Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Virtual Doctor (or how my baby got leprosy)

Some time ago whilst searching in google for my GP's phone number (yes, I am THAT disorganised that I actually lost my doctors contact details and I was seeing this doctor weekly for methatrexate injections... but I digress) I came across WebMD's symptom checker. The symptom checker is a virtual doctor. You simply enter in all your symptoms and it tells you whats wrong with you.Virtual doctor is everything you need, that is, if diagnosis is all you're after. Treatment still requires a visit to the actual doctor. I love this site. I'm a little bit addicted to it. I like to punch in my symptoms and see what weird and wonderful diseases I might have. My actual doctor is pretty boring on this front. She's always flu this or virus that. Virtual doctor on the other hand has way more imagination than that. One time it told me I had Rabies, pretty impressive considering Rabies doesn't exist in Australia and I've never been to a country where it does exist.

It's hours of fun for the whole family (assuming your family is as weird as me) As long as you don't actually rely on the information for any kind of medical treatment. I would probably never mention any health theories you've obtained from this site to your doctor either. In fact, just deny any knowledge of it altogether. Some of my favorite diagnoses have been Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome (early pregnancy symptoms), Poison Ivy (my late pregnancy symptoms), Mono (flu), Gangrene (stubbed toe) and my absolute favorite Creutzfeldt-Jakob Syndrome... mad cow... ok, that's probably a fair call considering!

Now that I have a little person, it's even more fun. I punched in some of the baby's symptoms, she has a skin rash (probably milk pimples, but I'm not a doctor), muscle weakness (she can't even stand), short sightedness (I doubt she can even see 2 foot in front of her), mood swings (screaming blue murder to content and back again in under 5 seconds), poor motor skills and judging by the amount of time she spends crying, I'm going to guess that she's either in a lot of pain or just really unhappy. To be safe I better use them both.

And the mystery disease? It wasn't 'being a baby' as you might expect but Leprosy! Awesome. Imagine running to your family doctor with that pearl of medical wisdom! My baby is a leper put her on the next plane to Kalaupapa, Hawaii and resurrect that colony. Stat! Another interesting diagnosis was intoxication. As I looked over at the baby who appeared to have totally passed out after her bottle I wondered how far off the mark that one was. She's on the nod, milk induced coma.

Interestingly, virtual doctor has never diagnosed me with Crohn's Disease. Maybe all the doctors I've ever seen have been completely wrong. Maybe I really do have (quickly checks WebMD) a fractured coccyx. It's possible, stranger things have happened.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Slutwalk Melbourne

Boys will be boys.
She was asking for it.
She knew what she was doing.
She went back to his room for more than just milo.
What was she thinking wearing that?

We live in a rape culture. A society that blames the victim and makes excuses for the perpetrator. The law is pretty cut and dry on the subject of rape. If a woman does not consent to sex and the man has sex with her anyway it's rape. It doesn't matter if she's drunk, scantily clad and up in his apartment at 2am, unless she consents to sex, it's rape. It's rape if she's unconscious and he has sex with her anyway.

Plying her with alcohol and dropping something in her drink so she passes out and can't say no is rape. If she can't say no, she can't say yes and you are a scumbag who should be in prison where no doubt you'll get a graphic illustration of the difference between consensual and non-consensual sex.

If I don't pay a prostitue is it rape or shoplifting? If I hit you in the face with a shovel for telling this "joke" is it assault or a public service?

Not so long ago a couple of high profile football players were accused of sexually assaulting a woman who went back to their hotel room. They were all drunk, it's alleged that there were illicit drugs involved. A friend of mine stated that she should never have gone back to the hotel room, what was she thinking? I took a deep breath and then launched into a rebuttal.

I don't care if she was naked with a mattress strapped to her back, she has the right to say no. I don't care if she went up to that hotel room with the intension of having sex with one or all of them, she has the right to change her mind and say no. I don't care if they are half way through doing it, she has the right to say stop, I don't want to do this anymore.

Seriously, are we as a society saying that men do not possess the ability to control themselves? Is it our contention that men are incapable of keeping their member in their pants? That they do not possess a basic level of comprehension to recognise a yes from a no? That a man who has sex with a woman who did not consent is not responsible because he's a man and boys will be boys but that she is responsible because she was wearing a low cut top and had a drink?

Fuck me. (no, that wasn't an invitation)

By saying boys will be boys we are saying to men that it's ok to have sex with a woman when she has not consented. We are saying it's all just a bit of fun and shouldn't be taken to seriously. That, 50% of society, is not to be taken seriously. That women are less than men.

By blaming the victim, we are taking the focus off the perpetrator. Any focus on her dress or how much she had to drink or where she was walking at what time is attention that is not on the sexual offender and it's the sexual offender and ONLY the sexual offender who needs to explain his behaviour. I wonder how many sexual offenders target a particular type of woman knowing that they wont get charged or they'll probably get off because the focus will be on her behaviour and not on his? I wonder how many sexual offenders actually think her behaviour excuses his?

The fact of the matter is a man ALWAYS has the ability to keep his penis in his pants. He just choses not to and as a society we choose to make excuses for him. It's fucked and we need to stop.

What has all this got to do with Crohn's Disease? Nothing. I just thought it needed to be said.

Melbourne Slutwalk: May 28, 1pm, State Library.

A river in Egypt

I'm always surprised when my Crohn's flares up. I don't now why I'm surprised since obviously it's the kind of disease that will do that and my Crohn's monster is a temperamental beast that has flared up for no reason on a pretty regular basis since taking up residence in my intestines. Sometimes it flares because I've eaten something I shouldn't have, sometimes it flares in protest to antibiotics and sometimes it flares for no discernible reason at all because frankly, it's a bit of an arse.

I could recite what a flare up looks like without really even thinking about it. I know my Crohn's disease like the back of my hand. Yet, somehow flare up's manage to sneak up on me almost every time and I find myself standing in the middle of it looking bewildered and thinking where did that come from? Granted, sometimes I go from perfectly fine to full flare in the space of meal, but often there are some precursors or a build up that should tip me off to the impending flare. More often than not, I completely miss these (Er more likely, ignore them, pretend they aren't happening, dismiss them as something else) yeah ok, we get the picture.

I enjoyed a delightful nine months of remission during my recent pregnancy. I knew (academically) that pregnancy is often protective and can result in spontaneous remission. I knew (academically) that post pregnancy could mean the end of the period of remission and a return to normal disease activity. Normal disease activity in my case means, sadly, endlessly flaring Crohn's but I got used to remission. It was lovely not having to worry about where the nearest toilet is and being able to eat 3 meals a day without feeling bloated and sore and nauseas. Nine months is long enough to develop a false sense of security and I knew (denial?) I'd be ok afterwards.


My Crohn's started to flare up within days of giving birth. Embracing the last point of good toilet posture (Allow yourself time, do not rush) is easier said than done when there's a little person screaming blue murder in the next (and often, the same room). Think a baby's urgent cries are loud under normal circumstances, try being in a bathroom with those cries echoing and bouncing off every wall! Anyway, there was a slight delay in getting my Infliximab transfusion and after several frantic phone calls, some moments of panic and a fair amount of swearing the transfusion occurred just before Easter. Once I had that, everything would go back to normal, normal being remission, not pre-pregnancy normal, yeah?

er, no.

So the flare continued for a couple of weeks. I was pretty sure I had some sort of virus or bug, all the symptoms fit: fatigue, nausea, loss of appetite, stomach pain, fever, diarrhoea. Of course those are all the normal symptoms of a flare too, but it couldn't be that, I'd had the transfusion. I even went to see my GP who told me that it probably was a bug and it would pass without the need for any medical intervention. See, I was right, I had caught a bug. Never mind the fact that bugs are contagious and nobody else, least of all the baby with virtually no immune system, was even remotely sick. Never mind the fact that bugs usually only last a few days to a week. I got a bit worse followed by a bit better, then a bit worse again. Two steps forward, one step backwards. Another fairly typical sign of my Crohn's flare ups.

Eventually it dawned on me that this weren't no bug. The unhappy realisation occurred at 4am whilst on the toilet (where else would a Crohn's related moment of enlightenment happen?) I'd had to stop feeding the baby midway through and race to the loo. Whilst sitting there I conceded defeat.

All hands to report to battle stations, Crohn's, my old frenemy, is back.