Thursday, September 22, 2016

Two homes separated by one ocean

How many people share the sentiment that there are two places to call home? Two very important places where you find yourself happy you're there yet so far apart and so different one from the other.

How many times we are caught referring of HOME yet we talk about two distinct places which are clearly located on different sides of the planet?

On the plane back home to Paris, I thought about that place where I am building a life and where someone who loves me dearly awaits for me. This other home is Paris. Yet, the last two weeks I spent home in the Caribbean where I go to feel whole and revitalize, the trip already seemed so far. The balance I've created to manage two sets of lives always seems to be in danger when I return to my Caribbean home. 

My voyage came and went like a wave which disappeared into the ocean, quickly, sweeping with it all my emotions of peace of being somewhere where the daily topic was not about refugees, terrorism and the European Union mess. Yes, it has its own set of problems but I felt they were not of the same gravity. They all seemed more manageable.

In my time home there were countless friends and family to visit, errands to do, bank appointments and somehow I got so many things done yet I wanted more. Being in my Caribbean home, in that small island was a cure to my soul. The cure was borderline addictive. When will I get to go back? Every time the return gets harder and harder. 

When I left New York for Paris years ago I had essentially already gone through the same prepping process of moving elsewhere although it was a city I loved and I enjoy visiting it was not a place I could call home.

What is curious is that home is not the same as when I left many years ago. Things have changed and I as well. Still, the things that remain, the friends who are making their lives there, my family and the possibility of me creating and living there is captivating to me.

Things change and plans transform as well. Maybe I will move back, one day, or not. Who knows? The unexpected in life is what keeps us curious to want to continue. The melody of change is never ending and unpredictable. 

"Patria son tantas cosas bellas"
- Ruben Blades

Thursday, September 8, 2016

La rentrée in France is back!

It is September and life is back in Paris. This period called la rentrée starts in the beginning of September and I'd say it is already well on its way. The term rentrée does not translate well. Maybe you've never heard about it so if you are new to this keep on reading.
I know in English we refer to "back to school", but la rentrée covers much more. La rentrée is an annual shift in spirit and motivation. Everyone in France refers to this period of time constantly as the period where we go back to our daily routine with more energy. Most procrastinators use it as the period of time where decisions must be made.
So school starts, most french people are back from holidays and in good spirits to follow through until the end of the year when new resolutions will be made. Also during this time, the streets are once again crowded in french cities like Paris. The shops and restaurants are back in business and the metros are packed from packed.

  The cold will once again return to Paris after such a lovely summer, but I will not be complaining, no sir. Even though the french take much more vacation than people in many countries, I strongly feel that we are still giving 100% at work and demonstrating we are equally productive, with 5 weeks of vacation and all. Quality of life also does not lack here in France. The balance of life, work, family is pretty much proven to be a success. I am happy about that because I live here. So, batteries get charged on vacation to enable people to put on their best face in la rentrée.
A good time to start something
Like we make resolutions during the new year, the same applies to la rentrée. You make fitness goals, do some closet cleaning, focus on work projects, students go back to school and people like me try to blog more. Ok, at least have the intention to!
 I've got a few things already in progress and I am pretty enthusiastic about them. Let's see how I'll be doing by Christmas!

Bon rentrée to all and have fun!

Monday, September 5, 2016

That stupid Zika - Things to know

I just came back from vacation home in the Caribbean and I met some people who got infected with ZIKA in one form or other. I would not say it is everywhere but there have been some cases given the hot weather and propagation of mosquitoes during wet season. Just because you get bitten, it does not mean you have Zika. Still, it is better to be informed.

It is very important to spread the word about this important health issue. I'm no medical expert so consult your health practitioner.

If you travel to a Zika zone, please read this:

An epidemic is found
mostly in Central America and the Caribbean but also rising in Asia and the South of the United States.
This virus is possibly responsible for serious health problems in the fetus but does not rule out problems after is has been born.Even though Zika infection in adults lasts only a few days, you may or may not get symptoms.

Can the virus be sexually transmitted?

Yes it can be sexually transmitted through any form. That is why it's important to learn more about how you can be safe. Transmission of the virus in women lasts throughout 8weeks and in men up to 6 months! If you travelled to a Zika infected country, get tested so you don't pass it around!

Zika infected people are mostly travelers from affected zones, as they may infect someone else and if it's a pregnant woman, you can imagine how bad this is.

You can transmit it without knowing. Consistent use of a contraceptive like a condom could prevent sexual transmission of Zika.

What causes Zika?
  •     It is mosquito born. Aedes Aegypti mosquito causes it. 
  •   Zika might be sexually transmissible according to studies. 
  •   Zika will infect the baby if the mother is pregnant and is infected.
Zika virus symptoms:

  • Asymptomatic (1 in 5 people experience symptoms) 
  • Fever
  • Joint pain
  • Rash
  • Conjunctivitis 
  • Difficulty hearing

Incubation period for Zika virus: 3 - 13 days
Duration of Zika : Up to 1 week

How long to wait before getting pregnant?

The World Health Organization advises that people wait six months to try for a pregnancy if the male was infected. Risks of sexual transmissible with asymptomatic infection is unknown and needs more research.

Can you protect your baby if you were infected?

There is no known way to protect a developing fetus from Zika infection, not all pregnant woman who gets infected has a baby with birth defects.

More subtler birth defects have been reported in babies born to women with Zika.They are still relatively difficult defects that must be followed up by a doctor. Some birth defects do not become apparent for years.

What test will be done for detecting Zika?

If you present any of the symptoms, go get tested.You must consult your doctor.

 Testing people who travelled to a Zika stricken country is important and it must be done within 2 weeks of exposure. Usually the tests are:
  •     Zika reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).
  •     Zika IgM (immunoglobulin M) in serum

 Zika is closely related to dengue and chikungunya and other tests mix them up at times.
 Its recommended the test should be done 2–12 weeks after travel.

Treatment / Prevention

Currently, scientists are working on a vaccine. Today there is no treatment of prevention. The only thing to do to minimize the risks are:

  • Using a mosquito repellent that contains DEET or other chemicals that fight off the Zika mosquito(Aedes Aegypti)
  • Sleep with a mosquito net 
  • Cover your arms and legs with clothes (light colors) and if possible wear socks
  • Do not wear perfume, it attracts mosquitoes
  • Don’t let water accumulate outside in areas where you are staying. After it rains, this happens and mosquitoes develop rapidly.

What if you're pregnant and get infected?

Research is being done to learn more about this virus. 1% of babies have been estimated to suffer from microcephaly. It has been shown to cause a range of other, sometimes less than visible health defects long after birth. Monitoring must be done after birth as well.

Baby health problems:
  •     Microcephaly (impediment of fetal brain development)
  •     Intracranial calcification
  •     Muscular problems even paralysis
  •     Eye conditions
  •     Hearing Problems
  •     Liver failure

Zika infection early in pregnancy (< 7 weeks) may be the most delicate period. Fetal brain development occurs then.

Microcephaly is multifactorial.It can have genetic and environmental causes. It is not only Zika who causes the fetus to get it.

Should you get tested even if you have no symptoms but were exposed?

Yes but remember there is an incubation period so give yourself over a week after you return from an exposed country to go tested. Even if you don't have symptoms, ask your doctor.

Take care of yourselves! I'm going to do it as well.
 Love, Maria del mar