Monthly Archives: August 2014

Week of August 25th – Best of Liver Lovers Unite

The Chris Klug Foundation put together this beautiful highlight reel from the Leadville Trail 100 MTB. A kick-ass team of riders kicking some serious ass.

Jim & the team all giffed up.

Jim & the team all giffed up.


Week 1 of The Derek Janiak Return to Work Experience is complete. Best thing he said? “I don’t feel tired at all.” Wahoo! Hope you all have a great Labor Day weekend. We’ve got a packed weekend planned and will do our best to share some great photos next week. And now, the weekly tumblr re-cap.

1. Supercut of every signature close-up from director Edgar Wright’s Films.

(Sean of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, etc.)

2. This video makes me giggle a whole bunch.

Behold: The American Woodcock

3. A beautiful old photo of my alma mater’s art building.

Hawkeye Pride

4. You can just feel the terror.

scaredy cat


5. Astronaut Reid Wiseman [@astro.reid] is providing us with an amazing gif(t) from space

Here’s a set of 55 of them. Man. Makes me want to go back in time and become an astronaut.


Latest Data Trends

I still get blood work analyzed bi-weekly. I know the doctors review the results, and Logan and I do the same when we get a copy. Bilirubin is the one number that hasn’t fallen in line to normal levels, and I’ve been reading into other trends to forecast trends. It hasn’t worked:

In addition to bilirubin, Logan talked about the other three liver function tests in a previous post: AST, ALT, and Alkaline Phosphatase. Here are the blood tests since the date of my last transplant, May 13:




I see a number go up, no matter how slight, I get worried.  Putting it into context and on a longer time scale, I see how far into the noise I’ve been sticking my nose:

  • Normal values for Alkaline Phosphatase (ALKP) are 20 – 125.  I was seeing an upward trend over the last few weeks, and the last value is 84. This well within the normal range, and has been for 2 months. I know from experience this number can reach 1542.
  • Normal values for ALT are 2 – 60.  I was seeing week after week growth: 17 to 18 and then to 23. What was I worried about?  That’s not even close to the normal limit, and that sure looks like noise compared to the long term trend.
  • Normal values for AST are 2 – 50.  Again, week after week growth from 17 to 19 to 23. Seriously?  I can barely make out those differences compared to the long term trend.

There is a very plausible explanation for high bilirubin levels with normal liver function.  It affects 3 to 7% of the population, and usually goes undiagnosed, because there are no ill-effects, except for possible jaundice: Gilbert’s Syndrome. My conclusion is I might have it – either born with it, or it came with the liver donation.

First Day Back

(Some of you got a sneak preview of this post last night. Derek accidentally clicked post instead of schedule. We will refund everyone a prorated portion of their subscription fee at no additional charge, while supplies last.)

I arrived at work on Monday and didn’t know if my badge would work, or how long it would take for me to get back to work. I walked in the front door, swiped my badge and saw the familiar blinking green light that let me in. I made it to my desk 18 minutes before the countdown clock reached zero and surprised the co-workers that were decorating my office. Busted!

I had some trouble logging into my computer – the password had expired and I had to figure out that it wasn’t plugged into the network, but otherwise getting back to work was unremarkable. I went to some meetings, ate my big lunch, and left on time.

It was awesome seeing everyone.

  • My first encounter was with someone I pass all the time in the halls and we exchange a nod and a “hi”, but I am embarrassed to admit I don’t know his name. I can only imagine what went through his head, and I thought I saw a double-take, but got the familiar “hi”.
  • I got a few huge hugs – probably not HR approved but the helium balloons in my office were also probably not allowed on company property without the proper chemical approval process. I won’t be reporting anyone to HR or the chemical police.
  • People I work with on a regular, irregular, tangential, and nonexistent basis all came by or sent me messages to welcome me back.

Others see my color and healthy complexion as the big change from pre-transplant to today. For me, it’s my energy. I did a great job of hiding how tiring life was, but after a normal day of work I would struggle for energy in the evening. One day of the weekend would consist of 4 hour naps to recover from the week. So far, the return to work has not had the same effect. Some of my friends thought I would be tired after the first day of work, which might be true, but it’s worlds more energy than I remember.

Root Beer Review #13 – GUS Dry Root Beer

Yesterday, after my first day of work in 4 months, I looked in the fridge for the correct beverage choice: A Grown Up Soda (GUS) looked back at me. The brew comes in a clear bottle, which is markedly different than the standard brown bottle.

GUS Dry Root BeerThis soda is a “lightly sweetened root beer with birch oil & vanilla” and is “100% natural” and “not too sweet.” Or so says the bottle. The bottle also says that “GuS Dry Root Beer is a refreshing new take on an American classic. Birch oil, a hint of real vanilla, and a touch of clove give our distinctive root beer a big flavor without the cloying sweetness.” This root beer made its debut in December 2011 and according to the press release, it can be found in, “specialty and health food grocery stores, gourmet eateries, cafes and upscale restaurants.” It’s time to see whether my palate is refined enough to enjoy such an upscale soda.

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Ladies & Gentleman…

…he’s back!

photo (1)

He’s got his lunch packed and he’s ready for his first day back to the rat race. I’ll try to take a photo of the little guy before he darts off and post it here.

first day