Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Thinking of Those Who Remain from the Great Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami


           While I am cleaning, doing laundry and generally doing busywork, I listen sometimes to the news from different nations.  NHK News is news from Japan sent to us in English.  In general, its world news is very good and generally without bias.  It sometimes reports things about US News that our own news agencies seem to miss entirely. Today, after NHK News there was a program which profiled a man from Northern Japan who was on a business trip when the Great Earthquake of Eastern Japan occurred.  His wife, his two year old son, and his week old son survived the quake itself, but their entire apartment building was washed away by the tsunami.  The man had returned from the trip only to find his town, his family and his home gone, and unrecognizable. Of course, this man has been quite lost since. He was particularly upset because his week old son was born during his being away for work, and he never got a chance to hold him. The man clutched tightly to pictures of his family, including his sons, which thankfully still existed somewhere that was not destroyed. The man told the story that he was awoken from a dream by his sons who apparently went on growing and look like they are four and two now. They told him they are fine and happy.  This experience has allowed him to continue living a life on Earth, and even to volunteer as a surrogate dad to the boys who lost their parents or their fathers during the earthquake and subsequent tsunami.   The second story in this program was of a woman who lost her youngest son in the earthquake and tsunami.  She tells a moving story about how she knows her son was there while she and her other children celebrated her youngest son's birthday, supposedly in his absence.  These were touching stories about real people who knew devastation and loss, and yet know that they must remain on Earth and complete the tasks for which they were sent.  Some experiences and losses cross all the cross cultural borders. In a great many ways, regardless of religion and nationality, we are the same.

This is NHK's Disaster Recovery Song "Flowers Will Bloom"

Lyrics: IWAI Shunji
Music: KANNO Yoko
(Both are from Miyagi prefecture.)

Another version of the same song produced by NHK News

When I can get the English language version, I will try to post it here.

The English lyrics to the song are by:  Roger Pulvers

English lyrics:

My heart goes out to you.
When the Winter snows give way to Spring.
My heart is longing now
Longing for the town where happiness had been
Been a place of hope and of dreaming too
Been a home where my heart always went back to you
But for now, I only dream
Of the people who I loved and knew
Someone is singing, I can hear singing now
Someone is weeping, I can feel their tears

Flowers will bloom, yes they will, yes they will,
For you who are here or are yet to be born
They'll bloom, yes they will
And they'll bloom again until
There's no missing sorrow and no reason left to mourn

(Additional verses at score below)

The musical score to this song.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Sudden Passing of George Boiardi

George Boiardi

 As I have said here many times, our son Daniel is thought, by the teams of pathologists who performed his autopsy, to have died suddenly from a spontaneous heart rhythm disturbance, which will have been five years ago now, this coming November.  Children, teens and adults all may die from a spontaneous heart rhythm disturbance without prior symptoms.
             Today however, we are going to talk again about a spontaneous heart rhythm disturbance and death which can occur following even fairly mild chest percussion or impact, called commotio cordis.
             Two years ago, 22 year old George Boiardi  (Yes, from the family who started Chef Boy-ar-dee) was playing lacrosse for his team at Cornell University.  He blocked a shot and was hit in the chest, causing a disruption of his heart rhythm which led to a  cardiac arrest which was fatal.

This is an EKG tracing of one heartbeat which shows the vulnerable window of when commotio cordis can occur.

            A relatively minor tap on the chest delivered accidentally at the correct time in the heartbeat can lead to a life-threatening arrhythmia or heart rhythm disturbance which all too often is not readily recoverable.  Besides CPR, the best chance a commotio cordis survivor has is an AED, but often, even an AED will not work to bring the heart rhythm back once it has ceased.   This is one reason an AED and CPR certified persons need to be an every sports practice as well as every game.

           There are a number of cases of this which have been covered in world news.  Remember that commotio cordis is the occurrence of a life threatening ventricular arrhythmia which occurs after a contact of mild, moderate or significant force to the chest of a person. This impact, with a ball, a fist or even an open hand, or even an attempt to demonstrate CPR on a live person causes the arrhythmia because it was delivered at coincidentally an essential period of rest or repolarization of the heart.  The effect is often devastating and permanent.

          There are multiple types of fatal spontaneous rhythm disturbances which cause death which can be completely independent of any type of coronary artery disease. Commotio cordis is only one type and it is the type which is caused by a known precipitant.
          We offer condolences to George Boiardi's family and his friends.

You can learn more about George here:

This is more information about the foundation dedicated to George:


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

How God Used the Life of Peter Francisco

This is a miniature portrait of Peter Francisco

   I am grateful to God for Daniel.  I am so incredibly lucky to have such a loving and bright boy who knew such joy while he was on Earth, even if it was only to be for twelve and a half years.  One of the things I remember so well is that Daniel really liked living in Virginia.  So many times we would learn about American history, and then we would go somewhere like Hopewell, Williamsburg, Yorktown, or Amelia and he would realize that we were in the place being discussed by the history books.  Virginia played such an important role in the early history of the United States and was the birthplace or home of many presidents. Daniel was quite small when we drove past Limestone Farm which had been owned by James Monroe, and Daniel realized that we lived fairly near President Monroe's farm, at the time.  He was similarly in awe when we went to Appomattox or Williamsburg.  He was also really interested when he realized that Pocahontas in real life, came from our neck of the woods and that we knew direct descendants of her.
                  There is one story about American history that Daniel did not know, because I did not know about it in order to tell him.  I am going to share it with you instead, and I think Daniel will see this post, if for some reason, he doesn't already know this in Heaven.

                   A young boy named Pedro Francisco was born in the Azores to  wealthy Portuguese parents.  He spent time in a large home overlooking the sea where he and his sister watched animals in the sea.   Political enemies of his parents from Portugal are said to have hired pirates to kidnap him. Poor Pedro wound up being purchased from them by a sea captain who dumped the boy, at age five, on the pier at City Point, Virginia. (South of Richmond in the vicinity of what is now Hopewell, Virginia)   The boy was dressed in European finery with silver shoe buckles custom made with his initials. He spoke only Portuguese.  Patrick Henry's uncle, Judge Anthony Winston, agreed to take the boy who was being housed at the Poor House, in Prince George County, Virginia. They called him Peter.

                 Peter Francisco was a good farm worker. He was apprenticed by the family as a blacksmith, in part because he was extremely tall and muscular, even as a teen.  He was cared for and treated well, but he worked on the farm, but was not adopted as one of their own sons.  At 6 feet and 6 inches tall and 260 pounds in that day, he was a veritable giant.  Peter accompanied the judge, and Patrick Henry to the famous "Give me Liberty or Give Me Death Speech" at St. John's Church in Richmond,  as both extended family and perhaps also as a bodyguard.

               When Peter turned 16, he signed up as a soldier for the Virginia 10th regiment, and he fought valiantly.  At one point he was badly injured and shared a hospital room with the Marquis de Lafayette, with whom he became a lifelong friend.  It was Lafayette who requested that George Washington commission a specially made sword for combat for someone as large as Peter.   Peter became probably one of the first "Special Forces" soldiers that we have had in America.  He took on one difficult assignment after another, and is largely credited for winning a number of battles without which America would not have ultimately won  the Revolutionary War.  Peter also effectively spied on a particularly violent British general named Tarleton. Peter injured his soldiers when they attacked him to steal his silver shoe buckles, which he still always wore. The legend says that afterward, Peter took their horses, sold them all, and kept Tarleton's horse, riding him and calling him Tarleton.    Peter Francisco is truly one of the United State's founding fathers and yet for many years this was not taught in schools.  Francisco lived on a farm in Buckingham County, Virginia following the war.  He was not wealthy but was ultimately made the Sargeant-at-Arms of the Virginia Senate.

           Daniel would have been pleased to know that one more inhabitant of the Virginia towns and villages he frequented in his lifetime, played a role in securing the freedoms the United States ultimately knew.  Peter Francisco was by all accounts an orphaned child at five, alone in the New World. He didn't even speak English.  He came to a good family, but at first, he probably had more in common with the slaves of the household, than with the family members.  He also was not educated in the manner in which most of the gentry would have educated their sons in that day.  And yet, God used him, despite numerous serious disadvantages, to do very great and lasting things in the world.  This point would not have escaped Daniel.
            The many relatives of Peter Francisco have a great deal of which to be proud.

Additional information can be found at:


Monday, September 2, 2013

In the Quiet Moments


          Sometimes in the quiet moments of my life I think back, and I recall different passages of my life.  I remember, a bit more than a month before Daniel passed that my father was hospitalized in another city.  I had traveled there to remain with my Dad.  Daniel, my husband and the other kids made the trip that weekend.   When I saw Daniel, he had been crying.  He was very upset to see my father so ill.  I remember at the end of the hallway, far from my father, kissing Daniel on the cheek and holding him tight.  I remember telling him that Dad had been made my God and that if God called him home, that we needed to have faith in God's plan for him. I also told Daniel that I love him very much.   He seemed a bit better after we spoke.  As I held him that day, I remember wishing I could hold that moment in time forever.  My Dad was here on Earth, and Daniel was with me, and all my children, even those in college, were close. I wanted to hold time still.  I had no idea that the next month would bring so many challenges to my faith, and that my own faith in what God's plan for us might be.

                    God allowed many magical moments with both Dad and with Daniel before he called each of them, in an instant, one expectedly, and one so unexpectedly.  Sometimes I stand in awe that I, and our family have somehow still survived.  Daniel, I remember your flushed face and your tears that day. I remember our hug as if it were yesterday.  I can't go back to that moment, and redo it, taking you in that moment to the best electrophysiologist or interventional cardiologist I could find, to try to interrupt what I did not know was soon to happen.  I can't go back to that time.  Instead, I am racing forward through my life, taking care of your animals, your Dad, and your siblings and waiting for the moment when we all see one another again.  I still have so much to share with you.  I love you and miss you so.

"Through My Veins" Richard Marx

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The Sudden Loss of Brandon Goyne

Brandon Goyne

    On January 18, 2013 Brandon Goyne, 20, a student at Louisiana State University in Alexandria was at baseball practice.  He was one of the younger team members, and was a sophomore outfielder, but the coach says he was a real standout there.  During baseball practice Brandon collapsed, experienced a cardiac arrest, and despite quick intervention, never regained consciousness.  Head Coach Brent Porche says that the team, had been overwhelmed by support following this tragedy.  There is no telling where Brandon's skill in sports and his zest for life would have taken him in the future.
           Normally, autopsy results are private and are not public record, unless a family chooses to release some information from one. Brandon's parents, Scott and Debbie Goyne, chose to release autopsy information in order to bring attention to this diagnosis.  Despite the fact that Brandon had two physicals in the months that led up to his sudden death, he did not have an EKG.  In Brandon's case, an EKG would have shown the diagnosis which caused his passing.   On autopsy Brandon was diagnosed with ARVD/C or Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia/Cardiomyopathy.     This is a more specific diagnosis of arrhythmic death of a young person, than we normally receive.  It is in fact, not a heart attack or myocardial infarction.    EKGs are not necessarily required for students of any age who play sports. Although an EKG would have detected Brandon's cardiac diagnosis, in many, like my Daniel, it would not have.  Still, if just a few families could avoid losing their sons or daughter's suddenly, during sports or simply living their lives, this would be a task worth doing.
          ARVD/C is not the cause of all sudden death due to arrhythmia during sports, but it is a cause of a percentage of it.  This diagnosis is of genetic origin, and CAN be treated if the diagnosis is made. This is why it is particularly important for the family members of someone who experiences sudden death while playing sports to be examined by a university based cardiology team. For example, Brandon's arrhythmic death could have been detected and prevented by EKG and intervention, whereas our Daniel's likely could not have been detected prior to the event itself.
           Athletic model Krissy Taylor also died from this diagnosis, which was detected on autopsy.

           Brandon's parents and his brother Derek have started the Brandon Goyne Foundation. Its goal is to make EKGs available to everyone who plays school sports in order to detect as many potential Brandons  out there as possible. In addition, the family wishes to bring to the attention of schools, coaches and families that everyone who plays sports should have an EKG first.     They have details about this on Facebook.

          More information on The Goyne Foundation .

This is additional reading on ARVD/C: