Friday, October 24, 2014

Enterovirus D68

So, I'm probably one of the few people in the country more  concerned about  EV-D68 than Ebola.   And I'm probably one of  the few people in the country stalking the CDC website daily for more information about positive identification of this virus.

I'm also probably one of  the more cranky followers of  this virus in North Carolina.

It is of no surprise to anyone why:  the Squirrel. And it actually moves me when my real life friends ask me  about  how she is doing and let me know if they (or  a loved one) feels sick and what the  symptoms are and are not.

I was even in the local  paper, in which I thought the point was  to rant that we're not  getting information from the NC Department of  Health And Human Services about the LOCATION of verified EV-D68 cases and the patronizing tone of the NC epidemiologist that we should just assume  it's EV-D68 is out there and kids are getting it.

Assume?  I  should "assume"??? I'm sorry. I'm a scientist. I don't assume diddly squat.  I want data.  And if the data are that all  NC's EV D68 cases are around Raleigh, why should I assume Mecklenburg County has them, too?

Especially since the DATA from our pediatrician is that all the respiratory illnesses she's seen this year have been very  mild.

Especially since our school nurse says that most of the school absences are from stomach problems.

Especially since I've seen friends on FB--from Los Angeles--who've had to take their children into urgent care for breathing problems. Like  the Mom of that child and the Dad of another (who has been traveling all over  the country)  have ended up  with horrible, HORRIBLE colds with real respiratory and breathing issues.

Especially since EV-D68 lasts till late fall in *New Jersey* because only until then does it get cold enough to kill the virus!!  FYI, Fall Temp NC > Fall Temp NJ.  

It  is clear from the CDC chart that NC does not have a lot of EV-D68 compared to other states.

And the daily increase  of  cases has  drastically  declined.  At one point, there were between 50 and 75 new cases a day. Now there are about 20  new cases.

So here is  my latest thinking on EV-D68 and Charlotte.

1)  We might have escaped  it.  I am not seeing anyone  on my FB  newsfeed whose child has had a really, really bad  cold or who as  an  adult they have had a bad  respiratory  cold.
2)   We might have  already had it!!   EV-D68 has been around for  a while.   Bridget was hospitalized  *last* summer for  a horrible  respiratory  cold  that  took down  the entire family which  a  junky  cough. (I'm thinking of  her  second  hospitalization where we all coughed up  a lung or  two  in the house) No one tested anybody last summer for  EV-D68.   Maybe  Charlotte has already  had  this  bug and the city is  now basically immune.   (I'm hoping for this option)
3)   It  hasn't hit Charlotte yet.   Boooooo. Let's  hope  that one isn't  correct.

I  still don't understand why  the NC DHHS won't tell us where the  verified cases have been. The HOSPITALS are  revealing  that  they've treated  kids with EV-D68. The  reason NC DHHS won't is for HIPAA--they don't want  to reveal patient information. W.T.Fudge.Monkeys?

How many children are in Forsyth County?  If I tell you 1 child tested  positive  for  EV-D68, do  you know  which child  it  was???   NC  DHHS  reports  Lyme  disease  and cancer rates BY COUNTY.   But they can't tell us which county contains an illness  that is spread  through  the air and is  very serious  for  children with asthma?

I do think (hope) we're on the back end of this illness. But I'm not fully convinced.  Also, I  just  don't think this disease is as contagious as  they are saying. They say  the virus can live for days on surfaces. But when only 1 or 2 children in all of New York City get the diagnosis, how contagious can it  actually  be.  (And  yes, my  understanding is that the diagnosis is only made for kids in  intensive care, not for kids who have just been hospitalized.  It's  a very  expensive  test) I don't  know why Colorado and St  Louis had  such bad breakouts, but  I  don't think it's  burning  through the rest of the  country.

At least not through Charlotte.

At  least not through our house.

Famous last words, eh?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Waiting for This For Five Years

I hate when  I  blog in  my head for days (weeks, months) about  a particular  topic, and then when I  go  to  write  about it, I  really  want to write about  something else.


So, the  twinnies started kindergarten last month.

I  have  to  be honest with you:  it's  been wonderful.  Even the meltdowns  at 7:30  when they are too  tired to be  up but don't want to go  to bed.   Having all 3  children at the same  school, on the same bus stop, and generally  on the same schedule....FOR wonderful.

That's  the thing  that has been so surprising to me:  clearly, I've  been waiting for Five Years for them  to start  public  school.  I *know* you're  not supposed to  focus  on the future.   You're  supposed to live  in the now.   And it's  not like I've  been ignoring everything that happened from the time  we found out  it  was twins  until  they started Kindergarten.   But I have to  be  honest  with you:  the day we  found out  it  was twins was  also the day we  realized the Jetta wasn't going to cut  it and we'd  need a minivan.   And the day I  started working on our budget  and I  realized we  simply  Did Not Have The  Money for two kids in daycare and  a car  payment was the day I  started  dreaming  of Kindergarten.

So.   YAY!!   YIPPEE!!  Only  a few  more years to go  to  pay  off  that  daycare debt, but  YAY!! YIPPEE!!  Public  education!!!

So  that's  what  I've wanted  to write about for  the last month.

For  the last week, I've been wanting to write about  this:

Take  a look at that.   No. Seriously.  Take 12 minutes  to watch that  video and then come back.   

And then let's all look in the mirror and say, "OK!   That's  it folks!  This is  what  I  weigh.   And this is  what I'm going to  weigh."   And then  make sure your sons and daughters NEVER EVER diet.  

I'll be honest with you.  This  video  has  been revolutionary  to me.  I'm a firm believer in data.  When a  double-blind  study says that  except for  celiac disease, gluten  sensitivity  isn't likely  to exist, I  start  eating wheat  again.  When the data begins to repeatedly say that diet  soda is   related  to  glucose intolerance  and weight gain, I  don't  drink it anymore.  And when the data say diets and other forms  of  restricting food  don't work, I  seriously  think that  it's  time to just accept  my  post-twinnie  belly  for what it flabbily  is.  

It's  really  odd  that the people who know me best now do not have  any knowledge  of me as  the super fit, relatively thin, exercise  hound that  I  was.  It's  even weirder  to  finally acknowledge that time has  passed. I still plan on exercising and running regularly and  eating healthily.  But I *want* to stop  worrying about calories and how much I  weigh.  I  just want to be  healthy  and not  worry about it. 

So that's  what I'm going  to do.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Mommy Working

So we are keeping the twins home from daycare this summer and Conor is mostly out of camp. The reason for this is absolutely financial. The summer months are supposed to be professors' most productive work time (writing without teaching) even though we are not paid for this work.   Keeping the twins home this summer saves us about $4800 and I  don't know about you, but  for us, that is a boatload of tax free income.

So, I am still working. You can read more about that here.  I get up  at 5 am (most days) and work until the twins get up at 10 am (most days).  Yes, that is  late.  We  let  them stay up late so I can actually get some work done. Conor is quiet.  The twins?   Well, the twins are not.  I can work with Conor awake.  Not  so much the twinnies.

But when  the twinnies do get up?  I switch from Professor to Mom. I'm not used to being a SAHM and having all the kids at home.  When summer  started, I was freaking out over What. The. Heck we were going to do all day, every day, all summer. I even made a basket of activities so I could pull an activity out of the hat  and  do it if we ever got too bored.

That has not happened.  

We are having a blast.  We joined a local pool and  go there many days a  week.   We've hit the kid and adult museums.  We've gone to parks.  We've gone to different libraries.  We visited my parents.  We've taken walks and runs (!) around the neighborhood. We've played at home and we've played at others.  

This is the most fun summer I've ever had.  It's  also the most *productive* summer as far as research goes that I've ever had.   The one thing it is not?  It is NOT the cleanest my house has ever been.  You'd  THINK that with all this time at home, I'd be compelled  to  keep the house clean.  You'd think wrong.  

I think that I have a choice:  I can either work and keep a clean house or I can work  and have fun.  I  vote work and fun.  I have no idea how SAHMs do it.  

But this is the first of only a few summers when all three kids are home.  I love my new working schedule.  And I ABSOLUTELY love my new Mommy schedule.  I could still use a nap, but that's the plight of being a (working) mom.  

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Mud Run

Dave and I decided that we are  much more likely to do a father/daughter or mother/son mud run than a  father/daughter or mother/son dance.  Not that there's anything wrong with a dance.  That's just the way we roll.  In the mud.

Conor and I did the Big Muddy Challenge at The Hunter Farm in Weddington, near Charlotte.  It was a 2 mile "run" with 12 muddy obstacles in it.  Conor and I trained--with the twins--by doing run/walk intervals around the 'hood while the twins biked beside or between us. Our training runs have been incredibly slow and I was a bit worried about whether Conor would be able to keep up or even make it during the race. Because, you know, I'm an experienced runner.  And marathoner.  And one-time triathlete.

10 years ago.

So, um, yeah.  Here is a picture of us coming out of the pond.

That is literally  the only time I  was  ahead of Conor.  And bless our hearts, I  know  this was a family  event but both Conor and I were running and passing everyone we could.  I think I even said at one point or another (or several), "we can pass 'em." I may be a used up old  hag, but I am still competitive.  And I can pass a 6 year old  struggling to run up the hill with a gleam in my eye.  

So yeah. I was surprised that after each obstacle and most flat spaces and every hill, I had to yell to Conor "Wait for me!  This is a family event!  Run with meeeeeeeee!!!!"  It felt very much like  running with Dave.  Except when I caught up to  Conor, he was having so much fun doing this, he would hug and kiss me.  Not that Dave doesn't do that on our  runs.... Yeah.  He's from the Midwest.  Not  so  much smooching during our runs together.  

So here is  *my* favorite picture of Conor and me running together:

You can see even there that is his stride is longer than mine.  He was Ready. To. Go.  And also, my mouth is open, so I'm talking/coaching/mentoring and probably saying Slow Down.  ;-)  Actually, I've already given Conor a couple of running tricks that he LURVES, his favorite of which is picking some tree, sign, or pole  in the distance that pulls him toward it.  That is honestly the best trick  in the book because then you aren't actually running; this object is pulling you towards it.  Also, no whining.  He learned that after his first run when he noticed a difference in how well he ran with his whine turned on or off.

And my favorite mentoring advice to him: we were near the end of a training run and he was all "I can't  do this!  I can't do it!!" and I laughed in  recognition of that self-talk.  And I laughed even harder when I said "But you ARE doing it. You are doing it RIGHT NOW. And you are almost done!!"  

Right?? Can't we all use that feedback?  We are all Doing It right now.  

He and I both laughed and  boy, was that a life lesson for *me*.  

So here we are at the end of the race.  

I love this picture.  We are both so excited. And you cannot tell what I am thinking which is actually which was "Holy crap, that was hard and I'm glad it's over and I had so much fun with Conor and my face has got to be  SO RED  that this picture is going to suck." I wonder where Conor gets his self-talk from? Hmmmm....

In any case, we  have a runner on our hands.  That is for dang sure.  

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Mid-Life Crisis

I am turning 50 in August.

I say this like it's a big announcement because it  is. Since my 30s, I've been extremely  cagey  about my age because I have been told I look a lot younger than I am.  Lord knows, I act a lot younger.

So announcing my real age feels like a big deal.

Turning 40 really did not seem like that big of a deal, mainly because I had just gotten married and was pregnant with Conor.  It's hard to feel old when everything is new and shiny.  Plus I was still running marathons around that time.  Physically, in my late 30s, I was at my physical peak.

Screeching up to the 50 year mark?  Not so much.  I still run, but  only a bit. There is still evidence of MY AWARD WINNING TMZ PHOTO (!!!) and the twins in the extra skin around my belly.  My metabolism has taken a nose dive and I cannot get rid of these extra ellbees.

So I'm no longer physically at my peak.  But mentally and emotionally?  I am just getting started.  And I can tell you that I'm getting a few amens from the other women who are approaching or past 50 right now, too.

First, my attitude has shifted to this:

I sometimes just say that.  Out loud.  With a sweep of my arm to demonstrate both the field and that it is barren.

Second, I recently saw this:

This is a nice coda to the original "Behold the fields in which I grow....".  Plus, it's a lot quicker to just say "F@ck it!  Dance party!!!" and start dancing around.  

It doesn't mean that I've given up.  Instead, it's quite the opposite.  Now I  have a barren field on which I  regularly have a dance party.  It allows me to jump off the diving board in my large tankini at the pool and swim around like a shark attacking my children.  It  says  "Why not try some Latisse, Botox, and eyelash tinting" and by Jove, it looks good.  It says "Fasting is good. But this week, I'm  going to eat and drink some nice wine."    This dance party on that field says  "Get that second tattoo on your ankle so everyone can see it."  

I thought "Tattoo Still Life With Cat" would make a nice addition to all the Facebook pictures.  All I need now is a teacup pig, and my midlife crisis will be over.  Or at least full.  Crisis goals met?  What happens when the crisis is over?  What's the next stage?  Old hag?  READY FOR IT!!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Spring, Fasting, and Growing Up

I know I blah, blah, blahed about this  in the last blog, but Dave and I continue to be shocked at this thing called "Spring."  IT'S BEEN SO LONG.  The last Spring we actually had was two years ago, when the twins were turning 3 and it was the first time in, OH THREE YEARS, Dave and I had some semblance of a life.

It's just amazing:  we are planting things in the garden and landscape bed....and they are growing.  We have more (!) baby chicks and they are thriving.  Nights are not fraught with fears of going back to the hospital.  I wake up early most days and do some work.  I am even somewhat regularly exercising.

I am living and it feels like forever since that has happened!

I'm also still doing the intermittent fasting and living somewhat gluten free.  While my incredibly mainstream doctor was surprisingly supportive of my continuing a completely gluten free life, I've seen some research posted about whether gluten sensitivity is real that gives me pause.  Celiac disease is absolutely real.  Hashimoto's disease is real.  Many people have real gluten allergies.  And this is ONE STUDY out of many people's experiences that questions gluten sensitivity.  But it makes me wonder if it's the *processing* that's the problem with gluten products that is causing *my* symptoms.  I don't know.  I would really like to just eat non-processed, recognizable food and call it a day.

But holy cow.  Here is the crazy thing:  the twins are going to graduate from Pre-K is two weeks.  I don't know if I'm going to get emotional when they start Kindergarten, but I'm already weepy thinking about them leaving daycare.  And not because they are going to be home full-time or we're going to get so much more tax free money now.*

We've been working with many of the teachers at the twins' daycare for 8 to 10 years. These teachers have been some of the best sounding boards and parenting advice givers we've known.  They've worked with 100s of children and have been trained to work through gentle discipline, education, and character development.  They've been our coaches and our children's mentors for a long time.  I feel like we're leaving our extended family and starting the kids in "The System."  (Which for those of  you whose oldest children are still in daycare is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT)

Christopher--who will be going by the name Kit at school--is convinced he is going to be a Boy Artist.  I don't know why he has to modify artist with a gender, but there you have it.  He assures us that when we come visit him when he grows  up, he will draw us in whatever color we want.  Even the animals!

Bridget remains extremely opinionated, and while reading Sonia Sotomayor's autobiography, I was inspired for her.  Now Bridget asks "Mommy, what am I going to be when I grow up?  The one who decides what is right and wrong?" "A judge."  "Yes!  I'm going to be a judge *and* a bus driver when I  grow up!"


How did this happen?  How did we  all get so grown up?  

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Spring, This Year and Last

A few weekends ago, I was working in the back  garden (as opposed to the side garden) digging and weeding and  making plans for what I was going to do.  And I realized, bluntly and clearly, that it had been a long time since I had been doing spring activities like that.

Last year, our family didn't get a Spring.  We had a really cold February and March (generally when Spring starts in Charlotte) and then there the weeks of pneumonia and Bridget's first hospitalization. Spring hit during her hospitalization.  I  missed all the azaleas and all the dogwoods because apparently we went from 0 to 50 in 8 days last year.  We recovered from the first hospitalization and then she had the second one two months later.

I'd like to go on record as saying the we didn't get a "March through June" last year.  We just didn't get to experience those months like everyone else.  I'd kind of like a refund.

Alas, it does make me appreciate THIS Spring so much more.  I'm still not up to 100% Urban Farming, but I have lots of plants out and at least modest plans for the rest of the vegetable garden and the flower beds.

And like every traumatic event, Dave and I have been acutely aware of the anniversaries.  When Bridget got her cold a few weeks ago, on the anniversary of her first hospitalization, we were not amused.  But she bounced back quickly and everything seemed great.

Then she woke up Monday barking, a sign that she's getting the Bad Cold of Laryngitis, the pulminologist hates so much.  It gives adults laryngitis, but it's a particularly bad virus for squirrel who favors atelectasis to get.  It appears to be getting progressively worse.  It's not BAD BAD BAD BAD BAD! But it's not good, either.

We're going back to the doctor tomorrow to decide on steroids or not.  Even if she starts to poop out and her O2 tanks overnight, I think we can still make it until tomorrow's doc visit.

Honestly, when I was out there in the garden thinking about how wonderful this Spring is and how suck-ash the last one was, I fully expected this blog entry to be all unicorns and rainbows.  It still is, I guess, just not in the  way I was expecting.