Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Camping . . .

Because of the end of the school year and travel, I haven't posted in a over a week! Well, the travel I speak of was camping - not exactly my favorite type of travel, but because the other members of my family seem to love it - I try!

People love camping - the fires, cooking outdoors, being one with nature - sounds good in theory. I can't get on board with it, though. Why would someone spend over $100 a night, after you figure in gas, food, supplies, etc., to do fun things like share bathrooms with perfect strangers, get bitten by bugs and try to cook dinner in a lightning storm? I think you have to be raised in a camping family to understand the fun of it. Growing up, my family's idea of "roughing it" was a hotel that had no pool. We spent our vacations in various hotels, not all five-star, across the country, swimming in pools, getting ice from the hallway machine, and wondering if we would be on the second or first floor of our next stop.

Unfortunately, camping brings out the worst in me. I try to jump on the bandwagon and be excited about it - but I just cannot. When rain is in the equation, it is even worse. So today as I unpack the cooler (that came home with a slug on the lid!) and the other muddy items from the campsite, I tell myself that it is over for this year, and try to think of nicer things - like having my dog back home again, having my own shower, and having a computer again!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Happy Father's Day!

Today is the 99th anniversary of the celebration of Father's Day. The idea for a holiday celebrating dads was introduced by a woman in Washington state who had been raised by her father for most of her life. While listening to a sermon on Mother's Day, she thought it was important that a day be set aside to recognize fathers for the sacrifices they make for their children.

Unfortunately, due to distance I don't get to see my Dad on Father's Day, but consider myself lucky that I could call and chat with him on the phone this morning. For some people, Father's Day is a just a time to remember their dad and to share memories perhaps with their own children of how great their Dad was.

Now we celebrate Father's Day for my husband - breakfast, cards, gifts (a Shamwow among other things!) - and try to show him how much we love and appreciate all that he gives us and sacrifices for us on a daily basis. Although we may not always show it, we appreciate everything you do for us - the lack of sleep, the time commitments to scouts and sports, and the patience you to try show us when we are being annoying!

Happy Father's Day!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Always follow your instincts . . .

"A smart mother makes often a better diagnosis than a poor doctor". This quote by August Bier, a pioneer in the field on anesthesia, accurately reflects my feelings about our experiences with the medical professional over the past two years.

My youngest son was diagnosed with ADHD in kindergarten, and went on to be treated with over seven different medications in varying levels of strength for the next year. ADHD is a condition that has no medical test to back up the diagnosis; it is based on testing, opinions, and a leap of faith that your pediatrician knows what he is talking about. When the diagnosis was made, both my husband and I felt that putting him on medication was a drastic step and asked the doctor if there was anything else we could try such as diet changes or therapy. We had done some research that said these changes could made a positive impact. "No, you will see such a change in his behavior from the medication that you will thank me for it". Wrong. We saw a poor little boy who was took hundreds of pills that made him lose his appetite (and weight), develop a tick and become so depressed that at times we hardly recognized him.

During this time my husband and I felt horrible that we were actually the ones giving this medication to him. We would complain to the doctor that we saw no positive change in his attention span. He would just insist that the medication dosage or type be "tweaked", and a positive result would soon follow. It never did. Increasing pressure from the school system (whose first question when they found out he was diagnosed was: "is he on medication?") and the doctor kept us going down a road we were not comfortable with. Finally, after he developed a throat clearing tick that was so disruptive to him the he couldn't sleep, we decided to cease all medication and change doctors.

Our new pediatrician suggested we see a pediatric neurologist from one of the top children's hospitals in the world, which we did yesterday. She met with us for one hour, read all the testing that had been done, and did further testing on her own - and said that she was sure he did not have ADHD, and went on to say that if the first couple of medications showed no improvement in his attention span, it should have been clear that it was not ADHD and the medications should have been stopped. His attention problems are behavioral and will be deal should by behavioral specialists, and she suggested neurological/psychological testing to see if he has any learning problems (even though he is a straight A student - problems can still exist).

Growing up, my family would never doubt a doctor's diagnosis. I had bought all the books, read all the Internet research, and talked to other parents - I thought I was well informed. It never occurred to me to question the medical community. There are plenty of children who are accurately diagnosed, and for who medication is the answer. This situation taught me to follow my heart - that if something feels wrong - it probably is. Always follow your instincts . . .

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The grass is always greener . . .

Over the past few weeks I've become involved in a message forum about one of my interests, ocean liners. Most of the people who belong to this forum are people who have either traveled on or crewed aboard the QE2, along with some who never got the opportunity to travel aboard this great liner and are interested in the stores of those who have. Through this forum, I have met (in the computer sense) people from all over the world, but mostly people who live in and around London.

Anyone who knows me knows that it would be my ideal to live in London or its outskirts, and that I constantly complain that I live in an dull place, etc. In talking to these people, it is interesting to me to see how they view where I live. When asked where exactly I am from I tell them I live on the East Coast of the USA, outside of Boston; they usually reply with "how lucky you are". Sometimes it takes someone else to point out to you that yes, where you live is really a great location (maybe not the town, but the geographical location). Within a matter of five to seven hours I could get in my car and drive to Boston, New York, Washington D.C., Baltimore, Portland and many other places, and am just a short ride to the ocean. It would be difficult to imagine living in a place like Kansas, where a five hour car ride may get to you one large city, but not more than that, and you could never hop in your car and visit the ocean.

Unfortunately, life being what it is, it is not easy to just jump in the car (or on a bus, train, etc.) and travel to these places; but I think in the future I should try to take advantage of my geographical location more often, hop on a bus to New York every few months, just to be a part of it. And, sorry, Kansas - I don't mean to offend - you were just the first state that came to mind!

Friday, June 5, 2009

Is it ever enough?

When we were kids, we were given presents for our birthdays and on Christmas. What happened to that custom? Today kids are given gifts for every occasion, whether it be large or small Had a bad day school? Let's go to Target and get a new action figure! Had a great day at school? Let's go to Wal Mart and get a new toy! And we wonder why our children are so spoiled!

As I write this, I have two brand new Star Trek action figures sitting next to me. Upon going to a local store to buy windshield wiper blades for the family car, my husband spotted the Kirk and Spock toys in the store (Spock with an extra “live long a prosper” hand so you can switch them!) and immediately said “the kids would love these” (translation: I would love to have these). So now they will have another toy that they really don't need, and really did nothing to earn. Kids today think they are entitled to get something every time you walk into a store and in some cases will drive you to the edge of insanity until you finally break down and buy them something just to keep them from making a scene (come on, everyone has done that at one time or another).

To kids today, everything is replaceable. They have so many toys that I can clean out there room and dispose of an entire green trash bag of items – and they never even miss them until weeks or months later, if at all.

Although the conveniences of modern life can be nice (being able to write this from the front seat of my car while my husband hits golf balls at a local driving range), I wish life was simpler. Having one truck or doll to play with would guarantee that great care would be taken in putting it away every night, not thinking that if it breaks, I will just get a newer, better one for my birthday or Christmas (or Easter, first day of school, lost tooth, bad mood, etc).

It would be nice if we didn't live in a disposable society – where everything is used until it no longer works or we lose interest in it. Landfills would not be overwhelmed, children would not be so spoiled, and adults would teach children that good behavior is rewarded with compliments and love, not toys.