Credit Matthew Ryan Williams for NPR Dr. Jim Olson meets with Carver Faull at Seattle Children's Hospital in August. Carver, now 12, had surgery to remove a brain tumor in 2012.
What I almost won...
This used to be our view.
This is our view now.
Anne K-J at senior prom with date Mack. Graduation tonight!
Toni McGee Causey
Instruments of torture?
Carrie York, DDS
NPS and federal agents discovered and eradicated six illegal marijuana fields in North Cascades National Park Complex in 2008, a scene you won't see anymore now that pot's legal in Washington.
Credit: David Snyder/National Park Service
GREG GILBERT / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Will books like this help indie authors make money?
Photo Credit: Manoj Vasanth, Flickr
The Old Library, Muntmuseum of Utrecht, The Netherlands
ONI headquarters in Suitland, Md.
Slightly smaller than a standard HK45, the HK45C has all the same features.
An SH-60B Seahawk helicopter and SH-60F Seahawk prepare to land on the flight deck of USS Kitty Hawk.
September 24, 2013
Today, I got some of the best news I’ve ever received. I didn’t win the lottery. No, it wasn’t a film deal with a major Hollywood studio, though that would have been pretty spectacular. And no, it wasn’t an amazing sales report for my latest thriller, Night Tide, though that would have been welcome, too. This bit of news actually was far better.
Twelve years ago, when I was 49, I ran three miles daily. Well, it was more like a shuffle since they were nine-minute miles. But I ran some hills, so for me it was a good workout. One day while out running, however, I experienced pain on the right side of my chest. When I stopped running, the pain dissipated.
I’ve always been in good health, have never had a problem maintaining my weight, have always eaten a healthy diet, so the pain perplexed me. Since I felt fine otherwise, I did nothing for two weeks. But the pain persisted, only when I ran, of course, so I finally called my doctor. After hearing my symptoms, the first thing she did was x-ray my chest to rule out a pulmonary embolism. When that turned up negative, she ordered a stress test. That turned out normal.
Puzzled, she scheduled a stress-echo test at the cardiology department of the hospital she’s affiliated with. As you probably know, a stress test simply involves walking on a treadmill to increase your heart rate while they monitor pulse, blood pressure and EKG readings of the heart itself. The treadmill increases in speed and incline every three minutes. The “echo” part of the test is ultrasound pictures of your heart at rest and again after you’ve cried “Uncle” on the treadmill when your heart is racing.
I met with a cardiologist after the test who said when I came in he was tempted to send me home without conducting the test. My weight was fine; my cholesterol levels were good. I was obviously fit and active. He went on to give me the results of my test. “The good news,” he said, “is that you’re in the physical condition of an average 16 year-old. The bad news is that there’s definitely something wrong with the way you’re heart is working.”
He scheduled me for an angiogram, and not surprisingly given the stress-echo results, found a coronary artery that was 80 percent blocked. He put in a stent, prescribed a cholesterol-lowering statin (despite my excellent cholesterol numbers), and sent me on my way.
The miracle of modern medicine. In 1975, My uncle died of a heart attack at the age of 48, suggesting my coronary artery disease is genetic. But advances in medicine saved me from a similar fate. Except that all the preventive steps I took to ward off the disease and a recurrence of a blocked artery didn’t work. In the summer of 2012, I went back into the hospital for angioplasty, this time getting two stents.
This time I scheduled follow-up after the surgery with a cardiologist in the clinic where my GP works. She told me that things had changed in the eleven years between my angioplasties, that cardiologists know a lot more about the disease now. So she ordered a lipids panel not only to see where my cholesterol levels were but where levels of specific triglycerides were. And she found a possible culprit for why my disease continued to advance despite everything I’d done. Lipoprotein(a). Lp(a) is one of those triglycerides that a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine says could be a major contributor to heart disease in some patients. Mine was high. Other studies have shown that massive doses of niacin, a B vitamin, can help bring it down in some patients. She asked if I was game to try it. Hell, yes!
I worked up to a dose of 1,000 mg of niacin, and after six months had my blood lipids tested again. Lp(a) levels, which had been over 200, went down a disappointing 9 points. My cardiologist told me if I could tolerate a higher dose and was willing to try I might reduce the levels further, and at least the niacin was helping some.
I gradually increased the dosage to 1,750 mg, and had another lipids panel run. Today I followed up with my cardiologist. My Lp(a) level is half of what it was six months ago; my HDL (good cholesterol) is up and LDL (bad cholesterol) is down. In other words, I dramatically cut the risk of the disease advancing further. I may never need another stent or by-pass surgery.
Since my first stent was put in, I don’t think I’ve taken a single day for granted. I’m not stopping now. In fact, if I can tolerate it, I’m increasing my dosage of niacin to 2,000 mg a day—with my doctor’s blessing, of course—to see if I can get that Lp(a) level down just a little more.
Today was a beautiful day.
How do you celebrate life? What good news have you gotten lately?
September 13, 2013
I love life’s little “ah-ha!” moments. Those times when you’re reminded to look outside yourself and see the bigger picture. To remember why we’re here and what life’s really about. On my way into Seattle early this morning to play tennis (there’s an “ah-ah!” moment right there—several of these guys are pushing 90 and are still out on the courts smacking a tennis ball, which is major inspiration to me), I heard a feature on the radio about a local doctor here in Seattle. (more…)
September 5, 2013
A couple of weeks ago a marvelous thing happened to me. I was called out by a complete stranger for something I wrote on my blog. He didn’t catch me misrepresenting falsehoods as truth or making a mistake in research. He accused me of an error in judgment, and he was absolutely right. (more…)
September 4, 2013
The smell of gas hung on the porch of the ramshackle house like a bookie’s leg-breaker, heavy and oppressive, full of menace. I backed away cautiously, nose full of the rotten-egg odorant in the gas. Finding a spot where polluted air left off and fresh air began was tough. (more…)
August 28, 2013
By now you’ve seen the rave reviews and blog posts about “On The Lam,” the three-day Thomas & Mercer authors event held in Seattle last weekend. One of the terrific aspects of the confab was the opportunity to talk shop with so many great writers in a variety of relaxed social situations as well as more formal workshop panel Q&A sessions. (more…)
August 25, 2013
This past weekend I took part in an extraordinary event. Amazon Publishing’s Thomas & Mercer imprint brought 62 of its authors into Seattle for a three-day whirlwind schedule of education and socializing called "On The Lam." (more…)
August 10, 2013
Recently, a first-time author e-mailed me and asked me if I would blurb his new novel. I told him that since I don’t have a large fan base, a blurb from me likely wouldn’t help his sales much. He replied that it wasn’t important; he simply wanted blurbs from authors he admires. Since I find myself in the same position once a year or so, I agreed, but set some ground rules. (more…)
August 1, 2013
Once again stuck for something really clever and poignant to blog about this week, and since it’s so much easier to complain than constructively criticize or laud something positive, I’ll start off with a couple of rants.
Up first is a transportation project here in Washington State. (more…)
July 25, 2013
This post originally appeared as an article in Mystery Readers Journal, Volume 29, No. 2, Summer 2013. You can find it at http://www.mysteryreaders.org/Issues/chicago2013.html.
I miss you, city of the big shoulders. I miss your Midwestern sensibility, your no-nonsense, straightforward approach to the world, your friendliness. You’re the city that works. (more…)
July 15, 2013
I was in New York last week for Thrillerfest, and as a Thriller Award nominee (for Best Original Paperback) I attended the awards banquet Saturday night with my wife and daughter. The folks at Thomas & Mercer were kind enough to invite us to sit at one the two tables they'd reserved for their four (four!
We had a wonderful time. Fortunately for Sean Doolittle, and unfortunately for me, I didn't win. Sean's LAKE COUNTRY did. In the weeks leading up to Thrillerfest I vacillated over whether or not to prepare remarks. I was afraid that if I did I'd jinx my chances. But I took my wife's sage advice and cobbled together some thoughts prior to the big event.
Had I gotten a Thriller Award, here's what I would have said: (more…)