Friday, May 2, 2014

Walking Scar(r)ed -

The birth of my first child, as is often the case, wasn't routine. On a Sunday night in October 2012, my husband, Chris, and I checked into the hospital to induce labor. We quickly learned that the jokes I'd been making about the size of my husband's rather large head being passed on to my baby weren't so funny: Our son was wedged sunny-side up. The Pitocin forced my body into contractions, but I wasn't dilating fast enough. My son rocked back and forth with the spasms—bruising and cutting his head—and I clutched Chris' hand when each movement slowed our baby's heartbeat. Many times, I thought I was too exhausted to continue. Finally, 33 hours after we'd arrived, my doctor made a six-inch horizontal incision across my abdomen, cut another slit into my uterus, and pulled Oliver into our world.

The anesthesia rendered my arms useless, so Chris held our new baby to my chest and we all stared at one another with the amazed reactions that are unique to seeing your child born. Time slowed, as if to remind me to capture the moment like I would a fact in one of my reporting notebooks. I mentally tucked it away, laughing while tears of joy and exhaustion rolled down my cheeks onto Oliver's wrinkly skin and Chris' cradling hands.

It would be minutes before feeling returned to my fingers, weeks before I could walk without wincing at any movement involving my stomach, and three months before I returned to work. Every day, I'd examine my new scar, a bubbling, wavy pink line that stretches across my abdomen. I was amazed it was healing so quickly and that my son was already so strong.

But I couldn't help but wonder why I was still so tired.

As a journalist, I frequently dig into the darker corners of life in an effort to extract not just facts, but also truths. At work, I'm meticulously—and among my colleagues, comically and notoriously—organized with spreadsheets, binders of notes, and boxes of documents. I tend to leave this orderliness at the office, so when it came time to have my first child, I never made a birth plan. I didn't read books. I hadn't even researched what could go wrong during labor. I figured women had been doing this for millennia, I had a good medical team, and my son and I shared a mutual interest in our mutual survival.

I'd soon learn how many varied and unexpected types of survival there can be. Shortly after my maternity leave ended, I leaned over to hoist Oliver out of his crib for a 2 a.m. feeding. His owlish brown eyes stared as I tried again and again to lift him, but my thumbs and forefingers wouldn't grasp his body. Eventually, I bent over farther, nudged him into the crook of my arm, and swung him onto the bed to nurse. Despite the warnings I'd heard about co-sleeping with your infant, I didn't have the energy and strength to move him back to his crib. Chris threw his arms around both of us, and Oliver dangled a pudgy leg over my arm, kicking gently at my C-section scar while we all dozed until the next feeding.

In the morning my fingers were moving again, but it felt like I'd sprained every joint in both hands. A quick Google search suggested it was probably a case of carpal tunnel syndrome caused by nursing. The more I researched, the more I realized nursing can cause any number of odd health problems. That must explain my fatigue. I concluded the lingering pain was just another humbling body change all new moms must face. I was even a little proud of it: Look how much I've sacrificed for my son.

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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

World Health Organization: No, Seriously, Stop Abusing Antibiotics - James Hamblin - The Atlantic

"The problem is so serious that it threatens the achievements of modern medicine. A post-antibiotic era—in which common infections and minor injuries can kill—far from being an apocalyptic fantasy, is instead a very real possibility for the twenty-first century."

That's according to a 257-page warning today from the World Health Organization (WHO) about increasingly unbeatable, pervasive infectious agents. The analysis of 114 countries is the most comprehensive global look at antimicrobial-drug resistance to date, and it found "very high" rates of resistant infections across all regions, including "alarming" rates in many parts of the world.

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