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Chicken Pox, Cold Weather, and The ER: Happy Holidays from Momma Data!

Posted Nov 27 2010 2:48pm
Snow, ice, finding the lost mittens, convincing the tween to wear a coat, navigating the teacher gift gauntlet.  Yes, winter's here.  So here's a tiny bit of good news as you wonder how in the world you're gonna survive the next few frosty months.

Fewer children end up in the hospital when it's frigid!

A huge study out of chilly England found a correlation between wintry nights and lower hospital admission rates - especially for children.  Something I will try to keep in mind as my boiler shuts off in the middle of the night.   Of course the reverse is also true, higher maximum daily temps show higher admissions rates, especially for kiddies.  No surprise, probably something every ER nurse has known for years.  It's a scorcher out there, let's get ready for some serious injuries!  I know, cool it on the ER humor, but forgive me...

I spent yesterday in the ER.  Thought my mother was headed into emergency spine surgery, a slipped something, maybe cervical disc disease, a tumor (my dad, the worrier).  Much to our surprise, though, the cause of excruciating pain was none other than shingles.  Yep.  Big relief but still a big bummer for the family turkey feast that, by the way, my mother prepared ahead of time because, well, that's just her and because we don't have all the right fixins in Jersey.  Anyhow, mom rallied a bit with a big intraveneous injection but is in for a long haul. 

Turns out, thank goodness, shingles (herpes zoster!) is pretty rare among kids.  Rarer still among those who get the chicken pox (varicella) vaccine according to a recent study out of Kaiser Permanente in California.  Big sigh of relief as my kids spent several days fighting over grammy's scarf, one of those whatchmacallits that a 5-year old can actually wear as a long halter dress.  Now there's a gift idea - skip the toy aisle and head to the fuzzy women's accessories.  The ER nurse, who was otherwise fabulous, blabbed on and on about how contagious shingles was and were my kids vaccinated, it lasts for months and months, the pus, the scabs, the blinding pain, blah blah blah.  It's true that no one's quite sure how long the pox vax lasts, remember the recommendation changed from a single dose to a double back in 2006. 

Kids didn't even get the pox vaccine until 1995, pretty recent, too recent really to tell if it provides lifelong immunity.  One more reason why we've witnessed the phenomenon of Pox Parties .  Honestly, can you imagine going to a party and passing the lolly around the room? 

Come on, darling, take a lick.  It's good for you!  Just this once.  I know, I know, mommy doesn't usually like it when you share treats with friends.  And don't do it ever again.  But take a lick now. It's for your own good!  

Did I really think my kids needed the vaccine? Not really but now that I've seen it's bigger badder cousin, Shingles, up close and personal, I gotta thank the doc for pressing me on the pox vax.  At least for the moment.  Won't be so thankful if we find out all these kids aren't protected as adults. 

Speaking of giving thanks and big open sores, it was some 30-odd years ago I watched the Macy's parade scratching and itching my way through a bad case of the chicken pox, only a few scars and hopefully a big health dose of immunity to show for it. 

Cheers!
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