Give Kids a Smile: the Children’s Dental Initiative

Posted by Carly Morgan

This post was sponsored by Give Kids A Smile as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

I mention sometimes how we are on a tight budget and how there are things that we go without sometimes in order for me to stay home with our three kids but at the end of the day we are a very privileged family. I’ve never lived without good health insurance, including dental, and our kids benefit from the great healthcare that comes as a benefit of my husband’s job. For that reason, we’ve always made it to the kids’ six month dental checkups and it’s just assumed around here that if they have a dental issue that needs to be address, we can get it taken care of right away.

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So when I found out that half of all kids start Kindergarten with tooth decay, I was so sad. It’s hard to think about a little person heading off to school for the first time, trying to keep up with all the new routines and the new faces, and then battling a toothache on top of it. Even sadder is the thought that that kid might get teased or feel bad about himself because he has a problem with his teeth that is noticeable to other kids. As we found out this year, life can be pretty rough at five years old. That’s not an extra burden that kids should have to carry around.

Give Kids a Smile (GKAS) is a volunteer organization where dental professionals donate their time to kids who need free dental care. They provide services and, with the help of volunteer teachers, parents, and other health care professionals, they educate kids and their families on what they can do to take care of their teeth at home. So far, they have reached more than 5.5 million underserved children in all 50 states! GKAS is celebrating their 15th anniversary this month and I’ve partnered up with them to bring awareness about the program and about the fact that you can’t ignore kids’ teeth just because those teeth are baby teeth. Tooth decay is the real deal, even when the teeth are tiny.

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To keep decay from forming on your kids’ teeth, make sure they:

  • brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste for at least two minutes (a tooth timer helps but we also use the occasional Disney song to keep them going)
  • floss once a day
  • eat healthy meals (sticky carbs like bread can be as bad for teeth as sugar so be aware of that!)
  • visit the dentist at least once a year and don’t delay dental visits if you suspect that your child has a dental problem

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If you need dental services for your kids but you can’t afford them, you can learn more about the GKAS initative by visiting http://ADAfoundation.org/GKAS. You can also find them on Facebook if you’re interested in volunteering to help fight the silent epidemic of tooth decay in kids.

Using the Moodivator App to Help With Depression Management

Posted by Carly Morgan

This post was developed in partnership with Pfizer as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central.

You may know somebody who struggles with depression. In the United States, 15.7 million adults struggle with at least one depressive episode every year. That doesn’t necessarily mean that all of those people are getting consistent treatment however, since more than a third of the people who received treatment last year reported persisting unmet treatment needs.

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One of the rough things about depression is that a lot of the burden of treating depression is on the shoulders of the person who may or may not be in the middle of a depressive episode. There are a lot of different ways to treat depression including talk therapy, support groups, medication, and personal wellness plans, but the first step for all of those is being aware that you’re struggling with depression and deciding to take action to move yourself to a better place. That can be a lot to ask of someone who is fighting that battle, especially when you think about the fact that many people fight that battle all the time.

The new Moodivator app isn’t a treatment for depression, but it’s an app that supports people with depression by giving them a place to log their moods, set goals, and track their progress every day. The basic goal is to encourage people with depression to use their smart phone as a tool to be consistently active in the management of their condition, which is that huge first step. It’s also pretty open-ended so it’s easy to customize the app to the specific things that make you feel better.

When I first started using it, I was worried that it would be all touchy-feely exercises like writing notes to yourself, but instead I’m able to use it to log my moods and set small specific goals that actually work with my life (i.e. getting the laundry put away and answering my email vs. running a 5K this weekend or attending a group therapy session). Those small tasks can feel overwhelming when they pile up so tracking them is very helpful but since it’s all on my phone I can do it easily and privately on my own.

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There is a function that lets you share your progress with your support network through charts that track your activity in the app, so if you’re involved in a treatment plan that involves getting help from other people I’m sure that could be a real asset. It’s also free to download from the iTunes store and there’s no sign up or anything that needs to happen, so you can start using it immediately.

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The Moodivator app is not a treatment for depression and does not take the place of your doctor’s care or advice. This app also includes information about a prescription treatment option for depression.

Eva’s Asthma: It’s a Big Deal

Posted by Carly Morgan

Strangely, I haven’t spent a lot of time talking about Eva’s asthma. Her allergy issues come up a lot more often, particularly when it comes to food, because her reactions are so severe and food is so absolutely-everywhere-we-go. The asthma thing is always a secondary thought. We carry her medications and give her daily steroids, but if you ask me what her biggest health hurdle is I think allergies always come to mind first.

Right now, thinking about that, I think I might have it backward.

We had an epically rotten weekend. Some kind of virus tore through the house and put Eva out of commission starting Thursday night and then led to me being sick out of mind from Friday through Sunday. We’re starting to recover, but Eva still has a low-ish fever (101 degrees) and this pesky little cough that she had has now turn into a gross drowning-sound cough that is a classic precursor for something that might turn into asthma. If you want to know what I mean, listen for it in this video:

I sat up with her for most of the night last night to see if she was going to go into a full blown asthma attack. She didn’t, but it’s amazing how much she doesn’t sleep when she’s like this. About every five minutes she’d cough and turn over…all night. I watched her from about 10 PM to 6 AM when I went to sleep myself and I don’t think I saw her sleep for a consecutive ten minutes.

Nighttime (nocturnal) asthma is something you don’t hear much about but it’s a big deal for kids. Tons of asthma kids miss school because they spent the night having a hard time breathing and being tired makes it harder for them to get past an illness that could be causing the asthma. Plus, there’s an emotional toll to asthma (the stress of not being able to breathe can actually trigger a cycle which keeps the asthma on constant flare-up mode) and exhaustion doesn’t make that any easier to deal with, either for the kids or for the parents.

I’ve got my fingers crossed that we’re in the clear, but outside of hoping that she outgrows this crummy disease we don’t have any full relief in her future. There aren’t as many treatments promising an asthma cure as there are treatments promising an allergy cure (not that Eva is eligible for any of those yet) so we just have to teach her how to take care of herself, watch for symptoms, and occasionally stay up all night watching her sleep.

One final thought: I hate how often kids with inhalers are used as punchlines in movies. There’s this idea that those kids are weak by choice or because they have overprotective parents…I don’t think it’s deliberate but it isn’t funny, especially for families who have had asthma tragedies totally outside of their control. This month last year, friends of friends back in Ohio lost their six year old boy to an asthma attack moments after her got home from Kindergarten. Everyone did all the right things, but something invisible happened and his lungs stopped and that was that.

I thought about Xander a lot last night when I was getting tired of listening for the sounds of not-breathing from Eva. His story is definitely something I can depend on to keep me up at night.

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Why I Get More Migraines This Time of Year

Posted by Carly Morgan

I created this post as part of a campaign by Teva Pharmaceuticals. I received an American Express gift card for participating.

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This is the second part of a series of posts talking about migraines. In my first migraine post, I talked about my worst migraines which are the ones where I go completely blind for a period of time. I was surprised at how many people sent me messages after that post to say that they had the same symptoms or something similar including people who lose their hearing temporarily, people who have terrible smells/tastes in their mouth for hours, and people who feel like they’re staring into a bright light whether they close their eyes or not. These are definitely not just “bad headaches”.

I get 2-3 migraines every month but luckily I only lose my vision occasionally. The other migraines are debilitating but they don’t leave me completely helpless so I’ll still take them over the others any day. A few years back, I noticed that I could see a pattern in how often the migraines were occurring and realized that specific times of years seem to be much more likely to trigger a migraine episode than others. My worst times are in late Spring and Autumn, which I only noticed because I tend to be down with migraines right around the time certain outdoor activities are taking place. For whatever reason, spring flowers, Mother’s Day brunch, and pumpkin patches are all things that I now associate with migraines.

The tough thing about pinning down an exact trigger is that there are so many things out there that can set migraines off. Weather changes, lack of sleep, loud noises, bright lights, and stress are all known triggers and it wouldn’t surprise me if seasonal allergy sufferers who have migraines are more likely to be triggered right when all the plants are changing. If you do suffer from migraines, it’s a good idea to try to keep track of what you were doing before you noticed symptoms to see if you can find a pattern and try to avoid or plan for those triggers in the future. Planning for triggers might seem silly, but it’s not a bad idea to have a kit with things that will help (dark sunglasses, a bottle of water, a bag to throw up into, etc.) if you might be caught out and about with a migraine.

Sometimes I get really frustrated with myself for having migraines because some of my triggers are things that are in my control, like how much sleep I got the night before, but ultimately I know that occasionally it’s just something that happens even if I’m well-rested or well-hydrated or staying out of the sun. So, I try hard to stay relaxed, do what I can to feel better, and then concentrate on the fact that it will pass because it always has before. I think any kind of pain, disorientation, and nausea has the unsettling habit of tricking you into feeling like you’ll suffer from it FOREVER, so being conscious of the fact that time is moving forward and getting me closer to relief is a huge comfort for me.

Learn more at MoretoMigraine.com.

The One Where the Two Year Old Put a Bean Up His Nose

Posted by Carly Morgan

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So, another ER visit for the Morgan family. Woo hoo!

This isn’t even one of those helpful blog posts where I tell you all sorts of special medical stuff because EVERYONE knows not to let your toddler put beans up his/her nose. I did not win at parenting yesterday. So consider this something like a photo essay on the joy of paying a huge co-pay for a bean. A bean!!!!!

This all happened because we used to have a rice and pinto bean mix that the kids had in a sensory table. It was a huge hit and they loved it…

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…but then Calvin developed a habit of putting things up his nose and we had to toss all of the beans out. We also had to remove erasers, puff balls, small foam stickers, buttons, Barbie accessories, etc.

He finally broke the habit and we’ve been letting him use the occasional nostril-sized object. Or, we thought he’d broken the habit. Blah.

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Kyle noticed that Calvin kept saying his face hurt but he wouldn’t tell us why and then I looked into his nose and saw a something that was not supposed to be there. So Kyle held him down and we used an aspirator and saline solution and a pair of tweezers, but eventually we got to the point where (A) the screaming had us worried someone would call the cops and (B) I didn’t actually know if I was pulling it out or pushing it farther in.

So, I took him to the ER. It was almost an Insta-Care situation but I was afraid he was going to choke…I don’t know. I hate making that call and I feel like I have to make it all the freaking time. WHY ARE WE IN THE EMERGENCY ROOM SO OFTEN, UNIVERSE? NOT FUNNY.

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We waited for a couple of hours, which is sort of a bummer but always serves as a reminder that we are the healthiest/luckiest people in the ER if we aren’t making the top of anyone’s to-do list. Finally, the nurse and the doctor came in.

Side note: Calvin is a surprisingly agreeable kid despite being the most mischievous person I’ve ever met. He has his two-year-old moments but on the whole he doesn’t freak out about strangers and he’s generally pretty polite. So I wasn’t surprised when he cheerfully allowed them to swaddle him until he was immobile. They were surprised though and told each other this was going to be easy because he was being so cooperative.

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Not so much.

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There was kicking and head whipping and eventually I had to help the nurse hold him down so the doctor could get a Foley catheter up and inflate it to pull the bean out. It was a pinto bean, leftover from our sensory table days, and I did get a mini-lecture from the doctor about how that’s not an appropriate plaything for a two year old which I KNOW but couldn’t really be defensive about because…yeah…not winning.

The amazing thing is that we put the rice and beans table away a year ago and somehow that bean survived the clean up and all subsequent clean ups and Calvin was the one that found it and he must have immediately shoved it up his nose. That’s a Christmas miracle right there.

It’s been tossed and we are again a bean-free house, but Eva made a sign for their room just in case:

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If you can’t read Eva-ese, it says “Don’t put ‘eans in your nose” and that’s a picture of sad Calvin with a knife hovering in front of him because she thought they were going to cut his nose to get the bean out.

As for the bean, Calvin was too terrified of it when it finally came out to let me take a photo. To be fair, apparently it went in dry but grew as it got soggier (ew ew ew) and it was actually stretching his little nose to the limit so it was probably pretty painful. To give you the visual, I snuck in while he was sleeping:

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Ew, right? So don’t let your kid put beans up his nose. And now you know.

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