Archived Posts from this Category

Sometimes, a little bit of publicity can save a life

Posted by on 07 Oct 2011 | Tagged as: caring, citizenship, Giving, good things, health, illness, Uncategorized

And if my half-dozen readers aren’t “a little bit” I don’t know what is!

I was alerted to a pressing need for a bone marrow donor through Seth Godin’s blog.

Here is the post that caught my attention: Eliminating the impulse to stall.

And here is the website for Amit Gupta who desperately needs a donor.

If this finds a donor for Amit, or raises awareness of the pressing need for donors of all kinds, then my blog has done its job today.


Amit found a donor and has had the surgery. Now he needs to recover and get used to being healthy again. I hope the transplant “takes” and that Amit will have a long and happy life.

First Autumn Post 2010

Posted by on 25 Sep 2010 | Tagged as: Gardens and Life, illness, Uncategorized

Well, I survived yet another week as a student teacher, taught at least two classes each day, taught all of them a couple of days. With a cold… that turned into the flu. Oh well. Life as a teacher, right? Took today as easy as I could in hopes of feeling 100% tomorrow so I can focus on lesson plans and all.

I think my basic classroom management is improving. I need to get more comfortable with pre-assessing student knowledge and adapting lessons to the students.

Today was misty and clammy in the morning, but resolved well before noon into a bright, warm, sunny day. Tomorrow is not likely to be the same, but I will keep my fingers crossed.

We have broccoli in the garden! Tom took some pics, will post them when I can. The boys are well, the dog is bored, the house is a mess, the yard is acceptable enough for the time of year. Next summer, with no classes to take, I hope to get ahead on all the maintenance.

What I thought was an allergy…

Posted by on 02 May 2009 | Tagged as: art, health, illness, Interesting Websites, Uncategorized

seems to have turned into a virus. A head cold, actually. Not influenza. Which is good, because the flu knocked me back about three weeks winter quarter. But this is bad enough.

Didn’t study at all yesterday, just sat around in bed mostly, playing computer games because I couldn’t concentrate well enough between coughs and sneezes to read or think. Oh. And I napped… I suspect I will repeat this performance for Saturday (today) if I ever manage to fall asleep.

Until then, I am surfing the web and looking at my blogroll. A new category is in order, I think, anticipating the summer. Art Blogs. The first will be Art Projects for Kids, something that my friend Robin linked to a few days ago.


Valentine’s Day

Posted by on 14 Feb 2009 | Tagged as: Blog Carnival, caring, children, Family Matters, Gardens and Life, health, illness, musings, Uncategorized

It’s late on Valentine’s day. I have been too sick this week to finish the valentines as I had hoped, which really bothers me because those cards are the most fun to make. The more glitter the better, and if you can fit some lace or ribbon on too, do it! Oh well, I have supplies for next year!

I wanted to revisit the theme I touched on twice this week: the difference between enduring LOVE and the oogly-googly feeling of romance.

This week started out with my darling Tom feeling ill — last weekend, in fact, and he took the first three days off work. Then I caught it, and took the last three days off. One of the children has had an annoying post-nasal drip cough for over a month, the other was sickly Thursday and Friday (but much improved today). Nothing is a bigger test of true love than everybody feeling ill all at the same time.

Today, Valentine’s Day, I woke up on the sofa (had to sleep sitting up so I could breathe). Tried to keep the dog quiet so Tom could sleep longer (didn’t work). Sat on the sofa feeling miserable for hours. Then moved to Tom’s chair after he and the children left for their afternoon activities. Felt miserable there, too. But played “Puzzle Quest” for a long time anyway. It’s slow-paced and mesmerizing, just right for a fever. And then, to prove my love, I started a load of laundry and the dishwasher.

I am now recuperating from my exertions…

But silliness aside, true love isn’t the sparkly, bright, shiny, new gift of the valentine; it is the somewhat worn, dingy, occasionally ragged, “comfortable” old bathrobe of real life. My valentine from Tom was the leisure to rest and sleep as much as I need this week. My valentine to him this week was to step up and do just a little more as I could so he didn’t have to do everything. My valentine to my children was to make sure I talked with them at least a little each day — including the day I had no voice. Their valentine to us was to help out around the house, doing chores that are normally mine or Tom’s.

After courtship, excitement and adventure; after the wedding, ribbons and bows; after the first house, the first real disagreement, the first child (or the first pet); after real life begins… Then love proves itself. I believe that everyone should be able to marry — to experience all the joys — all the discouragement and responsibilities — all the triumphs — all the sorrows and worry — all the peace.

Hey, if someone is willing to put up with kleenex everywhere and random half-finished cans of ginger ale in unlikely places… why not?


And although the Blog Carnival actually ended yesterday I think, I noticed that Robin had another post today, so I will refer you over to her last post as well.

Vaccines, History and the Future

Posted by on 17 Dec 2008 | Tagged as: editorial, education, Gardens and Life, health, hope, illness, Uncategorized

I only just read this particular news item from December 1: Avoiding the Flu Shot?.

I have made sure to get a flu shot the last two years — partly because I tend to catch every virus the kids bring home from school, and partly because I am now volunteering a LOT in the schools, so am at extra risk for catching something from somebody. Also, when I get sick, it usually lays me low for a few days so I prefer to do whatever I can to avoid getting sick. I am fortunate that our health plan includes vaccinations, but for this one I would spring for the twenty bucks if I had to.

On the other hand, I refused the second MMR vaccination for our elder child because when the first one was given he ran a high fever and developed a measles rash. No kidding. I figure he is either immune or never will be. We can get his blood titred if necessary to figure out which it is.
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Blog Action Day: The Environment…

Posted by on 14 Oct 2007 | Tagged as: allergy, blog action, caring, celebrations, climate, editorial, education, environment, fun, garden, Gardens and Life, Giving, good things, health, hope, illness, Interesting Websites, Making a Difference, map, musings, Peace Making, politics, Politics and War, poverty, rain, social justice, Uncategorized, weather

So many things a person could write about, I spent all weekend thinking and working on this post. Here is my meagre contribution to this month’s Blog Action Day.

Of course, we all know by now that this year’s Nobel Peace Prize was given out to people who have been working on Environmental Issues (Global Warming) for many years. One commentator I heard (on National Public Radio) related that they did so because it is already apparent that many of the violent conflicts in the world are the direct result of shifting resources as formerly lush landscapes become deserts, and as storms wash away other areas.

This particular year has seemed to drive the point home for many people in my country (USA) and on my continent: North America. On the west coast, it was a cooler than normal, grayer/rainier summer after a rather nice spring. On the east coast, the spring was very wet, the summer overly hot (and as of this last week many places were still in the 80sF/25C!) and autumn appears to be late arriving. The middle of the continent sweltered through the summer… some people died from the heat.

Environment: climate, pollution, allocation of resources, activities for work and play.

Changes in the climate affect the environment in many ways. I am an expert on only one small part of the environment, so that is my focus today.

For me, the changes in the climate affect my garden as well as outdoor activities. My garden is a little micro-world, with its own hot and cold areas, variations in ecology just within our one acre. I notice how the plants react through the year to the sun, the rain, the wind, the shadows… I evaluated my space (light and shadows, orientation of the house) carefully before cutting any of the existing trees when we got ready to move here; and carefully considered existing vegetation (what grew naturally, where) before planting new. Eight years ago, we began our gardening odyssey…

I recognize that there are normal fluctuations of temperatures, and I remember when I was a child “the year without a summer” when we had the fireplace lit on the Fourth of July… I remember the year that we had a week of temperatures in the 80s in September (I was in high school, it was great). I know that most years the last two weeks of March are sunny and warm — shorts and T-shirt weather; surrounded by gray, windy, rainy months. What I don’t know is whether the extreme fluctuations from the “norm” in the last five years (extreme rains in winter, but drought twosummers in a row followed by the very wet and cool summer this year) are becoming the new pattern, or if weather will change back to the usual 9 months of rain/3 months of sun. Will the average temperatures continue to increase?

What should I be planting now? It takes years for trees and shrubs to mature enough to produce a crop that is useful. I can nurse young trees along no matter what they are, keep them alive for five or even ten years. But for them to thrive and bear as they ought, the climate as well as the soil they are in need to be right. My figs did not ripen, though the trees held record numbers, because there was too little sun this summer. My apples bore, but not well, because of the rains during the flowering stage.

I did not plant a vegetable garden this year, but if I had, my usual crops of lettuces would have lasted longer and the squash would never have fully developed. Corn would never have reached the tassel stage. Beans would have been slow, though peas would have liked the cool days. Potatoes and tomatoes would have been cranky. Coles and brassicas would have been ecstatic at the cool weather. Melons, which are iffy in the best years, would have not even set.

My flowers were, by and large, late, small and highly unmotivated. The birds didn’t delight in visiting the yard as they do most years. The frogs were quieter than normal. No crickets were heard… I didn’t see as many snakes. We had bees, but not as many or as constantly as I am used to. There were more “bear splats” in the yard than normal — are they looking for food further afield than in a usual year? We certainly had more “deer plops” as well, as they nibbled my fruit trees and rose bushes. But who can blame them? Much of their usual forage was late and minimal also!

Friends and acquaintances in other areas were stymied by overly sunny and hot weather. Many plants shriveled and died despite repeated waterings and good mulch.

What will all this mean to me? To my family? To the world? Well, around here we still have abundant water — more necessary than sunlight for life. But if the climate here continues to sustain trees and life, if our home becomes very attractive to people from places on the continent where extremes of climate are out of control, more people will want to move here. I don’t blame them… but how will our resources hold up if they need to be shared by too many people? Will the government decide to restrict our use of the aquifer our well pulls from? As harvests are more variable and less reliable, will food supplies become more valuable than gold? Will we be able to feed our families? Will we be able to afford the taxes on our home if the value increases because so many people like it here?

If the weather warms, and becomes sunnier, other crops may become possible: oranges, bananas, avocados? But if that happens apples, pears and even the type of grains that are grown here will not be successful. If the weather becomes more erratic, crops like cherries and peaches will be less reliable. Corn would be easier to grow in a warmer, dryer climate… but after only a few years of drought our forests become scary places, and the lovely trees start to suffer. And if rivers dry up, the fish will have more difficulty and the dams that generate much of our power will produce less electricity.

Environment: it affects EVERY aspect of our lives. From whether we go for a picnic in the summer, to how expensive it is to keep the house comfortable in the winter. It affects how much we have to eat, and whether we have anything left over to share. People in this area are quite generous, but can that last?

I don’t have answers today, just questions; some fears, a few hopes, and many dreams. I know that I will continue to look for ways to minimize our family’s impact on the environment, from being careful what we put in the septic system and use on our plants (we are an organic family for most things) to trying to minimize the electricity we use, to cutting down on trips in the cars and keeping them tuned up for better mileage. Recycling, reusing, sometimes doing without… all of these are ways we attempt to be a positive influence on the environment. Will it be enough?

Only time will tell. Our family will continue to “reduce the things we purchase new, reuse what we can, and recycle as much as possible.” I am optimistic because I think we are adaptable: not just my family, but our species. I think we will find ways to grow enough food, to stay cool enough in the summer and warm enough in the winter, to enjoy a few of the nicer things we have come to expect. I really hope the internet will continue to be available! Mostly though, I believe that our world will find ways to be beautiful and healthy. I hope my descendants will be able to look back at us someday and say with pride, “Stidmama and her family were good citizens of the planet.”

Here are a few websites I know about that can encourage you to make changes — small or large — to keep having a quality lifestyle and still reduce your impact on the environment.

  • Ideal Bite
    I get a daily email from these people.
  • Mother Earth News We have had a subscription to their magazine for most of our married life.
  • Consumer Reports I believe that buying good products is the least wasteful and more environmentally sound practice. We have read this magazine and used their website for years to help make decisions about large purchases.
  • A new site to me, I like the links and articles they have.

There are many more resources available, too. Check the local phone book, or the libraries. Google climate, environment or conservation. A new resource I found is a World Catalog for books in libraries and other public repositories. It not only can locate a book based on keywords (title, subject, author) but I will tell you how far away the closest copies are! Many communities have recycling programs, used building material stores and thrift stores can have wonderful finds.I encourage you to find ways to make it better — turn off one extra light, wear long underwear and keep the house cooler, walk a block or two instead of moving the car that distance, eat local foods, in season or prepared at home, plant a tree or a flower.

Together, we can help our world heal.


Continue Reading »

Chicken of Chicken Pox?

Posted by on 15 Sep 2007 | Tagged as: children, illness, Uncategorized

Now, I have friends and relatives who are in the medical field… I KNOW that there are many panicky parents who don’t know what they are talking about when it comes to their children’s health. I also know that parents are often the first to pick up on something being not quite right.

So I also wonder…

Why, when a parent calls and says their child has chickenpox, would a doctor dismiss the parent’s opinion (and concerns) and not even want to see the child?

And not offer any explanation for what else it could be?

Fever of 39 (that’s 101-102 fahrenheit) for nearly a week, an itchy, blistery rash that is spread over head, scalp and torso (but not on the extremities) that resolves within a day or two to a scab. Not a lot of actual spots, but what there are, are very obvious. No other symptoms other than a slight headache the day before the spots appeared.

This is not a typical viral rash…

My concern is, assuming I was correct the first time he had chicken pox (it looked and acted just like this) then this is its evil twin if it isn’t chickenpox! And if it is chickenpox, does that mean my child will always catch it?

My other reason for believing this is chickenpox is that I catch every virus the kids bring home. Every one. But not chickenpox, which I had as a child (I was very very sick with it, too)… to which I am immune. And I am not sick! After two weeks working around germy first graders, I am not ill… while my generally healthy kid is.

So, I took some pictures, which I will print up and take with me to the doctor when our usual physician returns from a vacation next month. And we will see if we can find out if he is in fact immune to chickenpox.

a miffed mother

True to Form… (the saga continues)

Posted by on 24 Feb 2007 | Tagged as: allergy, broken bones, children, friends, illness, plans, Uncategorized, weather

Nothing ever goes according to plan.

I did spend a brief spell in town the day of my previous post… had a coupon for a free coffee and another for a discount on a book I wanted to get for one of the children’s birthdays. Just enough time to find the book, get the coffee and pick up the kids at school. So I thought.

Got to school just as the bell was ringing to let the kids out. Walked in and the secretaries practically jumped over the counter at me. “We’ve been trying to contact you!” “He hurt his arm on the playground…” “Might be nothing but you probably want a doctor to look at it.” The kid had actually left a message for me on the house answering machine just as I was heading out the driveway. And I wasn’t yet in cell-phone range.

Well none of those things are what a mother wants to hear. Guilt was the emotion of the day…

I took a look at the kid, bravely holding his arm close to his body, an icepack over the wrist, a friend carrying his fiddle case. I inspected the arm — no bruising, no real swelling, but he was pretty tender. So of course we canceled our other plans. I took time to go home and call the nurse to be sure it was okay to give the kid ibuprofen for the pain before I drove him in for x-ray. The other kid stayed home and took care of dogs.

Sure enough, it was a broken wrist.

Best kind, though, a torus fracture of the distal radius. That’s a sort of “splinter” break that doesn’t detach or get displaced much, on the thicker arm bone that attaches to the wrist near the thumb. He came home with a splint and instructions to take it easy. On adults a splint is usually enough to keep it immobilized. But a week later it was still tender to the touch, so the active, rambunctious child now sports a lovely blue cast. We go back next week for another follow-up.

That same night, the other child was playing in the pep band for the high school basketball team. Long-suffering spouse came home to get dinner and do taxi duty for that one while I was at the doctor’s. They had sandwiches at a restaurant on the way to the game, and had a great time. Though my beloved didn’t play high school sports, several of his siblings did, and he enjoyed going to games in high school.

When we were done with the medicos I took my brave child to one of his favorite restaurants. We really enjoyed our meal. Right up until I bit into the eggroll and realized they had changed their recipe to use beef… though I don’t think I actually swallowed any, within twenty minutes my tongue was swollen. By the time we got home the rest of me was pretty swollen too. Thank goodness for fast-acting antihistamines… Kid and I spent the evening sitting watching a good movie Zathura, being quiet, which is what we needed.

So after all our careful plans, putting off skiing until this last week (which was mid-winter break) he is not going to be able to ski this year at all. We had a quiet week at home instead. Seems like "quiet" is getting to be our middle name! But there will be other activities, other occasions.

And in the middle of the last two weeks we have had minor illnesses and slightly more than minor, a visit from a dear friend, a re-thinking of school schedules and classes, rain-hail-snow-lightning-sun showers (yes, all in the same day, several days!), and a trip to the Seattle Flower and Garden show… all of which will be blogged in increments!

another allergy attack…

Posted by on 08 Jan 2007 | Tagged as: allergy, illness, Uncategorized

I was sick all weekend again. I thought at first it was a headache brought on by back and neck problems. That’s what it felt like. But no amount of massage and traction from Tom helped much. Then I thought maybe it was a sort of low-grade virus or “background” migraine. But Saturday evening I was having some problems breathing, and the breathing problems seemed to make the headache worse. I took an antihistamine and it backed off the worst of it.

I had an inkling, but was so tired I just went to bed. In the morning I was better, but not “well.” And it got worse as the day wore on until I was dragging around the house. I cloistered myself in my office much of the time, trying to fill the time with surfing the ‘Net — something I don’t usually do.

And all of this with company!

And then company left, and I started to feel better — until by the time the kids were in bed I was up and doing again.

And then, I sat down on the sofa next to the bedding that was waiting to be put away from our guest… and I got sick again. Headache, breathing… all of it.

Not sick after all, but suffering through yet another chemical attack.

Was it the fabric softener, the laundry detergent, the soaps, shampoos, colognes? Any. All.

Something lingers in everything he touched or sat in or on. So I am washing, airing out, moving everything away from me today, until enough of it has dissipated and I am sufficiently de-tox’d that any residual is tolerable.

This is why I am so nervous about going places with crowds, especially situations where I am stuck in between. I hate airplanes, buses, trains because there is no escape. Concerts, movies, shows — I have left all of them, or moved my seat, because someone uses a substance that causes a reaction. There are times I don’t go into my yard because the neighbor is doing laundry and the exhaust from the dryer is toxic to me…

And even people who don’t use perfume per se are dripping in chemicals. Once, a woman in a grocery store reached past me to get to a shelf and I had such a strong reaction… she was appalled when I asked her to move away because of her perfume (apparently she didn’t think she had any on). Certainly my friend knows of my allergies, and yet neither of us considered that his clothing or soaps were causing my discomfort.

A change however — the last time I reacted to chemicals it made my skin burn. Is this an improvement or a set-back? I haven’t decided which reaction I prefer… but am leaning toward the burning skin. At least I could think straight!

Allergen Alert

Posted by on 03 Dec 2006 | Tagged as: allergy, illness, Uncategorized

I spent the weekend in bed, feeling miserable. Dizzy, slightly achy, with terrible post-nasal drip leading to a sore throat and… laryngitis. Not good for someone who loves to sing as much as I do! But no fever, no chills.

When I awoke today from a nap, I could smell the new (actually several months’ old) pads on my crutches. They were a non-latex version, a buff color, and smelled strongly and peculiar from the day I purchased them. I figured it would wear off. It didn’t. I had decided to live with it.

Friday, after a rather bad arthritis day, I had parked them at the head of the bed so they would be close if I needed them.

Saturday, yesterday that is, I woke in the morning with no voice and a sore throat. Felt awful. Naturally assumed it was a cold, so I stayed in bed all day long. Toward afternoon, I was tired of being in bed, so I went out to the kitchen to get some cleaning accomplished, and pretty much stayed out of the bedroom for several hours. I felt better by the time I went to bed.

This morning, repeat of previous experience. As I lay down to take a nap, I was coughing from irritation in the mucous membranes.

Mid-afternoon, on waking from the nap, the smell of the crutches nauseated me. I put them in the closet. Within 10 minutes I had stopped coughing. 30 minutes, I wasn’t nauseous. By an hour, I didn’t have a sore throat. Two hours later, no post-nasal drip, and my voice was back. Five hours now, and I have a normal volume speaking voice.

I don’t know what the chemical is that triggered this very uncomfortable allergy, but I am very glad I traced it. Hopeful that it won’t have triggered other chemical sensitivities.

The crutch pads are in the garbage. I will visit a medical supply store and get some that I can tolerate for those fortunately rare days that I need assistance walking.