brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

Mirrored from Words, words, words, art..

Nikola, almost six, is an only child who never attended day care or much in the way of play groups. Pre-Kindergarten and its broad swath of germs and viruses hit him hard. Kindergarten is hitting him less hard, but that’s like saying getting struck down by a golf cart is better than being flattened by a fast moving freight train. You’re still on the ground counting your bones and wondering what hit you.

Niko has a gross cold that leaves him snotty (although he’s finally figuring out how to blow his nose) and with a nasty cough. I kept him home from school yesterday because the cough was disrupting his sleep and he was on edge and poorly. Then last night his cough progressed to triggering vomiting. Thankfully he knew what was up and called me in to help him and we kept the mess pretty contained, at least physically. But he doesn’t enjoy vomiting, or coughing excessively, or feeling out of control, especially at 1:30 in the morning. I mean, who does? So the coughing till he pukes events usually progress to crying till he coughs more and then pukes again. One of my mom jobs is to calm him down when he gets worked up (even when he’s healthy, as he has asthma) because crying can lead to coughing can lead to grossness.

I cleaned up the puke, got him calmed down, helped him blow his nose and drink some water, cranked up his humidifier, fluffed his pillows, and did everything else I could to help him sleep comfortably. I gave him the last of the liquid benedryl we have on hand because it can shrink swelling in nasal passages and dry up postnasal drip, helping ease coughing and make breathing easier. He declined the codeine cough syrup we have for him (it tastes like fire) but if he’s coughing this much again tonight I’m going to insist he take it. But other than that, there’s nothing I can do. I mean, I can sit up on the couch with him, supporting his body so he’s not lying down, and hope that helps his cough. I can push fluids into him during the day, and feed him chicken soup. I can take him to the doctor (where they’ll say “yup, that’s a cold, keep him hydrated. that’ll be $25 please.”). But I can’t really make him better.

Most cold remedies don’t work any better than a placebo, while also having some pretty severe side effects, especially for children. There’s nothing I can give Niko to make him all better. If I could pull the sickness out of his body and endure it myself I would. All I can do is try to make him comfortable and be thankful this isn’t Pertussis.

Pertussis, also known as Whooping Cough for the whooping sound of the coughs, or 100 day cough because of how long the illness usually lasts (10 weeks or longer, ie, over 2 1/2 months), is a highly contagious bacterial infection. It causes coughing so extreme that people wit it vomit, can break ribs, or become utterly exhausted. After coughing they can pass out; during coughing they can wet themselves, tear open arteries, burst capillaries in their eyes, or develop hernias. Infants don’t always develop the cough, sometimes they just stop breathing. Complications include pneumonia, encephalitis, and seizures. Despite the fact that a Pertussis vaccine was developed in the 1940s and has been proved resoundingly effective and safe, people are still rejecting it out of fear and misinformation. And so a disease that could be completely eradicated in the USA has pockets where it lives and strikes those most vulnerable to it, hospitalizing many of them and killing some of them.

Nikola will be sick for a week or two. He’ll probably miss 4-5 days of school (a school week). He’ll be gross and miserable and he’ll probably get this one or two more times this school year, and hopefully will get it less often next year. We’ll continue to treat him kindly and gently and help him use his inhaler so he can breathe better. He’ll be miserable and I’ll be miserable and I’ll lie awake at night listening to him cough and worrying, and listening to him NOT cough and worrying about THAT.

But it’s not Pertussis, at least.

That’s something.

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brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

If you hang out online and read enough blogs about health, especially pregnancy and childbirth, you’ll eventually run into people claiming one should trust one’s body and/or trust birth. I absolutely refuse to do so. If I trusted my body I would be dead several times over by now, as my body has systematically been out to betray me since I was about 3 years old. I keep it in line through various threats and removal of offending organs (mostly tonsils and teeth… so many teeth). But if I trusted my body and listened to it… well. Let’s just say I’d be spending most of my time curled up in bed with the covers over my head, subsisting on chilli cheese fritos, cold pizza, and coke.

Here is a list of the following ways my body has attempted to over throw my benevolent reign:

  • From the time I was 3 until the spring break of my 20th year when I had my tonsils out, I was sick constantly. My tonsils were so large they touched, as a matter of course, and often became so swollen they would literally split and bleed. DELIGHTFUL. After I had my tonsils out I went from getting bronchitis 1-2 times a year as a matter of course to getting bronchitis once every 10 years. My tonsils had turned to the dark side, man.
  • I have asthma, which means when I get sick (say, with bronchitis) it takes me forever to get better and it’s not uncommon for me to cough until I puke, pull abdominal muscles, break blood vessels in my eyes, etc. Let’s get with the program, respiratory system!
  • I’m allergic to dust, mold, and mildew. Good luck avoiding all that. Trips to the subway are really hard on me.
  • I have extra vertebrae in my tail bone. Like, two. Sometimes if I sit down too hard it hurts.
  • I’m sensitive to latex. I don’t break out in hives all over or go into anaphylactic shock, but I do get a raised itchy rash where it touches me. Do you know how many doctors/nurses I’ve encountered who’ve made a big fucking deal over having to get out the latex-free gloves? One is too many, and I’ve had to deal with more than one.
  • I’m also allergic to many adhesives, so even if I find latex-free bandages I sometimes react to the adhesive.
  • Actually, I’m allergic to most dyes and perfumes as well, and a bunch of metals, which is why I’ve never gotten a tattoo.
  • I’m allergic to raw fruits and vegetables. I am not making this up. If I eat, say, carrots or pineapple or a bunch of other stuff, I get an itchy rash on my mouth/tongue. If they’re cooked I’m fine, though. I weep over the loss of baby carrots; I rejoice in roasted/grilled pineapple.
  • I’m allergic to my own sweat. Again, not making this up. Apocrine sweat causes these disgusting cysts/boils/I don’t even want to talk about it on my armpits, under my boobs, behind my ears… in various places. The human body begins producing aprocine sweat during puberty. It was hell for me. It still is.
  • I got my first zit when I was 6. I’m 32 and still have acne.
  • Let’s discuss my reproductive system! I have fibroids, endometriosis, and cysts on my ovaries! Hooray! And yes, these all affect both the ability to conceive the ability to actually carry a child to term. Well, the PCOS affects so much more.
  • Most pain killers work at about half strength and wear off in literally half the time they should, which made child birth SUPER EXTRA FUN. It also makes dental work happy fun times. You know how some drugs are restricted because people get stoned on them? I don’t. I can take vicodin and make math lesson plans. I really liked being on morphine because I was clear headed and alert and not in pain.
  • I’m lactose intolerant. It makes me puke out my butt.
  • I can’t see without my glasses. If my glasses fall, I have to stand very still and call for help or else I’ll step on them or else not be able to find them. Or both. Even with my glasses, I walk into doorways more than the average person does.
  • I’m tone deaf. Nesko KNOWS this, but apparently hadn’t REALIZED it until the other day when I was singing a song from “Baby Signing Time” to Niko and Nesko asked me if I’d actually heard the song before and was amazed that I had because what I was singing didn’t actually sound like the actual song.
  • Five words: An Abundance Of Body Hair (profact: telling a patient that she’s “really furry! Wow! Like a bear!” is not a good way to gain her trust, nurse who refused to remove all my medical tape because it was just too hard)
  • I had super numery teeth. In fact, let’s list all the ways my mouth has failed me:
  • 1) It’s too small
  • 2) My teeth are too big
  • 3) I had too many teeth (I literally have had something like 6 adult non-wisdom teeth removed. Six. SIX. Because I just HAD TOO MANY TEETH. Which means when I go to the dental college for my dental care, because I have no insurance and that’s the only way I can get dental care, the student working on me is all confused by my dental anatomy and I become A Valuable Teaching Moment with like 5 dental students clustered around my mouth checkin’ my shit out.)
  • 4) One tooth was lurking around backwards and sideways. They had to cut out a hunk of gum, attach a bracket to the front of the tooth (which was the side of the tooth facing my throat/tongue/etc), rotate the tooth until it was facing forward and also pull it into an upright position instead of sideways. What the hell, tooth. How did you go so wrong?
  • 5) I had an overbite and an underbite at the same time not because of jaw issues but because my teeth were like a collapsing picket fence pointing in every random direction. I had my first set of braces when I was 7, and finally had them off when I was 17 or 18.
  • 6) I have TMJ and can’t chew gum (plus, my orthodontist gave my jaw a stress fracture when he tried to cram his enormous (and ungloved) hands into my tiny mouth)
  • I have Depression, Anxiety, and obsessive thought patterns which, if I’m not careful, lead me into very self destructive (both mentally and physically) behavior.

Why the hell would I trust this heap of meat and neurosis? I try to trust it and it tells me to buy and eat a can of pineapple and some ice cream. I try to trust it and spend several thousand dollars on getting 3 wisdom teeth removed and a year later the fourth one, which I was told would “probably never” descend “well, maybe when you’re like 80, or if you lose a bunch of teeth,” comes right on down. FUCK YOU TOOTH. I try to trust it, and it gives up on actually processing the insulin it produces. Whaaaaaaaaaaat! This is like the failboat of bodies.

Which is why I’m really glad that stuff like “science” and “medicine” exists, because in a perfect world I can see a doctor and get drugs for my brainmeats, get my extra teeth pulled so I can do stuff like “chew” and “talk,” get my tonsils yanked out, get oral insulin so my heart doesn’t give out or whatever. It means after 3 days of back labor and The Laziest Baby Ever refusing to descend I had the option of a C-Section instead of death. It means when my body didn’t produce enough milk to feed a kitten let alone a human baby I had the option of formula. It means I won’t have to be like my grandma and watch my precious boy get Polio, nurse him through that, teach him to walk again, and then have him live with post polio syndrome decades later, nor do I have to worry about him dying, going blind, or getting brain damage from measles or scarlet fever or rubella or whooping cough. We are basically living in a fantastic future here, one where the concept of  a parent burying a child has become almost unheard of, the greatest tragedy as opposed to life as usual.

I don’t trust my body. I try to eat well and exercise and get enough sleep and take care of myself, but my body literally sends out messages urging me to kill myself (either literally via suicidal ideation or metaphorically by craving foods/behaviors that make me ill), and it has literally failed to keep me healthy on its own (helllooooooo tonsils and ovaries, I am looking at yooooouuuuuuuuuu step back from the edge! turn away from the dark side! oh wait, tonsils, it’s too late for you, isn’t it. BWA HA HA HA HA HA HA. Reform, ovaries, before it’s too late!). It’s very telling that most of the people advocating that everyone should “trust their body” (and ‘trust birth’) are people who are mentally and physically healthy and have had continual ongoing access to top notch medical care.


Mirrored from Now Showing!.

brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

It’s the tail end of vaccine awareness week, and if I’d had my act together I would have posted more about this issue, including more links. Instead, I’m going to write a bit about why I vaccinate my kid.

  • I know people who had polio, spent years and years and years of difficult physical therapy to relearn how to walk, use their arms/hands, breathe, etc and now have post-polio and live in constant pain. The polio vaccine works.
  • Many of the childhood illness vaccines prevent are not deadly, but can cause brain damage, blindness, and paralysis. I don’t want my kid to get that sick, and I don’t want any other kids to get that sick from him.
  • Although I’ve been regularly immunized, I have no Rubella antibodies, which means that if I’d contracted Rubella while pregnant, I had a high chance of miscarriage or of Niko developing fetal anomolies. Vaccines don’t work 100% which is part of why vaccinating MANY people is necessary. The more people you vaccinate, the better off everyone is when it comes to suppressing or eradicating communicable disease.
  • I have asthma and scarring on my lungs/bronchia from years of chronic bronchitis and infections. I’m more healthy since I had my tonsils out (at the age of 20), but I still get colds, the flu, and bronchitis very easily and since I have asthma I often develop a racking cough that lasts for, literally, a month. I vaccinate myself to prevent getting the flu and I vaccinate my kid so he doesn’t get the flu or pass it on to me.
  • I have friends who are immunosuppressed and/or have tiny babies. I vaccinate to prevent the likelihood of passing something on to them.
  • I live in an area with a high immigrant population, which means a lot of kids (and adults) here who shop at the stores I shop at, who I tutor, etc aren’t vaccinated. TB, Hep A, Measles, and other communicable diseases exist in pockets in my neighborhood and while I wash my hands regularly, I have a 19 month old who licks things. All things. I’m not trying to say that my neighbors are, like, disease vectors or anything– they are human beings. But we’re more likely to be exposed to certain illnesses.
  • Study after study, independent research after independent research, has confirmed that vaccines do not cause Autism or Crohn’s Disease or mitochondrial problems. Take a good long look at the people claiming that vaccines are harmful. Strip out the worried parents from the picture and look at the “experts” and ask yourself: what are they selling? Are they, like “Dr” Wakefield, pushing a specific single vaccine that will line his pockets? Are they pushing dietary supplements? Harmful and expensive “alternative therapies”? Bear in mind that vaccines and administering vaccines costs less than the medication, time, and hospital stay required to treat the actual diseases they prevent.
  • Some people cannot be vaccinated. They are allergic to a component of the vaccine (eggs, for instance); they have suppressed immune systems; they have hemophilia and so a needle injection isn’t a great idea; etc. Vaccinating myself/my child protects these people.
  • Smallpox has been exterminated in the wild because of vaccines. Nobody gets smallpox anymore. Nobody dies of smallpox anymore. We have the chance to seize the future, to wield science like a weapon, and create a world where nobody contracts the measles, or mumps, or chickenpox, or whooping cough any more. We see these diseases primarily as childhood illnesses, rights of passage, and a few kids wind up dead or blind or with encephalitis or with broken ribs and pulled muscles from coughing and that’s sad but eh. It’s not statistically likely. WE HAVE THE CHANCE TO SAVE LIVES HERE.

There are reasons not to vaccinate, but those reasons are small and special ones and often linked to other health problems. Vaccinating YOUR child protects OTHER children. Vaccinating YOUR children is a very low risk thing to do, while it can save the lives, literally, of other babies and children and adults.

I vaccinate my child because I care about his health, and I care about my health, and I care about the health of people around me. I’ve read about my country’s history, about world history, and I’m aware of just how many children and babies died, how common young death was, how high infant mortality used to be. There’s a scene in the movie “Lord of the Rings” where someone comments on how gosh darned sad it is when a kid dies before his parent, how the world is out of order when that happens. That sure as hell was not in the book, written in the 1950s, when it was not uncommon for parents to look down on a tiny white coffin holding their hearts. Our past is so recent. We can make such drastic changes. Don’t let paranoid half-informed fear keep you from safeguarding our future.

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Mirrored from Now Showing!.

brigid: close up of my face a week or so post partum (me)

There was some mix-up with scheduling appointments, so Niko’s designated check ups (12 month, 15 month, 18 month) were a little jumbled. We went to his 18 month checkup today (he’s 19 months old, that’s not too far off) only to find that he was up to date with his vaccines. Because I am the meanest person to ever have a child, he got a flu shot anyway. BWA HA HA.

He’s 33 inches tall and 28 lbs 11 oz, which surprised me because I thought he was 30 pounds by now. He’s in the 50th-75th percentile for height and weight, though, and is still tiny headed (48 cm) but it’s growing as it should.

His next check up is in March, where he’ll get his second dose of Hep A and, I believe, a TB test which is pretty important because we live in an area that has live TB.

The visit ran through what would have been the start of Niko’s nap time. While waiting for the nurse to come in and jab him, he stretched out and lay down on the exam table and looked pitiful and sleepy.

Note to self: Niko needs a second flu vax in 1 month. Bring toy cars for him to hold on to. That might help distract him.

Mirrored from Now Showing!.

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