Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Public Service Announcement: Latex Allergy

Jennifer approaches the soap box and climbs on top of it.

Latex is a cumulative allergy.  The more exposure a person has to latex, the more likely they are to develop the allergy.  I am not in a known group who is likely to develop a latex allergy.  I am not a hairdresser who wears latex gloves to dye people's hair every day.  I am not a health care worker who wears latex gloves to protect herself from patients.  I am not a tattoo artist.  I am not a fetishist with a requirement to wear latex gear.

Nonetheless, I have a latex allergy.  Life has become a comical charade.  Going to street festivals is now an athletic event where I doge balloons.  Children's birthday parties are no better.  We once went to a Passover Seder where each participant was given a goodie bag of plagues including a latex balloon.  I don't remember which plague the balloon was supposed to represent.  I was surrounded by metaphorical plagues, but the latex balloons being tossed back and forth between families was my real life plague. 

Swim caps?  Gotta keep me away from them.  Bandaids?  I generally carry my own, but if I'm offered one, I'll ask if they are latex free.

Because of my latex allergy, I also now have an allergy to avocado and bananas. Banana bread?  I can't eat it.  Burritos with avocado?  No.  I'm already quite a specific eater in many ways; I honor animals by choosing to be a vegetarian as I have been for the past 20+ years, so having additional food restrictions to things that I love has made eating even more challenging.

If I come in contact with latex, avocado or bananas, I currently break out in hives.  But, because of its cumulative nature, my reaction gets worse each time.  My next exposure could result in anaphylactic shock so I carry an EpiPen in my purse. 

What was my exposure to latex?  What led to me getting this allergy?  I had a minor surgery in the 80s at the height of the AIDS scare when healthcare workers were apparently hyper-vigilant about protecting themselves.  Therefore, there was a lot of latex in the operating and recovery room.  I was in my teens.  In the 90s, I had another surgery which added to the accumulation of latex in me.  When I started having an active sex life, I heeded the warnings from health workers who advocated for safe sex.  And, I had a bunch of safe sex using latex condoms starting in the 90s until I met my husband in 2004.

It's likely that our daughter is susceptible to the latex allergy since I am.  How am I trying to protect her?  I try to limit her latex exposure when possible.  If a doctor or a dentist has a choice between latex and non-latex gloves, I'll request the non-latex gloves.  Same with bandaids.  We already don't have latex in the house because of my allergy, so she generally isn't playing with balloons or koosh balls while at home.

When she does come into contact with latex, which she undeniably does, I don't freak out (too much) because I know that she doesn't have much of a latex accumulation built up in her.   In the case of a medical emergency, it'll be OK for her to be touched by latex gloves.  At a friend's birthday party, she can play with latex balloons.  If someone puts a latex bandaid on her, it's OK.  On playdates at other people's houses, I try to be vigilant so that I'm not unnecessarily exposed, but I try to maintain some sense of normalcy so that I don't freak out my daughter or the family that we are playing with. 

We're no where near the stage where she has to be thinking about how to have a safe and healthy sex life.  When that time comes, I hope that there are condom options that are not latex, but that also don't involve animal skin!

I try to keep her exposure to latex down where possible, while letting some sort of reasonable amount of latex come into her life.  And, I try to do this while somehow avoiding the latex myself. 

Jennifer steps down from the soapbox.   

Monday, May 20, 2013

3 Year Olds are Great at Improv

At one improv show I went to, possibly the only improv show I ever went to, the audience was invited to shout out locations ("a bathroom," "a movie theater") and then we were asked to shout out some sort of emotion (love-struck, nostalgic, elated); then the improv actors went with these suggestions and made up some sort of scene.
At one point at that improv show, one of the actors had some vision about the direction this scene should take, but then another actor cut in more forcefully with a vision of his own, so the first improv actor had to quickly change course and go along with his colleague's new vision.

In addition to having limited experience with acting and improv, I also have limited experience with 3 year olds.  With my lack of experience not being a barrier to opinion, I think that 3 year olds are masterful improv actors.

At my daughter's preschool, they have a play area filled with various costumes including a tutu, a chicken costume and an asian inspired coat of some sort.  Somehow, my daughter and her classmates thought that these were the perfect set of costumes to go together and they figured out some scenario where they played together and it all worked.

At home over the weekend, my daughter was pretending to be a mommy cat while I was supposed to be her baby cat.  When I announced that it was time to wash our hands, she said how much she appreciated me and that I was being such a good baby cat by reminding us all to wash our hands.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

What I Want for Mother's Day

I'd like to have an errand free Mother's day.  Not the kind of errand free day when I choose to not do errands, but I know that I will get to them the next day; I'd like the kind of errand free day when the errands that I would have done somehow get done by someone else.  My husband?  A task rabbit?  Someone hired from Craigslist?  This would be a good way for me to feel like all the work I do to keep our house and our family running are valued.

I'd love Scott to tell me that I'm a good mom.  Words are generally my #1 gift of choice.

Ditto for Star.  I can already imagine her throwing her little arms around me and hearing her tell me that she loves me.  Whenever she hugs me, I try to breathe in her scent and feel her warmth.  Sometimes I do that and she says, "don't smell me, mommy."  But, I love smelling my little girl.  I just try to hide it from her so I don't get reprimanded.  I know that affection is precious. 

And, I'd like Star to make me some art on a canvas in a frame - ready to be hung.  Here's some recent art from Star which I love, but now I have to frame it or decide that it shouldn't be framed and store it away somewhere.  I've had it in my office for a few days on my filing cabinet; art waiting for a frame to be hung feels like another errand waiting to get done by mommy. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

(Birthday) Love in the Time of Facebook

Yesterday was my birthday.  I'm not sure how I got to be 42, but so far, it's looking pretty good!

I had a wonderful day.  One of Star's babysitters arrived at 7:30am to finish getting Star ready for school and to take her there.  Scott and I escaped and went out to breakfast (which we almost never do), went hiking in Marin, went to some used clothing stores, I got a pedicure, Scott and I hung out together in the house, and then I went to dinner with a group of girlfriends.  When I got home, Star was still awake, so I snuggled with her and we talked about our days. 

Running parallel to my actual birthday, was how my birthday was celebrated in my virtual life.

Facebook was the most active of my online identities.  Here's a breakdown of who I heard from through Facebook.
  • Actual friends.  These are people who are likely to show up in my facebook stream often and I choose to have an in person relationship with them.
  • Family members.  By choice or not, these are people that I'm related to and their birthday greetings are wonderful. 
  • People I knew in High School, College, or Law School. Oh, it's so awkward.  Many of these people know such an outdated version of me.  They knew me when I chose to be called "Jenny."  They remember me when I was a French Horn playing band geek.  Some of them knew me when I was an out of place Californian living in Oregon.  There are definitely people from my past who have transitioned to "current" friends, but for the most part, these are a group of people that I don't have an actual real-time relationship with.  It's sweet that they mention my birthday on facebook, because facebook tells them it's my birthday, but it feels so inauthentic.  Also, it puts my head in a weird place on my birthday.  While having a nice day off from work doing what I wanted to do, I was continuously thrown into the past thinking about these people.  What do they think about me?  Should I be embarrassed about something that I did in front of them in my past?  Should I try to forge a real relationship with some of these people?  Or, should I un-friend them and have less head clutter in my life? 
The people who texted me birthday greetings are all in the category of actual best friends and family.

One friend sent me a message through Words With Friends which was unique and cute.

And, I got only one card through the mail.  It was from my in-laws and felt quaint in the best possible way.