Trigger Thumb

Trigger Finger, Trigger ThumbI’m sure you’ve all heard of trigger finger, but have you heard of trigger thumb?

Trigger finger, trigger thumb, trigger digit – whatever you want to call it – is when a tendon in your finger catches, snaps or locks and causes pain or discomfort.

In my case….pain….lots and lots of pain….

It first started in only one hand, and very sporadically, while I was home on maternity leave. Then progressively it started in my other hand. It got so bad, that I couldn’t even snap my thumb back in place on my own. I had to push it with my other hand!

Ouch!

After a few weeks of this, I finally called my physician who diagnosed me with trigger thumb – in both hands! So she referred me to a specialist to have it looked at.

The specialist told me that some cases can require surgery, but all I would need was a cortisone shot in both thumbs. I was also told that in some cases, after the first cortisone shot, trigger thumb can manifest itself again, and in that instance I may need another shot, or perhaps surgery.

So, why am I telling you this Mamas? Well, because trigger finger is typically caused by highly repetitive movement – like say for example, texting on your cell phone! I’m pretty sure I developed trigger thumb from all the late night social media posting, web browsing and mobile game playing I did to keep myself awake as I breastfed!

The things we Mamas go through! :-)

Did this happen to anyone else? I’d love to hear your story and any advice you have for the rest of the Mamas out there!

Flu Season is Officially Here

Ugh. The coughing. The sneezing. The chills. Sore throat, runny nose and a pounding headache. Yes my friends, its flu season.

It started going around my office. Then my husband got strep. Now my son and I are both feeling the effects. Luckily, we’ve all had our flu shots. But that doesn’t stop the yuckiness of a strong cold and cough. And it certainly doesn’t prevent my son from smearing his runny nose-mucus all over our clothes, his toys and every other surface he can put his hands on. (Don’t get me started on the coughing and sneezing in my face!)

So, how do you keep yourself healthy when your child is sick? And if your child is sick, how do you get them better, faster?

Well, to be honest, I’m still trying to figure that out. But here are a few suggestions:

  • Scrub, scrub, scrub! Be diligent about washing your hands. (And don’t forget to keep a big bottle of handle lotion around. Constant washing combined with harsh winter weather can take a number on your hands.)
  • Check out the Mass.gov Flu website  and the CDC Flu website for tips on preventing the flu and caring for yourself and others.
  • Get your flu shot!
  • Baby won’t take medicine from a dropper? Try a medicine dispensing pacifier or sippy cup!
  • Cool-mist humidifiers are a great way to put moisture in the air and help curb nighttime congestion and coughing. I like the ones shaped like animals.
  • If your baby uses a pacifier, try a portable sterilizer machine. Too much to carry? Break out pacifier wipes to keep it sanitized.
  • Sanitize toys and teethers as much as possible. Be especially diligent with anything your child takes to school.
  • A room thermometer is a great way to keep track of how hot or cold your baby’s room is.
  • Get a nasal aspirator. You were probably given one at the hospital or maybe even as a gift at your baby shower. This tool is a must have in your sick-care arsenal, but unfortunately, most bulb aspirators are too invasive for a child’s taste. An less-invasive alternative? Try the BabyComfy Nose Nasal Aspirator.
  • Talk to your doctor about medicines. For parents, antiviral medications may be prescribed. Or over-the-counter medicines may make your symptoms more bearable. Never treat your child with any type of medicine without consulting his/her doctor first.
  • Stock up on tissues….lots and lots of tissues…

Can’t seem to kick the flu? Grab a blanket and cuddle up with your very own stuffed flu microbe.

Gesundheit! Hope you feel better soon!

How to Clean a Nasal Aspirator

It’s cold and flu season Mamas, and that means you’ll likely be sucking snot from your little one’s noses at some point during these last few weeks of winter.

Using a nasal aspirator (aka bulb syringe) is a great way to treat congestion in a baby, but it can also be a breeding ground for his next illness. A nasal aspirator is used to suction mucus out of a baby’s nose. Unfortunately, some of that mucus gets caught in the bulb and could be released back into baby’s nose.

YUCK.

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Cleaning the nasal aspirator should become part of your routine, after each use. Here’s how:

* Fill a bowl with hot, soapy (antibacterial) water, placing it by a sink. (Note: some websites will tell you to fill your sink with the water. I don’t know about you, but I don’t sterilize my sink every day, so I prefer using a clean bowl.)

* Depress the bulb end of the nasal aspirator to get rid of all the air. Insert the top of the aspirator into the bowl of water, and release your grip, to allow it to suck in the sudsy water.

* Remove aspirator from water and depress bulb again to expel water into the sink. (Note: other websites may tell you to expel the water back into the bowl. I don’t understand the logic in putting dirty water into a bowl of clean water, but hey, to each their own!)

* Repeat this process a few times to make sure the bulb gets cleaned and the mucus is removed.

* For a deeper clean, remove the pieces of the nozzle and clean with a bottle nipple brush, taking care to thoroughly scrub each piece. Rinse.

* Let the pieces air dry on a clean towel or napkin.

* As a final precaution, sterilize all the pieces in boiling water, letting sit for a few minutes. Remove the nasal aspirator and wipe clean.

Now you have one clean nasal aspirator to insert into one snot-filled nose!

Go get sucking!

 

P.S. If you have any recommendations on how to get your child to sit still during the mucus-extraction process, I’d love to hear them by leaving a comment below!

Warning Signs of Heart Failure in Infants

Warning Signs of Heart Failure in InfantsFebruary marks American Heart Month and a national movement to wear red in recognition of staying heart healthy. It represents a cause that I advocate for every day.

My son was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome when he was 15 days old. You’ve probably read my article about that day or may have even heard my story first-hand. It was an ordeal I hope no parent ever has to go through. And I’m sure you’ll agree.

But what have you done to educate yourself on the warning signs of heart failure in infants and children?

According to the American Heart Association, the term “heart failure” describes a heart that is not functioning properly. And since heart failure can be caused in many different ways, it’s important to know how to recognize it happening in your child.

For infants, heart failure can present itself in the form of lethargy, breathing trouble (watch for lips turning color), poor feeding or rapid heartbeat. Unfortunately, these symptoms can also often occur as a result of the common cold or fever, making it hard to determine the severity of the illness. If you suspect your child’s symptoms may be more severe, call your doctor right away and get your baby seen asap.

Heart failure can happen to even the youngest of children – even if the statistics say otherwise. Wolff-Parkinson-White for example, usually manifests itself in teens or adults. Gavin wasn’t even a month old when diagnosed. I feel very strongly that as mothers, it’s important we recognize the symptoms of heart failure and know to seek professional medical help immediately.

You can learn more about various heart diseases or to donate to the American Heart Association by visiting their website. You can also locate a CPR course near you by visiting the Emergency Cardiovascular Care (ECC) Class Connector.

Why Every Babysitter Needs an Emergency Medical Release Form

Medical Treatment Authorization for a MinorLet’s face it. We live in a highly litigious society today. Hospitals and physicians are being sued for treating sick children without authorization from guardians. And unfortunately, the very same, as well as caregivers in general, are being sued for assault or battery charges during the treatment of minors. So how are we supposed to handle an emergency situation, when our child needs medical attention, but we are not present to give authorization?

I’m sure we all share the same sentiments and never want to think about anything bad happening to our children. But unfortunately accidents happen. And so do illnesses. That is why an Emergency Medical Release Form, also known as Medical Treatment Authorization for a Minor, is a vital document to add to your New Mom arsenal.

An Emergency Medical Release Form is a document that gives express consent by a guardian to a caregiver or babysitter for medical care of a minor. Now we all know, in a life threatening situation, medical professionals will care for your child. But what if it isn’t life threatening, but it’s still serious? Without express permission, your child could be left without medical attention.

A good document will outline things such as:

  • Who is authorized to obtain medical treatment for the child and the dates they are authorized to do so
  • Name(s) of child(ren) under their care and date of birth
  • Guardian(s) full name(s), address and all contact phone #s
  • Health Insurance company name, policy # and subscriber name
  • Name, address and phone # of pediatrician/physician and any other medical professionals treating the child
  • Name and address of preferred Hospital
  • Details of treatments authorized – i.e. emergency medical care, routine medical care or administration of medicines
  • Details of any chronic conditions or other illnesses the child has
  • Details of any medications child is currently taking, including dosage amounts and times taken
  • Any allergies known in child
  • Emergency contact names and numbers
  • Signature and Date lines for guardians to sign to release consent

Once drafted, its best to have your Emergency Medical Release Form reviewed by a lawyer to address any concerns or holes in the document. And if you use a babysitter that is under the age of 18, be sure to ask your lawyer how to address this on your form. Some medical providers may not accept a medical treatment authorization that is given to a minor (i.e. a high-school age babysitter). You might also consider calling your medical providers and preferred hospital to find out their requirements, if any, for this type of document.

Remember, medical treatment authorization can only be given by a child’s parents or legal guardians. It cannot come from a family member; be it grandmother, sister, aunt or cousin … That’s why having an Emergency Medical Release Form is vital and should be updated on a consistent basis. This document should be given to any person in the care of your child, even if watching them for only 5 minutes while you are gone.

Here are a few resources to help get you started. Remember: We recommend that you consult with a lawyer to get professional legal advice on your medical treatment authorization, prior to use.

Baby Health: Dealing with a Major Illness

Today is a date of infamy in my family. It’s a story I have shared many times with family and friends. Now I wish to share it with the rest of the Mamas out there in the hopes that you are more prepared for dire situations which may occur and that you are confident enough in your “mother’s instinct” to know when something is seriously wrong with your child.

January 25, 2011 was the worst day of my life.

I awoke well rested, for the first time in 2 weeks. (This is not the norm for a mother of a 15 day old breastfed baby). It took me a minute to shake off the cobwebs and then turn to my husband to ask if he remembered the baby waking in the middle of the night. He couldn’t remember. And neither could I.

Thankfully, I had been keeping a list of our feeding schedule to share with the doctor. I checked my list … the last feeding was just after midnight … and it was now just past 7am.

Something was not right.

I went into the nursery to find our son still sleeping. I woke him to change him and try to nurse. He wanted nothing to do with feeding and immediately fell back asleep. Then, I became scared. Something was definitely not right.

We called the doctor’s office as soon as they opened. It was a Tuesday, and Gavin’s regular doctor was not in. So we booked an appointment for 11:30am with the covering physician. From there I spent two and a half nerve-wracking hours trying to nurse my son and keep him awake. Gavin was very lethargic and it appeared that feeding, even for a few minutes, was hard for him.

Just before our appointment, we received a call from the nurse. She asked we try undressing Gavin to see if he’d wake up from being cold, take his temperature, and try to nurse again. We did, and called her back to say we had no luck. She felt that perhaps he had cluster fed the previous day and was not hungry, and informed us that we’d have to reschedule the appointment to the afternoon as she felt we wouldn’t make it to the office in time. I insisted we be seen immediately and left for the office (which by the way, was all of 5 minutes down the road).

When we finally got in to see the doctor, she could find nothing wrong with our son. But he still refused to nurse and stayed sound asleep. Then she listened to his heart, and wasn’t able to count the beats. So she tried two different pulse oximeter devices and still could not pick up his heart rate. It was too fast. At this point, his lips were turning purple. Through all this, he never cried. Just slept.

We were sent to the pediatric ER at the hospital, where within minutes of arriving, a swarm of doctors and nurses entered Gavin’s room. We were pushed to the corner to get out of the way, staring in disbelief at our beautiful baby boy, whom by the reaction of the medical professionals, was obviously very ill.

Gavin’s heart rate was clocked at 290 beats per minute. The normal heart rate range for an infant is 100-160 beats per minute. My son was having super ventricular tachycardia (SVT). And we had no idea why. He was given an electrocardiogram (EKG), hooked up to an IV and administered two doses of adenosine to stabilize him. Another EKG was given, and shortly after, a pediatric cardiologist came in to meet with us.

Baby Health: Dealing with a Major Illness - Wolff Parkinson White

Gavin in the ER, stable and waiting for transfer to Pediatric ICU

Gavin was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) Syndrome. This major illness manifests itself in less than 1% of the population, and here it was in our sweet boy. It is a result of the heart having an extra pathway allowing the electrical current to flow through it. Since this is not the normal path, the heart begins to beat at very rapid rates, and in rare cases, can cause sudden death.

Gavin was admitted and we spent 3 days in the pediatric ICU with him. Over the course of his stay, Gavin entered a SVT state many times. There was nothing worse than hearing the frantic beating of the alarm hooked up to our baby and seeing nurses rush in to his rescue. The doctors and nurses worked to establish a medicine level that would control the illness and regulate his heart to a constant, normal rhythm. We were beside ourselves with fear and grief.

During that time Gavin couldn’t breastfeed. So I pumped and he remained on an IV of fluids. We were hardly able to hold him so we watched over him in his hospital crib and whispered words of comfort. We were taught how to check his heart rate using our finger and counting beats with a clock, something I was not comfortable with. So we ordered medical-grade stethoscopes and learned to listen and count.

Being discharged was a scary ordeal. Would we be able to recognize the symptoms if they manifested again? Would we be able to correctly count his heart rate? How would I keep myself from watching him sleep all night long to make sure he was breathing? How would I ever let anyone else hold him once I was finally able to hold him in my arms again? How would he take his medicine from us? Is there someone we can call, at any time of day, with questions or concerns? Would he be able to grow up and live a normal life?

Mamas, I write this today not to scare you, but rather to share Gavin’s story and hopefully provide some comfort if you are also dealing with a baby health scare, especially a major illness. You are not alone. And you should always know to trust your instincts, even if medical professionals don’t.

Being a parent dealing with the major illness of a child is not an easy thing. Every day the worry is the same as the day before. But it does get easier. And today, I write this to celebrate one year of my son’s life. An amazing year. The happiest of my life!

Baby’s First Year: Infants’ vs Children’s Tylenol

Infants’ Tylenol is given to babies, and Children’s Tylenol is given to children 2 years and up. Right?

Wrong!

There has been so much confusion regarding proper dosages of acetaminophen products, such as Tylenol, that the company has now discontinued the Infants product. Why the confusion? There is no dosage chart for children 6-23 months on the medication, only a recommendation to consult your child’s doctor for dosages given to children under 2 years of age. Unfortunately, a lot of parents winged-it, causing them to overmedicate their children.

The other big concern was the concentration amounts of the medication. Infants’ Tylenol was typically a much higher concentrated formula than the Children’s Tylenol product. So a parent intending to grab the lower concentration, and accidentally grabbing the higher concentration bottle, would overmedicate their child.

In May of 2011 an FDA panel unanimously voted to recommend adding dosing instructions for children under 2 on all acetaminophen products, showing both weight and age recommendations.

Unfortunately, some retailers are still selling the Infants’ product (I know, I just bought one). So Mamas, if you have any Infants Tylenol, be sure to indicate proper dosage amounts to any caregivers you have for your baby.

Here’s an over-the-counter pain medicine dosing chart reproduced from a document given to me by UMASS Memorial Children’s Medical Center. (Note, there are no ages listed in this.)

Weight (lbs) Infant concentrated drops (80mg/0.8mL) Children’s suspension (160 mg/5mL) Children’s chew tabs (80mg)
6-11 lbs 0.4 mL Not Recommended Not Recommended
12-17 lbs 0.8 mL Not Recommended Not Recommended
18-23 lbs 1.2 mL 4 mL Not Recommended
24-35 lbs 1.6 mL 5 mL 2 tabs
36-47 lbs Not Recommended 7.5 mL 3 tabs
48-59 lbs Not Recommended 10 mL 4 tabs
60-71 lbs Not Recommended 12.5 mL 5 tabs
72-95 lbs Not Recommended 15 mL Not Recommended

Here is a link to a similar dosing chart provided by the makers of Tylenol.

* Please consult your doctor to review the recommendations from this chart before medicating your child.

Baby’s First Year: Top 10 Nursery Must-Haves

Gavin under his Fisher-Price Luv U Zoo Deluxe Musical Mobile Gym

Bringing home baby from the hospital is a very exciting time. No doubt you’ve spent hours upon hours researching everything you need for your nursery so you were well prepared for this for day. And then you come home and quickly realize you are missing something you need. Don’t fret Mama, it happens to the best of us! It happened to me too. So before you run out to the store…and then again a day later, be sure to take a look at my top 10 nursery must-haves (in no particular order).

1. Low-wattage lighting. My nursery had a ceiling fan/light which was relatively bright. After the first night home, we realized that turning on the light to check on a sleeping baby wasn’t going to happen. So we purchased a small table lamp to sit on his dresser and bought a low-wattage light bulb. On the same topic, we also bought a few nightlights. One was kept in his room, which helped us navigate our way to the lamp on the dresser. The other was kept in the hall outside his room, so we could groggily make our way to his room during the night and not bump into anything on the way.

2. Wipes warmer. I know, I know. Many of you Mamas are probably thinking this is a ridiculous purchase. But let me tell you, changing diapers in the wicked January weather we had last year was just ever so slightly easier with nice warm wipes. I’m sure Gavin appreciated the gesture. And so did my hands too.

3. Infants Tylenol. Your baby can’t have motrin for a few months, so buy a package of infants Tylenol to keep on hand. You’ll want this handy for their first fever. Trust me, you don’t want to try and find a 24-hour CVS at 2am when this happens.

4. TV (for my breastfeeding Mamas). Yes, I know kids aren’t supposed to be exposed to television, especially at this age. The TV is for you Mama. If you are breastfeeding, the TV will help keep you alert and awake during those many late night feedings.

5. Noise machines. I recommend a crib mobile and a white noise machine. The best crib mobiles are the ones whose music lasts much longer than 1-2 minutes. We had the Kids Line Mosaic Transport Musical Mobile to match my crib bedding set and I can’t even count how many times I’d have to rewind it in a row. So Mamas, do yourself a favor and research them before buying. I have never tested it, but the Fisher-Price Rainforest Peek-A-Boo Leaves Musical Mobile claims to last 10-18 minutes depending on the setting. The sound machines are great for playing soothing sounds. We bought the HoMedics SS-2000 sounds machine and still use it today on the waterfall setting. Best part is that you can set it on a timer, or leave it playing the whole night.

6. Play Mat or Mobile Gym. This is an absolute must for every nursery. Let’s face it, your baby can’t do much in the beginning, so a play mat or mobile gym is a great way to build sensory development and later on, practice tummy time. We registered for the Fisher-Price Luv U Zoo Deluxe Musical Mobile Gym and Gavin loved it. It has lights and music and a number of toys for baby to reach at. It also has 2 volume levels, which is nice to control.

7. Diaper pail or Trash can. Whatever your choice (we have the diaper genie), you’ll appreciate having some kind of trash can conveniently located to the baby’s changing table. This will be a great help in disposing of diapers, wipes, etc. Whatever your choice, my recommendation is to find something with a foot lever so you can open and dispose of your trash without using your hands to do so.

8. Thermometer and Vaseline. You’ll need this to check the baby’s rectal temperature. And you’ll want to have a dedicated Vaseline container for this use only. Since its likely you’ll be checking temps in the middle of the night, I’d recommend buying a thermometer whose display lights up, like the Vicks Comfort Flex. This thermometer has a large LCD screen, backlight and will flash green, yellow or red to correspond with the temperature level.

9. Changing Table Pads. We all know changing diapers is a messy business. I bought a number of cloth changing pads, only to have my son pee or poop all over them, often, several times a day. I hated laundering these pads. (Note: I’m not talking about covers for the actual cushion.) So I invested in disposable pads, similar to what you probably saw in your hospital bassinet or if you’ve ever had a dog, similar to puppy training pads. Now my changing table stayed clean and I didn’t have to wash a million pads.

10. Swaddling Blanket. Whether you choose a sleep sack or the Miracle Blanket, this nursery must have is a great tool for keeping baby warm at night, and it helps reduce the risk of SIDS caused by using blankets in the crib. Even if its the summer, baby still needs to keep warm, and many sleep sacks come in light, breathable materials. Sleep sacks give baby’s legs room to move and also provide quick access for diaper changes. They are also much easier to use than trying to swaddle your baby with a receiving blanket.

Is there a nursery item you swear by that I missed on my list? I’d love to hear from you!

Infant Ear Infection – What I Learned after 8 Infections and 3 Doctors

My first  exposure to an infant ear infection was back in early June of last year. On accident. We had brought Gavin to the ER for a high fever, and poof, we found out he also had an ear infection in his left ear. The ER gave him a shot of Ceftriaxone which is supposed to clear up the infection within 24 hours, and lo and behold, it did!

Unfortunately, this little nuisance came back a few months later, and has since turned into chronic ear infections.

Infection 1: Given the shot of Ceftriaxone at ER – worked like a charm

Infection 2: Prescribed Amoxicillin

Infection 3: Prescribed Ceftin – Gavin threw up the first dose, but took it relatively well after that.

Infection 4: Prescribed Augmentin – worst medicine ever. Gavin had extreme diaper rash as a reaction to the medicine. And I don’t use the word extreme lightly. We had to use wet paper towels at every diaper change as his bum was so raw that even sensitive wipes irritated it. And we applied a variety of creams. We even used an athlete’s foot powder (weird, but it worked). It didn’t fully clear until he went off the medicine, again after 10 days. Oh, and did I mention it gave him diarrhea?

Infection 5: Back to Ceftin – Gave takes it well and gets better.

Infection 6: Ceftin again. There was no way I was letting him go back on Augmentin.

Infection 7: Prescribed Cefdinir for double ear infection….Did I mention the major side effect for Cefdinir is red poop? And yes, Gavin had it. Thank goodness the Dr. told us in advance, otherwise I would have been pulled over for speeding to the hospital. Fun times.

Infection 8: Ok, I’m premature on this one, but we saw an ENT today who said he has fluid in both ears and will likely get double ear infection in a few days. AWESOME.

So, what has all this taught me? ….. Ear infections really suck.

But seriously, let me share a few things:

  • Know the symptoms of an ear infection. Your baby can’t tell you his/her ear hurts. For Gavin, it occurred usually with a cold. He always pulled on his ears, and now he smacks his ear with the palm of his hand. He also tends to get fevers and is very irritable and has trouble sleeping.
  • Babies tend to pull on their ears just to play with them. And apparently they also pull on them when they are teething. So you have to be a super-sleuth to determine if your baby is playing or really has pain. Trust your Mama instincts. When in doubt, call the Doc.
  • Your Dr. may not be able to see an infection if your child has ear wax buildup. Some Drs will remove the wax, others won’t. So an infection may go undiagnosed.
  • When you bring your baby for an ear follow-up after an infection and taking medicine, don’t accept a diagnosis of “his ears are clear”. Apparently, fluid can last up to 3 months in your ear, so it’s important to find out if the ear has fluid but no infection, fluid with infection, or has no fluid.
  • If your baby has chronic ear infections, get a referral to an Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) doctor, also known as an Otolaryngologist. Don’t wait. Chronic ear infections untreated can lead to speech problems, balance problems, hearing loss or further infection.
  • Prepare for your appointment in advance. An ENT will ask you if you think your child has difficulty hearing you. Seriously, what child doesn’t have selective hearing? Even my infant ignores me at times. Especially when I use his middle name. It’s a silly question, but valid. So if you believe your child has some hearing loss, try making varying pitch and sound levels around your child and make note of his/her responses.
  • Research ear tubes and ask your ENT if they are needed. We saw 3 different Drs and got 2 different answers to this question. My recommendation: Keep going until you are comfortable with the decision.
  • Ear tubes are inserted into the ear via a surgical procedure and general anesthesia. Know the risks! And oh by the way, they aren’t a cure. Your child may still get an ear infection after having tubes inserted.
  • If your child needs a hearing test, try and schedule it when they are free from any cold or viral illness. Colds can create a temporary slight hearing loss on their own, so you don’t want to have this confused during the test.
  • If your child needs tubes, ask the ENTs opinion on the use of ear plugs when around water. There is varying degree of medical opinion on this, so be sure to get the latest.

Knowledge is power, Mamas! You can read more about infant ear infection at the Mayo Clinic’s website.

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