Monthly Archives: March 2013

Curing HIV and Other Science in the News

Alert! The only people who should read this blog are science nerds and moms.

I read an article, a few weeks back, about a Mississippi baby who’d been cured of HIV. I was momentarily stunned by the enormity of the information in the article. Could we finally be close to a cure for HIV; finally be close to eradicating the scourge of AIDs? I googled the baby yesterday and was disappointed by what I read. You gotta love the internet, but sometimes news travels a little too quickly for truth’s sake.

The Mississippi baby did test positive for HIV but no one knows if the baby had been infected or just exposed to the virus. There’s a huge difference. A lot of scientists feel the baby had only been exposed and therefore the drug regiment stopped the baby from actual HIV infection. The blood cells infected could have been from the baby’s mom, a woman known to be HIV infected. At this point, nobody knows for certain but it doesn’t seem the word ‘cure’ is appropriate here, unfortunately.

If you are squeamish about bodily functions, please don’t read any further. The yuck factor will be going up significantly starting with the next sentence. One science article which caught my eye, and seems to be gaining steam, is an article about fecal transplants. Hey! I warned you.

I never thought, in the entire history of Jenn, I would see the words ‘fecal’ and ‘transplant’ side by side. The first time I read about these particular transplants I was amused and delighted to see such an interesting article (to me) in the Seattle Times.  When I saw another article, about a week ago, I got serious and did a little more research on the subject.

Clostridium difficile (C. diff) is a spore producing (one of the 00.01% microbes which survive hand sanitizers), pathogen which can cause bloating and painful, chronic diarrhea in some people. Generally, your naturally occurring gut flora crowd out pathogens such as C. diff, but, if something (such as a round of antibiotics) wipes out said bacteria, C. diff then has free reign to wreak havoc.

Once your good bacteria has been wiped out (like most cures, antibiotics have a hard time being specific) it’s incredibly hard to get them back and working pathogens don’t like to give up their parking spaces. One answer, when everything else has failed to stop C. diff, is to undergo a fecal transplant.

The New England Journal of Medicine published an article about fecal transplants and how they are gaining acceptance in the medical world. According to the article: doctors, while trying to cure a C. diff infection, who used antibiotics say it worked 31% of the time while fecal transplants worked 94%. I wasn’t a math major but those numbers seem significant to me.

I won’t gross you out with the specifics of the procedure, if you’re really interested you can read about it here, but I will say I find this fascinating. Seriously, who knew? Reading things like this doesn’t bother me, though. I think it’s mostly because I’m a mom. Once I had a child, and went through the Volcano Butt incident, the word ‘fecal’ just doesn’t scare me anymore. Been there, done that.

jenn

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Some Things I’ve Learned About Roxy the Boston Terrier

I’ve had dogs before but it still surprises me how very similar and very different dogs can be. It’s also surprising how quickly you notice similarities between your dogs and yourself. I’m pretty sure Roxy was born this way, she hasn’t been here long enough to copy our habits, and it’s funny how much she takes after each of us.

Roxy is a very picky eater and doesn’t like to try new things (just like Jessie). When we first tried to feed Roxy she sniffed her bowl and walked away. It took forever to get her to try her food but when she did she wanted an unlimited supply to magically appear for her. I’m sure she would love a setup like a morphine drip for dog food. She can just push a little button and out plops a bowl of sweet potatoes and carrots laced with chicken broth.

Jessie may be getting better with her eating habits but she still has a hard time trying new authors. Janet bought her the Little House series and she refused to read it, several years ago. When she finally read one, Jessie adored it and couldn’t get enough of the series reading them over and over again. Jessie’s new ‘Oh! Would you just read the book already!’ reading choice: Harry Potter.

Roxy does not like the rain, she was definitely born in the wrong state, nor does she like the cold weather. Together? She absolutely can’t stand it outside when it’s both cold and raining. When I go to take her for a little walk around the block, if it’s cold and wet, she sniffs the air and lookRoxy the Rox Stars up at me as if to say, ‘really? You want me to go out in this?’ (Just like Janet.) I’m thinking of sending both Roxy and Janet to Phoenix until maybe July or so.

Roxy likes to sleep. A lot of that has to do with the fact she has apnea and doesn’t sleep well at night. This little dog of mine sounds like a mini Harley fighting with a chainsaw most nights and she sleeps down the hall in Jessie’s room. Rox spends most of her spare time, during the day, taking over large chunks of the couch while lying in inappropriate, non ladylike, positions (just like me).

I love the beginnings of friendships: the getting to know your friend and their likes and dislikes. It’s an exciting time, the first few months, and I’m enjoying getting to know my new friend Roxy. Now, if you don’t mind, Roxy and I are going to go hang out on the couch. Good thing our couch is ten feet long.

jenn

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Places to Eat in Seattle

I’ve been spending some time in the Seattle Center area, lately, and I try to be good with our self imposed budgetary limitations, but I’ve checked out a few restaurants on the sly. I enjoy walking around the Center; Roxy does too if it’s not raining or cold (she hates those two together). Luckily for Rox, it’s rarely wet and cold in the great Pacific Northwest during the winter!

The Seattle Center is much more interesting and diverse than I remember from my youth. There’s a lot to see and do there such as the impressive Space Needle (I do remember that part), KeyArena (where the Seattle Storm shoot hoops), Pacific Science Center, numerous museums and stages and the Experience Music Project. I’m not sure what the EMP building is supposed to represent but it kinda looks like Godzilla spit his gum out in the parking lot. I hope there weren’t any innocent bystanders when he hocked that up.

Pie

Also on the 74 acre grounds of the Center is a place called the Armory. It’s a food court now with a number of local eating establishments. There’s a Subway and Starbucks, too, in case you missed the other ten located within a two mile radius. My favorite spot in the Armory is a place called Pie. It creates sweet and savory varieties of small, portable, tasty pies. Janet and I went to Pie one Friday night and had a Cauliflower and Cheddar pie with a baby Key Lime pie for dessert. I will definitely go back and try some of their other choices as I love meat pies and most things with ‘key lime’ in the title.

Pho Viet Anh

I’ve been meaning to try a Vietnamese sandwich for ages and finally got around to it a couple of Fridays ago. I didn’t know what to expect, I’m not a very adventurous eater, but I enjoyed the food and ambiance. No frills and tiny, the restaurant envelops you when you first walk in and gave me a warm and homey feeling.  We ordered a pork sandwich and I fell in love with the vegetables and bread. The pork was almost an afterthought, on my part, and next time I think I’ll order the vegetarian option. I’m not sure what they did to make the veggies taste so darn good but Janet and I have been thinking about them for days. I know, right! That never happens with veggies.

Pagliacci Pizza

No food list of mine would be complete without a pizza entry. This is one food type all three of us agree on (and if we let Roxy eat pizza, four). At Pagliacci’s you can buy pizza by the slice, a budget friendly way for everyone to eat pizza at the same time without having to buy three entire pies. I must admit, I really like Pagliacci for their freshly tossed Caesar salad. I can think of no better way of eating lettuce than to smother it in Caesar dressing and throw in large chunks of bread disguised as croutons. The tri-nivore in me loves a slice of pepperoni pizza with a side of salad. Tri-nivore: a person who eats meat, fruits and veggies and, my favorite, carbs.

If you ever find yourself in the Seattle area, check out these restaurants and definitely stroll around the Seattle Center to collect your ten thousand steps per day. On most Wednesdays, Roxy and I can be found walking around the area. Unless it’s raining and cold then forget it.

jenn

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