Category Archives: Health and Fitness

Illness and the benefits of Mama’s milk

Catherine, Esme and I have been sick for various lengths of time over the past week. Catherine and I got sick on the day before Thanksgiving. The two of us shared a feverish bed at the Lowes’ house in Townsend that Wednesday night, while Mama slept with Esme on an air mattress. We were both up and down with various fever and cold symptoms for the remainder of the Thanksgiving weekend. Catherine started to get on the mend by Monday morning, and as of tonight is pretty much back to normal. Esme got sick on Sunday night and is back to normal tonight. I’m still fighting a cough, sore throat, congestion, AND I have an ear infection!! And Rebecca? Well, she hasn’t been sick at all, despite spending the past week in close contact with all of us. What gives?

Well, here’s my theory. Mama’s milk. Esme gets it all the time. Catherine gets it occasionally, but particularly if she’s not feeling well. And, though we are a very close family, I don’t drink breastmilk at all. And Mama? Well, she makes the milk, so I guess that must do something for her. That, and her superior immune system and excellent personal hygeine.

Meanwhile, I’m stuck doing what I can, like taking antibiotics for the ear infection, drinking water, chamomile tea, and even trying spicy tomato tea to try and kill this bug.

I’m sure there are other, more scientific explanations for it, but I like mine.

0 to PMC in One Year or Less

As of this week I am embarking on a year-long challenge. I’ve decided to train to ride the Sturbridge to Provencetown route of the Pan-Mass Challenge!

All the details and such can be found at my new site Rebecca Rides: From 0 to PMC in One Year or Less. Come on over and check out the RSS feed!

Never fear, family note and other points of interest will continue to be posted here at World Wide Wood 🙂

Nasal Allergies and the Neti Pot

I’ve had nasal allergies for most of my life. From first grade up through now, I’ve bounced back and forth through various types of medicine, a variety of symptoms, and unpredictable outcomes.

My most recent regimen of meds was Flonase, Zyrtec, and, added just before Esme was born, Astelin. Together, These three seemed to take care of my symptoms pretty well.

However, one day recently I was playing around with Google Health. I had imported my prescription records, and it popped up some notices for me that the three medicines I was taking were from the same family, and that it didn’t recommend taking more than two at a time.

I also started reading about some side effects of the medications, particularly Astelin, and began to think about some things I’d recently been feeling: lethargic, grumpy, unmotivated, gaining weight. I had written these off as post-baby situational stress and symptoms. However, I realized that they matched up pretty well with the symptoms that other people had been reporting.

At that point, I made the decision to go cold turkey on my allergy medicines. Within a day or two, I felt that I had more energy and was not as grumpy as I had been recently. But I was still feeling my allergy symptoms. So I started to look into an option I’d been thinking about for a while: the Neti Pot. My friend Amy Walton had recommended it several years ago, but in my pride I asserted that modern allergy medicines were the best way to go and that I wasn’t going to have anything to do with pouring salt water down my nose.

Well, I’ve been using a Neti Pot for almost two weeks now, and I have to apologize to Amy: you were right. This thing is amazing! After the very first time using it, my nose felt better, and my symptoms went away. I used it two or three times a day the first week, and since then I’ve cut back a bit. I actually haven’t used it since last Thursday, and I still feel fine!

The real test will come this summer, when my allergies have typically been in full bloom. I suspect that I’ll need to use the Neti Pot more often to get things cleared out. But I’d much rather do that than take drugs that have potentially undesirable side effects! And it costs less, too! The Neti Pot kit I got was only $10 and came with 30 packets of saline mixture. You can buy a 100-pack for under $15, which should last a couple months. Or you can make your own solution at home! In any case, it’s cheaper than the $55/month I had been paying for my allergy medicine, and thus far, it seems to work even better!

So to all of the nasal allergy sufferers who haven’t yet tried the Neti Pot… give it a go! I think you’ll be glad you did.

Dry Run

I realize that I have been particularly quiet regarding this second pregnancy. Honestly, I’ve been fairly reclusive both in real life and online since the summer. Part of it has been that Catherine keeps me very busy and part of it has been that this pregnancy has me very, very tired. I am only recently starting to feel like my old self, and am very thankful for it!

But those things aside the pregnancy has been going very well. Our babe is growing and developing right on schedule and I haven’t had any major complications. Catherine has been mildly interested in this mythical “baby” but I’m not sure she truly understands what’s happening. She will occasionally tickle the baby or say hello, and she has liked seeing the little one on ultrasound. It is pretty cute.

We’ve chosen to see a midwife this time around. She is part of the OB practice I went to with Catherine and her patients birth at the same hospital, but her style of care during prenatal visits is much more in tune with my own preferences. I’ve been happy with the change.

When I was pregnant with Catherine, the ultrasound showed that I had a cyst on my right ovary. It never caused me any trouble, but continued growing after her birth. At four months post partum I had a quick surgery to have it removed. A similar (but larger) cyst was discovered at our first ultrasound scan this time around (at 20weeks). We’ve been monitoring its size via ultrasound for the past couple months adn it has been behaving. Until this weekend.

Sunday night I was awake all night with considerable pain. At 4am on Monday I woke Peter up and called the midwife and decided to head to Labor and Delivery and get checked out. Throughout Monday morning I had a series of tests and ultrasound scans run. They all came back with normal results (phew!) and I actually started feeling a bit better. Even so, it was decided that I should stay overnight for observation, just in case. The general consensus is that the cyst torsed (twisted) and that is was was causing the pain. Most likely it untwisted itself and the pain subsided. But we’re still not exactly sure.

All’s well that ends well, though and by 1pm on Tuesday I was home and feeling much better. A hospital stay is not something I had planned for this week, and certainly not the way I had planned my first night away from Catherine, but there were a few good outcomes. Catherine had a chance to see both the Labor and Delivery floor and the Maternity ward. Theoretically that will help her feel more comfortable there come the baby’s arrival. She also got to spend some quality time with just Papa. And she got lots of positive attention at the hospital- what cute kid in pink footsie pjs wouldn’t?

For me: I got IV hydration which I think I was in need of and a whole night of quiet rest. I was also able to take care of some routine lab work there instead of having to bring Catherine along with me to my lab appointment later in the week. And, frustrating as it was not to have a real ‘diagnosis’, it was comforting to hear that everything is looking good and though I was in pain the baby is doing just fine.

Thank you for all of your warm wishes via phone, email, facebook, twitter, etc. And thank you to Corey and Vicky who stepped up to babysit at the last minute- and early in the morning! And, of course, thank you to Peter and Catherine who stepped up and dealt graciously with an unexpected, non-routine, couple of days!

cystectomy

Today I had three ovarian cysts removed. Here are the highlights:

*I woke up from the anesthesia with “Lovely Rita, Meter Maid” running through my head. I couldn’t tell you the last time I’ve heard that song played! I wonder if my Doctor was listening to the Beatles during surgery.

*The nurses kept telling me that I “did a great job” and that I “should be the poster child for laproscopic surgery”. I just insisted that it was the doctor that should be praised; all I did was lay there asleep!

*a note to Corey: the hospital tech that walked me down to our car was, by far, a much better wheelchair driver than you. No offense. 🙂

*My dad sent flowers addressed to “my three best girls” to me, Mom and Catherine. Awwww!

I’m home now and feeling just fine. The wonders of modern medicine!!

DDR

Several weeks ago, Becky and I finally joined the crowd and bought DDR (if you don’t know what that is, read about it over at Wikipedia). Specifically, we bought Dance Dance Revolution Ultramix 3. Also, since we didn’t have a video game system to play it on, we bought a used XBOX, and of course some dance pads to use for playing the game.

ppp|DDR

Becky poses in a DDR move

|ppp

A few more pics here.

We had heard about DDR a while back, I believe on the Today show, where there was a segment on kids who lost weight while playing DDR. Then our friend Jenny mentioned using it as part of her excercise regimen, so we thought it sounded intriguing. We finally got a chance to play on Martha’s Vineyard, when the Lyttles had it in their cottage. They had the Xbox version, which has some really great songs. Later on, we went up to Jenny’s apartment and tried her version, on the PS2, with the workout mode. After that, we decided that we had to get it. 🙂

We ended up going with the Xbox version because we felt that it had more enjoyable songs, and that is key in our enjoyment of the game. Since we didn’t have any video games already, we didn’t have a particular loyalty to a gaming platform. Surprisingly, I was pragmatic enough to let slide the fact that the Xbox is manufactured by Microsoft. 🙂 It certainly works well enough to play DDR, which is the only thing we have plans to use it for.

The game is really a lot of fun, and it is, as best I can tell, a very good workout. We have workout mode turned on, which is a game-wide mode that tracks calories burned during any type of game play. You input your weight, which it uses in a fairly simplistic calculation to determine calories burned. After you complete each dance session, your calories burned are summarized. You can also track your daily calorie burn record in the main Workout Mode menu. It draws a pretty graph, and it also charts your weight over time (assuming that you edit your weight in the game as you take the measurements on your own).

There are a few areas where DDR is weak. It doesn’t take your body through a full range of motion, particularly in the upper body. Also, although it does raise your heart rate, it doesn’t keep it up, which is key to developing good cardiovascular health. In addition, there is no stretching, warm-up, or cool-down built anywhere into DDR. You can get that on your own by changing difficulty levels and doing stretching beforehand, but that can be easy to forget. Finally, it is a fairly high-impact excercise. The jumping and foot stomping can be pretty hard on your joints.

We haven’t been doing it for long enough yet to see any solid results in one way or another, but we are both definitely feeling better, and it’s a heck of a lot better way to spend our time than watching TV in the evenings. 🙂 We are certainly getting more excercise this way than we ever did with our gym membership!

If anyone’s in the area and wants to come check it out, let us know. We’d be glad to have you over. 🙂

I’m a mutant

In fact, so are most people of Western European descent. One of the things that I discovered, while reading up on child development, is that the ability to digest lactose normally disappears in mammals after they are weaned. Thus, being lactose intolerant is actually the “normal” state of a mammal. However, most humans of Western European descent have a genetic mutation that allows them to continue to digest lactose after weaning.

So, if you’re lactose intolerant, rejoice! You are perfectly normal, for a mammal. If you can digest lactose, enjoy your genetic mutation (albeit an extremely common one)… in lieu of the X-Men’s powers, I’d say being able to eat ice cream is pretty good. 🙂

My Royal Diadem

My middle name, Ryan, means ‘little king’. It is appropriate, therefore, that I just received a ‘little crown.’ The dentist attached the final part of my root canal work, a dental crown for my top left back molar. This process actually only took about five minutes and wasn’t painful at all. He just had to pull off the temporary crown, put in some cement, and stick in the real crown. It is custom molded for my tooth, so it fit perfectly. In the same appointment, he also filled in one last cavity. And that’s it… no more scheduled dentist appointments until this summer, when I go back for my six month checkup.

So, kids, if you would like to avoid all of this, brush at least twice a day, and floss at least once a day, and get in to see your dentist for a checkup every six months. It’s cheap insurance for what is a very pricey bit of work. Thank you for your attention. This has been a public service announcement from World Wide Wood.

Rooted

My root canal this morning went pretty well. If you want the enthralling details, I present to you a run-down of what they did, along with relative pain rankings, “N” being no pain, and a scale of “!” ( for a bit of wincing pain ) to “!!!!!” ( for excruciating, unbearable pain). Continue reading

Root Access

At my regularly scheduled dental exam last week, my dentist told me that I had several cavities. 🙁 I’ve had several cavities filled in recent years, so this wasn’t a huge surprise. But one of the cavities was larger, and he said that it might require a root canal. gasp

Well, today I went in to get one of the small cavities filled and have the larger cavity examined. The dentist found that it did, in fact require a root canal. So this Wednesday morning, I’m headed to the dentist to get a root canal|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Root_canal. From the fairly extensive reading I have already done on the subject, the procedure is apparently nowhere near as bad as the reputation it has garnered over the years. I won’t bore you with the medical details of the procedure; you can read about it at the link above. Suffice to say, as long as I’ve got a few good shots of novocaine in my jaw, it is supposed to be no worse then getting a regular cavity filled.

Other than the root canal, there aren’t any other good options – I could have the tooth pulled, but that would introduce a host of other issues, or I could just do nothing at all, in which case the tooth would infect the surrounding tissues and I would be in really bad shape. So a root canal it is. The procedure on Wednesday is the first of three parts, where the root canal itself is cleaned out and filled temporarily. The second and third procedures will be scheduled later, where a permanent filling, post, and crown are put into place on the tooth.

The cost of the procedure, I think, will be the post painful part. Usually when I am finished with a dentist appointment, I stand at the counter and settle the bill with the account manager. This time, however, the account manager led me to a desk with chairs around the corner from the main reception area. She sat me down and then broke the news to me. Yikes. I’m not going to say how much, but it is definitely a pricey procedure. Thankfully, I was able to set up a payment plan which will enable me to get the procedure right away, but allow me to break up the big payment into smaller, more manageable, and interest-free payments.

[ To answer the questions you may have: 1) yes, I brush my teeth daily 2) yes, I floss… every so often 3) yes, I will be doing both 1 and 2 even more frequently now than I have in the past 4) yes, the dentist will also be filling in a gap in my molars which was causing junk to build up, and which I could not have easily cleaned out on my own ]