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I [heart] code! .NET musings from the chick side

A couple of weeks ago I presented WPF databinding at TCCC6. It was the end of a very hectic couple of weeks. I do not often post personal stuff to this blog, but in this the story is just too crazy.

It all started during my family’s annual trip to Mexico. My nephew Drew has Spinal Muscular Atrophy, is wheelchair-bound, and the slightest illness poses a serious threat to him. I stayed with my family in Mexico for one week, then I returned home. My family was scheduled to stay for an additional week.

I left on a Saturday, and that morning Drew fell ill. On Sunday my family decided that he needed an American hospital so they got seats on a Sunday afternoon flight (at an enormous expense) for this medical emergency. When they arrived at the Cancun airport, however, the corrupt Mexican officials had sold their seats, pocketed the cash, and refused to let my family board. It is a long story, but the day ended with my mother telling the corrupt Mexican gate official “I am getting on this plane with my grandson. You just try to stop me”, then proceeding to board sans boarding pass- they were never even on the flight manifest.

Drew’s parents were still stuck in Mexico, so I picked my Mom and Drew up at the airport at 10pm on Sunday night, then helped my Mom take care of Drew. We managed to keep his O2 sats up with the treatments all night. On Monday morning I went straight from my nephew’s house to work to the airport for my flight to St. Louis where I was presenting at the Microsoft Best Practices tour the following day. Drew’s mom and dad flew in Monday afternoon.

By this time I had caught whatever Drew had, and was feeling pretty crappy. Our flight to St Louis was late and we didn’t get to the hotel until after 9 pm. I went straight to bed. I awoke at 4am and didn’t even have to get out of bed… I knew from the sticky glop gluing my eye shut that I had a raging case of pink-eye. And I was to present in less than 12 hours. Wonderful. I called the nurse line at my home clinic and they sent a prescription to a local St Louis Walgreens. The next morning Jeff Brand (I didn’t have a car) drove me to pick it up, we then went to the Best Practices event.

So, I was sick, had not slept in two nights, and now had the ugliest eye I had ever seen. Yup! I was ready to present! At 10am I got word that Drew’s O2 sats had fallen and he had been admitted to the hospital. I was really demoralized, because I knew it would be a long haul for him and his family, and indeed, it was a three-week stay. More on that later.

I got up to give my presentation, and my laptop would NOT communicate with Microsoft’s projection system. This had never happened before, furthermore, Jason Bock’s laptop, which is the exact same as mine, had no problems. After ten minutes of fussing with it, I decided to throw my presentation onto someone else’s laptop. My laptop decided to really help me out at this point by taking more than two minutes to copy the files over. Which doesn’t sound like a long time unless you are standing at the front of a room with a few hundred people waiting for you to start your presentation.

I finally got my content copied to Ray Lewallen’s MBP, but of course he did not have the right environment for all of my demos to work. Oh well, I was halfway through my time at this point. I flew through my presentation, then thoroughly traumatized, I packed up and we all headed back to the airport. I felt like crap, my eye hurt, my presentation sucked, my nephew was in the hospital, and I was ugly (pink-eye). Life somewhat sucked. But, as they say, tomorrow is another day!

I finished out the week trying to catch up on sleep, work, hospital visits, and family time.

The weekend passed with no progress for Drew, and on Sunday he was admitted to the pediatric intensive care unit and intubated. We were happy that he wasn’t struggling so hard to breathe anymore, but, at the risk of repeating myself, this REALLY sucked.

On Tuesday I gave my second presentation of the Microsoft Best Practices Tour. This one went off without a hitch (my laptop still didn’t work, but with the advance warning I was able to set up Jeff Brand’s laptop in plenty of time for all my demos to work.)

I spent the week of my second presentation splitting my time between work, my kids, and the ICU. The following Saturday was Twin Cities Code Camp.

I had never been as unprepared for a talk as I was at TCCC6. I had spent the previous month focusing on my Best Practices Tour Unit Testing talks, and had not anticipated spending the week and a half leading up to TCCC6 at the hospital.

I pulled off a pretty good presentation, the reviews were favorable. A BIG shout-out goes to Bryan Sampica for all of his help… I could not have done it without you!!

Right after I successfully pulled off my presentation, I received word that my little fighter had finally made a turn for the better. After days and weeks of no progress, or backwards progress, they were starting to pull secretions from Drew’s lungs. This was a huge milestone… I was on cloud nine. I didn’t win anything at the end-of-day raffle, but I felt like the biggest winner in the room. And, that ends my saga of TCCC6.

Drew came home on Easter Sunday. He is 100% percent recovered. He had been heavily sedated during his stay in the PICU, and when we told him, “Drew, you were sleeping for almost two weeks!” his response was: “I was hibernating!”

If you are still hanging in there on this LONG blog post, you can check out Drew’s story at

Next blog post I might even talk about the content of my presentations!

Posted on Thursday, April 23, 2009 10:10 PM | Back to top

Comments on this post: Twin Cities Code Camp 6

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GREAT POST! I'm a resident of the TC and hate the chance that I missed the opportunity to attend your presentation. You know how things can get in the development world, especially trying to keep up with the latest, greatest and coolest technologies out there. I really enjoyed the story and have traveled to MX many of times before and DEFINITELY understand how they can be in the aeropuerto. With that being said, glad to read that Drew is doing well and hope he's continuing to fight every day so he can start helping his aunt with her laptop issues before these presentations. ;-) NO NEED to worry about that issue because this is something that we've come to expect during most presentation and when it can happen to Bill G. a few times, it can happen to anyone. It's NOT a presentation without such an incident or two and if anything it makes it that much BETTER because it humanizes the event and gets us away from the books, blogs, technical mags, etc.

I look forward to hearing/seeing more of your presentations and TRULY admire your complete dedication to your nephew, first and foremost, your own family, as well as the work to you do to help the rest of us understand this ever-continuing maze. Thx!

Left by Jason H. on May 14, 2009 10:27 AM

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