Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Status Quo

This was a tablescape I made for lunch witha friend of mine. I built the tablescape around flower from Trader Joe's (love their flowers).

Sorry for the huge delay in posting. I just haven't had anything good to report where Dear Son is concerned and I've been a bit depressed about that.
Dear Son had a great week the week of the 8th. He seemed alert, more like his old self and overall, like he was improving. On that day, I had increased his feedings so we could take him to the doc and instead of feeding over 15 hours, I increased it so he was feeding over 7 hours. He did well all week and I had hoped that perhaps increasing the speed of his feeding, had made him a bit stronger. Since November, the rate of his feedings had been decreased to reduce the risk of aspiration. Now that he had been doing better, I increased it. I realize this isn't scientific however if Dear Son seems to do well, I run with it.

Last week, he seemed a lot weaker again. I was pretty depressed that he hasn't been bouncing back this time. Overall, it seems that it is taking a lot of energy for him to do basically nothing. When I move him to the recliner in the living room, just the fact that he's sitting up seems to exhaust him. For fun, Dad and I took him to a nearby mall, because Dad wanted to look at something and he thought we might want to get out of the house. We took Dear Son however he was really tired when we got home and the entire trip was only three hours. Then last Friday he went to school again, for the third Friday this month (he's only allowed to go 2.5 hours one day a week). He was tired and had a more difficult time than the week prior. They made Irish Soda Bread and he indicated to them he was tired from sitting in his wheelchair and wanted to lie down. They told him he'd have to sit there until the activity was finished. He was quiet after that but still, school isn't very long.

It's been a rough couple of months overall. Not seeing him improve coupled with not leaving the house more than once a week is tough. I am only working one day a week so I can care for him and without a wheelchair van, I don't get out at all. That, coupled with his lack of improvement has been depressing. I've also been worried about what might happen when he dies. It's going to be a very different life for me. My purpose in life and the joy of caring for him will end. It will be very hard to switch gears after spending all of my time helping him live. As a mother and a caregiver, it's a different bond when your child's entire existence hinges on your help. He needs his meds every six hours, he needs to be fed and changed. He needs to be rolled over at night so he doesn't get bed sores and he needs help with everything. I worry that although I'll go back to working full time, I think there is going to be a huge void, where Dear Son is concerned. I've tried to savor every moment with him but when you see him struggling so hard to exist, you can't help but think about what will happen when that time comes.
On a different note, I'd like to get back to my tablescaping again, but it's hard to do without time to myself. I like to make everything perfect and then take the photos and that takes a few hours to do that. I don't feel I can focus on that while I am attending to Dear Son. I have started inviting more friends over for lunch and creating my tablescapes for that so that has been fun. I did however order a slew of books from the library. I've been obsessed lately with these Victorian parlor chairs after seeing a gorgeous one with a heart shaped back on an antique site. I've also been interested in green cleaning and making my own non-toxic cleaning products so most of my books are related to those two topics. In terms of new things, I purchased a new sofa in earlier this year and it finally arrived earlier this month.

In addition, I was engulfed last week with reading anything and everything I could on the internet on BPA (Bisphenol A), a synthetic estrogen and plastic component, that is toxic. This toxic chemical is found in polycarbonate plastic, usually marked with a recycle code of 7 and also used to coat metal, so it's found in the lining of most canned food (including baby formula) and beverages. It can seep out of the polycarbonate plastic and into food and liquid, especially when the plastic is heated, worn or scratched or when in contact with fatty or acidic foods. I like to think of BPA like the high fructose corn syrup of the plastic industry in that it is everywhere however it far more dangerous. I'll let you do your own research and you won't have to look far. Everyone knows it's bad for you but yet, we still haven't banned it. I knew not to heat food in plastic in the microwave or to use saran wrap however I hadn't researched the issue enough to see just how bad it was.

Last week, I made the decision to remove just about everything plastic from my kitchen and created a 24 step action plan on all of the things I could do. One of the main things I'll do is to switch most of my dry goods and refrigerated items to glass containers or wide mouth mason jars. The issue with the mason jars was finding "BPA free" lids. I finally found a vendor that had that. As I researched further, just because something is BPA free does not mean it's safe. They can use other toxic chemicals and not identify them and just list a recycle code of "7" which is a mixed bag category. I still am looking for different spice containers, and once again, it's finding a BPA free lid that's a challenge. I've changed cutting boards and started using the wood and am purchasing some bamboo ones. I've been researching water bottles and learned that it's not enough to look for stainless steel but to look for "food grade" stainless steel. One good thing is that I don't eat many processed foods so I don't have to worry about the plastic containers they come in however there is just so many items to be concerned about. There is BPA in cans. While I don't use many, I use a few like soups or vegetables. I buy mostly fresh vegetables anyway so that won't be a big deal and I can purchase liquid soup in the boxes versus the cans. The Mini-Prep food processor I was using has a plastic work bowl. Well, the plastic isn't marked (Most of the time when plastic isn't marked with a recycle code at all, it almost always is a tip off that it's got BPA in it.) and I tried to order a replacement in glass only they don't have it in glass. Not only that, many of the work bowls from any brand is made with plastic that has BPA in it! Yikes! I haven't found solutions yet for my vitamin containers. I am working on eliminating all plastic bags however previously I would freeze cooked, chopped vegetables and store them in 1/2 cup serving sizes in freezer bags. I also would cook a turkey in the rotisserie and store that in 3 oz. bags in the freezer. I do some bulk cooking like that and am working on alternatives for food storage. I have seen some glass containers that can go in the freezer, the problem is making sure the lid is secure and it won't break. I still have to replace the dish drainer and plastic lids for the cat's food. Then there is cat food that comes in cans; I suppose those cans are lined with BPA as well. I've eliminated the plastic container for egg storage in the refrigerator and replaced that with glass. I haven't researched the plastic bags at the grocery store, the ones I put my fruit and vegetables in or any of the plastics that food is sold in. I used to store things like nuts and cheese in plastic containers in the refrigerator but I am changing those to glass. My big issue with glass was that it was heavy. In addition, when I went looking for glass containers, many had plastic lids! While I realize that not all plastic may be bad (those with codes of 2, 4 and 5 are supposed to be safe), other research showed that those plastics when heated in a microwave showed traces of BPA as well. Anchor Hocking has some nice glass bowls with glass lids although I'd like some different sizes. Most come in a 2 cup or 5 cup size. The Glad containers I was using were the 3 cup size and that was perfect for most of the items I stored in the refrigerator.

Some larger issues are that of plastics for Dear Son. It is my understand that there may be BPA in the plastic feeding bags, extension tubing, syringes, etc. I haven't begun to research that or to see if there are other options for that. On top of that, I was storing his daily feeding bag in a plastic container, his daily syringes in a plastic container and some of his liquid medications in a wide mouth plastic container. Worse yet, I was washing those plastic containers in the dishwasher once a week, so if there is BPA in them, it was getting in the dishwasher. I can change that to glass however all of his medications come in plastic containers from the pharmacy and many of those were unmarked or marked with a recycle code of 1. In addition, there is concern about BPA in all of the plastics used in the hospital, all of the "one time use" plastics for surgery and other procedures. I did go the website for his formula and they have not changed cans yet so I can assume the can lining has BPA in it.

In the end, I am only at the tip of the iceberg. My focus now is eliminating plastics with BPA or plastics period, from my kitchen. After that, I can worry about the rest of the house.

Tomorrow, we take Dear Son to see Ped Neuro Doc. I'll try to post more frequently but it's hard sometimes when Dear Son doesn't do a whole lot. Thank you for your kind e-mails and your concern.


Anonymous said...

It's OK to post, even if Dear Son hasn't done a lot... We are here for you too! :)

I'm amazed at your research on plastics - and glad that I saved all of my grandma's old "refrigerator dishes" from the '50s! They were white glass (the outside of the glass was painted different cheerful colors) and each one had a nice, ribbed glass lid. I stacked them away in the back of my cupboards because they were heavy, and I was worried about using them. Now I'm worried about NOT using them. I have been using glass exclusively in the microwave for years, because I just never liked the way that plastic made the food smell like... plastic! And we banned all SaranWrap and similar products years ago, because we noticed that they gave the food that it was used with that same "plasticy" odor.

Oh - and the tablescapes, as always, were lovely! :)

Christina said...

I'll add to ccinnkeeper's comment that I have a friend who is an environmental scientist and very, very conscious of chemicals and toxins in household goods and environment. She did thorough research on BPA and also found that the risk seems to come when BPA plastics containing liquids are heated. So avoid all bottled waters, as you don't know how the bottles were transported- they might have been heated at one point causing some BPA to leach into the water. She also advised against eating certain canned foods- such as tomatoes- as they are acidic and that is thought to possibly cause BPA to leach from the can lining. But storing dry foods in plastic or cold liquids pose little to extremely negligible risk- there simply is no way for BPA to leach out of a container without heat triggering the reaction.
Wishing you and Dear Son the best.

Anonymous said...

Blessings and prayers to you and DS.

Dream Mom said...

Thanks for your comments.

As far as the BPA, I wouldn't say I am turning things upside down by removing the plastics, I am just removing them for food storage but still using them for storage in other areas of the home. While you do need to be careful when reading items on the internet, there is a significant amount of research that BPA can leach into foods from the linings of cans and small amounts can leach even when not heated. While a major concern is when they are heated, it just isn't worth it to me to not take the other precautions.

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