Monday, April 27, 2009

Day 14

My youngest son overheard a conversation I had with a friend about the Varicella (Chickenpox) Vaccine. He didn't much like what he heard. We were discussing the CDC recommendation for a second dose of vaccine - and the probability that further boosters would be needed for those who had been immunized. He was immunized at age 6. Late for the current recommendations, but I had waited until his pediatrician was willing to enthusiastically recommend it. When he immunized his grandchildren, we chose to immunize our son.

A few days after that conversation, my son learned that a friend's younger brother and sister had just come down with chicken pox. We had an extended discussion about the risks of chicken pox at age 13 vs as a young (or not so young) adult. We discussed the symptoms he might experience and the one potential benefit of actually contracting the disease instead of getting the booster. He's never been a weenie about needles, so I'm pretty sure his decision was based on his awareness the longer immunity he would likely receive if he caught chicken pox. I was very careful not to pressure him one way or the other, although I did tell him that he was rapidly approaching an age where the risks of the illness would significantly outweigh the benefit of longer term immunity.

After checking with the mother of the poxed children, we stopped in for a 45 minute visit. That started the countdown. About day 3, he started having symptoms. I was able to convince him that it was far too early and that the chances of contracting chicken pox weren't nearly 100%.

I did forget to give him my statistics lecture in which I say that statistics only apply to populations and that for him this will be 100% or 0.

Today was day 14. He has been complaining of a mild headache and scratchy throat since yesterday. He had found something he thought was a tick on the top of his head. Visualizing it through his incredibly thick hair was tough, but I managed. Definitely not a tick. It was a tiny red bump that looked like he'd scratched it. He suggested that maybe it was a chicken pox lesion. I countered with the suggestion that he ought to have others on his torso if that was the case. So he took off his shirt. There they were. About a half dozen red bumps on his chest and another 10 or 12 on his back. If he's lucky, that's all we'll find, but if this is chicken pox (and they do look like chicken pox), he can keep popping out with them for the next few days.

The incubation period for Chicken Pox is 10-21 days, but the average really is 14-16, so he's right on time. Now I need to figure out who to notify among the many people he's been around for the last few days.

They were desperately short of altar servers for the First Communion services at our church on Saturday. He was the only altar server at 2 of the 3 services - took a break during the third. He was also assigned to serve at the 9 am Mass Sunday morning. He was fine then, so he did that too. AND he went to Sunday School -- without complaining at all. He even went to his karate class before we dropped him off at a friend's house so we could go to our Boy Scout Troop committee meeting. Fortunately, same friend where he was exposed to Chicken Pox.

If you hear about a major chicken pox outbreak in the Mid Atlantic states, that will be our fault.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009


It rained this evening and the roads were slick. My youngest son and I were waiting on the parking lot that is usually a 45-50 mph 2 lane road - the only one into the peninsula where we live. I thought it might be a perfect time to discuss driving safety, since he'll be that age before I care to think about it -- and since he was trapped beside me in the front seat.

Oh, and he started it.

"Mom. Why are there more crashes on rainy days?"

"Why do you think there are more crashes? What is different about driving in the rain?"

"The roads are wet."

"OK. They're wet. What difference does that make?"

"They're slippery."

"What else is different?"

"It's raining."

(Trying very hard NOT to roll my eyes)
"So what else does that change?"

"How far you can see?"

"Exactly! So what do people do differently when they drive in the rain?"

"Nothing." (smarter than I thought)

"And what SHOULD they do differently?"

"Drive slower and leave more distance."

"Very good!"

We saw a flatbed/tow truck pass by in the opposite direction and traffic began to move as if someone had pulled the drain plug in the sink. Just as he said, very few people were paying attention to the road conditions in their haste to make up for lost time. Sigh.

When I got home, I noticed that my oldest son had not yet arrived -- he should have beat us by 30 minutes or so. Neither vehicle involved in the crash looked at all like his, so I wasn't too worried, but he usually lets me know if he's going to be late.

He had good reason not to this time.

He was much closer to the crash than we were.

He told me that he noticed the car in front of him starting to fishtail, so he backed off to give the driver space to recover -- or at least not to involve him in what was about to happen. She bounced off the road, over the curb, and started to slow down. He thought she was going to stay off, so he sped up slightly and passed her safely. He glanced in the rear view mirror in time to see her spin back onto the road and crash into the vehicle just behind him.

"So you narrowly avoided the crash?" I asked.

"No, mom. It was at least 2 car lengths behind me."

Folks, I'd have needed a change of underwear if I'd been that close. I'm very proud of my son. Not only was he unfazed by the crash, but he stopped to offer assistance (no injuries, thank goodness), waited until the tow truck had hauled off the wreckage and gave one of the drivers involved a ride home.