Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Nose Knows

I was so made for this product. No, not because my nose is too dainty to have issues (dainty my nose ain't), but because I am something of a germaphobe, and yet I place myself in the most germ infested places all the time. It's a necessary byproduct of having four children.

So when the folks at Parent Bloggers told us about Nozin, I was in.

Before my Nozin came, I started to rethink things. What if I had to spray stuff in my nose? That's pretty gross. Actually, doubly gross for me, since I had an aunt growing up that was constantly spraying crap up her nose. That's not exactly fluffy kittens and unicorns for most kids. So when the Nozin came, I opened it and found...ta dah! Swabs. How great is that? And not only swabs, but swabs that come in a neat case, streamlined enough to fit into a wallet, if you are so inclined.

The theory behind the Nozin is this. By swabbing the area (your nose) right where germs enter to infect us, you're reducing your risk of contracting an illness. It's not always feasible to wash your hands as often as you need to, and Nozin works for hours at a time. It's not an antibiotic, so you're not helping create the next super resistant germ, but it does contain plant extracts with an anti-virucidal quality.

So. I did not spray, but I did lightly swab in and around my nostril. Then I headed to the gym, which is a petri dish with treadmills. Between the humid locker rooms, the nursery full of kids, and the closed quarters of the cardio rooms, I'm sure that place is a candy store to the folks over at the CDC. Obviously I can't say if it prevented an illness, but it did prevent one thing. Instead of taking in the awesome corn chip essence of the ladies locker room, I smelled only a nice orange scent. Now that's worth the price of admission right there.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The 24 Hour Pharmacist

When my husband saw me reading The 24-Hour Pharmacist, he just sighed. This is the man who has threatened to block all access to places like WebMD and threw out our copy of the Physician's Desk Reference. He was tired of me self-diagnosing. I admit, as a creative-type, there may be a thin, slight, barely negligible thread of hypochondria in me. Barely discernible, really.

The book proved to be quite a read. Suzy Cohen, R. Ph, has the professional and academic chops to make this book not only a fabulous reference tool, but also an engaging read. I cannot stress enough that this book is more than worth the purchase. It is so chock full of information, that to truly digest its contents, I would have had to read it three or four times. There is such a diverse abundance of information, that it's hard to imagine someone who couldn't benefit from this book. I doubt it's intended as a read it cover-to cover kind of book, although I found myself doing just that whenever the topic of vitamins came up. I have long believed in the healing power of vitamins, and Cohen not only elaborates on this, but backs it up with sound medical reasoning. What is immediately apparent is Cohen's marriage between traditional medicinal practices, and the increasingly mainstream of non-traditional herbal remedies. She also rates various known remedies from "good" to "not so good" and actually tells you where to get them. The resources section of the book alone could save you hours of fruitless internet searching.

The biggest positive in this book, presented over and over again, was the elaboration given on various issues. There wasn't just a section on how to treat insomnia. Cohen explored various causes of insomnia, the different types of insomniacs, and whether or not that was really the problem. Of course, as a reviewer, it was my duty to read through things thoroughly, and so I paid particular attention to Chapter Nine: When He Wants Viagra and You Want a Valium and Chapter Ten: The Condom Broke. I also picked up a lot of interesting trivia, such as the particularly piquant tidbit that in ancient Greece, women used pomegranate halves as diaphragms.

Want the book but don't have time to savor it? The Index should do it for you. Everything from Menopause and Milk thistle to Cervical Dysplasia and Proton Pump Inhibitors.

My only caution (and it is echoed within the book) is to ask your doctor before taking a list of herbs for what ails you. Herbs are drugs, and in that vein, there should be just as much caution exercised before taking a bunch of prescriptions as when you load up at the health food store.

If you don't have the book handy, and have a question or want to do a quick drug search, you can also go to Cohen's site, Dear Pharmacist, for your answers. Plus, spoiler alert, she sings.

And finally, does $50 sound like something you could use? Yeah, I thought so. Head over to Parent Bloggers and post a comment on the 24-Hour Pharmacist campaign launch(you'd do it anyway) for your chance to win a $50 CVS gift card.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Tales From The School Cafeteria

Oh, do I remember my school cafeteria.

I moved a lot as a kid, but one of the constants was the cafeteria. To me, they all smell the same, evoking memories of milk cartons, turkey tetrazzini, and the coveted pizza day. To this day, when I walk into one of my own children's lunchrooms I am instantly transported back to Pat Benatar on my Walkman, and tater tots on my tray.

My earliest lunchroom memory is from second grade. My parents had divorced, we were living in a new city, and I knew no one. To make matters worse, I had recently chopped off my long, Breck Girl hair and replaced it with the hideous mistake known as the Dorothy Hammill. I was shy, miserable, and embarrassed. My mother was suddenly a working mom, and I had no one with whom to sit at lunch and commiserate over my wretched second grade existence.

My teacher, Mrs. White, had intervened, trying her best to smooth the road for the new girl. She bestowed upon me, prematurely, the coveted yellow ISM button to wear on my shirt. ISM stood for Image Self Manager. Kind of like student of the month (my school had the name Image in it). Instead of ingratiating me in to the sorority of previous ISM pin wearers, it made me stand out even more as an outsider. Rather than invitations to the cool kids' table (or anyone's table, for that matter), I simply invited hissed statements like, You didn't really get that pin. You've only been here a week. I had jumped the chain of command and was appropriately punished for my transgression, even if only for my compliance in wearing a button I hadn't earned.

I would have been swallowed up at that school, save for one small thing: pizza day. On pizza day, not only was I allowed to have hot lunch (I normally packed something in my pale blue Snoopy lunchbox), but my mom would come and sit with me in the cafeteria. On that day, I had someone to sit with. And pizza. It didn't get much better than that.

I invite you today to think back to the seventies, or eighties, or whenever it was (just don't depress any of us and mention the nineties) and recall your favorite cafeteria memory. And, check out School Menu and Family Everyday, two sites that work together with School Food Services Directors to provide and promote healthy eating and physical fitness for kids and their parents. If you have kids in school and want to see if there is pizza on the lunch menu, you can click on your state and check out what's for lunch. I really, really like that feature, because as good as some of the food can be, I don't want to go hang out with my kid on turkey tetrazinni day (although I checked, and I think they stopped serving that back in 1981, so you're safe).