Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Local Commercial that Bothers Me

"I woke up in the morning with a bad ear ache," a little girl says in a local commercial while distorting all the r sounds. (Sorry-I'm a speech language pathologist.)

The commercial shows the little girl going to a local doctor's clinic for help. It goes through the typical scenes and information that you would expect to see for an advertisement of a local clinic. But, then the mother of the little girl says something that stuck with me.

"There's nothing worse for a parent than a sick child," she says before the closing tag line.
I have a couple of problems with the mother's statement, which I assume was words from a script. First of all, as I have blogged before, I generally have patience for people who say anything that starts with: There's nothing worse than.... (See the post Your Worst Thing) Perspective is everything when talking about what the worse thing is. One's "worst thing" can be considered nothing to someone else. Everyone has a unique life perspective with their own best thing in life and the absolute worst. My viewpoint of the worst thing has changed over the years with different health scares with my daughter. But, most people's worse thing would never be close the scenarios our family has lived through. Still, I have patience with people walking out their own challenges. But, I don't have patience with this commercial.

After I saw the ad a few dozen times over the weeks I asked myself a question. Is the mom's "worst thing" a child with an illness that could be cured by an outpatient clinic? I think I know what the commercial is trying to say, but I don't like the seriousness of her statement in this commercial featuring an ear ache and a local clinic. There are things that are far worse.

I thought about the mothers who have lost children. Certainly, that's worse than any sick child.

My child has been in the ICU several times over the years. I can recall at least 3 times when I knew a child down the hall in ICU was dying. Generally, clergy were present. A flood of people were typically allowed into the patient's room when they are otherwise limited to only 4 visitors at a time. Most, if not all, of the equipment leaves the patient's room, and you know it's not because they are suddenly improving. The social worker is often nearby with tissues. Sometimes, an empty patient room is filled with the family's overflowing visitors eating snacks freely, which again is something usually not encouraged in the ICU. Grieving family members console each other openly in the halls.

Three times I have watched snip-its of these scenes unfold in the ICU for another family. I overheard parts of the patient's story in the parent lounge as family members shared with each other about a horrific accident or the battle with a long, serious health condition. I don't try to listen to their stories, but I hear them when I'm in the lounge eating my meals because my daughter is taking nothing by mouth.

One time, we were the room adjacent to a dying baby. My husband and I drew the curtains in our room and tried to give that family more privacy. When we saw the parents walk out of the hospital one last time with a cart full of belongings and no child, we both wanted to cry even though we didn't know them or their baby. They were experiencing the nightmare ending we were hoping to avoid, and it was too real. Not everyone has a happy ending in ICU.

Having a child in ICU has brought some of the worst moments of my life. However, my child is still here thankfully.

So as I think back to this health clinic commercial, I wish I could change the strong words of the mother. I can think of plenty of lines the ad could have said such as:
It's scary when your child is sick.
Parenting a sick child isn't easy.
As parents, we hope our children are never sick.

Still, we are all on our own journey with our own life experiences. I'll try not to judge the mother character in the commercial. However, if the clinic contacts me for consulting, I'll be happy to help with their next script. 😊

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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

A Small Change at Church Created a Big Problem

Recently, I had a post on Key Ministry about how an ordinary church outing turned chaotic due to a small change in our routine. Here's the first few paragraphs with the link to the whole post below.

How a Small Change at Church Created a Big Problem

My daughter loves going to church. In fact, Jaycee spends part of her Saturday night picking out the right dress to wear the next morning.

“Get your Bible,” I tell her before we leave. Jaycee races to her bedroom and retrieves it quickly.

“Class. Friends,” she signs.

“Yes, you’ll see your friends in class at church,” I tell her.

On this particular Sunday, my daughter and I were both wearing dresses and captured the moment with a picture. With our outfits documented, my kids and I climbed into the car to head to church while my husband left for work.

The drive to church was ordinary as we joyfully sang along to the Christian radio station. I drove down the road to enter the church from the rear parking lot as I normally do. That’s when our problems began.

The back entrance was roped off, so I had to enter another way. The yells started from my daughter, who was mad that I didn’t make the turn she was expecting.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2018

From a Flop Summer to a Fantastic One

The official summer season is coming to an end soon, and I hate to see it go.

Our summer was pretty great this year. We made so many good memories. Some summers are just a flop for us because of medical issues with my daughter but not this year. Here's a sample of what we did.

Since my husband was working in Oklahoma part of the summer, the kids and I met him in Branson for a long weekend. We had fun swimming, watching Dolly's Stampede, playing miniature golf, and doing the normal touristy things. Here we are on a Ferris wheel.

Over summer break, Jaycee competed in our state's Special Olympics for the softball throw. It was a miserably hot time with head indexes in the triple digits. Still, it was great seeing her compete. Last year, she qualified for the state games, but she came down with a respiratory infection a few days before the games. We weren't able to go, and it was disappointing. I'm so glad she was able to compete this year. I love seeing her get to do something that showcases her abilities. Gold medal!

We made the long trip out west to see my husband in Oklahoma a few weeks later. We swam at the campground, went bowling, and explored the area. We were really happy when daddy came home later in the summer. We captured this moment near some buffalo in Oklahoma.

We went camping at a local recreational hot spot for a weekend. We played on a beach, sat outside briefly (really hot summer), and walked trails.
We had lots of easy going days at home too.

I'm sorry to bore you with a list of things we did and vacation photos, but the fact that all of it happened is really nice and really rare.

Last year, the summer was completely different. Jaycee had a respiratory infection that didn't hospitalize her, but it did take some time out of our summer and canceled our Special Olympics plans. She had a surgery at the end of June and recovered from it all the way until August. Most of the kids' summer break revolved around hospitals, medicines, and precautions last year. We felt like we did nothing fun even though we did work a few fun things in during our trips to the hospital for follow up appointments.

There have been other summers that weren't so great either. In 2015, Jaycee got sick in June. She ended up on a ventilator in ICU. That illness was severe and took some recovery time at home for several weeks as she regained her strength. Our vacation plans were canceled. We settled for simple outings at home when she was fully recovered.

We have had other summers that have revolved around surgeries or illnesses or a slew of appointments. They dictate what we do and when we do it. I try to maintain positive attitudes because my daughter being alive is the most important thing, but it's a bummer when plans have to be adjusted or we're locked away in our house in isolation while she recovers. That's why it is so nice when everything works out like it did this year.

So as I reflect back on our summer, I'm thankful. I appreciate the simple things, like making plans and keeping them because she was well. I appreciate the fact that we had freedom to do things we wanted to do and not things we settled on doing because of health issues. The hard times make you appreciate the good ones. I just hope next summer can be this good!
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Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Before the Flu Shot Debate Starts

Flu season brings out many opinions. The only thing most people can agree on is that getting the influenza virus is miserable.

Prevention of the flu is another story.

Fairly soon, flu shots will start to be advertised and given. That's when all the debating will start. To vaccinate or not, that is the question.

There are people who are anti-vaccine when it comes to the flu shot. Some of these people are against vaccines in general, so naturally those people will not run out and get flu shots. But, there are many people who believe in vaccinations for the most part but aren't interested in the influenza shot. To each his own; that's my viewpoint. If you don't want to get the flu shot, I don't care. It doesn't bother me.

What does bother me is the information shared by those against the vaccinations. It's very easy to share things on social media. Not every article is legitimate. To quote President Trump, some of it is, "Fake news!" You can read some of the fake news articles called out on this piece on HuffPost.

I'm not a doctor. I don't know all the ins and outs of the flu vaccine. But when people share things online like "I hope my family members aren't getting flu shots," with an article warning about some aspect of the flu shot, I want to sigh. Some of these articles warn against about future infertility, toxic ingredients, and terrible rare side effects. I have had other adults ask me about flu shots and voice concern over things they have read on Facebook. Fear has become attached to the vaccine because of some of these posts. Some people are very confident in their anti-vaccine opinion. I hope that they have read and researched from more than one source of information before they share. I will admit, I haven't spent hours and hours researching flu shots. I only know one piece of critical information.

I started getting the flu vaccine when my daughter was young. I can't recall when I first vaccinated her for the flu. I am guessing it was age 1 or 2. Her doctors have always stressed the importance of the flu vaccines. Every doctor. Each cardiologist, pulmonologist, ENT, and primary doctor my daughter has seen over her 12 years of life have all asked me repeatedly during flu season if Jaycee was vaccinated. To which I have always said yes. (And yes, I have heard the whole viewpoint that every medical professional is pro-vaccination because it's a money maker.)

For our family, we can't risk getting influenza. Jaycee's two heart conditions, asthma, sleep apnea, and other medical conditions mean that an influenza virus could be dangerous for her. Back in 2011, Jaycee came down with Influenza A. During the illness, it triggered an extremely fast and dangerous heartrate in the 200s and led to the diagnosis of Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome. It was scary as she had to have medications administered to slow her heart rate down. Even though Jaycee was vaccinated, she still caught the virus. But, that moment showed me how unpredictable the influenza virus could be in Jaycee. Since then, I have never questioned getting the vaccination for both of my children and myself. Even though the shot didn't keep her from getting it, I was glad I had at least tried to protect her from it.

In January this year, influenza hit our community hard. I hoped our flu vaccinations would protect us, but it didn't. My son started showing symptoms before bed one night. The next morning, I had him at the doctor's office when it opened. My intentions were to get Jaycee on the preventative dose of Tamiflu, since he did have the virus. On the drive home from the doctor, my father-in-law called to say that Jaycee's breathing was strange. I was home in a flash, and she was struggling. He had started her emergency medications before I got home, but they weren't helping. I threw on her oxygen and transported her to the emergency room. She spent the next 7 days in the hospital on oxygen, cough assist, and getting suctioned as the virus attacked her lungs. Not a fun week- let me tell you.

Here's what I want to say before the flu shot debate starts. If you don't want to get a flu shot, fine. I don't care. I probably wouldn't mess with it if it were not for my daughter. However, if you share an anti-vaccine article on social media, please make sure it is from a reputable source. If you feel it's good, then watch how you word your post. Sharing good information is helpful. I don't think it's wise to criticize others who choose to vaccinate. There are people like me who have a family member in fragile health who can't afford to take the chance.

While some sit and debate on what they should do for their family, I have no doubts. I hope everyone can make their own decisions on this topic and determine if they should share reasons why they are for or against vaccines in a helpful way.
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