Thursday, January 12, 2012

New Year, New Design and Other Changes

Have I not posted in two years?? I feel bad. Obviously, a lot happens in that amount of time.

Last year in early May, my wife and I had a daughter, whom we named Jeyli Ayane ("jay-lee eye-ah-nay") Steadham. Jeyli has Latin origins and Ayane is Japanese for "colorful sound." She's been a wonderful addition to our family, and I can't tell you how happy I am to have a daughter! Don't get me wrong, I'm extremely proud of my two sons (now 16 and 13 years old) but starting over with a baby, and a daughter -- it's really been a positive and amazing experience. The boys love their sister and we've been adjusting to our new dynamics pretty smoothly, all things considered.

Speaking of new dynamics, I figured it was about time for a change to the look for IR Haven. Maybe I'll change it again, but I'd like to explore this new look for a bit.

I've changed jobs since 2009 but I'm still doing tech geek work.

I've had numerous health issues and spent three visits in the hospital between October and December of 2011. I'm doing better now, though.

I'm going to keep this post brief and I hope there's still some IR Haven readers out there... :)

- Allen

Friday, January 02, 2009

Happy New Year 2009!

IR Haven now celebrates its sixth year as a blog, still going! It may be going slow (admittedly, sometimes next to never) but it is still here...and we're not planning on going away any time soon.

Christmas was eventful last year. We did have a great time as a family and everyone got something nice, presents-wise. There was just one unfortunate thing that attempted to overshadow Christmas: I got an abdominal hernia! It manifested on Christmas Eve (I had helped Angel with some redesigning of the living room, which involved some moving of furniture. Evidently, that was enough to do it.

Thanks to the holidays, I wasn't able to get in to see the doctor until the following Monday. I was diagnosed with the hernia and as I suspected, they needed to take care of it with surgery. I asked for it to be done as soon as possible, so they scheduled me for first thing Wedsnesday morning: New Years Eve.

They told me to show up at 5:30am so they could start the operation at 7:30am. Angel and I woke up at 4:00am and got to the hospital in time to be whisked through paperwork, getting gowned up, an I.V. put in and getting blood drawn. That led to a strange situation because for some reason, my potassium levels showed as significantly higher than normal (6.2), which could have led to a rescheduling of the operation. They took another blood test and it came out normal, though, so all proceeded as planned.

I didn't wake up until about 1:00pm in the recovery area, even though the operation itself didn't take more than 45 minutes. I'm guessing they gave me a lot of anesthetic... They rolled me down to my room, which turned out to be a really nice and really big. My mom told me why but it's a long story. Anyway, I spent a good chunk of the day either being asleep or watching Food Network. Out of boredom or not liking a show, I'd flip through the other channels occasionally.

I had a couple of visitors after Angel, the boys, my sister and my mom left. A good friend from church stopped by to visit in the afternoon and not too long after he left, my sister-in-law showed up, which was very sweet of her.

I also got to eat regular food the whole time I was there, which was nice.

The hours passed and thanks to the pain meds, they passed pretty quickly. Angel and the boys called my cell phone at midnight and left a very lively message for me (I was passed out from pain meds). It was a wonderful surprise to wake up to, though!

I was finally released about 2:30pm on New Years Day, which I got to spend with Angel and the boys. That made me very happy.

Despite everything I went through between Christmas Eve and New Years, I'm still very grateful. I am blessed with a wonderful wife, children, family and friends. Really and truly, I couldn't ask for more.

Have a wonderful new year, everybody!

Friday, October 31, 2008

I'll Have To Keep This One Short... it's after midnight and I'm truly exhausted. I have been going through more changes this year than probably any year in my life since I became "bionic." (1983) I have had more health problems this year than any other I can remember...but at long last, we are finally getting some answers and working towards actual solutions! So in that regard, it's an exciting time.

It's not that I haven't cared about IRHaven. I still do. But I've been hospitalized 5 times this year and been to the emergency room more times than I can count. It's been mostly for low potassium and low blood sodium, along with dehydration and electrolyte levels and the occasional low white cell count (but nothing major in that regard, fortunately). And I have to say, I've had to live with daily pain more this year than at any time in my life...but that's finally being addressed, too. In the last few weeks, I've had less pain than the last two years! That has been such a blessing! There's ups and downs still and I have a lot to learn and still more to do but I am willing. There's hope!

When I have time, hopefully this weekend, I'll sit down and give you more details. Despite the difficulties, my faith remains strong and my wife and children have been very special support and I love them so dearly for it! I love them so much!!

Best Wishes,

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Significant Redesign

I had no idea how bad the site looked in Internet Explorer! My job recently took Firefox off of all of our computers and forced us to use IE version 6 (*groans*). So when I came to check in on the blog today, I saw how utterly odd and unattractive the layout was...and decided to fix it!

I hope your eyes thank me now, just like mine do. :)

Saturday, April 26, 2008

New Embedded Audio!

I am still alive, and finding ways to enhance IR Haven still! I was looking at ways to embed mp3s directly into the blog template and I found a nifty option from Yahoo's embedded media player. I was able to easily integrate it into the template and it plays MP3s I have stored elsewhere online. Just click on the arrow button next to the song link to play the song. It will automatically play the next song, which is cool! Also, the player moves as you move, can be collapsed down or even autohide itself. So you don't have to adjust it and it's less likely to get in the way (way cool).

You can do this yourself. Just check out the instructions at this link.

I added some First Light songs to start with. I may add other MP3s later, but this was a good test!

More later...

Best Wishes,

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Since Getting Home From The Hospital...

This time around, I've had to be even more careful. When I was hospitalized a little over a year ago, I bounced back pretty easily. I had the Thanksgiving holiday to recover (in 2006) and I did pretty well.

I normally work Fridays and Saturdays. I was released on a Friday and I took the next day off as well. I asked the doctor to write a note covering me until this Monday (01-14-08). I thought that would be sufficient. I was wrong.

I went to work on Monday. I took my pain meds with me, figuring that would be enough to cover me if I got sore or anything. What was I thinking?? The first 3 or 4 hours were fine. My lunch is usually about 4 or 5 hours into my shift, which is normally no big deal. By the time my lunch came around, I was lightheaded from hunger (and I would guess exertion as well). I ate, relaxed and went back to working.

I didn't quite feel normal after lunch, though, and I didn't know why. I was a little achy and sort of distracted. Then I noticed my throat was getting a little sore and I was having some difficulty speaking; I'd have to press through some calls (I do phone tech support), drinking cold and/or hot liquids to keep my throat feeling at least passable. I know this happened because of the stress my throat went through having that oversized tube in it last Tuesday and Wednesday.

By 7:00 p.m., my left forearm started having a deep stabbing pain in it, which was shocking to me. It really hurt! So I stopped using it for a bit, massaged it and tried to get back to working again. The pain came back, worse than before. I had to not use it at all. It was annoying typing with only my right hand but it beat having the stabbing pain. My left arm was where I'd had the most IV's put in.

I decided right then that I had to take sick leave on Tuesday, and I don't work Wednesday or Thursday. That would give me more time to recover before jumping back in to work.

What I've had to realize is that it's going to take longer for me to bounce back this time. I don't like that but I've had to accept it. If I push myself, my body will push right back and it will win.

Since I was released, the comfort and care committee from our church has been providing help with suppers each night and groceries and just checking up on us daily. It's a tremendous amount of love and support that we definitely need and appreciate deeply. It takes a huge load of stress off of my wife and nothing beats a home cooked meal, made with love and personal pride.

Despite the pain and the long recovery, we are truly blessed.

More as I think it up...

Best Wishes,
Remember Me?

Hi, this is Allen. I know it's been a while. Real life has been moving along, we've crossed into a new year and I just haven't had much to say.

I spent most of last week in the hospital, unfortunately. The doctors aren't quite sure why but the most likely explanation was some kind of stomach ailment, possibly a virus. I'll spare you some of the details but by Tuesday morning (01-08-08), I was in a lot of pain and had suffered some really terrible diarrhea, so I decided to call into work and asked my wife to drive me to the emergency room.

After a really long wait, the ER nurse got me started on intravenous (IV) fluids and put a big tube down my nose all the way to my stomach (needless to say, that was not the high point of my day). Then they checked me into a room and gave me pain medication.

I spent most of the next 24 hours sleeping, getting my vital signs taken or blood drawn. I couldn't eat or drink anything, although they did give me things to keep my mouth moistened, which helped. My wife was by my side all day and then she had to go home to take care of the kids. I could barely swallow and couldn't talk much more than a whisper because of that tube down my throat. Thankfully, I convinced them to take that out by Wednesday afternoon, which improved my outlook a whole lot. The tube had actually been causing me as much discomfort and outright pain as my stomach had.

Throughout the experience, I asked my wife to keep our pastor informed so he could pray for us. Also, the church members in charge of the sick committee were often in contact with my wife and offering what help they could. Friends wanted to visit but I was in no condition to see anyone but my wife and hospital personnel (who were used to seeing people in such a bad state). To the staff's credit, I felt very cared for by the nurses, techs and doctors.

Thursday, I went through a series of x-rays and was waiting for the results of that all day. My wife brought both the kids and my laptop to the hospital by evening. It was great to see my boys and my oldest son even drew me a get well card while he was there in the hospital room. My youngest son engaged me in in-depth questioning to let me know his concern and his optimism for me. Both were quite endearing. After they left, the doctor came in and let me know the x-rays looked good and that I could be put on regular food (I'd spent 2 days eating "clear liquid meals") by morning and probably released by the end of the day Friday. That was wonderful news! I couldn't get a wireless internet connection with my laptop but it did allow me to listen to music and watch a Star Trek New Voyages episode that I'd downloaded ("World Enough And Time" with George Takei) before going to sleep.

The next day, I had a wonderful omelet breakfast (ham, red and white onions, green bell peppers and mushrooms with some nice fluffy egg) along with fruit juice and coffee. I also took a shower (only the 2nd one I'd taken in 4 days...ew!) and shaved before my wife arrived. We met with the doctor, who cleared me for going home and going back to work as of Monday. My wife treated me to lunch at our favorite Japanese restaurant, a lovely place called Odaku. It was great to have some fresh miso soup and sushi and charbroiled teriyaki chicken and other vegetable delights. I knew I'd need to take a lot home as leftovers, I had only started eating regular food that morning and needed to take it easy until my stomach got back to its normal proportions.

I'll blog about the rest soon!

Best Wishes,

Friday, October 26, 2007

Haven't Done One Of These In A While, But Hey, It's Friday
(But Not A Not In The News Friday)

I just have a weakness for the fuzzy creature photos at Cute Overload. I think these are perfectly representative of the "Friday Feeling" (especially if, like me, you have to work).

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Why We Can't Forget September 11, 2001

Remember the people of September 11, 2001:
The ones who died, yes, because they had lives and potential.
People of all walks of life, all ages, all races, all political persuasions, all religions.
People who had spouses and children and family and friends.
Some were heroes, like the firefighters and police, decorated military and civilians. Some were heroes for their parenting or volunteer work. Some were heroes just for the way they lived their lives.
Everything they aspired to be was cut short that day.
And they deserve to be honored for their lives, not their deaths.

So we can't forget September 11, we can't pay enough tribute.
We can't give their families and friends their loved ones back.
But we can take one day to explore the memories of their lives.
And be grateful we still have ours and our spouses and our children.
And try to make the most of these lives we still have.

We can't go back to September 10, no matter how much some of us may want to.
It will never come again. We can just do our best today.
And try to make a better tomorrow.

Thanks for reading this.

Best Wishes,

Saturday, August 04, 2007

I Haven't Done One Of These In, Like, Forever!

This is how I feel this morning.
Sleepy, mellow...yet strangely content, in a way.
Thanks, Cute Overload!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Has It Really Been Almost A Month?

Geez, I'm sorry! I have been my usual state of busy and highly involved with our Due East webcomic but I still like to check in periodically and let everyone know how my family and I are doing.

Due East has been my artistic passion for the first half of this year, really. My wife and I co-write it and I pencil, ink and color it. It is a lot of work but it is really rewarding! The comic's main characters are a couple of multiracial sisters (Black, White and Chinese)

(Click on picture below to see it at full-size in another window)

The comic updates on Mondays and Fridays, although we will take breaks between "books" (we're on Book Three right now). I'm blessed to be able to do the artwork for this comic while on my job (I do phone tech support for a living) without it interfering with my work or irritating my coworkers or supervisors.

Also, my wife and I are still involved in First Light, a Christian band associated with our nondenominational church.

This summer, our kids have been going to a local summer camp during weekdays. They've enjoyed that. Summer camp sure is different now than when I was growing up. Now they have computers and go to the movies but they do go outside and play, go to the park, swimming, bowling and rollerskating/blading. I have to admit, even though it was kind of hard in those days to really get into archery and horseback riding and fishing, but it was still ended up being fun!

I have fond memories from childhood of going camping in groups of dads and sons from my folks' church. We'd wake up and the dads would cook sausage and eggs over a campfire at daybreak. We'd fish and hike and do all kinds of activities on the trip, including swimming in a lake, and come home hot, sweaty and exhausted -- but happy!

Because of my health issues, it makes it difficult for me to take my sons on an overnight or weekend camping trip, much as I would like to. Still, we do spend quality time together and go on drives and visit interesting places...and I do cook for them a lot, which they and I both enjoy.

Summer activities have changed but what really matters is that the boys are happy and are active, plus they still get quality time with their parents.

Best Wishes,