My COVID-19 Victory Garden has become my best stress relief

Some of you may be aware that I’ve become a little obsessed with gardening this year. So I figured since I just had my birthday I should celebrate by writing about whatever I want… Okay well, maybe at 48 I should get over myself. But I do want to share a little about my garden adventures.

The birthday bit

Before I move on, yes I did have a birthday recently. Yes, my hair is actually going gray. And yes, I am actually 48. Earlier this year I was not doing well, physically or emotionally. But now on this side of the year, and the birthday, I can confidently say I am looking forward to the second half of my life. I am ready start the next phase with renewed energy.

The pandemic

When news of the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I had just completed a scientific conference (without incident thankfully), and immediately cancelled our family’s large St. Patrick’s Day party. This meant I needed to tell upwards of 100 or so friends and family that we would not be having corned beef and cabbage, shepphard’s pie and homemade brown soda bread in my tiny house all jammed in together. It just seemed like a disaster waiting to happen at the time (and now for that matter). I am so glad we decided to cancel. Though I do hope we are able to revive the tradition at some point.

Food supply chain

Then, with too much time at home, I began to stress out about the food supply chain. At that point I wasn’t even freaking out about transmission at supermarkets. So, I asked my husband how he would feel about us adding a raised bed in the back yard. I was really just thinking about one raised bed and a few plants. I had no idea I would go down the rabbit hole of homesteading.

Gardening as stress relief

When my husband agreed to build me three (not one) raised beds, lay mulch and start composting, I was off to the races. I just needed a little encouragement to start this new adventure. I began binging videos from YouTubers like MIGardener, Garden Answer, Roots and Refuge and The Elliot Homestead. I began obsessing about how to develop a potager garden, and I learned how to pickle my own veggies.


Planning for the next seasons/wave of the virus

As much of a newbie as I am, I have learned a fair amount in my first year of gardening. Here are a few things I picked up along the way:

1 Know your zone

If you are a total newbie Iike I was, then you will need to know your growing zone. A good place to start is the USDA Plant Hardiness Zones. But that will only get you so far. If you want to know what plants to start when check out the Urban Farmer’s Planting Schedules.

2 Start small

Don’t try to fill your entire yard with soil or mulch. It will cost a fortune and you will be burned out in the process. Start with plants that have a short maturity timeline like Radishes or Lettuce. These can be grown even indoors because they don’t take up too much room!

3 Don’t be afraid to fail

Sorry: I’m here to tell you that some seeds won’t germinate. Sometimes the weather won’t cooperate. And sometimes an experiment won’t work. But I have found that the experimenting is part of the fun.

4 Winter shouldn’t stop you

Many of you know I live in the northeast. Some of you also know I have been away from home for the month of September. So I won’t be able to put my Fall/Winter plants in until I get home in October. I can’t be sure everything will survive because some things are going in a bit late. But that’s okay. Here’s a quick look at a few things I plan to put in when I get back home.

5 Plan your garden

This is one I didn’t do before. But I am happy I have put the work in to plan it now. I have created a spreadsheet identifying the season the item will go in the ground, the plant, the season to harvest, and whether or not I need the seeds. I have also saved a ton of seeds from this spring and summer. I’m looking forward to getting into seed swaps next year. Yup I’m that level of geek.

A little inspiration

Hopefully this has given you a little inspiration to think about a COVID-19 project that might ease your own stress. Thanks for letting me go off on this tangent. I hope you will share some of your own passion projects here.


Epilepsy Heroes: Cole and Katie

This blog post was submitted by Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Inc.

#MyEpilepsyHero is proud to feature Cole and Katie, two amazing kids who started their own initiatives to help fellow kids with epilepsy.

This #MyEpilepsyHero post is published with the permission of Cole and Katie.


During a prolonged stay at a children’s hospital for his epilepsy, 12-year-old Cole was introduced to the idea of patients picking out socks as a keepsake. At a more recent visit, he was disappointed to learn that the hospital no longer offered this fun tradition. Knowing firsthand how picking out socks had been a highlight during his previous stays, he decided to do something. Soon, the “Cole’s Socks for Smiles” drive was put in motion. He set up a box at his town’s community center where people donated a variety of fun socks for children at his hospital. Cole’s act has inspired an enormous number of donations from the community. His initial goal was to collect 500 pairs of socks. He has exceeded his goal by collecting 42,000 pairs and counting! With the massive pile of socks growing every day, Cole and his mother,

Erica, plan to extend their list of donation recipients to the other local children’s hospitals. He is looking to reach 100,000 pairs of socks by the end of the year. Going above and beyond to bring joy to other people with epilepsy is why we are proud to name Cole as one of our Epilepsy Heroes!


In addition to playing hockey, soccer, softball, and basketball, nine-year-old Katie spent the past summer attending one of Epilepsy Foundation New England’s Purple Camps. These camps offer children with epilepsy and their families a wide range of exciting and engaging activities that they may not be able to take part in at a more traditional summer camp. Katie, diagnosed at the age of seven, had such an amazing experience meeting other kids with epilepsy and taking the time interacting in a fun tradition that previously seemed out of reach. Unfortunately, the cost to maintain the camp programs can be quite expensive. Katie wanted to help raise funds to support the camp programs and raise epilepsy awareness; she hosted a clothing and ketogenic food drive. Ketogenic food, which she learned about from a friend at camp, is a special diet that may help control seizures in some people with epilepsy. Katie is aware that ketogenic food can be costly at times and wants to bring attention to this issue as a part of her awareness campaign. As she continues to raise awareness about epilepsy and the dietary needs of certain people with epilepsy, her efforts have provided more than 224 campers the opportunity to enjoy everything that these camps have to offer. With Katie’s contributions to the epilepsy community, it’s easy to see how she won Miss Massachusetts Pre-Teen for the USA Ambassador Pageant. She is one of our Epilepsy Heroes, indeed!

Participate in the November 2020 Epilepsy Blog Relay

Living Well With Epilepsy is gearing up for our next Epilepsy Blog Relay™ which will run throughout November 2020.


There are a few ways to participate:
1) BLOGGER: If you have your own blog – Participate as a blogger by posting the full story on your site and on Living Well With Epilepsy. FREE

2) CONTRIBUTOR: If you don’t have your own blog – Participate as a blogger by submitting your story and share it on your favorite social media platform. FREE

3) MEDIA PARTNER: If you are an epilepsy nonprofit – Participate as a media partner by submitting a community member story, and sharing stories in your newsletter and on your favorite social media platforms. FREE

4) MEDIA PARTNER: If you are an academic medical center – Participate as a media partner by submitting a community member story, and sharing stories in your newsletter and on your favorite social media platforms. FREE

5) SPONSOR: If you are a company or agency – Chat with us about how the relay can best accomplish your goals. We are open to branded and unbranded content, banner ads, and more. REQUEST MEDIA KIT FOR FEES

The theme for the month is:
“EPILEPSY AWARENESS: Stronger Together”

We are hoping to showcase as many voices of color as possible in the November Epilepsy Blog Relay!

Join the Epilepsy Blog Relay

Transition of Care: Transitioning Adolescent Epilepsy Patients

This blog post was submitted by Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Inc. Dr. Nassim Zecavati is a paid consultant of Sunovion Pharmaceuticals Inc. Certain organizations are mentioned in this post; this does not constitute an endorsement by Sunovion of these organizations.

Meet Nassim Zecavati, MD, MPH

Transition of care is a stressful time, but it doesn’t have to be. As a board-certified pediatric neurologist who leads a transition of care clinic, I’ve cared for many families who do not fully appreciate the importance of transitioning care, especially for patients with epilepsy.

What is Transition of Care in Epilepsy?

So, what do we mean when we say “transition of care,” specifically for young people with epilepsy? It’s the process in which pediatric patients shift their health care needs to an adult health care system. There are locational, vocational, educational, and medical decision-making considerations that are important to take into account when going through the process of transition. By starting the dialogue early and continuing the conversation with their neurologist, patients will be able to address all aspects of care, making the transition as smooth as possible.

However, I’ve noticed that if the process of transitioning young patients is neglected, there is a risk that vulnerable patients with epilepsy may drop out of the health care system after adolescence. It’s a challenging time for young patients who are turning eighteen, facing issues such as power of attorney, guardianship, and the apprehension and uncertainty that comes with navigating an intimidating adult health care system. Young patients benefit from learning strategies to balance seizure management with their social/emotional needs so that neither is neglected.

To better prepare epilepsy patients, families are strongly encouraged to start talking to their health care providers about transition of care as early as 12 years of age, and it is recommended to continue the discussion regularly. This will make it easier for patients and their families to determine what types of support they will need going forward. Talking to patients early enough and creating a care plan with them is especially important for patients with neurodevelopmental disabilities. That way, by the time the patient turns 18, any issues that may arise will have largely been addressed.

Going through a formal transitions clinic assists families in finding the right adult health care provider. I would encourage families who are embarking on the transition path to go to for general health care transition resources or to learn about transitioning from a child neurologist to an adult neurologist. Some of the resources they provide include a Transitions Tool Kit, a checklist that goes over the steps that should be addressed for families and providers.

Patients and their families benefit from learning about the health care team and how treating epilepsy and maintaining overall good health changes with age. The hope is to support and empower patients to become successful, healthy, and as independent as possible. We want to wrap these informative and necessary services around patients in order to provide the best neurological care possible and to ultimately improve health care outcomes and patient satisfaction.

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