Archived Posts from this Category
Archived Posts from this Category
I was still recovering from the allergic reaction into the middle of the first week of July. Not fun. But had energy to have a nice dinner for my parents on Sunday the third, which of course wiped me out for the next couple of days.
Then, on July 7 I had a chance to meet up with a friend from New Zealand — it was a very spontaneous visit, so we didn’t have as much time as I would have liked. But … so glad we were able to finally gives in-person hugs instead of virtual!
On July 8 we had a silk painting session at my house. LOVED it. My friends are such amazing artists. Planning another session next month.
But I pushed myself a little too hard… the following weekend was unproductive, and it wasn’t until Wednesday that I started to have some energy again. Managed to get cars swapped around so one of them could have service done. Then I figured out some ideas for school and dug in on Thursday and Friday with some thinking and planning. Not a lot of organizing going on in the physical world, but a good bit happening with setting up ideas and lessons. AND I pruned a few trees and shrubs…
And I still have a reasonable five weeks of vacation to look forward to. I am glad. I will need every minute to be ready for the upcoming school year.
Most of the time as a child my allergies manifested as upper respiratory — sneezing and runny nose.
As I grew older, I realized the recurring intestinal discomfort was also an allergic reaction.
More recently, I began to get hives on my face and upper body (mostly, though I also get them sometimes on my legs).
Yesterday, I woke to terrible hives on my face, neck and random short occurrences on my back, arms and legs. With cool compresses, hydrocortisone cream, and LOTS of antihistamines, they began to subside.
This morning — the hives were still present but much less uncomfortable or noticeable. Instead, I have significant angioedema all over my face and down onto my neck. And, as I discovered about thirty minutes ago, mild edema everywhere else (my wedding band was a little tight).
So… Likely not continuing to react to something I ate on a trip this past week, nor a contact allergy on that trip. Instead, I think I am reacting to my own bedroom!
What do I do when things like this happen? If it were one of my children, or my darling Tom, I would be at the hospital already. They don’t generally have any sort of allergic reaction. But this is me — and I know that the hospital/urgent care doc would give me a large dose of diphenhydramine and watch me for several hours. I don’t think it’s worth a 40-minute drive to do something I can do at home. I also know that the most alarming symptoms of low blood pressure and wheezing are not present, so my airway is clear, and I can take some time. If I were wheezing, or the edema was getting worse, I would be on my way already. And, if I am not significantly improved in another hour I will at least call the consulting nurse to have this particular event recorded on my health record.
It’s not a lot of fun…
But I do know that I will recover, and once I have identified this new allergen I think this particular chapter will close. Possible candidates: a shampoo I used the night before our trip (I always wash my hair in the evening and let it air-dry overnight), the particular type of Oxyclean we picked up when our normal, unscented type ran out and Costco was closed – it wasn’t bothering me before the trip but it definitely isn’t my favorite scent which is often a clue, a food or combination of foods (not as likely), or possibly contamination of the bedroom space by an animal of some kind (bird or cat?).
If YOU have allergies, a type of hidden disability, remember that it is okay to ask for what you need, and to be clear about and reject things that you need to avoid. Remember, also, that when you are feeling poorly, it will get better. Even if, for the moment, you just want to crawl under a rock and disappear.
Today for the first time I went to urgent care while experiencing the reaction to cow products. Eating out (my end-of-week treat) I didn’t notice that one of the types of sushi I ordered was made with cream cheese. Fortunately, I know the symptoms and get pretty weirded out by the “precursor” bits. So I got Tom moving, paid the bill (wasn’t so bad or fast that I felt it required calling an ambulance) and Tom drove me to Urgent Care. I did not use the epi-pen, though the doctor sort of scolded me and said I probably should next time…
He did say that it was okay to take the benadryl [diphenhydramine] (which is the first thing I do when exposed because of course the real problem is the histamine reaction), and that as long as the other symptoms (swelling tongue, difficulty breathing, hives) don’t show up I am probably fine this time. But he reminded me that the epi-pen is the best first response when I start to have a reaction, followed by someone driving me to the hospital (or calling medics). So I did not grade any papers or student writing tonight because I was too far out of it.
On the other hand, so far I am not having any sort of recurrence (it has now been about 6 hours) or additional symptoms so I think I will take more Benadryl and head for bed. Funny thing, when I need the antihistamine for the allergic reactions, I don’t feel sleepy or anything from it. Or maybe, since the “scary” part of the reaction is the low blood pressure that I am just too woozy too notice any additional weird symptoms.
My (rambling) point is that I am okay, but I really need to ask EVERY time if something is safe. The people at this restaurant are so nice, they were so sad that I got sick! If you, like me, don’t want to inconvenience people, the lesson here is to inconvenience them a little bit and you might avoid inconveniencing them A LOT through by-passing the drama of trips to the Emergency Room.
Or, as I tell my students who have glasses they won’t wear… don’t worry about what other people will think, use all your tools. In this case, a voice to make sure things are “copacetic.”
We went to a concert the evening of the last post…
It was lovely. The pieces chosen were two Bach and Vivaldi’s “Four Seasons” concerti. They fit together beautifully, and the soloists were remarkable. Most importantly, they seemed to have a great time playing for us. And the headliner came out after the finale to play a lovely Sarabande by Bach (not sure which one) – she was very good.
And the hall was PACKED. Third tier almost full, second tier completely full… The floor almost full. Haven’t seen such a crowd since we heard the Lord of the Rings music (conducted by the composer himself!) a couple years ago.
We didn’t even try to sit in our assigned seats. Instead, we gave the usher the slip and sat in the far back. I could see better from that vantage point, and there were no people around I could have been allergic to. I was also under a light which made the crochet I had brought along easier to work on. It doesn’t take much – a spacing of one or two seats (about six-ten feet) is usually enough to mitigate the airborn problems. Of course, this is the sort of seating arrangement I initially tried to get for the year!
Tom and I still have to discuss whether we renew our tickets for next year, but given the response I received from the ticketing supervisor I have to change my recommendation from the earlier post: I think if you live close enough and can afford it, the Seattle Symphony makes lovely music. Our decision ultimately depends at this point on affordability. With the cost of gasoline so high (about 7 gallons round-trip – $26 and going higher) we have to look at every road trip with extra care. What used to be a nice treat for the family has become a VERY BIG DEAL financially.
More on costs and politics in a different post…
— because they effectively closed off the third tier box seats by pricing them well out of our ability to pay, forcing us (and presumably others) onto the floor.
Rather than being an elitist thing, this has to do with their refusal to accomodate my allergies. Specifically, the chemical sensitivities to things that most people never even notice. Not “scents” per se, but chemicals that are in laundry detergents, fabric softeners, shampoos and other common substances that everyone (or almost everyone) uses.
I rarely go to movies, concerts, and other activities that require me to be in confined spaces with people I don’t know. And most of the time I go because it is one of the children’s performances. I always carry extra anti-histamines (oral and topical) to treat reactions as fast as I can.
However, we have gone to the Seattle Symphony’s Baroque series for several years in a row. Until this year, the experience was almost universally wonderful. After the first year when I did sit on the floor near the stage, the price of box seats became affordable for us. Sitting in the box seats, even if they required climbing lots of stairs and made it hard to see some parts of the stage, meant that I was far enough away from people that I rarely had a reaction — and then only a minor one. I could spend my time enjoying the music.
So far this season there have been two concerts. I have had to move both times, because someone (or several people) near me was contaminated with something. Both times, the person/s arrived only minutes before the concert began, and I was forced to flee, find an usher and get permission to move the far back of the hall, where I could sit isolated, being seated only moments before the concertmaster/mistress entered. Both times, I have looked up into the third tier seats to see only ushers or other workers. No concert-goers.
I haven’t decided if I will attend the next concert, already paid for and long anticipated.
But Benaroya Hall/the Seattle Symphony has not ever seemed to care that their third-tier seats are empty , nor to be willing to make accomodations for us. In fact, when I first renewed our tickets last summer, I specified that we wanted to be toward the back and as close to the door as possible. When the tickets arrived, we were toward the front and NOT on an aisle, a problem that was solved but could have been avoided entirely if my original seat choice had been honored.
Perhaps they are trying to get the usually very small Baroque audience down to the lower levels so the hall appears more full. Or maybe they want to demonstrate how few seats actually sell in this series so they can eliminate it. Who knows?
Well — next year, there will be four empty seats in one section. And we won’t go back again.
Why? Because after the cost of tickets, an hour’s drive up, the cost of parking, the hour’s drive home… it just isn’t worth it. Sure, the hall carries sound beautifully. Yes, the Symphony chooses great artists and selects the most lovely and provocative music. But when I am listening to this with a rash slowly breaking out all over my body, numbed by the additional antihistamines… and sitting alone without my family, it’s not any fun. We can go to very nice local concerts and at least be close to home if I do have a reaction.
I have to say that, at this point, I wouldn’t recommend the Seattle Symphony to anyone. I would encourage you to attend local concerts, support people in smaller venues, and avoid the city traffic.
Posted by stidmama on 14 Oct 2007 | Tagged as: allergy, blog action, caring, celebrations, climate, editorial, education, environment, fun, garden, Gardens and Life, Giving, good things, health, hope, illness, Interesting Websites, Making a Difference, map, musings, Peace Making, politics, Politics and War, poverty, rain, social justice, Uncategorized, weather
So many things a person could write about, I spent all weekend thinking and working on this post. Here is my meagre contribution to this month’s Blog Action Day.
Of course, we all know by now that this year’s Nobel Peace Prize was given out to people who have been working on Environmental Issues (Global Warming) for many years. One commentator I heard (on National Public Radio) related that they did so because it is already apparent that many of the violent conflicts in the world are the direct result of shifting resources as formerly lush landscapes become deserts, and as storms wash away other areas.
This particular year has seemed to drive the point home for many people in my country (USA) and on my continent: North America. On the west coast, it was a cooler than normal, grayer/rainier summer after a rather nice spring. On the east coast, the spring was very wet, the summer overly hot (and as of this last week many places were still in the 80sF/25C!) and autumn appears to be late arriving. The middle of the continent sweltered through the summer… some people died from the heat.
Environment: climate, pollution, allocation of resources, activities for work and play.
Changes in the climate affect the environment in many ways. I am an expert on only one small part of the environment, so that is my focus today.
For me, the changes in the climate affect my garden as well as outdoor activities. My garden is a little micro-world, with its own hot and cold areas, variations in ecology just within our one acre. I notice how the plants react through the year to the sun, the rain, the wind, the shadows… I evaluated my space (light and shadows, orientation of the house) carefully before cutting any of the existing trees when we got ready to move here; and carefully considered existing vegetation (what grew naturally, where) before planting new. Eight years ago, we began our gardening odyssey…
I recognize that there are normal fluctuations of temperatures, and I remember when I was a child “the year without a summer” when we had the fireplace lit on the Fourth of July… I remember the year that we had a week of temperatures in the 80s in September (I was in high school, it was great). I know that most years the last two weeks of March are sunny and warm — shorts and T-shirt weather; surrounded by gray, windy, rainy months. What I don’t know is whether the extreme fluctuations from the “norm” in the last five years (extreme rains in winter, but drought twosummers in a row followed by the very wet and cool summer this year) are becoming the new pattern, or if weather will change back to the usual 9 months of rain/3 months of sun. Will the average temperatures continue to increase?
What should I be planting now? It takes years for trees and shrubs to mature enough to produce a crop that is useful. I can nurse young trees along no matter what they are, keep them alive for five or even ten years. But for them to thrive and bear as they ought, the climate as well as the soil they are in need to be right. My figs did not ripen, though the trees held record numbers, because there was too little sun this summer. My apples bore, but not well, because of the rains during the flowering stage.
I did not plant a vegetable garden this year, but if I had, my usual crops of lettuces would have lasted longer and the squash would never have fully developed. Corn would never have reached the tassel stage. Beans would have been slow, though peas would have liked the cool days. Potatoes and tomatoes would have been cranky. Coles and brassicas would have been ecstatic at the cool weather. Melons, which are iffy in the best years, would have not even set.
My flowers were, by and large, late, small and highly unmotivated. The birds didn’t delight in visiting the yard as they do most years. The frogs were quieter than normal. No crickets were heard… I didn’t see as many snakes. We had bees, but not as many or as constantly as I am used to. There were more “bear splats” in the yard than normal — are they looking for food further afield than in a usual year? We certainly had more “deer plops” as well, as they nibbled my fruit trees and rose bushes. But who can blame them? Much of their usual forage was late and minimal also!
Friends and acquaintances in other areas were stymied by overly sunny and hot weather. Many plants shriveled and died despite repeated waterings and good mulch.
What will all this mean to me? To my family? To the world? Well, around here we still have abundant water — more necessary than sunlight for life. But if the climate here continues to sustain trees and life, if our home becomes very attractive to people from places on the continent where extremes of climate are out of control, more people will want to move here. I don’t blame them… but how will our resources hold up if they need to be shared by too many people? Will the government decide to restrict our use of the aquifer our well pulls from? As harvests are more variable and less reliable, will food supplies become more valuable than gold? Will we be able to feed our families? Will we be able to afford the taxes on our home if the value increases because so many people like it here?
If the weather warms, and becomes sunnier, other crops may become possible: oranges, bananas, avocados? But if that happens apples, pears and even the type of grains that are grown here will not be successful. If the weather becomes more erratic, crops like cherries and peaches will be less reliable. Corn would be easier to grow in a warmer, dryer climate… but after only a few years of drought our forests become scary places, and the lovely trees start to suffer. And if rivers dry up, the fish will have more difficulty and the dams that generate much of our power will produce less electricity.
Environment: it affects EVERY aspect of our lives. From whether we go for a picnic in the summer, to how expensive it is to keep the house comfortable in the winter. It affects how much we have to eat, and whether we have anything left over to share. People in this area are quite generous, but can that last?
I don’t have answers today, just questions; some fears, a few hopes, and many dreams. I know that I will continue to look for ways to minimize our family’s impact on the environment, from being careful what we put in the septic system and use on our plants (we are an organic family for most things) to trying to minimize the electricity we use, to cutting down on trips in the cars and keeping them tuned up for better mileage. Recycling, reusing, sometimes doing without… all of these are ways we attempt to be a positive influence on the environment. Will it be enough?
Only time will tell. Our family will continue to “reduce the things we purchase new, reuse what we can, and recycle as much as possible.” I am optimistic because I think we are adaptable: not just my family, but our species. I think we will find ways to grow enough food, to stay cool enough in the summer and warm enough in the winter, to enjoy a few of the nicer things we have come to expect. I really hope the internet will continue to be available! Mostly though, I believe that our world will find ways to be beautiful and healthy. I hope my descendants will be able to look back at us someday and say with pride, “Stidmama and her family were good citizens of the planet.”
Together, we can help our world heal.
Well, the actual reason is that I find so many other interesting things to do… but I knew the sprays and other substances often used to clean and “dust” are toxic to my body. Now there is proof it isn’t just me, and it’s not a figment of our imaginations!
Follow this link to the BBC article: Doing Housework can Cause Asthma.
So what is a conscientious housekeeper (who doesn’t like to clean) to do? Start by trying to eliminate clutter. A reasonable person won’t eliminate it entirely, but the fewer things you have out to collect the dust, the more effective a quick swipe with a damp rag or microfiber duster is. I have found that forced air heating (which is what our home has), even with good filtration, causes and spreads dust like anything. If you have a choice, find a radiant heating system of some kind.
Love your animals, but if you are allergic make sure you keep them off the bed (and out of the bedroom), and keep their own bedding clean. Sweep often (vacuum if you have carpets) and make them wipe their paws before they come in (this works for dogs, might not for cats).
I use vinegar for most cleaning, a mild bleach-based cream cleaner for bathroom sinks and counters (needs to be clean), “Lysol” type wipes for quick sanitization in between cleanings, and for toilets and showers (we have hard water) we use a non-aerosol calcium-lime-rust remover that is effective. That last is my only real concession to the “spray-on, wipe-off” culture. When we tried to go without, the showers got gradually more and more orange until no amount of elbow grease would clean them. A whole-house water softener is out of the question, we are in a sensitive ecosystem and use a septic system. We put the least amount of salts as we can into the environment.
I don’t generally use scented candles (allergies), NEVER use air fresheners of any kind, and open my windows frequently when it’s warm enough to get air exchange.
For our family, this works well enough, though our home would hardly win awards for beauty or neatness.
It has been a very busy couple of weeks for some reason!First off, congratulations to my Babble-Friends, Featherbee and kristinc, who both had their bundles of joy delivered safely in the last few weeks. Two more bouncing babies added to our happy Babble Family.
Let’s see… my last post was on the 8th… a lot has happened in the almost two weeks since!
The children were at YMCA camp on the Kitsap Peninsula that first week. Tom and I were enjoying a few days’ R&R; at home, no pressures. A few small projects intended, only a couple of which were realized. We watched several movies: Little Miss Sunshine was amusing but definitely not for prudes, and appropriately rated R; a very very bad (does anyone remember So Bad It’s Good Theater?) Sci-Fi flick with Patrick Stewart in a relatively minor role, Lifeforce is worthy of cult status but basically trampy and trashy (not unlike the Rocky Horror Picture Show), rated R but I think it was at the extreme edge of R (lots of nudity); and Mixed Nuts with Steve Martin and many other very funny people, rated PG-13; and finally, Hanky Panky, a PG-rated film from 1982 starring Gene Wilder and Gilda Radner, though not technically a comedy the impeccable timing of the stars lent the movie an edge that overcame what could otherwise have been just another Hitchcock knock-off.
Other memorable things from that week:
All too soon the children were home. We stopped to get a new laptop computer for me (I like to be able to work from any comfortable perch in the house, and the elder stidkid needed something he could take to high school with him… he gets the old one); then got a bird for the younger stidkid who had earned it by getting his room reorganized and CLEAN! His name is “Bleu”… (as in bleu cheese)
Last week was the 17th International Bacteriophage Meeting at The Evergreen State College. And I was sick nearly the whole time. A bad allergy attack the Friday before triggered all sorts of sensitivities, so I didn’t go to the informal dinner at our friend’s house before the meeting, nor to the official opening picnic, nor to the big feast… I didn’t even get to hear a single lecture, which disappointed me greatly. I just wanted to rest and sleep most of that week. But Stidkid#1 DID attend, in part to help our friend with little errands and tasks, and mostly to just be there. He rubbed elbows with friends old and new, and by the end of the first day, everyone knew his name! I was able to see my friend in the photo below only briefly, very late on her last day in Olympia. I hope that I will be healthy for the next meeting!
Here he is with our dear friend Dr. Zemphira Alavidze, and new friends Dr. Irina Chkonia and Grace Filby. He has known Zemphira all his life — and is penpals with her grandson in Georgia!
Here he is with one of his heroes, Dr. Revaz Adamia, of the Eliava Institute in Tbilisi.
Once again, with Dr. Hubert Mazure, the great-grandson of Felix d’Herelle who was the first (along with George Eliava) to really develop bacteriophages as a medical treatment.
Here he is, with his grandmother “Stidg’mere” showing her the posters at the meeting.
And last but not least, here he is with two of the Evergreen students he has worked with a little bit… (I am sorry I don’t remember their names). They made one of the posters behind them.
I would love to talk on and on about phage and their history, and the Eliava institute, but it has been done so well by Dr. Elizabeth Kutter and her students and other scientists at Evergreen that I will simply direct you to their website.
And since then… well a nice, wet weekend. We went to “Camlann” — but that is a post for tomorrow.
Some of you may already know from reading my other blogs, that I have multiple allergies and chemical sensitivities. While I don’t generally let them run my life, I do have to watch the ingredients in things I eat.
At the local food cooperative, they have some very nice convenience foods for people like me: dairy-free, vegan, gluten free, kosher… not all of these apply to me, but you get the idea.
I thought other people might benefit from my experience with these products. Here is the first of my “food reviews:”
I find that I do better on wheat-free foods, though I am not gluten-intolerant. So when a new gluten-free cake mix showed up, well, I just had to try it!
Chocolate Cake Mix
This cake mix is simple, and quick to pull together. Following the directions (except that I used a small rectangluar pan instead of round), the result was moist, very chocolaty and soft. Unlike some rice-flour products, the cake was not gritty. And although the box says there are 8 servings in a package, I think you could get ten or twelve and still leave people satisfied. This was a very rich, decadent-feeling cake! A caution, DO grease the entire side of the cake pan, or you will get something that is very tall in the middle and thin at the sides. The rice flour and baking soda will do a good job of making the whole cake light and fluffy. This is definitely a treat for the whole family — even the ones who don’t normally eat the stranger things!
As a side note, I also used Cherrybrook Kitchen’s Vanilla Frosting Mix. I don’t recommend it. It uses 1 1/4 cups of margarine (or butter) and doesn’t have much flavor beyond a touch of sweetening. It was too greasy-feeling in my mouth. Instead, make up a simple, and lower-calorie, frosting yourself with a smaller amount of margarine, confectioners’ sugar and vanilla flavoring to your own taste, adding extra liquid as needed to gain the consistency you desire.
Nothing ever goes according to plan.
I did spend a brief spell in town the day of my previous post… had a coupon for a free coffee and another for a discount on a book I wanted to get for one of the children’s birthdays. Just enough time to find the book, get the coffee and pick up the kids at school. So I thought.
Got to school just as the bell was ringing to let the kids out. Walked in and the secretaries practically jumped over the counter at me. “We’ve been trying to contact you!” “He hurt his arm on the playground…” “Might be nothing but you probably want a doctor to look at it.” The kid had actually left a message for me on the house answering machine just as I was heading out the driveway. And I wasn’t yet in cell-phone range.
Well none of those things are what a mother wants to hear. Guilt was the emotion of the day…
I took a look at the kid, bravely holding his arm close to his body, an icepack over the wrist, a friend carrying his fiddle case. I inspected the arm — no bruising, no real swelling, but he was pretty tender. So of course we canceled our other plans. I took time to go home and call the nurse to be sure it was okay to give the kid ibuprofen for the pain before I drove him in for x-ray. The other kid stayed home and took care of dogs.
Sure enough, it was a broken wrist.
Best kind, though, a torus fracture of the distal radius. That’s a sort of “splinter” break that doesn’t detach or get displaced much, on the thicker arm bone that attaches to the wrist near the thumb. He came home with a splint and instructions to take it easy. On adults a splint is usually enough to keep it immobilized. But a week later it was still tender to the touch, so the active, rambunctious child now sports a lovely blue cast. We go back next week for another follow-up.
That same night, the other child was playing in the pep band for the high school basketball team. Long-suffering spouse came home to get dinner and do taxi duty for that one while I was at the doctor’s. They had sandwiches at a restaurant on the way to the game, and had a great time. Though my beloved didn’t play high school sports, several of his siblings did, and he enjoyed going to games in high school.
When we were done with the medicos I took my brave child to one of his favorite restaurants. We really enjoyed our meal. Right up until I bit into the eggroll and realized they had changed their recipe to use beef… though I don’t think I actually swallowed any, within twenty minutes my tongue was swollen. By the time we got home the rest of me was pretty swollen too. Thank goodness for fast-acting antihistamines… Kid and I spent the evening sitting watching a good movie Zathura, being quiet, which is what we needed.
So after all our careful plans, putting off skiing until this last week (which was mid-winter break) he is not going to be able to ski this year at all. We had a quiet week at home instead. Seems like "quiet" is getting to be our middle name! But there will be other activities, other occasions.
And in the middle of the last two weeks we have had minor illnesses and slightly more than minor, a visit from a dear friend, a re-thinking of school schedules and classes, rain-hail-snow-lightning-sun showers (yes, all in the same day, several days!), and a trip to the Seattle Flower and Garden show… all of which will be blogged in increments!