Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Time, you deceiver.

Five months old, Viv is five months old today, and is celebrating by coughing her lungs up from a bronchial virus.  Can she be this big?  She weighs 15.8 pounds, according to the doctor's scale, still spot on at the 75th percentile, but lanky.  She has a long, skinny midsection and all of her pants, while too big in the waist, are already too short.  Her twiggy arms are utterly unlike her pleasantly hamhocky thighs.  She also has really big feet.  Can it be that she'll be tall?

This kid, this little peanut has completely reordered the way I think about life, and even though it's going by way too fast, the changes she undergoes every day are so exciting that I eagerly await each new coordinated hand eye movement.  She smiles every time she sees me, even if I've only been out of the room for a second.  Every morning, she wakes up happy, thrilled to bits to be seeing us again.   I wondered, before bringing her home, how to spend time with her.  What would we do?  Now, the days seem to fly.  I chew on her ears and cheeks constantly, and the bald patch on the back of her head is more bald because I rest my cheek against it.  She likes to play by herself already, which I hope is a good sign for her future intellect.  She's teething and so droolier than a hungry basset hound, and she's eating real food, so the mess is substantial.  She goes through five bibs a day at least.  She's sitting up almost entirely on her own and she can roll partially over in both directions.  She's an utter genius and I love her so much I have to close my eyes and remember to breathe.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Manometry twice, fix once.

I had debated whether or not to repeat the worst one of the battery of tests I underwent in September of 2007 to determine if I was a candidate to have my hiatal hernia repaired, as that horrible test showed the first time that my esophagus had so little motility that I could only have the hernia partially repaired.  This did not make me happy.

Before I scheduled the partial, I wanted to meet with the surgeon to see if there was any way I could have the full, and he recommend the repeat manometry to check if the motility had improved. He thought the improvement unlikely, but as it had been a year and a half and a really, really wanted the full repair, I redid the test.  It was as wretched as I remembered, full of gagging and nose pain, but it turned out to be worth every discomfort as it showed that my motility had improved to the point where I can have the full repair.  This means no more stomach drugs, no more reflux, no more pain, and that makes me very, very happy.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sad, lonely Fritz.

Fritz is destined to be alone, I think.  Poor little Pierre was lost to us today.  He never was quite himself after the beak injury, and he wasn't terribly hale to begin with.  Christian found him on the floor of his cage today, emaciated and very weak.  I tried to feed him with a needleless syringe, and he ate for a while, but gave up after filling his crop.  His little heart and kidneys were most likely too weak.  

We'll miss his little fuzzy butt terribly.

Friday, April 10, 2009

They're actually implanting a microchip with that syringe.

I'm not a conspiracy theorist.  I don't believe that there's an Area 51 UFO coverup, I think that JFK was shot by one wacky guy, I think that Elvis is long dead and I don't think that Beatles' albums played backwards relay a secret message.  I believe in science, and that, to be accepted as fact, any scientific findings must have consistently repeatable study results.  And, if the author of a non-repeatable study admits that his results were falsified, the conclusions of that study should be deemed void.  

It shocked me when I learned that Wakefield's single, small sample sized study caused an estimated 12% drop in the vaccination rate among children.  Hundreds of thousands of parents believed the anecdotal evidence of one physician (and their countless friends who repeated the findings of the study as fact) above the adamant assurances of most of the rest of the medical community, and thousands of children were put at risk because of (repeatedly disproven) fears about mercury-based preservatives in vaccines.  It was believed that the medical profession was lying to parents about the true risks of these vaccinations, and that the government was in league.  

There is so much irony in this controversy.  Seemingly, those who quickly jumped on the anti-vaccine bandwagon didn't bother to do even the most rudimentary search to reveal that no mercury-based preservatives have been used in regular childhood vaccines in eight years (and most for much longer), or that multiple similar studies were unable to confirm or even approximate Wakefield's findings.  Parents who believed they were protecting their children from the risks of developing autism hung on word of mouth tales of seemingly normal children who, after their first or second round of vaccinations, suddenly developed symptoms pertaining to the autism spectrum.  They didn't bother to read that these symptoms emerge in vaccinated and unvaccinated children alike at the age where social skills are emerging and difficulties with those social skills become evident, which is at the same age where some vaccines are recommended.  The link between the two is coincidental, not causal.  

I see the desperate need to blame as being the driving force behind these controversies.  An imperfect child must have been damaged, as the genes of the parents couldn't possibly be the culprit.  The diagnosis of autism must be crushing to parents, but especially those who have placed all of their hopes on the future of their child.  Again and again I've seen in parents my age the same desire to have children who are the fulfillment of their lifelong quest to matter, children who are the answer to the unsatisfying career, or the tarnished dream to change the world.   Children who must be raised in the most progressive, the most correct, the most expensive way, because then, and only then, will the parent feel as though they have succeeded.  And what would a disability do to those parents?  Would it mean they have failed?  That they chose poorly for their child?  

Viv has been vaccinated.  She was vaccinated because I couldn't find even one shred of evidence, in all my reading of the scientific journals, that vaccines cause anything more than a mild fever in almost all children.  There are, of course, rare instances of life-threatening reactions to vaccines, usually because of an allergy to an ingredient, but these instances are so few and far between that I could only find a few single case studies detailing them.  

Children with suppressed immunity cannot be vaccinated, because live virus strains can fatally infect their defenseless systems.  Therefore, to keep infections such as measles from coming into contact with children who cannot fight them their own, our child, like other healthy children, has been given the vaccine to create herd immunity.  

We will continue to vaccinate our daughter.  I believe it is our responsibility to protect our children as well as the children who cannot protect themselves.  

Mark, I'm expecting to hear from you about this one.