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Another Angle of Protection- Fighting the Internal Invaders

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Well, it’s here. All across the country hospitals officially declared flu season a few weeks ago. Hopefully all of you out there have remained healthy, but for those of you who have succumbed to the monster known as influenza, you know how awful it can make you feel and how it can put you out of commission for awhile. Some years are worse than others, with last year being a particularly mild season for the flu. We are definitely starting out with a bang this year, with the hospitals here in North Carolina filled to the max. Every year the formulation of the flu shot is developed based on current and past trends/mutations of the virus and obviously, like any human prediction, has some room for error. This year is one of those years, and the results are thousands of us across the nation laying on our couches in a grumpy, fever induced stupor.

Coming in contact with 15+ flu positive patients a week? Yeah, this mask is becoming my latest fashion accessory.  Being able to see facial expressions on your nurse is overrated anyway.

Coming in contact with 15+ flu positive patients a week? Yeah, this mask is becoming my latest fashion accessory. Being able to see facial expressions on your nurse is overrated anyway.

So what is the flu? I mean we all know what it is in general, but do you really KNOW? It’s very common to hear people with a stuffy nose say they have the flu. Then those of you who have actually had the flu want to punch them because you WISH the flu was simply a stuffy nose and feeling run down. Then there’s the term “stomach flu”. That is not influenza and I’m really not sure where that term came from. There are three types of influenza: type A, B, and C. Influenza A is the virus responsible for the epidemics that hit this time of year. Symptoms include sudden onset high fevers, chills, body aches, sore throat, and sometimes kids can complain of tummy aches and/or vomit due to the high fever.  For the majority of us, it’s something that can knock us down for a week or two and make us feel like a wrung out rag, but we emerge on the other end unscathed. For those who are very young, very old, immunocompromised, and those with respiratory conditions it can be dangerous and warrant a hospital stay. Tamiflu is a an antiviral medication that is effective in disrupting the virus, but it is time sensitive and most of us are stubborn and don’t visit the doctor till it’s too late for Tamiflu (hey, I’m a nurse and therefore only go to the doctor if I’m actively dying so I totally get it).

Flu is spread by droplets in the air and on surfaces. They come from our body when we cough/sneeze/talk and enter the bodies of others when they contact these droplets. We all know the basic ways to prevent getting sick. Handwashing, staying clear of ill people (duh), getting plenty of sleep, and eating healthy food. Once you are sick, your doctor will tell you to drink plenty of fluids and get lots of rest. But there are some other unconventional preventatives and treatments out there that may be worth a try.

Elderberry: Elderberry is a plant that grows berries that may decrease inflammation in the body and boost the immune system. This reportedly can help you defeat the flu faster. It can be bought in syrup or gummy forms over the counter as a supplement, or some people prefer to make their own. I’m lazy and will never be standing in my kitchen brewing up a batch of elderberry so gummies it is. And hey, they taste like candy so whatever.

-Honey: Since this is a safety site the first thing I’m going to say is please don’t give honey to children under a year old. For those over 12 months, honey is an excellent and soothing remedy for coughs and sore throats. It is also said to boost the immune system and contains antibacterial properties. We actually use honey at my hospital in wounds with great success. Plus, it’s tasty!

-Bone broth: Yep, from bones. Not your mama’s chicken noodle.This is a very nutrient dense food. It contains tons of minerals essential to allowing your body to heal. It’s also easy to eat when you probably don’t feel like eating.

-Saline: Good ol’ salt and water are good for so many things. Gargling with salt water not only soothes sore throats, it breaks up the thick disgusting mucus that builds up back there and rinses it away.

-Steam: We all know a hot shower can do wonders for congestion but consider making a steam tent on the stove. Boil a pot of water and then remove it from the burner (and turn the burner off so you don’t set your head on fire please). Put a towel over your head so it creates a tent while you hold your face in the steam.

 

Hopefully the flu has not barged into your house. But if it has, take care of yourself. And if it hasn’t, well, wash those hands and quit licking shopping carts because it’s going to be knocking at your door for the next 3 months. Good luck!

 

Provide an Honest Service? Beware Selling it With Paypal!

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I’ve been scammed a couple times on eBay.  Ultimately, I cancelled my eBay sellers account and haven’t sold anything there in years.  I continued to use Paypal for its convenience, despite the heavy fees.  I wrongly assumed this paid for their service in the event of a dispute.  I was very, very wrong.  Paypal’s own community clearly demonstrates the thousands of scams, many seemingly perpetrated with Paypal’s defacto support.

If you provide any service to a buyer, be wary of using Paypal to accept payments, especially using automatic renewals with their pre-approved payments system.   This system is nothing more than a way for buyers to use your services for free.  As I discovered recently, Paypal doesn’t even adhere to its own User Agreement for disputes of this type.  A dishonest buyer can claim any or all of their previous subscription payments were “unauthorized”.  They simply say the seller took the funds from their account without their knowledge (which isn’t even possible in general), or someone hacked their account, or whatever.

The worst part is that Paypal doesn’t let the seller provide any proof to the contrary or investigate at all.  I had proof in my recent case.  Their Resolution Center says it gives you an option to upload files and comments when you Respond to the case, but in my case, it only gave me options to refund or ship.  They refuse to accept such information by email or phone support.  Their email support is dismal, anyway.  The representatives apparently cannot read or understand English, and can only respond to you with generic pre-made responses.

In my case, the dispute was for a transaction that didn’t qualify for a dispute according to Paypal’s own terms.  I was finally able to call and get a fax number where I sent my response, twice.  They ignored it.  At the end of the response period, they sent me an email claiming I had failed to respond in the given time.  One minute later, they sent another email saying they had completed their “investigation” and deducted the funds from my account.

Fortunately, it was a trivial amount.  In fact, I had already refunded one of the two disputed preapproved payments as a one-time exception to the clearly stated no-refund policy.  I was going to refund the other one too, just for goodwill.   Perhaps the buyer didn’t notice that they had chosen the automatically renewing option.  Maybe they didn’t see the renewal email notices or forgot to cancel it.  Maybe they were just a basic thief and wanted to use a paid service for free.  It doesn’t really matter when you are the seller and have honestly provided your service for a fee.

But Paypal’s involvement (or lack thereof) was a good lesson in all of this.  Even for transactions over 6 months old, they will freeze your funds and not allow you to provide evidence.  If you are accepting a large sum for a service, BE VERY WARY OF PAYPAL.  There are plenty of other reputable payment systems today.  Based on my experience, if it’s not a tangible item, Paypal will apparently automatically refund your fairly earned money, even if it means ignoring their own User Agreement.

I will no longer pay the big Paypal fees on larger sums.  I am curtailing my use of Paypal to avoid any sales on non-tangible items like services, if at all possible.  I suppose it’s pretty safe to use Paypal as a buyer if you are cautious, especially on items that qualify for buyer protection.  That is my opinion based on recent experience, anyway.  Let the seller beware!

Placing Blame

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Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 1.41.56 PMMy somewhat extreme fear of death is one of the main reasons I got involved in child passenger safety many years ago. Perhaps your reasoning is similar. It’s impossible to discuss why we do this without expressing a desire to prevent injury and, of course, death. 

I spend a lot of time discussing car seats on social media (Facebook and message boards like car-seat.org), and quite often, someone will post a story about a child who was critically hurt or killed in a car crash. That leads to the inevitable discussion about how the child was restrained. Sometimes we know the answer and sometimes we speculate, but the sense I get from these posts is that people are always quietly shaking their heads and thinking the parents could have or should have done better. 

Sometimes that’s true. There are cases of gross neglect, where a drunk parent drives around with a completely unrestrained kid, and bad things happen. Other times, a caring parent makes the same inadvertent mistakes we technicians see every day: a seat was installed too loosely, perhaps, or the harness wasn’t buckled properly. Maybe a parent turned a child forward-facing “too soon” (which I put in quotes since the legal requirements are different than the suggested requirements, and it’s hard to fault a parent for doing something within their rights).

Given the rate of misuse—which varies from 75% to 90% depending on what stats you look at—it is likely that almost every child involved in a crash could have been restrained better, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the misuse caused the injuries. It’s also sometimes impossible to determine misuse after the fact. In a severe (or even moderate) crash, seatbelts and LATCH straps can stretch and seats can shift. Although possibly somewhat irrational, one of my worst fears is getting in a crash with my kids, and an uneducated officer making a statement about how my children were improperly restrained simply because they see something they’ve never seen before. A rear-tethered Britax? A Coccoro with European belt routing? A rear-facing 3-year-old? Those could easily be seen as misuse by someone unfamiliar with certain seats or best practice.

Screen Shot 2014-10-19 at 1.42.14 PMI find threads about serious crashes interesting but largely uncomfortable due to the implied (and sometimes overt) contempt that is shown for many of the parents involved. Yes, perhaps the child would still be alive or uninjured if things had been done differently, but acting sanctimonious about how much better “we” do things doesn’t win anyone over. We wind up being Monday-morning quarterbacks to someone else’s tragedy, and that feels wrong.

At the same time, I understand why it happens. We’re all terrified of losing our kids, and as long as we do things differently, our kids will be ok. Except that there are no guarantees. Yes, properly restraining a child reduces the likelihood of injury or death, but nothing can eliminate it. It’s hard facing the reality that there are some things we just can’t control, which leads us to grasp so tightly to the things we can.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t discuss tragic collisions. It helps us learn, it helps us educate, and sometimes it helps us cope. But we need to make sure we don’t jump to conclusions or place unnecessary blame. When we discuss crashes, we should think and speak with compassion, not contempt. Saying “I told you so” won’t bring back a child and won’t save our own.

CarseatBlog Chopped: Putting Faud to the Test

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Darren has posted about his family’s faud recipe a few times now (you can read about it here and here). If you’re anything like me, you’ve watched those videos and thought, “Ehhh…” I mean, there’s noting like thick, pale, gluey gruel to get the mouth watering, right?

Well, last December I went over to Darren’s to try this elusive faud for myself. I’ll admit I was apprehensive, but as long as a dish doesn’t contain fish eyes, mushrooms, or anything still living, I’m generally game.

Here’s what happened when I tried it:

In case anyone’s wondering, those cookies were absolutely delicious! Not overly sweet, so you could eat a bunch without feeling too guilty. At least that’s what I told myself.