Archives for September 2011

An Interesting Challenge

Many parents struggle with limiting the amount of time their kids play video games. At our house, we have the opposite problem. Our daughter Sophia was diagnosed with refractive amblyopia when she was 2 1/2 years old. This is a type of lazy eye that is caused because she has one very nearsighted eye. Because the brain has a fuzzy image in one eye and a clear one in the other eye, it stops reading the image from the weaker eye which causes it to become even weaker. We were completely unaware that she had this problem when we took her in for her first eye exam, and were quite surprised to get this diagnosis. Her eye had not yet begun to turn in, and she could see fine (since her brain was only reading the clear image from the strong eye). We were sent for a second opinion, and once confirmed the first step for us was to get some glasses that she would wear, that would help the weak eye to see a clearer image.

The next step was to begin patching the strong eye, in order to force her brain to begin reading the image from the weak eye once again. Included in the prescribed two hours of patching a day, was the prescription for Sophia to play a handheld video game for the longest amount of time possible in these two hours to force that eye to focus on small objects.
Up to two hours of video games???? This really goes against the grain for me. I like to encourage outdoor play, creative play, reading… but now I have to encourage video games? This took some getting used to, and it sounds funny when I hear the words come out of my mouth “Sophia, it’s time to do your patching. Do you want to play the DS or the iphone?”. At this point, she is wonderful about putting her patch on, but not so wonderful about the video games. She doesn’t like to play video games, so this is a real challenge for us. I have found myself begging at times “Please Sophia, just play for 15 minutes!”, and trying to make it appealing for her by making a dark fort for her to lay in, or by regularly adding new kids games to the iphone so she stays interested. After a few weeks of doing the patching I remember thinking to myself for a while that surely it can’t make that much of a difference if she plays video games or not, and I began to just let her play when she was patching. Well I found out at our biweekly check up that sure enough, her eye hadn’t improved as much in that two week time period as the times before when she had played much more regularly. In fact, our optometrist looked right at me and said “She hasn’t been playing her video games, has she?”. Okay, I thought, she really does need the video games!
Some other challenges are the constant adjustments that have to be made to her bent out of shape glasses, as well as the regularly broken nose pads that have to be replaced. We are very regular customers at The Eyeglass Shoppe – thank goodness for the warranty on her glasses that covers all of this. It even covers scratched lenses, which we have had to replace. And the patch itself posed a bit of a challenge for a while. We were introduced to the type of patch that you tape on around the eye, and this just wasn’t ideal in my mind. It was a pain to use this, it was a little irritating for Sophia, and left a sticky residue around her eye that was difficult to remove from that sensitive area. I started to look online and found that may people use reusable cloth patches, so I got right to work and made a couple of these which work wonderfully.

The great news is that with her cute glasses combined with the patching, her weak eye is improving very significantly. She now only has to go get her eyes checked every 3 months, and each time we have seen an improvement in her vision. We are very thankful that OHIP pays for all of these eye exams! Another great program that we have just recently benefitted from is the eye see eye learn program that has given us Sophia’s second pair of glasses for free!!! This is a new program that just started last year that allows all JK students who receive an eye exam and need glasses, to receive a free pair – cool right?

Allergies and Apple Cider Vinegar

Almost all of my life I have had REALLY bad seasonal allergies – especially in the fall. I also have never taken an over the counter allergy medicine such as Claritin to treat these allergies, since I was concerned about the possible side effects that these nasty drugs would have on my body (diarrhea, drowsiness, dry mouth, fatigue, headache, heartburn, nausea, nervousness or restlessness (especially in children), vomiting, pounding fast or irregular heartbeat, seizures, stomach discomfort, symptoms of a severe allergic reaction such as difficulty breathing hives or swelling of the face and throat, signs of liver problems (http://chealth.canoe.ca/drug_info_details.asp?channel_id=0&relation_id=0&brand_name_id=1871&page_no=2)). Frankly, after reading this list I don’t want to go near the stuff.

I did try some different homeopathic remedies over the years which helped a little. But the most impactful thing that I did to very significantly decrease my allergy symptoms began about five years ago. After doing a search on the internet for natural remedies for allergies, I noticed that over and over again, apple cider vinegar was mentioned. Not just any kind of apple cider vinegar, but raw, organic apple cider vinegar with the mother (the mother is like the pulp, and has lots of good stuff in it), which is found in the health food section of your store. The consensus seems to be that you should take about 2 tsp in a glass of water, 2 – 3 times a day for best results (always dilute, this is strong stuff!).
So, I found myself a bottle (which was quite inexpensive) and got my first concoction ready. I will never forget taking my first sip and gagging so badly that it almost came back up…. this stuff tasted disgusting! However, my allergies were so bad that I was determined and I continued the regime of taking it twice a day. I don’t think that I can pinpoint when it started helping, but I can say for sure that the following fall my allergies were about 80-90% better than I could ever remember them being, and I credit it all to the apple cider vinegar!

I have learned that apple cider vinegar is considered by many to be one of nature’s most perfect foods. What is in apple cider vinegar?
Potassium, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, chlorine, sodium, sulfur, copper, iron, silicone, fluorine, vitamin C, vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B6, beta carotene, and vitamin P (www.naturaltherapypages.com.au/article/Apple_Cider_Vinegar). Not only is it full of important vitamins and minerals but it has also been shown to have the ability to destroy microorganisms including bacteria, fungi, and viruses from reaching the rest of the systems of the body (It contains natural malic and tartaric acids, which are important in fighting body toxins and inhibiting unfriendly bacteria growth). And, it is thought that apple cider vinegar will lower the bloods natural alkalinity, bringing it closer to a natural healthy acid state. A naturally acidic digestive tract with the correct pH balance will discourage bacteria and is less likely to grow yeast and fungus (www.earthclinic.com/Remedies/acvinegar.html).

Not only is it known as an effective remedy for allergies, it is thought to be helpful in a whole slew of things! Some of which are thought to include:

Arthritis
Asthma
Blood pressure
Cancer
Candida
Cholesterol
Colds
Constipation
Cramps
Diabetes
Diarrhea
Depression
Fatigue
Food poisoning
Gallstones
Headaches
Indigestion
Kidney Stones
Metabolism
Nasal congestion
Sore throat
Stiff joints
Ulcers
Weight loss

Holy Cow!!! Now, I’m not a doctor, and I am not officially recommending that you should take apple cider vinegar or saying that if you do you will feel better….. But what have you got to lose??????? I think it’s awesome. I take it twice daily, and the rest of my family takes it fairly often as a preventative, as well as to combat certain things. When the stomach flu is going around, we all consume apple cider vinegar and very rarely get sick. When someone has an upset stomach, they consume apple cider vinegar and it settles. Runny nose? Apple cider vinegar. You get the point. I did gag the first time I drank it, but I got used to the taste very quickly and quite like it now. When I feed it to my kids I put it in apple juice and it becomes tangy juice – they like it! I think that this is a great addition to a diet full of whole foods. I love how the simple things can often be so effective.

Anyone else out there an avid apple cider vinegar fan? Why do you consume it, and in what way does it make you feel better?