“At this point, she looks like she has had a stroke; her left hand is curled into a ball, she is hard and rigid like a board, is nearly totally paralyzed, has a feeding tube inserted nasally as she is no longer able to swallow, and has great difficulty communicating. … She is five feet, six inches tall and weighs 83 pounds. …”

She is also just 39 years old.

Nicole Denison, a registered nurse and medical educator from Lakehills near San Antonio, is describing her friend Cynthia Lyda, a prisoner-patient at the Carswell Federal Medical Center for women, in a letter to U.S. Rep. Charlie Gonzales of San Antonio. Denison is asking him to intervene to save her friend’s life – and adding her voice to a rising chorus calling for a federal investigation into Carswell’s questionable medical practices.


Lyda suffers from irreversible brain damage following a two-hour seizure last year that former Carswell doctor Roger Guthrie has charged was ignored by another prison doc who believed she was faking. (“Taking the Cuffs Off At Carswell,” May 24, 2006.) A spokesperson for Gonzales said that, based on Denison’s letter and the Fort Worth Weekly article that featured Lyda’s case, a staffer “will be assigned soon … to look into the charges.”

Any reforms will come too late for Lyda. Denison and Guthrie both say her 10-year sentence for injury to a child – a charge that is also a subject of questions – has turned into “institutional care for the rest of her life.”

Foat Wuth, They Luv Yew

Cowtown was in vogue at the Lone Star Awards banquet in Houston last Saturday. Fort Worth Weekly, media giant that it is, squashed the other folks in the small-newspaper division, the Star-Telegram creamed the big papers, and TCU’s Daily Skiff won a bunch in the student categories. The Weekly came home with a small forest of trophies, including those for Print Reporter of the Year (Jeff Prince) and firsts in Business News (Jeff again), Investigative (Betty Brink), Feature (Dan Malone) and Sports Story (Dan McGraw). Your fave alt-weekly also brought home second- and third-place trophies in Investigative (Malone), Business (Prince), Feature (associate editor Anthony Mariani), Arts Criticism (Mariani and Kristian Lin), General Commentary (the writer known as Chow, Baby), and second and third in Politics/Government (Peter Gorman and editor Gayle Reaves).

The Weekly’s weary veterans shared the limelight with the whippersnappers, too. Intern-turned-freelancer Shomial Ahmad (who moves on this week to an internship with Newsday) took second in the student news-and-feature category. And second place in the prestigious Public Service category went to Prince, former intern Pablo Lastra, and then-intern Christine Stanley for their stories about problems besetting Fort Worth’s East Side – racism, classism, and snooty regulations that make housing for poor folks increasingly hard to come by.

So – if you see any of them, buy ’em a beer. And tell them again that the adulation of their peers is better than money any day of the week. How else are we gonna keep ’em in journalism?

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