It’s Never Too Early #RSVawareness #PreemieProtection

 

This is part of a sponsored collaboration with MedImmune and Latina Mom Bloggers. However, all opinions expressed are my own. 

 RSV_image

 

As many of you know, one of my greatest passions in life is raising public awareness of spina bifida and the challenges that affect people living with SB, as well as the accomplishments, talents, and abilities of these very people.

Along the way, I have become aware of so many other worthy causes, in particular other serious conditions and illnesses that also deserve awareness and publicity. It is in sharing information about these causes that I find great purpose.

November 17th is World Prematurity Day. (It’s actually the day after my birthday!)

With many wonderful awareness initiatives, walks, and fundraisers that now take place nationally, it’s awesome to see that much of the public is now more informed about the incidence of premature births.

What many don’t know about, however, is a disease that affects many premature babies– respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.

It was the lack of awareness of spina bifida that encouraged me to begin writing this blog in the first place. And now, it’s the lack of awareness of RSV among parents that has compelled me to partner with MedImmune to share this vital, potentially life-saving, information. 

308131_858042394573_140475221_n

 

RSV is a very common seasonal virus that affects nearly 100% of babies by the age of 2. 

Here are some fast facts about RSV and prematurity that  every parent needs to know: 

  • Each year worldwide, 13 million babies are born prematurely
  • 75% of parents don’t know the definition of prematurity (birth at or before 37 weeks gestation)
  •  Most pregnant women don’t ask their healthcare provider about the risk of delivering prematurely and the potential consequences of preterm birth for their child
  • Severe RSV disease is the leading cause of infant hospitalizations in the U.S., with approximately 125,000 hospitalizations and up to 200 infant deaths each year.
  • RSV season usually occurs from November through March for most of the U.S., but it varies regionally, and from year to year.

 

Most of the moms I’ve befriended or who befriend me on social media have a child with spina bifida. As pillars of strength and examples of grace and perseverance for their families, these women would do anything for their families, and it would break my heart to hear of one of their children falling ill with RSV, especially with everything else they already have to deal with because of spina bifida. 

This is why I feel it’s so important for me to share the symptoms and warning signs to look out for when diagnosing RSV. Parents, please be on high alert if your child exhibits any of these symptoms: 

  • Persistent coughing or wheezing
  • Bluish color around the lips, mouth, or fingernails
  •  Rapid, difficult, or gasping breaths
  • Fever (especially if it is over 100.4°F [rectal] in infants under 3 months of age)

There is no specific treatment for RSV disease, so prevention is your best bet. That being said, here are a few simple parents should take to help reduce the risk of your child getting RSV, particularly during high season, which is from November through March:

 

  • Understand the risk factors and ask your child’s pediatrician if your child may be at increased risk
  • Wash your hands and ask others to do the same
  • Keep toys, clothes, blankets, and sheets clean
  • Avoid crowds and other young children during RSV season

 

Yes, this information may seem very overwhelming, and I’m sure that it’s nothing that parents want to even think about. But, as the tired old saying goes, “it’s better to be safe than sorry,” and by taking the proper precautions, parents, especially those whose children have other health issues, will have one less thing to worry about. 

And it’s never too early– or premature— to take good care of our children!

For more information and tips, you can visit www.RSVprotection.com.

 

Join Me in Getting Covered #TakeCareChat

Disclosure: This post is part of a campaign with Ad Council and Get Covered America. I will be compensated for publishing this post and for participating in the Twitter chat. All ideas and opinions are my own. 

 

If there’s someone who truly understands the value of having good health insurance, it’s me– trust me. I certainly wouldn’t be here without the vigilant care of many good healthcare providers and nurses, and there were times in my childhood when I was literally in and out of the hospital every other week.

Sadly, more than 1 in 6 Americans don’t have health insurance.

This is mostly due to one of the following reasons:

  • They don’t receive coverage from their employer 
  • They cannot afford coverage
  • They were previously denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition

 

Under the new Affordable Care Act, people cannot be denied health coverage because of a preexisting condition.  This is fabulous news for me, having spina bifida and hydrocephalus! Thanks to the ACA, insurance companies can’t turn me away because of that. 

I feel very blessed and fortunate to have access to good healthcare, and I don’t wish to take that for granted for a single second. But, if you’re not willing to take my word for it, perhaps you’ll listen to this adorable menagerie of pets who have a message for you:

 

 

What’s more, most people will have to pay a fine if you don’t enroll in healthcare up by March 31st. The 2014 fine is $95 for an adult or 1% of a person’s income, whichever is greater. (The fine is $47.50 for a child, and a family can only be fined up to $285.)

I’ll be joining Ad Council and Get Covered America TOMORROW from 1 to 2 p.m. E.T. during a Twitter chat where you can learn more and ask questions about getting covered. Be sure to follow @GetCoveredUS on Twitter and Tweet using the hashtag #TakeCareChat to participate in the conversation!

 

Parrot

In the meantime, you can visit GetCoveredAmerica.org to find out how you can enroll in health insurance, and to get answers to some frequently asked questions about the process. There are also some pretty awesome tools on the site, like the Get Covered Calculator, which can help you discover how much assistance you could qualify for to help pay for your insurance coverage.

Figuring out how to navigate the ins and outs of the ACA can be daunting, especially since it’s so crucial to your health and to the health of your family. But with the proper tools and resources, you’ll be enrolling in no time– and hopefully by the deadline of March 31st!

 

–Laurita

The Best Family Heirlooms: ALLERGYFACE™

This post is part of a sponsored campaign on behalf of Latina Bloggers Connect and the makers of ZYRTEC®.

 

allergy-face

 

 

Let’s face it. Perhaps one of the worst things that can happen to our daily beauty routine is allergies. They give us runny, red noses, puffy, watery eyes and face, and general low self-esteem.

But many of these allergy annoyances are no match for anyone with a good makeup kit! Blogger Carmen Ordoñez of Viva Fashion has a personal motto: “You can look great without breaking the bank.” 

And this applies to all of us who occasionally suffer from ALLERGYFACE™.

I come from a long, proud line of allergy sufferers. My allergy lineage can be traced back three generations!

My Abuelita has always been prone to severe allergies– of every kind. Even a simple activity such as going out in the yard to garden, which she loves, could trigger a reaction that would render her looking like a cooked lobster.

My Mami and I are also sensitive to the sun, though not quite as badly as poor Abuelita. This is why Mami always recommends using sunblock before going out and catching some rays.

Other products my Mami and I both can’t live without are makeup for sensitive skin (concealer, foundation, blush, eyeshadow, etc.)

Also, it’s important to remember to remove makeup completely before going to bed. Even the slightest bit of eyeshadow or eyeliner residue can be enough to trigger itchy, watery, red eyes.

Carmen Ordoñez also features some more great tips for combating ALLERGYFACE™ in her second YouTube installment, “Generations of Beauty Advice.” (Watch it here!) 

Also, while beauty tips are fabulous, it’s critical not to forget about the health aspect of this.  If you know you are prone to allergies, you should do everything you can to prevent the onset of an episode. Just in case, it wouldn’t hurt to carry antihistamine. (I even carry an epinephrine injection in my purse! It’s better to be safe than sorry.)


Some beauty tips can be more valuable than the most expensive heirlooms. What advice has been passed down in your family that can help fight ALLERGYFACE™? 

30 Days of Thanks– & Reflections

Yes, I’ve been *quiet* on here for a while. No, my silence is not to be interpreted as meaning that nothing has happened with me. Everything has happened, and I’ve done my best to keep you all updated on the highlights via my Facebook page and Twitter account.

For starters, I turned 26 last month. I didn’t think I would be looking forward to it, but the week before my birthday, my family planned a last-minute trip to Puerto Rico, since we’re not going this Christmas. I ended up staying longer than a week, and ringing in my birthday with some of my favorite ladies!

We didn’t really plan on staying for Thanksgiving, so that was an unexpected surprise, too. While from a tourist’s perspective, this wasn’t probably the most eventful vacation on the island, I have to say, I think I explored Puerto Rico a lot more than I had anticipated. (I will be updating more on that on my other blog, Espresso con Leche soon!)

The highlight of everything was having the unexpected opportunity to spend both my birthday and Thanksgiving, as well as several other treasured moments, with family and close friends. I didn’t realize just how homesick I had been.

After I returned, as I caught up on my Facebook feed, I read posts from anguished parents who are already having to spend the holidays with a child who has complications from spina bifida. That’s always hard for me to read, as I look at everything I’ve been blessed with, and feel unworthy.

But, I realize that the most important thing is to not take any of it– or anyone– for granted.

It is with this thought in mind that I finally caved into the earliest holiday social media trend– by participating in the “30 Days of Thanks” daily habit. Each day, or night, I would post one thing I was grateful for in my life. I quickly found that keeping up with this routine is easier said than done, and I would often have to catch up the following day with two things I was grateful for. But, no matter– there were plenty of things to come up with.

Each day, I posted my gratitude for abstract concepts like “time” and “faith,” or for more tangible (or audible?) things, like my parents, my laptop, and my bilingualism.

On “Day 10,” I thanked my amazing Spina Bifida community! Words truly can’t adequately express just how Blessed I feel that you’re all a part of this journey with me. I’ve learned a lot, especially from the moms, who have given me the gift of a perspective I never imagined I’d have. You’ve all taught me so much about what true sacrifice and devotion is.

And last night– as I sat down to reflect on what I’m grateful for, for the very last time, I realized I wasn’t even close to being finished. But, I did want to end in a way that is open-ended and subject to wide interpretation. I thanked God for my faith, because without it, nothing could have sustained me throughout the challenging times.

I realize that people, events, things, and often even places will let you down, but faith is a steadfast pillar of support, the cornerstone of endurance. So, whether it’s faith in God, faith in the inherent goodness of humanity, faith in the power of something so simple as a smile, I hope you have this and that it helps keep you warm at night, like it has for me.

To the parents who have been Blessed with a child with spina bifida, I say, keep doing what you’re doing, and keep cherishing those wonderful moments, because believe me, there will be more of these if you just hang on.

Thank you all for your continued support, and thank you God for Blessing me with another amazing year of life.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

 

**Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Britax (follow on Twitter) and I will be compensated. I am a member of the Britax Latina Advisory Board. All ideas and opinions are my own. 

Have “The Talk” With Girls About Self-Esteem

Self-esteem is sort of a bizarre topic for me. Not that I don’t take it seriously, but that my own personal story of self-esteem is unevenly peppered with peaks and pitfalls. 

I think it’s safe to say I’ve written extensively here about my own self-image, first for the highly popular post Standing on My Own Two Feet, then a few months ago, right after I did the BlogHer ’12 Fashion Show.

Still, it seems to be a very sensitive topic for women, young and old, and I feel it’s a responsibility for adults like me to share personal stories like those linked above, in order to help defeat the pervasive notion that there is only one precise standard of beauty.

That’s why I’m especially proud to partner with Dove for what I believe is a truly inspired campaign!

Dove is leading a bilingual campaign called “Let’s Talk” (“Hablemos”) through their Web sites “Making Life Better” and “Vive Mejor.” The initiative offers tips and resources that might be helpful when talking to a young girl about self-esteem issues.

Why do I feel strongly about this campaign?

 

Well, the easy answer for me is that I’ve lived with self-esteem issues all my life, and am making it only because of a wonderful, solid support system.

But, don’t take my word for it. Instead, let’s look at some disturbing facts shared by Dove:

 

  • Six out of 10 girls will stop doing the things they love because they feel bad about their looks.
  • 72 percent of girls ages 10 to 17 feel “tremendous pressure” to be beautiful
  • Only 11 percent of girls ages 10 to 17 are comfortable using the word “beautiful” to describe themselves
  • When feeling bad about their physical appearance, more than 60 percent of girls globally (ages 15 to 17) will avoid normal daily activities, like “attending school, going to the doctor, or even giving their opinion.”

Say what?

Take it from someone who knows the pain all too well—this is unacceptable.

We have the responsibility, as a community, (and I mean “community” in a very broad sense! We’re all in this.) to let all young girls know just how strong, beautiful and smart they are—how capable they are. 

If we don’t act fast—we risk feeling the loss of this next generation of women in the STEM fields, in the arts, in sports, in politics—in everything.   

What is Dove doing about this?

 

Several big-name organizations that help girls have partnered with Dove, including Girl Scouts of the USA, Girls Inc., and Boys & Girls Clubs.

More than half of girls around the world say that their mother is their number one female role model. Moms can take this opportunity to talk to their daughters about beauty. According to Dove, something as simple as starting a conversation can make a difference in self-esteem.

“Let’s Talk” is also the theme of Dove Self-Esteem Weekend, which will take place October 5-7, across the nation. Dove’s partner organizations will be hosting events around the country. Wal-Mart stores will set up designated areas where women can stop by and share an encouraging message with girls.  

We can also do our part online by joining the conversation on Facebook and on Twitter by using the hashtag #DoveInspired.

Maybe my own turbulent childhood– filled with equal parts encouragement from my family, and ostracism from my peers– is the reason why I never hesitate to tell my young cousins, ages 10 and 8, just how beautiful they are and how proud I am of their accomplishments so far. This isn’t difficult for me to do, as I am very proud of them and love them.

I feel if I indulge them with praise and encouragement, have nothing to lose.

But we have everything to gain. 

 

**Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Dove and Latina Bloggers Connect and I will be compensated. All ideas and opinions are my own.