Thursday, October 10, 2013

Updates Are Coming

Lots of changes are being made to update buttons, tickers, and such so that as I get back into the swing of blogging we're not surrounded by outdated things.  Check out the polls on in the sidebar to add your input!

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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Five Years

Warning* this is a heart wrenching story about a lost love one.

Today marks the 5th year without our dear friend Raf.  It still feels like I lost a limb.

I can still picture Ed's STUPID expression when he asked me why I was home from work- even though I had called to tell him what had happened.  The pure disbelief on his face and the heartache I felt when I had to tell him again.  On the phone I said, "Raf had a seizure in his sleep" and Ed, the optimist, interpreted that as "Raf is in the hospital and everything will be fine".  At home, I forced myself to say it- "Raf died." and watched as Ed fell apart like I had at work.  As those words passed through my lips, the raw emotion was overwhelming.  I had been avoiding those cold words all day but it's what Ed needed to hear to make it real for him.  All of it felt so surreal that I hoped I could just wake up and everything would be normal again.

I can still see him spinning around in his chair, facing me, while reciting his opening call script with that big goofy grin on his face.  I will never forget staring at his empty chair and hoping it was all a dream.  I can still hear his voice- especially him singing along to sublime in the van.  Pushing the van, that same night, was pretty hilarious.  Stupid van.  Stupid alternator- dying in the middle of a downpour like that.  It was awful but now I'm glad that I had those few extra hours with him that I would not have otherwise had had my van not decided to die at his house.

I can still hear him say, "Tell Samwise I said what's up" as we left work.  He always said that Ed reminded him of a hobbit and that was his way of saying, "tell Ed I said hi".  I can still see his face and that grin at the bar- OH MY GOD that grin.  He was so happy as his head bobbed back and forth to the music.  I'm glad that I have such an awesome last memory of him.

I wish I could forget having to explain to Adam why Raf wasn't coming to visit anymore.  Watching a 6 year break down into tears like that ripped me apart.  Logan doesn't even remember him which is bittersweet. He doesn't get to have the fond memories we do but he also doesn't hurt whenever he thinks about him.

He loved my kids and my heart hurts when I think about how he never got to meet Xander or Dean.  He'd think Xander was awesome, I know it.

A friendship that started 10+ years ago in a gaming store ended too soon.  We lost touch for awhile but when he turned up in my training class at work, Ed, Raf and I became very close.  He was family to us and we only had that closeness for a few short months but I cherish those moments that we did have.

R.I.P. Rafael Santizo October 6th 2008  We miss you homie and we will never forget you.

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Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Why is Informed Consent Important?

Why don't you just listen to your doctor, s/he did go to school for many years and they know what they're talking about!  If it wasn't safe, the doctor wouldn't have prescribed/done/said it.  Why don't you just leave the researching to the doctor?

Many of us have heard these questions over and over again and it can be frustrating when you're met with these questions after sharing a story of "misinformed" consent or forced medical care.

Informed consent is important for a number of reasons.  We should have all of the necessary information regarding risks, benefits, alternatives, etc before consenting to any procedure or treatment.  I talk about this a lot with regards to pregnancy and childbirth but this transcends beyond the maternal healthcare field as well.

Doctors, nurses, PA's, etc all do go to school for many years and they often do know what they're talking about but they are human beings and human beings make mistakes.  Sometimes doctors do not go to continuing education courses to learn updated information, sometimes providers have heard anecdotal stories from peers or have experiences outside of the norm and develop a bias that causes them to disagree with current evidence-based practices, sometimes they just aren't familiar with something and give inaccurate information based on guesses and assumptions, and sadly, sometimes they're just following the money.

Nobody is perfect- including those who work in health care.  They may talk big sometimes but don't let their confidence fool you, sometimes they are just dead wrong.

Dr. Google can be a very bad thing for some people.  It can often be fuel for people with Munchhausen's as well.  I agree that your typical hypochondriac probably should not Google their symptoms but for some of us, it has been a lifesaving resource.  I diagnosed my sons medical conditions before the doctors did- without me advocating for him, he would not be receiving the treatment he is today.
Photo courtesy of The Soft Landing

Of course, this doesn't mean you should never trust a doctor but a good, trustworthy doctor will always give you the information you need to make an informed decision.  If you ask a doctor for statistics, drug risks, or evidence to back up a claim and they "can't" or won't give the information to you, you cannot trust that doctor; fire them.

Last week, I visited a local emergency department for the worst migraine I've ever had.  I went to the E.R. with hopes that they would actually look into why I'm having these debilitating headaches- instead, they just offered treatment and then sent me home.

I was happy to feel better, however; before obtaining the treatment, I notified the provider that I was breastfeeding my 7 month old and that all medications would need to be safe- especially since my little one does not regularly take bottles and I was unsure as to whether or not he would take one for me.  Plus, I only had 8 oz of expressed breast milk and preferred not to introduce formula when I didn't have to.

She said she would let "them" know and disappeared.  A nurse came in to start an IV and some meds to treat the migraine.  While she was prepping the IV, long before she even added the drugs to the bag, I confirmed that they were not contraindicated for breastfeeding.  She said they were fine and explained what each was for: Benedryl to help calm and relax me, Toradol for the pain, and Compazine (she used the generic term) for the headache.  She explained that Compazine is actually an antiemetic but has an added benefit of helping with headaches- much like my son's hydroxyzine for his allergies also works to reduce his nausea even though it's not the actual purpose of the drug.

As I was in no condition to verify these things on my own, I was relying heavily on the staff to provide me with accurate information.  I nodded and let her go about relieving my pain as my mom sat along side me with my infant and toddler.  She had come with me so that I could breastfeed the baby as needed.

Shortly after the nurse left, a PA entered and introduced herself and let me know that I would be unable to breastfeed FOR 24 HOURS.

Confused, I told her that I'm fairly certain that I received Toradol after my c-section and I was definitely breastfeeding then.  Surely the nurses in the Mom & Baby unit weren't giving me something unsafe?!?!  She said that both the Toradol and the Compazine were not safe while breastfeeding.  Panicked, I insisted that I had been previously told that these drugs were fine.  She rushed off to double check while my mom packed up to bring the boys home and wait for my older children to get off the school bus.

I spent the next, actually, I have no idea how long it was but it felt like an eternity, alone in that hospital room experiencing the scariest drowsiness/grogginess ever.  I was in a state of sleepiness where, for whatever reason, I was fighting the sleep because every time I drifted off, I woke up terrified.  I've had Benedryl and Toradol before so I suspect it was from the Compazine which has a laundry list of scary side effects that I was never counseled about.

When the PA returned, her new claim was that I would not be able to breastfeed and would need to "pump and dump" for 48 HOURS!  This was even worse!  She did say that the Toradol was fine but that it was the Compazine they were worried about.

I told her, that I wish I had known this before they gave it to me.  I would have refused treatment.

She went on to say that it was "category C" (a pregnancy categorization) and that it the risks were unknown.  I told her that if I would attempt to give him a bottle but I may have no choice other than to breastfeed him and I made it quite clear that I was not happy about this situation.

I came home and called the Infant Risk Center because they offer evidence-based information regarding breastfeeding and medication as per Dr. Hale's findings.

The person I spoke with said it is classified as an L3 (the proper lactation category) because the risks are unknown.  She then went on to explain that Dr. Hale says it peaks in the breast milk between 4-6 hours and that based on it's half life, half of it would be eliminated from the breast milk within 8-10 hours.  She also said that the quantity that passes into breast milk with one dose of Compazine is expected to be very low and that if I were to nurse my son, she recommended that I wait at least 8-10 hours.

I was able to get my son to take a bottle for the next 10 hours (thanks to some donated milk from a close friend) but at 11:58 p.m., he was unwilling to take another bottle so I had very little choice and was left having to nurse him despite the lack of safety studies on this drug.  I had to nurse him again at 5:00 the next morning and throughout the rest of the 48 hours as he kept pushing the bottle away, making it clear that he wanted nothing to do with it.

I find myself upset with the fact that I was misled and put in a position where I had to nurse my son and hope for the best that the medication would not harm him.  I do not believe anything malicious took place at the hospital but it is imperative that hospital staff (and all healthcare providers) be properly educated when it comes to breastfeeding and that mother's be presented with all of the information so that they have the option to refuse care if it conflicts with their child's ability to eat.

The nurse should not have been so quick to say it was safe if she wasn't sure.  There is no shame in double checking if she didn't know the answer.  Since she was very quick to answer, I assumed that the first provider had done her job in making sure the meds would be safe. What was more aggravating though was that the first provider came in with the PA and when I objected to having to wait to nurse, she said, "no, it will definitely affect the baby" in a tone that felt almost accusatory- as if I were crazy for expecting to be able to feed my son even though she was the very first person I notified that I was breastfeeding.  She knew and it appeared as if she had done nothing with that information.  On some level, I do blame her since I told her that it was likely that my son wouldn't take a bottle and the PA seemed surprised at this so, at the very least, the PA was not aware of the importance of a safe medication.  She did, however; know that I was a breastfeeding mom before she walked into my room because it's in my chart so I will never understand why that specific drug was ordered in the first place.  A booby trap perhaps.

I did not give informed consent in the E.R.  I couldn't have as I was given inaccurate information and I can only hope that that it wasn't done on purpose for my benefit because I would have gladly continued to suffer through the migraine if it meant I could safely feed my little guy.

This is the very reason why informed consent is important and why we should be in control of our healthcare choices.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

I've said it before...

...and I'll say it again!

I know I've had several posts about how I have been absent and hope to get back into the swing of blogging.  I always mean it but life as a mom of 4 boys has been very busy (who knew?).

I think I have a plan and it may involve scheduling posts so that I can just write whenever I have time and not worry about having them post all at the same time or in the middle of the night.

There is at least one blog post in the works right now.  I was about to post a very long winded story on the Improving Birth Wilkes-barre (NEPA) Facebook page about an experience I just had in the E.R. but it just felt like more of a blog post so I've decided to share it here and then link to it on the FB page.

That will be coming along shortly, as soon as I'm finished proofreading it a bazillion times.

Also, I suppose I need a new ticker for my newest addition!

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Friday, May 3, 2013


I'm pretty impressed as it appears one of my children have figured out how to post a blog from my phone. ;) So, I hope anybody who saw this enjoyed the startled picture of my youngest son and a random car pic that one of my other boys apparently liked. ;)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Win a Bitty Bee Changed Newborn Diaper!!

*Edit* I apologize to everyone about this post.  There used to be text here, I'm not entirely sure what happened but I didn't realize that there was now an empty post just sitting here and taking up space.

Incidentally, this giveaway is over now and I was lucky enough to win the diaper. :)

Sorry again for the weird post.

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Friday, February 10, 2012

Cakes by Jodi (Allergy-friendly!)

     So, I was sitting here earlier, wondering why in the world I haven't posted about Cakes by Jodi.  Jodi offers wonderful fondant cake/cupcake/cookie toppers along with cakes, cookies and pastries.
     How did I find Jodi?  It's actually a pretty funny story.  When Logan was diagnosed with food allergies a month before his last birthday, I entered a state of full blown panic when he announced that he wanted a Barney cake.  How could I tell this kid who is accustomed to getting whatever he wants on his birthday cakes that he could not have a Barney cake?!?!? His food allergies aren't his fault and I didn't think he'd understand that I wasn't being mean.  I was determined to get him his Barney cake- even if I had to make it myself.
    As his birthday approached, I searched for a bakery that would do an egg free cake.  None of our grocery stores (or Walmart) will because their cakes are premade and shipped in frozen.  I found ONE place that would do it and that's our local natural store- The House of Nutrition.  I contacted the baker and she was going to make us a cake with Barney colored sugars.
    My next task was to find something to decorate the cake with- and I'm not a baker or a cake decorator so it needed to be easy.  I couldn't find any Barney cake decorations or small Barney toys.  I checked Target, Toys R Us, Party City, and a handful of grocery stores and came up empty handed.
    One day when we were driving home empty handed, I turned to DH and asked, "why haven't I checked Etsy? I'm SURE I can find a cake topper there!".  When we got home, I set out to do exactly that.  I found several but this one stood out the most:
     I contacted the shop owner to ask if she could do a Barney topper.  At some point, I happened to look at her shop location and my jaw just dropped.  She's local to me!  My next question was, "Are you really in Dallas? Could I possibly pick it up instead of having it shipped?  I just looked at your Facebook and see that you do cakes too-do you do egg free cakes by chance?".  Well it turns out that she too has a kid with food allergies so she's all too familiar with egg free cakes!  Jodi saved the day at that point and created a Barney cake for Logan that he was very excited over.
     To give you an idea of how talented she is, I provided a picture and asked for her to alter it a bit.  I wanted Barney and BJ's hands to be closed and holding some balloons. This was the original image:
and here is her end result:

     Her work is truly beautiful and the cake was delicious!  Since August, I've tried some different cake recipes and found one that I like so I'll be making Xander's cake but I turned to Jodi again for our topper because I still haven't tried to work with fondant on my own (though I hope to soon).  I gave her the birthday invitation that I created for her to use as inspiration and she did beautiful work again.
     The invitation:
     The cake topper:

     I couldn't be happier with her work and I love that she's so close by so I don't have to worry about shipping costs.  We hope to have her make Adam's cake topper too.  She has made this journey through a life of food allergies easier.

     Please go check out her Etsy and her Facebook.

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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Win a Beco

I haven't hosted any giveaways myself lately but for all of my fellow babywearing parents, I wanted to share this Beco Giveaway that I found!  There's 18 days left so there's still plenty of time to enter.  Good luck!

(The button will be in my sidebar too incase this post gets lost.)

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Don't sit by me!

I'm often amazed at the lengths we go to to avoid other people.  Dh needed some bloodwork done today so we are sitting in the hospital lab.  When we first walked in, I noticed that there were quite a few people here....all with a chair or 2 between them.

This is something we see often but why?  Why is it so awful to sit next to a stranger? I can almost see it in a hospital setting because people may be sick but I've witnessed this very thing in a variety of places so I'm going to assume that illness was not a deciding factor here.

Think about how much space is being lost by sitting like this.  When more people enter the room, either they have to sit next to you anyway or they'll share your discomfort and have nowhere to sit.  We, as a people, need to learn to coexist better with our neighbors.  It's not going to kill you (in most cases) to sit next to someone so maybe we should try to break this trend.  Take the chair right next to someone instead of sitting 2 chairs away (unless you know your sick, then avoiding the spread of illness is preferable).  I'll try, will you?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Secret Shopping and the Scam Within

     Anyone who knows anything about me knows that I do not make huge decisions on a whim.  I am the type of person who will research until I feel comfortable with a decision therefore, my choices are always informed ones.  With that in mind, I am not perfect and recently fell victim to a horrible scam.

    We all know there are scammers out there, so when I received a check for $1850 along with an "evaluation survey" from Djs Research Ltd., I was skeptical.  I looked the check over for the usual "this is not a check" text because I assumed this was insane.  It was nowhere to be found so I read through the enclosed letter.

    I read about the opportunity for me to be a "secret shopper" and thought, "this can't be right, there is probably a catch". The letter stated that an official check was enclosed and that I was not required to spend any of my own funds on this evaluation. We are told that in most cases, any opportunity that requires you to spend your own money first (save for companies like Avon, MaryKay, etc.) is usually a scam so this was the first thing that made me feel good about Djs Research Ltd.  I mean, the company was including the funds right?

    Off to "Google" I went to research this company because I was not going to fall victim to some greedy person's scheme!  20+ pages of Google results produced absolutely no negative results whatsoever.  I searched "Djs Research Ltd", "Djs research" (which produced results mostly about Disc-Jockies), "Djs Research Ltd scam", "'Djs Research Ltd' AND 'scam'", "Djs Research Ltd fake", "Djs Research Ltd my check bounced", etc.  I was trying to find anything that would tell me to ignore this and I found nothing negative.  I did find both the company's old website and their new one and I felt that they were well put together.  Their website confirmed that they are a company that offers secret shopping so it appeared to be the same company.

     I didn't stop there though!  I needed to see if there were bad reports on the Better Business Bureau's website.  Because my letter was sent by Canada post, I checked both the US and the Canadian BBB and found absolutely nothing.  There wasn't even so much as a listing.  The lack of listing wasn't a big deal to me since my husband's employer is not listed on the BBB either but the lack of negative reports was a good thing to me.  I figured that if they had previously scammed someone then that person must have reported it right?

    When you're not living paycheck to paycheck as we are, it may be hard to understand the following series of events but trust me, you can convince yourself of anything when money is tight.  After being turned down for every job that I've applied to, it's not surprising that I am desperate for any opportunity to earn some extra money.

     There was poor grammar in a few spots in the letter but nothing more than what I attributed to a typo or merely someone typing in their second language.  That seemed possible since the letter was sent from Canada after all.  Another red flag that I explained away was that I was requested to wire a large portion of the money ($1200) through Western Union, to evaluate the customer service of Western Union.  Initially, I admit that this seemed "off" to me but "how else are they supposed to evaluate Western Union?" I thought.  Anyway, this was their money I was sending back to them right?  So what was it hurting me?  The final red flag was that I was required to do all of this within 48 hours.  I explained this away by reasoning that they must be requiring this in order to streamline the process so that everything was fast and efficient.

      With the lack of negative feedback and the professionalism of their new site, I felt like this was a legitimate offer and off we went to deposit the check and then do as asked.  The check was for $1850. My compensation was $300, $200 was provided to fund the evaluation of a retail store (Best Buy, Kmart, or Walmart), $1200 was provided to be wired via Western Union and $150 was even included to pay the Western Union fees.

     We deposited my $300 compensation and took the rest of the money as cash as per my instructions.  Our bank cashed the check with no questions asked whatsoever.

     I wont bore you with the details of what we bought but after we shopped and wired the money I finished filling out my survey.  At this point, I called the number I was given to speak with my "coordinator", so that he could provide me with my "rep ID" number to put on the survey before I faxed the information to him.  I had corresponded with him previously via email and learned that his name was "Kevin".  On the phone, he sounded like a very professional man and not once, during our conversation did I feel that I was being had.  I informed him that it only cost $84 to process the Western Union transaction and he said that that was alright and to hold onto the extra funds for processing fees in future surveys.  "Kevin" did tell me that after he received my fax, they would be sending me a new survey to complete so I was excited for more to come.

     The next day, however, our world was turned upside down.  My husband took a trip to the store to buy some tools for work and our debit card was declined.  Naturally, his next step was to go to the bank and find out what was going on.  As I was expecting him home, he called and gave me a heads up so I knew what was going on.

    While he did this, I was at home in a panic.  "Did that check bounce?", "Did I miss something?", "How could this happen when I was so careful?"- I needed to know so back to Google I went.  I immediately realized that I had assumed "Googling" the company's name was sufficient.  I hadn't thought to search for "secret shopping scams" so I went ahead and gave that a try.  What I found made me worry.  I felt like a fool- "how could I have fallen for this?".  I found countless stories of people being scammed in exactly the same way but for different amounts and by different companies.  I still have yet to find any mention of someone being scammed by Djs Research Ltd but the information I was faced with was enough to make my head spin.

     Snopes had quite a bit to say on the subject.  Some other information that I found was just as scary for me to read.  Here are some links to the stuff I found:
ABC News
The Consumerist
The Federal Trade Commission

     I also found this video on YouTube:

     I got in touch with my husband, told him what I had found and asked him if the check had bounced and he confirmed that the check- of which only $366 remained- had bounced and that our account was overdrawn.  He immediately went to work trying to procure a loan from the bank.  He had just deposited nearly his whole paycheck into the bank that morning so all of our money, save for approx $170, was GONE.

     Hysterical and panicked, I called my father.  Through tears, I managed to confess to him what I had done and that we now owed the bank all this money.   He said that the only thing he would have done differently was wait for the check to clear first- and he's right. Had we done that, the check would have bounced and we would have been alright.  As my dad pointed out, what would this company have done to us for waiting? It was a bogus check so they really couldn't have taken action against us and if it had been a legitimate offer- they more than likely would have been understanding of our suspicion. While I was talking to him, my dad did a search on for the company and he didn't find anything either- it seems that to our knowledge, there is not currently any negative feedback available for Djs Research Ltd.

    During my conversation with my dad, my husband phoned and told me that the bank issued him a loan for the entire amount of the bounced check.  They pushed it through as he's been with them for 11 years and I'm sure, in part, because they know that if they had held the check (a common bank policy), none of this would have happened.  The loan will no doubt help restore our bad credit but the sad truth of it is that we are still being held accountable for the funds while some bandit has $1200 that he does not deserve.

     I have since filed reports with the BBB, the FTC.     
     I spoke with a representative from Western Union as well.  He said that it's very unfortunate that this happened despite my research and that it sounds like the con artists are very good.  The representative added that when a company is very good at conning, there are a few things you can look for to help you protect yourself- one of those things being that the email address being used should be from the company email account and not from a free email service like gmail like my coordinator had.

     The rep said that they have contact information for the person who picked up the payment and that their policy is to forward all that information to the authorities.  He advised that I contact my local authorities and my state attorney general.

     Here is some more information from Western Union: Common Fraud Types and Tips to Protect Yourself

     I also contacted Djs Research Ltd via the email address listed on their website.  The managing director, Danny Smith, had this to say:

Hi Danielle, I’m really sorry about this. The survey and cheque has been sent to you by Criminals in the US who are using our company name as part of this fraud. We have reported the situation to the authorities here in the UK and I suggest you do the same in the US. Also, the UK authorities have asked me to tell any victims to contact them (Action Fraud) direct on or  +44(0) 0300-123-2040 – they might be able to do something because apparently the money gets transferred to a UK person.
 I hope this helps a little. Kind Regards, Danny
     Sadly, if Djs Research is not involved, then this means that their good name is being smeared through the mud while some unrelated con artist is making off with people's money.

     I filed a police report with my local authorities as well  The officer did point out that the check said "Keneth Simmons"- something I had failed to notice.  In all of my research, I completely overlooked that this was a personal check.

     Please, please do not fall for this scam.  From what I've read, these thieves operate under many different names and as I experienced, may not have negative feedback for all of the business names.  The checks look real and the "coordinators" sound official.  In fact, I received another one in the mail just a few days ago from a different company.  The process is different but they're asking the same things.  I may be desperate, but I'm not a fool.

     I really want to crawl in a hole because of this horrible situation but my husband and I decided that I should share this experience with everyone in an effort to possibly protect someone else from falling victim to this.

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