April 28th, 2014

Taking the Mystery out of Gardening

Gardens are a beautiful thing.  Growing your own food can cut down on your grocery bill and help you make healthier choices for meals and snacks.  But if you’ve never been in charge of a garden from start to finish, it can be daunting.  What do I plant when?  What do I do besides hoe weeds and harvest?  And the biggest one, where on earth can I put a garden when my house sits on ¾ of an acre and the hubby has adamantly refused to let me have anything other than planter boxes of herbs in the back yard?

There are a lot of choices and a lot to learn.  “Square Foot Gardening,” container gardening, vertical gardening, hydroponics, aquaponics, vermiculture, permaculture, organic growing – it’s enough to make your head spin.  Thank goodness the library offers programs and books on so many of these topics!  Now if I can just convince the hubby that some of those hanging baskets should be filled with grape tomatoes and yellow pear tomatoes instead of flowers…

What will you be growing this season?

Spring Series 2014

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February 3rd, 2014

Coping with a Health Crisis

hospital braceletHow do you react to difficult, life-changing news?  My usual first reaction, after a few moments of incomprehension and acceptance that I really did hear that right, is to research the heck out of whatever caused the change.  That was definitely my reaction about a year ago when my son was diagnosed with a chronic illness that I had barely heard of at the time.  Thankfully, we were at Nemours A.I. duPont Hospital and the staff there was well-versed in dealing with bewildered parents and shell-shocked patients.

The team of doctors came in with printed information that my son could understand so he could be involved in his diagnosis and treatment from the beginning.  They gave us the website for the organization dealing with his disease.  That was all well and good, but I wanted more.  Helicopter-Parent-Momma-Bear that I am, I was determined that I would be so familiar with his disease that by the time we left the hospital I would be able to control the cause(s) to the utmost of my ability.  I was staying at the hospital with him and couldn’t check out books, but I had access to the internet!  But how do you know which sites are “real” and not just sensationalized hype that will scare the daylights out of you and give bad or even incorrect information?  Start with the library of course!

I remembered CCPL has some really great online resources for researching health, so that’s where I went.  Each database had information about the disease and I was able to arm myself with questions for the doctors, questions that usually led to more research.  As the doctors progressed from completing the diagnosis to a treatment plan, we received information on the available treatment options.  The pamphlet for the most popular medication had a warning that there had been cases reported of “unusual cancers” occurring in teenagers using the drug.  WHAT?!  While alarmed, I didn’t want to dismiss it out of hand, so I went back to research some more!

From CCPL’s site, I search the MedLinePlus database for two words – the disease name and the drug brand name – and immediately found an article from the FDA.  Bingo!  From this article, I was able do additional research and determine that my son wasn’t at risk.  Whew!

Fast-forward a year and now my son is doing great.  Through research and conversations with his doctors, we’ve been able to make well-informed decisions.  My son has participated every step of the way since he will be dealing with this for the rest of his life and I’m confident that we set a good example by dealing with his disease with a problem-solving approach.  Thank goodness for CCPL providing access to the reliable information I needed!

Next time life-changing news comes your way, remember the library is here to help.  Stop by, call, email or get on our site to see the many ways the library can help with the curve-balls life throws at us.

Photo credit: “Hospital” by Chelsea Stirlen