Update on Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD)

Two to three weeks after our family contacted HFMD, i noticed that all infected areas on the skin started to peel. I asked my friend who has also experienced HFMD and she said the same thing happened to her.

The peeling part is not painful but looks terrible. It a quite annoying for the kids since they are often tempted to tug on the skin that's started to peel. This has lead to some raw skin that can be quite painful for them. What we do now is to put band-aids on areas that are in the process of peeling to avoid the temptation of tugging on the skin before they are ready to fall off.
What's interesting though is that the only lesions/sores that did not peel are those around Dawn's mouth. That's actually a relief on a beauty standpoint :)

I will continue to update you should there be updates to this HFMD saga. But i hope foresee that this is the last leg to this disease.


The Promise of Joy

Psalm 30:5 "For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning"

I love that verse. For the darkest two months in my life back in 2006, i remember wondering if i will ever be happy again. I wasn't being melodramatic but that was truly the dread that i felt during those months. For those of us who have gone through severe grief, i am sure you know what i'm talking about. It's very hard to imagine being happy when you're extremely sad.

I dreaded going back to our house with the empty crib and unused clothes. I stayed away from children's parties and toy stores months after Tyler's passing. My heart broke silently as we celebrated with my family and friends on the arrival of their healthy babies. That was really a difficult time.

Then my mom shared Psalm 30:5 to me. That was my comfort and i held on to God's promise of joy each time fear and depression started to creep its way into my heart.  Twenty-two months after that sad December morning, our promise of joy came true. God blessed us with a very healthy baby boy.

Troy is now 5 years old and each time i see him, i am reminded of God's faithfulness in our lives. He is true to His promise and He will never fail us.

Some of you may be going through a difficult time right now. Some may be minor bumps on the road while others may be grave. Either way, rest assured that God is in control so long as you trust in Him. As sure as the morning comes after the night, His promise of joy will come after the sorrow.

Isaiah 43:2 "When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they will not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be scorched, nor will the flame burn you"


Do You Know How to Delegate?

Last weekend i found myself in a Strategic Planning seminar. The points that were raised were mostly applicable to organizations - whether it's a business, a church or other non-profit organizations. But when the speaker started talking about delegating, it struck me as a parenting lesson.

Are we, as parents, confident enough to delegate responsibilites to our children? It easier when our children are already adults. We endorse business decisions and other important responsibilities to them. But how about the younger ones? I gues the question we should ask ourselves is "how early should we start delgating responsibilites?"

When we were discussing delation during the seminar, the speaker explained that when we delegate, we must allow for a certain level of risk. But what is important is that the risks associated with the task is calculated. This means that you can easily recoup most of the damage should something go wrong. Likewise, the responsibilites that we delegate to our children should also be calculated based on their age. We give them responsibilites but make sure that it is age appropriate. More importantly, we should also ensure that the consequences of failure will not be life threatening. 

One of the things that Dens and i have recently talked about is allowing our kids to commute in the future. Dens is convinved that he does not want our kids to grow up dependent on private transportation. I agree with Dens 100 percent.  But there is a struggle within this paranoid mommy to allow for them to commute at such a young age.  Perhaps when they're 30?  Okay fine, 25?  I feel like allowing them to commute at a young age is like sending them off to war unprepared.  Dens started to commute when he was in gradeschool and i cannot imagine doing the same for my kids.  I told him maybe the first time Troy or Dawn will take the jeep, i will be trailing behind in our car. Dens didn't find it very funny. Maybe because he knew i was serious.

It's never easy to let go.  When we hold on to these parental responsibilites, our children will grow up in a very sheltered environment that will not allow them to thrive in the real world. It's important that we start delegating small responsibilities to them while they're young. It really does not have to be something big right away. For example, my 2-year old daughter is tasked to always pack her things away after she plays. She also helps me fix things at home and is always reminded to close the door after herself each time she leaves a room.  With my 5-year old, we often remind him to try to do things himself first before asking for help. When we watch movies in our TV room, he has learned to get water by himself.  Most of the time he would even get water for everyone else while he is at it.  Sometimes, other friends and family members would get anxious when they see Troy holding the pitcher because he might drop it and make a mess. For me, that's quite all right. Yes, he may spill the water sometimes but that's part of learning. In fact, he already knows to clean up after himself should that happen...in which case it becomes another teaching opportunity.  Again, the risk involved in the given responsibility is not life threatening so that is fine.

Maybe in a couple of years, i will be braver and allow my children to take the jeep. Until then, we will continue to train them at home and win these small battles. Maybe next time we will be ready for the war.


Our Experience with Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD)

I am writing this post to spread the word about the recent epidemic of the Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease (HFMD).

The thing with this viral illness is that most people do not even know they have it and continue to expose themselves to others. This causes a silent outbreak and spread of the virus. Though this disease is more common in infants and children, it is also possible for adults to acquire it.

photo from Wikipedia
A few weeks ago, my 2-year old daughter developed a fever that ran for two days. On the 2nd day of her fever, i noticed that she started to develop some red rash around her mouth. I initially thought this was just some sort of allergy.  I suspected that maybe her mouth was not wiped clean after her meals which could have caused the rash. I later on noticed that the rash looked like chicken pox sores. It sort of had blisters and she kept on scratching them so i knew they were a little bit itchy. She also started complaining of 'ouchy' inside her mouth on the same day. When i checked, i saw that she had one sore on her palate. This caused her to cry each time she was fed solid food.

On the 3rd day, she did not have fever anymore and was pretty active the entire day. The mouth sores were still there but it was not affecting her anymore. The only remarkable thing was that she would become very restless at night. She kept on waking up asking for water or milk and would cry each time she drank. 
I then remembered that a couple of my friends mentioned their kids having Hand, Foot, and Mouth disease
Dawn's hand
 (HFMD) last year. They said it was like chicken pox but isolated on the hands, feet, and mouth. They also mentioned about the kids getting fever for a short time prior to the rash.  I checked Dawn's hands and feet as soon as i suspected HFMD. And true enough, she had one red spot on her right hand. 
I looked it up on the internet and found that HFMD is indeed very common and also very contagious.  Incubation was said to be around 3-5 days from the time of exposure. Since i didn't know what Dawn had at the time of her fever, my entire family had already been exposed to her for a few days.

On the 4th day, my 5-year old son developed a fever. He then complained of sore throat and would also wake up crying in the middle of the night. He didn't have sores around his mouth nor spots on his hand and feet. It was just severe sore throat and high fever that lasted for 2 days. 

photo from Wikipedia
On the 5th day, my daughter's mouth sores dried up. My son said his throat felt a lot better and both of them didn't have fever anymore. The thing is, since i was the one taking care of both of them, i lacked sleep and my immune system was down. They say that HFMD usually only affects children but adults with weakened immune systems can also get infected easily. So, when my children started to get better, i started to feel worse. I developed high fever and severe sore throat. I couldn't eat anything except soup and porridge. I tried taking in some cereals but it only hurt my throat even more.  Later that day, i noticed sores on both my feet. I could hardly walk without experiencing pain. It felt like hundreds of pins and needles were on my feet. There were also little red spots on my hands and they felt very sensitive each time i try to close them to a fist. My fever only lasted a day but the sore throat and pain on my hands and feet lasted for about 5 days.

When i spoke with our pediatrician about this, she said that there is really an outbreak of HFMD now.  I can imagine why it would be an outbreak because (1) there is no vaccine for this virus yet, and (2) people are unaware of this disease. Sometimes we think it's the usual sore throat or rash and we continue to go on with our daily lives. Little do we know, we are already exposing other people to the virus.  It is important to note that even if it's called Hand, Foot, and Mouth Disease, the rash or pain does not always happen on all 3 areas. It can be isolated to just one area like in the case of my son who only had sore throat, or 2 areas like my daughter who only had mouth sores and rash on her hand.

Here are some things that i learned from our experience:

1. Ice is a soother! When the kids were crying from sores in the mouth or throat, i gave them ice. That relieved them of the pain somehow. I also made a lot of ice candies for them so that it's more fun to eat.  This also helps to keep them hydrated since my children found it painful to drink drink water on the first two days. Dens bought them jelly-ace for their snacks since they couldn't swallow biscuits or other hard snacks.

2.  Rest is gold.  Let them sleep as often as they can even during the day. We encouraged our 2 kids to keep sleeping and i feel that it has contributed to their faster recovery. 

3.  Isolate right away when you suspect HFMD. It's so hard when everyone in the family gets infected. Believe me! The advice on how long to isolate varies (you can read all the resource links below). For me, the safest route is to wait until all blisters have dried before exposing yourself.

4.  Frequent handwashing is your safest defense. This holds true for both the infected person to avoid further spread and those who are not infected to avoid contamination.

5. Soak the sores in Bayabas water. Bayabas or Guava leaves are often used as an antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, anti-allergy, and antimicrobial herbal medicine. I don't often buy into these Filipino herbal cures but i was desperate enough to try it out. I asked our driver to go to Quiapo to buy some leaves since we didn't have access to any Guava tree. We boiled the leaves and soaked our infected hands and feet for a good 30 minutes. I was amazed. The sores were instantly better just after the first soaking. I did this again before going to sleep and twice a day for about 3 days after that. You can boil the same set of leaves twice and just discard after that.

Help educate others to avoid further spread. My husband kept saying 'Don't keep on calling it Hand, Foot, and Mouth like it's an animal's disease!  I understand where he is coming from because i had the same reaction the first time i heard about it. HFMD is often confused with foot-and-mouth disease which is a disease of cattle, sheep, and swine. These 2 are totally of different viruses and are not related at all. Humans don't get the animal disease and vise versa. So don't be ashamed to call it what it is. It's not an animal disease after all.

You can learn more about it in the following resource links:

Wikipedia -  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hand,_foot_and_mouth_disease 
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - http://www.cdc.gov/hand-foot-mouth/about/index.html 
Children WebMD - http://children.webmd.com/guide/hand-foot-and-mouth-disease-topic-overview 
Patient.co.Uk - http://www.patient.co.uk/doctor/Hand-Foot-and-Mouth-Disease.htm 

Please spread the word and not the virus!



Hong Kong Disneyland Street Beat

Remember the cleaning guy in Disney HK doing water painting on the floor? (read about it here) Well, this year's visit to Disney HK showed an upgraded performance from the cleaners. Here is a video of the maintenance team creating beautiful music using trash bins and broom sticks. Am seriously doubting whether these are truly just cleaning folks. They're too good for their craft!


What Does Familiarity Breed?

I love my husband and i know he has a lot of strong attributes. I know this because i wouldn't have married him in the first place if he didn't.  But after knowing him for more than 13 years, sometimes i forget what these good qualities are.

A few months ago, one of our very good friends told us that they think Dens is one of the smartest people they know. When i heard this, I laughed out loud. Then i realized that they were serious. So it got me thinking.

When i first met Dens thirteen years ago, i could not stop gushing about all his wonderful traits. He was indeed very smart (great problem-solving skills especially in Math), he was our resident MacGyver who knew how to fix practically anything, he was always very generous - not just with money but also with his time, and more importantly, he had such a good heart. He always saw the good in people and avoids thinking ill of anyone. So what happened?  Did dens change through the years?  As i thought about it more, i realized that he didn't change at all. He is still very smart and handy, he still thinks of others before himself, and he is still very generous with his time and resources. So what has changed? I realized then that i was the one who changed. I have been so used to being around Dens that i became too comfortable with all of his good traits. Before i knew it, i was looking past them and was simply nit-picking everything he does that annoys me. I failed to appreciate him as much as i should and only called his attention every time he does something wrong.

Where is the love in that? My thoughts opened my eyes to once again see the beautiful gift that God has given me. A husband who loves me unconditionally and a bestfriend i can always count on. Dens has been nothing less than wonderful through the years and i have failed to see that. I saw the 1 day that he was late and failed to see the 6 other ones when he was on time. I criticized his growing belly and failed to appreciate the many midnight snacks he prepared for me and the kids. Familiarity blinds us sometimes, doesn't it? We are always so gracious to our acquaintances but we sometimes fail to extend the same grace to the people we love the most.

Familiarity should breed contentment and not contempt.  Dens will continue to have his faults as i would mine. Nobody is perfect. But i will promise to try my very best to always to see the goodness in him.

ps. Love, please do not use this post as an excuse to be late.  But if you do become late at times, i love you anyway :)


Kidnapped by the Kids

How well do you communicate with your family?

During our church's couples camp, Dens and i realized that we need to improve on communication. I honestly never really thought we had a problem in that area. We always talk anyway.  We talk about the kids, our daily activities, business ideas, and a whole lot of other things. But i realized that we never really take time to talk about how to improve our relationship. We go by the mentality of 'Why fix what's not broken?' But when we started evaluating our relationship during the camp, we realized that there are things that i like Dens to improve on and vise versa. On the flip side, it was also nice for us to hear how we appreciate the things that the other person has been doing but we never took time to say it out loud.

Last week, Patty talked about this new TV show entitled Kidnapped by the Kids. It sounded interesting so i looked it up. The episode that i watched talked about a mom who lost the connection with her eldest son because she avoided communicating with him and didn't want to deal with the issue. Each time she sensed there is a problem, she would use her job as a way to keep herself busy so that she doesn't have to face the music. I'd like to share the entire episode with you (cut into 4 parts). I feel that it's a good insight to how our children feel when we don't spend enough quality time with them. Communication is key in all relationships within the family. It's not only important to communicate better with your children but also with our spouse. Each day is another chance for us to do better.
Rick Warren, the pastor of saddleback church, illustrated this nicely. He said that some of us tend to always sweep family issues under the carpet. We know it's there but we hide it because we don't want to deal with it. The problem is that we keep sweeping all of these issues under the rug and before you know it, there's already a big pile of mess underneath.  Until one day, you find yourself tripping over the carpet and hurting yourself or your love ones even more.

Spend time communicating with each other. It's a great investment for your family.


Of Soccer Dreams and Faith Goals

Remember one of  my old blog posts about Troy's flat-foot? (Read about it here). Because of it, the ortho-pedia that we met a few years ago told us that Troy should not participate in any sport that involves a lot of running.

Last year when we visited Troy's school, he saw some older kids playing soccer. He told me afterwards that when he grows up, he also wants to play soccer like them. I said 'why not?'.  I know that medically it may seem difficult for Troy to truly be good at soccer because of his foot. But i also believe that God is greater than any medical limitation. For all I know, maybe God introduced us to Dr Kong so that we can start correcting Troy's foot problems early on!

Ever since Troy told me his dream to play soccer, i've added it to my list of faith goals. This concept was shared with me by one of my friends. Unlike the regular goals that we set for ourselves, faith goals are those that are impossible to achieve with our current resources. It is a goal that can only be achieved through faith in the Lord.

I know that Troy's heart's desires may still change. Maybe just six months from now he'd like to play basketball or baseball instead. But either way, i would like him to have the option to play the sport that he loves. This world may give us limitations but we pray to a God who is limitless! Wonderful, isn't it?

Now, what about you? What is your faith goal?

Hebrews 11:1
"Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see"


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