November 2008 Archives

My sense is that finally, we're breaking through the thick walls of sickness that has engulfed our lives these past 2 weeks. Yes, it's pretty much felt like a dark tunnel these past 2 weeks. We used to pride ourselves about how strong Tesla was, how well she ate, and never got sick. Well, we got it all packaged in one bomb.

I am still a bit congested but have my energy. Dav has been mildly sick throughout, and I think escaped the worse, probably because he slept on the couch while I was in bed with Tesla as she coughed all over my face. Tesla is more and more herself.

However, my earlier post about modern medicine now has a second chapter. Being the first time, and seeing Tesla not move, eat, drink, or do anything really for 5 days was scary. So having access to a hospital to give required drugs was good. And the antibiotics (the very common amoxicillin) worked after 36 hours. We could see her focus more, her breathing was better...she moved! Who knows how far down she would have gone if we had not given the antibiotics. Thing is...shortly after, like 3 days into the treatment, her behavior changed. It's incredibly hard to describe, and only Dav and I saw her like this, but she became animal-like. She started having giant tantrums about 4 times a day for benign, almost random reasons. She went into a tizzy that was off the charts of what we've seen or even imagined a toddler could do. The most common thing was to roar at the top of her lungs 30 ~ 45 minutes, mouth never closing, just breathing in air, and screaming herself hoarse. At times, her arms shaked, flailing out for me, then pushing me away. She stopped using words all together.

We were perplexed but thought maybe that now she had more energy, she was letting her anger out about being miserable for so long.Dav still thinks this is the likely explanation. We faithfully continued the antibiotics, but called the docs about her behavior, and they only said she might be in pain so give her pain relief. Others said they never heard of any reaction so it must be something else. But my gut feeling told me her behavior was so completely different that there was something else, and although I will never know and could be completely wrong, that it was because of the antibiotics.

I searched on the internet and found informal forums where parents shared similar experiences...and some kids later were diagnosed autistic or already autistic kids became regressive. Some adults said they experienced high anxiety when taking it. Again, I cannot know cause and effect. Yet parents, who take care of their kids day in day out, know their kids intimitely. And after reading others having my hunch, I just couldn't help using that to affirm my instincts. It makes sense; the antibiotics kill the bad bad bacteria. Yay! But it also kills the good bacteria in the gut. And at times, without the good to fight, some of the bad bacteria can get to the brain.

I am uncomfortable airing all this because I have no idea what is the truth, and this may be nonsense. But, this is my experience and what I really felt. If anyone in the future is in my position, perhaps they will find this post and have assurance that they aren't crazy. What they decide thereafter is up to them. Tesla's behavior was serious, and not just a cranky or even in-pain toddler. We decided to take her off the antibiotics (even though we did get an alternative antibiotic when I told the doc I just couldn't give her amoxicillin anymore). I've always followed orders, and know fully well we may have pneumonia knocking on our door again, but this is our decision. Tesla is slowly back to her normal self. Even though she is still moody, we haven't seen her go ballistic.

This is the most unlikely Thanksgiving post I ever imagined. Tesla woke up with smiles and is chattering away. I feel better. We have a group of friends coming over for a chill pot-luck to eat, hang, and have fun together. Remembering the few hours when I let myself think about the what-if...I now feel immensely grateful for health, love, family, and friends. Thank you to Michelle who brought groceries, sent lovely emails, made sure I was OK, and Rachel who checked in everyday and braved our germy house to bring flowers and hang out. And to my mom who wished she were here to help so I could rest.

she smiled!

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Tesla is getting better. First, she smiled a bit. Then later she got up to draw. In the afternoon, she got on her tricycle and rode around indoors. She's been eating watermelon. So although still sick, she's definitely getting better. Those antibiotics work!

On the other hand, now I've got her bug. I'm taking care of myself so I don't think it'll get bad, but I'm so over all this sickness ... Michelle brought over much-needed groceries, and Rachel gave me flowers today, so I shouldn't complain, but I'm looking forward to normal life.

Yay to Modern Medicine

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Tesla is taking antibiotics now. I know there's a lot of fuss about using such strong drugs, but frankly, after 5 days of a completely listless, almost lifeless Tesla, I'm thankful to know we can give her drugs that will fight off the army of bacteria that has invaded her lungs. We waited a few days since the doctor initially said this was just a cold, but we've never ever seen her like this. Pneumonia takes time to develop, so it's normal that first it's a cold, and only later becomes more serious. We are relieved to know what we need to do.

I want to take time, however, to express how grateful I am that I can go to Kaiser (make an appointment day of), and immediately get the medicine that she clearly needs (for $10!). I feel safe and confident that she can now fight this off. I can't imagine what parents have to go through when antibiotics aren't available. I can see why it would take months and months of care. And for babies who aren't eating or drinking much? Whoa.

Makes me reflect on the bit of hospital care I've had. Although sure, natural birth is best when possible, there seems to be a cultural judgement towards that (at least in the Bay Area), as if any medical intervention is bad. I know generations ago, women and babies died during birth. So I appreciate, still, that I had the choice to be safe with a c-section when T's heart beat kept dropping. Fundamentally, I'm thankful.

I'm reflecting on this because an amazing person I know, who lost her beautiful baby, blogged this:

I went from a place where the process of birth mattered so much. I had to have my babies at home, because hospitals are evil. Ha! I had to have my babies without pain medication because it might affect our postpartum bonding Or my baby's ability to nurse. Double ha! I had to have just one ultrasound because ultrasounds may affect the cell structure of the fetus. Triple ha! I had to not have any other tests because whatever the outcome, I would be at peace with it. Biggest ha possible!

Her point is, it's not about the mother's ego of a perfect birth. THE most important of all is a healthy baby. I really appreciate her sharing that voice. It's easy to overlook the safety that hospitals provide, and the medicine we have access to. Even in our neighborhood, there is debate about a helipad for our nearby hospital because of sound concerns. But when I imagine the people who will be in those helicopters, I can't help but think that sound is a small price for a society to pay.

Anyhow, lots of thoughts, and appreciation for being able to help Tesla get better.

sickness update

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Turns out poor Tesla has pneumonia. This morning, when we woke to find Tesla still lethargic and sick, we really wondered. I took her to Kaiser last Sunday and they thought it was a cold that this year is really hard and long. But considering Tesla hadn't eaten for over 4 days, I was concerned. When I emailed work that I couldn't come in yet again, a co-worker worried she might have pneumonia based on the symptoms I was describing.

Sure enough, the doctor at Kaiser today listened to T breathing and immediately said that's what she had. We have anitbiotics now, but it'll take more than a day to start winning the battle in T's lungs. Ugh. Poor girl. A whole week feeling like crap, not knowing why. A whole week with no swings, no play with granny, no tricycling around, no food! Her eyes look so listless, it's heart-breaking. I can't wait for her to wake up soon, and say, "applesauce??" which she usually does as she runs down the hallway. I miss my baby...

The wonder of Tutu

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For those who have followed me over the years, you might remember this story. For new ones, it's worth to be retold here. Tutu's story is one of my favorite blogging stories ever.

Back in August, 2003, I was getting ready to move to San Francisco from Tokyo to be with Dav after a year long-distance thing. I had dinner one rainy night with my fun brother-in-law, and we came upon a baby kitten. I was at a loss; I had to move in 6 days (as in catch a plane so no delays allowed), but here was this baby who clearly needed help. I had to take her home. What to do? I blogged about her, hoping anyone reading could help find a home for her. Indeed...folks tried their best, and I was touched. And...within a few days, 4 days before moving, Tutu got a mommy! And mind you, the best mama ever. Tracey and I are great friends today...just saw her on my last visit although I was lame and didn't get a picture of her (I did the last last time though!).

I'd already felt the influence blogging could have in everyday life, but this experience, days before leaving Tokyo, encapsulated the community blogging created for me. And Tutu is healthy as can be. Here, she gets the limelight while being babysat by M.J., another Tokyo blogging nakama.

poor sick Tesla

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Tesla has been sick since Thursday! It started slowly on Thursday when I kept her home because she appeared generally off and I wanted to keep her chill without too many activities. She seemed perky Friday morning so I took her to Karla's. By the end of the day though, she had developed a fever...which continued throughout the weekend (we totally missed the glorious weather). Her fever is gone now, but she's coughing like crazy - which is super hard for her because sucking her thumb comforts her and it's quite hard to suck and cough. She has eaten a total of maybe a cup of her favorite applesauce over these four days. She refuses juice, but asks for milk a lot so she is getting some calories.

We've been to Kaiser and were told it's a common bug right now that takes a week to get over. On target the fever died down, and apparently the coughing will go on for several more days. She got up this morning to draw, so that's a good sign since she's been either on the bed or sofa ALL day and night.

It's so hard to watch her since she doesn't know what's going on. She'd awaken from a nap and cry because she felt so lousy. Nothing would comfort her. I basically lay next to her most of the time (since I wasn't feeling so great either). In my own way, I treasured the hours and hours of snuggling up together ...her legs over me, her tired eyes peering into mine, holding hands. I'm glad I had the time to simply lie by her side which I think helped her feel less grumpy.

Old, new, and newborn friends

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I was lucky enough to grab some of Joy's time. We went to high school together, hung out off and on in SF, and meet up when we can in Tokyo where she lives now. Over the years, I've really enjoyed knowing her more, living vicariously via her amazing stories, and sharing our SF-Tokyo in between-ness. She recently started a new job as a partner lawyer, making her high position career seem easy...we met up at a swanky wine bar in Hiroo and drank delicious wine. No champagne, but I was impressed with a customized glittery large bottle placed in front of me.

My main priority on this trip was to meet Mr. Riku-chan, Gen and Mika's spanking new 7 week old baby. Oh, the baby smell, cooing, and quirky movements. Loved every minute of it. Only 2 years ago, Gen held Tesla. I'm very happy it's my turn to congratulate them!
I pretty much hogged holding Riku. I laugh at the 2nd picture here where I seem to be saying, "oh no you don't take cute Riku from me. He's all mine!" ha.

And finally, I got to meet Sigsy in person! I actually met up with Tracey (tutu's mom), her brother, and Kristen too but failed to get any other pictures. I was super tired that night...Anyway, Sigsy and I started communicating via Flickr, sharing comments and what not. It was one of those lovely (re)unions, meeting someone for the first time who you feel you already know. Yay!!

Harajuku La Foret fashion

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I usually don't go to Harajuku for shopping, but Chris wanted to stop by Kiddy Land, so I was happy to join since I can always buy things there. This says it all: "KIDDY LAND helps keep your mind, body and soul youthful, now & forever."

I had free time after that, so I meandered to La Foret...a great place to check out new fashion. It's not really my style, but fun to see (and these pics only represent the teenage floor because elsewhere was too difficult to snag pictures).

Tokyo - various

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My trip to Tokyo was short, without Tesla, and rather strange for personal reasons. My parents were in Lisbon so I didn't get to see them, 1 friend I wanted to see had an ill grandmother to tend to, 1 friend had some personal issues to deal with, and jet-lag was tough for me this time. However, being back, breathing Tokyo air, hearing Japanese around me, being in a clean and polite city, and seeing old friends and colleagues was completely worth it. I realize that if I didn't have these frequent biz trips back to Tokyo, no matter how lovely SF is, I'd be completely homesick. As I age and raise Tesla, I realize how important it is for me to feel my Japanese side.

I didn't focus on taking pictures so what I got was random...but Michelle, who came with me, took a fabulous set.

First is the typical cloud shot. So beautiful it's hard to take for granted. Next is my first lunch at work: mentaiko pasta at a nice cafe spot. I love lunches in Tokyo - cheap sets (appetizer/soup, dish, dessert) that are high quality (not just a sandwich or giant salad).
Custest "save energy" sticker with cats showing how not all lights need to be on all the time (too bright!). Then a quick shot of a view from Six Apart's office.
Fabulous home spot in Tokyo. I haven't stopped by for a while since when I'm in Tokyo with Tesla, I go home vs. going out. And Enoki isn't the kind of place you can stop by for 1 drink. You need to be there and participate so mama-san might not let you leave quickly. That's the charm, but I only go when I'm flexible with time : )

A snippet from home

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FiaTes.jpgDav took this cute picture of Fia and Tes. Notice Fia's arm around T? Just like best friends. I'm glad they have each other while both us mamas are in Tokyo. So cute!! I miss Tesla very much and can't wait to hug her again ... and be in Dav's arms too!

Obama - I am hopeful

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Wow. Although I wish I had been in SF, and with my husband Dav to share the excitement, I felt the emotions within me while at Six Apart's Tokyo office. I was afraid to hope, but as Obama's win became clear, I realized how meaningful this win is to me. I've never been excited about a president, and feel this will be a story to tell Tesla about the "before" and "after."

I realize we still have to deal with reality, and change will not be automatic, but Obama has brought many Americans together. Both Dav and I have been seriously concerned about the environment, peak oil, and the future in general, and finally we have a leader who may be able to nudge the US and the world in a much saner direction.

Off to Tokyo again

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This time is a short visit so I'll have little time to meet up with folks. Tesla is staying home with daddy, and Michelle is joining me, so should be fun nonetheless. I tried to get some family shots before going, but it's quite difficult! As always, I'm going to miss my family!!

Halloween 2008

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This year's Halloween was pretty mellow, but I did prepare a costume (all out of stuff we had around the house ..yay!) for T. I took hint at how much she loves dancing to ballet that she sees on YouTube, and using the fab hat Toni knitted for Tesla last year as a basis for color, I basically made a fancy fluffy tutu-ish skirt. She loved wearing it, and grinned whenever I got her in it.

We had a few iterations, first being at the pumpkin patch. I then added more layers, and made her a shirt (onesie with pink fluff glued to it). She wore the tutu to gym one day before Halloween. Last pic here is Halloween day, when I got her dressed. She clapped!

We were supposed to go to Six Apart's family Halloween day (which I was looking forward to), but Tesla woke up with coughs and general grumpiness. So she stayed home all day, and had a late nap 'til 5pm, totally missing the party. I knew she'd enjoy her outfit with other kids, so we did rally to dress and go to 18th street, our neighborhood where all the stores and neighbors open up, and the community comes out for trick or treating.
Michelle was the best witch ever. Completely green, with the ugliest nose, but beautiful hat. She gave out candy from a smoking cauldron, long green fingers, and a gooey brain for touching. Nice!

I usually wear something not very scary on Halloween, but this year, I ventured out and bought a $5 kit from the drugstore with gory eye make-up, fake glitter blood, and fangs. The fangs chipped off quickly, but with Tesla being my focus, I didn't really care. However, I'm inspired next year to do a gory costume for the very first time in my life. You know, the typical scary stuff...never thought of doing so before, but now I'm intrigued...

We made Tesla try trick or treating, but she lost interest before getting anything because there were witches inside the store.

After 18th street, we stopped by Noe Valley where Tesla's great-granny lives, and her granny, aunties, and cousins were. Great-granny played piano, and it was the cutest show when Tesla and her cousin (dressed as TinkerBell) danced around. I just sat marveling at the generations in that room!