Making Use of Free Time

I have been traveling to several vineyards these past few weeks to take pictures of them for posterity. I have this little project that I have been cooking up for the longest time and I am proud to say that I have already started working on it. It is a coffee table book about making wine here in Napa Valley and although it is really easy just taking photos and stuff, I am finding it hard to put everything together into one fluid book.

Maybe I better do some outlining first or write everything down on paper so that I will not get excited about one thing and keep doing it to the detriment of everything else. I was hoping to feature how fine wine is made here in our locale, starting from the planting of the grapes on vast stretches of rolling vineyards that seems to be located everywhere you look.

I also want to feature how the plants are well taken cared of and pampered by farm hands. What they do during winter, how they water and the frequency of watering, do they use pesticides or fertilizers on it, anything and everything about growing them I would like to document.

Unfortunately that is just one part of the total scope I wish to cover and indeed there are still many more aspects left to tackle. For one, there is their harvesting and after that the processing and priming of the grapes that are to be made into wine. The whole wine making job including all the ingredients and processes that are used, their proper containers and how to determine their aging, stuff like that, among many other things.

You can see clearly the daunting task ahead of me and I am beginning to think of what have I gotten myself into again. Can I really do this thing? But looking into another perspective, if I ever did managed to complete all of this, well by golly it would be a very amazing book. I could even earn from selling them by the looks of it.

But as they say that “a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”, and I am doing my earnest best to keep at it. Heck I even bought myself the best travel tripod that money can buy to help me take rather amazing pictures as I can’t really freehand it because my hands are always shaking and stuff. The tripod also allows me to be in the picture even when I’m alone, which happens to be quite often, so good job on that one.

I also bought myself the darnedest best yoga DVD on the mall to help me unwind after a very tiring day out. Although I am not yet very proficient with it, I can already experience the huge benefits it brings to my body just by learning about breathing techniques. Now if I can only manage to do the contortionist thingies then I’ll be set.

Well that’s it for now. I’ll make sure to keep you updated about this recent project of mine. See you soon.

My Wife and Her Experience with Treating Baby Hiccups

As a mother, getting my first baby two months ago meant that I had to make countless changes in my already busy schedule. I had to divide my time into more baby time and less time dealing with clients. But it was well worth it as my girl has taught me a lot. Especially about hiccups.

Her first hiccups were when she was two days old. I thought it was normal. However, by day four, she was hiccupping twice each day. And, the hiccups were persistent. I was worried. I checked in with my doctor and wasn’t prepared for what was to occur at the office. “I know you love wine…” he started off with the serious tone he always uses with clients. “Don’t you think that wine can be the cause of your baby’s hiccups?” he asked frankly. I had no idea of what to say. So he went on to explain how newborn hiccups can be the result of alcohol.

hiccuppedAlcohol and hiccups

Hiccups are caused by sudden contraction of the diaphragm. This contraction can be the result of irritation of the phrenic nerve, acid movement or expansion of the stomach. The interesting thing is that alcohol has been found to cause all three! After this explanation, I finally realized why I hiccupped frequently after a couple glasses of wine.

Did I unintentionally cause my baby’s hiccups?

This was the question that ran through my mind as the doctor continued to explain the connection between alcohol in breast milk and hiccups. “When you consume any alcoholic drink, the alcohol is absorbed in most body fluids including blood and breast milk.” He explained.

I had the answer. But he had more to say. “However, alcohol doesn’t remain in breast milk otherwise drinking mom’s babies would be high most of the time.” He said lightheartedly.

The doctor continued to explain that the timeframe between taking wine and breastfeeding my little one plays a huge part on whether she is likely to have hiccups. In addition the amount of wine I consume before breastfeeding will also play a part.

What to do

While taking wine wasn’t completely restricted while I was breastfeeding, I was to cut down on the amount of wine consumed at a time. The next thing to do is ensure that I avoid breastfeeding my baby for at least 6 hours if I take wine. Well that seemed favorable since I could breastfeed her before taking a glass of wine and going to sleep.

My visit to the doctor that day opened my eyes about the connection between wine and hiccups in my baby. At least I learned sooner and took the necessary measures. I saw immediate results and although my girl hiccupped, it was less frequent.

Besides cutting on my wine consumption, I also found that making adjustments in my diet significantly reduced hiccups in my baby. For instance, I cut down on spicy foods which seemed to prompt acid movement in he stomach.

Chance Encounter with Mothers

brestfeedingNothing strengthens the bond between mother and child more than breastfeeding. A mother holds his child close to her body, gently nuzzling him into place. Their eyes clasped in filial, acknowledged love. The warmth shared between both their bodies telling the cold to come to some other place and shy away from them. The child’s remembrance of the familiar heartbeat, which is near, and which has been his assuring, constant companion in the womb, brings calm and guarantee that safety is at hand. And ultimately, the passing of life giving sustenance to a child, signaling a mother’s covenant that he will be nurtured, loved and cared for from this moment on.

I was at the restaurant last week, eating lunch with only my bag as companion, when I saw a mother tending to her baby. Oblivious to whatever or whomever was around, she unbuttoned her blouse and commenced to feed her crying son. As if by some form magic, the baby immediately stopped bawling. He’s hungry, she said to her companions at the table, seemingly half apologetic for the ruckus that the baby caused, and half announcing to everyone to mind their own business as the stares and disbelief among some of the patrons at the other tables began to brew. Breastfeeding in public is not yet truly accepted by everyone and it showed by the icy stares. My wife and I have been through that as well and I know how hard it is to defend what she is doing. I feel for her and her baby.

I was at the table next to them and I cannot help but hear their discussion. They were talking about what foods to avoid while breastfeeding. With all their hairs down, their comfortable clothes and large bags, they were all mothers! Surprisingly I assumed. One lady said that alcohol is to be avoided because it tends to make the baby weak, cause hiccups, and gain weight abnormally. Another said that the caffeine in coffee is also a no-no as it makes the baby irritable and cranky. While another contributed that spicy foods and garlic also must be removed in the diet as its taste is also passed to the baby. They were teaching the new mother, which was now re-buttoning her dress, as her baby was now in deep slumber, pointers to think about. They were all in agreement that it was important to watch what you eat when you are breastfeeding. I was so engrossed over their conversation, guiltily listening to their stories while pretending to read the newspaper that I almost forgot to eat the food that I ordered.

Looking at my watch, I saw that it was time to go. An appointment needs to be done. Begrudgingly, I stand up and leave these fine ladies to their conversation. I was hoping to listen more about their daily lives and adventures but alas, time is not on my side.

The experience I had in the restaurant taught me a lot of things. Foremost of which is a mother’s sacrifice for her child. From the pain of childbirth and onwards, she is the sole keeper of the well-being of the child, the one in charge. Those made me appreciate my wife even more. I never did know of all the hardship she went through raising our two kids. She never complains. I love her even more now.


My Experience with a Condition Called Neutropenia

Studies have shown that alcohol may contribute to neutropenia if you have an infection such as pneumonia. I never thought I would be diagnosed with the condition, even though I enjoy a nice glass of wine every now and then (I can’t help it; I live in Napa where I’m surrounded by vineyards.)


The Diagnosis

Neutrophils are a type of white blood cells that can travel from your bloodstream and into the infected areas of your body, and is capable of destroying microorganisms. Last year, I decided to go to my doctor when I realized something was wrong with my body, and my doctor told me that most people who suffer from neutropenia can experience anything from:

•             Ulcers

•             Skin rashes

•             Wounds that take a long time to heal

•             Fever

•             Severe abscesses

•             Decrease in neutrophils

When my doctor informed me of these symptoms and what they meant, I was a bit worried. He mentioned that having high neutrophil counts can cause an autoimmune condition, such as Crohn’s disease and even rheumatoid arthritis. Fortunately, he also told me how to combat this issue by following a few neutropenic precautions. One of the first things he recommended is to avoid taking certain medications, such as:

•             Psychiatric drugs

•             Epilepsy drugs

•             Blood pressure drugs

Even though I was told to avoid these prescribed medications, I was also told that I should consider treating my neutropenia with antibiotics that specialize in treating bacterial infections, as well as drugs that can suppress my immune system.

There is a treatment that can stimulate and improve the bone marrow, which will easily help produce more white blood cells. This particular ailment has been proven to be a life-saving procedure. My doctor also recommended that I change my medication and have him treat my infection from the source.


Stem Cell Transplant

Another treatment option that I looked into was stem cell transplant. At the time, I had a severe case of neutropenia. This treatment procedure seemed to work well in getting rid of my health issue.

There were a few precautions I took that helped me avoid getting any more infections. These include:

•             Use an electric shaver instead of a razor

•             Make sure I always wore shoes

•             Avoid getting in contact with sick people

•             Avoid animal waste and avoiding changing infant diapers

•             Clean up any cuts and scrapes with a bandage

•             Have good hygiene

•             Wash my hands

•             Brush my teeth much more frequently

•             Avoid hot tubs and rivers

Hopefully, these precautions will help prevent the condition from coming back.