Tuesday, August 2

When It Rains....

Much as I love the monsoon rain and how it seems to envelop me in a kind of invisible protective veil, muffling the cries of a rather dissonant world outside my bubble---- of late it appears to have exactly the opposite effect.  Suddenly, I wake up in the middle of a street finding everything around me soaked in the rain. I tread ever so gingerly to avoid muddy potholes, yet I lose footing and get myself drenched.  The car horns blast at me, cussing me at my inability to make sense of the danger that lies ahead. Just as I turn to the direction of safety, a vehicle sweeps past and almost collides with me. And then, I wake up. From the dream within my dream. From the more unsympathetic reality. That for the nth time, I had overslept and was going to be late for work. As they say--when it rains, it pours.

This post is not exactly about my bizarre déjà vus, or my millionth attempt to go into raptures over rains. They are in fact quite becoming a nuisance now, considering how many days my kids will miss school and therefore miss learning, of how our laundry system has gone haywire because nothing can dry up quickly enough, and how it seems people (aka my kids) just feel more famished in the cold, or rather wet, weather that we are compelled to buy everything by the double. And, most frustrating of all, of how my runners are easily gathering dust because I cannot run outside.

This is about my kids’ health. Gabby's, in particular. Last year, I had my bouts of ill health and was confined in the hospital twice. And so did my son, once.  He passed out at a doctor’s clinic, and had to be hospitalized for a week due to a very bad case of respiratory infection. Although we were one happy family camping inside his room, and Sophia was allowed some nights to sleep over, for my husband and me, it was something that we hoped would never happen again.  Gabby at the onset, has tested positive in G6PD during his newborn screening test.  I wouldn’t want to assume that because of this, and despite his diligent attitude towards eating the right foods, he still gets sick. Because when he gets sick, boy does he ever.

G6PD has been relatively unknown until the recent past, when hospitals and birth clinics require all newborns to undergo such test. Wikipedia describes Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency as a “hereditary disease, linked to abnormally low levels of G6PD or G6PDH, a metabolic enzyme involved in the pentose phosphate pathway, especially important in red blood cell metabolism. G6PD deficiency is the most common human enzyme defect. Individuals with the disease may exhibit non-immune haemolytic  anemia in response to a number of causes, most commonly infection or exposure to certain medications or chemicals.Abnormal red blood cell breakdown (hemolysis) in G6PD deficiency can manifest in a number of ways:

Prolonged neonatal jaundice, possibly leading to kernicterus (arguably the most serious complication of G6PD deficiency)
Hemolytic crises in response to:
Illness (especially infections)
Certain drugs
Certain foods, most notably broad beans (favism)
Certain chemicals

In other words, there is no sure-fire way to tell which food or scenarios would give Gabby a trigger. We are left to grope in the dark, and have to learn the hard way, as we go along. One of the instances that we recognized how worrying it can get is when he puffed up over an allergy with Taro pie, courtesy of Mc Donald’s. In spite of the anti-histamines, it took almost a week for the bloating to completely go away and get him back to his normal appearance. Poor kid almost couldn’t eat because of his swollen tongue. What is strange about it is that his illnesses are all asymptomatic of G6PD, that it’s almost silly to blame it on his deficiency. I mean others are on worse boats, and yet something tells me the culprit is exactly that. Do I contradict myself?

Lately, his struggle is with constipation. We had brought him twice at the ER paediatrics in the middle of the night because of complaints of stomach pains. After a battery of tests (abdominal xray, urine, blood), we always come home with the same verdict----that he only needs to "pass", to be relieved of the pains. Hilarious and off-putting, if you come to think of it, but really! As a parent nothing of that just casually comes to your mind and not worry about the underlying cause of such a discomfiting situation.  

His constipation has probably nothing to do at all with his G6PD, and yet we cannot help but think that something must be done at the root of it. As of the present, we have decided to modify his diet—and that includes the whole family in the process. We buy more fruits, and bring in more fiber on the table. I took out my blender the other night and made some mean pineapple smoothies as alternative to our dessert, when in the past we always had iced tea or colas. This is a sacrifice that has to be made. Again as they say, sacrifice one thing for the good of the others. But as it is, I’d sacrifice many other things for the good of one. The one that is my precious boy.
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