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Today's eye candy/history lesson is Topkapi Palace.

Imperial Gate at Topkapi Palace, Istanbul

After the fall of Constantinople in 1453, Sultan Mehmed II (soon to earn the label "the Conqueror") found the old palace wholly inadequate. It was crumbling, dirty, and falling down in places. He ordered a new palace built to the northeast. The Saray-i Cedid-i Amire (Imperial New Palace) was the primary residence of the Sultans and their huge (dare I say Byzantine?) bureaucracies for 400 years. During the reign of Mahud I, the palace was renamed Topkapusu Sâhil Sarâyı (Cannon Gate Palace by the Sea) after another palace that had been destroyed by fire. The current name simply means Cannon Gate.

The Topkapi was the home to Ottoman rulers until 1856 when the Sultan moved to the more modern (and European) Dolmabahçe Palace. The bulk of the Imperial bureaucracy remained in the Topkapi until 1924, when the new Republic of Turkey made the complex a museum.

As of this writing, roughly $1200 of the matching funds my employer has pledged remain. That's two dozen people contributing $50 each (which also gets you a writing sampler of Doug's work, compiled by two-time Hugo Award winner Chris Garcia). Once those matching funds kick in, we will be at 80% of our goal.

There will NEVER be words to thank you all enough.

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1337459.html. Feel free to comment in either location.

I guess we're doing something right.

I just happened to look at the Indiegogo Life homepage...and our campaign is on the Most Active tab in the Celebrations category.


I even made sure to look at it in a browser that I wasn't logged in on to make sure they weren't just doing it to make me feel good.

I'm a little awestruck at the moment.

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1337268.html. Feel free to comment in either location.


The more [personal profile] gridlore looks into places to see and things to do on this trip, the more he finds that gets added to the list. Just doing the research is exciting him beyond any reasonable level.

For example, one of the things he really wants to see is the Theodosian Walls. The 5th-century city walls, built by Emperor Theodosius II, stretch for 6.5 km (4 miles) from Istanbul's Golden Horn to the Sea of Marmara. These walls were legendary in their time, and only breached twice in the city's long history. So few city walls remain, seeing them with restored gates and guard towers was obviously high on his list.

But then he learned that one of the best places to view the walls was very close to the Kariye Museum, originally built in the 4th century as the 'Church of the Holy Savior Outside the Walls' or 'in the Country' (chora), it was indeed outside the walls built by Constantine the Great. However, less than a century later, the new city walls placed the church solidly inside the city. Of course, nobody bothered calling it anything different. The current building and mosaics date from the 11-12th centuries.

Best part? There's an established tour that hits these two sites as well as other great stops.

As I write this, roughly $1500 of the matching funds my employer has sponsored remain open. That's thirty contributions of $50 to get us to the $10K mark after the match goes in. From there, it's just raising the rest of the money to cover our expenses in-country.

This is really happening.

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1336846.html. Feel free to comment in either location.

That was the con that was

It's been about 24 hours since I got home from Con-Volution. As much as it initially SUCKED to leave [personal profile] gridlore at home on Friday morning (he'd been planning to skip the con even before the latest round of fuckery), I have to admit it was really good to get a break. I'd been stuck in Crisis Mode since his first hospital stay in August, and I was beginning to question whether or not I remembered how to stop. Doug seemed to improve while I was away, too (though it may well have been that I just couldn't SEE the improvements while I was hovering over him).

I spent most of my weekend working in Gallery, though it hardly felt like a job compared to some of the volunteer gigs I've had at cons in the past. But I still managed to get to a couple of events, and spent some time with people I've been missing.

It was a good weekend, and I'm excited for next year.

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1336691.html. Feel free to comment in either location.

Istanbul, Update #8 - More Ways to Help

I normally wouldn't post quite so soon after the last update, but I'll be at a convention all weekend, so I wanted to take a moment before I leave to talk about other ways you can help.

The flight we're presently looking at is a direct SFO->IST trip on Turkish Airlines, which is a Star Alliance member. If you have bonus miles on a partner airline that you'd be willing to contribute towards upgrading our flight out of economy class, that would help immensely. Likewise, our intention is to book our stay at the Doubletree in Old Town, so if you have Hilton HHonors points that you'd be willing to donate towards a night of our stay, that also helps our bottom line.

It was also pointed out to me earlier this week that donations through IGG require a credit card. If you don't have one, and would rather send something through PayPal or Popmoney or your preferred fund-transfer site, send me a message and I'll give you the email address to use.

Finally, and I know we've talked about this before, PLEASE boost the signal. I know all too well how tough times are for everyone, which is why it's so important that we get as many people to see the campaign as possible. You may not be able to contribute, but one of your friends might. Or one of their friends might.

Again, as always: Thank you. This is actually looking possible, and we could not have done it without your support.

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1336530.html. Feel free to comment in either location.

Istanbul, Update #7

Today, [personal profile] gridlore has some history for us about Turkish baths...

Who doesn't like a nice relaxing bath and a massage? The Romans created a culture around public baths as places for relaxation, socializing, and cleanliness. When we speak of Commodus being "strangled in his bath", it doesn't mean in a tub with his rubber ducky, he was in a complex of marble rooms with pools of different temperatures and servants to clean and massage his Imperial cares away. (The question of Commodus' rubber ducky is still a matter of debate.)

Constantine took this tradition east when he moved the capital to Byzantium, and the Ottomans took to it like a duck (rubber or not) to water. These Hamams continued to be vital centers where the fates of countless business ventures and families were negotiated. Needless to say, many were breath-taking works of art.

Ever hear of Mimar Sinan? He should have been the fifth Ninja Turtle. A brilliant architect, engineer, and artist. His work defined what we think of classical Islamic styles. He was also a prodigious bridge-builder, many of which still stand and are works of art in their own right. He also built a few hamams. One of which has been restored to how it looked when it was finished in 1556. The Ayasofya Hürrem Sultan Hamam was ordered built by Hürrem Sultan, also known as Roxelana, the chief wife to Süleyman the Magnificent. A Ukranian woman, kidnapped by Tartars and sold to the court, she later rose to incredible heights of power.

Istanbul. Every building has a story.

We are at 27% of our overall goal, and 1/3 of the way through the matching funds my employer has generously offered. Thank you, once again, to everyone who has either contributed or boosted the signal so far.

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1335902.html. Feel free to comment in either location.

Two weeks. 25%.

We cannot thank you enough. Have some more eye candy to celebrate.

The Hodjapasha Cultural Center is located near Topkapi Palace in the Sirkeci district, and is built in a restored hammam that dates back to the 15th century. (You'll be hearing more about hammams from us later in the campaign.) Below is a montage from Rhythm of the Dance, which combines folkloric dance from the region with more modern styles of bellydance. I'm incredibly excited about the prospect of seeing this show.

Rhythm of the Dance from HODJAPASHA DANCE THEATER on Vimeo.


This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1335678.html. Feel free to comment in either location.

The Penguin has landed.

I was close; "3pm" in hospitalese turned out to be about 5pm. There was a stop for discharge scripts (a potassium supplement and Medication #3 for the oral thrush), and then we came home. He's in the bedroom now, having just gotten off the phone with his mom.

We are still, as I said in the email to my boss that led to the matching funds for the Indiegogo campaign, "both scared, and both trying to hide it from each other, but we both know each other too well for it to work." But for right now, he's home, and I have to let that be enough.

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1335468.html. Feel free to comment in either location.
I'll start with today's news: [personal profile] gridlore is due to be released around 3pm today. (Which is probably 6pm in hospitalese, but we're used to it by now.) Nothing official yet as to what might be wrong, but he saw a specialist yesterday who had some theories, and we'll say more about that when we get confirmation.

Yesterday, however, was fucking difficult for both of us.

I arrived at lunchtime to discover that Doug was on isolation protocol - mask, gloves, and gown - while they checked him for C. diff. Adding insult to injury, the isolation gowns didn't fit me; the nurse cleared me to go in without one, but it was just one more dig I didn't need.

I got back to the office after a couple of hours with Doug and was immediately greeted with two phonecalls one of my co-irkers had mishandled, a round of Geek Answer Syndrome as both of my co-irkers tried to brainstorm what had happened to Doug that I finally had to shut down before I ran out of the building screaming, and a call to a prospective customer (attempting to do damage control on one of the earlier fuckups) who promptly began trying to railroad me into doing things that weren't physically possible. I wound up staying two hours late just so I had time to myself in the building and could actually get some work done. (I'm still under 40hrs for the week, thanks to Thursday's ER trip, so I didn't mind much.)

I was already burnt out when I got back to the hospital in the evening, and Doug wasn't much better, so I didn't stay long. I knew I wasn't going to sleep when I got home, though, so I found a How It's Made marathon on TV (I was hoping for Bourdain, but it was still nicely soothing) and did a little work on the crowdfunding campaign. (We broke 20% last night/this morning!) Finally crawled into bed around 11:30, but didn't fall asleep right away, which was just as well, because it meant I was awake when my phone pinged:

cut for emetophobesCollapse )

Before I left last night, I let Doug know that I was planning to spend the morning at home; the Rock & Roll Marathon has half the streets between home and the hospital closed until 1pm, and I had errands that needed doing. And truth be told, I needed a break - I'm pretty sure I've been in Crisis Mode since his last hospital stay last month, and neither of us can afford for me to crash in the middle of all of this. So I've got more How It's Made on the TV (this time courtesy of YouTube and the Roku player I got for my birthday) and laundry in the dryer (which appears to have actually stayed fixed this time, thank g_d, because I'd be in jail for killing our landlord if it hadn't worked today), and I'll head over once I have a clean change of clothes for him.

Just keep swimming, just keep swimming...

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1335140.html. Feel free to comment in either location.
Tonight's story actually starts on Sunday afternoon; those of you who follow us elsewhere on social media have already heard this part. [personal profile] gridlore and I spent a couple of delightful hours at the welcome-home party for johnnyeponymous 's twin boys (I got to hold one of them! It was awesome!), then decided we would go hide at the mall for a while after that, as it was still 87 bazillion degrees out. We got drinks at Pizza My Heart and sat for a bit, then were getting ready to walk over to the Giants Dugout store to see what might be on sale...

...and Doug almost came crashing down next to me when his foot stopped responding to muscle commands.

The foot that didn't have the proprioception issues after the stroke.

It's a damn good thing that the hospital is right around the corner from the mall. A teleporter might have gotten us there faster, but not by much.

We get taken back, they draw some labwork, and Doug's potassium is cratering. Having done this dance before, we both have an "Oh yeah..." moment. They stuff some K into him orally, and some more through an IV, and he gets discharged with instructions to follow up with his primary care doctor in 2-3 days.

Doc submits a lab order (which is a story in and of itself that I'll let Doug tell once he's home), and I drive Doug over to the hospital today to get it drawn along with his standing order for the anticoagulant clinic.

I've been back at work half an hour when Doug calls and says "The doctor is sending me back to the ER." Truth be told, I was half-expecting the call. Throw myself back into the car, come home and pick him up, and away we go again. Doug's primary doc tells him to ask for a nephrology consult once he's there; she was both approachable and communicative when she arrives, which is always a plus in a situation like this.

It took FOR-EV-ER to get sent up to a room today for some reason, though the ER itself was surprisingly "unbusy" (I stopped myself just short of using the Q word when I commented on this to the transport tech as we were finally going upstairs, and that was the word he supplied). But the room that finally did come open was a single bed (I'm not sure private vs. semi-private applies with the way the rooms are set up in "bays" at O'Connor), so that was a bonus. I had time enough during the hurry-up-and-wait phase to come home, pack a jump bag for Doug, and locate the library's copy of The Martian that had gone walkabout in our living room (which was needful, as there are at least three more people who have it on reserve after us, so we wouldn't have been able to renew it if it was still missing).

I then proceeded to read said book in one evening, between the ER and his room upstairs. At least I got something good out of today!

I finally came home about an hour ago, and I've been working on this post for 45 minutes. I still have work in the morning (where a MASSIVE tray of leftovers from this afternoon's barbecue awaits me in the fridge, because my office loves me as much as I love them), and Doug has asked me to stop by on my way in with some Gatorade for him (which he can have, as he doesn't have any dietary restrictions unlike the last visit), so I really need to get my ass to bed.

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1334853.html. Feel free to comment in either location.

Istanbul, now with matching funds!

[personal profile] gridlore and I just got an amazing offer from my employer.

Between now and Thanksgiving, EarthBaby has committed to matching, dollar-for-dollar, every contribution we receive, up to a total of $4,000.00. This gets us to the $10K mark, at which point we can seriously begin booking flights and making reservations.

In addition, some time in the next week or two, we will be able to offer a great perk to everyone who contributes $50 or more. Details to follow.

You can see the wide range of contributions we've gotten so far - everything from $1 to $500. Every one of these contributions gets us closer to our goal, and for the next two months, every one of these contributions gets us twice as far.

Teşekkür ederiz, once again, to everyone who has contributed so far; if you haven't yet, and have been thinking about doing so, please consider doing it during this matching period. And whether you can contribute or not, please, PLEASE boost the signal. It's every bit as important that we get our campaign in front of as many fresh eyeballs as possible.


This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1334737.html. Feel free to comment in either location.

15% in nine days.

I remain humbled and grateful, and will find the time to respond to all of you individually at some point.

As those of you who follow us on social media have already seen, [personal profile] gridlore and I spent yesterday afternoon/evening in the ER, after a drop in his potassium levels left him with one foot that wasn't responding to his commands as we were walking through the mall. Fortunately, we were less than 5 minutes from the hospital, and were in and out in less than 5 hours, but it only serves to underline the importance of making this trip happen sooner, rather than later.

I want these updates to be focusing on the positive aspects of our fundraiser, though, so here is today's eye candy. Istanbul Sirkeci Terminal was built in 1890 as the eastern terminus of the legendary Orient Express. Today, it houses the Istanbul Railway Museum. Doug wants a trench coat and a fedora before we go to visit, and it's not hard to see why.

Sirkeci-station Orient Express.JPG
"Sirkeci-station Orient Express". Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.


Again, thank you all for your support, in whatever form it takes.

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1334356.html. Feel free to comment in either location.
This is without question the biggest thing either of us has ever asked for, and that makes it damn scary. No doubt there are some of you who will call it irresponsible; that's your right, and I'm not going to try and change your minds. But [personal profile] gridlore asked, and there were friends of his who said they would be willing to help us if we put the word out. And so we have.

Click here to see our Indiegogo Life campaign

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1333957.html. Feel free to comment in either location.
[personal profile] gridlore is wondering if any of you have a PS3 or older-gen Xbox you'd consider parting with. He's got a PS2 currently, but until we figure out WTF is wrong *now*, he's going to be spending a lot more time at home, and having a broader variety of recent games for entertainment would be greatly appreciated.

We're mostly looking to local-to-us friends for this, simply due to shipping hassles, but if you're further afield and have something, let us know. Signal boosts are welcome.

One of Doug's friends on Facebook is setting him up with an Xbox 360. Thanks to those who commented.

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1333666.html. Feel free to comment in either location.

...and so much for that.

[personal profile] gridlore and I made the incredibly difficult decision about an hour ago not to go to Burning Man this year. He is simply not bouncing back from his latest hospital stay the way either of us would like; I've been dealing with massive separation anxiety as a result, and was having real trouble trying to figure out how I was going to fulfill my volunteer commitments out there without falling to pieces wondering if he was okay back at camp.

At least now he'll be able to go for the follow-up labwork they were asking him to do on Monday (and not getting their heads around "the nearest hospital is 120 miles from where I'm going to be for the next week").

Comments disabled, as I posted to FB before coming here, and I think I've hit my limit on sympathy at the moment.

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1333113.html. Comments disabled in both locations.
Just got a call from [personal profile] gridlore; they're supposed to be discharging him "in an hour, hour and a half." Since this ain't our first rodeo, we know that's probably more like three hours, but still - he's coming HOME! (Which means I need to do All The Things now, but I will shuffle up and deal.)

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1332678.html. Feel free to comment in either location.
Today was kind of an up and down day for both of us. The victory of being upgraded to a clear liquid diet brought with it the challenge of trying to ingest said diet after well over a week of insufficient intake and two full days of nothing by mouth. (More than once I found myself thinking of some of the other clients from my time at Cielo House as I fed [personal profile] gridlore his broth at lunchtime, watching him have to psych himself up for the next spoonful.) Two of our Burning Man campmates stopped by for a visit while I was still there, though, and that was good.

We were also visited by the director of the phlebotomy lab, who came up to personally apologize after qeldoq put a word or two in the right ears. She left a card with a handwritten note and her business card clipped to it, and the assurance that she was going to talk to the department as a whole and the techs who had worked with Doug in particular about listening to patients when they're trying to give relevant information.

At this point, we were both pretty well wrung out from the activity, and I knew that if I kept sitting there I was going to fall asleep, so I made my way back to the office.

After work, I had to swing by the house to bring Doug a change of clothes...and the apartment decided to greet me by having the ceiling light in the living room fail. Between having to change that out (which involved a stepladder and a dropped setscrew as I was trying to replace the exterior globe) and the few minutes of chores I had already been planning to do when I came home, I was lucky I managed to pull myself back out of my chair to go back to the hospital. I at least had a bulb to replace the dying one (it was a CFL, so it didn't blow like a regular incandescent bulb would have, but it developed the classic fluorescent flicker), but it's a lower wattage than the last one, and the color temperature is different as well, so I absolutely need to replace it as soon as I have five seconds to spare. Which will be sometime in October at this rate. :-P

(I'm also, as should come as no surprise, trying very hard not to think about money right now. I'd just told Doug on Saturday that we had $x left to spend before my next check on the 21st, allowing for the two auto-debits that I know are coming out of the account before then...and that went right out the window as soon as he was admitted. My life has been office-hospital-office-hospital-sleep since then, without the time to even throw something in the microwave here in my few conscious hours. Add in my determination to only bring food up to Doug's room that he wasn't going to be tempted by while he was still NPO, and there's been a lot more seafood in my diet this week that wasn't in the original budget. I'm a little afraid to check the bank balance. So going out to buy lightbulbs is not something I want to have to prioritize.)

Tonight's visit wound up being short, as we were both tired, but he was in better spirits than he'd been when I left in the afternoon. Hopefully, there will be good news come morning, in the form of a discharge plan.

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1332277.html. Feel free to comment in either location.
[personal profile] gridlore, via text message 20 minutes ago: "I've now had three juice boxes. Body is confused, but I feel great." There's also an order in for Ensure. As I was typing this, he pinged again: "Finished my Ensure. I have chicken broth, but feel bloated."

This more than makes up for the lousy night I had; I was awake another two hours after last night's post, with my head spinning over how I really needed to be three people (wow, two years almost to the day since the last time I said that), so I'm running on maybe 4hrs of sleep. But knowing that he's on the path back to solid food and thence to discharge makes all the difference.

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1332113.html. Feel free to comment in either location.
...the part where [personal profile] gridlore feels fine, but the lab results don't agree, and I have to try and convince him that no, really, this is how it has to be. His appetite has finally come back online, and he's hungry enough - and angry enough about it - that he actually threatened to sign out AMA if he doesn't get some answers (and a damn meal) tomorrow. And I don't know that I'd be able to refuse him, as much as I might want to.

The levels of communication at that hospital - doctor/patient, inter-departmental - leave a great deal to be desired, but/and as long as the facility continues to get jerked around by current and potential owners, I don't see that changing, sadly.

And I have to get up an hour earlier than usual tomorrow because they're closing our street at 7am for road work, so I don't have the time to sit here fretting over things.

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1331816.html. Feel free to comment in either location.
Today has been a very long week.

[personal profile] kshandra here, as Your Host is currently ensconced in a bed at O'Connor Hospital, being treated for pancreatitis.

"...wait, WHAT?!" I hear you all cry.

"I've been meaning to write an I've-been-sick post," [personal profile] gridlore said earlier this afternoon, in response to a FB comment I had read him from someone who was growing concerned in his extended silence there, "but I've been sick..."

And he has. We'd gone to a birthday party for the Emergency Back-up Niece and the Niece of Last Resort last weekend, and had initially thought that one of the little germ factories darlings there had given us something (I went home sick from work myself on Wednesday). By Saturday, however, we realized something greater appeared to be at work. He was running a low-grade fever, he hadn't been sleeping well, he was dealing with consistent abdominal pain (and related issues with which I will not disgust you). Monday, he called his doctor's office and got an appointment for this morning; he was already in bad enough shape that I told my boss that I'd be leaving early to drive him there.

We got to the doctor's office at 11:20; by 11:50 we were already pulling into the parking lot at the ER. They gave him The Good Stuff™ for the pain, and he was able to get some actual SLEEP between blood draws and CT scans and whatever all else. They told us around 4 that they'd be admitting him at least overnight (which we'd both been expecting, and had packed a jump bag for the purpose). It was after 7pm by the time they finally had a bed clear and took him up to the unit.

At which point the shift nurse started asking him all of the same questions the triage nurse had asked eight hours previously. Because the two systems aren't linked for G_d only knows what reason (perhaps literally, as O'Connor was founded by the Daughters of Charity).

I finally left somewhere around 8; [personal profile] murphymom was on her way back down the Peninsula after having her car worked on, and we agreed to meet for dinner/dessert. (I wasn't even all that interested in the concept of food, but I'd only eaten once today and new I needed to put something in my system.)

And then, for the final insult, I suggested we meet at a restaurant that I subsequently found out is currently closed for remodeling.

We regrouped and determined a Plan B, I devoured my meal as soon as it was in front of me (again, unsurprising - I knew I needed the fuel), we went our separate ways, and I started writing this as soon as I got home.

Now, I need to plan for tomorrow; Doug has asked me to bring his hearing aids (as trying to decipher the nurse's questions over the family of the other patient in the room was all but impossible), and I still need to figure out where the FUCK I managed to misplace the power cord for the Chromebook (which is really pissing me off, as I was the last person to use it, and I KNOW I brought the cord home with me).

And, of course, I have to go to work in and around all of the rest of this.

Updates as I have them; hopefully they'll be less disjointed than this one going forward.

This entry was originally posted at http://kshandra.dreamwidth.org/1331471.html. Feel free to comment in either location.


We're flat broke, but hey - we do it in style....

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