The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on October 17, 1996 · Page 12
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 12

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Thursday, October 17, 1996
Page 12
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C2 THURSDAY. OCTOBER 17, 1996 HEALTH THE SALINA JOURNAL V INFERTILITY Accepting the inconceivable Just how far will an infertile couple go to have a child? By SALLY KALSON Pittsburgh Post-Gazette PITTSBURGH — How far will an infertile couple go to have a child? So far, in some cases, that the quest for parenthood becomes an obsession. But not Cheryl and Gary Fedder of suburban Pittsburgh. They opted out. No more medical testing or treatment. No adoption. And, most important, no regrets. After five years of unsuccessful attempts to conceive, the Fedders found themselves facing some very high-tech fertility techniques and some very low odds of success — one in 60, their doctor said. So the couple decided to go another way: They would embrace the future as a family of two. Today they are concentrating on one another, their careers and interests, such as travel and scuba diving. They are building a new house, complete with a studio for Cheryl, who is a child portrait photographer. They are a doting aunt and uncle to their siblings' children, and Cheryl is a Big Sister to a young girl. Infertility is no longer the controlling force in their lives. Their decision is not the one that usually makes headlines, but the Fedders consider themselves a success story. "The day we decided to live . child-free was the day we were liberated," says Cheryl Fedder, 36. "Letting go of a dream that was not to be made it possible for us to make new dreams." : She uses the term "child-free" as opposed to "childless" because, she says, the meanings are different. "People who are trying to have children and failing are childless. We are child-free because we have taken back the control." To her, "child-free" means being able to photograph her young subjects without getting depressed. It means being OK 'around pregnant women, rejoicing in a friend's new baby without jealousy and walking through a playground without feeling deprived. To her husband, "child-free" means not worrying about infertility's grueling emotional toll on his wife. "This society is very child-oriented, but there are other ways to live a full life and have an effect on the world besides having children," says Fedder, 35, an assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon University. "Cheryl touches families with her photography. I affect students with my teaching." The Fedders never seriously T HOUSECLEANING Scripps Howard News Service Cheryl and Gary Fedder, standing outside their home In Pittsburgh, talk about their decision to stop trying to have a child. "The day we decided to live child-free was the day we were liberated," said Cheryl, 36. Infertility affects 5.3 million women and their partners. considered adoption, which wasn't in their comfort zone — too many horror stories and uncertainties, they say, and Cheryl didn't think it would satisfy her longing. The decision to live child-free wasn't an easy one to make. It required a grieving process; letting go of your life-long picture of Mom, Dad and kids is like letting go of a loved one. They know their choice is not for everyone, and they would never urge it on people who remain committed to trying. Still, they want to spread the word there is an alternative for those whose attempts to conceive are not working, or for those who simply cannot bear the expense, strain and emotional rollercoaster any longer. A lot of people are in that boat. Infertility affects 5.3 million American women and their partners, or about 10 percent of the population of child-bearing age, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. Some 25 percent of those couples have more than one factor in play. That was the case with the Fedders — Cheryl had had surgery for a blocked fallopian tube, and Gary had a low sperm count and low motility. And while assisted reproductive technologies have been able to help many couples, in many more "There are other ways to live a full life and have an effect on the world besides having children." Gary Fedder Gave up on having children cases they have not. According to the reproductive medicine society, the success rates of the advanced technologies range from 18.3 percent per procedure for in vitro fertilization to 27.7 percent per procedure for gamete intrafallopian transfer. .Then there's the expense. A single cycle of in vitro fertilization costs $7,800 on average. Other interventions are even more costly, and most couples undergo multiple procedures. > For those who decide to adopt, the cost averages $15,000 for a domestic arrangement and $25,000 for one overseas. Some people are willing and able to spare no expense in pursuit of a child, everyone can take that But not route. Donna and David Compel, for instance, have been married nine years. She's 34 and a paralegal for a Pittsburgh law firm; he's 44 and an operating engineer at Children's Hospital. Donna Compel desperately wants a child, but she and her husband have some economic realities to face. David has three children from his previous marriage, ages 20, 17 and 14. The two oldest live with the couple. The Compels gave up on infertility treatments after incurring a huge expense, and Donna fears the cost of an adoption would strain the family's resources to the breaking point. She wants to be where Cheryl Fedder is, but, at least as of now, can't see herself making that emotional leap and letting go. "It's hard to think of yourself as child-free with step-children in the house," says Donna. "I am parenting them on a daily basis, but they aren't really mine. "Medically, my options are closed. Financially, they're closed. So I don't feel I can choose child-free. I feel closed into it. "I'd rather be able to make a conscious decision like Cheryl did. I'd like to be at peace with it. But I don't know how." Cheryl Fedder understands. There was a time that she, too, was where Donna is now. A number of things helped her get there. One was therapy. Another was RESOLVE, a nationwide network that offers support, information and advocacy for all aspects of infertility. Then there was the book "Sweet Grapes," by Jean and Michael Carter, about their journey to the child-free decision. Last but not least was the Internet, where a variety of infertility news groups helped Cheryl meet many other women in similar situations. After she and her husband made the commitment to go forward as a duo, Cheryl Fedder wrote a fond goodbye to her Internet newsgroup. She told them how close she'd come to feel with her fellow subscribers, who had helped her more than she could say, but she just didn't belong there any more. She was going to move on, she told them. And so she has. Whittle inches while you work Pick up the pace when doing cardiovascular chores, such as dusting £y JULIE BAWDEN DAVIS .iQsAngeles Times '"': SUNSET BEACH, Calif. — Pre- 'ftjous generations didn't think about how it would firm their $iighs or strengthen their pec- tcjrals, but they stayed in great shape doing it. Long before Stair- Ujasters and aerobics, men and jyomen kept in shape with daily doses of good old-fashioned housework. -'Though times have changed ^irith the introduction of the vacu- Jim and other so-called labor-sav- fliig devices, there's still a lot of 'benefit to be gotten from household chores. ' /'Many people don't realize that you can get a workout cleaning your house or washing your car," says Kiana Tom of Sunset Beach, Calif., co-host of the ESPN television show "BodyShaping." If you want to work out, but don't have the time, or would like to augment your current exercise routine, the answer may be in the 4Ust on your tables or the mud on your car. •To get a good "exer-cleaning" workout, you'll probably need to .change your cleaning methods a little. "When doing cardiovascular work such as vacuuming and dusting, pick up the pace," Tom says. "Also exaggerate movements more than usual and take rriore time with some tasks than you might otherwise." 'For an optimum workout, you may also want to add a few inexpensive workout items that you can use in conjunction with cleaning exercises. The best exer-cleaning workout starts with cardiovascular work and ends with strength training. To get yourself in the workout- cleaning mode, Tom suggests putting on some upbeat music. Here's how to get a workout while cleaning your house: • Cardio-vacuum. Vacuum nonstop for at least 20 minutes and preferably more, because you don't begin to burn fat until after 20 minutes. Re-vacuum parts of the house or try jogging in place after you finish vacuuming. • Deltoid-dust. Make dusting an aerobic activity that will also work your arms and shoulders by quickly and briskly dusting, using not only your forearm and hand, but your entire shoulder. • Wash the car. Not only will it give you a good overall cardio- workout, but if you keep moving, it will also really work your arms. • Stair-climb. Try to make several trips up and down the stairs while cleaning. • Dishes. When unloading the dishwasher, instead of just bending over from the waist to reach for dishes and putting them in the cupboard, do squats. To do this, hold the dishes close to your body, keep your back straight and lower yourself slowly to a sitting position. Wait for a second or two and then slowly stand up and put the dishes away. Do this 20 to 40 times and you'll give your bottom and legs a good workout. • Groceries. With your back straight, carry each bag in the house close to your chest. Then when you get inside, stop and work your legs by doing squats like you did at the dishwasher. Do this exercise with two or three bags, 15 to 20 times per bag. Once you've brought in all the groceries, you can isolate specific upper body muscles with bottles and cans. • Polishing the floor. Because we tend to move back and forth during most of our daily activities and even exercises, we often neglect the inner and outer thigh. When mopping the floor, try to also move side to side when possible. You can even carefully walk sideways across the floor or up the steps or try something most of us used to love to do as kids — slide across the kitchen floor sideways. » Reach and stretch. When you're reaching for something, stop and hold the stretch for 30 seconds before coming back down. You can also stretch while washing the windows. Be sure to alternate sides. V WOMAN'S HEALTH If you're 19 to 65, test cholesterol every five years FREDRIC D. FRIGOLETTO JR. OB/GYN No matter how healthy you feel, you can benefit from certain screening tests. These tests check for health problems in the earliest stages, before you develop symptomsi Screening tests should be part of your regular medical care. Most are recommended according to your age. Here are some general ^ guidelines: • Pap test — In this test, the doctor takes a sample of cells from your cervix to check for changes that could lead to cancer. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends you have a pelvic exam and a Pap test every year beginning at age 18, or sooner if you are already sexually active. After you have three normal tests in a row, you and your doctor should decide together how often you need future Pap tests. You should continue getting a pelvic exam annually. • Cholesterol — Your level cari be measured from a blood sample. High cholesterol levels are related to hardening of the arteries, which can result in a heart attack or stroke. Have a cholesterol test every five years from ages 19 to 65, and every three to five years thereafter. • Mammogram — This is a low-dose X-ray of the breast to look for breast cancer. The American College of Obstetri- > cians and Gynecologists recommends a mammogram ! every one to two years from ages 40 to 50, and yearly start- ; ing at age 50. :• Your doctor should examine • your breasts once a year, and \ you should examine your own 1 breasts once a month. • Fecal occult blood test—! A small sample of your stool ; should be tested every year af- ; ter age 40. If blood is found, it may signal cancer of the colon or rectum, and further tests will be ordered. After age 50 • Sigmoidoscopy — A scope v is inserted in your rectum and colon to look for colon cancer. , Have this test every three to five years after age 50. • Urinalysls — This test ] should be done every year after age 65 to look for changes in your urine that could signal . problems. Other tests are done when indicated by special risk factors. These include tests for diabetes, and for AIDS and other . sexually transmitted diseases. See your doctor regularly to get the tests you need. An easy reminder: Schedule ,, your annual exam around your birthday each year as a gift to yourself. Diabetes / Parents keep a close watch FROM PAGE C1 She takes a longer-release form at night, but in the daytime, the idea is to haye frequent small doses so that blood sugar levels on average are close to normal. Over the years, higher average blood sugar levels cause tissue damage throughout the body and are a leading cause of blindness, heart and kidney problems and amputations in diabetics. Once in a while, if Katie has fallen asleep, her mom or dad will give her a shot. Keeping Katie's sugar levels at a normal level mean she has little margin of safety before they fall dangerously low. Windholz goes out on the playground with Katie and brings along a dose of glucagon, a sugar product she can administer by injection if Katie shows signs of distress. The injection is necessary in an emergency because it's not safe to give a sugar-containing food to a person who is unable to swallow. Windholz also goes along on class field trips, Kolacny said. Katie's brothers Billy, 16; Ben, 13; and Jonathan, 11, also know how to step into action in an emergency. "They need to be active in her care. They buddy up," their mother said. If Katie should have a reaction, she could pass out, have a seizure and die. Her parents need to know where Katie is all the time. Other kids understand Having Katie at school has raised awareness about diabetes for both faculty and students. When it's time for her snack at 10 a.m., Katie moves to a table and eats without missing any class time. Her classmates are used to the routine. In second grade, some had asked what she was doing. "I explained, and they didn't ask again," Katie said. "We're lucky to be able to learn about the disease from someone who's knowledgeable and able to handle it very well," LeCount said. LeCount and Katie have a running contest to guess what the reading will be on her battery-operated blood sugar testing device. Katie makes LeCount guess first, then she picks the number either higher or lower, depending on how she feels. LeCount doesn't have a chance against the expert. "The only way I can win now-is if I'm right on the number,".lie said. Katie goes to a camp for diabetic children every year. The Diabetes Association sponsors the camps, which not only teach children how to take good care of themselves, but also give them support from others going through the same ordeal. The camps are open to all children with diabetes, regardless of their ability to pay. 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