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Welcome to the Windy City Diva Blogs!
They are on the move with shifting articles and new looks! Stay tuned and look in the right column to navigate to and follow them all to stay up to date.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Allergies in Children - From a Parent

I want to share with my readers an experience about allergies in children and maybe it not only applies to your children, but maybe to you.  My son has a history of spring allergies since he was 2 or so and Zyrtec-D was used to manage them for 5 or so years and then they seemed to just go away.  Well, they are back but they are no longer spring allergies.  Saturday he was suddenly sniffly and whiny as only a teenage boy accustomed to feeling healthy can.  I gave him an Allegra which has been our daytime "allergy cure all" as needed.  He complained bitterly hours later that nothing worked and was sneezing out a fur ball again.  The Allegra is a 12 hour dose so I made him wait the appropriate time and promptly forgot. 

A side note about the offending allergen.  He had spent the night at a friend's house who has a cat, so I suspected his mild allergy had been violently shoved into a true allergy.  But that being the allergen could mean the reaction would subside now that he was away from the cat, ergo the forgetting. 

Sunday morning was harsh.  He hadn't slept and was CRANKY.  I gave him liquid Benadryl thinking this would allow him to clear up and function.  The liquid one is supposed to be the non-drowsy formula.  Note: IT'S NOT!  He did not wake up until almost 2:30 in the afternoon.  I administered another Allegra thinking this could easily be just left over from the interaction with the cat.  Monday, I treated it with Allegra as needed.  Then today, Tuesday he was a gut-wrenching, fur ball hacking, stopped up, runny nose, sneezy mess.  In passing, my cousin told me it's ragweed season and it is high right now.  I spoke with my mother within five minutes of that conversation and she is or was also allergic to ragweed.  Fortunately, my younger cousin is also allergic to many things and takes Zyrtec.  That reminded me that my son took Zyrtec when he was little and it worked wonderfully.  I practically ran to Walgreens for Zyrtec-D.

I am delighted to report that within an hour of him taking the one 12 hour tablet (with Gatorade, yogurt and chicken broth/noodle soup - homemade, no preservatives), he was wandering the halls again! 

My message... know what's in your family, know what works for your kids and be prepared for "childhood" illnesses to rear their ugly heads at random, unspecified times.

~ Windy City Diva

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Carb-Free Eating...

Hello Readers!

I was recently told to have a no carb diet for at least 30 days to clear my system and then slowly add it back.  Now in case that just sounds like "modern health mumbo-jumbo" it is what I thought as well, but it is worth giving it a shot to not land back in l'hotel hospitale for another week

The big issue with this new plan is, I live on pasta!  Live on it from lunch to dinner, and I am sure some of you know that all of the good breakfast foods have carbs.  I was told I could keep my oatmeal for breakfast since it is a whole grain, but the rest...waffles, pancakes, french toast, scones, even some yogurt, all of it, gone.  I know it is only for 30 days, but it is a challenge.  I am quickly empathizing with people who diet regularly and do not succeed for one reason or another.  I could always appreciate that it was difficult, but this feels like modern torture.  I end up with something in my hand, mouth watering ready to eat it, and then I remember, "does it have carbs"; or my son will say, "Mom, you can't have that.".  Sakes alive my entire kitchen has to be replaced.

This is going to take some work, some help and a whole lot of focus.  I am accustomed to eating anything I want, when I want and as often as I want.  I just found chicken pot pies on sale!  They are not good for you, but they aren't that bad either.  I will miss them.

There is one other component to this diet that may take even more thought, like not drinking water with food and waiting 2 hours after you eat to drink it.  Okay, so when I am well and back out eating and drinking, what does one do to cut the alcohol intake and stave off a hangover, even a mild one?  Hmm???  Cosmopolitan PLUS Dinner (that does not include Pasta) PLUS Water PLUS Cosmopolitan MINUS Water EQUALS mild Hangover.  I will have to figure this out...  any methods known that work??

If you have any great no carb, no seafood or pork recipes, send them my way please.  I have very few foods that I just don't or won't eat but those are the three big categories.  Encouraging words are always welcomed!  I will try to blog my progress and digression with it.  As I learn more about my health challenge, I will share on the chance that it may help someone else with a health issue.

Windy City Diva

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Patient Advocacy

Health is not something we should ever take for granted. I have seen very ill people in my family and in my general surroundings. One thing I truly value is my health, although sometimes it seems very fragile. One lesson I have learned through all of my experiences with health and hospitals is, understand your diagnosis. Understand, not know what the doctor said, but actually understand it. Ask questions until you do, no matter how long it takes, or how many different ways you have to ask the question.

From many medical, social studies it is determined that certain age groups, races and genders are the ones least likely to not only seek health care, but to ask questions and even to seek out a second opinion. Older generations tend to see physicians they have a standing relationship with as the one and only answer. This can be a death sentence.  Additionally, women tend to be more likely to take care of their families rather than themselves.  And finally, minorities are the highest group that will postpone seeing a doctor. By postponing a visit when they initially feel something is not right, they miss receiving a potentially life-saving early diagnosis.  There are of course cultural dynamics that I am not bringing up here just yet because this is more or less a summary of my years of not only personal experience while working at a hospital with patients, but research related to my hobby, patient advocacy.

I implore you as you read this… take your own symptoms seriously and encourage your family members to do the same. Once you get yourself to go to the doctor, ask questions until you understand. If you think you may not be following, ask to reschedule a consultation and take someone with you. I attend my mother’s appointments periodically just to make sure there is a “second ear” in the room. It is not a sign of weakness, it is a sign of strength.  Your physician should NOT mind.  I will recommend this (with a heavy breath), please be sensitive to your appointment time, and if you have many questions that are not immediate to your care, it might be better to schedule a consultation time.  That is not to say walk out of the office not knowing how to take a prescription later that night or what follow-up tests to schedule.  But, if there are dietary changes, or habits then it is probably best to schedule another appointment.

Happy health to all.
Windy City Diva

Allergies as a Gateway

You may have noticed that I am hyper focused on health the last several days. It could be because of my migraine or my overall “icky” health this past month.

A month or so ago my allergies went beyond the reach of my Allegra and turned into something ugly. I had to really crank the allergy medicines, water and all of the other recommended treatments to survive the symptoms. According to multiple reports nationally, this season of spring allergies has been one of the worst with the early rains.1 Somehow knowing that does not make it any easier, or does it?

It seems that allergies can weaken your immune system which can allow a virus to attack, or you come in contact with a virus and simply treat it as if it were allergies. I apparently just experienced such a perfect storm; which then set off torrent of headaches, lung pain (from the coughing and post nasal drip) irritating my asthma, migraines, etc.  You see where I am going with this. Allergies can be a gateway irritant to weaken your system and allow other ailments to pile on or rear their ugly heads.  This was new information to me, so I thought I would share it.

I thought I was taking care of my allergies but apparently when the allergy season hits, whatever yours is, it would behoove you to tightly manage and be proactive with your allergy symptoms.  I recently found an interesting Website that provides updates by location. www.pollenlibrary.com I hope this helps someone, anyone.  This probably falls in my patient awareness category.

~Windy City Diva

Friday, June 4, 2010

Migraines... An Experience...

Migraines - What do I do with them?

I have a migraine today. When the pain started, it was sudden and out of the blue. I had a mild one last night, but I seemed to have slept it off when I finally got up this morning. It had been a rocky night but it all worked.
So earlier today... I was going about my day normally, working on my computer. I was placing a Mary Kay order on line and BAM there it was! Blinding pain across my face like someone hit me in it with a blunt object. Oh and there is the other component… the sharp, tightening pain shooting up into my skull along the back of the neck. Oh yes, this is a migraine. The computer screen is bright, too bright, that confirms that it is a migraine. I think holding my face will work. I think my brain is trying to escape. I don’t know where it’s trying to go, but it certainly is making a break for it and taking my eyeballs with it. Meds, I need meds and wait, I have to finish what I’m doing. Oh no! Bright computer screen, bad bright computer screen! I wish I could see it well enough to turn it down. That is not going to happen. Meds, hot tea, darkness, quiet, power nap… that is the prescription. If it wasn’t 4:30 in the afternoon I would just go to bed.
So where do migraines come from? Some people say it’s hereditary, if it is in your family you are doomed. Okay, but then what makes them strike? There timing seems to be random. I have had migraines since I was a teenager. They seem to have interesting triggers like flashing lights from a camera, or a light reflecting off of a mirror, or oh better! Those new halogen lights on cars really hurt especially at night with foggy conditions. The other trigger, the main trigger is stress. So, now that I am awake and it feels a little better, not completely relieved, but certainly better, writing will have to help relieve some stress. If I could walk without wondering why the world is shaking, I might exercise a bit. But alas, sitting in my bed writing, er typing will have to suffice.

Windy City Diva

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Obesity in Children, Let's Talk...

Many years ago I wrote an Op Ed piece about an article, “Happy Birthday! Have Some Carrots”. It is another manifestation of the obsession our society has with weight, without being willing to look at the root cause of the problem. Maybe we should consider finding the root causes of obesity. 

Let’s take a look at funding in schools for physical education, which has progressively decreased since the late-1980’s. What about funding for park districts that formerly provided after-school programs with physical activity and academics? The schools and park districts in Chicago have experienced more than 85% in budget cuts within the last 10 years. I attended public high school in Chicago. We had junk food, pizza parties and cake for birthdays; but we also had gym 5 days a week instead of 2 like my son does now. We had a Health class that educated us about food groups, the effects of certain foods on our systems and discussed the benefits of running and playing. We played running games outside with our friends after school, instead of lying on the floor playing video games for hours. 

As the parent of a teenager, I believe it is my job to ensure that my son eats a balanced diet, plays outside on a regular basis, participates in sports, understands the importance of balanced meals, knows how to select proper foods and portion control. America is fat beginning with our children, because of our over-indulgence, our “right now satisfaction” mentality and funding being cut at every level for physical education. 

Can we stop blaming the end results and start truly breaking down and attacking the root causes of the obesity levels in the United States? I agree that Type 2 Diabetes in children is deplorable, particularly at the current levels. However, I believe some alternate solutions to serving carrots at birthday parties and putting only healthy snacks in vending machines would include: putting the funding back in public school physical education and extra-curricular school sponsored/organized sports activities, after-school fitness activities at park districts and continue the health education in the school and with parents. Certain types of education begin at home and healthy eating habits are some of them. 

Windy City Diva