So I ended up with the flu this year. At least, that’s the best explanation I have for what I have been going through. It started last Thursday, when both Brady and I came down with a bad stomach bug. Susan had been sick earlier in the week, so at first we thought, welp we’re getting what she had. But after a couple of days my stomach got better. Meantime though, by Saturday Brady was running a 101 fever and by Sunday he had a nasty wet cough. Meantime, Sunday I developed a scratchy throat, and by Monday felt poorly but thought I just had a cold. I stayed home and lounged on the couch figuring I would be better by the following day. Instead, I was worse – I went to work but came home miserable at lunch. Wednesday I had an all day function I *had* to be at, and so I went in, but again by lunch I was deadly ill – coughing, stuffed head, bad headache. I begged off the function at lunchtime and again headed home. Thursday was more of the same. Today, I am finally starting to feel better. Most of the congestion has eased, the cough is less painful and frequent, and my eyes aren’t watering constantly. WTH it was, I don’t know. I did get a mild temperature for a couple of days, but it was like 100 tops, very mild. Was it the flu? Just a particularly bad strain of the common cold? I guess I’ll never know.
A quick followup on my New Year’s resolutions. So far I’m on track. Not buying any games has been easy – my gaming rig died on January 5th, and I just got its replacement up and (mostly) running this weekend. It’s hard to be tempted by the endless parade of Steam, Gamersgate, GoG and other vendors’ daily and weekly deals if you have nothing to play them on . I’ll follow up again at the end of March.
No problems with the beer embargo either – I finished the month with nary a sip, then celebrated on the first day of February with some delicious Dales. Unfortunately the effect on my weight is hard to quantify. Prior to Laura’s birth I had been using an elliptical trainer as many days a week as I could manage while Susan put Brady to bed. That didn’t work anymore (I have to help with bedtime duties) so I bought a compact elliptical trainer to use at work during lunch, but the piece of crap broke after 2 weeks of use, meaning for half the month I was mostly failing to get enough physical activity in. Still, my weight has steadily hovered in the under 175 area, leaving me to conclude that removing the beer helped. My plan going forward is to return to a pattern I used to follow – no beer on the weekdays, but open season Friday and Saturdays. Meantime I’m weighing spending considerably more for a higher end compact step trainer. My kitty continues to grow – it’s at $150 now. I still haven’t decided what I’ll spend it on. I’m dropping the weekly contribution to $20 now that I will be drinking a few beers on the weekend.
Susan had her weekly midwifes’ appointment Monday and they told her if the baby didn’t arrive by Monday night we should head to the hospital. That’s where we are now. Susan’s water has just been manually broken and we’re onto the home stretch. I’ll post again once the baby is born.
…makes me neither happy nor sad. I mentioned how I was going to experiment with not using it after literally decades of daily use. So far, so good – I’ve only resorted to using it twice since I stopped, each time because of a salty snack-induced case of lip chappage. One of those led to a mild recurrence of the skin irritation issue which caused me to stop using the stuff in the first place, which has only helped reinforce my newfound aversion. We’ll see how things go as we enter into the cold months, but so far, so good. If you’re on the fence, I can attest that once you get past the first week, it’s easy and seems to have no downside.
I’ve been on a weight loss/fitness kick for months now, and when I last wrote about it I mentioned that I was aiming at 165 pounds. I’m pretty sure that’s not going to happen at this point. Several factors are contributing to that, but the most significant one is, I am starting to think, my age. I didn’t have much trouble getting down to 170 once I adjusted my eating and activity levels accordingly, but I’ve been stuck at 167-170 for weeks now. I think my body’s telling me that this is now my normal healthy weight.
It’s true that I’ve been a bit less assiduous about the evening exercise routine, and it’s also true that I’ve returned to occasionally drinking that third beer on the weekends, but at the same time, even on 5 day stretches where I exercise every night, have only 1 or 2 beers, and eat appropriately, the lowest I’ve gotten is 167. I’m not getting any lower without further restrictions, and it’s not clear there’s any value to it. I think I’ve found my natural weight for my age.
This means going forward my goal is ‘keep it under 170.’ We’ll see how I do.
Two doctor’s visits and 5 days later…he’s ok. His fever stuck with him over the weekend, which left him cranky and a bit spacey. This in turned caused a lack of sleep, ie the dreaded unhappy kid feedback loop. Still, Brady’s about as easygoing as a little ~2 year old can get, and a cranky Brady has so far been pretty easy to deal with. Worse was his development of a full body rash Monday morning. I first detected it starting Sunday after his afternoon nap, and by Monday it was much further along – far enough that his daycare provider called and we had him back to the Doctor yesterday afternoon. They took him off the Amoxicillin and, provided the rash faded, will chalk it up to a not uncommon alergic reaction to the drug. Last night he was breaking out in hives, but by this morning aside from some faint markings on his chest it was all cleared up, his fever appeared to be fully gone, and all, we hope, is now well and back to normal.
So this happened
Before I go further, everyone should know we think he will be ok, but yes, that’s my son in a hospital bed yesterday. This started with a phone call at work around noon:
‘This is David Hamilton”
“David, it’s Caroline. I’m sorry to just blurt this out, but Brady’s had a seizure and lost consciousness, and we’ve called an ambulance”
Before you could say boo I was out the door and running to the college’s football field, about a half mile from my office, which is where Brady was and where the ambulance was headed. They beat me to it, and I arrived winded to the sound of the siren receding and Caroline, the director of his daycare, waiting for me in the middle of the road.
A summary of the next 40 minutes is Susan and I connecting in a panicked frenzy, me running right back up the hill to campus to get her, and us scooting off to the hospital with almost no facts in hand. Fortunately when we got there he was conscious if spacey and dazed, laying calmly in bed with one of his daycare caregivers, who fortunately had been able to go with him in the ambulance.
The preliminary diagnosis is that he had a seizure in reaction to the rapid onset of a fever. It’s called a febrile seizure and is not uncommon in kids under 6 and not threatening so long as they’re caught quickly, don’t cause choking, and you bring their temperature down quickly [edit so I don't promulgate bad info to search visitors: according to our doctor, temperature stabilization is what is key, and quick is bad - you basically want to reduce quick changes in the child's temperature in either direction. Older pediatric care books (which included ours) which advise cold showers are wrong. Consult with your own physician before taking any action]. We spent several hours in the emergency room with him yesterday while he stayed hooked up to a variety of apparatus. His temperature came down from 103, he took a long nap, Susan and I fretted and worried, and ultimately we had him home by around 4 or 5 last night. We have to give him medication every three hours to make sure the fever stays down, so last night was a bit rough. Today he’s still running a fever and not feeling so great, but he’s no longer as spacey and more or less happy and close to his normal self.
We have an appointment with his general practitioner late this afternoon where we’ll find out more, but hopefully above is everything there is to know about this and we won’t see anything like this again. On balance I’d say Susan and I took the brunt of this – the kid got to ride in an ambulance, something he’s fascinated with to begin with, and had something of an adventure he’s still chattering about. Meanwhile Susan and I went through a mini-hell, which later spiraled into a family argument over whether it made sense to keep our plans to head up to Maine this weekend. None of this was fun, but I’m tentatively happy that the worst of this seems to be in the past now (fingers crossed!).
Lip balm. Yep – lip balm. I first started using little pots of Carmex lip balm in high school when I started to have enough disposable income for little luxuries like that, and I’ve used lip balm of one form or another ever since. I still recall a conversation with my brother in law many years ago about it, and about how he doesn’t use it after having fought through his lip’s addiction to it. At the time I thought, well, it is odd how so many people including me are addicted to it, but…why stop? And I didn’t, until this month.
At a recent physical I asked my doctor about a little growth on the edge of my lip which had slowly been expanding. I had thought it was some kind of cold sore, and had been treating it accordingly, but instead of getting better it had been getting worse. It took her half a second to diagnose it as a case of the harmless “Perioral dermatitis,” and she prescribed a prescription ointment and the use of any acne cream with salicylic acid in it. A couple of weeks of that combination and it was all cleared up. Meantime I had read a bit about possible causes, and a few studies drew a relationship between paraffin, lip balms, and outbreaks of this, so as a precaution I dumped the lip balm when I started the medications.
A month later and me and my lips are still here. It was a little tough the first week but since then, I rarely even think about it. They do occasionally get dry, especially after eating salty foods, and then I crave the lip balm, but I’ve done fine without it so at least for now, I’m sticking with it. There are plenty of lip balms without paraffin, but I figure if I can do without, why do with? I’ll check back in if I end up caving in when winter comes and things get tougher on the lips.
…and the Doctor says ‘holy crap these bloodwork numbers are bad, and what’s this new thing your liver is doing. What’s going on with your body?’ The guy says ‘way to make me freak out, doc, off the cuff, I dunno?’ They chat, and conclude that the fact the guy had a kid and hadn’t been able to exercise as regularly as he had been for the past 10 years, coupled with maybe a little complacency about his health, are the likeliest contributing factors. The doc tells him he has to go on 101 different pills, and the guy says let me try to fix this before we go there. The doc gives him 3 months.
The guy is me. That happened 4 months ago. As of a couple of weeks ago I’m officially back on track, with bloodwork that’s almost back to the levels I had been seeing for the past 10 years. As of last night, I’ve also officially lost 20 pounds. I had let myself get up to 190 this winter, which is 15 pounds over what I had settled on as my acceptable body weight, and 25 pounds over my ideal of 165. I’ve only been at my ideal twice in my adult life – I was there for most of college, and I got there a few months after I was diagnosed with diabetes 10 years ago. I’m going to get there again within the next month or so. We’ll see if I can keep it there this time. I’ve changed my approach. Broadly assessed, this is still low carb to take care of the blood sugar issues, but I’ve been counting calories this time. It takes a bit more work in terms of data entry, and it’s a less satisfying eating experience (I used to eat until I was full so long as there were not too many carbs – now I’m eating controlled portions), but in other ways it’s kind of easier – some months into this, I have a fair handle on what portions work. I also have some new tools which I’ll touch on in another post, but a teaser: the Fitbit is a pretty awesome little device and associated web service.
A related aside – 10 years ago when initially diagnosed, I went on a collection of medications that made me feel unwell. This helped motivate me to find other solutions. One of those solutions was Niacin instead of other cholesterol control agents. I pushed for that approach in part because of concern for my liver – I was 35 when diagnosed and couldn’t imagine a healthy liver still in me 10 or 20 years down the line with the regimen of medications they were proposing to put me on for the rest of my life. Now it looks like maybe it was the Niacin fucking with my liver, and more recent research suggest a connection between Niacin, alcohol, and permanent liver damage.
3 months ago I was completely freaked out by this, and metaphorically shaking my fist at a universe that would put me in this position (ok, so it was me, not the universe, but me acting on the best information I could find, so let me blame it on the universe). Now I’m somewhat less worried since the liver numbers came back down, but I’m also taking half as much Niacin and 1/3 less alcohol (2 drink maximum for me. Before this, weekends I was commonly hitting 3 and it wasn’t unusual for me to have a 4th). Oh, and the Doctor is still pushing for me to go on a Statin, so in another way, I’ve come completely full circle. Where I go next I haven’t sorted out yet.
Sorry for the gruesome photo. As you can see, Soolin had surgery this week. During her annual physical a few weeks ago, a sample of one of the three peanut sized tumors she had on her back came up suspicious. That got sent to a lab, and those results led to an immediate surgical procedure to remove them. I was in shock when I picked her up – these things were very small, and I was expecting little 1 or 2 inch incisions, not these 7-8″ Frankenstein’s monster scars. The good news is 2 of the tumors were right next to each other so she has only 2 scars, not 3. She’s also handling the recovery much better than the last surgery she had.
The bad news is this was cancer – a mast cell tumor to be precise. Her chances seem decent, so I’m hopeful. Only one of the three came back as definite cancer, and the one was stage 2, which is better than stage 3. For now, we watch to see if she gets any more tumors or if the cancerous one grows back.
All in though I feel terrible for her and pretty sad. She’s only 7 and already having all these bad health issues. She still has her happy demeanor and still wants to play, but now all I do is worry that some other shoe is about to drop for her. Here’s hoping this is the last of her troubles. She has another week of forced inactivity then her stitches come out and she can return to her normal lifestyle.