I woke up this morning sneezing, one after another. The dreaded allergies have kicked up again. Before I return to Cleveland for the summer, I'm going to ask that my son and husband tear out the wall-to-wall in our bedroom. That should eliminate most of the problem.

Today is the day of the family gift exchange. About 25-30 people get together, and get their number. # 1 picks a gift from under the tree, # 2 has the right to either take a new gift, or take the gift from the previous person. If # 1 has his gift taken, he takes another one from the tree. As the number of gifts to steal grows, the game gets wild. To help someone secure a gift, family members forms teams. Generally, the very youngest participate only as helpers. But, by 10 or so, they're in the game.

It's good training for office politics, junior high, and the like.

I wasn't sure my daughter would be able to come. She finally decided to rent a car for a few days. Her husband will join us when he gets off work.

I've just been reading about an epidemic that's sweeping the country - from MSNBC:
the bacterial infection known as Clostridium difficile -- or C. diff -- which appears to be spreading rapidly around the country and causing unusually severe, sometimes fatal illness.
As always, the major problem is to discover why the illness is increasing its attacks now. It may be a case of "the cure for one is the cause of another":
the latest example of a common, relatively benign bug that has mutated because of the overuse of antibiotics.

"This may well be another consequence of our use of antibiotics," said John G. Bartlett, an infectious-disease expert at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. "It's another example of an organism that all of a sudden has gotten a lot meaner and nastier."

In addition, new evidence released last week suggests that the enormous popularity of powerful new heartburn drugs may also be playing a role.
I'm personally suspicious of the many antibacterial soaps on the market. Bacteria is not the enemy of mankind - we co-exist happily with a variety of other organisms. In fact, without bacteria, digestion of food is a painful, slow process.

Who's at risk?
The infection usually hits people who are taking antibiotics for other reasons, but a handful of cases have been reported among people who were taking nothing, another unexpected and troubling turn in the germ's behavior.

The infection has long been common in hospital patients taking antibiotics. As the drugs kill off other bacteria in the digestive system, the C. diff microbe can proliferate. It spreads easily through contact with contaminated people, clothing or surfaces.
Three words to remember - WASH YOUR HANDS! Even medical and nursing personnel often skimp on that preventive. Not to mention the MANY other people in contact with patients. That's why C. diff gets a foothold in hospital.

But, it's even more important to remove surface germs in other places - schools, homes, offices, restaurants. I'm not a big fan of the antibacterial hand "washes" - by not rinsing off the liquid, you're counting on it killing the bacteria. Sorry, that's just less effective than using plain water and soap (in a pinch, water) to rid yourself of surface germs.

I got a flu shot on the advice of my doctor this year. But, this C. diff may dwarf any flu's fatality. It's an example of an opportunistic infection - one that establishes itself when other "bugs" are temporarily wiped out - as in the case when you've taken an antibiotic. These opportunistic infections can be monsters - I had a respiratory infection for several months - when one virus died out, another came in. I was finally hospitalized for almost a week. My full recovery took almost a month.

I've learned - I take MUCH better care of myself now. You do the same.

Tags = Family and Health and Wellness


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