Sunday, September 20, 2009

My son's G-tube fell out this week.

He was at soccer practice.

I was at work, but my wife said he nonchalantly handed her the "tubie," as we called it, its anchor balloon deflated by a lengthwise tear.

"Here," he said. "This fell out."

One of the other players' grandmother is an ICU RN, and she was kind enough to clean and dress the site.

The whole event wasn't the emergency it might otherwise have been.

The g-tube had outlasted its usefulness, Brendan hadn't had a feeding from the tube in months and we were planning this week to ask for its removal.

Fate took care of things, and after a brief inspection by a doctor revealed no problems, the GI clinic at Children's Hospital in Boston signed off on our request to get on with life and close this particular chapter.

We're happy for practical reasons.

The tubie, as far as I'm concerned, was just another route of infection.

It was a constant source of worry, and caused my son a good amount of pain when hit by soccer balls, baseballs and errant limbs while wrestling with his brother.

But it was more than that.

Now 7, Brendan was starting to feel self-conscious about the device.

Most importantly, though, it's another in a progression of mileposts that puts some distance between the now and the then, not that long ago, when Brendan was fighting for his life against medulloblastoma, a highly malignant brain tumor.

And it was a good week to create some more of that space.

September, after all, is National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.

You can read more about it here, at the Web site, a wonderful resource, and here, on the Web site of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, home of the Jimmy Fund and the Stop & Shop Pediatric Brain Tumor Clinic, the people who directed the care that saved his life.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Disaster Is The Planning

I've railed on this site before about the ridiculous amounts of money poured down the drain since 9/11 in the quest for "preparedness."
A whole industry has sprung up over the last 8 years dedicated to something, although what that something is I'm not completely sure.
Across my own little corner of the public safety universe legions of trailers, stacks of portable radios, pallets of tents, spacesuits, PAPRs, AV-2000s, and enough Tyvek material to encircle the Earth stand ready to protect central Massachusetts from the forces of evil who are conspiring to destroy us.
But meanwhile the people who would presumably use that equipment to keep us safe are being laid off due to budget cuts.
As disaster preparedness money has appeared in such abundance that no one really knows what to spend it on anymore, real-world public health experts are being discarded because the cash to pay for THEM has dried up.
But I have to wonder, in the end, what's going to protect me and my family -- a comprehensive vaccination program and a robust public health department to ensure the population is protected, or a bunch of bureaucratic hacks in color-coordinated polo shirts and khaki trousers "working" from grant to grant without producing anything that will actually save a single life?
I did some work briefly for a local Medical Reserve Corps who's biggest concern was purchasing an ID system for its volunteers, and what color duffle bag to hand out to its workers.
We got Polo shirts AND a fleece vest.
I didn't last long.
It's all very worrisome to me, and now it appears that an MIT doctoral student has published a paper that supports my concern.
In it, MIT PhD candidate Peter Doshi suggests that so-called "pandemic flu" planning has actually made us less ready for a real breakout of a flu epidemic like that one in 1918 that killed 50 to 100 million people worldwide, depending on who's estimate you believe.
It's an interesting read.
I think it's time for a little common sense when it comes to preparing for disasters.
You can't just throw money at the problem -- the people who catch the most cash are rarely the ones who can do a darn thing to help us.