health


When I don’t post for a while, there is a backlog in my brain – but first things first: Christian is doing much better.

A week after we’d been home from Korea, Christian had a fever on and off again for five days running. Day three he began coughing and the mucus started drip drip dripping. I was on board for letting the virus run its course, because I know from Dr. Sears’ website (our favorite), that this was a pretty typical scenario for a bad cold virus which is not treatable with antibiotics.

However,
the fifth night, his fever spiked to 103 and Christian was delirious and unhappy all night long. Nobody got any sleep (again) and I reached the end of my health patience rope. I scheduled a sick appointment with Dr. Bob (the son of the original Dr. William Sears) the next day, even though Christian’s fever had already gone back down.

Dr. Bob could not hear any pneumonia in Christian’s lungs (there is a characteristic sizzling sound, he says), and thought that an x-ray wasn’t warranted, but that considering the duration of Christian’s fever (five days) and Christian’s slight shortness of breath, that there was probably a touch of pneumonia (bacterial infection) in his lungs.

So, Christian is now midway through his first ever course of antibiotics (amoxicillan).

I am satisfied with our choice to treat with antibiotics, but a part of me still suspects that Christian would be recovering at the same rate even if we had not done gone with the antibiotics.
He’s doing fine, but not eating much. He’s nursing a ton, and feeling fragile. Today, a full week after the fever first hit, he actually wanted to go downstairs and play.

Chad’s sick now. He’s been horizontal for three days now. Yikes.

This one’s a doozy. Be careful it doesn’t get you!

Christian in Korea, before he got sick.

I feel very clean. Very very clean.
Christian and I visited the bath house for the second time yesterday and I do believe that my father was right; all that soaking in warm water helped us sleep well and transition out of jetlag (that, and the fact that it is now my 4th day here).

A Korean bath house is such a cultural peephole, but one I think is not experienced as often as it should because you do really need to get naked to hang with the locals.
But there is no reason to be self-conscious, because NOBODY ELSE IS. There are elderly bent women with sagging wrinkles slowly making their way across the tile; and mothers with full breasts and bellies with babe in arms; and chopstick-thin teenagers – everybody is just there naked and in the business of getting themselves clean.

It is downright fascinating to see so many naked females at once. It’s been a while, and I think it’s healthy for both me and Christian to see something besides crowds of scantily-clad hipsters at a SoCal beach.

Some things I’ve noticed, women here
do not have tan lines – they avoid the sun altogether (to preserve their skin)
do not have piercings or tattoos (THAT makes me self-conscious)
do not wax either – everybody is au natural
are rarely overweight
have friggin’ amazing skin all over their bodies.

This would seem to make for a narrow range of uniform bodies, but there is SO MUCH DIVERSITY – it’s wild, like people watching from a sidewalk cafe, but even more interesting.
Tell you what though, my body holds up just fine in comparison. No wonder Chad doesn’t mind my sunspots ; )

I emphasize clean to emphasize the matter-of-fact, down-to-earth feeling that permeates every bath house I’ve ever been to (only 4 – but in three different countries) In Korea, bath houses or mogyuktang abound.

P.S. I posted about a bath house in LA on June 7, 2008; the post is titled Squeaky McClean – I’ll post a link when I figure out what all the Korean says when I right-click on my dad’s computer.
P.P.S. Sorry, no pics for this post either.

We love this soup. It’s simple and tasty. Plus the copious amounts of garlic and ginger make it a good comfort soup for when Bella says she has a funny feeling in her throat.

It’s from my sister-in-law, Corrina:

“Here is the recipe for Tinola.  It was handed down to my friend from her mom, although I’m sure you can find versions of it online, as it’s a common Philipino soup.  When she gave it to me, we were sitting down to lunch together, and she wrote down the ingreds and explained what to do with each ingred verbally, so I’m trying to write it down here as I interpreted it.  She recommended that I hold the chayote with a fork while I peel it.  She was under the impression that it would make your skin itch, but it’s in the melon family, so I’m not sure if that’s the case.  I followed her advice anyway.  Most of her advice regarding proportions was, “if you like those, add lots.  If you don’t like those so much add less”.  I love this soup!

2 or 3 Tbsp light olive oil
thumb-sized piece of ginger root, sliced into pieces approximately 1″ long and 1/4″ thick
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 chicken breasts, chopped into 1″ cubes
Chicken broth, 2 boxes or 64 oz.
1 Chayote, peeled and chopped into just slightly larger than how you prepared the ginger.
Spinach, 2 or 3 cups, lightly chopped

Sauté ginger until it’s golden brown
Then add garlic and onion
Add chicken, sauté with ginger, garlic and onion until it’s cooked
Add chicken broth, bring to a boil
Add chayote and let it simmer until the chayote is softened to your liking
Turn off the fire (her words.  So cute)
Add Spinach and stir
Season with salt and pepper, to taste

I hope you enjoy it as much as I have”

One might think that since I played games with names like Who Can Go the Longest Without Brushing Their Teeth as a child that I might not be a good source of information on this particular topic.

Public opinion has never stopped me before though.

Chad and I have made a dedicated effort to brush Christian’s teeth twice a day now for about six months. When people ask what we do when Christian resists – I answer that I do what Dr. Bob Sears recommended: Pin him down. He’ll stop fighting it after a night or two.

Granted, we use all the regular parental wiles first: we have a regular routine, we brush our teeth at the same time, we use a (fluoride-free) vanilla ice cream-flavored toothpaste, a tooth-brushing walrus finger puppet comes to sing, and we like to use a couple of teeth-brushing songs (Brush, brush, brush your teeth, Brush them everyday! First you brush the top, Then you brush the bottom, Keeps the cavities away – to the tune of Row Row Row Your Boat)

Christian rarely eats candy or drinks juice (we don’t buy it, but it still falls into our path). We do occasionally indulge in chocolate, and he gets a piece. He also likes raisins in his morning oatmeal, and sometimes I give him a fruit leather in the car for long drives.

Still, Christian got a cavity. We noticed a brown spot between two of his upper teeth and  a couple days later it was a full-fledged hole.

We visited an excellent pediatric dentist yesterday, Dr. Leslie Aspis. Her office is right across the way from Fashion Island. She is supportive of breastfeeding and attachment parenting. Christian’s teeth were cleaned and examined with his head resting in the doctor’s lap. Her gloves were bubble gum flavored.

It has been determined that she’ll probably be able to fill it without sedating him in six months or so. In the meantime, we’re keeping an eye on it, building comfort with the dentist’s office, and sticking to our teeth brushing routine with zeal. We’ll also start flossing every day.

What I know so far:

Brush baby teeth twice a day as soon as they appear.

Floss once a day.

You can start using fluoridated toothpaste when they know how to spit it out – around 2 years.

Despite the popular belief that breastmilk causes tooth decay, studies show that breastmilk can only cause decay if there is already tartar on the tooth. This means the dentist will recommend that you wipe your baby’s teeth with a damp washcloth after s/he is done nursing especially if s/he has fallen asleep.

If you would rather risk tooth decay than wake your baby on a nightly basis by sticking a wet cloth into your slumbering baby’s mouth, then make sure you are brushing those teeth with zeal. Pay close attention to the gum line.

Some dentists recommend using xylitol (via gum and toothpaste or sugar replacement) 5-6 a day to change the pH of the mouth, which studies have shown to reduce cavities. I get gum online at xclear.com.

Whew boy. Somehow I got three shots of espresso into my body today, and well, here we are at nearly midnight and I’m out at the kitchen table typing away with squirrel-like rabid energy.

I haven’t been missing my New Yorker subscription too badly (thanks for passing along your back issues, Darlene and Steve), but I have been sucked back into reading Bella’s Vogue magazines cover-to-cover.

Fascinating brief article about fitness in the March 2010 issue called “fast and furious” by Elizabeth Weil.

“In the lab, rats that worked out hard (swimming with weights) for four and a half minutes, in 20-second intervals, reaped all the same physiological benefits as rats that slogged through six hours of swimming at lower intensity…Experiments of humans showed similar results. At McMaster University, in Ontario, Martin Gibala, PhD., asked two groups of students to work out three times a week for two weeks. The first group – the sprint group – pedaled a stationary bike at the highest intensity possible in 30-second bursts, totaling two to three minutes of exertion each session. The second group – pedaled at a continuous sustainable pace for 90 to 120 minutes at a time. At the end of six workouts, Gibala tested both groups and found that the sprinters and the endurance cyclists attained similar physical rewards (that is, comparable increases in athletic performance and changes in muscle fiber), even though the sprinters had exercised for 90 percent less time.” [boldface mine]

THAT IS CRAZY NEWS. (And I’m ignoring my distress at the lab rats who were made to swim for six hours.)

The author of the article found out first-hand why we don’t all choose high-intensity workouts after she tried this one:

1 minute, 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 2 minutes, 1 minute @ 5k pace. Equal rest (easy running) in between.

Yes, her workout was only nine minutes long, but she was puking by the end of her 3 minute set.

I’m intrigued.

Here are a few high-intensity workouts that were listed as tantalizing possibilities.

For runners: Hill sprints. After a warm-up, sprint up a steep hill for 20-30 secs. Jog down to recover. Repeat 8 times.

On a track or treadmill, after a warm-up, run 400 meters hard (one lap!), 200 easy, 800 hard, 400 easy, 1,200 hard, 600 easy, and repeat sequence in reverse.

The one I might try is a home-based workout for strength:

Complete as many rounds as you can in 20 minutes. Alternate sets of burpees (stand, jump to plank, push-up, jump forward to squat, jump up) with sit-ups: 10 burpees, 20 sit-ups; 8 burpees, 16 sit-ups; 6 burpees, 12 sit-ups; 4 burpees, 8 sit-ups.

My stomach hurts just writing about it.

my impending health.

After having been knocked flat on my heiny for about 24 hours.

Although a child in our playgroup was (momentarily) suspected of having the measles, and the girl I drive home after school was diagnosed with bronchitis, I actually think I am recovering from a bout of the dreaded swine flu.

It appears that H1N1 is THE flu of the season and makes its appearance with a fever and sore throat. This is so characteristic of this flu that at Chad’s work, anybody who shows both these symptoms is asked to stay at home.

It started with a headache and some strange other-body-ness that was so unusual (for me) that I didn’t immediately attribute it to sickness. Then the next morning I woke up feeling better and I went out to a La Leche League toddler meeting (but I didn’t hold any babies and mostly stayed away from people in general). By the time I got home I was feeling much worse and by lunch I was alternating shivering and sweating, and I had such bad body ache that my eyeballs hurt. Every once in a while, I got an itch in my throat that made me cough – that hurt too.

By bedtime I could barely turn my head, and nursing the baby to sleep was agony. This plus I developed a razor sharp ache in the right side of my throat. I remember thinking, I can’t do this for another day, before drifting off. Sleep was not much better as my affected sense of equilibrium inflected my dreams, giving them a nightmarish quality.

When I woke up – I could feel the body ache receding.

Hallelujah. I was still sick, for sure, but well enough to appreciate how sick I HAD BEEN.

Now that it’s bedtime, I can really appreciate feeling better, although I’m not 100% by a long shot.

Whew. Hope this one passes you over.

[Update:

It has now been exactly a week since I got my first symptoms of sickness. No more body ache, but I still feel slightly weak and I still have a deep cough, although that only makes itself known very occasionally.

Recovery is slow.

I did notice that my fever ebbed and returned several times over the course of a few days. Also, I had many disjointed symptoms that would disappear and reappear, like the fever, a stiff neck, a sore throat, and even this cough.

Chad felt unwell and stayed home two days from work, but never got it as bad as I did – and never coughed either. His worst symptom was a mind-crushing headache which was accompanied by a slight fever.

Christian and Bella remain healthy and are getting plenty of rest.

I’m staying home today and eating lots of soup.]

The finished pig with tail.

The finished pig with tail.

We had a joint playdate (diaperfree+attachment parenting meetup) in Irvine today – yes, the OC town where two kids have been diagnosed as having the dreaded swine flu. But as with all but one of the American cases of the illness, the kids recovered, and even returned to school today.

We practiced good “social distancing” (my brother introduced me to that term) and refrained from hugs and kisses today. I didn’t even bring snacks to share, which is not normal behavior for me. Christian was so into climbing and walking that he barely paid any attention to the other kids today, which made it easier to keep him from sucking on other people’s toys.

Less reassuring: hearing that my sister’s Oxford research unit in Bangkok has mandated eight days of house quarantine for anybody traveling back from the States or Mexico. And the international airport in Bangkok has instituted heat detectors; any deboarding passenger with an elevated body temp is whisked off to the hospital for further examination.

The main organizer of the attachment parenting meetup sent around an email with some online swine flu resources I thought I’d share here, plus the CDC  link  for updates.

Attachment parenting expert, Dr. Sears, offers his guidance.
Some insights from another AP friendly physician, Dr. Jay Gordon
A one hour interview with Dr. J. Williams, expert on viral immunity.

CDC link for updates.

An unsettling picture that I've already received several times in the last 48 hours.

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