Wash them hands!

[Author’s note: I am not a medical expert – far from it – so this entry is a personal opinion piece.]

I have quite a few bottles of hand sanitisers sitting around the house. We used to dutifully carry a giant bottle around in the diaper bag when Elliott was younger because hand sanitisers equate to clean hands, right? I cannot remember where I read this (probably one of those articles shared by friends on Facebook) but did you know that unless hand sanitisers contain alcohol, they are largely ineffective against viruses that causes illness?

I did a bit of snooping on the internet and found this and this. I’ve extracted some bits here:

From the first article:

Is using a hand sanitizer a good substitute for soap and water?
It can be—depending on the particular product and situation. The best way to clean your hands is to wash them with plain soap and running water for at least 20 seconds, especially if they are visibly dirty. This creates mechanical friction to loosen and rinse away microbes. If you don’t have access to soap and water, the next best thing is an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains a minimum of 60 percent alcohol (typically listed as ethyl alcohol). These products kill most (but not all) bacteria and viruses on contact. They also work well against fungi but not against bacterial spores (such as those created by C. difficile bacteria).

What about alcohol-free sanitizers?
Instead of alcohol, some hand sanitizers contain quaternary ammonium compounds (notably benzalkonium chloride or benzethonium chloride) to reduce microbes. These agents are less effective than alcohol, plus they lack evidence of real-life benefits. Moreover, they may be contributing to bacterial resistance (see inset). Other alcohol-free hand sanitizers contain “natural” ingredients like tea tree oil and thyme, which may kill some germs but not enough for them to be good alternatives to an alcohol-based hand sanitizer. The CDC recommends only alcohol-based products.

From the second article:

Frequent hand washing is the best way to keep yourself healthy and to prevent the spread of illness. The most effective way to wash your hands is with plain old soap and water.

Hands should be washed: Before, during and after preparing food; before eating or drinking; before and after caring for someone who is sick; before and after touching a cut or wound; after using the toilet; after changing diapers; after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing; after touching an animal or animal waste; after touching garbage.

While antibacterial gels can quickly reduce the number of germs on your hands, they do not eliminate all types of germsIf soap and water is not available however, antimicrobial gels are the next best thing.

It was such a revelation to me (like, OMG I’VE BEEN DOING IT WRONG ALL THIS TIME?!?!) because there I was, insisting that Elliott use the hand sanitiser after each playground visit, or before partaking in a meal. I always thought that it would do the job of keeping his hands clean. I did wonder why he was still falling ill despite my religious use of the hand sanitisers (the ones we use are alcohol free, safe for children, etc etc).

As it turns out, the only way to keep those damn viruses away is to wash both hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. To be honest, trying to balance a heavy toddler against a wet sink while trying to wash his both hands with your one available arm (because the other arm is wrapped around him, holding him up) is really not the easiest. What usually happens is some random squirting of soap onto his palms, some quick rubs, then a rinse. I guess that is better than not getting the hands washed, yes?

Ever since I discovered this fact, I’ve made it a point to get Elliott to wash his hands with soap whenever we are out. I have also noticed that this frequent hand-washing does lessen the number of times he has fallen ill. I do not have clear evidence that washing his hands after any activity helps in keeping the viruses away but so far, so good. To me, the following (among others) are hotbeds for viruses to be passed on – indoor playgrounds, outdoor playgrounds and kiddy rides. We cannot walk past kiddy rides without him having a go at it so we always whisk him off to get his hands washed ASAP.

This article from Singapore General Hospital sums it up nicely. Have a read! Here are 2 important points, in summary, on what people should clean their hands with:

Liquid soap and water

Water alone will not remove dirt and bacteria. Soap allows these to be scrubbed off easily as they bind to them. Any regular soap will do. Antibacterial soap kills bacteria more effectively but has not been shown to be more effective than ordinary soap in reducing the rates of colds and infections in generally healthy people, said a study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States this year. What matters more is good hand hygiene, independent of the soap you use.

 

Alcohol-based hand sanitiser (containing at least 70 per cent alcohol)

Hand sanitisers are a quick and effective way to disinfect your hands when soap and water are not available. Cleaning hands with alcohol-based hand sanitisers takes probably 20 seconds, while washing hands with soap and water needs about a minute including the time taken to lather, rinse and dry the hands. But alcohol-based hand sanitisers are not effective if the hands are visibly dirty. Dirt needs to be washed off with soap and water.

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(I do wish more public toilets have child-friendly sinks like these. Maybe one day…)

So everybody, please remember to wash your hands (whenever you can), especially of our little people! They touch everything (and anything), and those same hands reach out and touch their face ALL THE TIME. Stay healthy!

That Saturday

I shared an entry from my locked blog here previously. This is a continuation of that entry after we found out that we lost Bean. Our Bean. If you have always wondered what goes through the mind of a woman who has to undergo a D&C procedure, here’s my account of it.

That Saturday

I’m lying here at Dr Y’s clinic in a freezing room, waiting for time to pass after having pills inserted into me in preparation for the procedure.

Right beside this room is a consultation room separated by a thin door. Piercing through the icy silence is a doctor introducing himself to a couple. Doctor is talking to a happy couple about their baby, pointing out the baby’s head, heart chambers, measurements, etc. This doctor is extremely detailed, going into details about baby’s brain being normal. The happy chuckles of the couple intersperse the doctor’s consultation. Oh look. Baby is covering his face. More laughter. Everything’s excellent! Looking great! Oh it looks like a boy. But it may be a girl as well – its too early to tell.

As a bonus round, I even got to hear the loud WHOO WHOO of their baby’s heartbeat at 171 beats per minute.

I wonder if this is God’s idea of irony.

…………………………………………………………

We spent the entire Saturday – the husband’s birthday – at X Hospital. The long day started at Dr Y’s clinic where the scan showed, once again, our baby without the heartbeat. A lifeless, motionless image on the black-and-white screen.

The appointment for the D&C was made for 12.45pm at the hospital. We headed over in silence, lost in our own thoughts. What’s there left to say?

Completed paperwork, signed a million documents, and was then brought to the day surgery beds. I sat on the bed while the husband sat beside me, occasionally leaning his head onto my pillow as we chatted. Time seemed to crawl.

Finally, at 11.45am, I was asked to change into the hospital gown. They were blue in colour. Nicer than the dull pink ones at KKH. Got changed and sat around some more.

Was wondering if I had to walk to the operating theatre on my own or I was going to be wheeled in. I’ve never been wheeled into an OT on a bed. The husband thought I had to walk. I hoped I didn’t have to. Turns out I was going to be wheeled in. There was a rare laugh out loud moment when the nurse wheeling my bed misjudged a wall and banged the bed clumsily against it. It was funny. I laughed. The husband laughed. The nurses laughed.

I’ve watched the scene many times on TV. The one where the concerned relative walked alongside the bed while the patient is being wheeled into the OT. It was the same except that it was a lot less dramatic. It seemed like a long journey to the OT and I stole a glance at the ceiling lights above me. Just like in the movies, I thought. I smiled at the husband as we entered the OT waiting area. He stood outside, alone, and smiled back at me. He said he’d be waiting for me when I awake later.

I was placed at the side of a waiting area where CNA was playing on TV. A man dressed in hospital scrubs stood by the tv, a huge SLR hanging by his shoulders. I guess he was waiting for his wife who was probably undergoing a C-section in the same OT. A distance away, a middle-aged lady was attended to by her doctor before her surgery. She’s scared of pain and told the doctor to do it fast and give her any type of pain relief medication as she will be happy to pay for a no-pain experience. If only money could take away pain…

I remember staring at the TV but cannot remember what was being shown. A cold draft from the airconditioner directly above me was making me shiver. I already had 2 blankets over me. I remembered – I haven’t had anything to eat or drink since the night before. I had to fast before the operation.

At about 12.50pm, I was wheeled into the OT. It was a real operating theatre, complete with the giant lights above and lots of gadgets on one side of the light pink walls. Interestingly, the radio played “Don’t dream it’s over” by Crowded House. How apt. I almost laughed. Loads of nurses in green scrubs walking all around me. While waiting for Dr Y, the anesthetist came by to insert the needle into my left hand. As usual, he couldn’t find my vein. He gave me laughing gas to help ease the pain. I took a deep breath and felt my limbs go limp. Before I knew it, the needle was inserted. Not too painful. Yay.

The operation was scheduled for 12.45pm. It was delayed till 1pm as Dr Y was running late. Damnit. I was starting to cramp due to the medication inserted a few hours earlier (it softens the cervix to prepare for the op). Had to prop my legs up instead of lying flat out to make it less uncomfortable.

There was a huge digital clock in front of me. It was 1.05pm and still no sign of Dr Y. Everyone was waiting for his arrival for the op to begin. Finally, at about 1.15pm, he arrived, to a flurry of movement. Dr Y asked how I was feeling, I said ok. I think I said something like ‘let’s do it’. Not sure why I said that. I think I was just tired of waiting. I remember he smiled, touched my right cheek and said ‘Ok’.

The anesthetist came by and started to pump in the GA. It didn’t hurt this time. I felt a warm feeling come over and then I was out.

Woke up to Dr Y telling me that all was ok and that he gave me a week of hospitalisation leave. Told me to take care and rest well, and that he’d see me next Saturday. I don’t know how I took it all in but I somehow did. I was then wheeled back to the day surgery recovery room and when I opened my eyes again, the husband was beside me. I was back on the day surgery bed. Things were a little groggy. It only lasted 15 minutes. For some strange reason, I couldn’t stop talking to the husband the moment I was conscious. He had to cover my eyes with my jacket and told me to shut up. I blame the drugs.

I napped for a bit and then got up again. By then, it had started to pour really heavily outside. The lovely and kind nurse gave me a cup of water which I gulped down. Water never tasted so good. Soon, I was given a cup of hot Milo and plain biscuits. That was nice too.

I couldn’t help but notice the figure of a digital man printed on the tape holding the needle in. I wonder what it represented. Cute. Also, I realised that I really really need to moisturise. I have very dry hands.

Soon, I was told to change out of the hospital garb into my own clothes. I was also instructed to pee. Not sure why but I guess they wanted to make sure that all was well. Now, I wished someone had warned me but when I peed, it BLOODY FREAKIN’ HURT LIKE HELL?!!! It was a burning sensation down there and I was going WHAT THE FUCK! and OUCH! OUCH! in my head. Told the nurse after and she said, “Oh, this is normal. It would be ok after this.”

Damnit. Couldn’t she have warned me first? I guess pee contains salt and after an op, it’s obvious that salt over a wound is going to hurt.

After yet more paperwork, the nurse discharged me at 4pm. Doctor’s orders, apparently. We said our thanks, and left the building into hard hitting, driving rain. It was as if the Heavens were crying for us too.

Another chapter is over. Again.

How to remove iron-on labels from clothes EASILY

Because I spent an insane amount of time Googling, as well as trying all the hot-iron method that random websites suggested, I am going to put it down on record here. Hopefully, if you, like me, have to remove some NEAR IMPOSSIBLE TO REMOVE iron-o labels from clothing, you’d find this post useful.

So.

Being the noob mum that I am, I ironed Elliott’s name labels just under the shirt label on his uniform. What I did not realise is, the labels were causing little scratch marks on his back. URGH. On hindsight, I should have placed the labels outside the shirt. However, I did not want all and sundry to see his name so the best spot?

Under the collar, outside the shirt.

Deciding on the new spot was easy. The difficult part was trying to remove the existing iron-on label. Please take it from me that it was SO DAMN HARD TO REMOVE! The husband tried it with the wet-cloth-over-label, use-hot-iron-and-press method. Despite repeating this move numerous times, the insanely good quality iron-on refused to budge.

After more Googling, I discovered a site that said to use an ‘alcohol-based solution, like nail polish remover‘. The alcohol will be strong enough to melt off the glue holding onto the label and it should be easy to peel off after.

I rummaged the bathroom drawer for a long-forgotten bottle of nail polish remover and went to work. I soaked a few cotton pieces (the type you use to for toner on your face) and pressed them against the label. At first, it did not seem to work. However, after dousing the label with the solution, IT WORKED!

Oh joy, it worked!!

Out of 4 shirts, we destroyed one shirt in the process of trying to remove the label so I’d say that’s a WIN. And now we know, USE NAIL POLISH REMOVER to get rid of those super good quality iron-on stickers. At least I now know for a fact that those labels are going to stay stuck on Elliott’s shirts for a long long time.

For the love of all things fried

As with all most parents, we want the best for our child. This includes all sorts of organic, no-pesticides, BPA-free, no chemicals, no evil plastics, ethnically-grown produce, yada yada yada when it comes to food. I swear I started off strong. I made all sorts of home-style puree when Elliott turned 6 months old and was ready for solids. I sliced, washed 3x (sometimes 10x), diced, chopped, peeled, pureed, all sorts of organic and ETHICALLY-GROWN vegetables I could find at the chi-chi supermarkets. Of course, after all that hard work, my child would, more often than not, take half a spoon, before spitting out the entire lot before giving me a WTF WAS THAT, MOTHER? face.

So yes, you can’t say I didn’t try to win the most-awesome-mother-who-cooks-only-organic-and-healthy-food for her child award.

I tried my best. I truly did.

His experience with food hasn’t been the easiest. He would eat certain food groups at certain stage of his life. At one point, it was all NANAS. Nanas (bananas) were the BEST FOOD EVER. Then he decided he didn’t like it anymore. We then moved on to roast chicken. He loved my Anyhow chicken and would eat them happily. I used to just sit and watch him put away ’em chicken bits because it was such a lovely sight to watch my child eat something nutritious THAT I MADE (using the oven).

Now. These days, he has decided that CARBOHYDRATES ARE THE WAY TO GO. He likes white rice. No, scratch them. HE LOVES WHITE RICE. Steamed white rice to be exact. He is very happy when we feed him bits of steamed white rice. And hell hath no fury if we attempt to smuggle in a teeny tiny bit of protein in the form of minced chicken or pork. His refined taste buds have a knack for detecting the offensive foreign intrusion and before you can say “meat is good for you”, out it comes from his mouth. I have since learnt to hover the bowl at his chin -just in case-. He has also learnt to peruse his food carefully, giving it a once over, before opening his mouth if he deems it acceptable (which basically means WHITE RICE ONLY PLEASE).

Other than carbohydrates, his other approved food item is anything FRIED and made of POTATO. Actually, it’s really just FRIED POTATOES. Think french fries and hash brown. No mashed potatoes please. We just want POTATOES (real or frozen – doesn’t mater) FRIED TO A CRISP.

I feel that I need to clarify at this point that on most days, his awesome grandmamas cook him brown rice porridge simmered with pork ribs and (Japanese) pumpkin with salmon and/or some sort of expensive white fish I don’t know, I don’t buy ’em fish – the awesome grandmamas do. He is also a milk monster. You should see the way we dangle his milk bottle at him while he gets himself into a tizzy. I like to think that he is still getting his nutrients, somehow. As such, I have decided that this fried potato eating phase will be a phase and one day, we will look back at such episodes and laugh because THIS TOO SHALL PASS.

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HOORAY TO HASH BROWN FROM A PACKET!

Review + GIVEAWAY: Flip for Joy

I grew up in an English-speaking family. This means that when it came to Mandarin, the only exposure I got was the mandatory Chinese lessons we had in school. Till today, I remember dreading Chinese lessons because I had a really long-winded Chinese teacher who would spend 80% of class time telling us about her children, her pet goldfish, etc, and then leave 5 minutes or less to rush through the syllabus. You can imagine how much I hated Chinese back then. To prepare for the O levels, my mum signed me up for one-on-one tuition with this really fierce ex-Principal Chinese teacher who would drill me every other day on the language. I remember lugging my heavy school bag to her house for tuition and falling asleep from exhaustion when she made me write some cheem Chinese phrase over and over again. Also, I came from a all-girls convent and speaking Mandarin was very uncool. Huayu was not very cool then.

I have to add that thanks to all that intensive tuition, my Mandarin is not that bad. I can speak and can type out simple text messages in Mandarin. However, anything more complicated will cause my brain to sprain. My in-laws are Mandarin-speaking folks so I have a lot of practise with them. They are the only ones who address me by my Chinese name (no one else does!) and whenever I am at their place, I try and read the giant headlines on Lianhe Wanbao which is usually about some mistress getting beaten up by the wife with interviews with the neighbours, the 3rd aunty’s son, etc.

As with most modern parents these days, we want our child to grow up bilingual. Specifically, we want Elliott to be able to speak English and his mother tongue, Mandarin, fluently. My MIL cares for him 3 times a week and she is really good with reading and speaking to him. These days, he can recite simple children’s rhymes, count from 1-10 and point out household objects, all in Mandarin. I claim ZERO credit. Full credit goes to my in-laws.

I stumbled upon Flip for Joy when I was searching online for “Chinese books for toddlers”. Flip for Joy is a “Singapore-based children’s bookstore, dedicated to sourcing the best Chinese books around the world.” Back then, I ordered the Chinese version of “Where is the green sheep?” titled <绿绵羊在哪里?> because back then, it was one of Elliott’s favourite books. I also got him a book titled <我会穿衣服> as it will allow him to practise buttoning, zipping and lacing various items in the book.

Recently, much to my delight, Elliott was gifted with a few more books from Flip for Joy. Meiru, the 老板娘 of Flip for Joy, contacted me and offered to choose a few Chinese books for Elliott based on his likes. I told her that he’s currently into anything vehicle-related, i.e. cars, trains, trucks, etc. I also shared that he’s into “flap” books.

I was very thrilled when the large package arrived. So many lovely books to read! They were mostly vehicle-themed and one particular one titled <不行,危险!> caught my eye. I laughingly told the husband that my MIL will lurrrrrve this book because she’s always telling Elliott to be careful to not do this, and that. This is a synopsis of the book, taken from Flip for Joy’s page:

A fascinating and fun-filled book with wheels that will teach our little ones about road safety. Children will be able to relate their own experiences on the go to that of the various adorable animals’ and learn how to behave appropriately when travelling in the car. Lift the flaps to see how the animals can enjoy a car ride in a safe manner. The book made of child-friendly material and rounded edges is gentle on the children’s hands. A great book to bring on the go!

Elliott is very taken with the book because…..it has wheels! And flaps that he can lift! He has also recently taken to saying “危险!” whenever I read the book. He probably doesn’t quite understand what the phrase means but whenever I read it, I shake my head and furrow my brows so I think he gets the idea that it is a “no no”.

He is also at the age where every button is a MUST PRESS. Another favourite from the collection is a 3-book series called <这是谁的声音?交通工具系列> because each book comes in the shape of the vehicle (all his favourites – boat! plane! train!) but more importantly, each book has a little button where he can press to hear the sound the vehicle makes.

Despite my less-than-stellar Chinese standards, I can generally read most of the words in these books. I have to admit that some words stump me and I gloss over quickly to the next word. Hur hur. I usually would leave the reading of these books to the husband who will usually read them with gusto and sound effects. It is very cute to hear him reading Chinese books to our little man. The books we have contain simple Chinese words and some even come with hanyu pinyin.  BIG PHEW.

I really like these books because they are hardy and have survived the rough manhandling by my toddler who has thrown them across the room, from a height and even used them as toys (the ones that come with wheels turn into a toy truck for him). Importantly, these books come with rounded edges which make these books safe for little ones. They are also of good quality and as far as I can see, I have not spotted any glaring errors in the books that we have received.

I love that Elliott’s little library has a good mix of English and Chinese books. I am not sure how much of our reading sessions will rub off on him but hopefully, in time to come, he does not fear the Chinese language and instead, develop an appreciation for the language and stories. I look forward to the day when he can read the Chinese language books along with me.

GIVEAWAY

To spread the love, Flip for Joy is kindly giving away two S$20 e-gift cards to readers of Bubsicles. These e-gift cards can be used for any book purchase on the Flip for Joy website. It is a one-time usage e-gift card and will be valid for 6 months.

To qualify:

  1. Like our Bubsicles Facebook review post here.
  2. Share the review post on your Facebook timeline.
  3. Like Flip for Joy’s Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/flipforjoy
  4. Leave a comment on our Facebook review post telling us your favourite title from Flip for Joy and why.

That’s it! We will then choose 2 of the best answers to win the e-gift cards.

This giveaway ends on 12 December, 11:59pm and is open only to Singapore residents. Winners will be contacted via their Facebook account through private message and will have 48 hours to respond, failing which a new winner will be selected. All incomplete entries will be disqualified. All entries will be verified before the winners are announced. To be fair to our sponsors, please note that all fake Facebook accounts (eg. accounts set up purely to take part in contests with no or very few real friends) will also be ineligible to win.

Wait. There’s more.

Christmas is round the corner and we all know how stressful Christmas shopping. Share the joy of reading this Christmas and receive a $5 e-gift card (valid for 6 months) from Flip for Joy for every $50 spent in the month of December.

“A book is a gift you can open again and again.” ~ Garrison Keillor

Disclaimer: I was given a selected range of Chinese books from Flip for Joy for the purpose of a review. All opinions are mine.

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