infection, and they’re fighting it,” I said. “I’m on IV antibiotics, and the infection is on the run.” “Surgery is the light at the end of the tunnel.” “Every day is better than the one before.” “Each week, a little better.”

It’s time to tell the truth. Time to stop pretending. It’s not getting better. For the last month or so, nothing has changed. And I have to face the fact that it may never get any better.

It’s not just the pain (although the pain is no fun). It’s that I don’t have the strength I used to.

I go to work. I come home and lay on the couch watching TV. I read a little. And that’s it. That’s all I can do.

The rest time between work shifts is never long enough…so when I come to my day off, I spend it on the couch, sleeping or watching TV or reading a little. Lately, even one day off isn’t long enough to fully recover. Every two weeks, I get two days off in a row. That’s almost long enough.

Work. And rest on the couch. That’s my life.

I once had a full life. I did things that didn’t involve the couch. I wrote books. I went to the movies. I visited friends, went to fun events. I spent time quality time with Thomas, doing lots of stuff besides resting on the couch watching TV.

I once had plans. Books I wanted to write, a body of work to promote. Projects to accomplish, like digitizing our photographs and ripping music tapes and old vinyl LPs to MP3. Putting together a writers’ consortium for promotion & marketing our queer speculative fiction. Modifications & updates to websites.

I told myself that everything was on hold. But now, after all this time, after progress has ceased, I fear that I may have to give up all these plans…at least for the foreseeable future.

In another ten or twelve years, when the mortgage is paid off, maybe I can retire from the Library, or at least cut down my hours. Maybe then I will be able to pursue some of this stuff. Maybe then I can have a life.


Work. And rest on the couch.


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Sunday, September 09, 2007

On Our DVR

Here are some of the programs that have been passing through our DVR recently, on their way into the permanent DVD collection. All are highly recommended.

Avatar: The Last Airbender

Esther Friesner turned us on to this exceptional show. It's an animated fantasy that has everything: great characters that grow and develop, good writing, excellent plotting, beautiful art, humor, and some of the best worldbuilding in television fantasy. The world of Avatar is detailed, well-constructed, and superbly realized. It's obvious that enormous effort has gone into this production.

The third season of Avatar is coming up; Nickelodeon and Nicktoons have been showing old episodes in preparation. You don't have to watch them in order (although it helps), and they make it easy to catch up by providing both a prologue and "previously on Avatar" scenes at the beginning of each episode. If you haven't seen Avatar yet, do yourself a favor and tune in.

Kim Possible

She's your basic average girl, and she's here to save the world. Kim Possible is funny and witty, well-written and well-acted. The art is quite fitting, and the characters are both well-drawn and likeable. The dialogue is clever, and some of the puns are sublime. While each episode stands on its own, there is long-term continuity; the more episodes you watch, the more things hang together.

Kim Possible has just been renewed for an unprecedented (for Disney Channel) fourth season. The Disney Channel just finished running a three-day Kim Possible marathon, and you can be sure we had the recorders running. Definitely worth watching.

Doctor Who

We've been Doctor Who fans for decades. After the 1987 Worldcon in Brighton, England we took the train out to a suburb of London to watch the premiere of the Sylvester McCoy Doctor Who at the house of a local fan. In Glasgow we made the pilgrimage to all of the remaining blue police boxes.

We were delighted with the recent rebirth of Doctor Who. It really is one of the most intelligent science fiction shows on TV today.

The Skiffy Channel is showing episodes of the current series (which they call "Season Three") with David Tennant. BBC America is showing Christopher Eccleston and David Tennant episodes. And Maryland Public Television is showing the last season of Tom Baker (last night was "The Keeper of Traken," definitely one of the best ever).

Fullmetal Alchemist Another animated fantasy with a well-realized background, great characters, and superb writing. On the Cartoon Network.

Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends Funny, witty, silly...definitely a lot of fun. On the Cartoon Network.

The Daily Show Wouldn't miss it. John Stewart has been on vacation the last two weeks, so they've been showing reruns. We're desperate to see how they're going to cover the Larry Craig Senator-in-the-men's-room story. On Comedy Central.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

Kadon at Renfair

Well, the Maryland Renaissance Festival has started, and will run weekends through October 21. Thomas will be there most weekends, at the Kadon Enterprises booth adjacent to the King's Field -- look for games & puzzles, and that's where you'll find him.

Sunday, August 05, 2007


Location: Collinsville, IL
Miles: 862

Well, here we are in Collinsville, IL, just outside St. Louis, MO. We arrived Thursday morning, and have been having a wonderful time.

It's now Sunday afternoon, and the con is officially over. Thomas is away at a post-con party with a bunch of local costumers; Don is resting in the hotel room.

We had a fun convention. Lots of good panels; from their dealer's table Don and Thomas sold nearly $200 worth of Don's books. We saw some old friends and made some new ones. All in all, a grand time was had by all.

Here are some pictures of denizens of NASFiC:

More later....

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

On the Road Again

Location: Charleston, WV
Miles: 365.1

So here we are on the road again. We're headed out to St. Louis for the North American Science Fiction Convention (aka NASFiC). Whenever the Worldcon is outside North America (this year it's in Japan), NASFiC is held as a kind of consolation prize for those who are staying at home. We've never been to a NASFiC, so we're excited about this one.

We left home around 5 pm and stopped for dinner at the lovely Four Seasons Restaurant in Mt. Airy, MD. Our cute & friendly waiter, Joe, admired Don's iPhone. Among the advertisements on the placemat was the following offer from Easterday Well Drilling: "Let Us Increase Your Well Flow Rate By Hydro-Fracking." Irresistable!

We were back on the road by 8 pm. About 9, Don crawled into the back seat to lay down, ad promptly fell asleep. Thomas continued driving until after 2 am, when we stopped for the night at the Sleep Inn just outside Charleston, WV.

Tomorrow...onward! (Preferebly by Hydro-Fracking.)

Friday, July 27, 2007

New Gadgets

In honor of the Simpsons Movie, here are Don and Thomas as Simpsons characters. (You can make your own Simpsons avatar at

We just got back from the Simpsons Movie, and speaking as a long-time Simpsons fan, it was enormous fun.

The other day Don got his tax refund money (okay, he was late sending in his return this year), so we have some new gadgets.

Just in time to replace his ailing cellphone, Thomas got a Treo 680, which combines the functions of a state-of-the-art Palm PDA with a cellphone. We are both great fans of Palm devices; this one replaces the ancient Handspring Visor that has served Thomas well over the years. (Among other things, it holds his entire database of Star Wars toys & stuff.)

Once we transferred all his information, and managed to get Graffiti 1 handwriting recognition installed, Thomas has really taken to the new Treo.

Meanwhile, Don yielded to temptation and got an iPhone. This replaces his crappy Verizon cellphone.

In the course of getting all this new hardware, we also said a fond farewell to Verizon as our cellphone company, and signed up with AT&T. If you want an iPhone, you have to use AT&T, and when we found out that they also work with the Treo, the decision was easy. (Yes, we've heard bad things about AT&T. We've heard just as many bad things about the other carriers...and Verizon sure wasn't a model of good service.)

So now we're both having a wonderful time getting used to our new gadgetry.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


This weekend, Thomas participated in Artscape, Baltimore's annual arts festival. In the Art Cars section, he showed off Meerkat 6, his Star Wars themed Jetta. The droid on top is named J3-T74 (get it?). The car made a big hit, and Thomas had a wonderful time.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday Don got his prescription shoes with custom-fitted inserts. They help a lot, although his foot still hurts at the end of the day. Over the weekend, Don worked his first 4-hour Sunday shift since going in the hospital. He worked at his old stomping ground, the Severna Park Library, and worked with some friends from around the county. (Sunday work, which pays time-and-a-half, is voluntary and available to everyone in the county library system -- only a few branches are open on Sundays, so we get to work with people from all over.)

Lastly, here's a picture of Koltar, our adorable black hamster:

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Back to Work

I've been back to work (half time) for two weeks now, and it's getting easier each day. I will continue working 4-hour shifts this week, then on Saturday I will start back fulltime.

My foot still hurts most of the time, but nowhere near as bad as it did. I can actually foresee a time when it won't hurt at all. My major challenge now is building up my strength after being flat on my back for the better part of three months. For example, I've noticed that when I've been sitting up in a chair for a few hours, my back starts to hurt. The first week, I finished four hours of work totally exhausted; the second week was better.

I've been on light duty at work, mostly doing stuff in the back room and easing my way back into working on the Info Desk. (Fortunately, the Info Desk is low and we do most of our work sitting; I could not be on my feet for even one hour.) On Friday, I did my first 4-hour shift entirely on the Info Desk. Light duty will end on Saturday June 30 -- then, I will be back to my normal schedule.

I went to the podiatrist and got measured for my new prescription shoes (which my health insurance will pay for!) -- the right one will have an insert to fill the space where my toe used to be. Dr. Giardina says that these shoes will make a big difference; I certainly hope so. They should be done in another week or two.

It's been a long, hard journey -- but with any luck, it will soon be over. And a year from now, I'll be wondering which foot was infected. :)

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

No More IV

The big news is, I am done with the IV antibiotics. After about ten weeks, I am no longer receiving intravenous antibiotics. Today we went to see the Infectious Disease Doctor, and she cleared me to go on an oral antibiotic for a few weeks. She also removed my IV port (or "midline" in medical terminology), which was a 20-centimeter catheter in my left arm, attached to a screw-top valve that connected to the IV tubing.

It is quite a relief to be rid of the midline. It is a relief to be rid of the weekly home nurse visits to change the dressing on the midline. It is a great relief to be rid of the thrice-daily antibiotics.

Originally, my IV was scheduled to end on May 31. In the week leading up to then, we called and called to get an appointment with Dr. Infectious Diseases -- we never got a reply, but on May 30 the pharmacy people called and said, "We just learned that your IV has been extended to June 5; we'll make an emergency delivery of supplies tonight." Soon after that, Dr. Infectious Diseases' office called to confirm my appointment on June 5 (first we'd heard of it!)

My theory is that Dr. Infectious Diseases dropped the ball on scheduling me to come in before May 31, then decided that she couldn't terminate the IV without seeing me. June 5 was the first day that was convenient for her.

I've been joking that my IV was extended for five days for a perfectly valid medical reason: to provide coverage for this Doctor's ass. :)

In other news, on Monday I started wearing my regular shoes. Up until now I've been using a sort of velcro boot with a flat board as a sole. Dr. Giardina said that the foot would feel better once it had some arch support, and he was right! There is still some pain, but nothing like before.

Before today's doctor appointment, Dad came to get me and we went to breakfast at Denny's. This has been our Tuesday morning ritual for almost two years now, although we stopped going when I went in the hospital. Now this is the second week in a row that we've gone, so I feel we're back on schedule. (Dad turned 80 this year, so I really treasure these breakfasts.)

And after today's appointment, Thomas and I went to Cosmic Comix in Catonsville, where we picked up some comics that I've missed over the last few weeks.

Finally, the big news is that I am scheduled to go back to work on Monday, June 11. I will be working part-time at first, sort of playing it by ear, but I suspect that it won't be too long before I'm back to full time. I have mixed feelings about this -- I'm coming up on 27 years with the Library, and will be eligible for retirement in 3 more years. Much as this enforced sick time has been a pain, if I look at it as practice for retirement...well, I think I'm ready.

One thing is sure: I have come to realize that there are many more important things in life than a job. But more of that later. For now, I'm going to luxuriate in the thought that I don't have to worry about my next IV.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Walking Without Crutches

On Friday I was alllowed to start walking on my bad foot. I ditched the crutches and went back to my walking stick. The difference is amazing.

Now I can carry things. This makes a huge difference with things like the process of making a bowl of cereal for breakfast. On crutches, I could stand in place and move things from one surface to another, then take a step and move them again, and so on. Without crutches, I can just pick up my cereal and walk it back to my bedside table.

On Friday, I limited myself to going to the bathroom and the kitchen, and I was also able to do some long-neglected maintenance tasks on JediMac, our downstairs iMac. (The poor thing had been up and running without a restart for more than 53 days...okay, it's a Mac, but I do like to restart it every month or so.)

On Saturday, I went upstairs (very slowly and carefully) to check on Ascher, our upstairs hamster. (Ascher is the child of Koltar, our downstairs hamster. We found homes for Kol's other five kids, but this whole foot thing sidetracked our efforts to locate a new family for Ascher.)

Today, Sunday, Dad picked me up around 11 am. We went to the fruit stand and the grocery store, and then to Dad's house, where I took a shower for the first time since March. Boy, did that feel good! I went to Dad's to shower because (a) Dad's shower has grab bars installed, and (b) I'm not stupid enough to get into the shower when I'm by myself.

After the shower we had lunch, visited a while, and then ate dinner. By 6 pm I was home and back in my sickbed, tired but triumphant.

My foot still hurts, although it's definitely better when I have it up. And I'm tired after so much exertion...but things will get better. Every day, I hope, will be better.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Stitches Out

Went to see Dr. Giardina today. He took out my stitches, and seemed pleased at how things are coming along.

On Friday I will be able to unwrap the foot and get it wet. And I will also be allowed to start walking on it -- as Dr. G says, I will start to wean myself off the crutches.

As far as we know, my IV antibiotics will continue through the end of the month. I could be happier; these thrice-daily IVs are getting tedious for Thomas and me.

This is going to be a challenging time. On Wednesday evening, Thomas leaves for Los Angeles and the Star Wars 30th Anniverdary Celebration. He returns the following Wednesday morning. While he's gone, I will have to do my own IVs, as well as make my own meals and everything ele. Fortunately, my father lives less than a mile away, and he will come whenever I need him.

In other news, Meerkat Meade now has a satellite dish: we signed up with DirecTV. We have a DVR, and hundreds of channels, and we couldn't be happier. The DVR (which is a kind of Tivo-wannabe) is great; it automatically records programs on its inboard hard drive. We can tell it to record (for example) all first-run episodes of The Simpsons, and we can use the DirecTV software to search upcoming shows and schedule recordings from the results.

The coolest feature: the DVR buffers live programming. So, for instance, if we start watching a program and then decide we'd like to record it...a press of the button, and the DVR saves the buffered program from the beginning. This feature also allows us to pause, rewind, and fast-forward live programming, which has come in handy already.

DirecTV is very recommended.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Back From the Podiatrist

Today we went to see Dr. Giardina, my podiatrist, for a followup visit. It's been 9 days since my operation.

Dr. Giardina was pleased with what he saw. He said that I'm doing very well, even a little ahead of schedule. Swelling is down (although there's still some) and the sewed-up incision looks good. (Well, okay, it looks good to a surgeon -- to Thomas and me, it looks appallingly awful.)

I m now allowed to put some weight on the foot, but only on the heel. I still have to use crutches to walk, but when I'm standing I can steady myself with my right foot. And I'm allowed to sit up sometimes, resting both feet on the floor. I can even cross my ankles (bad foot on top), which feels surprisingly good.

On Monday we will go back and Dr. G will take out my stiches. After that, he says, I can put more weight on it and (more important) get the foot wet. Soon after, I should be able to ditch the crutches and go back to my walking stick. (Using crutches is hard -- and if you'e been flat on your back for almost two months, it's even harder.)

Meanwhile, things are getting better. The foot hurts, but the pain is nowhere near as bad as it's been. I am taking ibuprofen most of the time, although I have been popping a percocet at bedtime. I'm still keeping the foot up almost all the time, because it starts to hurt more when it's been down for a bit.

Still, all is going well, and getting better every day. I want to thank all my friends and coworkers who keep sending cards, emails, and even presents. It's wonderful to know that there are so many people out there who care for me.


Friday, May 11, 2007

Friday Update

On Monday I had surgery to take out infected bones in my right foot -- they pretty much took off my big toe. And now I feel a hundred times better.

Everything is stitched up and healing nicely. It hurt like hell at first, but in the last day or two it's gotten a lot better. Before this, I was living on percocet (painkiller), but now I'm making do with just an ibuprofen or two.

My first post-operative visit, on Wednesday, went fine. I go back next Wednesday -- the doctor said the stitches probably won't be ready to come out until a few days after that, but he expects I will make a full recovery and be back on my feet very soon.

As for the big toe...oh, well, it had a good run. I think I can live without it. :)


Monday, May 07, 2007

Surgery Successful

Don is home from foot surgery and resting comfortably.

In outpatient surgery at St. Agnes Hospital, Dr. Giradina took out all the infected bone and cleaned up infected tissue, and stitched everything up.

Don lost most, if not all, of his great toe on the right foot. Besides expecting a little difficulty wearing flip-flops, there should be little lasting impact.

We are all hoping that this is the end of the infected foot. After 2-3 weeks of recovery, Don hopes to be back to his (ab)normal life.

Further bulletins as events warrant.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Surgery Scheduled

My surgery is scheduled for 2 pm on Monday, May 7.

It's an outpatient procedure, and should take about an hour or so. I'll be able to go home afterwards, although I am guessing (hoping!) that I will be drugged up and pretty much out of things.

I will ask Thomas to get the word out regarding the outcome, but you can always check back here for updates.


Monday, April 30, 2007

Is That the End of the Tunnel?

Well, I have been to see the podiatrist, and there

According to both the MRI and the x-rays that Dr. Giaradina took toady, there is a nasty infection in the bone of my great toe. On the x-rays it was so clear that even layfolk could easily make it out.

Dr. Giardina described it as millions of little tiny Pac-Men eating away at the bone and cartilage. One joint is totally destroyed, not even any cartilage left, and the Pac-Men are busily gnawing away.

So what does this mean? In a word, surgery. Apparently, infections in bone are pretty well protected from antibiotics and such, so the only way to get rid of them is to cut out the affected sections of bone.

Dr. Giardina is set to move on this; he said to expect surgery sometime next week. I will go in and they will knock me out (with drugs, I hasten to add), and then he will play Hawkeye Pierce on my poor toe. He said he will try to save what he can, but in the worst-case scenario I could lose my great toe entirely.

It's his opinion that the infection has been in the bone all along. In fact, he says that my original pain was not gout at all, it was the infection going to town. We still don't know what happened -- I don't recall any trauma, like stubbing my toe or dropping anything on it -- but he said that sometimes this kind of thing is a complete mystery.

So, where does that leave things? I will continue on IV antibiotics, which at least keep the infection from spreading into soft tissue. Some time next week, I will go in for surgery, and emerge with part or all of my great toe gone. At that point, everything will be sewed up (no more open wounds), and everyone tells me that recovery should be swift (2-3 weeks, but no guarantees).

I feel...relieved. Everyone I've talked to so far has said the same thing: "Looks like the end of the tunnel is in sight." Even though there will be adjustments, and I'll likely have to learn to walk differently, and maybe have ugly orthopedic shoes -- despite that, it will be over. One hopes.

Thomas reminds me a jaunty little song from The Simpsons, with which I will close:

Some folk'll never lose a toe,
But then again, some folk'll,
Like Cletus, the slack-jawed yokel!


Friday, April 27, 2007


Today I had an MRI, and I just finished talking to the Infectious Diseases doctor about the results.

It looks as if there might be a bone abcess, which is a bad thing. On Monday I'm going to see a podiatrist, who will examine the foot and confirm the diagnosis. If there really is a bone abcess, then the podiatrist might have do surgically remove a piece of bone.

As a more immediate consequence, they're extending my IV antibiotics for two more weeks.

As you can imagine, this is something of a disappointment. I am trying to be adult about it.

More later.


Monday, April 23, 2007

Fancy Footwork

Today at whirlpool, I had some fancy footwork done. No, not cool dance steps -- this foot work involved scissors, forceps, maybe even a scalpel, and lots of blood.

I'm not sure exactly what the nurse, Carol, was doing. She told me not to watch, and I followed her advice. (Thomas watched for a while, but then he said he was feeling a little queasy, so he looked away too.) Carol has such a gentle touch that I didn't feel much pain. When she was done, she put on a special dressing containing silver, which we aren't to change until we go back on Wednesday.

I'm choosing to take all of this as a positive sign.

While the actual process didn't hurt much, my foot has been hurting a bit more than usual ever since. I imagine it will settle down after a while -- but today I've been doing a lot of resting.


Friday, April 20, 2007

To the Apple Store

Today has been a busy day. We had a 10:15 appointment with Dr. Shavers, who wrote some prescriptions for insulin needles, blood test strips, and the like. From there we proceeded to whirlpool therapy, which is always fun.

After that, we went to Columbia Mall, where Thomas put me in my mother's old wheelchair, and we set off for the Apple Store.

You see, I've been saving up my pennies, toward the goal of getting myself an early birthday present (my birthday's in June). When all this hospital and home care stuff started, I decided that I deserved to get my early birthday present a little earlier.

So here it is, the newest member of our computer stable: a MacBook laptop that we've named "BrainiMac5" (don't ask).

This was a fun outing, but let me tell you, I was glad to get home! I crawled into my sickbed, took a percocet, and rested my eyes for a while before I even opened the new computer.

At least now I have someting to keep me busy over the weekend. :)


Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Better Every Day

Just back from whirlpool therapy. We got an early start today so we could pick up donuts for the folks at whirlpool. They've been so pleasant and so good to us, we figured they deserved a reward. And we certainly brought smiles to a lot of people's faces.

One of my four foot wounds is right on the verge of closing up, two more are well on their way, and the last one is making good progress. (This last one, at the base of my big toe, is the one with an exposed tendon -- very icky, if you ask me. Keeping the tendon moist and alive while the wound heals is appparently a concern. I just relax and leave everything in the competent hands of the whirlpool folks and Thomas.)

I'm still getting lots of wonderful cards, letters, and emails. I'm kinda amazed (and very touched) to see how many people think I'm worth the effort to pick out a card, write an encouraging message, and go to all the trouble of looking up my address and all that. I can't possibly thank everyone in person, but please know that I appreciate allthe good wishes. I figure each thing that makes me smile, brings me another step to full recovery -- and I've been getting a lot of things to make me smile!

People keep asking if I'm getting any writing done, and I'm hapy to report that the answer is yes. I have my trusty laptop right by my sickbed, and I've been able to put in a couple of hours every day. I'm taking this opportunity to work on something that's been on the back burner for years: revising a novel that I wrote a while ago. I don't want to bore everyone, so just let me say that A Rose From Old Terra is a science fiction story set in the year 6484, involving a group of Librarians who set off to save the Galaxy. Yes, it's (drumroll)!

Revising an existing work is a lot less demanding than producing something new from scratch, and it's something I can do even under the influence of percocet. I've been enjoying the work, and am happy with the product. With any luck, A Rose From Old Terra will be out later this year from Speed-of-C Productions.

I am also working on an original short story, of which more news later.


Sunday, April 15, 2007

Today's Outing

I am getting better every day. Without going into too much graphic detail, two of the wounds on my foot are pretty much closed up, and the other two look better each day. The folks at whirlpool therapy (three times a week) continue to be happy with what they see each session.

Today Thomas and I went to the Greater Columbia Fantasy Costumers Guild meeting, which was at the Savage Branch of Howard County Public Library. It was about a twenty-minute ride, and we stayed at the meeting for about two hours. This was my first major outing besides whirlpool.

The weather is dreadful, dreary rain and somewhat raw outside, but I was very glad we went.

It was great to see friends again, and nice to be out. And everyone was so very nice and supportive. Plus, it was nice to have some conversations that weren't about me and my body.

Still, by the time the meeting was over, I was pretty tired and my foot was feeling I was just as glad to head home. Guild meetings usually end with most people going to a restaurant, and I was kinda hoping to go along, but that's for another time.

Meanwhile, it was very nice to be out, and nice to participate in a...well, I hesitate to use the word "normal,", so let's say customary event. (Or dare I say "costumary"?)


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Latest Update

One of the worst things about convalescing at home is that it's hard to find topics of conversation that don't involve my body. At least I'm not as bad as my Grandma Buck: for her last decade at least, her topic number one was the state of her bowels. She would start each day issuing a full report, and then gave frequent updates as events warranted.

Things are going well. They are pretty confident that the infection in my foot is on the run, although they're still saying that the antibiotic IVs will continue through the end of April.

I can hobble about with a cane, but still have to keep the foot up or else it hurts like the dickens.

(WARNING: Icky stuff ahead.) The four incisions they made in my foot are starting to heal; one is almost closed up, two are well on their way. The fourth one is this alarming-looking crater at the base of my big toe, where a ligament is still showing and the wound is still pretty deep.

On the diabetes front, they're still working on adjusting my insulin dosages. My blood sugar has been all over the place, but at the moment they're concerned that it's been very low in the mornings. Partly this is a good sign, because it means the infection is fading (the infection tended to cause high blood sugar.) But they also think I'm taking too much insulin.

This whole insulin fine-tuning is a process that will last quite a while as circumstances change. Once I'm back at work, they anticipate that they'll have to adjust dosages again -- being physically active is a lot different than lying on my back most of the day.

Had an appointment yesterday with the infectious diseases doctor. She booked me for a follow-up on May 1.

She seems confident that the IV treatments will end on 4/30. If she thinks I still need antibiotics after that, she will give me pills.

The big unknown is these wounds in my foot. We don't know how long it will take for them to heal up completely. The physical therapy people are saying probably end-of-April/early-May; the infectious diseases doctor said I may still be healing when we have our nex appointment on May 1.

I want to be sure to thank everyone for all the cards, letters, and good wishes.

Yesterday I was able to get some writing done, which is a really good sign.

And I received word that I've sold a short story to an anthology that's scheduled to be published later this year. That's good news.


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Learning to Live with Diabetes

Still home. It's been an uneventful weekend, except for the routine IVs, meds, and dressing changes.

Today is Easter Sunday, which is the anniversary of the day Thomas and I met, at Balticon back in 1982. (Yes, one of our anniversaries is a moveable feast.)

Along with recovering from my foot problems, I am also learning to live with newly-diagnosed diabetes. I have a glucometer -- a little gadget for checking my blood sugar. First thing in the morning, and several times during the day, I poke one of my fingertips to draw blood, then touch the blood to the meter to get a reading.

I also have insulin. Not just insulin, but two kinds of insulin. Lantis is a slow-acting insulin that is supposed to smooth out blood-sugar variations throughout the day; Novalog is the more traditional fast-acting insulin that I'm supposed to take with meals. Both of these are injected, so Thomas and I are getting a lot of practice using syringes.

My blood sugar has been all over the map. Supposedly, a good range is between 70 and 120. If it gets too low, then there's danger that I will pass out -- as I did at whirlpool on Monday, and almost did on Friday. (The treatment for low blood sugar is to get some sugar into my system as quickly as possible, which means juice or cookies or even a packet of sugar. It seems odd to think of a diabetic deliberately swallowing sugar, but there it is.)

If the blood sugar is too high, it's also bad. Not as immediately bad as passing out or going into a coma, but certainly not good. Taking insulin helps to lower high blood sugar. The problem is, we don't have any magic formulas for how much insulin to varies from person to person, and also depends on what I've eaten, how much exercise I'm doing (right now, with my bad foot, not very much), and the phases of the Moon and Venus. After enough trial-and-error, we'll have a much better idea of how this all works.

Oh, well, it's all part of getting better.


Friday, April 06, 2007

Political Ramblings Part 2

We went to whirlpool therapy today, and I actually managed to avoid a low-blood-sugar crisis by recognizing the signs and asking for juice before I passed out.

The foot is looking better each day. One of the four major wounds is almost all closed up, and two of the others are on the way. The fourth one, at the base of my big toe, still looks pretty alarming, but is healing satisfactorily.

Back to political ramblings for a moment. I have excellent health insurance, which has paid for everything so far except some co-payments on prescriptions. Good thing, too, because this whole episode has got to be well into the thousands of dollars. Just one insulin prescription would have cost close to $400 without my insurance.

Thomas doesn't have health insurance through work, the way I do. He has said, "If things were the other way around, and if this was me, I'd just have to die. I couldn't afford to live."

Yes, the health insurance situation in this country is all screwed up. But that's not what I want to complain about right now. I want to be a little more specific.

Thomas and I have been together going on 25 years, and have lived together for 20. Despite that, Thomas is not eligible to be included on my health insurance. Why? Because only couples who are married can have that particular benefit.

Let me count the ways this is unfair. First, it violates the principle of "equal work, equal pay." One of my straight coworkers can marry his or her sweet baboo, and get health benefits worth untold sums -- but I can't marry my sweet baboo.

Second, it makes bad economic sense. If Thomas were to get badly sick and need the kind of expensive care I'm getting, who would pay for it? First, the two of us would go bankrupt. Ultimately, the burden would fall on everyone -- further driving up the costs of medical care and insurance.

Third, it's not fair because Thomas is playing by the rules of being a spouse, without getting the benefits. I am at home only because Thomas is able to devote considerable time and effort to caring for me. Without him, I would probably have to be in a nursing home. And you can be sure that would cost a hell of a lot more.

Mark that, please. Thomas is saving a lot of money for everyone: the insurance company, my employer, society at large. He's helping to keep down everybody's medical costs. And what reward does he get? Nothing except the self-satisfaction of helping his spouse. He certainly doesn't get health insurance benefits.

So how does this incredibly unfair situation get changed? Allowing same-sex couples to marry is the most obvious way. The issue is now before the Maryland Supreme Court, but there's no confidence that they will legalize same-sex marriage. If recent court rulings are any guide, the best we can hope for is that the court will acknowledge the unfairness and throw the issue to the legislature. (The worst we can hope for is that the Maryland Supreme Court will rule the same way as Washington state, that all this unfairness is justified because "marriage" is reserved to straight people.)

If the court does send the issue to the legislature, Maryland may well wind up with the same sort of Civil Unions system as Vermont, Connecticut, New Jersey, and California. I assume that the enabling law would make civil union partners eligible for spousal health insurance benefits, so that Thomas would finally be included on my health insurance. But you can bet Don Dwyer and his ilk will fight that with everything they have.

There you are. If you live in Maryland, and if you would like Thomas to have a chance of surviving his next major illness...then please support our cause.


Thursday, April 05, 2007

Catching Up on LOST

Yesterday evening we had a visit from Michele the Home Care Nurse. She recorded my vital signs, took some blood, and changed the dressing on my IV site. We'll be getting a visit like this once a week.

But my biggest accomplishment was catching up on back episodes of Lost.

When I went into the hospital, I was in much worse shape than I knew. Maybe it was the pain, the infection, or the various any case, I was mentally sluggish and lacked the ability to concentrate on anything. At one point, someone gave me an issue of Newsweek, and I remember reading and re-reading each paragraph, trying to follow what was being said. (I repeat, this was Newsweek -- not exactly the most intellectually challenging fare. Maybe I should have asked for People.)

In short, I was only hitting on one or two cylinders, mentally. Fortunately, even on one or two cylinders I'm pretty high-functioning. I am very glad that I kept the wherewithal to smile, be pleasant, and thank everyone for all the things they kept doing for me. (Hint: If you are in the hospital, make an effort to be appreciative of everyone who helps you. These folks work very hard, and they get little thanks. It's the right thing to do -- but it also doesn't hurt to get the reputation of being a friendly, cooperative, and appreciative patient.) At one point I asked Thomas to buy a couple dozen donuts and bring them in for the staff as a thank-you...I heard about that for days.

(Hint #2: This isn't just true about the hospital. Everybody likes to hear "thank you, I appreciate the work you do.")

Anyway, back to Lost. I didn't fully realize just how dull my mind was, until about Tuesday or Wednesday of the second week, when the infection was finally on the run. It was only then that my mind started to clear, and only by comparison did I see how bad I'd been.

In addition, between morphine and Percocet, I had a tendency to doze off a lot.

So while I was sick and in the hospital, I didn't tackle anything that required much concentration and brainpower. My favorite TV programs were sitcoms that were familiar to me, like Friends and The Simpsons, or Discovery Channel programs like Mythbusters and How It's Made. Or CNN.

I certainly knew that I couldn't tackle anything as demanding as Lost. (Okay, it's not great literature, but you do need to concentrate and put things together in your head.) So I deliberately avoided it, even though I'm a big Lost fan. Luckily, Thomas recorded the three episodes I missed.

This Tuesday I watched the first of these episodes, and then yesterday I watched the next two. And the experience was as rewarding as I'd hoped. They were good episodes. This cleared the decks for last night's brand new episode at 10 pm, which I also watched (and also liked). It's a relief to be back to something resembling mentally normal.

(Of course, I'm still flat on my back most of the day, and still taking Percocet and another painkiller that make me drowsy, so I'm sure I'm not hitting on all cylinders yet. But I'm on the way.)


Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Some Polical Ramblings

Just back from whirlpool, which went well -- i.e. I didn't pass out. The foot is showing improvement, and they predict that the wounds will probably all be closed up within two weeks. Excellent news!

We've been chatting about this whole situation: nearly two weeks in the hospital and Thomas providing home care. And we've had a couple of realizations of a political nature, which we'd like to share. Today, hospital visitation.

We realized that we're very lucky we don't live in Virginia or Ohio, or probably several other states. If this had happened in Virginia or Ohio, if Don had been in the hospital in either of those states, then Thomas would not have been able to see him, accompany him to treatments and such, or act as his health care agent. In fact, if a Virginia or Ohio hospital allowed Thomas to do any of these things, the hospital would be breaking the law.

Why? Because Don and Thomas are a same-sex couple -- and in Virginia and Ohio, it is illegal to grant a same-sex couple any benefits that approximate the benefits of marriage. That includes hospital visitation, presence at treatment, and making health care decisions for the other person. In Virginia, this discrimination is part of the state constitution.

Luckily, we are in Maryland, where the laws are a little bit looser. Despite the efforts of people like Delegate Don Dwyer, Maryland has not yet passed obnoxious laws like those of Virginia or Ohio. And it seems unlikely that Dwyer and his ilk will find any success in their quest to discriminate against us.

We're still not safe, though. While Maryland has no laws against such things, it also doesn't have many laws positively protecting us. We're okay on the "health care agent" business, since Don can fill out a form designating Thomas as his agent.

Hospital visitation, though, is a little more in doubt. The Legislature passed a law specifically granting same-sex couples the right of hospital visitation -- but Governor Ehrlich vetoed it because it sounded too much like a step toward gay marriage.

So if a hospital decided that they didn't like gay couples, and refused to allow Thomas in to see Don...well, we would have no legal recourse. We're lucky that St. Agnes is a sensible and compassionate hospital; we might not be so lucky in the future.

One more thing: these rights of hospital visitation, presence at treatment, being health care agent -- these are all rights that any opposite-sex couple gains automatically with marriage. Two drunken fools who meet in Vegas and get married that same day, automatically have these benefits. Thomas and Don, who are going on 25 years together and who love each other beyond measure...we have to rely on the goodwill of the hospital to have the same benefits.

Is that fair?


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Settling In

ABOVE: Here's Mr. Don getting his morning IV. Note the ivy on the IV stand. We had to buy that ourselves; it did not come with the stand.

ABOVE: Here's Nurse Thomas setting up the IV. Thomas's mother was a nurse; she would be very proud of him.

Well, we're both settling in at home and getting into a routine. Morning: IV antibiotics, several pills, insulin injection, and breeakfast. Afternoon: IV antibiotics, lunch, more insulin, and the thrill of changing the dressing on my foot. Night: IV antibiotics, a pill or two, dinner, insulin. Unscheduled excitements include staggering to the bathroom and back (with my cane), painkillers when necessary, and frequent naps.

Yesterday we went up to St. Agnes Hospital for my first whirlpool treatment as an outpatient. Whirlpool is a huge tub of water that swirls and bubbles, clearing out the bad stuff from the several wounds on my foot. It usually takes about half an hour.

Yesterday's session was a bit more eventful than usual. Maybe it was the exertion of hobbling down the long hallways, maybe it was sitting up on the high chair over the big tank, maybe it was an insulin any case, I had a low blood sugar attack and passed out for a few minutes. Thomas and the whirlpool folks were right there to help me, and in no time I was on a stretcher being fed juice and cookies, and getting my blood pressure and blood sugar checked.

It was quite a bit more excitement than I had expected, and I was very glad to get back home and into my sickbed. I slept for a few hours, then felt quite a bit better.

Such is the excitement of my life right now.


Sunday, April 01, 2007

Mr. Don Has Been Very Sick

Hi, this is Don. I am online for the first time in about three weeks.

Here's the short version: I came down with my first-ever case of gout on Monday, March 12. After a week of ineffective tratment, my right foot got worse, and ultimately got infected.

On Monday, March 19 I went into Saint Agnes Hospital, where I stayed until Friday, March 30. The infection got very bad, and was resistant to many antibiotics. They made several incisions in my foot to drain bad stuff out, and put me on powerful IV antibioics.

Late on Friday March 30 I came home. I will continue on the IV antibiotics three times a day for the rest of the month. I will need to stay off the foot as much as possible until it heals.

As an additional complication, I have been diagnosed as diabetic. My blood sugar was all messed up in the hospital, and I am learning to deal with insulin and all that.

I am glad to be home, and feeling a little better every day. I am very grateful for all the cards, phone calls, visits, and wonderful things that my friends have done -- including coming over to help clear out the lounge so I can have a sick room at home.

I will try to keep up periodic updates here. Meanwhile, I'm sure I have a tremendous backlog of email; I will continue working through that but please bear with me.

Thank you! -Don

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Crisis is Over

The crisis seems to be over. Our websites and email are working again.

Carry on.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Communications Disruption

It appears that our website and associated domains have been hijacked.

For the moment, email addresses are not functioning at,,,, and

If you need to contact us, please use our alternate email addresses.

donsakers(at)mac(dot)com is probably the best choice right now.

Further bulletins as events warrant.

-Don & Thomas