Shots Across the Bow

A Reality Based Blog

Monday, April 30, 2007

The Draft Fred Rally Video is Up

Head over to the Knoxville News Sentinel website and click the link there. I was mainly curious about three things:

1. How did people hear about the rally and Fred, since he wasn't officially in the race yet?

2. In a crowded field of Republican candidates, what makes Fred Thompson so exciting? Is it just his celebrity, or is there something more?

3. When will Fred Thompson officially announce his candidacy, if ever?

I asked these questions to supporters at the rally, and their answers were very interesting. One thing that really caught my attention was that several people thought that Thompson would make a good president because it wasn't his life's ambition. As one man put it, Fred didn't really want the job, but felt that he was needed. From that perspective, his delay in announcing works to enhance his viability.

I also asked one couple about the fact that Thompson was an actor, and maybe that appearance of power and personal integrity was just that, all appearance and no substance. They responded that they'd read interviews with people who've worked with and for Sen. Thompson, and they almost uniformly say that he really is exactly how he appears, and they were satisfied with that.

I got as many answers to the question "Why are you excited about Fred?" as the people I asked, but there were some common themes. People respond to Fred in a way that most other politicians can only dream about. In fact, I'd be willing to say that Fred Thompson has even more charisma than Bill Clinton, and that's saying a lot. Fred also has a reputation for forthright speech and personal integrity. His supporters believe that if Fred says it, he means it, and will act accordingly. That's a major achievement for any politician in a day when we expect them to lie. Fred Thompson is seen as an embodiement of traditional conservative values, but not in a way that is threatening to moderate conservatives or independents. In this, he's something of a mirror of Giuliani. Rudy polls well even among social conservatives, despite is liberal social views. Thompson polls well among moderates despite his social conservatism. Both men's polling seems to confirm that social issues are not at the forefront of this election, at least on the conservative side of the house.

There's a lot of folks who still aren't that excited by Sen Thompson, but given that in the latest GOP Bloggers Straw Poll, Fred is running an overwhelming first, with just over 53% of the vote, they may be among a rapidly decreasing minority.

I'm going to go ahead and make a prediction: If Fred Thompson declares his candidacy, he will be the Republican nominee, and will win the Presidency in 08.

Posted by Rich
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Sunday, April 29, 2007

Mom Update for Sunday

Things couldn't be much better.

The ventilator is gone, as is the nasal tube. She's awake and sitting up, and is coherent, although little confused about how long it's been since the operation. Her kidneys are fine, her blood pressure is fine, and her lungs are clearing up nicely.

Thanks again for all your prayers and messages of support.

Posted by Rich
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BushCo and Cheneyburton Strike Again!

Shaking in their collective boots over Rosie O'Donnell's shocking revelation on The View that fire doesn't melt steel, and never has melted steel,and never will melt steel, the VRWC charged into action to discredit this courageous woman who found the time to learn all about metallurgy while carrying on a busy career in annoying the heck out of people.

Through my investigative journalistic skills, I have discovered that the bridge was pre-wired with explosive squibs over two months ago in preparation for today's collapse. The truck was remote detonated, and then the squibs were set off to weaken the steel support structures.

Well, that's easy for you to say, but can you prove it?

Absolutely. All you need is common sense and two indisputable facts.

Fact number one: The driver survived the explosion. Everybody knows that it would be impossible to survive a fire intense enough to burn down a bridge, so how did he do it? He wasn't there when the explosion occurred! It's the only explanation that makes sense.

Fact number two: (And this is the capper) There is no video footage of the beginning of the fire when they set off the explosive squibs! Nope, none. Not a single frame of video shows the beginning of the fire! It's just like the Pentagon all over again! Jeez, you'd think these guys would learn from their mistakes, but nope, they're just as stupid as they were 6 years ago!

How much more of this are we expected to take?

Posted by Rich
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Fox Programming Note

Due to routinely getting its ass kickedlosing it's time slot to the killer talents of Charlie Sheen, Jon Cryer, and whoever it is that plays the kid on Two and a Half Men, Fox has announced the immediate cancellation of 24, which will be replaced by reruns of Sanjaya crying after he was booted off American Idol.

In other news, FoxNews will also cancel The O'Reilly Factor, since it lost in its time slot to Dancing with the Stars, just like Drive. The factor will be replaced by repeats of Roller Girls.

Finally, Fox will also work to cancel Battlestar Galactica, even though it airs on another network.

Posted by Rich
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Rally For Fred

I drove over to Cookeville this afternoon to attend a rally for a man who isn't running for President.


I estimated the crowd to be just over 200 strong at any given time, but by the end of the day, 250 people had signed a letter urging Sen. Thompson to run for President. I saw a lot of people who didn't get into the line, or who gave up, so I'm guessing that there were at least 350 people there throughout the event, which is a pretty impressive turnout for a guy who isn't even running yet.

One thing that surprised me about the turnout was the age range. There were a lot of younger people there, something conspicuously absent when I was at the Republican campaign headquarters during the last election. If Fred can mobilize the kids, he's going to be hard to stop.

One of the questions I asked people at the rally was why they got so excited about Fred when the field of candidates is already pretty full. The most common answer was that they liked his candor. He has an image as a straight shooter who will say exactly what he thinks, regardless of how it polls. The second most common answer was that they felt he was a true leader, that he had the charisma and personal power to get things done.
I'll have more tomorrow, including some pictures, but it's time for me to get some sleep.

Posted by Rich
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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Mom Update for Saturday

We're talking a major comeback here. Her ventilator was turned off for three hours yesterday evening with no decrease in blood oxygen levels, a major accomplishment considering just a few hours earlier, she could only breathe on her own for 20 minutes. Then when they turned the ventilator back on, they left it at 8 breaths per minute, meaning she was taking every other breath on her own.

Today, they put the ventilator into CPAP mode which means it's functioning just like it would for a sleep apnea patient. This is nearly the last step before removing the breathing tube entirely.

Her blood pressure and kidney output remains strong and she's finally getting rid of the 2.5 gallons of fluid she's been retaining since the surgery.

She may be off the ventilator entirely by tomorrow, or Monday at the latest, barring a set back.

Posted by Rich
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Happy Birthday!

To my daughter Erinne, who turns 18 today.

Posted by Rich
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Friday, April 27, 2007

Good News for Neenaw

The roller coaster is picking up speed. At 9AM, we were told she would be on the ventilator for a week or two at least. At 12PM, we were told that she is going to be weaned from the ventilator starting today. The did the routine screening for ventilator removal, and she went for 20 minutes breathing on her own. So, they've reduced the drugs that are keeping her unconscious just enough to let her start exercising her lungs. They've turned down the ventilator rate so that every 4th or 5th breath she takes is on her own, which is great. They've taken her off the ARDS protocols since her lungs are functioning fairly well. She's maintaining 98% blood oxygen on 40% O2, which is roughly 2x what we breath in normal air. And the pressure required to kep her alveoli inflated has decreased dramatically, another good sign as far as her lungs are concerned. Her fever is down, and her blood pressure is almost normal.

The latest from her doctor is that he expects her to be off the ventilator by the middle of next week or so, which is excellent. The only bad news, and it isn't really bad, is that she's going to be uncomfortable for a few days since they aren't keeping her so heavily sedated anymore.

She's barely conscious, but she can communicate. Her nurse asked her if she was in pain, and she indicated she was, so they gave her some morphine. When asked a few minutes later if she still felt pain, she just kind of smiled around the breathing tube.

Small steady improvement...every day a little bit better.

Thanks for your prayers; I know they've helped.

Posted by Rich
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Thursday, April 26, 2007

Expanding My Vocabulary

The new word is ARDS, or adult respiratory distress syndrome.

It's not a good word, but it has crept into my mom's doctor's vocabulary over the last 24 hours. It means that her lungs are reacting to the surgery by filling up with fluids and stiffening up, making it almost impossible for her to breathe, which is why she went back on the ventilator yesterday. Her doctor isn't sure she's got it, but her symptoms are consistent with it. I looked it up yesterday, and it can get pretty nasty, in fact, as complications from cardiac surgery go, it's right up there among the worst.

She's going to be on the ventilator for a few days, so they've started feeding her through a tube.

On the plus side, it looks like Mom is responding to the treatments they are giving her, so she might not develop full blown ARDS. They've been able to reduce the O2 levels on her ventilator and she's still maintaining good blood O2 levels, which means her lungs are functioning ok. And more good news, they've continued to taper her off the blood pressure medication, which is really good. And her kidney function is up, meeting the goals they've set for her. And her cardiac function is up to 65-70% where before the surgery she was in the low 20s. The best news is that when they dial back the medications to let her wake up a little bit, she's very responsive, so her brain is still in good shape.

On the balance, the possibility of ARDS is the biggest cloud looming over her recovery, but everything else is trending positive. Her doctor told us yesterday that her recovery was going to be long and slow, and that the best we can hope for is continual small improvements along with the occasional set back, and that's exactly what we're seeing right now.

Thanks to everyone for their thoughts and prayers. I'll keep updating here whenever we get more news.

Posted by Rich
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Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Mom Update

Nothing much to say. After she went on the ventilator, things just kind of hung out for awhile. She still needs the Levo to keep her blood pressure up (not good); she's still having trouble getting rid of the excess fluid (not good); she's running a low temp (not good) that's easily controlled with Tylenol (good); her kidneys are back to adequate(good) but just barely (not good), and her heart is getting stronger by the hour (very good.)

It looks now like she'll be on the ventilator for a couple of days at least while they try and clear up the fluid in her lungs. The good news is that the longer she goes without a major setback, the stronger she gets, so right now, no change is actually a good thing.

Posted by Rich
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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

It’s a Strange World We LIve In

This morning, I had to take my 17 year old daughter to get her wisdom teeth pulled. I had to sign about 37 consent forms and had to stay there while she recovered. When she got pregnant, I considered myself lucky if I was allowed to stay in the same county with her when she went to the doctor.

Posted by Rich
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One Step Up and Two Steps Back

The NeeNaw Update (That's what all her grandchildren call her. Plus most of the people who know her. She's everybody's grandmother.) Well, here's what we know so far. She's still retaining fluid, even though they've started her on a tiny dose of diuretic. The fluid retention has started to affect her breathing, so much so that they've had to put her back on a ventilator. The good part is that she's not expending so much energy trying to breathe that she wears herself out. The bad part is she's back on a ventilator, which means heavier sedation, and more Levophed to keep her blood pressure up.

You hear strange things in an ICU waiting room. The phone rang a few minutes ago, and my aunt answered it, expecting the fellow on the other end to ask for one of the families in the room. Instead he asked her to help him find out if he actually had to come in to get a DNR order put on his wife, or if he could just phone it in.

What do you say to something like that?

Posted by Rich
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Monday, April 23, 2007

Morning Update

Most of the news is good. She's alert, and in decent spirits, but is beginning to feel some pain. The medication is still controlling her blood pressure, but they had to increase the dosage last night. The doctor is concerned, but not as worried as he was last night. She's off the ventilator, and her biggest complaint is that she's thirsty, and it's hard to drink water when you have to lay flat on your back.

I'll be here till the 9AM visit, them I'm headed to the house for a shower and some sleep, probably not in that order.

Thanks to everyone who prayed for her last night, and I'll let you know how things go.

UPDATE 9AM: The visit was good, although she seems to be getting tired, They had to increase the dosage of the blood pressure medicine again, and her kidneys aren't up to 100% yet, so there's still room for concern.

UPDATE 6:30PM: The roller coaster continues. Her recovery is still slower than her doctor hoped for,and her blood pressure is still causing troubles. She's on Levophed, which from what I read is basically norepinephrine. It acts to raise blood pressure by expanding cardiac arteries while constricting peripheral veins. I'm a little worried because they've kept raising her dosage to maintain her blood pressure. Last night, they had her down to 5cc/hr, and even had her completely off the medicine for a bit, but she's back up to 40cc/hr now, and it's been climbing steadily all day. Her kidneys are struggling a bit more now, going from "adequate" to "marginal", and the oxygen levels in her blood have slipped as well, so she's got an oxygen mask instead of the little nasal thing.

I've gone from "concerned but not scared", to "worried but not scared."

Ok, I am a little scared.

Posted by Rich
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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Serious but not scary has been upgraded to scary.

My mom's heart cath this morning did not go well. Narrowing veins, major arterial blockages and a plugged stent add up to major bypass surgery this afternoon.
UPDATE 2:15:She's off the heart lung bypass machine, and they're closing her up after performing a triple bypass. Everything looks good so far.
UPDATE 3:45:Mom is out of surgery, and we've talked to her doctor. The news is mixed. The triple bypass went well, but the only reason they didn't do a quad was because the last artery is too small. The good news is she has much better blood flow to her heart now. The bad news is that it'll never be back to 100%. She should be awake sometime around 9PM or so, and then off the ventilator an hour or so later. The next two days are the critical period, as far as bleeding, infection, or other complications go.
UPDATE 10:10PM: She's awake and aware, but things aren't looking good. Her blood pressure is staying low, and according to her doctor, her kidney function is dropping off as a result. I'm headed to the hospital for the last visiting hours of the night.

If you pray, now would be a good time.

PS: Thanks for all the good wishes.

Posted by Rich
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Saturday, April 21, 2007

April BlogFest:  And a Good Time was Had by All

First, the attendees:

Tam's friend (I got there late, so I didn't get his name.)
Evan (not old enough to blog yet without shorting out the keyboard(toddlers leak from both ends, dontcha know), but it won't be too much longer I'm sure!)

I was late getting there because I was visiting my mother in the hospital. (You know, that's the first time I've used that excuse and it's been true!) It's serious,but not really scary. She's had a history of heart trouble including two very mild heart attacks, some arterial blockage, and arrhythmia. The arrhythmia eventually became so frequent and severe that she had to have laser ablation, which worked wonderfully. Every now and then, she can feel the precursor to an attack, but her heart never runs away like it used to (300bpm or better). Anyway, she started having some chest pain on Friday, and the nitro didn't help, so she checked in today. Her enzymes are all good, so the doctor doesn't believe it was another heart attack, but suspects some arterial blockage of some sort. She'll have a cath tomorrow and they'll find and fix the problem.

It's simply amazing to me the progress we've made in treating coronary disease.

Anyway,I brought her her laptop, and some stuff from home and then left her with my sister. My mom tried to get my sister to leave as well, but that ain't gonna happen. Deedi is there for the duration.

Anyway,I went on out to Calhoun's and joined the reveling crowd. Cathy has posted pictures, and I'm starting to get paranoid. Pictures of my always come out looking like I've been drinking when I haven't. Maybe I'll look more sober if I take a drink or two.

The gathering was more intimate than the last BlogFest, but still very energetic, with several animated conversations going on at different ends of the table. At one point,I heard Glenn and Tam discussing the proper weaponry for blowing away zombies. I believe they settled on a shotgun, but I'm not sure. Lissa was happy to be there and not studying for a change. Tommy and I talked about video games for a while, while Evan tried to help the wait staff by running the sweeper over the carpet. Not even two years old yet and Cathy has him doing more chores than my 6 kids ever do!

I must be doing something wrong...

I wanted to talk to Dr. Helen about my horrible childhood and the deep scars it left on me, but she bailed on me and went to the other end of the table to talk about zombies and shotguns.

That seems to happen to me a lot these days...

We all talked about the Knoxville schools rezoning plan, which has something in it to irritate just about everybody. Listening to people talk about it makes me happy to be in Sevier County, where if you don't like the school you're zoned for,you are free to put your child in one of the other schools.

I wanted to ask Michael about all the ads I've been hearing on the radio about contract negotiations at the Sentinel, but I figured this was a social occasion, so why talk shop. On the other hand,he was there alone, and he claimed his wife was "out of town" again. You know, every time we have one of these get togethers, she's out of town somewhere.

It's starting to feel like a bad episode of "Murder She Wrote."

We wound it up fairly early tonight, leaving around 9:30 or so. Cathy stopped to take a picture of the rain chains Les was obsessing over earlier in the week, so Les, check 'em out on flikr. It's pretty cool; they look like, well, chains hanging from a gutter.

I was telling Cathy,Doug and Lissa that I'd like to do one of these out at my house sometime this summer. Make it a longer event,and one where the kids can get out in the yard and play. Or more likely, gather in the living room and play on the Wii.

So,how many of you would be willing to make the drive out to Sevier County?

Oh, by the way,Cathy, Evan was fine. The wait staff loved seeing him sweeping the carpet!

Posted by Rich
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