Archive for ‘Beth’s Blog’

Fighting the Good Fight

Posted on: October 8th, 2013 by admin

Hi, Everyone.

It is finally feeling like Fall here – no more 80 degree days.  It’s time for falling leaves, pumpkin anything and football!

We constantly come across those fighting many health battles and those helping them.  We face Emily’s PANDAS diagnosis all the time and she is doing well to stay healthy and keep that strep bacteria at bay.  My good friend’s son is facing his own struggle with stuttering and how he can work with therapists to help combat this.  We recently gave him a Health Hero Coin and he says he is going to keep it in his pocket for those times when he starts to stutter.  Some therapists have said that if children with these kinds of struggles rub something smooth, it will help them focus on how not to stutter.  He is our health hero this week because he is one strong and determined little boy and we know he will win.

There are two more heroes I read about recently.  With the Fall, comes football and the excitement that surrounds it.  Whether you are a fan or not (we do live in Steeler nation – somehow!), Pierre Garcon, a receiver for the Washington Redskins, is becoming a health hero for Tara Sankner.  Tara has brain cancer.  She is also a sports fan and the local players in the Washington area from the Washington Nationals to the Washington Redskins have rallied around Tara and her family.  Garcon promised to donate $2,500 per touchdown in a particular football game and aptly named it Touchdowns for Tara.

It really does not matter what season we are in.  What matters is learning about and reading about those health heroes year ’round who never give up.

 

September Madness

Posted on: September 12th, 2013 by admin

Good Morning, Everyone!

I am back. I apologize for the time lapse with my posts. I left during March Madness only to return here in September in a different kind of madness…the beginning of school. We are getting back into a routine and Katie is still elementary school (third grade) and Emily has made the big move to middle school. With the beginning of school comes school supply shopping, clothes shopping, new lunch boxes and for us, many discussions about what is appropriate and not appropriate in school – especially middle school.
Emily does not go to our neighborhood school. She is continuting the art program from last year in her school now. On the first day of school she came home with one assignment. She had to make a posterboard with the name of her “team” and draw a picture and describe attributes about that animal. Now, Emily is truly a gifted artist. When we sat down to talk about the assignment, she mentioned that there are so many gifted art students in the school that there were going to be some amazing drawings.
But, we took that one step further. I had just read an article originially reported in the Los Angeles Times called, “Addressing the Empathy Deficit,” and thought how it really affected this conversation with Emily. The idea of the article was that “empathy can be learned and unlearned.” When children are much younger, they inately know to be kind of helpful. Unfortunately, as they get older, some lose that capacity to put themsleves in someone’s else shoes. Even President Barack Obama in 2006 when talking about education reforms referrred to an “empathy deficit.”
I encourage you to read the article because it reminds us that we do need to try to feel what others are feeling. Emily and I had a productive discussion about how some of her classmates (like her own mom) are not as skilled in art as the actual art students. I told her that to remember to put herself in their place when looking at their artwork. As her doctor told us in her last check up, “Everyone has gifts and everyone has challenges.” It would help to try to always keep that in mind.
Hopefully, we can try to erase this empathy deficit starting in our own homes. I hope everyone has a great start to the school year and I will check in soon.

March Madness

Posted on: March 14th, 2013 by admin

Hi, Everyone.

I hope you are doing well.  Things here are moving along.  The girls are in school and transitioning from basketball to soccer and volleyball and I think we are all counting down the days until Spring Break.  Everything has started early…Daylight’s Savings Time, Easter is coming in just two short weeks, and now that college basketball is dominating the airwaves, March Madness has officially begun.

Right now, both girls are healthy, but we have had quite a streak in our house.  Emily and I had the flu and Katie managed to get such a bout of croup that she ended up in the Emergency Room for multiple breathing treatments.  We have all been on some form of antibiotics over the past couple of months, which is why the story in the news over the past couple of days about the potential dangers of the popular antibiotic, the Z-Pak, has me taking notice.

The other morning while getting my dose of the Today Show before heading to spin class, I watched a story about Danielle Cook Navidi, a woman who has started Cooking for Cancer Classes at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.  I was mesmerized by her story and knew I wanted to write about it.  When her son, Fabien, was 11-years old, he was diagnosed with cancer and told to eat as much of anything he wanted because he needed the calories.  That directive included eating as much fast food as he wanted even though it wasn’t healthy because the caloric intake was more important.  Danielle, an avid cook, did something about it and her Cooking for Cancer Classes were born.

Danielle is the Health Hero of the week.  I am inspired by people who have such strength when faced with adversity.  The story is also on the Today Show website.

Have a great day and don’t let March Madness make you too crazy!

New Year, New Blog

Posted on: February 13th, 2013 by admin

Hi, Everyone.

I took a hiatus from the blog without meaning to, but life sometimes really does get in the way.  Many of you will finally get to read more in-depth about what has been happening in our lives when my Valentine’s Day/St. Patrick’s Day/Easter card arrives.  Originally, it was the Christmas card.

The good news is that Mike came home from the Big D – deployment – and we are happily getting accustomed to having him back home with us.  And I have happily turned over trash duty which has made me more satisfied than I thought it would!  The girls are thrilled to have Daddy back home and although it has taken a few weeks, we are acclimating nicely and getting back into our normal routines.

Our normal routines were thrown to the wayside at the end of last year as we underwent a kitchen renovation (kept the template, but made everything much newer and nicer!) and did many more home improvements.  Then, Mike came home early from deployment which halted the home improvements and started the reunions.

So, I am back now and ready to jump back into Health Hero.  Last week I was asked by my neighbor to attend a sports meeting for her son who made his middle school wrestling team.  As I sat listening to the presentations from the coach and athletic director, I also focused on the video they showed about concussions.  It always strikes me how many children are affected by concussions and by watching the video and it was even more surprising to learn that many students don’t report their symptoms for fear of not playing in the next game.  One girl’s testimonial showed that by not reporting her symptoms, her concussion worsened to the point where she can no longer play any sport – ever.  There were many lessons to be learned, but I came across an article that interested me because it wasn’t just about concussions, but what sports teams can do to prevent them.  Dr. Robert C. Cantu implored everyone to get this debate started.

On a personal note, we live with Emily’s autoimmune disorder, PANDAS, every day and she did have a relapse a few weeks ago.  It was her first one and was almost as scary as the first time we learned she had this life-altering disease.  PANDAS stands for Pediatric Autoimmune Disorder Associated with Streptococcal Infections.  Emily had the flu for a couple of weeks and then unbeknownst to us, contracted a pretty severe sinus infection which triggered the PANDAS symptoms.  I read this article in the Boston Globe about a man whose nephew suffers from PANDAS, too.  I don’t wish this on anyone, but reading more about it always comforts me in the sense that I believe one day, this disorder will be more widely known and hopefully, more accepted.

I am happy to report that Emily is doing very well today and is back on track.  We encounter many bumps along the way, but thankfully, with the support of family and friends, we persevere.  To all the Health Heroes out there, keep on fighting and it’s good to be back.

I’m back and a bit waterlogged

Posted on: October 29th, 2012 by admin

Hi, Everyone.

I am sorry to have been missing for a few weeks.  It is official that this nine-month deployment has taken its toll.  I find that when I make breakfast for the girls and get their lunches into those backpacks and they scurry off to school, that I consider those things major accomplishments for the day.  I have also been away on a few trips over the past month.  My high school friends and I went to Hilton Head to celebrate our 40th birthdays – one year later.  We had a great time and my parents did a bang-up job of taking care of Emily and Katie.  I also ran up to DC for a few days to help a Navy friend of mine find a rental in the vast metropolis of our Nation’s capitol.  It was not easy and we encountered a true cast of characters, but we found her (and her family) a wonderful place to live for the next three years in a nice neighborhood walking distance to school.  After driving 25 minutes each way now, she is very happy to know the commute to school will now take about 25 seconds.

I am back home now only to take on Hurricane Sandy who has planted herself firmly in Virginia Beach for days.  She is finally making her way up the coast leaving us with pools of rain and downed branches…and luckily, with our electricity in tact.  I hope the rest of the East Coast does OK as she is packing a powerful punch.  Hopefully she will speed up and make it a fast and furious run so everyone can begin to move forward.

I wanted to share an article with you that my Dad sent to me.  It is an Opinion piece from the New York Times about how children who chew gum may decrease their susceptibility to strep throat.  Obviously, with Emily and her PANDAS, I am always on the look-out for ways to keep her nemesis at bay.  There is no other way to say it.  We hate strep throat and will do anything to keep it far from her and the rest of us.  Apparently, chewing gum with the ingredient Xylitol, can possibly keep the bacteria that causes strep throat away.  For a girl who always follows the rules, I think even Emily would agree that maybe chewing gum (even in school) would be worth that check mark in the teacher’s book.

I hope you have a good week – stay safe if you are in Sandy’s path and have a safe and happy Halloween.

A busy week

Posted on: September 24th, 2012 by admin

Good Morning.  It’s Monday again and it feels like it!  We are constantly scrambling to get ourselves out the door for school.  Emily is a patrol now and needs to arrive at school 15 minutes early and for some reason, it feels like 50 minutes.  Both girls are in school now after a very fun birthday weekend.  Katie turned eight on Saturday and I think I got a glimpse into what those MTV Sweet 16 birthday parties are like.  We took a few of her friends to a local hotel to spend the night and swim in their mini-water park.  It was non-stop for 24 hours and I feel a lot like I did after my Senior Prom.  Exhausted!

I wanted to start the week off with two stories.  One is about the new Breast Cancer study which explains it is not necessarily about where the tumor starts to grow, but the genetic origin of the tumor that matters most.  It could be a breakthrough in how Breast Cancer is treated and as Dr. Nancy Snyderman said, “It’s like building a new rocket to the moon.  When we land, we will have found a cure, but for now, it’s a huge step forward.”  As we approach our local Race for the Cure race, and as I continue to watch the progress of a friend of mine who has beaten the insidious disease, I thought it would be a beacon of hope for those who are still fighting.

The other story I wanted to share is about a man named Mike Hart.  I went to school with his sister and their family was always the envy of our small All Girls’s school and All Boys’ brother school.  They are a big, Catholic, gregarious family who are fun and giving and very close.  Mike was older than I and I did not really know him, but I have met him and I know how much he is loved and admired by all.  He has been stricken with an unknown illness which is robbing him of control of his body – a body that won a Cross Fit Championship just one year ago.  I want to include his website FightForMikeso maybe you can help.

There are so many health heroes.  I find that I read about them or come across them every single day.  I hope our message resonates with them.  We are “always with you” and hope those who are finding the cures for diseases and those fighting against them will win the battle.

Have a good day and I will check in later this week.

Less of a Big Gulp

Posted on: September 17th, 2012 by admin

Good Morning.  I hope you had a good weekend.  Ours was busy, as usual with soccer and birthday celebrations – Katie is about to turn 8 this week and the partying has already begun!

You can bet that we won’t be serving huge sugary drinks at her birthday party – even though we don’t live in New York and could serve them if we wanted to.  The news out of New York that large sodas will no longer be sold has created some controversy, but does have everyone talking about how this could help in the fight against obesity in this country.  Some argue it has to start somewhere and drinking a small amount opposed to a 32 ouncer could make a difference.

Luckily, we are still at the age where mini-waters will suffice at a birthday party as long as there is a big sugary cupcake to wash down!

All kidding aside, it is interesting to read how drinking one soda or sugar drink a day could potentially add up to 15 pounds per year.

Next time you go into a 7-11 in New York, remember that your Big Gulp just got a lot smaller.

Have a great week!

The Hanta-what?

Posted on: September 10th, 2012 by admin

Good Morning.  It’s the second week of school and I think it feels like at least the tenth!  I hope you all are off to a successful start to the school year.

My sister and her family road-tripped around the Western part of the country this summer.  They stayed in KOA campgrounds from New Mexico to Oregon to Minnesota.  They loved each and every one of them (and the pancakes that were made were some of the biggest I have ever seen!) and encountered many different animals and trees and even Old Faithful.  Lately, we have been hearing a lot about Hantavirus, which is a life-threatening disease spread to humans through rodents.  You can read more about it from the CDC website.  Since they visited so many campgrounds and stayed in the cabins, we have been talking a lot about Hantavirus during our phone conversations.  In addition to having spent time in park cabins, my sister is having a mice infestation at her school in Texas.  Field mice are common where they are, but for some reason, their presence is to the point where you wonder if they should be paying tuition!

She and I talked about the Hantavirus again because she found baby mice and mice droppings in a cabinet in her room.  Could they get Hantavirus from this?  We don’t know.

I had never heard of Hantavirus before and now I feel like it has become a major part of our vocabulary.  So far, my sister, her family and her class all seem fine, but we will keep an eye on them to make sure.

I hope you have a safe start to the week and I will check in again in a few days.

Back to School, Back to Blogging…

Posted on: September 6th, 2012 by admin

Hi, Everyone.

I am officially back now.  Sorry for the August teaser.  It turns out that summer was extremely fun and extremely busy.  With Mike deployed, things take me longer and sometimes by the time I can sit down and write, I am just too tired to do much of anything.

Yet, here I am!  The girls are back in school – hard to believe!  Emily is now a 5th grader and Katie has reached 2nd grade status.  They looked so much older to me on that first day.  I think you will always remember back to the days when their backpacks were bigger than they were.  We are getting used to a regular routine again that includes piano, volleyball, soccer, Girl Scouts…should I go on?

However, with sports in full swing, I think it is important to note the latest story about the NFL and NIH joining forces to investigate how the sport of football affects how people are getting head injuries and how damaging those head injuries can be.  With 30 million dollars, NIH will come up with scientific results, for better or worse for the sport of football.

I think about this very topic when Katie is playing soccer.  She is not at the age yet where this is an issue, but she is slowly getting there.  I worry a lot about her heading the ball and what it could do to her brain and head.  I wonder if we will see articles come forth about this eventually, too.

In the meantime, welcome back and I will write again on Monday.  One more soccer-less weekend and then it’s on.

Have a great weekend and stay safe.

The Blogger Returns!!

Posted on: August 16th, 2012 by admin

Good Morning.  I’m back.  Sort of.  Kat took over the blog while she was on summer vacation from teaching.  But, she did such a good job, I am thinking about “hiring” her as a part time blogger during the school year.    We are in Texas right now wondering every time we go outside if a mosquito carrying West Nile virus is lurking around the corner.

Our summer has been great and busy.  We have done a lot of traveling which has made Mike’s deployment go faster for all of us, a great bonus.  This blog is not going to be too long as I am not at home where I have access to all things Health Hero.  But, the summer has been eventful and I look forward to filling you in on many things upon my return.

There is a final Nadia update – she is the little girl with Spina Bifida who was helped so much by Katie’s first grade class and many more in the community – I can’t wait to show you her new backyard!  We were lucky enough to be present at the ribbon cutting ceremony.  And speaking of Katie, she managed to take quite a spill while going up the stairs to a water slide and ended up with a small gash on her forehead.  You know how this is – where you look at the gash to see if a trip the ER is in your future.  We used a liquid bandage instead, and she seems to be recovering.  More on the liquid bandages and liquid stitches in the future as well.

One of my dear friends had a lymphoma scare, but we just heard today that turned out to be a benign cyst, although the last few weeks, that included many tests, have been very difficult.  Our cousin is facing an interesting health issue which we will also share when I get back.  We have a lot to tackle, including the latest on the West Nile scare here in Texas.

I hope you have a good weekend and the next time I write will be from the Health Hero headquarters.

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