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Month: October 2009

I went to DC to take “The Hill” and DC took my breath away- Meeting the Five Moms and Dr. Drew

I went to DC to take “The Hill” and DC took my breath away- Meeting the Five Moms and Dr. Drew

When I was contacted by Edelman –the PR firm who represents the  CHPA (Consumer Healthcare Products Association) and Five Moms– to attend meetings in Washington DC, it was a no-brainer for me as to whether or not I would say yes. (I would.)  I have been in contact with the Five Moms organization since I first met them two and a half years ago.  Seeing as it fell during Red Ribbon week in the month of October which also happens to be National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month and I happen to be a recovering addict, it all seemed to be fated to come together.  When my daughter became so sick, I almost didn’t go.  I almost missed the opportunity of a lifetime for myself.  But she began to get better, my husband stepped up to offer support and I was able to go on this amazing journey to DC.  I was able to see things, hear things and meet people who would quite literally change my life.

I cannot tell you how many times I have sat myself down in front of this computer to write about my visit to DC only to stare at the screen unable to find the any words to share what a wonderful experience I had.  And then sometimes the words come rushing at me so fast I can’t seem to sort them out.  Do I start by sharing the facts?  Do I tell you first about the people I met or the things I learned?  Should I share the informative nature of my trip or the deeply emotional level?

I realize I will never get to the informative part until I wade through the emotional part.  And for me, there was very little about this trip that was not emotional.

As a recovering addict with 9 years, 7 months, and 18 days (but who’s counting) without falling back into my drugging ways, I take anything that has to do with drug abuse awareness seriously.  The chance to go to DC to meet with a group of people as passionate about this as I am was beyond amazing.  I knew I was going to go to DC with bloggers Caroline and Janice and meet with the Five Moms and that was enough to excite me.  Then they threw in the president of Partnership for a Drug Free America and the passionate people at CHPA and I felt like I would jump out of my skin with anticipation.  Do they stop there?  No they let us know we will be meeting with Congressmen while the Five Moms and CHPA encourage them to learn more and make changes that are just “common sense” to laws regarding OTC medication.  Could it get better for me?

I didn’t think so.

While I was literally crackling with the energy in the room that first night at dinner, they announced their special guest who would not only be joining us for dinner that night but would also be joining us on Capitol Hill the next morning. Dr. Drew Pinsky.  That did it.  That sent me over the edge into tears. Being the always demure and subtle person I am, I blurted out to the crowded room, “Shut! Up!

Some people may not understand why I would react emotionally to meeting Dr. Drew in person.  I have tried to come up with another analogy that may make some sense to people.  I know many people know Dr. Drew and may recognize him from VH1’s Celebrity Rehab.   I suppose it would be similar you being an actor and being able to sit down and talk with James Lipton of the Inside the Actor’s Studio. To have him zero in on something about you that is exactly the right thing at the right time that no one else has shared before but puts all the pieces of the puzzle together.  He is a mentor, a supporter and someone you admire.  Someone who “gets you” in a way “outsiders” just don’t.  Okay, so it might be a bad analogy but it was the best I could come up with.  (Janice jokingly compared it to a Christian meeting Billy Graham.)  However you want to look at it is fine with me as long as you can grasp that it is not a celebrity thing.  It is about an addict and a person who does amazing work with and in support of addicts.

In a night that I thought would simply be the kick off to an amazing trip to support the Five Moms and StopMedicineAbuse.org, it became something deeply personal.  I am wrapping my mind around conversations I had that night and I will share them with you.  I promise.

Right now, I want you to go visit StopMecineAbuse.org and familiarize yourself with it.  I want you to meet the Five Moms and read their stories.  I want you to go to  CHPA and see what they do.  Familiarize yourself with Partnership for a Drug Free America.  Those are the ones this trip was really about.  I will share with you what I learned– the facts about OTC medicine abuse that I learned from these amazing people I met and I will share the personal with you as well.

Because as much as I try, I cannot separate the two.  In my life they are too tied together.

A fairytale about how I love my Frigidaire stove top range and microwave

A fairytale about how I love my Frigidaire stove top range and microwave

So let me tell you a little story about a woman who was hopeless in the kitchen but found true love with a new stove and microwave.

You see, this woman became very grumpy every day about 2 hours before dinner time because she knew she had to cook.  She hated to cook.  Every time she made an attempt at a good and nutritious mean, she usually burned it.  Her favorite dinner was ordering Chinese food or pizza to avoid the tears– both those of her family and herself.  Her stove was old, dirty and never heated up properly.  Her microwave burned popcorn yet couldn’t thoroughly reheat a meal. And? That microwave didn’t even have a proper handle.  This woman was sad.  So very sad!

One day she was offered a chance by Mom Central and Frigidaire to test drive a new stove top range and microwave.  The woman was overjoyed!  Could this be the miracle she had been waiting for?  Was it less of a curse than it was just very poor appliances that made her such a menace in the kitchen?  She could hardly wait to meet her new friends Mr. Microwave and Mrs. Range.

My Frigidaire fairies deliver my dreams!
My Frigidaire fairies deliver my dreams!

The day came when her magic fairies came to bring her new appliances to her.  She gasped with pleasure over their beauty.  A chorus of cheers went up around the house as her old appliances were sent packing and her new ones were gently placed in her kitchen.  She was almost too afraid to touch them.

Before she could doubt herself, it was dinner time.  That fateful time of night when she would cry or call someone to delivery nutrition for her family.  That night this woman cooked.  She cooked a real meal.  And there was much rejoicing because Frigidaire made this process painless, easy and a joy to do.

Oh, this woman knew she would never look back on her cursed cooking life again.  Not when she had her new loves in her kitchen:  Mr. Microwave and Mrs. Range.  There was much rejoicing in her home as her family began to get used to smelling non-burned food and nutritional goodness coming from their kitchen.

And this woman?  This woman who hated cooking so much?  She is still–months later– madly in love with her Frigidaire Range and Microwave.

And they lived happily ever after.

So NOT the end.

My Baby’s Diamonds Falling Down

My Baby’s Diamonds Falling Down

So many of you have emailed or asked me on Facebook how Gabriella is doing.  She is still sick.  She is still baffling doctors.  We are still waiting on test results.

The first phone call came yesterday saying she is dehydrated and has pneumonia.  And?  They are waiting on more test results from her blood to find more answers.  Oh, the agony of watching my poor baby girl while the amazing nurses tried to draw blood from her dehydrated body.  I know how much it hurt her.  She was such a trooper!  I cried just a bit watching but never when she saw me.  They said they were still waiting on some blood work results to come back but one of the results showed inflammation in her body but not what they would see with pneumonia.  (So what is it?)  Her ears hurt but they see no sign of infection.  Yet, she hurts and cannot hear very well at all.  They “see” no reason for that.

I want answers.

The second call came  today saying they were not sure about the pneumonia.  (I saw the x-ray. Her lungs definitely had something going on there.)  When I questioned it, I was told the nurse would call me back. She, too, saw in inconsistencies with chart results.  I insisted that it was the doctor that needed to call.  I wanted to talk to her doctor and make him explain what is going on with my baby girl.  The doctor never called me back.

I want answers!

We are going on day 8 of a fever that does not go below 100 degrees and topped off at 104.7.  I know fevers are meant to fight the germs but this is too long.  I give her ibuprofen around the clock and her fever goes down to near 100.  But doesn’t break.  It only broke a few hours on Saturday.  Then it shot back up.

I want answers now!

She doesn’t want to eat.  She doesn’t want to drink.  (Though I am pouring Gatorade and water in her around the clock.)  She even refuses to eat a Popsicle.

She is breaking my heart.  All she wants is to sleep and lay on the couch.  Many times with me there.  Most of the time just alone and in a zone.  She is fighting something we don’t know about.  She is battling an enemy where our only weapon is antibiotics and hope that it works.

I want answers now from someone!

And of course I am exhausted so when this song I love and have heard a million times came on the radio tonight, I pulled over and sobbed.  A phrase here and there sucker punched me.  (I know the song is about something more serious that we (think) we are battling, but the words got to me anyway.)

By the light of the moon
She rubs her eyes
Sits down on the bed and starts to cry
And there’s something less about her
And I don’t know what I’m supposed to do
So I sit down and I cry too
But don’t let her see

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Sleepless Nights, Fevers and Worry: This Mom’s Weekend

Sleepless Nights, Fevers and Worry: This Mom’s Weekend

I am up blogging in the middle of the night because I cannot get rid of this horrible, scary nagging feeling about my daughter and her being so sick.  I check on her about every 10 minutes.  I check her temperature. I put cool rags on her.  I rub her back and will her little body to be healthy, be strong and fight this fever and whatever virus is attacking her.

You see, Gabby has been sick for days.  Not the “Oh, honey, here is some juice and Advil, go back to bed” sick but the kind of sick where we are watching her around the clock and piggybacking meds to attempt to keep her fever down.  (Not very successful but keeping it lower than the danger zone.)

She complained on Wednesday of not feeling very well.  By that night she had a 104.7 fever.  We medicated her, called the doctor and got her in to see her pediatrician first thing on Thursday.  He said she has the flu and it was most likely the H1N1 version.  (Most likely?)  Since everyone and their brother are freaking out about the swine flu, doctors tend to be seriously under reacting.  We were told to keep her hydrated and keep up with the medicine to keep her fever lower and let them know if she became worse.  Friday we managed to keep her fever between 102-103 degrees.  She seemed to maintain and the doctor said that would be normal.

Of course Friday night after the doctors have gone home to the comfort of their homes, all hell breaks loose with my daughter.

Her fever shoots up. She begins screaming with ear pain.  We manage to get that under control. (I think her eardrum burst and gave her the relief she needed.  I called the “on call triage nurse” who said that we were doing the right thing and if she got worse and I felt it was life threatening to take her to the ER.

Can I even begin to tell you how much I do not want to take her to an ER with every germ and virus known (and unknown) to man lurking there on the weekends?

In the wee hours of Saturday morning she begins screaming and crying because her bladder hurts.  After much water and Advil, the pain subsided and she was pain free within an hour or so.  She is still having problems but they are much better.

Finally Saturday afternoon her fever broke.  There was much rejoicing.  She was getting better AND we avoided the ER.

Until Sunday morning rolled around.  Before the sun even rose, her fever spiked again.  By mid-morning she was crying and in severe agony with her other ear in pain. I felt so helpless.  Hasn’t my baby been through enough already?

We started the piggyback pain meds again only to see that we cannot break her fever.  Again.

Clint has been amazing.  While I stay up all night and make sure her fever stays in the “safe zone” every couple of hours, he takes the day shift while I sleep.  Tag team parenting at its best.

Right now, I should be trying to sleep.  Yet, here I am counting the minutes until her doctor’s office opens.  Tonight just fills me with restlessness and worry.  Tonight has gripped me with fear.  Tonight I can’t sleep.  What if she needs me tonight?  So I sit and listen.  And pace.  And check on her.  And pray.  And read.  And do all I can to keep my panic attacks that I am so prone to having at bay.  For her.

We are sleeping in rooms that attached to each other.  Both on couches and within easy hearing range.  I can hear her breathing as I type this.  I can’t sleep.  I just continually, obsessively check on her.

Is there anything as powerful as a sick child that can keep a mom running on nothing more than worry, adrenaline and coffee for days without crashing?

My baby is sick and I have not been able to make her better.  That hurts.  Please, just let my baby be okay.  My little girl just wants to feel better.  I just want her to feel better.  I want her healthy.  That is my plea and my prayer for my girl.

If a mother’s worry were medicine, she would be totally healthy by now.  And we would both be sleeping peacefully.

Fight the good fight, not the dirty one that hurts your community and your fellow mombloggers!

Fight the good fight, not the dirty one that hurts your community and your fellow mombloggers!

Rarely do I use my blog to rant and vent when it comes to other bloggers.  However, what I saw go down last week on blogs and on Twitter has me rather irate.  What am I talking about?  I am talking about the #nestlefamily blogger junket.  I watched on Twitter as the chaos and mudslinging occurred.  I stayed out of it.  I know most of the bloggers that attended and I know they do not support “baby killing” as it was so often referred to.  I do understand that many people have issues with Nestle.  I read posts and followed links to see what the firestorm was all about.  I saw the outrage and anger towards Nestle- some backing up their outrage, some just jumping on the bangwagon.

But here is where it went too far:  When other bloggers went as far as to slam, criticize and be downright cruel to the bloggers in attendance. Seriously?  That is just uncalled for when you attack the attendees.  Some of the bloggers were very hurt by the accusations and cruelty thrown their way. And some of this venom was by other blogger they respect(ed).   Did those of you who attacked the bloggers personally approach them in a respectful way or just throw stones?

You see, as one of the pioneers in mommyblogging, I have seen how far we have come.  We were once at the bottom of the blogging ladder.  We were the ones at the back of the list when it came to asking opinions of us or looking to us to educate and inform others about a product or service.  We (including some of the bloggers in attendance) fought hard to gain respect in the world of social media and with corporate America.  It was through our hard work, quality writing and open mindedness that we opened doors to major corporations to reach out to us.  Yes, we opened the door to gain access to these companies.  We earned their respect and therefore they have seen the power mom bloggers have online.  Believe it or not there was a time when there was no such thing as a blogger junket.

I remember one of the first held was Johnson’ s Baby Camp.  Yes, there was a blow up over that one. However, when bloggers were upset, they went to Johnson’s.  I did not see the actual bloggers being attacked personally.  Since then there have been many, many blogger trips to corporations where mom bloggers can learn about the companies, their practices and what they stand for as a company.  (Disclosure: Yes, I have been on some of these.  Yes, I do enjoy going. And, YES, I have learned more about these companies from attending.  It is not about a free trip and swag.  Do I enjoy going on these trips?  Of course I do.  A prime example is the trip I took to Hallmark.  I learned so much there and met amazing creative people.  I did have fun but more than that, I learned so much more about the company itself.   I do look into the companies when I am asked to go on one of these blogger junkets.  Just for the record.  The majority of us do not just get an invite and automatically jump for joy and attend. We attend for a reason.  We attend to hear what they have to teach us and show us about their company.)  For the record, Johnson’s did learn from the constructive criticism they received.  I worked with the PR person on this and saw it from their side as well.

Some of these women were at the forefront of mommyblogging.  They were ones that (even if the term mommyblogger made their skin crawl) fought to be heard and respected.  They are not into blogging for free trips, swag or bragging rights that they have been able to go on these trips.  They are the ones whose quality of writing brought these trips to you. (Yes, you who have been on them yourselves and enjoyed them.)   They helped show that we are powerful, useful and want to learn more about the products they may (or may not) be buying for their families.  To suggest anything else is not only inaccurate but cruel.  These women were blogging about their lives long before there was any monetary compensation or free trips involved.  Long before some of you were even blogging.

I saw and heard many women I respect personally attack these bloggers and frankly, it pisses me off in a big way.  I lost respect for women I had admired who used social media as a way to attack the attendees themselves.  What do you hope to gain doing that?  Do you think that by attacking their ethics, motivation and character makes you look more informed and a better person/mom blogger?  Well, it doesn’t.  It makes you look foolish and immature.

If you have a problem with Nestle, bring it up with NESTLE.  You want to boycott them, you go on with your bad self.  You want to tell Nestle off, do it.  It is well within your right to stand strong in your beliefs when it comes to a company and their practices.  I applaud you being an advocate for what you believe.  I seriously do admire those of you who stand up for what you believe and fight to see that injustices you hear or learn about are dealt with.

However, the moment you made it personal towards the mombloggers (and dad blogger) who went to this event, you lost your credibility.  At least with me.  It amounts to nothing more than school yard bullying.  Not to mention bullying some of the very people who have opened doors that I know you have enjoyed walking through yourself.

And, yes, I know that not all of the people who are anti-Nestle berated these bloggers. I know that.  Enough did, though, that I feel it should be addressed.

Those of you who did make it personal with these bloggers, the next time you decided to throw stones at these people, you think long and hard about what stones could be thrown at you.  Their attendance did not mean they support Nestle’s practices.  Do you know why they went?  Did you ask them what their motivation was to attend?  Did you find out if they wanted to become better informed on the issues you brought up?  Or did you assume their attendance automatically made them the bad guys?

With social media such as Twitter it is so easy to sit behind a computer and hurl your insults and make these people feel bad.  Are you using social media as a tool or as a weapon?  Think about it.

Had I been able to go, would I have gone?  Probably.  Not because I discount the research done by many bloggers on the company.  Not because I wanted a free trip. And not because I will blindly go anywhere I am asked to go.  But because no matter how much research I read from you, I want to get my own answers.  I want to see both sides.  I want to educate myself.

I am so disappointed in how my fellow mombloggers were treated personally. It infuriates me.

I fear that behavior like I saw will drag the mom(my) blogger name into the mud and shove us back into the depths of “we don’t want to hear from them” because dammit we have worked too hard for too many years to gain respect.

And, no, I am not talking about speaking out about your feelings, research and ideas about Nestle itself.  I am talking about the rude, mean spirited attacks against women I know to be admirable, respected and intelligent well educated bloggers who have done amazing things when it comes to blogging–namely momblogging.

Shame on those of you who saw fit to attack the attendees themselves.

Use your anger and your outrage over the company to open a dialogue with Nestle or use your words to educate those who do not know what you have researched.

And for the love of all things community, back the hell off of these bloggers.  They are good people.

/ end rant