Posts Tagged ‘Illness’


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.

Flu Update: Tuesday Afternoon, April 28

April 28, 2009

Junkfood Science has a good article about A/H1N1 – it is worth reading. But it was written late yesterday. Since then, the situation has changed:  There are 2 possible deaths from Flu being reported in Los Angeles. The Effect Measure blog still believes that we should exercise caution but not panic. Depending on the incubation period of this version of the flu, we may not have hit the high water mark yet. Here’s the CDC’s Information page, CDC’s Question and Answer page, and a page for Emergency Room Physicians.

I feel that the deaths, if true, were inevitable – about 36,000 Americans die from the flu each year. What we need to do is keep a close eye on the California deaths: Flu usually the young, the elderly, and those with a compromised immune system. We’ll learn a lot as more facts come to light.

Keepin’ the Beat!

October 3, 2008

It’s the 50th birthday of the Implantable Pacemaker! Check out the first one produced by Medtronic – scroll down to see how big it really was – and read the obituary of the first man to receive an implantable pacemaker. (Thankfully, more than 40 years passed between that first pacemaker and the obituary!)

What if there was a new MRI-type Imaging System that could be built with electronics that you can buy almost anywhere? There is! (And take a look at the quality of images it can produce!)

Well, this isn’t good. Be sure to warn your doctor if you have a family history of stroke.

“That blood vessel is too small for a stent.” Not any more.

Pfizer’s throwing in the towel.

Panasonic has a new computerized handheld tablet for hospital use, used for updating medical records. It’s based on the Panasonic Toughbook. Despite the new tablet, Electronic Medical Records still have a long way to go. Kevin is not a fan; and it makes one of his fellow doctors shout “I want my paper records back!”

Where you live does matter when you are seriously ill! Go here for the full report and a national map. More charts are available at the bottom of the page.

A new Stem Cell Therapy is entering the trial phase. Non-controversial, too, as the stem cells are taken from the patient’s thigh. I’m keeping an eye on this one!

Remember how the ACHA was campaigning for the Social Security policy team to allow adults to submit Pulse Oximeter readings rather than Arterial Blood Gas test results? Here’s why.