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April 2008

Falling into Homeopathy

I've never considered myself the earthy, crunchy type. Blackstone, yes, in some ways. But me, I'm a city girl born and bred. So the fact that I now find myself taking my boys to a homeopathic pediatrician is a bit odd. That I drive them out to the middle of no-where, down a dirt road to a hundred-year-old farm house for their office visits, well that's just bizarre.

I met Dr. H (H for homeopathy) way before he became our pediatrician, when he treated me for depression. He's actually pretty commonly known in the state. While a good percentage of people will look at me sideways when I tell them we use a homeopathic pediatrician, you never know when someone's going to say, "Oh, I've seen him," or "My sister uses him." Dr. H was recommended to me by someone Blackstone worked with at the time. My mood swings were pretty erratic, I was having trouble sleeping, had crying jags for no reason, and was generally all-around miserable. However, I didn't want to go on medication, it had that whole stigma for me and it's common knowledge most of that stuffs not good for your sex drive (at least that's what I'd read/heard). So, I'd been refusing to see a doctor about it. I was still teaching then, and I figured after I quit, it would get better. But then Blackstone asked me to see Dr. H., and I couldn't really come up with a good reason not to go, so I went. I spent a good 30 minutes or more being grilled about my physical, mental and emotional state. Everything from what I ate and drank, my sleeping habits to mood swings, energy levels, bathroom habits, and what I wanted to improve on. The concept behind homeopathy (in my own words) is that in order for the body to be healthy , your mental, emotional and physical health must be in balance. If any one of those areas if off, then they're all off. If your body is out of balance, if there's anything wrong, then that can be corrected by introducing the necessary minerals/remedies into the body.

After my thorough grilling, Dr. H put me on Aurum, which is a gold compound. Who knew my problem was that I needed more gold in my life. He also suggested I stop drinking coffee and not use anything menthol. I actually did go off coffee, one of several times in my life, and I took the Aurum and I felt better. I gradually started introducing coffee after a time, though less of it, and I kept taking the Aurum until I got pregnant. At that point I stopped because even though it is unlikely it would have caused any issues with the pregnancy and I had asked my OB and Dr. H., I figured if I could, I'd rather not be taking in anything I didn't need while I was pregnant. And funny enough, while pregnancy is known to make women moody and emotional, I was the most level I'd been in my entire life. I had slight case of post-partum after Trouble was born and went back on the Aurum again, which helped as it had before, but eventually I went back off and haven't felt I needed it since. But if I did find myself emotional, weepy, and lying in a puddle on the floor, I'd definitely use it again. Now, I DO NOT recommend anyone who has depression use Aurum, that's not how homeopathy works. I would suggest that you consider seeing a homeopathic specialist and have your own work up done, if you're looking for a less traditional means of treatment.

So you might think that since Dr. H is a licensed pediatrician and he had been a big help to me, I would have picked him immediately to be our pediatrician. I didn't. I was not into the idea of driving all the way out to the middle of no-where, and felt rather confident I could find a local pediatrician that would fulfill our needs. And we did have a great pediatrician. She was a lovely woman and a good pediatrician, but Trouble was not your ordinary baby, and modern medicine was not really being very helpful. He was a terrible nurser and had to be supplemented with formula. He spit up at least half of everything he ate, and by spit up, I mean projectile vomited after every feeding. He and I passed back a constant case of yeast infection/thrush while he was nursing. He constantly had skin irritations, baby acne, eczema and cradle cap. He was constipated since the moment he was born and we tried everything and took him to see every specialist. We gave him prune juice, aloe vera juice, caro syrup, goats milk, cod liver oil, olive oil, warm baths, thermometer and vaseline, suppositories, laxatives and enemas (and I'm probably leaving some things out). We drove him to a special physical therapist in CT once a month. We saw pediatric gastro-enterologist at Hasbro several times. Nothing helped. Everyone told us his constipation was a mental issue, not a physical one. And they were right, because once he had the mental capacity to choose between going himself and getting an enema, it got better. But before that happened it got so bad he'd only go once a week when we gave him the enema.

Add on top of this his inability to hold down an antibiotic, if you got him to swallow it, 30 seconds later he'd vomit it back up. He developed allergies and asthma, his eyes were so bad during spring they swelled so he could barely open them. By the time he was about six months old, we'd switched him to Dr. H., and that has worked well for us. Dr. H. may not be crazy about prescribing antibiotics or steroids, but he will when they're necessary. But seeing that these standard treatments didn't tend to work well for Trouble, I was fine with that. And when I call Dr. H. at 9 PM on Saturday night and tell him that if I don't a get a prescription of liquid steroid tonight, Trouble will be in the ER by morning, he calls it in that night and I'll have the prescription by 11. And LT, he's still yet to have been on an antibiotic in his life, and I'd like to keep it that way unless he really needs it.


Children's Book Recommendations

I've started compiling a list of Children's Book Recommendations, you'll see a link to it in the left column. I'm interested in getting some recommendations for myself. I know some of you have mentioned some titles and series to me that have slipped my mind. If you could email them to me with the title, author, and general age range, I'll add them to the list. I'm primarily interested in books for Grades 1-3 personally, but I'll add books for any age group.

Thank you for any suggestions!


Trouble, Right from the Start

It was seven years ago yesterday that Trouble was born after about 36 hours of labor. He was 5 days late and I didn't ever think the kid was ever coming out.

I went into labor on a Friday night. The contractions got stronger and closer together through out the night. By morning, when I would have expected to head to the hospital, they had stopped. Then a couple of hours later they started again, getting stronger and closer together, then moving further apart and stopping, then starting again. By mid-afternoon on Saturday I was exhausted, hungry, and spent, and I knew that I was barely getting started. I wanted to cry. We called our mid-wife who told us, no, we couldn't come in yet. She said I should eat something, take a bath, try to relax and get some sleep. Yeah, right. But I did what she said, got in bed, and started screaming in pain. I had contractions that would last for two minutes straight. I scared the hell out of Blackstone who called the mid-wife and explained what was happening. She told him, no, that can't happen. Oh, really?!! But she did agree to see us, and we headed to the hospital, me screaming almost the entire way. Blackstone, with all my screaming, was afraid I'd give birth in the car. I was terrified I was going to get there and they would send me home. By the time we got to the hospital, the contractions had all but stopped again.   

Blessedly, I was 3-centimeters dilated and they admitted me to the birthing center. I was willing to give natural childbirth a shot. I wasn't committed to the idea, but neither was I thrilled about the concept of having a needle jabbed in my spine. I spent the first couple of hours in the jacuzzi which was great. Dilated a couple more centimeters, the pain was manageable. Then they pulled me out and broke my water, that's when all hell broke loose. I had what they refer to as piggy-back contractions, which means you don't really get a break between them. The pain was so tremendous I don't even really remember it. I was practically incoherent with my eyes rolling back into my head. They gave me Demerol because they don't do epidural in the birthing center. It didn't do anything. I told the mid-wife I wanted to go upstairs and get an epidural. She agreed that was a good idea. Just getting the IV in my hand was a 15 minute project because the contractions came so fast, they had to do it while I was contracting.

It took about 2 hours to get me on the IV, upstairs, and have the epidural. I hadn't dilated at all since they broke my water and was still at 5-centimeters. Staying still for the epidural was even worse than the IV. It took everything I had to stay still while they put that needle in and keep my body from writhing and thrashing in pain. Once that epidural was in, I went to sleep. I had been up for two days, seeing that I hadn't slept the night before. All the nurses kept telling me was, "It doesn't usually happen like this," which really isn't all that comforting. Our families were at the hospital waiting for the first glimpse of the new baby. My mother asked one of the nurses how I was doing. She responded, "Oh, you have the daughter with the 'I Want Heroine Labor'." Yeah, it was bad. But at the end, Blackstone looked worse for wear than I did.

Carseat I started pushing at 12 AM on Sunday and Trouble was finally born around 5 AM. He managed to hit both Tax Day and Easter that year. The boy knows how to make an entrance. The mid-wife was delivering two other women at the same time, and kept having to run back and forth. Blackstone was not all that thrilled to find himself holding one of my feet while I pushed. Due to her distraction I guess, the mid-wife left packing in my uterus. 24-hours later I called the nurse in to check me because I felt this weird pulling. Turned out the pulling was due to the gauze now dried to either side of my uterus which was blocking the blood flow. Just lovely. I had still been bleeding through the gauze somehow, so that hadn't clued me in there was a problem. Damn good thing I had them check me or I could have died from septic shock.

Obviously, this experience did not keep me from going through childbirth a second time. And I'm happy to tell you that the second delivery was nothing like the first. But I'm also exceedingly glad reflecting on my two growing boys, now 4 and 7, that I will NEVER be doing that again.


The Boys

Trouble wrote this sentence as part of his spelling homework:

I like my family becus each ar nise.

Sometimes he just melts me into a puddle.

LT had a rough morning the other day. He threw a fit after signing the thank you cards for his birthday party because he didn't want to give them to anyone. Blackstone took a bunch to mail and LT started screaming, "You can't take them!!" We tried explaining that we were sending them to his friends, that he could sign more cards if he wanted some to keep, all to no avail. The boy was livid. I let him scream on the hallway floor and throw his shoes while I packed the car. By that time, he'd at least calmed down enough to put his shoes on. But at school, he clung to my leg and threw another fit because he didn't want me to leave, and he was still complaining about the thank you cards.



Spam, Spam and More Spam

No, this post is not about canned meat. It's about spam email, the bane of many an email providers existence, the source of constant irritation to all of us who use it. Spam accounts for somewhere between 70%-90% of all email. It fluctuates a great deal from day to day. You can read more about it here, if you're so inclined.

We use an email filtering company called Postini for our email, to keep as much of the junk, porn, and viruses out of the email we deliver to our clients as possible. But there's just no way to catch it all, and the spammers are getting more and more devious all the time. Lately we've been having problems with spammers high-jacking domain names and using associated emails to spoof from, essentially using someone else's email address to spam. These users call up complaining because as the spam goes out, inevitably some of the email addresses are not valid and the email gets bounced back to the sending address. So now all of the sudden you start seeing tons of messages getting bounced back to you because someone else is using your address to send spam. There's not much we can do about this. It's almost like getting your credit card stolen except without the financial headache. You could cancel the account if you want, but that's extremely inconvenient if you're using it for professional purposes. Or you can wait for it to stop, because what the spammers tend to do is high-jack the addresses for a few days to a week and then move onto the next guy.

In our office, we consider email as fundamentally broken. When 90% is crap no one wants, it's a serious problem. We spend over $6,000 a year to have our customers' email filtered and we're only a small company. We're constantly taking calls from irritated or irate customers who are still seeing graphic porn or other offensive, inappropriate, and unwanted advertisements in their email box. Not to mention the time spent helping to resolve email issues, block holes in the network spammers have found, adding extra scripting to contact forms to prevent spammers and crawlers from sending spam through them, the cost of the bandwidth necessary to handle all of this email, even though most of it's junk. Spending time on the phone getting Yahoo or AOL or Google to accept email from our servers again because they've blocked us because someone's been spamming through us somehow. It's truly a disaster.

How do we fix it? No one seems to have answer. So we just keep trying to improve our system for blocking the spam before it gets delivered, paying thousands of dollars to handle the volume of traffic created by all the junk. And there's really no end or solution in sight.


Jodi Picoult Might Be My Soul Mate

I love Jodi Picoult's books. I haven't read all of them. My Sister's Keeper brought me to tears. If you read it and it didn't bring you to tears, then you're a freak. Nineteen Minutes shook me to the very core. To read a story, even if it's fictional, about the horrors of a high school shooting told in such intimate detail, to really question what it would like to be the mother of the shooter - it kept me up nights. Because I worry about my kids fitting in, especially my oldest because he's so sensitive. Trouble is so open and trusting, going up to kids he's just met and asking them to be his friend. But other kids are not always so receptive to this sweet and innocent behavior. He's been rebuffed because he was too young, called a loser by his peers, had kids run aways from him on the playground. He has seemed to make some friends at school and to have found a place for himself. But I worry that he will be that kid. The one that's always teased, tripped, laughed at, pants-ed, humiliated. I think his wit and quick sense of humor will help him here. It's really no wonder that these so-ordained "misfits" sometimes snap and become violent. And to be married into a family that likes to hunt, and learning to shoot a shotgun is practically a right of passage, I practically needed valium to read Nineteen Minutes.

Our book club is currently reading Change of Heart, and we went to hear Jodi Picoult's reading on Friday. I haven't finished the book yet, but I am enjoying it. I have to admit though, after reading the first few chapters I was wondering how Stephen King hadn't sued her. There are so many parallels to The Green Mile. But the novel definitely takes off in its own direction as you go on. To hear her speak about her motivation for writing this novel was inspirational. To know there is someone out there who shares my disgust with the terrible bed-fellows politics and religion make, is encouraging. For a novel to showcase the way religion divides us, bringing so much hatred, anger and misunderstanding into this world - Amen. I sincerely hope she's reached a few of her readers, particularly those overly-pious Evangelicals.

Jodi also talked in great detail about her research regarding the death penalty and her experiences touring death rows in New Hampshire and Arizona. It is so interesting to know that none of the people she spoke to who work on death row, actually support the death penalty. They find in their daily jobs that justice is not being served by it. Somehow I had some mental picture in my mind that the guards and wardens working death row would be vigilant supporters of it, feeling somehow vindicated that they were keeping our society safe. I'm glad to know I'm wrong, at least by Jodi Picoult's accounts.

After listening to her speak, I feel I need to read all of her novels. She is such a knowledgeable, intelligent and compassionate woman. Her novels make you consider controversial subjects from the perspective of characters in crisis, who often are forced to make decisions they never thought themselves capable of making. Her novels force you to confront your own opinions and stereotypes, though Jodi is not using her novels to preach the answers and morality to her readers. Instead you're instigated to consider issues from varying perspectives and come to your own conclusions.

To listen to Ms. Picoult speak, I wish she could be my new best friend. I applaud her efforts in making people think outside of their little boxes. I can relate to her as a wife and mother, a person who is not willing to accept the status quo just because that's how it is. She is a person who looks at the problems today in America, and tries to find a way to discuss them intelligently, with respect and understanding. Because even though her novels may be fiction, they are based on a world that is all too real.

Not to mention she has great sense of humor.


The Living and Dining Rooms are Painted

We started stripping wallpaper right after Christmas. We have spent most weekends working on it for the past three months. We've paid our nieces to help us. We hired some of our unemployed neighbors to help. And finally, after spending the last two ENTIRE weekends on it, it's done. It is nothing short of a miracle, at least that's how it feels.

It is now a bright and cheery beige, and no, I'm not being facetious. We painted it a beige and then ragged it with an ecru. It's the color of coffee with extra cream and clouds mixed in. It shines like marble and makes me feel like I live in an Italian villa. It's like sticking your toes in the warm sand at sunset. It's the color of champagne bubbles in the candlelight.

I don't like it or anything.


For Polly and Bookgirl

This time of year always gets me feeling a bit nostalgic and missing Bookgirl and Polly, because their birthdays are exactly one month apart. I get to be the youngest of the group, my birthday's not until the end of November, and I can't tell you how much that sucked when we were younger. I got to be the last one to drive, drink, get into clubs. It was the absolute pits for years, the ones where it really matters. Now I suppose I can rub their noses in it, but I don't have much desire to. Nine or ten months doesn't seem like enough time to make a difference now, unless you're pregnant that is, then it's an eternity.

These two women have been two of my closest friends for years. There are several others who have that distinction, but since they haven't really joined our blog party, they don't get as much play here. Other than those six friends who have been with me since childhood or adolescence, I haven't made new girlfriends until recently. I am mostly to blame for that. I'm not very sociable with strangers and I don't make friends very easily. But when I do make them, it tends to be a life-long affair, so those of you who have be-friended me beware.

Our home town is not always looked at in a very favorable light. One of my husband's relatives just realized recently where I was from and was thoroughly surprised. She made some comment about how I was too smart, pretty and classy to be from said city. Uh . . . thanks . . .  sort of. Because actually there are a whole lot of pretty, intelligent and classy women I know from the city I grew up in. I did, in fact, tell her this - about my wonderful, classy, smart friends who now live in and out of the state. About how Polly and Bookgirl and I still keep in touch and visit each other. She seemed a bit awed and saddened by that, because she and all of her old friends had grown apart and lost touch. She was even more surprised when I described the different lives we all lead - me in our home state, working mother of two - Polly out in CA, wife and mother, writing a novel - Bookgirl in NY, with the dream career living the fabulous single life in the big city. Yeah, we may have all grown up, they may have moved away, and in some ways we may have even grown apart, but we're still close. We still call when we're sad or upset or have some fabulous news to share. We still rely on each other to be there when we need somebody desperately.

I am lucky to have such friends that have stayed with me through the years. Women who know my flaws, my secrets (and yes, there are still those secrets I don't publicize here), have seen me at my absolute worst, and are still willing to accept me for who I am. They were among the first people I got drunk with, the first to know when I had my first kiss and lost my virginity. Polly got to be the one to go to the hospital with me for my first of the innumerable urinary track infections that plagued me for years. I, unfortunately, set her up with her first husband. Bookgirl and her dad picked me up every day for school for the three years (yes, three, ninth grade was at the junior high) we were in high school, even though I know her dad chewed her out repeatedly because I was ALWAYS running late. Bookgirl was with me the first time I bunked school and took the bus to Providence to buy concert tickets. We all took our SAT's together hung over from having been out partying the night before.

Polly and Bookgirl even started a whole trend that followed us all the way through junior high and high school, when they convinced someone in the office to wish me a happy birthday during the morning anouncements. Yes, whoever agreed to that should have seen the writing on the wall. There were birthday wishes every day for the rest of our school careers, and Bookgirl and Polly started it all. Such trend-setters my girls are.

They came home to be bridesmaids in my wedding, they even spent our wedding night and our honeymoon with us. One o'clock in the morning the night of our wedding found all of us sitting at the kitchen table in our little apartment eating the top of the wedding cake, and later, while I was getting ready for bed, I heard a slightly tipsy Bookgirl asking Blackstone how good he was in bed. I think I choked on my toothpaste. Not that she was hitting on him mind you, just wondering. Blackstone walked into our bedroom to find all three girls lying across the bed, and he just couldn't resist crawling in with us just to say he'd been in bed with the bride and two of the bridesmaids on his wedding night. But Polly and Bookgirl slept in the spare bedroom, because this is just not that kind of story.

Anyway ladies, happy thirty-three years! I'll be joining you both before you know it. You know, because I'm still younger than you are.