Book Review – Extreme Measures: Finding a Better Path to the End of Life

As we’ve settled into our new location in southern Utah, we’ve been able to check out several branches of the library system in the area.  Libraries can be a bit dicey because of all the toxins that books hang on to in their pages (for example, one of the books I picked up recently was heavily scented of the perfume of the most recent patron who had read it).  I look forward to someday when these things won’t bother me again, but for now we have to be careful.  I check out new reads for myself (not entirely a bad thing), and any books that we get for our son go in a plastic bin that we bring to the library and carry home, where they stay when they’re not being read.

One visit at the library I picked up a new book that piqued my interest on end-of-life care.  My short stint in healthcare was with older people, and although I never had to administer any life-saving measures, I was aware of who in my care wanted intervention – if needed – to extend their life, and who didn’t.

Dr. Jessica Zitter, MD, describes herself as an “accidental activist” who didn’t set out in her career to change the culture of medicine, but her career led her in a direction she never imagined.  She recounts her experience in her book, Extreme Measures.

As someone who “always wanted to save lives”, Dr. Zitter’s medical career in over 20 hospitals reached a crisis of ethics one day as she prepared to perform a procedure on a woman who was essentially dying.  As a new attending physician at University Hospital in Newark, NJ, a woman was brought to her ICU with failing kidneys and her liver shutting down.  If Dr. Zitter was going to attempt to extend this woman’s life, dialysis was a must, and stat.  Without really considering how much she was really helping the patient, Dr. Zitter quickly got the husband’s consent and prepared to insert a catheter into the woman’s jungular vein.

As she leaned in to the woman’s neck with needle in-hand, a member of the Family Support Team in the ICU appeared in the doorway.  Lifting an imaginary phone to her ear, this advanced practice registered nurse (APRN), Pat, glared at Dr. Zitter and said, “Nine-one-one, get me the police. They’re torturing a patient in the ICU at University Hospital.

I’m Not Amazing

“I couldn’t do what you do.”

Their words hang in the air. They don’t know what else to say.

I used to utter the same phrase.

I would put a special needs mom on a pedestal of my own making.

Separating her from my trajectory of  life, I was creating barriers. Her abilities seemed extraordinary and unattainable.

But now I’m on the other side. I’m looking through the eyes of a mom slightly weathered by the challenges of special needs.

I couldn’t do what you do,” their words echo.

“Yes you could,” I reply.

“If you had to, you could.”

House Flood? – 10 Cleanup Guidelines

We’ve spent a lot of time and energy looking at houses.

Before we purchased our last home, we looked for 18 months for a house we could afford that didn’t have water damage.

One of the questions we asked realtors or home owners was if the home had ever flooded, but quickly realized that some people’s idea of a flood vs. what we had in mind were generally two completely different ideas. I finally started to ask people, “Have you ever had a leak in your home?  Like a plumbing leak, toilet, sink, etc?”

Since we had performed mold testing before moving in, and had an inspector check the home with infrared imaging, we thought we were okay, and certainly didn’t think we had a mold issue.

I even remember telling Josh, as we pulled back into our driveway after being at a friend’s house where my allergies were kicked into high gear, “I’m just thankful that we have a safe home to return to.

This “safety” comment was made a year before finding out that three separate places in our home were hiding toxic black mold in the walls and floor.

Thankful Thursday

Living in a world where it seems like there are so many things going “wrong” can make it easy to constantly focus on the negative.  Hurricanes, fires, countries threatening war: on a global scale, things are a mess.  And life at home isn’t always peachy either.  Chronic illness, financial woes, and varying degrees of personal devastation can make it hard to remember that there still is good in life for which to be thankful!

Meet My Friend, Linny

A blog friend of mine (Linny Saunders) who I have followed for 7 years is no stranger to hardships.  She and her husband have served in full-time ministry, adopted 11 children (also had 3 biologically), and have seen the Lord provide over and over as they have prayed, fasted, and trusted Him.

But their triumphs haven’t been without tragedy. 

Removing Sour Smells from Laundry

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Mitigating Cross-Contamination

One of my quests in doing laundry has been to clean our clothes in a way that any mold spores from cross-contamination are mitigated.  

Since leaving our home that was contaminated with toxic mold and getting rid of all our clothing, my laundry procedure has been varied. Borax has been an integral part of making sure that the laundry gets clean, but it is not my favorite.  I know there are differing views on its safety.  Recently, borax has been in the news as it is an ingredient in a popular slime recipe that children are making.  Even doctors, upon being interviewed, have opposing opinions on whether it should be included in this slime that children play with.

I’m not trying to make a case against borax and say that I would never use it; however I’m always on the lookout for a great alternative!

Enter: EnviroKlenz

In our quest for living in clean spaces, we ran across a company that makes several products for cleaning the air and environment.  After purchasing and using some of their other products (like their mobile air purifier), EnviroKlenz offered a free product for me to review here.  I was eager to try their laundry enhancer to see if it was something that I could use successfully instead of Borax.

Early Dangers of Flooding

As the heartbreaking images of Hurricane Harvey’s devastation circulate around the internet and across global news, newscasters and disaster workers reminisce of the lessons learned from other major storms, like Katrina and Sandy.

But no amount of prior lessons in disaster recovery can adequately prepare millions of people for the pain, suffering, and loss that Houston’s residents are beginning to experience.

From Tropical Storm to Hurricane

As this storm named Harvey was approaching Houston, it was first being named a “tropical storm” with no real knowledge about its impending destruction.  On August 17, Harvey was named, but it wasn’t until Thursday the 24th that the storm earned the title “hurricane”.  By Friday night at 10 PM, Harvey was upgraded to a category 4 hurricane as it hit Texas’ southeast coast between Port Aransas and Port O’Connor.

Early Dangers of Flooding

As I type this, some of the people in Houston are stuck in their homes, opting to live on the second floor while waters rise.  Others have been forced out of their homes onto their rooftops and are awaiting evacuation. What are some of the dangers these people face?

Besides the obvious concerns of staying dry and not being swept away by floodwaters, here are some dangers that can be lurking in a flood:

A Night of Agony

The morning couldn’t arrive fast enough.  There’s something about the night that makes physical struggles so much more dark, intense, and scary.

This particular night had been spent in agony.

Not so much a painful agony, but an “I-feel-like-I’m-dying” sort of agony. 

What’s Wrong with Him?

That inquisitive look.


I run into it nearly everywhere I go, often in the form of a lingering glance or questioning eyes. My baby needs oxygen, and is connected to an oxygen tank and pulse oximeter. We are admittedly a bit of a spectacle.

Some will speak up, and their words are an echo of what has been asked many times before: “What’s wrong with him?”
What’s wrong? A lot is wrong.

Delicious Instant Pot Chocolate Cake

If you were to ask which appliance in my kitchen would be the hardest to live without, I would hardly hesitate before answering. Hands down, it’s the Instant Pot, and the hype surrounding these contraptions is mostly true.

There was definitely a learning curve for me. I had no experience with using pressure to cook food (besides that one time my hubby was certain I was going to blow up the house with the stovetop model I found at a yard sale).

Note the paper towel shoved under the side to level the pot. 😝

When we left our home because of hyperreactivity due to mold, I got rid of my whole kitchen of gadgets and gizmos. The first thing I ordered on Amazon was another 6-quart Instant Pot.

Since it’s electric, so much of the tedious fuss is taken out of the pressure cooking process. I didn’t let anyone in the kitchen during the first use, just in case it exploded. 😂 But it has never given me reason to think it might explode, unlike its stovetop counterpart.

The Instant Pot acts as my electric cooktop when I don’t have a kitchen available (the sautè function is so handy for boiling water or heating up leftovers). As long as we have electricity, we can have a home-cooked meal in minutes.

Normally our Instant Pot is cooking things like noodles or a cut of beef. However, I decided to try something a bit more adventurous this week and see if I could pressure cook a cake. My birthday was a few weeks ago and we never got to celebrate, so a chocolate cake was sounding pretty good.

How to Change Your Brain

“Some people say that the thoughts that you think and the words that you say is who you really are.”  This profound statement came from the backseat of the car one day as we were returning home from running errands.  I heartily agreed with my son, who was 5 at the time, and shared with him the verses in the Bible, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he,” and “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks”.

I’m not sure if my little philosopher fully understood the concepts that he was proclaiming from his car seat, and the huge implications that they have in each of our lives.

In the scientific realm we are only beginning to learn the full effect these truths have on our brains and our bodies. Caroline Leaf, neuroscientist and author of “Switch On Your Brain”, centers her “21-Day Brain Detox” around the concept of “taking every thought captive” to cause a transformation in a person’s mind.  Dr. Leaf was taught in school that the brain was a “fixed and hardwired machine”, and that brain damage was hopeless and untreatable.  However, now she knows differently, and science is proving this antiquated theory untrue.