Living with polyneuropathy in my feet

More than 2 years ago I was diagnosed with polyneuropathy of the feet.

I started experiencing all kinds of sensations in my feet. From excruciating pain like being stabbed in my feet, to excruciating burning feelings, to experiencing dead feelings in my feet, and also as if strong elastic bands were around my feet and someone was pulling them continually tighter.

The cause?

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Sue Dicks – 8 January 1941 – 1 July 2018

“Mother, you will be missed greatly! Your love, and kindness, and generosity filled our hearts throughout our lives.”

About five years ago, we noticed that my mom’s mind was not as sharp as it used to be. By the end of 2013 it became very obvious that something was very wrong. When Christmas time came around my mom was severely confused. My wife, Charlaine, found my mom in her room terribly upset. She could not understand what she was doing in that room and why we kept her at this house. At this point my wife explained to her that she had been staying with us for 12 years already, and that I was her son. This caught my mom by surprise. “Really? That is the best Christmas gift I’ve ever had! But how is that possible? I’ve never given birth!”

The thing is, she never did give birth to me. When I was born, she’d been married to my eldest brother for 5 years already. My stepfather, the father of all my siblings, was a WWII veteran and drank a lot. One day, when my real mom was busy cooking, I was crying. My stepfather walked into the kitchen and threw a pot of boiling water at me and my mom. I was about 6 months old then. At this point my eldest brother, and his wife decided that things have gone far enough, and decided to raise me themselves.

It is from this time that I got to know my eldest brother and his wife as dad and mom. Even after I learnt the truth at the age of 7, nothing changed. They remained my parents, and my real mom had become my grandmother.

I got to know my mom as loving, and generous, and caring! Her, and my dad, loved me as their own, and they never looked back to wonder if they’d done the right thing. My mom was beautiful, inside and out. She had naturally dark hair and blue eyes.

My dad died (2000) while my little family and I were in the U.S.A. for 2 years. We returned to South Africa at the end of 2000, and by October 2001 we had bought a house and my mom moved in with us. She lived with us from that time until 1 May 2014 when we put her into an Alzheimer’s facility (AD Care). Her Alzheimer’s kept on eating at her, and in the last year she’d been in and out of hospital 4 times close to death.

It’s been a difficult time for our little family, since my parents-in-law moved in with us 2 years ago with my father-in-law suffering from a debilitating disease. My father-in-law passed away only 2 months ago.

Last Sunday we were called by AD Care, informing us that my mom’s oxygen saturation was very low. We then had to organise oxygen via Discovery Medical Aid. The doctor visited the facility on Tuesday and said that my mom had had a stroke. Due to my mom’s condition, the doctor prescribed some meds and a saline drip for 7 days. Through all this I had to be in Namibia for business from Wednesday to Friday.

Yesterday morning, I got my grown up kids together with my wife, to go visit my mom. She was sleeping and looked peaceful. For at least 2 years now my mom hadn’t recognise me when I visited. I visited every weekend. She would tell me stories about William who called her, or visited her. It was extremely hard at times. To see a parent look you in the eye and not knowing who you are is not an easy thing to process.

However, when we visited yesterday morning, I read Psalm 27, and then prayed. Seeing my mom the way she was, I simply asked the Lord if it wasn’t time to take her home. And this morning he did.

My mom had her trust in Christ, and today she walked through the veil that separates this life from a heavenly life. She is now completely healed, walking and leaping and praising God. She came face to face with Christ, who welcomed her to heaven.

Frustration on the day before Christmas

training-in-frustrationIt is the day before Christmas and I am very frustrated. About 6 weeks ago my right wrist and hand started aching something fierce. Eventually, last week my wife made an appointment with the doctor for me, which I attended. The doctor knows about my neck and back problems, but still thought that the problem is just because of overuse of my hand and that it is acute tendinitis that is affecting me. Because I am using Warfarin to thin my blood due to a DVT in my right leg, the doctor could not inject me with the strong stuff, as I am not allowed to use any anti-inflammatory medication. So, he gave me two cortisone injections. I had a previous DVT back in 2013 too.
 

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Some useful online links

bookmarklogo

Over the years I have been collecting links to websites (URL) on all types of topics.

Topics that are covered range from anti-abortion, airplanes, history, Christian apologetics, computer/web programming, sport, Bible study material, Biblical Greek, photography, birds, blogging, theology, radio stations, climate “change,”  conservative news, colour palette design, GPS coordinate conversion, music, dementia/Alzheimer’s, file hosting, books, grammar, heresy, language studies, online Bibles, science and many more. This does however give you an idea of the diversity of topics available.

So, without wasting more of your reading time, you can visit my bookmarks page here. Maybe, just maybe, you will find something interesting!

Looking for a new multi-url link combiner

Best url shortener to create short urlI have been using bit.ly for many years as a link shortener. Some links can become really long, and so a link shortener can make it shorter and easier to use, especially for web apps like Twitter.

The really cool thing about bit.ly, was the fact that one could combine several shortened links into a bundle, which then had its own short link.

One thing about bit.ly is that one could change the default short link it created for your long link to something more readable, e.g. http://bit.ly/Ad5sYtvE could be changed to http://bit.ly/MoonBlog (these links do not actually exist, and if they do, it is by accident).

So, I would take the bit.ly bundle link (which now pointed to several links that I added to the bundle), and shortened that to something useful like http://bit.ly/NCT_Intro, which is readable. However, bit.ly changed the way they do things, and did away with the bundle idea and converted all bundles to tags. Now, when you create a short link (url), you can tag it, and if you click on one of the tags, bit.ly would display all urls that are tagged by the selected tag.

There is one HUGE difference between the bundles and the tags. The bundles had a url that was publicly available and could be shared with others not on bit.ly. The tags CAN’T! To me, that is the biggest drawback to the way bit.ly changed the way they do things.

shortenSo, I have started looking for a new service that could accomplish this.

I came upon this web page with some alternatives. The writer suggests KrunchdHiperURL, and MultiURL. I tried each one of them, and I am not happy with any of them.

Krunchd doesn’t work at all. I created a shortened url, and clicked on the url. I could see the url being used in the url/link edit bar, but within a few short moments it took me to a company’s website without ever redirecting to the links I created. This is a HUGE FAIL! It then offers you the opportunity to edit the links that you added to the shortened link. You simply request to modify the url, and it sends you an email with a list of shortened urls that you have created, with an edit link for each of them. At least, that is what it is supposed to do. I received an email alright! BUT, with no links next to the the headers. It is supposed to have the “Title of Krunch:”, the “URL:,” and the “Edit URL:”. All these headers were empty. BIG FAIL! It gets a 0/10.

HiperURL can combine urls into a shorter url, but it has no option of creating a readable url. It gets a 5/10. The reason it only gets a 5 is that it doesn’t make use of the names of links and just displays the links.

Finally, MultiURL is not working either. After entering the links and sign up info, it displays the following:

Fatal error: Call to a member function num_rows() on a non-object in /home/multiurl/public_html/system/libraries/Session.php on line 209″

passfailThat is a HUGE FAIL! It gets a 0/10.

There is the Google shortener, but it cannot combine nor rename shortened links, so it only gets 3/10.

So, while bit.ly had it all, they would’ve been in the 8-10/10 range, it now gets a 5/10 simply because it still provides analytics. Without the analytics it would drop below 5/10.

If you know of any GOOD url shorteners and combiners, please let me know!

The saga continues–mom and my hearing

My previous saga

hospital_smLast year was a fairly difficult year for me, landing in hospital 3 times, with one of those visits a real life threatening situation. The result is that I now permanently wear a full length medical compression stocking on my left leg.

My mom’s saga

Then, in the year or so before December 2013, we started noticing that my mom started forgetting things, and we thought it was just typical old age memory loss. That was until she put a microwaveable plastic container in the over to keep the food warm and it melted all over the oven. Then she flooded parts of the house because she simply forgot that she opened the tap in the kitchen or the bathroom.

So, I took her to a neurologist. After discovering that my mom was a smoker, he suggested we have her lungs checked for cancer. He explained that there is a part of the lung, if affected by cancer, could cause Alzheimer’s like symptoms. He referred us to an oncologist and she sent my mom for the necessary scans, etc., and a visit to the hospital for a biopsy. It turned out that he was correct, and she did have cancer of the lung exactly where he thought it would be.

By this time, my mom’s mind had gone so far that she gave the poor nurses a run for their money when she had to go in for a lung operation to remove the offending lobe. They eventually assigned a fulltime nurse just for my mom.

alzheimersSix weeks later my mom had to go in for a PET scan to verify whether the cancer was all gone, which was indeed the case. We also took my mom back to the neurologist for another test to see if her mental condition had worsened. It indeed did, and it was now also confirmed that my mom had Alzheimer’s.

She lived with us and it became more and more difficult for us to take care of her, since she was alone at home during the day. We were concerned for her safety and her well-being. So, we set out to find an Alzheimer’s home for her. It took some time to find a suitable place, which we did. It was insanely difficult for us to take her there and then to leave her behind (I do go visit her every weekend). So, we checked her in on 1 May 2014.

Since then her mind has worsened to the point that she doesn’t always recognise me. She’d be telling the caretakers all about her son, William, but when I get there she wouldn’t recognise me. She’ll have all kinds of stories when I visit such as what she and my dad have been up to. He’s been dead since 2000. This past weekend she asked me if I could please take her to visit her mom. She’s been dead since 2004.

It has been very difficult for me to see my mom like that. She used to be such a strong and independent woman. She ran the household and all the finances when my dad was still alive. Now she has to be checked the whole day, and she needs a caretaker to assist her when she needs the toilet. She also needs adult nappies. She is now a totally different woman than just 2 years ago! Yet, I visit her every weekend, take a chocolate for her to enjoy and perhaps a milkshake. Then I just let her talk about anything that is in her mind.

alzheimers-patients-prayer

My continued saga

cochleaFor a long time now I have been suffering from this continued high pitch noise in my ears (tinnitus). At the end of last year as I was researching this I discovered that it could be caused by many factors, and one of them was wax in the ears. It just happened that I had way too much wax in my ears. I visited a local Kind2Hearing practice where the wax in my ears were cleaned out. The tinnitus didn’t go away. So, I left it to see if over time my situation improved, but to no avail. It became so bad that it woke me up one night. I first thought I’d heard some noise outside, but the noise was so loud in my head I immediately recognised it for what it was.  Even if I put headphones on with music, I can still clearly hear the tinnitus noise.

I finally decided that I have had enough, and today I had an appointment at the same practice. It lasted for 2 hours. The young lady (Nadine Basson) that tested me did a thorough job, explaining before and after what she had done and why. It is no wonder that she did such an excellent job. In her final year of study she was awarded two prizes:

  • SASLHA Prize – Best final year student in Speech Pathology – Clinical
  • P. De V. Pienaar prize – Best final year student in Speech Pathology – Academic

handwithhearingaidI was indeed in good hands.

The result of the testing is that I have hearing loss in both ears in the higher frequency range. In the area where my hearing loss has occurred is also the area where words with “s, f and th” are found most frequently.

Anyway, the long and the short of it is that I need hearing aids for both ears to supplement my hearing in those higher ranges. At least it will help with minimizing the tinnitus while I am wearing the aids, and that will be a great relief.

Microsoft Visual Studio C++11 conformance

So, there I was, using Microsoft Visual Studio 2012 Express (MSVS1012Ex). What I wanted to do was test the range-for-statement as provided by Stroustrup in his book The C++ Programming Language, 4th Edition, on page 45, which describes the C++11 standard. The code is as follows:

range-for-statement

On line 16, MSVS1012Ex throws an error, “error C2059: syntax error : ‘{‘”. It does not know how to handle an inline instantiation of a list within the range-for-statement, even though it claims to have included it in its C++11 Enhancements. It included the normal handling of range-for-statements as shown from line 8-13.

So, I decided to download Microsoft Visual Studio Express 2013 RC (MSVS2013ExRC) to test the above, and I am happy to say that MSVS2013ExRC can handle lines 16-19 in the code above.

C

The C++ Programming Language, 4th Edition

4thCppYesterday, I bought myself the ePub eBook of the 4th edition of Bjarne Stroustrup’s The C++ Programming Language. For those who do not know, Bjarne is the originator, the one who gave birth to the C++ programming language ±30 years ago. The 4th edition of the book covers the newest standard of the language, commonly referred to as C++11.

For the past three years I’ve been programming in C#, and so I decided to pick up C++ again (I programmed in it from 1994-2010; 16 years). From the time that I started with C++ back in 1994, a lot has changed in the language, hence, the need to get the new edition of the book with all the changes related to C++11.

I originally had the third edition of the book, which was published way back in 1997. For some reason, I cannot find that edition in my study anywhere. The third edition of Stroustrup’s book eventually also became the foundation of the original C++ standard in 1998 and became known as C++98.

Bjarne StroustrupAnyway, I am really happy to have the new edition, since there have been many new and useful updates to C++11. Bjarne writes concerning the new C++11 language features,

“The result has been a language with greatly improved abstraction mechanisms. The range of abstractions that C++ can express elegantly, flexibly, and at zero costs compared to hand-crafted specialized code has greatly increased. When we say “abstraction” people often just think “classes” or “objects.” C++11 goes far beyond that: The range of user-defined types that can be cleanly and safely expressed has grown with the addition of features such as initializer-lists, uniform initialization, template aliases, rvalue references, defaulted and deleted functions, and variadic templates. Their implementation eased with features, such as auto, inherited constructors, and decltype. These enhancements are sufficient to make C++11 feel like a new language.

For a list of accepted language features, see the feature list.”

He further writes concerning the new C++11 libraries,

“I would have liked to see more standard libraries. However, note that the standard library definition is already about 70% of the normative text of the standard (and that doesn’t count the C standard library, which is included by reference). Even though some of us would have liked to see many more standard libraries, nobody could claim that the Library working group has been lazy. It is also worth noting that the C++98 libraries have been significantly improved through the use of new language features, such as initializer-lists, rvalue references, variadic templates, noexcept, and constexpr. The C++11 standard library is easier to use and provides better performance that the C++98 one.

For a list of accepted libraries, see the library component list.”

So, I have read the first 36 pages and still need to cover 1332 pages.

Here are a couple of C/C++ funnies:

auto accident;
register voters;
static electricity;
struct by_lightning;
void *where_prohibited;
char broiled;
short circuit;
short changed;
long johns;
long dong_silver;
unsigned long letter;
double entendre;
double trouble;
union organizer;
union jack;
float valve;
short pants;
union station;
void check;
unsigned check;
union onion; more at GNU.org

Here is a fun piece of code to ponder (What is the answer here?):

int a = 5;
int b = a++ + ++a;

And, lastly, something that many new programmers struggle with,

“To understand recursion, you must first understand recursion.” (See the
cplusplus forum)

pointers

Driving in South Africa: a pet peeve

I do not write about my pet peeve a lot. I have written about it here, here, here, here and here. Smile

When it comes to the driving of South Africans, in my opinion, I think we are of the worst drivers in the world. Not just in terms of handling our cars, but also in driving attitude.

road-rage-lisa-knechtel
Road Rage by Lisa Knechtel

One of my pet peeves is that some drivers drive as if they have an absolute right to the road and they will drive in which ever lane they want to at whatever speeds they want to. It is becoming very common for slow road users to insist on driving in the right hand lane (the fast lane). For those who claim that we do not have a fast lane, explain to me why the rules of the road say: Keep Left Pass Right? This is to enforce the free flow of traffic, so that some numb-skull does not hog any lane and thereby slowing traffic down.

In fact, this behaviour is becoming epidemic to the point that some drivers, no matter how slow they are, will drift to the right-hand lane and will not budge for any amount of cars getting stuck behind them. This is selfishness to the extreme, and it points to a personality that has not reached maturity yet!

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After 3 months, the DVT remains! Part 2

Following my previous post, I visited my doctor. The outcome of the visit was not very joyful in itself.

Fibrosis has set in, in the vein in question and has for all intents and purposes been destroyed. It will never work again. In fact, it has become unusable to the point that I can now stop taking the Warfarin tablets since they will make no difference to the vein.

Compression Stocking image by Hutchi

However, I have to now wear the medical compression stockings of type TED permanently. If I do not wear this TED I can develop varicose veins, I will be predisposed to ulcers in the leg and cuts on the leg will be difficult to treat.

The reason I now have to continue wearing this stocking is that the valve in the vein that controlled the upward flow of blood is no longer working. So, with the pressure that the stocking exerts on the lower leg helps perform that function now.

As a result of all this, the doctor informed me, I will be predisposed to more DVTs forming. For now, I will have to keep a check on my body and if I feel any pain in my leg or chest, or if I suddenly feel out of breath and if I battle to breathe I have to contact him immediately.

It is difficult for me to fathom this since my leg has been feeling very good and I haven’t had pain in it for a long time. I really thought that by the time today arrived everything would be fine and the DVT would have dissolved. I’ve been trusting the Lord for a good outcome. Unfortunately that is not the case. In God’s providence He has seen fit for me to remain like this for longer.

All I can do is to stand with the prophet Habakkuk and proclaim:

“Though the fig tree should not blossom And there be no fruit on the vines, Though the yield of the olive should fail And the fields produce no food, Though the flock should be cut off from the fold And there be no cattle in the stalls,  (18)  Yet I will exult in the LORD, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.  (19)  The Lord GOD is my strength, And He has made my feet like hinds’ feet, And makes me walk on my high places.” (Hab 3:17-19)

And to finish off, here is one of my favourite passages in the Bible:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,  (4)  just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love  (5)  He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will,  (6)  to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.  (7)  In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace  (8)  which He lavished on us. In all wisdom and insight  (9)  He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him  (10)  with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth. In Him  (11)  also we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to His purpose who works all things after the counsel of His will,  (12)  to the end that we who were the first to hope in Christ would be to the praise of His glory.  (13)  In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation–having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise,  (14)  who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.” (Eph 1:3-14)

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