Monday, October 8, 2012
Monday, September 17, 2012
My micropractice is now a little over a year old, and I've been blessed with a growing patient base. However, with more patients comes MORE WORK! I love the patient care part - could do that all day. However, I could do without some of the paperwork, data entry, inventory, etc. I pretty much stopped sleeping.
So the time came to add someone to my team. The search for someone who can channel my vision for the practice into their everyday activities was not an easy one. Resumes, essay exams (yes, I actually had candidates complete an essay exam!), interviews, math quizzes, background checks... phew! Adding employees also means adding an employee handbook, policies and procedure manual, compliance programs, payroll, worker's insurance. Wait a minute - I thought getting help was supposed to reduce my workload?
So, no one would blame me if I haven't been scrapbooking, right? Wrong. My 4 year old blames me, and rightfully so.
This morning, he sat on the sofa with his brother after breakfast, leafing through my 7 year old's baby scrapbook. You know, the scrapbook I created when I was a wide-eyed, bushy-tailed new mom, delighted by the thought of documenting first smile, first bath, first solid food, first fill-in-the-blank? The scrapbook that is not only a collection of photographs, but also captions describing baby antics and quotations on boyhood and motherhood? My older son loves looking at this book whenever he gets the chance. Who wouldn't love a book where you're the star, and every photo is flattering, embellished with jungle animals and teddy bears?
The tears in my 4 year old's eyes were like a dagger in my heart. "Mommy, where is MY book?"
I didn't have the heart to tell him, "Honey, your photos are in a couple of albums on Facebook."
So, this week, I have added to the top of my task list:
- Redeem self in eyes of baby boy. Create best baby scrapbook EVER. You have 2 hours.
|I will be needing this...|
One day, I will sleep. Today is not that day.
Tomorrow isn't looking good, either. :-)
Saturday, August 18, 2012
Son #2: "Bye-bye, underwear! Have a nice trip!"
Son #2 (imitating the "voice" of his dirty underwear): "Nooooo! I don't want to go!"
Son #2 (back to himself): "Sorry, you need to get clean. Now go, and have a nice day!"
It makes me smile to witness my children engaged in imaginative play. In this day of little faces glued to tiny screens, it's so nice to see that creativity and imagination are still the best entertainment.
|It's a long trip for a small pair of drawers!|
Saturday, July 28, 2012
I was especially cautious during a recent family vacation to Colorado. Living in the Midwest, we were unaccustomed to the thin mountain air, and I worried that my 3 year old might have his enjoyment of the trip ruined by asthma symptoms.
So when our agenda was modified to include a steep 1.2 mile hike to view a pristine lake nestled close to the mountaintop, I wondered aloud if we should leave him behind at the hotel with his grandparents. My husband (who does not have asthma) glibly replied, "Relax, he can handle it!".
"Easy for you to say," I retorted. "What are we going to do if he has an asthma attack halfway up the mountain?"
Dear hubby didn't need to reply. My fearless son overheard the conversation and chimed in: "I want to climb the mountain, too! Mommy, are we going to climb the mountain togedder?" Puppy dog eyes looked up at me, awaiting my answer...
One look at his earnest expression, and how could I deny him? After confirming that all our gear was in place (Water bottles? check. Inhaler?check. Spacer? check. Oxygen tank? Chill out, lady. This is Hanging Lake, not Mount Everest.), we set out on our journey.
We took our time, because the climb was rocky and steep, and his little legs didn't allow him to leap up the mountainside like his brother (who arrived at our destination nearly 40 minutes before we did!). However, I was amazed to find my little guy navigating the rocks like a pro! He climbed all the way up on his own power, never once asking to be carried. After a snack at the top, he made it down on his own too! Nearly 3 hours of hiking 2.4 miles at an elevation of over 7000 feet above sea level, all by himself. Thanks to a few puffs of prophylactic albuterol before the climb, no coughing, wheezing or shortness of breath interfered with our fun! All the other hikers stopped to tell him he was doing a great job, and proclaimed, "You must be the youngest hiker on this trail!" He was so proud. WE were so proud.
|Having a laugh during a water break.|
My take-away lesson? Well-controlled asthmatics really CAN do anything they put their minds to, even if they're only 3 years old and Mommy is a chicken.
|Close to the top... kids are getting hungry.|
As parents, we want to protect our kids from the mere possibility of harm. However, we shouldn't shelter them from amazing life experiences just because they carry a modicum of risk. Risk is a part of life. All we can do is give them a healthy foundation and teach them to make good choices... then we need to let them LIVE.
Saturday, June 30, 2012
1. Coloring on scrap paper with highlighters.
2. Raiding the "treasure bucket" for toys.
3. Putting stickers on each other.
4. Eating fruit snacks in the kitchen.
5. Washing hands in every sink. Singing "handwashing song" at top of lungs.
6. Reading Harry Potter.
7. Sitting on Mommy's lap in waiting room full of patients, reading picture books about fire trucks and trains.
8. Sword-fighting with wooden tongue depressors.
9. Checking oxygen saturation.
10. Using Mommy's stethoscope to listen to everything in the office.
11. Locating Mommy's stash of Mike and Ike candies.
12. Filling cups with water from the water dispenser. Actually drinking most of the water. Dumping leftover water on brother's head.
13. Helping Mommy sweep the floors between patients.
14. Making friends with pediatric patients, and playing "Cut the Rope" and "Angry Birds" with them on our iPad. :-)
15. Trying to take a nap in an exam room. Giving up because the motion detectors kept turning the lights back on.
16. Reading children's books about the immune system.
17. Marching around the reception area singing "Yankee Doodle Dandy".
18. Going potty.
19. Watching patients receive allergy shots. Being amazed that no one cried.
20. Immediately declining when offered shots of their own.
21. Looking out the window, waiting for Daddy to come take them to lunch.
I have never been so happy to see my husband. :-)
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Many thanks to Medical Device Depot for donating the spirometry turbines, without which this screening would not have been possible.
If you are looking for a free asthma screening in your area, please click here to learn more!
Thursday, May 31, 2012
UPDATE: The post you see below was deleted/censored from the comments section by "The Doctors" website. Attempts to repost have also been met with deletion, and there has not been any response from the producer of the program, Jay McGraw.
- Encouraging your audience to feign illness is anathema to those physicians who work so hard to ensure that food allergies are not overdiagnosed, so that the diets of growing children are not unnecessarily limited.
- Encouraging your audience to feign illness promotes a glut of false allergy claims in eating establishments, which will undoubtedly lead to true food allergies being taken less seriously by restaurant staff.
- Encouraging your audience to feign illness goes against the grain of what you are supposed to be doing in your daily work and on your show -- promoting ACCURATE information and HEALTHY choices.
Friday, May 11, 2012
Fellow mothers of children with allergies, let us acknowledge that:
1. We love our children more than they will ever know, and would lay our lives down for them in a heartbeat.
2. There is not one among us who, if given the opportunity, would not "magically absorb" her child's allergy.
2. We spend the majority of our birthday wishes, shooting star wishes, 11:11 wishes, and 4-leaf clover wishes not on dreams of tropical vacations and lottery winnings, but on hopes for cures and the safety of our little ones.
3. We spend countless hours and dollars selecting and creating meals and treats so that our children can participate in social activities as fully as possible, and not feel isolated.
4. In addition to roles of mother and partner, we have taken up the essential roles of educator and advocate.
5. We eagerly share in the joys of allergies outgrown or treated, and also share in the mutual sorrow and loss when one of our children suffers. It is as though our hearts are joined with a single string - pulled in one place, and each heart gets tugged.
Dealing with allergies is a unique endeavor in each household. We all deal with it differently.
Some have been lucky, and have been spared serious reactions in their kids. (There, but for the grace of God, go I...) Bless you.
Some continue to charge on in the face of frequent reactions, unknown/multiple triggers, or complicating illnesses. Bless you.
Some have poured their energy into making allergic children's environments as safe as possible, or offering safe foods/recipes, easy access to emergency medication, books and other educational materials. Bless you.
Some have shared their personal day-to-day experiences via the magic of the web, hoping that others may find solace and hope in learning they are not alone in this world. Bless you.
Some have participated in trials of novel therapeutic options, contributing to the march towards a cure. Bless you.
Some, unable to participate in a trial, have made the decision to pursue some of these therapies outside of the research studies. Bless you.
Some simply (BIG understatement) continue to do the best they can to keep their kids safe, happy and healthy, one day at a time. Bless you.
Bless you all during this time, and always.
Happy Mother's day, from the AllergistMommy.
Saturday, May 5, 2012
Interestingly, there is one rash I see in my practice which rarely causes alarm among patients and parents. In fact, it is common for a parent to state, "Oh, that? His sister has that too. In fact, so do I!"
Keratosis Pilaris is a common, heritable disorder which results in small bumps consisting of accumulated skin cells and keratin at the sites of hair follicles. It is especially common in people who have a history of allergies.
Although it can be mildly itchy, the rash generally does not cause discomfort. Commonly described as "gooseflesh", keratosis pilaris can be a concern cosmetically, leading to the avoidance of short sleeves or shorts (upper arms and thighs/calves are common locations for the rash). When it appears on the face, it can be confused with acne. If scratched and irritated, the bumps can become red and inflamed. In individuals with darker complexions, the bumps can take on a dark brown appearance, leading one to appear altogether polka-dotted.
Because they have lived with the rash of KP for so long, many patients are surprised to find that there are effective treatments. I generally have great results with an over-the-counter lactic acid lotion twice daily and daily exfoliation with a warm wet washcloth (a new one every day, please -- unless you like rubbing bacteria into your skin). One note of caution: I do not recommend applying lactic acid lotion to broken/scratched skin, as it can cause significant burning. As with any health care regimen, consistency is key. With regular attention, smooth skin can be yours again.
I speak from experience - I have KP, and so does my 3 year old son. But you won't find us hiding when the warm weather arrives! With good skin care, we'll be ready for summer this year, and so will you!
Saturday, March 17, 2012
The other night, we piled the kids in the car to go out for dinner.
Kelly Clarkson's "Stronger" was playing on the radio, and our 7 year old was singing along to the chorus.
"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger..."
At the end of the song, my husband surprised me by asking our son to relate the lesson in that phrase. (Apparently, they had discussed it during a previous car ride. At #1 for quite a few weeks, the song has gotten a lot of radio play.)
I was so pleased to hear the kiddo reply, "It means that you shouldn't be too upset if something bad happens or if you don't get something right or if you don't win, because you will learn for the next time." (run on sentence is his own)
Well played, boys. Well played.
Thursday, March 15, 2012
My boys and I suffer from tree pollen allergies. More than birds chirping or flowers blooming, I have come to associate boogery sleeves and sneezing with the onset of spring. But these are the typical symptoms, which are easily recognizable as allergy-induced.
What I'd like to address in this post are some lesser known symptoms of seasonal allergies, which may also be rearing their ugly heads this spring. Red eyes and runny noses aside, there are plenty of other ways that allergies can make us miserable. Especially in children, who already have a hard time translating physical symptoms into words, some of these symptoms are easily overlooked. So, dear reader, I present to you a few somewhat obscure allergy symptoms to be on the lookout for this spring:
Headaches in combination with nasal symptoms are a typical seasonal allergy complaint. However, many people do not realize that isolated headaches (without associated sneezing and runny nose) can also be brought on by high airborne allergen levels. I personally do not experience a great deal of sneezing or eye irritation, but one of my first clues that allergy season is upon us is a frontal (forehead) headache.
2. Itchy ears
I see this all the time. People think they have swimmer's ear or an ear infection, but when I look in the ear, there is no sign of infection. Sometimes there is inflammation of the ear canal, similar to eczema. Many of these people actually experience this ear itching seasonally, and their symptoms often improve with antihistamines or prescription ear drops. If your kid is walking around town with his finger stuck in his ear, a visit to the doctor may be in order.
3. Sore throat in the morning, that improves throughout the day
Think of it this way: if you have a stuffy nose, you are forced to sleep with your mouth open. When you sleep with your mouth open, the air you breathe can cause evaporation of moisture from the mucosal tissues in your mouth and throat. This causes you to feel parched during the night, and to wake up with a sore throat. More often than not, you will hack up an ugly yellowish-brown loogie in the morning, and your sore throat will improve after breakfast. You probably don't have strep throat or a sinus infection. It's just that the stagnant mucous hanging around in your throat all night got icky.
4. Skin rash
Most people assume that allergic skin rashes are due to food allergies or contact with a chemical/metal allergen. However, it is common for eczema to flare up during airborne allergy season.
5. Itchy mouth, abdominal pain and diarrhea
Many foods (especially produce and grains) cross-react with pollens. Ex: apples and birch pollen, wheat and grass pollen, watermelon and ragweed pollen. Although most people with environmental allergies do not need to limit their diets due to this cross-reactivity, certain patients (especially those with irritable bowel syndrome) find that their GI systems are more sensitive to these cross-reactive foods during the respective allergy season. Mouth get all itchy after eating a peach? It may be a tree pollen allergy to blame, rather than a fruit allergy!
6. Behavioral issues
Poorly controlled allergies result in poor-quality sleep. As adults, not getting a good night's rest makes us grumpy (mean) and tired (lazy) during the day. However, I have found that children with poor sleep are not so easy to identify. Rather than falling asleep at their school desks (which can also happen), I see issues with normally happy, cooperative children becoming moody, hyperactive and difficult to redirect. Solving the sleep issues can help with daytime behavior. Frequently, parents bring in their children fearing that a food allergy is leading to behavior issues. However, addressing environmental triggers that impede restful sleep often ameliorates the issue.
Keep these symptoms in mind as you enjoy the warm temperatures, and seasonal allergies won't catch you off guard!
Monday, February 13, 2012
Me: "You're doing really well with advancements in dosing. If we keep moving along at this pace, pretty soon, you'll be dosing with wheat bread instead of capsules!"
Me: "Don't get too excited. It is going to start with a tiny little morsel of bread, not a sandwich!"
Patient: "You have no idea. I am going to glorify that little morsel! I have been waiting for this for such a long time."
Totally. Made. My. Day.
And this, dear reader, is why I love my job.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago is currently enrolling volunteers for a Phase 2 clinical trial of Food Allergy Herbal Formula-2 (FAHF-2). Please see my earlier blog post for details on this exciting therapeutic option.
In order to qualify, you must be:
- 12-24 years old
- Allergic to peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, fish or shellfish
The study will take ~9 months, and will involve skin prick testing, blood draw, oral food challenge, and treatment with a pill form of Chinese herbs.
If you are interested in participating, please call:1-888-573-1833 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
No little children were used as pincushions in the course of this study. Instead, the researchers used marbelized beef as a proxy for human thigh muscle, and measured the amount of epinephrine delivered using a very precise scale.
Take home message?
Epinephrine autoinjectors are designed to be relatively forgiving of discrepancies in technique. The important thing isn't that you use them perfectly -- it's that you USE THEM.
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
With my husband traveling for work most weeks, and my own expanding allergy micropractice, I don't have a lot of time for long heart-to-hearts with my kids. However, I spend a ton of time in the car with them! Usually, we rock out to Top 40 or listen to NPR. However, my boys aren't gleaning as much from public radio as I had hoped. This week, during a story on civil rights, my 3 year old asked me, "Mommy, who is Mr. Sippy?" To which my 6 year old answered, "It's not Mr. Sippy, dumb-dumb. It's MRS. Sippy!"
Therefore, I've decided to re-purpose our time in the car to full advantage. No more hoping they will learn by osmosis. I've got to be a little more proactive. So, my new project is to find quotes that speak to me somehow, and translate each one into a 2-3 minute conversation with my boys, all in the time it takes to drive from home to daycare (or from daycare to karate, karate to home, daycare to football, football to home, etc.). I'll share them here, and I'd love for my readers to share quotes or proverbs that have held special meaning in your lives. The goal is for my children to be able to reflect back upon "car time with Mommy" as something special, rather than just a taxi service.
Today's lesson (in a nutshell): "It is far better to be interested than to be interesting."
The actual conversation went more like this: "Would you rather hang out with some who cares about you and what you're doing, or with someone who spends all their time talking about themselves and how cool they are?" (Insert child's reply here) "Right! Well, then it's important to always try to be the kind of person that you yourself would like to be friends with. People who are interested in others are always learning new things, which makes them fun and exciting to be around themselves. They also make other people feel special. How do you feel when you know you've done something to make a friend feel special?" (Insert child's reply here) "Exactly! Isn't that a wonderful feeling? Now, on the other hand, people who focus on trying to be the center of attention all the time aren't learning these new and cool things from other people, because they spend all their time talking about themselves. Who would you rather be?"
And now, we have reached the karate dojo, and my little man can reflect on this conversation while he perfects his roundhouse kicks.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
No rushing to get ready in the morning while encouraging the kids to scarf down their breakfasts! Instead, I can leisurely roll out of bed and focus my efforts on ensuring that my kids are clean, dressed and fed before heading off to school. So what if my make-up isn't done and I'm not fully dressed for work? I throw my hair into a ponytail and once my coat is on, no one is the wiser, right?
Kids notice everything.
So, I was just a little embarrassed when my son was excitedly asked by a friend, "Does your mom have pajama day at work today TOO?!?!" (Kids are crazy about pajama days.)
I looked down at myself, and what I saw was horrifying:
Instead of yoga pants, I left the house in a pair of MY HUSBAND'S PLAID PAJAMA PANTS. You know, the ones that shrunk in the wash as soon as he bought them? The ones that are so ugly that I'm forbidden to wear them when he's home? The ones that are so incredibly comfortable that I can't resist wearing them when he's NOT home? The ones that announce to my 6 year old's classmates that his mother is a lazy, unstylish frump? Yeah, THOSE pants.
Apparently, my Wednesdays have gotten a little too lazy. Some administrative tasks will have to be put on hold today, while I burn everything plaid and pay my respects at www.lululemon.com.