Thursday, August 31, 2006

August 2006 Update: milestones, driving, cocci symposium

We've been enjoying our summer as a family this year, as this picture of Denise's first elephant ride shows. August was a wonderful month, filled with milestones...
  • Her heart monitor, scale, and some other medical-related equipment was picked up and whisked away.
  • During her first trip to the dentist in over a year, they found that her teeth looked very nice, and in fact she had less plaque than anyone expected. Particularly nice was that all the vomiting she did when she was in the hospital didn't seem to erode the enamel on her teeth.
  • The lab results from blood draws are continuing to head back toward the normal range.
  • We moved Denise's caregiver out and are on our own.
  • Denise got a referral to see a plastic surgeon and will have her tracheostomy scar worked on in October.
  • Denise started practicing her driving shortly after the last post and had her driving evaluation today. She's been given the OK to drive again!
  • Throughout August (as well as the second half of July since the last post), we've been having meals with friends, going to weddings, enjoying concerts in the park, and doing lots of things with the kids as a family. We like having Denise with us this summer!
My nurse aunt & I went to the Sixth International Symposium on Valley Fever at Stanford University August 22-26. Many thanks to the parents from my school that pitched in to cover sending me! Since they only hold this every ten years, I felt very lucky that the timing was right. We made some valuable connections with doctors & researchers that specialize in cocci. I don't recall any doctors having had a pregnant patient that survived cocci in the brain, as it appears Denise had according to the MRI results from her stay at USC. But one doctor that's seen plenty of cocci with meningitis made himself very accessible to us, and was a willing source of information. Also on hand was the doctor who discovered the first effective drug to fight cocci infection decades ago (I thanked him), and another doctor who is the grand poobah of cocci research at U.C. Davis (I met him, too).
What a learning experience I had! I and a presenter (geologist) were the only people there that weren't medical professionals. I felt stupider than I've felt in years, which is a good thing. Stretching is good. I learned a bunch... some very alarming (tops: cocci cases with meningitis frequently relapse within 6-8 years, 30% fatal), some very encouraging (tops: stories of patients doing well decades after cocci with meningitis, a promising new drug called posiconazole up for FDA approval). Some other interesting tidbits:
  • A major source of kitty litter is from cocci-rich soil in western Kern county, CA.
  • The military is having increasing problems with cocci infection due to troops being trained in cocci-endemic areas.
  • The state prisons closest to where Denise used to live (Pleasant Valley Prison in Coalinga and Avenal State Prison) top the prison cocci list, and experienced record reports only half way through year 2006.
  • Even though Fresno's a highly-populated area in the endemic region, it's mostly paved over (not much dust flying around), so relatively few valley fever cases are reported from Fresno.
  • Cocci was added to the regulated list of bioterrorism agents (yep... with anthrax & ricin)
  • My favorite: there's a case of a dolphin that contracted cocci. HOW? Did a dolphin take a stroll through Bakersfield?
Above all, after hearing what the presenters had to say and learning what I did, it makes it even more miraculous that Denise has survived and is improving. Thanks for working on her, thanks for praying for her. I like having my wife back!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unbelievable! You are all incredible. I am so happy for you Denise and your family. I continue to pray for you and love seeing the progress blogs! Thanks. Shannon Seeker RN, Charge Nurse 3 Tower Methodist Hospital
(I was the one that transfered you to ICU from the initial floor you were on)

September 28, 2006 7:26 AM  
Anonymous Kat said...

Praise the Lord for miracles. I don't know if you realize what a miracle has happened to you. I lost my brother Max to cocci meningitis in 2003. He actually was showing improvement after spending 2 months in 3 different hospitals. He was learning to walk again and was able to eat and swallow food. Then the cocci attacked his adrenal glands. Within 20 days of finding the masses on the adrenal glands, he lost his battle.
I am so happy for you and your family. May God bless you and keep you in his care.

October 26, 2006 5:03 PM  

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