Some people have told me this would be a great place to write. Not going to get any neighbors dropping by on a whim, or the telephone ringing constantly. And it’s pretty quiet sitting in the middle of Biscayne Bay. Well, not quite in the middle, but you have to admit, not much here just a mile south of Key Biscayne. At one time twenty homes sat in the north east corner of the bay, but in 1992 hurricane Andrew with her 190 mph winds knocked that down to around seven.
But how did this collection of homes start?
Back in the 1930’s, an enterprising fisherman by the name of “Crawfish” Eddie Walker decided to sell bait and beer from his shack. His establishment was a wooden house plunked down on a barge. For the men who fished, netted, and trapped the reef, it was a time saver to stop at Eddie’s, rather than motoring all the way back to town. Eddie was given his nickname because he made chowder from the crawfish he harvested under his shop.
Soon prohibition caused an economic boom in the bay. Gambling was allowed (and bootlegging) a mile off shore. Stiltsville is about 250 yards over the limit. The good times flourish. The structures grew into a small town. And of course, no taxes were being paid. Can’t have that, now can we. And the Federal Government changed the law to a three mile limit.
The flappers, rum-runners, and speakeasies left, but the homes survived.
As you can see, some of the homes have a lot of square footage. The structures are built in water between five and twenty feet deep. The stilts look like telephone poles that were driven into the sandy bottom, and the homes are made out of Dade County pine. Very sturdy.
So I decided to visit one. The captain of the boat didn’t want to motor under the house or anchor very close. Shallows come up quickly in the bay and the risk of running aground is always present. Thus the boat was anchored just outside the channel, meaning I’d have to snorkel a ways. And, not checking the tide chart, we arrived as the bay was emptying itself into the ocean.
Strapping on my fins, de-fogging my mask, and grabbing the dive flag, I slid off the boat’s swim platform and headed to the nice blue color house with the pink shutters. Everything in Miami has flair. The salty water felt warm against my bare skin and I kicked against the current looking for a place where I could stand. No such luck.
Underneath the house, the water was twelve feet deep and the current still kicking. I snagged the dive flag’s stainless steel hook onto a barnacle encrusted piling, held on, and rested. To my surprise this stilt was made out of concrete. The boat dock under the house was destroyed and the stairwell leading up to the home was gone. I had picked the wrong house to try and explore.
Underneath the structure, there was calmness. Some yellow stripped sergeant majors swam by and every now and then a barracuda scooted over to see what I was up to. But as I lay floating on the surface, holding onto the float line to keep the current from swirling me out to the reefs, I’m thinking, this would be a great place to hole up and write. Especially if your story involves the ocean.
It seemed I was only there for a few minutes, when the boat crew signaled that my hour was up and for me to return.
I apologize for having been MIA for the last few weeks. I signed contracts with Putnam/Penguin to produce a new 3rd edition to The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Private Investigating. I wrote most of that while I was in the hospital. I’m now working on the edits that the various editors have made. So I have sort of neglected the blog. I do have another blog on Haleigh coming up. It is old material but it contains material that will be all new to you folks.
While I was in Gainesville as an out-patient (for a 100 days after the transplant) some friends from my church drove over from Ponte Vedra, FL. They brought their two kids, their teenage son, Conner, and their daughter, Lexi, who was on her way to BYU to college. Lexi plays the harp. They brought it in from their car and she played a couple of songs for me. I’ve posted them to Youtube and you can hear and see her here.
As for my condition, I have returned home and no longer need a 24 hour care giver. While I was in Gainsville my wife needed a break so one of my daughters flew out from San Diego to stay with me and the wife could go home for 5 days. My daughter Brookie has 4 children so my other daughter Kjristi, who also has 4 kids pititched in and watched Brookie’s kids while Brookie’s husband was at work.
You may rember on the post before last I mentioned a young woman who had breast cancer and now had leukemia. What I didn’t tell you was that she was also pregnant. I saw her last week and they were going to take the baby when she reached 29 weeks. Which was last week. Then they would start the intensive chemo prior to doing the bone marrow transplant.
Sometimes we think our burden in life is heavy. Then we meet a person whose burden is twice as heavy as our own.
In my last post my post I mentioned I had the cytomegalovirus. I have been receiving daily infusions (seven days a week) of foscarnet which is a drug designed to control the virus. If we can get the CMV count down to zero twice then we will discontinue the treatments but monitor the CMV counts. The foscarnet kicks my butt.
Last week two of my good friends paid me a visit. Frank Green, who has taught me more about the craft of writing than anybody. He is truly a master of the Word. He holds a free writer’s workshop in his home every Wednesday night and has for twenty years. Frank has crewed for me on my boat and I have killed him three times but each time he has resurrected. His doctor won’t let him travel with me any more.
The other friend was Jeffrey “Hammerhead” Philips who has also crewed for me. I’ve known Jeffrey for almost 20 years. He is a terrific writer and you can buy his book Murder on Devil Ray Reef by clicking on the book cover to the left of this post. It’s a terrific read and I recommend it.
It is good to have friends who support you when times are tough. They stayed with me while I slept through part of the 3 1/2 hour infusion process and then we made a quick run to the store.
Thank you to all of my friends.
There are times when I expect we all contemplate death. Life is full of challenges and especially those that attack our health and our emotions. I was sitting in the BMT clinic this morning with a young lady who had breast cancer. She did the chemo, the radiation, and had the reconstructive surgery. I had been warned in my own case that the chemo for my leukemia treatment might control the leukemia but could also cause me to get other cancers, especially skin cancers. Which it did.
Well this young lady, after going through the breast cancer treatment, now has leukemia which was caused by the breast cancer chemotherapy . They told her there was a five percent chance of her chemotherapy causing other cancers and unfortunately she fell in that small percentage. Now she is looking at a bone marrow transplant. So what is the purpose in life of all these difficult circumstances that we find ourselves struggling through? Is this really the refiner’s fire? I have come to two conclusions. At the end of one’s life (not that I am there yet) what really matters is the type of person you’ve become during this journey. Generous, kind, considerate, friendly or maybe mean, intolerant of others, and generally old and ornery.
The other conclusion I have reached is that even out of the worst of conditions, war, pestilence, imprisonment or pollution, small things of great beauty can be found if you open your eyes to your true surroundings. In the midst of going through this bone marrow-stem cell transplant I’ve seem to come up with something that is called the Cytomegalovirus(CMV). About 85 % of people have this virus lying dormant in their systems. Me too. Your immune system keeps it in check and you never know it’s there. When your immune system is depressed, all of the sudden the virus wakes up, looks around and says, “hey, I’m free” and begins to wreak havoc. We artificially depressed my immune system to allow my donor’s stem cells to graft into my bone marrow. So now this CMV is beginning to grow. Those $75 per pills (4 a day) that I received a few weeks ago were supposed to have knocked it back down. And they did for a few days but it seems to be making a comeback. So now I am going in every morning for an infusion of a drug that is in very short supply. So short that the drug manufacturer only supplies it to Bone Marrow Clinics (yeah, that is us) and no where else. You can google CMV and read all about it. Bottom line, is that if we don’t get it under control it proves to be 100% fatal in BMT patients. The doctors here tell me they haven’t lost a patient to to CMV in 8 years so I’m not too concerned.
But back to the point of this post. Across the back road at the Shands Cancer Institute where the Bone Marrow Transplant Clinic is located, there is a very, very, scummy pond. I’ve heard that the motel (which is now closed) behind the pond , dumped raw sewage in to the pond. I don’t know if that is true or not but it’s about the scummiest pond I’ve ever seen. Still in the midst of this pond, standing in several feet of water and on the banks of the pond are some of the most beautiful hibiscus I have ever seen.
Is there beauty even in the center of a sometimes scummy world? Yes, there is.
First I want thank all of you who have donated to the Steve Brown Bone Marrow Transplant Fund. Your continuing donationas are of tremendous help to me. I have to add a new drug to the plethora drugs they already have me on. They said they had to get “prior authorization” for it. So I suggested I just go ahead and buy it. It is kind of critical that I get it. I asked how much it was and the pharmacist said a 30 day supply of these pills sells for (are you sitting down?) $6000. The donate button to the left still works. Thank you so much.
Sorry that I have been missing in action latley. These last three weeks have been particularly rough. The good news is that they did the DNA tests on me and the donor grafted in 100% . So that is excellent. Once the donor grafts he begins to reject my body. This called graft vs host disease. He attacks my various organs. So far he has attacked my skin and my eyes.
I have not been able to read a computera screen for 3 weeks. But it is better today. I had to be readmitted to the hospital twice because of fevers in the 103.6 range. I was back in for 8 days. Out for 3 days and then back in for another 8. Now I am out staying in this apartment close to Shands Cancer Hospital in Gainesville Fl with a 24 Hour hour caregiver.
My good writing buddy Jeffrey “hammerhead ” Philips came up and relieved my wife for a few days as my caregiver. That was the second time my fever went off the charts. So we wet towels and put them in the freezer. Then laid them all over my body to reduce the fever. It is really very effective . But once I started vomiting we decided to head for the hospital . Good move because I was inpatient there for another 8 days.
Sixteen authors from Mystery Writers of America (MWA) and Romance Writers of America (RWA) have united for a one-day event to help pay for Steve’s mounting medical costs. We are calling it “Sell Books for Steve Day”. The participating authors will donate a percentage of the proceeds from the day’s sale of one of their titles toward Steve’s medical fund. The event will take place on Monday, July 16th. This will be a great event for everyone. The reader will be able to purchase a book from his or her favorite author and/or discover a new author. The authors will get credit for selling their books, and most importantly, funds will be raised for Steve. What a great method to help him.
The books for sale are e-books, although several titles will have a link for both electronic and hard copies (for hard copies and other formats, be sure you read carefully any instructions regarding payment to ensure that your purchase counts toward the event). Below are the authors who are willing to help Steve and their books. Please follow the links and decide which books you’d like to purchase. Remember, in order for your purchase to count toward the dollars raised for Steve, you must make your purchase on July 16th. And please help us spread the word about this event by adding this link, www.handcuffedtotheocean.com to your Facebook page or blog site or Tweet message on your Twitter feed before and during the event.
The more books we sell on July 16th, the more money we raise!
Thank you everyone, authors and readers.
HEAVEN’S FIRE by Sandra Balzo
When a federal investigator and a television producer are thrown together by a fireworks tragedy on Lake Michigan, the man unable to let go of his past and the woman afraid to trust her future must race to prevent another catastrophic explosion–this one at the county’s Fourth of July celebration.
“Equal parts thriller, romance and family saga… a compelling and deeply human read.” –Joan Johnston, New York Times bestselling author of TEXAS BRIDE
Link to the book: Kindle - http://tinyurl.com/73mgrmx
Trade paperback http://tinyurl.com/6pr4zgy
IMPERFECT CONTRACT by Gregg Brickman
Driven from police work by the cold realities of the job—getting shot can do that—Sophia Burgess finds her place in nursing. She brought with her the qualities that made her a good cop—fierce independence, inquiring mind, and edgy personality.
Then the victim comes to her.
Sophia’s patient dies, but not from natural causes. She uses her clinical acumen as a nurse, her deductive skills as a former cop, and her police detective ex-fiancée to find the killer.
Link to the book: http://tinyurl.com/imperfectcontract
ANNABELLE’S ATTACK by Diane Capri
“Full of thrills and tension – but smart and human too.”
Lee Child , #1 New York Times Bestselling Author of Jack Reacher Thrillers
Three unlikely events explode thrusting young lawyer Jennifer Lane into the abyss of her family’s secret history. Family records search, DNA, and more reveal stolen lives and a stolen cure for deadly hepatitis C. A bewildering maze of betrayal, intrigue, and murder, put Jennifer’s license to practice law, her heart, and her very life on the line. Who will survive?
Grab your copy today and don’t even think about getting a tattoo (or having one removed) until you read Annabelle’s Attack!
AMERICAN FOOTBALL BASICS by Linda Gordon Hengerer
For anyone who’s ever watched a football game and wanted to know what happened, or what the analysts just said, this book is for you.
· Glossary of terms
· Field layout
· How the game is played
· National Football League, Conferences and Divisions
KEY LIME BLUES by Mike Jastrzebski
For some people working in the family business means suits, power lunches, and afternoon meetings. For Wes Darling it was guns, lies, and dead bodies.
The Darling Detective Agency was founded in 1876 by Aaron ‘Dusty’ Darling. Now Wes’s chain smoking, stressed out mother is grooming Wes to take over. How does he handle his mother’s demands? He heads to Key West, moves onto a sailboat, and takes a job tending bar at a little joint called Dirty Alvin’s. Life is carefree until his mother’s lover, a man who mentored Wes for years, is murdered on a Key West Beach. Reluctantly, Wes is drawn into a spinning web of murder, sex and deceit.
First there are his mother’s pleas for help. Throw in a six-foot-tall red-headed stripper, a retired mobster who acts like it’s the 1940’s, a pair of dim-witted hit men, a phobic psychic named Elvis, a small fortune in stolen diamonds, and what do you have? Mayhem in Key West.
CIRCLE OF BONES by Christine Kling
Former U.S. Marine Maggie Riley is sailing alone in the Caribbean when she rescues a crazy conspiracy-spouting treasure hunter who is swimming in the buff off the island of Guadeloupe. She soon learns he is searching for the wreck of the World War II submarine Surcouf that vanished in 1942. He claims the sub holds millions in gold coins, as well as secret documents that will prove the existence of a powerful inner circle of Skull and Bones. Riley joins the search for the wreck when she discovers her own past intersects the inner Circle of Bones, and this conspiracy nut might not be so crazy after all.
BLINKE IT AWAY by Victoria Landi
RECKLESS NIGHTS IN ROME by Christina MacKenzie
Nico Ferranti’s only passions are money and power… He’s a man who stopped believing in romance long ago and Bronte’s a romantic, yet the attraction sparking between them like fireworks over the Piazza del Popolo stuns Nico.
When Bronte’s brother is badly hurt in a car accident in Rome, Nico whisks Bronte to the Eternal City. He wants her and he wants The Dower House and Nico Ferranti always gets what he wants.
But Bronte’s heart has already been broken by one ruthless charmer and although tempted she isn’t about to give up either her heart or her home to the charismatic Italian without a fight!
NOVAN WITCH by Prudence MacLead
RUSSIAN BOY by Neil S. Plakcy
The Russian Boy is a nude portrait of a young Russian noble, Alexei Dubernin, the painter’s lover. Their affair takes place in 1912, during the dying days of the Romanov empire, in their winter haven on the Cote d’Azur. The bulk of the novel, though, takes place in the present, when poor student Dmitri Baranov steals the painting from a restorer’s studio in Paris, hoping to earn enough money to continue his studies at an art academy in Montmartre. His American boyfriend and fellow student chases him to the Riviera, where Dmitri plans to make contact with the gangster who hired him, and exchange the painting for cash. But art theft consultant Rowan McNair is on his trail. Alliances shift, and new loves emerge. Each man must risk his life to earn the love he deserves.
A reviewer for Amazon wrote, “Plakcy recaptures the romantic intrigue of Hitchcock’s classic, To Catch a Thief, in this tale of love and art theft set in Nice, with a mature romantic hero reminiscent of the luscious (and bisexual) Cary Grant.”
Link to the book: http://www.tinyurl.com/therussianboy
Somewhere over the rainbow … is a giant dumpster. At least, that’s how things appear to Frankie Wunder when she discovers her husband’s been cheating on her and there are no fairy tale endings on her horizon. But Frankie, a successful South Beach realtor, isn’t prepared to leave her future up to the wave of anyone’s wand. Determined to find a man who meets her criteria for the perfect husband and father of the child she desperately wants, Frankie goes on a diet, assembles a list of prospective candidates, and immerses herself in the South Beach dating scene. But is a man who’s rich, successful, and willing to take care of her what Frankie really wants? As she works her way through a deceitful doctor, a lecherous lawyer, and a rakish real estate executive–the men most South Beach Cinderellas would gladly lose a slipper to–Frankie realizes her dream men are nightmares and her true Prince Charming is nothing like the guy in the fairy tale.
THE THROWBACKS by Stephanie Queen
To salvage his career, exiled Scotland Yard “Flying Squad” detective, the not-so-young David Young, joins the Boston Police Department.
But this rogue detective can’t resist an unlikely romance with his young and vivacious decorator, Grace Rogers, even when she becomes a key witness in his high-stakes case–and like Kryptonite to his career and well-being.
4.5 Star Romantic Times Book Review:
Link to the book: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0067DDUTW
A murdered friend leaves the secret of her paranormal perfume with warmhearted oddball Saylor Oz, launching her into a deadly seven-day race to find the killer, aided only by her wisecracking BFF Benita Morales and smoking hot middleweight boxer Eldridge Mace. Danger never smelled so sweet.
Masquerading as explorer Sir John Abbot, dashing conman Malcolm Northrup goes on the road with a lecture tour to raise funds for a bogus expedition in search of the lost continent of Atlantis. But his schemes go awry when he is kidnapped by feisty scholar Halia Davenport, who is determined to carry on her late father’s quest to find that mythical site.
Link to the Book: http://tinyurl.com/7kdrfjp
While Helen’s cruising to the Bahamas, Phil’s got his own job—trying to catch a sexy gold digger who may have killed her elderly husband for his fortune. Good thing he’s a self-proclaimed master of disguise, playing it cool as everything from an air-conditioning repairman to a Rastafarian.
Helen’s a help to Phil on his case, but when she’s on her own on the high seas, Helen needs to watch her step as she searches out the smuggler—or she may end up going from undercover to overboard…
Link to the book: http://www.amazon.com/Final-Sail-Dead-End-Job-Mystery/dp/0451236742/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1333462171&sr=1-1_ http://www.murderonthebeach.com/pages/order.asp (with free shipping for FINAL SAIL and an additional $2 from Murder on the Beach) or e-mail to: email@example.com
While diving on Jesse Stoker’s boat, Cassandra, a local radio personality awaiting contract with extraterrestrials, disappears. Stoker considers her a hoaxster, but allowed the charter because the bank is ready to repossess his vessel.
Cassandra’s body is found three days later, but the M.E. finds she’s only been dead for five hours. Once it’s known that Stoker filled her tanks and she died from oxygen poisoning, he becomes the prime suspect. He’s never lost a diver before, doesn’t believe in alien abduction, and doesn’t believe she just died. To clear his name, stop a wrongful death suit, and save his livelihood, Stoker must figure out where Cassandra spent the missing days and find her killer.
Link to the book: http://tinyurl.com/likejeffreyonamazon
PLUS Author, Author! has an additional 19 books being offered. And even better, their offer extends until July 20th. Please follow this link: http://www.author-author.net
Thank you everyone.
First I’d like to thank all of you who have have so generously donated to the Steve Brown Bone Marrow Transplant Fund by clicking on the donation button to the left of this post. Next week a choice group of authors have banded together to donate to the fund proceeds of all the books they sell on July 16, 2012 through this website. My good friend and author Jeffrey Philips has organized this event. He’ll post photos of their books with links to Amazon where they can be purchased. Some of these books are paperbacks and there will be separate links to the paperbacks. Most of the the others are e-books so you’ll need an ebook reader, tablet, iPad, or read it as a pdf file on your computer. The prices are very inexpensive you you should consider buying several. You might find a new author that you’re never read before and fall in love the author.
July 16, it tuns out will be a very special day for me. On that date they will do some DNA analysis, to see who is in control of my body. My donor or me.
Now on to where I am. The BMT unit here really puts an emphasis on exercise while your in inpatient. They recommend you walk a least a mile. They also offer “chair yoga” on Tuesday’s Thursday’s afternoon.
I’b been feeling pretty well and was getting my mile in every day. Then I started with the chair yoga.
As with most large companies, quarterly or annually, it’s best to stop and assess where your business is and where you want it to go. I work for a small periodontal company and we do the same. But instead of meeting in some boring board room with a dull paint job and a conference table strewn with electronic gadgets and smudged coffee cups, we headed to a palm tree lined beach.
We meet at 9 am at the Jupiter Island Beach Resort for breakfast. I’m sure that sometime between bacon and eggs, pancakes, and hash browns, we mentioned the business. This resort we chose is just south of the Jupiter Inlet and has a rock ledge that runs in front of the hotel extending north and south for about a mile. The reef is close in shore, 50 feet from the beach, and at low tide the depth ranges from eight to fifteen feet. The off-white colored beach is narrow, but has room for blue lounge chairs, white oversized umbrellas, and plastic tables for cold rum punches. At the water’s edge is a series of rectangular boulders, perfect for sitting and splashing the ocean with your feet. There are several sandy cuts so entry into the blue water is easy. Perfect for snorkeling.
They took me down in a wheel chair, I could have walked but they insisted that I ride. There is a tunnel that runs between the Cancer Hospital and what they call the north tower. After an hour wait, they laid me on a table and did an ultrasound around the CVL line. No blood clots. I could have told them that . Not that I’ve ever had a blot clot but this pain wasn’t that severe. So it was a late night that night. For the last 4 days my Absolute Neutroplhil count has been rising. It was supposed to go down to zero and the donor’s bone marrow stem cells were supposed to graft in and the count would start rising as the donor cells grafted in and begin to get to work. But mine never bottomed out. They got as low as 160 which is pretty low but it’s not zero. Your normal count should be between 2,000 and 7,000. If your count is below 500 you’re considered neutropenic and have to eat a neutropenic diet which means no fresh fruits, especially thin skinned ones. A banana that you can peel is normally alright but Shands goes a step further and says no fresh fruit. Or lettuce or tomatoes. They want to a avoid all germs. You have to wear a mask whenever you leave your room and you can’t leave the hospital floor.
My neutrophil count began rising from the 160 level for the last four days. I actually got into the 500′s yesterday. The question is, whose neutrophils are they? Mine or the donors? They would have expected that I would show some signs of Graft vs Host Disease (GVHD). In fact they like to see a little of that as it indicates the donor cells have began to graft in.
I have been feeling pretty good, just very tired, but everyday I walk a mile in laps around the floor. All of the doctors and nurses here say that walking, staying up, moving around, biking, (yes I have a stationary bike in my room) all promote faster healing and prompt the bone marrow to produce its product in a shorter time frame.
Then last night my platelet count dropped to 18. Platelets are the blood cells that produce clotting of the blood at sites of injuries. Normal platelet count is between 150 and 450 so you can see 18 is pretty darn low. So at 5 am this morning they gave me two bags of platelets. I wondered what blood types the platelets were because I am A+ and my donor is B+ and they are not compatible. They split the difference and gave be platelets from some one that was AB+.