Diary of An Irish Woman

musings of an irish lady now living in America.

Friday, March 30, 2007


Originally uploaded by SineadBorg.
posted some photos on flickr and one of them was one of my best birthday partys ever with my new found twin Shelia in 2004.

This was start of evening when we were in Chinese restaurant and well, lets say that after the comedy club the party ended up back at my apartment where much much alcohol was consumed. Thankfully most of the night is undocumented by photos.

Also posted it because my twin is leaving Cali soon to go to big Apple and I'm so happy for her and at the same time sad if that makes any sense. Its only the best friends who can effect you like that where you wish them all blessings in world but also wish I had a magic transporter button to go see her whenever I wanted. Now whos going to kick my arse to make me walk and eat healthy.

Friends like that are the family you get to pick.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Hereditary spherocytosis (abnormally shaped red cells)

So my Mother is the mutant. Not a sentence you can say often. She was the first diagnosed with Hereditary spherocytosis (abnormally shaped red cells) in our family that we can trace so therefore shes the mutant :-). Basically your red blood cells are shaped like donuts with concave both sides to hold things like iron and oxygen. Donuts yummy (really miss the ones in Ireland but that's another post).

Mine because of a defect on chromosome 8 doesn't have the protein block needed to hold it in shape (imagine a roof of jelly without some rafters to hold it in shape) so looks more like a sphere or as I like to imagine little rugby balls or American footballs. You can see here under microscope that one of these cells is not like the other.. cue sesame street song...

So you can inherit this from a parent and from what i read its common to Northern Europeans and one in every 5000 has it. Although I have to believe maybe its missed often as growing up the only ones I knew about it was my Mum, myself and my sister Orla. I called it Veras toastis as I couldn't say Hereditary spherocytosis. I have an Aunt Vera so easier for me to say. I remember as a child going to medical lectures as our doctor Prof Guiney of Royal College of Surgeons would ask his interns what we had as a case study and I would try and hint and say Veras Toastis and then be dismayed none of them got it..

So because your red blood cells can be shaped funny they get caught up in your spleen which has a big wave kind of vein going through it that takes dead platelets and abnormal cells away. As some of or all of your red blood cells are shaped funny the spleen goes into overdrive and takes too many so your red blood cells don't live as long and you get anemic and also on occasion very yellow as your bilirubin also increases. Spleen gets bigger and you get paler. In the past they just took out your spleen and you would still have odd shaped cells but wouldn't be anemic or as sick. Problem was that turns out spleen does a lot for us, especially with fighting flu's, pneumonia's and any virus that's encapsulated. Without it folks without spleens don't do too well against these viruses. So vaccines are very important and now if they don't have to take spleen out they wont.

Mostly I ignore the fact I have HS (Hereditary spherocytosis) , I just get my shots when needed and let doctors know so they understand why my platelet count is so super high on tests (no spleen to take out platlet trash you have more platelets floating around. I have a large scar on my tummy vertically where they took my spleen out when I was 5. And my gallbladder came out when I was 32 which it turns out is also common in folks with HS. Spleen is an organ under your tummy and holds extra blood for emergencies and is also involved with immune system and platelets. As you can see also looks pretty gross. This is a very very enlarged spleen from an adult whose spleen has gotten too large. Have to imagine mine was way smaller. No wonder I don't like liver to eat.

Its come back more to mind of late as since its autosomonal dominant (so your kids have 50% chance of having it) being pregnant means we have to be prepared. Thankfully its treatable and myself, Mam and Orla have all gone through it. That makes it a bit easier often harder to face what we don't know. Orlas two wee ones both have it so seeing first hand how they treat it now with folic acid supplements, they also had transfusions and also how they try and avoid spleenectomys at all (and now if they do them they take gallbladder out as well or partial spleenectomy). Orla knows a few locals who have it as well but that's in Ireland where as here in California I don't know anyone who does.

We saw a genetic counselor Kathy at our 13 week ultrasound (as I'm AMA another nice label for older mother first pregnancy) who very nicely gave us a recommendation for a pediatric haematologist. I figured better interviewing them now then later after baby is born when all is hectic so I can better be prepared. (Another time re rant on different previous genetic counselor Shannon who was probably the most useless person I have seen medically EVER)

She gave us the name of Dr Bertil Glader at Stanford Medical center and Lucille Packard Hospital. I called to make an appointment for later in pregnancy and by chance got his office at Stanford University where he teaches as well. Instead of having me come over the nice Doc spoke on the phone to me and discussed current treatments and later if the baby does have HS to call them so we can see them. It was a very very nice thing for him to do. He let me know his thoughts on treatments and said I should stop by for the handout from British Journal of Haematology for treatment of HS which Orla also recommended.


So like I said - even though would be a bummer for Hobbit to have that its not worse and quite livable. Nobody wants to have their babies go through blood testing and surgery so fingers crossed we wont. Since a lot of babies have jaundice we have to wait a couple of days after birth to see if its baby jaundice or caused by HS. At least feel like we're a wee bit prepared in who to go to and also Doc gave me a good recommendation for a Ped Doc as well which was very appreciated.

Apart from that all is grand. The head cold that hopefully is on way out and it's had the added benefit or resting my pelvis so that's eased up a wee bit. Hobbit has made his jumping around more and more obvious. I feel like a human trampoline...

We go do a 20 week scan next week and a OB-GYN visit as well end of next week. 18 half weeks already - just flying by

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

At LAST ! - Direct flights from Bay Area to Ireland !

So we have been campaigning here in Bay Area for at least 20 years for direct flights from Bay Area to Ireland. Right now you can go through LA to Dublin only twice a week, or via Chicago, NY, Boston or via London so the trip is now 18-24 hours instead of a 10 hour trip. (Anyone who has hiked through Heathrow airport to the very very far away Irish connection knows how much it sucks to get from London to Ireland after the 10 hour flight and then 5 hour wait in London after a two mile walk between the terminals).

Of course I was hoping from direct flights from San Jose to Dublin but looks like will be San Francisco to Dublin starting in Autumn 2007 which will be grand for seeing the family in Ireland. Lot easier and a long time coming.

So St Patricks Day they announced that they will be staring flights on Aer Lingus 5 days a week. So great news for folks here. Still has to be finalized and agreed but looks like will happen.

Direct flight to Dublin finally set Chronicle Staff Saturday, March 17, 2007
After four years of trying by city officials to establish a nonstop flight between SFO and Dublin, Ireland, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said Friday that the airline Aer Lingus is expected to begin a five-day-a-week, direct flight by the end of the year.
Joined by Supervisor Sean Elsbernd and Martin Cullen, the Irish minister for transport, Newsom said it was an important milestone for the 11 percent of Bay Area residents who are of Irish descent. He said it would prove an economic boost, providing more than 900 jobs and bringing in $6.8 million in taxes each year to the city and state.
The European Union’s Council of Transport Ministries must approve the flight — which it is expected to do at its meeting next week.


walking like a penguin

So we had a lovely weekend in San Diego with himself, the fantastic Arv and his girlfriend and Arv's friends. Arv was himselfs best man at the wedding last year and they've been friends forever as well. He's my brother in law just by the fact himself and my hubbie been mates so long. We had a brilliant time hanging out with them and friends and a nice relaxing mini break.

Arv was very good and they went with Jan to Sea World Saturday (when they had already been two days before!) while I chilled at the hotel for the day since feeling much better than last week but still not able to walk far.

All was going grand - we even brought all the princess in pea pillows with us in a huge bag for the hotel and we took taxis everywhere so wouldn't aggravate the SPD pelvic problem too much. Then not thinking Saturday night got into a taxi and scooted over as you do to let the other person in. Which involves opening your legs.... Ouch... Back to the hotel Paddy's Night with a bag of ice on my pelvic area to calm it down. Not first thing I would have thought of doing for St Patricks day but there ya go.

Thankfully not as painful as before although we had to get wheelchair at the airport there and in San Jose so we could get in before darkness came as I walk like a slow penguin otherwise. Of course when the airport guys pushing me up a hill in this wheelchair I'm thinking oh my God I wish I was lighter and didn't have that egg biscuit sandwich for breakfast but fair dues he didn't even sweat or start gasping as he pushed me, he was chatting away and had to be about 60... Obviously eating all his oatmeal....

Yesterday I was at Physical Therapy and then two hours later the Chiropractor. Both are really helping and as they said, I'll get flare ups but as long as I take it easy should need less visits hopefully soon. Seeing them both again Friday. They want me to go three times a week but its just too much for me. Resting seems to really help.

Turns out that this SPD is very common in very late pregnancy and after pregnancy as well. Of course when I started talking about it a lot of pregnant women say they had it later in pregnancy or afterwards even my Mum and my sister Fig.

Yet none of the pregnancy books I read talk about Symphysis Pubic Dysfunction (SPD) at all. I'm wondering if its very undiagnosed. Best sites I saw about it were UK ones. Here it gets a small footnote in most sites and talks about how in earlier days they used to cut the cartilage holding the two pubis bones together if baby's head was too large before c-sections came in. Now that sounds sore...

Of course may help if they changed the name Symphysis Pubic Dysfunction (SPD) sounds like a sexually transmitted disease, OK it is kinda with getting preggers being the cause but you know what I mean.. Reading that most midwifes and doctors treat it as that you cant do much about it. Very happy that I am getting treatment early that's helping and they aren't saying just deal with the pain. Swimming or walking in pool also helping. Prior to being preggers didn't like pools much unless as hot as a bath. Now love that cool water with my own body temp being higher. Its not just jello addictions that find you...

Some articles on SPD that I found interesting. The wee pelvic belt they gave me helps as well. I cant wear the pregnancy support belt as don't have the preggy belly yet so strap pings me in chest when I try to wear that one..

Of course neither Chiro, PT lady or my OB-GYN have ever had it in someone so early in pregnancy... Don't I feel special.. The hobbit is grand though so that's whats the most important thing. Just their mammy that's a knackered old horse..

Read my new Anita Blake novel and another book I brought at pool so had to get two new books at airport. Read one of the new ones Sunday on plane back. Might as well try and cram it all in now. Cant see much time to sit around reading come end of August, although there are bets on if I will try and read in labor.

I was wondering if I do have a c-section like docs are recommending at moment if they can sterilize my tiara because I'm determined to wear it during delivery. Figure they can autoclave it like the other instruments... Hey - its not often we get to wear your tiara again so might was well make top of me feel like a princess even if bottom half sure wont be feeling like that during delivery !

This was our first flying away preggers trip and apart from me being an ejit getting into the taxi wrong Sat night it worked well. Both had a great sleep and the pillows are worth taking with us. I'm bringing them all to Alaska Cruise when we go in May !

Never been on a cruise so excited and we're not exactly beach people (I was under towels by pool Saturday with sunscreen on and all my clothes on so I wouldn't burn..) so the penguins and us would be right at home. Have a good week folks, thanks for the emails and calls. Doing grand and even I have to admit I'm walking more like a penguin than a geisha...

Friday, March 09, 2007

baby got back

Yep its latest scan of the Hobbit. 16 weeks now on Saturday. On left is back of Hobbits head and that line is the spine according to Doc. Fair enough this time we were excited as the Hobbit looks more like a wee baby and we got to put it on VCR and listened to the heartbeat.
The hobbits back is to the scan. Decided it wasn't a photo day for them. Now about 5 inches long and jumping around like a Mexican bean and we could see the face and arms swinging around until of course it was time to take a picture...
Mummy Hobbit doing much better and as long as I walk with knees together not as sore. Still throwing myself lengthwise into bed as pretty hard to get into bed without pulling knees apart. (U try it !)
I think when I'm walking, I'm taking delicate steps like a geisha, someone who shall remain nameless (himself of course) muttered something about more like a penguin..
Its our first anniversary and we're off to San Francisco for weekend. I wont be walking far but we're off to see a one man play that involves a summary of three films of star wars - yeah geeky cry http://www.poststreettheatre.com/
and then Sunday off to see http://www.stephenlynch.com/ - who's one of the funniest musical comedians ever and whose songs are so sick that you laugh but feel guilty in doing so.
Have a good weekend and take a little time to make up for that lost hour Saturday night !

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Blame it on the kid

So a very very funny card Gra just sent me. Lets just say its to remind me of the payless incident when they were over. We were standing in line a long time with our buy one get half off deals in our arms when a silent but deadly aroma creeped in. What did we do, well we looked at the poor innocent 5 yr old kid in the line and blamed him. Nothing to do with us ladies.. Oh no.. And if we had to roll down our windows while driving at 60 miles an hour after shopping to vent out the air in the car, its just because we like fresh air nothing to do with noxious fumes...

Its great when your family gets ya..

Britney spears re Queen

So on some bed rest at moment. Nothing too serious and baby Borg is grand. Just my ligaments getting too soft too soon in my pelvis so bit painful.... So resting up at moment and starting physio next week as well as my chiro visits.

One of treatments for this is keeping your legs together (as my wonderful chiro Dr Deb http://www.losaltosfamilychiropractic.com/ says opening legs is what gets you into it, keeping them together is part of the cure ! - big cheers to my chiro who is making me feel so much better with this although pubis bone adjustments have to be up there on the OMG ouch scale)

Being also advised that when I get out of cars to keep the legs together and swing them together in one graceful motion. So imagine like Elizabeth Hurley or the Queen and not Britney Spears :-) Had my Gynie laughing on that one.

Have a good week folks !