Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Corona Virus Update

So here is my update to my previous post about the new corona virus that started in China...


What is COVID-19?
That is the new name given to the new strain of corona virus that was first discovered in Wuhan, China.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
  • most common symptoms
    • fever
    • fatigue
    • dry cough
  • other symptoms
    • aches and pains
    • nasal congestion
    • runny nose
    • sore throat
    • diarrhea
Is it serious?
  • usually starts with mild symptoms and 80% of folks who are infected will recover like getting the flu or bad cold
  • 1 out of 6 folks may get very sick and develop difficulty breathing (usually folks who already have chronic conditions and weakened immune systems)
  • 2% of those infected have died so far
How widespread is it?  click here for latest map and update from NY Times
  • at least 71 countries are affected so far
  • 116 cases in the US with 9 deaths so far
How do I catch it?
  • from droplets of someone who is infected expelled on cough or exhale
    • if you touch a surface that has the droplets on it
    • if you breathe in the droplets after someone coughs or exhales
  • no studies yet suggest that you can catch it just from the air
  • very low risk of catching it from someone who is not sick
    • however symptoms are mild in the beginning and person may not know they are infected until their symptoms are more severe
  • symptoms may not show up until up to 14 days after exposure
How can I prevent getting it?
  • regularly and thoroughly wash your hands with soap and water
  • maintain at least 3 feet distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing
  • avoid touching your eyes, nose, mouth
  • make sure you and the people around you follow good respiratory hygiene
    • cover your cough/sneeze with bent elbow
    • throw away used tissues immediately
  • stay home if you feel unwell
  • call your doctor if you have fever, cough, difficulty breathing
  • follow instructions from local health authority
** these are great guidelines everyday anyway and should be practiced ALL the time to prevent the common cold, flu, pneumonia, sinusitis, and GI bugs, etc!

Who benefits from wearing a face mask?
  • those who have symptoms have COVID-19
  • those caring for folks who have symptoms of COVID-19
  • health care workers caring for individuals with fever and cough
**if you do not have symptoms or caring for anyone with symptoms, it is not recommended to wear a mask

For more detailed explanations and Q&A's on this topic you can read it here on the WHO website.

So what is the bottom line?
  • do not panic
  • stay up to date on the latest recommendations from reputable sources
  • use common sense
  • there is a growing list of countries that have travel restrictions... but stay up to date and consider whether non-essential travel is worth the risk, click here to check the cdc website for travel advice for your destination (remember - this may change in a day)
  • if you get sick and are not sure what to do, call your doctor

Saturday, January 25, 2020

New Corona Virus Affecting Chinese New Year Celebrations

Today is Chinese New Year! It is the year of the Rat. In many parts of Asia, Chinese New Year celebrations (also known as Spring Festival) is observed for about two weeks. For more interesting facts about this holiday, you can read it here.

Some of you may know that large-scale festivities have been cancelled in China due to trying to contain the outbreak of a new coronavirus. In addition, the country is restricting travel during this busiest travel time of year. So this is a pretty big deal.  So far, there have been 41 deaths and about 1,300 confirmed cases in China. There are only 2 confirmed cases in the US.

I feel for the overwhelmed healthcare workers trying to contain and treat. Many are unable to go home to their families to celebrate this holiday. Here is a photo from an Insider article showing medical staff in a Wuhan hospital holding up Chinese New Year signs.
doctors signs wuhan hospitals

So what is it?

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that can cause respiratory illnesses like the common cold. Usually the symptoms are mild or moderate but can spread to cause pneumonia and bronchitis. MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV were two types of coronaviruses that caused more severe symptoms. Now we have this 2019-nCoV that is also causing more severe symptoms.

How do you get it?
  • from the air (infected person coughs or sneezes)
  • from personal contact (touching or shaking hands with infected person)
  • from objects or surfaces (then touching your eyes, nose, mouth before washing your hands
What are the symptoms?
  • fever
  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • no runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, diarrhea (specifically in this 2019-nCoV)
  • symptoms may not appear until up to 14 days after exposure
How do you treat it?
  • rest (sleep is your best weapon)
  • fluids
  • humidified air
  • medicines to control symptoms (tylenol, motrin, cough medicine, inhalers if needed etc.)
  • there is no specific anti-viral treatment
  • call your doctor if not improving or if worried
How to prevent it?
  • wash hands often for at least 20 seconds with soap and water or alcohol based hand sanitizer
  • avoid touching eyes, nose, mouth with unwashed hands
  • avoid close contact with people who are sick
  • stay home if you are sick
  • cover cough or sneeze with tissue then throw out tissue
  • clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surface
Many of these treatments and preventions apply to all viruses that can cause respiratory illnesses. However, if you have recently travelled to China within two weeks of symptoms,  you must let your doctor know.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Happy Birthday, Joe!

2020 didn’t start off so smoothly for me. My youngest stepped on my iphone which resulted in me not having access to my phone for a while. Nothing like experiencing what it is like to be without to realize how much I depend on this little device. Sad to say, I truly felt lost and disoriented. When a trip to the nearest Apple store that night could not fix the problem... (because it turns out it is not just the screen that cracked but whatever it is underneath)… my very capable husband ordered a part from Amazon and decided to attempt the fix himself.  Glad to say it worked. This here was his crazy work station!

So this post is dedicated as a “shout out” to my handyman husband! It is his birthday today. All last week, he was on a business trip. Whenever Joe is away (which unfortunately is a fair amount) …often the words out of my mouth are “wait for daddy to fix it”!

Now whether it is replacing an entire kitchen faucet because the old one was leaking and dripping… or helping our oldest fix her digital radio clock because the time was wrong (…and I didn’t have the skill or patience to figure it out) …my husband gets to use his mechanical engineering degree from MIT for these practical daily issues.

On top of it all...  aside from "fixing things" around the house, Joe uses his tinkering skills to transform broken lightsaber toys into wall lamps. Can you tell that he is an avid Star Wars fan?

So happy 2020, everyone!  Hope your year has started off better than mine.

Monday, December 9, 2019

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

This past summer, our kids were reading the Harry Potter books and watching the movies. They even took the test online and each fit a different house. Oldest got Ravenclaw (she's the brainy one)... our sneaky second child was Slytherin of course... then the third in Gryffindor and the youngest in Hufflepuff. We had a point system going on where points were taken away for arguing or whining... and points awarded for doing chores. Then they can redeem the points for either $ or some sort of treat like going on a one on one date with mom or dad and picking the game, movie, or restaurant for the family.

Here they are dressed up in their "house" robes for Halloween...
So we thought it'd be fun to surprise them with a trip to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal! We were planning to go right before school started at the end of August. However, Hurricane Dorian was due to hit Florida... thus we ended up postponing the trip... 

The morning of our flight, I left this pack of letters on the table for my oldest to find and hand out.
Basically... owl'd them each a letter from Hogwarts inviting them to visit...
It also happened to be our second child's birthday... making the day even more special...
Universal Studios did not disappoint... amazing the attention to details...

First we visited Diagon Alley...

The minute you walk in... it is as if you have been transported into the book. On top of Gringotts Wizarding Bank is a dragon that breathes out real fire! Scared my youngest to death... but the older kids loved it.
Ollivander's Wand Shop was as I imagined... S got chosen to be part of the demonstration. She went through the whole wand choosing ceremony and ended up with a wand made of vine...
and interestingly, the characterization portrayed actually depicts her quite well...
Actually we let all our kids select a wand and funny enough all the descriptions of the particular type of wood selected seemed to match their personalities. 

So after that, my kids pretty much walked around Potter world wielding their wand magic and posing for my pictures.
Now to get to Hogsmeade (Islands of Adventure) from Diagon Alley (Universal Studios), we took the Hogwarts Express of course!
This was amazing... probably my favorite part of the whole Harry Potter thing... they truly thought of everything... the whole experience was super entertaining and most impressive... check this out...

So when you are on the train, you look out a "fake" window but it really looks and feels as though you are in Potter world travelling from one destination to another. Theme music is playing throughout the ride. They even simulated Ron, Harry, and Hermione passing by our cabin and pausing only to move on because... "this one is already occupied". The scenery going and coming back is different so it is definitely worth riding the train both ways.

Now once at Hogsmeade... another adventure awaits... but more on rides in a different post. Here are some snapshots...

 Hogsmeade at night...
Will only mention a few other highlights here so the post doesn't get too long...

Calling the Ministry of Magic... you actually hear a recording from them.
(LOL ...my kids had no idea how to dial a telephone and it took literally 5 minutes to explain how. I think they had to start over like ten times. "ok put your finger on the number... now turn it turn it... no don't let go yet... start over... now go all the way till you can't go anymore... then let go... ok what's the next number...")

Talking to Dre Head on the Knight Bus... truly interactive and talks to you. "creepy" my kids thought.... 

And finally... of course have to mention the delicious butterbeer!
 So... more on all this later... but for Harry Potter fans... Universal has created a magnificient fantasy world!

Friday, October 4, 2019

Habits for Healthy Brains

My 9 year old did research last spring for one of her classes and her topic fascinated me so much that I started quoting it as part of my yearly well check questions with my pediatric patients.  This was based on a Time for Kids article that can be found here.

Bottom line is this.  A study showed that kids' brains are strengthened if they meet these 3 benchmarks for health.

  1. Sleep 9 to 11 hours at night
  2. Exercise at least 60 minutes a day
  3. Spend less than 2 hours of recreational screen time a day

This study was based on 4,500 children in the US between the ages of 8 and 11. So these kids were tested on attention, language skills, planning and mental processing. Kids who scored the highest met all 3 benchmarks. Interestingly, only 5% met all 3 benchmarks while nearly 30% met none!

Just out of curiosity, I had my kids chart their habits in these 3 areas for about a week this past summer. For the most part, they did pretty well but it took intentional effort.

Now especially as the school work and activities start piling up, we need to be very intentional about the sleep and exercise part. I don't think we have much time for the recreational screen time. That is much harder in the summer or on days off.

Happy Fall, everyone!


September came and went.  Whew! It has been a whirlwind with lots of moving parts..  settling into new classrooms... attending Back to School Nights...  coordinating sport schedules with practices and games... but to throw a twist to it all... my youngest fractures his elbow!

So how did it happen?  His words... "I was goofing around on this climbing thing at the playground and by accident I let go of both hands."  First broken anything among our four kids and not surprised it would land on our youngest. Although his right arm is in a long cast, this boy is still hopping around and as mischievous as ever!

on broken bones...

Usual cause

  • fall or trauma 

Usual symptoms

  • pain, swelling, decreased mobility and/or weight bearing

Usual care

  • immobilizing with splint and taking anti-inflammatories (motrin, advil, ibuprofen, aleve) until casting
  • likely will need x-ray and referral to ortho
  • if displaced may need OR for setting
  • likely will need physical therapy after cast removal

It is always a good idea to get checked out sooner than later.

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Back to School!

So this year is significant... my oldest is entering middle school and my youngest kindergarten! What's the difference between entering middle school vs kindergarten?  Here are a few of my observations...

Night before...

my kindergartener... 
excited, bouncy, little nervous... 
hugs n kisses to bed... 
wanted to know if he could bring his pokemon cards to school...
would he get lost and ride the wrong bus?

my middle schooler...
excited, bouncy, little nervous... 
hugs n kisses to bed...
wanted to know if all her "stuff" will fit in her locker...
would she get lost and be late for class?

At the bus stop...

my kindergartener...
excited, bouncy...
goofing around with his older brother...
giggling... all smiles...

my middle schooler...
excited, nervous...
casual conversations with other kids at stop...
reserved... thoughtful... hint of a smile...

Back from first day...

my kindergartner...
beaming, feeling excited and bouncy...
rattling off various aspects of his day...

my middleschooler...
beaming, feeling relieved and confident...
organizing her binders for the next day...

really not too different...
but o how time flies...
not too long ago my middleschooler was the kindergartner...
scary to think that soon she'll be off...

so trying to treasure these times...
to not get caught up in the busy...
not get hyper focused on the details...
but creating intentional moments 
to laugh, hug, kisss...
intentional efforts
to cherish, cultivate, love...

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