Thursday, April 28, 2011

New Facebook Friend: Ai Weiwei, Chinese dissident artist

(pronounced I Way-way)

53-year-old Weiwei is unlike any other artist you've ever seen. Not only is his artwork moving and innovative - see his porcelain Sunflowers below - made by unemployed villagers in a Chinese province -

Sunflowers is currently on display at the Tate Modern in London thru May 2011

but he openly challenges the Chinese government with full knowledge of what he's doing and the likelihood of his getting caught, imprisoned, and even killed.

Police detained him on April 3, 2011, and he hasn't been heard from since. He's been beaten and received a blood clot in his brain from the beating. After he'd healed, he went to the police station to file a complaint against the men who assaulted him.

He is a hero to many Chinese young people who he reached through the Internet.

When the govt refused to list the names of thousands of missing children killed in an earthquake in 2006, Weiwei and 30 volunteers took matters in their own hands. They went door to door and met with outraged, saddened families and compiled a list of over 4,000 names of children.

What was esp. appalling was that the govt had not taken proper precautions when building the schools in this notorious danger zone.

To honor the children, he created Backpacks, which was shown outdoors in a Munich museum.

Message wrin in Chinese is from what one mother said about her child: She lived happily for seven years in this world.

To me, this man is another Nelson Mandela or Raoul Wallenberg.

I ardently hope for the miracle of his release. Of course, he will only go at it again.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A Long and Fun Day and it ain't over yet - Mom, The Demings, New Shoes

Here's my article on Weinrich's Bakery in my town of Willow Grove PA.

Fortuitously, I popped over to the bakery and saw this magnificent cake they were making for the closing ceremonies of the Willow Grove Naval Air Base.

The Lansdale branch of American Heritage Federal Credit Union

To remind myself of what to do I often send myself an email. This morning's read:


I wait till the very last day before I pay all my bills. That's so my account will make pennies of interest, so I can buy penny candy and penny stamps.

Oh, I forgot.

Here, for your edification, is the breakdown of my $900-some bills:

Who else would tell you this stuff but Your Little Ruthie!

PECO (gas n electric)

AQUA (wawa - the single best line in The Miracle Worker. I always bawl during that scene, Patty. Hey, go off your meds like I did and see if you're cured like me. Check w/ your doc first)

MEDIGAP - picks up the slack for what Medicare doesn't pay

ABINGTON ORTHOPAEDIC SURGERY - handsome Dr Mancini diagnosed me w/ arthritis in the neck. I saw Margaret Fitzpatrick,the great,who gave me neck-ercises, which I do many times a day and the neck is good. Function, not looks.

DOYLESTOWN HOSPITAL where I got my useless epidural for sciatica, which was so bad today I was forced to take a Percocet

VERIZON BILL FOR RUTH AND FOR NEW DIRECTIONS - The County picks up the tab, so I must take the bills over to the Giant Supermarket to make 15-cent copies of each

COMCAST, my Internet provider


Since I can't do the math, I call up my bank and ask them to add up the sums for me.

For easy math, I submit it to the Goggle search engine and they do it for you.

Hope you know about this fantastic feature.

Mom has a beautiful living room. She's got two early paintings from my cousin Mark.

Another one of Mark's paintings, this one a take-off on a work of an early master. Due to taking Prograf, my hands constantly shake. The visiting nurse said I can do exercises that would help it.

After writing my poem about Aunt Ethel, I looked around the room for things that my aunt gave mom in her will. She had no children.

Like something you'd find in a museum. Aunt Ethel's.

Guess who's coming for lunch at Gram's?

Nicole surprised us all. Last nite she went to Mercury's Tattoo Parlor in Glenside. Her tattoo is Hebrew for GRACE! This terrific gal honors her husband's Jewish heritage.

I can't believe I forgot to take a photo of my handsome son, Dan, and his darling bride Nicole. Sometimes babies can mesmerize you.

Mom and I drove to Trevose Shoes on Brownsville Road in Trevose PA. She'd ordered a pair of comfortable shoes there so we picked em up and I bot a trio of comfies myself for quite a bundle. Don't worry I'll let you see my credit card statement when it comes.

Meal planning is essential when you have diabetes like I do. My visiting nurse, John, was subbing for Grace, and gave me some great food tips.

From now on, I'll only buy whole wheat pasta. They like you to keep a food diary but I'll tell YOU what I had for dinner:

Shrimp dipped in cocktail sauce I made w/ Heinz organic ketchup (who knew?) and Gold's beet horseradish.

Tomato products were forbidden when I only had two kidneys.

Steamed brussels sprouts w/ three red bliss potatoes.

Potatoes strictly forbidden, except when I went to Spain and had the most magnificent taters ever!!!

Salad with everything in it. Dressing of fresh lemon and olive oil.

Just walked Scott thru the backyard to the path where he'll walk up Davisville Road to the train station.

While everyone is getting ready for bed, Scott is minding the trains for SEPTA.

Coming home this morning, he was on a train where the electricity didn't work - no A/C and no lights. He didn't care. He was gonna sleep.

What was wrong w/ the train, I asked.

It's really old, he said. At least forty years.

Gee, imagine having an automobile that long.

Hey! I said. Maybe it was an old Budd train!

Could be, he said.

Budd was the chief supplier of SEPTA regional rail cars and many other trains across the US. Everything, however, has a lifespan, and Budd ain't no more.

My bank, which I wrote about above, was originally the credit union for Budd employees.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Poetry Class at Cheltenham High School / Poem: The Loneliness of Essex House

I wasn't even late.

Parked in a new place. There are soooo many doors in that high school. The fear is that I won't be able to find my car.

I am notorious about getting lost.

We have some real talented people in class. I always love Nadia's poems.

I asked our teacher Bill if he was working on anything of his own. No, he said, he's been too emotionally involved with his students at Temple Ambler.

One of them, he said, committed suicide three weeks ago. The class was really upset and so was Bill. "He was very talented," Bill said about Jeremy, 25, who told Bill he was taking more Paxil.

He had an on and off battle with whether or not to kill himself. Deeply depressed. The last time Bill saw him he was very pale.

Bill and the students attended his funeral. His father, said Bill, felt very guilty.

Everyone reviews everything they've ever said to the deceased individual, thinking, I should have said that, he would be alive today if only I'd said that.

I told the class - which was very small - only Eileen, Nadia, Boris and Edith - that I run a support group and when we find out that someone is suicidal, we set up a call-team and check on them every day until the suicidal feelings go away.

I consider myself fortunate that I once had bipolar d/o and was indeed suicidal when Dr Larry Schwartz yanked me off lithium, w/o a slow weaning down, and was suicidal the better part of a year.

That's how I know how to handle these very precarious situations.

Bill made these corrections on my poem.

I was in a hurry to get home b/c I needed to take my 8 pm dose of antirejection meds.

Class lets out at 9.

The high school is a maze. I was totally lost. Couldn't find ANY doors, let alone the right one.

The first door I came to I peeked outside.

Ah, there was the night sky. Other than that I couldn't see a thing.

Walking carefully, making sure I didn't fall down any stairs, I saw I was in a little courtyard.

A courtyard with no way out.

Jesus christ, I thought, look what I got myself into.

I was sure the door would have locked behind me.

A miracle! It wasn't.

Then I found the door I was looking for. How happy I was to see my car.

Turning on the ignition, the gas tank light went on. Impossible, I thot to myself. I should have enuf gas to get home and then some.

But, no, the light stayed on while I drove lickety-split for about 6 minutes, fearing at any time my car would stop running. I made sure to drive on the right and to go thru all the lights so I wouldn't get stuck in the middle of an intersection.

Finally, the light went out and sure enuf I had plenty of gas.

False alarm.

Nonetheless I pulled into the BP Oil Spill station, you rotten money-hungry bastards who don't care about your workers or the wildlife, where the price was a whopping 3.93 per gallon. Don't complain, Ruthie, wait'll you see what it is this summer.

I spent $40 for gas, a little over 11 gallons.

Then I joyfully rode home, wearing my Ask Me Why I Have 3 Kidneys shirt.

Coming home always requires eating a snack.

This is Greek yogurt, walnuts, bananas, topped with molasses.

Scott taught me about the value of molasses. It's rich in potassium, magnesium, calcium and iron.

It's quite delicious. It was on my forbidden list prior to my kidney transplant.


it’s the smell that gets you
when you walk in the lobby
there’s no one there
but two caged birds
one above the other
as the buzzer lets you in

walking down the diamond-patterned carpet
i’d hear her chain unlock
we’d driven in from pennsylvania
to our childhood home of
how- can- i- forget- you, ohio?

a mercy visit, ellen and i

aunt ethel had the broad shoulders
of a man
a big woman with dainty
and sunken breasts that nursed no
a case of the mumps had ruined her
female parts
she bore the devastation like
a queen
a pink rose in a family of

as a child i sat on her lap
and rubbed my lips over her
polished red fingernails
fondled her diamond and amber watch
that sits in my mother’s jewelry box today.

ellen and i sat on the purple couch
she didn’t bother putting on her wig for us
i stared at her white scalp through scattered
straws of white hair
and thought of the moon back home on
cowbell road
looked around the
living room at all the things
i loved
a small organ no one played anymore
a lamp that turned on and off with a
pumping motion of the handle
like milking a cow

we sat there for hours
as ethel talked
we went to the bathroom
and she talked
we visited the bedroom where she
and uncle dave had slept
and then smooth-faced uncle herman who
wore a jacket and tie at our seders

ellen and i got off the purple couch
at the same time and met in the
wallpapered hallway
we could hear ethel’s voice
sheer monotone
cascading through the apartment
like a philip glass oratorio
talk talk talk talk talk
talk talk talk
why didn’t she visit helen lefkowich down the hallway?
they were the only two left.

after she died her tall white dresser
with silver handles
moved in with me
i looked in the drawers
and found all the letters i’d ever written her
tied with a silver ribbon in the bottom drawer:
Mrs. Ethel Rickman, 19333 Van Aken Boulevard, Shaker Heights OH 44122

it would be years before i dared open them:
had i been kind?

Monday, April 25, 2011

My Cat Jeoffry / My cat poem about Blank: Master of the House

My pony-tailed poetry teacher, Bill Kulik, lent me a book for my hospital stay.

How to Read a Poem by Edward Hirsch features many good poems, including one by Robert Desnos, translated from French by none other than our own Professor Billy!

In the Waiting Room, early in the morning of Friday, April 1, I began reading My Cat Jeoffry. I know how my son Dan loves cats.

In fact, it was thru Dan, I learned to love cats.

Xena and Blank lived in my house for five years.

Xena is with the angels, and that devil Blank is minding his own business at the Deming household.

Once, when I was in bed, Blank snuck upstairs. He figured out how to glide thru the trifold door in the lower level of my house so he could see his pal, Ruthie.

Up on the bed he leapt and began butting my chin. My tooth got the brunt of it.

Is that a sign of love? Or mayhap anger?

One week later I was in the dentist's chair diagnosed w/ an abscessed tooth that required a root canal.

I still love him, though.

I read My Cat Jeoffry by Christopher Smart (1722-1771) aloud to Dan and Scott.

Smart was periodically confined to a lunatic asylum. If you have manic depression, which I used to have, you have periods of normalcy, followed by periods of craziness.

Here are the first lines. You can read the whole thing here.

For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry.
For he is the servant of the Living God duly and daily serving him.
For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in his way.
For is this done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant quickness.
For then he leaps up to catch the musk, which is the blessing of God upon his prayer.
For he rolls upon prank to work it in.
For having done duty and received blessing he begins to consider himself.
For this he performs in ten degrees.
For first he looks upon his fore-paws to see if they are clean.
For secondly he kicks up behind to clear away there.
For thirdly he works it upon stretch with the fore-paws extended.
For fourthly he sharpens his paws by wood.
For fifthly he washes himself.
For Sixthly he rolls upon wash.
For Seventhly he fleas himself, that he may not be interrupted upon the beat.

Just came back from Scott's house where I got on the stationery bike for the first time since the kidney transplant.

I pedaled for 10 minutes while Black Sabbath played on the - yes - stereo.

It's esp. important I exercise now that I have diabetes.

Drove to Monday Kidney Clinic all by myself today. Didn't have to depend on Ada and Fontaine to take me. I sent them an email thanking them for their driving me since early April.

Parked in the Korman Garage, fifth floor. It seems like forever when you wind your way upward. Scott explained to me that each tier has an A and a B.

No wonder it seemed so long.

Then I wrote down where I parked.

No way was I gonna wander around the dusky parking garage inhaling fumes, still in sciaticagony.

Can't wait to return to my Poetry Class at Cheltenham Adult Evening School. It's light outside so I should be able to find it.

Will present my poem The Loneliness of the Essex House.

Scuse me. Gotta print up copies for Nadia, Jan, Myra, Edith, Allison, Boris, Bill.


The master of the house
looks out the screen door,
I stand and look at him
look out the screen.

A woman with loose swinging hair walks by.
We have sidewalks here on Cowbell
and mailboxes so close to the front door
you can reach right over and lift out your mail
without leaving home.

The woman looks up at the perfect moment
and meets the eyes of the master of the house
and then of mine. The three of us lock eyes
for just one moment
as she passes by our house.

The master of the house,
swivels his head
as she passes by.
Intense, alert, curious,
he has made of her passage a celebration,
an occasion of great moment
drawing all things to a stopping point
to gaze upon this unknown woman
with swinging hair

his ears swivel too
tiny ears flecked with hairs
that let the light shine through

Is he picking up walking noises
or the sound of her breath? as,
in every way, he tries to be with her
behind the screen
in the separation,
the membrane,
that parts all things,
from being one

he, too, does that,
as most of mankind does,
longing to be one
with someone

Were I to vanish
would he go to her?
would he want her
as he does me?

I remember when he came
from Brooklyn in a cage
hot and dusty from the ride,
slinking from his cage
to take a look around,
body twitching,
yet master of his new domain.
Where was he?
Where had Dan taken him?

To live with Dan’s mother.
I came downstairs to meet him,
to learn to love him,
never had a proper introduction
to cats nor cared to
‘till now
my duty
as mistress of the house

I took my body and laid it
on the couch
lay there absorbing his
smell and fur and the delicacy
of his step
his silence
his stares
his wonderment
Let myself
soak up whatever it was
that made him different from me.
I needed to co-exist with cats. And did.

He has a thing for me
Wraps himself around me
whenever I sit or type
or try to sleep.

I let him sleep with me when I nap. I make a place for
him on my chest so he won’t crush me
so he can have me
as he wishes.
Never have I had the love of man the way I have
the love of cat. He reaches out his paw
strokes my
neck, my cheek, my closed eye.
He is good to me.

I carry him out to see my garden.
He squirms in my arms
trying to get free.
Jerking when he hears the birds chirp
I hold him tight so he won’t run away.

People love cats and sleep with cats.
Dan sleeps with cats. And women too.
But me, I only nap with the cat.
Don’t think me insensitive or cruel, I beg of you.
But I do it for the cat’s pleasure, not mine.
I enjoy the pleasure of watching him happy.

I am a woman who never met a man
I wanted to sleep with the whole night long.
Nor cat either.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Coffeeshop Writers Group - Kidney poems: Post-op and The Opening

New girl in town: Carol Robinson, (R), who found us on the Internet. Next to her is Beatriz Moisset, originally from Argentina, who read her essay on the importance of bats.

Beatriz also brought in a humorous poem by geneticist and evolutionary biologist J B S Haldane that begins:
"Cancer’s a Funny Thing:
I wish I had the voice of Homer
To sing of rectal carcinoma,
This kills a lot more chaps, in fact,
Than were bumped off when Troy was sacked..."

Sorry, Linda, my hand was shaking. Linda read her beautiful Easter poem "He is Risen."

Donna Krause, who's been published in IdeaGems, read a poem about the upcoming birth of her grandchild in October.

Nadia read two wonderful poems: Colorado Reprieve and Paradise Lost. She and I are in Bill Kulik's poetry class at Cheltenham Adult Evening School. Note our first poetry magazine called Icing on the Cake.

Kym Cohen, not shown, read 6 short poems published within the journal. She posts them on FB and I think I'm gonna follow suit. Why don't YOU try it Bill Hess and Coach Iris? All the words that can fit in the small space they give you.

Easter treats at Weinrich's Bakery. It was mobbed today and they added xtra cash registers.

Ruth Deming w/ her flaming red hair thanks to using the wrong bottle. As I was leaving the coffeeshop a man read my T-shirt and asked me, Why dyou have three kidneys?

I told him the story.

Here's two poems I wrote in about 20 minutes this morning meeting my "writer's deadline," the purpose of starting the writing group. Gotta know how to trick yourself.

Everyone elsedoes the same thing.


after the operation

i wasn’t sure it was

still me

they inserted a new kidney

and left raised thumbprints

at the site

i play with them while i

fall asleep

it’s the way the flowers look

the virginia bluebells i forgot i


i now hear them ring

or that easter rain that hits the

roof while i sleep

i go out to meet it

come morning

and the birds have

reclaimed their glad songs.


what awaited them later that day?

sex with a new lover?

a glass of wine on the patio?

i was not there when they cut me open

just my body with two trying-hard kidneys

that slowed down ever since that night of

my “302” and the taking of lithium carbonate

to stop the demons in my brain

what was i dreaming the moment they

installed sarah’s kidney in my belly -

of my lost husband who was buried

in oklahoma?

or my father who celebrated seders

and beat me with the belt that held up

his pants?

i hear the birds now

i survived

the roomful of surgeons

doing no harm

arrived by appointment only

in the huge operating room

before my eyes closed i gave

a shiver from the cold

they moved like russian dancers

across my body

crochet motions of Zaki’s hands

while staring at the tube

there were no surprises

he’d met sarah’s kidney in three-D

and laid it like a

burial wreath on easter morn

inside the hot everglades of

my body which so loved

the world:

the maple in the backyard with clusters

in patterns as it grew so much slower

than baby grace

and slept noiselessly all winter

with the patience of an oak

dennis, who got the kidney of a 40-year-old

dead of cystic fibrosis, told me they listen to

classical while the sun shines weakly on the

brickface and magnolias of the hospital

surgeons, you can spot them, said alice

whose donor expired from an alcoholic


not me, I can’t spot them

to me they’re simply tall men

Zaki with his black hasid-like jacket and glasses

fast-talkin’ Campos with black hair like moss

sit down with me under a tree and

we’ll watch the pennypack flow by,

men, who studied hard, knew their

tables and their chemistry

walked slowly up the ladder to the

top floor,

their appointment with the Demings

crossed off their calendar

as ours continues day by day

have i changed?

i speak softly to my new baby for life

caressing her under the warmth of my

tie-dyed pajamas

then give the trying-hard twins

a feel on my back

and think to myself

When you were a child of 12 and

rode the palomino at camp cardinal in Ohio

a voice whispered in your ear like the

angel gabriel did mary

you will grow up to have moodswings

you will want to kill yourself with pills

your body will be cut open at 65

but you will survive

you will survive.

Meet me at Bonnet Lane

So I did even tho I'd had a cheese omelet for breakfast at home.

Grace, 8 mos, is now at the stage where she throws her food on the floor. I retrieved a pancake, strawberry, blueberry (which she picked up and put in mouth for the very first time, tough b/c you need a pincer motion), and her water bottle w/ straw.

Dan and Nicole. Wonder what the P stands for on her shirt. Pierogis?

Dan's homefries were so good I just had to order some for myself. With lots of ketchup. Both potatoes and tomato products were forbidden before my kidney operation.

Went food shopping at the Giant. Went to the bins and bought


Nuts had been on the forbidden list. I eat em out of hand or put em in my Greek yogurt w/ apples.

Around dinnertime I called Sarah. She's doing great and has resumed working as a research asst to Steve Friedman, helping research his next book about extreme sports. Marathoners who run 100 miles at once, etc.

We talked on the phone while she walked down the streets of Brooklyn to the Barnes n Noble.

When I went upstairs onto my laptop, a stinkbug was waiting for me. As I flushed him away, and saw his little arms flailing, I said, Goodbye stinkbug I hope you're not someone reincarnated.

This is an automatic thot I get every time I kill a bug.

What right have I to kill another creature?


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Kidney Clinic - The World We Live in Chris Hondros & Tim Hetherington

Tim Hetherington was a very important man who brought the truth about War to America w/ his photographs and his award-winning documentary about the endless fighting in Afghanistan Restrepo.

Tim Hetherington, from the UK, and other journalists, such as the great Chris Hondros of the US - whose classic image of a 5-yr-old bloodspattered girl in Iraq - were the victims of mortarfire in Libya.

Their deaths were announced on Facebook.

I sent a Facebook message to Sarah's friend Heather Pastor Moran, an exec at National Geographic which aired the film, sending her a NY Times article about his death.

Heather responded that her channel will re-air the documentary in his honor.

He was 40 years old.

My problems sound like a lollipop in comparison.

When I write, I like to nosh on peanuts. Be right back.

How about matzoh and peanut butter? Mom doesn't eat bread during the XX days of Passover so she kindly sent over this matzoh made by Yehuda in Israel. It's fresh and crunchy. Smucker's natural peanut butter with the oil on top is my favorite.

No, not the BP oil spill, whose disaster is a year-old now. Did you see the Frontline program on how their continued cost-cutting puts every one of their oil rigs in danger. A future spill awaits.

Whenever I have Kidney Clinic at Einstein Hospital I come home with worse sciatica. Why? B/c I sit for hours, waiting.

Thank God for opiates. They don't make me "high" and they dull the pain. I probly had one of the worst cases of my life today after Kidney Clinic.

Here's the good news.

My blood sugar, thanks to insulin, is occasionally normal, and keeps getting closer to normal as the days go by.

I had to stay super-long at the Clinic today b/c I just started having blood in my urine.

I was terrified!

What was going on?

Dr Metro in Urology explained it to me when he painlessly removed the stent from my ureter.

Your bladder doesn't like foreign objects attached to it so it got infected. Everything should be fine from now on.

It is. I have the most beautiful piss in the world.

Dr Zaki also wanted me to get an ultrasound of Odysseus, Sarah's kidney, which is now happily performing its duties 24/7.

Bill was my wonderful ultrasound technician.

He showed me the photos of my darling new kidney and said, I think you should go empty your bladder. It's all filled up and the excess is flowing into the kidney.

I never knew that, did you?

See, we learn something new about urine every day.

The nephrologist, Dr Raja, was very kind and spent a lotta time w/ me answering my questions.

It is possible, he said, that in the future we can consider my GOING OFF prednisone. That's the antirejection med that caused my diabetes.

Hurray hurray!

I gave him my Yes I Can, Conquering Bipolar Disorder, and asked him to give it to his colleague Dr Pande, a nephrology fellow.

Then I saw tall and handsome Dr Pande down the hall and raced over to catch him so he could have my "book."

He was thrilled. And said he'd email me his comments.

When I checked out of Kidney Clinic, Alice was the only one in the waiting room.

She's gotta be hospitalized b/c of high blood pressure. Darn.

"I'll see you on Monday," she said optimistically.

I love Alice. A really nice person who knows everybody in the waiting room. She's a former social worker.

Told her I'd just read a poem about Rosa Parks. "She was just tired," I said.

The Charles Coe poem.

Alice, who's black, knew the story.

I asked what her style was for taking her pills. She takes them with meals, taking a few here, a few there.

My friend Denis takes em the macho way: ALL AT ONCE.

My colleague Judy Diaz gave me some hints on how to take mine. Drink water first to moisten your throat. When you take the pills let them get wet in your throat before you swallow, they'll go down easier.

Thank you Judy!

Isn't it amazing how people help one another?

While waiting in the exam room I made some new friends. In the room across from me was a transplant recipient from March - Debbie - who came with her daughter and g'dtr Isabella.

Debbie had received the kidney of a 29-yo man.

I told her I thot I was also offered that kidney, but a review of my blogpost - and poem Nameless Boy - shows my guy was 27 and I was third in line.

I was first, however, for another drug-overdoser, but my own transplant operation was scheduled the following week.

Fate or divine design?

Dr Zaki paid me a visit b/c of my wine-colored urine.

He's the chief transplant surgeon at the hospital - pancreas, liver and kidney.

Lithium toxicity is a COMMON CAUSE for kidney t'plants. I thot it was rare but it's not.

The entire operation was done watching the computer monitor. A camera is inserted near the kidney and the image appears onscreen.

They don't look down, but they watch the monitor the whole time.

I asked Zaki to show me the movements his hands make when he puts in a kidney.

Millions of movements, he said.

I would've liked to have seen them but .....

Finally finally I got home from Kidney Clinic.

I'd left for the arspital at 7:30 am and arrived home at 4 pm. Ada drove me there and the Fabulous Fontaine drove me home.

The reason why I keep itching my nose is b/c of the Percocet.

What I'm gonna do next is shoot up my long-acting insulin for the nite and then watch videos here in bed on my laptop.


- Ted Talks - watch Susan Lim, MD, of Singapore, who did the first liver transplant in Asia

- Charlie Rose

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

First visit to New Directions since transplant

Hey, that's the wrong New Directions. That's the book-publishing company, founded in 1936 to publish experimental work from writers like Ezra Pound, William Saroyan, H.D., and William Carlos Williams. I love my copy of Paterson (NJ) by Williams.

a flower within a flower whose history
(within the mind) crouching
among the ferny rocks, laughs at the names
by which they think to trap it. Escapes!
Will I ever write another poem?

At group last nite I asked Linda to read her poem He is Risen. We were in our small group discussion and talking about all sorts of things. I just had to share my kidney-transplant experiences with the 8 or so people in the group.

I demonstrated how I prick my finger w/ the Lancet and then how I inject the insulin on my belly.

The odious task of sticking your skin is quickly overcome.

Also told them of my visit to my family doctor, young James Foxhall. By the miracle of memory, I just flashed back to sitting in a chair in the exam room and Dr F sitting on a rolling chair in front of his laptop, on which everything is recorded.

I updated him on my diabetes situation and he said, "How do you feel about all this?"

Thank you for asking, I said.

My response of course was I want to live and I'll do everything I can not to jeopardize the health of my new kidney.

Told him I liked my new endocrinologist Nissa Blocher in J'town.

He said there's a good practice in J'town.

I said the answering service answers the phone, Dr Chernoff.

Yes, that's it, said Foxhall.

Mike, in our group, is doing fabulously well, all thanks to his nurse practitioner, Nancy Rutherford, who keeps adjusting his meds.

See, medicine can save your life!

Other topix of conversation were

- Do I wanna work full or part-time?

- Not attending a Passover seder for the first time in this man's life.

(BTW, Ada invited me to her seder but the food was too sweet for me, so I sadly declined. Gotta get my blood sugar under control)

- Dealing with his bladder cancer. He has excellent docs at Fox Chase Cancer Center where he gets an infusion of a tuberculosis vaccine:

BCG is a vaccine for tuberculosis (TB). Doctors are not quite sure how it works for bladder cancer, but they know from research that it helps stop bladder cancers growing back. You usually have this treatment weekly for 6 weeks. You may then have it every few weeks or months for the next 3 years. I was so happy to see everyone in the group.

We made $80 in door receipts last nite and today I drove to the bank, 20 minutes away.

This is the first time I drove since my surgery. You're sposed to wait 2 weeks. I absy did not feel like driving until today, 20 days after surgery.

So new kidney and I hopped into the car. Gas tank half full. Prices of gas skyrocketing. Backing outa the drive, I felt perfectly comfortable. If not, I would've gone back inside.

My daughter Sarah is doing great. Her remaining kidney is gallantly performing the job of two. She and Ethan went back to NY on Monday after her appt at Einstein. They drove back in the van of The Bad Plus cuz they played at Chris's Jazz Cafe Saturday and Sunday.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Internet a great help for illness info - I write again

Just read some very helpful blogs by people with diabetes. Below is from

Yesterday I called my new endocrinologist. She promptly returned my two phone calls. Her answering service absolutely sucks.

Every person you talk to about D tells you something different. When Kathy Foley, RN the Visiting Nurse came out, she told me to eat three meals a day plus a bedtime snack.

Dr Nissa Blocher said I didn't have to eat a snack. Good! I don't want to balloon up. My exercise consists mostly of walking from one end of the house to the other and up and down the short flights of stairs, in sciaticagony.

I made a scrumptious dinner for me and Scott.

Sauteed salmon, mushrooms, onions and balsamic vinegar. Salmon had been off-limits to me before I got my new kidney. I served it w/baked sweet potato drowned in olive oil.

Then at 8pm Scott walked to the train station to go to work. There was a fierce thunderstorm and he got soaked to the bone.

I took precautions if the lights went out.

Meantime, I finished up my story on Weinrich's Bakery for It sounded pretty good. You don't really know how your mind is gonna work when you're on 14 new meds plus insulin.

Was reading a Charles Coe poem, gift of the Weinsteins, to company today, and realized I need to learn to adjust my speech.

This also happened when I was on psychiatric meds. They affect your speech center but you can relearn how to speak.

Sarah is doing so well she took the train in from Center City to the Willow Grove train station as in days of yore. Then she walked the 18 minutes down Davisville Road and up the driveway of Keystone Screw, then thru the path that leads to home.

My sister Ellen saw her in the backyard.

Someone's cutting thru the yard, said Ellen.

Yeah, the kids, they always cut through.

No, it's a woman. She's about 40.


Next thing I know Sarah is bursting thru the front door!!!

The three Demings were all together just like we were when we were growing up, dad-less. The kids played Scrabble and then we all played Trivial Pursuit.

What's the longest coastline in the world?


What's a baby crocodile called?

A croclet.

Dan came over to do some computer work. We're gonna get rid of New Directions' current website and create another one. He'll start working on this in a month. Can't wait!

After a while Nicole and Grace drove over. Nicole had been visiting a cousin in Haddonfield NJ she hadn't seen in 25 years. The whole family welcomed here and Baby Grace who let everyone hold her.

Why do women love babies so much? My friend Russell Eisenman, a psychology professor at Univ of TX - Pan-Am said it's b/c women produce lots of the hormone oxytocin, whereas men produce very little.

I'm sure when a guy becomes a dad he produces more, right Russ?

Luckily I blogged about Russell which reminded me today is his birthday. We can't believe he's in his early 70s.

I was gonna delete the above foto cuz it's blurry but I couldn't bear to.

Everyone was making the baby laugh. It was hysterical. She has a great hooting laff.

While cooing over the baby Sarah said to her, "You're beautiful and you're also strong and intelligent."

Finally it was time to say goodbye. My sister Donna, always a great dresser, as is Sarah, drove them to the 7 pm performance of The Bad Plus at Chris's Jazz Cafe.

Had I not contracted diabetes I would've gone.

Before I took my insulin shot, I prepared dinner: hot dog w/cheese, Chipotle relish and mustard.

I enjoy my food so much I sit and eat it and savor every bite. I don't read or talk on the phone anymore while eating. Steamed kale and carrots and fresh beets prepared by mom.

My blood sugar is gradually coming down. It was the lowest it's been before dinner: 151. Sposed to be around 100.

Am now nearly an expert in sticking myself w/the lancet (gotta remember that name)and then injecting the insulin into my belly.

Went to pick up some diabetic supplies at the Willow Grove Giant yesterday. Bob, one of the pharmacists, a young guy, said his best friend died from diabetes.

They went to prep school together. Keith was studying for a test all nite. I think he forgot to take his insulin and his brother found him dead the next morning, lying face down on the floor.

He was 17.

I was glad Bob told me the story. You always need a horror story to show you what you're up against.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

You have your cup of coffee, I have my insulin shot

I gave up drinking coffee and other caffeine products several years ago. I did enjoy the ritual, tho, warming my hands around the hot mug of fresh-brewed coffee, feeling my body and my mind slowly come to life as the coffee entered my bloodstream.

Now I have a new ritual upon awakening.

Taking care of my diabetes.

Again, this was caused by my antirejection drugs, specif. prednisone, of which I now take 10 mg in the morning.

This is wrong!

I do have visions of jumping ship and calling another transplant center here in Phila - let's see, Hahnemann, Jefferson, Temple, Penn - to see if they use prednisone. Not all centers do.

I certainly would not take matters in my own hands and stop it on my own. Never. Unfortunately I think my pancreas is ruined forever and produces very lil insulin.

You get used to jabbing yourself. Soon it doesn't bother you.

Lantus is the long-acting form of insulin I take before bed to keep my sugar regulated while I sleep.

Novolog is fast-acting.

When you're on insulin you can't lollygog about in bed, reading your autobio of NY art dealer Leo Castelli, an Italian Jew, who growing up in fascist Italy under Mussolini, was forced to change his name - Krausz - to something Italian-sounding.

Bio of Leo Castelli (1907-1999), the man who championed American art, and helped make NYC the art capital of the world.

Incredibly naive, Castelli was unaware of the threat to the Jews, until his father/law sounded the alarm and brot the whole family to NY.

The father/law, once a powerful and wealthy banker, had been denounced by the state and no one but fellow Jews would have anything to do with him, except for a few people who reluctantly came to his aid.

What a world.

Went downstairs, opened the door to greet the day, then sat on the couch where I shot up.

I was so proud of myself!

Diabetes is the worst thing that ever happened to me. Pls don't try to comfort me about it. It's dreadful.

You wait 5-10 mins after injecting before you eat your filling meal. While waiting, I decided to walk thru my backyard and greet Scott when he came home from work at 8:40 a.m.

He wasn't there. I walked all the way down the path, stepping over two fallen trees, and then did a turn in the parking lot of Keystone Screw, before returning home.

I'd forgotten he's on the Sat schedule and comes home earlier. I went over and said hello. He was watching a PBS show on how to take c/o diabetes. Cook pasta al dente so it won't cuz a spike in blood sugar.

Eat almonds and walnuts. I have almonds after every meal. Dessert.

The biggest pain is the return of my sciatica, which was xcruc'g in the hospital and sometimes here at home.

What I do to treat it is to walk as much as I can.

Did you read the Times article about Sitting is a Lethal Activity. I'd send it to my son Dan who sits in an office chair all day except he never reads anything I send him.

I'm typing this upstairs on my bed, belly-down. Any research on that?

Stephen and Arleen Weinstein stopped by yesterday and gave me a great gift: Picnic on the Moon by Charles Coe. What a wonderful poet and person he is.

The Weinsteins are also wonderful people. I met them at a Move.On house party I hosted, tho my then teenage niece, Jade Greene, did much of the work.

When my sister Donna was here yesterday, we were talking about the US govt and she asked Scott's opinion of Obama.

He's a bullshit artist, he said, and went on to say didn't keep his campaign promises to the middle class. Other times, Scott has called him a fraud. He also said Bush should be hanged for treason. He's serious.

Now of course w/ have all these lunatic Republicans in office.

Imagine trying to dismantle Medicare and Social Security, landmarks of a caring and compassionate society.

How did I start on this?

I'm liking my new Acer laptop and listen to music while I'm typing: John Coltrane's A Love Supreme.

My noon meal calls. How bout an uncured beef hotdog w/ spicy chipotle relish and moutarde, Friendship cottage cheese, half a nana-banana, whole wheat cracker w/peanut butter, small salad.

Time to shoot up!

PS - Scott and I love PBS videos, which you can view online. When I go to sleep at nite, I've been watching Secrets of the Dead. The best one I saw was a WWII recreation of Dogfight over Guadalcanal.

I mailed the URL to my former Cowbell neighbor George, who now lives in the old lady's home, cuz he fought in the Pacific theatre.

This 'dogfight' was about aerial attacks by Americans to stop a new runway being built. Two ace pilots faced each other in the air.

You have no idea what brave is until you see them in action: Sukai, descendent of Samurai warriors, age 30, vs "Pug" Southerland, Naval Academy grad, age 25.

Later in life, Sukai, blind in one eye from a mid-air gunshot wound, refused to kill anything, even a mosquito. He became a Buddhist and met some of the Wildcat fighters who had tried to kill him.