September 28, 2014

Luke Swank's Liver Biopsy

Luke Swank's Liver Biopsy
Todd Swank's Diary Update for September 26, 2014

It's hard to believe, but it's that time of year again where the leaves are turning colors.  I remember going through a lot of stress last year while dealing with the impending coming of winter.  Lucky for me, this year I have all sorts of different things to stress about rather than just silly snow and cold weather.

While being evaluated for his heart and liver transplant, the doctors discovered an area in Luke's liver that looked very concerning.  They decided to do a liver biopsy which ended up being a very complicated procedure for Luke.  

Luke REALLY hates getting IV's.  So he was pretty stressed out before the procedure.  But the nurses have this wonderful medicine called Versed which helps kids feel much better about anxiety and stress.  It also has a tendency to make them act a little bit silly as can be seen in this video:

The Magic of Versed.

Luke had to have 2 and a half liters of fluid drained from his belly that is there because of his liver problems and then they had to stick a probe through the entire liver to get to the area of concern.  The procedure took about 5 hours and Luke woke up in the intensive care unit while still intubated which was extremely stressful for him.  He also had two IV's in his arm and Luke really hates IVs.  He spent the night in the hospital and before we were discharged we received the good news that the biopsy showed the area of concern wasn't cancer.  So that was great news, but it was still a very tough week for Luke.

When the boys were little, we spent a lot of time in the hospital getting various surgeries and procedures.  Times have changed a lot since then as the hospitals now have wifi throughout the building so I can stay connected at work while sitting next to the bedside.  I haven't decided if this is a good or bad thing.

Luke was able to go home on Tuesday, but we were concerned about some swelling in his belly on Thursday so we took him back to the emergency room.  Luke had to get another IV inserted so they could do blood work.  Have I mentioned that Luke REALLY hates getting IVs?  But the good news was the doctors didn't see any signs of bleeding or infection complications so we were able to go home again after a few hours.

On Friday, Luke received a flu shot in the morning because we needed to get one as soon as possible.  On Friday afternoon, Luke had a fever that spiked up to 102.8.  So we were lucky enough to go to the emergency room again and Luke was lucky enough to get another IV again.  Have I mentioned how much he hates getting IVs?  It reminds me of what it must have been like in medieval times watching your child being interviewed in a torture chamber.  Of course the doctors, nurses, and child life staff are wonderful people and do everything they can to make the situation comfortable for Luke, but he has a lot of repressed fears from so much time spent in hospitals when he was little that these procedures are very tough for Luke to endure. 

But he brightened up after getting the IV placed.  Four hours later the doctors were comfortable that the fever may have just been a result of the flu shot and we were able to go home again.

On Saturday, Luke was feeling good enough to go outside and get some fresh air.  So naturally, we took Sunny to his favorite dog park.

Avery has been working really hard with training Sunny.  He makes him touch his nose with his tongue before he will throw him the ball.  It's been very difficult to get Sunny to understand the concept of what he wants him to do.

On Saturday night, we took the boys to see the movie "The Maze Runner".  It was a good movie, but I fell asleep a few times so I'm not sure I saw all the best stuff.  It's been a long week...

We normally don't encourage our boys to climb on the skee ball machines at the arcade, but we were so excited to see Luke have the energy to get up there that we didn't have the heart to tell him to get down.  We'll start enforcing the rules again next week.

September 21, 2014

Spending the Night at Treasure Island Marina in Red Wing, Minnesota

Spending the Night at Treasure Island Marina in Red Wing, Minnesota
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for September 21, 2014

Over the past few weeks as things have become more stressful with Luke's medical condition, we've seen a plethora of rainbows in our lives.  We're taking these as a good sign that Luke is going to get through his latest round of challenges with flying colors.  Friday night, Miss Sheri, my mother, and I snuck out t the porch to discuss Luke's upcoming procedure.  Shortly after our talk was finished, we looked up in the sky and saw this beautiful rainbow directly above our heads.  It hadn't even been raining.

On Saturday, we loaded up the van and headed for an overnight trip to Afton, Minnesota to meet our friends, the Zitzewitz Family.  Since we were about a half hour early, we thought it would be a good idea to stop at Chili's to get some lunch.  The food was good, but took a long time so we ended up a half hour late.  Bad call on my part.

The Zitzewitz clan didn't seem to mind.  They greeted us with open arms and we loaded on the boat and prepared for our cruise to the marina of Treasure Island Casino.  We almost felt like pirates heading to Treasure Island.  Almost.

I was a little nervous as Karl squeezed under the bridge.  He said not to worry about it because we had a couple of feet to spare, but I still felt the overwhelming urge to duck.

Above her left hand is the St. Croix River.  Above her right hand is the Mississippi River.  And in the middle is Tina.

The two rivers are distinctly different colors and you can see the two shades running along each other for quite awhile.  It's like chocolate meeting coffee.  Or dark brown water meeting light brown water.  Whichever analogy works better for you.

We saw a ton of bald eagles on the trip.  I always get off on seeing these because they were so endangered when we were kids.  Now they're all over the place.  

The pelicans seemed to be in a big hurry to get out of dodge.  I hope they don't know something about this being another brutal winter again.  If it is, next year I'm riding one of these things South.

We arrived at the Treasure Island Marina in late afternoon.  I was a little disappointed that there weren't any slot machines on the dock.  Only boats.  I guess the slot machines have to stay inside the casino.

We asked if we could see inside the engine room on the boat and Karl and Tina were happy to oblige.  Luke walked in the room and asked us if this was the boat's tornado shelter.  We smiled and told him Yes.

We discovered that C Dock was having a big Halloween Party, so we headed over there to go trick or treating.

Some of the boats really got into the celebration, but no matter how many puppy dog looks I gave them, none offered to share their vape sticks with me.

These boats sure were scary, but it had to be a real pain in the neck driving around the water with all of this stuff hanging outside the boat!

Suddenly a storm rolled through the area which of course brought another beautiful double rainbow into our lives.  For those of you counting at home, this was two nights in a row that we saw a very striking rainbow nearby us.

After the rain stopped, we headed up to the casino to gorge ourselves on the buffet.  It wasn't a pretty sight by the time we got through with it.

 I was dog tired after all that good food and fun.

On Sunday morning, we woke up, shook out the cobwebs, and headed back up the river without a paddle.  At least I didn't see a paddle, but it's possible Karl had one hidden under his bed.

We saw even more bald eagles on the way home, but still haven't found any with hair.

More Hope For Desktop PC Market: Workstation Shipments Forecast To Jump

"Workstations are the crème de la crème of PCs. They have better margins, better performance and a better market than its commodity PC cousin," said Todd Swank, senior director of product marketing at Equus Computer Systems, a Minneapolis-based systems builder that is readying the launch of several tower workstations this October. "With the release of of Intel's Xeon E5-1600 V3 chips for our workstation line, we expect to end the year on a high note," Swank said.

Read Entire Article Here:

September 14, 2014

Hitachi Intros 10-TB Hard Drives, NVMe SSDs

Capacity growth and the need to look at how to cut the cost of long-term storage is driving companies like HGST and Seagate to develop such high-capacity hard drives, said Todd Swank, director of product marketing at Equus Computer Systems, a Minneapolis-based system builder. 

"Capacity is just crazy," Swank told CRN. "Everyone is talking about cold storage. If I were in the tape business, I'd be worried. Our SMB resellers are not looking at that much capacity yet, but our direct customers are talking a lot about capacity." 

All storage component manufacturers are following the cloud, Swank said. "These high-capacity drives are perfect for cloud environments," he said. "Tape was nice, and served this market for years, but now customers are looking at hard drives." 

Swank said he is not surprised to see HGST talk about NVMe, given the release this week of Intel's new processors known as Grantley, which consist of the E5-2600 v3 and E5-1600 v3 processors. 

"We're putting the new Intel processors in commercial storage solutions," he said. "Because of the Intel news, customers are actively talking about NVMe for the best performance."

Read Full Article Here:

A Quick Trip to the Farm September 2014

A Quick Trip to the Farm September 2014
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for September 14, 2014

Luke and Avery started school this week.  10th grade.  I just can't believe they are sophomores in high school.  Where does the time go?  I still feel like they should be in elementary school.  

For the weekend, we decided to take a quick trip to Northwest Iowa and visit Grandma Haack on the farm.   We hadn't seen her for awhile and felt a visit was in order.  It was chilly when we arrived and the nights are already dropping down into the thirties.  Winter is coming!

As usual, Grandma was extremely excited to see us.

We appreciate everyone who has contacted us saying they have been praying for Luke!!  Luke was supposed to have some further tests done on his liver on Friday, but it was postponed for another week so they can adjust some of his medication.  Luke was very excited to get a reprieve from doctors for a week and just be able to focus on school!   You know all this medical stuff really must suck if school feels so much better than dealing with it!

We've been told that when a child is dealing with a serious medical issue, it's important to also pay extra attention to the siblings to make sure they don't feel neglected.  We've been trying this with Avery, but I'm not sure he appreciates it.

Luke was so excited that he found a snake next to Grandma's house.  Until we made the mistake of telling grandma about it.  As she explained, she hates snakes.  And then she dealt with it.  And that's all I have to say about that.

In the afternoon, we had fun playing basketball with Uncle Jerry and hanging out with his family.  We had a free throw contest and Jerry made something like 15 in a row.  He crushed us!   And that's all I have to say about that.

Uncle Jerry got a new dog named Jasper.  Jasper is still a puppy and full of spunk and mischief.  He's especially adept at stealing shoes and then playing the catch me if you can game.  I'm not very good at that game.

We came home on Sunday and had the good fortune of a visit from Krazy Kory.  He wasn't able to stay for long, but it's always good to see the guy.  He has a tendency to brighten my day.  And that's all I have to say about that.

September 7, 2014

Luke Swank's Evaluation for a Heart and Liver Transplant

Luke Swank's Evaluation for a Heart and Liver Transplant
Todd Swank's Diary Entry for September 9, 2014

So our lives have taken a turn this summer.  Our son, Luke, was born with a very serious heart condition that led to several heart surgeries ending in what is known as the Fontan procedure which basically gave him a two chambered heart.  This procedure is still performed today on a regular basis, but it is known to have long term effects on the liver due to the changes in pressures caused by the Fontan.  Luke started showing signs of ascites and after several tests, it was determined that his liver is now having problems that need to be addressed at some point in the near future most likely via a heart and/or liver transplant.  Lucky for us, one of the best pediatric transplant centers is based at the University of Minnesota which is only about a 45 minute drive from our house.

This is Dr. Amaduri and she's Luke's new cardiologist.  She's an incredibly bright lady and gave us a ton of hope for Luke's procedure.  She told us about other kid's in similar situations to Luke that have gone on to get new hearts and are much healthier today because of it.  We really like Dr. Amaduri!

Luke spent three days at the hospital getting every test imaginable.  It caused us a lot of stress because there was an incredible number of blood draws, IV's, scans, xrays, and uncomfortable procedures.  But Luke endured like a champion and hopefully has given the doctors enough data to make the most educated plan for his future.  We're hoping to know what that plan will be in the next week or so but it most likely will be either a heart or a heart and liver transplant.  Please keep Luke in your prayers as we prepare for these possibilities.

Avery joined us for the third day of tests.  They had fun playing tic tac toe, but I'm sure they would have much rather been at home playing XBOX.

We returned home for the weekend and resumed normal behavior as quickly as possible.  Luke and I lost in bean bags to Avery and Jason Hornbuckle.  Which is pretty normal behavior.

Even though the temperatures are starting to drop, the boys wanted to invite a couple of friends over to go tubing.  We won't have many more weekends where we can do this before winter arrives!

This bald eagle flew right over our heads while we were on the boat and then landed in a nearby tree.  I remember when I was a kid and never getting to see a bald eagle in the wild and now they're all over the place.  That's pretty cool.

On Saturday night, we went to dinner at the Bolligs with several of our old Nor-Tech friends.  And Nick.

The ladies all looked lovely and had a pleasant time chit chatting about things that ladies like to chit chat about.

We had a very nice evening, incredible food, and pleasant conversations.  It's good getting together with old friends.