Sunday, November 22, 2009

More random musings

I hate being sick. When my daughter was a baby, my doctor had me undergo a pulmonary function test to determine whether or not I had asthma. The test ruled asthma out, so her conclusion was that I just happen to be very susceptible to respiratory infections. And once more, my daughter was sick for only a week, and I, three weeks later, am still coughing!

It's a pain in the keister, because sometimes I cough so much it induces vomiting or stress incontinence. I also was hoping to serve at my town's Thanksgiving dinner, but I waited until this week to call so that I felt more confident I would be well by Thanksgiving, and they already had enough volunteers.* And my great plans to do more walking and use of public transportation rather than driving are shot--neither is a good idea until I am fully healed.

I think I just have to remember a revelation I had during that really bad, three-month long respiratory infection I had when my daughter was a baby. As I wrote earlier, she caught it from me and was sick for a month. When I found myself in the emergency room of Boston Children's Hospital for the third time in as many weeks when her fever spiked above 101, I was feeling rather depressed about it. I picked up a copy of the hospital's magazine to read while we waited. The magazine described the many efforts they were making to treat children with cancer... sickle cell anemia... cystic fibrosis... spinal bifida... etc. Meanwhile, my otherwise healthy daughter had merely a fever and a bad cough. How could I then feel sorry for myself?

Anyway, on to some happier thoughts. This week I was able to share some of my hair care product recipes with a friend who is white but has biracial grandchildren. She is struggling, as I used to, with finding good products to use on her grandkid's hair. I talked about the fact that so many products designed for black hair have petroleum jelly or mineral oil (a byproduct of petroleum) as their base, and in addition to not being good for anyone's hair, is much too heavy for children's hair. I look forward to hearing about how some of my products work for her grandchildren.

Last night I cooked salmon, mashed potatoes and kale for dinner. All local foods, including potatoes that my husband dug up from our farmer friend's farm, and kale he picked from the garden planted by Johnny and Michelle and the local teens. For the first time, I tried a water-saving idea I've read about: the same water I used to cook the potatoes, I reused to steam the kale, and then reused again to cook spaghetti for later in the week.

The best part about last night's dinner is my daughter. She wanted to help make a sauce for the salmon, and since I hadn't decided what I wanted to top it with, I let her have at it. She gathered a bunch of ingredients from the pantry and mixed them together, tasting as she went along. She made the most phenomenal sauce for the salmon! It included water, salt, pepper, garlic powder, cumin, lentils, dried parsley, dried rosemary, bay leaves, a little canola oil, and parmesan cheese. Most amazing? My child is four years old. When we told my brother-in-law this story today, he's predicting she'll have her own cooking show in a few years!


* One of the reflections of No Impact Week I didn't discuss is "giving back." We did do some of that on Saturday of that week. My husband and daughter joined a group of about 60 teens from a local high school, who went with Johnny and Michelle to our friend's farm to help him harvest his crops. Meanwhile, I was cleaning our yard and house (collecting yard waste and hazardous waste) for my town's annual Cleanup and Recycling Day, and also canned goods for the local food bank. At the event, I received a flyer of local volunteer opportunities and that's where I learned they were looking for volunteers for Thanksgiving. Oh, well. When I'm better, I will explore other ways to get more involved in our community.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The "100 Mile Challenge"

I caught an episode of this show on Planet Green, and it highlighted for me just how hard truly eating locally is, since we have grown so used to having food shipped in from everywhere. The show is a reality series about six families in British Columbia who have to eat only food produced within a 100-mile radius for a period of time. During the episode I watched, one family learned to fish; two others produced a meal together that took five hours to cook, since as one woman said, "There are no pre-packaged foods produced 100% locally, so everything has to be made from scratch." In other words, the shortcuts most of us take, even when cooking "from scratch" can't be made: no pre-made pasta sauce or chicken stock, for example (to cite a few I use).

These folks were struggling with a crew of experts guiding them--no wonder I found it so hard!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

I spoke too soon...

... and the day after I last posted, I woke up with the same symptoms as my daughter: fever, headache, body aches and cough. My daughter's doctor said we both probably have the swine flu, albeit fairly mild cases, since the regular flu isn't really around yet. We both seem to be on the mend, although I (as always) am still coughing my head off.

A few random musings:

-- My husband, as usual, hasn't caught anything from us. In this instance especially, I am happy for his typical resistance to infection, since as a diabetic with heart issues, he's at risk for severe swine flu, and the vaccine hasn't been available locally except for pregnant women, very young children, and homeless individuals.

-- I'm glad my daughter seems to have a strong constitution, unlike her mother. I remember being a child and how I seemed to catch whatever was going around, and I was usually very sick for at least a week, and many times much longer. Meanwhile, my brother and sister would get sick, if at all, only mildly for a day or two.

The worst occasion (at least socially!) was during February when I was 14. Friday was a half day of school, and I had plans to spend the night at a friend's. Saturday she and I were to attend a birthday party during the day, and a Valentine's dance in the evening. Sunday evening I was to spend the night with another friend, since Monday was President's Day and a holiday from school.

I had had a sore throat for several days, and my mother asked me to go to the doctor on Friday morning, just to be sure nothing was wrong. He examined me for a few minutes and said, "You have the mumps."

I replied, "No, I don't."

Doc: Yes, you do.

Me: No. I. DON'T!

Doc: I'm sorry to say, but Yes. You. Do.

Me: No, it can't be! It can't be!

Doc: (laughing) Did you have a big weekend planned?

Me: Yes! (in despair!)

I found out when I returned to school ten days later that two other kids at school also had the mumps. Neither was someone I hung out with, so how I caught it is a mystery. And naturally, neither of my siblings caught the mumps from me, despite my attempts to pass it on!

My daughter, on the other hand, has rarely been sick. As an infant, she never had colic and had only one ear infection. She caught a really bad upper respiratory infection from me (natch!) at nine months old and was really sick for about a month (the ear infection occurred during this time). Of course, my illness at that time lasted for about three months! Since then, my daughter was never sick again until last fall (almost three years later!) when she developed a persistent cough, which her doctor said may have been caused by breathing in all the mold in the air during her first cold, damp Tacoma autumn. And after that cleared up, she didn't get sick again until last week.

When I think about the things I have to be grateful for, having a healthy child is one of the top items on the list!

--I love my GladRags. This may be TMI, but hey, one of the purposes of my blog is to help people with practical green solutions. I use resusable menstrual pads, which I purchased from GladRags. (For tampon wearers, they also offer Diva Cups, another reusable product). I find GladRags to be much more comfortable than disposable pads. And when I'm sick, they have another use.

When I was pregnant, I developed stress incontinence--urine leakage when I coughed, laughed, sneezed or vomit. It mostly cleared up after I gave birth, but it affects me again when I'm sick, especially when I cough a lot. When I was pregnant, I purchased Poise and Depends pads, but I found them bulky, ineffective and embarrassing to wear. My GladRags, on the other hand, are much more comfortable and absorbent--not only good for the environment, but good for my peace of mind!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Well, I made it to a year!

But just barely. I wrote several months ago about my ongoing fight against bronchial infections, since I have experienced bronchitis, usually lasting weeks but occasionally months, almost every year since I was twelve (the exceptions were the first two years of my marriage, when my husband was selling antioxidants and I was taking them regularly). I started taking antioxidants again last fall with the goal to see whether or not they would keep me free of illness for a year. The year officially ended yesterday, so yes, I succeeded.

However, on Friday evening, my daughter spiked a 101 degree fever, and has been sick since then.* It might be swine flu, since the fever is accompanied by a cough, headache and body aches; I'll take her to the doctor tomorrow to know for sure. Thankfully, so far her illness seems mild.

Of course, I woke up sick this morning. I know this is probably not the case, but sometimes I think I have a latent germ that lives in my lungs, just waiting for my immune system to become occupied trying to fight off some other infection. When that happens, my latent germ takes advantage of the situation to kick into full gear. I say this because as always, I'm hacking my lungs out. I don't seem to have caught what my daughter has, since I don't have any of her symptoms except the cough.

Now the question is, will the antioxidants and such treatments as Airborne help me get over the cough quickly, before it turns into full-blown bronchitis that knocks me out for weeks or longer?


* Being sick, my daughter missed trick-or-treating (misery for a four-year-old!), and about seven in the evening on Saturday, she started crying her eyes out. So my husband ran out to the store and bought some candy and came home, pouring it into two bowls. He and I stood in different corners of the living room holding our bowls, while my daughter carried a bag and walked back and forth between us, saying "Trick or treat!" and having us drop candy into her bag. It wasn't the real thing, but it put a smile on her face, and hubby's and mine as well.


Condo Blues recommended a book, Practically Green, as a common sense approach to finding ways to green up your life. I'm linking her post here to help me remember to seek out the book at some point.