Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Hope For Spina Bifada Babies!

  I am really amazed at what medical breakthroughs are actually coming through!  Who would have thought that babies with spina bifida, which can be determined before birth through tests, now have a chance to be operated on before they are born to correct this birth defect?  It is one of the most common birth defects in the United States, affecting about 1,500 babies each year.  About 10% of these babies die. Those who survive may have lifelong disabilities that include leg weakness or paralysis and loss of bowel and bladder control.  The most severe form of spina bifida is called myelomeningocele, in which the lower backbone and spinal canal do not close before birth. 
   An eight-year trial has just been completed, actually having been ended early because the results were very overwhelming - Children's odds of a good outcome from spina bifida surgery are better if the operation is done before birth, a major clinical trial shows.
   For the trial, 80 mothers were chosen to receive the corrective operation before birth.  "They cut you from hip to hip, and you can imagine having a major surgery, cut twice and have a baby mov(ing) around and kick(ing).  I was in crazy amounts of pain for a long, long time."  But for one mom, it was a sweet sacrifice because at just one week old, an MRI showed her little son's brain malformation, which was a symptom of the spina bifida, completely reversed. 
   For many unborn babies, a diagnosis of spina bifida will result in death by abortion.  For those babies allowed to live, surgery is often performed soon after birth.  But unfortunately, the months spent in utero with the spina bifida untreated can result in leg paralysis, brain damage, or other problems. Hydrocephalus usually requires a shunt to drain the excess fluid and can even result in death.  
    When surgery is performed before birth, doctors have concluded that the operation decreased the need for shunts and reduced the incidence of brain herniation, but increased likelihood of premature delivery.  As these children grow, the doctors will be able to determine if the surgery prevented other effects of spina bifida, such as leg paralysis.
There is an elevated risk to the mothers, who elect to have this surgery.  It is a major surgery and any subsequent children she gives birth to would need to be done with C-Section.  But for most parents, this is wonderful news and gives hope to the children they so fondly hope to have and to nurture.   
Sources from articles here, here and here

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Gourmet Gift Basket Snack Classic Giveaway!

Congratulations to my random draw winner, #8,  leanne_mac! Thanks, everyone, for entering!
   I was ecstatic to be able to review Gourmet Gift Basket's best seller, the snack gift basket classic!  First of all, I have heard so many wonderful reports and read so many great reviews of the company!  Everyone from Oprah to The Today Show has raved about the quality of these baskets, which, by the way, are made by Gourmet Gift Baskets!  Yes, I mean the baskets, themselves!
   To put these snacks to the test, I took it to school with me and let my classroom of unruly, self-contained boys try them.   They were very happy to sample them and rate them!  The overall consensus was thumbs up!  Among my favorites were the :
 And the:
These were yummy!
   There were many more yummy selections, including key lime white chocolate chip cookies, a peanut roll, an organic coconut roll, and more!

   If you ever have a need to give someone something nice, showing that you care and easy to expedite, give them a gift basket like this snack basket from Gourmet Gift Baskets!
   Gourmet Gift Baskets would like to give one lucky reader a Snack Classic Basket to try for themselves!  Here's what you can do to enter:

Main Entry - Become a GFC Follower of A GAL NEEDS...(on right side bar) AND visit Gourmet Gift Baskets and tell me a basket you'd love to try!  That's it!  If you would like additional entries, please check out the following extra entries!  Leave as many comments as indicated on the left of each entry!  Thanks!

+2 Subscribe to my e-mails! (right side bar)
+3 Blog, Stumble or Facebook this! (leave me the link)
+3 Follow my giveaway listings blog on GFC 
+1 Tweet this giveaway daily for one entry per day! You can tweet this:  
"#Win a Gourmet Gift Basket snack classic @Melahelen and @gmtgiftbaskets - this is their best-selling basket!  4/8"

 +2  Comment on my review for Gourmet Gift Baskets!
+1  Follow me on Twitter! 
+1  Like Gourmet Gift Baskets on Facebook and leave them a nice  comment!  (Leave your Facebook first name and last initial for me)

This giveaway will close on April 8th and the winner will be chosen by and notified through e-mail!  Please respond within 48 hours!  I was provided the product above in exchange for a review and giveaway!  All opinions are authentic and represented by myself only. Thanks so much to Gourmet Gift Basket for letting me share this review and giveaway with my readers.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fun At The Job With Gourmet Gift Baskets! {Review}

 I had so much fun at work today!  Gourmet Gift Baskets sent me their Snack Classic Gift Basket to Review!  I decided to share the wealth and get the opinions of those I work with.  The thing is, I work in a self-contained classroom at a high school with 7 at-risk boys and their teacher, a man.  Believe me, they will tell me straight up what is what if I ask them, and they won't try to smooth it over or make it look pretty if it isn't.  We have a class called 'Social Skills', which I am in charge of.  I figure that sending gift baskets to people is a good Social Skill and one that is very much appreciated in a variety of situations.  First of all, I asked them when might be a good time to give someone a gift basket.  I got some great answers.  One said, "When your Grandma has a birthday, you could send her a gift basket."  Some other answers were anniversaries, weddings, congratulating someone and funerals.  I next had them sample each one of the snacks in the basket and rate them.  I had a very favorable rating with all of them.  I had most of the snacks receive Excellent, Good, or OK ratings.  But one thing didn't rate well at all.  That item was the Dipping Pretzels with Dip.  The dip was  a sweet (raspberry) and sour (honey mustard) dip that I think was a bit too sophisticated for their palates--but I really liked it! My absolute favorite snacks were the Almond Pecan Crunch and the Buttered Pecan Crunch!  They are -or were- sublime for snacking (they're all gone now)!
   Other baskets that have definitely caught my eye are the Something Naughty and Something Nice Gift Basket, full of nuts and fruits along with delectable chocolate bon bons.
  I have been wanting the Sweet Decadence Chocolate Premium Gift Basket for awhile now.  It's a true chocolate lover's delight, I'm sure!
When you want to give something special to someone for any occasion, I definitely recommend Gourmet Gift Baskets.  They will be appreciated each and every time, I promise! 

Sunday, March 6, 2011

My Dabble Into Long Boarding!


My son, Joseph, invited me to go on an outing with him on the local river trail.  It was about 50 degrees outside, which to us was tropical weather after the cold winter we've had.  So he got on his trusty longboard and I on my bike and off we went.  He says he would be considered average on a longboard, certainly not a "skater" type.  But I think he's really good! 

   I enjoyed watching him glide along the fairly smooth trail, his hands casually shoved into his jean pockets and when there was an occasional bump, he would jump slightly with the board to get over, with as little impact on the board as possible.  We went for about a mile and a half, with me just kind of coasting on the bike and not working up much of a sweat.  In contrast, as we were coming back, I noticed that Joseph was definitely working up a sweat.  I realized that pushing off and gaining momentum on a long board can be quite the anaerobic exercise!  
   Somehow I found myself on the long board and Joseph on the bike.  He was a great instructor,  telling me how to push off and how to line up my feet.  I found out that indeed, it takes a lot of work to push off and obtain a workable speed.  Having some sense of balance is certainly key.  I longed to be as good as my son and be able to glide gracefully along, looking so nonchalant, as if it were effortless.  Unfortunately, my movements were rather choppy and spastic, more akin to an old-time silent picture movie, where all the actors look robotic.  I would obtain a glide for all of  2 feet and find that I needed to once again push for momentum.  I hadn't been doing it for even 10 minutes, and I was sweating like a pig.  And darn those bumps where roots from the trees along the path extend out under the trail and break up the asphalt.  Somehow you need to clear those!  Joseph did so effortlessly, and when he told me to just go over them instead of getting off the board and walk across, I obediently attempted to do just that.  Unfortunately, I was not as successful as Joseph.  My board seemed to catch on the jagged lip of the bump and just stalled out.  I, on the other hand, lurched awkwardly forward, landing in an incredibly awkward and painful position, my left leg twisted under me going one direction and my right leg going in the opposite direction.  Crap!  Not my bad knee, the one I have been babying along for 2 or 3 years now, after a previous, equally awkward fall on the ski slopes.  It has never healed back to its original, healthy state.  Now, here I was, with a re-injury and in my mind, probably more serious.  I lay there on the pavement yelping and crying in misery and Joseph standing there in dismay and concern.  I had the luxury of laying there to collect myself without any passers by.  I would have gotten up quickly just because of embarrassment if anyone had come by!  After a few minutes I got up and dusted myself off, hopped on the bike and off we went. 
    We stopped on the way home to say hello to some horses and when I got off the bike, my leg wouldn't support me and kept buckling under my weight.  Not a good sign!  
    It is the day after the event and I haven't been out of my pj's all day.  I didn't walk the dog and I lounged around in bed reading, after I was served breakfast in bed, which was definitely a perk of the whole unfortunate episode.  Thankfully, I have one more day to recover before the work week begins.  Hopefully nothing got torn and I will be back to full throttle soon!
   But what this is telling me is that my days of reckless abandonment with trying new things may be almost over.  I want to keep the mobility I have and not wreck the great quality of life I enjoy.  I have to think of the consequences more than the immediate gratification I might have when trying fun and exciting physical challenges.  It's rather sad to come to that point and a far cry from when I got on the ski slope for the first time.  (Wow, another story for another time!)  I'm glad that it was with Joseph when the realization arrived.  But never say never!  Even now, I feel the need to prove myself.  I like the board I found above!  Ironically, they are called 'Old Lady Skate Boards'.  I can tell you one thing, I'd rather be the old lady riding the board than the old lady ruining other people's fun, like this lady!    Stay safe!  Live life to the fullest but be wise!

K coop and Judi Oyama Hawaii Photo Dano