Tag Archives: doctor

That Bites! Pet Safety

20 Jul

A good friend’s son recently got a nasty bite on the hand from his Nana’s pooch, a typically well-behaved creature that weighs all of 9 lbs.  The bite required four stitches—and the nurse practitioner who stitched the kid up said he was lucky.

It makes you think.  My 5-year-old likes dogs.  We have a 16-lb. Shiba Inu (a puny relative of the Husky and Akita) who’s had her tail pulled, her ears tugged and been teased.  She’s nipped Chip a couple of times—and I can hardly say I blame her for it!  None of the bites has occurred in a vacuum; each can be traced to something my son’s done.

Then I read this story from UT Southwestern Medical Center, which includes Children’s Medical Center in Dallas.  And now I’m worried:

Dog bites occur more often than pet owners might realize.  An estimated 4.7 million people are bitten each year.  Children are the most common victims, and summer is the most common season for these incidents.

“It’s surprising how many times it occurs, and the majority of dog bites aren’t from strays,” says Dr. Ron Hoxworth, a plastic surgeon at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

He said dogs by nature remain territorial, especially when eating, and young children are both unpredictable in their actions and less able to protect themselves.

Children are often bitten on the face, which can result in severe lacerations, infection and permanent scarring.  In 2010, most of the nearly 33,000 reconstructive procedures from dog bites were performed on children.

Dr. Hoxworth recommends the following precautions:

• Watch your children carefully around dogs, even family pets.

• Make sure kids avoid getting close to a pet when it is eating.

• Keep children’s immunizations and pet vaccinations up to date.

• Don’t delay treatment if a bite occurs.  If severe bleeding results, take your child to a hospital emergency room immediately.

I am open to suggestions on how to approach pet safety—at home and out in the community!  It’s a discussion our household needs to have asap!

Autism Awareness Month: Where to Find Help

26 Apr

As I know firsthand, an autism diagnosis typically terrifies most parents.  From daily realities to dreams of the future, moms, dads and siblings must process the news and begin adjusting their expectations.  My advice: give yourself time to grieve then reach out for help.  (I wasn’t good at either one of those; I’m convinced I would have fared better if I’d just let myself feel crummy after my now-15-year-old daughter, Paige, was diagnosed as a preschooler.  I shut down instead.)

Here is an abbreviated list of resources from Autism Speaks, the nationwide advocacy group that might help you or a friend coping with a new diagnosis.  For more, visit autismspeaks.org:

Autism Research Institute (ARI)
Founded in 1967 by Dr. Bernard Rimland, ARI conducts and fosters scientific research designed to improve the methods of diagnosing, treating, and preventing autism.  ARI also disseminates research findings to parents and others worldwide seeking help.  One of ARI’s primary projects, DAN! conferences share information and ideas toward defeating autism as quickly as possible.

Autism Society of America (ASA)
ASA exists to improve the lives of all affected by autism.  They do this by increasing public awareness about the day-to-day issues faced by people on the spectrum, advocating for appropriate services for individuals across the lifespan, and providing the latest information regarding treatment, education, research and advocacy.

Defeat Autism Now (DAN!)
A project of the Autism Research Institute, DAN! meetings bring together physicians and scientists from around the world to develop advanced methods of diagnosis and treatment.  DAN! Conferences and practitioner trainings are held twice a year.

Families for Early Autism Treatment (FEAT) or www.featnt.org/home.php.
FEAT is a non-profit organization of parents, educators, and other professionals dedicated to providing Education, Advocacy and Support for the North Texas autism community.

First Signs
First Signs is dedicated to the early identification and intervention of children with developmental delays and disorders.  The organization provides a wealth of resources ranging from healthy development to concerns about a child: from the screening and referral process, to treatments for autism spectrum disorders.  Their stated goal is to improve screening and referral practices and to lower the age at which young children are identified with autism and other developmental disorders.

Generation Rescue
Generation Rescue was formed in 2005 by parents of children who have been diagnosed with childhood neurological disorders including autism, ADHD and other learning disabilities.  Their belief is that most of these conditions are environmental illnesses that can be treated through biomedical intervention.

National Autism Association (NAA)
NAA’s mission is to educate and empower families affected by autism and other neurological disorders, while advocating on behalf of those who cannot fight for their own rights.  They aim to educate society that autism is not a lifelong incurable genetic disorder but one that is biomedically definable and treatable.  Their efforts include raising public and professional awareness of environmental toxins as causative factors in neurological damage that often results in an autism or related diagnosis.

Organization for Autism Research (OAR)
OAR was created in 2001 by parents and grandparents who shared a common belief that applied research would answer the questions that parents, families, individuals with autism, teachers and caregivers confront daily.  No other autism organization has this singular focus.

Talk About Curing Autism (TACA)
TACA provides information, resources, and support to families affected by autism.  For families who have just received the autism diagnosis, TACA aims to speed up the cycle time from the autism diagnosis to effective treatments.  TACA helps to strengthen the autism community by connecting families and the professionals who can help them.

Autism Awareness Month, Part I: What is Autism?

5 Apr

Eleven years ago this month, my daughter, Paige, was diagnosed with autism or Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), the preferred medical term back then.  I’ll never forget the day at the Cook Children’s neurology office.  My mother had flown in from California for the appointment, which we’d waited six months to get.  My husband took off from work.  The grim-faced doctor made autism sound like a death sentence.  I cried so hard and so much it looked like I’d been to a funeral, even days afterward.

It felt like one, too.  What the doctor didn’t tell us—couldn’t have, of course—is that autism would become just another fact in our life, like Paige’s blue eyes or that I write for a living.  No one could have known that autism would define us in some ways—from the schools Paige would attend to our constant search for appropriate therapies and services—and not in others (we go places, have friends, live life!).

Along this journey, which I plan to discuss in detail during this month’s posts, I have been asked the most fundamental of questions countless times: what is autism?  Here is how Autism Speaks defines this condition that 1 in 110 American children will be diagnosed with this year.  (For more, visit www.autismspeaks.org.):

What is Autism?

Autism is a general term used to describe a group of complex developmental brain disorders known as Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD).  The other pervasive developmental disorders are PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified), Asperger’s Syndrome, Rett Syndrome and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder.  Many parents and professionals refer to this group as Autism Spectrum Disorders.

How common is Autism?

Today, it is estimated that one in every 110 children is diagnosed with autism, making it more common than childhood cancer, juvenile diabetes and pediatric AIDS combined.  An estimated 1.5 million individuals in the U.S. and tens of millions worldwide are affected by autism.  Government statistics suggest the prevalence rate of autism is increasing 10-17 percent annually.

What causes Autism?

The simple answer is we don’t know.  The vast majority of cases of autism are idiopathic, which means the cause is unknown.

The more complex answer is that just as there are different levels of severity and combinations of symptoms in autism, there are probably multiple causes.  The best scientific evidence available to us today points toward a potential for various combinations of factors causing autism – multiple genetic components that may cause autism on their own or possibly when combined with exposure to as yet undetermined environmental factors.  Timing of exposure during the child’s development (before, during or after birth) may also play a role in the development or final presentation of the disorder.

There is a growing interest among researchers about the role of the functions and regulation of the immune system in autism – both within the body and the brain.  Piecemeal evidence over the past 30 years suggests that autism may involve inflammation in the central nervous system.  There is also emerging evidence from animal studies that illustrates how the immune system can influence behaviors related to autism.  Autism Speaks is working to extend awareness and investigation of potential immunological issues to researchers outside the field of autism as well as those within the autism research community.

The February Prayer Project – The Dreaded “N-” Word

15 Feb

More than Mothers writer Lisa chronicles her thought-provoking experiment in faith and friendship in “The February Prayer Project.”  Here is Part Three of her four-part story.  Click here for Part Two.

One notion haunted me the first weeks of the February Prayer Project, wherein I challenged Jen, Lori and myself to pray for a whole month to see if it mattered.

What if God was telling me, “no”?

I’d heard the dreaded “n-” in the past. And it hurts. Bad.

My daughter, Paige, was diagnosed with autism in the spring of 2000. Both my husband and I knew she had serious developmental delays. Paige made plenty of sounds but very few words. She made eye contact but couldn’t sustain it like a glancing blow. She rarely looked up when you called her name.

For months, I’d prayed—down on my knees, tears in my eyes—for God to fix whatever was wrong. After all, He’d parted the Red Sea for Moses, sent manna from heaven for the Israelites. Through His son, He’d given sight to the blind and brought Lazarus back from the dead. Couldn’t He—shouldn’t He—intervene on behalf of an innocent little girl?

If He did, I couldn’t see it. In April 2000, a pediatric neurologist with the bedside manner of a third-world despot informed us: a) Paige had autism; b) there was no cure; c) we should start saving now for institutionalized care.

A decade later, those wounds can still feel raw. And in February 2011, as my dearest friends were praying during a project I’d dreamed up, I kept mulling this singular, terrifying idea:

What if God says no?

Like a good parent, He could have plenty of reasons to deny a request. The heroin addict who begs the Almighty to win the lottery? You can see how a huge infusion of cash could lead to the winner’s demise. The freshman who didn’t study for her geometry exam? Giving her an easy A could set a bad precedent, ultimately hindering her growth.

But Paige?

All that’s to say I was gun-shy about asking God for much of anything. I didn’t think He’d ignored me where Paige was concerned. I thought he said, “Sorry, sister,” which somehow felt worse.

But in February 2010, I began seeing a bit more nuance in my daughter’s disability. How God has provided everything she truly needs—great teachers, skilled therapists, compassionate sitters, savvy doctors (minus the aforementioned neurologist, whom we never saw again). God has also used her situation to shape who I am. I listen better because when you have a child with such significant communication problems, you develop a keen ear. I have used her situation to vet my friends, too. If Paige makes them uncomfortable (or if that’s what I perceive), I’m far less interested in the relationship. She and I, in effect, are a package deal. Over the past decade, anytime I have asked God for strength or guidance in solving a Paige-related problem, He has shown me the way.

To that end, I began to feel gratitude for the gifts her autism has given me.

Sometimes a “no” turns out alright in the end.

Arlington’s MLK Celebration

10 Jan

The city of Arlington celebrates the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in a big way.  This year, 4 days of events commemorate this national holiday and honor Dr. King.

Friday, January 14: “Sharing the Dream” Awards Banquet and Kick-Off Celebration

Saturday, January 15: MLK Step Competition, “Sharing the Dream” Multicultural Festival, and an Evening of Spoken Word Slam Poetry

Sunday, January 16: Hubert Moss Memorial Ecumenical Service

Monday, January 17: MLK Day of Service, “Sharing the Dream” Youth Musical Extravaganza

For more details and ticket information, click here.

Are You Giving Your Child the Right Amount of Medicine?

2 Dec

The following article was found on http://www.wfaa.com, and can be linked to directly by clicking here.

About one third of all emergency room visits for children under 12 involve over-the-counter medication, according to the CDC.

Some 70,000 children under 18 are rushed to the ER every year because of an overdose.  In 2008, the CDC launched a program called PROTECT, to prevent unintentional overdoses in children.  It called for improving packaging for over-the-counter medicines and refining dosing measurements.

However, those guidelines were voluntary.

A study started shortly after their announcement has found little has changed.

Researchers tested about 200 pediatric, over-the-counter liquid medications.

Their study, printed in the “Journal of the American Medical Association,” found something wrong with nearly 99 percent of the labels and measuring products tested.

They found problems with the measuring markings in 98 percent of them.  Some indicated milliliters, others teaspoons, and some — nothing at all.

An unscientific test conducted by News 8 of pediatric liquid medicine also shows that different devices often measure doses differently.

It’s not only confusing for parents, Baylor Carrollton Dr. Bill Paruolo says, it’s potentially dangerous for children.

“If you’re doing something like Tylenol or acetaminophen,” says Dr. Paruolo, “Giving too much of that medicine too often, yea, it could make a difference.”

Researchers are calling for standardized measuring devices and directions for all over-the-counter pediatric medicines.

Two-year old Vivian’s parents are cautious before giving their little girl medicine, even for a suspected cold.

“I sometimes feel like you’re so careful not to give them too much,” says Jennifer Anguiano, Vivian’s mother, “But with those cups and stuff I sometimes feel like it’s not enough and that’s why it’s not working.”

In her daughter’s case, the over-the-counter stuff wouldn’t have helped.  Vivian needed a breathing treatment.

Doctors prescribe medication based on weight.  If the dosing directions are confusing, experts recommend contacting a pediatrician that can advise an exact amount of medicine to give a child.

So how do you know if the cup, syringe, or dropper you use is accurate?

In a study to test these devices, participants were asked to measure medicine. The most accurate was found to be the oral syringe; 67 percent got the correct measurement using it.

Only 15 percent got an accurate dose using a cup.

Three Words that Will Change Your Life

3 Nov

Part 4 from guest blogger Erika, writing about her experience undergoing IVF (in vitro fertilization)!  To see her previous blog entry, click here.

There are certain phrases that we hear that can change your life in an instant….”I love you,” “You are married,” “You are hired,” and my new favorite, “You are pregnant.”  I knew that hearing those magical words would be incredible, but I didn’t realize the intensity.

Yesterday after I almost had a complete melt down at work waiting to hear those three magical words, I finally arrived home and pulled up in the drive way.  Tim met me outside with the biggest smile on his face.  It was a smile that I have never seen before.  We’ve been together almost 8 years, so I thought I’d seen everything.  Honestly, you would have thought that the Rangers had won the World Series with the excitement that he showed.  When he walked up to me, I asked, “Are we pregnant?” and he said “Yes.”  We hugged and I, of course, cried.  It was the most amazing feeling I had ever felt.

I know I am only 4 weeks pregnant and we have 36 weeks to go and it’s not usually customary to share this “personal” news so early.  But I feel you have been on this journey with me and deserve to share in the excitement.  I only hope that my babies are growing healthy and will stay put for the full term.  The amazing Dr. K said that my HCG level is 296 which is really good.

So next steps: I have another blood test this Friday and the following one.  Then the exciting stuff starts to happen….we will have our first sonogram at 7 weeks to hear the heart beat or maybe two. 🙂

Thanks again for all your prayers and thoughts.  The man upstairs definitely heard you.

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