Monday, May 10, 2021

Being a Mom

This is a day late but... Happy Mother's Day to all you moms out there. I want to give a special shout-out to my mom (who I still call "mommy"). Words cannot describe the deep gratitude and love I feel... no list would do justice to all the things that I'm thankful for.


Below is a picture of the cover of a scrapbook that my kids have been drawing in since 2014 (thanks I believe to my sister who gave the idea to my husband)... on top is my gift this year... has each of the kids' names engraved on one of those rings. I received something similar in the past but unfortunately lost some of the little trinkets... so this is great. It reminds me what a blessing and privilege God's given me to help guide these little hearts... but not so little anymore... So every day I pray for wisdom and grace. I am humbled all the time at how far I fall short... at the same time, I am reminded to not measure with my own standards... 


To be honest, being a mother is the hardest thing I've ever had to do... SATs, MCATs, residency, boards...q3 call in the ICU... they do not even come close! Though challenging... and may sound cliche, I would not trade it for the world and am truly grateful for this honor to be called "mom"...

So as a side note, I find it fascinating that the word "mama" (meaning mother) is so similar in many different languages. For example, in Chinese, you would say "ma" or "mama" when you address your mother. It is pretty much the same in Taiwanese except the tonation is slightly different. In Korean, you'd say "o-ma"...


What do you all call your moms? Mother? Mom? Ma?  Who else out there calls her, "mommy" like I do? 😅

Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Covid Vaccine Common Questions

Happy Spring! Sure has been a while... but I've been getting a lot of questions about the Covid19 vaccine lately, so I will try to put together some basic information. Please refer to the cdc website for more details.

First, here is a table summarizing the three vaccines that have been available in the US:


What are the possible side effects?
In the arm where you got the shot...
  • pain
  • redness
  • swelling
Throughout the rest of your body...
  • tiredness
  • headache
  • muscle aches
  • fever/chills
  • nausea
Can you get Covid from the Covid vaccine?
No. There is no live virus in the vaccines. The symptoms you get is your body getting antibodies ready to attack a simulation so that when the real deal comes, it can conquer it. That's the whole point. The symptoms are usually mild to moderate and will go away in 48 hours.

What about the J&J vaccine and blood clots?
So on April 13, the CDC and FDA have recommended a pause in the use of the J&J vaccine. There were 6 reported cases of developing a rare and severe blood clot after getting the vaccine. 6.8 million people have already been vaccinated with the J&J vaccine, so 6 out of 6.8 million is extremely rare. Experts are still investigating the cause of the blood clots and there may be underlying conditions that predisposed those folks who developed that reaction. A second meeting about all this is scheduled for April 23, so stay tuned... 

Contact your physician if between days 6 and 13 post-vaccination you develop:
  • headaches
  • leg pain
  • abdominal pain 
  • shortness of breath
Is it still recommended to get a Covid19 vaccine?
Yes. You can review your personal case with your doctor, but in general, the benefits of protection from Covid19 with these vaccines outweigh any potential side effects that may occur.

What about the timing of getting the vaccine?
So here are a few scenarios where one should wait...
  • If test positive for Covid, you should wait until all symptoms resolve and meet the criteria for discontinuing isolation. 
  • If treated with convalescent plasma or monoclonal antibodies for Covid, then you need to wait 90 days before getting the vaccine.
  • If you got any other vaccines recently, then you should wait 2 weeks before getting the Covid vaccine
What are the benefits of the vaccine?
  • Helps prevent severe infection from Covid19
  • Helps prevent hospitalization from Covid19
  • Helps prevent death from Covid19
  • Helps prevent the spread of Covid19 in asymptomatic people
The bottom line is that vaccines are key to stopping pandemics.

How can we get back to "normal life" sooner?
  • get vaccinated (as long as not contraindicated)
  • wear masks (though vaccinated folks can now potentially unmask indoors with other vaccinated folks)
  • social distance with those who don't live with you (6 ft apart and avoid crowds)
  • wash hands (should always be doing this anyway)
For more specific questions and details, you can check out the cdc website above or discuss with your physician.

So on another note... my family just came back from a little getaway up to the Finger Lakes. My husband and I had visited this area the second year after we got married. Funny, how traveling with four kids changes the ambiance of the trip!

from 2003...

quiet, serene, relaxed... gentle ripples of a lake...

now in 2021

not so quiet, energetic, adventurous... rushing rapids of a waterfall...

Thursday, January 28, 2021

My Google Classroom

So I had a total lightbulb moment last week and I'm so excited about it that I have to share! Honestly, it has been really frustrating for me to not be able to stay organized and on top of all the things that my four kids are doing... whether it be school, music, sports, household stuff etc! I've tried printing out excel sheets... I've tried a huge dry erase board sectioned off for each of the four kids.... I've tried putting everything in google calendar and using notifications. I tried setting reminders on Alexa. None of it worked super well or lasted long... but I think I found a solution!

For a while now, my kids have been doing this virtual school thing and they have become very familiar with google classroom. A couple of months into distance learning last spring, my oldest created her own google classroom for her siblings and cousins. Not long after that, my youngest also started his own google classroom. I really did not pay much attention to any of this but would hear about it from my sister from time to time about how my seven year old was giving tests etc. We just thought it was cute and funny. Then just last week, it dawned on me... I can create a google classroom!  Those who know me know I love excel files and lists... well, this google classroom thing is a total game-changer for how I'm managing this household!


These are some of the ways I've been using my classroom...

  • Linking a daily devotional for them to read, reflect, and respond... the classroom allows group comments so all can share or private comments to me where I can respond back. This really has been awesome!  It was too hard before to do devotions every night with each child separately but now they can read it in their time, respond to me and I can write a thoughtful response back.
  • Putting in daily tasks for them to "mark done" instead of feeling like a broken record asking them over and over again and then forgetting what their answer was after I asked them... so things like putting away laundry, getting outside for exercise, twenty minutes of reading, etc.
  • Attaching links to websites tailored to each kid from their different extracurricular activities (like chess.com or MIT scratch)
  • Attaching a link to the Compassion children we sponsor. Now my kids can read and learn more about them as well as make google docs and submit them back to me so I can send it out. I was the one doing all the correspondence before
  • Attaching links to each others school projects etc. so they can see each other's creative works. Since school turned hybrid this fall, my kids have had plenty of projects that involve using a flipgrid to tape STEM projects they've built or video editing project reports for social studies. In the past, I'd open up my laptop and play the videos for everyone while they were all eating but it would be sporadic and often interrupted... now they can watch when they have a moment and even comment something encouraging to one another
There is more but I will not list them all. Just one more thing...
These are pictures taken from my kid's bathroom this morning when I walked in there.
this so bothers me...

is this so hard to do?  took me 5 seconds...

So this is what I posted today:
Just saying...

So that is my exciting news.  Oh... AND I got my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine!

Monday, January 4, 2021

Good Bye 2020 and Hello 2021! Hope with the Covid Vaccine...

So 2020 is now behind us... may 2021 be a better year.

Despite the challenges and many difficulties and disappointments that may come to mind when I think of the past year, I have to say that the blessing for me was time to just "be still".  I have the first part of Psalm 46:10 on my bathroom wall:

"Be still and know that I am God"

This past year, I really was forced to be still... at least physically still. I'm still working on how to be mentally still. Here are a few images that come to mind when I reflect back...


puzzles... and more puzzles...

virtual playdates...

kids learned to cook...

drive-by celebrations...

My family also had a chance to make some music together. Here are a few clips for your entertainment...








So what images will 2021 bring? Hoping with the Covid vaccine, we will be able to return to more in-person gatherings sooner than later. So my thoughts on the vaccine?  Without going into too many details about the how and why... I'll answer three main questions here that I am getting asked a lot.

Do I think the vaccine is safe to get? Yes

Do I plan to get the vaccine?  Yes

Do I recommend my family and patients to get the vaccine if they have no contraindications? Yes

Happy New Year, everyone!

Monday, December 14, 2020

Should I Get a Covid-19 Antibody Test?

So another super common question that our patients ask is whether or not to get a Covid-19 antibody test. My thoughts...

Well, first have to explore the reasons behind the testing.

If you are a confirmed positive Covid patient who has recovered and you hope to donate plasma, then you can consider the test. However, the quality of the test varies.  You can see here FDA's updated list of different tests being offered by different companies and how their performance varies. You would have to check what is being offered in your area.

If you are a confirmed positive Covid patient and hope to have antibodies so you don't get sick again, you may want to reconsider whether or not you really want this test.  First of all, the test may not be accurate and your result may be either:
  • false-positive - tells you you have antibodies but really you don't, so you'd have a false sense of security
  • false-negative - tells you you do not have antibodies but really you do
However, even if you do have a true positive antibody to Covid-19, there is not enough evidence to guarantee that you will not get re-infected. So from a practical point of view, regardless of the results, you still have to practice all the same social distancing guidelines as anyone else.

If you are not a confirmed positive Covid patient but think you had it, the same rules above apply.

I get it that a lot of people want to know if that terrible cold they had back in January or last November could have been Covid.  In fact, I want to know myself! However, I am personally waiting for more evidence to come out and for a more accurate test to be available in my area.  Based on the limited data I've seen so far from the antibody testing that our office has ordered, I do not have much confidence in the accuracy or value of that particular test. Plus, since it does not change the management of care or the advice we give, I find little use for it.

As always, contact your physician for a more in-depth discussion. You can find out more about antibody testing in your area and whether or not you are a candidate for it.

So what is the best way to prevent getting sick?
  • practice social distancing (mask and 6 feet apart!)
  • wash your hands frequently (avoid touching your face)
  • get adequate sleep (sleep sleep sleep!)
  • eat healthy (vegetables!)
  • exercise (even if just 15min a day!)
  • decrease stress (carve time for yourself daily)
Stay safe, everyone! It's beginning to look a lot like...

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

How Long To Quarantine? When to Covid test? It's Thanksgiving!

So I'm sure everybody is reading about the recent spike in Covid cases. From my experience, it truly just hit that second weekend in November when I was "the doc on-call" and it has been a domino effect ever since. Calls started to come in from patients requesting testing as well as from the lab reporting positives back to me.

Back in the summer, we may get requests for Covid tests because folks were traveling and needed a negative result so they can enter another state or fly to some exotic island getaway. Few scattered calls came during August and September when college students went back to campus and we saw a small spike in that age group then. However, about a week after Halloween and Election Day, requests for covid testing due to positive contact or symptoms started to pour in. What's more, a lot of these tests are coming back positive.

So the big question everyone asks is, "How long do I need to quarantine?" Especially with the holidays around the corner, everyone is trying to decide what to do about family gatherings and travel. I will attempt to summarize it here as I feel like I'm having this conversation multiple times a day and every single day for the last 3 weeks. However, there are two things to note:

1)  guidelines change constantly and the CDC is actually in the process of officially decreasing the length of quarantine after positive exposure

2)  everybody's health and situation is different, so definitely consult with your physician for individual guidance.

--

Symptoms of Covid can include all or only some of the following... but the first three symptoms seem to be consistent with most of my patients who end up with positive results. Fever, cough, and shortness of breath only in the more severe cases but I haven't been seeing those symptoms in the younger folks as much.

  • sore throat
  • headache
  • congestion
  • body aches
  • fever / chills
  • cough
  • loss of smell
  • GI symptoms (diarrhea etc)
If you have symptoms or just don't feel good -> self-quarantine for 10 days starting from the first day of symptoms REGARDLESS of a positive or negative covid swab.

If you do not have symptoms but you were in close contact (unmasked and less than 6 ft apart) with a confirmed positive -> self-quarantine for 14 days starting from the first day of the last contact REGARDLESS of a positive or negative covid swab

Why regardless of results you might ask?  It is because there is a possibility for a false negative test or you just tested too early. There is a 14-day window from exposure to symptoms and during that period, even if you have no symptoms, you are potentially contagious. In fact, most folks who are getting tested because they were around someone else who now tested positive will tell you that the person who tested positive was not having symptoms at the time they were together.

CDC is considering shortening the 14 days to 10 days because it is hard for folks who feel well to stay quarantined, so they are hoping for more compliance if the time is shortened. Stay tuned.

Now if you insist on testing for covid then timing is important.

If you have symptoms ->  test on day 3 or 4 of symptoms

If you do not have symptoms ->  test around day 7 from the last day of close contact with a confirmed positive covid case

If you did not have close contact with a confirmed positive covid case and...
  • yes symptoms ->  test on day 3 or 4 of symptoms
  • no symptoms -> chances are your test will be negative and hard to interpret if by chance it is positive then quarantine 10 days from day of positive covid swab
--
So for details and more specific counseling, you should seek out your physician.

Happy Holidays everyone! Stay safe and smart. Despite the crazy year... can you think of things to be thankful for?


Monday, September 7, 2020

Back to School in the Midst of Covid

Happy Labor Day!

Today is the day before our school year begins. As both a mom and a physician, I've been pondering a lot about the challenging endeavor to best educate the kids this fall. There are many blogs and articles about this out there so I don't want to rehash everything, but the main questions being asked include...

  • Is it important for children's mental health to interact in person with peers? yes
  • Is it important to prevent the spread of Covid19 to protect the health of teachers and family members who may be more at risk?  yes
  • Is it important to provide the resources for all children to have access to learning? yes
  • Is it important to be sensitive to one another's fears and feelings and to be respectful, forgiving, and gracious? yes

The bottom line is that the rate of infection varies from state to state and even region to region here in the United States. Therefore, the decisions of how to do school are being made by local government and educators taking into account those basic questions and I'm sure many more. 

In our particular region, the numbers are currently low. Although we want to do everything to prevent those numbers from spiking back up to where they were in the spring, we also want to balance the benefits that would come from in-person learning to students and families. As a sort of compromise, our district is offering a choice for families to pick either 100% virtual learning or a hybrid model where two of the five days would be in person with social distancing measures in place. Again, not to rehash what all those measures are and the reasonings for them... I do want to give credit for the decision-makers because this is no easy task. No matter the final decision, there is sure to be those unhappy with the outcome.

We are promised that the model for virtual learning this fall will look different than it did in the spring. Well, we shall see.

So whether a family is choosing to go with the public school system with 100% virtual vs hybrid model or 100% in-person at a private school or 100% home school...  "Happy Back to School"!