Saturday, August 9, 2008

Guest post: bettering the world

I usually just live my life with my own thoughts and ideals - without really expending any energy to convince anyone else that one way or another is better. I guess I'm used to seeing others do something "wrong" - and I can just think I'm better than them, without worrying about changing them. But I'm starting to think more like a leader: if I want to live in the world I want to live in, or if I'm going to make it a better world, then I need to spread what I believe in and convince others to adopt my ways. Leading by example is good, but better if you're public about it, and try to raise awareness and convince others to see the light. That's how you can impact the world better, and hopefully make it a better place. -JS

Random goals

Here are some things I'd like to get to at some point. Maybe writing them down here will begin some kind of commitment because I surely need some momentum:

1. Clean out the loads of clutter and unpack boxes.
2. Write a book (what will it be about?!)
3. Make the baby books (I'm such a bad mom!)
4. Figure out how to decorate and furnish the rest of my house.
5. Run a marathon before I'm 40.
6. Organize and clean out the 15,000 photos I have of my children.
7. Reduce or eliminate the consumption of animal products, especially meat.

Poison ivy virgin

I've never gotten poison ivy my whole life (and I didn't know anyone who got it growing up). Am I somehow not allergic (are Asians lactose intolerant and poison ivy resistant - does that go like ham and eggs?) or have I lived a really sheltered life?

Guest post from the Poison Ivy patient

On Sunday, when I was doing some weeding next to the house, I saw these long vines, woody stems around 1/3" thick, and maybe 6' long. They had clusters of 3 leaves on them, but the leaves weren't shiny or reddish or darkish, as I thought they would normally look if I should be afraid of them. I knew poison ivy comes in clusters of 3 leaves, but I didn't really think these otherwise benign looking weeds would cause much problem. I tried to pull them out fairly casually to start with just by grabbing and pulling at the vines, but without a great grip on them, I just stripped all the leaves off of them into my hand as I pulled. That didn't work very well; so I proceeded to wrap the vines around my hands to get a good grip on them, and then tried to pull them out - hopefully by the roots. Carrying the crushed leaves, and pieces of vines to the compost pile, along with a pile of other weeds, I started to think that I might be in trouble. I casually washed off my legs and arms with the hose just in case, but as it turns out, I had gotten much of my body in contact with the poison, and even after the hose washing, I was going to have problems.

Oddly, I broke out in an immediate surface skin rash on my arms, but I think/thought this was my allergic response to tomato plant leaves. That's what caused me to take a more thorough shower at that point. And as it turned out, that rash DID go away in an hour or two.

I knew the poison could incubate for a day or two, so nervous as I was, by Tuesday night, I thought I was in the clear.

Then on Wednesday, I started itching a little bit: I tried applying some hydrocortisone, which I didn't think helped very much - maybe it did. I was suspicious, but not convinced that I was f*cked yet. Wednesday night was worse, and then by Thursday morning, I had rashes forming on my neck, part of my face and my arms, and I recognized it as poison ivy, and realized I was going to suffer. I bought some Calydryl, which seemed to help temporarily - maybe for 10 minutes or so per application ... but I knew I wasn't in great shape. After doing some research at work, I read that it generally would last for 1-3 weeks - and I didn't like the sound of that. But I remember when I was a kid having poison ivy really bad - to the point that I could easily cry, and we'd just put calamine lotion on it and deal with it. So I figured this would be dealt with in a similar way. Who'd a thought there are better ways to deal with it that no one in my family would have known about when I was young?

Thursday night was miserable - no sleep even after taking a Tylenol PM (granted it expired in 2001, but I don't think that's especially relevant), and applying the Caladryl (CVS generic) often and liberally (2-3 drops at a time). Friday I went into work, only intending to stay an hour or two - because I knew I was in bad shape. As it turns out, my coworker recommended a scrub that is actually supposed to surround and suck out the urushiol, the toxin responsible for the reaction. Zanfel is the only product claiming to do this, and the reviews were very good. However, whereas Calydryl cost around $1 per ounce, this cost $40, and Duane Reade had no generic! (I later learned that CVS does, for less than $18 per ounce). I cared enough to buy it, which goes a ways to showing how miserable I was - went home and started using it.

Zanfel is an exfoliator (and spermicide and acne medicine - or at least its ingredients include those chemicals), and when rubbed on the affected areas, you become like a maddenned dog scratching more and more vigorously until your muscles are sore from the effort, and your skin is reddened from it too. But it seems to have started working almost immediately. Still, it is difficult for it to penetrate thicker skin (like my hands, which were still getting progressively worse), and it was Friday afternoon, and I was afraid the symptoms might continue to get worse, and then I wouldn't be able to see a doctor until Monday, so I agreed to go when my wife got me a walk-in appointment at the dermatologist. They gave me a shot of cortocortisol (I think), that was supposed to have the same effect as a 14 day declining dose of the steroid Prednisone.

Well, it's Saturday morning, and I look and feel way better. I've been using the Zanfel (and bought a back-up tube of the CVS generic for next time, or for friends and family who get into ivy trouble), and I also bought Technu, which will wash off the urushiol next time I think I may have exposure. I also bought this more topical gel that used to be called Rhuli gel (that is made by band-aid now as anti-itch gel) with camphor (which also appears to be working a little), and I have extras of that for friends and family too.

I don't know necessarily how much benefit I've been getting from the shot, and how much from the Zanfel, but the lesions are retreating, and the itching is much much better, and I only started both these treatments about 24 hours ago. I can function again, and by Monday, I think the healing will be nearly complete.

I have to say a couple things: all the reviews, and even personal testimonial from friends about the shot or prednisone have been impressive, but not strong enough to make me go. Well for anyone who wonders, or if this happens again: Go to the doctor and get the shot - the downside is maybe $35 and an hour going to the doctor, but it works, and I don't see any side effects, and I would absolutely go back if I could do this again. No one was strong enough in saying that to me who had personal experience with it ... just get the shot - it's so worth it (especially considering I spent $40 on 1 ounce of the Zenfel). I would also say that I recommend using the generic Zenfel, in addition to other topical sprays/gels (calydryl and that camphor spray both decent enough for minor applications).

Who'd a thought you didn't have to suffer for at least a week being miserable from the severe itching? The medecines really helped - I didn't know or think they would. I'm very pleasantly surprised ... and I'm happy to tell anyone else who wants to know how to beat the itch. Supposedly this works for poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac too. Medicate! (I feel like this is how the rich do it!) And have a nice day.

-JS

Addendum: note that poison ivy is not contagious either to other parts of your own skin, or to other people, even if it were leaking liquid.

Friday, August 8, 2008

I know best

I've been nagging my husband to see a doctor for his poison ivy. Finally today, I made an emergency appointment for him with my dermatologist and forced him to go. They gave him a shot (I won't tell you where) and he is already feeling better.

Poor Josh

I feel bad for my husband because he got a nasty case of poison ivy. But he's also hard to give some sympathy to because he's been so moody. If I breathe or talk the wrong way, he growls at me. It's been so easy to detonate his temper.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Need contents of wallet: yours

I signed up to run the 5K race to support finding a cure for breast cancer (the Susan G Komen, "Race for the Cure" in Central Park on 9/14/08).

Click here to give me some support by way of parting with some dough.
Thank you and have a nice day.

BTW, I will be running with my husband and I've decided to run it at a leisurely pace since I'm lazy and undisciplined when it comes to speed. The race would be more my style if it was longer, and all uphill. For some reason, I seem to perform better within a bootcamp construct vs. a flat and short race.

One for each of us

Last week, I did a run of about 4-5 miles with my bionic sister in law and husband. It was especially gratifying because I smoked my husband. He was really hurtin' while I was shinin'. It felt so good to beat such a bastion of conceit. Granted, he was under the weather and had nothing to eat (whereas I downed a bagel and orange juice before "competing") but I'm happy to gloat over the win.

A few days later, we went for another run and he really kicked my butt. He said, let's start sprinting; from the moment he said it, I knew I was done...I'm much better at endurance. Anyway, I watched him in awe. He didn't even look human anymore, the way he moved his arms. They were flitting so fast, like hummingbird wings - amazing!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Sadie's birthday party


This morning, we had a birthday party for Sadie at preschool. She really enjoyed licking off all the pink frosting and wearing the birthday crown. Dazee, meanwhile enjoyed sucking her chocolate thumb.

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Elements of the birthday party

Goody bags that I made - and one for the birthday girl too.
Cupcakes that Josh and I baked. I did a horrible job with the frosting.

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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Am I a hater?

I saw this excerpt with respect to Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt's new twins:

"Fortunately, they already have some household helpers. '[Shiloh] and Z pick out [the twins'] clothes and help change and hold them,' says Jolie. 'It's sweet -- they are little mommies.' "

I think this must be pure bullshit. Most 2 and 3 year olds that I know enjoy clobbering little ones. I can't imagine that they help with child rearing at all. If they truly are making contributions in childcare duties, she should be sued for violating child labor laws.

A tip and a question

Even though I've only been using the sonicare for a week (10 years later than everyone else, it seems), I already have a tip. Before I turn it on, I apply toothpaste to the 4 quadrants of my mouth for even distribution.

I've been really eager to clean all parts of my mouth. Am I going too deep? I'm experiencing a gag reflex when I try to get to all the back teeth.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Sadie and me

With a giraffe in the background.

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The third dimension

Dazee has a really thick foot. Unfortunately, children's shoes manufacturers only take two measurements into consideration when sizing for feet: length and width. What about depth? It's very difficult to find shoes that will fit poor Dazee. Our neighbor next door has the same problem with her kid. I bet there is a huge unserved market for children's shoes shaped like a puff pastry.