Health & Body

Since late July this year, Allie’s eyes have seemed to occasionally point in 2 different directions. It was initially just before her nap or before bedtime as she sat in her high chair for her lunch or dinner, spacing out. More recently it seems to be anytime she’s tired, so it’s common after she wakes up in the morning, prior to nap or bedtime. It’s now become pretty apparent to me that it’s the right eye drifting out to the side (away from her nose), whereas the left eye remains focused.

I was hoping it’d go away, since it was only happening occasionally, but the occasions have become more common now. Since Flip Flop Girl (Christi) and I were online chatting about parenting-related things last night, I decided to finally tell someone about this and (eek) make it a reality with my acknowledgement. Turned out it was the best thing I could’ve done. She validated my concerns, did some brief research online and said it seems like it could be extreme farsightedness. I was just hoping it wasn’t a brain tumor suddenly pulling on Allie’s internal eyeball parts. Christi offered to ask her friend about Allie’s symptoms for me, since her friend is a pediatric ophthalmologist. I gratefully accepted. Meanwhile, I thought, since Christi did some research, I ought to, too. So I looked. And I looked. And I looked. And I narrowed down the possibilities. And narrowed down the specifics. And I concluded with intermittent exotropia.

Within my research, intermittent exotropia seems to be a brain issue and not an eye issue. This can be tested by having Allie focus on my finger near her face when she’s having an “episode”, then covering her good (left) eye and seeing if the right eye immediately jumps in to focus on my finger. If it does, then it’s not a weak muscle that makes the eye unable to focus inward. Instead, it’s that her brain does not acknowledge the image being broadcasted by her right eye, so it ignores that eye’s information intake. Surgery can cosmetically correct the eye and force it in, but it doesn’t cure the underlying problem of making her brain recognize her right eye’s information. But there is something called “vision therapy” that could train the brain to properly accept and use information from the affected eye. Things like wearing 3-D glasses or glasses where she gets 2 different color lenses on each eye, then she’s asked to see or follow something that only can be seen by the weak eye. It’s less invasive than surgery AND the old method of forcing a kid to wear an eye patch over her “good” eye 3-8 hours a day for 3-12 months straight. Talk about traumatic. And it seems like vision therapy may be more effective both in immediate correction and in long-term maintenance. Plus it doesn’t risk messing up the good eye.

It’s October, which means we’re within the window to change/add to health insurance coverage to take advantage of any help with paying for this stuff. So glad October hasn’t passed me by until I go this swift kick in the pants to do something about this; I was going to just wait until Allie’s 2-year appointment at the end of next month, but open enrollment would be closed by then. I’ve received some advice to look up pediatric ophthalmologists who are board-certified in vision therapy (apparently still a new thing not recognized by the American Academy of Ophthalmology, but you know what they do recommend? Surgery. Screw that as a first line of defense; learned my lesson in Allie’s broken teeth/pediatric dentistry situation), and will be doing that. Insurance typically will pay for a surgery, but not therapy, so I’ll probably be paying out-of-pocket for the less invasive therapy (less risks, more promising). But I’m willing, able, and ready.

These are very recent photos.

Many people kept telling me to get a second opinion before subject Allie to IV anesthesia and giving her a root canal on her broken front tooth, and crowns on both broken front teeth. Finally, it took Rebecca saying that she doesn’t like the dentist Allie saw and that the dentist is more interested in making money than doing something that’s in Allie’s better interest, and insisting that I NEED to get a second opinion because Allie doesn’t need work done at this point, for me to finally call the dental insurance to ask how they address second opinions and then to find another dentist. The dental insurance will cover 2 checkups a year, so Allie has another one left. I did more research online and went back to the other office I was considering when I was picking Allie’s first dentist, and noticed an Asian male dentist that piqued my interest for whatever random reason. He’s about my age, did his undergrad at Cal (UC Berkeley), went to UCLA dental school, did his residency at Harvard, volunteers in going and treating children in third-world countries (kind of like Doctors Without Borders, but dental). He reminds me of my peers. I really didn’t look into the backgrounds of any of the other 3 male doctors there. One reason I’d eliminated them first go-round is because Allie does better with females, but maybe an Asian male would be okay as it’d remind her of me and my parents. She does seem to acclimate to Asians faster. I called that office, they were very nice and I finagled a same-day afternoon appointment out of them and they were nice enough to squeeze us in.

Allie LOVED that office visit. She got to explore the office and play before she was called in. Here she is in their photobooth.

She sat in the x-ray chair on her own for the single x-ray of her upper teeth, kept the lead vest on and didn’t cry (like she did in the other office). She also sat in the patient chair by herself, again didn’t cry. The hygienists, nurses, assistants were all playing with her and she talked back with them, and Mr. W and I were surprised how comfortable she was with all of them, so quickly. When Dr. Wu came and met us, he TOTALLY reminded me of a friend I would’ve had from UCLA, he was like my childhood friend Dentist Andy, like our friend Eddie, easy-going, informative, casual. And he didn’t treat Allie like a baby. He talked to her, showed her a hand-held mirror, let her hold it, explained what he was going to do by demonstrating on her hands, and she opened her mouth and showed him how she brushes her teeth, and she let him put his little mirror in and fingers and everything! She seemed captivated by what he was telling her. I was happy she was so cooperative and had so much fun.

So this is the 2nd opinion: He said (and showed us on x-ray) that Allie’s teeth, gums, roots, nerves, are all totally healthy. She’s not in pain, she’s asymptomatic, the teeth are in there nice and tight, no damage aside from the fractures. He says these are deep fractures, and is more severe on the upper left tooth where the tooth broke in a sort of “sheeting” in the back, which did thin out the tooth from behind so a little pink is visible behind that too, but that her nerve is NOT exposed. That’s why she doesn’t have discomfort. He said he has a “difference of treatment opinion” with the 1st dentist — he says this can be a watch-and-see. He says kids this young have tremendous ability to heal, and that he would’t be surprised if her nerve (presently big, which he says is a great thing and means it’s healthy) and internal structure of the tooth actually healed itself. He says potentially, with good care and no further trauma to the teeth, these two teeth will just stay like this and hold until they fall out on their own when Allie’s 6-7 years old. In the very least, he’d like to keep things good and healthy until she’s 3 or so, so that work can be done without having to put her under the risks of IV anesthesia. He says work “has” to be done if the nerve were exposed, giving her extreme pain; if we see discoloration inside the tooth which means decay or bacteria has infected the hallow internal cavity of the tooth; if we see inflammation/infection of her gums; if we see a bubble on her gums which indicates abscess. Absent those and any signs of discomfort, Allie’s teeth are strong and fine and should be left alone. He said if we want, when she’s a little older and can tolerate it better, he can just rebuild the teeth and fill in the gap. He doesn’t want to grind it down and do a crown like the other dentist, he said, because there’s so much healthy tooth still left, it makes no sense to get rid of it. If the sharp points bother her and we start seeing puncture wounds on her lower lips, he said we can bring her in and he’ll round off the points a little which would take 10 seconds, and otherwise, we can totally leave it alone and just clean it well and keep a good eye on it, don’t let her eat things that require a front bite-and-pull, such as pizza. He wanted us to schedule another check-up and x-ray at 6 months so he could compare her teeth then to the baseline he’s now got on file, and if the area around the roots (he pointed on the x-ray) gets bigger showing the tooth is loosening from gums drawing back or getting sick, or if signs of decay/problems occur, to bring her back and they can always do whatever the most conservative, mildest intervention is good for that situation. Meanwhile, he says something so aggressive as a root canal or extraction are not called for.

Dr. Wu spent a lot of time chatting with us and making sure we understood everything, answering questions, projecting into the future for possible scenarios and how those would be treated. The other dentist was kind of vague. Probably cuz she knew she was upselling and was fudging the truth, making things seem more emergent and dire than they really were, pushing for surgery. (I called that office to cancel Allie’s oral surgery scheduled for 8/14, explaining that because it’s been a week and Allie’s been asymptomatic, I wanted to hold off doing something drastic like the root canal & crowns. The receptionist said that’s fine and it’s up to me, but re Allie having no pain or discomfort, “This doesn’t happen overnight. And just so you know, when it happens, it’s usually at night.” Okay, thanks. I still want to wait.) Dr. Wu said all their dentists are available and on-call 24/7 for emergencies in case Allie suddenly develops any dental-related problems in the future. Oh, and I always wondered how the heck she fractured her two front teeth at an angle in the center, did she crash into a point? Jayne said she just tripped and fell down and didn’t hit anything. Dr. Wu asked with a knowing smile, immediately after examining Allie, if she’s a thumb-sucker. I said she is. He said the way it’s broken suggests that her teeth had a slight outward turn, usually from frequent bottle/pacifier use and/or thumb-sucking, so the center of her upper teeth made the impact first. Oooooh.

All 3 of us walked out happy. Allie was given a lot of stickers and a pretty princess toothbrush that she really liked and kept talking about “Doctor, doctor, nice doctor, mouth, teeth, fish (she got to play with a stuffed fish with what looked like dentures glued in), sticker, ball (they let her play with all the toy “rewards” they give kids).” Mr. W said, “I like this dentist office SO MUCH BETTER than the other one.” And I was just happy I got a prescription for “wait and see.”

We celebrated after the appointment with Allie’s first sushi dining experience. She didn’t have any fish, but did have some dissected California rolls and a bunch of steamed gyozas. Here she is outside the sushi restaurant.

She’s been to this lakeside sushi restaurant before, but had her own food. Here’s a flashback for photo comparison; the sushi chef remembered our last visit a year ago and asked about my parents.

I followed Dr. Wu’s instructions last night and this morning and brushed and flossed Allie’s upper front teeth for the first time since the injury (I’ve been avoiding just those 2 teeth), and he was right…she kept her mouth open and had NO reaction whatsoever.

I’m so relieved.

So the irony is that Allie did everything right as far as her dental care is concerned. She stopped use of the pacifier before she was 3 months old (by a day) and stopped bottle use when she was 14 months old so that her teeth wouldn’t slowly be “trained” to turn out or go crooked (American Academy of Pediatrics recommends weaning by 18 months). She doesn’t drink commercial juice or eat sweets. She never went to bed with a bottle so she wouldn’t have food “pooling” in her mouth to cause cavities. She has been brushing twice daily since she was 9 months old, and flossing at bedtime since before she was 18 months old. The only dental vice she does, and this is only on rare occasions, is chew ice.

But one bad fall, and she is worse off than the kids who are falling asleep at bedtime drinking Coke from their bottles at age 4.

While at Allie’s first dental office visit today, the pediatric dentist placed the mirror under Allie’s broken upper teeth, and I saw something pink behind Allie’s upper left front tooth. “What’s that, blood?” I asked Dr. Tina. It seemed unlikely that blood could stay on her tooth and not be washed away from saliva or Allie’s tongue.
“It’s a nerve,” Dr. Tina said. She had already showed us on the x-ray how little tooth enamel Allie had and how the nerve was right at the surface, especially on the left front tooth. Baby teeth just don’t have a lot of surface area and the nerves are big relatively speaking, so with a bad deep break like Allie has, the result is exposed nerve.
BTW, I did some internet research when I got home and basically, for adults and kids, once a tooth break has exposed a nerve, people describe excruciating pain, sensitivity to air, temperature, contact, and medical attention needs to be given in 1-2 weeks because the exposed nerve will not only die (a sign of which is the inside of the tooth turning black), but the “hole” exposed in the previously sterile inside of the tooth will decay and abscess and cause more problems.
Dr. Tina explained that we have 2 options for the next step. The one she recommends is extraction of BOTH front teeth. She said the “bad” one is the front left, where I saw the exposed nerve, but that parents will often pull out the other front tooth as well for symmetry. WTF. I must’ve looked VERY skeptical about this option because she didn’t address it much beyond that, and told us option #2 is to do a baby root canal, remove the exposed nerve, fill the tooth and cap both front teeth with a crown. She warned me that going this route may still lead to an extraction later if food/bacterial gets in the tooth anyway, and pulling the teeth makes things less complicated, with less potential for problems later.
I wanted Option 2. It would SUCK to pull these 2 teeth if they can be saved. I wanted her to take after me in many ways, but not in THAT way.
A near-future appointment will be made. A anesthesiologist will put Allie under (scary) so that the dentist can work on her teeth and give her the baby root canal and crowns, and I’m told the total procedure time would be about an hour. After that, Allie will still have to be careful how and what she eats, because the structural integrity of her front teeth will have been compromised, so she still can’t be biting into corn on the cob, an example Dr. Tina gave. 🙁 But it’s not like she could anyway with NO upper front teeth. I wonder how I ate until I was 8.

It’s so unfair that kids who pay no attention to their oral care will just get a tooth drilled for cavity here and there, and my baby with the perfect teeth has to get a ROOT CANAL. This is all my fault, really. I had overslept yesterday morning and was running late, so Mr. W brought Allie downstairs while I hurriedly finished getting ready upstairs, which is why I was not there when Allie tripped and face-planted on the travertine tiles downstairs. If I had been there, it’s unlikely Allie would have left me to go running to Mr. W in the kitchen, and maybe I would’ve been holding her anyhow as I like to do before we say goodbye for the morning. But I also know that if I had been given a choice of this, or of Allie having a chronic health issue, even something common such as food allergies, I would’ve chosen this. It’s over with faster, and hopefully her adult teeth won’t be affected.

She’s a trooper; aside from changing her mind about wanting water or fruit when it’s too cold (now that we know she’s temperature-sensitive), she has not shown one bit of discomfort. Her total cry when she fell was less than a minute. She even let me brush her teeth last night (altho she whimpered when the brush touched the bruising on the inside of her top lip last nite), this morning and tonight (I avoided her top teeth last nite, and brushed her top teeth today but avoided the broken teeth). I flossed her tonight, avoiding the center teeth. In pain tolerance, at least, I’m happy she takes after me.

Remember my kid with the early pearly whites and the cute smile?

The cute little teeth that we painstakingly brush twice a day and floss nightly to keep looking perfect? That we made sure to maintain as healthy and straight as possible by not having her on a pacifier and being bottle-free since well before age 1 (per her pediatrician recommendations), not giving her juice and especially no bottle to sleep?

Allie was downstairs yesterday morning before we’d left for work; Mr. W was there with her and Jayne had already arrived. I was upstairs and heard Allie start crying. When I came down a few minutes later, she wasn’t crying anymore but was still slightly whimpering as I held her, and I asked her, “What happened?” She told me she went boom, and pointed to where it happened, at the travertine tiles in the hallway between the living room and the kitchen. Mr. W explained that he had gone into the kitchen and Allie went running after him, and tripped over the metal ledge at the doorway of the baby gate. (I’ve often looked at that thing when Allie would hold on to the side of the frame and step carefully over the metal bar at the bottom, and I’d wondered how many kids and people trip on that.) Apparently she’d gone flying onto the travertine tile floor. She seemed fine at that point and moved on to eat some nectarine and grapes. She did take one bite out of the nectarine and start looking at it funny, pointing to where she’d bitten it, and the refused to bite again, so we cut it up into pieces for her and she ate it fine that way. She appeared to be sucking on her lower lip so I thought there may have been injury there, but didn’t see anything upon inspection.

Well, as soon as I’d finished with my noontime yoga yesterday, I checked my phone and read this text message from Jayne.

I’m not sure if [Mr. W] listened to the message I left shortly after you left the house. Allie broke her 2 front teeth when she fell this morning, which is so bizarre because I saw her fall and I never would have thought it would result in her teeth getting chipped! You probably want to contact a pediatric dentist and have her checked. I was so sad when I noticed it. At first it seemed like she had only bitten the middle part of her upper lip. 🙁

I was SO angry. It completely ruined my afternoon. I texted back, “This is the first I heard of it. She’s not bleeding? Do the teeth seem loose?”
Jayne responded, “No to both. I did try to wiggle them and they seem ok. I just can’t figure out how they broke when all there was was a little irritation on her lip and no bruise to her face. I didn’t even think she hit any part of her face or head when she tripped. She’s had falls that have seemed worse. I was so nervous at the park that she might fall and break more of the 2 teeth. She can tell something is different but doesn’t seem to be uncomfortable. But I’m wondering if they should be checked. Thank goodness they’re baby teeth!”

I took the advice and checked on Yelp for good pediatric dentists near our home. Two offices popped up with 5-star reviews exclusively (meaning 100% of the people reviewing gave them 5 stars). The one slightly farther had more reviews, therefore more 5-stars; 5 dentists work there, but were all males and Allie does better with women right now. The one closer had less reviews altho they were also all 5-star reviews, had only 1 dentist, but she’s female and has a pair of twin toddler girls of her own. From the photos on Yelp, her office looks amazing, like visiting an aquarium museum. When I read that she graduated summa cum laude from UCLA School of Dentistry (Go Bruins!), it was a no-brainer. I called and spoke to a very nice receptionist who gave us a next-day appointment and took our dental insurance info over the phone so that she could call them and check for coverage before we get in there.

When I got home, I asked Allie to show me her teeth. This is what’s left.

She looks like a Turok-Han vampire from the “Buffy” series. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Thankfully, Allie’s behavior was no different and the sharp new points of her front teeth don’t deter her from sucking her thumb as she falls asleep. I did feel them while nursing her to sleep, but they didn’t hurt. Just felt sharp points pressing against my skin. She’s in the process of self-weaning so it wasn’t bad. For the past 4 nights she would stop nursing early on the first side and refuse the second side, telling me she’s “done-done,” and I like this tapering off because it helps my body adjust, too.

I keep thinking of things my dad said about my front teeth being knocked out in preschool. He’d said (in Mandarin) that my little teeth had recently all come in and were white and beautiful and I looked so cute when I smiled, and then they were knocked out, and he was and is still so mad.
In my situation, I was in preschool (my mom called it daycare), around 3 or 4 years old, and I was among a handful of kids who were on the playground “carousel” — a large metal disk platform with metal bars attached to the top of it at intervals so that the kids on the ground can spin the disk by pushing on the bars and the kids on the platform can hold on to the bars for support while the disk spun. We were taking turns being the spinner, and when it was my turn, I stepped off the disk with one hand, while the kid who was supposed to come on the platform for his turn suddenly decided to push the disk really hard and spin it again. I either fell against the metal bar or the bar hit me in the mouth, but I ended up losing both upper front teeth right there in the sand. I cried, of course, I remember how numb my lips felt afterwards, how swollen, and I remember the teacher on duty in the playground saying spitefully to me, “You deserve that. That’s what you get for running around.”
My mom’s memory picks up after that — she came to pick me up as usual after work, and when she called me, I turned around to greet her, and she saw my swollen mouth, half my face and clothing still crusted over with dried blood. She freaked out. The teacher turned and tossed over her shoulder, “Oh, she fell earlier.”
Both my parents were furious that they were never contacted by the daycare/preschool, and that I was never given any medical or any attention, not even to clean me up. They even went back to the playground over the weekend to try to find my teeth to see if a dentist could put them back in, but couldn’t find the teeth. I had a raging infection in my gums and lip for over a month, and didn’t have front teeth until my adult teeth grew in sometime between 2nd and 3rd grade.
I had front teeth for only a couple of years before I lost them for the next 5 or so years, so for me, it was just how things were; I didn’t feel like I was missing out on much, I wasn’t self-conscious, I just did my own thing. I never understood why my dad was still so upset, even to this day if it’s brought up.

I get it now. I keep thinking about how Allie will have a hard time biting into apples now, or eating her new favorite thing: sandwiches (she loves turkey, cheese & avocado on whole grain). How is she going to cut the noodles she loves in a bite? She can now drink through straws without having to open her mouth. 🙁 She has a photoshoot coming up in September, how’s she going to look in those photos, and every other photo until her permanent teeth come in? How will she be received by other kids when she starts school? Her smile looks “goofy” now, as her dad described.
Allie, however, much like I was, doesn’t appear to be very affected. She occasionally puts her fingers in her mouth to feel her new points, the tongue comes out as she prods the new jagged edges of her upper teeth, but nothing else is much different. Of course, we haven’t been giving her popsicles or sandwiches in the last day. I expect her to be temperature-sensitive for awhile.

Lots of people and/or their toddlers have been having teeth/gum injury issues in the past week, so at least Allie’s trendy.

I’ve been doing little quickie gymless workouts in my jury room during lunchtime. They only take a 20-minute time investment (unless I add 8 flights of stairs in between sets, which I have done) so I can easily squeeze them in even if we’re in trial and work into lunch, or the judge orders us back early from lunch. Mr. W joined me once, giving up his lunch hour. He quit after 2 sets and left to file for divorce. Just kidding; he quit early so he could hit the shower before he had to get back to work, while I stayed and did a 3rd set since it was at my work location so I had more time. “That’s a hard workout,” he said as he left. That was this workout:
* 50 Jumping Jacks
* 20 Squats
* 20 Squat Jumps
* 20 Alternating Lunges (per leg)
* 15 Burpees
* 25 Pushups
* 30 Mountain Climbers
* 50 Crunches
* 60 second Plank Hold
It’s a good thing, too, because Allie seems to have started weaning herself from her last remaining nursing, the one at bedtime. For the last two nights in a row, she’s pulled off the first side fairly quickly and refused the second side. Stupid me started her on the same side again tonight, not expecting her to be done early again, so now my right breast is going to go 48 hours cold turkey. Anyway, my point is, once Allie is weaned, my freebie calorie expenditures are gone, so I’m gonna have to burn it the hard way.
Today I wasted all lunchtime looking for some subpoenaed documents that supposedly came into the courthouse for trial over a week ago, so I didn’t get my workout in. But I had more than my fair share of a surprise belated bday cake my coworkers got for me (Porto’s Bakery Parisian chocolate cake, mmm!), so I had to do something. I did this circuit after Allie went to bed:
* 50 Jumping Jacks
* 10 Paper Plate Pushups (I used 2 of Allie’s hardback books on carpet cuz I was too lazy to look for paper plates, so thanks, Hercules and Weird Creatures)
* 15 Squat Jumps
* 20 Triceps Dips
* 60 High Knees (30 per leg)
* 35 Plank Jacks
* 10 Burpees with Pushup at the Bottom
* 30 Side Lunges Reach w/Floor Tap at the Bottom (15 per side)
* 20 Superman Planks (10 per side)
With regard to that, my social networking friends enjoyed my status update, so I’m sharing it here, too.

Cindy asked, pressured, coerced, begged, bargained hubby to do at least one set of her circuit with her, and he refused to leave his iPad game. Just now I went outside after doing 2 sets to find him in the hammock nestled with his iPad, a cold glass of water with ice next to him. I was hot and thirsty, so I took a swig…of GIN! *spit* No working out AND a drink. I get no support around here.

I also tried mockery and badgering, too.
Me: Aren’t you concerned that if you completely stop exercising, soon people are going to wonder why I’m with the round guy?
Him: I’m not round.
Me: Fine. The oval guy.
Him: *unmoved*

The guy’s got a healthy self-esteem.

Allie’s pediatrician confirmed at the 18-month appointment that we can wean her at any time we want to since she’s gotten pretty much all the nutritional and other benefits she needs from breast milk at this point. She suggested we start with eliminating the morning feeding. I’d been thinking the same thing, since Allie is easily distracted in the mornings and moves on to other things. It’s the bedtimes that she points to the recliner in her room and asks for “mama, nom nom?”.

I waited until this week to cut the morning nursing, because Mr. W and I were attending a soiree last Saturday afternoon that would go into the evening, so we’d already be missing her evening nursing for the first time. I didn’t want to go more than 24 hours between nursings cold turkey as that would be…uncomfortable for me.

Allie did great Saturday night. Jayne came over Saturday afternoon and we did almost a normal goodbye routine with Allie. It was the first bedtime in Allie’s 18-month existence that I wasn’t there to go through it with her. I knew she’d be fine; she sleeps well on her own so even if she fussed before going into her crib, I knew once she went to sleep she’d be fine. And she was. Jayne said she tossed around sucking her thumb for half an hour after she was in her crib, then went to sleep. That’s pretty normal for Allie. Jayne said Allie gave her no trouble with teeth-brushing or flossing, and only asked once when she was being changed for bed, “Mama? Dada?” Jayne said that mama and dada would be home soon, and that was that. Meanwhile, Mr. W and I were at his boss’s 60th surprise birthday party thrown by the boss’s wife at their beautiful home on a hill with a spectacular view. They even had valet parking and catering for the event. I had 2 glasses of wine and a key lime pie martini. Here’s a photo Maggie’s hubby Tom took of us:

We weren’t able to take a photo with the spectacular view behind us cuz then we’d be backlit. 🙁

So anyway, now it’s Day 2 of the nurse-less mornings. Allie’s treated it the way she’s treated the elimination of post-nap nursings/bottles — like she doesn’t notice. We just give her a little snack before we leave for work, a couple ounces of cow’s whole milk and some fresh fruit or veggies. She loves her little munchies like I do; things just taste better when they’re “stolen” or “snuck” around square mealtimes. Meanwhile, I’m less comfortable. And I have to eat less crap and burn more fat to make up for not eliminating those extra milk calories.

My daily caloric expenditure is at probably the lowest it’s been since before I gave birth, now that Allie’s down to a few minutes’ worth of nursing mornings after she gets out of bed and nights before she goes to bed. I can no longer eat with the carefree attitude I did when I was nursing/pumping full-time, when I paid attention to the quality of calories, but not much to the quantity, knowing it was mostly coming out in the form of milk anyway. So of course, the weight’s coming back on. Granted, the all-time low I was in during my PPD days could not be sustained cuz it just wasn’t healthy to get to that weight by wasting away. I think the lowest I’d been was something like 114 lbs. Now I’m easily in my 120s, but I’m not sure what the exact weight is because every scale at home is out of batteries. All I know is that I’m jiggly about the lower abdomen and general stomach area, pants are tight around the thighs, and looking at myself grosses me out. I actually go to the gym whenever I’m able, but it’s inconsistent as my perma-lunch-date is still into eating as opposed to gymming at lunchtime. But whenever he’s unavailable for lunch, I am always, always at the gym. I also run a hilly 4.3 miles a few times a week. Nevertheless, the weight is crawling on, driving the measurements up. I’m pretty unhappy. It’s starting to feel like back in the old days when I could not figure out why no matter what it seemed I did, no matter how well I ate, I just kept gaining weight. (It caused me to check into my thyroids, and test results came back borderline hypothyroidism, which means I couldn’t be medicated for it since I wasn’t fully in the hypothyroidism range.) I thought I’d found the roots to that problem years ago by cutting out fast foods, sodas, and most processed foods, because after that, with or without strenuous gymming, my weight was pretty much stable in the low-mid 120s. Maybe the pregnancy screwed with my body’s equilibrium.

Anyway, I am now getting some help with two related apps on my smartphone. The first is one I’ve used before, called Cardiotrainer (free). It tracks, graphs, maps my exercise, and keeps me motivated by putting a little badge for weekly calories burned right on my status bar. The badge color changes each “level” up I achieve that week. Just yesterday, I downloaded a corresponding app that integrates exercise with diet/nutrition, called Noom Weight Loss. Noom takes into account your goals and lifestyle, then recommends for you a breakdown of what types of food to eat each day, how many calories a day, and how much exercise to do/calories to burn a day to get to your goal. It’s easy to use, very visual, and educational. I’ve learned by just using their food log that I have NOT been eating properly. I haven’t put a ton of thought into what I eat lately; I’ve gotten lazy and just had 2 categories in my head of “good” and “bad” food. My lunch today, for example, I would’ve thought was so good for me it was excellent. I had rare Cajun ahi tuna, a side salad (instead of chowder), and grilled veggies (instead of fries). I also had an unsweetened latte and a piece of sourdough bread. I knew those were the “extras” but it wasn’t like I put sugar on them.
According to Noom, I should be eating a proportion of 50% “green” category foods, 35% of “yellow” category foods, and 15% “red” category foods. Foods dense in nutrition with a lot of bulk to fill up the tank are color-coded green; foods still somewhat healthy but less nutrient-dense are yellow; red foods are the fats and things that may be somewhat necessary, but not in hefty quantities. What did my lunch score? The red category was all right, but the quantities in the yellow and green groups are flip-flopped. I was shocked.
Green: side salad (barely registered, since apparently it’s mostly air), grilled carrots, zucchini, broccoli, cauliflower. That’s it.
Yellow: sourdough bread, the 2% milk in my latte, AND the tuna. Even tho it’s not fried in oil. (Fried or battered fish would’ve popped it into the “red” category.)
Red: the blue cheese dressing, bit of butter used on my bread and the butter or oil used in the veggie grilling.
I tried to adjust for dinner and had brown rice and quinoa “stir-fried,” oil-free, with carrots, green onions, and lean beef, a cup of unsweetened soy milk, and some strawberries. That ended up surprising me again, with only the beef in the red group and everything else in the green, so I ended up with no yellow. =P Overall, the day sort of balanced out.

The other thing that surprised me is what Noom’s built-in pedometer revealed. Doctors recommend that each person walk 10,000 steps a day, which I’d heard of. The pedometer also set that as my daily goal. Okay, my job’s pretty sedentary, but I did walk more than normal today up and down and around San Clemente Pier/beach after I had lunch there*, while waiting for Mr. W’s “emergency” root canal to be done at a nearby specialist’s office. (Yes, we had to take the afternoon off work for that, since we’d carpooled when he’d decided he was in so much pain he had to call for an urgent appointment. But that’s what happens when you wait 2 decades before seeing a dentist.) By the time I got home, it pedometer shows approximately 3500 steps walked. Since 10K is a number recommended for the average American, and the average American isn’t very active, I figure I’ll just make it to 10K steps by just running a mile or so. I’d already run over 4 miles yesterday and I don’t like to run every day, since I know running is tough on joints. But I’m game for a short, leisurely 10 minute mile-long run. I set off, keeping an eye on the pedometer. Half an hour and 2.8 friggin’ miles later, I gave up at approximately 7500 steps. If almost 3 miles is only 4000 steps, then 10K steps is 7-8 miles! The doctors want EACH AMERICAN to walk 7-8 MILES per DAY? Who has time for that?! If people walked 7-8 miles a DAY, then of COURSE there would be no obesity problem in this country. Geesh!
I’ll try again tomorrow. =P

Noom has a really cute widget called “Bikini” which works off a point system with Noom activities. You get points for “showing up” every day, logging in your meals, extra points for jobs well-done, exercise done, etc. The widget appears as a one-piece swimsuit on a clothes hanger as your icon, and as you earn more points and presumably get healthier and more fit, the swimsuit (from my understanding) gets smaller and smaller to figuratively show off your new bod, until it becomes a tiny bikini. When you’ve reached the point goal, supposedly some “surprise” happens. That’s a great motivation for us curious people. I’ve created an extra page on my smart phone for just this fitness stuff:

* Here are some pics of my Monday afternoon after I had to leave jury selection in a long civil personal injury trial (a train conductor suing the train corporation for injuries sustained on her fall while on the job).
Some guy insisted on taking this photo for me when he was walking by and saw me messing with my cameraphone. The woman he was with did not wait for him and walked on. I don’t think she much appreciated his being nice to me.

Don’t you love how guys always shoot from their level down so the woman always looks like she has a giant head and tiny feet? A woman would’ve shot from straight across.
I had some time after I got back to the car so I did some reading from this bench, with this view.

Sigh. I WILL get a proportionately smaller waistline back. I will.

Mr. W is coming out of his sickness. Since the end of last week, he’s been quarantined in his bedroom and ate very little for the first few days. To keep the spread of viruses to a minimum, he hasn’t touched Allie, has no part in preparation of food, touches as few surfaces as possible, and what he does touch, I wipe down with a Lysol wet-wipe (doorknobs, counters, keyboard, mouse, etc). It’s been a little hard on me to have 100% baby duty, but it’s worth it if Allie could escape the norovirus. I’ve been taking my vitamins, extra Vitamin C, had an organic kale salad with the juice of an entire lemon the first evening, chicken soup, anything to keep the immune system up. I’ve even been sleeping downstairs on the couch. Allie’s been getting a Mandarin orange with her lunch and dinner, which she loves so that’s great.

It’s funny and sad to watch Allie play Marco Polo with Mr. W. When we come back from our walks or during her meal or just at random times, Allie would get a playful gleam in her eye, smile, and then call out, “Dah-dah?”
“Allie?” would come a response from the bedroom.
“Allie?” When Allie hears the reply, she would smile all excitedly and then go back to whatever she was doing. For Mr. W, it’s not fun and games as much as painful. “She’s calling me and I can’t go to her or touch her.” He was so sad. I honestly don’t think Allie’s noticed that Mr. W hasn’t been touching her. When she wants cuddling, she still comes to me, sits in my lap, or raises her arms to me to be picked up. Mr. W is the “play” parent. I’m the “comfort” parent. Since I’ve been both the past few days, she’s been fine with Mr. W as just the “mystery voice” parent. I mean, she’s knows it’s him, when she hears a noise she’d point toward it and identify it to me with, “Dah-dah!” But then she moves on.

The Sydney norovirus is contagious for 3 days after symptoms have alleviated, so Mr. W would effectively have an entire week of not having anything to do. I wish he’d take over medicating Dodo since I have to do everything else, but he hates doing that, and instead has been so bored in the bedroom he’s watched a ton of movies on his iPad, jailbroke his iPad3, even cut his hair when he was still febrile. Over the weekend he even washed all the sheets on his bed, but since he was still sick, I consider the sheets re-contaminated and still haven’t slept upstairs.

It was exactly a year ago today that Allie caught the RSV bug from Mr. W, who’d been sick with it from work. Hoping history doesn’t repeat itself.

Mr. W complained last night of stomachache, but he has an oddly sensitive digestive system, so I didn’t think it was anything unusual. By lunchtime when I called him, he sounded listless and thick-voiced.
“Were you napping?” I asked him.
“No, I’m sick. My body is achy, I feel weak, my stomach still hurts, and I have a headache.” Oh, crap. The current super-norovirus from Sydney, Australia has these symptoms, plus vomiting and/or diarrhea. It’s not the H3N1 flu that’s been ravaging the country, which our flu vaccine this year covers. I know that one of Mr. W’s coworkers had been out the first three days this week with norovirus symptoms and when it’d first started, he’d thought it was food poisoning (a common misidentification given the symptoms). He’s back to work now but still not feeling better. This Sydney norovirus remains contagious up to 3 days after the person has recovered, and is apparently so hardy that it withstands temperatures of 140 degrees Fahrenheit and transmits itself to different victims through even cooked food. It’s running rampant in our county jail system, and sick inmates have been quarantined, court hearings have had to be continued when inmates couldn’t be transported to court due to all the quarantines and sickness. When you share a toilet in the open with fifty other men any given time, you tend to spread illness especially when diarrhea is a symptom. Makes me glad that we’re doing a civil trial and not a criminal trial with an in-custody defendant.
Mr. W said he may just take the afternoon off so that he could nap at work (he can’t leave early cuz we carpooled and I’m in trial). I said, “Okay, I’ll call you every 10 minutes to check up on you.”
“Don’t you DARE,” he said, sounding serious.
“Or what?” I challenged.
He thought for a few seconds and then said, “Or I’m going to play with Allie when we get home.”
Big loud suck of air from me as I gasped in disbelief. “Don’t you DARE!”
At least he laughed. But now I’m all paranoid that Allie’s gonna get norovirus after she’d just recovered from her cold. 🙁 It’s going to be tough having 100% Allie duty without help or the ability to hand her off while I do her dishes or prep her food, but I think it’s worth quarantining Mr. W to the bedroom if it means Allie can stay healthy. Diarrhea is more common in adults, vomiting in children. Both put the sick person in danger of dehydration and in children, malnutrition.
“If I catch this from you,” I told Mr. W, “I’m going to eat a bunch of cupcakes.” Even with that enticement, I’m still hoping what Mr. W has is not the super norovirus from Sydney.

I didn’t do my noontime pumping today, the only pump session I’ve done for awhile. I knew it would be this week that I stopped pumping, but I didn’t know when; it all hinged on when Allie finishes the frozen stockpile at home. Today, she had only 4.5 ounces left in the freezer, which I’m sure she’s already had for her singular bottle feeding after her morning nap. We’d stopped giving her the bottle after her afternoon nap months ago and replaced that feeding with a snack. She doesn’t care; when we get her from her nap and finish changing her diaper, she rolls over, bounces up, and runs off. It’s not like she points to the La-Z-Boy recliner we nurse on and says “mum mum,” which she still does mornings upon waking up and nights at bedtime. So since she’s out of stored milk and my measly 2oz pump yields won’t be enough to fill her bottle for a normal feeding, she’s being simultaneously weaned off the bottle completely and I’m weaning myself off the pump completely to coordinate with her.

I’d looked forward to weaning off the pump for months, but now that it was down to the days this week, it was a little unsettling. Was it the right thing to do, since she’s sick and could use the antibodies? Is the timing okay? Should I replace the morning bottle with a snack as well, or would that be too much food? How will my body respond? Will I be uncomfortable all day? Am I gonna be fat now that I’m not expelling those extra few hundred calories in milk?

I comfort myself by thinking that Allie’s still nursing mornings and nights, so she’s still getting my antibodies, and plus, she’s getting over her cold anyhow. So I’m still burning 2/3 of the calories I had been, despite now losing my excuse to not exercise regularly at lunchtime. And given that I’ve only been able to eke out about 2, 2.5 ounces for a couple of weeks, my body is likely ready to be down to just the 2 nursings a day. Plus, it’ll make Mr. W happy to not be slave to my pumping schedule when we go out by ourselves. I’ve pumped now in the car multiple times, once while it was still driving; I’ve pumped in a clean bathroom stall of a car dealership while sitting on the floor (thankfully it was totally private and no one had been in the restroom that day and no one used it the entire time I was in there); pumped at my cousin’s house; in hotel rooms; parked outside supermarkets, restaurants and parks; my jury room; my jury room restroom; other people’s jury room restrooms; my judge’s chambers; a doctor’s spare exam room. It’s nice to not have to think about it or have to figure out a place to rinse all the pump parts ASAP afterwards for fear milk would dry up or decay in the inaccessible little ports and crevices.

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