The Flu Contingency


The family, not miserable at all.

The family, not miserable at all.

This content is sponsored by Genentech.  The experiences described and opinions expressed are mine.

 

When it comes to health, my family and I have been pretty lucky. My kids rarely get sick, and aside from a seemingly never-ending string of martial arts related broken bones, muscle tears, and other injuries, I rarely see a doctor. But all that health luck comes at a price: When we do get sick—particularly with the flu—we tend to go down hard. And we tend to go down at pretty much the same time.

The exhaustion, aches, fever, and chills—which seem to come out of nowhere—are hard on everyone, especially the kids. But as a single parent, trying to care for a sick child while suffering from those same annoying symptoms makes an already difficult job even worse.

At the rodeo -- always in the winter

At the rodeo — always in the winter

Like most people, we hate it when the flu makes us miss family events—many of which are cleverly planned to coincide with flu season.

Naturally, I insist that we do everything we can to minimize our risk: we cover our mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, we wash our hands with soap and warm water (or use hand sanitizer), stay away from sick people, and, just to be sure, we get a flu vaccination every year.

 

another view of the familyBut, as we all know, these measures may not always work. So we need a backup. I talked this over with my primary care doc, who told me that the next time I see (or experience) flu symptoms, I should email him right away and he’ll call in a prescription for Tamiflu® (oseltamivir phosphate) capsules. So what is Tamiflu? Excellent question. According to the manufacturer, it’s “an antiviral medicine that attacks the flu virus at its source and helps stop the flu from spreading in your body.” Sounds good, but my instinctive reaction is, “show me the data.” Well, it turns out that there’s actual research to back up these claims: Studies have found that compared to people who didn’t take Tamiflu within 48 hours of their first symptoms, the drug helped shorten the time adults were sick by 30% (that’s 1.3 days) and 26% for kids aged 12 months to 12 years (1.5 days, if you’re counting)[1].

Another really interesting thing about Tamiflu is that, although it’s not a substitute for the flu vaccine, if one person is sick with the flu, others in the family (whether they’ve got symptoms or not) may be able to get their own prescription, which may help prevent them from coming down with the flu at all.

A and Z, healthy as can be

A and Z, healthy as can be

I wish you a very healthy winter. But just in case, you may want to ask your doctor about Tamiflu. And if, by some chance, you (or a loved one) come down with the flu, this coupon may help you save money as well as help your symptoms.

If you have questions about your symptoms or simply want to see if the flu is prevalent in your area – this handy flu tracker will give you the information you need.

 

Genentech is not responsible for content on this website outside of this individual post.

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Indications

Tamiflu is a prescription medicine used to treat the flu (influenza) in people 2 weeks of age and older who have had flu symptoms for no more than 2 days. Tamiflu can also reduce the chance of getting the flu in people 1 year and older.

Tamiflu does not prevent bacterial infections that may happen with the flu.

Tamiflu is not a substitute for an annual flu vaccination.

Do not take Tamiflu if you are allergic to oseltamivir phosphate or any of the ingredients in Tamiflu.

Important Safety Information

  • If you have an allergic reaction or a severe rash with Tamiflu, stop taking it, and contact your doctor right away. This may be very serious.
  • People with the flu, particularly children and adolescents, may be at an increased risk of seizure, confusion, or abnormal behavior early during their illness.
  • Let your doctor know if you are pregnant, nursing, have heart problems, breathing problems, a weakened immune system (immunocompromised), kidney problems or other medical conditions as Tamiflu may not be right for you.
  • Also tell your doctor about any medications you are taking or if you’ve received a nasal-spray flu vaccine in the past two weeks.
  • The most common side effects are mild to moderate nausea and vomiting, diarrhea and stomach pain. Please see the Tamiflu full Prescription Information for complete important safety information.

You are encouraged to report side effects to Genentech by calling 1-888-835-2555 or to the FDA by visiting www.fda.gov/medwatch or calling 1-800-FDA-1088

 

References

  1. Tamiflu®(oseltamivir phosphate) Prescribing Information. South San Francisco, CA: Genentech USA, Inc.; January, 2013.

Defending Your Family

Dear Mr. Dad: Every day there’s a story in the news about violence—whether it’s a terrorist, a mass shooter, or some other nut job. I feel bad for the victims of this violence, but I’m also feeling extremely helpless. I’m thinking about signing all of us up for some kind of martial arts lessons but I don’t want to teach my kids to be violent. I read in one of your columns that you have a background in martial arts. Do you recommend a particular style?

A: I completely understand your feelings of helplessness. Every time I hear one of the stories you’re talking about, I experience exactly the same thing.

Martial arts are wonderful for many reasons: they’re often a great workout, help build coordination and balance, increase self-confidence and self-esteem, improve memory, instill discipline and respect, and, of course, teach you how to defend yourself. But martial arts—particularly traditional styles—aren’t magic. First, no amount of martial arts training will protect you from a bomb or a sniper. Second, most martial arts are a sport, which means they emphasize safety and fair fighting (more on that below). You’ll need to practice for a very long time before the techniques you learn will be useful on the street.

The one exception—the skill you can learn right away—is perhaps the most important one of all: “situational awareness.” Like it sounds, situational awareness is being aware of your surroundings, observing other people’s behaviors, recognizing potential threats, and identifying potential escape routes. Situational awareness (which includes keeping your cell phone in your pocket when you’re walking around) will help you avoid many dangerous situations before they even happen.

My frustration with the lack of practical skills in traditional martial arts is what led me, after years of experience with Tae Kwon Do, to Krav Maga, an Israeli style that’s essentially street fighting—no choreographed forms (kata) or metaphysical discussions. I think I learned more practical techniques in my first month of Krav than in a decade of TKD.

As great as it is, Krav Maga focuses on defense—reacting after someone has started to attack you. The problem with that is that if you’re being attacked, chances are the stress will make you forget all those fancy weapon takeaways, joint locks, and other multi-step techniques. So I became interested in a new approach that’s becoming more common: a totally streamlined system that’s designed to do as much damage to your attacker as possible.

I had a chance to experience two of these, and they were both great. Damian Ross’s Self Defense Training System (myselfdefensetraining.com) teaches a small number of brutal strikes (including punches to the throat and eye gouging) that are easy to learn, can be used in almost any situation, and are absolutely devastating.

Tim Larkin’s Target Focus Training (targetfocustraining.com) has a similar philosophy: “Violence is rarely the answer. But when it is, it’s the only answer.” The goal is to reduce your attacker to a “nonfunctional” state by methodically and viciously attacking vital targets.

One thing you’ll have to overcome if you’re opting for Ross’s or Larkin’s approach is your natural aversion to hurting other people. In martial arts, when you’re sparring, you land a blow, score a point, and then back out. The idea of gouging eyes and breaking knees seems unfair. In the ring, that’s true, but in a real-life attack, your attacker won’t be playing by the rules and you can’t either. So you’ll have to get comfortable with the idea that to protect your family from violence, you (and they) may have to do severe, possibly life-threatening violence, to someone else.

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Photo credit: unsplash.com/ Martin Kníže

Beating the Odds against Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease

Robert Lustig, author of Fat Chance.
Topic:
Beating the odds against sugar, processed food, obesity, and disease.
Issues: The science and politics that have led to the current pandemic of obesity of chronic disease (think diabetes, heart disease, and more); strategies to help us lose weight and recover our health; what happened when researchers took teens off of sugar for 10 days (hint: the results are amazing)

Energies of Love + Fat Chance

Donna Eden, coauthor of The Energies of Love.
Topic:
Invisible keys to a fulfilling partnership.
Issues: Four energy types (visual, kinesthetic, digital, and tonal) and the way each makes sense of the world; how your energy tope determines the way you communicate, fight, love, and want to be loved.

Robert Lustig, author of Fat Chance.
Topic:
Beating the odds against sugar, processed food, obesity, and disease.
Issues: The science and politics that have led to the current pandemic of obesity of chronic disease (think diabetes, heart disease, and more); strategies to help us lose weight and recover our health; what happened when researchers took teens off of sugar for 10 days (hint: the results are amazing)

Straight from the Heart

Looking for the perfect gift for your kids and spouse this Valentine’s Day? We’ve put together a little list to make your shopping that much easier. Check out some of our picks, and see what strikes your fancy.

Love-a-Saurus Techno Plush (Hallmark)

hallmark lova-a-saurusPush his button, and this bright red cutie roars, dances, and breaks it down to MC Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This.” The young ‘uns will groove while ma and pa wax nostalgic. It’s $33, or $18 when you buy three Hallmark cards. You can also find an assortment of adorable itty bittys—sweet toys that fit in the palm of your hand, including the new Thing 1 and Thing 2 (your favorite troublemakers from Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat). They’re available for $7 each. You can pick up these items or any of Hallmark’s classic cards at www.hallmark.com  and Hallmark Gold Crown stores.

Customizable Valentine’s Jewelry (Origami Owl)

origami owl customizable jewelryFor tweens, teens, spouses, and other ladies in your life, we love the lovely gifts from Oragami Owl. Not only is the jewelry beautiful, but you can customize it for the one you love. Choose the color, size, shape, the charms that go inside and/or outside, the length and type of chain used, and all the other details. You can even add Swarovski crystals for a bit more color and sparkle. Origami Owl lets you pick out items that highlight special memories about your Valentine, and will be a truly cherished reminder of the special bond you two share. Choose from necklaces, bracelets, wrap bracelets (a hot trend right now), lockets, and more. Prices vary. Visit www.OrigamiOwl.com

Nail Polish (Duri)

Duri non toxic nail polishAnother option for the girls and women in your life is Duri’s environmentally-friendly, non-toxic nail polish collection, that’s free from DBP, formaldehyde, and other nasty stuff. You can buy individual bottles or a cute Valentine’s Day set of four. While there are more than 250 shades of Duri, the Valentine’s Day collection includes “every-day-is-Valentine’s-Day” red, “cupid-rules” pink, pastel “iced roses,” “unexpected kiss” (a light purple-pink), and “sweetheart.” (a bright orangey-red) A great gift anyone—male or female—who loves a mani-pedi. Singles are $6 each; the gift is $24 at www.duri.com

iPhone Heart Charging Cable (ThinkGeek)

thinkGeek iPhone Heart Charging CableFor the nerdy love in your life, ThinkGeek has a few fun options that are perfect for those with a taste for tech, comic books, sci-fi, and, of course, Star Wars. For a fun twist on classic Valentine’s Day gifts, we love the charging cable for the iPhone 5/6 (it also works with your iPad). The 46” cable has eight tiny, plastic LED red hearts that light up when it’s plugged in and charging. For just $14.99, you can show how strong and bright your love is, and that it’s endlessly renewable.

Star Wars Bouquet (ThinkGeek)

ThinkGeek Star Wars BouquetsTired of giving people the same old, same old floral arrangements? Wouldn’t they rather get a bouquet of long-stemmed Star Wars characters? These arrangements come in three styles: The “Assortment” (Boba Fett, Darth Vader, C-3PO, R2-D2, two Ewoks, and three Stormtroopers), the “Darth Vader” (Darth Vader and eight Stormtroopers), and the “Droid” (three each of R2-D2, R2-Q5, and R2-D9). These clever gifts are sure to be a conversation piece, and something that’ll make all the other geeks jealous. Who has the best spouse? Yeah, you know it. Bouquets are $60 each at http://www.thinkgeek.com/gifts/.

She Ain’t Heavy, She’s My Sister

Dear Mr. Dad: This may seem like a very basic question, but what can I do to help my overweight 13-year-old twin daughters lose weight? It’s not that they eat a lot of junk food—they actually eat pretty well. The problem is that they consume huge portions and then have seconds and thirds. I’ve talked to them about how many calories and how much fat are in each serving, but they don’t seem to be paying any attention. Is there some other way I can get them to see what they’re doing?

As you’ve discovered, despite all the talk about the “epidemic of obesity” and the constant barrage of information about calories and fat, most people have no clue how much of either they should be eating, and, more important, how much is too much.

Just so you know, depending on their age and how active they are, teen girls and adult women need 1,600-2,200 calories per day; teen boys and adult men should get 1,800-3,100 per day. But rather than talk about fat and calories, I suggest you do two other things, both of which will help your daughters eat less.

First, un-supersize everything. Brian Wansink and his colleagues at Cornell University just did a study and found that we eat 92% of what’s on our plate. In theory, that’s not a bad thing. The problem is that that percentage stays the same regardless of the size of the plate. A number of studies have found that people eat more when they’re serving themselves (or being served) from larger serving containers, putting that food onto large plates or bowls, or eating with large utensils. The larger those items, the more we eat. As Wansink puts it, “If you put it on your plate, it’s going in your stomach.”

Getting smaller platters, plates, and silverware will definitely help your daughters. But it won’t be easy. Over the last 20 years, “normal” serving sizes have ballooned. For example, back then, a typical bagel was about three inches in diameter, today it’s six inches; a blueberry muffin weighed about 1.5 ounces, today it’s four ounces; an order of fries at a fast food restaurant weighed 2.4 ounces, today it’s 6.9 ounces.

The same thing is happening in our homes. Twenty years ago, the average dinner plate was about 10 inches in diameter; today it’s about 12. That may not sound like much, but it’s actually an increase of 44 percent.

Second, stop talking about fat and calories. Instead, put things in terms of how much exercise you’d have to do to burn off what you just ate. For example, if your daughters take a second helping of spaghetti and meatballs, they’ll have to spend an hour running at a 9-minute-mile pace to burn that off. Swimming backstroke for 80 minutes would offset an order of fries. And an hour of Zumba would take care of that piece of cheesecake.

This approach can be extremely successful. A few years ago, researchers at the University of North Carolina randomly gave 800 people one of four nearly identical menus. One menu had just the names of the food; one had the food plus calorie info; one had calories plus the number of minutes the customer would have to walk to burn off the food; and the last had calories plus how far the customer would have to walk to burn those calories. The differences were eye-opening.

As you might expect, the people with the regular menu ordered the most food. Those with calorie info ordered about five percent less. But those with the minutes-of-walking and miles-of-walking information ordered 15-20 percent less.

 

Photo credit: unsplash.com/Ali Inay