Category Archives: barker health blog
for those who cheer on marathon day 5.6.13
Thank you to Boston Magazine for posting this as part of the series, The Shoes We Wore.
I had not expected so many people to cheer for us. Erin and
I recently had the uncomfortable experience of going to the movie, Pink Ribbons, Inc. with a friend who has been through two bouts of breast cancer in less than six years. The movie looks at “pink washing” and how the phenomenon has effectively glossed over questions such as why breast cancer continues to flourish despite all the walks and fundraisers. Continue reading
When National Breast Cancer Awareness Month rolls around in October with its ocean of Pink, I put up my mental barriers and try to enjoy a fuchsia-free fall. It was when I got blindsided by a Girl Scout wearing a Pink-beribboned bucket hat talking about the importance of a mammogram that I lost it. Continue reading
Less than two years after Anne got married, her husband’s parents called with the news that his sister had a rare brain disorder and he might too. At first, the news changed everything. And then, in a lot of ways, it changed very little.
Pete’s sister, Bonnie (not her real name) had been diagnosed with Cadasil, an inherited condition in which blood vessels to the brain become thick and congested. Usually migraines are the first sign that the brain is trying to make due with a reduced blood supply, typically around the age of 30 or 40. Anne’s sister-in-law was 48. Her diagnosis came after a period of train-stopping migraines and an MRI that revealed early brain damage. Continue reading
For several years after the diagnosis, Peter watched his parents’ world revolve around his brother. Plenty of second-born kids grow up in their older sibling’s shadow, but try having an older brother with autism. Peter had just turned 1 when his parents got word of TJ’s diagnosis. And, as Peter is quick to point out when things don’t go his way, “It’s not fair.”
Looking back, his mom, Lauren, agrees. It wasn’t fair that Peter had to sit on the sidelines for several key years so his parents could focus on TJ. As Peter formed his first words, his parents lived in fear that TJ would never do the same. When other kids played at the Gymboree, Peter stayed home so a legion of specialists could play games with TJ. Continue reading
Lauren started to notice things when her son was about 2 years old. She and TJ were regulars at a playgroup of kids born around the same time. This allowed the moms to compare notes as the kids started to sit up, crawl, and walk. “It was so interesting, just to see all the different kinds of development taking place,” says Lauren. “And TJ was right along with them.”
And then his path started to diverge. He would start crying in the middle of playgroup for no reason. Sometimes the cries escalated into screams and Lauren had to scoop him up and get them both home. Then the other kids started forming words, but no words came for TJ “And that’s how I first noticed that he was different and how something might be wrong. That’s how it started for us.” Continue reading
Late December is a popular time to picture your ideal self: The you who consistently eats right, reads more books, and never procrastinates. I know, I fantasize my ideal self around this time every year. And then the inevitable happens–life. Typically, by February I’ve given into the fact that cauliflower takes more work than cupcakes and am back to spending guilty evenings with Glee instead of Gertrude Stein. Continue reading
My blog explores the connection between health and identity so I was thrilled when I read my friend’s essay about how allergies forced her to give up an identity she had come to love. She is kind enough to let me post it here.
When my allergy doc asked, “do you color your hair?” I initially felt flattered. The artistry of Scott, my beloved hairstylist of the past 15 years, often solicited such accolades. Instead, the question was one of many that she asked on the penultimate day of my patch test, a four-day diagnostic that aimed to uncover the reason my eyelids had begun swelling, deflating, cracking, and bleeding. The test involved having potentially allergenic substances dotted onto my back, from shoulders to waist, and waiting to see which provoked a reaction similar to that on my eyelids. Once we identified — and I avoided — these substances, said the doc, my eyelids would return to normal. Continue reading
In 1940, Paul Popenoe, a eugenicist and marriage counselor wrote, “…feminists may be described as women who have inferiority complexes based on the fact of their sex.”
Thirty-one years later, a group of feminists managed to overcome their inferiority complexes and penned the first issue of Our Bodies, Ourselves. The booklet provided information about women’s health and sexuality and challenged the medical establishment to improve healthcare for women. Forty years and nine editions later, Our Bodies Ourselves (the organization) continues to promote women’s health and rights in the U.S. and beyond. Women’s health has enjoyed plenty of medical and political breakthroughs, but the path has been far from straightforward. Read on for some of the key milestones in women’s health of the past 40 years. Continue reading
In total, Donna and Laurie spent three weeks at the Cleveland Clinic. Both describe the first few days as agony. The surgery left Laurie in pain and hooked up to a superhighway of tubes. Donna ticks them off like a grocery list: a chest tube, a catheter, an NG tube up her nose, and an IV tube in her jugular vein. Every time she saw Donna, Laurie would tell her, “I want this stuff off.”