Archive for the ‘health’ Category

I don’t know why I ever bother making New Years resolutions, right in the thick of the darkest and bleakest days of winter, but I do. My resolutions are invariably of the same genre: get organized with a sprinkling of getting in shape. I always give them a good college try too. But you must remember that my college days were spent gorging on pizza, shopping for makeup, and indulging in all-night cram sessions for whatever it was I studied. By mid-February I cannot remember what the color green looks like, let alone which closet I was going to create a haven of clutter-freeness from. Thank heavens for March 4.

When I was a kid we would always spend a few seconds marching about and often make a dessert in honor of the pun. Now that I look grownup it has become a day of re-commitment, of marching forth, often accompanied by dessert, usually cake. March 4 is the day for knowing that whatever storms may roll in, the worst ones are over. There may be snowy gray clouds today, but odds are tomorrow will be sunny and slushy. We shed a couple blankets from the beds. We clean a closet we had forgotten we were supposed to, just because. March 4 reminds me what green looks like, I can smell the approaching sun.

I always make a few goals for the coming Spring on this day. What am I Marching Forth to do this year? I am going to exercise every weekday for three months! Who’s with me?? <crickets chirping>


For those who only come here for photos of the Baby:

This little face got foody, this little face came clean.

I should write nursery rhymes for a living. And yes, she is saying “quack quack!” quack

Notice that her security item that day was a toothpaste lid. Blankies are highly overrated.


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As I have read the news the past couple months involving nursing moms, I can’t help but appreciate how much easier it is to nurse a baby in public now than a decade ago when I was a new mother. This summer we took the kids to a theme park. I nursed the baby several times on various park benches and saw many other mothers doing the same. It was nice, normal. A decade ago that was not the case. Even public breastfeeding under a blanket was frowned upon back then, and yes, I have hidden. I have left my food when I was still hungry to find a private place, or eaten it alone, nursed in a locker room, waited in the car, listened to the party through the wall. Many times I just stayed home. It is not actually fun to feel banished.

That said, I have more often not hidden. Even when I was nursing Pi eleven years ago I had a vague feeling that if enough of us would just feed our babies in the mall, in the restaurant, and *gasp* in front of our fathers, that someday it would be ordinary. That someday is beginning to happen.

Still, some well meaning folks don’t quite get it yet. It drives me nuts the way my doctor, otherwise stellar, will act all hushed and embarrassed if he walks in the exam room where I am nursing my newborn with a blanket. “Oh! I’m sorry! You are feeding the baby. Can I come in?” It gives one the impression that this ritual should be done in seclusion. This ritual that occurs 12 times every day. Some also still insist we should simply feed a bottle in public. Well, by the time my babies were eight weeks old they already were refusing to drink from a bottle. They would have sooner accepted a gastric feeding tube through the nose than suck on a rubber nipple. They were smart like that.

When an acquaintance born in the 1930’s, Dean, passed away, a story was told at his funeral: When Dean was a baby, his mother was asked to get up and say a few words in church. She passed him to another mother who also had a baby. Well, Dean got a little fussy, so this other woman nursed him to keep him happy until his mother finished talking. The woman happened to stutter, and when Dean grew up he also stuttered. His family always joked that he had gotten “stutter milk.” When I heard this story I was struck not only by the humor, but also how not so long ago breastfeeding was simply not taboo, even in a conservative church congregation (and with a friend’s baby!) When my daughters grow up, I hope it will be that way again. They might not even realize that there was a time that we had to hide.

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What is this about the FDA wanting to pull children’s cold medications from the shelf??? I swear, sometimes I want to kick Big Brother in the shins. The news stories are reporting that because 54 young children died after taking decongestants and 69 died after taking antihistamines from 1969 to 2006, that suddenly these products are too dangerous for all children under six. That is 123 deaths in 37 years. Now, I am not trying to trivialize those fatalities, but when I think of the millions and millions of doses of cold medicines that must have been administered to young children during those nearly three decades, that number actually seems low. Good grief, the drive to Wal-Mart at 2 a.m. for some children’s cough syrup for that poor toddler horking his eyeballs out is probably a lot more dangerous than the actual medicine. I’m afraid if the FDA has its way, we parents’ hands will be tied to self-treat our children’s cold symptoms, instead being forced to fork out money for a trip to the pediatrician for every viral infection that warrants some relief (and fat lot of good that would do at 2 a.m. anyway.)
As a mother, I hesitate to give my kids medicine except as a last resort. Not every cough gets a dose of suppressant, but a bad cough can irritate delicate air passages and become tight, croupy, and incessant: cough medicine can stop that vicious cycle. Similarly, not every drippy nose gets a cup of decongestant, but when an infant cannot breastfeed because she can’t breathe through her nose, a few drops medicine are a gift from heaven. I would hate to not have that option anymore! As for antihistamines, what would I have done if I hadn’t had some in the house when my son developed an allergy to his antibiotic, or my daughter’s finger began to swell alarmingly from a bee sting? How much worse would those reactions have been if I had been forced to fumble to the drug store for a prescription? Safety experts at the FDA are claiming that these medicines are not effective on young children. Whatever! I find that claim highly suspect as my experience with my own five kids has taught me just the opposite. I hope the FDA rethinks its position on this one. What a giant step backwards it will be if we can no longer buy OTC cold medicine for our children!

(And if you made it this far, thanks for reading this rant. I realize it is out of character for this blog, but I am a fickle gal .)

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the long answer

People keep asking me questions about the baby’s cataract, and I try to give a succinct answer. But there is a longer answer too and I need to tell it.

Infant cataracts are rare. Sometimes they can pinpoint a cause, like prematurity, disease, or genetics, but in our case we don’t know why it happened. Our ophthalmologist told us some cataracts are so insignificant no action is necessary. Others are so severe immediate surgery is required. Our baby’s cataract falls in the intermediate range: her vision with the cataract eye is cloudy, but usable. She also is very nearsighted in that eye, but has not been prescribed glasses yet. The cataract will not get better on its own. It might, however, get worse. This is where we stand.

Because the visual centers of the brain are still developing, the danger is that her mind will favor her right eye and tune out the cloudy image in her left eye. She would quit using the cloudy eye and it would become a lazy eye if we just let it be.  After a certain age, this brain visual loss cannot be reclaimed. (In other words: use it or lose it.) Our goal for now, then, is to preserve the vision in her cloudy eye by forcing her to use it. So we patch. For two hours every day she turns into a little cyclops:


Her doctor told us we will patching for the next 8 or 9 years! I thought 2 hours was a long time until I read about babies that had to be patched 6 hours a day. Now I’m not complaining! Although she seems to dislike the patch, she is pretty good natured for it. We really try to keep her entertained during patch time, but by the end she often feels fussy and tired of the ordeal, and the rest of us are worn out too. The adhesive is high tech, so it usually doesn’t hurt a lot to take off or leave red marks on her face the way tape would. And she can’t get it off by herself yet. So at least there’s that.

help me get this of, gramma

She also gets an eye drop a couple times each day to keep her pupil dilated, letting in more light. At our last appointment, we learned that all this is working! Whew! She still is using her left eye just as much as her right one. Eventually she will most likely need cataract surgery, but for now we are trying to put that off as long as possible.

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Dr. Naylor’s special

This post is not meant as medical advice! Don’t do it, don’t try it, it’s just a story, k? I would hate to be responsible for anyone losing a limb.

Remember when I hired someone to kneel at my feet and be my slave? (Okay, it was just a pedicure, but you get the idea of how addictive the experience was.) I did it again a few weeks ago, pink this time if you must know, and I was lamenting to my pedicurist how I couldn’t get rid of a plantar wart on my big toe. It isn’t anything anybody can see, it doesn’t hurt, but it is a wart. Yuck. Now, I have noticed that beauty shop professionals often have a knack for very alternative medicine; a throwback to the days when barbers were surgeons perhaps. So it didn’t surprise me that Krysta knew a remedy for warts that, funny enough, I had never heard of before. I’m putting in an extra large image so you can read the label:

Oh my! It is dehorning paste for cattle! I didn’t even know there was such a thing! If your chemistry is so rusty that the active ingredients aren’t scaring you (that is caustic stuff, kids), Dr. Naylor has kindly included a helpful illustration on the box top:

Look at that! Did you see that happy calf’s smoking noggin?? So what do you think I’m going to do? Run away screaming? Use it to unclog my drain? Throw some over my shoulder under a full moon? Or would I actually be stupid brave enough to put some on my toe?

Can’t decide.

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Derek saw it first, not quite two weeks ago, as he played with the baby on his knees gazing into her face. “Look at this,” he called me over, “do you see anything different about her left eye?” At first I didn’t, but then, ah, there it is. Like looking through a dark pool, something glistened softly deep in her pupil. It looked like a fish scale. Pi saw it and called it a sparklie, said it was pretty. Something was up. I was able to catch it on film with a flash, although normally the light has to be just right to spot it with the naked eye.

the cloud

Even the nurse practitioner could not see it at her well checkup on Monday, but Wednesday the pediatric ophthalmologist (notice I learned to spell ophthalmologist) told us it is a cataract. Kind of what I thought. I am going to become very familiar with that ophthalmologist, where we spent approximately 3 hours (plus a little) waiting at various stages of the appointment. That’s why those places are called waiting rooms. So you can wait. Here she waits after eyedrops as her pupils get bigger.

wait three hours

So we have to write down all our questions and go back in a month and put an eyedrop in her cloudy eye to make it dilate a bit and put a patch over her good eye a couple hours each day (the girl print patches that look really cute until you slap one over your baby’s eye) and it may get worse or it may stay the same and she may need surgery but maybe not and and–

There are worse things. I am not crying. There are many things to do now to preserve my baby’s eyesight, but falling apart doesn’t seem to be one of them.


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