Climb Out of Darkness – Postpartum Depression Fundraiser

hiker on a rock

I like to hike. It’s my favorite form of exercise – not too bouncy, not too repetitive, and it gets me outside in nature. Well, some trails in the Los Angeles area are sort of nature-adjacent but you have to listen to the sounds of leaf blowers and people and trucks and stuff. But still, there are leaves and trees and the occasional squirrel.

There is a hike planned for the most famous and urban of trails in Los Angeles – Runyon Canyon, trail of the stars – on Saturday, June 21. A group of Los Angeles people is hiking this trail and raising money for women who suffer from postpartum depression. The movement is called Climb Out of Darkness and is organized by Postpartum Progress, a website devoted to the cause. #TeamLA is raising money with a super cool raffle organized by Morgan Shanahan, who publishes The 818 – please click here to donate and enter to win prizes of your choice, including tickets to a Thirty Seconds To Mars concert! Donate to any of the team members to enter. I am not officially listed on there because I couldn’t get my act together, but I will be hiking with the ladies (and possibly dragging my kids along, too) to support the effort in my own way.

The Doctor Is In…Your Computer – LiveHealth Online Makes Housecalls

The future is now and it is in the form of video-conferencing with a doctor, courtesy of LiveHealth Online.

computers on the kitchen table

The computer doctor is perfect for this family

One recent morning I woke up with my left eye sealed shut. “Oh no,” I thought. “Pink eye.”

Cue the bells of doom. I had a meeting with a group of moms that morning, and then after that a meeting at my kids’ school, not to mention I am the matriarch of this household and thus I touch all of the things and the people and what if I was sending them out into the world as pink eye carriers? Yes, I worried for the rest of my community as well as my own self. I am altruistic that way. Also I didn’t want everyone to be mad that I infected the school with pinkeye.

I considered my options. Call my doctor and try to get in ASAP, no guarantee there. Weasel my way into the pediatrician’s office, which I’ve always considered trying but never had the guts. Use the clinic at the local drugstore. Assume it was pinkeye and just cancel everything.

Or…

I had been learning about LiveHealth Online, a new app that offers a safe, fast and easy way for people to talk face to face with a doctor. You can get a diagnosis and treatment for yourself and your family for urgent care conditions that pop up every summer, like hand­-foot­-mouth, pinkeye, rashes, sunburns, and other air ­and ­water borne viruses. LiveHealth Online is a cost­-effective alternative to urgent care or retail clinics and costs $49 for an urgent care visit. As an Anthem Blue Cross member, virtual visits through LiveHealth Online are actually covered for me!

Wait all day while fussing with a partially sealed eyeball? Or try this out? What would you pick?

Well, I tried it and I am a happy satisfied user now.

It was easy to find the app on iTunes for my iPad (and it is also available for use on your computer at LiveHealthOnline.com or through Google Play). I installed, went through the signup process quickly, and in no time at all I was waiting for the doctor to join me.

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Here’s me, wondering how this could be so easy.

And poof! There she was! Dr. Nicole Boxer examined me from her office in Minnesota. She asked me several questions about allergies and environmental stuff, if I was exposed to pinkeye that I knew of, etc. Then she actually examined my eyeball by having me hold the iPad camera up to my eye as I looked left, right, up, and down.

I couldn’t get over the whole “press this button and a doctor will show up and deal with you” magic of it all. If I did have pinkeye, the doctor could have ordered a prescription for me, sent right to my preferred local pharmacy. No waiting, no traffic, no getting dressed and leaving the house, even. (Well, unless I had to get the meds.)

Dr. Boxer was accustomed to working this way, and she was patient as I asked her a few questions. She even gave me permission to take a picture. Here’s what it looks like when you visit with a doctor using LiveHealth Online:

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Luckily, I did NOT have pinkeye. The doctor said with the recent fires and dry weather, my eyeball was flushing out a foreign object, and that is why it was so goopy and dry the previous night. She suggested I put a hot moist cloth on it and then if it didn’t get better to either come back to LiveHealth or see my regular doctor.

The peace of mind I received from knowing I didn’t have pinkeye was well worth the copay. And actually the first visit to LiveHealth Online was free, and it is for you too: use the code LHOHouseofPrinceVisit when you register to see a doctor and there is no charge! I encourage you to try it, because this service will come in handy when you are traveling on family vacations this summer. You can use LiveHealth Online 24/7, 365 days a year to talk securely and privately by two­-way video chat with a U.S­.-based, board-certified primary care doctor. That is the height of convenience! Please do take advantage of the free code, which is valid now through October 31, 2014, and let me know what your experience is like!

I am participating in a campaign sponsored by LiveHealth Online to spread the word about this app. It is worth noting that I was excited to learn about it because I used to text photos of my children’s skin rashes to my late best friend who was a pediatrician, begging for a diagnosis, long before I had FaceTime. Also I used to rage at the inconvenience of driving out to the doctor’s office every time I turned around because of having two germy little boys, yelling “There should be video chat with doctors!” So, basically LiveHealth Online was listening when I said “Computer, make it so.”

Wordless Wednesday: Father

dad meets baby
Nice to meet you!


This Is Why I’m a Stay at Home Mom

I wrote this a few weeks ago, while Brady had what turned out to be strep throat. After two days being stuck at home with him, I started to feel like I had a newborn again: I hadn’t showered, or remembered to brush my teeth, or slept well. Now I can look back and say of course it was worth it. He got better after three sick days, and went on to play in the championship game. But there was a lot of time for existential navel gazing and repeating the mantra “This is why I do this…”

loose front tooth

The tooth that won’t let go…

We’ve had a good school year, as far as injuries and sickness go. The third grader only stayed home once because he was up all night barfing. The following day he was fine, but he took the “sick” description and ran with it, moaning and stretching his long limbs out on the couch, or looking up at me pitifully when I came into my bedroom where I had tucked him in and propped him up on pillows so he could watch TV but be quarantined from the rest of the household. After all, my mother was visiting, and the last thing I needed was for her to barf. She was great backup, reminding me what to do when you have a sick kid at home.

It’s the first grader’s turn, and though I know he delights in skipping school and watching TV all day while his brother is trudging through lessons and recess, he is uncomfortable, with a low fever and a sore throat. In retrospect I knew something was wrong last night after he took a bath and his skin was hot to the touch too long after he had dried off. But he seemed fine, and it barely registered in my mom brain, cluttered as it was with so much other information.

This morning he padded into my bedroom at 5:00, asking permission to go to the bathroom. “Do you mind, Mom?” I mumbled assent, confused by sleep and the odd question. He’s seven years old. He doesn’t have to ask permission, and also, since when does he use such polite, such mature language? Either way I was relieved when he left me to my one remaining hour before the alarm was set to go off.

The damn birds – crows, mocking birds – beat the alarm to it. They perch on the roof of the house next door and CAW! seemingly right into my face. I gave up and got out of bed, sucked down some coffee, and started my morning writing. It’s best for me between the time I get up and the moment anyone else gets up. It’s almost like sneaking. I write surreptitiously, as if my identity is secret. I know it’s not, really, but I like the way it feels. Dangerous, against the rules.

In these morning quiet times I shake the fuzz off my brain, consider the day ahead of me, steel myself for the onslaught of kids’ needs, emails, laundry, chauffeur-ing, cooking, shopping, whatever mundane tasks I am lucky to be burdened with. Because it’s true – I am lucky. Where I am in life is a result of much hard work, yes, but also a great heaping glop of Right Place, Right Time served up by the cosmic lunch lady, her hair net askew and a twinkle in her eye. My kids are healthy. My husband is strong and kind. My mind is clear and my body, albeit plagued by a thousand tiny annoying quirks, functions just fine. Lucky, too, to be in my station, a stay at home mom – or if you’d prefer, a work-at-home parent – who is able to adjust accordingly when life doesn’t happen as I plan it.

By 6:30 AM I got a page of words down on paper. Finally getting into a groove, I had at least 30 more minutes to myself. Oh, wait. Are those footfalls I hear above my head?

Indeed. A few seconds later the boy came loping downstairs, face gloomy, moaning “Ow, that hurts.” His skin was hot, his throat was sore, and he showed me a spot under his arm that ached. A swollen gland.

I pushed my notebook aside, gulped down some more coffee, and mentally canceled all my plans for the day. But as I drove to the drugstore (because of course we don’t have children’s pain reliever on hand) I thought about how my day wouldn’t be changing that much. Yes, I would miss a much-needed powwow with my writing partner, but I would still be able to do anything I do at home on a regular day. Writing. Laundry. Dishes. Bills.

And so it is on any day when the kids are home. They are so old now at seven and nine, so self-sufficient, such people. I can do anything I want to — within reason, within earshot of them. There is still an invisible tether between us, but I can let out much more slack now, and  their boundaries are farther from me. This realization brings freedom and fear: I can no longer use my little babies as excuses for not getting things done.

Except today, I can. Every time I sit down to record these thoughts, I feel a guilty tug. I pass by him on the couch and lay my hand upon his forehead: cooler now, but still warm, still very slightly sweaty even though cool breezes are blowing in through the birch trees that line the back fence. I settle into my chair and hear a pitiful “Mom…?” coming from my bedroom. He is hungry. He is tired. Can he download a new app on the iPad? (Even though you’re sick, the answer is no.)

So yes, the list is long, and the hours are short, but look at him – is he taller now than he was a few hours ago? Did the fever accelerate his growth? His legs are long, his knees are blocky and solid. But when he snuggles his head up onto my shoulder as he watches a cartoon, he is my little baby again. I’ll get to all that other stuff later.