Friday, April 29, 2011

Q is for Quilts

Q is for quilts and quilting. There is nothing better for a infant, child, or teen who is feeling ill then to snuggle up with a homemade quilt.

Quilting is also a great hobby for those who may like to sew. Check out for some great ideas, tips, and free patterns. Consider making a small lap quilt if you are a beginner, and share it with someone who will find comfort in it.

Use bright washable cotton fabrics for those quilts for kids. You can also use soft flannel fabrics for backing making the project even more comfy. Send me your photos and we will post them here.

A handmade quilt also makes a great item to raffle off as a fundraiser to help with charities who provide research for childhood cancers and other childhood diseases.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

P is for Pillowcases-

P is for Pillowcases- handmade and comfy. What better way to make a child, family member, or friend feel better while dealing with an illness. There are several quilting organizations that are participating in the pillowcase challenge. Those who love to sew are making pillowcases and donating them to hospitals or charities where they can be given to those in need.

Pillowcases are fairly simple to make and a great project for beginners. Check out for free patterns and suggestions on how to sew them or donate them. It is a wonderful gift idea for holidays or just because. They make great gifts for kids in the hospital because most often kids don't need candy or flowers. It can be challenging to find something that makes a child feel special.

Pick bright fabrics or cartoon character fabric and sew away. These cute pillowcases will brighten any hospital room and make your favorite kiddo feel more than special. Send me pictures and I will post them. Have fun with this and enjoy.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

L_M_N_ The Letters in the A to Z Challenge

L is for Lilly, my fictional character that tells the reader in a fun and spunky way what it is like to have leukemia. She is just adorable and I hope to introduce you to her soon, as soon as I have a publisher confirmed that is.

M is for meningitis- a not so common infection that has been in the news lately because of several cases diagnosed across college campuses. Menigitis can be bacterial or viral. Bacterial mengitis requires antibiotics to cure. Viral menigitis does not respond to antibiotics and must run it's course. Handwashing is one way to prevent the spread of menigitis. The symptoms may include headache, neck stiffness, fever, vomiting, and loss of consciousness. If you are worried about your child who is experiencing these types of symptoms, seek medical treatment and advice immediately.

N is for natural medicine- Natural medicine can be very helpful as treatment for some symptoms in conjunction with traditional medical treatment. Common natural medicines that help with nausea or mouth sores may be suggested by your physician. Be careful to read all labels and  to discuss any alternative treatments including over the counter natural medicines that you may be considering for your child or yourself. Some very good results have been reported but there are some not so good results reported as well. Most natural medicines are not approved by the FDA.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

O is My Next Letter in the Challenge

Parents of children who are ill have a different idea about spring cleaning and organization.

O is for organization. Spring it the time we think about re-organizing and throwing out what we don't need. Parents of children who are ill become experts at being organized because they have to be for other reasons.
  • They always need a bag packed and ready for the unexpected hospital or ER visit
  • They have snacks handy for kids whose appetite suddenly appears after an illness, for siblings who need to eat when other things interfere with dinner, and to grab when they have been so busy worrying about a child they have forgotten to eat.
  • They don't worry about things that don't matter like clean windows, flower beds, or piles of unopened mail. They worry about doctor appointments, medication schedules, and therapies.
  • There is a whole group of parents caring for children who need to order feeding tubes, ventilator equipment, and tube feeding formulas. They don't worry about which fertilizer to buy, what weed killer to put on, or which ceiling needs paint.
Organization is important and spring is a good time to put your things in order. Keep in mind that if your kids are healthy, stop and say a prayer for parents who have kids who are ill. And if you know of a family with a sick child, maybe you will be moved to help them with some of the spring organization tasks that have been put on their back burner. It could be a win-win for everyone.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Letter K in our A to Z Challenge

K is the next letter of our alphabet challenge for me, because I am behind due to work, storms in the Midwest and the electrical issues that involves,  and life.

K is also for knowledge. Any parent of a child newly diagnosed with a serious illness knows first hand about this K word. Parents are immediately overwhelmed with the need to know and gain more knowledge about the disease the child has. They also become overwhelmed with all the facts and figures that they soon discover. Here are a few tips to organize and keep track of all the new found knowledge that comes with having a child who is ill.

1. First, listen to your doctors and the health care providers with whom you trust before searching the Internet or outside sources. Use what the physician offers as a baseline of information with which to start your research.

2. After the initial diagnosis and the testing that goes along with that, now search the Internet or other resources but do it with a purpose in mind. Do you want to find alternative treatments? Are you  searching to be confident that you are being told the complete story about the diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis? Or are you researching to understand and to learn more about the disease to prepare for the future?

3. Keep in mind that you must take one day at a time initially to protect yourself from emotional and physical exhaustion. Basic knowledge is good but you don't have to learn everything there is to know the first 24 hours. Give yourself time to adjust to the initial news before scaring yourself  silly.

4. Do not hesitate to seek a second opinion if you are not confident about what your health care providers are telling you. Be realistic in your expectations, but realize you are the parent and have the right to seek other opinions.

Friday, April 15, 2011

J is for Jaundice

Jaundice is the yellowish color that newborn babies get in the first few days of life. Some have levels so high they require treatment with IV fluids, a Bili blanket, or the Bili light. Minor cases of jaundice in the newborn can actually be treated effectively by placing the baby near a window with natural light. This is a medical decision and should be discussed with your physician.

Newborns are not the only patients who can show signs of jaundice. Children and adults who have a sudden onset of a yellowish skin color may need evaluation by a physician and a few blood tests. Without getting too technical, the jaundice is the result of liver function and the breakdown of bile. It is not usually a normal symptom and most often requires testing to determine the cause.

Some viruses can cause the temporary coloring of the skin as the liver works to heal the body. It can also be the sign of blockage to the bile ducts. Jaundice in older children and adults is most often related to something going on in the liver, pancreas, or gallbladder and the surrounding ducts from those organs. It can be serious, I won't mislead you here. But it doesn't mean it is terminal or that it cannot be treated.

Jaundice should always be evaluated and your physician should make every attempt to find the cause. Rapid diagnosis is the best way to get proper and timely treatment for any disease or illness. Jaundice is not usually normal so it is always wise to seek medical attention first. Your family doctor is a great place to start.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

I is the Next Letter in Our A to Z blog

Inspiration can come in all kinds of tasks and emotional support from family or friends. Be creative.

I is the letter for inspiration and insight. When you have a family member who is going through an illness providing them with inspiration may be just what the doctor ordered. I don't mean earth shattering mountain moving inspiration necessarily but more of the hand holding, come on we can do this kind of inspiration. Here are a couple of ideas:

1. Instead of coming over empty handed bring a hot casserole. Providing a hot meal for the rest of the family may just be what is needed for this family.

2. Come with windex and paper towels. While visiting offer to do a small spring cleaning project. " Let me just get this window for you so you can see what a beautiful day it is." may be a task that needs doing but the ill person just doesn't want to ask.

3. An appropriate prayer book or journal is a thoughtful gift and may be more appreciated than candy or fruit which may not be easily digested depending on the illness and treatment. Comfort books say the things that are difficult to speak out loud and the person can read and appreciate while home alone.

4. Offer to do outside errands. "Let me go to the store for you" or " I will pick up the kids for you so you can rest." are great suggestions. Often the ill person doesn't want to burden with daily tasks but if offered will usually take you up on it.

Offering your time, meals, or tasks can often be just the inspiration and insight the ill friend or family member needs to regain strength and interest in life. Please feel free to suggest other ideas in the comment section.

A-Z Blog Challenge for April- Letter H

H is for hope and healing. Any parent who has been in the position of taking care of a child with a serious or terminal illness knows that the prayer is always always for healing. A parent never gives up the hope of healing even in the final days of a terminal journey. And that is exactly what parents are supposed to do. Always, always, hope for a complete healing.

And I know from being at the bedside of dying children, this is the most emotionally devastating thing any parent must endure... first the praying for healing  and then the loss of the last thread of hope. My heart goes out to any parent facing this painful knowledge that hope is gone.

As a nurse,  I know in my heart there is a heaven where life really is eternal. I know no other way to endure the loss of hope when I am with a family whose child is dying. Heaven is my hope... a hope for a life without pain, without disease, and with true healing.

So my prayer for every parent whose child is ill. Keep praying for the healing, and always hold onto the hope of health. But find it in your heart to learn the truths about heaven, for there is the real hope for all of us.

Friday, April 8, 2011

G is the Next Letter in Our Challenge- Can You Guess What it Means?

G is for gratitude. My question to the readers is this. How difficult is it to be grateful when you are in the midst of chaos and crisis?

It has been my experience that when I work hard to show and feel gratitude even when things go bad, it really does make the bad seem less .... well ... bad. It is difficult to put into words sometimes and at the risk of sounding phoney and too rosey I stand by the statement. Being grateful during rough times helps you to appreciate the good, stop dwelling so much on the bad, and helps you to cope with today. 

How do you feel about that? Can you think of a sad, bad, or really tragic time in your life when you can now look back with some smidgen of gratitude for the lessons. Maybe you can simply be grateful for the love and support of family and friends even during a loss.

Being thankful helps to balance the unfairness of life and life's circumstances. Keeping a gratitude journal may help you to recognize the good things you have. Try it for  a week and re-evaluate. Let me know how that feels.

Today I am grateful for you, the reader. Really thankful.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Letter F is for Fever

Fever is frightening for parents especially when the cause is unknown,  but every fever is not life threatening nor does every child with a fever need to be seen by a physician immediately.

Here are some tidbits about fever to help you decide if the fever your child has is a reason to contact your physician or take your child to urgent care:

1. Fever is an indication that the body is fighting some form of germ either bacterial or viral. It is the body's way of telling you that something is not right.

2. Some physicians may not recommend treating a temperature under 102 F. degrees while others say treat if your child's temperature is 100.4F. It is best to discuss this with your doctor before a fever occurs so you will be prepared to treat in the manner your physician suggests.

3. Children are most contagious during the time of a fever even if the fever is reduced by medication. Most often it is best to keep your child away from other children during the time they are febrile.

4. Acetaminophen and Ibuprofen are the drugs of choice to use for children to reduce fever. Again, check with your physician to understand whether he or she prefers to alternate the medications or stick with one choice.

5. Febrile seizures can occur usually when a temp is greater than 104 F. If this occurs unbundle your child, protect their airway during the seizure, and seek medical attention. If this is a first seizure and you are alone, calling 911 may be appropriate.

6. Pay attention to how your child looks and behaves while experiencing a fever. If your child has a change in mental alertness and is not urinating the child should be seen by a physician. On the other hand, if your child acts alert, is able to eat, drink, and stay hydrated it may not be necessary to see a physician for colds and simple stomach upsets.

If you are in doubt, check with your physician about how to treat your child's fever. For more information and up to date resources check the Academy of Pediatric website.  The Academy of Pediatrics  Another resource site recommended by the Academy of Pediatrics.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Letter E is for Emergency

E is for Emergency. How do you decide what needs a visit to the emergency room, what can wait for the doctor's office, and what can just wait and see?
Follow these tips to make a quick decision:

  • Bleeding- active bleeding that cannot be controlled, bleeding from the rectum, or vomiting blood needs to be evaluated in the emergency room. Sutures will close lacerations and wounds, and bleeding from the stomach or intestines requires immediate evaluation and intervention by a qualified physician.
  • Breathing- compromised breathing, noisy breathing, breathing that sounds like an obstruction, and any breathing difficulty that causes a change in color or mental status needs evaluation. Children with severe asthma often need to be seen on an emergent basis for an acute onset of asthma. Croup, epiglotitis, and whooping cough all can be causes of noisy breathing that should be evaluated by a physician if you are in any doubt.
  • Level of consciousness- any change in the level of consciousness of a child should be evaluated. I am not talking about a sleepy child who talks silly when he first wakes up. I am talking about a lethargic, slow to respond child who may have sustained an injury or illness which is altering his level of normally alert behavior. Any undiagnosed seizure should also be evaluated by a physician.
  • Fevers over 104 F- that do not respond to Tylenol or Ibuprophen within 30-60 minutes should be evaluated by a physician. This can be a gray area. If you are lucky enough to have a pediatrician who takes calls, fevers can be handled over the phone by discussing treatments with your doctor. In most cases, fevers that run over 104 F and do not come down should be seen in the emergency room.
  • Broken bones- any time you suspect an injury may have caused a break in a bone the emergency room is the most likely place to go. The exception would be if there is a single injury to a wrist or ankle and your doctor is in the office, that may be the quickest and most appropriate place to take your child. In general, broken bones result from a trauma of some sort and it may be related to more than one injury. The emergency room is prepared to evaluate this type of thing, intervene, and refer you to a specialist if needed.
  • Burns, near drownings, multiple injuries- Seek treatment in the nearest emergency room if there are significant burns with blisters, a near drowning incident, or multiple injuries that make it difficult to evaluate.
Keep in mind this: Airway, breathing, circulation, level of consciousness-When you have a serious compromise or alteration with any of the four issues listed, it should be an emergency room visit.

Anytime you have an auto accident, have a cardiac event or chest pain that may cause a cardiac arrest, or think someone maybe having stroke symptoms, don't hesitate to call 911 for immediate assistance.

When you are home and have a choice to make about what kind of care to seek, use the above tips to help you decide.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Letter D in the Challenge- Diagnosis

What do I do?
What do you do while waiting for a diagnosis? Diagnosis is the D word for today.

Waiting can be worse than knowing what it is you are up against. Often our fear and our imagination make a problem much worse than it is. On the other hand, we are an educated society and we also know that symptoms that appear to be nothing can turn into nightmare diagnoses and treatments.

Here are some basic tips for seeking and waiting for the diagnosis.

1. Seek diagnosis and treatment early when you have a symptom you cannot explain. Never assume it is nothing, and never assume it will just go away.

2. Get  a second opinion if you think you are not being taken seriously. Cancer for instance, goes undetected in young adults more than 50 % of the time initially because health care providers look at young adults as a healthy age group and do not look into their complaints thoroughly. One young adult every 8 minutes is diagnosed with cancer. April 3-9th is is awareness week for young adults with cancer.

3. Find a physician you trust. Going from urgent care clinic to urgent care clinic on an as needed basis is not consistent health care. It can actually contribute to overlooking a serious illness just because of their purpose in treating the immediate symptoms. Find and follow a physician you trust.

4. You have found a physician, you have had the medical testing he or she suggested, now you must wait for the answers. Be patient for results. It can take a week or more to get the answers read, a report typeds, and the copy sent to your physician. But don't assume the office will call you. Contact the office in one week if you have not heard about the results. A friendly reminder to a busy office staff that you are home waiting is an appropriate response. Be careful not to freak out. Take one day at a time while waiting.

5. Diagnosis is made, now sit down with your physician to map out a plan. This will more than likely mean more visits to specialists, more testing, and much waiting before a treatment plan is established. Again, be patient and stay in contact with the office. Ask for a time frame for results, ask about the projected treatments, and get a quick idea of what the plan will be. If the diagnosis is strep throat, that will be a much less involved discussion than if your physician suspects the lump in your breast is cancer. Take time to discuss the options with your doctor and this is most important. Make sure the plan he outlines is one you feel comfortable with. If you don't feel right about something that has been discussed, seek a second opinion to make sure.

6. Deal with your emotional health as well as your physical health. Allow tears, rants, and tolerate those if the diagnosis is not you but a child or spouse. It is all part of the process of diagnosis and treatment. Deal with fears head on. If you fear pain, discuss this with your doctor so pain can be taken care of. If you fear surgery, discuss this as well. Be open and educated. This will help to lessen the fears of what is to come.

Diagnosis can be frightening. Diagnosis  can mean a long term condition like thyroid or diabetes, or a more serious malignancy. Whatever the diagnosis is, finding a physician you trust and can be open with will make the journey more successful. Include family in the diagnosis so you will have the emotional and physical support from family and friends that you need. If you are not comfortable with what your doctor is telling you, please always seek a second opinion for peace of mind. You will deal best with knowledge and the facts, so blessings on the journey to find them. Feel free to email me if you have questions or great resources for the readers here dealing with any kind of diagnosis.

Monday, April 4, 2011

C- The Next Letter in The Alphabet Challenge

C is the next letter in the alphabet challenge and today it stands for Charity, Christ, Critical Care, Caregiver, and Chaplin.

Wow, that is a sentence full of emotion. I want to bring attention to an organization that encompasses all of these C words in one mission. To serve the critically ill clients they encounter and showing the love of Christ by transporting these patients and their caregivers to the facilities or homes where they can get the best caregivers available. I am talking about Grace On Wings. My son is applying to be a volunteer with this great organization as a paramedic and respiratory therapist. He has degrees in both and will serve with the team of Christians in delivering the patient by air to where they need to be for the best care possible. He is so excited to be starting the process with this group from south of Indianapolis.

Check out their website for information at  They transport critical patients by air ambulance that cannot afford to get to the care they need. It is just awesome how they help people and for no charge. It is an organization I will be contributing to in the future and who knows, maybe as a critical care nurse, I can volunteer someday.

Let me know what you think about this organization. I would be interested to know if any of the readers have experienced this kind of need and how that need was met.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Letter B in the A to Z Challenge = Blood

The letter can represent babies, bottles, brooms, or bargains. But for many parents the letter B represents blood counts, blood transfusions, blood draws and needle sticks, and blood cancers. Blood cancers are one of the most common childhood cancers and can affect infants to adults of all ages and nationalities. Blood cancers also have a very high remission rate which is another B word... a Blessing. 

Blood cancers are not contagious and should not be confused with other blood diseases like hepatitis or HIV/AIDS that are blood borne pathogens which can be transmitted to others.

 An average of one student per 400 in every elementary school in the nation will be affected by a blood cancer before the age of 18.

The best resources I think come from the organizations who do the research and clinical trials for blood diseases and blood cancers. The American Cancer Society is a well know resource and can offer families support during an illness. My favorite resource for education, information, clinical trials, and fund raising opportunities is the Leukemia and Lymphoma organization. The amount of educational material available is astounding and the links and connections to the best cancer treatment centers around the country are connected to them in some way.

If you, your child, or someone you know is facing the challenge of being diagnosed, treated, or managed for a blood cancer please check out It is a hopeful and honest resource with reliable educational material available to anyone who seeks it. Sign up for their newsletter to receive wonderful and powerful stories of those who have been returned to health. Look for ways that you can volunteer in your community to support this organization. The research continues so that someday no one you know or love will ever have to deal with a disease starting with a B especially blood cancers.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A-Z Blog Challenge for April

I am joining in on the blog challenge for April. I am not even sure where or who started it and I am sure there is no prize but here is the thing. It will challenge me to post everyday in April using the the letter of the alphabet to get me started. So follow along and see what tibits of health or medical information I can bestow on the readers this month. Maybe some of it might even be useful.

A- is for Attitude. My children's book about my fictional character Lilly starts with A for Attitude. Attitude is a good place to start and so important in every aspect of life no matter if you are dealing with an illness, injury, financial problem, a good time in your life or a family or friend issue. We each are responsible for our own attitude toward any given situation. A positive attitude is proven to bring more positive feelings and emotions even when the outcome of a situation is still negative. A positive attitude comes from serves as a one of the tools we have to help us cope with life.

A negative attitude breeds more negativity even in a positive environment. You have seen this happen among co-workers, family and friends who can't seem to see the sunshine even on a sunny day.

Your challenge if you choose to accept it is to look at your attitude. Try to tweak it to be a bit more positive today. Tweak it a bit more tomorrow and the day after that. Soon your attitude will be more positive and you will actually feel better. Try it and let me know how it works.

Check in tomorrow for the letter B.

Until then, no matter how serious or how tragic your day may be, remember A is for attitude. May God bless you with a positive look on your situation today.

SFC Blog: Families Matter: World of Ink Tour For Children's Authors: Judy Sni...

Join the tour for fun and information on a great new book for children. SFC Blog: Families Matter: World of Ink Tour For Children's Authors: Judy Sni...: " Author, Judy Snider  Please join me in welcoming Judy Snider as our guest today. She offers a first hand look at how she writes...."