Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Truly The Wonder Drug

All through my childhood, Bayer aspirin was touted as "the wonder drug". I suppose that was because no matter what ailed you, the doctor was sure to prescribe an aspirin as the cure but it is the oldest medication known today. And although it was seen as the wonder drug, the effects of aspirin-like substances date back to ancient Greeks. Used as a fever reducer the leaves and bark of the willow contain salicin which in layman terms is similar to the chemical name for aspirin.

The origin of aspirin came through the collaborative research work of several aspirin inventors rather than one specific person. In 1897, Friedrich Bayer and Company came up with a stable compound as a result of a treatment for arthritis pain. A few years later, The Bayer Company introduced aspirin to physicians for pain relief for their patients.

Today the tiny wonder drug is given to hundreds of thousands of heart patients as a daily low dose and preventive for heart disease and stroke. Approved by the FDA, aspirin is the only analgesic that can help save your life when taken as directed during a suspected heart attack and can also lessen the damaging effects. Experts agree that your first line of defense is to call 911 should you suspect a heart attack and then chew a couple of aspirin. The best kind? The granular generic - the big bottle with the crumbly pieces at the bottom is truly your best bet says Dr. Nancy Synderman, NBC's Chief Medical Editor, because it breaks up so easily and quickly gets to work.

But if the symptoms are stroke related, Dr Snyderman, warns that taking aspirin at that time may be more harmful than helpful because it is designed to increase blood flow, something that may cause the heart or other arterial passages to throw clots. Aspirin is recommended for prevention of a second or recurrent stroke. And as always, one should talk to their doctor before beginning and aspirin regimen to be sure it is right for your body. 

But wait, there's more this little wonder drug can do. Stuck with a dead battery and no cables? Drop two aspirin into the battery to give it a little spark to help get you to a service station. Have a itchy bug bite or unsightly blemish - crush aspirin mixed with water to make paste. Smear on the area to take down the inflammation. Nasty stain on your favorite shirt? Dissolve aspirin into lukewarm water and wash the stain away. And of course, the all time favorite, add a an aspirin to the water when you fill that vase with fresh flowers, or as the season approaches your live Christmas tree.

I can think of no better word to describe this little pill than "wonderful". So many practical uses both medical and aesthetic, it has every reason to claim the name "Wonder Drug". With few exceptions, such as bleeding disorders, pregnant women and not for children with fevers due to Rhys Syndrome, aspirin remains a staple in our daily lives. Simple, I like it.  That's What A Wise Grandma Would Do.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Make Room For Girls and Boys

There is a local campaign that has offended some, though its intent is to inform and motivate women to take charge of their health care and make regular breast exams. The campaign slogan is "Make time for the girls".  As a breast cancer survivor for 17 years, I think I can speak for those who have survived and those that have not - know your body

I spent 2 years in treatment, from biopsy, four surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation. I was 39 years old when I was diagnosed two weeks before Christmas. I had a mastectomy on December 27, 1999. From the moment I found the lump, my life was forever altered. I had 3 young children, my son was only 2 years old. I went through the two years with fellow travelers -  my dear friend lost her fight to breast cancer, shortly after I finished my chemotherapy. All total, there were 5 of us who were in some stage of treatment together. I am the only survivor.

Barbara Welsh discovered she had breast cancer. She had a different partner. Her husband was diagnosed with breast cancer during her course of treatment. The news was at once devastating and yet created an immeasurable bond between them. 

"We've got one another," says Barbara. "We will be together doing whatever in sickness and in health." Barbara and Mike have been married 41 years. Barbara's cancer was less than stage 1 but Mike is in stage 4. Both have had a mastectomy and Mike will begin his chemo treatment shortly after Barbara finishes hers. 

Only about 1% of men are diagnosed with breast cancer and most are in their 60's and 70's. Finding the markers for breast cancer in women is similar for men and the research shows that about 20% of the cases are hereditary. A very good reason why we should make room for the girls and the boys. That's what a wise, survivor and warrior grandma would do!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Finger Lickin' Good!

Searching through the recipe box for a dinner entree to brighten a cold and dreary night. Approaching the 6 - 0 means your recipe box has a few tasty menu items that may be gathering a bit of dust. With fewer people at the table, you tend to cut your time standing at the stove and opt for a quick sandwich at the end of the day.

Which is why this recipe stands out. It makes enough to freeze for later, make sandwiches or have an impromptu dinner party. The author of this finger lickin' good recipe is my Auntie Cecile. Her biggest claim to fame in my memory is the fact that she had lots of kids - the four legged kind. The Swensons lived around the corner from us and every time we came over, Auntie Cecile welcomed us with a cup of goat milk. 

This recipe was one of her favorites. With four strapping boys and one girl, she had a hungry brood when the dinner bell rang. Her big house and huge backyard that was an endless opportunity for exploration, always drew hungry kids to the table. Auntie Cecile, was my aunt by choice rather than birth. She was an outstanding woman, character, mom and cook. 

Apricot Chicken Divine

2T margarine
2T oil
8 chicken breasts (can adapt to a smaller amount)
1/2 c flour
1 t salt
1/2 c apricot preserves
1/2 c yogurt
slivered almonds

Melt margarine and oil in shallow pan. Shake chicken in plastic bag with flour and salt.
Put chicken in single layer in pan and bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.
Combine preserves, French's Honey Dijon Mustard and yogurt and spread on chicken baking an additional 25 minutes or until done. Sprinkle with slivered almonds.

Prepare to lick your fingers clean! Then toast my Auntie Cecile with a cup of goats milk! That's what a wise grandma would do.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Mother's Cry For Help

"We have got to stop this. We need to stop this now," cries Valerie Brewer, the mother of 15 year old burn victim, Michael Brewer from Broward County, Florida. 

This story is playing out all over the world. Violence has become a child's plaything. The United Nations World Study on Violence Against Children reports show that 60% of today's children have witnessed violence. It comes at the hands of a loved one, bullies or street violence. 

Doused with rubbing alcohol and set on fire, Michael was called a snitch for reporting to the police that his attackers attempted to steal his father's bike. The attackers? Five teenage boys, one is 13 years old and now the charges have gone from attempting to steal a bike to attempted murder. They could also be charged as adults. For most of us, this may make sense but despite the actions, the mindset is obviously still that of a child.

Barely alive with burns over 80% of his body, Michael struggles to hang on. Dr. Namias, the boy's doctor spoke from Jackson Memorial Hospital saying that Michael was not out of the woods because he had not yet entered the woods for doctors to see the other side. The road ahead was filled with fears of organ failure and infection for a boy who was doing the right thing. 

As parents and grandparents were at once horrified and sympathetic to the plight of this family. But as a people, we must listen and respond to Michael's mother. She is not asking for revenge, but for action. 

Monday, October 12, 2009

Until Death Do Us Part

In Western culture we believe that marriage is a union between two people and that union can only be separated by death. Pretty stiff penalty for sticking out a life that should be hallmarked with marital bliss. But it signifies the solemnity of a vow that should be made with the intent - to love and cherish despite any unforseen circumstances short of death. 

As a witness to my niece's wedding recently, I heard the minister charge all of us in attendance to see that those vows are honored. She eluded that it was our concern that this young couple have every opportunity to comply with these vows and our duty as loving friends and family to help them do so. This really struck me as I heard my niece and her groom say "I do" indicating they understood and agreed to these vows. It is my charge then, to offer support to mend rather than end from this day forward. After thirty eight years of marriage, I still take the vows I made seriously. There were no crystal balls handed out at my wedding, nor the 20/20 visions of hindsight. And yet, I knew that perfect marriages exist only in fairy tales and that better or worse was bound to come our way. Both have come our way and as at the end of every storm, there comes sunshine. 

I came home from the wedding and looked up the familiar Corinthians verse. Perhaps on their anniversaries, married couples should read the words again as a reminder that although the vows seem easily spoken in the white gowns and tuxedos of the day, that repeating them when the bouquet has wilted and the cake is eaten, may be an even more significant pledge of unity. 

Therefore, for your consideration, read this fine print.

If I could speak in any language in heaven or on earth but didn't love others, I would only be making meaningless noise like a loud gong or a clanging cymbal.

If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I knew all the mysteries of the future and knew everything about everything, but didn't love others, what good would I be? And if I had the gift of faith so that I could speak to a mountain and make it move, without love I would be no good to anybody.

If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn't love others, I would be of no value whatsoever.

Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged.

It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.

Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

And that's precisely what a wise grandma will do, until death do her part.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

What's In A Name?

We have always had animals of one sort or another around our little piece of heaven for many years. The dogs and cats are usually named after baseball players. There was a beautiful yellow lab named Babe because of his gentle giant ways like the King of Swat, Babe Ruth. A handsome tabby we called Casey and our current boxer mix, named for Ty Cobb, the meanest, roughest player to ever put on a pair of cleats. 

But when it comes to the chickens, rabbits and ducks we use pet names only to designate those who may end up in a stew or roasting pan as the main course. There have been the Buffys, Fluffys and Quackers and it was duly noted that their life on this planet was safe and secure. We always thanked the others for the eggs and manure, offering up the occasional treat for their efforts. The words free range and organic were not yet common place other than in our own backyard.

A pair of British researchers are the winners of the Ig Nobel Veterinary Medicine Award for their study of the affect of human behavior on animals. The Ig Nobel awards are preceded by the Nobel Prizes. They honor people who not only make people think, but that also make them laugh. This year they celebrate turning tequila into diamonds and whether it hurts more to be hit over the head with a full or empty beer bottle. An among these interesting award winners, these British researchers, Catherine Douglas and Peter Rowlinson of Newcastle University in Newcastle UK, have found that cows with names produce more milk than the other moo cows in the field.

Not sure what this information will mean to dairy farms with hundreds of cows but don't be surprised to see the newest book on Best Seller List - A Thousand Animal Names for Guaranteed Productivity! 

For now, I'll stick with  "here chicky, chicky". That's what a wise grandma would do.