Old News

Archived news items from May 2002
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news from June 2002

Tuesday, 28 May 2002 [00:21 CDT]

Actually late Monday night...

School's out, grading is done, Mom is out of the hospital, my Internet connection is back up, my checkbook is balanced, and Paul's wedding is in less than two weeks. Life is good. I'll fill in the details within a day or so when I get the chance.

Tuesday, 21 May 2002 [16:32 CDT]

Internet connection is due to be hooked up Thursday afternoon. My current count of emails still on the server is 112.

The funeral was a good service. My grandmother was a remarkable woman, and she leaves a legacy of faith. She was 73, and had been married for 57 years.

I saw Mom briefly after the service (she'd had lots of visitors that day). She was able to talk and seemed to be generally in good spirits. Yesterday she was able to get up out of bed and go to the restroom by herself.

Probably no more updates until I can do this from home.

Friday, 17 May 2002 [13:52 CDT]

The home internet connection is still down, and probably will be for the rest of the week. I can still check email sometimes, though it's hard for me to reply.

There are some reports that they've got Mom's trach tube rigged so that she can speak sometimes. Her voice is weak, but it's there. There are standing orders to transfer her out of the I.C.U. into a semi-regular room at the ETMC "Specialty" hospital a few floors up, but they're waiting for a bed. Though at the rate she's recovering, she may be "too well" for even the specialty rooms by the time one opens up.

Mamaw's funeral is 10:00 A.M. tomorrow at Main Street Baptist Church in Grand Saline, TX. It doesn't look like Mom is going to get to go, which is disappointing. She does have a phone in her room and called Papaw yesterday and talked for a few minutes.

One of my friends has loaned me a car with cruise control and a CD player for the drive. This is excellent.

Wednesday, 15 May 2002 [10:48 CDT]

My internet connection from home is currently down. Could be a bit before I've got internet access at home, so I'll do my best to keep folks updated and still check my email and things.

Mom is still improving, but her mother passed away yesterday. She's been in the nursing home with Alzheimer's disease for months. Now she is in the presence of her Lord. The funeral is soon.

Sunday, 12 May 2002 [23:34 CDT]

I did get to go see Spider-Man today. I enjoyed it. I think it was a better movie than LOTR, even, though I'm a bit biased because I knew the latter's story already.

I forgot to mention that on the drive home yesterday, I was tired (which is understandable considering I drove over nine hours in two days). I kept having to stop every hour or so to get out and stretch and clear my head. So in Hearne (about half way) I bought some spicy peanuts and Snapple Spark (TM) - mandarin carrot juice drink with ginseng, bee pollen, guarana and caffeine. That did the trick.

And it's not for the faint-of-heart, but frozen bubble is available for Windows. They have a CD-ROM image there you can download and burn onto a CD, then boot off that CD into a stripped-down Linux system with just enough to run the game. For those that really want to try it.

Saturday, 11 May 2002 [21:52 CDT]

I'm back in Austin, after visiting Mom again this weekend. She can move her forearms and lower legs. This means she can hold the dry-erase board herself, hold the marker and write on her own. Her handwriting is still a bit messier than normal, but much improved from a couple of days ago. She can definitely form words with her mouth, but the way her trach tube is hooked up prevents air from getting from her lungs to her mouth, so they lack sound.

She has an infection in her throat where the trach tube was put in, though the doctors aren't very worried about it. This means, however, that visitors have to put on rubber gloves and face masks.

Her back hurts (I think they changed her to a different room with a different type of bed to try to help that) and she's quite bloated because her digestive system is still paralyzed.

Despite all these little discomforts, she's doing well and is still improving. Your prayers are appreciated; they *are* having an effect.

In other news, the kids turned in their end-of-the-year projects, so we're done with C++ for another year. My CS-II students took the AP test on Thursday, also. Hopefully this year I did a better job of preparing them.

And I've been playing a lot of Frozen Bubble, a really nicely done game. Unfortunately for most of you readers, it's only available for linux, so you can't join me in my addiction.

And am I the only one that hasn't seen Spider-Man yet?

Thursday, 9 May 2002 [23:47 CDT]

Latest Mom update: she's now able to write using a dry-erase marker taped to her finger. She still can't swallow, move her arms or legs. And the first thing she wanted to "say" on her dry erase board? She asked Dad to return her four now overdue library books.

I'm going up there again tomorrow and Saturday. Thanks for all your emails of support.

Wednesday, 8 May 2002 [22:36 CDT]

Mom is still improving. Her head is now tube-free (they've got a trach tube through her throat for breathing, and are feeding her intravenously). She can open her eyes completely, but can only keep them open for a little bit before the muscles tire. She can move her hands and feet well, but still can't move arms or legs.

Here's a report from Dad on the antitoxin she received today:

Botulism toxin comes in seven distinct "types", only four of which are known to effect humans. We most commonly get type A or B, and people in Alaska sometimes get type E. The most rare for humans is Type F, and that's the kind Brynda has!! Last Friday, she was given a "trivalent antitoxin" effective against A,B, &E. The "experts" have been surprised that she has improved so much, and have speculated that the E antitox has "crossed over" and neutralized the F toxin. (Or, maybe it's a miracle from God :)

Yesterday, the CDC offered to send an "investigational" heptavalent antitoxin, being developed by the military for use in bioterrorism / chem warfare situations. It has antitoxins for A,B,C,D,E,F,G types of botulism. (7 = 'hepta'). They said if we wanted to give it to Brynda, they had a jet "standing by" to fly it to Tyler. After consulting with our local MD, each other, and God, we said, "let's do it".

So that's the scoop. I plan to visit again this weekend.

Six weeks projects are due tomorrow. The kids are thrilled, I can tell you.

Monday, 6 May 2002 [18:12 CDT]

I just got a call from Dad. "One of the mice died," he reports. This means that Mom definitely does have botulism. The vector is quite rare (only a dozen other reported cases in the U.S.): she had gastro-intestinal surgery on April 19. As part of the surgery, they had killed off all the natural flora in her intestines, leaving her with "a pristine colon" (to quote my father again). Then she ingested a spore (probably not uncommon), which set up shop and began producing the botulism toxin inside her. This, incidentally, is how most infants get botulism.

To make things even more interesting, it looks like she may have a rare strain of the toxin, on top of the unusual infection method.

Dad also reports that she's able to move her fingers at will now and can almost make a fist. She can also move her lips a little and thinks she might even be able to swallow. So, good news all around! (Except, of course, for the little mouse, who gave his life to confirm the diagnosis.)

Continue to pray that the nerve damage will heal quickly. ICU ain't cheap!

Now I'm off to the senior awards ceremony to present this year's computer science award and watch all the others.

Sunday, 5 May 2002 [19:58 CDT]

Friday was a bad-weather makeup day, so I drove up to Tyler again to see Mom, and stayed through Saturday afternoon.

Mother does not have Miller Fisher syndrome. That we know for sure. It is now suspected that she has botulism. Complicating matters is that she almost certainly didn't get it from food.

Friday afternoon the last piece of evidence came in confirming that she didn't have Miller Fisher, so they started her on botulism antitoxin (shipped in a hurry from the CDC in Austin), and followed that up with some old-fashioned penicillin. By Saturday afternoon, she was able to move her thumbs and her left big toe on command again, but only once every half hour or so.

Continue to pray that the nerve damage (now finally halted, we think) will be healed quickly.

Oh, and Tuesday is my brother's birthday. So get him a present or something.

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