Wednesday, December 08, 2010

How We're Staying Well This Winter

Today was pretty cold here in the Midwest. I sent Dear Son to school today and as he pulled the wheelchair on the bus, the bus driver casually mentioned that he was surprised that I was sending Dear Son to school today. He's been driving this route for some ten years or so and knows Dear Son fairly well. He asked if there was a particular temperature that I wouldn't send him or what my rules for sending him to school were. I told him that as long as he's healthy, he can go to school. Dear Son loves school and as long as he's not sick, he can go. I mentioned that I've been having great results with organic, virgin, coconut oil in preventing illness and he wanted to know exactly what I was doing and how I used it for Dear Son. This particular bus driver knows all of the kids, knows their issues and has seen a lot of kids when they are well and when things aren't going so well. Plus, he's been driving Dear Son on the bus for some ten years.

As you are aware, Dear Son is only allowed to go to school two mornings a week, first because it takes a lot of his energy and second, due to pneumonia season. I've had conversations with Ped Pulmonary Doc and Ped Neuro Doc regarding his attendance during pneumonia season. Initially, his Ped Pulmonary Doc did not want him to attend school at all through March or April, to prevent pneumonia. Dear Son has a progressive neurological disease and is no longer able to cough or clear his airways. Also, they really don't know if they can save him anymore, should he get pneumonia; both doctors have told me he will most likely die of pneumonia. On the flip side, Dear Son is pretty outgoing and really loves going to school. He is so happy and you can tell it does his soul good. The key is trying to find the right balance and I don't know that you ever really know the right answers. I am fine keeping Dear Son out of school however the reality is that he loves it and therein lies the dilemma.

This year, I was determined to do something different. Earlier this year, I read about organic, virgin coconut oil and the health benefits of it. It's been promoted to cure just about everything. I've read books on it however when I looked at the scientific data to support such claims, most of it was non-existant or the studies were so old that I simply discounted them. I typically want to see a scientific study of two years or less, that is statistically valid, before I get too excited. I have seen a small study on pneumonia and another one where virgin, coconut oil was used in the control group in the ICU for patients with pneumonia on gtube feeds and the control group with the coconut oil had fewer days in the ICU and recovered faster. But still, I remained skeptical.

Despite that, I started trying it in late June for cooking and other uses and was so impressed, I started trying it for all of the uses they recommended. There were varying results but in some areas, the results were flat out outstanding and amazing. In addition, I had been reading about the organic, virgin coconut oil on different organic blogs. It's been used in everything from cooking to personal care. Organic, virgin coconut oil is anti-viral, anti-microbial and anti-fungal, but does it work? We've been using it for a few months now and I've had great results in a few specific areas: preventing colds/flu, healing Dear Son's pressure sore, as a massage oil for his legs/feet. I keep a separate jar for each use.

So here's what we are doing to stay well this winter. We have done most of this every year so the only really new things this year is the organic, virgin, coconut oil and the nebulizer treatments.
  1. Now Foods Organic Virgin Coconut Oil-I give Dear Son 1 tsp. each day via his gtube and have been doing this since mid-October. I place it in a cup and then add very hot water (cold water will solidify the oil) to melt the oil. I use the syringes to administer. I then flush the coconut oil with warm water. What you need to know about this is that the coconut oil will degrade the rubber part of the syringes and will also remove the writing on the syringes. The organic, virgin, oil is food grade meaning it's for use in food so there are no worries there. (When using it in his gtube, the tip of the syringe will be slippery due to the oil and may make the feeding bag tubing slip out of the extension tube. For best results, wipe the tip of the syringe and wipe the tip of the feeding tubing, then tape the feeding tubing in place. Otherwise, the feeding tubing will slip out of the extension tube and the formula will leak all over. ) In addition, if Dear Son sneezes, I give him one tablespoon of the coconut oil, via his g tube. Typically, this will clear up any symptoms but if they persist, I keep adding a tablespoon at a time. In late October, he seemed like he was getting sick and I kept treating it for a few days with the coconut oil and it never materialized. Then I went back to our maintenance dose of 1 tsp. I also take it and when I started getting a sore throat, I upped the dose to 1 tablespoon and then added more as needed until it went away. On a day when I felt I was getting sick, I may end up taking three tablespoons a day but the next day, I had no symptoms. The key is to take a tablespoon any time you feel you are getting ill. I read on another organic blog that they take 3 tablespoons any time they feel any symptoms of a cold or flu coming on and the woman's husband takes a jar with him when he travels. The key is that you want the organic, virgin coconut oil, not the refined stuff. The organic oil is more expensive, and should have a light, coconut scent. The refined stuff is odorless and will not give the same results. I should also mention that you need to go slow with the coconut oil. Most books recommend 3 tablespoons a day; I tried one tablespoon and had an upset stomach. I tried it on and off and finally settled on 1 teaspoon a day and started it in mid to late October. Once I was able to manage that, it was easier to add larger doses. I should also mention that the organic, virgin, coconut oil also gives you energy so you don't want to take it late at night or you'll be awake. I started giving it to Dear Son in the morning before school and it not only gave him energy but he no longer slept at school. I also ran the coconut oil by Ped Pulmonary Doc-since it was via the gtube, she had no concerns. If it were given orally, you'd have to be careful if you had a child that aspirates but honestly, taking it with food or in hot beverages, should not be a problem since it just melts. You can even have it on toast instead of butter.
  2. Nebulizer treatments. I give Dear Son one nebulizer treatment every day. Ped Pulmonary Doc recommends two treatments a day however I am just not seeing or hearing any breathing issues. Dear Son does not have any congestion of any kind. If he does, then I increase the treatments, otherwise, I'll continue these treatments once a day.
  3. Positioning (sitting) Dear Son up in a chair. Dear Son has difficulty sitting up and lies down most of the time since he is easily exhausted. I make it a point to get him up twice a day for a few hours each time, as much as he will tolerate, to help clear his airways. Most of the time, he is unable to sit up more than 2 hours at a time; some days he can sit up as long at three hours. He is always side lying in bed and I make certain to keep the head of the bed up as well as turn him over every two hours or so. This helps his breathe better and prevent pressure/bed sores.
  4. Keeping the house warm. I keep our home 72-73 degrees or so. Dear Son has always done better with a warmer house and that is just the way it is. In the summer, he requires air conditioning to breath better and in the winter, he needs it warmer than normal to stay well.
  5. Dressing warm. A lot of this is common sense but it works. Around the house, making sure he has on warm, flannel, pajama type pants and a tshirt and mock turtleneck. When he goes out to school, he has on a tshirt, turtleneck, cotton zip up sweater, down jacket, gloves, hat, scarf to cover his mouth and blanket over him and the wheelchair to help stay warm.
  6. Hand washing. I didn't think to include this at first, since it goes without saying, however I am a diligent hand washer using soap and water. I wash my hands before and after tasks for Dear Son and wash them when I come home from running errands. I don't care for liquid hand sanitizers however since I prefer soap and water over that.

In addition to what Dear Son does, I had to increase everything I did this year as well. I use the coconut oil to prevent illness, eat a lot of fruits and vegetables plus green spinach smoothies to stay well as well as making sure I do the same things as Dear Son-dressing warm, not running out to the school bus in sandals, no coat and yoga pants as I normally would do in November, lol. So far, it's working.

As you can see, none of this is very unusual, other than the organic, virgin, coconut oil. At this point, I have nothing to lose and it's working very, very well. Most of this of course, is common sense, but I've been religious this year about doing a little bit of everything to keep him well.

As for school, I told the bus driver that as long as Dear Son's doing well and doesn't show any signs of illness, he can go to school. If the weather gets too extreme, of course I can keep him home but otherwise, he can go.

Note: I have also found the organic, virgin, coconut oil to be great for other things. I found it to be the best anti-wrinkle cream ever. It makes your skin look amazing and your skin will feel ultra soft. Eliminates fine wrinkles in just days, versus weeks. Also, it's an excellent moisturizer under make up. It's great to prevent colds/flu. It's amazing to heal pressure sores, like Dear Son's. Excellent massage cream. I also used it this summer when I burned my lip on some food. It took the pain away instantly and my lip did not blister or turn red and it only took one application. You can purchase Now Foods Organic Virgin Coconut Oil at Whole Foods.


Gloria (The Little Red House with the White Porch) said...

Hi, Dream Mom. You are so good, taking such wonderful care of your boy! And I must say thank you for the tip about the organic coconut oil. I am going to look for this. I get bronchitis (I have it now) and it takes so long for me to get rid of it (you know how things 'linger' as one gets older!). So I thank you for sharing this bit of info. I only hope I can find it! Wish me luck!

Kristin said...

I have been sick for 3 weeks. Hmm maybe I should try the oil. You know that coconut water is all the rage in Hollywood. I wonder if it is similiar?

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