Showing posts with label Medical. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Medical. Show all posts

Friday, December 27, 2019

Third time's a charm? Three strikes you're out? Bad luck comes in threes?

In the nearly 20 years Terry and I have been together prior to Calgary I can think of five ER visits: each of Alex's broken arms, when Zoltan "broke his head wide open" (needed one stitch), when Terry rolled the tractor over his foot, and when baby Alex had a fever and I foolishly went against every instinct to just wait another day.

We arrived in late July. We had our third ER trip recently. Dayenu! (Enough!)

Trip #1: our third day at post. We had gone to Shakespeare in the Park and after the performance Zoltan fell off the stage while playing around. He refused to put any weight on his foot for 2 days, we finally decided to get that checked out.
Diagnosis: Dramatic license

Trip #2: Zoltan is sort of, a little bit, run over by a car when on his way home from piano practice. In an abundance of caution, the driver called the police and ambulance, and the paramedic (when I arrived on the scene) convinced me to let them ambulance take him to the hospital to get checked out.
Diagnosis: Overabundance of caution, but we couldn't have lived with ourselves if he had internal bleeding and we hadn't gotten it checked out.

Trip #3: Terry was cutting our new ice skate guards down to the right size and his hand slipped on the boxcutter blade. We first thought it was simply a bad cut that would need stitches then realized he couldn't move part of his finger.
Diagnosis: sliced tendon. Needed surgery and will have a splint for up to 2 months.

In hindsight, only one of those visits actually needed to happen. Feel free to ask us about how "awful" Canada's "socialized medicine" is (hint: we feel so fortunate to have gone through all this here.) 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


I have never, in my adult life, been this sick for this long. I am now rethinking my previously reasonable reasons for not getting the flu shot. Four days at home! If I'm not better tomorrow I don't even know what I'll do.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Back on the meds :-(

Haven't written in a while about Alex and dairy, because I thought we had everything figured out. I mean, the coughing is over (knock on wood) and what seemed like occasional heartburn was manageable with an occasional Tums. Last week she revealed that she has heartburn nearly every night (when she complains about it, it's almost always at bedtime) but she only complained to us when it was worse than just a little uncomfortable. After a conversation with our health practitioner, we started her on the bottle of Ranitidine we had gotten this summer in the USA "just in case." Less than a week in, she already says she feels much better.

We had thought butter was OK because it didn't trigger the coughing, but apparently it isn't OK. Our plan is for now, we keep butter and she takes meds. When we get back to the USA next year, where vegan margarine exists (because yes, margarine has dairy!!), we'll see about weaning her off. I am ever more grateful our next post is in Western Europe, where you can get soy yogurt and 3 kinds of non-dairy milk at the corner 7-11-type store.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Summer vacation, Foreign Service style

It's summer in the foreign service, which means we are on a several week whirlwind trip to see as much family and as many friends as possible, plus handle a year's worth of medical needs, grocery, clothing, and other purchases, and maybe get some "relaxing" done at the cabin.

We had dentist appointments last week. While checking out one of the kids, the hygienist asked when we would go anywhere for summer vacation this year.  We both just looked at her.  "This is our summer vacation," I explained.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Another Alex update

When last we touched this topic, she had started coughing again. The M.O. is thus: 1. we get her coughing under control, thus far it has/had been exclusively through medicine. 2. She's fine. 3.She gets a cold (I am starting to think it is actually allergies) consisting of runny nose and a wet cough. 4. Around 1-2 weeks the wet cough subsides as it would with a cold, but then the dry cough begins. 5. Dry cough goes on forever, until we beat it down with medicine.

So, what did we do this time? As it went to *the* cough pretty quickly, consisting of hours of coughing including the middle of the night, we put her back on Ranitidine ASAP. And, simultaneously, cut out ALL dairy (have I mentioned that most margarine contains dairy - I have found one version of one brand that doesn't? And thank you Whole Foods and Fresh Market for carrying dairy free chocolate!) When the coughing was pretty well over and a good 3 weeks had passed, we took her off the meds again. Sure enough, within 3 days she had a runny nose and cough. BUT this time the cough subsided on its own (so maybe it was a cold?). I waited a good extra week before writing so as not to tempt fate. She is still coughing about once a day, which makes me think maybe it's dairy plus something else, but the something else is very mild.

Last weekend we reintroduced butter only, to see how far this thing goes. I know several lactose intolerant people who consume butter with no problem, and my own dairy issues don't touch butter, so we're really hoping. She had a couple of "excursions" with baked goods that likely had some dairy in them in the last few weeks, too. Will report back on what happens.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

She's coughing yet again

This time it's *the* cough. We are trying a new approach and yes food elimination is part of it. This sucks.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Alex GI update

After barely two weeks she had completely stopped coughing, so we put her back on dairy. A couple of times she complained of heartburn after a meal that included dairy, but no other symptoms. We cut down a bit on dairy - no more milk at dinner - but stopped reading labels. I tested a hypothesis and gave her a glass of milk the other night and there was no heartburn, so we still have no real answers.

I'm working on a hypothesis that involves a structural issue plus a food intolerance issue. She may be catching Zoltan's cold as we speak so there may be more experimentation in the next week or so ...

Monday, February 17, 2014

It finally begins

It makes no sense at all, but three times is no longer a coincidence. Something about having a cold/being sick makes Alex's GERD act up. She was sick last week and coughing up a storm now (even though she didn't have any stuffiness or runny nose during the illness!) Interestingly, the tummy bug of last month did not have the same effect.

So, it finally begins. Three weeks off dairy. If that doesn't stop the coughing, three weeks off soy. Then gluten. Please if it's anything let it be dairy. I'm a little excited to try a 100% dairy free yogurt, for mine I've been using starter with some skim milk in it.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Maybe we aren't supposed to leave the cabin?

So our last two trips back to Maryland from cabin have both occurred during snowstorms that basically shut down the DC area. Maybe we are actually supposed to just stay there forever?

Other highlights of the MLK, Jr. weekend cabin trip:

Ricketts Glen. It is such a beautiful area and Terry just told me the story of Ricketts, who was a logger who clearcut most of the area but recognized the special wonderfulness of the place and set it aside to preserve/conserve. We all bundled up and took a short hike to some falls. Terry got some wonderful photos like yesterday's Wordless Wednesday. And some goofy ones, seen below ("Daddy, take my picture!")

Zoltan's tummy bug. Not exactly a "highlight" but an important event. Especially important as we just realized last week that he had not puked since being a baby with spitup - which is only sort of the same thing. In four years the child has never had a tummy bug. Alex has puked once since she was two. We've been lucky here. But because I noticed it, something had to happen. Let the record show that we only replaced the defunct washing machine on our very last trip to the cabin. What a blessing that was! Four episodes within a few hours all in the late-to-middle of the night and only one made it into a vessel intended to receive the "offering". We did two loads of laundry and had two more we had to bring home in segregated plastic bags. Between Zoltan actually calling for me and my imaginations I slept all of four hours Monday night. Which leads to what I did in that sleep deprived state ...

Snowstorm 2014. I wavered a lot about whether we should just spend another day at the cabin (see the title of this entry). In the end, however, with Zoltan being puke-free for six hours and holding down water for sure, and crackers for maybe, we decided to try to get home. The kicker to this story is that we had driven both cars up, because we were taking up our new futon (that I never got to sleep on as it went downstairs, and I slept upstairs on the couch, see the item immediately above). I am not a great snowstorm driver. I am a bit hazy on exactly when we left the house and we did stop at Rite Aid for Pedialyte and the gas station for gas before really "beginning" the journey. I believe the door to door was right around 6.5 hours ... usual is around 5 hours. We spent too much highway time going 45 mph or below and it wasn't always my fault.

All in all though, we still love the cabin. Just maybe not so much in the winter.

Friday, October 25, 2013

One of "those" days

So Tuesday actually started Monday when Zoltan fell backwards off the couch onto the coffee table and gashed his head right at bedtime. We called the kids' pediatrician's office and the answering service said we'd get a call back from the on-call doc within 30 minutes or so. The bleeding seemed to have gone down significantly, but the gash looked deep. Terry held Z and the ice pack (aka the sacrificial bag of green beans) while I packed them a bag and started looking into urgent care clinics. They were all closed or closing. The doc calls, says she really can't tell over the phone but normally if you think the kids needs stitches, the kid does. She had us take a photo on the phone and text it to her, which I thought was cool, but she still couldn't tell.

She suggests we take him to the local hospital's ER (duh). So Terry and Z leave and I get Alex to bed. She was amazing, fetching whatever we needed and literally running to get out of our way when we rushed here or there. She offered him her new, favorite stuffed animal to take - but of course he only wanted BlaBla.

Already long story slightly shorter, I lay down on the couch around 11, woke to read a few texts on their status, and welcomed the boys home around midnight. Ugh.

Next morning came early. Alex slept a tiny bit past wakeup time, I had to wake Zoltan around 9am to keep his schedule from getting completely off and because he had to start getting up to go with us for Alex's doctor's appointment previously scheduled for Tuesday morning.

Doc visit was fine, we went over her cough and the possible causes and what to do in various scenarios. He gave us a prescription for Prevacid, which I am assuming is something between Zantac (what she's already taking) and Prilosec (I hear it's pretty hard core). We got Alex to school and went to fill the prescription. Pharmacy doesn't have the full supply, can give us some that night and can order more. Fine. I get Zoltan home late for lunch and nap and of course today of all days, when he really needed a good long nap.

He goes down and I try to get on the internet to look up dinner's recipe. No internet. I call Comcast and that's always a huge hassle. In the end I rebooted the router and the cable modem and then had even less internet. I also get a call from Terry that the pharmacy called him because the generic was discontinued and the name brand will cost us about $150 for the prescription.

I spend the entire 2 hours of Zoltan's nap on my cell phone because our home phone is VOIP and thus useless without internet. I call Comcast several times. I call Terry. I call our insurance company. I try to call CVS but without internet I can't look up the number so I call Terry. I call CVS. One of the times I call Comcast the CSR hung up on me within the first minute, because when she asked if something was OK (I forget what) I joked "and what will you do if I say no". Oops. At least I had offered to take the customer service survey so I got to give feedback on the customer "service".

After nap, it seemed like things were starting to look up. After school we went to the playground with some new friends. I managed to make a tasty dinner without internet. The kids were surprisingly well behaved for the excitement and sleep deprivation. Terry got the internet working again.

And then, as the kids were on their way to brush teeth and go to bed, they fight about something. Zoltan pushes Alex and she goes down. When she comes up she's holding her arm. NOOOOOOOOOO

(to be continued)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Not a great day :-(

We put Alex back on medicine today, to get her through birthday and Halloween season. Cutting the dairy helped immensely, but not completely. We're still hoping out hope we won't have to go gluten free but I have to admit my confidence is faltering. The greatest challenge will be if we have to cut out both.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Four coughs

There are four people in my family. And right now there are four coughs in my house.

One is GERD/reflux
One is most likely a sinus infection
One, I suspect, is allergies
And one little cough is a simple common cold

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

That's it? Medical care overseas

Since December, I have had pain and limited mobility in my right arm. The doc in Russia told me to "stay off it" until it felt better and after a couple more visits where I tried to get more help, I gave up. I knew that, at least, I was moving to America soon and could find a doc to fix me up right. Of course, flying alone with Alex (who's going to move those suitcases?) and being the primary unpacker (who's going to move those boxes?) did no favors.

I had my first appointment with my new primary care physician last week, and my first and last appointment with the physical therapist yesterday. I am healed. Seriously.

After nine months of pain and no yoga, it took one hour for the therapist to fix the problem. I am both thrilled and frustrated. But working on focusing on the thrilled :-)

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Alex update (final)

Almost a year after it all began it has finally ended! Alex had her last dose of medicine around the end of August. So far there has been no coughing, no heartburn. She has even gotten to eat french fries and pizza. I think this crazy saga is finally, finally put to bed.

Of course, now Zoltan's got mysterious runny nose. He's probably got allergies, and his adenoids are probably enlarging while I type. Can't have it all!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Update from America

Alex and I have been in America for a week now. From Philly, we came down to my brother's house outside DC for a visit with them and coinciding with a visit from my mom. It turns out Ben's confirmation was this week too, so it's actually been pretty busy between that, Mother's Day on Sunday, and a lot of time on the phone and computer getting things ready for the closing.

Turns out the house has/had termites, so that added some excitement to the week, between ordering the termite inspection because that fell between the cracks, to the diagnosis of termites, to the treatment. All before Thursday. Crazy stuff. I am pretty sure the termite guy wanted to warn me not to buy the place. Let's hope it's all fine now.

Also, turns out all of Alex's blood tests came back fine. Her vitamin D is low but not low enough to be the obvious culprit for her broken bones, according to the very static-y message I listened to from the doctor. So I guess it's a good thing we didn't cancel the appointment with the orthopedist on Friday, and I expect he'll order a bone density scan as it was the next step after checking Alex's vitamin D.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Home sweet America

On Monday, Alex and I began our journey home. We took the rest stop but I have to admit, flight times sucked and I am not 100% sure it was better in the end. We had a couple of really crabby days and I am sure today will be as well.

I had the stroke of brilliance to think up a solution to the too many bags for too small muscles at Pulkovo and loaded our huge duffel bag onto the stroller and had Alex push that. I was able to manage the rest of the bags. British Airways started off on the wrong foot. First they somehow lost the 2 seats together I had reserved online, then essentially accused me of lying when I couldn't come up with which seats they were or any documentation of having done it. We ended up in the very last row, where each time the flight attendants had to get something out of a locker they banged my seat. There is also apparently a new thing (well, new from the last time I flew with extra bags, which was admittedly a long time ago) where you check your bags, they hold your ticket hostage and you have to go somewhere totally different to pay for the extra baggage. At Pulkovo, it meant going back out into the entrance area, then upstairs to the Finnair ticketing booth, where they processed the payment. Then back to the British Air counter where at least I didn't have to wait in line.

The flight was relatively uneventful. Alex managed to color and do her mosaics (thank you again Jenny for getting her the first pack!) and we didn't even use any electronics. At Heathrow I was reminded how much I like Europe and all their baggage carts. The down side is we flew into Terminal 5 and were flying out of Terminal 1. I found my way to the Heathrow Express and here's where the amazingness of strangers kicks in. One of the HE employees let my cart through the barrier then helped me load all our bags onto the train. At Terminal 1 he reappeared and help me unload, then he got one of his colleagues from Terminal 1 to get me another cart right at the trainside. From there it was easy to get to the left luggage place and drop off all the checked bags, then catch a taxi to our hotel.

We stayed at the Renaissance Heathrow. One side of the hotel faces the runway and you can watch planes touch down and take off. It was absolutely the highlight. The room was tiny and dingy, the plug in the bath didn't work and Alex is traumatized by showers and she was already overtired so getting her clean was a bit nightmarish. The mini fridge is also ridiculous, hard to explain but the gist is to put anything in it garners a charge so we just wasted the huge bowl of yogurt we'd had to order to give her the medicine. Club access is also a plus, we were able to get snacks and water and the breakfast there was impressive for being "continental". All in all we'd probably stay there again, if only because of the runway viewing.

The next day we were up too early, so we just went ahead and started the day. It turned out to be a good thing as there was a bunch of running around at Heathrow - like at Pulkovo we had to check our bags at one place and pay for the extra bag somewhere else. Also annoying is that they don't put up the gate info until 90 minutes before the flight departs, but boarding begins 60 minutes before AND some parts of the terminal are a 20 minute walk from the center area.

When I saw on the e-ticket that the flight was meant to take 8 hours I was surprised, because I've done London-USA enough times in my life i knew full well it's 5.5h to there, and 7h back. And, we left 30min late and arrived 30 min early. Talk about padding the time! At least I wasn't misremembering the duration. During the flight things were a bit rough - Alex tried to nap twice but just couldn't fall asleep even though the plane was empty so we took a 4-seat row and she stretched out over 3 seats and got a 3 blanket cave. Knowing I'd have to drive to Philly from Allentown I napped while she watched shows, I probably slept 10 minutes but rested/dozed through 2 full shows so maybe 45 min?

We ended up having plenty of time in Philly, largely due to arriving early. There's a children's play area, so I like them even better than I thought I did as I've been very annoyed at American airports for not having them. We got ice cream for dinner :-)  The Allentown flight was bumpy and Alex proved again that she will be riding the roller coasters with Terry as soon as we go somewhere that has them, by telling me she liked that feeling in her tummy when we went bump.

When we got to Allentown Terry's hatred of the credit card was good for me, as there was only 1 taxi already hanging out and he didn't take CC but I had enough cash. He also very kindly managed to get the Subaru trunk open, which apparently T's mom or step-father managed to do something to and nobody's been able to open it for a little while. We were at the house long enough to make and have Alex eat a PB and J, for me to grab a few things we'd need, unload some of the vodka and maple syrup (although I missed 3 bottles) and one suitcase we didn't need, and head back out. Thank you Randy for leaving me a full tank of gas!

Monday, April 29, 2013


I finally got confirmation from CWT that my and Alex's tickets are changed. I went into the airlines' web sites and got us seats together (except for the 40 minute flight where no non-premium seats were available. Sure, some stranger can sit next to the 5 year old on the 19-seater). This is really happening. Tomorrow is Alex's last day at school due to the long holiday. We're both sad and excited together, and having lots of talks about how that's normal and OK.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

This isn't how I wanted it to end

Our family is supposed to depart St Petersburg, likely forever, in June.

But instead, Alex and I have to curtail. We thought we could medevac, but it is within the month before PCS and therefore we can't. When we leave in less than 2 weeks, we are not coming back.

We had plans for May, one of the best months in Piter. Alex was supposed to perform in one last school production, which would have been a goodbye for everyone as this is the last year of detsky sad and the kids all scatter to different schools next year. We were supposed to have time to revisit favorite places and share meals with friends. And try to eat up some of this load of food we accumulated.

Most of Russia will shut down May 1 and not reopen until after we're gone. People go away on vacation. Alex's last day with some friends may well be tomorrow. We're lucky that when faced with medical problems that nobody local can figure out, we have the opportunity to travel elsewhere. We are lucky that although we now have an odd, uncomfortable block of time in the USA without husband, son, or any more stuff than we can fit into 2 suitcases, we have plenty of options of where to go and what to do. We know that we're only cutting a month off the end. But this month was meant to be filled with goodbyes and will now, likely, be filled with a gaping silence.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

A busy week, but finally progress!

It's hard to write about an overwhelming experience. And some of the personal stresses of the last couple of weeks have even been good ones.

In the space of week we have decided to medevac Alex for her various medical issues that need testing to figure out (on Monday we should know for sure whether MED agreed); we first unsuccessfully, then successfully, bid on a home (different properties); listened and watched in horror as the Boston Marathon, MIT shooting, and West, Texas tragedies unfolded - each of which involved a location near and dear either to our own hearts of hearts of good friends. I am thrilled to report that my father was not at work so never in harm's way.

Now that we seem to be heading the right direction with Alex we have nothing to do except wait to hear when the appointments are set up and then we can worry about flights and hotels. Now that our bid has been accepted and we've made the calls we needed to make for inspection and appraisal, there's nothing to do except wait for those reports to come back. The cortisol surge of the last few weeks hasn't abated yet and is looking around for a good target.