Monthly Archives: January 2009

New Camera and Flash

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For Christmas, I bought myself some new camera gear and received a few things as gifts..

I picked up a new Nikon D90 DSLR from my local reseller. I almost sprang for the D300 but decided that I could get by just fine with the D90 as it is more than capable for my needs. My initial impression is that the D90 is quite a bit faster to acquire targets and focus than the D70. It also exposes slightly better, I’ve noticed that the D70 overexposes a bit.

As gifts, I received the SB-800 speedlight and Sony Ni-MH batteries and charger. The NiMH batteries are 2700mAh and according to Nikon’s documentation should be able to cycle the flash in almost half the time compared with standard AA batteries. Plus they are rechargeable so I can stop buying AA’s all the time.

I tested the SB800 with the D90 and found that I can use continuous firing with the flash and it’s quite consistent. When I had the SB600 on the D70, the flash would not fire for every frame when firing continuously. In a burst of 3 frames the flash would usually miss one of the shots. No problems when using the SB800. I’m also very impressed by the SB800/D90’s exposure of people. The lighting seems more natural.

I’ll be taking some comparison shots with the D70/SB600 and D90/SB800 to try and highlight differences in the near future.

Category: photography


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Removing the staples at UWMC

Removing the staples at UWMC

Well, we met with a bunch of doctors today, Dr. Silbergeld and Dr. Gabikian who we’d met before, plus  the Attending Radiation oncologist, his Resident, and the Chemotherapy Attending.

Dr. Gabikian removed Mike’s staples (about 50 of them) and sutures, then Dr. Silbergeld talked about the tumor.

Mike has a Primary brain tumor called a Supratentorial Glioma and it is a Grade 2.  Gliomas are of two types, Astrocytomas which are made of astrocytes, and Oligodendrogliomas which are made of oligodendrocytes.  Mike actually has an Oligoastrocytoma which contains both types of cells, hence the more common name of “mixed glioma”.

A primary brain tumor is one that starts in the brain and does not appear in other parts of the body.  Supratentorial means that it is above the tentorium membrane which separates the cerebrum from the cerebellum.  A primary brain tumor is, by definition, not cancer.  Cancer implies the ability to spread to other parts of the body which brain tumors don’t do.

The doctors said that there is no way to get ALL of the tumor cells out during surgery and as a result there is a 100% chance that the tumor will re-occur but we won’t know how soon.. It could be a year or 10 years.  They recommend that Mike watch the tumor with MRI’s every few months for now and see if it’s changing, regrowing, etc.  If it starts to come back, then he’ll have to go through radiation treatment to kill the tumor cells but they’d prefer to wait since there are side-effects of the treatment.

Another thing about brain tumors is that they grow by invasion, meaning that they convert good brain cells into tumor cells.  Over time, this *could* cause neurological damage but you just never know if, how, when, or what it will effect.

All in all, the prognosis is as good as it can be for a person with a brain tumor.  It’s statistically unlikely that the tumor will grow much in the next 12 months and the doctors hope that he can go 5, 7, or more years before it grows enough to need radiation.  For now, his brain is working well and his body function is good.  Mike will be going back to Michigan at the end of the month and start observational MRIs every 3 months at U of Michigan most likely for now.

Category: cancer

Results Coming..

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Mike at home after Surgery.. He’s pretty swollen which makes his face look a little distorted.

Mike at home after Surgery.. He’s pretty swollen which makes his face look a little distorted.

Today we are going back to UW for Mike’s post-op consultation. We should find out the results from the pathology tests so this is the big day.  Honestly I think this is bigger than the surgery itself.

Mike has been hanging around at home recently, relaxing and healing.  He seems to be doing better and his spirits are much higher now.

I’ll post again later in the day following the appointment.

Category: cancer

Slow Progress But Progress All The Same!

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Mike in the ICU on Wednesday

Mike in the ICU on Wednesday

On Thursday, Mike was still in and out of sleep most of the day.  In the afternoon he started to stay awake longer and asked for a danish, coffee, and a newspaper.  His older son, Itaru, got to go visit him Thursday as well which was good.  Ita (8 years old) had been worried and wondered why he couldn’t visit his dad.

Mom and Tim went over to UW again about 4pm Thursday and at about 6pm he was moved out of ICU into a regular room.  He was awake much more Thursday afternoon and Friday morning and is able to converse now.

At about 1pm today, Mike was released from the hospital and is now home.  He’s on a lot of pain killers at this time but he’s doing pretty good.

As for diagnosis/prognosis, we won’t know anything about the type of tumor until next week when the pathology reports come in.  We’ll meet with his doctors for those results and much will be revealed then.

Category: cancer

I Got a Chunk of Brain Taken Out!

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cancer710:45am and he sort of woke up.  The nurse asked him a few questions and he seemed good.  When she asked him what he had done here in the hospital, he replied….

“I got a chunk of brain taken out”…

I’m pretty sure that kind of answer means he’s doing very well.  Immediately after that, he fell asleep again.

A few minutes ago the nurses helped him turn to his other side and got him to swallow some pills with water so he’s doing alright presently.

Most recent conversation…  Nurse asked him where he was trying to go and he said “Anywhere but here”

Category: cancer


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ICU Monitor

ICU Monitor

I arrived at UW about 8am today to see how things are going.  Tim and Yoko got here about 7am.  Mike was a little restless but overall fairly calm.  Blood pressure and heart rate are pretty good.  The nurse here this morning said that they tried to get an MRI last night but it took 4 people holding him down and they still couldn’t get it.  So they postponed for now.  They gave him some morphine today to help.

He’s pretty much sleeping but every once in a while adjusts his position.  His feet and hands were strapped down but after letting one hand free he seems a bit happier.  At one point he moved and said “ouch” in Japanese.  He’s opened his eyes a few times when he moves around.

One of the Neuro docs popped in about 30 minutes ago and asked Mike a bunch of questions which he surprisingly answered.  He knows he’s at the Hospital, knows it’s UW, even knows that it is Wednesday, and where he lives.  For the most part he just wants to keep sleeping though.  And he’s got some pain but it’s not clear where.

Every hour or so his blood pressure goes up, then down.  It sounds like they want to get him some water and/or food but want him to wake up first.  They also want to get him into the MRI again when they can.

Category: cancer


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ICU Waiting Area, UWMC, 5E We watched this door open and close for 3 hours before we got to go through it.

ICU Waiting Area, UWMC, 5E
We watched this door open and close for 3 hours before we got to go through it.

As planned, Tim and Yoko drove Mike to UWMC at 5am today.  After checking in Mike went off with the doctors.  The pre-op MRI was over an hour late so the surgery started at 9am (about 90 minutes late).  I picked up my Mom about 10:15am and drove over to meet everyone.  We all waited in the Surgery Waiting Room for the duration and at about 1:15pm Dr. Silbergeld came in to give us the post-op update.

The surgery went well, it took about 4 hours, no major blood loss or complications.  They expected him to wake up in the recovery room in about an hour and a half then transfer him to ICU where we can visit him.

2 hours later we headed to ICU (in 5E wing) and ended up waiting another 2 hours before we could see him.  The doctor then told us that Mike had a seizure during the surgery which is not really common but not altogether unexpected.  As a result though he’s having trouble recovering.  He still wasn’t awake, but he was thrashing about trying to pull tubes and wires off his body, and the nurses were having trouble restraining him.

Quote of the night (via Dr. Gabikian) – “He’s a big guy, who had a seizure during surgery, he’s not real happy right now”

In the end we decided to leave, he most likely won’t be awake for several more hours, they are going to do another CT and another MRI in that time to check on things.  Dr. Gabikian did say he’s confident that Mike will be fine once he fully wakes up.  Mom, Yoko, Tim, Myself braved the rush-hour traffic, rain, and high winds across the 520 Bridge to get home and be with Mike’s two boys.  Mike’s real dad, Dan, stayed for now.  Tim and I are thinking we’ll go back after dinner and check in.  Seeing him in ICU was a little shocking, he definitely looks like he’s been through some trauma.

Devon made very good casserole for everyone which was awesome!

While we were eating dinner at home, Tiffany (Mike’s ICU Nurse) called with a few questions and told my mom that they did a CT scan and it looks really good.  Apparently they had to give him a sedative just to get the CT scan done.  So now he’s got the brain surgery, seizure, anesthesia, AND a sedative keeping him out of it.  He still wasn’t awake and he was still thrashing about in his bed.  The fact that he isn’t awake IS a concern.  My aunt, who is a nurse in San Francisco, mentioned that they generally DON’T give brain surgery patients any sedatives since it can affect the process or orientation following the serious.

Scoring him on the GCS (Glasgow Coma Scale), based on what I saw in the ICU he shows up about 6.  8 or less is a “Severe Coma”.  I believe that this is all related to the trauma from surgery and seizure but it is still disconcerting.

Later, Mike’s dad Dan called and said that he had sat with Mike in the ICU for a while, just telling him everything is okay and holding his hand and finally Mike settled down and appeared to be sleeping.

Tomorrow we are hoping to get some information from the MRI early AM and some of us will be heading over there pretty early in hopes of seeing him awake.  Assuming he wakes up…..

Category: cancer


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UW Medical Center Campus

UW Medical Center Campus

Today my brother had pre-op appointments with the Neurosurgery and Anesthesia clinics at UW Medical Center.  They filled out all the necessary paperwork and described the entire procedure in detail.  He will be under general anesthesia during the operation.

The schedule is pretty well set for the Tuesday surgery…

  • 5:15am – Arrive at UWMC, check-in.
  • 7:30am – Surgery begins
  • 12:00pm – Surgery expected to wrap up, wake him up, and begin talking to him to assess brain function.
  • 1:00pm – Move to ICU room and available for visitors.

I’ll be heading over there sometime in the morning but I’m not entirely sure when.  I might go sometime around 10am and take either my mom or my brother’s wife with me since they will likely be home still.

Category: cancer
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