I Am Not a Doctor, and I Don’t Play One on TV

Well, it’s been a long time, and, I don’t exactly know where to begin, except to say that I have had a lot of family matters fill up my life for the last few months. One of my parents has been very ill and has been in and out of the hospital numerous times since “The Holidays.” Because I am geographically convenient, I have been tasked with the lions’ share of the care-taking, appointment shuttling and had, until recently, completely “stopped” my life. My siblings have been  very helpful, but, I am the one with the most flexibility.

The tide does seem to be slowly turning, but, coupled with the bonechilling cold of the winter (and some snow), it has been a very intense time that, sometimes, feels like a dream. I had actually prepared a couple of entries, one on making cool paper ornaments that are dipped in wax, and another is a foray into trying to bake a gluten free, sugar free red velvet cake. I’m not sure that one was entirely successful — it looks good, but tastes like glue. I’m still searching for a better way on that one! And, lovely Robbie has sent me an entry which, I will post after this one, in which, I apologize for my negligence. T

here are some takeaways from experiencing parental illness first hand. Other than the first and most obvious — OMG, I HAD BETTER TAKE CARE OF MYSELF, after the initial shock of the situation, I have become much more appreciative of my “free time!” I am not letting those casual, uncommitted moments slip away unsavored or unused…they are too precious!

Another takeaway is greater medical knowledge and capacity. I, who am deathly afraid of needles, can administer diabetes blood tests now and have learn to give insulin injections.

Also, and this is really important, it is key to be able to be an advocate in the Dr.’s offices. Ask the questions again and again and again. Don’t assume doctors will talk to you or each other (DO NOT ASSUME THAT, BECAUSE THEY WILL NOT UNLESS YOU ESSENTIALLY GOAD THEM INTO IT!!) Be the squeaky wheel, no matter how annoying it might be. I never thought I would be pushy, but, I have become pretty tough minded with the doctors, physicians’ assistants, etc.

Make sure the doctor will approve home healthcare, that way it will be covered by medicare.

Here’s another one…bleach and surgical soap don’t mix well. I put a white washrag that still contained surgical soap into a tub of water and bleach and it turned an ugly brown.

And, don’t forget, vitamin K, found in leafy greens, garbanzo beans, power bars, etc. can counteract the effects of blood thinners such as warfarin (also known as coumadin).

Medical supply stores are a GODSEND!

I think that the biggest thing I continue to learn is that events like the illness or death of a loved one (both of which I have experienced in the last 12 months) have their own process and rhythm, and there is not much a person can do to change it. Try to hold onto as much of your own life as possible, but, realize that the situation has its’ own pace, one to which you will need to adapt.

A Quiet Hero Helps A Forgotten Group

A Quiet Hero Helps A Forgotten Group.

Every Girl’s Dream is to help others….

Carolyn LeCroy is a true heroine.  She’s petite and smart when you meet her, but, you would not assume that she carries on several remarkable projects.  She’s not loud or brash — but she has absolutely positively affected the lives of many, many people.

Carolyn is an award-winning film and video producer who started “The Messages Project ” in 1999.  “The Messages Project” is a non-profit organization that enables children of incarcerated parents to maintain and rebuild relationships with their mothers and fathers.  Since its’ inception 14 years ago, they have recorded and delivered over 9,000 video messages from imprisoned mothers and fathers to their children.

She branched out from her first company, “Women in Transition,” an organization that assists women leaving prison and re-entering the “outside” world, to create “Message,” because she saw an enormous need for children to maintain a bond with their parent or parents.   For “Women in Transition,” Carolyn does free-lance work for national television, Fortune 500 companies, and film work for major clients for “Women In Transition.”

She knows her stuff.   Statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice show that approximately 2.7 million children have one or both parents in the criminal justice system. That’s a lot of people and Carolyn’s videos of parents reading or talking to their children on camera is often the only means of communication available for families of incarcerees.  Separated by states, sometimes thousand of miles apart, these people often have no way to see or talk with each other for years on end. She has told me that the children watch the videos over and over and over again.

In 2008 Carolyn was named a CNN Hero for her advocacy in supporting this very vulnerable population.  One of the findings of a 2009 study in Idaho was that children of imprisoned parents are at greater risk than their peers.  Carolyn’s organization seeks to maintain, and rebuild relationships within families, with an eye to preventing children from adopting antisocial and/or criminal behaviors. In fact, their new slogan reflects this core purpose.  It is, “Creating Messages. Mending Hearts. Re-Building Families.”

Most recently Carolyn has expanded her program to include children in Malawi.  She is conducting a similar program there, and the stories are incredibly moving, especially stories of children born to mothers who are in prison. These babies sleep on the ground without blankets, sheets or anything, and they have very little clothing.

I volunteered to help film a few years ago, and, to this day it was one of the best experiences I have ever had.  The men who were filmed were so grateful for this opportunity and I came away with a new lease on life. It felt so very good to participate in something that would make someone so happy.

 I intend to help again!

For more information about Carolyn and “Messages,” you visit her website at

http://themessagesproject.org and you can “Like” Messages on Facebook.