Posts Tagged ‘Cold’


November 3, 2010

Doctor: “What’s wrong with you?”  Patient: “Flu.”  Doctor: “Looks like you crashed!” – Old Joke

Ready for Cold and Flu Season?

Colds and Flu can be rough on someone living with a Congenital Heart Defect. We tend to heal slower than others, and with our less than perfect Circulatory Systems, chest colds can be a nightmare. Whenever I catch a cold, it’s usually going to hit me harder than the next guy. The same cold that will keep him in the bed for a day could keep me in the bed for several days. That is, if I can lie down. It is liable to clog me up to the point that when I lie down, I feel as if I am drowning. Often I wind up sleeping upright in the big recliner in the living room, tucked under a blanket.

Heart parents today have a yearly debate, trying to decide how to care for their child during the winter months. Some parents just bundle them up tighter than usual, others decide that the best thing to do is to go into lockdown, rarely coming out during the winter months. My parents were of the “bundle him up” group. Not because of any instructions from my Cardiologists, but rather the lack of instructions. I was born in 1966 and most of my childhood that I can remember occurred during the 1970’s. The ’70’s were “back then” as far as Congenital Cardiology was concerned – no Pediatric Cardiologist had a good answer for most of my parent’s questions because there weren’t that many Cardiac Kids around. The usual answer was “I don’t know!” or something close to it.

I had a Cardiologist who wasn’t much on the bedside manner – a visit to his office was almost like playing hockey and continually being slammed into the walls – but he was pretty smart. He told my parents that “If you want him to be a normal child, you have to treat him as close to normal as possible.” So my folks just let me go – with limits. During winter I had on so many clothes I felt like a turtle; if I fell over there was no way I could get up. I’d just lie there and roll around on the ground. If someone at church was sick I had better not sit near them, or move as soon as I realized that they were ill. I missed a few services over the years when several people had colds, and even missed a few days of school for the same reason (which highly irritated one teacher!) But I muddled through. I caught the occasional cold and suffered through it, but that is a normal part of childhood.

I can’t say this is what you should do, only your Cardiologist can advise you on what to do during Cold and Flu Season. And be sure to ask your Cardiologist – your Primary Care doctor will have good advice, but you have a heart defect. Ask the doctor who specializes in hearts, he or she will have a better answer.

Most of the time – not always – the Flu Vaccine will be recommended for us. If you are in doubt, again – ask your Cardiologist. As a general rule we’re told to get “dead virus” vaccinations. At the current time vaccinations in the United States can be either “dead virus” or “live virus”. Live virus vaccinations have actual, living virus cells in them – they are weakened, but they are living. With a dead virus vaccination the virus has been deactivated. Even deactivated, the body still realizes that a case of the Flu is present and starts building antibodies to stop it. As far as I know, only the FluMist vaccination is a live virus formula.  Be certain to inform the person giving the vaccine that you have a chronic health condition and need the dead virus formula.

While you should always be cautious, you should never be scared to live your life!

What do you do with a sick kid?

March 8, 2010

Zeb Update: There has been a jailbreak! It is my understanding that Zeb was last seen running down the hall clutching his discharge papers, with half a dozen doctors and nurses (and a few billing clerks!) in hot pursuit!

Actually Zeb was released late in the day, and since he lives about four hours from the hospital, he and his parents are staying in a local hotel overnight. They will head for home in the morning.

And now onto tonight’s post:

I had just shook my pastor’s hand yesterday morning when someone asked him where his wife was.

“She’s at home,” he said. “The kids have a bug.”

Bug? I thought. Ut-oh!

As I read the web pages of other families fighting heart defects, I can’t help but notice their strategies for avoiding illness: A good number of families almost went on full lockdown this winter. Perhaps that tactic has been in reaction to the H1N1 Flu that has been prevalent this year, or perhaps it is a yearly strategy.

One thing a Cardiac Kid doesn’t need is a cold or the flu, but I didn’t take any unusual precautions when I was growing up. Of course I followed my parents rules about not hanging around with people who were obviously ill, and I remember missing the occasional church service or high school basketball game because there was something going around.

I’m not saying that I’m right and everyone else is wrong – Knowledge about Heart Defects has really grown since I was a child; back then most of our questions was answered with the phrase “I don’t know.” And since no one knew, it seemed that the best thing to do was to carry on as usual – until something changed. (We did take my doctor’s advice, after my second operation in 1977 I didn’t leave the house for at least a month. And I am told that after my 1967 operation it was quite a while before my parents took me to church – and as soon as the Pastor said the final “Amen!” Momma picked me up and sprinted for the car!)

We weren’t following the rulebook because there really wasn’t a rulebook to follow. One of the funnier moments occurred when my dad asked a cardiologist what over the counter cold remedies I could take that would not affect my medication. “Kleenex,” the doctor replied.)

I’ve been lucky, I somehow manage to avoid most winter illnesses, or else have a “mild” case of it. I may have a mild case but it really does a number on my system if I catch it! The best thing to do then is just STOP – it’s going to run its course, so I try not to get in the way. I get my doctor approved Kleenex, settle down on the couch, and start looking for good movies on the TV.

Am I healthier today because I was out and about and have developed a little immunity to the various coughs and colds that go around? Or is keeping your Cardiac Kid on a tight rein during the winter the right idea? I don’t know, and I don’t think we’ll ever know. This is probably a time when the best thing to do is to trust your doctor and your parental instincts.

It’s never as bad as you think

January 19, 2009

Even though you may think the roof is falling in on you, someone, somewhere is having a worse day than you are. I already knew this, but the lesson was shoved in my face when I forgot for a moment. I was at church, limping across the parking lot when a friend pulled in and parked his car.

“How you doing this morning?” he asked me. Well, I opened a fresh bottle of whine and told him all my problems. My hernia was bothering me, bugging me to the point that I was limping. It was cold. I was shivering. This, that, and the other thing. I’m sure I even mentioned that I was ugly and my momma dressed me funny. He was sympathetic, but obviously he had no magic potion to make everything right, so he told me that he would keep me in his prayers.

About an hour later he had a seizure during the Worship Service. He probably weighs 180 pounds, at most, and it took five strong men to hold him down so he wouldn’t hurt himself.

And here I had been, just yammering away as if I were the only person in the world who had ever been sick. Needless to say, my attitude was adjusted quickly.

Got the Blues!

January 5, 2009

I hate days like this!

I’ve got a bad case of the Mid-winter Blues… so bad, I think I could sit down and put together a good bluesy song in just a few minutes. It’s not hard – just tap your foot as you sing, and after every line take your harmonica and play Whaaw-Whawwww-a-Wha! B.B. King would be proud of that song!

I’m cold… the weather isn’t really that cold, but I am. It’s dark when my feet hit the floor, and it gets dark so early, it almost feels as if it’s night 24/7. Throw in some lousy weather lately, and it feels like the day is 40 hours long! This time of year tends to make me a bit snarly!

Don’t worry about looking up the word “snarly”, it doesn’t exist. It’s my own invention, when I am snarly I am in a foul mood, and I snarl at people if I don’t take a deep breath and think about what I’m about to say.

On the good side of things, my new Under Armour ColdGear shirt is working out pretty well, but I’m not wearing it today. I’ve been wearing it most of the time all week, and the Funky Heart’s shirt was beginning to smell a little funky itself. So it’s in the wash. The shirt can’t make you warm, but if you are warm before you go outside – or you have on a nice thick shirt above it – it will trap your body heat and keep your warm. I’ve become a fan!

And to make me even more snarly, my weight is creeping up. Christmas was a little too much fun around here, I hate to say. So I’ve got to buckle down and get back to walking. Which means getting out in the cold, and shivering, and getting snarly.

But I gotta. After all, my heart is functioning on a pacemaker, bubble gum, Elmer’s Glue, prayer, and a good dose of stubbornness. Anything I can do now to take care of myself pays off later.

Do you walk? Run? Work out at the local gym? Are you like me, when it’s disagreeable outside, do you have to talk yourself into your exercises? Heart Healthy or not, we’ve got to keep at it, my friend. Your body will hate you for a while when you begin a new routine… and hate you even more if you let yourself get behind.

So get off the couch and join me on my walk. I promise not to get snarly with you!


December 29, 2008

As usual, I’m cold!

Forget the fact that it’s 60 degrees outside, I’m still cold. That’s a verb I can conjugate pretty easily: I am cold, I have been cold, I will continue to be cold… It happens because of my Cyanosis, I know. Add in the fact that I’m on a bloodthinner, and that just makes it worse.

There’s a lady at my church who came in one cold Sunday morning and decided to have a little fun by touching my cheek. I just smiled and touched her cheek! She jumped back about three feet and hasn’t tried that trick again!

Strong One, who blogs over at My Strong Medicine,  also has problems with hot/cold temperature extremes. He’s not cyanotic; some of the areas he works in are intentionally kept warmer (or cooler) than normal. The rapid temperature exchange bothered him, too, until a co-worker gave him the answer. Now he’s the Strong One who Doesn’t get too Cold or Hot.

I’ve got to go to town tomorrow to run some errands, and I intend to try his solution. Hopefully in a few days I’ll be able to give you a update and tell you if it is worth your time and money. UA is a bit more expensive, but Strong One says this is a good example of getting what you pay for.

Hopefully I won’t be walking around screaming “I must protect this house!” at the top of my lungs.