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Health ’ Category
Saturday, November 9th, 2013
Have you ever spun around on a swing or something and when you get off you feel dizzy, can’t focus your eyes, feel out of balance and sick to your stomach? That’s what life has been like for me for over a week. It’s a complication of my ear surgery from three weeks ago. It has made life very tough. It has been difficult to walk straight. The ceiling and walls tend to jump around and move. I can’t bend over to pick things up. It’s hard to read and concentrate. I can’t drive. I feel woozy when I move my head back-and-forth or side-to-side. Um, yes you heard that right–virtually anyway I move my head makes the world spin!
It has also been difficult to keep my mind on things. I read that suffering from a type of forgetfulness and confusion that is common with this condition. This is due to the brain’s heightened struggle at trying to maintain balance on its own. Ugh!
I have had to ask for help much more than I am used to. I can’t go grocery shopping or drop the kids off at their activities. My friends have come to pick up or drop off the kids. Hubby has had to go into work late so he could drive me to-and-from the doctors and to vote.
So how did all this come about? Well, I wrote a post a couple weeks ago about my ear surgery. There were complications during the surgery and the surgery itself took a lot longer than they expected. Then when I was in the recovery area, I was violently ill, nauseous, and dizzy. I couldn’t go home and was admitted and spent an extra day in the hospital.
After the surgery, my in-laws were here to hold down the fort. I didn’t feel great and spent a lot of time sitting and/or sleeping. Even if I did get up for part of the day, by 2pm or so I was worn out, had earaches, and just generally felt bad and had little appetite. In fact, during those 2 1/2 weeks or so I lost 10 pounds. The doctor kept saying I’d be just fine by 2 weeks, so I just assumed I’d be getting better. My in-laws stayed an extra 4 days and then had to head back to Missouri. I started doing a bit more with the kids, but then last week I really started suffering from a lot of balance and dizziness issues. I couldn’t bend down and even walking made me feel like I was going to tip over.
One of my closest friends happens to be a vestibular therapist and she’s the one who started putting the pieces together that I’m having vestibular issues (a rare complication from ear surgery). I checked positive for something called BPPV — which is when crystals in your ear that deal with balance and your position in space get knocked out of place and float around (which gives false signals to your brain, so that your eyes dart up and down as they try to focus).The crystals probably were knocked loose during the surgery because of all the drilling they did (the surgery was longer and more difficult than they had initially thought it would be.) As I moved around more trying to get “back to normal” it stirred things up and made me feel terrible.
I’ve been back to the doctor every four or five days since the surgery. The past couple of visits he’s been trying to do procedures to help put those crystals back in place. Those crystals can fall out of any of the three canals (in the picture below) in your inner ear. But unfortunately for me, it seem that the crystals have fallen out from at least two of the canals (that is also pretty rare, usually crystals just fall out of one canal or another).
What you do to get better is tilt your head in different directions trying to get those crystals back where they belong. (Kind of like a maze with your head!) I’m nowhere near as bad as I was back last Saturday when I was dry-heaving and couldn’t do anything but sit on the couch trying not to move my head at all, but I still can’t drive and am pretty unsteady on my feet (and all those other things I was talking about).
So, the great news is that this is not something that requires more surgery, but the bad news is that it takes time to get those crystals back in place where they need to be.
It hasn’t brought homeschooling to a stand-still, but the kids have definitely had to work more independently and we’re moving through things at a much (much, much) slower pace. And it’s why we love homeschooling — it’s flexible and we can adjust when times (like this) require it!
P.S. — I wrote this a couple of days ago. It’s now Saturday morning. I have improved steadily the past couple of days… It is SUCH a relief! I’m still having to move slow and have trouble focusing my eyes when I move quickly, but I can walk without feeling like I’m going to tip over!
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Saturday, July 13th, 2013
Here in the U.S. we hear about the importance of staying out of the sun during peak hours and using sun screen. Over in Australia, there was a HUGE campaign to get people to protect themselves from the sun. ”Slip, Slop, Slap” was an advertisement we saw ALL the time on TV. Slip on a shirt, slop on the sunscreen, slap on a hat. The kids in our small town had to have a hat to be allowed to play outside at recess.
Here are a few pictures of the kids from back then… and you can see we were all wearing hats (and sunscreen)! (In the lower right picture, we’re all wearing hats with fly nets because there were hundreds upon hundreds of flies there).
I saw the power of the sun myself when I left some paper and a stack of books on the back porch while I went inside to get a drink. When I came back a while later, I noticed that the paper had yellowed in the area that was not covered by the book! Gulp! Hubby and I were very, very careful with the kids. They wore full-body swim suits as babies and toddlers that covered their legs and arms fully. They were doused with sunscreen. They wore sunnies to protect their eyes. They always wore a hat at the playground and out and about.
Even Hubby and I were pretty good about wearing a hat and sunscreen… but I was outdoorsy and a runner and I often didn’t think about or didn’t bother putting sunscreen on my legs when I went out for a run or mountain bike ride.
A couple of years ago, I noticed a couple of brown spots on my lower legs. They were small, the size of freckles or so. They’ve slowly been growing and now they are the size of a pencil eraser.
Recently a friend of mine looked at them and said, “Wow, you’d better get those checked out.” She asked if I knew the ABCs of skin cancer. I didn’t.
The blotches on my lower legs were asymmetrical and the borders weren’t all even. And while there wasn’t a huge difference in color, if I looked closely enough I could see slightly different shades of brown. I decided to make an appointment to see a dermatologist. I had to wait for 5 weeks before I could see him.
In the meantime, I talked with friends about my worry. It seemed that everyone I knew had a story to tell. My runner-friend (who had spent a lot of time tanning at the beach as a teenager) had skin cancer cut off her chest. Another friend said all of her older relatives seemed to have had skin cancer cut out from time-to-time. Another friend had a questionable spot removed from her hip.
The waiting was hard. I read online that malignant skin cancer tends to be most prevalent on the lower legs for women and on the torso for men. Yikes — another strike against me.
In the end, my story has a good ending… the spots I have were caused by sun damage, but luckily they are nothing to worry about.
So, now when I’m being incredibly careful with the kids… I’m going to be sure to take the extra time to slather up myself… including my legs!!
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Saturday, April 27th, 2013
My kids are quite involved in after-school sports and I worry a lot about them over-doing it as youngsters. I really want to make sure that when they are in their 20s, 30s, and 40s they can be active and do the sports and activities they’re interested in. I really love running and backpacking and am thankful that my high school and college sports didn’t leave me with any lingering injuries.
According to a new 10-year study, life-long injury can occur if kids train before they are fully developed. Kids are more susceptible to stress injuries in the back if they are training too hard and long before their bodies have fully developed. And what really worried me was that “The chance of a full recovery can be as low as 25 to 50 percent.” (See more in the NBC News article: Hey Coach!) Yikes!
A sports medicine physician cautions against specializing in just one sport before and during adolescence because bones, muscles and connective tissues are not fully developed. According to a NBC new article,
It found that young athletes who spent more hours per week than their age playing one sport – such as a 12-year-old who plays tennis 13 or more hours a week – were 70 percent more likely to get serious overuse injuries of the back, shoulder or elbow, than other injuries. (NBC News article: Hey Coach! by Steve James)
By that rule of thumb, my son is spending too much time training for gymnastics. My son is 9, so according to the article he should spend just 9 hours a week at his sport. He is a competitive gymnast and trains 12 hours a week and that will only increase as he moves up various levels. He also plays recreational soccer (though he took last fall off). His best friend’s Dad is the coach and he is good friends with his soccer teammates. It definitely give me pause for thought, and we keep a VERY close eye on whether he is enjoying his sport/s or whether he wants to move on to something different.
The NBC article said it is good for kids to switch up their sports so that they use different different muscle groups in different seasons.
Sports injuries in children are not a rare occurrence More than 3.5 million children under the age of 14 receive medical attention for sports injuries (Children’s Hospital and Stop Sport Injuries). About 20 percent of children and adolescents participating in sports activities are injured each year, and one in four injuries is considered serious. But according to the CDC, more than half of all sports injuries in children are preventable.
So what category of sports cause the most injuries for boys? football, soccer, basketball and field hockey.
What category of sports cause the most injuries for girls? gymnastics, softball and volleyball. (Health Guidance.org)
What worries me as a parent is that some of these injuries lead to long term alteration of bone anatomy and hence life-long deformities.
Anyway, I wanted to share what I learned with you. It’s a delicate balance of letting kids do what they love and making sure that they are safe and will have a healthy, injury free adulthood. Oh the worries of parenthood, right?!!
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Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013
We had a crazy busy weekend and it ended with LD being sick all night. We stayed close to home yesterday. Last night, DD came down with the same bad tummy bug and tossed her cookies all night and into the morning. I’m just feeling tired and worn out and have a bit of a headache myself. I can think of twelve things I should do … especially yard work I need to tackle (the weather is gorgeous this afternoon), but instead I’m going to curl up on the couch and read my book. It’s hard to keep the pace going when illness strikes the household, isn’t it?
P.S. Just adding in on Wednesday that we’re all healthy now! I remembered that last week DD was sitting next to a boy in art class who suddenly got sick. LD is in the same class. That’s probably why they got sick and ED didn’t.
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Wednesday, April 10th, 2013
No, no one choked at our house recently, but we did go into a lot of detail about swallowing and choking a few days ago.
I wanted to find a way for the kids to really understand how choking happens — and then to know what to do about it. Now, don’t take this as expert advice… if you really want to know details about doing abdominal thrusts (Heimlich Maneuver) I suggest you visit a site like the MayoClinic. I will however share the activities the kids and I did together.
If you saw my post from a couple of days ago then you know we’re learning about the Digestive System. We spent quite a bit of time learning about the mouth, teeth, chewing, saliva, the food bolus and so forth. We moved on to the swallowing process after that.
I drew a huge large face with all the mouth parts and we used a brad to create a moving/swinging epiglottis to block off the airway. The torn yellow piece of construction paper you see in the pictures below are the food bolus either going successfully down the esophagus or tragically getting stuck in the windpipe.
I printed out our face onto cardstock (you can print it out by downloading the pack below). We used an orange piece of foam for our epiglottis:
It’s not anatomically correct that way, but they really got it! Hooray!
I also felt it was important for the kids to know what to do if they come across someone choking. More than 3,00o people die each year from choking (in the U.S.), most of those are children. The Red Cross recommends giving 5 back blows followed by 5 abdominal thrusts (also known as the Heimlich Maneuver). We practiced on McKenna, the doll. LD (who isn’t into dolls. ) especially liked doing that! Just so you know, the Red Cross recommends having a flat hand when doing the back blow (DD’s fingers are curled in the photo below and I didn’t notice that). See the Red Cross brochure for more details.
I also let the kids try to figure out how to do abdominal thrusts on me… that way they could feel my ribs and place their hand above my naval.
To bring everything together, I had a sheet for the kids to add to their science notebook.
Download the Digestive System-Swallowing and Choking Pages here.
Pictionary Activity: They filled that out and then we went over some of the common foods that kids choke on. I had the kids brainstorm and then once they were stuck, I drew pictures and had them guess. They figured out hot dog and carrot right away, but were stumped on this… Can you guess?
At first I drew those figures on the right (they guessed stars, amoeba…) then I added in the “prison bars” — then I drew the scene on the top left. Finally, finally they guessed the answer… popcorn!! Then they groaned!
This was quite a bit easier to guess!
So what else do kids choke on? Here are 9 common foods:
- hard candy
- peanut butter
- hot dogs
- pop corn
I’m so glad we went over this information about choking. I’ve mentioned it to the kids before, but we really spent a long time and hopefully they remember what to do in an emergency. Like practicing what to do in case of a fire, I really should repeat this regularly with the kids. And since I brought it up, you can click here if you’re interested in seeing our Fire Safety Activities. I’ve been doing this regularly with the kids since LD was 4. The kids beg to do this (among other things I make an obstacle course and have the kids practice crawling to safety.) Hmmm… it’s been over a year, I really do need to go over our fire safety plan again — especially for ED.
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