Saturday, October 31, 2009

Small Steps Toward Good Health

Mid 60's and sunny--perfect weather for a football game or at least a walk through the woods with leaves rustling underfoot.

But we settled for walks around the RV with the door and windows open and football games on TV.

The important point is that Kate continues to take small steps in feeling better, moving more, and eating a bit more.

Friday, October 30, 2009


We're overdue for an update, but there is little news to report.

Kate is doing more things in the RV and is off oxygen for more short periods during the day.

She is slowly regaining her appetite, but the bitter taste when eating is still present. We've learned that the taste is an effect of the anesthesia--even almost three weeks after surgery.

We're getting caught up on some housekeeping chores and are revising our travel plans. We'll be heading west when we leave Albuquerque at the end of November instead of Cajun Country (Louisiana) for the winter.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Metallic Food

Not much in the way of changes to note today.

Kate doesn't have much of an appetite to begin with, and when the food has a metallic taste (due to the medication, possibly), it is really difficult to force herself to eat.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

O.R. and the Soup Can

Well, based on my three-minute instruction on changing the dressing and bandages, I believe Kate's healing process is proceeding nicely. She's even vowing to get back to work soon.

I've been preparing some simple, bland meals, e.g., pancakes (mix) and potato soup (scratch), but since Kate's taste buds seem to be affected by the medication, she will not be awarding Addies for these preparations.

Now when preparing my recipe for potato soup, I use one can of cream of celery soup, among other ingredients. An incident occurred after emptying the can that created a bit of concern. A curious kitten with a one-month history of scavenging for food and an empty soup can is not a good combination.

I heard some banging sounds soon after lunch and found O.R. Deal (the 3-month-old kitten we found two months ago hanging by one paw that was caught between a group of stack chairs in Hanford, CA) with his head caught in the empty soup can.

Since beginning our travels, I have been carrying a small camera with me at all times. However, I did not have it handy at this time. But even if I had it right at hand, I was too concerned about O.R.'s welfare to take a photo or even laugh.

We got the can off O.R.'s head, and then had a good laugh. It broke the slow routine around the RV.

(I did entertain the idea of putting the can back on O.R.'s head, but I thought you would all take my word for this.)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

"Give Yourself Time"

For the past couple of weeks the weather here in Albuquerque has been beautiful, and I think that both of us have had the urge to get out and visit the attractions of the city. As a result, both of us have become a bit impatient with the speed of Kate's recovery from surgery.

That is why we want to thank all who have e-mailed, written, or called to say "Give yourself time to recover." I think I needed to hear that as much as Kate did. Kate is feeling better and is moving around the RV much more. We don't have a follow-up visit until November 3, but everything seems to be healing nicely.

Thanks again for the caring messages.

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Bouquet for Kate

When each of us writes our contribution to the daily entries, the other proofreads the copy.

For nearly three weeks, Kate has either not been available or just has not had the energy to focus on reading anything.

So, today's entry is a bouquet for Kate.

This selection of photos are among those that Kate took during our tour of the Botanical Garden in Balboa Park in San Diego.

Hopefully, she will see it as permanent, "cat-proof," get well bouquet.

I know, I know.

She takes the photos, and I give them to her as a bouquet--but it's the thought that counts.


Thursday, October 22, 2009


It's frustrating for anyone not to be able to do the simplest of routine activities. And Kate is no exception.

Today was another day of feeling confined by a breathing apparatus and a good-sized bandage at her waist.

Even sitting at the computer to compose some thoughts seemed to Kate to be more like work than a fun time to catch up with her friends.

Recovery is slower than we'd like it to be.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Day of Rest

Today was a day of rest.

Kate is feeling pretty weak, which is understandable (I keep reminding her) given the surgery she had. She is doing some exercises, but it may take awhile to get back her strength.

I have added this photo from our first day in Albuquerque. We stopped at one of our favorite places, Garcia's Kitchen, and renewed our friendship with Barbara, one of the servers there.

On our first visit to Garcia's, we commented on the tortillas, and she went to the kitchen to procure a dozen of them. She said, "You can buy these at the register, but these will be nice and warm."

We have been back to buy more of these during our three visits to Albuquerque.

This was going to be a picture featuring our friend Barbara, but for now Barbara will play the supporting role in this photo.

Looking forward to a return to health.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


Well, well. Kate is discharged, but, boy, it sure wasn't easy.

Without focusing on the frustrating examples, suffice it to say that it took longer than expected, and this was followed by a delay in the arrival of the Oxygen Man at the RV. He was to provide a Concentrator, a machine to, basically, pull oxygen out of the air to supply Kate with oxygen.

But she's home and happy to be sleeping in familiar suroundings without tubes.

However, it's going to be some time before visiting sites and restaurants without a tank of O2 accompanying us.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Tomorrow . . . Tomorrow . . .

Well, tomorrow is discharge day.

I think the team is taking the more cautious approach--she will be on oxygen for awhile, so this may slow our sightseeing and restaurant visiting a bit.

But the good news is: Kate will be home tomorrow.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

One Step Closer

Today Kate had the tubes that were draining fluids removed.

Other signs are also looking good [x-rays looking better every day, little draining of fluids, low white blood cell count, and no fever (which Kate never had)]. With the tubes out, it may be Tuesday (my guess) that she'll be discharged.

We're changing our travel plans so that we can stay in Albuquerque for the next several weeks. If any questions arise, we are right here and can talk to physicians who know Kate.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Maybe . . . Discharge Soon

Late this afternoon, Kate was informed that they may be able to take out the tube that is draining fluid from around her lung may be able to be removed. Then the docs will check the incision in a day or two, and if all looks good, she may be able to be discharged. Nothing is definite yet, but her x-rays and other signs are looking good.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Good Day

It seems that something as simple as changing the dressing and bandage on the incision had a significant effect. It must have been wrapped in an awkward fashion and was causing a stabbing pain. New wrap, No pain. A good day for walking, shich helps drain the fluid around the lung.

She had the first signs of an appetitue, also. So today was a pretty good day.

We're told that lab test results are slow in getting back to several physicians, so no word for another day (or three).

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Making Progress

Kate's breathing is getting better, her lung is draining, and she is able to do more walking (which helps the fluid drain), although she still has several tubes along with her on these walks.

Although more test results, due in 48 hours, may shed light on the diagnosis, the best guess is that Kate had a case of pneumonia. Whether there was more going on is yet to be determined. But it looks as though she will be in the hospital at least one more week.

They expect that Kate will need to be seen in outpatient treatment for a couple of months, so we'll stay around Albuquerque for that time.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Touched By Your Messages

Not much new news because the test results on the fluid that was drained were not available.

Kate wants to thank everyone who has called, sent e-mails, or added comments to the blog. Several have asked if there is anything they can do. Since we will be Albuquerque for several weeks (for the outpatient treatment that the physicians anticipate will be necessary), I'm sure Kate would appreciate a card. She has really been touched by the messages you've sent.

You can send it to Kate c/o American RV Park, 13500 Central Ave., SW, Albuquerque, NM 87121.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Good Surgical Day

Well, there is some very good news on Kate's health, but she will be in the hospital for another seven days. The pulmonary surgeon drained about two liters of liquid from her chest in surgery that lasted about two hours. This fluid showed clear signs of an infection, but it will be another 48 hours before more is known. His comment was, “She has a strong constitution to have been putting up with the effects of that infection.”

At this point, the surgeon believe it was caused by pneumonia that built up fluids in her lung, and that this fluid "leaked out" of the lung into the area around the lung.

Kate was on a respirator all day and was given sedatives to help her sleep. Her vital signs were monitored by a nurse who was in the room with her all day.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Kate Up-date

Well, we have more information about the reason for Kate's ill health.

We went to an Urgent Care clinic again and the results of an x-ray showed that either there was liquid in or around one of her lungs. She was sent to a nearby hospital where a C scan was performed, but it was still unclear whether the liquid was in the lung or around it. Surgery will be performed early Monday morning to remove the liquid and determine what the next step will be.

More later.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Night Lights

Kate still is not feeling well.

Last Sunday night, we had tickets for the shuttle to the Balloon Fiesta Park (Albuquerque). Kate had been to see a doctor earlier that day and was not feeling well enough to go. She just wanted to sleep, so I went solo.

The Balloon Glow (the balloons do not lift off, but the pilots fire the propane) was cancelled because of the high winds. This was the second year that we missed seeing the lighted balloons after dark. Soon after sunset, the full moon rose over the mountains--just in time to mark the beginning of the final event of the evening.

The last event on the program was the fireworks show, so some of the photos of these colorful explosives are shown here.

While waiting for the sun to set, I met a fellow from Houston who was considering a career in photography.

We talked about the national parks we had just visited, and he recommended a couple of places to see around Houston and eastern Texas.

I had not attempted to take photographs of fireworks before, so the first few shots were fast "learn-by-doing" photos.

There is luck involved in determining how to center the explosion on the screen and when to press the shutter to capture as much of the color as possible and just the right amount of movement.

Most of the photos shown here were taken with exposures of about two seconds.

I was pleased with many of these photos, and now I want to try to photograph lightning--from a distance.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Special Shape Balloons

The recovery process continues for our restaurant reviewer.

Beginning in 1989, when the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta was 17 years old, the Special Shape Balloons have appeared during the event.

Some of the balloons in the shapes of animals, characters, and objects that participated in the Mass Ascension during one of the morning programs are shown here. I found it hard to believe, but I'm pretty sure these two bees are joined at the hands.

There are also morning launches just for the Special Shapes during the week and also some "Glowdeos" for these balloons at night. For these evening programs, the balloonists are given a countdown, at which time they all fire up their burners to provide a fantastic light show.

We learned that there was an international story involving some other special shape balloons that had not appeared in the events early in the week.

It seems that 10 balloons scheduled to appear in Albuquerque were among 13 balloons held in China after a dispute between a Chinese company and an American balloon event producer following a balloon event in Guyang, Inner Mongolia.

Late Tuesday, Gov. Bill Richardson said that the 10 special shaped balloons that had been held for weeks in China were headed for Albuquerque.

Richardson says the Chinese Embassy, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and the federal Department of Homeland Security were among those who helped expedite the balloons' release.

So, the saying, "when pigs fly . . . " may refer to the situation in which Homeland Security is involved in negotiations to release Darth Vader and Coco the Clown (just two of the balloons being held).

The balloon with the frosty mug did not seem to be filled with A&W Root Beer.

At the completion of the mass ascension, we headed back to the shuttle bus by way of the 1/3-mile street of vendors.

In past years, as many as 100,000 people have attended one day's program (morning and evening attendance combined). This is a portion of the crowd present on the morning we attended the Fiesta.

It was 8:30 in the morning, and while people may have been up since 4:00, it was still hard to consider ordering some of the food items at that hour.

But others saw the jumbo corn dogs as just the thing for breakfast.

Now it was about 10 years ago that we dismissed breakfast burritos at 8:00 a.m. at a similar balloon festival in Santa Rosa, CA. However, we have come to realize that a burrito with the right kind of ingredients can be just the thing for breakfast.

So, while "pork chop on a stick" may sound a bit unusual for a post-dawn snack, we will withhold judgement on the advisability of ordering one of these for breakfast.

And, while a good cheesesteak sandwich or even some bratwurst may sound good, we passed on these and opted for more traditional breakfast items back at the RV.

But as we were rounding the bend at the end of Vendors' Row, we paused to wonder what the Egyptian Papyrus would refer to or how many Authenic Russian Nesting Dolls would be sold.

But we did give the Smoothie tent some serious attention. Vegetarian choices were also available at this tent, which was off the main street of vendors.

And what morning would be complete without a stop at the Body Piercing tent.

The whole experience, including musical performances and chainsaw wood carving contests, was truly memorable.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

"Most Photographed Event on Earth"

Whatever it is, it just keeps hanging on, so a return to good health for our restaurant reviewer is slow. So we must delay our literary farewell to San Diego a bit more.

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is identified as the world’s largest hot air balloon festival, the most photographed event on earth, and the largest annual international event held in the United States.

This is the 38th annual fiesta and was billed as being "back for another year with 600 balloons." From its modest beginnings in 1972 with 13 balloons launching from a shopping mall parking lot, the Balloon Fiesta has grown to multiple launching events year-round at the custom-designed, 365-acre Balloon Fiesta Park.

The Fiesta is one of the only balloon (aviation) events where we are able to walk around the 78-acre launch field and talk to the pilots.

This significant characteristic can be taken for granted because there is so much freedom to walk among the balloons and balloonists. We just had to remember not to walk on the balloon envelop or rope lines to the balloon.

The day was cloudy, so many of our photographs have a white background.

Sometimes the cloudy background provides the ideal canvas for these colorful subjects when the sun breaks out for a few moments.

Balloonists from every state in the US and 50 countries were expected to participate in the 10-day Fiesta.

As we walked around the launch site, we understood why this is reported to be "the most photographed event on earth."

While it was certainly possible to stand in one place and take four photos on the four compass points at ground level and in the air, we kept moving around the launch site--the size of 54 football fields.

The sun caught this balloon just right. This was probably one of the more brilliantly-colored balloons.

But sunny or cloudy, the day was a success--there was nothing that prevented the launching of over 450 balloons.

The last group of balloons will appear tomorrow. As you can tell, we really enjoyed ourselves at the early morning mass ascension.