Captain Obvious Reports: Don’t Cough Into Your HAND, Silly!

Okay, this one I’m embarrassed  about.

“If  you cough, cough into your hand or fist.”  That’s what I was told as a child, what I’ve always done, and what I’ve taught Son.

Never in all those years did it ever occur  to me that coughing into my hand actually endangers more people than coughing into a crowded elevator.

Why does it endanger more?  Because I then use that hand to shake yours, or to turn the doorknob, or to move hangers on a clothes rack.  So the viral or bacterial germs go from my wretchedly sick insides to my hand, where I pass them onto whomever or whatever I come in contact with, leaving whomever or whatever they come in contact with free to share  some more.


It makes much more sense to cough into a tissue (and immediate dispose of it).  If a tissue is unavailable then the best thing to do is cough into your elbow.  At least then the germs aren’t  as easily spread, though I recommend steering clear of any mosh pits or orgies.

But then, I’d recommend that anyway.  At least until you’re well.

So my new mantra to Son will be, “Cough into your elbow”.

I’m sure many of you figured this out ages ago and didn’t need a Captain Obvious Report.

But for those of you out there who regularly or temporarily reside in Oblivia, Captain Obvious bulletins are helpful, aren’t they?


Patient, Diagnose Thyself

You may have noticed that apart from a few Deals I’ve been conspicuously absent for most of the past week.

That’s because I’ve been dealing with my second illness in as many weeks, and this time I very nearly did cough up a lung.

I wound up going back to the doctor whose office I’d like to quit because in my weakened state I just did not have it in me to keep trying to find a doctor whose office staff wasn’t hostile, that took my insurance and was willing to see me that day.  In all fairness I only called two, but I think I could have called twenty and had the same result.

So, after a monsyllabic (on their part) conversation with her staff to get the appointment, Son and I made the forty-five minute trek to my current doctor’s office.  At least this time the diagnosis did not come from Son’s doctor (he frequently tells me what’s wrong with me and I then enlighten my own doctor), but the trend did continue in a way since I diagnosed  myself.

Me:  I think I have asthma.  Remember how I’ve told you before that sometimes I feel like I’m breathing through gauze (and you looked at me like I had three heads)?  Well, I think that’s an attack of some sort and could benefit from an inhaler.

Doctor:  Hmmm.  Oh yes.  That sounds like Reactive Airway Disease.  Yes.

So, it turns out I have Reactive Airway Disease, just like Son.   I am the proud owner of my own inhaler, some steroids, a strong antibiotic, a kickass cough medicine – and I get to share Son’s nebulizer.

After two days of medication and almost-complete bedrest I feel a thousand percent better.  I still have not used my inhaler yet, but am comforted that I have it so that in future I can breathe more easily and hopefully avoid hours of body-wracking coughs that leave me exhausted and sore.

And come the new year I am in search of a new doctor.  One that is nearby, has a pleasant office staff and takes my insurance.  It may be a bloody battle, but I’ll find one.

Hopefully before I get sick again.

Is the Flu Shot Necessary? An Alternative by a Genius or a Yahoo – You Decide

Son is asthmatic, so a flu shot has been very strongly recommended by his pediatrician every year since birth. Even though I knew there were some few risks, Son is so susceptible to bronchitis and bronchiolitis we have definitrly been more afraid of what the flu would do. So we’ve had him vaccinated and have been lucky that he had no side effects.  And no flu.

This year Son’s asthma is markedly better. We’re hoping that asthma will soon be in his past, or at the very worst he’ll be left with a very mild case. And now it’s flu shot time again.

For the first time we’re considering not immunizing him, though we probably still will. Husband and I were having a conversation about it yesterday and today he sent me a link with video of a doctor calling into question the effectiveness of the vaccine for children in Son’s age group.


This guy has some interesting things to say.  Why, then, do I think he’s a yahoo?  Husband hears this and gets all nervous about the vaccine.  I hear this guy say that most deaths attributed to the flu are actually caused by pneumonia, therefore the government is lying to us and I roll my eyes.  I’m not a doctor, but pneumonia is a lung infection.  Why is it not possible for the flu to precede, cause or at least create an environment ripe for lung infections, making the flu the proximate cause of death? And therefore acceptable to be included in statistics as a flu death?

Still, I’m open to hearing about other things we can do to stave off the flu.  Aren’t you?

He recommends we take megadoses of Vitamin D to prevent the flu instead.  And he thinks that the best way to get that is through sunlight, though that may be hard to come by in the winter.  So he recommends a tanning bed (aren’t those UNsafe???) for those who won’t be able to bake themselves in sunlight.  If neither of those are an option only then does he recommend taking vitamins, at 2000 international units (iu) per day for a child and 5000 iu per day for an adult.

He asserts that such megadoses of Vitamin D can also help lessen the severity of the flu if you’ve got it.  He recommends 2000 iu per kilogram of body weight taken as one dose every day for three days.

I know that last year’s flu shot was a big bust.  But I think I have to trust the doctor we’ve known for nearly five years when he tells us that this year’s shot is much better, that they learned a great deal from last year’s debacle, and that all of the metals that Dr. Yahoo warns us about are ever-present in our bodies.  Still, I’m going to call Son’s Doctor on Monday to ask about the Mercury.  Mercury scares me ever since Mr. Ski, my 7th grade science teacher,  told us that Mercury ingested now can kill us 10, 20 or even thirty years later.  As we made our own thermometers with real Mercury.  Nightmares, I tell you.

This is the double-edged sword that is the internet.  There is so much information out there that we have no way of knowing if the source is credible.  How do I even know this guy is truly an MD?  And believe me,  if there’s a conspiracy theory to be found, Husband will find it.

As I keep telling him, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

Can you help Ruthie, or do you know someone who can?

I’m a very firm believer that G-d doesn’t put anything on your plate you can’t handle.  Some people have bigger plates than others.

Kim Clements, a friend of a friend of mine, has a turkey platter.

In addition to having two boys with Asperger’s Syndrome, Kim’s daughter Ruthie has been diagnosed with hypogammaglobinemia, an immune deficiency disorder.  The rare disease is responsible for her asthma, eczema, and severe allergies, and means she hardly ever gets to leave home – and never without a boatload of medications.

“If my other children come home with a cold from school, she goes straight to pneumonia, a simple cut, she ends up with a staph infection, and she had MRSA last year,” said Kim in an interview.

Poor kid.  My son, having  asthma, gets sicker than most from a simple cold.  I know what it’s like to deal with that.  I cannot imagine what it’s like for Kim to deal with, and take care of her two sons, too…

Ruthie has an appointment with a team of doctors in Denver later this month, but getting there is a problem.  Flying commercially puts Ruthie at great risk for illness, and she likely needs to be fairly healthy for her Denver evaluation.

So my friend e-mailed me and asked me if I’d help get the word out.  You never know who knows someone who knows someone who can make something happen.  And since Ruthie’s story has been picked up by the local news I think there’s a good chance that the right someone will see the story and want to help.  Still, they may not be TV watchers, so I’m putting it out to the blogosphere.

So, I’m asking bloggers to you please write your own story, or link back to this one or the TV spot. And I’m asking everyone to pass the word.

Pretty please?

If you would like to help Ruthie get to her September 24th doctor’s appointment, you can e-mail Kim Clements at

Escape to Magic Mountain

View from the deck of the house on Magic Mountain

We’re in the mountains of North Carolina visiting my in-laws. They have a wonderful house on top of a mountain, far from the hustle and bustle of civilization. The nearest town is thirty minutes away by car, the nearest hospital forty-five (we found that out last October after Son stuck a pebble up his nose and we had to take him to the emergency room).

There’s something about being here that is good for the soul, and seems to make problems disappear. Husband and I both feel his way, and were looking forward to this trip with a fervor just short of desperation.

We’ve only been here since yesterday morning, and already the mountain’s magic is taking hold. Looking out at the hills and mountains, smelling the fresh clean air. Drinking cold, clean water straight from the tap. Without a water filter, even!

It’s heavenly. Our troubles and challenges don’t disappear, but they sure don’t seem daunting. When we think of them at all. The magic of the mountain…

And something else. Son had sniffles and a slight cough the day before we left. Normally that means three-a-day nebulizer treatments with the probability of a steroid to ease his little lungs. He did three nebulizer treatments at home the day we left, and since we got here there’s been not one cough.

Not one.

That means either the Magic Mountain air made the cough go away. Or it means the nebulizer is doing it’s job (I’m still giving him the treatments, though only two per day since the cough disappeared – and no steroid!!!). Or it could mean he’s outgrowing the asthma.

I don’t care if it’s one or all three. But I sure hope it’s number three, at least in part. And I hope the magic follows us home.

But even if it doesn’t, thanks Magic Mountain.

A Nebulizer Commits Suicide

My son is three, and he has Reactive Airway Disease, which is a nice way of saying “We’re Not Sure But We Think It’s Asthma”. They don’t officially call it asthma until they’re about four, as babies are too hard to diagnose and they hope that the child outgrows it by that age, anyway.

I was completely shocked the first time the doctor told me my son was wheezing. I didn’t hear anything. I didn’t see anything. He was two months old, and I almost killed him by not noticing – at least that’s how I felt. Truth was, the doctor didn’t realize it either – it was as we were walking out the door that he listened for the third time – and that’s when he heard the wheeze.

The doctor told us that he likely inherited it from one of us. Well, neither of us have asthma, but I did have some bad “allergies” when I was a kid. According to the doctor asthma was way under-diagnosed at that time, and I likely have mild asthma (Aha! Now I know why I always have horrible coughs when I get sick…).

That was the beginning of daily nebulizer treatments – four times a day when he’s sick, once a day when he’s not. It wasn’t always a pleasant experience; at first he cried bloody murder. Eventually he would sit quietly in our lap and we’d read a book or watch a movie, and as he got older was able to do the treatments by himself. He’s grown so fast!

As time goes by and he nears that magic age of four, I’ve resigned myself to the probability that he won’t outgrow this. He continues to get sick, though less often, but we’ve not been able to stop the daily maintenance treatments. A hard pill to swallow, but since there’s nothing I can do to change it, I accept it.

Just before Christmas his doctor recommended a change in medication to Advair, which is administered via an inhaler. Because he’s too young to work an inhaler on his own, we got him this nifty Aerochamber, which is so very cool my sister wants one (she’s afraid to use an inhaler).

So, now we only have to use the nebulizer when he’s sick. What freedom! It’s been part of our routine for so long. It’s made us change plans, cut visits short and filled our house with an incessant buzzing. Now we have quiet. Ahhhhhh.

The nebulizer was apparently unhappy over it’s drastically cut schedule. Distraught that it was about to be banished to the closet, it jumped off the table and started making really odd, loud noises. Instead of the closet it was buried in the bottom of the garbage pail.

Thanks for the memories, Neb. We’re getting a new model, which will hopefully stay in the box.

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