09 February 2017

Infant's Acetaminophen Dosages

Acetaminophen is one of the hardest drugs to give correctly, because it's sold in many forms. This chart can help you give your child the right amount. I know through having four babies of my own that with each new baby it seemed there was always a change. Whether it be from belly sleeping to back sleeping or dosing by age to dosing by weight....here's the up and up on Tylenol dosing for now!

Acetaminophen safety tips

  • The correct dose for your child is based on weight, not age. If you don't know how much your child weighs and he's too young to stand on a scale, weigh yourself while holding him and then weigh yourself alone. Subtract your weight from the combined weight to get your child's weight.
  • Don't give acetaminophen to a baby under 3 months without a doctor’s approval.
  • Shake liquid medicine well before measuring.
  • Use the measuring device that comes with the medicine and do not give more than recommended. If you lose the device, get a replacement from the pharmacy or use a standard measuring teaspoon (the kind used for baking), not a regular spoon used for eating.
  • Never give acetaminophen to a child who's taking other medicine that contains acetaminophen unless a doctor advises it.
  • Infants' and children's liquid acetaminophen (both labeled "oral suspension") have the same concentration: 160 mg per 5 ml. The only difference is that the infant version comes with a syringe and the children's version comes with a cup. 
    (Note: A more concentrated version of infant acetaminophen "drops" was discontinued in the United States in 2011 and should be discarded if it’s still in your home. Concentrated infant drops may still be sold in other countries.)
  • You can repeat the dose every four hours. Don't give more than five doses in 24 hours.

23 January 2017

Huntington's Disease: A Lesson in Love

        Awhile ago I shared with you my family's genetic vulnerability to Huntington's disease. If you missed it, Huntington's disease is an incurable, hereditary brain disorder. There is no (currently) 'effective' treatment or cure. Nerve cells become damaged, causing various parts of the brain to deteriorate. The disease affects movement, behavior and cognition - the affected individuals' abilities to walk, think, reason and talk are gradually eroded to such a point that they eventually become entirely reliant on other people for their care. Huntington's disease has a major emotional, mental, social and economic impact on the lives of patients, as well as their families. It is an atrocious sickness that no human being deserves. I want to share a positive story with you, but you should also see how powerful the disease is.  Below is another family's story to give you an idea. 


 Huntington's disease (known as HD to those familiar with it) affects both men and women equally and more commonly appears during middle-age. The Huntington's Society of America says 1 in every 10,000 Americans has the disease - that's 30,000 people nationwide. It is estimated that at least 150,000 other Americans have a 50% risk of developing HD, while thousands of their relatives carry a degree of risk too. The "at risk" category is where I fall. 

(Uncle Jimmy Center, surrounded by his siblings)
 This month my Uncle turned 55. He has HD. A celebration was planned by his sister just for him on his special day.  Family members from 4 generations attended. His aunts and uncles all the way down to his great nephew were in attendance. Everything was perfection, joint laughter filled the air. Cake was gulped down, balloons were everywhere. Smiles were contagious. 
     Silents thoughts stop me momentarily. I catch myself wondering if these memories will remain this way for years to come or if they will turn into painful reminders of what used to be. How we all used to be. But that's the kicker isn't it? Love is such a powerful thing. It brings with it happiness, security and peace. But, when the things we love are lost, we tend to feel the opposite. Pleasant memories become laden with jabs of pain. I realized then that maybe that's why love is ours to give. In a family where a disease can obtain more control than yourself, we learn to value the power over the things we could undoubtedly keep just for us. This is what makes our love strong. We can't take one family member's diagnosis and carry the burden for them. We can't stop the decline when it starts. We can't walk for them when they have lost the ability to. We can't force them to remember our name. The game changer is that we CAN love them. We can always love them.  It's a shoulder to lean on. It's days spent on a party that will only last hours. It's the perfect cozy sweater in the perfect wrapping paper. It's the homemade card covered in crayon. It's in an opened car door and a phone call to make sure you made it home. I didn't know all the people at the party but when I looked out all I could see was acts of love. I felt fuzzy and warm. I could tell Uncle Jimmy felt it too! This is huge. I wonder how we overlook these things every day.
(Uncle Jim & I)
               Maybe you can't always hear it but those cookies your grandma made you, the flat tire your dad changed, the impromptu visit from your sister, the rock your son just gave you......all very big acts of love. So even on the days when you feel like you have nothing to offer the world, always try to complete at least ONE selfless task a day. Don't wait for something negative to happen to realize you wish you could do more. Call your grandparents, hug your children twice - just because, hold that door for a stranger, let your sister borrow your car...or maybe even those jeans she really likes that you refuse to share. Bring your co-workers donuts on a rough day. Help the neighbor shovel snow off their steps. Smile at a stranger. 
      We can't control everything and we never will, but if we're here together anyways why not make it easier for each other when we get the chance. You'll never know how much it means to the person you do it for, or how greatly it will touch the people watching you. 

28 December 2015

Shattering Silence: A Stand Against Domestic Violence

My name is Sam and this is just a part of my story. There may be others similar but this one is mine, please try not to criticize if you know me or the people whose names I've changed specifically for this post. This was my past year's experience....unless you were here with me to counter it then keep the hate to yourself.  Each year for my birthday I try to give back to others by taking something I've learned and sharing it. My 24th year was a big one! This isn't my favorite share nor do I enjoy writing about it.....but it's relevant and I know there's more of you out there. Let's start simple with a definition....

Domestic violence....
and emotional abuse are behaviors used by one person in a relationship to control the other. Partners may be married or not married; heterosexual, gay, or lesbian; living together, separated or dating.

Examples of abuse include:
name-calling or put downs
keeping a partner from contacting their family or friends
withholding money
stopping a partner from getting or keeping a job
actual or threatened physical harm
sexual assault
Violence can be criminal and includes physical assault (hitting, pushing, shoving, etc.), sexual abuse (unwanted or forced sexual activity), and stalking. Although emotional, psychological and financial abuse are not criminal behaviors, they are forms of abuse and can lead to criminal violence.

 The Backdrop: 
       I was still a teenager when my family started talking about marriage. Surprisingly, not a topic I'd ever really looked forward to. I valued myself and relished the feeling of freedom. Most little girls became giddy at the thought of a ball gown paired with princess heels and a prince on a valiant white steed carrying them off to be domesticated (gag).  I was personally more entertained by the thought of being the first female war lord (imagine Mulan minus the love junk), slashing all adversaries down with a sword larger than myself to maintain leadership over my set kingdom. Apparently my ambitions were slightly off from the usual expectation. With 3 kids at the age of 18 I was badgered daily over my relationship status and how the proper thing to do would be to marry to make my situation more appeasing to the general public. 

The Reasoning:
        When I was young I had always loved kids, but never thought I would have my own. An accidental pregnancy at 16 while I was class president proved otherwise. There were options but none seemed more viable than loving the life I created. After starting my family young I decided I wanted to finish it young as well having 4 beautiful girls by the time I was 20. My plans of having no offspring of my own had changed drastically and I couldn't be more thankful. To this day I wouldn't change a single part of who my children are. 

The Mistake: 
    I never expected a story book romance, the world can be a cruel place and most people set themselves up for disappointment right from the start with their unrealistic expectations. The sick part was the fact that I knew X wasn't right for me and I chose to step farther into the relationship instead of getting out like I should have. Why? Because, it was easier....leaving takes so much work and energy and involves so much change. This is where I blame myself. Hindsight is 20/20 and some times we can't see things clearly until they're behind us. That change was not something I put at the top of my list with all the young children and work to keep up with. It should have been a priority, it effected me daily and I underestimated how much damage it could actually do. I had beautiful kids and most smiled upon my family with praise at a job well done. I could deal with this. It wasn't actually that bad....was it?? 

The Outcome: 
      Let's fast forward through 3 years of marriage. Each year things got continually worse. Out of shame and fear of judgement by others I tried to deal the best I could. Only letting the secrets out when the wounds were to deep and the tears fell to hard. I wasn't a crier. I wasn't weak. My best friend of 10 years (Mercedes), knew this so each time she got a break-down call about how badly it was going she'd beg me to get out. I'd realize how stupid I felt crying over a man and become defensive, telling her it was going to be okay and that I could handle it. I had to suck it up for the kids. Fast forward another year....I can't handle it. X had managed to gain control that I never realized I lost. Not only was I losing the control, I was losing myself.  Instead of a weekly blowout, fights started to become daily. Here's a sample list of common occurrence:

* Any time you go out with a friend or speak to someone you will automatically become a whore, slut, skank, c^%t. 

*Whenever you go out with a skirt, dress or a shirt with the V-cut neck you will also be called the above names and be accused of sexual adventures you could never imagine.

* When you try to argue for your respect you will be assumed to be mentally ill/crazy and be told that you are sick and need serious professional help.

*They will threaten to tell your boss whatever may be necessary for you to lose your job so that you are financially isolated and unable to leave because they have cut off all resources.  

*When you threaten to leave, you will be told how worthless you are and how no-one could ever deal with you, let alone want you. You will also be threatened with loss of your children. If you go, they will make sure you lose everything you've ever loved. If you go they will make good on promises they made you years ago about what would happen if you leave them. If they can't have you then no-one will have you.  

* When you say you're going to tell family they will counter with saying you are mentally unstable again and that if you tell you'll also get a one way ride to the insane asylum. You will be reminded of how lucky you are to have that person and that you should be on your knees in praise instead of being so disobedient. My family had very little knowledge of these incidents because to me it felt like admitting failure. I was failing as a woman, I was failing as a mother. X's family however knew of a few because they happened in a back room of their house or he'd go there after a big blow out. With respect to them I never remember them saying it was deserved or completely my fault. I remember them saying that it had to stop. Not just for me or X but for the kids. They knew it was getting worse and it wasn't healthy. They knew the tempers involved.  

* You will need to keep the spice alum on hand for any given fight that can turn physical. Not wanting to seek medical attention at a doctor's office for a swollen lip that wasn't healing I discovered that this pickling spice will painfully suck out pooled fluids causing the swollen area to minimize. I used this method five times in one year.

*You will need to keep windows open in the house when possible. Some times X would escalate from the usual fist throw to the choke hold. Believe it or not this can actually be more powerful than any shiner you've had. When the person with their hands around your throat weighs at least 100lbs more than you and your eyes feel like they're about to burst from the pressure you will try to scream for help with whatever oxygen you have left.....make sure that window is open so your neighbors can hear.  

* You will need to blame the bruised eye or facial marks on the rowdy kids you have at home and their toy throwing. Be ready to have people second guess this one.....it never goes over too smoothly with suspicious friends or family. 

*You will need long sleeve (non V neck shirts) for the matching arm bruises for the times when you try to walk out the door and they find it necessary to stop you by holding you forcefully in place where you stand. 

The Escape: 

        People will tell you to be strong enough to get through the rough times....that's crap. The real strength is needed to leave, not to stay. On a clear summer night the girl I was, before this relationship, came through to me. She pleaded for change. Everything in me felt like it was dying, I begged the stars for the strength to make it happen. I told X for months that it needed to change, I received the usual backlash for such suggestions. The victim in me became furious, I started making my changes. When I started to show control I was met with the utmost force. 

 My bank accounts started to clear out....finances were drained. 

My cell phone chargers would be cut.....

Any interaction would lead to police response, on this specific day he argued that he needed his guns before I could destroy them....they made him leave....and he took the guns with him.... 

The front door was smashed which meant it was necessary to go buy a new door...with new locks....it was wintertime, so it couldn't wait.  

He attempted to forcefully remove the kids from the house until I "smartened up" and had time to think about how stupid I had been...this lead to my mother showing up because of my hang up call yelling for help. When she got to my house I was being dragged....she told him to let go and for the kids to get in her car. After she showed up X called to have family send the cops, I was told to be fully responsible of course.....I assure you I wouldn't free bleed for nothing. The patrol insisted they couldn't arrest just one, they were told I was the attacker. So for me to walk....X got to walk too. It was after this altercation that I started filing court papers. He was now living with his new girlfriend and I had hoped that would keep him occupied. 

After pink domestic dispute reports piled up to a level that couldn't be ignored I filed for a protective order for myself and the kids (times when he'd say he was taking them for a visit he decided to not tell me where they were or bring them home, those were rough nights). Alarms to detect unwanted presence and cameras to record any interactions were also installed.  

When it seemed like I was finally making some progress I started receiving court papers backed by his newly discovered soul-mate. The first accusing me of being an unfit parent and that the courts needed to remove the children immediately from me before harm came to them......the charges were dismissed and the kids never had to leave home, The second accused me and the people around me of extensive drug use....tests were conducted and results taken to court.....negative for all drugs and substances.  Now that I had all of my family court issues in order I thought there'd be breathing room with less tension involved....again I was wrong. When I paid in full and I filed my divorce papers X contested it. 

The Conclusion:

I don't have all of the answers and I don't know exactly how it will all play out but I know this battle has made me a much stronger version of myself, for that I am grateful. It's worth every lawyer fee and every trip to court. I finally stood up and did the things I needed to.  Never was I more disappointed then when I finally woke up to see how wrong I was living. Letting someone else have that control over my life just wasn't me. I didn't even know how bad it had gotten until I got out. I couldn't be happier now. No-one should feel that much despair. I know there are things I could've done differently and I know I don't make the best victim. My family seemed so shocked that I concealed so much. But that's where the silence comes in, and we're silent out of embarrassment. Most who talk to me or seek advice do it because I seem strong to them. To those who thought my situation was ideal, I am sorry. To all that I hid the truth from and told much more pleasant lies to, I am sorry.    
         I can tell you that if you're still reading this than it probably resonates with you or a past situation you were in or friends, parents or grandparents were in. You are not alone. It's not "just" you, you are not wrong or crazy and there are many ways to get out of a place you never should have been. The first part of solving this problem is realizing that there's a problem and not being ashamed to admit it. Shame for such things is not yours to carry, it is their actions that wronged you. There needs to be less silence and more action. Shame has no place here. It can happen to anyone and does not care whether you are a weak or strong person. Control is not love and love does not mean ultimate control. The important part is to have the ears and support you need to stop whatever violence issue you may be in and understand that there is nothing wrong with you. We can only decide our own actions. Accept nothing less than what you'd want your daughters or sons to have. If you wouldn't find it acceptable for them then you definitely shouldn't deem it acceptable for you. It's really never to late to write yourself a better ending. 

03 September 2015

Addiction: When the Bottles are all Empty

    I heard a bottle pop today, when you set it down, I sipped.....it wasn't very tasty.
Halloween night, both of us ready. No candy for us.....you couldn't walk steady.

I heard a bottle pop today, unfortunately for us, you were too sick to come out and play.
We giggled and laughed the evening away, but not you, the arguing lasted most the night and half of that day.

I saw the bottle pop today, I'm no longer four. It's weird how now I realize, you're actually passed out on the floor.

The years pass by and your method has been tried and tested, not much to show for how much you've invested. They hide in the cabinets, they hide behind the fridge, I guess this is proper behavior for one that may need a binge.

I found a bottle stash today. Cops bring me back, apparently it's me who's character lacks. When a teenager leaves home it doesn't matter how much you've poured.....how easily that enormous fact was ignored. 
      I take the blame and I feel the guilt, meanwhile your cries should be for your own help.

We struggle and battle. I can't keep up, with the amount of self pity, your hiding in that cup.

You popped too many bottles this day. The ambulance came and took you away. Off to the hospital to make you feel better, they couldn't figure out why you were so under the weather. In loyalty I shook my head and turned away. I said I had no idea what was causing your pain.

They let you come home, they said you were all better. To my relief I finally thought maybe we had it together. Two months in, I saw that damn bottle pop open again.

I no longer hear those bottles pop, instead I wait for the phone calls you don't remember you dropped. You've called all the family, you've called all the neighbors, awkward for me comes pretty standard. I've attempted before to bring drunk you back down, to realize that maybe it really is safer on sober ground. The help came and left when you declined their advances. They look at me crazy, like I'm the one doing drunk dances.

I've  begged for your health, for sanity, for real laughter. So that maybe our relationship wouldn't be such a disaster. I'd do anything to make all your bad days feel better... but it's not me in control, by now you should know better.

I know the bottles will continue to pop, until you figure out it's time to stop. Let me tell you a secret. I'll sit and I'll wait while you continue to pour. Later these bottles will be empty but tomorrow you can buy more. I am only one person, I'm not sure what to expect, but each day it feels a little more like regret. 
I'll give you what I've got, so please take my help while you still can. The bottles will be to full to fall over and I'll be to empty to stand. I'll be powerless while alcohol wins this battle over man.

28 August 2015

The Art of Divorce

               It was bright. The sun shot through the living room with urgency I couldn't ignore. Summer isn't one to wait, it's days are over before you're able to remember when they began. I loved these mornings.  With feet dragging but eyes shining, I got the four littles ready for the day. The previous night I spent hours with the stars, hoping they'd whisper some universal truth into my ears to help ease me through another week. Something wasn't right, I'd felt it deep into my bones for months now. The kids were enjoying breakfast while I hurried around the house with a bowl of cereal, packing the last few necessities to get out the door and go fishing. 
        Maybe it really was me or maybe it was him. Maybe it was the sun's fault for shining light into rooms, that for every night cradled only darkness. It happened. A sentence broke into a conversation and a conversation birthed into an argument. Tongues were razors and the room reeked of disgust. I really wanted to eat my whole grain cereal. I know how tired I'll be later on when the hustle doesn't slow and my mind is too overcome with the joys of the day to stop and waste time on making a sandwich.
                 A Corelle bowl was in the air, my precious plans inside. It shattered, into a million little shards. It shattered. He picked up a piece like an Olympian would a medal. He laughed, he had won. The mess was beautiful. Milk peppered with opaque chunks, circled by wheat flakes. The hardwood floor took the role as canvas and I was the creator. It was art and it spoke to me.  I was glued in thought....the first one being that I just lost my breakfast. The second thought was "Who in the hell makes this Corelle guarantee? It says right on the damn box that if one chips you get a replacement without question! If that's the case then how do I get a replacement for 850 chips in my bowl?!? -shit). Kids were still eating. Unaware of the life changing game that just took place in the living room. My faith in relationships and kitchenware had failed that morning. Pre-marriage Sam didn't know you would actually need to use your warranty on your expensive dishes. 
              If you're reading this and your searching for some understanding let me share with you what I learned. You're allowed to try and fail many times but when the chips turn into an all out shatter, let it shatter. Let it smash to the ground and explode where it lands. We won't always get the clean breaks we hope for, but if the torque and tension build into a force large enough you will be able to sweep the pieces into a dust pan and toss them away all at once. I don't think he knew it then but that minuscule bowl of cereal showed me more than 5 years of marriage could. After he left the room I cleaned up my mess with the summer sun witness through the windows. I heaved the grain sized pieces into the trash. I signed my divorce papers last month. This month I plan to get new dishes. I want to see a complete set shining in my cupboards again.