May 30, 2012

They Ruined the Awards Ceremony

    With the end of school upon of our schedules start to fill up with concerts, play-offs and ceremonies.  Here in our school district end of year award ceremonies are a big thing.  That is until the parents ruined it.
     In elementary school we would have award ceremonies after the end of every quarter.  Included in the report cards would be an invitation announcing that your child would be receiving an award and you were encouraged to attend.  The Kindergarten and First Grade teachers were very generous and made sure that at some point during the year each child received an award.  When Second Grade arrived additional awards started being handed out based on grades.
      I really didn't notice anything the first year and was the proud mom running up to take pictures when my daughter's name was called.  Then it happened.  In third grade she received an award entitled "Most Improved".  What seemed like a move from synchronized swimming, a group of Moms turned towards me with their "Aw glad she's doing better but not as good as my child" smile.  You know the one, where they're smiling but their heads crooked to the side.  I truly didn't know how to react.  Then as the program continued her name was called along with others for Honor Roll.  This time I was given a thumbs up from a couple of the moms. A few of them even commented to my daughter how proud they were of her hard work.  Here's the reality:  The teacher had given her the "Most Improved" award for her neatness in cursive, and unlike what those Moms thought had nothing to do with grades.
    Our children along with 800 others were sent to a brand new school the following year.  With a new school comes new traditions and it seems some of the parents had a few they wanted to start.  The first year was pretty mild however I noticed that instead of just a parent showing up for these awards entire families were now attending. Siblings were being pulled out of their classes to see their brother or sister receive their award.  Now I am all for celebrating a child's achievement.  In fact my kids know that great report cards equal a family night out.  My husband has never taken off work to watch any of our kids receive a quarterly award.  We were in the minority.  It got to where there were cheering sections when a child's name was called.  Now if you haven't been to one of these ceremonies very often multiple children receive the same award and the list of names are read off with each child walking to the stage.  So while Johnny's family is woo-hooing his perfect attendance Sue's family can barely hear their child's name being called.
     At the start of the second year it was announced that siblings could no longer be pulled from classes. The awards ceremonies were also switched from the end of the day to the middle of the morning which greatly reduced the number of attendees.  It was also announced at the beginning of the ceremony that ALL APPLAUSE would be held until the end of each award.  Of course it took a few stern looks from the principal to enforce this rule but it worked.  I guess a couple families felt that this was not the right way to celebrate their students as the next ceremony would prove.
     I thought I had missed a party or something when I arrived at the next award ceremony.  There were a couple of moms sitting together who had balloons under their chairs.  Was a teacher engaged?  Was someone retiring?  Being a pretty active volunteer at school I was usually on top of those things so I was truly perplexed.  Imagine my surprise when these Moms walked to the stage and presented their child a balloon when they received an award!  These were the kids who were always on Honor Roll, receiving perfect attendance and such.  It wasn't as if they were being nominated for a Junior Version of the Nobel Peace Prize.  Not only did it interrupt the ceremony but you know it made the other kids on stage at the same time feel bad. Of course my daughter was after one of these balloon kids.  Due to the amount of time it took for the Mom to hand her daughter the balloon I was unable to get a picture of my child getting her award.
     The craziness grew from there.  From balloons it went to flowers for the girls, candy grams for the guys.  Then one Mom finally pushed it too far.  I don't know why she did it, all I can imagine is that the balloons, flowers and candy were no longer enough.  When her daughter was called for her Honor Roll Award this Mom walked up to the stage and presented her child with a teddy bear.  To be sure you have the right image think huge carnival size, the one guys win to impress their girls.  The teacher presenting the award even stopped to comment on sweet that was. SWEET~ are you kidding me??? And yes once again my daughter's name was called after Bear Girl, the teacher truly barely acknowledged her she was so taken by this bear.  That was the last Award Ceremony the principal allowed at that school.

  Tomorrow night will be the last Award Ceremony for my son.  It is Senior Award Night and just like in elementary they all want to hear their name called.  I just hope that there won't be any balloons, flowers or bears

May 22, 2012

Many Faces of Stroke

When you hear about someone having a stroke a certain image comes to mind.  That of an older person. For many Americans for the past few years on December 31 counting down to midnight we saw stroke survivor Dick Clark.  His slurred speech and drooped mouth were consistent with what we tend to think a massive stroke survivor looks like.  His battle back from a massive stroke in 2004 was a source of Hope to many who battle the same struggles of speech and mobility.

Meet Isiah, born last September he seemed to be a perfectly healthy baby.  Within 24 hours that all changed.  Less than one day old Isaiah had a stroke.   
This cutie is Brody, he had a stroke before he was even born.  He is the survivor of an in-utero stroke.  His twin sister was born healthy. While his family celebrated his sister's reaching milestones they  watched as Brody struggled due to his lack of muscle tone, balance and coordination.  

Meet Evie.  At six months she was diagnosed with right-side hemiplegia due to in-utero stroke.  She doesn't like to be told she can't do something, according to her mom she might do it differently than others but she always gets it done.

Did you know children could have strokes?  How about developing babies having stroke in-uetro did you know that?  Stroke occurs in 1 out of every 2,800 births.  To put that in perspective that would mean that here in Clay County we are graduating 2,537 Seniors from High School in 2 weeks. Assuming they will follow the current county statistics of having three children The reality is that three children born to these seniors will suffer a stroke either in-utero or at birth.  You can read more about Isaiah, Brody, Evie and other pediatric stroke survivors on CHASA  
CHASA stands for Children's Hemiplegic and Stroke Association.  This organization helps children who have suffered an early brain injury as well as their families.  Founded in 1996 by parents of children effected with brain injury the organization has grown to become an international authority on the needs and care of children living with hemiplegic(paralysis effecting one side of the body) cerebral palsy.  Not only a support group they have sponsored international symposiums to bring together distinguished pediatric stroke researchers and neurologists to share findings and developments occurring in the field.  CHASA has three different websites where families can find support and information.  They also sponsor an annual retreat for families.  They hold various fund-raising events as well like this one:
You have gotta love the name of this one :) Very simply it is people like me raising awareness of Pediatric Stroke by blogging and having a direct donation box on their page. So if you are able please click on the donate button located at the top left of this page.

May 19, 2012

Stroke Awareness 5 Faces Pledge

Help Save Lives
Today's post is short and sweet:
Take the Five Faces Pledge today and join National Stroke Association's Faces of Stroke campaign in giving lifesaving information about stroke to five people you care about.

May 14, 2012

The Teaching of Talking

 Today I am excited to have my first Guest Blogger, Mark Ittleman speech pathologist.  His book in entitled The Teaching of Talking.  As many of you know there a times when I still struggle with Aphasia issues so this is dear to my heart.

Mark Ittleman, M.S., CCC/SLP,  Guest Blogger
A stroke or brain injury can turn a family’s world upside down in seconds.  You find yourself in the battle of your life, being guided by whomever you met at the hospital, hoping they have the answers.  As time goes on and speech does not return, you begin to wonder:  “What now?” “Will I (or my loved one) ever be able to speak again?”
Are you tired of gimmicks, worksheets, software, or boring one-hour sessions reciting lists of words? In my clinical practice as an expert speech-language pathologist for the past 40 years, I have seen hundreds of frustrated patients and family members who have said those very words to me. 
I, too, was tired of programs that didn’t bring success to my patients.  I knew there had to be a better way, so I began treating my patients differently.  I put the gimmicks and worksheets and software away, and I began talking with my clients about things they were interested in.  Imagine that!  I learned that people learn much faster when they talk with another human instead of a computer!
The Teaching of Talking our book which is in the process of being published, is a totally new concept in speech therapy.  Within its pages you will find a refreshing, revolutionary speech therapy method that will rock the world of someone you love.   You see, we believe that speech therapy is best done in the home, by family and caregivers, under the supervision of a licensed speech-language pathologist familiar with the methods in The Teaching of Talking
If you have ever taught a toddler to speak, you will quickly see why our method works when others fail.  We begin slowly, with simple “yes” and “no” questions and one-word answers, and we talk with the person who is learning to speak again all day long, through all of the activities of daily living. Sound familiar? If you offer a toddler some milk, you ask him to “say ‘milk.’”  Well, our method is very similar.  As one-word answers begin to come easily, we expand to two-word phrases, and so on. 
The fact is that in today’s system, most people with moderate to severe speaking difficulties will be discharged by an insurance company long before the need for therapy has ended. You no longer have to be bound to a speech-language pathologist or insurance company or management system that is going to discharge you soon anyway. 
Take a proactive role in the speech and language stimulation of your loved one. Become a pivotal, active participant in your loved one’s recovery, not a passive observer, wondering if they will ever get better. So when the day comes that your loved one’s therapy is terminated or if they have been discharged, for whatever reason, you feel confident in going forward with speech-language stimulation at home for as long as it takes to hear them speaking with clarity once again!
If you would like to know more about this revolutionary new method, please visit my website,  My name is Mark Ittleman, M.S., CCC/SLP, The speech pathologist who can make rocks talk!   

May 9, 2012

What's your Stroke Score?

Before I go any further take a moment and fill out this scorecard:

     Done? Good, we'll get to what your results mean in a bit.  
Too often we are quick to dismiss the possibility of a medical event affecting us because we “scored" really well on a test like this.  No one absolutely NO ONE can be guaranteed that they are not going to have a stroke.  Anyone no matter your age, race or sex can have a stroke.  There are risk factors, some are listed above, that you can control and reduce your chances of suffering a stroke.  The reality is that  80% of strokes are preventable.  You can make lifestyle changes or many and others can be treated medically.   
     There are uncontrollable factors that you need to be aware of.  These include being over the age of 55, being male, being African American, Hispanic or Asian/Pacific Islander, or having a family history of stroke or TIA (transient ischemic attack) just to name a few. The National Stroke Association has an Interactive Risk Factor Tool that explains 26 of the more common risk factors.  Please go through all the slides as I guarantee you'll find something you didn't know as I did. 

 OK back to your score.  

You should have 3 numbers, one for the red column, one for the yellow column and one for the green column.  Compare those numbers to the Risk Scorecard Results:

Had I taken this test pre-stroke my numbers would have been:  2   0   6     So what do my scores mean?  According to the chart I was at a low risk for having a stroke.  It simply proves that anyone anywhere at any time can suffer a stroke.  
BUT you CAN control the odds of it happening.    

So please the next time you visit your doctor have a Stroke Conversation.  Take with you not only the score from this Risk Assessment but also anything that caught your attention from the Risk Factor Tool.  


May 7, 2012

Grace Kelly, Cary Grant and Lady Bren!

     I have to admit I like seeing my name next to the likes of Hollywood Royalty.  However the reasoning isn't glorious.  Grace Kelly, Cary Grant and I have all suffered Strokes. 
     Like so many things it seems when a celebrities name is attached to anything the public seems to stand up and take notice.  In 2011, three weeks before the Oscars, the International Stroke Conference was held in Hollywood.  Using the location as inspiration the organizers of the conference, American Heart Association/American Stroke Association decided to research the frequency of stroke among a very elite group of people, Oscar nominees. 
    They discovered of the 409 men and women nominated from 1927-2009:

  • 30 (7.3 %) suffered strokes and 39 (9.5%) suffered heart attacks
  • 67 was the average age of when they had their first stroke
  • 18 of the 30 (60%) stroke victims were women
  • 6 of the 30 (20%) suffered fatal strokes.

     Among the 18 female stroke victims is Sharon Stone.  Sharon was 43 and training for a 3 mile charity run when she suffered a stroke. After her recovery she became a spokesperson for the American Stroke Association and filmed this PSA.
     Here is the complete list of those who suffered stroke and their most recent best actor/actress Oscar nomination:
Ruth Chatterton, 1930, Sarah and Son
Mary Pickford, 1930, Coquette
Bette Davis, 1963, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?
Claudette Colbert, 1945, Since You Went Away
Merle Oberon, 1936, The Dark Angel
Gladys George, 1937, Valiant is the Word for Carrie
Robert Donat, 1940, Goodbye, Mr. Chips
James Cagney, 1956, Love Me or Leave Me
Greer Garson, 1961, Sunrise at Campobello
Cary Grant, 1945, None But the Lonely Heart
Walter Pidgeon, 1944, Madame Curie
Jean Arthur, 1944, The More the Merrier
Celia Johnson, 1947, Brief Encounter
Gene Kelly, 1946, Anchors Away
Anne Baxter, 1951, All About Eve
Broderick Crawford, 1950, All the King's Men
Kirk Douglas, 1957, The Lust for Life
Julie Harris, 1953, The Member of the Wedding
Burt Lancaster, 1982, Atlantic City
Richard Burton, 1978, Anne of the Thousand Days
Grace Kelly, 1955, The Country Girl
Anthony Franciosa, 1958, A Hatful of Rain
Elizabeth Taylor, 1967, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
Patricia Neal, 1969, The Subject Was Roses
Edith Evans, 1968, The Whisperers
Dudley Moore, 1982, Arthur
James Garner, 1986, Murphy's Romance
Sharon Stone, 1996, Casino
Samantha Morton, 2004, In America

May 4, 2012

Rehab and Awards

   The craziness that is May has begun so with that in mind tonight I am sharing a post from my stay in Rehab.  I wrote it after my first day and I was not a happy camper: Rehab Reality: It Isn't pretty  If you have any qualms about privacy and bathrooms then this story is for you :)

     It seems that everything this week was scheduled on the same day.  Tonight alone we had 3 different activities that Patrick was a part of.  He wound up having to miss rehearsal for tomorrow night's YouthQuake Live show, which will be his last.  The first event of the evening was NJROTC awards.  Wait a bit of drama just for fun.  Awards start at 6:30, Cadets had to report at 6.  Patrick had gone to a friend's house to get ready, she was driving.  6:40 no Patrick or friends. I can't get a hold of him on his cell phone ~ you know what I was thinking.  Now I'm asking the kids who aren't involved at the moment do they have L's cell number or R's some thing's wrong.  No one can help as the kids were instructed to give their cell phones to their parents.  Just as my worry is reaching hyper mode the three kids come running in ~ thank heavens, then I chewed them all out.  After that bit of drama I'm proud to say Patrick received a personal achievement award along with other unit awards.  The Unit had over 50 trophies displayed that they won this past year :)  Tonight was the last time he is required to wear his uniform; I however am making him wear it for Graduation Sunday at church.

While we stayed for a few quick pics we then (along with a few of his friends) loaded into the Van and headed across town to our next Award Ceremony of the Evening~  County Media Festival.  That started at 7 but as they also give out awards to Elementary and Jr. High Media Teams we had a bit of time.  We walked in just as they announced his Video has won Second Place.  Another of his Videos also won Second.  A highlight of the night was the introduction of a new Media Teams at one of the High Schools.  All of its members are handicapped in one way or another.  Watching their excitement when their video was played just made my night ~ Congrats RHS Sky Blue Team.

The night ended with laughs at our local Steak and Shake.  It's only May 4th and I'm getting worn out~thank heavens I took a long nap today!!   All in all a great nite

May 3, 2012

Strokes and the Chiropractor

      It is amazing how often I'm researching one item for a blog and wind up learning something that completely changes everything.  While looking for more images of stroke awareness I came across this picture of a billboard and was completely shocked!

 Once I started looking I found various stories on the web about people who have suffered strokes following their visits to the Chiropractor.  One that interested me was that of Brittmarie Harwe.  In her own words here is her story as she told it to the  Connecicut General Assembly, March 3, 2008 
On April 18, 1993, I was just 26 years old, the day before my daughter turned 2. I went to a chiropractor because of a sore shoulder and neck.  I had a stroke immediately following the chiropractic cervical adjustment. The chiropractor called 911 and reported his patient was having a reaction.  He didn't mention he had just performed a neck adjustment, nor did he mention that I became immediately so dizzy I was unable to sit or stand without his assistance.  I couldn't speak. I was unable to focus my eyes. I was taken by ambulance to the hospital, and tests revealed that one of my vertebral arteries was crushed during the adjustment.  I was left with many neurological disabilities, including left-side weakness, paralyzed vocal chord, and the worst of all, I lost the ability to swallow. Since I can't swallow, I have a feeding tube that was surgically placed in my stomach. For the past 14 years, I haven't been able to eat anything except liquid nutrition.
As you continue to read her testimony not only before this assembly but others it is clear that she was harmed by her chiropractor.

What does the medical community have to say about this? Well before we go any further you need to understand what a VBA dissection is: (thank you Wikipedia) Vertebral artery dissection is a dissection (a flap-like tear) of the inner lining of the vertebral artery, which is located in the neck and supplies blood to the brain. After the tear, blood enters the arterial wall and forms a blood clot, thickening the artery wall and often impeding blood flow. The symptoms of vertebral artery dissection include head and neck pain and intermittent or permanent stroke symptoms such as difficulty speakingimpaired coordination and visual loss. It is usually diagnosed with a contrast-enhanced CT or MRI scan. Got it, ok onward.
According to  The National Center for Biotechnology Information's study published in March of 2010:
VBA stroke is a very rare event in the population. The increased risks of VBA stroke associated with chiropractic and PCP visits is likely due to patients with headache and neck pain from VBA dissection seeking care before their stroke. We found no evidence of excess risk of VBA stroke associated chiropractic care compared to primary care.

So where does this leave us?  Should you visit a Chiropractor?  Dr. Harriet Hall, an outspoken critic of alternative medicine and a retired US Air Force flight surgeon, wrote an article for Science-Based Medicine on this subject.  She ends her article   Chiropractic and Stroke  with this advice:
“Don’t ever let a chiropractor touch your neck “is the safest advice; but we can’t expect everyone to accept it. Some patients have had good experiences with neck manipulations and will continue to ask for them. We can’t presume to dictate to others. If someone judges that there is a one in a million risk of a stroke and is willing to take that risk, he has every right to do so. I think people have the right to engage in risky behaviors like skydiving and smoking cigarettes. I just think they deserve to know there is a risk, and to have some idea how much of a risk it is. I suspect the general public doesn’t know the facts about neck manipulation.   Following this article there are over 300 posts sharing direct thoughts and views on the subject.  

     As with anything education and communication are the most important tools you need to have.  Be completely clear with any health care provider as to any and all symptoms you are experiencing. Express any and all concerns about any treatment you are going to receive.
      I saw a chiropractor about 15 years ago following a car accident.  While he was unable to help me I had no complaints.  HOWEVER now knowing the risk involved I am not sure that I would ever visit a Chiropractor and allow him to manipulate my neck.

What's your opinion?  Did you know that this risk existed?

May 2, 2012

May is.....

     May is pretty simply one of those busy busy months.  We have Mother's Day kicking if off and then Memorial Day ending it..  Ooooo never noticed how May is book-ended with M holidays (remember I'm easily entertained).  Once you have school aged kids the outside obligations seem to pile on... recitals, play-offs, award ceremonies, end of year parties, dances... it truly can get incredibly over whelming at times.  Well I am here to add one more thing to the mix:

As you know the entire reason that I even have a blog is because I am a Stroke Survivor.  Too many people suffer devastating disabilities because those around them were not aware they were having a stroke.  The simple reality of my life is that because my husband loves Gray's Anatomy, he knew I was having a stroke. We can't remember if it was a Public Service Announcement or simply an episode that discussed Stroke Symptoms but he learned the warning signs and got me help as quickly as possible.  For the next few weeks I will sharing and hopefully educating as many people as I can on Stroke Awareness.

Please learn this simple acronym: FAST
Time truly is of the essence when it comes to diagnosing a stroke.  There is a medication that can ONLY be given up to 4 hours after the onset of symptoms. Had my husband listened to me he would have taken me home to sleep.  I received the medication within 45 minutes of onset and was incredibly lucky.  WE refuse to even think about what would have happened had he listened.

Just to add a bit more to the month of May~
     We are on Graduation countdown..... June 1st is graduation so things are going to be quite busy which of course means life is going to be incredibly entertaining and you know I'll have to share it with you.

I'm looking forward to spending the next 30 days driving crazy, crying, laughing, ranting and probably more crying (you know the proud Mom kind) and I hope you'll join me :)   And please oh please if you or someone in your family has survived a stroke or are helping someone recover do contact me I'd love to hear your story.  

Thank heavens Cinco de Mayo is here soon as I'm gonna need some Margaritas (send tequila please).