Tag Archives: health

The Winter of Our Discontent

Song Lyric of the Day:

Wish we could turn back time, to the good old days / When our momma sang us to sleep but now we’re stressed out

Twenty One Pilots / “Stressed Out

I’m over this winter. Normally I love winter since it’s cold and I can’t overheat like I do in late spring and then summer, but this winter has been miserable. Why exactly? Because Sebastian has been sick since January 12. I remember the date, because it was the day before Rich was due to leave for India for work for 13 days. Good timing. Sebastian woke up covered in vomit that morning, so we of course immediately thought “flu!” and rushed him to the doc. It turned out to be a stomach bug and a little cold. Rich felt better leaving for his trip knowing he was not leaving me with a flu-afflicted baby.

Sebastian then got a virus, which started clearing up after a few days. Meanwhile, as Rich was away and that always upsets the natural balance of things, Knoxville got snow. One whole inch of snow led to three school snow days in a row — combined with MLK Day that Monday, Coraline and I were home with her sick brother almost all week. At least she had school that Friday, albeit on a two-hour delay.

The second Sunday Rich was away, Sebastian got sick again and was so weak with fever and bordering on lethargic that I was positive his virus had turned into the flu. I called my mom to come sit with Coraline so I could takeĀ him to East Tennessee Children’s Hospital to get looked at. When I told Coraline that Abuela was coming to watch her so I could take her brother to the hospital to get checked out, my poor girl got hysterical. She adores her baby brother and has been terrified of him getting the flu since she knows it can be fatal for babies. I did my best to calm her down, although I ended up crying a little bit, too, since she was so upset. I reassured her that I was sure the docs at the hospital would tell me I was just being a paranoid mommy, but she replied with, “I just want to spend as much time with him as I can while I can,” as she went to embrace her brother. It’s not like hearing her say that, through sobs, ripped my heart out or anything. Mom got to our house in about a half hour (she ROCKS) and Sebastian and I left for the hospital. I managed to stake out a corner in the waiting room relatively away from other people; it was full that night, and half the kids were wearing face masks because of flu-like symptoms. We got there around 8:20PM and didn’t end up getting home until 12:55AM. Turns out it wasn’t the flu, just the first day of a new, second virus. Poor Sebastian had blood drawn and spent most of the night in my arms practically fainting from his fever.

The next week was a bit of a blur as Sebastian had me up several times every night. I took to calling him the Fever King since he had so many I lost count. I’m very fortunate in that my job is portable and I can work from home, so when Sebastian felt well enough to play I’d work. I’d then haul ass to get even more work done while he napped since that was my longest uninterrupted stretch during the day. But with a very sick baby who is very clingy when not feeling well, I ended up working most nights after the kids were in bed to finish what I couldn’t during the day. I’d wrap up working for the night between 10 and 11PM, then rush to do a few household things, then try to get an hour or two of sleep before Sebastian’s first wakeup. He’d inevitably wake up with a fever; we’ve gone through I don’t know how many bottles of Infants’ Tylenol and Infants’ Motrin these last few weeks.

Finally the Friday arrived when Rich was flying home. One hour before his scheduled landing, I was changing Sebastian’s diaper before heading to the airport when I noticed his torso was covered in a rash. Another call to the nurse triage lineĀ (my second or third at this point) followed. Rich landed safely and the nurse called back while we were at the luggage carousel. After I answered what felt like 100 questions, the nurse assured me she was certain it was Roseola, which meant that the virus was coming to an end. Finally, our little boy was going to be well again, right? Yeah, not so much.

Sebastian was still sick enough that I had to keep working from home with him, but now with Rich home again, he was able to work from home with him a bit so I could get in to the office a few days. Because things weren’t fun enough, Coraline’s school district canceled school Monday and Tuesday that week due to illness since so many kids and teachers were out with the flu (among other things). They had school Wednesday, only to have school canceled the remainder of the week. That weekend Sebastian got sicker — again.

As he was exhibiting flu-like symptoms again, back to the doctor we went. It wasn’t a virus this time, but his first-ever ear infection. He got prescribed an antibiotic, but a few days later somehow got sicker while on it. Back to the doc, where he got diagnosed with a double ear infection and put on a second, different antibiotic. And — because this has been the winter that keeps on giving — you guessed it, he got sicker. Back to the doc, where his doctor took one look in Sebastian’s ear and said it was so infected even a first-year med student could diagnose it. That’s right — his double ear infection had gotten worse while on the second antibiotic. Sebastian was then put on Augmentin, which eventually made progress on the ear infection while destroying his stomach in the process. His doctor had warned us how harsh it would be on Sebastian’s stomach, but boy, it was more vicious than we anticipated.

As I write this, a little more than seven weeks since Sebastian first got sick, he’s still not quite back to 100 percent. He’s pretty close, though — I’d put him around 90 percent. He went eight days before developing another fever this past Friday, but it was a low-grade one of 100 degrees. He also currently has a very runny nose and a little cough; the last few weeks he learned to recognize the Boogie Wipes package, so that’s made wiping his nose extra fun since he fights it. (I don’t know why since those wipes are awesome when you’re sick.) Best of all, he’s eating again. He had next to no appetite at his sickest; breastfeeding was all that was keeping him from dehydrating. And, if I’m honest, as a Puerto Rican, it freaked me out that he wouldn’t eat. When people don’t eat, it freaks us out. We need to feed you. Not eating is weird and scary. At least Sebastian would take his beloved pouches, which oftentimes were the only thing he’d eat for days on end.

I know things could have been much worse, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t the most stressed I’ve been in ages during Sebastian’s illnesses, particularly while Rich was out of the country. I made a point to thank Coraline for behaving so well while her dad was away, since she was a big help with her brother. I’m lucky that my parents and sister are in town (as well as close friends) and a phone call away if I need anything, like the night I needed to take Sebastian to the hospital. Now seven-plus weeks, three antibiotics, lots of Children’s Benadryl, Infants’ Tylenol, Infants’ Motrin, 4 negative flu tests, 4 negative RSV tests, and one negative strep throat test later, my baby is finally getting back to his normal, silly, noisy, bottomless eating pit, mess-making self.

Now if only it were spring …

Sebastian on the go

Taken when he felt good one morning, before he napped and woke up with a raging fever later that day (2/19/18).

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The Numbers on the Scale

Song Lyric of the Day:

Would you let me see beneath your beautiful? / Would you let me see beneath your perfect?

Labrinth featuring Emeli Sande / “Beneath Your Beautiful

For the past few weeks I’ve gotten back into something of a fitness routine. I’m now on three weeks of only taking the stairs at work (my cube is on the third floor), I walk the track at work when I can despite the ridiculous heat these days, I’m wearing my pedometer again to track how many steps I take each day, and I’ve started using our home gym again. I’ve even worked up to running part of the time I’m on the treadmill, which I usually have set on 3.9MPH, a speed at which I can easily maintain my natural native New Yorker walking rate. We’ll see how I do when I increase the speed soon.

Coraline is curious about what constitutes exercise. She loves pointing out that those runners we passed, the soccer players we saw, the kids shooting hoops were all exercising. Rich and I have explained to her that exercise is a way to stay healthy: It gets your heart pumping harder, which is very important since our hearts need to be healthy to keep everything else working well. She has no concept of exercise as a means to weight loss, which is perfectly fine by me. The longer she only sees it as a means to being healthy, not skinny*, the happier I’ll be. I worry about her future body image, when other kids might pick on her for being what they perceive — what society dictates — to be overweight or even if she’s underweight, which I was growing up and into my young adulthood. Being asked by perfect strangers almost everywhere I went if I had an eating disorder (what I had was ridiculous metabolism) took its toll on my self-esteem and confidence. That I know from.

So it’s because of all the baggage that’s attached to exercise and eating healthy that I never let her see me weigh myself. Yes, I started working out again because I’d like to look and feel better. I want to shore up the wobbly bits. I want to increase my endurance, which the stairs and cardio are definitely helping with. I’m trying to make smarter choices about what I eat because without that, exercise alone won’t get me very far. Admittedly, that’s a struggle for me, but I’ve definitely been doing a lot better of late. And, most importantly, I want to be as proactive as I can regarding my health so I can see my daughter grow up.

I do attach some importance to the numbers I see on our scale. I am happy when I see that number inching down bit by bit, pound by pound. I don’t want to lose that much weight — between 5 and 7 lbs. — but I do want to lose it. When I weigh myself, it’s when I’m all by myself and Coraline isn’t there to see. Not because I’m ashamed or anything, but because I don’t want her to start attaching importance to the numbers she sees, certainly not at the tender age of 3 1/2. She just thinks the scale is this neat little thing to stand on in the hall bathroom. She has no idea what the numbers on it mean, even though I do.

Coraline healthy and confident in her own skin.

Coraline healthy and confident in her own skin.

*Rich and I never use the words “skinny” or “fat” to describe people. I’m pretty sure she still doesn’t know exactly what those words mean.


Filed under being a mom, coraline, parenting, personal


Song Lyric of the Day:

Don’t fail me, feets don’t fail me now

I’ve intermittently been using crutches since my toe lopping two weeks ago. Coraline coined a new verb a couple of days in when she said, “Mommy, I can hear you crutching down the hall.” Since then that’s how we’ve referred to my frequent and always completely graceless use of crutches. Because if ever there was something clumsy people were not meant to use, it’s those fancy medical walking sticks.
You know what’s worse than limping around after toe surgery? Using crutches. Turns out they’re an upper body workout: Two days in, my abs hurt, my neck hurt, my upper back hurt. I also ended up with a huge spot rubbed raw on my right ribcage. Which is weird since I put my weight on the left foot because my right foot is the one that got operated on. The palms of my hands also hurt because they were supporting so much of my weight. All of this is to say I said to hell with the crutches on Friday. They were more hassle and pain than it was worth, so now I’m just hobbling around on my feet. (Although I did use them some Sunday after overdoing the hobbling on Friday and Saturday.) I’ve been careful to stick to my doctor’s instructions and keep the weight on my heel, though, which has me walking around like Frankenstein’s daughter on a leisurely afternoon stroll.
I’ve also been about as graceful on crutches as Tucker (who faked needing them) in There’s Something About Mary.


Not a pretty sight, is it? Me using crutches is about on par with that. You know who else is happy to see me not use crutches? Caleb, the fearless wonder dog. He’d see me coming down the hall and haul ass as far away from me as possible. Poor guy wouldn’t even let me pet him if the crutches were so much as in reach. I didn’t know dogs could give the stink eye to inanimate objects until the last few days.

This morning I’m going to my most-anticipated follow-up appointment since my post-C-section one, and I hope my foot doc at least takes the bandages off. You wouldn’t think you’d need 75 or so layers of gauze for a toe surgery, but it turns out you do; all those layers make it harder to hobble since my foot is on a slant in my boot. I also hope to be cleared to drive again; poor Rich has been my on-call chauffeur since my surgery. Mostly, though, I want her to say my toe is healing perfectly since I’ve been an angel about following my post-op instructions: keeping it elevated as much as possible, sleeping with my boot on (so fun), keeping my foot elevated in bed while I sleep (so fun when I need to sleep on my side), and garbage-bagging my foot to keep the bandages and boot completely dry while I shower. Our old-man shower with the seat has earned its place in my heart these last couple of weeks. But this will all be worth it when I can effortlessly slip into and wear any of my pairs of shoes in a few months.

Toe Sock

How I class up and keep my toes warm on cold days: one of Rich’s tube socks.

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And This Little Piggy Went “Bitch, That Hurt!”

Song Lyric of the Day:

My tired feet / Oh my tired feet / My tired feet brought me to that red boat / So still and foreign waters

Alela Diane / “Tired Feet

About two years ago I broke my right pinky toe. I’m naturally (frighteningly) clumsy, and that day I was looking over my shoulder talking to Rich as he changed Coraline’s diaper. So instead of simply walking through the door from Coraline’s room into the hallway, my right pinky toe took the full brunt of the wall by the door. Rich helped tape my pinky toe to the one next to it in the hopes it would heal OK. Turns out it did not, so I finally went to a podiatrist last year because my toe hurt in most of my shoes — flats, heels, whatever. Simply wearing shoes had started to hurt, and I couldn’t even get my right foot into certain shoes anymore, even with my toes taped.

My foot doc said I created a hammertoe when I broke it (STOP! Hammertoe time!), and suggested a tenotomy. Basically, she’d slice the tendon underneath my toe to cause it to flatten out. Flatter toe equals an easier time fitting into and wearing shoes, right? In my case, wrong. My foot doc had made things clear up front so that I knew going into that procedure in December 2012 that there was a chance the tenotomy wouldn’t work. By late summer 2013, though, I was still having trouble fitting into some of my shoes, and I was pretty sure that my recovery time had long since passed. I scheduled another visit to my doc, and she confirmed that the tenotomy had not worked for me. In fact, I think it actually made the problem worse in that my toe would rub raw in some shoes. She explained my two options: Learn to live with it, or get a PIP reduction, where the bone gets shaved down a bit and reset and then a pin is put in place. All of that leaves you with a toe just the eensiest bit shorter than before.

So two days ago I had a PIP reduction. My pinky toe now has a white plastic tip sticking out of it — which I’ve christened the Eiffel Toe-wer — protecting the pin that needs to stay in for the next four weeks. As if I didn’t know to be careful, my doctor reiterated, “Bend the pin, bend the toe.” So I’m being extra careful because I want and need for my toe to heal WELL. I’ve been sitting around for two days straight now just keeping my foot elevated, which would have me climbing the walls save for the fact that our friends Caren and Evan are in town. Although before they arrived last night I’d been sleeping like a hibernating bear.

I have several more days of keeping my foot elevated and can’t put my full weight on it just yet, only on the heel. I have to say, I really took walking and mobility in general for granted until this surgery. With the tenotomy I was at least able to hobble around on my foot. Now I’m relegated to my husband duct-taping a garbage bag around my foot so I can use our old-man shower with the seat. At least my knowing our dog Caleb sees me as a half-bionic monster thanks to the crutches is amusing.

The moral of this story? Don’t break your damn toe.

The Eiffel Toe-wer broadcasts a radio station with a reach of half a foot.

P.S.: This post was brought to you by me on legally prescribed drugs.


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No Words

Song Lyric of the Day:

You’ll never hear me complaining, I’m certain the sun will shine / I don’t care how the weather vane points / When the weather vane points to gloomy / It’s gotta be sunny to me, when your eyes look into mine

Louis Armstrong / “Jeepers Creepers

I haven’t run out of things to say (the hubby can vouch for that). I might not always find/make the time to update here, but I still have stuff to say. There are still words I want to write. Rather, the “No Words” title of this post is a mandate issued by my doctor in the last couple of weeks to rest my eyes. That’s right: My doctor literally said “no words.”

Work has been so busy of late (yay, job security!) that there have been nights where it has felt like my eyes were going to fall out of my head; it even hurt to blink at times. With other life stressors wearing me down mentally, physically, and emotionally these last few weeks, the strain of looking at a computer screen all day has really gotten to me via blurred vision, dry eyes, and near-constant headaches.

So my doctor said, “No words,” when it comes to downtime. Which means no reading my book, no reading news or blogs online, and no updating this blog. Instead I’m to watch TV or a movie, or play a game on my phone or iPad (helllllo, Candy Crush Saga). So that’s how I’ve been spending short breaks away from my computer screen during the day. I’ve also tried stepping outside on the patio more, for the fresh air as well as to distance myself from the temptations of reading, both my book and online. I’ve not only barely updated here the last few weeks, I’m now behind on reading my favorite blog. First-world problems, I know. But I’ll catch up again soon enough, after my peepers have had time to recover.

Image courtesy of Unique-Optique.com via a Google search.

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O, Migraine

Song Lyric of the Day:

Take a picture you could never re-create / Write a song / Make a note / For the lump that sits inside your throat / Change the locks, change the scene / Change it all but can’t change what we’ve been

Atlas Genius / “Trojans

Well, the post I was going to write for tonight will have to wait. Two days into the new year, and I have my first migraine. What started suddenly this afternoon as a really bad headache has steadily worsened throughout the day. I’m crossing my fingers that it’s gone by the time I wake up tomorrow morning.

This migraine is precisely why this song has been stuck in my head for the last few hours. Hammering in my head, indeed.

*And let me add that I am positively GIDDY that Garbage is releasing a new album this year. GIDDY.

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