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Thursday, September 27, 2007

Diarrhea? hmm.. Could be the Celery!

It's been another few days of whirlwind. Thankfully this time my son didn't end up in the hospital for his kidney disease. Nonetheless, his few sleepless insomnia nights were followed by our worries during daytime, and chills of fearing that he would end up in the hospital came yet again for the 5Th time in the last 2 months.

The worst part of the whole thing of the last few days, besides his insomnia, was diarrhea. There could be all sorts of reasons why he suffered from diarrhea; Reasons could be his body's natural defense system ridding of toxins and unwanted substances. Another reason, was his love for celery!

For whatever reason, my son loves celery! He could munch down legions and legions of celery! It would be heaven if he could find a restaurant that serves only celery buffet! I know he didn't get this from me because I hate celery and simply can't stand it. Celery somehow makes me feel bloated, full of acid and very uncomfortable all over. When my wife was giving birth to our son, my mother-in-law came to visit and help out around the family for about two months. I remember distinctly there was a time when she cooked us some celery with chicken that landed me on the bed bloated for a few days. I simply didn't eat for 3 days and I couldn't wait to get rid of it from my body. It was a horrible feeling and left me suffering from acid reflux throughout the whole night. My mother-in-law is a great cook but the celery simply didn't mix well with my system. Till this day, I have not told her why I stay in the bed during that period of time. She thought I was just too tired helping out at night with the baby.

On the other hand, my son craves for celery. He eats them raw or cooked! He would dip them in sauce or eat them together with meat. Celery is very high on fiber and it often acts as natural laxative. Perhaps that also help explains why he would need to go for number two during the middle of each meal! There was one time when we took him shopping at the local grocery store where he shouted out loud, "Where is my SA-lary?" that resulted in a few smirks among the other shoppers around us. Naturally I responded back to him, you are not old enough to receive a salary from daddy but you are certainly allowed to have an small allowance. Quietly later on, I would correct his pronounciation once again! Ceeelllerrry and not Salary! Well there are other things he would say at the grocery story! :P (See Patient King)

My son is finally feeling better after suffering from fever, diarrhea and stomach pain. The last time he had these symptoms, he ended in the emergency room followed by a few days in the hospital. Nowadays I realize more and more on what my parents went through with me when I was ill. I have learn to appreciate them even more. I see my son as they saw me. When I suffered they did too. For a long time, I didn't understand why my mom always had a sluggish persona. I finally fully comprehend after staying up with my son for a few nights. This is the price of being a parent and it's all worth it especially when he wakes up in the morning with a smile and says...I am hungry! I want breakfast! and I love you Daddy!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Kidney Disease and Child Insomnia..My SON??

There are many different kinds of Kidney diseases. I am not sure whether it is hereditary but the kidney disease my son has is very similar to the ailment I had when I was almost his age. Our pediatric nephrologist told us that there are no conclusive proof yet that this disease is hereditary. Our doctor even said that we are his first patient that both father and son had this similar ailment called nephrotic syndrome.

As a little boy, I was subjected to strict diets and limited activities due to risk of infection. Similarly my son is going through similar experience. He is naturally a very energetic social boy and is always curious about everything. We even nick name him "Curious George" especially when he is on full dose steroids. His cheek will round up like apples and he loves to smile with a mischievous look on his face.

Among some of the side effects from the five different kinds of medication he is taking are insomnia, suppressed immune system, mood swings and a significant increase in appetite. These are the short term side effects while long term side effects could be cancer or even further damage to the kidney. I honestly don't remember the side effect I suffered from with the exception of the mood swings and increase in appetite. I would bulk up one week and then slim down the week after. A change of 10lbs can occur within 7 days especially during the first few days of recovery, given the fact that a lot of weight gain is from water retention.

In my son's case, his church friends think that he is cute and has the ability to bulk up one week then slims down the next. It brings new meaning to "Elastic Boy!" He's like a new kid in town each week given the changes to his body. I am glad he is at least emotionally undisturbed by this condition. The side effects that does take its toll in many ways is insomnia. We notice after the last hospital stay a few weeks back, his doctor actually had to increase on one of his medication dosage and hence his insomnia becomes more apparent. He normally goes to bed around 9.30 but nowadays he won't get to bed and be really sleeping until 11.30pm or sometimes even at midnight.

He still gets up in the middle of the night sometimes several times to use the bathroom and then he wakes up at the same time in the morning which is early! Sleeping is an important part of growth and we worry that the lack of sleep would further lessen his immune system and physical growth.

A few nights ago as usual he woke up to use the bathroom. He would normally come to our room and wake one of us up to take him to the bathroom. He noticed daddy wasn't on the bed and mommy was sleeping alone. He didn't think too much about it until the morning. He woke up and started asking me why didn't you sleep with mommy last night? I didn't say much except telling him that daddy needed to sleep on the floor.

More of the story in Patient King

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Could he be the next great Oncologist? Could it be Mesothelioma?

Bet you didn't know! September is Child Cancer Awareness month. I remember back in December of 2006 where my son spent about two weeks at the ICU, we saw numerous other sick kids on the same floor. Some diagnosed with what sounded like Mesothelioma or words that ended with ..lioma. Most of their prognosis weren't good. We were one of the few blessed ones that got out. There was an elderly lady who flew in to be with her daughter and her twelve year old cancer stricken granddaughter. She looks to be in her early seventies with grey hair and seemed to be the type who played the role of everybody's grandmom. She seemed to be a strong individual who wanted to be there for her daughter. We spent a few days in lounge together since only one family member were able to stay with the patient in the room. Her granddaughter's diagnosis wasn't good. She had already slipped in to a coma and it was just a matter of time. The doctors were going to make a last attempt to operate and see whether if a miracle could happened. Ten hours passed, and they wheeled her back to her ICU room. The grand mother looked upon the doctor who operated and her daughter's face hoping to find a glimpse of hope. She tried very hard but couldn't find it on her daughter's tear-filled face. Her granddaughter began this journey when she was eight months old. They tried everything and even experimented with alternative medicine but were still in and out for Chemotherapy at the hospital the first eight years.

Eight years passed and one failed marriage later for her daughter, her granddaughter on the other hand was pronounced in remission at the age of eight. Her grandmother described her to be a young and full of life vibrant little girl. She got good grades and really helped out with mommy at home. The days passed quickly and it was Christmas Eve. I came out from my son's room and found the grandmother frantically calling the rest of the family members. She was gathering them to come to the hospital to say goodbye. It was a gut wrenching moment in which I simply didn't know how to react. I imagined being in her shoes for a moment, and my heart just sunk. I can sense the depth of the pain but yet couldn't find a word to utter. Cancer is a ruthless killer. It does not discriminate. It attacks anybody and at any age. The granddaughter lost the battle in the ICU room shortly on Christmas morning. Her room was next to my son's room. We are thankful our son does not have cancer, but the new medication he is taking does carry a risk of developing complication such as cancer down the path.

From a parent standpoint, looking forward to our son instead of being a media software mogul, a good doctor wouldn't be bad. He is very much in to his doctor's kit and brings it to help daddy fix whatever whether it's the car or the computer. He's got a strong determination to get things accomplished. We noticed that every time when we stop him from playing further on computer games. His comeback to us has always been "LET ME FINISH THIS LEVEL! PLSSSSS." If only we could channel this determination toward something else like cancer research!

Below is a clip that shows kids with cancer during this September of cancer awareness month and the clip above is a popular Asian singer. No worries about the language because it has subtitles. Read on and you will find out why this clip is here.

Enjoy the music, read the lyrics and watch the story. The clip on top is a fictional story, great song and sadly it is related to cancer as well. Watch and you will find out. Perhaps it's Mesothelioma. Asbestos is quite rampant in the Asian countries.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Could He be the Next Bill Gates Microsoft?...

Growing up in an Asian country, I had dreamt about being a doctor when I grew up. My father is a dentist; two of my uncles are dentists and so is my grandfather. Naturally I thought I would follow the footstep and go a step further into the medical field. Unlike other Asian parents, my parents actually didn't push me to become a doctor. They didn't put much pressure on my academics. I suspect it is because they didn't want to put more stress on me since I was always sick when i was a child. They wanted me to finish college, get a job, get married and live a stable quiet life. I on the other hand had very different thoughts. I loved reading about great people such as Alexander Graham Bell, Benjamin Franklin, Issac Newton, Galileo and my all time favorite Christopher Columbus. I had aspirations to do great things, a great inventor, a great writer, a politician, a lawyer and etc. My dreams were big, bold and borderline unrealistic hence it was only a dream. Sadly having grown almost half of my life already on earth, those goals remain a distant dream. Well..maybe I still have a shot at being a great writer.

I didn't grow up in the age of computers. The closest electronic box I had was playing with my neighbor's Atari console. The first computer language I learned was Basic and I was already in the United States. I believe if my readers are under the age of 30, they may not even have heard of BASIC. What a contrast it is today for my son. We are in the age of super information technology. We saw the rise of the dot.coms in the 90's where overnight millionaires became broke the next year. In this digital world, we could waste so much space by taking unlimited pictures on digital cameras, and harddrives have gone from a normal 40 gig hardrives to terabyte drives. The common catch words are Ipods, Iphones, Wii, BlackBerry, VOIP, Myspace, Facebook, MSN, Windows XP, Vista, Youtubes, Yahoo.... I just can't believe "google" is actually a dictionary word!

My son actually watches youtubes more than TV and uses MSN Messnger to communicate with his grandparents in Hong Kong instead of dialing it up the traditional way. On Youtube.com, he is able to watch Chinese programs for free. I came home the other day, my son was watching his favorite program on youtube.com, my wife was watching her favorite chinese series on another tube tech which is 56.com and I turn on the TV to watch sports. It's like having three TVs in one household.

I often thought about what my son's future and pondered what would he become when he grows up. At the age of four, he is already telling me "daddy, I want to check my email" even though he doesn't even know how to spell his name yet. He spends a lot of time on online computer games. He thinks he is working or doing homework everytime when he opens up Microsoft Excel since he sees daddy working on his Excel reports so much. He would type randomly and pretend he is doing work. We even have a name for all our computers at home as a way of personalfying them in order for him to treat them gently. We name our laptop "Lappy" and our destops "daddy desky" and "mommy desky." He is always interested when I try to fix the computers and would play the role of a tech support. The funny thing is he would always grab his doctor's kit because he thinks lappy is sick. He is also fascinated with anything that has buttons. Since he has seen us using ATM machines with the touch of buttons, he thinks any machine with buttons would spit out money when he presses one.

I am not sure what would he be when he grows up but he sure does show a great affinity toward computers and perhaps who knows, he may become the next Bill Gates and create his software empire..., but we would let nature take it's course. (mommy's comment after reading this post--"dream on Dad!")

Stay tuned for more.

Monday, September 3, 2007

Don't Poke Me Please!

I used to frequent hospitals and clinics myself when I was a little boy. I didn't go there for the pretty nurses, the free lollipops or even the free balloons. I too shared a similar past as to my son's current condition. I developed a rare form of kidney ailment in which the only way was to manage it was with potent medicines and the hope for a cure was time. No medicine and by the luck of the seventh year, if the disease does not recur then a complete healing can be pronouced. I didn't know about the seven-year rule but I am glad to find out that I actually qualified to make that pronouncement 15 years ago. Once during my teen years, I almost beat the seven year marked only to find out on the exact day of my seventh year anniversary, my kidney ailment came back. My son is currently battling a kidney disease that shares the same root as mine but is undetermined whether it will yield the same type of fruit.

Each time, I visited the hospital, it was a routine procedure. I stuck my hands out and two to three young pretty nurses would stuck a giant needle in to my veins in an attempt to draw blood. I later nicknamed these young girls as draculas since they loved my blood so much. I used to come home with my arms full of bandaids and blood bruises especially if I had to spend a few days in the hospital. I was too young to remember my very first time staying in the hospital since I was only two. I must have outgrown the anxiety of getting stuck by needles since my memory does not include screaming, struggling and yelling when they stuck me with needles. My memory seems to only date back to the three young draculas but then why would there be three of them instead of just one since it does not take three to stick a needle in to my arm. I guess I altered a little of my memory, the other two nurses had to hold me down or somehow distract me with lollipops or balloons.

My son just came out from the hospital last week in which he spent 5 days recovering. He had another episode and this marked the fourth hospitalization in the last two months. This is a frustrating disease that sometimes make you think you are on track to recovery but out of nowhere it ambushes you like a terrorist. My son came home with poke marks all over his arms just like mine. Each mark was a battle and each battle he fought hard. I sympathesize with him and I know exactly what he goes through in his mind. I re-live this part of my childhood with him each time. It is such a helpless feeling to see your son getting hurt and you can't do anything about it. I can't help but to see his eyes fill with tears looking at me and as if he is saying to me with those eyes..daddy why do you let them poke me. My heart is poked so badly each time when that happens. The following clip is about how to bring a child some hope in there moments of despair. Be touched!