Friday, May 16, 2008

Growing, Changing and Miracles

Dear Friends:

May 16, 2008 was a momentous day for the Jaworski family. Last week Alexander and I attended the Texas State Technology Students Association competition in Waco, Texas by invitation of robotics coach, Sam Saenz. Mr. Saenz hosted the 2008 Robofest Cypress this year and I was fortunate enough to be his emcee while Alexander competed in the Sumobot portion of the competition. He was taking his students to this state competition and wanted to meet with us again.

The competition was truly remarkable. It's amazing to me how well middle school and high school students can do when given the right motivation, instruction and opportunities. We saw a few robotic entries, enjoyed seeing improvements made upon the Robofest entries we had seen just the prior month and reading about the students' experiences with their projects.

Perhaps the most wonderful thing to happen to us, though, was when we met with a representative of Texas State Technical College. She was friendly and gave us some information and then she told me that as a homeschooler, Alex could enroll in their dual-enrollment program -- and he wouldn't have to wait until he was 16! Not only that, TSTC has a Robotics program AND a Nanotechnology program. Here is a picture of the entrance to TSTC:

It took us a little while to find TSTC, but now that we know where it is, it will be a cinch to find it again. It's right off of I-35 near the Department of Public Safety building off of Craven. I mistakenly thought it was close to the Unitarian Universalist church we used to attend, but that is McLennan Community College. So I took the scenic route to get to TSTC. :-)

Texas State Technical College is huge! I had no idea there were so many buildings there. We went to the John Connelly building first and then we were quickly redirected to the building we needed to go to. Everyone giving us information was so friendly and inviting. There were school buses on campus because some of the schools had brought students to the college for something akin to an open house.

Alex met with Lucy Price in the administration building and she talked with us for a while. After finding out what Alex's ACT score was (he took the test when he was 11), she asked the Registrar if Alex could be admitted. I had neglected to make Alex take the writing portion of the ACT, so I had signed him up to take the ACT again, this time with writing, in June. Ms. Price said that would be fine and it looks like it should not be a problem for Alex to start school at TSTC in the fall, but she wanted us to meet with a counselor to make sure Alex had all the prerequisites needed. She took us to meet Karen Armstead who was a complete delight.

She and Ms. Price were professional yet friendly. They treated Alex with respect. He really appreciated that. Now he is about as tall as I am. I can't believe my baby is growing up and changing into an adult. I can't believe that next fall I might be taking him to TSTC for his first college course. This all seems to be happening way too fast.

On Thursday we will go back to TSTC. Alex will take their entrance exam (math, English and writing) and that will let us know if he will be officially admitted. At 1:00 we will meet with the head of the Nanotechnology department. Alex is excited about that. Around 2:15 we will meet with the head of the Robotics department. It will be interesting to take a tour of the school and talk with these people. I can't wait to see if Alex really fits in at this college.

Growing and changing . . . if we're lucky our "heart" children will grow and change. One thing I didn't write about (because of my hiatus from writing while grieving for my grandmother) was a very important series of phone calls I had early this spring. For the last 18 months we have been watching and evaluating Alex to determine if he is going to need additional open-heart surgery or possibly a catheterization to try to repair his heart. For 18 months I've been on pins and needles wondering if at any time we'd be driving to San Antonio for Alex to have surgery with Dr. John Calhoon -- the man who worked on Alex's heart twice and saved his life. For 18 months I've put some projects on hold knowing that my life could change, literally in a heartbeat.

Early this spring we met with Alex's cardiologist Dr. Patrick Finnigan in Austin. Again he looked Alex over but this time he exclaimed over how tall Alex had become! I think he is now as tall or taller than his cardiologist. Alex is still thin, but he looks good. Most people would never guess he has a heart defect unless they saw him running around shirtless. Dr. Finnigan sent all of Alex's records to Dr. Calhoon and they had a huge meeting with all of their colleagues at both facilities (Children's Hospital in Austin and University Hospital in San Antonio) and the consensus was: Alex is doing great. Let's not mess things up. Let's look at him again when he's around 18 years old!

Eighteen years old! I was thrilled! Now of course we'll still have visits with the cardiologist every six months to check hish heart, but provided everything looks the same, no intervention will be needed for years. This is a huge relief. Dr. Calhoon believes that if Alex continues to do as well as he has for the last 13 years, by the time he really needs intervention, technology will have caught up to his needs and we'll have something available to help him.

Who knows. As a future graduate of Texas State Technical College specializing in Nanotechnology, Alex could actually contribute to finding something to help himself, and others with congenital heart defects. If that's not a miracle, I don't know what is.



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