Thursday, May 29, 2008

Off to a conference

When I first began this blog, over a year ago now, it was supposed to be a little bit of health stuff and a little bit of writing stuff. Obviously, the health stuff took over.

I don't mind; that's how I make my living now. It's interesting how it all evolved though. Blogging isn't my main source of income - in fact, it doesn't pay a lot. But what my two network blogs do ( and is they put me in contact with other bloggers, help me learn my blogging craft, and pay me a small amount for my trouble at the same time. Blogs like this one don't pay anything in terms of dollars, but they have caught the attention of clients who found me through it. I also have another blog, for that seems more like a weekly column than anything else.

What's great about blogging, though, is that these are all topics I know and enjoy writing about. For this blog, I get to write pretty well anything I want. I like searching for the news and I like picking a topic and writing - or ranting.

I like writing for my pain and pregnancy blogs because I think I'm a teacher at heart. I love to share information and it comes very easily to me. Since I'm on the computer all day long anyway, for my regular writing, I might as well do regular searches and find what I want/need to share with others.

My regular writing clients range from start up companies to well known text-book publishers. I find clients and some clients find me. What I truly love about the writing field is how we all seem to help one another. If I know someone wants a type of writing I can't do, I try and find someone for them, so they don't leave empty handed. The clients always seem to appreciate it because recommendations mean a lot. And, I've also benefited from people sending work my way or posting in a writers' group that they're looking for someone. We all seem to help each other.

i've been asked why, with the nursing shortage as it is, I no longer work as a nurse. I could give you a whole list of reasons, but the most important one is that I love what I do. I love to write, specifically about health issues, although I do like to write non-health stuff too. I love being able to work at what I love to do, each and every day.

Tomorrow, I'm leaving to go to a conference of writers and I'm so looking forward to it. It took a long time for me to identify myself as a writer, but now I can and I do. And I'm thrilled to be able to do it.

Today on Help My Hurt:

Overweight men need joint replacements the most often
Guest article: Spinal stimulation
Placebos (sugar pills) for children?

Today on Womb Within:

Save the Children Mother’s Index
Press Release: Some C-sections may not be medically necessary, March of Dimes say
Calculating your due date
Celebrate your own birthdays!
Keeping track of what’s safe - and not - during pregnancy
Your baby is growing - the third month

News for Today:

C. difficile cases growing in U.S., report finds
One quarter of disabled kids not getting special education: StatsCan
Vitamin D does not protect against prostate cancer: U.S. study
Estrogen a factor in half of prostate cancers: study
Looking tired or angry may have more to do with facial aesthetics than how you feel
Ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen may be equally effective at reducing risk of Alzheimer's disease
Anti-Smoking Drug Chantix Linked to Seizures, Heart Problems, Diabetes

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The cost of gas will affect many lives - and health

It's likely something most of us haven't thought about. With all the news of the rising cost of fuel, we think about the cost of food, trying to cut back on how much driving we do - but how many of us thought about the impact on the sick and the elderly?

I didn't until I wrote the article Measuring the Cost of Gas in Lives - Not Dollars.

Many people depend on volunteers to provide companionship to the elderly, deliver food through programs like Meals on Wheels, and respite to tired caregivers. Others depend on visiting nurses or nurses' aides to provide care and comfort while ill or in their dying days. What's going to happen when these people can no longer afford to make those visits?

What of the sick and elderly who live great distances from their healthcare providers. Will they be able to afford the cost of transport to go for the several-times-per-week dialysis? Can they make it for their monthly specialist appointment? Or will they try to stretch out the time between visits, to economize. If that happens, won't they just be sicker when they finally do get to the doctor, thus requiring more care? Or, they may fall ill at home, requiring emergency services and ambulance transport. None of that is cheap.

Then we have those who have loved ones who are dying at home - who are receiving palliative care or hospice care at home. Will they be able to continue receiving such care if the staff and volunteers can't afford the gas? Will they have to find the means to pay for that themselves?

And lastly, what of our elderly and sick who are in long-term care facilities and who depend greatly on the stimulation of their visitors: friends, family, even volunteers. If people can't afford to visit them as often - or at all - what will become of them? Will they get depressed with less stimulation? Will they become sicker?

The cost of gas brings us more than just inconvenience and high prices - it may have put a price on lives.

Today on Help My Hurt:

Your coffee may help prevent gout
Poll: Do you use a cane?
5 more diseases that cause chronic pain
Colic - what is it and what can you do?
7 ways to help children in pain
In My Humble Opinion, By the Cane Man®

Today on Womb Within:

Your baby is growing - the third month
Teen pregnancy rate in US drops
Video: Kegel exercises

News for Today:

Obesity epidemic in U.S. kids has levelled off: officials
ADHD leads to loss of productivity in workplace: study
C-sections a critical factor in preterm birth increase
Therapies appear helpful in reducing risk of depression following stroke
Antioxidant supplements may lessen benefit of radiation and chemotherapy
US reporters often do a poor job of reporting about new medical treatments

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Bone marrow transplants - would you be a donor?

Many people donate blood. Many people have signed organ donor cards. But how many people are registered to be able to donate bone marrow?

Bone marrow donation has a lot of misconceptions but if everyone who gave blood - and those who didn't - would register for bone marrow donation, the number of lives that could be saved would be astronomical.

According to the Canadian Blood Services, and keep in mind that the US is not that different, "About 1,500 Canadians have received transplants through the Canadian Blood Services Registry. However, even with millions of donors on registries worldwide, a perfect bone marrow match isn’t always available."

First, what is bone marrow and why is it so darned important?

Bone marrow is the soft tissue that is found inside our bones; it's the spongy tissue in the breast bone, ribs, hips, pelvis, skull and spine. The role of bone marrow is to make blood cells - white blood cells to fight infection, red blood cells to carry nutrients from the lungs to the body tissues, and platelets that allow the blood to clot.

People with diseases that affect the bone marrow die of infection or inability for their blood to clot. The most commonly known disease that requires bone marrow transplant is leukemia, although there are many more.

In Montreal, there is a writer named Emru Townsend. He was diagnosed with leukemia late last year. He needs a bone marrow transplant. Unfortunately, because of his genetic background, the match is proving hard to find. However, there has to be someone out there who is a match - we just don't know who they are or where they live.

If that person were to register as a bone marrow donor, he or she could be found, and Emru could get his bone marrow transplant.

What is involved in being a donor? Not too much initially, really. First, you need to register and your local blood collection agency needs to know what genetic make-up you have. So, that means providing a swab from inside your mouth or a vial of blood for testing.

After this has been tested, you are entered into the bone marrow data base. Now - you may never ever be called - or you might. If your marrow is found to be a match to someone in need, anywhere, you will be called and asked if you still want to donate. This is a critical moment - if you register to donate, you just may be called.

Waiting for a donor to be found is tough. A friend of mine waited for a donor. One was found and she was so cautiously optimistic. Something happened, however, and the donor backed out. My friend was devastated - as were we. Finally, a donor was found, but I can't imagine what must have been going through her mind while she waited for it to actually happen.

How is the bone marrow taken from you and given to the recipient? Good question.

Bone marrow donation is typically done as day surgery although you could be kept in the hospital for a day or two. There's no doubt that their is some discomfort involved. You will feel soreness in the hip area for a few days after the procedure, but it isn't unbearable.

You would receive either a general anesthetic or a spinal before the procedure is done. The marrow is removed from the large bones of your pelvis using a needle. Afterwards, if you need, usually over-the-counter medications will relieve any pain. The marrow is then processed and the recipient gets it through an IV.

Are there any risks when donating?

Donating marrow is a medical procedure and no medical procedure can guarantee that there are no risks. However, that being said, considering the number of bone marrow donations done, it's been found that it is a very safe procedure. The risks do include a reaction to the anesthetic and infection where the needle was injected. Rarely, there may be some tissue damage.

To read about Emru and his fight to beat his disease, you can go to the website Heal Emru. Think about it though. It could be someone you love who needs this life-saving marrow.

Today on Help My Hurt:

The back expert answers questions

Breast feeding to soothe infant pain

Today on Womb Within:

Pregnancy by the numbers

Experts discuss what to expect in labor and delivery
Pregnancy food cravings
10 tips to prepare for breastfeeding
What is a doula?
Minyard and Sack’n Save Stores in TX offering free vitamins to pregnant women

News for Today:

Brain pacemakers show promising results in treating depression: scientists
Antipsychotic drugs raise risks for dementia patients
Researchers creating sign language video dictionary
Increased screening may better predict those at higher risk for heart disease, researchers report
Flat carbonated drinks not an effective alternative to oral rehydration solution
Many men with low testosterone levels do not receive treatment
Guideline: Vertigo can be treated easily and quickly

Monday, May 26, 2008

Happy Birthday to me :-)

Yup, I'm 47 years old today. As you can see, I'm not one to have any issues with my age. When friends or family start moaning about how old they are, I tell them that their age is much better than the alternative. Seriously.

I've never been one to be one of those "grateful for every moment I'm alive" people - but I do realize how precious life is. And if we spend our time moaning and fearing age, then we will and do miss out on a lot of what life has to offer. Personally, as soon as the new year rolls over, if I'm asked my age, I say "I'll be XX in May." That's just the way I am. I'm lucky enough to be alive, to be able to be that age. To be able to say I'm 47 years old.

That's not to say that I regret the passage of time. I do. There are times when I wish I had certain periods of my life back so I could do things over or change things. But I can't. And life goes on.

Just this past Saturday, we attended a memorial service and the burial of the ashes of a friend's wife. She died 8 months ago in another province and her husband, my husband's friend, brought her home to be buried. She was 56 when she died of cancer. That's way too young for anyone to die and it's definitely too young for Louise to have died. Earlier this year, my Internet friend, Trish died of a brain aneurysm. We just heard of an elementary school mate of my oldest son's died in a car accident last week. I see images every day of all the children who died in China and families that died in Burma over the past few weeks. The other day, I went to visit my brother's grave, the one who took his life a little over 3 years ago at the age of 35.

Getting older should never be something to be frightened of. It should be embraced because it means that we are making it through life - through the good and the bad. We may slow down; we may ache more than before. We may lose some people who we love. But we still can love others, make people laugh, teach children new things, learn new things, and live our lives as we see fit.

I'm 47 years old today. And I'm darned proud of it.

Today at Help My Hurt:

Company’s calling: For Grace’s founder, Cynthia Toussaint speaks out
4-time NBA All-Star/Philadelphia 76ers coach, Maurice Cheeks lives with gout
Help My Hurt has a sister now
Chronic pain fact
Teething pain

Today at Womb Within:

Your baby is growing - the first 2 months
How many did you say you have?
Keep those pearly whites healthy during your pregnancy
A welcome gift to Womb Within visitors

News for Today:

Hospitals reusing single-use devices: survey
Woman delivers 2 identical girls, 2 fraternal boys
Drug taken to stop smoking is linked to traffic mishaps
Higher-risk people are shunning colon cancer screens
Hiv patients suffer more from osteoporosis