Exploring the HEART of grandparenthood

Why would I talk about grandparenting on a medical blog? Health professionals consider the family a vital factor in health, both positive and negative. You probably know that family medical history contributes to physical health, but family interactions also play an important role in child development, learning, and emotional health.

I was grilled.

Grilled as in “intense questioning or interrogation.” And that’s not a bad thing , it was all in fun and I’m sharing it with you here.

Grandma’s Briefs

Lisa Carpenter writes a blog called Grandma’s Briefs where she

shares my snippets, er, briefs on the good, bad, humorous, and heartwarming of being a grandmother, baby boomer, parent to adult children, wife, and writer.

One of the features on her blog is Grilled Grandmas, where she interviews other women who are both bloggers and grandmothers. Her blog challenges the stereotype of rocking chair grandmothers way past their prime in life

a woman with her arms around 2 little girls on each side
Establishing a bond with grandparents is great for kids in many ways.
photo from Lightstock.com

Why talk about grandparenting?

Why would I talk about grandparenting on a medical blog? Health professionals consider the family a vital factor in health, both positive and negative. You probably know that family medical history contributes to physical health, but family interactions also play an important role in child development, learning, and emotional health.

Establishing a bond with grandparents is great for kids in many ways. Grandparents can be positive role models and influences, and they can provide a sense of cultural heritage and family history. Grandparents provide their grandkids with love, have their best interests at heart, and can make them feel safe.

Bonding With Grandparents

My grilling

A few weeks ago, Lisa sent me her interview questions,some of which challenged me to answer. Some answers I knew right away, others required some reflection . For example, this question

What is the most challenging part of being a grandma?

my answer-

Not having had a role model. Both of my grandmothers died before I was born, so I never experienced having a grandmother in my life.

This question was easy.

What is one thing (or more) you’re proud to say you do right as a grandma?

We offer advice and help when asked, but we don’t butt in, interfere, criticize, or make demands. We let the parents be the parents.

Lisa asked me to submit a few photos of me with my grandkids; perusing my photos to pick out a few sparked many happy memories.

Lisa’s final question was –

What one bit of advice would you give a new grandma?

Learn the answer at Lisa’s post which you will find at this link-

Grilled Grandma: Grandma Aletha

a man reading to two young girls, sitting in a woman's lap
Family interactions play an important role in child development, learning, and emotional health. photo from Lightstock.com

Taking Care of Your Grandchildren

This article gives grandparents a refresher course in caring for children. Whether they are with you for just a few hours, several days, or live with you, this gives practical tips on keeping them healthy and safe when they are in your care.

CPR

If you don’t already know CPR, consider taking a class or refresher course. CPR is done differently in children than adults. Infants and children are more likely to suffer respiratory arrest -quit breathing- than cardiac arrest-heart stopping. Common causes include choking, drowning, and trauma. Sources for training include

  • American Red Cross
  • American Heart Association
  • your local schools’ adult education programs
  • local hospitals and medical training programs

sharing the HEART of health

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn, links are on the left side bar here and the Home page. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

These are affiliate links you may find helpful and which help fund this blog with a commission when a purchase is made using them.

Free Babsy Board Books! 234x180 Zoobooks Home Page Sale at Totally Kids fun furniture & toys
cheesy-free faith-focused stock photos

The photos in this post are from Lightstock-quality photos and graphics site- get a free photo here. 

(This is an affiliate link)

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How Two Words and Two Left Feet Still Change My Life

When I watched  the war in Vietnam on TV news,  I didn’t realize the doctor I had read about had worked there. I never imagined that I would ever go there. And I never imagined that war would  help me meet my husband, and create a family that brings me joy every day.

OUR TWO LEFT FEET 

My husband and I have taken ballroom dance lessons for 14 years and currently study with a ballroom dance teacher who calls his dance school  Two Left Feet. We were both in our 50s when we started dancing and have never looked back. We regularly dance socially, compete in regional events, and perform in dance showcases. Dancing has become our favorite recreational  interest and has changed our lives. 

Unfortunately, we’ve had some “bumps” along the dance floor. I broke my right foot and couldn’t dance for several months. My husband needed surgery for an ankle fracture so will be off his right foot for several weeks. 

But thank goodness, our “two left feet”  have stayed safe and healthy. 

a couple in fancy clothes with medals around their necks
showing off the medals we won in a dance competition

 

 

OUR TWO WORDS 

“Two” was also a lucky number for us 45 years ago. We fell in love and married because of two words that changed our lives. But a few years into our marriage, our luck ran out. Here is our story of finding it again. We share it because we know other couples share a similar story and think  it may help them. Maybe that’s you; if so, let us know. Contact us here

“I’M AVAILABLE”

In college I participated in Chi Alpha, a faith-based student group. When I started dating a young man of a different faith, he enjoyed coming to the gatherings with me and my friends liked him. We were fond of each other, but his feelings grew stronger and more serious than mine.

To be fair, I ended the relationship. We parted amicably but he left our group; it was awkward for both of us. Although the breakup was best of us both, I grieved  the loss of our friendship.

One evening several of us were talking when a new member of our group joined us. We knew little about him other than he had recently left the Army and started attending the university.

He looked at me and said, “Where is John tonight?” (not his real name) No one spoke as everyone looked from me to him and back to me. Apparently he was the only one who didn’t know we had broken up.

Finally, one of the girls softly explained, “They aren’t dating anymore.”

Everyone remained silent, I suppose assuming I was upset . I wasn’t upset but I realized everyone else was uncomfortable. I didn’t want our new friend to feel bad about the mistake, so I tried to make light of it. I blurted out the first thing that popped into my head.

“That’s right,” I said smiling.  “I’m available.”

With that, everyone, including me, laughed. Thinking back now, I wonder why I said that. It was out of character for me, a confirmed introvert, and besides, I did not need or want another romantic relationship. I was planning to attend medical school, and romance did not fit into that plan.

However, the young man took me seriously, calling me a few days later to ask for a date. And despite my reluctance to become involved, I said yes.

“What harm could it do?” I thought. “Why sit in the dorm alone on Friday night?”

That night I learned about Raymond’s past. He had served for three years in the Army . He had already earned a bachelor’s degree and was attending graduate school with his veteran’s benefits. I casually asked if he had been stationed overseas. He said yes- he had served in Germany and in Vietnam. I did not realize those words also would change my life.

soldiers at a remote military base
various scenes from the firebase where Raymond was stationed in VietNam; I understood nothing about what happened there.

 

 

 

 

VIETNAM WAR 

This was 1972 and  the American war in Vietnam was raging. The United States government needed soldiers to carry out the engagement, and was drafting them, which they and their families  dreaded. The war was unpopular and divided our country. We watched the course of the conflict nightly on television news (no Internet  or social media then).

Raymond was the first person I knew personally who had served in Vietnam. Service members and veterans of that war were portrayed in the media as fighting an unnecessary, unjustified war at best and as baby killers at worst.

Today military service members and veterans are honored and considered heroes. Today’s veterans feel proud of what they do; far too often those who served in Vietnam did not. 

library interior
The reading room of the library looks the same as it did 40 years ago.

Over dates at  football games, church, social events and study times our feelings for each other grew from friendship to love. He asked me to marry him a few weeks later. We married about 2 years later, as he completed his master’s degree.

Soon after our wedding I started medical school, graduated and started practicing.  He pursued a career in the Information Technology industry. We raised two sons, traveled, attended church.

But our “happily ever after” did not match reality. Our marriage was often tense, unsatisfying, and distant  and we did not understand why. We could not communicate well. He felt I was demanding and controlling. I felt he was insensitive and selfish. We had to look to the past to find the reason for the pain in our present.

a couple sipping from a shake with two straws
sharing a drink on a dance competition trip

 

 

 

Words that changed our lives- post-traumatic stress disorder

Military medicine now recognizes post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) as a common result of service in combat; 40 years ago it was unrecognized and untreated. There were no support groups, counselling or rehabilitative services available.

My husband didn’t talk about his military service, so for years we both suffered the effects of unrecognized PTSD. By the mid-1980s veterans’ groups pushed to recognize and honor Vietnam veterans’ service and encouraged discussion about the psychic trauma many of them dealt with; and with that came opportunities for treatment and healing.

army veteran standing next to a floral bouquet at a memorial
We always visit the traveling Vietnam Veteran Memorial Wall when it comes to our area.

 

 

 

 

MISSING PEACE

Through counselling and a support group my husband faced the past and started to move forward. After reading a book , A Missing Peace, written by another Vietnam veteran, he considered taking a trip back to Vietnam and after much thought and prayer, signed up, although we were both apprehensive.

He chose to travel with Vets with a Mission , VWAM,  a faith-based non-profit organization whose mission is “reconciliation” between former enemies in the Vietnam war, and also within the veterans’ themselves.

By touring the country and meeting Vietnamese people in peacetime, Raymond began moving past the painful memories and creating a new history. He found a country still suffering from the after effects of many years of war, and found a new purpose for his life- to help the very country that had caused us so much pain.

man with Vietnamese boys laughing
Raymond making friends and having fun with some Vietnamese boys

That trip led to another, and another, and another- thirteen trips  serving on volunteer teams to Vietnam with VWAM.  He served by teaching the computer technology he spent years learning and mentored Vietnamese professionals as they developed skills like his.

I accompanied him on many of these trips, serving as physician on medical teams, treating poor Vietnamese citizens in free clinics. We made friends with other veterans and their families, and with Vietnamese people, who often respected American Vietnam veterans more than Americans do.

Raymond found “reconciliation”  for himself and we experienced it in our marriage.  It was a process and still is.

 

“All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.”

       

2 Corinthians 5: 18 , VWAM’S MOTTO

                                                                                   

an American veteran and a North Vietnamese veteran
TWO VETERANS-ONE AMERICAN, ONE NORTH VIETNAMESE

 

DELIVER US FROM EVIL

As  a pre-teen I read a book about an American doctor who treated poor people in a foreign country. This and other books sparked an interest in  health care and I decided to become a doctor. I dreamed of someday traveling overseas and treating people like he and other doctors did.

I didn’t remember anything  about him except his name. I did an Internet search and found his story- Dr. Tom Dooley. Now deceased, he served  as a physician in the United States Navy and in the 1950s was assigned to direct the care of refugees- in Vietnam. (After his military service, he founded a humanitarian organization and tragically died young of melanoma.)

When I watched  the war in Vietnam on TV news,  I didn’t realize the doctor I had read about had worked there. I never imagined that I would ever go there. And I never imagined that war would  help me meet my husband, and create a family that brings me joy every day.

When I said, “I’m available” I had no idea how true that would be.

man and lady dressed in dance costumes
And I never expected us to do a ballroom dance routine for an audience!

 

 

 

WORDS TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE

 

Raymond researched and wrote about a little known battle of the Vietnam war. His is an eyewitness account of the events and aftermath of the Battle for Tra Bong. It is available as an eBook for Amazon Kindle or for free Kindle Reading apps for any device. 

Battle for Tra Bong Vietnam: Events and Aftermath

The following is an excerpt.

Fire Support Base (FSB)/Landing Zone (LZ) Cindy was established in 1968 by being relocated from Tam Ky, Vietnam. By 1970, the FSB was considered a “model” for other FSBs in South Vietnam.

The base operated on the high ground of the Happy Valley with an Observation Post (OP) Searchlight (SLT) unit that provided illumination at night for the entire valley. Next to the FSB was an Armed Forces Vietnam (ARVN) unit of 100 men. Besides the helicopter landing zone, we had the shortest airstrip in Vietnam managed by a Military Air Command Vietnam (MACV) unit. The Tra Bong village was between MACV and FSB/LZ Cindy.

The firebase had tremendous firepower with automatic weapons, 50-caliber and 60-caliber machine guns to include a Quad 50, Dusters, 8 inch and 175 howitzers, mortars, grenades, claymores, flares, etc. In the year 1970, FSB Cindy had zero Wounded in Action (WIA) or Killed in Action (KIA) men by enemy forces. Also, the North Vietnamese (NVA) did not penetrate our perimeter because our unit operated as a team.

A Battery remained at FSB/LZ Cindy (BS342882) providing general support to both US and ARVN units. On 16 September 1971, A Battery was moved to Chu Lai to begin stand down activities.

During Christmas of 1971, the ARVN camp was overrun by NVA/VC and wiped out.

The firebase did have a major battle in September 1970. That battle and how it impacted the war in general and one soldier’s life specifically is the subject of this book.

We who served on LZ Cindy in 1969 and after when the unit left in 1971 did a job that had to be done to save more lives than were taken by the enemy. All of us were there because we were asked or drafted to serve this country and help the people of Vietnam survive.

Those of us who did the job on LZ Cindy did the best we could to survive and help those who served with us. It is unfortunate that some of those did not survive, but in war people die, and there is nothing we can do about it.

 

 

We also recommend Robert Seiple’s book-

 

A Missing Peace: Vietnam : Finally Healing the Pain 

by Robert Seiple and Gregg Lewis

“The gripping account of the author’s experiences with “a war without closure” as a Marine aviator and as head of a relief agency ministering in that country. Through his own search for personal and national reconciliation, he shows us the only way to find real closure and genuine healing.”

(Amazon review)(This is an affiliate link.)

 

 

 

 

 

sharing the HEART of health

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn, links are on the left side bar here and the Home page. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

The Blogger's Pit Stop

May timely topics-memories, memorials, and mothers

IOther events that typically occur in May include proms, graduations, and weddings. I know because I was married in May; interestingly, I almost share an anniversary with the Duchess of Sussex, the former American actress Meghan Markle.

May is a month of celebrations and remembrances.

You’ll find several affiliate links in this post, to help me fund this blog and give extra value to you, my readers.

In the United States, we call the second Sunday in May Mothers’ Day to honor mothers. We may not be one, but we all have one, although like me, yours may be deceased.

You may have pleasant or not so pleasant memories of your mother, as nurturing may not come easily to some women, possibly because they did not receive it. Sometimes when that happens, other women step in to bridge the gap. They deserve to be honored also.

Other events that typically occur in May include proms, graduations, and weddings. I know because I married my husband in May; I almost share an anniversary with the Duchess of Sussex, the former American actress Meghan Markle. And now she and Prince Harry are new parents of a so cute baby boy, Archie. What a sweet family they make.

May timely topics include

  • parenting issues
  • spring and summer health concerns
  • Memorial Day, another U.S. national observance
  • women’s’ health
  • books about mothers

thanks for exploring with me

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn, links are on the left side bar here and the Home page. Thanks so much.

You will find links to the Timely Topics on the Home page and on the right sidebar on every post (you may need to scroll down to find them on a mobile or tablet)

Featured image

cheesy-free faith-focused stock photos

The featured image in this post is from Lightstock-quality photos and graphics site- get a free photo here. 

(This is an affiliate link)

Here are some other affiliate links you may find helpful. Thanks for considering.

                              Dr. Aletha 

Spring Promotion – $5 off $45 @ eBooks.com. Use Code: springebookscp. Valid until June 20.

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The Water Pillow by Mediflow

Hell and Back-a breast cancer story

Hell & Back is a memoir by pediatric ENT (ear, nose, throat) physician Tali Lando Aronoff, M.D. who finds her perfect life upended in ways she never imagined would happen to her.


The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow.


Psalm 116:3, KJV, public domain


Wife and mother

Just based on the title, you know this isn’t a happy story.

The main character, Tali, seems to have the perfect life. She is a pregnant young woman with a husband who adores her and two beautiful children. They have good jobs, a nice house, a nanny who is good with the kids. She has a loving and supportive extended family.

Then her father is diagnosed with an incurable brain tumor. She develops life threatening preeclampsia. She has an emergency caesarean section, delivering her baby prematurely.

Then she finds a lump in her breast. It is cancer- that has already spread.

Oh, did I tell you she is a physician with a busy surgical practice?

Hell & Back: Wife & Mother, Doctor & Patient, Dragon Slayer

by Tali Lando Aronoff, M.D.

Hell & Back is not a novel. It is a memoir by pediatric ENT (ear, nose, throat) physician Tali Lando Aronoff, M.D. who finds her perfect life upended in ways she never imagined would happen to her.

(By way of disclosure, I have never met Dr. Aronoff. After reading about her, I asked for a complimentary copy (PDF) of her book in exchange for a review. This blog post has affiliate links which will help fund this blog if a purchase is made. )

Doctor and patient

A physician’s illness can be awkward, both for us and for those who take care of us. Other doctors may assume we know more about our diseases than we do and fail to give us the same information they would give to “real” patients. We, on the other hand, often try to help them out by diagnosing ourselves, or minimizing our symptoms because we don’t want to bother them, or seem like complainers. Either approach impacts our care negatively.

But being a physician can be an advantage and it certainly was for Dr. Aronoff since she had friends who specialized in breast surgery, oncology (cancer), radiation therapy, and plastic surgery, all of which she would need. Recently out of training,  they had the most up to date knowledge in their fields. They helped her get to the right doctors, including getting appointments quickly.

But being a physician didn’t spare Dr. Aronoff pain from her mastectomy and the expanders (used to make room for eventual breast reconstruction). She still had to cope with  the debilitating side effects of chemo- fatigue, nausea,appetite loss, and hair loss- all the while caring for 3 small children.

A physician’s friends and family may assume that because we are healers, we are brave, strong, and can take care of ourselves. Dr. Aronoff found her closest friends understanding and supportive, and many went above and beyond, driving her to appointments, taking her kids to activities, and bringing meals.

“The naked truth”

When she lost her hair, she tried wearing wigs and found them uncomfortable so opted for scarves instead. This made her illness obvious, so when she went out in public people noticed her. She described becoming a “Synagogue Celebrity”, with people in her community posting sightings of her on Twitter because she “looked so good”.


“I smiled at praises..inside though, I was slipping, retreating into myself. But I didn’t dare let them see. With time and practice, I learned to navigate and embrace the dichotomy. I realized that projecting courage may not reveal the whole truth, but it’s not always a lie either.
Eventually, as the months passed, I regained my courage, I still had fight in me. So, I saved the naked truth for a handful of my trusted few.”

Daughter and doctor


Dr. Aronoff shared a poignant yet humorous moment celebrating Chanukah with her extended family while in the middle of chemotherapy that made her nauseated and weak.  She knew this would be the last time they would celebrate with her father, who had a terminal malignant brain tumor, so she made the 3 hour car trip to her parents’ home.


“In the glow of candlelight, I watched my father from the corner of my eye, burning his image onto my brain. I knew in my gut it would be the last year we’d celebrate together. We sang the ancient chant Hanerot Halalu about the miracle of the small jug of oil that burned for eight days. My family sure as hell needed some miracles these days too.”  

When the evening was over, they loaded the kids into the car for the long ride home.


“Alex (her husband) and I smiled at each other optimistically, anticipating a smooth ride back home with sleeping children. I hugged everyone goodbye and kissed my father lightly on the cheek. And just when I thought I was in the clear…(her daughter) Scarlett leaned over and vomited all over me!”


Who should read this book and why

Despite pieces of levity, this book is serious and hard hitting at times. Dr. Aronoff does not mince words, nor does she shy away from frank talk about intimate issues and raw emotions. If 4-letter words offend you, you may not want to read this book.

Dr. Aronoff’s book outlines the basics of diagnosis, staging, and treatment of breast cancer but I don’t think she intends it as a definitive patient guide. She does not imply that her experience is what other breast cancer patients should expect; rather she emphasizes that every patient’s journey may be different.

If you have had breast cancer, you may or may not identify with her experience. If you have not had cancer, her experience may motivate you to get a screening mammogram, explore your genetic risk, and consider what you can change in your lifestyle to decrease your  risk of getting breast cancer. (I’ll include some references for this at the end.)

“Dragon Slayer”

I won’t leave you hanging; this story has a happy ending. Dr. Aronoff is now disease free, and back working at her practice.She is a “survivor” but the threat of a recurrence will always loom over her. She may never know for sure if she is “cured”.

I invite you to visit her website to see photos of her before, during, and after treatment, and to read a sample chapter of her book.

Interlude-Women’s Cancer Stories

Dr. Eleonora Teplinsky talked to Dr. Aronoff for her podcast series Interlude. Listen to the interview at the above links.

Check out these breast cancer resources

Breast cancer screening

Understanding your breast cancer risk


Breast cancer is not exclusively a women’s disease, it happens to men also.

Risk factors for breast cancer in men

The Susan G. Komen Foundation offers this printable resource

Coping with a Breast Cancer Diagnosis


Informacion en espanol- Cáncer de mama

Shop To Fight Breast Cancer! Every Purchase Helps Give Free Hospital Mammograms To Women In Need!

(This post contains affiliate links which, by paying a commission if used for a purchase, help fund this blog. )

sharing the HEART of health

Again thanks to Dr. Aronoff for giving me her book and sharing her story with all of us. I think we all have learned something that might help us or someone we know.

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

From Doctor to Fashionista- the journey to Shelfie Shoppe

you might expect that once in practice, doctors would work at it for life, and most do. But a significant number don’t. After all those years, some doctors realize that medicine is not for them, either because they don’t find the work satisfying and fulfilling, or because their personal and family life suffers, or a combination of these and other factors. Several months ago I shared a guest post from another woman doctor who faced a similar dilemma. She solved her problem in an unconventional creative way. Here is her story, followed by an update.

Physicians spend from 10 to 15 years, sometimes more, in school and advanced training before beginning practice. Even though we begin receiving a stipend during residency, compared to the number of hours required, the financial return is minimal. Most physicians are in their late 20s to early 30s before earning a salary comparable with their training. And they often start out hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt.

So you might expect that once in practice, doctors would work at it for life, and most do. But a significant number don’t. After all those years, some doctors realize that medicine is not for them, either because they don’t find the work satisfying and fulfilling, or because their personal  and family life suffers, or a combination of these and other factors.

Doctors solve this dilemma in various ways. Some redirect their career to a different specialty, which usually requires going back into training and completing yet another residency. Some change to a non-clinical medical position- administration, teaching, consulting. Some continue using their medical knowledge by  writing, speaking, consulting, teaching, in a non-healthcare setting.

One physician did none of these. Several months ago I shared a guest post from another woman doctor who faced a similar dilemma.  She solved her problem in an unconventional creative way. Here is her story, followed by an update.

 

 

My Unexpected, Crazy Journey from Medicine to Fashion

By Joanne Jarrett MD

woman in an apron holding a wooden sign-
Dr. Jarrett enjoys cooking too.

“Hi! My name is Joanne Jarrett, and I am a retired family physician. Not the “golden years” kind of retired, but rather the “retired sounds better than I quit” kind.

a career in the making

If you’d told me in my twenties that I would be designing loungewear for women and preparing to move to a farm in rural Montana in my mid-forties, I’d have said you had the wrong girl. I was a determined, sharp, ambitious, successful medical student and resident, and I was planning to have it all.

My husband and I wanted kids, but that would have to wait until all of our training was complete. We took turns going through our residency programs, and we moved home to Reno, Nevada from a two year stint in Lincoln, Nebraska with 24 weeks of my first pregnancy under our belts and a new practice to run.

Needless to say, my being a stay-at-home mom was not plan A for our family.

a fast track career

When I became pregnant, I was working a full time family practice, seeing patients at 3 hospitals before and/or after my full day, doing urgent care some nights and weekends, and taking call for our large group a week at a time every 7 weeks. I knew that schedule was completely incompatible with motherhood, but we thought I’d work 2 or 3 days a week and have my mom nanny while I worked.

Then Delaney was born, and reality set in.

I realized that I didn’t have room inside of me to be the physician my patients deserved and to be the wife and mother I wanted for my family. I already knew that during those 6 years of marriage before kids I worked hard all day, gave every bit of myself away piece by piece, and then came home and offered my husband the crappy leftovers. He knew how hard I was trying and didn’t complain much.

It worked, but a baby tipped the scales. We couldn’t both work jobs where emergencies make the schedule predictably unpredictable. I was exhausted and knew there was no way I could face the emotional lability and intellectual demand of being a physician in my state. And I loved being with that baby girl. When I was away from her I felt an undeniable tug back.

Then Bailey arrived less than 2 years later and it was decided. I was staying home. For good.

 

a career crossroads

At first, I was in survival mode and didn’t care about the changes I saw in myself. I just wanted sleep and ice cream. But eventually I started to wonder if who I used to be would ever matter again and how to find her.

Over a decade in, that woman is back. But she’s better than she used to be. More patient. More settled. More fulfilled. Less scared. Looking back, I’ve transitioned from professional to harried new mom to seasoned household CEO, self respect and vigor for life mostly intact!

a woman walking with two girls on sand
Dr. Joanne’s grand mother  with her daughters

Running my family has been pretty much all consuming, but I’ve always had a creative side and, through the years, I have developed hobbies that foster that. Scrapbooking made sense when the kids were babies. Combining creativity with a means of wrangling the millions of photos we were taking was a win win.

A limited decorating budget and a very picky décor taste lead to me borrowing my mom’s sewing machine and making an entire house worth of curtains, learning on the fly.

And I have always had a thing for wrapping a beautiful gift. To the point where I have a whole wall full of paper, ribbons, and other do-bobs to help me wrap a stunner at a moment’s notice.

Sewing flat, square things like curtains and pillow covers slowly evolved into kids’ costumes and then street clothes. I have a thing for fabric, and the combination of creativity and precision that following a pattern requires satisfies my creative flair and my bent towards the analytical.

I began altering clothes in my closet to better fit my (ever varying, eye roll!) shape and began seeing the potential in clothes instead of the mere reality of what was on the hanger.

I also have a passion for downtime. This wasn’t always the case. Scott and I have been married 20 years, and at first I had no idea how to relax. Saturday would come and I’d say, “What do you want to do today?”

From the couch, he’d say “this!”

My skin would crawl .I just didn’t know how to have a recovery or leisure day.

Well, I’ve learned well! You’ll never catch me hanging around at home in my jeans and underwire bra. Huh-uuuuh! As soon as I get home at the end of the day, I head straight to my closet to get into my cozy clothes. I live in them when I’m home. Even if I’m busy with this and that, I like the psychological change triggered by putting on those comfy clothes.

But those clothes aren’t perfect. I’m setting out to change that! We need a little coverage and support despite that fact that the bra is off the team at home. I discovered shelf-bra camis and began wearing them as loungewear and pajamas. I could never figure out why this concept wasn’t expanded into other pieces.

a career changes directions

After years of googling “shelf bra pajamas” and “shelf bra nightgown” and coming up with nothing except slinky lingerie (get real!!), I decided to design a line of cozy loungewear for women who want to be comfortable at home in something soft, cute, flattering and supportive. Something that feels and looks great to wear in the “no bra zone” but that is fit for public consumption should the need arise. I figured if I couldn’t find them, I’d make them and maybe other ladies will like them too.

And not all shelf bras are created equally, if you know what I mean. I set out to design the perfectly soft but flattering shelf that has enough thickness for coverage and enough separation to look great. I embarked upon a know-nothing journey into apparel production and have learned an entirely new industry over the last year.

I call the line “Shelfies.” Shelfie Shoppe launched on May 8th , 2018 taking preorders as part of a Kickstarter campaign to fund the first production run.”

a shirt with a tag-shelfie

Like infatuation, excitement is fleeting. Strength of will and commitment will get me to the finish line.

Joanne Jarrett, M.D.

 

Where Shelfie Shoppe is now

In March 2019, Joann posted an update about the project on her blog (although she had been sending updates to her Kickstarter supporters, like me, all along). In the update she details all the bumps and unexpected detours that repeatedly slowed down her journey. I encourage you to read about it at the link I will give you, but here is a sample of what got in the way of progress.

  • She had to change factories when the one she contracted with lost too many employees.
  • A fabric she counted on using was unexpectedly not available.
  • A pattern piece wasn’t fitting correctly.
  • They had the wrong bra pads.
  • Her family moved and while staying temporarily in a camper, she didn’t have WiFi, making communication with her suppliers almost impossible.

What Joanne has learned on her journey

“It has been said that the most common cause of failure for entrepreneurs is simply giving up. After this roller coaster, I can see how that happens.

Discouragement can feel like eminent defeat, but they are not one and the same. I have allowed myself to get down-hearted at times, but difficulty is not a worthy adversary to my determination and perseverance. I am excited about Shelfie Shoppe, but like infatuation, excitement is fleeting.

Strength of will and commitment will get me to the finish line and excitement will be there to meet me.”

What we can learn from Joanne’s example

When the circumstances of life leave us feeling
• impatient
• unsettled
• unfulfilled or
• scared
we may need to evaluate if change is necessary.
It may not be as drastic a change as she made, but even small steps can get us to a place where we can use our talents and passions to create a life that satisfies us and blesses others.

However, we can expect bumps and snags along the way, which may seem like insurmountable problems but can be opportunities for learning and growth that we didn’t anticipate.

Here is Joanne’s update. Check it out and follow her blog to find out what happens next. And when I get my shelfie dress from her, I’ll post a photo and tell you all about it.

HERE’S THE LATEST IN THE CLOTHING LINE SAGA. KICKSTARTER CAMPAIGN SUCCESS AND THE BUMPS THAT FOLLOWED!

Thanks for exploring the HEART of health with me.

I appreciate all of you who follow this blog; there are numerous other blogs to choose from so I am honored you chose to spend some time here. A special welcome to all my new followers from this past month.

To start following Watercress Words , use this form to get an email notification of new posts . Please find and follow me on Facebook, Pinterest and LinkedIn, links are on the left side bar here and the Home page. Thanks so much.

                              Dr. Aletha 

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Exploring health in fiction-3 books to consider

most fiction is based on real life, which is full of twists and turns related to our health and well being. Much if not all of what we do is based on our health, which can change suddenly and unexpectedly, and turn our lives upside down.

I hadn’t planned on writing book reviews when I started this blog. I love to read so  I started recommending health and medical books that I thought sounded interesting. After reading one myself, I thought it would make a good blog post, so my first book review was Working Stiff: Two Years, 262 Bodies, and The Making of a Medical Examiner- a review of words worth sharing

After that, I assumed I would review  non-fiction medical books, and most of them have been. I have reviewed  memoirs  and biographies,  medical history, health advice, dying, vaccination, nutrition, and medical care. I didn’t expect to review fiction, but I have.

That shouldn’t have seemed strange, since most fiction is based on real life, which is full of twists and turns related to our health and well being. Much if not all of what we do is based on our health, which can change suddenly and unexpectedly, and turn our lives upside down. Consider how many TV dramas are based in hospitals, involving health care workers, and sick or injured people.

Here are excerpts and links to 3 of my reviews of books that

explore health in fiction

EXPLORING HEALTH IN FICTION -www.watercresswords.com

My Sister’s Keeper a novel by Jodi Picoult

Now I didn’t actually review this book. I used an excerpt  in a post about hair loss.

Effective solutions if you experience hair loss

 

The book tackles several cutting edge health technologies that can create touchy ethical issues that I haven’t dealt with here, but if I do, I’ll revisit this book.

Here is what I did write about My Sister’s Keeper ,a novel that touches on  several medical themes including cancer, genetic engineering, organ donation, and medical autonomy. The book was also a movie which I haven’t seen yet.

 

 

The story is about Kate, an adolescent who as a toddler developed a rare form of leukemia, and has spent the majority of her life either in the hospital getting treatment or recovering from them. After yet another chemotherapy regimen, she has lost her hair.

One day her mother, Sara, offers to take Kate and her younger sister Anna to the mall for a day out. Kate refuses.

“Don’t say it. Don’t tell me that nobody’s going to stare at me, because they will. Don’t tell me it doesn’t matter because it does. And don’t tell me I look fine because that’s a lie.” Her eyes, lash-bare, fill with tears. “I’m a freak, Mom. Look at me.”

Sara looks at her and says, “Well, we can fix this.”

“She walks out of the room followed by Kate and Anna. She finds a pair of ancient electric grooming clippers, plugs them in, and cuts a swath right down the middle of her own scalp.

“Mom”, Kate gasps.

With another swipe of the razor, Kate starts to smile. She points out a spot Sara missed. Anna crawls onto Sara’s lap. “Me next,” she begs.”

As Sara later remembers:

“An hour later, we walk through the mall holding hands, a trio of bald girls. We stay for hours. Everywhere we go, heads turn and voices whisper. We are beautiful, times three.”

Say Goodbye for Now- a novel by Catherine Ryan Hyde

I was drawn to this book because the main character is a woman physician. I started it just for pleasure, but once drawn into the story, I knew I wanted to review it for the blog. Here’s how my review starts:

In 1959, Dr. Lucille Armstrong, or Dr. Lucy as she is called, practices medicine of sorts in a small Texas town. Although she is a “doctor of human beings”, she spends most of her time taking care of stray and injured animals.

SAY GOODBYE FOR NOW- A Novel
SAY GOODBYE FOR NOW by Catherine Ryan Hyde

To support them and herself, she occasionally treats people; “ it’s not a hobby, I do it for the money.” But because “people there didn’t take well to a woman doctor”, her patients are not always the town’s model citizens.

Dr. Lucy lives alone except for the menagerie of injured animals she has doctored back to life. She likes her life the way it is, until she opens her home to three  unexpected and unlikely guests.

Continue the review here-

Say Goodbye for Now- a book review

Labor Day-a novel by Joyce Maynard

Leaving for a trip, I bought a book to read on the airplane. After reading a few pages, I realized it was also a movie I had seen. So my subsequent review was a book/movie review. The medical themes in this book/movie were subtle, but no less real.

Here is some of what I wrote:

Henry, who narrates the story, lives with his divorced mom in a small town. At 13, Henry seems more mature than he should need to be, while his mother Adele seems childish and naive for a grown woman. As the story unfolds, you begin to wonder  if Adele’s eccentric behavior is due to something more than immaturity.

Adele and Henry are in their small town store buying clothes for school when a man they don’t know approaches them asking for help. Frank seems nice enough and asking for help might not be a problem except for the fact that is is bleeding, and evasive about why.

He asks Adele to take him to her house and either due to fear or poor judgement, she says yes. Both she and Henry seem to realize that something dramatic is about to change in their lives, but what it is, they can only guess at this point.

You can read the entire post here.

Labor Day, a book more interesting than the holiday

 

 

 

 

You can probably borrow these books from your local library- I do. But if you do decide to buy books, please consider the affiliate links here and on the resource page. Purchases through them help support this blog and help share the HEART of health.

Happy reading! Dr. Aletha


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Must Read Posts- 2018 Year End Review

The past couple of years I have done a “Top 5 posts of the year” series in December. This year I’m changing it to a year end review of multiple posts. This will include posts that are reader favorites, my favorites, personal profiles, book reviews.

The past couple of years I have done a “Top 5 posts of the year” series in December. This year I’m changing it to a year end review of multiple posts. This will include posts that are

  • Reader Favorites-based on views/likes/comments
  • My Favorites– posts that are special to me
  • Personal profiles– posts about specific people who I think you should know and may have missed the first time
  • Book reviews– some of my favorites, and yours too
  • All time best– some of my all time best posts from the archives

I  introduce these posts with a back story-

  • what motivated me to write it,
  • how I researched it,
  • how I felt about readers’ response to it.

I have revised or updated most of the the posts with new information.

To my current followers-

Thank you so much. I appreciate your interest and hope you’ll enjoy re-reading some familiar posts and maybe discover some you missed.

And to my new readers and hopefully future followers, welcome and enjoy reading

watercress words- like watercress -unique, zesty,  and nutritious.watercress leaves on bread