I could while away the hours conferring with the flowers, but why would I?

Road sign, "Lost" pointing one way, "Very lost" pointing the other

If you’ve been following my blog this past, you know that I have much too much time on my hands. Even telephone solicitors have stopped calling my work phone. I walk Jelly, go to yoga, buy groceries, and prepare the odd meal, if I’m not busy twiddling my thumbs.

Thank goodness I’ve found a few activities to fill my time. Yesterday, the Fabulous Four, the Ladies Who Lunch, the Doting Dog Parents, had another lovely reunion over a scrumptious lunch. My minimal preparation involved baking cookies. Our fellow out of towners drove in from the mountains, while I managed to get lost on my 11-minute route, despite my pre-mapping. My spatial challenges know no bounds.

After so many chats at the dog park, catching up with these friends is easy and fun. Thanks to N. and her furry companion, I enjoyed a beautiful meal and the chance to visit. May our connections transcend the dog park for many years to come.

I also managed to complete not just my but J.’s taxes, thereby defying all my procrastinatory tendencies. Why the obscene punctuality? First, I have transitioned from a multitasker to a serial monotasker–I can only manage one major project at a time. I decided to tackle the taxes so I could get on with planning our trip.

But there is another reason for my punctuality: I was doing not just my but J.’s taxes this year. Once I had started, had I not soon been able to inform J. of the outcome, I anticipated her wrenching the task away from me and completing it herself. J.’s annual tradition involves completing her taxes well ahead of the rest of the Canadian populace, so that when others are frantic, she is gloating over her tax refund. Her gloating has annoyed me for years because I, unlike her, have always owed taxes.

But this year things were different. Oh, I still owed taxes, about $500 on my paltry $18,000 annual income. Since this was the first year of her wedding-commissioner business, J. feared she might owe taxes as well. In fact, she reviewed the data I had input to reassure herself I had not made an egregious error, which I can understand. (My attention to detail is not as sharp as it once was.) Why else would she owe the government money for the first time in her life? Despite the odds, J.’s review revealed that I had not made any mistakes. Rather, she realized she was pretty lucky not tp owe Revenue Canada more than she did.

Now that our taxes are done, I can focus on trip preparation. I will visit Dr. Blood next week to ensure–be reassured?–that I am fit to travel. While I await this appointment, I will be creating an unrealistically overloaded daily itinerary for our trip, knowing we will probably have to ditch half of our plans once we’re there.

I’d rather aim high than low, wouldn’t you? If I didn’t, I’d still be working on those taxes. Heck, I’d still be driving around in search of the Ladies Who Lunch. I’d hate to have missed out on that great get together, and I’m not just talking about that Thai beef salad.

Which came first, the chicken or the bunny?

Chocolate chicken

Do you think Bob is a chicken?

There are many things I don’t understand about other traditions. I know Passover and Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur; I didn’t grow up with Christmas or Easter or Diwali, so I don’t get them fully.

Take the Easter Bunny, for example. From my limited knowledge of biology, I know that rabbits procreate like, well, rabbits, but they don’t lay eggs, they lay bunnies. So what’s a bunny doing delivering eggs laid by a chicken? How does that make any sense?

And so when I was peeing on Sunday morning, I heard a loud “Cluck, cluck, cluck,” at the washroom door, which opened slowly. Then a chocolate Easter egg rolled in. This happened one more time. I was shocked! All these years I’d been thinking the Easter Bunny delivers the chocolate eggs, but maybe in truth the Easter Chicken is responsible.

So yes, the Easter Chicken came through for me on Easter Sunday. And the Easter Hounds delivered a lovely jar stuffed full of Dutch licorice to my door on Saturday. Then, while we were out for a lovely Easter dinner with friends, I scored another chocolate Easter egg as well as homemade chocolate-covered wine gums. I was overcome with Easter joy.

All of these gestures assuaged my sadness over Bob the Bunny’s absence this year. Yes, Bob was MIA. I can think of several possible explanations for Bob’s passing over our house.

  1. Bob realized that I am Jewish, and an adult at that, so leaving me Easter eggs would be wrong. He gave them to a nice Christian child instead.
  2. Bob did leave Easter eggs at the house, but someone stole them before I found the stash. I would not put this sociopathic behaviour past some of my neighbours.
  3. Bob was out of town this year, and did not delegate his deliveries to anyone.
  4. Bob was respecting my efforts to reduce my sugar consumption in order to replenish my recently decimated gut flora. He felt he would be sabotaging me by leaving me chocolate.
  5. The mysterious Bob did in fact leave his eggs at the wrong house last year, as I had feared. Maybe no one we knew confessed to the secret delivery because someone we didn’t know was responsible. Of course, this explanation makes me feel bad for the person who should have received the chocolate but didn’t.
  6. Because not only my full name but my address is unpublished, I did not make it easy for Bob, or any impostors, to find my home. I may have to remedy this problem next year by providing a map.
  7. Most likely, Bob believed skipping a year would not pose a problem because this would not be my last Easter. I discussed this important issue with all of you last Christmas (see Questions Jewish children never ask). Bob figured if he missed me this year, I’d still be around and I’d still like chocolate next year.

Your absence was noted, Bob, but I’ll be here next year if you want to drop by. Or send the Easter Chicken in your absence. Thank goodness my other friends came through for me.

People who live in chocolate houses shouldn’t throw Easter eggs

As I sit here drinking my daily hint-o’-chocolate probiotic powerhouse, I must thank my faithful readers for their interest in my last post. I received some excellent recipes for kefir smoothies and other concoctions and a recipe for probiotic wine gums. (Talk about killing two birds with one stone!) Several narrow-minded readers informed me kefir would never pass their lips.

I knew I shouldn’t have joked about causing my own recent infection by eating too many wine gums. J. took this comment as a challenge, and arrived home with additional information on the evils of sugar. Sadly for me, she learned from a very reputable source that excess sugar suppresses immune functioning. “But honey,” I told her, “my latest scratch healed without intervention after two weeks of infection. I’m in the clear.”  Suddenly the cookie I was eating lost its appeal.

Then J. proceeded to throw the high-fibre sugar-laden home-baked bran muffin into her daily feedbag, along with a serving of sugar-sweetened yogurt. She insisted on keeping some of the gluten-free but sugar-full brownies I’d baked for a mutual friend (I did not lick any batter from the bowl, I swear), whereas I would have given them all away. J. also picked up 6 hot cross buns at the bakery a few days ago, heinous baked goods that I’ll have you know I have not touched. I have no idea if she’s dipped into her desk drawer at work that holds the chocolate stash she says she keeps for her friends. Do I hear the pot calling the kettle black?

I, on the other hand, had a sugar-free but prebiotic-full breakfast followed by a sugar-free but prebiotic-full lunch because I am a largely superior human being. Let’s not mention the few Jelly Bellies taunting me from the bulk section at the grocery store, which I downed as soon as I paid for them. Oh, and I added that scant teaspoon or three of chocolate syrup to my afternoon probiotic-laden kefir. My gut is dancing with joy as we speak.

Hamentashen, three-cornered pastries filled with poppy seedsIt’s no surprise, then, that J. has decided, for reasons of my health (addiction?), that we will skip our annual Easter egg hunt, and not because: a) I am Jewish, and Purim, the Feast of the Hamentashen, was recently upon us; or, b) I am 52 years old. I have been forbidden from purchasing any chocolate Easter eggs, although no one can stop me from pining in the Easter aisle at the grocery store, as I did yesterday. I know J. cares too deeply about my well-being to give in to my base chocolate desires.

All I can do at this point is pray that Bob the Bunny will come through again this year. You remember Bob, don’t you? Last year, he left a stash of chocolate Easter eggs at our front door, but, despite the desperate pleas in my blog, he never revealed his true identity. I can only pray Bob reads my blog and will come through again this year. But I hope he doesn’t leave too many or J. will take them to work, allegedly for her “friends”. Yeah, right.

Basset puppy with Easter bunny ears on

Could this be Bob the Bunny?

Antibiotics: an equal opportunity medication

Cartoon bacteria of different colours, "Bacteria are my friends."

My moulting is complete, my energy is returning, my appetite is, sadly, back to normal (after a few days of eating everything in sight), and my red blood cell count is up. Everything is moving in the right direction. I don’t even look like I have leukemia today, if my opinion counts.

Those antibiotics did quite a number on me. I was on a combination drug containing an antibiotic and another special something to potentiate the antibiotic’s effects. Double whammy. No wonder I felt so crummy while I was getting well.

Antibiotics have their place. My infection was running rampant through my body and it needed to die. Those very effective drugs killed it, but they didn’t stop there. Antibiotics target all bacteria, good and bad, indiscriminately, but we need our good bacteria to keep us well. (You’d think some rich drug company might have solved this problem by now.) That’s why people often come down with other infections after their antibiotic-targeted infection is gone: their good bacteria are no longer there to fight off the bad ones.

I cannot say I have succumbed to any other infections since my cellulitis has run scared, or at least none that I know of. But I have been working diligently to replenish my good bacteria, especially those in my vulnerable gut.

All bacteria-healing roads lead to probiotics, which include foods with active bacterial cultures. Think gross fermented gloop like sauerkraut, kimchi, and miso, for example, as well as yogurt and kefir. I could also take a probiotic supplement, but what’s the fun in that?

You may be wondering what kefir is. If you have not had the pleasure, kefir tastes like a cross between yogurt and buttermilk. C’mon over and I’ll share my stash with you. I’ve been choking down a small amount every day. This was easier when I was off food altogether but it’s a little harder with my newfound appetite, since I’d now rather be consuming foods I like.

But there’s more. To keep my good bacteria thriving, I need some prebiotics, which include bananas, garlic, and artichokes, among other fruits and veggies, as well as whole grains and roots. Prebiotics feed probiotics, keeping them healthy. Good thing I had artichokes on the pizza J. made me last night.

Tragically, sugar is an enemy of good bacteria. Need I quit the sweets because they’ll feed my bad bacteria? What if my cellulitis was the result of sugar overload? I did have a few too many wine gums in the week prior to my admission. Banish that thought.

In a moment of weakness, I wondered how kefir might taste with a wee bit of chocolate syrup mixed in, so I added a scant teaspoon or three. I almost liked it. J. took a sip of my new creation and said: “Yum-O!” She fears I’m on a slippery sugar-laden slope, and she’s probably right.

Life is full of compromises, don’t you think? Surely I’ve suffered enough this past while. Pass the chocolate syrup, would you? I’m sure my good bacteria won’t mind, and I’ll follow the drink with artichoke chaser.

NEWS FLASH: Life is unfair, and then you die

I’m 57th on the hold list for When Breath Becomes Air, that book written by the insightful but dying doctor I was telling you about a few months back. I said I was too chicken to read it, but I’ve put myself in line anyhow. Maybe by the time it’s my turn, I won’t be as scared of what the dear dead doctor has to say.

Still, you’ll never catch me at the local Death Café, a monthly drop-in coffee house for people interested in talking about death. Thanks, but I’ll pass. I wonder if any of the attendees are sick like me. I think about dying enough; the last thing I need is to talk about it with a group of people who are death obsessed.

I’ve been thinking about cancer and death and all that fun stuff lately. A hospital stay reminds me how much I hate having cancer. A while back, my yoga teacher, Kathy, said something wise that stayed with me, as she often does. She suggested that even if we do everything we can to care for ourselves, we can’t be assured the outcome will be good. In other words, we may still get sick. Kathy probably noticed me nodding furiously from the cheap seats mats.

I am one of those people who thought I had done almost everything I could to be well. I was far from perfect, and my self-care left something to be desired at points in my life, but over the years I’ve treated my body with respect. I exercised regularly from a young age, keeping myself fit if not always trim. I attended to what I ate. Fast food rarely touched these lips (but chocolate often did). I was never much of a drinker, even before Dr. Liver forbid it, and I never smoked or used drugs, except sometimes in my rebellious dreams.

Despite my caring for myself, I still got The Big C. A recent study reported 55% of cancers are preventable, but that does leave 45% that aren’t, doesn’t it? That means a lot of people with cancer simply have bad luck. I struggle with this notion sometimes. In fact, it makes me really mad.

Life is unfair. I try not to waste a lot of time stewing about this because it won’t change my situation and certainly doesn’t make me feel any better. In fact, it only makes me feel worse, and what’s the point in that? But all it takes is a hospital stay to bring the issue to the forefront.

I want to believe I have so much control over my life, but I’m constantly reminded that I don’t. As my control falters, my anxiety rises. Thank goodness I have J. to ground me when I feel myself spinning out of control. She reminds me that, whatever happens, there are two things I can control: my mood and my behaviour.

So what do I do? I eat well and sleep lots and hang with my family and do fun things like my taxes. (Just kidding; taxes are painful, but they need to be done.) And because I can control my behaviour, I’m going to skip the Death Café. That will undoubtedly improve my mood.

Basset hound sleeping on gear shift

The downside of my very own militant union

Workers marching on strike

I’ve told you many times that I revere my esteemed hematologist, Dr. Blood. She has kept me alive and well since my diagnosis with leukemia. I’d be long dead without her. This knowledgeable and dedicated physician has well earned my adulation.

During each of my hospital stays since I’ve been under her care, Dr. Blood has appeared on an as-needed basis just like a fairy godmother, consulting with the doctors charged with my care. She doesn’t interfere; she’s just hovering in the background if she’s needed, although she does add her two, five, or even ten cents’ worth if it’s warranted.

During my recent hospitalization, Dr. Blood visited me briefly for the first few days to make sure I was on track. She reviewed my file before she came and was always up to date on my condition and my care. Each day I peppered her with questions, and she always answered patiently and clearly. She even minimized the effort she expended overseeing my care, framing her visits as “social” and blaming them on her obsessive nature.

Over the course of my infection, my blood counts tanked. My white count fell within the normal range, which is atypical for me, my platelets, which had recently reached a safer higher level, began to fall, and my red blood count, which had, after months of iron supplementation, finally reached the normal range, dropped precipitously. Anemia, here we come, again.

I expected the dropping blood counts had something to do with my infection, but I wasn’t sure how. So, during one late-day visit, I asked the esteemed Dr. Blood to explain what was happening. She provided her interpretation in beautiful terms that even I, the concrete one, could understand.

“Think of your bone marrow as militant union workers, ” she said. “If conditions aren’t perfect, those workers will refuse to do their job.” Thus, my blood counts would be expected to drop while my body fought the widespread infection, and to rebound once my condition had improved. Makes sense, doesn’t it? No wonder I’d lost my appetite. My innermost innards were on strike!

The day I was to be discharged from hospital, my platelets were especially low. The resident discharging me wanted to top me up before he released me, but first he asked: “What would the esteemed Dr. Blood do?” J. and I knew exactly what Dr. Blood would do. She would say: “Big deal. Don’t play tackle football or get into any bar fights for a few days and you’ll be fine.” Upon hearing this, the resident sent me away with follow-up bloodwork to review with my doctors, just in case.

Yesterday I went for that bloodwork, and tomorrow I will review the results with Dr. Family. If my newfound voracious appetite is any indication of my internal strike status, I expect good news. Dr. Blood received a copy of this bloodwork as well, which of course she will review. If she has any concerns, she’ll alert me. That’s just the obsessive way she is. Takes one to know one.

 

It’s two-for-one day at the office!

You’ve probably forgotten that I’m a psychologist, it’s been so long since I’ve mentioned it. I haven’t had much time to think about it lately either. I’ve been busy healing.

The week I was admitted to hospital, I had not one, not two, but three clients scheduled. I don’t normally schedule three clients in one week. I had been seeing all of these clients every so often, usually one per week, but all three happened to want in. I was wondering how I’d be able to manage the workload without tanking.

My hospitalization solved that one: I had to cancel everyone. Since I suspended work after my leukemia diagnosis and later reopened my office, I’ve rarely had to cancel or even move a client for medical reasons. I try to keep my work life and my illness as separate as I can, for my own sake but even more for my clients. But occasionally, like last week, I can’t.

I have since left messages for two clients to rebook, and managed to catch the third by phone. This last one was concerned that I’d cancelled and was relieved to know I’m okay. I don’t want any client to worry that my health has taken a turn for the worse. I was glad I could reassure my client, but the damage was already done.

None of these clients have rebooked yet. Maybe they’re gun shy; I would be too if I were them. So I’ve decided to provide some incentives for booking. Our vet offers discounts for doggy dental work in the spring and cheap bloodwork in the fall, so why can’t I come up with something similar? How about: “50% off your next appointment if you refer a friend.” Or: “Free baked goods with every appointment.” There’s always: “Come for therapy and I’ll use you as my contractor.” Need I list the ethical infractions I’d be violating here?

Years ago, a woman organizing a school fundraiser approached me to donate a psychoeducational assessment for a silent auction. This may seem like a reasonable request, and initially I felt honoured to be asked. It would be great publicity, I thought.

I quickly came to my senses and politely declined. It wasn’t the time commitment but the inappropriateness of the request. My work demands confidentiality. How could I maintain that client’s privacy if anyone could see the list of bidders, and the winner were made public? No, I couldn’t do it.

Just as I can’t beg my clients to come in. I may be bored and my office underutilized, but my clients have to choose to come in; I can’t beg them. Ambulance chasers psychologists are not. I’d lose my license if I coerced anyone to see me. I can say that I am available but then it’s up to my clients.

I hope someone books in. This month’s psychology registration dues are a pretty penny. And, without any real work to do, I’ll have no excuse but to start on my taxes. Despite my paltry income, I will owe the government money again this year. If you’re my client and you’re reading this, know that I could use the money, so please come in. But don’t tell anyone I begged. Let that be our little unethical secret.

Table with tax forms, calculator and hands of person doing their taxes

Avoidance only works for so long.

A sure sign of spring? I’m moulting.

Black-capped chickadee on a bare branch

We Calgarians have been blessed with a mild winter and a gorgeous early spring. The trees are already starting to bud, the songbirds are returning from warmer climes, and the neighbourhood hares are changing from winter white to warm-weather brown so the coyotes can’t see them. Oh, and I’m moulting.

I didn’t know humans could moult until I woke up a few mornings ago to find the site of my recent infection sloughing off. Yes, I have dandruff of the trunk. I have taken a lint brush to my belly to minimize the mess, a method that is quite effective if done at regular intervals I might add. Oh, I’m overdue. It’ll just take a minute….

Turns out the last phase of cellulitis is the body’s ridding itself of the skin at the infection site. Take that, bad skin, you’re fired. I was a bit alarmed until I realized my shedding is a final sign of healing.

It’s been a long few weeks, I will admit. The infection slammed me, and then the antibiotics knocked me out–those drugs are toxic if effective–and, now that the drugs are finished, I am just coming up for air. I have only four weeks to get healthy and strong before we leave for our trip.

My appetite is very slowly returning although my diet is still primarily white: white rice, white bread, oatmeal, and a bit of protein throw in so I don’t lose all my muscle mass. I am first to admit I am not meeting my daily requirement of vegetables, even though I am normally a vegeholic. I also can’t yet stomach the thought of sweets, which frightens me a bit, although I’ve choked down a few wine gums just to be sure.

I don’t recommend cellulitis. It hurts. The antibiotics may have quickly combatted my fever, which topped out at 106 degrees F, but the skin infection took longer to heal. Thankfully, Dr. Skin informed me that the pain of the infection would continue to get worse for a few days after the fever had returned to normal. This is the usual course of healing.

For those of you who have been afraid to ask (and those of you who have not), “cellulitis” may sound like “cellulite” but the two are not one and the same. In other words, I did not have an outbreak of fatty, dimpled skin on my thighs. I am sad to report that the cottage-cheesy dimpling I had previous to this infection is largely unchanged despite my profound lack of appetite. Frankly, I’m a little annoyed that, after not eating much for two weeks, I’ve only lost the 10 lbs. of fluid I gained in hospital plus a few more for good measure.

But I did have an idea: I wondered if, rather than my trunk shedding, the moulting could migrate to my thighs, thereby ridding me of a layer or two of that fatty, dimpled skin I’ve resented for years now. I understand there are supposed creams and laser treatments that may be effective to this end, but I can’t afford intervention, and I imagine moulting would be less invasive. Why not kill two spring songbirds with one stone (no violence intended)?

Why am I always Mother Inferior?

Have I ever told you that all our dogs have loved J. more than me? We’ve had several dogs over the years, and each dog has chosen J. as the favourite parent. Even Grover, whom I brought to the relationship, came to prefer J. What am I, chopped liver? Not that there’s anything wrong with that; I’m Jewish, after all, and I grew up eating the stuff.

Jelly, who bears my last name, doesn’t dislike me–she’ll even wag her tail and howl for me on occasion–but she adores J. I come home and Jelly greets me briefly, then runs past me excitedly in search of Mother Superior. Her disappointment is palpable if I’m the only one home. When J. arrives, Jelly’s high-pitched squealing and loving licks can only mean: “I missed you, I missed you, I missed you, why did you have to leave me with her for so long?!”

As the stay-at-home parent, I am Jelly’s primary caregiver: I’m the one who takes her to see her friends at the park in the mornings, who keeps her company during the day, who comforts her and cleans up after her when she’s sick, who takes her to the vet (no wonder she doesn’t like me), and who helps her with her homework. Despite my undying devotion, I remain an inferior facsimile to Jelly’s favourite mommy. I have begrudgingly and somewhat resentfully come to accept this reality.

How often are parents told not to play favourites with their children? But has anyone talked to the kids about this? How do parents cope when their children clearly prefer one parent over the other? How do they not take it personally? I do.

I abandoned our pack with my recent hospitalization. After being away for 5 sleeps, I wondered whether Jelly might be happy to see me when I came home. “Happy” is an understatement; she was ecstatic. She moaned and cried with joy when I entered the house, climbing all over me to kiss me and welcome me back. For a good five minutes, I was the object of her affection, just like J. is every day when she gets home from work.

Within minutes, Jelly had returned to traipsing around behind her favourite mommy, leaving me in her wake. She had greeted me and, now that our pack was reunited, she put J. back on her parental pedestal. Oh well, five minutes of adoration is better than nothing. At least Jelly noticed I was gone.

I know what I need to do to become Jelly’s favourite, other than return to the hospital. I’ll get down on the floor and cuddle with her like J. does, even though it will take me half an hour to get up. I’ll let Jelly up on the couch more often; I can be a pushover like J.

But then it struck me: J. normally feeds Jelly, and all dogs care about is kibble. J. even throws in the occasional bit of chicken skin or beef gristle with Jelly’s dinner; I could do that too. Come to think of it, I imagine Jelly would love chopped liver. She is my daughter after all.

Basset hound front end, on blanket on couch

It’s pretty comfy up here.

 

 

 

Introducing Dr. Skeeter, creative problem solver

My mother is a wise woman, when I choose to give her credit. She taught me to look both ways before crossing the street. She can complete math calculations quickly in her head. Her belief about weight loss? “Eat less.”

She also once told me that the world is made up of complicators and simplifiers. Then she told me I was a complicator. (Takes one to know one, Mom.) She’s right, but YOU ARE NOT TO TELL HER I AGREE WITH HER.

Dr. Skeeter, so named for his work in infectious diseases, would likely side with my mother. This kind doctor offered guidance on the appropriate antibiotics for my infection while I was in hospital. I complicated matters (surprise, surprise) because, for the past 15 years or so, I believed I had an allergy to a class of antibiotics that are often first prescribed for infections like the one I had. I had been administered these drugs once, only to develop six weeks of severe hives all over my face and body and to require two weeks off work because I looked so frightening. Doctors have asked me about this drug reaction many times over the years but noone has ever questioned that the drug caused the hives.

Then came Dr. Skeeter. He is an older fellow and as sharp as a mosquito bite. When I relayed my drug reaction to him, he said (thankfully not quite in these words): “Balderdash.” He told me indeed I’d had an allergic reaction to something, but it wasn’t the medication, especially since I’d stopped taking it as soon as I’d noticed the hive outbreak. The antibiotic would have been out of my system within 12 hours and its ill effects would have subsided soon thereafter.

Furthermore, he said, your having this allergy listed on file is like having a stone tablet around your neck. (I’d never heard this saying before but I assume “albatross” could be substituted for “stone tablet” here.) The documented allergy makes doctors unsure which drugs to administer, and the other options aren’t as good. Dr. Skeeter then suggested an experiment with a sample size of me: “Let’s try you on a relative of that drug. If you don’t react to it, you likely won’t react to the drug you think you’re allergic to.” I was a bit nervous, human subject and all, but I trusted this guy. He was confident yet reasonable, he explained himself well, and he told me this question was worth answering for my immunocompromised future. He assured me the hospital was the perfect study setting in case anything went wrong.

So I took the drug. No reaction. Nothing. Nada. I was absolutely fine. Sure, I’ve had a few side effects, including loss of appetite (yay!), but I trust they will end with the course of drugs. Because I didn’t show the feared reaction, I left the hospital the next day with a 7-day prescription.

I know that if my leukemia doesn’t kill me, an opportunistic infection might. But now, thanks to Dr. Skeeter, I’ve got a new critical tool in my infection-fighting toolbox. Now if someone would just convince my mother I’m no longer a complicator….

Children's toolbox with various children's tools

My germ-fighting toolbox is now full.