Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Where Compassion Begins!


We all think we know just how important compassion really is and many of us even think of ourselves as compassionate. But for the most part it's not until your sick and in need of human kindess and compassion that you learn how compassionate (or NOT) the people around you are.

It is believed that we undergo hard times just to learn how to be more compassionate after someone else befalls the same fate. With my recent health scare and horrific hospital stay I quickly learned how compassionate and in some cases what a lack of compassion the people around me exhibited. Oddly enough sometimes during times of stress or illness you will find complete strangers show you more kindness and compassion than people you love and trust.

How can we turn this around? You cannot change someone's true nature, but if you are a parent, you have a shot at raising a compassionate human being, one who shows kindess to others when it's needed most.

Raising Compassionate Children

Compassion is one of those character traits that some children seem to possess in abundance right from the beginning, while others appear to have a woefully short supply of it. There's the tiny tot who runs right over to his friend when he falls, places an arm around that friend's shoulder, and inquires: "Are you okay?" Meanwhile, his peers gawk awkwardly, or continue about their business.

If it's not in your child's nature to be the compassionate one, know that this is completely normal. Many young children simply don't know how to express compassion, or are not tuned in to others' feelings. But you can introduce your child to the significance of compassion and how to express it. Here are some concrete ways how.

Nurture the idea of our connectedness to communities. All children live in a community and spend time daily with a community of peers, whether in a child care or school setting. Talk with your child about how important these communities are to us, what we get out of them, and how we can give back to them, e.g., taking part in 'stream clean up days' or similar community-wide events. The dynamic and reciprocal relationship that exists among healthy communities and their members represents an expression of compassion.

Assign to your child the responsibility of caring for something. Start with a small but significant task. If you have a pet, you can make its daily feeding your child's responsibility. Make sure your child understands the importance of what she's doing, and how this other being relies on her assistance.

Provide your children with the vocabulary of compassion. You're at the playground and the little boy swinging next to your son tumbles to the ground. This is an opportunity for you to say to your child: "Let's make sure that little boy is okay. Why don't we ask him if he is hurt, and if he needs some help." The first few times this happens, your child may just watch as you talk. But over time, he may find the courage to approach another child in need, and he'll know what to say.

Nurture your child's compassionate "niche." Some kids who see an injured bird on the sidewalk have an overwhelming urge to nurse it back to health. Others might walk right by the bird, but be the first to reach their friend who has taken a spill. Encourage your child's compassion in whatever form you find it. There's no one way, or right way, to show it.

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FTC Disclosure: This article was provided and sponsored by Kiddie Academy®. The company has been a leader in education-based childcare for 30 years serving families and their children ages 6 weeks to 12 years old, offering full time care, before- and after-school care and summer camp programs. You can visit the KA Family Essentials blog and LIKE them on FB as well as Twitter @KiddieAcademy for additional information.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Winner's Announcement - Pair of Marc Joseph Shoes of YOUR choice giveaway winners!

A special thanks to the sponsor Marc Joseph NY for sponsoring such an awesome giveaway! 2 winners had the chance to select the pair of their choice in either mens or womens, how sweet is that?

I wanted to also thank you all (as well as our sponsor) for your patience. This giveaway was supposed to close the same night I landed in the hospital which is what caused the delay in getting entries sorted out and processed.

We have two very lucky winners:

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Stef
Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - JanetFaye

We will return on Monday with the next 'New Year, New You' giveaway promotion!

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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wordless Wednesday on a Tuesday! Are you going Black for the cause?

Many Blogs are going dark for a cause on Wednesday, there is a great series of articles on the topic on Time Techland that you can read up on if you are not familiar with SOPA. In fact I've been doing quite a bit of reading on this myself to catch up as I've spent my days since the end of December in the hospital and am just getting settled back home.

Quite a few sites across the interwebs will be going dark, sites like Wikipedia are included in the one day shut down to protest SOPA, what about YOU what are you doing to support the cause?

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Todays Words of Inspiration: The Bottom Line

Where is My Monday Motivation?

I was debating on whether or not to write this post, but I've shared the good and now the worst experience of my life, so I figure I should share this one too!

My nightmare from Hell continues, this: http://www.ascendingbutterfly.com/2012/01/open-letter-to-new-presbyterian.html has now cost me a job too.

The night I landed in the Emergency Room was a night I should have been celebrating, after years of searching not just for a job, but for THE job, I landed it and had over-lapped with the person leaving the role that afternoon. That day of my nightmare started off as the best day ever, on the brink of a new year, with a brand new job I was super excited for, and ended in the E.R. and me spending just under two weeks in the hospital. With me toasting in my new year with Gingerale sick to my stomach on pain meds and more alone than I had ever felt in my entire life.

I used the new job to keep me motivated when things got dark, I kept thinking, one more test, one more day and the quicker I could get past it all the closer I would be to starting my great new job.

Well I got a call today telling me I have no new job to go to. That while I was in the hospital their bottom line was suffering and they could not wait me out. (And I’m thinking how their bottom line was suffering was a particularly insensitive choice of words, technically the one SUFFERING was ME!)

But that’s reality. When life steam rolls you and your world comes to a stop, whether it’s your own illness or the death of a loved one, you find out quite painfully that the world continues to go on, it’s only YOUR world that stops. A cruel blow indeed, but that’s very much life. Corporate America cares only for itself.

So here I am. Grateful to be here after being on the brink of death. Don’t get me wrong, with all the insanity I went through I realize what is important here is that I am still here to tell the tale, but I feel cheated and quite angry.

I’d ask what more 2012 would like to rob me off? But I honestly don’t want the answer to that question.

So where is the Monday Motivation you ask? Take my setback as an example to be grateful and live each moment like it’s the last, because you have no idea when it very well could be.

Yesterday I ate my first meal made by own hands since 2011 and I can tell you it tasted better than any other meal I had made before. I enjoyed it more and savored each flavor. Just because I COULD make it for myself, made it that much better. Sometimes cooking can get tedious, but it’s when you can no longer do something that you realize just how much it means to you.

My kitchen, a small humble one, became a working meditation for me as I prepared a meal for myself with my own hands.

Todays Challenge: REJOICE IN THE LITTLE THINGS – They are NOT as little as you may think.

I am back at square one in my life today on many levels, but I refuse to let it defeat me!

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Friday, January 13, 2012

{CLOSED} Full Size Purex Crystals + Jockey Sports Bra Giveaway! Ends 01/20

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This giveaway is now CLOSED. Thanks so much to our wonderful sponsors Jockey and Purex! We look forward to working with you both again. The winner is: Tamara B., Congrats! Remember there are active giveaways listed on the upper right hand side of the homepage where it reads 'Today's Butterfly'.
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Ascending Butterfly's 2012 New Year, New You! Giveaway #1 brought to you by:


Is Fitness part of your new years goals?

As many of you already know I slowly lost 26 pounds over the entire year of 2011, and this year I've lost a bit more weight already but not quite for good reasons (see this post for why: http://www.ascendingbutterfly.com/2012/01/thank-you-not-quite-way-i-had-in-mind.html). Before my medical setback hit, I had dreams of a Fitness fueled January, I had been enjoying my Wii Dance Games and seeing great results with them.

For me I need a lot of variety in my fitness routines to keep up with them so I can see good results, and my dance games via the Wii have offered me just what I need in terms fitting MY schedule, being challenging (particularly the latest Zumba that really keeps track of your progress and allows for an adjustable intensity in the workouts), and they are FUN. I play both alone and on weekends with family and friends, which makes fitness and health goals much more fun. I can't wait until all this over to get back into my routine again.

Before my medical setback hit in December, I had received an exciting review package from Jockey and Purex that included a Jockey® Sports Bra along with one full-sized Purex Crystals in the 'Tropical Splash' scent. I am both a Jockey and Purex Insider!

About the Jockey Sports Bra

The Bra is a 93% Poly and 7% Spandex Blend with a racerback and an inside key pocket (stash your locker key while at the gym!) with breathable mesh panels and mouisture wicking fabric. I also like Sports Bras as sleep bras (I'm ahem a 'blessed' chested gal) and like the extra support even at night. This bra is my new favorite bra while doing Zumba (under my workout tank of course, I don't think I'll ever be that girl working out in just my sports bra and nothing else over it). And as most workout tanks are made in that racerback style it's nice having a bra that holds up the girls to go under those tanks!

About Purex Crystals

Purex Crystals are 92% natural crystals that go in your wash at the start of the cycle. Which means no more second guessing or remembering to pour in the fabric softener, how convenient is that? The scented crystals get to spend more time with your clothes, infusing them with long-lasting freshness! Purex crystals do not contain oil making them perfect for all your laundry needs. I've made a complete to switch to Purex and find they impart a much more long lasting scent than the liquid fabric softener that I had been using for years!
Why the collaboration between Purex and Jockey? Fabric softeners have oils that can harm garments but Purex Crystals are 92% natural crystals that infuse long-lasting freshness into the fabric fibers of clothing without harming garments. So the crystals impart softeness and a fresh scent without harming in any way the mouisture wicking properties of the sports bra. Which means your Jockey Sports Bra will hold up longer!

 My Take:

Workout clothing and under-garments in general are an investment. Well endowed girls especially know just how quickly straps get stretched and worn out and bras have to be replaced often in that case, which is not cheap! And let's face it, while hand washing will help most garments last longer, WHO has that kind of time? I certainly don't!

I love that Purex doesn't harm the mouisture wicking fabric of the Jockey Terry Sports Bra, and I love using this bra during my favorite Zumba workouts (which I can't wait to get back to!). I definitely recommend them both. I have sensitive skin and there are some fabric softeners I'm actually allergic to, and I love that my skin does not react at all to the Purex Crystals!

You didn't think I'd forget about you right? Who loves you butterfly?

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - WIN IT! - Ascending Butterfly and our friends at Jockey and Purex would like you to help you keep to your fitness goals this year, and have one prize pack with the same items I reviewed for one lucky winner! Winner will receive a full size Purex Crystals and one Jockey Sports Bra (choice of size which includes: XS, S, M, L, XL)

Don't you just ♥ Purex + Jockey?  I know I do!

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - How to Win: (1) You must be a PUBLIC follower of Ascending Butterfly to be eligible for this and all giveaways. Indicate in your entry that you follow (if your 'comment name/user id' differs from your profile id, please let me know what name you follow under) and (2)MANDATORY ENTRY: Share your top New Years Resolution for this year and how you have started accomplishing it.  (3) You must also leave your email address somewhere in your comment. (You can format it this way for security, example: ascendingbutterfly AT mail host DOT com). (If your email is clearly visible in your profile, you can just say so, that's OK!) Please follow the easy 1, 2, 3 steps to winning (or in this case, the A,B,C’s of winning!) This giveaway is open to USA residents who are 18 years of age or older. No PO Boxes. No purchase necessary. One entry per Household, see Ascending Butterfly Giveaway Rules and Disclosure Policy HERE

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Please follow directions or you will be disqualified! All comments are moderated, they may not appear on the site right away (comments like "I want this" or "I want to win" will not be entered). You have from Friday, January 13, 2012 until Friday, January 20, 2012 at 03:00 PM (EST) to comment and be entered for a chance to win. You will have 48 hours to confirm if we do not hear from you we will be forced to move on to an alternate. (We only notify winners DIRECTLY via email, so if your profile or your comment does not have an email your entry will not be processed)


Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - In honor of Bras and Fabric Softener, which is your favorite? Favorite Bra of all time? Favorite Fabric Softener? Share it with us and we'll give you extra credit!

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Blog about this giveaway, linking to this giveaway post. Leave the URL in a comment. (If your blog post contains more than just a pic and link you'll get 5 extra credit entries! So be sure to post the URL to your blog post 5 seperate times.)

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Join the Ascending Butterfly Blog Frog Community HERE

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Grab our NEW Button and put it on your Blog. Leave the URL where we can see it in a comment (if you have our old one, please swap it out, our URL address has changed!

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Follow @Tracy_Iglesias on Twitter (this is ascendingbutterfly’s editor) and give me your twitter ID in a comment

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Follow @Ascending1 on Twitter

Tweet This:

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - @Ascending1 + Full Size @Purex Crystals +  @Jockey Sports Bra #Giveaway in choice of size! Ends 01/20 - http://bit.ly/wViMxl

(Leave a comment with the tweet’s url so you can get a valid entry (click on the time your tweet was sent to get the direct URL and then copy and paste it here). You can Tweet TWICE per DAY. If you Tweet more than that, that entry will be disqualified.) Please remember we do not process twitter entries from PRIVATE accounts. If your account is private we will not process your twitter entries. NO exceptions so please do not email us regarding this policy.

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Digg about this giveaway and leave your digg username in your comment

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Fave this blog on Technorati and leave your Technorati user name in your comment

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Like Ascending Butterfly on Facebook HERE

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Like Purex on Facebook HERE (Tell them you are trying to win Purex Crystals from Ascending Butterfly) - Be sure you leave the link to your comment here for extra credit. (You can get the link the same way you do on twitter, press on the time you left the comment on their facebook wall, and when the page fully loads, highlight and copy the URL address and then paste it into the comment field here). If you say "I wrote on their wall" and do not leave the link that Extra Credit Entry will NOT be processed.

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Like Jockey on Facebook HERE (Tell them you are trying to win a Jockey Terry Sports Bra with Purex Crystals from Ascending Butterfly) - Be sure you leave the link to your comment here for extra credit. (You can get the link the same way you do on twitter, press on the time you left the comment on their facebook wall, and when the page fully loads, highlight and copy the URL address and then paste it into the comment field here). If you say "I wrote on their wall" and do not leave the link that Extra Credit Entry will NOT be processed.

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Follow Ascending Butterfly on Networked Blogs HERE

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Join Ascending Butterfly's NEW Community/Real Time Chat, Group HERE

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Vote for Ascending Butterfly on: Fuel My Blog -This is ONE time per giveaway, NOT daily.

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Have you entered another active giveaway on Ascending Butterfly? Let me know which one and you’ll get more extra credit!

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Have you commented on a non-giveaway entry? Let me know which one here and you’ll get more extra credit!

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - NEW! - I really want to win Duane Reade's VIP Influencer Contest and become one of the ten New York City based bloggers that help Duane Reade get promo and product announcements out and more. Can you visit Duane Reade on Facebook and tell them they should pick Ascending Butterfly as one of their 10 NYC VIP Influencer bloggers? or tweet the following: Hey @DuaneReade I think @Tracy_Iglesias of @Ascending1 should be one of your 10 VIP Influencers! #DReade #CBias

Of course if you do both, post two comments WITH links to your posts on their facebook page and twitter post link and you'll get 2 extra credits!

Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ - Press the button below and join, you get an extra entry for this giveaway and a shot at more great prizes, lets win together! (one time extra credit, will be verified before entry can be accepted)

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FTC Disclosure Info for this Giveaway:  This is NOT a sponsored promotion. NO compensation has been received  from the sponsors in exchange for this post. The sponsors are fulfilling directly to prize winner(s), this in no way influenced my opinion of the products. All opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own. Once a winner is selected and their information has been forwarded to the sponsor, the responsibility of prize fulfillment rests with the sponsor. An Affiliate Link is used for EZ Win game.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

2012 DUANE READE VIP INFLUENCER CONTEST ENTRY + Calling my fellow NYC based bloggers! #DReade

Are you a NYC Based Blogger and LOVE Duane Reade? Duane Reade is looking for 10 NYC based bloggers to become 2012 Brand VIP Influencers. Think you have what it takes to be one of ten Duane Reade VIP Bloggers?

Enter now by writing a blog post telling us why you love Duane Reade and why you should be chosen to be a 2012 Duane Reade VIP Blogger. As a VIP Blogger you'll receive:
  • $200 in Duane Reade gift cards per month
  • Exposure from Duane Reade via Facebook and Twitter.
  • Exclusive knowledge on Duane Reade promotions and products
  • Opportunity to be featured in the Duane Reader, the circular and new website.
  • Opportunity to attend executive level meetings
  • And much more!

As a VIP Blogger, you'll be expected to write up to 2 blog posts a month, share content via Twitter and Facebook, and participate in corporate meetings, in-store events, and serve as a brand advocate. Read Official Rules for more information.

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My #DReade Entry:

So while I'm happy to share the information about this contest with fellow NYC based bloggers, this post today is also my entry!

Working my way through College in New York City I signed up for 10 local temp agencies, I needed flexible schedules and spent my time from week to week and sometimes from day to day being switched to a new company, new department, new team and new desk. My time temping in New York City made me flexible, adaptable, able to learn new proprietary databases with ease and I've even learned to design my own databases since those days. In the begining being somewhere new each week and some weeks each day, was incredibly daunting, and even lonely at times.

The only constant in my travels around the city was and still is Duane Reade. There was always a Duane Reade near my job site. And I found myself visiting pretty much daily. There was something comforting to me about going inside. I have them near my home, near school and work, it gave me something consistent at a time when my life's normal was inconsistency.

Since my College days, nothing has changed and everything has changed. Duane Reade is still my go to no matter what I'm shopping for. Back then it was more soda's and sweet snacks for the afternoon after 3pm slump, now it's more multi-vitamins and dietary supplements as well as household and toiletries, but they are still my first choice for my weekend errands to pick up those essentials!

My lifelong love of my city has often been shared on the pages of this blog. I was also briefly pre-med (I wanted to be cardiologist since Kindegarten, YES I was THAT specific) and was a contributing writer during College to a local newspaper's medical/health section. I can't imagine a more perfect blogging opportunity for me, I love NYC (I know the city quite well), I love Duane Reade, and I love writing about Health topics because although life got in the way of my plans to pursue a career in medicine and treat patients, I still have a love for Science, Medicine and Health topics.

I hope my readers will post a quick comment here or on Duane Reade's Facebook Page, telling them just how much Ascending Butterfly would be a perfect fit for Duane Reade's 2012 VIP Influencer Program! (Never know if giveaways will be part of this program, and if there are, you know Ascending Butterfly always looks out for her readers!)

Duane Reade, I am definitely one of your 10. My approach to wellness - a mind, body and soul endeavor means the sky is literally the limit in the ways I can blog for you! My diverse approach makes me the ideal candidate! Last year I worked with Kmart as part of their 10 Kmart Latina Smart VIP Bloggers, and it's given me great experience working with a brand that is so much a part of people's daily lives and homes, I'd love to do the same thing this year with Duane Reade!

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FTC Disclosure: This post is an entry into Duane Reade's VIP Influencer Contest. This is NOT a sponsored post. All Opinions Expressed are 100% my own.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Thank You + Not quite the way I had in mind to lose more weight!

As many of you know I'm going through the fight of my life right now and I have been sharing my journey along the way, you can refer to these posts to get caught up (in order of most recent post about my experience to oldest):

3. Prayers and Good Vibes Needed

4. Today's HA! HA! Moment!

5.  Happy New Year Butterfly!

While in the hospital amazing online groups I belong to have rallied around me to help make this difficult time much more bearable. In many ways my online friends have rallied for me harder and faster than some of my real life ones! A beautiful flower arrangement (done inside a tea cup) and a balloon appeared at the hospital from:


I was so surprised and they defintely lifted my spirits, including the messages of support from the group too! And a visit from one of the members of the groups where we got to meet IRL (in real life) for the first time was such a wonderful surprise!

And another amazing surprise was that the Latina Bloggers Connect crew created a chip in account to help with my Medical Expenses, donations have started to come in, and honestly it all brought tears to my eyes. I'm usually the person who gives, and at first was a bit uncomfortable with the idea. But I realized that this isn't a time to worry about pride, but to worry about my health. This gift allows me to focus on my health and not worry so much about bills. It's not just the donations that have come in, but many being from perfect strangers with messages of support and encouragement that have really touched me.

My articles about my harrowing experience at the hands of a hospital have had an amazing trickle effect even I didn't think about, be it from reading my article, or donating to my chipin, people have shared THEIR stories with ME. Horrible medical experiences, their own medical challenges, or those of someone they love, and all the stories have been so moving!

So I also want to thank the amazing folks behind:

For setting up the following Chip In Fund (you can press on the button below if you'd like to also contribute and you will also notice the button on my sidebar as well):

And a special thanks to each and every one of you who have contributed so far!

Now me being the cheeky person I am and having the wicked sense of humor that I do, I have to share I have lost more weight since all this craziness began. The almost two weeks under heavy meds made food pretty un-appetizing and now clothes and even underwear are very loose on me, not the way I had in mind to loose more weight this year! But I guess I have found one positive in all this negative. Last year I slowly lost almost 26 pounds. And this year with this medical struggle I'm losing even more weight. So unlike most, I've kept the holiday pounds at bay! But not in a way I'd recommend of course.

I'm temporarily back home, and enjoying escaping that crazy hospital and my crazy hospital roomie. I can sleep in total darkness and silence again! Well, at least until I have to go back to the new hospital I am changing my care to. I can eat 'real' meals again, and get some air/sun and of course take real showers in a bathroom with a working shower. Even a long bathe. Something we think of as commonplace and even take for granted until we can't have them.....

Have a friend in the hospital? Here are some do's and don'ts:

DO - Visit them. Hours are insanely slow when your life screeches to a halt.

DON'T - Give them the 'poor baby' look. I'm not saying lie and tell them that they look fab, they don't need or want that either, but the 'poor baby' look makes people want to scream.

DON'T - Over tax the patient, don't bring them stress, theirs or yours.

DO - Leave after a reasonable amount of time. The person may feel like they have to keep up energy they really don't have to make YOU feel comfortable.

DON'T - Arrive empty handed. BUT:

DO -  A little recon, find out if they can have flowers (not all units allow the patients to have them in their rooms. My unit did NOT allow flowers in the patient's room which I was super bummed about.) Things most patients will always need: PJ's, toiletries (invariably you will forget something that they don't have), lotions (your skin ends up feeling like sandpaper in there), treats (waiting on the food tray to arrive is nerve wracking, many times you don't get what you want, it tastes awful and you end up hungry way before the next tray is set to arrive). So once you find out what they can have and can't have, be sure to bring treats or food, it will be greatly appreciated.

DO - Ask about the patient's care with the patient and the team, patients who are being looked after get better care. period. Make sure enough people are visiting that patient so the hospital staff knows you will notice anything out of place or any negative treatment or problems.

DO -  Keep in mind the patient's schedule is no longer their own, they often have to take tests so may not be in their room, and when they just get back to the room be it after surgery or after testing, they are exhausted. If they fall asleep, LET them sleep and come back to visit at another time.

Right now it takes so much extra time to do things I normally never had to think about, but I'm actively working at keeping my spirits up and remaining inspired.

If I can keep my spirits up despite my current challenges, so can YOU!

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FTC Disclosure: This is NOT a sponsored Post. I am choosing to thank the online groups that sent cheer my way during a very difficult hospital stay. I was under no obligation to do so and all opinions expressed here are 100% my own.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Laughter - It REALLY is the Best Medicine, and Then Some!

Did you know that babies begin to laugh when they're just 12 weeks old, and that the typical 4 year old laughs several hundred times a day? While we may take humor for granted, we shouldn't. Because by the time we're adults, we're only laughing a handful of times a day. That means we're missing out on the incredible benefits of laughter.

It's no joke. The experts, including those at the Department of Health and Human Services, tell us that having a sense of humor is good for a child’s mental and physical well-being. Just look at this laundry list of benefits we can glean from laughter:

· Relieves stress
· Loosens muscles
· Lowers blood pressure and may lower hormones that create stress and weaken immunity
· Helps move blood to our heart and lungs, boosting energy
· Triggers a point in the brain that helps us feel pleasure and want to have that same feeling
· Eases depression
· Strengthens immune system

For children, laughter offers not just these immediate benefits. Having a sense of humor also allows children to maintain a youthful, positive outlook on life. It's something they can turn to as a coping mechanism during challenging times. Humor also can help children develop social skills and maintain emotional and physical health. Last, but not least, laughing just plain feels good.

So, how can you encourage your child to develop and appreciate a sense of humor and the laughter that follows? Try the following strategies to get the giggling going in your home.

Make them laugh: Tickle your baby's tummy. Play hide-and-go seek with your toddler. Tell your 5 and 6 year olds funny jokes. Finding opportunities in everyday life to laugh with your children will make your home a happier place now, and will plant the seed of laughter in your children forever.

Be a good role model: Sure, our lives get weightier as adults, and we may not find as much to laugh about. But you won't raise laughing children if you're wearing a frown much of the time. If you can find the humor in everyday life and let your children see it, you'll help create a home environment that feels safe, comfortable and fun.

Add time for fun: Kids get so over-scheduled with activities during the day that we often forget they need time to just veg out and have fun too!

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FTC Disclosure: This article was provided and sponsored by Kiddie Academy®. The company has been a leader in education-based childcare for 30 years serving families and their children ages 6 weeks to 12 years old, offering full time care, before- and after-school care and summer camp programs. You can visit the KA Family Essentials blog and LIKE them on FB as well as Twitter @KiddieAcademy for additional information.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

An Open Letter to New York Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, (and to New Yorkers) and . . .

Written January 5, 2012 based on the care journal of my personal experiences regarding my stay.

RE: An Open Letter to NY Columbia Presbyterian Hospital by Tracy Iglesias

A warning to fellow New Yorkers and the Battle of my life:

I try not to use to my blog ever for snark, or for arm pulling. But I do use my words carefully and very much honestly at all times.

While I don't expect a response to this open letter because these details make for a good lawsuit, I feel it's important for a teaching institution who has signs everywhere taking pride in being a top 10 care institution for the past 10 years to really know how they are doing from the perspective of someone who just went through the fight of her life in their care (and I use the word 'care' to apply to this institution very loosely.)

I was transferred to the NY Columbia Presbyterian Millstein Building Oncology Ward on 12/31/11 after having spent an entire night in the ER of the Allen Pavilion which is located further uptown. It was during imaging taken at the ER where a mass was discovered on my lung, Allen didn't have a bed for me, and so at the urging of a doctor I met while in the ER at Allen (who actually was phenomenal) and the urging of a nurse who was taking care of me (who was also phenomenal), a bed was found for me where I have spent the past week at 6 Hudson North of Columbia Presbyterian. If only a bed had been found at Allen instead. A mass that had been there since imaging taken in October that I was NEVER told about. Had I been told in October I would have started this battle WAY sooner.

I want to start with a bit of background on the type of person I am. I will avoid aspirin for a Migraine if I can and try and start with meditation first and see if that dulls it. While women are not usually that way, much like a man, I'm private, stoic and tend to not share my pain. The pain that led me to the ER on 12/30 had me curled up in a ball in my bed, literally writhing in agony. I've never in my life experienced a pain so intense and pray to never experience something like that again.

It was a super long night in the waiting area of the ER before I was even triaged which is surprising for me, because as an asthmatic I don't normally experience super long waits. When I did finally get in the ER, a battery of tests and imaging was taken. I knew by the look of surprise on the person's face who took the images that things were not good. An amazing doc broke the news about the mass, about what the possibilities of the mass could be, and that I was definitely staying, they just didn't know where at that point. A bed could not be found at Allen, which I honestly regret to this day. I wonder how much easier things might have been there.

After a bumpy ambulance ride to the Millstein Building at Columbia Presbyterian, I arrived exhausted, in intense pain and in desperate need of rest. Who knew it would be the first and only time I'd see my bed made.

In the morning an agonizing trip to the bathroom made me wonder if I was in a hospital room or a movie theater. The all too familiar to most New Yorkers feet sticking to the ground and squeaking sound greeted my feet. The bathroom was entirely like something from a cheesy motel from a horror movie. Filthy floor, a large piece of missing tile (that can't be sanitary), a gross mirror you can barely see yourself in, a broken paper towel holder with paper towels above the holder just floating loose, and the remnants of my 'roomie's' bedpan still stuck to the upper lid because the folks emptying it don't take the time to lift the lid (a daily occurence by the way). What a lovely day one.

My bed was never made, I was never offered a shower. My mother thought she'd give me a shower, but cut her fingers on the broken shower head.

After 5 days I put my foot down about new bedding, and someone finally arrived with this bedding and threw it on a chair and began to walk away. I asked her should I move to the chair so she could make the bed. She barely glanced back and said 'It's not my job to make your bed', 'contact your nurse'. After about another hour a harried and apparently put upon NA made my bed, huffing the whole time. I'd pay you to find me the infamous 'hospital corner' I've heard so much of. When asked about when beds get made I was told every other day. That did NOT happen. My bedding was only changed once (quite a nightmare since you wake up every single with night sweats from the pain meds), and that's because I literally put my foot down about it or it would have NEVER happned the entire visit. Even most dogs have neater beds.

While my room was not hospitable in any way for a human, it would have made a great spare freezer. I thought my body temperature may have been off because of my meds until every single visitor I have had would put their coat right back on including scarf. I asked a nurse about raising the room temperature and she said she couldn't adjust it (she did try) and would contact maintenance (it seems like there is a person for every single thing, but you never find out who that 'person' is.). Maintenance has still not adjusted the temperature and I've endured a room as cold or probably colder than the current temperature outside here in New York City.

I was supposed to have a 'Bronchoscopy' on Tuesday, so I was placed on an NPO order (nothing by mouth Monday after midnight). After a tense morning, I was never taken in, and of course had to miss meals just to find out they wouldn't have an OR for me until Wednesday. So again Tuesday night another NPO order after midnight, and because of the time the procedure was scheduled I missed pretty much a whole day of meals. But that would actually turn out to be the easy part.

The transport person to take me to the OR, didn't come in my room, didn't offer to transfer me to the stretcher or even help me walk to it. My family got me to the stretcher, and asked her for a sheet because I was freezing. She literally sucked her teeth and muttered about what a pain in the ass 'these' patients are and practically threw the sheet on me. Honestly despite my weakened state, the New Yorker in me and Bronxite that I am was rising to the surface. And oh does it get better. We get to a walkway with a steep downward incline, and she locks the wheels of the stretcher while at the begining of the downward part of that incline and walks away leaving me in a position that would block anyone trying to get by on both doors and it was freezing there, not to mention if a wheel had unlocked my stretcher would have went careening over like a top. I ask her where she is going, and this was her reply 'YOU are too heavy for me this thing is too heavy and I need a man to wheel this thing over the incline so just stay there and deal with it.' So after a long chit chat with this 'man' about their respective holiday weekends, he began pumping up the stretcher much like you jack a car tire. I firmly asked him to STOP, that he was causing tremendous pain in the area where the mass is located and I had it made to clear to avoid my left side, and asked that they avoid bumping the stretcher against walls. He looked right at me and replied 'I have to worry about MY health'. And I made him repeat it just to make sure I had heard right.

As they pulled me in to the endoscopy waiting area, I was wheeled into a twilight zone of people pale as a sheet, moaning, some louder than others, and had a feeling I was in for something....

I was told the lead doctor was a Dr. Bulman, he never arrived, which means my procedure was performed by an attending, I did NOT agree to that. But that's not the worst part, it is what happens next that gets interesting. This was going to be performed under what's called 'twilight' sleep. You are breathing on your own and not entirely put under. You are asked a series of questions to gauge your readiness for them to begin. I didn't miss a question. No answer was incoherent. I told the Doctor, I'm still too lucid, all of my answers are still making sense, I don't think you should begin.

I've seen those shows on TV, even movies where someone undergoing a surgery wakes up and sees, hears and worsely FEELS everything.  Count me among them.

I woke up with a start, my glasses had been removed so I couldn't see with focus, but saw the camera, felt what was happening, and coughed so hard I'm sure everyone's fear was I would cough up the camera.

Of course then they decide to overcompensate for the error and give me too much Twilight. When I wake up, not ONE person came and spoke to me and the nausea was so severe I literally felt like I was dying. Thankfully the exasperated rude woman who transported me there wasn't the one who transported me back, but that's still not saying anything. I was wheeled in front of my room and just left there moaning. I was in no condition to walk back to my bed and needed a transfer. My nurse and my mother (who has a bad back and now injured fingers thanks to the showerhead in the bathroom here) had to slide me from the stretcher to the bed. Hard on them and hard on me. And shouldn't have happened in a hospital that prides itself on the quality of the care they provide.

On Wednesday I missed an entire day of meals and when something finally did come, I couldn't tolerate it because of the meds. (I was given morphine to manage the pain post procedure). We asked for soft foods as the endoscopy still had my throat sore, and it wasn't until 1:30 in the morning that one cup of lemon ice and one cup of pudding arrived. You try being on enough meds to choke a horse for a week and skip an entire day of meals.......

My psycho, racist room-mate puts her TV on so loud you can hear it from the elevators and this is ALL day long, she does not put it off, and she never turns off her light. And pre surgery when a nurse was speaking with me, she literally told that nurse that because she has money, that whenever she needs something it will always get precedence over me and my needs. She also told someone she was speaking to on the phone that for a 'Hispanic Woman' I didn't seem to smell as bad as most of them normally do, WTF? Seriously? I know for a fact I wouldn't be allowed to get away with half of the non-sense this woman pulls.

But I will say that her theory about money and treatment is one that doesn't surprise me as I have experience working in a hospital myself, but seeing just how much the staff here agrees with it themselves and just how differently people are treated here is still a shocker in this day and age.

Apparently warm blankets are for the 9th floor, 'You know for the folks with MON....' and then a long pause which is what my mother was told when she asked for one for me since the heat was never fixed in my freezer, I mean room.

Sleeping in a bed I call a 'dogs nest' because it doesn't get made, no shower, not only because the shower in my room is broken and has not yet been repaired, but no one would do it for me even it was working. Thankfully I do have family and friends willing to if and WHEN the shower ever gets fixed (IF that happens before I get discharged remains to be seen). A procedure that wasn't even performed by the Doctor who I thought would do it, and then a team who was discussing the possibilities before they even had the dissection nevertheless the actual results from pathology has made for a surreal experience to say the least.

Even the seedy motel rooms you see in those 'b' horror movies have more potential than where I am staying. How are you supposed to take on the battle of your life in these conditions?

I am a woman of Faith and I am trying to walk in that Faith, speak in that Faith (despite such dire circumstances) and live in my Faith. It's been super difficult to keep my energy and spirits up here.

New Yorkers, if you ever find yourself in an ambulance (and I pray you do NOT) and you are coherent enough to hear you are being taken to Columbia Presbyterian, INSIST you be taken ANYWHERE else.

Aside from poor treatment and care, poor conditions of the rooms and staff that makes you feel you are putting upon them (despite the fact that in spite of my pain, not one person who dealt with me can say that they didn't get a please before I asked for anything and a Thank You after it arrived), this hospital has a caste system that is almost medieval. I am in the fight of my life right now and I haven't quite been given the tools to fight here.

They say that God helps to turn all bad around for our good, that there is a lesson in our trials, moments of sadness, moments of pain, I'm still trying to figure this one out, but I do thank all of my readers for their outpouring of prayer and concern for both my health and my wellbeing/spirits. It is because of you that I have had the courage to live out loud since 2009, to share my life and my feelings, my victories and my failures, each and every day and every day to day moment I have shared with you, and this is probably my most raw and open post to date. But please dear readers, avoid this hospital at all costs!

My aunt encouraged me to journal about my experiences and this post is shared from those journals. I am sure I won't get a response because they will be more concerned about a law suit than they ever were with my quality of care, but if they do respond (some pat answer sent by their PR folks after legal approves it) I will be sure to share it here. I'm sure we could both use the laugh.

If any Lawyer reads this and would like to contact me, please feel free, you can use the contact us page of this site to be in touch.


I've taken some photos which will be added to this post as soon as I'm back home, but I thought I'd share my day today, Friday, 01/06/12. Today I was scheduled for a Pet Scan, I was not told the scan was in another building and I'd be transferred to the procedure from the outside. Let's remember, what's compromised is my Lungs, and I was transferred externally in the cold with a robe, never told I'd need my coat, Does that make any sense? Now I have a dry cough that is exacerbating the pain I am already experiencing. Transport was given incorrect information so after my test I was left in a HALLWAY to wait almost one hour for transport to come return me to my room, again with an external building transfer in the winter for someone with a compromised lung....... I ran into my doctor in the hall on my way back and he asks me are you going to your scan or coming from it? He asked this as he turned away and kept walking, it even got the transport person angry, and she replied before I could, she said, 'how about if you ask a patient a question that you turn and at least acknowledge her response?' He tersely replied he would come see me when he had the results, it's 9:09 pm and that was 1:30 pm and he has still not arrived. And yet yesterday and today I was told if the bone scan went well, I would be going home.....Looks like that isn't going to happen. My prayers are for Saturday, but it's getting harder to hold out hope. And then the fun really begins once I have all the test results back and finally know what I'm up against!


Ascending Butterfly

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: More Prayers!

Butterflies as many of you already know I am in the hospital and my procedure date has been changed from Tuesday to today/Wednesday (putting a whole new meaning on the whole  'Wordless Wednesday' thing that's for sure),  I would greatly appreciate your continued prayers, virtual hugs, and positive vibes!

I may not have the energy to post again on Wednesday night, but God willing I will make a post on Thursday!

I hope the new year is treating you way better than it's treating me! Many of you have opted to contact me privately or via email, and while I don't have the energy to personally respond to every email and ecard, I just wanted to thank you all for the abundance of love and positive energy you have sent my way, be it via facebook, twitter, email or comments here, I am seeing each and everyone of them. I am convinced that I have the best readers ever and I thank you all for your support!

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Monday, January 2, 2012

Prayers and Good Vibes Needed

Butterflies as many of you already know I am in the hospital and Tuesday morning will be a big day for me,  I would greatly appreciate your prayers, virtual hugs, and positive vibes!

I may not have the energy to post on Tuesday night, but God willing I will make a post on Wednesday!

Hope the new year is treating you all well so far!

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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Today's HA! HA! Moment!

Much like Oprah is fond of sharing her 'A-Ha!' Moments, I thought I'd share a 'Ha! Ha!' moment I had today! I decided (with the help of family of course for support) to venture outside my room and take a walk around the floor, figuring it would help build up my strength, change the scenery and keep my mind busy. Harmless enough right?

Well what song comes piping out of someone's room?

While I do think it's a pretty song and all, If I Die Young by The Band Perry is the last thing you really want to hear as the youngest patient on your Oncology Ward! LOL

There's my Today's HA! HA! Moment.

Alanis Morrissette's song "Ironic", which contains the line, "It's a black fly in your Chardonnay." is coming to mind, I'm thinking my HA! HA! Moment is a tiny bit more ironic than a black fly in your Chardonnay.......

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FTC Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are 100% my own.