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This is Our World

Interesting (to me) news, articles, etc. from around this planet we call home:

  • A profile of mega-church leader Joel Osteen. He’s running a business, not a church. Really interesting to read about, but no mention in his message of the one thing the church should be proclaiming: the Gospel. God does want you to be prosperous, though. And healthy. It’s not his will for you to be sick. Really, it’s not.
  • Why anyone who respects life should not vote for Obama — The Infanticide Shibboleth.
  • This is what happens when you mix alcohol, shotguns and lawnmowers: Angry man shoots lawnmower for not starting. Money quote: “I can do that, it’s my lawn mower and my yard so I can shoot it if I want.” Check out his mug shot. Classic.
  • Why conservatives are happier than liberals (according to Arthur Brooks, author of Gross National Happiness:

 In 2004 Americans who called themselves “conservative” or “very conservative” were nearly twice as likely to tell pollsters they were “very happy” as those who considered themselves “liberal” or “very liberal” (44% versus 25%). One might think this was because liberals were made wretched by George Bush. But the data show that American conservatives have been consistently happier than liberals for at least 35 years.

This is not because they are richer; they are not. Mr Brooks thinks three factors are important. Conservatives are twice as likely as liberals to be married and twice as likely to attend church every week. Married, religious people are more likely than secular singles to be happy. They are also more likely to have children, which makes Mr Brooks confident that the next generation will be at least as happy as the current one.

American conservatives tend to believe that if you work hard and play by the rules, you can succeed. This makes them more optimistic than liberals, more likely to feel in control of their lives and therefore happier. American liberals, at their most pessimistic, stress the injustice of the economic system, the crushing impersonal forces that keep the little guy down and what David Mamet, a playwright, recently summed up as the belief that “everything is always wrong”. … in as much as the American left is now a coalition of groups that define themselves as the victims of social and economic forces, and in as much as its leaders encourage people to feel helpless and aggrieved, he thinks they make America a glummer place.

  • Cassette tapes are not dead. They’re doing quite well — in prisons.
  • It’s always funny to watch people try to dunk a basketball who have no business dunking a basketball. They usually end up falling. One classic is below. For much more hilarity, check out this top 20 video list.

Tylenol? Morphine? Nah, Mountain Dew.

Kelsey was in the hospital last weeked with viral meningitis. One of the problems on Sunday was that if she sat up at all, she immmediately got a severe headache/neckache. They said it was probably caused by leaking spinal fluid as a result of the spinal tap. The normal solution is a blood patch, which involves sticking another needle in her back (check back a couple of posts for a description).

But before they did that, the anesthesiologist wanted to try something else: caffeine. Apparently, this wonder drug sometimes eases the heaches so they don’t have to do a blood patch.

So Sunday night, the nurse comes strolling in and plunks down three Mountain Dews in front of Kelsey, saying, “Drink one, drink two, drink three.” Kelsey, I’m sure, stared at her in horror. My lovely wife, you see, while not averse to caffeine, doesn’t drink it at night because it keeps her awake.

Also, and more to the point, while the large majority of the American public would say, “Yeah, hook me up! I’ll drink six if you want!”, drinking three Mountain Dews to this dear patient would be (almost) like injecting cocaine straight into her bloodstream. Loads of sugar and calories, disgusting taste, tons of caffeine — all the elements are there for hours of fun.

This is a patient who always drinks diet if she is drinking soda. And that’s not very often. Mountain Dew does not appear on her radar screen as an option. So she resisted the doctor’s prescription. She asked for the diet version, which they said they would get, but did not produce until too late.

After much complaint, the incapacitated patient bravely managed to choke down two of the three drinks, all the while doubting their efficacy.

But you know what? They worked, much to Kelsey’s chagrin. They made the headache a little better. Of course, then she needed a sleeping pill to get to sleep. And they still had to do the blood patch the next day, but hey, now you know that the next time you’re in need of relief, you can skip the traditional pain meds and go straight to the miracle cure: caffeine.

Beware the Women in Blue

Last Saturday, Kelsey was admitted to the hospital with viral meningitis. She was admitted from the ER, so they wheeled her bed up to her room on the sixth floor. As we rolled in, we noticed an extra door with a sink area before we actually entered the room.

A nurse assistant — who seemed like she was about 12 — started taking vital signs and explained that it was an isolation room with negative airflow to keep germs and disease (i.e. bacterial meningitis, which they hadn’t ruled out yet) away from other patients. Hmm, isolation room sounds kind of scary. Maybe this is worse than we thought.

That’s when the women in blue descended. Three…ahem…larger nurses, wearing masks, gloves and blue gowns swept into the room, ready for action. One of them positioned herself behind her rolling computer cart and began taking a history. The other two stood on either side of Kelsey’s bed, gloved hands poised to a skin check. They were waiting for a disposable stethoscope kit (we gotta limit the disease) from the nurse assistant, so they had some time to kill as they stood there in their hot gowns, sweating. They decided to use this time to freak out my wife.

Nurse assistant, on the way out to get the kit: I’m going to get gowned up because I did NOT know why she was in here.

Two nurses beside the bed, talking over each other: You might have bacterial meningitis? How do you feel? When did it start? When did you come in? You have kids? How old? They need to be checked out right away. And your husband. You could all have it. They need to be checked. (To me): How do you feel?

Me: I have a headache, but not bad.

Nurses: You should get checked. Everyone needs to be checked.

Me: The doctor’s coming in soon. We’ll ask her about it.

Nurses (like I haven’t even said anything): You don’t want the kids to get it. You should call the pediatrician.

Nurse behind the computer, firing questions at the same time: Been in the hospital before? When did the headache start? Are you up to date on your tetnus shot?

Nurse behind the the computer, to me: Are you feeling ok? You have a headache? You need to be checked right away. Promise me that you’ll get checked. She won’t feel better until she knows you’re ok. Promise me you’ll go get checked.

Me: Yes ma’am.

Nurses beside the bed: Here, what’s the number for Owensboro Pediatrics? I’ll dial it for you. Here honey (holding the phone to Kelsey’s ear), you tell them what’s going on.

Ask-a-nurse on the phone (because the office is closed on Saturday, of course): Just watch the kids. If they get any symptoms, bring them in.

Nurses in blue: Where’s that kit? It’s hot in these gowns.

Us, later: Doctor, what about our kids? Can they get this? Should they be checked?

Doctor: Are they showing any symptoms? Are they acting ok?

Us: They’re acting normal, no symptoms.

Doctor: They should be fine. Just keep an eye on them.

There was just something about all three women talking at once with masks and gloves and an expanse of blue. It was an overwhelming force against which nothing could stand. They made Kelsey cry because they got so worked up. I tried to stem the tide, but it was like I wasn’t even there. They were actually concerned and were pretty nice, but their technique was a little off.

Coming next time … how Mountain Dew can save your life.

What is Meningitis?

Funny you should ask …

From Wikipedia:

Meningitis is inflammation of the protective membranes covering the brain and spinal cord, known collectively as the meninges. While some forms of meningitis are mild and resolve on their own, meningitis is a potentially life-threatening condition due to the proximity of the inflammation to the brain and spinal cord.

Most cases of meningitis are caused by microorganisms, such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, or parasites, that spread into the blood and into the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF).[9] The most common cause of meningitis is viral [the kind Kelsey had], and often runs its course within a few days. Bacterial meningitis is the second most frequent type and can be serious and life-threatening.

Severe headache is the most common symptom of meningitis (87 percent) followed by nuchal rigidity (“neck stiffness”, found in 83%). Other signs commonly associated with meningitis are photophobia (inability to tolerate bright light), phonophobia (inability to tolerate loud noises), irritability and delirium (in small children) and seizures (in 20-40% of cases).

Glad it was viral and bacterial so that this did not happen:

Meninigitis can be diagnosed after death has occurred.

Kelsey’s symptoms included severe headache (um, yeah, you could call it that), neck stiffness, high fever (earlier in the week), photophobia, dizziness, nausea, etc. This all led to an early Saturday morning visit to the ER, where she briefly passed out/collapsed in the waiting room. They they gave her strong pain medicine, steroids and antibiotics and did this:

Investigations include blood tests (electrolytes, liver and kidney function, inflammatory markers and a complete blood count). The most important test in identifying or ruling out meningitis is analysis of the cerebrospinal fluid (fluid that envelops the brain and the spinal cord) through lumbar puncture (LP).

And this:

Computed tomography (CT) is a medical imaging method employing tomography. Digital geometry processing is used to generate a three-dimensional image of the inside of an object from a large series of two-dimensional X-ray images taken around a single axis of rotation. The word “tomography” is derived from the Greek tomos (slice) and graphein (to write).

And then there was this problem:

The cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) sample is examined for white blood cells (and which subtypes), red blood cells, protein content and glucose level. Gram staining of the sample may demonstrate bacteria in bacterial meningitis, but absence of bacteria does not exclude bacterial meningitis; microbiological culture of the sample may still yield a causative organism. The type of white blood cell predominantly present predicts whether meningitis is due to bacterial or viral infection.

Cultures are often negative if CSF is taken after the administration of antibiotics.

Kelsey had been on antibiotics for a sinus infection. So they had to let the cultures grow for 48 hours to make sure bacteria were not present. While they did that, she had to be in the hospital. Because there was a chance her meningitis was bacterial and not just viral, we had to do this:

Isolation practices can include placement in a private room or with a select roommate, the use of protective barriers such as masks, gowns and gloves, a special emphasis on handwashing (which is always very important), and special handling of contaminated articles. Because of the differences among infectious diseases, more than one of these precautions may be necessary to prevent spread of some diseases but may not be necessary for others.

Patient care items, such as a stethoscope, that are used for a patient in Contact Precautions should not be shared with other patients unless they are properly cleaned and disinfected before reuse.

The lumbar puncture also led to this:

A headache that is persistent despite a long period of bedrest and occurs only when sitting up may be indicative of a CSF leak from the lumbar puncture site. It can be treated by more bedrest, or by an epidural blood patch, where the patient’s own blood is injected back into the site of leakage to cause a clot to form and seal off the leak.

And then we came home.

Kelsey Meningitis Update

Update sent out to church e-mail:

We came home from the hospital today (Monday) around 4:00 p.m. Kelsey did have viral meningitis (not bacterial). Strong headaches continued today as a result of her spinal tap on Saturday, so they did a blood patch on her spinal cord, which eased the headaches almost immediately. She’s home and resting now, but still very weak. The doctor said it would take about a week to recover and she probably won’t be quite up to par the rest of the summer.
We’re grateful for God’s protection in keeping Kelsey’s sickness from being any worse. Didn’t plan to spend the weekend in an isolation room in the hospital, but God planned it all along. Thanks for all your prayers, concern and love.

I’ve got a couple of amusing anecdotes from the weekend to share later …

Curse Motif

Listened this week to R.C. Sproul’s message from Together For the Gospel a couple of months ago: The Curse Motif of the Atonement. He describes what a curse from God means and compares it to God’s blessing — God’s curse is the polar opposite of “May the Lord bless you and keep you and make his face shine upon you.” It’s powerful stuff — one of those messages that has a gravity, where every word is deliberate and filled with meaning.

Think about this: Christ didn’t just become cursed in our place. He actually became the curse himself. His own Father condemned him. Sproul said he’s been thinking about this for 50 years and still doesn’t understand it.

We’ll never plumb the depths of it, but we can praise God for the atoning work of his Son.

Our Brains Are Not That Big

I don’t quote John Piper a lot, but thought this was good on the purpose of pain. (He gives a good story-illustration in his post, too.)

One of the reasons God rarely gives micro reasons for his painful providences, but regularly gives magnificent macro reasons, is that there are too many micro reasons for us to manage …

God cannot make plain all he is doing, because there are millions and millions and millions and millions of effects of every event in your life, the good and the bad. God guides them all. They all have micro purposes and macro purposes. He cannot tell you all of them because your brain can’t hold all of them.

Trust does not demand more than God has told us. And he has given us immeasurably precious promises that he is in control of all things and only does good to his children. And he has given us a very thick book where we can read story after story after story about how he rules for the good of his people.

Let’s trust him and not ask for what our brains cannot contain.

(HT: Between Two Worlds)


So, a few things have happened since the last post. A roundup:

–Went to Washington D.C. for the release of the final report of the National Commission on Adult Literacy (the group I’ve worked for the last two years). The event was in the U.S. Capitol building and a couple of Congressmen spoke about their intent to introduce legislation based on recommendations in the report. Good stuff.

–Went to a Washington Nationals game while I was in D.C. Cool stadium — you can see the Capitol and Washington Monument from the stands. They won in the bottom of the ninth on a walkoff hit. Fireworks exploded.

–Got new carpet in the house. Also good stuff.

–Started a new job. I’m now the Director of Grant Writing and Special Projects at Kentucky Wesleyan College in Owensboro, where I went to school. My office has a big honkin’ window, so I’m excited about that.

–The Cleveland Indians, who have not played up to expectations this year, basically threw in the towel on the season by trading their ace, CC Sabathia, for prospects. It’s a good move because he would have been a free agent anyway and wanted more money than Cleveland could have given him, so at least this way we get some hope for the future. But it stinks for the rest of this season. Ah well, there’s always next year.

–Carter (3 1/2 years old) apparently learned the word “mysterious” at some point and then busted it out in context yesterday:

Carter: My juice box isn’t working. I can’t get any out. That’s mysterious. (with a sly grin)

Mommy and Daddy (cracking up): Where did you learn that word?

(Just think, if I work here for the next 15 years, he can put that good vocabulary to use on a college campus without paying tuition 🙂