Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Currently Reading | JULY

The other day I was  wondering why I started writing these posts. I really can't remember why but I'm so pleased at sticking to it for three months I'm going to keep going through the summer. I Love (with a capital L) reading list posts AND having the opportunity every month to beg for book suggestions is awesome. So here goes!

Bringing Up Bebe by Pamela Druckerman 
Yes, I read parenting books for fun. Don't judge. Human growth and development is amazing.  I love kids but, quite frankly, there are some kids who are so incredibly aggravating they make me want to go out and have my tubes tied. HOWEVER. I believe it is bad parenting that makes bad kids...and likewise good parenting makes good kids. I picked up this book on a whim because the cover was cute, it was a parenting book I had not yet read and the first chapter title was awesome (French Kids Don't Throw Food). Basically reading this book was like hearing my mom give one of her how-to parenting talks. It's a fairly short book but took me forever to get through because if my mom was in the room every few paragraphs I would stop to read her a section with a "Hey, mom this sounds just like you!" And then we would have a long talk about such-and-such aspect of parenting. Which was awesome. While living in Paris Pamela Druckersman, an American journalist, noticed a stark difference between French and American children. Not only were French children better behaved they were happier and their parents less harried. This book, topic by topic (sleeping through the night, eating, discipline, etc.), examines the differences between French and American parenting...and reveals how superior the French philosophy of parenting is. I love how every aspect is really just basic common sense. And I love the idea of definite boundaries and freedom within boundaries for a happier, content, self controlled child. There are a few things I don't agree with (I'm not convinced daycare is the best option for every child) but overall this book is a wonderful, practical manual. 

What Patients Taught Me: A Medical Student's Journey by Audrey Young 
My obsession with medical memoirs is great. I've collected this hugely long list of "doctor books" I've read. Maybe I'll post it someday. What Patients Taught Me is an eye-opening glimpse into rural medicine. Audrey Young chronicles her years through medical school rotations in rural northwest settings with little to no health care. Always having lived in the doctor-saturated northeast, the idea of not doctors or hospitals for hundred of miles is completely foreign. But there are MANY ares in our own US of A where people must travel several hours for medical attention. All I can say is, it takes a special type of person to practice in such a setting and those who do have my admiration.

The House of God by Samuel Shem
Basically EVERY pre-med reading list includes this book as one of the great medical classics. My list does not.  If I could sum up this book in three words they would be: sexist, racist and unbearable cynical. (Adjectives don't count.) Usually I will stick with a book, no matter how crummy, until the end just because I really hate NOT finishing a book. But I just could not stomach The House of God. I read the first three (maybe?) chapters before returning it to the library. So yeah...medical classic or not, not my kinda book.

The Dark Vineyard, Black Diamond and The Crowded Grave by Martin Walker
Apparently, there is a French theme this month. Interesting, since I've never been particularly interested in France. The next three book in the Bruno, Chief of Police series. All three hold true to the charming feel of the first book. I love how each centers on a different industry of the French countryside (wine, truffles and Foi gras) and how much I have learned about various French foods. The mysteries themselves are predictable. Don't read for a Sherlock Holmes quality of sleuthing. These are books you read for the atmosphere.

Aunt Dimity's Good Deed by Nancy Atherton 
My mom got me started on this series last summer. At first I was a little hesitant because of the series title...Aunt Dimity: Paranormal Detective...I'm really not into the paranormal. But, as it turns out, that is a very small portion of the books (the main character communicates with her dead aunt through a journal...more fairy godmother than ghost). The setting is cozy (English cottage) and the mysteries are not your typical mystery. Basically, ideal summer reading when you want to give your brain a snooze.

Everything I Learned in Medical School: Besides All the Book Stuff by Sujay Kansagra 
Judging by the unprofessional cover (I think it was self published), my expectations were low for this book. But it turned out to be a delightful read. The writing itself is less than perfect. But I very much appreciate the author's upbeat attitude and storytelling. It's kinda like reading a blog. A collection of short stories, each highlighting a lesson the author learned in medical school. Not necessarily earth shattering but fun and informative for anyone interested in medicine. 

Well, that was rather it's your turn! What are you currently reading? 

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Does Running for a Cause Make a Difference?

In May I had the pleasure of participating in the second annual Race for Respect, a 5k run for Down Syndrome advocacy right here in the heart of old D.C. The race was pretty near perfect, from the weather to the scenery to the amazing people who ran on Henry's team. And I'm glad I ran. But I'm going to be honest, there were many days whilst trudging my flabby, winter body up hills when I wondered, "Why the heck am I doing this?"

Charity runs are awesome. But you have to ask, do they make any real difference? Obviously, evidenced by the fact that I did drag the aforementioned body through training, I believe
they do. In more ways then one...

Financial - Now I realize in most cases, after overhead, very little of the entrance fee will go toward helping people with Down Syndrome. But some will. And I believe wholeheartedly in the amazing work of the organizations who host Race for Respect and am always happy for the chance to support their work. In addition to providing community support, information and resources for people with Down Syndrome and their families, F.R.I.E.N.D.S. (our local group), DSNMC, CDSPG, DSAGR, DSANV, DSASM, PODS of PGC and DSC grant scholarships to people with Down Syndrome and student going into professions that benefit people with disabilities, help families with medical expenses, advocates for legislation that will improve the quality of life for individuals with Down Syndrome and other disabilities (such as the ABLE act, laws prohibiting abortion based on a prenatal diagnosis of Down Syndrome and laws creating nondiscrimination in access to anatomical gifts and organ transplantation) and much more. At the race I was encouraged when I was introduced to a father of a sweet three year old boy. He shared of attending a Buddy Walk (hosted throughout the region by the above groups and across the country by many others!) when his wife was 20 weeks pregnant with their son and they had just received a diagnosis of Down Syndrome. He said seeing the families of children with Down Syndrome made him realize they were just normal families and reassured him that he, too, could do this. That is awesome and totally worth it.

Making a Statement - You can chose to look when you see the employee at the grocery store/child on the playground/young person at school with Down Syndrome. But you can't ignore 600 people running down Pennsylvania Avenue. When you run for a cause you make a statement to which people must listen. Before Addison was born I did not know anyone with Down Syndrome (now I realize how sad that was!) and I think there are many people outside the Down Syndrome community who can say the same. Events such as Race for Respect and Buddy Walks are a wonderful chance for the general community to get to know people with Down Syndrome and their families! Guys, once you can put a face on the diagnosis it makes the citizen casting their ballot/mother considering aborting their child with Down Syndrome/person mocking people with disabilities rethink their actions. We need to show the world what their missing!

Better You, Better World - Running is physically, mentally and emotionally challenging. So is being Addison's sister. Running is hard. Being Addison sister is even harder. But it is worth it. And if I'm going to be the sister he needs I need to be physically, mentally and emotionally strong to care and advocate for him. In order to reach my greatest running potential a few months out of the year I need to kick running ass. In order to reach his greatest potential, every day Addison must choose to kick ass. To, despite the physical and mental challenges, wake up every morning and fight for every ounce of food...fight for every milestone...fight for every movement. I'll never be able to understand what he goes through on any given day...but I can through demanding more of my body identify with his struggle and be prepared to help him be his best.

As always, I would love to hear your thoughts! Have you ever participated in a charity run/walk? Why or why not do you think they make a difference? Comment below.