Friday, September 27, 2013

Young and Old


I shared last week that in some ways this could be the month of the young, with all the awareness days for children in September. But that’s not all, it’s also the month for Alzheimer’s awareness.

I think it’s appropriate because in a way, Alzheimer’s turns people back into children who need special care. I’m not sure if I’ve shared this or not, but my grandmother had Alzheimer’s.

She came to live with us so we could care for her. I was still pretty young, but my sisters were in high school and one came to be her companion. She got some money from the government and like a child, the day it came in, they would go for candy. Sneaking through the woods and the apartment complex at the end of our neighborhood, they would walk to the local Tom Thumb and get penny and nickel candy.

It was something we did as children whenever we got hold of some money and could get away. She left us and eventually went into a home to care for people with Alzheimer’s.

Now I wish I had spent more time with her. It’s the regret of youth. We don’t know how precious time is until we are older.

I have wanted to do an Alzheimer’s Awareness walk for several years in memory of my grandmother but it’s never worked out. This year the walk is October 12 just a couple weeks away. I have another friend who is experiencing Alzheimer’s with her mother right now. I think I’ll ask her if we can walk together.

If you want to know about walks in your area, go to the Alzheimer’s Association website, where there’s a map for the United States listing all the walks for each state. Some were this month, but many are still to come in October and November.

You can also put “End ALZ” as your Facebook picture. I did. It’s something small to raise awareness of this dreaded disease. Glen Campbell stepped forward to share his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s with the world. Please share your wisdom, strength, and hope with each other this Alzheimer’s month. God Bless!

 

                                       

 

Friday, September 20, 2013

The Month for Kids


I have written before about what it was like when my son had a malignant skin cancer at the age of five. Thankfully, God saved him for another purpose in life, but September is a month to think about children of all ages because it’s the month for childhood cancer, infant mortality, newborn screening, and childhood obesity awareness.

I remember when he was just born and a nurse came into our room and took his foot and pierced it. She squeezed out his blood and his cries made me twinge in horror. What could be so important that the nurse had to do that to him? I found out later that pinprick could have made the difference in his life if he had one of the diseases that they test for at newborn screening.
These tests are for diseases you don’t notice when you see a newborn baby, but they can prevent healthy development and lifelong impairment according to KidsHealth. There are no federal standards for this but most states screen for about 30 diseases.
A friend of mine just had a baby a few days ago. She had experienced many miscarriages and this baby coming to term was a true miracle. But the vigilance is not over now. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 25,000 babies each year die before they turn one, some from birth defects, some from preterm birth during their first year, some from pregnancy complications or injuries and some from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).

Billboards across my town have shown a woman in a turtle neck asking people not to let her be the last one to see their baby. She is a coroner who sees babies die from cosleeping all too often.

I need to warn my friend about cosleeping, or sleeping with your baby. I never did it because I wanted to keep our bed for my husband and I, but now I’m glad we decided that because I know it could have saved my son’s life.

I also wanted to mention that this month is National Childhood Obesity Awareness month. My son is not obese. But he does spend a lot of time in front of the computer or TV. He also does not have physical education for the first time this year.

I’ve tried to start a walking time for us as a family to exercise, but a lot of time my husband or I are not around to do it. He does martial arts three nights a week and I play tennis one night. We are modeling exercise but not making it a part of our life with our son.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t want to do tennis or martial arts with us. So, we need to step up and find something to do with him. Walking is the natural choice. It’s easy, fairly quick to do, and we have a great neighborhood for it. First, though I think I need to use the Screen Time Chart you can get from the National Institute of Health to show my husband and son how much screen time our son actually gets per day. I’m going to print it out and use it.

I hope he never has a recurrence of his cancer, but if he does, I just might need another service I found out about recently Compass to Care. They provide transportation to treatment for the families of kids with cancer. We had to go to another state for our son’s surgery and 40 percent of children diagnosed with cancer do not have an oncologist within 60 miles of them.

I stuffed a lot into one post today about kids and didn’t talk so much about volunteering and charity. Whenever I mention a topic relating to health, there is usually an organization that needs your help, either volunteering or money, but there’s another issue that’s always there—awareness. This week I’m letting people know about these issues to help prevent them becoming problems. Have a great weekend and God Bless.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Empowered by God

Do you ever feel like there are too many issues out there for you to make a difference? Believe it or not, I’ve felt this way before, especially with my knowledge of all the things going on in the charity world.

For instance, last week, there were three different things I wanted to talk about—National Literacy Day on the 8th, September 11 as a day of service, and National Suicide Prevention Week. If you “tuned in” last week, you know I settled on the latter.

Why? Simply because I’ve written about the other two and hadn’t written about the third one yet. I felt like it was time. On the tenth anniversary of September 11, I definitely focused on that and as a former English teacher, I’ve written about literacy throughout the year.

The two other issues are important to me. I buy my books from Better World Books because I know they give books to people that need them and provide literacy programs throughout the world. I also made brownies and cookies for my local firefighters on September 11.

This month is full of awareness days and I won’t get to them all, but I’ll do my best.

In the meantime, what do you do when you feel overwhelmed by all the charity issues around you? Some advocate choosing one issue and focusing on it. I do that. Cancer research and prevention is my main issue because there has been a lot of cancer in my family. I have volunteered at the American Cancer Society, captained a Relay for Life team, and given to cancer causes on a regular basis.

But that’s not enough for me.

I also sometimes feel a pull on my heart to do something for another cause. There’s nothing wrong with that and in fact, that could be God guiding you through the Holy Spirit to do something He wants you to do.

We all do many things to help others—buy Girl Scout cookies, get a raffle ticket or silent auction item, let a neighbor borrow our weed whacker, visit an elderly person who can’t get out, donate some cans at Thanksgiving to local food banks.

I want you to know that God appreciates every single, little thing you do to help others. He values your care and concern for others. He wants you to be His hands and feet.

The little things we do, like buying books from Better World or making some brownies for the firefighters add up to big things to God.

This month is Hunger Action Month and our church will be donating money and food to fill up our local pantries. I may only bring a few cans as a donation, but maybe that’s all I can do. God will take that one, small action and multiply it for good. He’ll do it for you, too. So, don’t feel overwhelmed. Feel empowered by God. God Bless, everyone!

Friday, September 6, 2013

1-800-273-TALK

My life is wonderful. I have a loving husband, a growing child, and a variety of activities taking care of them, helping others, and stretching my mind and abilities. Most importantly, I love God and know He loves me. This was not always the case.

When I was in my twenties, I had a hard time finding a good job (the economic recession of that day was in effect), no boyfriend, and I struggled to make ends meet and enjoy my life. After being thrown out of my parent’s house, I moved from place to place and job to job (neither by choice) for over a year. On top of that, I had been in a car accident and had recurring pain with which I dealt.
At one point, I was so depressed with the way my life was going, that I considered taking my life. What brought me back from the brink of such an action was that I felt some connection to my nephew (who was a young boy at the time), and I knew that everyone in my family would be negatively affected by my act. The memory of his sweet face and the knowledge that I could be starting a pattern that would influence others stopped me.
I didn’t have an ideal childhood. My father was an alcoholic and my parents fought often. He was abusive and my mother depressed. At one point, she took an overdose of pills and ran out of the house. I had to find her and get her to the hospital.
She was in her forties then. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, the highest rate of suicide is among adults 45 to 54. But suicide also ranks third as a cause of death among Americans aged 15 to 24 behind accidents and homicides.
 
The thing is, depression affects so many people. According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), 9.5% or 20.9 million American adults suffer from a depressive illness in any given year. However, according to the World Health Organization, less than 25% of individuals with depression receive adequate treatment.
 
I was one of the lucky 25 percent. As I’ve already talked about, I found out that I was manic depressive when I was 25 and I’ve been on medication ever since.

Next week is about helping others who were where my mother and I were. It’s
National Suicide Prevention Week. Across the country, there are walks and other activities to raise money and awareness for suicide prevention. You can find out about some of them at the National Association of Suicidology.
 
If you or anyone you know has been thinking about suicide as an answer, call or give them this number 1-800-273-TALK (8255). I saw a great, short pneumonic device on the National Suicide Prevention Week Facebook page for the SIGNS that someone may be thinking of suicide. Sleep disturbance, Isolation, Giving away possessions, No interest in anything, and Seeing no future.
 
I never knew how happy I could be, but it took time for me to get here, time I wouldn’t have had if I’d succeeded in ending my life. Thank God I didn’t! God Bless, everyone.