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Barack Levin

Author: Barack Levin

Archive for August, 2010

Fever

Posted by Barack Levin on 31st August 2010

If you read my blog and my book you know how much I am against giving kids unnecessary medication. I will never prevent medical treatment from my kids but I refuse to run to the pharmacy every time they sneeze. 

My son came home complaining. We checked him up, he was hot. We took the temperature and it was 102. He was complaining and I asked him (he is 6 now) right up front: “Is the pain so unbearable that you need medication?” He nodded and off he went. I already know him and he knows me. If he thought he could cope with the pain he would have told me so.

The next day, again high fever, 102, but this time was different. I asked him again: ““Is the pain so unbearable that you need medication?” he looked at me, thought for a second and said “No. I do not need any yet”. “If you feel bad, all you need to do is let me know and I will give you some pain killer” I said. He nodded but did not take anything that day.

Today, 2 days after the initial fever he still has some fever. It dropped down to 100. Same thing as before and again he does not need any medication.

And the funny thing is that he is not complaining or feeling down. He is of course not himself, his eyes sparkle and he is slower than usual, but still acts normally. I already told him that if tomorrow his fever does not go down I will take him to the doctor. After all I do not want him to suffer or get worst, but my point is very simple. Talk to your kids – explain to them what you expect from them, lean them a hearing ear. They want your attention and will cooperate with you. They know how they feel so why not ask. If you have good relation with them – they will be honest.

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Is there something wrong with this picture?

Posted by Barack Levin on 30th August 2010

We went out with some friends and the conversation, how else, eventually turned out to be about kids. One of the couples who were in the group has a 5 and 4 years 2 boys. They were talking about the younger one. The father said: “Our son is like clockwork. Every morning, exactly at 5:56, he comes to our bed from his and asks for milk and every morning I carry him back to his bed”. What I got from that was that:

  1. The kid sleeps in his bed
  2. The parents sleep in their own bed
  3. The parents do not want him to come to their bed early in the morning

The mother continued: “This morning we put him back in his bed and once we left he crawled back on the carpet to our bed and under the covers and said :”Milk””. Every one around the table said :” Ohhh… that is so sweet” and me and my wife looked at each surprised. Are we the only ones seeing something wrong with this picture? The parents do not want their kid to have this behavior but lack the resiliency to force it out, instead, they cave in to it day by day and apparently, everyone else around the table thinks that what he does is adorable. What an irony.

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Happy Birthday

Posted by Barack Levin on 28th August 2010

Went to a birthday party of a friend of mine who just turned 40. We all gathered around, ate some cake, watched a magician do his act and all the time I was thinking: On Tuesday I am going for the first time to the Emory Transplant Center. Will I be able to celebrate my 40th birthday.

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Posted in State of the Kidney | No Comments »

Hiccups

Posted by Barack Levin on 28th August 2010

Now, this is crazy. I started to hiccup yesterday and thought nothing of it. Happens to the best of us. It took about 40 minutes to hiccups to stop and I returned to my normal self just to find out, about an hour later, that I have another round of hiccups. Again, about 45 minutes. And again, I dismissed it. Happened to the best of us.

By that evening I already had 3 more and started to get concern. I decided to see my doctor the next day.

At night I woke up to go to the restrooms at 2AM and as I stand, once again. Round number 6 which took another 45 to calm down. Went back to bed and of course as I wake up another round. By the time I saw my doctor at 3PM I have managed to go through 9 rounds of hiccups. Each lasting about 45 minutes. My chest muscles were in pain. This is obviously not normal.

I check in and he examines me and decided that I suffer for a heart burn. But I do not feel it, I tell him and he said, it does not mean that you do not have one. He tells me to take some magnesium pills for the next day and saw I do. I run to the pharmacy, but the pill and shove 3 right in. Within seconds, the hiccups stop. I am all happy go through the day and it is time to go to sleep. I again, wake up in the middle of the night for the restrooms and as I do, hiccups. 3 more pills and finally after 15 minutes they stop.

Since then, I am hiccup free. Not sure if it is related to my kidneys or not but it is just one more symptoms in a series of bad symptoms I am having lately.

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Parenting

Posted by Barack Levin on 28th August 2010

I was thinking lately a lot about the definition of parenting and what it means to be a parent. The official definition for parenting is: Parenting is the process of promoting and supporting the physical, emotional, social, and intellectual development of a child from infancy to adulthood. Parenting refers to the activity of raising a child rather than the biological relationship.

I suggest a much shorter and to the point definition that includes all of the above and more: parenting is a kid’s launch pad to a successful adulthood.  If you think about it this way you get all the necessary things you need to grow a successful adult.

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The First Step

Posted by Barack Levin on 23rd August 2010

So, Emory Transplant Center finally called me today. “Hi, this is Jenny” She said. “Well, I guess this is good news and bad news at the same time” I replied. She laughed “You probably heard that a thousand of time already” I continued. She agreed but remained professional and very approachable. “We want to invite you to our introductory chat next Tuesday. Will you be available?” “Of course I will” I answer. “you will get a FedEx package tomorrow with all the information. We will see you next week”

Let the game believe.

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Posted in State of the Kidney | No Comments »

Going to the Store with Kids and Live to Tell About it

Posted by Barack Levin on 23rd August 2010

We have found out that we had a leak in the walls for sometime now and the bathroom downstairs and upstairs are rotten and need to be replaced. My wife immediately liked the idea or redesigning and shopping for new and exciting bathroom fixtures and off we went to the store. The only problem is that we had to take the kids with us and the question is of course, what would they do while we look at tiles, toilettes seats and vanities.

I decided that there is a way to this gracefully and this is how I did it. My little girl (4.5) is into measuring tapes recently. She likes to measure anything and everything in the house. My boy (6) is a little engineer. He likes to have things in order and now, at first grade, is proud that he can write anything and everything. I put one and together and came up with a plan.

I called the kids and told them about the leak. I also told them that we need to go to the store to shop for new items for the house and we need their help. It is already a tradition in our house. Every time the kids hear us say that we need their help, they volunteer to help because it is fun and because they feel proud.

I gave my little girl the measuring tape and my boy a pen and a notepad. I told them we were going to the store and I need them to measure some boxes so that we see if we can fit them into the bathroom. They were all excited. We got to Home Depot and next to the tile section I saw the lighting department. Called over the kids and showed them all the boxes on the floor “I want you to measure their height and width and write them down so that we can decide what to buy. Any questions?” They had none. Showed them were to start and told them we will be on the next aisle looking at some other things and to come and look for us when they are finished. I left them there to concentrate on the real important thing.

With this task at hand they started measuring and working as a team. She measures and he writes it down. 5 minutes later they came back all happy with the list of dimensions. We went out of our skins to show them what a good work they have done and I sent them to another aisle to continue with these measures.

To make a long story short. We were able to shop freely without the kids and they had a blast measuring boxes.

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Blackouts

Posted by Barack Levin on 19th August 2010

I am not sure if it is the drugs or simply low blood pressure, but lately I am finding myself facing another problem. Each and every time I stand up, my head is spinning and I am on the verge of fainting. It gets to a point where I have to hold something if I do not want to find myself face down on the floor unconscious.

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Posted in State of the Kidney | No Comments »

No More Food

Posted by Barack Levin on 19th August 2010

I am not sure if it is completely related to my kidney’s or not, but recently I stared to notice something knew. I do not enjoy eating food any more. The food I am consuming is not as flavorful as it used to be. It is blend to the border of not interesting. I have no desire to eat any more. Even food items I used to love such as chocolate have no more taste. They do not get me excited anymore.

As a result I have also noticed that I started losing a lot of weight. It started gradually but before too long, I lost 22 lbs and I continue to drop. So there is at least one good side to it.

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Soccer Practice

Posted by Barack Levin on 17th August 2010

I just do not get it, don’t get it at all. We signed my boy (6.5) to soccer practice today. Soccer practice not a rocket science camp, just several kids running around the field kicking the ball. But no, it is not as simple as that. I wish it could have been. The kids have to wear jersey shirts and matching pants and I ask myself why? What is the use in this? Why can’t we give the kids some leniency and have them come and play with some regular pants and shirts. Who cares about uniform in this age? Are we preparing them for military service? Let them look different, let them express their individuality, don’t force them into a box, let them be free.

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Their Little Hands

Posted by Barack Levin on 17th August 2010

If you put your mind to it, as a parent, you can always find ways to “use” your kids to help you. Today, I want to talk about how to take advantage of the kids physical attributes and especially their size.

I had to move my main computer from one side of the room to the other. My wife decided to rearrange something in our home office and my computer’s location was one sacrifice. I do not have a problem with that, except… except the fact that the new location is at the corner of the room with very limited access to the back of the computer? And what is that a problem? Because my computer is hooked up to so many devices and has an endless sea of cables running from the back to the devices and to the electricity.

I postponed the task as much I could because I did not feel like crawling around, until the light bulb in my head lighted up. Why not use the kids? They can squeeze into the tiny space and help.

So, I went to get their help. As always, the first thing out of my mouth was:” Kids, I need your help. Do you think you can help me?” I believe there is no better boost for a child’s self esteem than when their dad asks for their help. They agreed and I gave them the tasks. My boy (6.5) is in charge of the tap and scissors. He will help me tie all the cables. My girl (4.5) is in charge of the flashlight (her favorite toy these days). I told them exactly what I need them for and they were more than happy to help. I explained and described everything I was doing so they are as involved as possible. I have asked them for their opinion, even though I do not need it and had them crawl behind the desk and help me pull and arrange the cables.

All in all it took me more time to complete this task, but I did not have to squeeze my big hands in places I could not reach. They did it for me and at the end when everything was working again, they were so proud.

This just comes to show that even a boring task like taking care of cables and a PC can be fun if you know how to approach it.

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Jamaica’s Grip

Posted by Barack Levin on 14th August 2010

Apparently Jamaica won’t let go. After I got back from my vacation I was violently ill with a stomach virus that flared my kidneys. Lately I have this rash and itchy feeling in my foot. Thought nothing of it. Went to my annual dermatologist appointment and asked about it. They looked and said it is a worm. Real worm under my skin that I got while walking on the beach from a dropping a dog left behind. When I asked how to get rid of it, they told me I need to take pesticides. Instead of sending me to Home Depot they gave a special pill that will take care of the worm. 2 days later and indeed, I think it is gone.

As much as I love Jamaica, I can not shake the feeling that this time I got a bad deal on my trip there.

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Headaches

Posted by Barack Levin on 8th August 2010

Lately I am having new symptoms – headaches. They only start last afternoon but continue until I got to sleep. The problem is that even if I take a pain killer it does not help me. The pain is not at the same place everyday. It changes locations. Sometime front, sometime back and sometime on the side. The pain feels like a pinch, as if someone is pinching the inside of my brain.

As a result, everything I do is slower. My thought process is slower, I need to speak slower and even when I walk, I walk slowly. Every move I make send waves of pain straight into my brain.

I just hope it got nothing to do with my kidneys.

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The First Step

Posted by Barack Levin on 6th August 2010

Got the results of the blood tests today. I am all clean from HIV and Hepatitis. The next step is for the Emory transplant center to contact me and invite me over for an educational class. Probably within a week or so.

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Birthday Present

Posted by Barack Levin on 5th August 2010

I already know what I want for my 40th birthday in December.

A new, beautiful shiny kidney.

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Ketchup

Posted by Barack Levin on 5th August 2010

It drives me crazy how kids and their parents drown their food in ketchup. It is not enough that these kids do not eat healthy anyway, and now they add to it ketchup which is loaded with sugar.

But it is more than just that. By drowning the food in ketchup everything tastes the same. Kids are not exposed to new tastes, the strong taste of ketchup covers everything and it is the way for parents to convince kids to eat something (picky eaters anyone?)

In our house we do not keep ketchup, instead we have a tomato paste that we use very rarely; mostly when we prepare hamburger (home made from free range beef) for the kids every once in a while. We do not want them to learn that every meal comes accompanying with ketchup. They need to eat their chicken, meat and fish without ketchup.

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I can understand

Posted by Barack Levin on 5th August 2010

Now that I have had my kidney disease for so long, I can definitely start to understand what pain means to a normal human being. Out of a week, I might have (at best) 1-2 ok (not good, just ok) days. The rest of the days I suffer from some kind of pain (or a combination of several): Gout, Nausea, Headaches, Fatigue and more. They are all linked to my kidney disease. I can start to understand why people prefer to choose to die rather than go through this pain day in and day out. The pain and the overpowering sensation that there is nothing you can do to stop it, simply drive you crazy. It definitely drives me crazy.

There are days, where if I was all alone without a family to care for, without kids who look up to me and depend on me and without a wife who loves me, I would seriously consider putting an end to this misery. It sometimes to get to such an unbearable point. Even pain killers that I am taking (and I am not taking the over the counter low dosage stuff, I am talking here prescription pain killers that barely scrape off some of the pain away) are not helping me. I feel that I am not going through life; it feels as if I pain myself through life.

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The Countdown Has Begun

Posted by Barack Levin on 4th August 2010

I went to my Nephrologists yesterday. Things are not looking good. I had a stomach virus 2 weeks ago after returning from Jamaica. I had 101 degrees, vomiting and diarrhea. Without the help of anti biotic I do not know how I would have passed the weekend. However, the virus took its toll on the kidneys. My creatinine jumped from 2.9 to 4.75, on the verge of total renal failure. My Nephrologists was not that concerned but asked for 2 more tests 2 weeks apart. The first one showed a drop to 3.5 and the next another drop to 3.27. But this is not enough. Damage to the kidneys have been done. Irreversible damage and their functionality dropped to about 25%. In this state of business, I already knew what my Nephrologists is going to tell me. And so he did. Today I went to have an HIV and Hepatitis blood test. This is the first shot in the race for a complete renal failure. I did these tests because the transplant center asks all new patient to go through this procedure. I will probably meet with the center next week to continue with the process.

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TV and Kids

Posted by Barack Levin on 1st August 2010

I am very against exposing young children to TV. I have many reasons, but my girl came today showing me why I am correct in my decision.

My kids watch an hour of TV every two weeks, and that is also a stretch. During summer time, it is even less than that. May be an hour every month. When they do finally watch TV it is always something that we chose for them and it is never free TV for all, it is a DVD or a movie that we think is appropriate. Lately, we are into nature shows. Some of them are simply breath taking and teaching the kids about animal and our planet.

One day my little girl comes back from day care. She is about 3 years old. She is talking to us in the car and says something that peeks my interest “I like Hanna Montana” I look at her at dismay. She does not have that knowledge from home o it ha to come from day care. “Why?” I ask. “Because other kids in day care like her and I saw her picture today”. I am thinking and have a tricky question. “Ok, so who is Hanna Montana?” he looks at me “I don’t know” She answers. “So if you do not who she is how can you like her?” She thinks about it and understands.

For me, this is a little triumph. I see no added benefit in my kids knowing who Hanna Montana is at this age. I have no reason to expose their young to nonsense like that and it saves me money. I do not have to buy all of these ridiculous franchise merchandise with their favorite characters.

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