Category Archives: Personal stuff

Just another nice day on the bike, plus update on Kevin, Becky & Karen

wolh_05_03_16Not quite warm enough yet to dispense with the base layer and leg warmers, but at least we’re into regular (short-finger) glove mode! Eric, JR, Marcus, Karl & Karen this morning; older Kevin is off cycling in Mallorca, while younger Kevin is still having his brain scanned.

It was one of those rides where you really felt pretty awful at the start, but the longer you rode, the better you felt. Truthfully, I felt OK once we hit Kings. I didn’t know I felt OK until I found I was still on Marcus’ wheel when everyone else had dropped off the pace a bit. A quick regroup at the park entrance, after which things split up again… I dropped back to keep an eye on the rear, but chased back up to the front again, finally circling back at the wide open section. It’s likely I could have had another decent time on the climb, but more important to make sure everyone’s OK.

kevin_fat_frogAfter work, it was time to check up on Kevin and see if he’s still OK. He’d had an interesting day; his doctor had come by and was, literally, playing with Kevin’s brain. Those 80 electrodes connected to his brain, the electrodes that tell the doctor what Kevin’s brain is up to? Turns out they can be used in reverse. Pretty cool. The doctor can stimulate any one of those areas and basically do a sort of puppet-master thing on Kevin, causing him arm to fly out and open, various muscles to twitch, or, in one of the funnier things anyone has seen, force an involuntary smile. Seriously. I got to see a recording of it his girlfriend had made. Pretty hilarious!

Kevin will be leaving the hospital on Sunday, and then head back a couple weeks later to have a very high-tech brain stimulator implanted in his skull. Something that will actually learn from his seizures and (hopefully) figure out a way to trigger an anti-seizure before a real seizure gets a chance to start. Clearly, interesting times are ahead!

Tomorrow is lining up to be another significant day. On the good side of things, Becky finally gets the cast off her broken foot. It’s been a month since she’s been able to ride to work. On the praying-for-good-news side, my wife (Becky & Kevin’s mom) gets the results of a high-tech scan she had today, results that will hopefully show that her newly-discovered cancer hasn’t spread beyond what was found (and removed) a couple weeks ago. If the scan does find more, hopefully it will give her doctors the information they need to aggressively go after it. This is her 3rd time with breast cancer, something she’s lost her mom, and one of her sisters to. The road ahead will not be easy, but cancer treatment is significantly better today than even the 5 or so years ago when she lost her sister. Still, it’s going to be a challenge holding everything together, but you just have to take things one at a time, as they come to you. That and a healthy amount of prayer. –Mike

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A long day for Kevin (and the family)

kevin_surgery_trio

It started out like any other day. Up at 5:30am, quick shower, drive Kevin to Kaiser for brain surgery. That’s pretty typical, right? Thought so.

Seriously, there’s not much worth getting up that early for, other than having to catch an early flight to someplace REALLY special (and even then I’d spend a fair number of $$$ more to catch a later flight) or maybe having to drive a couple hours to a bike century. Maybe. In general, I’d try to find a hotel closer so I could get an extra hour of sleep.┬áBut it’s not every day you get to have your skull sawed open, get 80 electrodes placed directly on top of your brain, seal it back up and then settle in for a painful week at the hospital.

Why would anyone do that? In Kevin’s case, it’s an opportunity to try and reduce the severity, maybe eliminate entirely, his epilepsy seizures. The process is so simple! Do what I described above, slowly withdraw the meds that try to control his seizures, then massively document the brain activity associated with the seizures that ensue. After a week of this, the data is analyzed and a decision made to either replace, er, I mean, remove the tiny part of the brain that’s sending out the seizure signals (which is hopefully identified by all those electrodes) or implant an electronic gadget that analyzes, in real time, brain wave data. When it detects a seizure about to start, it creates an anti-seizure to stop it in its tracks.

The procedures aren’t terribly risky, but it’s still quite an investment in time (a month off the bike and away from work) and money (even with insurance, the co-pays are going to add up). But considering what’s involved, any co-pay is pretty insignificant and one really has to consider how fortunate Kevin is to be born into a family that can afford insurance and the other costs involved.

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