Monthly Archives: November 2010

The Tablet Controversy

She asked him to bring her a cookie for Christmas. I hope he knows it needs to be lactose free.

On October 23rd, the FDA issued a warning to stop using Hyland’s Teething Tablets. The tablets contain belladonna which, when dissolved in a baby’s mouth, is thought to ease teething pain.

The FDA cited these problems with the tablets in their report:

  1. They’ve received reports of belladonna toxicity – symptoms include: seizures, difficulty breathing, lethargy, sleepiness, weakness, skin flushing, constipation, agitation.
  2. They’ve identified manufacturing inconsistencies that result in varying degrees of the substance in the tablets.
  3. They point out that the tablets have not been proven to work.
  4. They’ve received reports of babies consuming too many tablets because there is no child proof cap.

Seattle Mama Doc recommends not using any tablets or gels of any kind because they’re not proven to work.  She recommends baby Tylenol (if anything) for teething pain, but I’m not sure that is the right solution either after their recent recall debacle. I’m not sure I’ll ever look at Johnson & Johnson the same.

On the other side of the debate is Gaia Health who claims that the amount of belladonna is so low that a baby would have to consume thousands of the tablets to show any signs of toxicity and that the FDA’s actions are the result of pressure by big pharmaceuticals. Now, I’m all for a good conspiracy theory, especially one that involves the FDA, but the question I just can’t answer is this: why would big pharma want Hyland’s to be off the market? Are they competing with Hylands or is it just because Hylands is unregulated? Also, if it takes thousands of tablets to show signs of toxicity, is there really enough belladonna in each table to relieve pain?

We used the tablets when Josie was teething with mixed results. Sometimes it seemed like it helped, sometimes not. Josie was kind of a fussy baby and I think many times we incorrectly assumed her fussiness was a result of teething pain. Now we know that was likely lactose intolerance. Hello, bad mommy feeding her cow’s milk formula! Sheesh, the guilt… Anyhoo, it’s a tough call but I think the risks outweigh the benefits.

Have you used them? Did they work? What do you think of all this?

Tunes My Husband Whistles (While Sleeping)

Paul’s been doing a lot of sleep-whistling lately. I wish I wasn’t awake to hear it.

I bring this up with Paul at dinner. Lots of whistling going on over there at night – what’s up?

What’s the tune? He asks. Is it that Chicago song, 25 or 6 to 4? Because it’s been stuck in my head for like two months. I can’t get away from it. I heard it in a store or in the background somewhere and it keeps coming back.

I don’t know what song he’s been whistling. I’d never thought to listen. Even though I’m often painfully awake wondering why my melatonin isn’t working or if I should take more magnesium or break down and take an ambien. Even if I did listen and even if I did manage to identify the song, surely I wouldn’t remember in the morning. I’d write something unintelligible on my notepad about sunrise, chocolate milkshakes and slurpees that made perfect sense to me at the time but would represent some unbreakable code in the morning.

After dinner, I Google 25 or 6 to 4. Did you know Chicago has produced 250 songs? I came across this special treat (below), and discovered that it’s a song about staying up all night trying to write a song. When Paul hears it’s a song about a song, he hates it even more. He doesn’t like songs about rock and roll either. He’s like the opposite of post-modern. Pre-modern?

Anyway, I don’t know if it’s the song Paul’s been whistling or not but that doesn’t matter now. My sleep-deprived brain has made it so.

Maybe tonight I’ll sleep. Or maybe I’ll lie in bed with my finger on the button of my sound recorder. While I wait for the break of day, I’ll think about how poignant it is that the song he whistles is about waiting for the break of day. Maybe if this continues and I keep recording, over the next few years I’ll actually capture whistled versions of the whole Chicago collection. Once I have a handful of songs, I can make a mixed CD of sleep-whistling that I can give to him for our anniversary or his birthday or some other special occasion. He’ll love it. They’ll be like lullabies to him. Then other people will hear about it and I’ll post it online, you’ll be able to download it from this very blog. You’ll have your own copy of his sleep-whistling. We’ll expand to other classic rock bands by making him listen to classic rock right before bed. Hotel California sleep-whistled or maybe Wake Up Little Susie. Then, of course, it will become a massive internet sensation and he’ll be famous and then we’ll have a Twitter feed of his latest night whistles with millions of followers. And the whole world will wait every day for me to update his list of classic rock whistles. The CD will be produced by a big record label. Instead of Muzak, department stores will play Paul’s night-whistles in elevators. We’ll write a book about it. Someone will purchase the rights. OMG who will play me in the movie?!

Or, maybe the insomnia will go away, I’ll start sleeping again and Paul’s whistling will rise up and dissipate into the black sky unheard. Wouldn’t that be nice?

Food at the Center

As Americans, we think of food as something that should fill our belly and please our mouth. Sure, food should do both these things, but it seems like we underestimate the importance of nutrition. Food should also provide vitamins and nutrients – nourishment.

Do you like how I use we here – my seemingly passive aggressive way of saying other people? But, I don’t really mean other people, by we I mean me, the me I was in my 20s. I spent the first 25 years of my life with a vague recollection that broccoli was good for me. Clearly this post is all about the new me lecturing the old me. Good, now that we’ve got that out of the way…

When I was diagnosed with cancer, my gastro intestinal problems were so bad I was hardly eating. I was starving, malnourished. None of my doctors ever mentioned nutrition. The cancer video they showed in the chemo room only encouraged us to “treat” ourselves to our favorite sugary, fatty foods.

Research increasingly points to the link between nutritional deficiency and illness. A new study shows the lack of nutritional education at medical schools. Most schools don’t provide the recommended 25 hour minimum.

If doctors don’t talk to their patients about nutrition aren’t they leaving out an important part of healing? But where does nutrition fit in the already long and complex medical training?

Combine that lack of knowledge and information with the dismal state of hospital food and it seems like the medical system needs a Jamie Oliver-style cafeteria overhaul. Dr. Preston Maring might be the perfect candidate. He’s a gynecologist and obstetrician with three decades as a surgeon, who is well known as a former physician-in-chief at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Oakland. He’s established an organic farmer’s market outside the doors of the hospital

He believes that “… in the health professions, the kitchen must become as crucial as the clinic.” He believes that “Food is at the center of health and illness and so doctors must make all aspects of food — growing, buying, cooking, eating — a mainstay of their medical educations, their personal lives and their practices.” I think I love him.

He tries to make sure local fresh food is served at the hospital. He has a blog that offers advice and recipes. He even has a culinary road show he takes to health care institutions around the country. He’s got big plans, starting with getting doctors to eat healthier themselves.

I was lucky enough of find a nutritionist who revolutionized my eating habits and helped transform old me into the new, vegetable-pushing, overbearing blogger I’ve become today (so proud!). I’m grateful for her and I hope that other people fighting serious illnesses find someone, whether it’s a nutritionist, Dr Maring or another like-minded medical professional to help them find what they need.

Babies Don’t Talk

Photo by Libby Lewis Photography

We’re taking another parenting class. Soon I will be a real life Wikipedia of child raising theories and strategies. This particular class recommends at least 15 minutes of child-dominated play per day. Seems easy enough but when they say dominated they mean dominated. (Oh, what the search engines will bring me for using that ‘d’ word three times…)

When it’s time to play I sit down with her and do what I am told. I am allowed to narrate her play – Josie’s picking up the red block, Josie’s building a tower, nice tower Josie – like the water-cooler guy on Saturday Night Live. I am not allowed to ask questions or make suggestions. I am purely a follower and Josie looooves it.

Here’s how our playtimes go these days.

Josie: You be the baby

Me: OK

J: Baby, ask me for some popcorn

Me: May I have some popcorn?

J: Babies don’t talk!

Repeat 3x.

The end.

A Few Things I Love

I want to talk to you about Happy Hour, but first I know I’m not a design blog but I’m in love with this calendar and these advent calendars and this blog. I want to be her when I grow up.

I’m also in love with the Washington State Fairies. They’re emceeing a girl’s night out event called Happy Hour on Vashon this Saturday afternoon. Shauna James Ahern from the Gluten-free Girl will be there and so will Giyen Kim from Bacon is My Enemy. I’ll be there too. Reading um… Something… Not sure what… Ahem. Come, it should be a fun event. Say ‘hello’ I’d love to see you!

For My Word-loving Friends

Be with me, words, a little longer, you
have given me my quitclaim in the sun,
sealed shut my adolescent wounds, made light
of grownup troubles, turned to my advantage
what in most lives would be pure deficit,
and formed, of those I loved, more solid ghosts.

— John Updike, Spirit of ’76

Fructose is the New Gluten

Josie’s new doctor (my new hero) says that many kids with lactose intolerance are also unable to break down fructose. With a little Googling I discovered that fructose mal-absorption is associated with mood swings and mood disorders. Between eliminating the gastrointestinal discomfort of lactose intolerance and the moodiness of fructose intolerance things are really making more sense around here. This is revolutionary, truly.     

Fructose, a natural sugar found in fruits and included in many processed foods, has been more difficult than lactose to eliminate. Of course, it’s in fruit juice and high fructose corn syrup, but it’s also in products sweetened by fruit juice.

I noticed right away that fructose was the first ingredient in Josie’s multi-vitamin. Apparently we were giving her a nice little dose of crazy every morning to start the day. Super. As soon as I could I went to my co-op grocery and spent several hours (okay, minutes) reading children’s multi-vitamin labels, trying to find one that was fructose-free. Finally I found one that didn’t list fructose but did include a “natural berry flavor” and decided to give it a try. 

We skipped her vitamin completely for a few days. Then one Sunday morning I gave her this new vitamin. She was beet-red screaming, crying, grasping for air, within 15 minutes. I had to get in bed with her and rub her back to calm her down. Apparently, there can also be fructose in the ambiguous catch all: “natural flavors.”

The lack of transparency on food labels, and the experimentation method of determining ingredients reminds me of the early days of my gluten-intolerance. I’m going to tell you guys right now, this family, is on the leading edge of food intolerances. It’s one of my talents, one of my gifts if you will, spotting trends in exclusionary food diets. I’m warning you now, fructose, it’s the eliminated ingredient of the future. You heard it here first. Fructose is the new gluten.

PS – The results are in and HMN finished 2nd overall in the ‘Parenting category’ of the Best of Western Washington contest. I’m so pleased to be second! Really, thank you guys so so much. You’re the bestest. XOXO