i miss my mom :(

April 26, 2006 under Life

At exactly 7:00PM EST this evening, my mom peacefully passed away with myself, Dena and my dad at her side. Her weakened immune system couldn’t take anymore. Her non-Hodgekin’s Lymphoma tumor on top of her left lung was receding and the one on her neck was completely gone. But her ability to fight off infections was gone as well. ICU doctors, nurses, Oncologists and Infectious Disease Specialists at Grand River Hospital did everything they possibly could.

My mom was exactly that, a mom – in the truest sense of the word. She always put my dad and me ahead of everything. When we came home from work and school, supper was waiting for us. She was never too tired, too busy, too angy, too drunk (she never drank), too apathetic to do anything for us. If I needed a ride somewhere, she did it. If I needed a button sewn, she did it. If I needed to rant and vent, she listened…even if she had no clue what I was talking about. She was my biggest fan, even though she couldn’t comprehend what I actually do for a living. But she was always quick to brag, “my son does stuff with computers…programming or something hard like that”. It didn’t matter if I was in grade school, university or working, she always wanted to know how my day was – no detail was too small for her, even if it was to me. My mom wanted to know I was safe. Even now as an adult, I had to check in with her almost immediately upon arrival when I’d go on long trips. Or she’d watch out the living room window while I left to go to school, work or out for the evening. Her intense mothering would sometimes get on other people’s nerves. Hell, it got on my nerves sometimes, too. But I know why she did it, and I think only now I am appreciating it.

It’s quite sad to think about how relatively young she was. She was only 38 days from her 61st birthday and 10 days from her 34th wedding anniversary. Most of her life was spent as a homemaker and a mom. It wasn’t until these past few years since my parents moved to Kitchener that she got a chance to do the things she always wanted to do. She travelled to Montreal, New York and Branson, but there were other places that she wanted to go, too. She visited all sorts of places and events in southern Ontario, shopped and generally enjoyed life now that she had fewer obligations. However, she won’t get to experience grandchildren, which really bums me out. She’ll never get to see what I’d make of myself, so that she’d know all of her sacrafices weren’t in vain. I know that I didn’t turn out the way that she had wanted, but I hope that I at least made her somewhat proud.

If possible, please make dontations in my mom’s name to either the Canadian Cancer Society, Grand River Regional Cancer Centre or the Grand River Hospital.

Chris Bellini and Claudette Bellini

🙁

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mom update (04.24.2006)

April 24, 2006 under Cancer, Life, Lymphoma

It’s pretty fucked up to think about how much can change within 24 hours. Yesterday, things weren’t so bleak. Today – well today is another story…

Apparently at 11PM last night, my mom’s heart stopped twice for ~30 seconds each time. It started back up on its own. The news is that her body and the constant wave of antibiotics that she’s been receiving for the past week have not been able to thwart all of the hospital-acquired infections that she’s susceptible to. Basically, even though her cancer is responding to treatment, all of her systems are becoming overwhelmed because of her compromised immune system. So to “pull the goalie” or “toss up a Hail Mary”, she’ll be getting Septra added to her cocktail of antibiotics. If blood cultures show no improvement within 48 hours, then she’ll be made as comfortable as possible until she passes away.

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mom update (04.23.2006)

April 23, 2006 under Cancer, Life, Lymphoma

After having two conversations concerning my mom within the span of two hours (one with Barry and another with my aunt Norrie in Sudbury), it occured to me that I haven’t provided an update to the rest of you. I haven’t updated this site much at all, actually. My bad. Here’s an update.

Two weeks ago, my mom was doing great. Edema was gone thanks to Lasix, she was breathing on her own and receiving physical therapy. She was doing so well that that she was moved out of the ICU and back up to the Inpatient Oncology floor to recooperate in preparation for futher CHOP+R treatments. Shortly after she was moved, she contracted a whole bunch of viral, bacterial and fungal infections. All of these infections then caused severe sepsis, edema and constant fevers. On Easter Sunday, she was moved back down to the ICU. This past week, she’s received a tonne of different antibiotics and drugs to keep her blood pressure somewhat normal. She even got a wicked drug for the sepsis called Xigris which I found out costs $5000/dose. Those of us living in countries with socialized health care should count ourselves lucky; Tommy Douglas kicks ass! 🙂

For the past few days, with the exception of some edema which will be taken care of with more Lasix, my mom has been returning to better health. The ICU doctors are saying that the antibiotics are beginning to clear up the infections, and my mom’s oncologist says that the latest CT scan shows that the CHOP+R treatment she received in March is causing the tumor on top of her left lung to recede, which is great news. The only downer is that my mom is really pissed off and bummed at being confined to a hospital bed since February 20. So to recap:

Two weeks ago = good
Last week = shitty
Now = better

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play it loud

April 4, 2006 under Classic Gaming, Computers, SNES

It’s some what a coincidence that Barry picked up a Nintendo DS. Last month, I got a couple of USB Super Nintendo controllers. Why? For the fact that the SNES was and still is the best video game console ever! Yes, the Atari 2600 and NES came before, and the X-Box and Playstation came after. But no other system, IMO, had the unique combination of a library of great games (few lemons) and a good gaming experience. Yes, even the new systems haven’t learned a thing from the SNES .

Using ZNES just wasn’t the same using a Logitech RumblePad. Thankfully, I found Retrozone and thier USB SNES controllers. They’ve given me the chance to try out the games that I didn’t back when I was in highschool (because I was caught up with the Zelda and Street Fighter games), with the experience of the original controllers. My current addiction is Chrono Trigger. Following that, it’ll likely be Earthbound and then MegaMan X2.

Ah, the Butthole Surfers‘ “Goofy’s Concern” (used in many SNES “play it loud” TV commercials) is ringing in my ears 😉

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SendKeys()? meh. how about SendFood() or SendMoney()?

April 1, 2006 under Computers, Programming, Ruby, SendKeys, VBScript

At work last week, it so happened that I had a very tedious manual task to perform. Due to an NDA, I can’t say which server application this task involved. Let’s just say that there isn’t an easy way to import lots values for a picklist field. I had to add 245 values from an Excel worksheet to 3 picklist fields – that would require me to switch to Excel, select the value, copy, switch to the server application, click “Add”, paste, click “OK” 735 times! There is apparently a way to do this by writing a .NET assembly, but I was assured that finding the neccessary info to accomplish this would take longer that actually doing the manual task. And that’s when the thought of my wrists in firey pain from repetive stress foced me to recall and old friend of mine from shell32.dll – the SendKeys() method.

SendKeys() does what it sounds like…it sends keystrokes. Plain and simple. For that task, I knew what keystrokes I needed to do. I could’ve written something in C# or VB.NET, since there’s a SendKeys() method in the System.Windows.Forms namespace, but time was not on my side. There’s nothing like the cling and static-free scripting languages to save the day 🙂 So using the Windows Scripting Host and 15 minutes of my time, I wrote some JScript code (as an aside, it appears that Microsoft is downplaying VBScript more and more all the time) that read all of the values from the Excel worksheet, stored them, and then switched back to the server application’s window to add values in the manual process. I could then take my hands off of the keyboard and watch my “ghost writer” do the work, saving me plenty of time and preventing a repetitive stress injury 🙂

SendKeys() seems old-school to me, but comes in handy when an application you’re working with doesn’t have any of its functionality exposed via COM or .NET or whatever. Even if it does, sometimes it’s quicker to send keystrokes than read API documentation. As a cheesy example, let’s fire up MSCONFIG and automatically switch to the “Startup” tab to see what’s launching when Windows boots:

// Let's get to the good stuff in shell32.dll.
var objWSHShell = WScript.CreateObject("WScript.Shell");
 
// Launch MSCONFIG.
objWSHShell.Run("msconfig");
 
// Wait a couple of seconds for MSCONFIG to launch.
WScript.Sleep(2000);
 
// Switch the focus to MSCONFIG.
objWSHShell.AppActivate("System Configuration Utility");
 
// Keystroke time!
// SHIFT+TAB sets the keyboard focus to the row of tabs.
objWSHShell.SendKeys("+{TAB}");
 
// Hit the right cursor key 5 times to get to the Startup tab.
for (var i = 0; i < 5; i++)
    objWSHShell.SendKeys("{RIGHT}");

Pretty simple, and you don’t need the Windows Scripting Host to use SendKeys() from a scripting language. You can use non-Microsoft languages too. For example, the scripting language that has my attention lately is Ruby – it’s like Python on steroids. This script will do the same thing as the one above, but this time, I’ll write it in Ruby (without comments):

require 'win32ole'
 
objWSHShell = WIN32OLE.new("WScript.Shell")
objWSHShell.Run("msconfig")
sleep(2)
objWSHShell.AppActivate("System Configuration Utility")
objWSHShell.SendKeys("+{TAB}")
 
5.times do
   objWSHShell.SendKeys("{RIGHT}")
end

Think of the fun you can have automating all sorts of tasks in Windows with the SendKeys() method 😉

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