Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Wellness Wednesday: Poison Ivy

Nothing makes my skin itch like the thought of getting a poison ivy rash. These plants tend to grow in the Midwest and Eastern portions of the US. Generally, they have three leaves on one stem (hence the childhood warning of "leaves of three, let it be"), but can have as many as nine. In the summer, the leaves are green, but turn to red in the fall. There may also be yellow or green flowers and white berries. It can be a shrub (either trailing or free standing) or a woody, rope-like vine. If you find it in your yard, it is ideal to remove it, but take caution. It often will grow back and removing it yourself will put you at risk of exposing yourself to it. Hiring a professional is ideal, but if you try to do it yourself be sure to take proper precautions (see below). If manually removing it, be sure to get the roots. You can also use an herbicide, such as Round Up or Ortho Max Poison Ivy. Be warned that the herbicides will also kill any nearby plants that are exposed to it. Continue pulling the poison ivy and/or spraying it with an herbicide until it no longer returns. Be sure to properly and carefully dispose of all the poison ivy, including the roots. Even dead poison ivy can cause a rash. Most importantly, DO NOT BURN poison ivy. Inhaling the fumes is a far greater health risk, potentially a fatal risk, than the rash.

Now that we can identify it, what happens if we find ourselves around it? First, be sure to dress in a long sleeved shirt, pants, boots, and gloves, if you know you will be around it. You can also purchase a product called Ivy Block to apply to any exposed areas.

If you are exposed to poison ivy, what do you do? First, not everyone will get a rash. It is sort of like mosquito bites, many of us will develop an allergic reaction to it, but there is a good amount of people who do not. Any which way, it is best to get the oils off your skin as quickly as possible, like within 10 minutes. Using rubbing alcohol, cleanse the area thoroughly. Rinse with plain water and then take a shower, washing your entire body with soap and water. Put on gloves and wipe down any affected items (clothing, tools, shoes, etc) with rubbing alcohol. In place of rubbing alcohol, there are commercial products available as well, such as Zanfel and Ivy Cleanse.

Those who are unable to get the urushiol (poison ivy oil) off their skin quickly enough and develop a rash can expect the rash to be very itchy with bumps and vesicles filled with fluid. The red bumps will likely be in a straight line or streaks. Rashes can occur within 8 hours or may take several days to appear. The rash can be treated with antihistamines, steroids (oral,shot, and/or topical) and anti-steroidal creams. Most treatments focus on relieving the itching and drying up the vesicles. Calamine lotion or hydrocortisone cream are two generic examples, but some brand name examples include: Ivarest, Ivy Soothe, and Tecnu Extreme Poison Ivy Scrub. If there is a medical history of severe reactions to poison ivy or the rash is spreading quickly, contact a doctor ASAP.

Now, hopefully, all of us and our little ones will be able to avoid this summer nuisance, but if we do not, we now know how to handle it.

PS- I know I have mentioned several brand names in this post. Please know that this is not an intentional promotion. It is simply to give you some references for commercial products.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Family Friday- Family is like an orange

I came across a quote today that I liked. It is from Letty Cottin Pogrebin, a journalist and the founding editor of Ms. magazine. She said, "If the family were a fruit, it would be an orange, a circle of sections, held together but separable - each segment distinct." What better way to describe what a family is? Adding to her analogy: sometimes they are sweet, other times, not so much; some are full of juice (or drama) and others are less "juicy"; and oranges, like families, come in lots of sizes, from small to huge. Can you think of any other ways families are like oranges, or any other fruit?

Making Money at home

I have enjoyed many opportunities to supplement my husband's income by making money from home. I belong to several survey groups and online panels where I often earn cash/PayPal/checks or gift cards. I also have had the opportunity over the years to test many products, saving us money on our grocery bill. There are also a few websites that offer incentives for reading e-mails. The amount to read 1 e-mail is usually small, but they add up quickly and it is usually worth the few seconds of my time to do it. In addition to these activities, I perform mystery shops which pays money and often reimburses me for purchases. As a family, and individually, we have participated in research studies and focus groups, which often pay very well. Those have sometimes resulted in receiving medical care that we otherwise would have had to pay for out of pocket as well as nice sums of money. Currently, my children and I are in a flu research study. We go twice a year to the hospital for a blood draw so they can study our blood for how our body's react to the flu. We also have to report weekly, during the flu season, any symptoms we experience and if we have flu symptoms, we have to go to the hospital for a nasal swab. If the swab shows we have the flu, we return again for another blood draw. The study lasts 3 years and each time we go to the hospital for a routine blood draw each child gets a $25 Toys R Us gift card and I get a $25 check. The same is given to the sick person who goes for a nasal swab and again if they have the flu and go in for the blood draw. In my house, it truly pays to get sick ;0) Of course, we do not try to get sick, but at least there is a little comfort when we do. They also gave us all digital thermometers, hand-knitted gloves and little gifts when we signed up. They entertain the kids during our visits as well so I am able to relax a bit. At our last scheduled blood draw, they also gave me a $35 gift card to Wegman's (a grocery store in the Northeast). Some research studies require you to take medications and, understandably, some people have concerns about that, especially when involving their children. I like the study we are in because we do not have to take any medicines and the flu shot is optional. Anyway, I just wanted to share so that anyone who is interested in earning some extra money while at home, knows there are ways to do so without spending a lot/anything up front. Also, be sure to check out Nicole's Nickles for a great post with links to several university research sites that offer online studies in exchange for checks, Amazon gift cards or entry into giveaways with great odds. Overall, by doing all the things I do, I am bringing in about $200 a month in cash and merchandise. Not bad, for a few hours of time each week.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Wellness Wednesday: A Get Well Basket

I recently got over a severe case of the flu and it made me appreciate certain things. I decided to put together a basket of items that are nice to have easily accessible when feeling sick. As mothers, we are often the ones to tend to others when they fall ill, but we have no one to tend to us when we are ill. This basket is our way of tending to ourselves ahead of time or it would be a great gift of service to another person who has fallen ill. Here is what I pulled together:
-A laundry-basket sized wicker basket
-An extra-soft blanket
-A box of quality tissues (super soft ones with added lotion)
-Thermometer and alcohol wipes to clean it
-Saline Nasal Rinse/Neti-Pot (I felt so much better after each saline rinse)
-Bottled water and a few packets of high protein drink mixes (it is so important to stay hydrated and protein helps your immune system)
-A bottle of acetaminophen (Tylenol) and/or ibuprofen (be sure take ibuprofen with food or a glass of milk and only take the recommended dose of any medicine)
-Honey based cough drops or cough syrup
-Some nice stationary, envelopes, and stamps (if you have to take it easy, use the opportunity to catch up with loved ones)
-Multi-vitamins (important to recovery, especially if your appetite is diminished and you are not eating)

If you can think of any items you would add, please feel free to comment.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Out of the race

Unfortunately, my run in the Amazing Blogger Race was very short lived. I ended up with a severe case of the flu very early on and was understandably cut due to my inactivity. However, I do hope to participate in some MomDot's future reality-show based games, so keep an eye out.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Amazing Blog Race

I am so excited to be participating in the Amazing Blog Race on MomDot. The other bloggers competing are:
Miss Blondie

This is a new experience for me, but I am looking forward to it. Come along and watch the competition.