Saturday, September 30, 2006

Susan Strother Clarke

My heart is broken today.

I just learned last night that my old friend Susan Strother Clarke has died.

Susan and I went through the Master of Liberal Studies program at Rollins College together. We sat at the back of the classroom, passing notes and whispering like, well, schoolgirls, and we were both well over thirty at the time. We soon discovered that we shared a certain perverse sense of humor, the Episcopal church, journalism and other things... I repaired her computer on a number of occasions, in her little house near downtown Orlando.

She had this funky old Volvo sedan with a broken passenger seat that induced lumbar spasms in the best of us. I remember racing more than one person for the back seat if Susan was driving.

Susan found the love of her life, and married Ken in 2000, after we'd moved to Washington. I got e-mails describing their romance (in good taste, of course) and it was fun to see this side of Susan grow.

Susan was open to whatever life brought her, and she lived more intensely in her few years than many folks lived in twice the time.

I miss her.

Friday, September 29, 2006

More good news...

Don't think if I have bad news that I won't post it...

But I went in for another echocardiogram Wednesday and the tech says that my pericardial effusion is down to one centimeter, the smallest it has been since I have know that it existed. Probably in years.

Woo Hoo!

What this means is that I can start lowering the prednisone dose, which means I can also start getting off the insulin, and stop having bruises that make me look like I've been beaten about the thighs from the needle sticks.

This may mean the Cellcept is the next step in the tango. The theory is that the effusion is resulting from inflammation caused by autoimmune disease. If they can reduce the autoimmune inflammation by suppressing the entire immune system, then the effusion will stay gone, without the side effects of prednisone. However, that means that I'm going to catch every bug that comes around. But that's a possibility with the prednisone as well, so it doesn't seem that this switch will impact my need for Purell.

In other news, I think my next door neighbor is possessed of the Devil. No, not George Bush, either. More at 11.

Friday, September 22, 2006

September in Washington

I'm going back into The District tonight, after my self-imposed Exile of The Summer.

Fall begins here promptly on Labor Day. It is the most amazing thing I've ever seen. Of course, this is the furthest north I've ever lived, so perhaps it is this way in most of the civilized world. It is now cool and breezy, and the leaves have begun to change, even some in the last weeks of August. And I can go into The District and find Parking Places, because the Wandering Hoards of Schoolchildren and Tourists have gone home.

August in Florida and Oklahoma is always a foretaste of Hell.

We have tickets to the Kennedy Center tonight, to see Asleep at the Wheel in "A Ride with Bob," about Our Hero, Bob Wills. I am wearing my boots. My esteemed spouse threatens to wear his Resistol.

I like going to the Kennedy Center. It's only a few minutes from the house, and there's parking underneath so you don't have to go for a five mile hike in three-inch heels. It's not a big venue, so things are easily visible and audible from every seat. Actually, I should say that they are not big venues, since the Opera House, the Eisenhower Theater, the Concert Hall, the Terrace Theater and the Theater Lab are all separate venues. And it's not usually expensive. And they have a nice rooftop restaurant for an aftershow nosh.

I have loved Bob Wills, and Asleep at the Wheel, since I was a sophomore at the Universidad de Oklahoma, and AATW played at a bar in front of my apartment. They were so different from the bulk of 70's music, and so alive, that I discovered the joys of Western Big Band music then.

My phone rings "Take Me Back to Tulsa, I'm Too Young to Marry" when my husband calls.

We introduced a Belgian big-band brass player to the joys of Bob and AATW when we were in Bordeaux last year. He was blown away. I think we should get titles, like "Minister Plenipotentiary and Extraordinary for Western Swing."

Anyway, I'm looking forward to my Big Night in the Big Town.

Take it away, Leon...

PS: It was better than I imagined it could be.

No Resistol was worn, however, had it been, it would not have been the only one.

There seemed to be a significant Kinky contingent, however, I don't know if these are voting Texans.

Miz Laura Bush and her momma Miz Jenna Welch sat underneath us.

We chop in tall cotton around here, boys.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Only Organ Practice

I'm doing better, really. I hardly use the oxygen at all except when I'm walking long distances (like I think more than .2 of a mile... that's the measure of walking from the boat to the end of the parking area at the marina). My pulmonary pressure remains good, the pericardial effusion is lessening, my steroid dosage is smaller.

My rheumy wants to take me off the prednisone and put me on something called Cellcept, which is an immune suppressor they give to transplant patients. She says it has less dramatic side effects than the steroids. We shall see how that goes in the next month or so...


The real news is revealed (like Handel says: ree-VEE-led) here.

Here's a hint: this is a photo I took while underneath the Chesapeake Bay Bridge near Annapolis...