Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A Picture's Worth a Thousand Bruises

Bruises are a way of life in a family with four kids. My wife and I are constantly amazed at the sudden appearance of new bruises, scrapes, and "bleeds" (as my daughter likes to call them) that seem to just materialize on their bodies overnight.

Normally, it is just an aspect of childhood we accept. Yet, for the past few weeks, we've had to be particularly cautious with our kids because our church is putting together a new directory. Which means pictures.

With our date set, we simply have to keep any wayward injuries from appearing anywhere on the body that might show up on camera.

Easier said than done.

Four days before our photoshoot, my daughter trips, using her eye as a means of catching herself. On the coffee table. She was okay, under the circumstances. Except for the scab on her forehead, and the, uh, black eye!

Fortunately, she heals quickly...and even more fortuitous was the fact our photographer had to cancel the appointment and reschedule. She is all healed up now, and we're ready for our pictures again.

But yesterday, in a seemingly harmless game of "let's see who can jump the farthest" between my two oldest boys and myself (which, by the way, only confirmed my superiority in the standing long jump!), the final leap across the driveway ended in a collision between my oldest boy and my five-year-old. Wham!

He burst into tears, and started screaming. All I could think about was, "Oh, no! Please...no facial injuries!"

A quick look-over, and I could see the only injury was a scrape to the elbow. Whew! I got him all cleaned up and suitably bandaged, and decided to take our adventures indoors.

When my oldest boy was, I believe, two years old we went to have our family portrait for a previous incarnation of the church directory. On the way into the building, he trips, landing face-first on the parking lot, the skin of his nose left behind in memoriam. Despite a little make-up to try to cover up the injury, his face couldn't hide the fact he had just been traumatized.

We still have a week before our new photo date. And in that time, I'm tempted to keep our kids in straight jackets. Wearing catcher's masks. Locked in a padded room.

Friday, April 20, 2007

A Better Life

It is every parent's desire that their children will have a better life than they did. (Mostly, this is to ensure they will be able to support us when we retire.)

But when that desire becomes reality, well...I'm not as convinced.

My oldest boy concerns me. I taught him to play chess, and already he is proving to be quite a contender. He hasn't beat me yet...but he's only eight, and I'm not sure how much longer I can hold him off.

Then, there are the video games. I have trouble remembering that the A button means jump, and the S button means shoot or throw or punch. They play games where you have umpteen different key combinations without any trouble. When my boys and I would sit down to play video games together, at first I was the one paving the way, revealing new moves, new levels. They would be excited for me. Now?

"Look, Dad! We're on level nine on Spider-Man!"

Nine? I barely made it to level two.

I've had no choice but to stop playing video games with them.

And now...and now...

I gave him A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book the Second two days ago. He started reading at 9:00 pm. He finished it at 11:30 pm that same night. Next day, he did the same with another book.

Me? Well, I started reading a new book a week ago. I'm to page 60.

Yeah. Well. I can drive, and he can't. (For now.) And I'm taller. (For now.)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Too Soon For a Cure

Have you heard the news? There is a cure for diabetes!

Well, sort of.


I fear this news will create a bit of false hope in diabetics, for several reasons.

First, because this didn't technically cure diabetes. Instead, it killed off the auto-immune response that triggers Type 1 diabetes. If your insulin-producing beta cells are already gone (such as mine have been for about 24 years now), you're out of luck. Instead, this treatment is more like preventing Type 1 diabetes by early intervention, and not quite a vaccine.

Second, the long term effects of the treatment are, at this point unknown. It is possible that the body will, once again, trigger its autoimmune response at some point in the future. It is too soon to know. It reminds me of the recent problems with the varicella (chicken pox) vaccine. The drug companies and government kind of rushed the vaccination out, and now, just a few years later, kids who were vaccinated, are developing chicken pox. Not only so, but the vaccination is delaying the onset of chicken pox enough that it could actually become more dangerous. Might this experimental diabetes treatment be the same? Might these kids live lives free from Type 1 diabetes, only to have more significant health problems later in life? We seem to forget that Type 1 diabetes is entirely treatable.

Third, the treatment itself is dangerous, and might not even work. Of the 15 kids who had the treatment, it only worked for 13 of them. So, for those two that it didn't work, they underwent significant health risks. Actually, those health risks applied to the other thirteen as well. It is a small sampling. But if this treatment were done on a larger scale, might we see serious harm or even death?

It seems to me that this is kind of like using a machete to slice up your strawberries. It is overkill (quite literally). Instead of targeting the cause of the disease itself, it is a "shoot anything that moves" mentality, figuring that, sure, you may kill a bunch of innocents, but, by golly, you got the fugitive in the process!

I'm skeptical. Can you tell? In the meantime, other treatments will still be necessary for the millions of other Type 1 diabetics who have already been diagnosed. It is too soon for a cure, folks. One more false hope.