Monday, October 26, 2009

International wireless communication and
satellite Internet technologies make this post
possible. Daniel's mother Margarita is there
at Kindred in San Marcos, cellular phone in
hand, and I am south of a fishing port on the
shore of the Gulf of California in Baja California,
Mexico. I post this message with the help of
solar panels and batteries powering my laptop
and transmitting it to a tiny satellite up there
somewhere in the backdrop of our galaxy and
the universe.
Margarita reports that the Baclofen is giving
Daniel respite from the posturing, he is definite-
ly more relaxed, rested, and this has facilitated
more progress with physical therapy. He is able to
sit for longer periods. This has enabled family and
friends to take him out to the patio more often for
fresh air and natural light. Daniel's brother, Victor,
assesses Daniel's strength and takes him for
extended tours of the hospital grounds outdoors
on Sundays.
Changes that were made to his nutritional diet
resulted in a one pound weight gain. Small but
significant incremental steps. Once he is able to
swallow puree he will definitely put on more
pounds. The physical therapy will keep him flexible
and prevent atrophy.
As most of you know, Daniel has been a strong
supporter of Barack Obama. Margarita had the
television news on when a sound bite of Pres. Obama
making some remarks seemed to catch Daniel's ear.
It appeared that Daniel did a 'double take' to catch
a glimpse of the image of Obama on the screen!

There are thousands of 'blogs' on the Internet dealing
with every imaginable topic under the sun. Recently I
have been reading blogs posted by families of patients
with brain trauma injuries. They are very informative
and consoling in that these families have traveled this
same journey and want to share their experiences of
fear, anguish, adaptation & adjustment, hope and faith.
Each and every family shared stories of dealing with
mindless insurance companies and the inhumanity of
their profit driven policies. Families are forced to move
loved ones from one facility to another at the dictate of
insurance company claims adjustors. An all too real
story of frustration and seemingly endless battles putting
families under more duress in stressful times.
Many of their loved ones were at various stages of coma
or in their second, third, or fourth year of rehabilitation.
Almost all have shared that the first prognosis given by
neurosurgeons was bleak and without hope.
Understandably, doctors are faced with many
unpredictable factors and avoid giving loved ones false
hopes. Those families took the dire prognosis with
mixed emotions and set out in heroic ways to intervene
and give their loved one a fighting chance to return to
some degree of normality.
There is one recurring theme or stream of advice that I
found in all these blogs, the urgent message from
families and the victims of brain trauma:
'Don't give up!', 'Don't quit!'

It has taken some of the patients a year or two or
more to regain consciousness, it has taken another
year or more to regain speech, it has taken a year or
more to learn to walk, .....all those attributes that we
take for granted loom as multiple marathons for
patient and family alike. One young male patient
relates that over the arduous span of three years
many of his friendships fell by the wayside. This
journey has taken it's toll on everyone, but we shall
continue to stand by Daniel.
Take care of one another..... value health.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

For those who have visited Daniel prior to Oct. 13,
you observed a medical condition called decorticate
posturing. Simply, this is involuntary muscle
contractions causing a patient to have arms flexed,
or bent inward on the chest, the hands are clenched
into fists, and the legs extended and feet
turned inward. Another part of the posturing is a
condition called 'opisthotonos' in which the head
and back are arched backward.
All of this is related to brain trauma injury, BTI,
stemming from the aneurysm, bleeding, and the
pressure exerted on the brain back on April 28
and 29 th. Seeing Daniel in this condition
motivated many visitors to inquire as to what
could be done.
Fortunately, there is a procedure to alleviate the
cause and produce remarkable effects with patients
suffering from BTI and other afflictions. The
procedure is called ITB for Intrathecal Baclofen Pump.
Again, to simplify this explanation, a small electronic
pump is surgically placed under the skin below the
belt line in the lower abdomen.
Baclofen is a muscle relaxer and an anti-spastic agent.
Baclofen is used to treat muscle symptoms caused by
multiple sclerosis, cerebral palsy, including spasm,
pain, and stiffness.
A catheter, small tube, is inserted through the
intrathecal space surrounding the spinal cord,
entering the lower back and inserted upward.
The pump, a 20 or 40 ml reservoir of Baclofen, is
programmed to release small doses to relax his
muscles. The dose is adjusted with radio telemetry,
an application of physics and the science of radio
waves, wireless communications.

Daniel now has the pump, the results in Daniel's case
are reported to be very positive, he is more relaxed
and alert. This procedure was performed Oct. 13th at
Palomar Hospital.
In addition, the registered dietician has increased
Daniel's caloric intake to help him regain weight.
Daniel's tenacious spirit has cleared another hurdle.

All of us are fortunate to live in an age where afflictions
such as decorticate posturning, cerebral palsy, multiple
sclerosis, muscle spasticity, and other neurological
problems are the subjects of intense medical research.
Credit scientific research for this discovery, the
technology of the ITB - Intrathecal Baclofen Pump,
that has brought relief and eliminated much suffering
for tens of thousands of patients. This new threshold
will support further efforts to re-teach Daniel to
swallow, maintain flexibility for physical therapy,
and facilitate improved speech therapy.

As late as the middle ages, and for centuries leading
up to and beyond the 15th century, people with such
afflictions were deemed to be possessed by demons.
Tragically, many were brought before the Holy
Inquisition of the Catholic faith. The afflicted were
subjected to exorcisms. Unable to drive out alleged
demons, the person was tortured along with
heretics, rebels, witches, homosexuals, and pagans.
The fate of all these people was to be burned publicly
at the stake.
Thankfully, the age of reason has prevailed.
Take care of one another,

Monday, October 5, 2009

Daniel, my little primito, you've been on the minds
and in the hearts of all of us who love you since
suffering through your terrible ordeal. I know in
my heart that you're only temporarily gone from
your life and that you will be back--
the same guy we all know and love--eventually.

However long it takes, we will all stay strong,

positive, and hopeful in the knowledge that our
prayers will be answered. I wrote the following
poem with the certainty that you, yourself,
will read it and know that you touched the
lives of many! May God continue to bless you
with progress and then bless us with you!

While You Were Sleeping . . .

While you were sleeping for so many weeks
I witnessed the manner in which the Lord speaks.
That wonderful spirit with which we’re endowed
The one that insists that defeat’s not allowed,
Rose up to unite us, encouraging hope.
And gave us the strength that we needed to cope.

It manifested in so many ways,
In kind words and good deeds for so many days.
A testament, Daniel, to the person you are.
In so many lives, you’re a radiant star.
Your trial--I‘m convinced--had a purpose for all.
The Spirit had urged us to answer His call

For human compassion and unbounded love
Such as we’re blessed with from Him up above.
So many hearts overflowed with concern.
For a speedy recov’ry did every heart yearn.
We never let go of our pow’rful conviction
That full recovery’d be your benediction.

And while you were sleeping, some great things transpired.
Your family stepped up in some ways we admired.
Your loving big brother created a blog.
On which our emotions and thoughts we could log.
Your beautiful Cathy--a jewel among wives--
Made sure that this trial wouldn‘t crush your kids‘ lives.

Your ‘lil gal, Olivia, in May was confirmed.
Her faith in the Good Lord above reaffirmed.
Although what has happened has taken its toll
Nayeli still managed to score her first goal.
Danielito and his team--such superb ‘lil jocks--
“Green Gold Champs of ’09, the Temecula Hawks!!!”

Your mom, dad, and siblings stayed strong through this fight.
They knew, in the end, all would turn out just right!
All of this proves that you’re made of great stuff.
And your family, just like you, remained very tough.
You know what they say when the going gets rough!
We witnessed that courage and faith are enough.

This reminded us faith is so crucial in life,
In conquering every occurrence of strife.
When life deals us seemingly unconquerable tests,
His mercy is wherein our victory rests.
And in your resilience and strength we believed
And knew your recovery would be achieved.

We never let go of that vision of you
Involved in those things that you so love to do.
Hiking through mountains and wilderness trails.
Mentoring students with all that entails.
Working on mast’ring the art of jiu-jitsu
Your chosen sport-- that we all know--sure fits you.

Travelin’ to Latin American places
Feeling ONE with those wonderful, brown, noble faces.
Such a wonderful life you enjoyed ‘til the day
We all prayed you wouldn’t be taken away.
When you pulled yourself out of the depths of defeat
We knew that this foe you’d eventually beat.

So none of us doubted that all would end well,
Leaving us with a great story to tell
Of adversity conquered, calamity foiled,
Misfortune torn down and hopelessness spoiled.
We faced them with fortitude powered by God
Upon them we steadfastly, fearlessly trod.

We knew you would make it. We know your resolve.
Despite all the struggles that this would involve.
You’re strong and determined; you value your life.
You treasure your kids and your beautiful wife.
Your family’s important and so’s your career.
There’re so many things you enjoy and hold dear.

So we trusted in you and your strength from the Lord.
Your vigorous fight in all hearts struck a chord.
The odds were against you, the news very bleak.
New challenges rose up each day every week.
You were relentless in fighting this fight.
You overtook hurdles each day and each night.

Rather than choose someone thought of by few,
To make a strong statement, the Good Lord chose you.
I wondered and wondered why this thing occurred
And finally concluded, “He had to be heard!”
He had to remind us that He’s always there,
With His arms around us, there’s naught we can’t bear.

In life when we suffer through many ordeals
He is the One by which misery heals.
With people in whose lives you’ve played a strong role,
The Lord was the One who could fill up the hole.
The Spirit reminded us all of this fact
And knew that you, Daniel, would have that impact.

We’re, all of us, children of God up above.
All blessed with the will to do good for His love.
Together we’re bigger than each one apart.
We’re all of one mind, of one soul, of one heart
And as such there’s nothing that we can’t achieve
Because in the Good Lord above we believe.

By Maria E. Alvarado