Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tami's Stem Cell Transplant is Today! Day "0"

So, today at 9:30 A. M. (PST) Tami will receive her stem cell transplant. The day of transplant is often regarded as day zero with each subsequent day post transplant being referred to as +1, +2, +3, etc.

Her doctors have spent the last week preparing her for this moment. Her preparations included both 6 rounds of chemo and various antibiotics to help prevent infection now that Tami's own immune system was destroyed by the chemo.

The Be The Match website describes the actual transplant this way:
"The infusion process takes about one hour, sometimes longer, depending on the volume of cells. The infusion usually does not hurt. A nurse will watch your blood pressure and pulse and watch for any reactions while you are getting your new cells. Some people have mild side effects like those of blood transfusions. These side effects do not last long. You will be awake to receive the donated cells, although you may be mildly sedated.

The donated cells "know" where they belong in the body. They move through your bloodstream to settle in your bone marrow. This is where the donated cells will begin to grow and produce new red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets. This is called engraftment."
Your prayers and good thoughts are appreciated as the days following a transplant are often the most painful and grueling for some patients. Thank you so much for all of your support to date, it's very much appreciated.

___________ EDITED TO ADD at 9:27 A.M. ___________

A Delay :( The stem cells have not arrived in Seattle. They are now scheduled to land at 9:45 A.M. with the transplant to take place at noon. Tami's donor lives in the U.S. but not in Seattle so his stem cells are being flown in to her.
___________ EDITED TO ADD at 3:05 P.M. ___________

The transplant began at 12:32 P.M. and will run for several hours until around 5:30 P.M.. Tami was a little anxious and feeling a little nauseaous but I'm told she is hanging in there. Her nurse said she should sleep through most of it, they gave her a good dose of benadryl. Everything is going well.

___________ EDITED TO ADD at 5:43 P.M. ___________

Tami is just about done with the transplant. She ran into some problems which consisted of fever and rapid heartbeat. Both are under control now but she's not feeling very good at the moment :(

Complications like this are to be expected and as unpleasant as they are, are not cause for concern at this point in time.

___________ EDITED TO ADD at 6:50 P.M. ___________

I am happy to report that Tami's transplant is done and everything seems ok at the moment.

They will keep checking her vitals until 8:00 to watch for any problems.

___________ EDITED TO ADD at 9:20 P.M. ___________

___________ EDITED TO ADD at 11:50 P.M. ___________

Tami's Donor Cells Arrived!!

This little bag of stem cells can mean the difference between life and death for those in need.

Thank you so much to Tami's anonymous donor whoever and wherever you are. I've been sitting here staring at this photo and thinking how lucky Tami is that you joined the registry, how lucky our whole family is.

I mean really, how do you properly thank someone for giving someone you love a chance to have their future back? There simply aren't words to convey how I feel tonight knowing that Tami, her kids and the rest of us who love her have received such an amazing gift from you.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Helping Tami - 6 Rounds of Chemo Completed!

Just a quick update to share with all of you that Tami has completed her six rounds of chemo. Today is a day off with no treatments and tomorrow is the BIG day! Tami will receive her stem cell transplant. Currently Tami feels slightly nauseous and very tired. Her exhaustion is most certainly due in part to the fact that her red blood cell production has ceased due to the chemo. She will be receiving transfusions as needed to help replenish her missing red blood cells and platelets as well as antibiotics for her lack of immune system due to the chemo also destroying her white blood cells.

I will continue to post periodic updates here on the Flirty Blog but if you want to read her daily updates please visit the Helping Tami Blog. Thank you for all of your prayers and support. Tami has so far been incredibly blessed through this entire experience finding a perfect 10/10 match from someone willing and healthy enough to donate to her so quickly. His generosity to help save her is overwhelming considering 50% of those who are found to be matches decline to make the donation or are deemed ineligible to donate due to health conditions.

If you aren't currently in the National Marrow Registry and would like to join please visit the AADP website to order a home test kit. Or visit the following link to locate a live drive in your area:

CLICK HERE to use the zip code locater to find a drive near you.

And here's some HUGE news! Beginning July 1, 2009 Testing for ALL Ethnicities will be Free! 

Yup, Be The Match is moving to a new business model where they will begin fundraising efforts year round to cover the cost of testing for everyone!

Monday, June 22, 2009

An Update on My Cousin Tami's Marrow Transplant

Today is a BIG day! My cousin Tami will be receiving her Hickman Catheter today. This is also known as a central line and will be used beginning tomorrow for her Chemotherapy treatments she must undergo prior to receiving her Stem Cell (Marrow) Transplant.

This is what a Central Line looks like. To read more details please visit today's post (June 22,2009) on Tami's Blog

Today is the Last Day of the Marrowthon! Please Register

Today is the last day of the 2009 "Be The Match" Marrowthon. If you haven't joined the National Marrow Donor Program today is a great day to join for FREE! If you are in the registry please send out this link to everyone you know and ask them to join today.

Your kit will arrive in the mail.

Just CLICK HERE to go to the Be The Match website and fill in the online registration form. The test kit, containing 4 cotton swabs that you swab your mouth with will be sent to your home. It couldn't be easier to join.

Here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about donating your marrow:

Q) Don't most people find a marrow donor within their own family? 
A) No only 30% of people find a match within their own family. The rest find matches from strangers.

Q) Isn't donating bone marrow really painful?
A)Most accounts are that usually the pain isn't too severe. Most donors say the post operative pain is similar to a bruised area. If you donate your bone marrow you will be given a general or  local anesthesia during the harvesting process. It requires no hospitalization and doesn't take long.

Q) Is the marrow taken from my spine?
A) No, the marrow is taken from the upper portion of your hip bones.

Q) Is the marrow always taken from the bone itself?
A) Actually no. 70% of the time donations are now made by a process called Peripheral Blood Stem Cell (PBSC) where the donor receives a medication that helps their bone marrow to over produce stem cells. The excess stem cells are released into the blood stream and are harvested through a process similar to blood donation. The blood is drawn from one arm, the stem cells are harvested in a machine and the rest of the blood is sent back to the donor into their other arm.

Q) Why do I need to join the registry?
A) Only 30% of patients in need will find a marrow match in time. 

Q) Why does ethnicity matter?
A) Every patient's best chance of finding a match is within their own ethnic group. Currently 80% of Caucasians will find a marrow match but less then 30% of ethnic minorities will find their match in time.

Q) If I join who can I help?
A)  You might be the match for any one of the 6000 patients in the United States currently seeking a life saving marrow match. You could also be a donor to a patient anywhere in the world. The registries make their registrants available to donor programs internationally. In fact roughly 50% of the matches made are international matches where the patient and donor live in different countries.

Q) Can I change my mind?
A) Yes, you can change your mind at any time. However once a patient has begun chemo prior to the transplant if you change your mind after their own bone marrow is destroyed by the chemo, they will most likely not survive.

Q) If I donate do I get to meet the patient who receives my stem cells or marrow?
A) It depends on where the patient lives. If they live in the U.S. meeting is a possibility a year after the transplant has taken place. If they live in another country it may not be possible to ever meet them.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Scott Knaster, Chris Espinosa, iPhones, Xcode and the Sonic Burger Complaint Blog

Ooooooh Ahhhhhhhhh!

The iPhone 3GS. The "S" is for speed because it's really fast.

I got to see two of them at lunch yesterday when Scott Knaster and Chris Espinosa were both testing out their new iPhones. They were spinning their compasses and making videos. Yes, that video is us having lunch. Though the phone has editing capabilities Scott was too excited to waste time editing and had to get his raw footage up on Youtube immediately.

This picture is me, taking a picture of Scott with my old iPhone, as he holds up his new iPhone and Chris makes a video of me on his new iPhone, taking a picture of Scott with my old iPhone. It's kind of like an iPhone circle of life.

Geeky enough for ya?

If you don't know who Scott and Chris are here's what I can tell you about these two guys:


Chris Espinosa was 14 years old when he became employee #8 at Apple Computer. He was part of the team that worked in Steve Jobs' garage back in the mid 70's. In 1981 Chris became a member of the Apple Macintosh team and has worked on many projects at Apple since, including Mac OS, A/UX, HyperCard, Taligent, Kaleida Labs, AppleScript and Mac OS X and is now a development engineering manager on the Xcode team.

He's sat down with us at lunch in the Apple Cafeteria a few times and is a really nice guy. When he talks about normal things or even normal computer stuff I can kind of understand what he's saying. When he talks "in" Xcode it's the most bizarre experience. It's English as a foreign language. No mere mortal can possibly begin to comprehend the kind of genius mind it takes to understand Xcode. LOL

Scott Knaster is a technical writer who is best known for his books that deal with Macintosh programming. He is also the author of a random blog post that went viral in 2004 and has become a hilarious complaint site for disgruntled customers of Sonic Drive In, a burger chain.

The reason I say hilarious is because Scott is in no way affiliated with the company, and has posted this fact to his readers on several occasions. Yet some fans and dozens upon dozens of the shunned have continued to leave complaints of alleged shoddy treatment or poor quality food for Sonic Burger Head Quarters on Scott's personal blog for the past 5 years!

I went to a Sonic Drive In last year in Ohio and can honestly say that the service was well intentioned but completely lacking in availability. Translation: We had to wait FOREVER to have our order taken. When we finally did the guy was really nice and polite but brought me both the wrong food and drink. LOL

This was very good. Sonic is known for their cherry limeade. The lime juice is freshly squeezed.

This was very bad. My friend ordered the cheese tots. You'd think the cheese would be melted or grated right? Nope, it's just a big slice of cheese thrown over the tots. When she tried to pick one up the whole thing stuck together. It was pretty gross.

Both the popcorn chicken and onion rings were really good. I hate to recommend people eat so much deep fried food in one meal but I was on vacation so I lived it up a little.

Employees of Sonic Burger have actually taken to scanning Scott's blog to give responses to his readers instructing them how to contact corporate customer service to file an official complaint. One manager in particular, Andrew, seems to have spent the better part of his career with the company monitoring Scott's blog offering advice to customers and employees alike. The picture above shows in 2005 he was an Associate Manager. By April 11, 2006 when he shared he had resigned from the company his title had changed to Assistant GM/ Co-Manager. Thankfully with Andrew's departure from the company James, an Assistant General Manager in Florida, has stated he will pick up the torch as the official voice of Sonic in Scott's blog.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Inspiration for Entrepreneurs

Watch this video. It blew me away. What I loved most about it is that it's the kind of idea that really changes the way people think. The video will make entrepreneurs feel appreciated and hopefully inspire them to take their company to another level. It may also inspire those thinking of following their passion or dream to take the next big step towards making it a reality by starting a business of their own.

The other day I spotted This Post on Mashable.com. It was all about a creative marketing concept utilizing chocolate covered grasshoppers, the video you just watched and 5000 of the most influential bloggers, journalists, celebrities, TV anchors, and CEOs around.

If you're wondering who made the video, that would be Grasshopper.com a communications company that allows small business owners to look like big businesses but at a small business price. IMO the coolest thing about them is that when you subscribe to for a set number of phone minutes per month (10,000, 2,000 or 100) among other features you also receive one to three 800 numbers that tie into your monthly quota at no additional charge. How many of us would love to have an 800 number to offer to our prospective clients?

The Pro: This campaign got people talking. It spread virally via Youtube, Twitter, blogs, social websites and word of mouth. 

The Con: By touting that they sent them to who they recognized as the 5000 most influential people they risked offending those who weren't included in the, um, giveaway.

The Most Brilliant Part: The giveaway item was so unique, and by unique I mean gross, that those who may have initially felt slighted were probably actually relieved not to have received the chocolate covered crispy critters. It was a win/win. If you received them you were recognized as being influential. If you didn't make the list and are a bug lover or vegetarian you were spared the traumatic decision of what to do with them.

Honestly, if someone sent me chocolate covered bugs I'd go out in the back yard to dig a hole and bury the poor things. I'd plant a flower over their grave and give them a proper send off. Perhaps a short eulogy (no headstone, that would be weird) and allow them to rest in peace. Instead of resting in pieces. In my stomach.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

EXTRA Features Krissy Kobata

So last night I was watching EXTRA and all of a sudden host Mario Lopez starts talking about Krissy Kobata and Be The Match, the National Marrow Donor Program. As always I had my camera nearby and grabbed a few screen shots.

26 year old Krissy Kobata also suffers from Myelodysplasia, just like Tami. However where Tami has found 2 marrow matches within 3 months of her diagnosis Krissy has been looking for a match for over a year and has not found a single one. As she said on EXTRA at some point her marrow will either stop working altogether or she may become one of the even less fortunate 30% for whom the disease will progress to become Acute Myeloid Leukemia.

Krissy needs to find a marrow match. Could you be the one? Right now is a great time to join the registry as the cost to have your tissue typed is FREE due to the Marrowthon that runs through June 22, 2009 or until funding runs out to register 46,000 new donors. You can order a FREE home test kit by Clicking Here to go to the Be The Match website.

Here host Mario Lopez perfectly illustrates what the home test kit looks like as he shows his tv audience that it only takes a swab to join the Registry. Thanks to Mario, EXRTRA and NBC for helping to spread the word about the Krissy and the donor program. We need all of the help we can get!

CLICK HERE to view the video clip on EXTRA online.

Where Was I?

EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK! A scary, creepy clown that believe it or not ties into a wedding...

A bunch of people that appeared to be milling and wandering aimlessly about...

And all of the stuffed puppy dogs you can imagine...

I was at the Redwood Belgian Tervuren All Breed Agility Trials. Yup you heard right. I took a personal day off and went out to do something just plain fun related to weddings only because the people who invited me to attend the trial were Dan and Caroline of Tinywater Photography. Two of their dogs were competing that day. That's Caroline competing with her dog Milou, (aka CH MACH 3 Alto Mare Peixes Do Voo RAE NAP NJP MXF) the number 1 Agility Portuguese Water Dog in the country in 2008!

I don't know about all of you but I'd been under the impression that agility dogs were working and herding breeds like Border Collies, Austrailian Shepherds, Border Collies, Corgies and Border Collies. BOL :P

Pictured above in the top left is a Belgian Tervuren and the top right is a Bearded Collie. No surprise for me to see either breed. But then what's this? An Alaskan Malamute? Granted I don't know a ton about them but nothing I've ever read would have made me think that I'd see a Malamute at an agility trial. As a breed I thought they were too laid back for the intensity I thought agility required. And in the bottom right is an agility superstar breed, a Border Collie making quick work of the weave poles.

And I got to meet Apollo, his friends call him Polly, who I was told is the handsomest boxer in the world and just happens to be the #1 Boxer in agility in AKC in the United States. Dang I should have asked for his autograph or a paw print for Kitai to hang on his wall of fame!

And a breed I once considered for myself. A Belgian Tervuren. Known in Europe but not as widely recognized here in the U.S. there are several Belgian Shepherd breeds being the Tervuren, the Gronendael, Malinois and the Laekenois. They are medium to large sized working breeds with the Malinois probably the most well known in the U.S. due to their use as K9 dogs with police and military. Due to their nature they are happiest when with or near their person and absolutely need an outlet for their energy and drive which can make them very suitable for agility.

Another huge surprise that day was to see a pair of Briards. This is a French breed similar to Kotaro my Beauceron I had before I adopted Kitai. The main visual difference is the Briards have a long coat where the Beaucerons are short coated. They are adept herders and are a large protective breed that like the Belgian Shepherds do best with an outlet for their energy.

And there was plenty of jumping! Trevor, a Golden Retriever, soars over the jump with ease.

Above top left: German Wire Haired Pointer, top right: Milou the Portuguese Water Dog, Bottom left: Border Collie and bottom right: Greyhound.

Those aren't miniature Collies, they're Shetland Sheepdogs also known as Shelties. They are stunning. They are an entirely separate breed from the Collie though both are working/herding breeds.

OK this was so cute how could I not take a picture? While it doesn't ever surprise me to see a Retriever of any type walking around with a toy in it's mouth it makes me smile all the more because Kitai will on occasion decide to bring a toy on his walk with him.

Kitai comes from a long line of Miniature Wire Haired Cartoon Retreivers.

And yet another fun surprise. A Bouvier des Flandres! Another European herding/working breed. The Bouvier originated in either France or Belgium. It is a large breed with a longish double coat.

The one thing that I found most striking of all the dogs at the trial was the way they all sat and simply stared at their owners and handlers. Literally stared. To put this behavior into perspective I'd pretty much have to duct tape a steak, Kitai's favorite rubber chicken squeaky toy and a handful of dog treats all to my head to get him to stare at me with the intensity these dogs give their owners.

This Tervuren gets in some play time after competing.

And that's Milou, taking the tire jump.

And that big fluffy Bouvier on the See-Saw. The dogs have to step onto it and walk to the center until it tips the other way, then they walk straight across before moving on to the next piece of equipment.

A Brittany Spaniel takes a jump. If you like to watch equestrian show jumping you might really enjoy watching the dogs jump too. Just like the horses they lose points if they knock the top rail down.

And showing their incredible athleticism check out the air between this Belgian Malinois and the top bar. These dogs are high drive and aren't meant to be couch potato kind of pets.

I thought this German Shepherd Dog was just really beautiful. I think the long coat is more common in Europe then here.

The main thing to consider with several breeds like the German Shepherds and Siberian Huskies is that there are show lines and working lines. Show lines are bred for a certain body "type" or appearance as close to the breed standard as possible and tend to make better house pets. Working lines are bred for energy and drive. I really can't stress enough that dogs from working lines need a job to do.

And that's black and white Sheltie Cash posing for the camera while Gracie, the Tri-colored Sheltie, who's won a gajillion agility championships, plays it more low key.

And there were Border Collies Cassidy on the left and his sister Callie on the right. They look ready to go!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

San Francisco NACE at Blue Mermaid

Click on any image to view an enlargement.

Just a block north towards the waterfront from Ghiradelli Square and across the street from where tourists catch the ubiquitous SF cable cars at the Hyde Street turn around point sits the Argonaut Hotel. The entrance to the hotel's Blue Mermaid Chowder House & Bar is just around the corner on Jefferson Street.

As I walked into the courtyard where the SF NACE cocktail hour of networking was to take place at the Blue Mermaid I thought it was odd that I'd been in the neighborhood a number of times in the past but hadn't realized the hotel and restaurant were there.

A very pleasant crowd turned out for the event and I had a great time chatting with Robbie Schlosser of the Magnolia Jazz Band before zipping off to take more pictures for all of you here who read the blog.

For those not into seafood there was this antipasto to enjoy. I had some cheese and cornichons. Yum!

*Drool* I love clams, oysters and mussels. Sadly I became allergic to them several years ago. Add to that I'd only tried them for the first time a few years before becoming allergic so it was only briefly that I had the opportunity to eat them. To this day when I see clam chowder or linguine and clams in white wine sauce and garlic on a menu my mouth waters and I wonder what would happen if I had a bowl? Most likely a trip to the ER knowing my luck :P

The first time I ever had mussels was in Seattle Washington at a restaurant called Ettas. They were so good! Shortly after I went to Paris and had mussels as an appetizer my first evening there. I was hooked and went back again later that week and had a whole bowl full for dinner.

And though I've never tried raw oysters I used to be a fan of fried oysters. In Japanese restaurants you'll find them on the menu as "Kaki Fry." They're battered and rolled in finely ground bread crumbs called "Panko" before being deep fried and served with a dipping sauce.

After the networking session we retired to the private Maritime Room adjacent to the courtyard.

The room and tabletops looked gorgeous draped in gold polka dot tablecloths thanks to Hartman Studios...

And there were crimson and gold chair covers by Especially Yours Chair Covers.

The peonies by "An Added Touch" in our centerpiece were gorgeous!

Laurie Anderson from the San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau was there and gave a presentation all about SF tourism. City Supervisor David Chu also spoke briefly and thanked us for coming up to SF and attending the NACE event.

Due to my allergies I had to skip the first course which was a crab chowder. It looked so good. I had a sourdough roll instead but it didn't seem interesting enough to photograph.

The chowder was followed by a green salad. The nice thing about the salad was the lettuce was chopped small enough that you didn't have to cut it yourself or try to cram a slightly too large piece into your mouth. Goldilocks would say the lettuce was chopped "just right."

Dinner was salmon, carrots, asparagus and mashed potatoes. Four of my favorite foods!

After dinner there was cake with an actual cake cutting and a bride!

Well, ok it wasn't a real bride. It was a performer dressed up as a bride. Yup it was Tina, from Tony and Tina's wedding performing just down the street who stopped by with Tony and some bridesmaids to do a little number for us. It was hilarious!

And lo and behold. I won a raffle prize! Talk about a "duh" moment. The last time I bought raffle tickets I forgot to split them in half so at the end of the raffle I realized I never had a chance to win because I'd kept both sets at my table. *Doh!* So that night I made sure that the second set of tickets made it into the collection container and was rewarded by winning a ticket to an upcoming NACE event. Woo Hoo!

It was a really fun evening and I'd just like to say thanks to the entire SF team that produces these events for the industry. I'd never been to the Argonaut Hotel or Blue Mermaid before so now I know a great new restaurant that I can pop into when I'm up in the city. And I can tell brides who are looking for an intimate reception location close to the sites and sounds of the waterfront and cable cars about this great location.

As I headed back to my car I couldn't resist taking this parting shot of their neon sign all lit up.

I was tempted to swing by the Moscone center because for once my hubby was up in the city instead of sitting at home watching tv shows I hate off of TIVO while I'm gone. He was attending the Stump the Experts event held during the WWDC each year up in SF. He's one of the experts. I was told I probably couldn't sneak in though so rather then test my luck I headed home and waited for the expert to arrive. LOL He was happy because he answered a question. I forgot to ask who won... The audience or the experts. I'll have to check with him tonight and get back to you on that.

Stump photo from Wikipedia