25 February 2013

Mental Health Awareness

There is a lot of health issues in my family, physical and mental.
We are definitely not the poster family for perfect health, but we do our best to maintain some semblance of sanity.

My biological dad had schizophrenia.  He worked so hard to keep level-headed, even with moving a lot, and changing jobs a lot, the two things he tried to make certain of were:
That he took his medication regularly, and that there was food on the table.
When my biologic mother left, he stuggled, and had to give my little brother up for adoption in order to be able to afford to continue taking his meds, and keep food in my stomach.
He was also an alcoholic.  Functionally so, but still.  Its kind of a family thing.  He was never violent, or anything, but its something I remember.
My adoptive sister, my older sister, is Bipolar.  Also having a history of PTSD, related to childhood abuse, you'd never believe it all, seeing her when her meds are working.
Recently, her meds have failed her, and she has been in a pretty manic episode.
My nephew is staying with us for a while, so that my BIL can focus on helping my sister.  My niece is in school, still, so she stayed behind, but she is thoroughly occupied, between school, dance, karate, soccer, and piano.
Got a call from my mom saying my sister has been admitted on a 72hr hold, after an incident requiring a visit to the ED.  And they are hoping she will agree to an inpatient treatment program, until her meds can be figured out.  My Mom is struggling, not being able to be there for her, because she doesn't have anyone to hold down the fort (my parents are in the midst of a divorce, and my father has kinda gone off the deep end of "midlife" crises).
Fortunately, my BIL has a great support network, and he has someone who is able to help with my niece, for now.  He is spending his time either at work or at the hospital.

I have expressed to several people, here and in real life, my disapproval of how people treat mental illness these days.  And how those with mental illnesses playup their own victimization.
I don't accept anyone putting others in danger, or harming others because they refuse to seek help.
And I have cut people out of my life who are unwilling to own up and take action to help themselves.  You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.  And there is no point dying of dehydration in the process.

My Mom is in therapy now, for the first time in her 50+ years.  She is seeking to focus on herself with as much energy as she has spent on others.  She is sorting through the issues entailed in a 30yr marriage ending, in the years she has put herself second, and the 14+ surgeries she has had in the last 25 years, along with the chronic pain she has had that entire time, and coming to terms with what her abilities are.  She has been Superwoman too long, and its taken its toll.  Her last surgery, a week after I deployed in 2009, took 18mo to fully" heal:

Now, I need to put it out there that I am not one of those "Never walked a mile in your shoes" advocates.
I had a LOT of attachment issues growing up, and they still effect my ability to trust people.
After my daughter passed away, and needed to get away from everything, and by no means had the ability to do so.  After selling a bunch of things, just to cover the debt from the funeral services, I went and joined the Army (this was right after 9/11), with no questions asked.
I know that it wasn't the healthiest thing to do, but it was what I thought was best at the time.
A week after I finished my training, I had deployment orders in hand, and within a month of that, I had already seen enough battlefield trauma to last a lifetime.
The 18mo I spent in Iraq matured me, and opened my eyes.  They let me put aside my problems and focus on something else.  They also multiplied my issues.  Upon returning, not only did I have to deal with my daughter's passing, I had to deal with the deaths of 6 of my soldiers, and the deaths and injuries of many who passed beneath my hands.  I came back, and was left to my thoughts.  Alone.  Nothing to avoid them with.

Those 18mo did make me better able to handle what had happened, but it didn't help that I'd put off everything that had happened.  I was dealing with 2yrs of heartbreak, tragedy, success, and failure, all at once.  And it was overwhelming.  I was a 22yo kid, who's life plan was supposed to be law school, not returning from a deployment, and having already lost my own child.
I broke, or more so, I finished breaking.... I'd been cracked for a while.
I took to drinking, first to steady my nerves, then to fill a hole.  That "helped" me cope for only so long, before it felt like what was left of my life was crashing down upon me.  I finally hit rock bottom, and I reached out.  My sister drove 12hrs straight, leaving her newborn at home, to come help me.  Detox was not a wonderful experience.  Living on caffeine (coffee, energy drinks, etc), liquor, and nicotine, and then going cold turkey is NOT recommended.  My sister was there for that first weekend, until my mom flew out to be with me.  There is nothing like having to face your mom in a situation like that, and the praise you give the Lord above, when you don't see judgement or disappointment in her eyes.
She kept me alive, on a diet of sandwiches and water (no sugars, caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, or anything addictive), through to purging and the withdrawal.  She woke me up from the nightmares, and helped me keep touch with reality.  She got me the help I needed, found me a support group, and we found meds to help my anxiety, and to help me sleep (sometimes).  She got me connected to those around me, something that can be hard to do, coming back from a deployment.  And she got me back to a routine, and some of my hobbies.

I hated the process, and what those things had done to me, and how badly it scared my family.  I knew I never wanted to do that to them again.  And I never wanted to do that to myself again.

 I don't have the greatest self-control, by a long-shot.  I am blunt, and speak before considering my audience.  I diddle-daddle, and can't keep still longer than a minute.  But I still manage to keep straight with my treatment and keep myself in check.  I am an alcoholic, and I've learned to control my drinking, and I only drink in the company of someone trusted, (Wife, Mom, Sister, BIL) who will ensure that I stay within my limits (always do).  I have some mood swings, still, but they are managed, through therapy, meditation, exercise, positive activity, and medication.
I see a Psych doctor every month, see a social worker every 3 weeks, and am currently learning about an osteopathic-type meditation-type treatment for anxiety/PTSD, and I go to group sessions.  Next week I am attending a pilot program (I am one of the test subjects for the new program) which aims to help soldiers vent, and discuss issues related to deployment and the processes, and ways to cope with redeploying, and to  give feedback on things that need to change.

Refusal is not an option in my book, especially when you have people, kids, depending on you to be alright.
I've recently had to deal with a friend who is aware of their diagnoses, but has let their illness take control, and has put their entire family at risk, going so far as to almost causing physical harm to one child, and DEFINITELY causing emotional damage to all their kids.
It is selfish, and abusive, to put innocent kids through what they've gone through, instead of taking a step back, and getting the help they need.

I've gone through these scenarios before, and they always seem to end badly, when there is no proper intervention.
I've had to deal with more suicides than I'd care to admit, and (as a CASA and foster parent, and even having been a foster kid) I have seen the horrible long-term effects these situations have on kids.

Its like watching a ticking time bomb, and I refuse to do that.  And I will be blunt as hell about it.

Mental Illness does not make someone weak, worthless, or an invalid.
You can live a full, happy life with mental illnesses, if you take care of yourself.

19 February 2013

Photo Scramble

A random photo scramble.  Just a bunch of photos from an album I found on my old computer.
May post more, as I uncover them.  Its cool to delve into the past.... see things I hadn't thought of in years

The demon dog....haha....we used to put him in the bathtub when he'd get in trouble

He didn't like me trying to "chomp" his head :)

My old cat..... I miss this cat.... lives with my mom, now

Knew he was in trouble the minute we walked in!

We went around Europe, visiting the historic places....

....The War memorials....

...Was definitely a surreal experience.....

...Its fake, but not something you could get away with in the US....

....We visited the beaches, where the invasions happened

With dogtags

The MEDEVAC crew from my first deployment

Checking on a boo-boo

It really was *just a boo-boo*....just bled a bit.  Was a small (by comparison to what it could have been) cut from a bit of shrapnel

Our consult team..... Top rate guys!

Purple Hearts, earned from the same incident with the shrapnel

Showing off ninja skills at the beach

Its how we roll......

This is back on my mom's farm.  The cat likes to visit the hens, and helps keep the chicks out of trouble....and will lounge in the sun, in the summer, and nap with the babes, and keep em warm.

"DONT jump off the rock....." women never listen....

Haha.... We (me and Teenager) like to take photos like this whenever we get the chance!

"Whats up?"

One of Teenager's favorite places when we are in France.

One of Wife's favorite places when we are in France

In the catacombs


At a memorial with Teenager

Our new Einstien


Nipple licker MUST die!!!!!!!

The Wife's former FIL..... her Ex made our wedding rings (jeweler).....his father is a glassmaker!
Teenager was excited to meet them, and they showed us (me and Teenager) how to do different things.
She was also interested in meeting "the other person who was insane enough to marry (her) mom, drunken craziness, or otherwise"

04 February 2013

Disposable Diapers: Infertility and Asthma

I want to start by saying I am in no way bashing anyone's parenting decisions, or trying to guilt anyone.  This subject was something explored due to the massive increase in infertility in the last couple decades.  And the main event connected to that was the introduction of disposable diapers.
I understand the demands of today's world, and its not always possible (medically or because of responsibilities) to breastfeed, cloth diaper, stay at home, or any other of the many "Recommended" things to do with/for your children today.  Its just not possible in this fast-paced world.
My household does its best to breastfeed and cloth diaper our kids.  With the twins, it was a combination of formula and breastmilk, but Boy had to be exclusively breastmilk-fed, because of gastrointestinal issues.  They were cloth-diapered at home, and disposabily diapered when we were out and about, and unable to carry around 4-5 dirty diapers.
Now, they are pretty much potty trained, with some exceptions, at which times they wear pullups.
Our new baby is much easier (being one baby, not two) to handle with cloth diapering and breastfeeding.  We are fortunate to not have to supplement formula, but we (they) have been doing a *lot* of cross country travel, which is admittedly easier when diapers can be thrown away after use.  And so, we use disposable diapers when needed.

We are in a world where a lot of chemicals and toxins are finding their ways into things we use every day.  And while it sometimes feels like nothing is safe, it is merely a matter of knowing what you are up against, and knowing your gameplan.
Even if its just letting your baby lounge around on a towel, freeballin, for an hour or two a day, who knows, it could make a difference.  It lets things dry out, helping prevent diaper rash; and gets their skin a break from being engulfed in cotton/bamboo/polyester/disposable material, detergent, chemicals, pee, poop, whatever.  Let them enjoy it while its still legal for them!!!

  • By Anthony Browne
  • London Observer Service 
  • September 26, 2000
    Disposable diapers could be the cause of the sharp rise in male infertility over the past 25 years, according to an authoritative scientific study to be published this week. It is thought that disposable diapers heat up baby boys' testicles to such a degree that it stops them developing normally.  Diapers lined with plastic raise the temperature of the scrotum far above body temperature and can lead to a total breakdown of normal cooling mechanisms, according to the study published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood. Doctors in Kiel, Germany, started the study after being alarmed at the temperature of the testicles of infant boys who were brought into hospitals with infections.  The cells supporting sperm production are laid down in the first two years of life. However, their development and sperm production in later life is very dependent on temperature. Testicles need to be cooler than the rest of the body, which is why they are external.
Boys whose testicles descend too late in adolescence are often infertile because they have been kept warm for too long. In adults, exposure to high temperatures, during a fever or while in a sauna, can dramatically reduce sperm count. Tight jeans can also lead to higher testicular temperatures, possibly causing a reduction in sperm count.  Dr. Wolfgang Sippell, professor of pediatrics at the University of Kiel, monitored the scrotal temperature of 48 healthy boys, from birth up to 4 years old, using a tiny thermal probe. His team tested the temperatures when boys wore disposable diapers and when they wore re-usable cotton diapers, both during waking and sleeping hours.  The temperature was consistently higher when the disposable diapers were worn, with the highest temperatures recorded in the youngest babies. Scrotal temperatures were the same as rectal temperatures when cotton diapers were worn, but far higher when disposable diapers were worn.
    They concluded that the insulation properties of the disposable diapers impaired the normal cooling mechanisms of the testicles. They found that in 13 boys, the cooling mechanism failed altogether.  Sippell concluded: "A prolonged increase in scrotal temperature in early childhood may have an important role in subsequent testicular health and function, with implications for male fertility."  Repeated studies have shown that average sperm counts have fallen by almost half from 1938 levels and are continuing to decline as fast as 2 percent a year.  The Absorbent Hygiene Products Manufacturers Association, which represents makers of disposable diapers, said the study had dubious methodology. Association spokesman Peter Stephenson said: "There is no evidence to support the assertions made by this study, which would appear to be implausible. The safety of our products is of paramount importance. Disposable diapers are, and remain, safe."

  • Penny Stern, MD
  • October 6, 1999
    NEW YORK, Oct 06 (Reuters Health) -- Childhood respiratory problems, including asthma, may be linked to inhaling the mixture of chemicals emitted from disposable diapers, researchers write in the September/October issue of Archives of Environmental Health.
    Lead author Dr. Rosalind C. Anderson, of Anderson Laboratories in West Hartford, Vermont, told Reuters Health that chemical emissions of some disposable diapers have immediate health effects in animals breathing the diluted chemical mixtures.  ''Upon analysis, the diaper emissions were found to include several chemicals with documented respiratory toxicity,'' according to the paper.
    "Mice were used in this study because of their general physiological and biochemical similarity to humans", Anderson explained, "adding that both humans and mice develop bronchoconstriction as a response to certain (odors and substances)".  Bronchoconstriction refers to a narrowing of air passages in the lungs that is associated with respiratory difficulties.
    "Upon exposing the mice to various brands of disposable diapers, a decrease (was observed) in the ability of (the) animals to move air during exhalation", Anderson said. Noting that this finding accurately describes asthma or an asthma-like reaction, she added "that if mice and humans respond in a similar manner to diaper emissions, disposable diapers could be important with respect to the worldwide asthma epidemic.''
    In contrast to the results obtained with disposables, new cloth diapers produced very little respiratory effects and appeared to be the least toxic choice for a consumer, the researchers write.
    "Though the disposable effect was noted even when the emissions of a single diaper are diluted in the air of a small room,'' Anderson said, she cautions that it is too early to indict diaper chemicals.  "Whether the diaper chemicals initiate clinical disease, simply trigger an asthma-like response or are not implicated (at all) in human disease will not be known until after a vast amount of human data has been accumulated,'' she commented.
    Therefore, Anderson believes that formal epidemiological investigations must be extended to infant products in order to evaluate these items' possible role in triggering or aggravating asthmatic conditions.  She and her co-author, Dr. Julius Anderson, have (previously) published similar findings associated with other products used in infants' environments.  "A number of these manufactured materials -- air fresheners, mattress covers, fabric softeners -- have many rapid-onset toxic effects in common,'' she pointed out.
    In Anderson's view, the current epidemic in childhood asthma cannot be explained solely on the basis of what she termed, ''the usual suspects: dust mites, cockroaches, maternal smoking".  Maybe child-care products (such as) plastic diapers... plastic baby bottles, and plastic toys are important factors (through the release of) chemicals with toxic effects.''
    Until such time as this asthma-inducing effect can be confirmed in humans, Anderson reminds parents and healthcare professionals that precaution costs nothing.  When you are dealing with a toxic chemical or chemicals, avoidance is the only proper action.  ''She suggests that (parents) and doctors... believe themselves if they think a product is harming the breathing of the mother or the baby.''
SOURCE: Archives of Environmental Medicine September/October 1999.