Texting and Driving

By: Carolyn Coleman

Now that my son is 15 years old, he has this idea that he will be driving himself to school as of next school year. The thought of this sends chills through my body.

texting drivingOver the past few months I’ve taken a special interest in watching drivers and the things they do while they are behind the wheel. I see people with books on the steering wheel. However, most of what I see is drivers with one hand on the wheel while holding the phone in the other hand. On my daily drive to and from work I’m amazed at the number of drivers I see texting.

Of course, as I am writing this I decided to go to the Internet to see what is being said about this new trend:

“Texting while driving is a growing trend, and a national epidemic, quickly becoming one of the country’s top killers.”

“We found out she was injured by a man that was texting and driving.

“Texting and drivingis a scourge that jeopardizes the lives of every single person who uses public roads.”

“Texting while driving is a major cause of traffic crashes and fatalities. Texting drivers are 23 times more likely to be involved in an auto accident than non-texting.”

“At least 59% of young people know that texting and driving is dangerous… but 46% still admit to driving while distracted.”

“Bans on texting while driving cut traffic deaths by 3 percent for all drivers, and 11 percent for those between 15- and 21-years-old”

I feel as though every day I am adding topics to my list of things to talk to my son about. It’s so true that the older they get, the tougher the discussion becomes. For now, the texting and driving issue is at the top of our list. As a parent, I try to make sure I talk to my son about life issues. I like to keep the line of communication open so that he always feels comfortable coming to talk to me.

My son and I are on board with the no texting while driving ban in my car. I welcome you to get on board with this idea, too.

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Living With Diabetes, Part 1

By: Rachel Ventura

Rachel VenturaIn this world filled with technology, I feel truly blessed. I currently have two pieces of technology attached to my body that are helping me survive. Here, let me explain…

In the beginning of summer 1992, I was 10 years old and finishing up the 5th grade. Big things were on the horizon: middle school. It was such a scary and exciting time! The joining of four elementary schools, new people, lockers, changing classrooms. I loved the thought of growing up a bit and having more independence. I couldn’t wait!

As the summer grew closer, I started feeling sick. I remember just not feeling right. My teacher must have thought I was crazy because I was going to the water bubbler and the bathroom more often than anyone else. I just couldn’t quench my thirst and I always had to pee! I would go home from school and just lay on the couch. I didn’t feel like playing outside or seeing my friends, which was very unlike me.

I’ll never forget the night I was so thirsty that I brought a full pitcher of grape Kool-Aid to bed with me. I drank the entire thing and that night, I wet my bed. I couldn’t believe it! I was 10 years old. I didn’t have accidents! I knew something was wrong with me, but I didn’t know what. I was scared, but I kept it to myself. I never even told my mom I had wet my bed.

My parents also knew something was up. I wasn’t acting like myself and I was losing weight – something very scary for a small-framed-to-begin-with 10 year old. The final straw was when my mom took me and a few friends to Dairy Queen the week after school got out. We were celebrating the start of summer! My friends ordered their cones with dip and sprinkles and Blizzards with yummy additions, and when it came time for me to order, I asked for a glass of water. That was all I wanted.

We went to my pediatrician and after taking one look at me, they said I should go to the ER. There, we found out my blood sugar was almost 900. I was hooked up to some IV’s, poked and prodded, and then sent off on an ambulance ride to Boston. I was scared and exhausted and didn’t want any needles or shots (funny, knowing now what I was about to be faced with), but at the same time I was happy to be getting some help. I just wanted to feel better.

Once we arrived at the hospital, I was officially diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. It’s genetic. I knew my Uncle Billy had diabetes. He was also diagnosed at the age of 10. I spent a week in the hospital in Boston, learning all about this disease and how to control it. The worst thing for me was learning it was something I was always going to have; it doesn’t go away. There is no cure. Oh, and shots. I remember the nurses teaching me how to draw the insulin into the syringe, carefully remove any air bubbles, and practicing the injections into oranges. My brother even let me practice on him once! (With saline, not insulin, of course.)

Then it came time. Time for me to give myself a shot. It was so scary and painful, but I got the hang of it. On top of giving myself insulin shots, I had to learn to test my blood sugar, check for urine ketones, and watch everything I eat and how much I exercise. It’s a lot for a little 10 year old to take in!

That summer wasn’t fun. Instead of being excited for middle school, as I had been just a few months earlier, I was completely dreading it. I knew you couldn’t tell I was diabetic from the outside, and no one would know unless I told them, but I knew I was different. And to a 10 year old girl entering middle school, different was the last thing I wanted to be. I was already the youngest in my class, and therefore less developed than all of the other girls in my grade. I became depressed and developed low self-esteem, something I still deal with to this day. We told a few of my closest friends what was going on with me and taught them about any warning signs. Other than that, I tried to be as normal as possible, which was bad news. I just didn’t want to be diabetic.

I spent the next nine years basically pretending I did not have diabetes. I ate pretty much whatever I wanted, never tested my blood sugar, and took my insulin shots only when I felt like it, sometimes skipping them all together. I never felt good. I always felt sick. I was in and out of the hospital for pancreatitis and dehydration. I knew these things were terrible for me, but I didn’t want to be different. I was a stupid, rebellious teenager.

I knew there were many complications of poorly controlled diabetes, and I knew they could start appearing as much as 10 years after diagnosis. This scared me to no end, but I didn’t know how to take care of myself or where to start.

This all changed when I was 19 and got into a bad car accident. I ended up breaking my pelvis in two places and while I was in the ER, I saw a new doctor. I remember he asked what I had taken for insulin, and I replied that I was going to take a shot before bed but I hadn’t had any that day yet. It was midnight. He explained that I was supposed to take my shots before I ate meals – that was the whole point of insulin! I honestly didn’t even know that. Or maybe I chose to not know. Either way, I was in bad shape.

After that day, with the help of my new doctor, I started taking better care of myself (but still not great care). I was taking my insulin at the right times, but not always the right amounts. And I still was not eating the right things. Then two years later, my Uncle Billy passed away from complications of diabetes. He was only 40 years old. He battled the disease for 30 years but never really took good care of himself. In the 10 years before he passed away, he suffered from a stroke, a heart attack, kidney failure and nerve damage that resulted in a full leg amputation, all complications of type 1 diabetes.

I literally saw my life flash before my eyes. I saw this as my future. And that scared the crap out of me. I was only 20 years old and started thinking my life was already half over. I will forever miss my Uncle Billy, but his passing made me wake up. He didn’t have to die so young. If only he had just taken better care of himself… I didn’t want to die at 40. I wanted to get married, have kids, and watch them grow up. I knew it was time that I had to make some huge changes. And I did just that.

The possibility of an insulin pump was always available to me. However, I never wanted the tubes and wires that came with it.

The year after my uncle passed, while at the JDRF Walk to Cure Diabetes, I learned about OmniPod. It’s a tubeless, wireless insulin pump, and the thought of it made me jump for joy! I brought the information to my doctor and he referred me to an endocrinologist to get set up. It took almost a year to get everything in place and get started, but thank God I did. I’ve been on OmniPod now for six years and my only regret is not starting sooner. It’s a small pod, about the size of half a kiwi that sticks to my skin with adhesive. A cannula is inserted under my skin and delivers my insulin, which I prefill the pod with. It wirelessly communicates with a receiver about the size of a small phone. All of my rates and calculations (determined by my endocrinologist) are entered in the receiver, though I can, and do, make changes as needed. I test my blood sugar directly in the receiver, let it know how many carbs I will eat, and it determines how much insulin I need. I confirm and it delivers. Amazing! I change the pod every three days or when it has run out of insulin, whichever comes first. I’ve learned how to count carbs and calculate my basal rates and bolus amounts.

My A1c, a measurement of one’s average blood sugar for 3 months, has gone from 10 (an average of 240) to my most recent, 6.7 (an average of 140). A non-diabetic’s blood sugar should be anywhere between 80 and 120 at any given time. For mine to average 140 is amazing!! I feel good, better than I ever have in my life.

To top it off, because of the OmniPod and better control over my diabetes, I was able to have two perfectly healthy pregnancies and give birth to two beautiful babies!! Before OmniPod, I was not healthy enough to get pregnant or to stay pregnant. My doctor told me that when he started practicing medicine, which wasn’t that long ago, they did not encourage diabetic women to get pregnant. It was just too dangerous for both the mom and the baby. How sad is that? Again, I am so thankful for technology.

I am in control of my diabetes! Actually, I’m kicking its butt! Insulin is not a cure. Insulin pumps are not a cure either, but they sure do help.

Stayed tuned for Part 2 of Rachel’s journey to manage her diabetes, coming next week.

Posted in Health, Rachel Ventura | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

My Child Has Issues

By: Jessica Aldred

Admitting something is wrong with your own child is a terribly difficult thing to do. I’m finally at a point where I feel somewhat proud of myself for admitting that I have a child with quite a few ADHD symptoms. While they won’t officially label him or consider medication until he turns 6, it was somewhat defeating to hear that something might be medically wrong, or imbalanced, with him. Now that I’ve taken the first steps to having him formally evaluated and have done some research on ADHD, his behavior over the past few years suddenly makes a lot of sense.

It took me a long time and a lot of pressure to finally discuss the issue with my pediatrician. Our preschool teacher had been commenting for months that he was quite immature for his age. I knew from my own child care background that he was super active and a daredevil but IADHD had had such a cautious first child that I thought I was just due for a child that would push my buttons.

In doing some research on the subject, I found that there are really three main categories of ADHD: attention, hyperactivity and impulse control. While my son has always been on the go and super busy, I never really thought of him as hyperactive. There are times when he can sit and concentrate on an activity or task for hours without issue, but other times when he gets bored easily and just starts being disruptive. What really hit home for me was the impulse control angle. I had never heard of that in conjunction with ADHD. I thought that he was just a toddler/immature preschooler. We always joked that he was our “flight risk” or a safety threat, but when I read more about it I quickly learned that it was a major aspect of children diagnosed with ADHD. He doesn’t think before he acts sometimes. To him, consequences don’t exist.

Of course, many of the symptoms of ADHD are also normal preschooler behaviors. When I’d discuss my son with other parents they’d often respond with comments like, “Yeah, he’s three. That’s what three-year-olds do.” Or, “Oh no, my daughter is just like that too.” Because so many the ADHD traits are a part of the normal development process, waiting until they turn six to make a formal diagnosis makes complete sense. While we’re fairly set against medication if the formal diagnosis sticks, I’m 100% set on doing right by my child, so we’ll see what happens in the next year or so.

No parent wants to hear anything is wrong with his or her child, but in the grand scheme of life I feel lucky. There could be so many other terrible things wrong with any one of my children, so for it to be something so manageable is somewhat of a relief. It’s been about five months since we initiated the evaluation process and I’m happy to report that I’m no longer in denial of his issues and he’s making some great progress. The past few months have been huge for him in terms of maturity, impulse control and learning to control his body when he gets frustrated. While he’s still only four years old and has the better part of two years to conquer this tentative diagnosis, I really think he can do it and I feel like I did him a disservice in not investigating this issue sooner. In educating myself, I’ve learned to give the kid a break. If he truly has a chemical imbalance that is causing these issues, it’s not his fault and my constant annoyance and reprimands are not productive. What is productive is combining my new knowledge with my background in child care and psychology to find better ways to help him when he has a tough day and starts acting up.

As a mother, I implore you to not be afraid of utilize the resources that the medical community affords us to learn more about the issues that commonly effect our children. Rather than focusing on raising a perfect child, let us focus on raising happy children and helping them in any way we can. In changing the way we view their imperfections, we teach them how to be more compassionate and understanding individuals. Isn’t that a trait of being perfect?

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Skip the Pit! BBQ Pulled Pork in Your Crockpot

By: Kathy Trainor

pulled porkSometimes you may have a taste for BBQ, but can’t get to a smoker. I have an easy way to help you satisfy that craving, and with only 4 ingredients it will be so simple to get your fill. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds Boston butt
  • 4 tbsp mustard
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 bottle of barbecue sauce
  • bread or sandwich rolls for serving

Instructions:

  1. Rub the mustard all over the pork .
  2. Put pork in the crockpot and pour the barbecue sauce and apple cider vinegar into the crockpot.
  3. Set crockpot on high for 6 hours or low for 10 hours.
  4. After pork is cooked, use a fork to shred the pork while it is still in the crockpot.
  5. Serve with toasted rolls or in wraps.

Enjoy!

Posted in Food, Kathy Trainor, Recipes | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Pet Loss

By: Tanya Pimental

Many people start their journey towards parenthood with a pet.  My boyfriend, now husband, gave me an adorable kitten as a graduation gift not long after we moved in together. Animals are such loyal and lovable creatures. There is a comfort in knowing they are around.  Curling up to snuggle a furbaby really does have some great healing powers. The other great thing about having a pet at home is that you can blame all those weird noises and house creaks on them.  It’s not a home invasion, it’s the cat.  It’s not the kids awake when they should be asleep, it’s the cat.  Those noises are scarier when said animal is not there.

Snickers the cat

Our cat, Snickers, had a reputation for being vicious.  She earned her name from her gorgeous coloring like the candy bar. Sadly, the Tortoiseshell breed are territorial and timid.  She was long misunderstood. What people didn’t see was a kitten who played with your toes under the covers or the sweet old cat that slept by my side.  And no one saw the sweet evenings where she insisted on lying awkwardly on us, prohibiting any productivity while insisting on being pet. Her purring was enough to relieve the day’s stress.

A few months ago, our Snickers started to act a little off.  I noticed she was sticking her tongue out almost all of the time. It almost looked as if she were dehydrated but I knew she was drinking water.  Mind you, that water came solely from the bath tub and never from the actual cat bowl. (Snickers was a quirky cat.) Her eating had decreased and her breath seemed really bad.  At first I thought and hoped it may be a tooth ache.  I put it off for a few days and watched her closely. She ate a bit better when I gave her some wet food and I figured it was ok to spoil her a bit if she was not feeling well or was having trouble with the dry food.

When she was a kitten and we took her to a local vet to be spayed, we learned about her demeanor.  Her chart was covered in stickers that read, “Caution!”  and “Animal will bite!”  I assure you she was not that bad.  But that event made it tough for us to bring her to the vet from there on out.  The one other time she needed a rabies shot after catching some mice was equally awful.  It was suggested we sedate her before any further vet visits.  So, as you can imagine, the thought of bringing her to the vet was a bit overwhelming. I stopped in before the weekend to ask about sedation and they suggested we bring her in and that they would block extra time should she need to be examined.

So that Monday, I took out the carrier and while my older two were in school, my youngest and I took her to the vet.  It’s really heartbreaking to see any creature so terrified.  The vet tried to get close to her, but Snickers was not having it.  I was so grateful that the vet was so patient and understanding that Snickers was just scared to be there. Everyone at the Whitman Animal Hospital was so kind. We agreed that we needed to sedate Snickers to get a real look inside her mouth and figure out what was going on with her.

It only took a few seconds for the sedation to set in.  I hated knowing she was so scared and angry before she was put under.  I stayed close by and pet her while the vet looked her over.  When the vet opened up her mouth, I could not believe my eyes.  The entire roof of her mouth was covered in an awful tumor.  I knew instantly that I wouldn’t be bringing my cat home with me, but I never really expected it to all go so quickly. The doctor was pretty positive that it was a fast-moving cancer and that it had only been there a few weeks at most.  He thought it would be very hard to treat but offered me the option to have it biopsied and such.  With a heavy heart, I chose to not wake her from the sedation and to let her go over the rainbow.  I felt, and the vet agreed, it was the humane thing to do for her.  She was loved for 13 years.  And she’s missed almost daily still.

Lucy's drawing

About a week after we let her go, I found this very moving drawing in a notebook by my eight year old’s bed.  I was incredibly moved by the maturity and artistry in Lucy’s drawing. Even if it’s unintentional, it says so much.  Erased in the background of the face but still legible, “You’ll find better love than ever was… deeper than the river runs… warm as the shining sun.” The words “Please remember me” in the mouth, and the image of the cat and her name in the cat’s eye. Lucy has always had an old soul and I can’t help but love her all that much more for drawing this for me. I thanked her and could tell that she did it to make me happy and not sad. And for that, I am just that: happy to have loved our fur baby, Snickers, for her feisty and unique self. 

Posted in Family, Pets, Tanya Pimental | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Look Mommy…No Tonsils!

By: Angela Semeta

Just last month, my six-year-old was seen by her pediatrician for a routine sick visit. She had a cough and sore throat, along with raspy breathing and fluid in her ears. She was diagnosed with a viral infection that had developed in her chest.

Her pediatrician suggested we see an Ear, Nose & Throat specialist because her tonsils were extremely enlarged and her breathing was heavy. When asked if my daughter snores while sleeping or experienced sudden shortness of breath,  I replied yes. So, we booked an appointment to see if she might be a candidate to have both her tonsils and adenoids removed. We found out that this procedure is very common for children around the age of six, since the adenoids usually begin to shrink by age five and often disappear by the teenage years.

Often times a doctor will check the size of the adenoids with an x-ray, but in my daughter’s case they used a tiny telescope that goes up through the nose. The telescope helped to see if her adenoids were normal-sized or if they were swollen. My daughter’s adenoids were so enlarged she was having trouble breathing through her nose. The swollen adenoids caused slight sleep apnea, which would cause her to stop breathing for a few seconds at a time while she was asleep. She also had sinus symptoms and several ear infections due to fluid in her ears.

My daughter’s specialist recommended a hearing test to see if the fluid in her ears needed to be drained by having tubes placed in her ears. However, the doctor felt it was necessary to go No tonsils!ahead and schedule an appointment at Signature Healthcare Brockton Hospital to have her tonsils and adenoids removed. Hopefully the procedure would improve my daughter’s breathing and would make her less susceptible to colds and ear infections.

The thought of surgery definitely frightened me, and could absolutely be frightening for a child as well. I found that the best way to prepare my daughter was by talking about what to expect and answering any questions she had. Signature Healthcare did a wonderful job helping us prepare by sending us a packet of what to expect along with a kid-friendly book to read to my daughter. The book explained EXACTLY what to expect from start to finish, including the fact that there would be a special teddy bear awaiting her at the hospital to comfort her during her stay.

The morning we got to the hospital, all the nurses were fantastic! They were so welcoming and were very attentive to my daughter’s needs. My daughter was full of energy and was more than comfortable. Shortly after we got settled, we met with the anesthesiologist and it was time to go into the operating room. This was the part I was the most nervous about, but the moment I squeezed her hand and told her I loved her, she was out like a light.

The whole procedure took just about an hour. Once my daughter was in recovery, I was able to see my baby. The doctors and nurses were very helpful and attentive, and they were right on top of her pain management. We were able to go home just a few hours after my daughter was able to take in some fluids and was resting comfortably.

As I’m writing this now, we are in our fourth day of recovery. Days one and two weren’t so bad. My daughter was able to take in some fluids and even ate some soft foods and ice cream. Days three and four weren’t so great. From what I’m told (by other parents), these are probably the worst days because the scab is starting to form.

As a parent who has now guided a child through adenoid and tonsil surgery, my advice would be to remain calm, be prepared, and be honest with your child about what to expect. Also, make sure that you have plenty of Tylenol and ice cold treats on hand afterward!

Most importantly, carefully listen to (and follow!) the doctor’s post-surgery instructions and watch out for potential danger signs.

Posted in Angela Semeta, Health, Mommy Advice, Parenting Advice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Battle Renewed—Slaying the Diabetes Dragon

By: Sandra L. Churchill

Sandy ChurchillSlaying the diabetes dragon often takes many tries—and multiple ventures into the same battle scene. For me, a year of trying to eliminate nearly all carbs was disastrous and completely fruitless. Turns out my liver decided to make its own sugar so my A1C didn’t change at all after spending 12 months frustrated and starving. Enter the diabetic nutritionist nurse whose expertise gave me the reality check I needed. You cannot eliminate all carbs and expect your body to simply cooperate. You must track exercise and food, along with daily blood sugar readings.

My foray into “deny-abetes” included days without taking readings, growing frustrated when my tracking showed no improvement, and endless cravings for the occasional starch. This is way harder than I thought it would be!

This time, I got angry—not the typical “why me?” pity type of anger—but the motivated, “I can do this!” anger. It’s early, to be sure. I’ve been researching natural supplements along with traditional medication. Exercise is a daily priority. I am journaling food, blood sugar, and workouts every day. My sugars are coming down, not quickly, but steadily.

The turtle should be my new good luck charm. “Slow and steady wins the race” is my daily mantra, along with regular prayer and reaching out to others for support. My middle daughter is my workout pal, along with a good friend who walks with me several days a week. My husband is helping me chop vegetables and fruit, and serves as a sounding board for my frustration rants. My oldest daughter continues to chide me when I feel weak enough to snack on something clearly contrary to my glucose management goals, and my little guy offers love and hugs to remind me that success is possible.

I am learning patience, like it or not. I am learning stamina and commitment to a goal, like it or not. On a daily basis, I am stretching beyond my comfort zone and seeing tiny steps of progress. Drinking more water, putting health first, and taking accountability have flipped my previous priorities (which had been in place for decades), so I am now on “the list.” Truly, this is new territory. It is uncomfortable and I didn’t choose this battle. Both my parents have diabetes and I had gestational diabetes with my third pregnancy, so the deck was overwhelmingly stacked against a diabetic-free future. Sometimes it feels like I am at the bottom of a mountain and the peak is so high it’s obscured by clouds. It is hard and sometimes overwhelming when I think of “big picture” goals. But then someone in my family reminds me to breathe and I re-direct my thoughts to one step at a time, and success once again seems possible.

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