Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Please Measure the Cobb's Angle

I believe radiologists here in Davao City should measure the Cobb's Angle before they remark that a patient has scoliosis! I posted this in my Facebook timeline yesterday: 

"In about 6 weeks, Ashley and I will be posting stuff about Scoliosis Awareness. As we have done in the last 2 years. Due to Amber's recent chest X-ray there is a need to shout out that a curve less than 10 degrees is NOT scoliosis!!! It should be noted that a curved to whatever direction has been observed. But a curve in the spine less than 10 degrees is not scoliosis!!!"

I added: "Also if a curve has been observed ask for the Cobb's Angle. I think this makes sense since how will the orthopedic doctor know if the radiologist won't measure it? And how else can the radiologist know if he should just note it or call it scoliosis. "The term “Cobb Angle” is used worldwide to measure and quantify the magnitude of spinal deformities, especially in the case of scoliosis. The Cobb angle measurement is the “gold standard” of scoliosis evaluation endorsed by Scoliosis Research Society. It is used as the standard measurement to quantify and track the progression of scoliosis."
I got that here.

Here is another reason why you should ask for the Cobb's Angle. "It is important to realise that the accuracy of measurement of this angle is only to +/- 5 degrees and so a curve measured at 40 degrees could be between 35 and 45 degrees. "

When my second daughter was diagnosed with Adolescent Idiopatic Scoliosis, her Cobb's angle was 20 degrees as measured by our doctor, not the radiologist. We were asked to get another x-ray after 6 months in which her Cobb's Angle increased to 28 degrees. We went for a second opinion, and then a third and we were told, over and over again to wait and see since there is a margin of error of 2 to 5 degrees depending on who is measuring the angle. And each doctor made their own measurements with varying degrees. It seemed to me like the first x-ray was being dismissed on account of it not being measured by the radiologist! Again, the doctors were relaxed and kept saying that scoliosis is very common. Luckily, for my daughter because fo all the confusion and my doubts, I had taken her for a 2nd x-ray 4 weeks after her first one was taken and on that x-ray, the radiologist this time, measured the Cobb's angle 21 degrees. So, based on that measurement, her curve increase by 7 degrees in a span of 5 months!

As a parent, it is so unsettling to see and then be told by doctors that your child's spine is curving sideways and there seems to be nowhere to go. Compound that with an incomplete x-ray reading.

Why is it that here in Davao, the threshold for scoliosis seems to be any curve in the spine while for the rest of the world its at the very least 10 degrees before they say that a person has scoliosis? The two resident doctors I consulted for my eldest daughter's chest x-ray (one face to face on the day the x-ray was taken and the other yesterday afternoon on the phone) explained to me that based on their guidelines (both did not state where these guidelines came from) 8 to 10 degrees = mild scoliosis. Logic tells me that A LOT people who will get their x-rays at the said hospital will then be told that they have mild scoliosis. 

See here: 
From Australia: "Although scoliosis by definition (a curve of 10° or more) "
From the UK: "Curves measuring up to 11° are considered normal." and check out the chart here
From Europe: "Only 10% of adolescents with curves greater than 10ยบ require active treatment. Of these, 85–90% can be treated with non-surgical methods."" Again, below 10 degrees, then it is not called scoliosis.
From the US:  "The Scoliosis Research Society defines scoliosis as a curvature of the spine measuring 10 degrees or greater on x-ray."
From Asia:  Mild curve is stated to be at 10 to 20 degrees.

Here is what this radiology site have to say, "The angle may be plotted manually or digitally and scoliosis is defined as a lateral spinal curvature with a Cobb angle of 10° or more."

I am not upset that my eldest daughter was noted to have a curvature in her spine. But does she really have scoliosis? How can the radiologist write scoliosis and miss out writing the Cobb's Angle? Scoliosis can be accidentally discovered during chest X-ray or a patient will need an X-ray to figure out the severity of his or her condition to come up with a treatment plan. So, if the radiologist sees a curve during a chest xray shouldn't he or she measure it?

We had 5 doctors appointments in 2011 here in Davao City for our second daughter's scoliosis and none of the doctors used a scoliometer. We relied on x-ray readings/results! So it is very important that x-rays be complete. Patients rely on them! Both resident doctors I spoke to yesterday pointed to me that they write simply what they see. So why stop short at measuring what they see!??

What was upsetting about the x-ray experience with my eldest daughter last Monday,  are:
1. I had to ask for what should have been there and it was not comfortable.
 2. Instead of coming home with an X-ray result in hand we had to go back for it the next day!
3. The man I spoke wearing a radiology department uniform of the hospital acted like he couldn't care less. Thus making me feel uncomfortable. Unfortunately, I am taking his actions as a reflection of the standard and training that they have in the said hospital and the culture, at least of their radiology department.

Surprised that my eldest has scoliosis, I explained to this man that I wanted to speak to the radiologist and why I wanted the Cobb's Angle measured. He replied that I have to go see the orthopaedic doctor for that, not a radiologist. He also added that it is not a standard in that hospital to put the Cobb's angle because it is a chest x-ray and not a scoliosis screening!

I was not asking for a plan of action. I was simply stating that the revelations the radiologist made is lacking! The audacity to dismiss a valid request as if he had an orthopaedic doctor to recommend right there and then is astounding! Of course he does not know that four years ago, my husband and I along with our second daughter had to wait for 6 hours in that same hospital just to see this top orthopaedic doctor for one appointment. I called for that appointment four days before we went and even called to confirm the appointment a day before going! And in the end, we had to settle with another doctor after 6 hours of waiting! Now I understand the long line at the orthopaedic doctor's clinic.

How did all this end? We have a CD copy of my eldest daughter's chest xray and a long size bond paper that say stuff you would read in a normal chest X-ray concluding with,
 "~NEGATIVE CHEST SAVE FOR MILD SCOLIOSIS."

Addendum created May/19/15:  "A 9 degree scoliosis is noted T8 -T12 with convexity to the right."

If we were living else where this would not be called scoliosis. But here in Davao City, Philippines it is called scoliosis! Why? What is the basis for this?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Summer Subject: Filipino


As I said in a previous post, I am going to give Filipino one more try. For this summer, Tuesdays and Thursdays are dedicated to Filipino subject/ activities.
We are using this book. Considering that the learners ages are 6, 11, 14, 17 and 36 its better to start at the lowest and get it right than start with a more challenging materials and give up!
To increase our vocabulary we are playing Speedeebee. We read the questions in English (as written on the card) and give the answer in Filipino. It's annoyingly fun!
I have a question, is Filibustero counted as a Filipino word?
We played Shatong this morning! The plan was for me to teach them the game and give instructions in Filipino.And to speak in Filipino/ Tagalog as much as we can while playing. I told the kids that shades is a must! I don't want anyone getting hit with the stick in the eye. I was thinking of helmet too, but it seems over kill. 
Digging our base.
When I played Shatong as a kid, we did not have safety measures. We played with gusto and sincerity and with the full knowledge and acceptance that if somebody gets hurt, you will get a good scolding from the adults.  I did not realize how much give and take between teammates and opponents Shatong requires. We spoke Filipino/Tagalog about about 15 % of the time. I say that's good enough for starters.
We have 6 more Tuesdays and 7 more Thursdays to go before summer ends. Wish us luck and kindly share tips, tricks, sites and books that could help us out! Thanks in advance :)

Friday, April 3, 2015

Field Trip Continues...

We went up to Calinan on Wednesday, April 1. I was not sure what we would find in Calinan or if we would even find anything related to World War 2. But of all days of the year, I figured Wednesday was the time to go as it was April fools day, so if we do not find anything we can just count it as an April fools' day joke. Our agenda was to check out an obelisk that I recall seeing some time ago and reading about somewhere and is somehow related to Japan.  Then to drop by the Japanese tunnel on the way home. My older kids and I, with my dear husband have been there before, but the younger ones and our driver have not. Our group is made up of 4 adults: Me, A-my eldest, our driver and Teacher Chrissie and As, L and Nh.

Upon reaching Calinan, to the right a of the highway, a little past the left turn towards Calinan proper but before the Felcris building we saw the sign "Philippine Japan Museum" So this became our first stop.

The lady in yellow was our museum guide.
I was not disappointed! After paying the entrance fee, we walked around the museum with the museum guide who answered all our questions and pointed out some photos. It was amazing to see names of of people no longer with us but who's grandchildren continue to play a vital role in cultivating Davao City. We also found World War 2 money.

I think it would be interesting to add the following to the museum:
1. Stories and photos of Japanese descendants. I would like to know how they were treated after the war.
2. More info of the famed gold that the Japanese left behind. I mean, where would the gold have come from? If there really was gold and treasures, why would they keep in in Mintal/Calinan? Why not ship it to Japan?
3. What's with tunnels? 

I am getting a bit carried away now imagining a gift shop/ bookstore and even a tea house. But then, if the museum does not have that many visitors then such would be a waste to invest on and maintain.


The obelisk I was searching for and wanted to show the kids was not in the museum but in Mintal Elementary School! We also learned that Mintal was called "Little Tokyo" before the war. Why I even assume it's in Calinan I don't know. The lady in the museum did not refer to the structure not as an obelisk but called it an "Ohta." I then assumed that an "Ohta" must be a Japanese term for the monument.
Mintal Elementary School is along the highway and we saw a bunch of kids playing soccer. At the gate, was a security personnel who introduced himself to us and showed us his ID. He was to be our guide and we called him Manong Lolong. He walked with us across the school field to the obelisk which he also referred to a "Otah". This was a super worth while the stop!

Manong Lolong our guide explained that the side of the "Ohta" facing the highway is actually the back of the monument. The front is the one facing the river. Sometime in the past, treasure hunters came and wrecked the place in search of gold that the Japanese left behind. My golly!!!


Why this was even allowed is so jaw dropping not just to me but even to my children. They even chipped off the Japanese sign on the obelisk.



 There use to be a pyramid like structure beside the obelisk. The pyramid like structure was built in honor of the directors of the Ohta Plantation Company and according to the kagawad and Mang Lolong, it also had a tunnel and some small room like structures, but now it is  just a heap of mess after the treasure hunters wrecked it!

We were given a brochure with historical information with pre-war Japanese sites that can be found around Mintal. I wish that we had more time to visit the cemetery. But we had to go back because L has swimming practice by 5:30.

Our last stop for this field trip is the Japanese Tunnel.  There was a guide who walked in with us and explained how the tunnel was discovered, who dug it and so on. I couldn't go on and walk the whole 150 feet.
 
The sounds of trucks passing by the highway was too much for me. I imagine World War 2 airplanes and fear came all over me so I decided to step out and let the rest continue. I waited for them outside the tunnel.
The Total Cost of this Field Trip:  P870.00
Japanese Museum: 110.00
Mintal School: FREE
Japanese Tunnel: 260.00
Gas: 500.00

Friday, March 27, 2015

Today's Field Trip

This is a continuation of yesterday's post.

We did not get to leave the house at 8:00 and the teenagers had other plans, so it was just me and the 2 younger kiddos. We left at 9:00 because breakfast took a while. NH watched this video on Youtube right after breakfast while I prepared our lunch and left instructions to my eldest about making salad.

Our first stop was the market to check out how much coconut/buko costs.
In the story, "Fate And My Father", buko was 2,000.00 Japanese Peso in February 7, 1945.
Today, it's P20.00 only.
The coconut on the left is the one for salad and juice. The coconut on the right is older and for gata. I didn't know that! The man even made a handle! So no need to bring a bag plastic when you buy coconut in the market! I didn't know that too!!!
I asked L how many buko she could buy with the P2,000.00 that we had.
On the plaque: "In memory of Col. Thomas L. Clifford Jr. who died on on June 24, 1945 and was responsible for the liberation of Davao City.
We stopped by the rotunda in front of the post office. I have lived in this city all my life but this is the first time I came near, as in go down from the car, to check out this monument.

Our tour guide's name was Winnie and we went around the museum with a bunch of foreign students.
Our last stop for today was the Museo Dabawenyo. We arrived just in time for the guided tour! The tour gave us a happy dose of Davao pride. We were able to see World War 2 currency or Japanese Peso. There were other World War 2 artifacts in the museum but we did not get to take pictures as it was not allowed. I wish the the museum would be open on Sundays and closed on Mondays. This way, working parents can go with their children.

We got home by 11:10. Just enough time for me to help out with the lunch. 

Total cost of this field trip:
Market: P155 {Buko and Parking Fee}
Monument: FREE
Museo Dabawenyo: FREE

There goes our Field Trip or our entire morning. I think we are not yet done with this World War 2 theme. We shall see...

Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Lot of Subjects in One Story Alone

Here is an  exciting article about a development in Finland's education system and it says, "By 2020, the country plans to phase out teaching individual subjects such as maths, chemistry and physics, and instead teach students by 'topics' or broad phenomena, so that there's no more question about "what's the point of learning this?" A question raised by one of the funniest and creative people in my 4th year high school class (1995) to our dedicated Physics teacher. More than freedom in the classroom, the article is a boost for me!!! Now I am not sure if what Finland has in mind is what we are doing here at home.

I always say that I didn't bring school and one of the reasons is that I don't teach like a teacher in a classroom. Not because I don't want to, but because it seems awfully silly! I also do not give tests, grades, and make lesson plans ahead, I tried a bit, but life always interrupts this attempt. I plan with the kids and we sometimes get carried away! My older children are now more sensible than the 2 younger ones in terms of project scale and time. We usually cross over and overlap subjects, because to begin with we did not divide the books we read into subjects. So, how does this work for our family?

Right now I am reading "Shaking The Family Tree"  to L (11 years old) and Nh (7 years old in 4 weeks) . I have read this book to my two older children before and I think they read some of it on their own too.  In my head the book should account for the subject Philippine History. Although it can be World History, Reading, a bit of Geography and Language. Anyway, I don't divide them anymore and tell them that we are learning all these subjects.

In the story "Fate and My Father" by Maria Cristina Duarte Obles, we were able to talk about currency and inflation = Economics. And wounds and infection which my 2nd daughter As will make a power point report that she said she will present by Saturday night, this should cover Science right?

How much is P2,000.00?
In the story, the dad of the author bought a coconut for 2,000.00 Japanese Peso.
To get more from the stories, we (mostly L, Nh and me) decided yesterday to have a field trip on Friday, that's tomorrow. I want to share our itinerary with you now as I am super excited, but it seems unwise to post online my where abouts for tomorrow. I am pretty sure we will be home by lunch time if we leave the house at exactly 8:00 am tomorrow morning.

I told my husband we should also go to Corregidor Island because of  Lalim Hidalgo Lim's, "Silver, the Color of My Mother's Hair". It does not have to be now of course, but sometime in the future. Here is a post I wrote back in 2011. I was asked, "How do you teach your kids? And what if they do not listen?"


P.S  I am not sure my teenagers will be joining the field trip tomorrow. I invited both of them but still didn't get a reply. So moms with young kids, enjoy every second with your little ones they won't be clingy and eager beaver to go with you forever.


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Subject: Filipino

In our house, my children speak in English. I speak to them in English. I think English was my first language and I am sure I heard Tagalog too as I was born in Manila and lived there till I was about 5. Then we moved to Davao and I learned the Davao Tagalog which is a mixture of Bisaya and a lot of Tagalog words. I learned this fast and with gusto because of my new found friends. All was great with what I thought was Filipino/Tagalog until school started and we had to be graded and told,  
“Ang di marunong magmahal sa sariling wika ay higit pa sa malansang isda.” 
What were in the books were very different from how I was using the language. The language when spoken was fun and practical and got me from the gate of my aunt’s house all the way to the highway on a bike!

It was not until the summer when I was about to enter grade 4 that it got to me that words like “lagi” and suffixes like "gina", "naga" are not Tagalog which is why they could not be found in my Filipino books. I did not learn this in the classroom but from my older sister who did not grow up in Davao and did not understand “lagi” and a friend from Luzon who laughed at what sounded like make up Tagalog words, like:

how I say it  = how its suppose to be said
gikuha  = kinuha
ginakain = kinakain
nagatakbo = tumatakbo
nagaluto = nagluluto


 So, I figured it’s a Davao thing and must be Bisaya or Davaoeno not Tagalog. The higher I got on the educational ladder, the harder the Filipino subject became. Yet, I won several medals in Lingo ng Wika in my school and graduated high school and college just fine. Filipino was not my downfall as a student thanks to Math! To this day, I do not know when to use nang and ng, does this make me less Filipino? In case you know the difference do leave a comment so I may know.

If I am angry I speak in English. Masmabilis ang flow of words ika nga! I also noticed that when we are not in the country I tend to speak to my children in Filipino or Davao Tagalog/ Bisaya. It makes me feel safer which is weird but it does!

From the start of our homeschooling I knew I could not teach my children Filipino from the available materials that I saw. I tried, here and here. Just tried. We didn't really get anywhere substantial.
It's impossible for me to pound on them with the same materials that was pounded on me and made me ask, "Kailangan ko ba ito?" The sad part is my answer, "Mukhang hindi!" I was much much younger when I made up my mind on this. I could have studied but I did not. In the hierarchy of fast paced teenage priorities, Filipino ranked high on the boring scale and nowhere near the thrill, rush and fleetingness of the sports fest and even first Friday mass!

When my eldest went to ALS it was like hitting two birds with one stone. She got herself a high school diploma and she learned Filipino way better than me! But then, what am I in Filipino (subject) but a poorly educated graduate who can survive in the street, but cannot read well enough to merit my educational attainment. Nor can I write properly without a teacher working with me. Now this is not the fault of my school or my Filipino teachers, as I said  I could have studied as I got older but I did not because early on I figured I did not need it and there was only so much I could do in a day and a week that it just was not, or ever became, my priority. I needed Filipino only to the extent of passing a school requirement and of course chat away with friends which is also punishable in a classroom setting.

Is the same true for my daughter? Does she appreciate it as a subject? Only she can tell. But as her parent I cannot teach her using the materials I had in the fashion that I was taught, given what I know.

Monday, February 23, 2015

I Want to Become a Genius


It's been almost two weeks since my son came up to me and said, "Mommy I want to become a genius, can you help me?"
Whoa! If that is not the sweetest and cutest I don't know what is!!! What a revelation! 
Now where did this come from? For our movie night two Fridays ago, we watched The Theory of Everything, here's the trailer.

Of course, as much as I want to say YES to him, I have to be honest. So I told him the truth that I do not know the road to genius-ness, but what I am sure of is that all genius men and women contributed to the advancement of humanity and that they can all read and write and do math; I can help him with that.
 
It's been  more than a week now and so far he is working with his math workbook (which I said is genius requirement #1) right after breakfast and labeling the house (this is for reading, genius requirement #2) and lastly writing/penmanship (genius requirement #3, so that others may be able to read his work in the future). 

Oh can you feel my thrill? I have Hollywood to thank for my 6 year old's drive! So, whatever you are up to this week my dear reader, may you stride through your task inspired and with some stroke of genius. Happy Monday!!!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Considering Homeschooling?



I received a question from a parent who I think is considering homeschooling. 

His question: Is homeschooling for everybody?
My answer: No.  Homeschooling is not for everybody just as school isn't for everybody.

One size does not fit all. There many types of  families with different leaning styles, troubles, strengths and so on. Also there is no such thing as 100% guaranteed.

Homeschooling works for our family. I am able to apply myself and get to know my children individually. I think the biggest plus of having my children at home is the time we have to share ourselves to each other. We have a lot of unhurried time and our activities revolve around our family: birthdays, anniversaries, doctor and dental check ups, grocery trips etc.

If you are thinking of homeschooling ask why. Parents have complained about school, but I don’t think schools are evil places. I don't agree that schools produce "factory learners". I can see how that can be the case but as I said there is no 100% guarantee regardless of situation.  As a homeschooling mom, I know that my children are missing out on school activities and learning that schooling children experience. I also know that my children are gaining experiences that schooling children are missing out on simply because they are in school. I know that learning happens whether a child is in school or out of school albeit at different environments, energy, pace, expectation and so on. So, if you are considering homeschooling probe some more. Don't just settle and say homeschooling will be better than school. Ask yourself how will this be the case?

Before you look into curricula and/or homeschool providers, ask "Why am I/are we doing this?"
Before you think of accreditation, ask "Why are you bothering to take your child/ children out of school? What’s to gain?" 
Do you feel like its your mission to educate your child? Why?
What do you envision? It all goes back to why-- your intention.
Then you can start thinking about how you will do it. Only then comes the choice of materials and activities.

Homeschooling needs parental time, energy, creativity and most of all intention. I am not saying its difficult. On the contrary, homeschooling my children is liberating and easy. But it does require to apply myself, just as it requires my children to apply themselves not just in their interest and academic pursuits but in family life too-- specially for younger kids. Yes homeschooling can mean no tuition fee and savings for the family, but there are also seasons when a splurge on materials and activities is required and needed. So set an intention as a parent and take it from there. 


Silently wipe off  the dust that might have settled on top of your heart. Ask yourself even if or most specially because you do not have an articulate answer yet.  And  as things start to shine through, you'll find your intention: the spark that will spell your mission and vision not just as an educator but as a parent. 

Sharing with you this poster for this Saturday's talk/ get together. My eldest daughter is invited to share her experience. If you are considering homeschooling, do register and see you there.



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