Monday, August 1, 2011

How to Help Japan with Mushrooms

Paul Stamets is a mushroom lover. He studies mushrooms.

He recently published a paper where he discuses who to reclaim the land around the reactors in Japan. These are the 8 tasks he suggests:

1) Evacuate the region around the reactors.
2) Establish a high-level, diversified remediation team including foresters, mycologists,
nuclear and radiation experts, government officials, and citizens.
3) Establish a fenced off Nuclear Forest Recovery Zone.
4) Chip the wood debris from the destroyed buildings and trees and spread throughout
areas suffering from high levels of radioactive contamination.
5) Mulch the landscape with the chipped wood debris to a minimum depth of 12-24
6) Plant native deciduous and conifer trees, along with hyper-accumulating mycorrhizal
mushrooms, particularly Gomphidius glutinosus, Craterellus tubaeformis, and
Laccaria amethystina (all native to pines). G. glutinosus has been reported to absorb
– via the mycelium – and concentrate radioactive Cesium 137 more than 10,000-fold
over ambient background levels. Many other mycorrhizal mushroom species also
7) Wait until mushrooms form and then harvest them under Radioactive HAZMAT
8) Continuously remove the mushrooms, which have now concentrated the
radioactivity, particularly Cesium 137, to an incinerator. Burning the mushroom will result in radioactive ash. This ash can be further refined and the resulting
concentrates vitrified (placed into glass) or stored using other state-of-the-art
storage technologies

If you want to read the whole paper you can find it here.
You can find more information by the author of this paper at TED.
You can also find his website, where he sells boxes that grow old growth forests.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Special Roads the NICU

Since Ben is in the hospital I decided to do some writing and reflecting on the NICU experience Ben and I had.

Please check out my mom's website a support forum for parents of special needs children.

NICU! a scary place
3 days ago 1 comments Categories: Health Tags: NICU, special needs

Why are there so many tubes and lines and wires in the NICU? Why is it so hard to find a doctor? These are questions that haven't changed in the last 11 years as far as I know. In Feb/March of 2000 I spent 28 days in NICU with the boys. In 2010 my daughter spent 8 months with my grandson. Same questions, same problems. Same experience except that she had more knowledge than I did going in.

Mom was there to help make the experience better for her and hopefully for Ben as well. So how do you survive the experience? How do you make NICU or PICU a place you and your child can grow? You start by realising that you are the best thing your child has! You may be upset and trying to figure out what you did wrong, but right now the thing is to keep your child alive!

First ask questions! Make sure that you know who the nurse is for your child and that they are assigned to your child. Find out who the primary nurse is! She or he will be the best friend you have in this situation.

Next find out when doctors round and when they are available for questions. If you don't get an answer, leave the questions written down for the doctor..

Finally, take it a day at a time! Look at the little goals. The long term goal is to leave the hospital!

Have questions? Confused? leave a message and I will do my best to help and find you help!


My name is Stephanie I'm Sandy's daughter and the mother of Ben. My little man spent almost 8 months in two very different NICU's so I have seen two very different styles and approaches to NICU's.

Location Location Location
Houston's NICU was set up in open area pods of six with 2-3 nurses(per pod) with a 1 nurse to two babies ratio. In OKC the NICU is set up in suites with two babies, each nurse was responsible for 3 babies, two babies in one room and another baby in a second room.

With a pod set up there is built in back up for the nurses and built in support from other parents, from my experience the senior parent in the pod took the new mom or dad and gave them hope and showed them the ins and outs of the NICU and hospital. There was always at least one other parent there, so if you needed a shoulder to cry on you never felt like you were the only one. In the suite set up, I found I was the only mom around and had no one (in person) to share Ben's trials and triumphs with. After having all the support Ben and I had in Houston from other parents, in OKC I felt abandoned and alone, no parent should ever feel that way when there child is sick.

Doctors, Nurses, Teams and Rounding

Every hospital is different and every doctor rounds differently.

In Houston the residents and the attending changed monthly; in OKC they changed weekly. I think that changing the doctors weekly is probably too often because the doctors can not develop a relationship with the parent nor can they really get to know the patient well enough, as to know if there has been a minute but critical change. I also think that the parent has trouble trusting a care team if it keeps drastically changing so frequently.

Houston has primary nurses OKC, does not, and I like my mother I believe strongly in primary nurses. In Houston Ben had 6 primary nurses nad the occasional fill in on Thursday and Sunday nights, at times I thought that they knew his better than I did, if I did not notice something they would catch it.
In OKC I begged for a primary nurse for Ben and the hospital still would not let him have one. In OKC he almost never had the same nurse twice.

In Houston the all the attendings and residents from all the NICU teams briefly rounded together every morning at 6am and at 6pm, for overlap and for fresh eyes. Ben's NICU Team (Ben, the Nurse, the NP, the Attending Dr, The resident Dr, the nutritionist, RT, PT, OT, case manager, the Dr.s assistants(secretaries), any specialist that was involved that week, and most of the time me) met bedside between 9am and 11am everyday, to go over Ben's night and the plan of care for the day and week. Every morning at rounds the Resident and Attending always visually and physically assessed Ben and asked me how he looked to me. I was actively encouraged to be involved in rounds and ask as many questions as I wanted, bring up any concerns that I had, asking for any clarification down to how to spell something. At any point during discussion I knew I had the right to ask for a second opinion without feeling like I was putting my sons care at risk. I was dealing with the same basic team every day with only two or three new members every month, and after a while everyone knows Mom probably knows what she is talking about, or at least isn't stupid.

Rounding in Oklahoma was a very different experience. The doctors changed weekly though it felt like it was daily. I was never encouraged to be at rounds and when I attempted to be at rounds the Dr's always showed up when I was out of the room. Sometimes they never even came in the room to asses Ben. I only met two or three of Ben's doctors not including the specialists or surgeons. I felt ignored and as though I was kept out of the loop of my sons care. When I complained about this it only got worse. I hated not being involved in his care or even being asked my opinion on his care. I know that in Oklahoma having a parent that is also an advocate is a rare thing especially in a NICU but a parent should never have to repeatedly request to be involved in rounds nor should they have to demand that the doctor come and personally look at your child or come speak to you in person.

Parent Training
In Houston I was trained to be Ben's Advocate first and then his care giver, they taught me so well that in OKC it was assumed that I knew everything and the night of Ben's discharge they crammed everything that I was suppose to be taught in 6 week into 3 hrs. I can do trach care half asleep and blind folded because the nursing team in Houston expected excellence out of me and expected me to succeed. In OKC Ben had a G-tube and nissan put in, it was assumed that someone had taught me how to care for it, but, I received no education for this. I went home not knowing how to put it back in if he pulled the g-tube out (which he did) or that I was suppose to flush it after each feed. I got the general feeling that I was expected to fail (apparently that is just how it is in Oklahoma.)

Over all I liked the way Houston was set up and run better than OKC but like I said very hospital is different.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Trach Trial

Ben at 24hrs old

Ben yesterday

Last night Ben started having issues breathing so early this afternoon Ben had a Bronchoscopy.
This is what his airway looked like when Dr. Glade looked at it. The Granuloma, the the skin hanging from the top was blocking 60% of his airway.

This is what it looked like a few minutes later after he cauterized the Granuloma.

This is Ben post op. As soon as he wakes up I will try to post again.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Ethical Will

26 June 2011
The Higher Education of My Life
Mother is weeping. I ask, “What can I do Mother?” Images of food sweep through my mind. Memories from my past inundate me. The lyrics “Hey Jude, don't make it bad, Take a sad song and make it better, Remember to let her into your heart, Then you can start to make it better,” ring in my ears. I wake with new purpose and a new appreciation for my history and my place in the greater scheme of reality.
My past has shaped me in ways I am still discovering every day. I was thirteen when we lost my youngest sister to a swimming pool; a year later my grandmother had a massive heart-attack and stroke, and then at fifteen I did my youngest surviving sister’s hospice care. I could write a book on tragedy, but Hugh Prather said it better than I ever could, "The thought, ‘You're lucky, it could have been worse,’ is the kind of gratitude I can do without. It also could have been better, or, actually, it couldn't have been any other way than the way it was." Am I defined by what happened to me, or am I defined by what I did in response? When my first sister died, I tried to kill myself; when my grandmother died, I made rice-crispie treats and cried rivers. I mourned before my second sister died; I was cold afterwards, but kept strong. I made sure my family’s house was clean and they were well fed. Friday June tenth, twenty-eleven, I was in silent stoic tears; my son is profoundly and completely deaf. Winston Churchill is often quoted saying “KBO” or keep buggering on. That is what I keep trying to do.
My grandmother told me stories when I was growing up. One story that she told me regularly was about the first time she met my grandfather’s family. She was invited to supper. My grandmother turned her nose up to my great-grandmother’s turnips; the humble turnips were beneath her. A few days later my grandfather “ended the relationship in embarrassment.” Grandmother was a spoiled naive girl who survived the Great Depression with a housekeeper and her own room. My Grandfather, on the other-hand, was a farm boy, the oldest of nine who told few stories of his past but sung many spirituals. Two years after the turnip fiasco, my grandparents reunited. Once again my grandfather took my grandmother to his family’s home for dinner. At the family dinner, my grandmother cleaned her plate and begged for the “potato” recipe. Low and behold, the turnip had reappeared on her plate. When my great-grandmother discovered my grandparents were seriously dating again, she started cooking turnips in earnest. Until the day she died, my grandmother took that lesson to heart and was greatly insulted by anyone who refused her hospitality.
Please give me a few moments of time, as I climb up on my proverbial turnip/soap box. I am the great-granddaughter of three fabulous cooks, the daughter and step-daughter of two chefs, but until a few years ago, food came out of a box. So what’s the big deal with food? Everyone needs to eat well. Current agricultural practices rape the land, having caused the extinction of scores of species of flora and fauna. Selfishly in our desire to produce more food, more quickly, humanity has put itself in a precarious position. When a species becomes dependent on one crop or a few select crops, it becomes susceptible to that plants’ or animals’ overall health. In a mono-culture system, plants are susceptible to disease, “pests” and mass crop failure. This method also demands heavy use of hydrocarbon rich carcinogenic pesticides and fuel hungry equipment, which is another matter altogether. I became vegan for health reasons, I stayed vegan for hundreds of reasons. I put my dollar where my mouth is; I shop local, organic and vegan. I eat a more varied diet than most people on the SAD diet (AKA the Standard American Diet). I cook almost every meal, and most meals are eaten together as a family. We try to grow as much food as we can and do it in as clean and safe a way as possible. Healthy nutritious food is more important to our family than a car, which we no longer have.
Waking up to monkeys’ jumping on my trampoline was cool; cobras in my brother’s kindergarten classroom was interesting; eating tropical fruit right off the tree is something I will never forget. Being chased by relics of the dinosaurs, well, actually monitor lizards, is only scary to six-year-olds. I’ve also seen tiger cubs playing in empty fields of clay, where, a few weeks earlier I watched in tears as a jungle was clear cut, then burned to lay pipeline. How was this possible? I was an oil brat, the daughter of a petroleum engineer stationed in a third world county, albeit privileged, and safe on a company compound. I still feel great guilt because of my father’s profession; it has haunted me every day for years. Gaia, what do I do?
In general, I laugh when Americans talk about poverty, because American poverty is not real poverty. When I hear talk about poverty, it is more often than not an abstract or keeping up with the Jones'es type of poverty. Usually, there is no lack of food, clothing, electricity, a roof over one’s head, or, clean running water. When I think about poverty I think about my father’s tales about the slums of Angola during its last civil war, where, thousands of orphaned children picked through trash for food and slept on tennis courts, or the orphanage in Vietnam where my siblings were before we adopted them or my personal experience in Houston, Texas. When my son was born, I was living in the petroleum capital of the world, and shortly after his birth, I was homeless. Ben was born fifteen weeks early and spent the next nine months in two different hospitals. I lived out of my truck and after a few strings had been pulled, the Ronald McDonald house. During his hospitalization I ate saltine crackers and, if I was lucky, tomato soup. I owned three pairs of clothes; how embarrassing it was to be called out on this by a nineteen-year-old cancer patient. May he rest in peace. I had access to clean running water and a roof over my head, however uncomfortable and embarrassing it might have been at times, but I know people who sleep on concrete and use cardboard as blankets. Being homeless in Houston can be a racket once the game is understood and if willing to play; free food here, rent free living there, hot showers and laundry every-other day if at this location on time, all in exchange for one’s dignity and a few prayers. I was probably too proud for my own good; on the other hand, thinking back on this time I realize how lucky I was. People the world over get by on so much less. What struck me hardest about this time was the difference between the “have’s” and the “have not’s”
I was born and raised to be a housewife of the greatest fortune and caliber. I was born to be a debutant, raised a spoiled brat and dumped into American style poverty. I have gained in my twenty-five or so years puttering about this planet a sense of wonder, history, tragedy and hope. I am a quiet activist, just now discovering that I have a voice in a sea of so many. In the crucible that I call my life I have been forged into an advocate for the weak and voiceless. I have gone from Roman Catholic to an animist. Over the last thirteen years, I decided that everything from the smallest grain of sand and microbe to the biggest universe or unknown life form is alive in some fashion. Scientifically, it is all energy. In conclusion, as a human, an earthling and as an animist, I want to shout - Wake up. Mother is weeping. What are you doing for her?
Works Cited
Lennon, John W., and Paul J. McCartney. "Hey Jude." The Beatles. Ed. Hal Leonard. SapientNitro. Web. 23 June 2011. .
“Hey Jude, don't make it bad,
take a sad song and make it better.
Remember to let her into your heart,
then you can start to make it better.”
MacNeal, Susan E. "Winston Churchill and KBO." Mr. Churchill's Secretary's Blog. 19 Oct. 2009. Web. 23 June 2011. .
“During the Second World War, his constant refrain to his female typists was KPO, or "Keep Plodding On." (His male associates often heard KBO or "Keep Buggering On.") Allegedly, he would start the day saying it and end telephone conversations with it.”
Prather, Hugh. "Poem." Notes to Myself: My Struggle to Become a Person. New York: Bantam, 1990. 42. Print.
"The thought "You're lucky, it could have been worse," is the kind of gratitude I can do without. It also could have been better, or, actually, it couldn't have been any other way than the way it was."

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Vegan Chocolate "hiding veggie" muffins

1 large zucchini shredded
1 small carrot shredded
1 can pumpkin
1 cup cranberries
1 cup crushed nuts of choice
5 tbsp black strap molasses
1 cup uncooked rolled oats or 1 cup cooked steel cut oats
1 package devils food cake mix
2c chocolate chips(optional)

Preheat oven to 350F.
Mix all ingredients together.
pour in greased muffin tins.
bake for 12 minutes.

let cool and enjoy

What is an ethical will???

Okay so for my 6 week English class I have 3 days to write an ethical will.

In short an ethical will is a way for someone to leave a record of some kind. it usually contains life lessons, stories, hopes and dreams of the future, opinions, beliefs, regrets and other things along these lines.

I feel that I should probably write it to my family, but also to all Earthlings.

I want to use a tone that says peace rally not anti-war rally (got to love Mother Teresa's thinking on that one).

To set my environment I believe Celtic, Tribal and Asian instrumentals will be my friend. So will Dustin's office.

Lets see if i can come up with some meat and potatoes now.

analysis of three story for my English class

The Assignment

How do experiences affect a person's character or standing within a family or society? Discuss this concept and reference at least two of the stories you read for this. Answer in 10-12 sentences. Due by midnight on June 21st. The reading material from “Two Ways to Belong in America” (280), “No Name Woman” (221), and “On Being a Cripple” (244).

Life is an unending crucible where each choice refines us as human beings. With each challenge a person faces they grow. These three stories effectively entwine the reality of choice in a rhapsody of many cultures and experiences.

Much of character is determined by choice, which in turn is influenced by the people and events. Some people let the opinions of others completely influence and color every decision made, while some individuals consider these opinions but ultimately make their own distinct choices. On the surface “No Name Woman” may seem tragic but as an allegory the author seems to be using her mother’s story of the “unborn” aunt’s suicide to reconcile her Chinese-American upbringing.

Immigrants chose to immigrate for many reasons. One choice that they must make is whether they want to be citizens or expatriates. The sisters in, “Two Ways to Belong in America” each made separate choices and respected them but it still caused some familial friction as change effected their lives.

When change affects one’s life in such a profound way as in Mairs “On Being a Cripple”, one major choice stands out, find the good or be miserable. “Grumbling” aside she has a remarkably positive yet realistic outlook. Everyone has the choice to be happy or the choice to be unhappy.

So when life throws tomatoes make pasta, when lemons are abundant drink lemonade and when the dandelions try to choke your garden make salad.

life inturupted

well it did

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Ben is Back in the Hospital

Ben has pneumonia and is back in the hospital. He spit up milk through his trach on wednesday. we went to the ER in Stillwater and got sent home because the x-ray looked "beautiful". Friday evening we went to the er in okc and were admitted around 4am on Saturday.

I got to say typing and holding a sleeping baby with o2, iv's and pulse-ox can be difficult. He is sleeping alot but he gave the RT a smile this morning.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Changing Sink - A Thank You List

How does one person effect change?

By living the change you want to see.

I can't remember who said this but when you want to make changes in the world, you make the changes in your life and go from there.

Each positive step that I take towards making my life a better place for me and mine, is one step closer to a better world.

I Am The Change I Want To See

One change I want to see is more people being thankful for the people and the seeds that they spread...

First thing I want to do is thank Marla Cilley the Fly Lady. She gave me the tools I needed to love myself enough to move forward.

I want to thank my DH for being himself, putting up with my nuclear meltdowns and helping me put my since of self back together.

I want to thank my parents, all four of them, for not freaking out when I drop off radar for weeks and sometimes years on end, for teaching me too many lessons to name here.

I want to thank my Aunt Di, she taught me how to write a killer paper. I've never been prouder of a paper than my Kepler paper.

I want to thank Ryan, a good friend whom I will dearly miss, he died January 3 2011, he showed me that no matter the situation, a good laugh, human touch and being yourself, make all things bearable.

I want to thank everyone that has seen me throw a temper tantrum and still talks to me.

Lastly I want to thank my father for instilling a true love of learning and adventure in me, that, by far was the most precious gift I have ever been given.

I hope that I can instill that lust for knowledge in my son.

Finally I want to thank you. Thank you for reading My Higher Education of Life.

Right now as I write this no one but I read this blog, but I am hoping that someone outside of my family will read this and get something from it. It has taken me four years of reading other peoples blogs to really sit down and work on this. I hope that Life does not interfere as much as it has in the past.

Thank you again,


Update on Ben

As often as it seems I look up and see my son, I see him and think oh my god how did that come out of me.

I'm not sure if how I feel is normal or if I'm going crazy.

He is Ben.

Everyone tells me he is doing beautifully and that we are doing well but I feel as though I'm a horrible mother.

Acceptance, The Let Down and the Decision

Okay so I was accepted to OSU, cool.

The let down there is no way I can go to school, at least right now.

The solution...

I'm actually going to be autodidactic and home school myself through college.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Okay so we came home in November with no Vent and is now jumping in his Johnny Jumper in the doorway.

He is healthy as a horse except for crappy lung syndrome AKA BPD.

The trach should come out in the spring but only if he comes off the O2.

We finally got nursing after almost 2 months at home with no help and very little sleep.

Yah for sleep and showers.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Tempeh Sausage on English Muffin

Tempeh Sausage on English Muffin
Made these sausages tonight.
I added more salt, sage and syrup. I used peanut oil to cook them in.
It makes great crumbles for biscuits and gravy!!!