Thursday, November 25, 2010

It's Thanksgiving...We're Working and We Are Thankful!!

Today is Thanksgiving. On this day, it is customary to think of all the things we are thankful for. As nurses, we often must work on holidays and today is one of those days. We are both working this Thanksgiving day, yet we are so very thankful. Here are the many reasons we are thankful:

We are Thankful for our health.....we will see many patients today whose health is a part of their distant past.

We are Thankful that we are not faced with a serious diagnosis.....we will take care of patients today who are newly diagnosed with cancer, diabetes, heart conditions and many other tough illnesses.

We are Thankful that we have a home to live in and food to share.....we will see homeless men and women today who are just looking for someone who will care about them, give them warmth and food.

We are Thankful that our minds are sound and that we, ourselves, are not dealing with a mental illness.....unfortunately mental health funds have been severely cut so many people come to hospitals, instead of mental health facilities, in a time of crisis, often feeling hopeless....we will see some of these people today.

We are Thankful for our is very possible we may be helping families say good by to their beloved parents today.

We are Thankful for our healthy we will take care of sick children who have not always had the gift of health.

We are Thankful for all the health care professionals we collaborate with....we love that we have compassionate nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists, physical therapists etc. that work beside us on a daily basis.

We are Thankful that we do not suffer from addictions like alcohol and drugs.....alcohol and drug addiction is a disease and we are often faced with seeing the side affects of these horrible addictions.....we will welcome these poor souls who find their way to us today.

We are Thankful for our loving immediate and extended families who will be waiting for us when we finish our shifts today.....many times we take care of patients that have never been surrounded by the love of family. We will be their family today.

We are Thankful that we have the privilege of working and taking care of people on a day that most would have loved to have spent with family, enjoying some good food and fun family stories. We hope that we can bring some comfort to those who are struggling today.

What are you THANKFUL for???

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Local 17 Year Old Girl Survives Cardiac Arrest - A True Miracle

The beautiful teenage girl below is a true miracle!! Her name is Kristin and she is a 17 year old senior at St. Francis High School in Sacramento, CA. She recently suffered a cardiac arrest from an undiagnosed heart condition called Long Q-T syndrome. She lived against all odds due to the heroics of the people who were with her when she collapsed, the medical staff who treated her at Mercy Folsom and Mercy General Hospitals, the innovative therapies used to save her life and Kristin's strong will to live. We are so excited to tell you about Kristin's story because it truly is an amazing one. As nurses, we LOVE stories like this. It is what makes us love and appreciate our jobs!!

Photo courtesy of Lisa Jesse Photography

Kristin had recently started her Senior year of high school. In addition to school, she also loved to teach children how to swim. She was a good swimmer and a former water polo player. On September 9, 2010 she was teaching children at Tricks Gymnatics, Dance and Swim in Folsom when she suddenly suffered a cardiac arrest and almost drowned. Two co-workers immediately noticed Kristin, unconscious in the swimming pool, and pulled her out of the water. Her manager immediately began CPR. He was trained and certified in CPR but had never had to use it before, however, his instincts and training took over. He performed CPR including mouth to mouth breathing for nearly 10 minutes before the paramedics arrived. The paramedics transported her to Mercy Folsom Emergency Room where they worked on her for over 2 hours. They were able to get her heart beating again and started a procedure called therapeutic hypothermia.

Therapeutic hypothermia is used on any adults who have suffered a cardiac arrest. It is a procedure where a person's core body temperature is brought down to 32 degrees celcius (89.6 degrees fahrenheit) in an effort to reduce the amount of neurological damage to the brain caused from their cardiac arrest. A person is kept in this state for approximately 24 hours and then their body is warmed up 1 degree per hour until they are back to a normal temperature. This is exactly what they did with Kristin.

Kristin with her classmates

In addition to the use of therapeutic hypothermia, Kristin was also placed on a heart assistive device called a balloon pump, and on a breathing machine and was given several medications to prevent her heart from stopping again. Kristin was unconcious for 5 days but when she woke up, she was living proof that modern medicine works!! She woke up not remembering the event but has no sustaining neurologic deficits which is a TRUE MIRACLE.

Kristin walking for the first time in the hospital

Kristin is already back at school, enjoying what every 17 year old teenager should, her senior year in high school!! Kristin has an implantable cardiac defibrilator to prevent a reoccurrance of the cardiac arrest due to her abnormal heart rhythm but she is otherwise a normal teenage girl.

To give you an idea of how miraculous Kristin's story is you should know that, according to the American Heart Association, more than 95% of cardiac arrest victims die before they ever reach the hospital.

Kristin's work manager should also be highly commended because he played a tremendous role in the fact that Kristin not only survived but that she did not suffer any neurologic damage. According to the American Heart Association, bystander CPR doubles a person's chance at survival. Also, brain damage after cardiac arrest can occur as quickly as 4 to 6 minutes after the event unless immediate CPR is begun.

We highly encourage everyone to take a CPR class. You may never use it in your lifetime, however, if you are ever in a situation like this, you will have a great opportunity and privilege to save a life. You can find and sign up for CPR classes at this link: The American Heart Association.

You may have noticed in the pictures above that Kristin was wearing the "Anita" Annie & Isabel hospital gown. While Kristin fought for her life in the hospital she was gifted this hospital gown by her friend and classmate Lauren. Lauren has been fighting AND winning her own battle with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. We will be sharing her inspirational story on our blog soon.

I contacted Kristin's mom to find out how Kristin was doing and she told me that Kristin is doing well. "She just wants to be a normal 17 year old". Kristin's mom, Lisa, gave us this wonderful testimonial about Kristin's Annie & Isabel designer hospital gown:

"The gown was a gift from one of my daughter's good friends who has cancer. I took it home and washed it and when I brought it back to the hospital, she immediately wanted to wear it. It smelled like home, and the fabric was so soft...she just loved it. All the nurses commented how "cute" her gown was and how it made her feel 17 loving a hospital gown is a pretty special order. When we had to go back for a second surgery that was top on her list for me to bring down to her! What a great gift to give! Thanks for making her feel so much more comfortable and beautiful!" ~Lisa Jesse

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Exciting Partnership With Brenda Bisharat Photography!!!

If you have been following along with us for a while now, you know how much we admire Bisharat Photography here in Sacramento. On her site, Brenda says, "I have a passion for capturing the human spirit through photography and digital artistry, in a stress free and fun environment". This couldn't be a more accurate statement to describe the work of Brenda and her partner Kristene from Bisharat Photography.

Brenda Bisharat

Kristene Colombi

Brenda has been our photographer for years now and we cherish the beautiful moments in time she has documented of our precious boys. We always sit back in amazement during our sessions while she interacts with our very active boys and gets the best smiles. When we were launching Annie & Isabel, she was a huge support to us as a successful mompreuner herself.

We have VERY exciting news for local Annie & Isabel customers from Bisharat Photography! Brenda is offering a complimentary hospital newborn session for women who purchase an Annie & Isabel designer hospital gown. With this complimentary session, you will receive a free 5x7 and an online slideshow to choose additional photos. The slideshow is a wonderful way to introduce your new bundle of joy to your family and friends. Read below for all of the details and instructions. This might just get some of our friends to move to Sacramento, as they have been admiring Brenda's work for years! Even if you don't live in the Sacramento area, Brenda has many clients who travel long distances to have their children and familes photographed.

Here is an example of Brenda's hospital newborn sessions

To get to know Brenda Bisharat better and see some of her work,

please read some posts from her blog below~

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Gift Of An Annie & Isabel Hospital Gown For Stephanie ~ For A Day She Never Thought She Would Have

In our opinion, the day that you are going to give birth is the most anticipated, exciting, and, in our case, photographed day of our lives! We obviously feel having your own hospital gown is a no-brainer... for so many reasons. You are the ONLY person that has ever worn it, something no one ever thinks about when sporting the hospital issued gown. You can wash it and bring the comfort and smell of home and your own beautiful hospital gown will lack the common holes, stains, and EKG stickers that are often stuck to the standard hospital gowns.

Our gowns have many other features that the standard hospital gown lacks but most importantly it completely covers the backside. Aside from these "practical" reasons... having you own Annie & Isabel hospital gown represents style and always makes a beautiful backdrop to those first photographs with your new baby. It represents how truly special this day is when you are giving birth.

When Vanessa wrote to us about her friend Stephanie's upcoming birth we were so touched to hear Stephanie's story. Below is what Stephanie had to say about her experience in her Annie & Isabel hospital gown. Congratulations Stephanie! Boys are so much fun!

First Time Mom Stephanie and Paxton Jr. "P.J."

"Having your first baby is a significant milestone for anyone. My pregnancy was a very special experience because not too long ago my husband and I thought we'd never be able to have children of our own and were planning to adopt. When I became pregnant it was such a great surprise and I wanted to savor every moment. I received my Annie gown as a gift from my dear friend Vanessa. My favorite color is pink, so needless to say, I was thrilled when I opened the package and saw the pink gown with polka dots! I washed it immediately and packed it in my suitcase. I didn't wear it during labor (I didn't want it to get soiled!) so I saved it for the next two days in the hospital. It was so nice being able to change into a fresh gown that was mine! Not only was it comfortable and easy to breastfeed in, it was so nice to feel pretty when receiving guests and showing off my new baby boy. I got so many compliments on it. Thank you so much for adding to my already wonderful adventure!"

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Why Susan G. Komen Hated Hospital Gowns, In the Words Of Her Sister

A friend of mine, who is battling breast cancer, shared with me a book that she is reading called "Promise Me". It is a book written by Nancy G. Brinker who is the sister to Susan G. Komen and founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

There is a paragraph from the book that sums up one of the main reasons we started our company and I wanted to share it with you too. It gave me the chills to read this because it made me realize how important our product is in giving dignity back to patients and making them look and feel better.

This is a quote from Nancy Brinker about how Susan G. Komen hated the standard hospital gown:

"I understand now why Suzy hated hospital gowns. At the time, I guess I thought, Why wouldn't she hate them? She was an impeccably stylish woman who cared a lot about how she looked. That's who she was. But in retrospect, I think there was more to it than that. The one-size-fits-all boxiness of the thing is dehumanizing. That pragmatic but potentially breezy opening in the back goes to the very etymology of the word embarrassing, and the very idea that one size does or can or should even attempt to fit all was offensive to Suzy, literally and metaphorically. This wasn't a matter of style or aesthetics - it was part of a larger dynamic that makes so many cancer patients feel dehumanized and stripped of their dignity."

To learn more about Nancy G. Brinker and her book "The Promise" you can visit her website at

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Pink Pockets - A Must for Breast Cancer Patients

When my sister and I started our company, we had no idea how many amazing and inspiring people we would meet through our business. There are so many mom entrepreneurs that we have discovered through the internet and, more importantly, we have discovered that there is a huge network of mom bloggers that are invaluable in spreading the word about these mom entrepreneurs.

We connected with an amazing mom entrepreneur, Diane Lebleu, through a mom blogger. Diane was was in the beginning stages of starting her own business called Pink Pockets. Diane connected with us via email. Her email started by saying, "You are an inspiration." As I continued reading this email, I thought to myself, THIS woman is the TRUE inspiration!!! Diane Lebleu is a breast cancer survivor. Through her experience of going through a double mastectomy with chemotherapy and radiation to rid herself of breast cancer, she came up with an idea for a product to help other women and men who are dealing with this diagnosis. She designed a very simple pocket that can be placed inside your own clothing to hold surgical drains in place. Surgical drains are often placed after having mastectomies and are used to remove fluids that accumulate around the surgical area. Here is a picture of what they look like:

Patients almost always go home with these drains and need a way to hold them in place. In the past, a person would safety pin them to their hospital gown/clothing. Diane came up with a brilliant idea to develop disposable pockets that can be placed right inside your own clothing and keep the drains secure and comfortably placed. Her product is called "Pink Pockets." Her intent was that these would be used for people having mastectomies, hence the name "Pink Pockets", but they can actually be used by all types of surgical patients who require drains after surgery.

We wanted to share Diane's story and product with you. As most of you know, one of our hospital gowns, The Elizabeth, is in honor of our grandmother Elizabeth who fought breast cancer so this cause is dear to our hearts and these pockets would work great in our hospital gowns too!!!

Here is a little interview that we did with Diane. We know you will find some inspiration in this story and hopefully you can pass on her great product to others that might need it!!

A&I: When were you diagnosed with breast cancer and how was it discovered?

Diane: My twin sister, Denise, was diagnosed when we were 33. It was a complete surprise. She went through a lumpectomy, chemotherapy, and radiation. Because of her experience, I was on the lookout - mammograms every 2 years until 37 and then annually.

Diane with her twin sister, Denise

I actually had a mammogram in the spring before I discovered a lump in November 2008. I had just been on a visit to Budapest Hungary to visit my BFF, Holly, and do some research for a book I was intending to write. The lump was there. As soon as I returned home, I went to visit my OB/GYN. "Where is it?" my doctor asked me. "Right there!" I had to show her, it was so small. Almost like a small blood clot. This was over Thanksgiving - holiday schedule means difficulty getting doctors to have much urgency. I had another diagnostic mammogram, biopsy and my doctor of radiology proclaimed to me during the procedure "This doesn't look like cancer" and then of course, the call. December 3, 2008: "Diane, this is cancer". Of course, since I am somewhat of a competitive person, my first reaction was "I KNEW IT!" Then I had to get on the phone and call my husband who was on a business trip in Hartford, CT and he flew home immediately.

A&I: What helped you the most while going through treatments for breast cancer?

Diane: Having a sense of humor and sticking to routine. At the time of my diagnosis, I was only 39 and my kids were 10, 7, 3 and 2. This made it very hard to sit around and feel sorry for myself. My husband and I don't have any family that is not at least a 2 hour plane ride away so we had to rely on the kindness of neighbors and friends during this period. We were overwhelmed with kindness. The meal calendar that friends set up for me went on for over 2 months with only 1 or 2 duplicate families providing meals. Our son's football team contributed to pay for a housekeeper for 3 months. My BFF Holly, despite the fact that she was living in Budapest, Hungary at the time, arranged a weekly "Chemo Fairy" to anonymously drop off goodies on my doorstep every week during the time I was undergoing chemotherapy. At the end of my treatment, we all went out and the "Fairies" were revealed. It was thoughtful and got me through the dark days following an infusion. Most importantly, though, is my faith in God that He would use this experience for good. I'm seeing some of that come to fruition in my work with Pink Pockets and some of the blogging I have done on my breast cancer experience

Diane & Denise

A&I: How has your life changed since your breast cancer diagnosis?

Diane: One of the positives is that I wake each day thankful for every new sunrise I am privileged to see. I kiss my kids more and don't worry so much about not getting to everything on my "to do" list. Maybe that's just an excuse to procrastinate but I am able to keep things in perspective much more....unless we are talking about politics. I am also a cancerpreneur now - trying to build my business in a way that will positively impact those that are afflicted with this disease both in terms of a quality product that meets an unmet need and with some proceeds of sales going to the Komen For the Cure Foundation and the Central Texas Breast Cancer Resource Center. I'm an aspiring writer and guest blogger on a few sites and I was honored by NY Times parenting blogger, Lisa Belkins, who posted my story "
Merry Christmas I have Breast Cancer" on Christmas Eve following my diagnosis. I was subsequently honored to have 3 other guest posts detailing my walk with cancer and treatment and was even able to meet Lisa and get a tour of the NY Times building in NYC this past August at the BlogHer conference.

Diane with her beautiful family

A&I: What is the best advise you can give to those newly diagnosed with breast cancer?

Diane: Don't panic. The medical ingenuity in treatment grows every year and the survival rates have never been greater nor afforded those diagnosed with as much hope as there is today for recovery and living a long and wonderful life. I let myself have five minutes of self-pity before making up my mind that I was not just going to endure my bout with breast cancer, I was going to prevail. At the time of diagnosis, my children were 10, 7, 3, and 2. My plan was to stick to routine as much as possible - not just for their benefit, but for mine as well. By allowing others to drive for a while - an overwhelming response from my husband, family, friends, neighbors - we were able to fight this battle and were given a chance to grow closer as a family and laugh a little at the next curve balls we faced at the plate. I like to focus on the positives of this experience such as my creation of Pink Pockets, temporary surgical drain pockets to use after breast surgery, which will give great comfort to those in a similar situation. We can't know the "whys" of things in this life, but we
be certain that we can use them to serve others if we choose.

A&I: Tell us about Pink Pockets

Diane: A few weeks before my bilateral mastectomy, a woman, Jennifer, in my local breast cancer support group "The Pink Ribbon Cowgirls" gave me a simple, hand-made cotton camisole with ladybugs on it. Volunteers make them and donate them to the Breast Cancer Resource Center. Jennifer had worn it a few weeks earlier after her bilateral mastectomy and she knew that the garment - with pockets sewn inside - was a God send. Those drains are so awful and uncomfortable. Doctors really do not give enough warning about these uncomfortable and unwieldy appendages. When my sister was planning for her prophylactic bilateral mastectomy, I brought it to her and began looking for more affordable garments. Retail "special shirts" or "gowns" with pockets start around $40. That is a lot of money - and Jennifer and I surmised that we could produce one for a better price point to make it a more affordable choice. Everyone should have something to help them manage these drains. As we were doing some due diligence, I began thinking about what I wore after my surgery. I wanted to feel as normal as I could, wearing normal clothes. I wore regular button down shirts or pjs that I bought specifically for after the surgery (your arms are useless for a while - nothing over your head) and I wondered if you could just put a pocket inside your own clothes. And you know what? You can. One size fits all.

A&I: How long does each Pink Pocket last?

Diane: You can remove and re-stick the pocket - it doesn't adhere quite as well, but still can be re-used on another garment. You can also wash your garment once or twice and the pocket will stay on. Just don't put the dryer on high heat. The heat will cause the pocket to pucker. You can also just hang your garment to dry. My Pink Pockets come in a package of 3 pairs for $13.99 plus shipping or 5 pairs for $19.99 plus shipping and a portion of each sale goes to both the Austin Affiliate of the Komen for the Cure Foundation ( and the Breast Cancer Resource Center. ( The pockets last as long as you have your drains. Just peel them off your garment and discard when done. We use 100% cotton fabric and the prints vary based on what we can find. They are cute but no one sees them as they fit inside your clothes.

Thank you Diane for sharing your story!!! If you want to learn more about Pink Pockets, please visit her website at Pink Pockets