Friday, October 09, 2015

Bye Bye Comcast

Comcast has been our TV provider since we got married almost 11 years ago. At the time, Verizon DSL was our internet. DSL was being fazed out and eventually we added Comcast internet. One internet and one TV.

It started as a reasonable price but over the years has increased even with new promotions. Last year, it would have cost the same as Verizon FiOS so we just kept it. But this year, that changed.

The Verizon FiOS technician is on the way. He just called. For $107 a month, that includes taxes and fees locally, we'll have TWO TVs and one internet. The best Comcast could offer was $117 a month with taxes and fees included ONE TV and one internet. It would have been $127 for Zach's TV to do more then DVDs.

We are getting more for $10 less. Comcast has simply gone too far. They have gotten too greedy. With disposable income what it is in American today, price matters. In most cases, the cheapest gets the customer. As long as the quality is reasonable. These days, there are a lot of cheap things that are of good quality.

Their stock is down, they've downsized and are constantly under scrutiny for their poor customer service. I found, once you got past all the automation and buttons that need pressing, Comcast Employees were mostly nice. In fact. I wished two of them luck job searching. It's smart career planning to leave Comcast now.

The only channel that will be missed is Nick2. Zach is survive. He liked it at a time of day when SpongeBob Squarepants was on the other Nickelodeon channels. He still has other options. He also can get the same shows on demand!

Bye Bye Comcast, Hello FiOS!!!

Sunday, October 04, 2015

What Happened When The Line Was Crossed

On Friday that line was crossed. "Too long" became "long enough". If you are confused, please read the previous post named "One Year Later". Here's the quick version. It's been an awful year since Josh got laid off. Everyone has a breaking point. I hit mine on Friday.

A lot of bad things could have happened when that line was crossed. Knowing that is one of the reasons I strongly support gun control laws. What happened, was unexpected. And what I needed to rediscover my strength.

The doctor who performed Josh's hip surgery doesn't take our insurance. $12,000 bill. This wasn't going to go well. But before the surgery I explained the situation to the doctor. He said we'd "work something out." His billing department was unwilling to negotiate. Following my parent's advice, I wrote him a letter. I am just looking to pay what he would accept from an insurance company. On Friday, I brought it to him. It's the ride home that changed me.

I'm very proud to be an Episcopalian. It's like Catholicism but without the "anti" part. My church is about five minutes away from that doctor. My parents were watching Zach and what I really needed in that moment was to hug our priest. I have emailed with her a few times throughout the year. She helped me a lot this past year.

When I got there, the church was closed. Our priest was away on Friday but the Warden was there. We talked. She gave me my hug. And I walked away with one of my problems solved. I left the Parish Hall changed. It's what I needed.

I mentioned in my last post my cycle of spirituality. Bouncing between "prayer doesn't work" and "trust in God" didn't make the year easier. I was mad at God for our circumstances. But couldn't shake the feeling that it's God's plan and we will be okay. I have clarity now. I trust God. That trust has never faded. It really was fear.

When getting religious advice everyone says "it will work out, it just takes time". It's been a year. But from the beginning one fact scared me. In the past, when faced with other horrible situations, it's always taken two years to get better. It took two years and my last two miscarriages to get Zach. That's one of a few examples. A huge fear I have is that we still have another year to go. That fear has been with me since the day Josh announced he got laid off.

What happened when that line was crossed? The line from "too long" to "long enough"? I cried, I hugged and I rediscovered my spirituality. I trust God again. Actually, I learned that I never stopped trusting God. Being around people who feel the way I do about all of the serious issues, put me at peace. It reminded me of how trusting in God will help me cope with the scary things up ahead.

Monday, September 28, 2015

One Year Later

A year ago, Josh got laid off. For all of us in my family, that's the day the world crashed around us. We all need predictability and stability. I can't think of what to say next. We need predictability and stability to stay sane? stay balanced? stay focused? stay calm? I think the answer is all of the above.

Within a month, Josh started a sales job. But it was commission only and he was working seven days a week. They were very long days for all of us. It wasn't a family friendly job. So he quit after six weeks. That gave him time to job search.

In mid-January he broke his hip. Before then, he had lied to me about going back to work at his old company. In May, he lied about a new job. I think that's common for men unemployed for a long time. It's embarrassing when you are trying so hard to do the right thing. So much about job searching is out of the candidate's hands. Providing for your family is a basic male instinct that goes back to the cavemen. It doesn't go away.

In early June he came clean about still being unemployed. So that's when he started delivering pizzas. He's still doing that now in addition to a second job. I can safely say that. Because pay checks and pay stubs have been provided. He started his other current job in July.

In July he started working as a supervisor for the registers at a grocery store. But he told the general manager about his experience inspecting cheese. When the Manager of the cheese department left a couple of weeks ago, the Assistant was promoted and Josh was given the Assistant job in the cheese department.

He might be able to quit the pizza delivery job once the paycheck arrives for this job. It comes on Thursday. My fingers are crossed that it's enough to provide the basics for us! I'm nervous about him delivering pizzas in snow and ice this winter!!!!! In the meantime, he's continuing to job search.

He loves cheese. It's a comfort food for him. Being surrounded by cheese relaxes him. But this has reminded us both why Zach is banned from working in retail. You can't make enough to live off of in retail until you are an overall store manager or higher in most places. In a small amount of companies, the Assistant Manager position barely pays enough to live off of. Josh and I both have spent years working in retail with various titles. This was said after research and experience.

In the front of the store, he would have been unionized. Now, he'll have to work if there is a strike. But the hours are unpredictable. You can't plan anything. You are also away from your family for at least one weekend day and holidays. All of that is reasonable if you are making about $50,000 a year or more. But, when you are making minimum wage, it's too much to ask at $7.50/hour. People need to be able to have second jobs in that case. So their hours need to be the same every week. They also still need a day off.

Very few people who have never worked in retail understand how hard it is to do these jobs and how stressful it is to live off the pathetic pay. The ONLY retail place that acknowledges this and pays ALL of their employees a reasonable amount is Costco!!! It's no coincidence that customers are highly satisfied with the employees at Costco. If you want energetic and happy employees, you have to pay them enough to reduce their stress. Henry Ford is the most ignored genius ever!!!

What's ahead? Well, he's not looking in retail anymore. But it's been 9 months since he broke his hip. He's healed a lot. He's applying to Quality Manager jobs again. Mostly focusing on food. He checks but the FDA isn't hiring in New Jersey. We ALL hope he finds something with much more predictable hours and better pay.

Most places won't look at resumes if there isn't current employment listed. Josh has two jobs. He's reapplying to jobs from when he was unemployed. Only the jobs he's well qualified for. We are still trying to find the job that is the best fit for him. We are still putting our trust in God. But here's the irony, he's now selling the cheese he used to inspect.

What about Zach and me? How are we adjusting? The answer is that we're not really adjusted. You CAN'T adjust when it's a different routine every day. You can't adjust on the budget we've been living off of. We love Josh and know he's trying his best. But it's been too much stress and instability for too long. Zach and I are both going through a rough stretch.

I find myself pleading to God for this to end. I have questioned my faith, banned Zach from going to church, then changed my mind many times over this past year. My current stage in the cycle is on "God has a plan we have to trust Him." We were holding on. I feel my hands slipping. Zach used to have more calm moments. He hasn't in a long time. He has been playing more aggressively. Some of it is that he's a six year old boy. The rest of it is letting out his frustration.

I hope there is an end in sight. We can't do this much longer. I don't know what will happen if it crosses that line from "too long" to "long enough". But I feel it coming. God needs to prove that prayer works. He needs to stop this before that line is crossed. A good start is the paycheck we desperately need to see on Thursday!!!

I want to ask for a miracle. But that feels selfish. Miracles are for the dying. Miracles are for those born in tragic conditions. Miracles are for the homeless, poor, abused, and those struggling to conceive. But that's what we need right now to make things better.

The only thing reliable: We love each other and are in this together!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

My President Pick

I'm a Democrat. At one point in time I may have considered voting for a reasonable Republican. But in this presidential primary race, none of them are reasonable. So none will be considered.

First, an observation: Obama might still carry the Democrat label. But his policies for a long time now have been Republican. Don't vote against a Democrat because you blame him for your circumstances. He's a Republican in policy and has been for years!!! Blame the Republicans. Of course, if you follow politics, you know that already.

Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are the two most likely to beat Hilary to the big race. The only way I would vote for Hilary is if it came down to her and a Republican. But I doubt she would win at that level. I used to like her, but I was always neutral to her.

This is my order:

Martin O'Malley
Bernie Sanders
Joe Biden

Biden would be before Sanders. But he hasn't technically started running as of this post. Most people don't know who Martin O'Malley is. He's a two-term Maryland Governor that resigned in January of 2015 to run for President. The part in blue is direct from his website (link below).

Fight for Better Wages

Americans are working harder but earning less than they did 12 years ago, and wealth has concentrated in the hands of the very few as almost never before. We must fight for better wages for all workers, so that Americans can actually live on what they earn. That means raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour, increasing the threshold for overtime pay to $1,000 a week, and restoring workers’ collective bargaining power.

Me: I'm realistic. With a Republican led Congress this would never pass. But, that's the fault of the selfish, greedy, uncompromising Republicans. Not him. I have been saying this is what we need for years.

Bring Accountability to Wall Street

Despite the 2008 meltdown on Wall Street, just five banks still control half of the industry’s $15 trillion in assets, and not a single executive was ever convicted of a crime. We must reinstate Glass-Steagall, empower regulators to hold law-breakers accountable, and break up big banks before they break us. We need stronger protections for American families, not billion-dollar banks.

Me: I asked my Dad years ago about what happened with the banks. This was around the time of the bailout. He's a very intelligent man and explained it, correctly, like this, "President Bush deregulated the banks. Fewer rules, led to the circumstances we are in today. Businesses need to be regulated. Regulation protects customers".

Expand Equality of Opportunity for the Next Generation

Our country was built on the belief that no matter who you are or where you were born, your hard work should pay off. But for too many of our children, that promise is out of reach from the very start. We must close the gap by making access to safe and affordable childcare and pre-K universal, and college debt-free for all. We should also modernize high school, empowering every student to graduate with a year of college credit, an apprenticeship, or a certificate or credential for a high-pay, high-skill job.

Me: Another thing I don't actually see happening. BUT, we would be better off if it did. It's the Republicans in Congress that would get in the way. I think Pre-school should be added to all public schools (covered by taxes) and full day Kindergarten should be mandatory.

As for college, I think it should be five years but I have a reason for that. Most people go for five years as they explore what they want to be. The first year should be either internships in your desired field, or internships in a variety of fields. One month each learning about the different jobs within a field, or the different options. That will make the following four years more productive and lead to fewer drop-outs. It also means graduates would be better prepared for careers taking away a lot of employer excuses.

Strengthen our Cities and Communities

It has been decades since we embraced a real agenda for American cities and communities. Our country was not built on tax cuts; it was built on better choices, made for the common good. To make our communities more competitive and more equal, we must return to those better choices—from historic investments in infrastructure and mass-transit, to ensuring that every family has access to quality, affordable housing near good jobs and good schools.

Me: I think some of this he'll be able to accomplish even with a Republican congress. Because this is where you see your life improve in the day to day. Those are the places voters use when deciding politics.

Support Women and Families

We have an economy where too many Americans must choose between pursuing their careers and caring for their children. We have to do more to make sure that women are treated fairly and compensated equally in the workplace. Maternity leave, paternity leave, equal pay, and safe and affordable child care are not luxuries. They are the hallmarks of a strong, inclusive economy—because when women succeed, America succeeds.

Me: We are pathetic right now when compared to other countries with how parents are treated. Even when back from Maternity leave parents are more likely to get passed over. Change the laws and over time the mentality will change about Parents in the office.

Break Down Barriers That Keep Families in Poverty

It should be unacceptable that—without safety net programs—one in three American families would live in poverty. Yet, far too many Americans, including 16 million children, are locked in a cycle of poverty today. We should set a bold goal of cutting poverty in half within 10 years—and meet it through greater investments in communities, public education, critical programs like the Earned Income Tax Credit that help families get and stay on their feet.

Me: It would be a fight, but it's necessary!!! You don't know how necessary until you live on $300 a week ($15,600 a year) in an area that costs $100,000 a year to live in. That $300, is minimum wage. do THAT budget realistically.

Reform Our Immigration System

Bringing undocumented immigrants out of the shadows will grow our economy, expand our tax base, create jobs and lift wages–benefiting our country as a whole. We must boldly advance comprehensive immigration reform, while also using executive action to its full authority to end unnecessary detentions and expand deferred action. As Americans, when refugee children arrive on our doorstep, we shouldn’t turn them away—we should act like the generous, compassionate people we are.

Me: Somewhere in everyone's family, there is a child of an immigrant. I've done an immigration blog post. I doubt he'll fully get this. But there might be a compromise that makes things better. Progress can't be made until opinions change.

Protect the Dignity of Retirement

We can’t grow our economy if we resign a whole generation of our citizens to spending their golden years living in poverty. And we know for a fact that 401(k)s won’t leave enough for many seniors to live on in retirement, especially after Wall Street’s meltdown took its toll on families’ savings. Rather than reducing Social Security benefits or privatizing them, we must expand benefits so all of our seniors can retire with dignity.

Me: A reachable up-hill battle. Mainly because, ironically, so many Republican voters rely on Social Security after retirement. They are collecting less under Republican policy now. Whether they realize the connection or not. There isn't a way to save enough for retirement anymore. For a lot of people, there isn't a way to save at all....for anything. (See the comment of poverty above)

Launch a Jobs Agenda for the Climate Challenge

Clean, renewable sources of energy represent one of the biggest economic opportunities in a century. And the threat of climate change is real and immediate. We must make better choices for a more secure and independent energy future—by limiting carbon emissions, setting renewable energy targets, driving innovation, seeding new industries, and creating good local jobs.

Me: This two birds approach is reasonable and I think he can pass it!!! It creates jobs and is an easier sell for Republican voters because it means they will have reduced expenses as a result. With compromises, this can happen.

Restore Competition to Our Economy

The largest corporations have become more powerful than ever, smothering open competition, and shipping jobs and profits abroad. We need 21st century economic solutions that empower family businesses, entrepreneurs, and consumers to keep wealth within their communities, instead of sending it away to the top one percent. This should start with aggressive enforcement of our anti-trust laws. We must also say “no” to bad trade deals that would further benefit the largest corporations, while costing American workers their jobs.

Me: I think this would make a big difference in our economy. he can even get Republican support if businesses are shown they can still profit well. Income inequality is directly to blame for a lot of this country's problems. Businesses are avoiding paying taxes here, removing jobs from the country, and still controlling our Congress. It's gone too far for too long.

Put Elections Back in the Hands of American Voters

Restoring our economy requires us to revitalize our democracy. We must return to a government of, by, and for the people—one that builds an economy that works for everyone and ensures voters’ voices are heard. While fixing the Citizens United decision is important, we can’t afford to wait for a Constitutional amendment to solve the problem of out-of-control money in our political system.
We should start by embracing citizen-funded elections, to reduce the outsized influence of special interests and the very wealthy in our politics. Small donors should have their contributions matched by six-to-one or more, and be rewarded through a refundable tax credit that encourages more people to give and participate. And we should make it easier, not harder, to vote – by modernizing registration, restoring the Voting Rights Act, and tearing down barriers like ID requirements that make it difficult for people to exercise their most fundamental right.

Citizens United single handedly ruined our country. It just took a while. We need to put the power back in the ballots and remove the power from the bank accounts.

Insist on Transparent, Accountable, High-Performing Government

We must have a clearer view of the most important things our government is trying to accomplish and why. This requires clear goals that reflect what we actually value as a nation. But above all, it means our government must precisely measure its progress, and present that information in an accessible, transparent way to the public. We can use this smarter and more efficient way of governing to fight against the sway of beltway lobbyists and special interests – and to build a better government focused on delivering real, measurable results for its people.

Journalists are often writing based on personal opinion. I'd like to hear the facts and not opinions.

Reduce Threats to our National Security through a strengthened economy and middle class.

The first responsibility of the Commander in Chief is to keep America safe. And today, we face a daunting array of threats – from climate change, to cyber attacks, to violent extremism. Above all, we must understand that our strength in the world depends on our economic strength at home. Maintaining our security in the long run will require expanding the American Dream and making sure the economy works for all Americans. No fighter jet or troop battalion will keep us as safe as a vibrant economy, a strong democracy, and a growing middle class.
Eliminating the scourge of extreme poverty is a moral, economic and national security imperative. Supporting international development is a reflection of our most deeply held values, and will help us build the next generation of American political and economic partnerships. Protecting the dignity of human lives in fragile states will help reduce the threat of being drawn into costly future conflicts.

I agree fully with this. A stronger economy means a stronger middle class. There is a war on the poor on American soil. The rich versus the poor. It's a new kind of civil war that needs to end.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

A Classic Picture Day

Today was picture day at Zach's school. Stop me if any of the following reminds you of your own picture day:

1. At least one boy is wearing a tie
2. At least one cold girl who refuses to wear her sweater
3. Lining up in height order before the class picture
4. Being told to "say cheese"

Today Zach was the kid in a tie. Technically, he was one of two. His choice completely. I kept recommending a polo. I stayed for all of the 1 - 4 classes. I also held four sweaters in that time. None of them mine. In each class there also was the shortest kid. Always a girl. I had to be the one to keep asking her to move back to fit a taller kid in front. As one of the shortest, I can relate to the experience. Every time I heard "say cheese" I thought to my self "you might get more smiles if you say, 'say chocolate'".

'55, '85, ' doesn't matter when  you have your class pictures taken. There is a good chance you experienced something very similar. I'd imagine the one modification being long ago ties were required for school. Hairstyles change and cloths change (for public schools) but there are some things that never change.

So to kids everywhere:

make love to the camera

Or, as I actually said to the kids,


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Then The Rain Comes

For weeks the temperatures were in the 90s and sunny. For this area, we don't get temperatures that hot for long. Sometimes, we get them from mid-July through mid-August. That comes with a scatter in mid-late September for Indian summer. Some years never hit the 90s. But this year it did.....and lingered.

Then, today, the rain came. It's nice that it's 75 instead of 95. It was 95 on Tuesday. We can expect more rain and more temperatures in the low 80s and 70s in the next few days. With the relief the rain is bringing comes another relief.




I'm back to helping at the school. Zach is adjusting to the new school routines. It's a familiar place. It's activities we both find comfort in. That routine also calms us. That lack of routine in August rattles our nerves. Now, we are both settled again.

I literally felt my demeanor transform when I walked into the library yesterday. I had time before pick-up today so I went back to help some more. It's a comforting place for me. It's frees my OCD.

I have also started with preparing for other things I volunteered to help with. Picture day is on Tuesday. I'll be there either all morning or all afternoon. That depends on Zach's time. I have given input for possible school spirit wear. We are waiting to see what the designer comes up with to choose a theme. One of my ideas is an option. Starting October 1st I will be helping with parent lunches sometimes.

I have more coming. I am excited about all of it! Being in this environment, helping in these ways calms my nerves. I'm a different person when helping at the school. Being around these kids makes me so happy! I feel like I am where I belong. Doing what God wants me to do. Some people look for their calling. This feels like it's mine.

Because it frees my OCD. I've talked about my obsessions and compulsions before. Helping at the school in any way frees my OCD. But, the library does that the most. It is all about organization. I have a method. First I check books in. Then I put them on top of the shelves where they will go. Last, I put them away. When the kids are ready for checking out books, I'm right there for that too. I get to see each one face to face. Smile at each of them. Talk to them. Get to know who they are as a person.

Organizing calms me. Because everything has a place and I can put it there. My nerves are rattled by chaos. But that's okay. Because the chaos goes away when the books are on top of their shelves, ready to be put away.

The repetition calms my compulsions. It's not just about order, it's about getting it in order using a certain method. The librarian loves me and says my approach is very helpful and very effective. She appreciates all the extra help I give.

Zach and I both need the stability of routine to have the energy to do more of what we need to. We both get lazy when we go too long without routine. It's just not worth the effort without routine. With each passing day he seems happier and calmer. It's more comfortable inside and out here, literally. With the rain, comes inner peace.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

With Zach's First Day

Zach is in school right now. What makes that something new is that it's 1:15pm. It's not just his first day of first grade. It's his first full day of school ever. He was excited and a little scared. But was smiling all morning. We got the 10/12 sized shirt for when he grew. I let him wear it today because it's new and special to him. Somehow, it looks like it fits!

Playing before school

A coaster I made him. In case he misses me at lunch

To cope with my emotional roller coaster I added knitting to my hobbies. I had the yarn, the rest isn't so bad. I only got a pack of needles for the yarn I use and one instruction book. The online video and Annie's Catalog pages helped. Now I can do the cast row and the knit stitch. For me, it was surprisingly easier then I anticipated!

Cast row

row 1, Knit stitch

row 2 knit stitch

I miss him. I'm about to have lunch. But, it feels weird that he isn't here. August is a long month and I need to miss him. Most of our morning routines remain the same as last year. But, after school will be different. It was fun seeing him finding his friends again. A couple of them he didn't see this summer. It's the 2nd year of the most important 13 years of his life. We both have things we will learn through great teachers and practice.
But we will both be better off knowing what we are learning. It's important for him to see me try new things. It's important that he sees me try again when I fail. It's important that he sees me practice. Because those are all important life lessons.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Pizza Omelets

Have you ever realized how many things go great in Omelets or as pizza toppings? With school getting closer I haven't been in the mood for cereal for breakfast. So I've spent the last half hour mentally going through what we have that can go good with an omelet.

Multiple types of cheeses
Salsa (on top)

Unfortunately, we don't have any of those in the apartment right now. I know some of those things don't go on a pizza. I'd imaging salsa would taste weird on a pizza. Scallions might work on a pizza, but I haven't seen a pizza with scallions on it. They aren't listed in local pizza places as a topping option.

In fact, the only classic pizza toppings left off that list are black olives, meatballs, and anchovies. Both can go in an omelet, but probably wouldn't taste as good in an omelet. Maybe an anchovy omelet would make good hangover food. I smell twisted pregnancy craving!

When it comes to omelets and pizza I like them both plain with cheese. But I prefer something with it. Favorite pizza combos in our place include:

Pepperoni and Mushroom
Sausage, Pepper, and Onion
Pepper and Onion
Sausage and Mushroom
Ham and Pineapple

Favorite omelets include:

Tomato and Basil
Cheese with Salsa on top
Pepper and Onion

Both pizza and omelets are fun. They start off basic, but are fun to explore different combinations with. I know there is a lot more you can put on a pizza then in an omelet. There is a lot more listed in our pizza place's menu. That includes eggplant or penne vodka. Other places have their own combos. I just stuck with the basics for this list. There might be things I left off of the omelet list. Perhaps I mentioned an option you haven't tried but sounds good. I wonder what a ham and pineapple omelet would taste like? Creative food is fun and yummy!

Now it's time for that bowl of cereal :)!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Alternative News

I don't know what news you get, but mine basically amounts to:

1. Things you do wrong
2. People being killed or saved
3. Celebrity News
4. Natural Disasters
5. Scary health news

I'm tired of articles that either tell me how to live my life or why the author thinks my way of doing it is wrong and their way is correct. I think I once came across an article titled "You Are Brushing Your Hair Wrong". If not yet, it's coming. When did we reach a point when everyone assumes their way is the only correct way to do things? Sometimes, doing things differently is just different. But neither way is wrong. I would love to start seeing articles titled "Your Way Of Loading The Dishwasher Is GREAT!" or "No, It Doesn't Matter How You Hang The Toilet Paper"

Whether it's about death or survival, most of these articles are sad. Very sad. I'm happy about the survival stories, but angry that the survivor went through it to being with. All of this sad news needs to be countered. Why can't happy articles be news? How about posting articles like "Mama Bunny Seen With Babies" complete with a picture.

Mundane is a part of life. What's wrong about an article covering the health benefits of walking to school? Every walking to school article I read is about a kidnapped kid. In my town, most kids walk and no one has been kidnapped. Instead of instilling a fear of healthy behavior in parents with fearful articles, how about showing the other side of the statistic. X percent of kidnappings might happen when walking to or from school. But what about the Y percent of walks to school that are uneventful? Y is a much higher number then X. Do an article highlighting that.

Celebrities are people. They might not live "normal" lives but they live their lives. There are marriages, divorces, kids, new relationships. Good for them. But I find knowing too much about a celebrity's personal life ruins their work for me. When watching a movie or TV show I like to get wrapped in the world. It makes it more enjoyable. But I can't enjoy the illusion of Penny and Leonard knowing the actress is married. I'm happy for her. But I just don't want to know about it. The same is true for music.

I know some people love celebrity news. Perhaps more cryptic headlines won't ruin it for people like me while providing the celebrity gossip other people like. They can try "Jennifer Aniston has big news!" With any picture being a generic picture of the celebrity so it doesn't give the news away. Someone like me won't be bothered but celebrity readers will excitedly jump right in!

All I can do for natural disasters is pray. There seems to always be one going on somewhere. With each one I share fear with those living through it. I feel just as helpless about not being able to stop it. It's important to report about natural disasters. But years later the news is all about the recovery that DIDN'T happen yet. I want to read about the part that is back to normal. "Pictures of California's Post-Fire Recovery". Those pictures could show the area effected when almost everything is rebuilt and nature is mostly healed.

I don't know about you, but I can't go a day without reading about some sort of scary health news. It's important to know about these things. But often the threat is exaggerated in these articles. The statistics are listed. But often downplayed. Apparently, fear sells. Instead of only reading about every bottle of Tylenol being recalled, I'd like it countered with calming news. "Walgreen's Acetaminophen Is Safe" At least it would inform us what we CAN use. If you are going to warn people not to use something, offer an equivalent alternative!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Literally Big Headed..........Hydrocephalus

Josh was born with Hydrocephalus. I know he's been through a lot in his life. Before my research, this is what I do know. He has excess brain fluid in his brain. He has a shunt that drains that fluid out so he doesn't literally drown himself. Josh had some major issues with his shunt when he was still growing. But it hasn't been a problem in our 17 years together. They check it with x-rays and CT scans. He also is more likely to get headaches.

Because of the fluid, he has a big head. I'm working on crocheting him a winter hat. I was iffy about doing it because he rarely wears hats. But the more progress I make, the more excited he is about having a hat that fits properly. The notes for this hat say a man's hat should be for a 23" head circumference. Josh's head clocked in at 24.5"!!! To be fair, part of it is genetics. Zach's is supposed to be 19" - 20" but slightly bigger for winter growth measured at my size of 22". The average for a woman.

Josh is a very capable person. When he feels sick, we check for the signs of an issue. But he can still do a lot of things. His hip is a bigger issue then his Hydrocephalus is. He's recently joined the Hydrocephalus Association. He takes comfort in answering questions parents of kids with Hydrocephalus have. If you have any questions about the shunt or Hydrocephalus, post them in the comment section. Josh will answer them for you.

But now I've decided to figure out how much of what I know is correct. Below is the link to the Hydrocephalus Association. Under it, is the link that talks about Hydrocephalus. But the website has a lot of great resources. If you or someone you know has Hydrocephalus, it's worth checking out the website.

I'm right about the excess brain fluid part.

Hydrocephalus is an abnormal accumulation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) within cavities in the brain called ventricles. Cerebrospinal fluid is produced in the ventricles and in the choroid plexus. It circulates through the ventricular system in the brain and is absorbed into the bloodstream. This fluid is in constant circulation and has many functions, including to surround the brain and spinal cord and act as a protective cushion against injury. It contains nutrients and proteins necessary for the nourishment and normal function of the brain, and carries waste products away from surrounding tissues.

Hydrocephalus occurs when there is an imbalance between the amount of CSF that is produced and the rate at which it is absorbed. As the CSF builds up, it causes the ventricles to enlarge and the pressure inside the head to increase.

With more research I learned that it can be detected during pregnancy in an ultrasound. CT scans and MRIs check the ventricle size. The x-rays they do are checking the shunt.

A shunt provides an alternative fluid pathway through which CSF bypasses an obstruction(s) in the fluid compartments of the brain, and acts when CSF absorption is otherwise impaired. Such a bypass relieves the excess fluid buildup that is responsible for hydrocephalus. When CSF production and absorption are in balance, hydrocephalus is considered “compensated”; when out of balance, complications associated with elevated pressure or overdrainage occur— causing the signs of a malfunctioning shunt.

I'm not going to post all of the information about complications with shunt systems. It's too much information. Use the above link for that information. But a lot can effect a working shunt.

1. Shunt Malfunctions
2. Shunt Infection
3. Over drainage
4. Under drainage
5. Subdural hematoma
6. Multiloculated hydrocephalus
7. Seizures
8. Abnormal Complications

But I am going to post the symptoms of a malfunctioning shunt. They are found at the bottom of the "Shunt Systems" link. The shunt is crucial to treating Hydrocephalus.

Symptoms of Shunt Malfunction:

InfantsToddlersChildren and AdultsAdults Living with NPH
  • Enlargement of the baby’s head
  • Fontanel is full and tense when the infant is upright and quiet
  • Prominent scalp veins
  • Swelling along the shunt tract
  • Vomiting
  • Irritability
  • Sleepiness
  • Downward deviation of the eyes
  • Less interest in feeding
  • Head enlargement
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Irritability and/or sleepiness
  • Swelling along the shunt tract
  • Loss of previous abilities (sensory or motor function)
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Vision problems
  • Irritability and/or tiredness
  • Personality change
  • Loss of coordination or balance
  • Swelling along the shunt tract
  • Difficulty in waking up or staying awake
  • Decline in academic performance
  • Return of symptoms that were present before shunt was placed