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I am going to preface this post with a simple disclaimer statement – Everything is fine, I am happy, all is well. I don’t want friends or family who might read this to think that I might have gone off the deep end or I’m not telling them something. If you’ll notice, there is a category listing for all the posts I write and one is labeled “Musings”. This post is merely that – put in type if you will.

Sundial with the motto
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Okay, so now that that’s all cleared up…. Today, in between working, writing and making jam (yes I did all three of those things for bursts much like running wind sprints I guess) I was taxing kids (or in TJ’s case, being taxied by a kid) and the radio was on. The band Thriving Ivory has a song Angels on the Moon and one line in the chorus states “Don’t tell me if I’m dying ’cause I don’t want to know”. It struck a chord, began the gears of the mind churning and the end result is this post. Would you want to know?

Interesting question. I guess that from the adult responsible standpoint, yes so that your affairs could be put in order. I guess that from the personal standpoint, yes again so that I could make a point to spend as much time with my husband and sons, my family and friends and enjoy the time remaining to its fullest, not wasting any of it.

As a side note, if you haven’t read The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch, you should. You can also watch it on YouTube. Bring lots of Kleenex with you- you’ll need it whether you’re reading the book or watching the lecture videotape.  He learned that he was dying of pancreatic cancer and wrote his Last Lecture giving advice, information and mostly importantly sharing life thoughts and impressions with his young children who he hoped would one day hear the lecture. He died three years ago and he was as old as I am now. I recently read that his oldest son, who is only 8 years old has taken up the cause of fighting for a cure for pancreatic cancer.

I guess that what got me thinking about that line was the thought that shouldn’t we all live our lives as if it is our last day? Carpe Diem – seize the day (although that’s not the actual translation, but that’s another post). Spend time with those that we love, surround ourselves with our family and friends, be nice and the most famous of the sayings “don’t put off until tomorrow that which you could do today”. Tomorrow for all of us will someday not come, whether we know the end is coming by slowing trudging toward us or  it jumps out of a corner and snatches us away suddenly and without warning. In any event, I think it’s good advice.

Carpe Diem … Enjoy.

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Storage containers, bottles and cups for expre...
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I recently read about a New York City chef who began crafting cheese from his wife’s breast milk following the birth of their child. Where to begin? First, what a publicity stunt for his restaurant. In the past few days, the news has been replete with coverage of this from local foodie blogs to the BBC. There is some talk that he has been serving this cheese at his restaurant which is clearly not possible, at least legally, since breast milk would not be approved by the health department – I know that we are talking about New York City, but still, I seriously doubt that the powers that be would permit such a thing. He claimed that he made it for he and his wife’s own consumption and then made it for some family members and friends at their request.

Second, having made cheese (not from breast milk, mind you) I know that it requires a whole lot of milk to produce a small amount of cheese. Delicious, homemade cheese, but still a lot of milk. Also having nursed my own children I am familiar with the amount of breast milk output from the average person. Yes, you can pump and store, which is where he claims to have gotten his milk (excess breast milk) but still, that is a whole lot of breast milk to be producing cheese for yourself, your family and friends. Does this poor chef have a wife or a milk producing machine? The poor child, is the poor thing’s milk supply being squeezed out for 15 minutes of fame for chef dad?

The whole thing doesn’t sit well with me, not even going into the whole contention of people who would go “ewwww, breast milk?” and have issues with it because the milk comes from a human as opposed to a cow, ewe or goat. I think it is an up and coming chef’s attempt to gain his 15 minutes of fame and promote his own restaurant. Knowing the way that people are, I just bet that the phone is ringing off the hook there right now.

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Photograph of acute MCA stroke.
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There has been some encouraging news on our neighbor, he has been removed from the ventilator and appears to be able to breath on his own with the use of the traech. There was however some bad news in that another person that lives nearby and was friends with our friend Tom, suffered a stroke himself and was also airlifted to Dartmouth. Thoughts and prayers go out to both of them. Perhaps as they recuperate together, they might be roommates in the hospital.

With the sudden constant discussion of stroke and its repercussions going on around town due to our friend’s condition, I thought that it might be helpful to others to post some of the warning signs of a stroke and what to do if you suspect that someone around you is having a stroke. I remember reading this a while ago and while I had to look it up, parts of it did stick:

F.A.S.T. – an acronym to identify a potential stroke victim.

F- FACE – Ask the person to smile, if their smile is lopsided that may indicate stroke. Ask them to stick out their tongue. If they cannot do this or have difficulty doing this, again seek medical attention.

A-ARMS – Ask the person to raise both arms. Inability to move both sides of the body simultaneously may indicate stroke.

S-SPEECH – Ask the person to repeat a simple sentence. Often stroke victims cannot speak, their speech is slurred or they are unable to remember the words to repeat. These are all indications of a potential stroke.

T -TIME – Time is of the essence when someone is experiencing a stroke. Note the time that the symptoms started to appear and immediately call for medical assistance.

Strokes can happen to anyone, even children and can be related to other medical issues. Do not discount the possibility of stroke just because the person is not elderly or in poor medical condition.

A stroke affects the brain, usually one side. The left side of the brain controls the right side of the body as well as speech.  Persons who suffer left-side brain injury as a result of a stroke may have language or speech problems and tend to develop a slow, cautious behavior and may have difficulty following instructions without repetition. They can also develop memory problems and retention issues.

The right side of the brain controls the left side of the body and persons who suffer right sided strokes tend to experience spatial problems (such a distance or depth perception) as well as developing impulsive behaviors. Right sided brain stroke victims also tend to develop left-sided neglect and ignore or forget things and people on the left side of their body. They also may experience short term memory loss.

One of the very encouraging and interesting things that I came across in an article from CNN Health was the use of singing therapy to help stroke victims that have suffered aphasia or loss of speech. There has been a great deal of research indicating that the right side of the brain can compensate for the loss of speech from strokes or other brain injuries since language is based in the left side of the brain. There has been studies through the years that people with brain injuries can sing but cannot speak. Melodic Intonation Therapy developed by Dr. Gottfried Schlaug an associate professor of neurology at Beth Israel and Harvard believes that stroke victims can be talk to speak again through singing the same way that children are taught through the use of song. There is something about music and singing that overcomes the brain’s inability to produce speech.

It is amazing to me that people who lose their ability to speak through some brain injury such as a stroke, may indeed be able to communicate verbally through song. What wonderful news for so many people who suffer from aphasia. My grandfather had a stroke, several strokes as a matter of fact and I remember that he was extremely frustrated by his sudden inability to communicate even the most basic of responses verbally. Compounded with paralysis he was trapped. With this type of therapy which evidently can be taught to even non-professionals and caretakers, a whole new world may open up for those who have been robbed of their ability to speak. A beautiful, melodic world.

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Lindsey Vonn after winning the Downhill World ...
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When you think about it, we all have folk remedies that we might use when we have a cold, a bug bite, a bee sting and the like. We all have heard of castor oil, witch hazel and mustard plasters. We continue to use them because we are convinced that they work. Whether that faith comes from the opinion of a much loved relative – such as a grandmother – or medical science, we do it because we have faith that it will help us.

Such is the case with Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn and cheese. According to an article in CNN Health, Vonn has been wrapping her injured shin in cheese. Austrian cheese to be exact, Topfen. According to Vonn her trainer began doing this and she believes that it helps.

The article explains that sometimes it is not the method utilized for these home remedies that work, but rather the faith that the person receiving the remedy places in the remedy itself. Basically, the power of positive thinking.

The internet is replete with various home remedies and reasons why they work. The most important reason why they seem to work is that the recipient believes that it will work. The power  of faith – even if it is faith in cheese.

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This article appeared in our local paper, The Rutland Herald and was in fact, quite disturbing.

 

State urges Vermonters to be prepared for pandemic
12:16 p.m. 
October 20, 2008 
COLCHESTER — The Vermont Department of Health is urging residents to prepare for what officials believe will be a worldwide flu pandemic by stocking their pantries.  

Public health officials say that during a flu pandemic families won’t be able to go to work, school or the store.

Health Commissioner Wendy Davis says people should buy things like dried foods that have a long shelf life.

In 1918, a worldwide flu pandemic killed millions of people.

Davis says it’s only a matter of time before another pandemic spreads across the world.

Burlington is one of nine communities around the country taking part in a pilot project sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to get ready for a pandemic.

This, coupled with a comment from a neighbor about a possible resurgence of the Spanish Flu from something she read from the CDC, put my fingers to the keyboard to find out more. And find out, I did. Several things, some of which were quite disconcerting. In New Jersey, a law was just passed mandating flu vaccines for children under 5 attending preschool or daycare. Mandating. That is a strong word as it relates to the flu vaccine. Makes me glad that I don’t live in NJ anymore. The CDC has in fact recommended flu vaccines for all children between 6 months and 18 years of age. Normal, healthy kids, not just children who are considered “high risk”, although I do have one of those. My youngest son, Tim has asthma and has gotten a flu shot for years. My other two boys, neither of whom suffer from any “high risk” conditions, have never gotten a flu shot.

Why? Why all of a sudden is this of utmost importance? The news is replete with articles from all over the country urging parents to get their perfectly healthy children vaccinated this year. While I am not the conspiracy type, I do have to admit that living with my adorable Mr. Paranoia for all these years does rub off on me. We went through childhood without a flu shot, my other non-high risk children for their 12 and 13 years have survived without a flu shot, so now why this sudden urge to vaccinate healthy children, coupled with this article? Makes you wonder, doesn’t it? 

It certainly makes me wonder and give the whole thing a second thought, particularly in light of the fact that thermisol is found as a preservative in most flu vaccines. Okay, I admit that this makes me nervous. While years ago, call me stupid, I wouldn’t have given a second thought to the vaccines administered to my infants; age and experience have made me more cautious and much more protective. I am no longer willing to “turn my kids over” to the pediatrician’s wishes, especially in light of the fact that Tom and I have a nephew who is autistic. While I know the controversy surrounding thermisol in vaccines is inconclusive from a scientific point at best, I also know that I have a sister who believes in her heart of hearts that little Damian “was different” after he was given his MMR vaccine. A mother’s instinct is nothing to be messed with and that is enough to give me second thoughts.

Evilwife on the move

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There have to be 5 things even on a really bad day.

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