Category Archives: sickness

My Afternoon Off (with a sick toddler…)

The Ex called me at work on Tuesday morning to let me know that Ankle Biter was running a fever and she was picking him up for the afternoon.  She took him to the local clinic to get checked out and asked if we could move around his suppertime visit with me to another day.

I told her that she didn’t have to do everything alone.  I have found that she wants to take the reigns on all things involving our son and I just don’t think she needs to take that burden 100% of the time.  So I told her that if Ankle Biter was sick and someone needed to take care of him, I was more than willing to be the one to take time off of work.  It just seemed silly that she was always the one making sacrifices.

Yesterday, she took me up on the offer.

My phone rang at 8:15am as I was leaving for work.  The Ex asked if I could look after our son in the afternoon and she’d take “the morning shift”.  Of course I said yes.

I picked him up at 12:45pm and we head off to my place for the afternoon.  We immediately got on the couch, got underneath a blanket, and popped Snow Buddies into the DVD player. And then Air Buddies. Then Charlotte’s Web.

His temperature hovered around 99.5 degrees all afternoon, so he was very warm and very tired.  But it was nice because he wasn’t sick sick.  It was a bonding experience, really.  It was just a really nice thing to cuddle with my little boy and try to make him feel better when he was sick.

I read blogs and tweets and stories of deadbeat dads and dads who call once a year and dads who are more concerned with their relationships with their girlfriends than with their own kids.  These stories never cease to baffle me.

My children are top priorities for me.  I’m far from perfect, but I want to be a constant in their lives…someone who is there when they need me. 

When Ankle Biter grows up, he’ll remember the times when dad spent the day with him when he was sick…because I think it’ll be a situation that happens multiple times in the years to come.


H1N1 follow-up: YES or NO to vaccinations?

I’ve received a LOT of views and quite a few replies to my H1N1 post and I felt the need to follow-up, not just with replies but with some more information that I’ve found. I’m certainly no expert and I’m 100% open to all opinions on both sides of the “should I or shouldn’t I” coin…so please don’t take my opinions for anything other than what they are: just opinions.

If you want to take a look at the initial comments that I’m replying to, just go here.

Ashley — I don’t know if it’s accurate to compare the death totals of H1N1 vs. the normal flu because H1N1 has only recently been considered a “pandemic”, the strain that was discovered was only done so back in April, and we’re only now entering the flu season in North America.  All the studies are showing that the death rates for H1N1 are climbing on a month-by-month basis…so I don’t think we can compare until we’ve gone through a full-blown flu season. I could be off in that opinion, though.

Based upon the data out there, though, here are some numbers that I have found:

“Death rate extrapolations for USA for Flu: 63,729 per year, 5,310 per month, 1,225 per week, 174 per day, 7 per hour, 0 per minute, 0 per second. Note: this automatic extrapolation calculation uses the deaths statistic: 63,730 annual deaths for influenza and pneumonia (NVSR Sep 2001); estimated 20,000 deaths from flu (NIAID)”  – source

These numbers, though, are newer. And when they narrow it down, the numbers vary dramatically between “influenza” and “pneumonia”:

pic11409

Here are the latest H1N1 statistics that I could find:

pic10583

When people compare H1N1 death statistics to influenza death statistics, they’re normally accounting for all deaths which include pneumonia. As you can see from the statistics, it would appear as though the death rate from H1N1 is higher than the death rate from just the flu. I haven’t been able to find “100% accurate” numbers, though…and this probably accounts for much of the debate over death rates.

But really, if the initial numbers from 2001 of 20,000 deaths per year attributed to just flu vs. only 1,538 deaths in 2009 attributed to just H1N1 are accurate I can certainly understand the rationale. I’d wait, however, to make that comparison until at least a year has passed…and maybe even two…before you can accurately compare those types of numbers.

So when it comes to my final decision, the death rate is scary enough the way it is without having to compare it against previous annual influenza death rates.

Allison — I’ve never really been a flu-shot-taker, either…but like you I’ve struggled with this decision. I don’t have a problem with Ankle Biter getting the shot primarily because of explanations like this from WebMD senior medical writer Daniel DeNoon:

But flu itself causes serious problems, including GBS, in far more than two in a million cases. And since a large proportion of the population will get swine flu, the vaccine risk is far smaller than the disease risk.

In clinical trials, 10,000 to 15,000 children and adults have received various manufacturers’ brands of H1N1 swine flu vaccine. Nothing serious happened to any of them:

No vaccine is 100% safe for everyone. Approved vaccines — including the 2009 H1N1 swine flu vaccine — are calculated to be much, much less risky than the diseases they prevent. For example, out of every million people who get a flu shot, one or two will get a serious neurological reaction called Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS).

But flu itself causes serious problems, including GBS, in far more than two in a million cases. And since a large proportion of the population will get swine flu, the vaccine risk is far smaller than the disease risk.

In clinical trials, 10,000 to 15,000 children and adults have received various manufacturers’ brands of H1N1 swine flu vaccine. Nothing serious happened to any of them”

T & Bobbi, I can understand those flat-out saying “no”.  That type of decision makes sense especially after reading something like this:

“The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has officially stated that there will be as many as 30,000 serious, potentially lethal adverse reactions to the novel H1N1 vaccine, while the FDA guidelines for the novel H1N1 vaccine only require that it work in 3 out of every 10 recipients.

The most disturbing assumption we were asked to accept dealt with the safety of the novel H1N1 vaccine. (The) CDC spokesperson explained that during the 1976 mass vaccination campaign, 1 in every 100,000 recipients of the vaccine developed Guillain Barre syndrome (GBS), a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks the peripheral nervous system often leading to paralysis and death. There is no known cure for GBS.

In 1976, roughly 40 million Americans received the vaccine and some 4,000 developed GBS.”

Now if you look at other statistics, though, the numbers differ tremendously:

“GBS may be a rare side-effect of influenza vaccines, with an incidence of about one case per million vaccinations. There were indeed reports of GBS affecting about 500 people who had received swine flu immunizations in the 1976 U.S. outbreak of swine flu — 25 of which resulted in death from severe pulmonary complications, leading the government to end that immunization campaign. However, the role of the vaccine in these cases has remained unclear, partly because GBS had an unknown but very low incidence rate in the general population making it difficult to assess whether the vaccine was really increasing the risk for GBS. Later research have concluded to the absence of or to very small increase in the GBS risk due to the 1976 swine flu vaccine. Besides the GBS may not have been directly due to the vaccine but to a bacterial contamination of the vaccine that triggered GBS.”

So what do you believe? Where do you turn? These two references show pretty big differences in statistics. On top of that, the 60 Minutes segment I watched last Sunday brought up GBS and they said that an influenza vaccination had not brought on a case of GBS in the 30+ years since the initial 400 instances of 1976.

BAH!!  Too much information!!

Danielle — That’s my thought process, too. A co-worker just came back into the office yesterday after being out all week to take care of her two girls who caught H1N1 from school (they’re teenagers). She had just gotten over a nasty “normal” flu previously and her doctor told her that if she made it through the past week without developing more flu-like symptoms, then she wouldn’t need a shot and would seem to have developed an immune to it. Glad that you and your daughter are alright.

Martini Mom — And that’s the thought process Rugrat’s mom is taking with her, and it’s one I agree with. She doesn’t want to give our daughter the H1N1 shot and I back her decision, but we both reserve the right to change our minds. I wouldn’t have a problem with her decision either way…although with Rugrat turning 11 in January, she’s nearing the “high risk” category. Right decision or not, it’s what we’re doing.

Aaron — I’ve heard that this flu, even if it doesn’t kill you, will knock you flat on your ass. For that reason alone it might be worth taking the shot. I mean, that’s why people normally get flu shots to begin with, right?

Nicole — All of the information in the world cannot replace the “gut feeling” of a parent. I understand that feeling, although with every report that has a child dying really knaws at me and tells me it’s just the right thing to do. And not that I’m wanting to promote it one way or another, I found a Canadian article that did give reasons behind why this vaccine is safe. Here’s an exerpt:

“Because the vaccine contains 10 doses per vial, thimerosal is added to protect it. Thimerosal is ethyl mercury, not methyl mercury, and is excreted quickly from the body. It does not accumulate and is not considereda brain toxin, like methyl mercury.

Methyl mercury can accumulate in the environment and in fish, which represents the most common source of human exposure. The amount of thimerosal used in the influenza vaccine is very small and has not been shown to cause any harm.

Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization (which includes recognized experts in the fields of paediatrics, infectious diseases, immunology, medical microbiology, internal medicine and public health) has reviewed the latest science and concluded, “there is no legitimate safety reason to avoid the use of thimerosal-containing products for children or older individuals.” The vaccines that Canadian children and adults receive are safe.”

Rose DesRochers — And that, my friend, is what scares me the most. NOT getting it and having my child come down with H1N1. I hope she’s feeling better very soon.

Brandi Faulkner — I guess your situation goes back to what Daniel Denoon said on WebMd with that quote above…the chance of getting complications from the vaccine are minimal in comparison to complications from actually contracting the disease. I’m glad your children are doing well.

I’ve come to the conclusion that there is not enough solid evidence out there to help me make a decision explicitly one way or the other.

Let the debate continue…


H1N1 vaccination shot for the kids: Yes or No?

h1n1vaccineThat’s the question of the day, isn’t it?

It’s a question that’s becoming a water-cooler topic at work.  It’s been something that The Ex and I have discussed as it potentially affects our son.  It’s becoming more and more of a question mark every single day.  It’s something that’s affecting most parents and can be quite the stressful issue:

So should my kids get an H1N1 vaccination shot?

With my 10-year-old daughter, I haven’t had the opportunity to discuss the issue with her mom.  I think she’ll most likely get the shot because she’s considered ‘high risk’ and it just seems to be the right thing to do.  Either way, I trust the judgment of her mom and her stepfather in making the decision.

The issue for me is with my 3-year-old son.

Ankle Biter gets sick a lot.  My feeling is that he’ll get the flu at least once over the upcoming season.  My primary concern isn’t whether or not he’ll get sick this winter.  My primary concern is whether or not this vaccination is the right thing to do.

I haven’t heard a whole lot of information on the research that went into making this vaccine.  I haven’t heard a whole lot about the testing that has been done to ensure the safety of this vaccine.  I haven’t heard much on the possible side effects that could come from a toddler getting this vaccination shot.

I haven’t heard about these things because the H1N1 vaccination has been rushed to production and rushed to a rabid public so hell-bent on getting a cure that they’d take shots of wheat-grass juice mixed with my piss if the government and the media told them it was safe.

I’m not a conspiracy theorist.  I’d like to think I’m more of a cautionary pre-planner.  I would simply like to know more about this vaccine before sticking it into my 3-year-old’s bloodstream.  I would simply like to know more before blindly walking into a situation where a medical company could be producing placebos that the government is buying up by the millions in the hopes of placating the public fears.

The Ex told me on Sunday that she decided Ankle Biter was getting the shot.

When she told me about her decision, she told me the reasons behind the decision.  She spoke to three local physicians…she spoke with her sister (who is a nurse)…she went to the Canadian government website…she did some research and came to a conclusion.  After our discussion, I didn’t really have much issue with it (other than not being consulted beforehand).

I watched the 60 Minutes segment on the H1N1 vaccine on Sunday night.  After watching it, I concluded that it’s a safe vaccine for my son and daughter to take.  But then the question arose that wasn’t really answered in the segment: Is this vaccine a cure?  Will this prevent one from contracting H1N1?

I guess it depends on who you ask, but this answer was about as diplomatic as I’ve been able to find:

In general, seasonal flu vaccines are 70 to 90 percent effective, according to Dr. David Tayloe, president of the American Academy of Pediatrics. Swine flu vaccine is made using the same procedure as the seasonal flu vaccine and that vaccination is the best way to guard against contracting H1N1.

However, it is too early to determine the effectiveness of the H1N1 vaccine. “We have not had the vaccine long enough to know how many of those immunized will develop immunity or how long they will be immune,” said Tayloe.

He stressed, however, that the swine flu vaccine is made using the same procedure as the seasonal flu vaccine and that vaccination is the best way to guard against contracting H1N1.

Sigh…

It almost seems that for as much as I read about this vaccine being a must-have, I read about it being a should-have.  I’ll go with the decision of The Ex and will probably end up getting it myself in a month or so (whenever it’s readily available to the general public).  But I’ll still admit to having doubts about the whole thing.

What about you?  What about your kids?  Are you giving your children the H1N1 vaccination shot?  Are you getting it yourself?  Is this all over-hyped media fervor?


It’s been a year… (pt 1)

calendarSo I was emailing a good friend of mine in Ontario recently and hadn’t talked to her in months.  She has been a great friend to me over the years and was especially last year, when I needed support the most.

I knew she’d want an update on how I was doing now emotionally.  As I was writing, I began the “self-analysis” that has become a staple in my life as a way to help battle my inner demons and such (yikes…so dramatic).

So this inward journey I’ve taken since July of ’08…it’s been really strange, actually, and probably will be a little hard to describe in just a few words.  Basically, I guess I had a “moment of clarity” when I was confronted a year ago and it’s been a healing process ever since…one that has rewarded me with more happiness than I could have ever imagined.

~~~~~~~~~~

December 31st, 2007

HappyNewYearI had no idea how I was acting at the time…I didn’t realize that I was going through a major grieving process.

I was still going through the pain of my separation from March of that year, the occasional visits from (and subsequent goodbyes to) my daughter, my mother’s brain tumor diagnosis, my cousin’s tongue-cancer diagnosis, my grandmother’s hospitalization, then the New Year’s Eve horror-fest where I had to call 911 for my mom while trying to take care of my dad (who was a blathering mess), the pets (2 cats and a dog…had to move ‘em before the ambulance arrived), plus my little brother AND my visiting daughter (both of whom were in the basement playing and oblivious to the medical issues upstairs).

I had to stand there and watch my mom being carried out on a stretcher while trying to get my father to be strong enough to follow the ambulance in a snowstorm to the hospital.  It’s not something I’d wish upon my worst enemy.

It was far and away the worst night of my life.

To cap it all off, my daughter was flying back home the next day.  Yeesh.   DEFINITELY not how I wanted her visit to end.

March 2008

March 2008Then my mom’s hospitalization and subsequent muscle failure (she couldn’t stand…her muscles had all atrophied while she was in the hospital), my father’s kidney issues (being rushed to the hospital once or twice a week for two months +), my grandmother’s passing, my cousin’s passing…all the while putting on a show that I was strong and was dealing with it all.

But I wasn’t.

I was holding everything in.  Everything. I didn’t talk to anybody about my feelings…primarily because I didn’t really have anybody.  Most of my friends from the marriage had either quietly “defected” to The Ex or just stopped talking to me altogether (or maybe I stopped talking to them…it’s still pretty foggy).  My friends from high school still lived 40 minutes away and I just didn’t feel like talking to them on the phone or driving to discuss my emotional issues.  I was never that good at opening up.  The one time I did and told my best friends about my marriage ending, they both got mad at me for “not trying hard enough”.  I guess I’ve never really forgiven them since.

All told, it was definitely affecting me at work.  I had no idea how bad it was, either.  I would blow up one minute over nothing…absolutely NOTHING…and then be perfectly calm the next.  I was a Jeckyl & Hyde…and totally oblivious to how that was affecting those around me.

Then came my depression.

Over a year after the separation I told myself that I was ready to date again…so I looked at online dating.  Yeesh…Plenty of Fish was a nice free website but the women who were responding to me weren’t exactly what I was looking for.

So at the end of the day, online dating only made me more depressed.  I’ve only since realized (which most people realize on a daily basis) that I can’t allow myself to love somebody else until I can actually LIKE myself first. And it took me until recently before finally reaching that point.  I’m finally there now…for the first time in a very long time, if ever.

Self-loathing takes many forms and has been a burden I’ve carried for many a year.  Thankfully, that dark cloud no longer hangs over me.

TO BE CONTINUED…

Score one for the Bald Guy!

Parent X-RayI had another blog post scheduled to go up, but yesterday morning pretty much changed everything.

I had to take the Ankle Biter to the hospital.  No…it’s nothing serious.  It was a scheduled appointment.  Basically, he’s been getting a lot of infections over the past few months (two ear infections, a nose infection, and a throat infection) so The Ex took him to the doctor to see what was going on.

The doctor scheduled an appointment with a specialist that will take place in a few weeks but wanted to get some chest X-rays done first.  The initial thought was that his acid reflux issues had returned.

The Ex couldn’t get time off from work.  She normally takes him to the doctor and has done so for a number of reasons.  I have always placed the offer of either going with them or taking him myself…just because I always felt bad about her having to go through his crying and/or screaming at getting a needle or being poked and prodded all by herself.

So this time around she decided to take me up on my offer.  She was concerned, though, because every time she has to take him to the hospital or to a doctor he always reacts poorly.  In fact, the last time he got an X-ray done they ended up having to strap him down to keep him still…resulting in a scared screaming session that left The Ex emotionally battered.

The concern this time around was that I would have to deal with a similar situation and, because I wasn’t normally the one to “perform the task”, that I might be unable to handle things.

I assured her that everything would be okay.  I said whatever I could to ease her mind and let her know that the Ankle Biter would not only be okay, but that I could handle the situation if it wasn’t okay.

She dropped him off yesterday morning at 8:00am.  The X-ray department at the hospital didn’t open until 9:00am so I had some time to spend with him.  After she said her goodbyes, I decided to try to work “an angle” in an attempt to prepare him for the morning’s events.

"Working the angle" pic #1

"Working the angle" pic #1 (on the way out of the house)

I took a couple of pictures of him.  I then said that we’d be going to get his picture taken.  When we got ready to go, I took another picture and told him that we were going to get his picture taken.  After we parked the car outside the hospital, I took another picture and told him that we were going to get his picture taken.

As you can probably assume, my hope was that when it was his turn to get an X-ray that I could make him feel like he was just getting his picture taken and that it wasn’t a big deal.

We arrived at 9:00am.  We didn’t hear our names called until 10:10am.

"Working the angle" pic #2

"Working the angle" pic #2 (inside the car)

In the waiting area, there was a little section that had a small table and four chairs for kids.  On the table were two puzzles.  There was a magazine rack with three children’s books in it.  There was a television playing “Canada A.M.” above us (think “CBS This Morning” only a LOT less interesting).  There was a “wacky mirror” that made kids look slightly warped (like you’d find in a carnival or something).  There was also a wooden circle on the wall that one could spin around over and over and over and over……

That was it.

"Working the angle" pic #3 (inside the hospital waiting room)

"Working the angle" pic #3 (inside the hospital waiting room...and yes, that's a "Harry Potter scar" on his forehead. heh)

We had brought a Buzz Lightyear, a Woody, some popcorn (his mother’s new favorite snack for him), and a bottle of water.

For 70 minutes, Ankle Biter and I entertained ourselves without any issue whatsoever.  Not once did he whine.  Not once did he complain.  Not once did he start going stir-crazy.

He was a perfect little boy.

In fact, I think I was probably becoming more uneasy about the wait than he was.  And because he was so awesome, it made me feel a bit better about the very long wait.

When our names were finally called, I was extremely relieved but then quickly became a bit uneasy.  I mean, after 70 minutes of sheer boredom (or forced entertainment), how would he react to the X-ray machine?  Would he have to strip off his t-shirt?  Would he have to lie down on a cold, metal table?  Would he get nervous or scared?

"Working the angle" pic #4 (outside the X-ray room)

"Working the angle" pic #4 (outside the X-ray room)

We sat again outside of the X-ray room while a couple of more people went in before us.  I couldn’t believe it…Ankle Biter and I were having so much fun that I had to “shush” him for laughing too loud.  I took a few more pictures of him and told him that they’d be taking his picture inside of the room.

Then they called his name.

As we walked in, I could immediately tell that the nurses were a bit nervous.  After all, here was a (almost) 3-year old boy and a big scary room full of strangers wanting to position him in weird ways and then make him remain still.

Well…it wasn’t like that at all.

First thing first, they placed a vest on me.  Wait…I was allowed to stay in the room?? Yes…yes I was.  I knew immediately that this was going to be a very good thing.

Then the nurses showed me the machine, which allowed Ankle Biter to stand up for the X-ray.  Wait…he wouldn’t have to be lying naked on a cold, metal table? No…no he wouldn’t.  This only went to enforce the notion that this definitely was going to be a very good thing.

They placed a little protective padding around his waist.  This was something that I was going to have to hold on to.  The nurses positioned him opposite the X-ray…almost like it was a flashlight target practice.  They asked him to stand perfectly still and to raise his chin up.

That boy didn’t move for 20 seconds.

I was smiling from ear to ear.  I told him how awesome he was doing with his pictures.  He was smiling and seemed quite impressed with the whole scenario.

The next step was to turn him sideways with his arms over his head.  So I had my right hand holding up his arms and my left hand holding his waist still.  He looked scared and uncomfortable for a few seconds, but I gave him my “Muppet face” and told him we both had to remain perfectly still.

That boy didn’t move for 20 seconds.

You want to know why I think he stayed still for so long?

YO GABBA GABBA!!!

No, I’m not kidding.  Just do a YouTube search under Yo Gabba Gabba and “Hold still” or “Wiggle”.  You’ll see a ton of videos of kids “shaking the wiggles out” and holding still, too.

Here’s an example of what I’m referring to:

So for Ankle Biter, holding still was just part of the game.

And once all was said and done, the nurses couldn’t contain how impressed they were.  They gave him a sticker, all waved goodbye, and told me what a great kid I had.

I lost track of how many times on the 5-minute walk to the car that I told him how good he was and how proud I was of him.  Both of our smiles were a mile wide.  I raced to the nearest McDonald’s to get him his ‘reward’ for being so great…an ice cream frozen yogurt-like substance.

Once I dropped him off and head in to work, I called The Ex as quickly as possible to brag rub in inform her about how the morning went.

For the record, my kid is frickin’ awesome.


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