Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Mercury, Vaccines and SIDS, Oh My!

This post relates to three articles I read on Monday, but didn't have the energy to blog about Monday.

First: Mercury. My favorite Roman god and neurotoxic heavy metal. Mercury has been found in high fructose corn syrup.

Let's see, I was already not a fan of HFCS before this story, and did my best to keep it out of the boys' diets, but am not so good with my own diet. After reading this, I'm tossing the Hershey's syrup I was adding to my lattes every now and then. I think I've got some AhLaska in the fridge to use instead.

Also HFCS related, the Corn Refiners Association, the ones responsible for that corn syrup propaganda you may have seen in print and TV ads, is probably not very happy about this news. I just went to "Sweet Surprise," their website. Yes, really. The name makes me want to barf. The "sweet surprise," (apart from the way corn syrup messes with your metabolism and isn't processed by the body the way natural sweeteners are, instead having to go through the liver like other toxins and not allowing the body to be satiated the way it would with natural foods) may be the potent neurotoxin! However those corn folks want us to know: "This study appears to be based on outdated information of dubious significance." Appears? Dubious? My, get all scientific on us, why don't you! Do you have anything to say to back up your, er, opinions? OK. Well, I'll "appear" to keep far away from your toxic crap. I will have to get over my Dr Pepper thing at restaurants, and if I want a soda, stick to the Mexican Coke at home. (It's at Costco in glass bottles - the Coca Cola made with sugar, the way it used to be before subsidized corn took over the country.)

Check out this parody of those horrible corn syrup ads. Really funny, and even more pertinent with this mercury news. There are a lot more that are equally funny on youtube, as well.

Second: Vaccines. This study claims that the mercury-based thimerosal used in vaccines isn't harmful. Oh wait, according to this article, "once used in many vaccines". Yeah, it's still in many vaccines. Try again. The first thing I thought about when reading about this study, was why did the US CDC fund a study of vaccines in children in Italy? How about studying children in say, oh, the United States? Then I thought, giving them the benefit of the doubt, well, if the Italians had already done the first part of the study in the 90s, the CDC was trying to save doing the work again, plus there's that ten years head start the Italians had.

But, I thought more about it, and more issues came to mind. Do you think Italy's children have a similar genetic background to children in the US? Don't you think the children of the "Great American Melting Pot" might have a bit more diversity? Also, were children in the US being given the same vaccines, on the same schedules, as Italian children? Or, were say, the money-making pharmaceutical companies in the US already pushing more vaccines, more frequently in the US than Italy? I don't know, but I bet US children got more vaccines (and thimerosal) than they're Italian counterparts. Also, were the children who would be more likely to have adverse effects from thimerosal excluded from this study? For instance, sick children or those with weak immune systems? Let's see: "thousands of healthy Italian babies". I guess that's a yes.

While looking for a link to this study, I found this fascinating blog post.
Read this link. I have to read it more carefully, but so far it only reinforced my initial feelings that this study was specially designed so the results could be twisted around to good effect by the CDC.

Third: SIDS This article from Monday is about the number of infant suffocation deaths rising. Apparently there's a difference between suffocation and SIDS, though they are both placed under the heading of SUIDs, or sudden unexpected infant deaths. A bit confusing. What's odd is that suffocation deaths are "most common among black boy babies younger than 4 months". That really doesn't make sense to me. Why would black boy babies be more likely to die accidentally from suffocation? And though suffocation is not the same as SIDS, it seems the two were used interchangeably for many years. The article itself didn't really get me too worked up, it was the "discussion" of the article I found, that involved lots of bashing of co-sleeping as being the dangerous cause of infant deaths, versus the many parents who co-slept with their babies, as the majority of the world has done since the dawn of man. If you couldn't guess, I co-slept with Hutton and Harrison. I don't think it's dangerous, as I wasn't drinking or taking drugs, legal or illegal, while doing so. I didn't put pillows or blankets near them. Often, they would start in my bed, then I'd move them to a bassinet beside the bed. I still can wake up from a deep sleep if I hear one of the boys cough in their bedroom downstairs, and when Fergus, my dog baby, was alive I often had a sixth sense, and would jump out of bed in the middle of the night to find him circling around, about to pee on the floor (which is why he moved downstairs to sleep in his final months, so he'd be closer to the door, and make accident cleanup easier). Anyway, I think it's important to distinguish between accidental suffocation and SIDS, though I don't think anyone is willing to study the "real" cause of SIDS. Is there a relation between SIDS and vaccination? How about toxic crib mattresses and children's flame-retardant doused pajamas? Oh, for more on that, read this. I will leave antimony for another day (though it was very high on my and Hutton's hair tests).

Monday, January 26, 2009

I'm Here! Really!

Has it really been over a month since my last post? Why, yes! Yes, it has! Oops.

In that month, we celebrated Christmas at home with the boys for the first time. It was wonderful! We normally are in Nashville or Pensacola for Christmas, but not this year. On Christmas Eve, we tracked Santa on the computer. Christmas morning, we heard the boys get up early and I heard Harrison excitedly yelling about his "Doc Ock" Spiderman action figure left by Santa. He and Hutton were both very excited by their gifts. It snowed Christmas day, and was simply beautiful. Hubby and the boys put together a Lego robot, I cooked traditional Christmasy foods, and Hubby grilled our turkey. Family bliss.

The next weekend, the boys and I flew to Nashville to visit my family. Hubby stayed home to avoid the dysfunction of the season. Well, it's not normally so dysfuctional, but this year my mother divorced my stepfather, whom she married 20 years ago. Stepdad isn't my all-time favorite person, but I've grown to love and accept him for who he is over the years, and the divorce was hard on me and my siblings, and Stepdad. My mother, on the other hand, seemed to be fine with it, and in fact went on to marry an old highschool friend in Las Vegas about 10 days after her divorce. Moving on, huh? The boys and I visited with Stepdad on our trip, but it was a bit weird, and it's sad that we won't be able to spend time with him in their beautiful house the way we used to. The house is on market now.

My mother and new "dad" - ha! - came up to visit us at my brother's house, where the boys and I stayed, since my mother's former house wasn't an option. The new man is...well, I guess he makes Mom happy. Mom is now living in a camper an hour and a half away from the school where she teaches. As I said, whatever makes Mom happy. She kept saying, "Next Christmas will be more settled!" We shall see! However, I have felt so much more distance from my mother in the past six months, which is very sad. I love my mother, but she seems to have changed, but thinks everything will go back to being "normal" in the blink of an eye. I don't know. We used to call each other every few days, but that dropped off considerably when her new man joined the picture, and I miss those chats with my mom. I suppose it's my fault, too. The phones work both ways, after all.

Last week, my in-laws came out for a week's visit. It was nice to see them, but as it is with in-laws, I was happy to see them go. They are exceedingly nice people, but I have an in-law problem, in that most things they do annoy me, for no good reason. If a friend did the same things, I would have no problem at all, but if an in-law does it, my eyes start rolling. Maybe there's a pill for that? The boys had great visits with their grandparents, though, and we had a nice sledding trip one day, and spent the day in Seattle another day, when it was beautiful and sunny. We had lunch at the top of the Space Needle, then shopped at the Pike Place Market, which is always a great thing to do, and doesn't happen often without the "out of town visitors" unfortunately.

This week, I am recovering from my stressful last month. I am vowing to start exercising faithfully again, and so far have done some exercise two days in a row. I am counting the 20 minutes of high-energy dancing to the Wiggles CD I did with Harrison yesterday as exercise. I did break a sweat, and had to remove my sweater. I also did some situps and pushups during the slower songs. Today I did a pilates workout, and tomorrow I have a soccer game. After that, I'll have to keep it going through the end of the week, at least one of the days on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday, if not more. I canceled the horseback riding lessons I was taking on Thursdays. It was great exercise, as my inner thighs were sore for days after, but I decided I couldn't handle the instructor anymore. I talked about it with my best friend and Hubby on several occasions, and finally made the decision to stop. I'll try to find another place for lessons later in the spring. As I told my friend and Hubby, I don't like paying someone to make me miserable. If I had to work with someone I hated, it would be one thing, as I'd be getting paid for it. To actually pay for the misery, uh, no thanks!

Here starts my ranting about the horseback riding instructor, so feel free to skip the next few paragraphs. I'm only writing it so when I forget how much I couldn't stand this woman, I can come back and read this and remember. The instructor, on her website, wrote that clients should arrive early for lessons, so there was plenty of time to groom and tack the horse. I arrived early in the beginning, until I figured out that she would never be in the barn when I arrived, or if she was, she would be doing a million other things before she could get the horse for me. I don't have enough experience to get a horse tacked up on my own yet, plus, I couldn't access the tack room without this woman. A few weeks ago, I knew I was really ready to quit (though it's been nagging at me since the very first lesson that the situation wasn't good) when I showed up at 10:00 a.m., and waited 15 minutes for her to arrive, as she was chatting with a woman at her house right next to the barn. She could see my car, but my time isn't important, I suppose. I'm only paying about $50 for it.

The time issue was one big part of it, but the real reason was I couldn't stand the woman personally. She had an abrasive, negative attitude, and that does not make a good instructor in anything. For some reason, out of a barn full of horses (I think she owned five of them) she put me on the most unresponsive horse possible. Maybe her thinking was that if I could get him to follow my directions, I'd be ready for anything. However, this just caused my first few lessons, no, it was the whole damn string of lessons, to be very frustrating. You ask a horse to trot. It doesn't. You ask again and again, trying to maintain your beginner's balance while kicking repeatedly with your beginner's legs, and the horse still doesn't respond. Meanwhile, you have the "expert" yelling at you and the horse, "Kick him! Kick him!" This would go on for half the lesson, with a few moments of trotting, before the instructor would put the horse on the lunge line, and he would respond. Eventually, I was able to get the horse to trot for longer stretches, but it was still very frustrating, and the instructor yelling at me did not help. She gave me a riding crop to use. I didn't really like using it, especially when she'd say, "Tell him to trot with your legs. Give him a chance to respond. If he doesn't, hit him." I'd give him the leg signal, and most of the time, after a few moments of faster walking, he'd trot. However, one second after I'd kick him into a trot, the instructor would start yelling, "Hit him! Hit him!" Uh, what was that part about giving him a chance to follow through? Grr. She'd then give me this spiel, every time: "You have kids, right? It's the same with kids! You tell them what you want, and tell them the consequences if they don't do it, and you have to follow through with the discipline!" I'm 99% sure this woman doesn't have kids. If she does, they're grown or have been taken away from her by CPS. Either way, I won't be taking her advice, which seems to be, "Tell your kids to do something, and start 'disciplining' them immediately if they don't break into a sweat jumping into action."

She'd repeat the same stories all the time. Complain, complain, bitch, bitch, yell, yell. Last week, after my lesson, she said the magic words: "This is the last session you've paid for." Hallelujah! I did my best "thinking hard" look, and said, "Aren't you going out of town next month?" Then I mumbled something about my schedule getting more hectic. The next client was there, and I figured I'd sneak out without further discussion. I started to walk to my car, trying not to run. She caught me as I was close to the barn door: "Can you go ahead and pay me today for the next session?" Hmm. How about a good old-fashioned lie? "Oh, actually, I don't have my checkbook with me." It's always in my purse. She doesn't need to know that my purse is in my car. Today, I made what I hope will be the final contact. The break-up phone call, where I left her a message (thank God she didn't pick up!) about having a discussion with Hubby about our finances, and yadda yadda yadda, I might check back with her later in the year, but I wouldn't be coming on Thursday. I hope I didn't jinx our finances with my lie (come on, Karma! I was just trying to protect her feelings! She doesn't need to know I quit because I can't stand her OR her unresponsive horse!).

Sigh. Relax. No more toxic horse lady. I will not answer the phone if she calls. I'll look into group lessons at the local park for the spring. It will be cheaper and warmer, and hopefully with nice instructors! The kids' class instructors were great, so maybe they teach the adult classes, too.

Time for bed.

I'll have some autism rants later, I'm sure. I've had lots to write about, but no time. Hopefully that will change! (Meaning the time to write.)

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