Friday, December 18, 2009

Entertainment or Way Beyond: A Child's Death Twittered

Twitter has been in the news, for better or worse, for the past year or so. Some people use Twitter for the odd updates, others are addicted to it or like to use it for shock value. One famous case occurred just a couple of months ago when Penelope Trunk twittered about her miscarriage during a meeting.

Some people were disgusted with her cavalier attitude, while others applauded her for her open communication. Others just shrugged their shoulders in a "what can you do? fashion.

But now, Twitter and its reach is under fire again, for a much more tragic reason. Shellie Ross, a 38-year-old mother, twittered that her son was drowning - her two-year-old son. He had fallen into the family swimming pool and emergency services were trying to rescue him.

Many people are harshly critical of Ross and her twittering. There were reports that she twitters extensively and this gave people license to blame her twittering for lack of parenting. Of course, this can't be a conclusion to be drawn - we don't know the woman at all. But it's out there. But, is that really that issue that is drawing such ire? Or is it the fact that someone has the presence of mind to twitter as people are trying to resuscitate her child?

I'm sure that the last thing on her mind was to draw such attention to herself and her family tragedy. The loss of a two-year-old is a major, major tragedy. But she has, unwittingly, brought this to the attention of millions of people.

Is twittering for entertainment only? Or, as Ross meant it to be, for support and prayer at a time of extreme need? What do you think?


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Dislocated shoulders, concussions and a move: still very grateful

It's been a busy few months. We sold our house after having it on the market for about 8 months, bought a new place in the city (we were in a suburb) and moved. It all ended up happening quite quickly once we sold our house.

Stress takes a toll on your body, whether it's a good stress or a bad one. It's known that changing jobs - even a good change, moving, marrying, divorcing, having a baby, and so on, are all stressful times in our lives. It's important to stay healthy during those times because once you do start getting run down, it's hard to get back up to full form.

Luckily for us, we stayed pretty healthy for the most part, although I think that stress did get to us from time to time.

This past Friday, the 11th, was moving day. The big day. So, as the movers were taking the furniture from our home, I went to my car and, before I knew it, I was on the ground - in agony. I have no memory of falling at all, just lying on the ground with a shoulder that hurt more than anything I'd ever experienced in my life. Worse than childbirth, without a doubt.

It turns out that I separated my left shoulder, so off to the hospital for some major drugs to knock me out so they could reset the shoulder. In the meantime, the move was going on. Thank God for capable children who are now adults. They had no idea what to do, but they managed and they did a fantastic job.

After five hours (about) in the hospital, my husband and I headed for our new home. Of course, now I can't do anything, so all my plans are out the window. After a quick supper, the youngest (18) goes off to coach floor hockey as he does every Friday night. Problem was, while he was there, he whacked his head good and hard on a wall overhang as he ran down some stairs. The result? A mild concussion and sutures in his scalp. Oops. That's got to hurt.

Ok, so now the new place is a mess and two of the three people living here are out of commission. but you know what? That's ok. That's very ok.

The place is perfect to me. The bathroom that I had redone, is perfect, amazing, gorgeous. It fits the style of this 1930 building perfectly. The rooms are actually big enough for the furniture I kept; I thought it was going to be crowded.

Despite being just below a busy street, it is so quite and peaceful here, very similar to what we left. Very, very quiet, even at night. It's likely noisier in the summer when the people in the apartment building next door have windows open, but that's city living, right?

I love the place.

Some people thought we were nuts moving into a second floor flat/condo but I think it was exactly the right thing to do.

Oh, did I mention that I absolutely love the place? I never felt this way about any of our previous homes. *This* is the one that was meant to be. :-)

Sore shoulder? Yeah, but that will go away. This feeling of being home? That, my friends, is here to stay.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Dec. 6, 1989, Violence against women

December 6, 1989. It was a day like many others. I was at home with my then 2-year-old son and my 10-month-old daughter. Nothing of the day would have stood out except for a horrible event that began in the late afternoon.

As we watched the evening news, the drama - the unimaginable - was happening. One gunman, Marc Lapine, had entered Ecole Polytechnique, the engineering school of the University of Montreal. He told the male students to leave. He began shooting the women. By the end of it all, 14 young, bright, promising women had been murdered by a man who resented that they were in the school and not he. Ten women and 4 men were physically injured. And many, many other people, both men and women, were left with the pain of losing their daughter, sister, lover, cousin, aunt, or friend.

The images of the ambulances outside the building, the snow falling in big wet flakes, will always stay with me as I held my own daughter. That same daughter who, 17 years later, was in the building at Dawson College when a gunman opened fire, killing one student. Although she wasn't near the cafeteria where the tragedy occurred, she was in the building and had to be evacuated like thousands of other students. Seventeen years after the Polytechnique massacre, we were again faced with guns and violence in a school, a place where we like to feel our children are safe.

At the time of the Polytechnique, I didn't know if my daughter would grow up to become a lawyer, a business woman, a chef, a teacher - or an engineer. I grew up around engineers. My father taught in the mechanical engineering department at McGill. I know what kind of people, very bright, intense people, study in this field. I know that women were sorely under represented, but it was a man's world back then. And so it was to Lepine too, as he wiped out the lives of 14 young women and forever changed how many Montrealers see the world.

Gun violence in Canada is something that we're often proud doesn't happen here very often. But someone who is going to do horrible things is going to find a way to do it, no matter what. And, Lepine also had a hunting knife - which he also used on at least one woman after she was shot, say news reports.

There have been vigils and there will continue to be vigils in honour of the 14 women who died. But we also can't forget those who survived the trauma, those who lived through seeing their peers killed. We can't forget the families who lost their loved ones. December 6 is a day of remembrance in Canada for all women who suffer from violence. Let's hope that one day, women don't have to be afraid of some men. Wouldn't that be a wonderful thing?

  • Geneviève Bergeron (born 1968), civil engineering student
  • Hélène Colgan (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
  • Nathalie Croteau (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
  • Barbara Daigneault (born 1967), mechanical engineering student
  • Anne-Marie Edward (born 1968), chemical engineering student
  • Maud Haviernick (born 1960), materials engineering student
  • Maryse Laganière (born 1964), budget clerk in the École Polytechnique's finance department
  • Maryse Leclair (born 1966), materials engineering student
  • Anne-Marie Lemay (born 1967), mechanical engineering student
  • Sonia Pelletier (born 1961), mechanical engineering student
  • Michèle Richard (born 1968), materials engineering student
  • Annie St-Arneault (born 1966), mechanical engineering student
  • Annie Turcotte (born 1969), materials engineering student
  • Barbara Klucznik-Widajewicz (born 1958), nursing student

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Needle Picks and Nurse Fears

I've been a nurse for over 25 years. While I've picked myself occasionally with clean needles, ones that I was preparing to use (and then tossed), up until now I could say I'd never had a serious needle stick. Unfortunately, I can't make that claim any longer.

After taking blood from a patient this morning, I was trying to retract the butterfly needle into the plastic protective cover, only to have it jam. When that happened, my hand came off the plastic and then kind of rebounded back, embedding the needle into my thumb. Ouch. Blood. Ouch.

So, of course, off for blood tests, paperwork and more. I'm fine; I know I'm fine. The patient is in a low-risk category (probably as low-risk as they come), so I'm confident. But only to a point. You never really know someone and you never know what could show up. So, I wait.

No prophylactic (preventative) medication for me. If the patient had been high-risk, I would have taken the medications. Those things can have nasty side effects though.

But you know what's the worst part about stuff like this? Believe it or not, patient rights. I was lucky. The patient's family was very understanding and gave me permission to get blood samples for HIV and hepatitis. But, they also had the legal right to refuse this.

Years ago, when I worked at an acute care hospital, one of the nurses on my floor had a needle stick from someone who was very high risk. The doctor went in to ask the patient for permission to draw blood for HIV testing and he refused. He refused the next day and the day after that. He never ended up agreeing to it, despite being told why it was being requested.

As a result, my colleague had to take the antiretrovirals for a set period of time, to prevent the possibility of contracting HIV. The law was on the patient's side. But when a the health of a healthcare worker is at risk, shouldn't that trump the rights of the hospitalized patient?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Beware of Fake, Possibly Harmful H1N1 "Medications"

As with any big news, the scum come out to see how they can benefit. Whether it's fake charities set up using 9-11 as their pitch or looters after an evacuation, there will always be some nasty people who try to take advantage of the situation. Of course, the H1N1 issue is no different.

The United States FDA has issued warnings about various products and supplements touted to help you prevent or treat the H1N1 virus. Besides being a waste of your money, they also could be quite dangerous, depending on their make up and your own personal medical history.

The FDA has provided a widget (in sidebar to the right) that you can use to check if the product you're interested in is on their watch out list or it's approved.

I hope this helps with all this confusion that seems be running rampant. Also, for more information, don't forget about the FDA H1N1 Flu Page and


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Balloon Boy, Reality TV, Hoaxes and Legal Charges

Was I the only one who thought, right off the bat, that there was something not quite right about the claim that a 6-year-old boy may be on a run-away home-made helium balloon?
(edited to add, I read at 3 p.m., on CNN, that the authorities have admitted that this was a hoax: 'Balloon boy' incident was hoax, sheriff says)

Of course, the authorities had to take the issue seriously. They couldn't take any chances that this wasn't true - but something didn't sit right from the beginning of the story - at least not to me.

I don't watch the TV show Wife Swap very often. Oddly enough, one of the few times I did watch it was when the Heene family was on it. Very odd family, very odd way of living life, but I figured, well, that's what works for them. But when I started getting the unsure feeling about the run-away balloon and then I heard the family's name, I was certain it was a hoax. I wonder what the other family in that episode thinks about the Heenes now. Needless to say, they didn't feel that much love towards them before.

Reality TV is real entertainment for a lot of people. I get that. It's like watching a train wreck. I watched *one* episode of Toddlers and Tiaras, a TLC program about children's pageants. I was shocked and disgusted at what I saw. Six-year-olds prancing, making sexually provocative movements and stances, blowing lipsticked pouty kisses to the crowd. I've watched one or two episodes of condescending Kate and no-back-bone Jon and their eight children. But in truth, I avoid these shows because they have no entertainment value to me. All I see come out of these shows are people who are willing to sell their souls for their 15 minutes of fame. Which, in cases like Jon and Kate, and the Heenes, translate into more than that.

Now that it's strongly suspected that the Heenes did set up a hoax, police are considering charges (Charges pending in balloon saga). Unfortunately, the charges can't be strong enough because it looks like this falls under misdemeanor, not criminal charges. But, I wonder if they can be sued in court to regain some of the costs that were incurred during the search? And I wonder about those kids. Obviously, if this was a hoax, the sibling who "reported" seeing his brother get in the basket was coached to do so, so what is it like in that house?

It's a sad story. And alleged hoaxes like this only make people suspicious when real things occur. Reality TV, I wish you'd go back into obscurity.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Blog Action Day 09 - Climate Change and Health

Climate change, global warming, greenhouse gases - the news is all around us. Some people believe, some people don't. Some people say we are causing it, some people say that it would be happening anyway. But you know what? We don't all have to agree on what is causing it, but we do know that the world is changing. Today, October 15, 2009, is Blog Action Day and this year, we're addressing climate change.

So how does climate change have anything to do with health issues? It has a lot to do with health.

As early as 2000, the World Health Organization (WHO) found that the warmer, wetter weather was bringing more mosquitoes and causing epidemics of malaria in Rwanda and Tanzania. But, how does that affect people in the more northern countries? After all, malaria isn't a problem in countries like Canada or Sweden. That's true, but while we may not have to worry about malaria, the WHO also found that a type of mosquito called the Asian tiger mosquito, were found in the Netherlands. These mosquitoes can carry dengue fever tick-borne encephalitis is popping up in Sweden.

In Sweden, cases of tick-borne encephalitis have risen in direct correlation to warmer winters. Also in Sweden, more ticks carrying Lyme disease than ever have been found across the country. Asian tiger mosquitoes, the type that carry dengue fever, have been reported recently as far north as the Netherlands.

West Nile disease, which can cause death, is being found in northern United States and Canada, places that never saw the disease before the year 2000. Even cholera is making a come back. Traditionally thought of as a disease that strikes in warm disaster zones when floods in the warm areas encouraged the spread cholera. In 1991, for the first time in that century, cholera hit South America. By the time it passed through the continent, more than 10,000 people were dead.

Even if you don't worry about the more dramatic of diseases, climate warming contributes to smog, which can affect people with lung or heart diseases. Smoggy weather may also cause people to exercise less, reducing their healthy lifestyle.

So what do you think? Is this important enough for us to start to make some serious changes?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Could this be considered a recall? Contaminated cocaine

I know it's in the best interest of public health, but I can't help but admit I was taken aback to be reading headlines, such as:
Cocaine cut with antibiotic could cause life-threatening infection: health unit
Peterborough health warns about contaminated cocaine causing deadly infections

It is a serious issue though, my surprise notwithstanding. According to public health officials, some cocaine dealers have been cutting their cocaine with a veterinary antibiotic powder to make it go farther. The antibiotic, levamisole, is used to treat infections from worms in animals, but is also said to make the effects of cocaine more intense for the user.

This isn't limited to Canada though. In August, it was widely reported that celebrity disc jockey Adam Goldstein (DJ AM) had been found dead from an overdose of drugs, including cocaine. It turns out that the cocaine he had taken had been cut with levamisole.

Officials say that in Canada, about 10% of seized cocaine contains levamisole, in the U.S. - 30%.

Symptoms to watch for if you've used cocaine and may be affected by the antibiotic are:

  • high fever
  • chills
  • swollen glands
  • painful oral or anal sores
  • skin abscesses
  • rapidly occurring lung infection

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Having fun over at Healthbolt

I enjoy writing for all my blogs and most of my writing clients, but I have to say that writing Healthbolt is an absolute blast! I keep finding the coolest things to write about that weren't really appropriate for my regular health blogs.

What kind of topics? Did you know that someone made a teddy bear out of a placenta (Placenta Teddy Bear – Yup, Heard It All Now)? And that researchers are working on a vaccine for cocaine addiction (A Cocaine Vaccine?). I also have a bunch of posts scheduled right up until almost the end of November. It's really amazing what's out there.

If you like quirky news, come on over and check out Healthbolt - I'd love to see you there!

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Medical Inventors - do you ever wonder about them?

Not long ago, I was watching a piece on the television show 60 Minutes and it was about the inventor of the medical respirator, Dr. Forrest Bird. Many years ago, I worked in an intensive care unit and the respirators were often called "birds." I never stopped to wonder why, but now it makes sense.

Today, I was reading the news and I noticed that the inventor of ultrasound to detect cancerous tumors has died (Medical Inventor, Dr. John J. Wild Dies).

When I was watching the piece on Dr. Bird, I began to realize that we have so much around us that affects our life every day, yet most of us likely don't know how they came to be. I realize that some people don't really care, but I think many are like me and like to learn how certain inventions came about.

I've had many ultrasounds, for pregnancies and for illnesses that needed ruling out or diagnosing. When I think back to how the technology was invented, I can't imagine having such a vision of how something could work and then working for years on getting it to function the way you think it should. I mean, I think we all dream of something that we think would be the next greatest invention, but how many of us follow up on it?

If you get a chance to watch the Dr. Bird segment, I recommend it. It's eye opening (to me) to actually see someone who has made such an impact on human life around the world.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

I'm the new Healthbolt blogger

I don't know if any of you have ever read Healthbolt, but it is a fun and quirky type of medical/health blog. It's part of the b5media network, where I used to write Help My Hurt, Womb Within and Cancer Commentary. Those three blogs were blended into a general Conditions and Diseases blog, for which I'm now the primary writer. I also write the Men's Health blog. So, they're keeping me busy there.

The fun in writing for Healthbolt is I can tackle some of the more unique stories. I've got some coming up about someone who makes beautiful glass art of viruses, bad breath destroying an astronaut's dream, and condom negotiation, just to name a few.

So if you're interested in this type of thing, I invite you to head on over and see what's in store for Healthbolt. And don't be shy. Comments and ideas are always appreciated!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Coming October 5: World Habitat Day

In order to live a healthy life, we need a safe and healthy place to live. A roof over our head, protection from the elements - that's all we really require. But for millions of people, this isn't possible.

The United Nations reports that more than 100 million people around the world today don't have such a roof over their head. They are homeless, subject to the conditions of their environment. Some are homeless because of severe poverty, others have been displaced because of war or famine. They're not safe, they're not protected from the weather. They are alone. Countless more millions do have a roof over their head, but no utilities, no running water, no electricity. We don't have to go far for these. There are people in North America who live in conditions like this.

Globally, within 20 years, 40% of the world's people, 3 billion people, will need homes. Nearly one billion people live in slum conditions. In the United States, one third of the population either don't have homes or have a difficult time managing to afford a home and its costs: one out of every three households in the U.S. spend more than 30% of their income on housing. One in seven spends more than half.

The effects on health can be devastating. A child who doesn't have a home or who lives in slum conditions is at higher risk of developing asthma, contracting viruses, becoming severely injured - or worse - in an accident, such as a fire. Chronic illnesses are common and infectious diseases and viruses, like HIV, are not uncommon.

Imagine living in a tent, with little sanitation, no privacy, nothing to do. Imagine huddling in a squatter community, trying to keep out of the rain and hoping the authorities don't come and drive you away. Imagine not being warm.

The first Monday in October has been named World Habitat Day by the United Nations. Learn what you can do to help by visiting the Habitat for Humanity World Habitat Day website.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Can U Txt S.T.U.P.I.D.?

Texting in itself isn't a bad thing. I text back and forth with my kids frequently. It's an unobtrusive way to get hold of them and they can get back to me when they can. It's also great for the ones that don't live at home because I don't know where they are and what they're doing, so I am leery about calling them and disturbing them.

BUT, the first time I heard of someone texting while driving, I thought it was a joke. After all, I though, who would be STUPID enough to do that? Apparently - a lot of people.

The American Automobile Association (AAA) surveyed 2,500 U.S. residents 16 and older and, even though almost all of the people who responded said that texting while driving wasn't smart, 18% had done it within the previous month.

I've been behind or beside drivers who are texting and I can't get over the outright stupidity of the action. It's nothing like reaching over and changing a CD. it's nothing like talking to your passenger. It's taking your attention off the road to read, to type, to send.

I really can't believe that people even know that they shouldn't do it and they do. I never thought I'd say this, but geez, what is this world coming to?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Blatant Sexuality to Promote Breast Cancer Awareness

October is coming fast and it will be Breast Cancer Awareness month. We've all seen the public service announcements (PSAs) and campaigns to help people become more knowledgeable about the disease, but this year, there's a new spin on the whole issue: appealing to the ogling man. Yet another example of sex sells, right?

By having television PSAs of men ogling well-endowed women, or sexy lingerie shots that linger on ample bosoms, the community is trying to appeal to the tendency many men seem to have, that of staring at a woman's chest. By appealing to the men, getting them to understand that if there is breast cancer, they won't have these things to ogle, they may become more aware of it.

But will it work? Somehow, I doubt it. The men who blatantly stare at a woman's physical attributes isn't thinking "oh, we have to save those, let's donate to breast cancer research." Or am I wrong - would a man think that way? Somehow, I doubt it.

My question is, if it's against our sensibilities to have such blatant sexuality in TV commercials, such as beer ads, why is it ok for breast cancer awareness? You can read more about the campaign in this LA Times article, Breast cancer ads use lechery for good.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Now blogging on

Ok, I admit it, I love reviewing new things. I may love them, I may hate them, but I have fun trying them. If it's a new gadget, I want it.

So, when a friend and colleague, Gayla Baer, the driving force behind mentioned she was looking for bloggers, I thought, yes! That's for me. So, if you want to know what's new but also some older stuff revisited, head on over and check us out. There will be a lot of new reviews over the coming weeks as get up to full steam.

See you there!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

4-year-old shares his cocaine "candy"

This falls not only in the "you shouldn't be doing illegal stuff" but into the "watch what you tell your children" categories.

According to an Associated Press news report, a 25-year-old man was about to be caught with several bags of cocaine on him. To avoid this, he stuffed the bags into his son's pockets and told the boy that they were candy. So, what did the boy do? What most 4-year-olds would do if they had a bunch of candy. He shared it.

Luckily (for the boy and the friends, not the dad), a daycare teacher saw what he was doing and she notified authorities. Also luckily, none of the children were harmed.

I've read about parents sticking drugs into their baby's diapers, but this is right up there on the "what were you thinking???" scale.

Ok, so how does this fit into a loose-flowing health blog? Just think of what could have happened to those kids had they consumed enough of the cocaine? Here are just a few of the adverse effects of cocaine. Remember, these are for adults, so imagine them as much, much worse in little children:

  • High blood pressure
  • Racing heart
  • Fast breathing
  • Agitation and/or confusion
  • Irritability
  • Sweating
  • High body temperature
  • Stroke
  • Seizures
  • Fever
  • Kidney failure
  • Heart attack
  • Sudden death

What more can I say?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Health Care for All in the U.S.? Speech reaction

I just listened to President Obama's speech on health care reform, presented last night. As a Canadian, I feel like I'm peeking in when I do this but I'm glad I watched it because it did clear up a few things for me.

I do understand that many people are against health reform, but my outsider view sees that as a function of not truly understanding what it is the U.S. government is trying to do. It seems to me that those who are adamantly against reform are the ones who seem to be spreading mis-truths about the issue. So, this is what I got from President Obama's speech:

  • if you have health insurance and are happy with it, you do NOT have to change from what you have
  • if you are employed and don't have insurance, you will be able to get insurance
  • if you have a pre-existing condition or illness, you can NOT be denied insurance coverage
  • if you have a small business or want to have a small business, there will be ways to help you get coverage for you and your employees
  • there will be a small public option for those who can't get insurance any other way
  • there will be no death panels
  • efforts will be made to contain health care costs, resulting in savings that will help pay for this system
  • no-one will go bankrupt because they can't afford to get sick
So, if I understand correctly, those seniors who are waving "hands off my medicare" are worried about nothing. Those who are afraid that they'll be told they can't get treatment because they are considered expendable are worried about nothing. Business owners who feel they need to close their doors because they won't be able to afford to insure their employees are worried about nothing. And, those who are making a fortune in insurance companies by spinning things their way DO have something to worry about because they'll now be held accountable.

Can someone explain to me what's so bad about all this?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Doc Raps About H1N1

The more people who know about the proper way to reduce the risk of H1N1 transmission, the better. So, if it takes a rapping doctor to do it, why not?

John Clarke, MD, medical director for the Long Island Rail Road, has made his own hip-hop rapping video to help spread the word about H1N1. His video was one of 200 submissions to a contest run by the US Department of Health for best H1N1 (swine flu) health warning. Dr. Clarke is now in the final 10.

Check it out at - Just go to the right hand side where they list the different videos and click on H1N1 Rap by Dr. Clarke.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Texting in the Dentist Chair?

I know that getting dental work is rarely at the top of anyone's favourite to-do lists, but it's something that needs to be done in order to prevent serious consequences. I also understand a patient's desire to focus on something else while the dental work is going on and that's why many people use earphones to listen to music during the process. But answering your cell phone and texting while undergoing dental care? That's got to be pushing it.

But, if you think about that there are people who are stupid enough to text while driving, there have to be people who don't think twice about texting while in the dentist chair and that is precisely what some dentists are complaining about.

A news release put out by the Chicago Dental Society says,

More than four out of five dentists surveyed by the Chicago Dental Society revealed that patients send and receive text messages on their cell phones while receiving dental care.

The survey was conducted between July 16th and July 25th via email and among dentists in the Chicago Dental Society's Facebook Fan Page.

In addition to the dentists who said their patients regularly text in the dental chair, 46 percent said this habit hampers their ability to provide care. The high number of dental chair texters is also surprising, given that 32 percent of the dentists indicated they have a cell phone/mobile device policy posted in a visible location in their office.

I don't know. If you're THAT important, maybe you should reschedule your dental appointment for a time when you can arrange for someone to replace you or at least answer your calls and texts.

What do you think?

Monday, August 24, 2009

Murder, Accident or Stupidity?

I try to stay away from the Michael Jackson thing. I think it's sad that he died and I do believe he was a musical genius. His music was catchy and had something special about it. I also believe he died too young and sometimes wonder what else he may have given the world had he lived longer. But, the whole circus that his death has become is really too much.

As I said, it's sad that he died. I do think it's important that we know if he died accidentally or if someone helped him die - be it intentionally or not. But, are we owed the constant coverage?

I have to admit when I first heard of this death and his doctor's odd (to me) actions, I had many questions. The 9-1-1 call that was played clearly said that the doctor was performing CPR on MJ as MJ lay on his bed. Anyone who knows CPR knows that unless you have a hard board underneath the victim, CPR is useless on a bed. They have to be put on the floor. You need to have a hard surface for the compressions to have any effect.

Then, the news came out with the propofol, the strong sedative that is dangerous if it's not used properly. Propofol is a great medication when it's used for what it's meant to be used for. Obviously, MJ wasn't doing that. Red flags anyone?

Then there were comments from those around MJ or who knew people who knew him. They commented to the effect of "what else could anyone do, if MJ wanted something, you gave it to him." Uh, no. You don't have to. You only have to if you want to keep your lifestyle and your association with him. Otherwise, saying "no" is very easy. It's one syllable, two letters. N-O.

I'm not a fan of what MJ became over the past couple of decades, but I do wish that we could go back to remember MJ the musician. Not the freak show that he became and the circus that was his death.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Farewell Mr. Cronkite

Walter Cronkite, newsman who was unmatched, died yesterday, at the age of 92. He worked right up to last year, working on documentaries and voice overs after retiring from the CBS anchor desk in the 1980s.

As a Canadian, I didn't watch much of him, but we did know who he was. And, if we turned to the CBS network to watch a program that came after his newscast, we got to watch some of him as we waited for the news to be over.

Even as a child, I remember being impressed with Mr. Cronkite. To me, even now, he is the quintessential newsman. His is the way news should be read. I don't enjoy watching TV news now. I don't want my newscasters raising their eyebrows, creasing their foreheads or frowning as they read the news with their interpretive expressive tones. I want to be told the news - plain and simple. But plain and simple is gone now. I doubt it will come back.

I was watching a special on him this morning and he wanted so badly to go into space. He was like a kid when it came to all things space-related apparently. Maybe now, he's there.

Mr. Cronkite's cause of death is said to be cerebrovascular disease, not unusual for a man in his 90s. RIP Mr. Cronkite.

At that age when friends' parents are leaving us

It happened again last night. More good friends lost their father/father-in-law to cancer. It was expected, but it doesn't make it that much easier. Just a few years ago, she lost her dad to the same disease.

I'm at the age, 48, where my friends are losing their parents - those who haven't lost them already. It's hard for a friend to watch the pain. We know it hurts but only they can work it through. Unspoken thoughts, sometimes unsaid apologies, can haunt those left behind. But what's done is done and we can't go back and change what we wish we'd done and what we wish we'd said. We can only hope that our loved one knew and understood.

Our niece had a baby girl just two weeks ago - a life just beginning, and Mr. Z left the world - a life ending. The circle of life, as cliched as it is, is truly how the world functions.

To all those who have lost someone important to them or are in the process of having someone going down that path, my sympathy. It's hard. But I do know that it also gets better as we realize that life continues but now with memories.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Toddler survives Yemenia Airbus crash

A gift of hope was given when a toddler was reported to be found alive after a plane crash into the Indian Ocean. Just imagine the reactions of the rescuers who found the child alive:

New York Times

News like plane crashes are so sad. Flying is still a very safe mode of transportation, but if a plane goes down, there's so little that can be done. Let's hope this story of a child alive is true. I think we need to hear good news like that.

Added: Well, it seems that the original news reports were wrong. It was an adolescent girl who survived, the sole survivor. One can only imagine the feelings she must have experienced as she waited for rescue.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Pms - Phenobarbital (60 mg) Being Recalled in Canada due to Risk of Accidental Overdose

I came across this press release from Health Canada. Important information if you take pms-phenobarbitol:

June 26, 2009
For immediate release

OTTAWA - Health Canada is warning consumers that all lots of the prescription drug pms - Phenobarbital tablets in the 60 milligram (mg) format (DIN 00178810) are being recalled because some oversized tablets were recently found on the Canadian market. The oversized tablets were found to contain more Phenobarbital than the label indicates, exposing patients to the potential risk of accidental overdose. The Canadian distributor, Pharmascience Inc. of Montreal Quebec, has initiated a recall of all lots presently on the market.

Phenobarbital is widely used as an anticonvulsant for the treatment of seizure disorders, and it is also used to treat anxiety and sleep related disorders as it has sedative and hypnotic properties.

Health Canada advises consumers currently using pms -Phenobarbital 60mg to return this product to their pharmacist for a replacement. Consumers should not stop taking their medication without consulting a health care professional, as abrupt discontinuation of this medication can cause symptoms of withdrawal (such as irritability, headache, dizziness, sweating, tremors, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, weight loss or anorexia, nightmares, insomnia) and, if used to treat seizures, can result in an increase in seizures.

The oversized tablets may contain significantly more phenobarbital than the 60mg indicated on the label. Symptoms of an overdose may include uncontrolled eye movements, lack of muscle coordination, impaired speech, extreme drowsiness, decreased breathing and heart rate and may begin within 1-2 hours after taking a Phenobarbital overdose. An overdose may be life threatening and can result in a coma and/or cardiac arrest.

In the event of an overdose or if experiencing serious side effects consumers are advised to contact emergency services. Consumers who have used this product and are concerned about their health should contact their health care practitioner for advice. Consumers requiring more information about this advisory can contact Health Canada’s public enquiries line at (613) 957-2991, or toll free at 1-866-225-0709.

To date, no adverse reactions from the use of pms - Phenobarbital 60mg tablets have been reported to Health Canada.

You can report any adverse reactions associated with the use of health products to the Canada Vigilance Program by one of the following three ways:

To have postage pre-paid, download the postage paid label from the MedEffect™ Canada Web site. The Canada Vigilance Reporting Form and the adverse reaction reporting guidelines may also be obtained via this website.

Do we have to know? Michael Jackson "investigation"

Well, it's been just a little over 24 hours now since the music world was rocked by the news of Michael Jackson's death. Whether you thought him odd or a genius, there's not taking away his musical talent and the many ways he changed and helped grow the music scene since the 70s and 80s.

But now, the reports are abounding about what may have caused his death, his alleged addictions, his illnesses, his private doctor. In the car just now, I heard a report that the L.A. police want to speak with the physician who was with Michael when he died - problem is, they can't find him.

What does concern me is the report that this supposed doctor was doing CPR, according to the 9-1-1 call that was made available. But he was doing it *on the bed*, not on a hard surface like you're supposed to to make the heart compressions effective.

I can understand a non-medical professional stressing out and forgetting that detail, but a doctor? It's one of the first things you're taught about resuscitation in a hospital. That's why "crash carts" have boards on them, so you can slide it underneath the patient between the patient and the soft mattress.

To me, this is important information to know because if it is true, then maybe more people need education regarding the importance of doing CPR properly. But, my desire to know is left at that. Whether he died of an overdose, illnesses, or the result of his body breaking down after years of abuse - that's for his family, not for us. The man is dead. I think we should also let him go.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Exercise/Gym Bootcamps?

What do you think about the exercise or gym bootcamps many fitness trainers are offering? They're intense sessions that are meant to get you into shape fast in anywhere from a few weeks to a few months.

The thing I'm wondering about is the intensity of the bootcamps. Just as extreme diets don't work over the long term to lose weight and keep it off (for the most part), I was thinking that this would likely be the same with exercise.

Also, we're always being warned to start a new exercise program gradually and to be sure that we're doing what is right for your level. So, how can I, a 48-year-old woman, with a good BMI but not good exercise endurance, take a bootcamp type of class with a group of 20 and 30 somethings who are in better shape? Is it possible?

Have you ever done this type of extreme fitness training? I'm curious - there's one available near me and I've sent the owner some questions. I just don't know if it's something I'm ready or able to do.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

It's been way too long - pandemic musings

Between the pandemic preparation (part of my job), blogging for and my other freelance work, this blog has taken a big hit.

What's really interesting though, is that I keep getting a consistent number of hits every day as people find my information through search engines, mainly Google.

The pandemic thing is the big thing in my life right now. People are either freaking out over the sky falling in or they're not believing a word that's said. I kind of wish people would fall into the middle somehow.

There's no need to freak. A level 6 pandemic just means that the virus has spread everywhere. It doesn't indicate how severe the virus is or how dangerous it is. In fact, it doesn't tell us much, but it's a formality at this point.

Here in Canada, the upgrade to level 6 made no difference in our preparations at all. The government was already operating at it's highest level for preparation.

Let's face a few facts. The seasonal flu affects millions all over the world - and people die. More people have died of seasonal flu complications than the H1N1 virus - so far. But, getting sick is a fact of life. Of course, we can do steps to minimize this, but it does still happen.

An acquaintance of mine told me that her grandmother's seniors residence closed to visitor when the World Health Organization declared level 6 pandemic. That's ridiculous. Five minutes before they declared it, there was nothing different than five minutes after. As I said, either people are panicking or they're living in dreamland. Neither is a good move.

Be careful, be vigilant about washing your hands, and I suggest going on with your life as you were before. I know I am.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Excellent Piece on Canada's Health System

Now that the U.S. has a president who seems to really want to do something about medical insurance and affordable health care for all Americans, not just the lucky ones with insurance or so much money that they don't need it, Canada is getting dragged through the mud yet again.

For some reason, many people in the US don't like our Canadian system. Now, that wouldn't be a problem if they really knew what the system was like rather than relying on things they heard or things they think they heard. I say that wouldn't be a problem because there's nothing wrong with good debate if someone knows the facts, whether we agree or not. But, that's the thing - how can American learn about what goes on up here without getting a biased for or against pitch.

Our system isn't perfect - it's far from it. But it's something that we have that helps us when we're at our lowest, our sickest, and our poorest. So most of us will keep it, thank you very much.

If you're interested in reading what I think is an excellent piece on the Canadian system, warts and all, head on over the the CBC site to read My dear American neighbours.

Let me know what you think.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

May 6 - 12, 2009/May 11-17 - National Nurses Week

From May 6 to 12, it's National Nurses Week in the United States and from May 11 to 17, 2009, it's National Nurses Week in Canada.

Nursing is a funny profession. Reactions to nurses range from "only an idiot would choose to be a nurse" to "only very special people can be nurses." Well, I'll tell you - I've met some people I would say are idiots and I wonder how they get their nursing license and I've met some nurses who truly qualify as someone very special. But, for the most part, nurses are like everyone else. We're people, w have our good days and our bad days. We do our best but we make mistakes. We laugh, we cry, we stress and we relax - we're people with a serious job and we hold lives in our hands.

What ticks me off the most as a nurse? People who STILL think that we're doctor wannabees, that we're doctor hand maidens. Nothing could be further from the truth. Nursing and medicine are two completely different professions. Doctors tend to look at specific problems that need curing, healing, or treatment. Nurses see the patients as a whole, and they see the issues that surround the treatments.

A good example is a patient who is in traction after breaking a leg. The doctor operates on the leg and orders the traction, as well as pain medications. It's the nurses who take care of the whole patient - they evaluate and assess the patient for problems related to not moving around. This can cause pressure sores on the skin, constipation, poor nutrition, social isolation and more.

It's the nurses who see the patients 24 hours per day. It's most often the nurses who pick up on the slightly elevated temperature getting a bit higher. Or a slight change in an agitated patient's behaviour. It's the nurses who will see that Mrs. Jones hasn't eaten well for the past couple of days, that Mr. Smith isn't handling his crutches as well as he did last week, and that little Katie is depressed because her parents are fighting while she's in the hospital.

Nurses do follow doctors' orders, but nurses also have a lot of leeway in how they handle certain situations. It's the nurse who decides if a patient's change in condition warrants calling a doctor, for example, or is it something he or she can handle alone?

And don't forget another very important role that nurses have. We're the final layer between you and the doctor. Like nurses, doctors are human. They make mistakes. If a doctor makes a mistake in ordering a medication for you, the wrong dosage or the wrong type, it's the nurse who catches it. He or she can't miss it. If the doctor ordered 100 mg of morphine, 10X the usual dose, and the nurse gives it - it's the nurse who gets into trouble. The nurse should know that you don't give 100 mg of morphine.

If a doctor orders that a dressing be changed once a day and the nurse notices that the wound really needs to be cleaned and redressed more than that - he or she must pass this on to the doctor. It's the nurses' responsibility that the wound be addressed by the doctor because that is the nurses' role - among many others.

Yes, there are bad nurses out there. There are some nurses who started out great but burned out, or they never were that good to begin with. But there are teachers, police officers, administrative assistants, plumbers, electricians, and so on who also fall into that category.

Most nurses are good at what they do and they're doing it because they want to. Nurses are among the very few professions who choose to work with people who are at their worst: in pain, stressed, scared. Be nice to a nurse. Please?

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sex pill for women?

With all the money that's been spent on developing Viagra and similar medications, now researchers are working on helping women have better sex lives. Is a little pink pill in the offing?

The whole issue of sexuality differs tremendously between men and women. With men, the ability to "perform" often results from illness or physical problem so a medication can help with the most obvious issue with male sexual dysfunction, impotence. But, with women, it's not so obvious. The desire may or may not be there, and if it's there, a woman still may not be able to orgasm. That's not as easy to "fix."

And that brings me to my next point. Medications can be life saving and life affecting. We take chemotherapy to beat cancer, insulin to stay alive with diabetes, aspirin for a headache - but are we really that far that we will take a potentially body altering, complication-causing pill so we can have sex? So we can achieve sexual peaks?

Here is the article that had me thinking about this whole thing: Big pharma's hunt for the big O

What do you think?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Plan B to be available in the US without a prescription

As similar as Canada and the United States are, there are also many differences. One is that Plan B, the so-called morning after pill, has been available in Canada without a prescription for a while now.

Two provinces (British Columbia and Saskatchewan) keep the product behind the counter, in Quebec, you need a pharmacist to prescribe it, and in the other provinces and territories (Alberta, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Nunavut, the Northwest Territories, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, and the Yukon) allow it to be sold off the shelves.

Now, a federal court in the United States has decreed that the FDA must allow the manufacturer of Plan B to apply for marketing without a prescription. Since the FDA didn't appeal the decision, the FDA has announced that they're waiting for the application to be made.

What do you think? Is this a good idea? I have mixed feelings about this. After all, Plan B is a powerful medication. It can prevent the egg (temporarily) from being released by the ovary, prevent fertilization, or it can prevent a fertilized egg from being implanted into the uterus.

The manufacturer says there's no reason that you can't use it more than once (for different cycles) but it shouldn't  be used as a regular form of contraception. But, is it safe for women who may not take into consideration other health issues to take a medication like this without medical supervision?

Birth control pills are prescribed by doctors, so I'm not sure that Plan B shouldn't either. Maybe it's not so bad if a pharmacist speaks with the woman first to ensure she's not taking other meds or experiencing other health issues, but to buy them off the shelf - that makes me uncomfortable.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Final cookie diet report

Ok folks, my cookie diet trial has ended. I ended up staying on it for four weeks because the initial trial of two weeks did show a dramatic weight loss. The second two weeks? Not so much.

Here's the deal. I began the diet four weeks ago because I was planning on losing about 20 pounds and the opportunity came up to try to lose it this way. As I've said in previous posts, I'm really good about losing weight through a well-balanced diet like Weight Watchers, but I thought I'd give this a shot because it's so much in the public eye.

My first impression was the cookies were awful. They turned out not to be so bad at all. I liked the banana boca ones in particular. I lost 9 pounds in the first two and a half weeks. Then it took one and a half to lose a 1/2 pound for a total of 10 pounds.

The diet itself isn't difficult. The cookies, with a full glass of water after, do keep your hunger at bay until you have your sensible meal at supper time. But, it's the sensible meal that was my downfall. I don't mind eating lean chicken or white fish. I like them. But there are only so many ways you can prepare them. I made them with lots of veggies, I mixed them in with big bowls of salad, but sometimes, I wanted some of the rice, potatoes, pasta.

The thing is, I wouldn't have a lot of that forbidden food. I'd have a couple of mouthfuls to have the taste. I don't consider that to be cheating. I think that you can't deprive yourself of a bit of what you really like to eat throughout the whole course of a diet. That's when you fall off your wagon and end up really cheating, because you haven't had any of the food you enjoy and see others eating.

Unfortunately, just those few bites of forbidden foods would keep me from losing weight. To me, there's something not right about not being able to have a few tastes of something.

Ten days ago, I hit 152 pounds, 10 less than when I started. Most of the following 10 days, I didn't cheat at all (not even a few bites). I'd say maybe four of the days I had some tastes. Yet, 10 days later, I'm still at 152 pounds.

I'm not complaining about the weight loss itself. I think losing 10 pounds in four weeks is great and I'm grateful for the kick start it provided me. Helped me feel better about myself to be able to fit into some of my favourite clothes again. But I honestly can't see myself eating only white fish and chicken at night for another few weeks.

So, it's back to WW for me for that final 10 pounds. I have a few of their cookbooks and their recipes are so tasty that it'll be nice to enjoy my food again.

My recommendation: If you really need a kick start to weight loss, the cookie diet is a great idea. What it does is it shows you that you can lose the weight. But, beware of the extremely restrictive sensible meals.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Series on organ donation and transplantation

One thing that has been keeping me busy for the month of April was a challenge I'd given myself. April is National Donate Life month and I decided to do 30 articles on donations and transplant in 30 days. I know - slightly on the ambitious side. But, I've been talking to some very interesting and fabulous people so I'd like to share the first week's worth of articles. Some are informative, some are touching and one is downright heart breaking, but uplifting at the same time.

  1. Transplants happen to other people…

  2. The gift of sight - a cornea transplant

  3. Age is no barrier for kidney donation

  4. Caring for families after donations

  5. 2 heart transplants: 1 Golfer, Erik Compton

  6. An infant lost, another saved

  7. 10 organ donation myths

  8. Interesting blogs on organ transplants

So far so good. It's April 8 and that's 8 posts!

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Sunday, April 5, 2009

The Busy Syndrome

Have you ever noticed that it's a badge of honour to be too busy to do something? Someone says, "how are you?" and you respond "Busy!!" With that, you get a nod of approval or commiseration as your acquaintance starts to tell you how buy he or she is too.

Some people thrive on being too busy to do something or they accept to do something but they make sure you know that they really are too busy to do this. Are we all really that busy?

I was thinking about this because right now, I am very busy. While I don't like being bored, I also don't like being overwhelmed and that's how I feel when I get too busy.

My writing here has suffered because of the lack of time and, unfortunately, sometimes something has to give. Since my clients pay me for my writing and my new job (more on that in a bit) pays me, the non-paying stuff gets relegated a bit lower on the totem pole.

Unfortunately, the busy-ness also keeps me from doing things I enjoy, and that's not a healthy thing. We need to stop being busy and take that time. And, that time shouldn't be included in being busy, if that makes any sense.

I love to quilt. I love to design them and see them turn into beautiful and functional works of art. But being too busy takes me away from that outlet, from that joy I experience when I give someone a quilt I designed and made for them. My husband's niece is having a baby in June and I want - of course - to make a baby quilt for her. I've yet to start. That's not right. I don't want to be rushing it; I want it to be the way I see it in my mind. I want it to be as close to perfect as it can be.

So, how do I balance all this with my new job and my writing? I think I've found a way. I've been hired as a clinical resource nurse and I'm working with nurses and nursing staff become up-to-date with new policies and procedures so the patients and residents in our facility can and will get the best nursing care they can. I was originally hired to work 21 hours per week over a four-day period, but something came up and I was asked if I could do one full 8-hour day one day a week to, in a different area. I agreed to do that, but it's thrown a wrench in my carefully laid out plans.

Although my dream was to be a full-time freelance writer, and it was working out, things change. While the economic situation hasn't hit hard for me, the uncertainty of things worries me sometimes. So, when this job came up, I thought I could cut my writing to half time and do the job half time. I did. By finishing up some projects and not taking on any more, I think I was able to strike a good balance. But then, this extra day was thrown in. And that's what is keeping me so busy now. I know it will only be temporary, but I hate being one of those people who answers, "BUSY!" when I'm asked how I am.

What is being so busy going to do to us in the long run? Isn't *not* being busy important too? Isn't not being busy part of winding down, realizing that there's more to life than seeing how much we can cram into a day? I think it is.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Abortions, sterilizations rise in uncertain economic times

Can you even imagine having to decide that an abortion of a wanted pregnancy is the answer if you or your partner lost your job and you no longer have health insurance/

This may sound like an unbelievable choice, but it is one that at least one woman had to make, according to this CBC article, U.S. abortion, vasectomy rates rise as economy falters. How heartbreaking.

I'm not taking sides on whether abortion should be available or not, but I am trying to understand the desperation of someone just to even *think* about such a decision. I like the United States. I love my US friends. But I just really don't understand the issue that makes so many Americans want their medical system stay the way it is, user pay, because it's working for them. It's not working for many, that's for sure.

Vasectomies are also up in times of uncertain economies, but that may have something to do with getting it done before health insurance runs out after a lay off rather than preventing the costly parenting route.

There's no doubt about it. Raising children is expensive. Since the US posted a higher than average baby rate for 2007 (the last year the number are available), I wonder what 2009 and 2010 are going to look like. Babies born early in the year will probably remain unchanged because they may have been conceived before the economic downturn. We'll see.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Jade Goody dies at 27 from cervical cancer

With all that's in the news about the HPV vaccine Gardasil and the information that cervical cancer has a very high cure rate if caught early, to read of a young woman's death from cervical cancer is very, very sad.

For those who don't know, Jade Goody was a 27-year-old celebrity in the UK as a result of her appearance on their version of Big Brother, and some ill-chosen words and actions that got her thrown off the show. Ms Goody cashed in on her celebrity and when she found out that her cancer was terminal, she used her status to earn as much money as she could. She did this by selling the rights to her wedding and, ultimately, her death, from what I understand.

Many people were highly critical of Ms Goody's actions, but I have to admit. If I had two young children, as Ms Goody did, and I knew I was dying, I think I may have done anything and everything I could to ensure that there would at least be enough money to support them after my death. I can't fault her for that. Not at all.

If any good comes out of this, and people do try hard to find good things coming out of tragedy, is that Ms Goody's public illness has put a face on cervical cancer. She put a face and a name to the disease. People now know that it does really happen and it could be to anyone, even someone you love. Now, it's been reported that the cervical cancer screening tests, Pap smears, have increased significantly across the UK. Women heard and saw what Ms Goody had to say.

The HPV vaccine is another option for women. If you're not going to have the vaccine or you are against it, you can be as effective by going for regular Pap smears, which can detect cells at their precancerous stages, before they become cancer.

Don't let a preventable cancer, in many cases, take another life. Learn from Ms Goody's life and death. Please.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

I may have to take eat my words when it comes to the cookie diet

Sorry for the pun, I couldn't resist.

A little more than two weeks ago, I decided to try the cookie diet for the fun of it. A rep from Dr. Seigal's cookies offered me a week's supply, so to be fair, I thought I'd get a couple of weeks of the Smart for Life cookies too. When I started, I weighed 162 lbs on a 5'5.5" frame. My ideal weight appears to be in the high 130s, but I was only going to aim for 140.

Well, the Dr. Seigal cookies never arrived, so I never got a chance to compare, but I did start doing the Smart for Life diet. The cynic in me has had to eat crow here.

First, I have to tell you that I still think that a cookie diet is not the ideal way to lose weight. It takes us a good bit of time to put the weight on, it only makes sense that it would take a while to take it off. So, the search for quick loss methods really does seem to be like a search for the fountain of eternal youth: impossible. I also am still a huge believer and proponent for weight management methods like Weight Watchers. They not only encourage healthy eating, especially with their points system, they encourage exercise and feeling better about yourself.

Now, that being said, back to my thoughts on the cookie diet. It does work and it's not so bad. Not even those "blueberry" cookies that I hated the first day.

So far, I've dropped from 162 to 154.6, in slightly more than 2 weeks. That's almost half my goal. And that's with some cheating. The other day, I took my son out for lunch and I had pad thai (mmmmm). Normally, I would have made do with a salad for supper, but I had planned a nice roast beef dinner for the family, so I ate that too. If I decide that I really want to eat something, like the other day I wanted some rice pudding, I eat it. I don't believe in depriving yourself of small treats because that's when you're setting yourself up to fail.

Will the weight stay off? Only time will tell. But this is my plan. Because I have them, I'll do this for one more week and see what my final 3-week loss is. Then, I'll switch back to either the WW loss plan or the WW maintenance plan.  Would I do this again? I highly doubt it unless I had a fabulous dress that I was a few pounds too much for and I needed to fit in it in a week or two.

The products: I do like the Smart for Life salad dressings. They are gluten-free which, if you have celiac disease, is a great find. They're really not bad and I would consider using them regularly. The cookies? I don't think they're gross any more, but I won't ever say they taste good. They're tolerable.

Benefits: Because you eat healthy meal in the evening, I've been eating better then than I usually do at supper time. I've eaten many more vegetables than I usually eat and I am eating more fish (tilapia and tuna) than I usually do. I've been alternating between eating chicken, tuna, crab, and tilapia). There's also something in the cookies that make me more regular, so to speak.

What I don't like: I don't like not being able to grab a banana if I'm hungry. I mean, yes, I would if I really wanted to, but I'd feel guilty because it's a no-no on their list. I don't like how much fluid I'm supposed to drink. BUT, that's not the diet's fault. I don't feel thirsty usually so I rarely drink throughout the day. Everytime I get on a kick about drinking more water or healthy fluid, I do really well for a few days, and then go back into my regular pattern of ignoring the water bottle on my desk.

I also don't like that I can't have wine. At least on WW, you can. :-) And I do love my wine. A lot.

So, that's the two-week report on the cookie diet and what I think about it. I don't think it's a horrible way to lose weight if that's what someone wants to do. I'm just reserving judgment on if it's too easy to gain it back.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Very interesting report on autism from the autistic point of view

As I was watching the CBC news last night, I got to watch a very interesting program on autism, which presented the world of autism from a the point of view of people who are living with it.

Thinking about what I saw, it made me think back to a long-standing argument that many have in the hearing impaired community. There are people who are deaf who feel that society shouldn't burden their children with the need or desire to learn how to speak or to use hearing aids. They think that using cochlear implants is wrong because you're introducing an object and disfiguring a child for the sake of making him or her more "normal." Not all feel that way, but there is that community of people who do.

Watching the special on autism last night, I realized they have the same issues. There are parents of autistic children who do and try everything to help their children live a more "normal" life, and there are others who feel that their child doesn't need to be "fixed," and that autism is part of their personality.

There were three adults with autism, from rather varying spectrums, but not from the very severe angle. There was one man who seemed "perfectly normal," for want of a better description. There was a woman who was very articulate, more so than many people I know, obviously very smart, but with some self-admitted behaviours that can make people feel that she's not normal and she should be shunned. Finally, there was a third woman, also obviously very intelligent, who spoke through a voice synthesizer and needed some help at home in order to maintain her independence, such as housekeeping and meals.

All three were happy with who they were and how they presented to the world. The mother of a boy with autism also spoke about how she believed in letting her child develop as he is, without being pushed to conform to society's so-called norms.

I was very interested as I was watching, and I do believe them. The woman who needed help made an excellent point when talking about what made people be considered independent or dependent.

But, I do have to wonder about the children and adults who aren't able to make it in this world because their autism is so severe. Should there not be an attempt to "fix" this to help the child become an adult who doesn't have to be watched and cared for? it's not a sin to have watched over and cared for. I know from personal experience as my 34 year old brother has Down Syndrome, but *if* you can help a child to a point where he or she can be more independent, isn't that a good thing?

I'm not sure what I think, but I did really appreciate being able to see that piece.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Buy some jazz, donate to breast cancer research

People are frequently coming up with unique ways to raise money and singer and songwriter Anders Holst is no different.

During the entire month of March, Holst will work to support a cause near and dear to his heart. All proceeds from the iTunes sales of his Billy Joel cover, “All About Soul,” between March 1st –31st will be donated to the Greater New York City Affiliate of Susan G. Komen For The Cure ®.

For a direct link to purchase “All About Soul” on iTunes, please visit:

For more information on Anders Holst, please visit

Image: iTunes

Friday, March 13, 2009

Hearing impaired nurses - yes or no?

If you are in the hospital and your nurse is hearing impaired, would that bother you?  If the hearing impairment was mild? If the nurse was profoundly hearing impaired or deaf?

The issue of disabilities and nursing, particularly nurses who are deaf, was in the news in the United States not too long ago.  According to this article, Hearing-impaired nurse: court discusses disability discrimination issues, a profoundly deaf nurse was suspended and then fired after 3 and a half years of spotless records in caring for her patients.

An incident occurred when another staff member couldn't get hold of the nurse because she can't hear the telephone or overhead speakers. Apparently, the technician didn't have the equipment to use the nurse's special pager that the nurse carried.

After an investigation, the nurse was not considered to be negligent but she was re-evaluated. Her employers found that she had no problems with her nursing skills, but she failed to show up for an audiologist appointment to have her hearing tested. That's when she was suspended and then let go.

My question is, is there a limit? Is it reasonable to have a nurse who can't hear her patients and can't hear alarms?

Believe me, I am more than aware of discrimination against the disabled. I have a 34 year old brother with Down's syndrome who had a job he adored. He was working for a chain drug store and he did a wonderful job. The chain was sold to an even larger chain and the larger chain dumped my brother. When there were attempts to find other jobs for him, many people didn't want a "retard" working with them or for them. It took quite a while to find him a new job. Now he has had the same one for several years and he adores it again. He's not that hard to please! And he works very hard to please.

I've also worked with both physically disabled and/or deaf children. I know what types of challenges they face. But, I do have a bit of a problem with certain professions and certain disabilities. If I'm sick, I want my nurse to hear me, even if it's a slight moan. I want my nurse to hear me call out even if her back is turned. I want to feel safe and like someone is watching over me.

I'm not denying that someone who is hearing impaired can't do the work, the tasks, and use the thought processes involved. But hearing your patient, listening for specific sounds, tones of voice, nuances, they're all vital in communicating with the sick.

 I don't believe she should be fired for being deaf. But I do wonder what type of decisions were made to allow her go into this field to begin with.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Can't believe controversy over abortion for 9 year old rape victim

I absolutely can't believe what I'm reading. I'm stunned.

First of all, I am not "pro-abortion," I don't think many people are. I think what they are is "pro-choice as to whether you can have one or not," and that's completely different. I wish we lived in a world where abortion didn't exist and wasn't needed. But there are sometimes when you just have to let go of your own beliefs and have compassion for someone. I also am Catholic, although I do disagree with some of their teachings and doctrine. I am not anti-Catholic by any stretch of the imagination (just thought I'd put that out there lest someone accuse me of that after reading this post).

Child pregnant after rape

In Brazil, a 9-year-old girl was allegedly repeatedly raped by her step father since she was six years old, police believe. She ended up getting pregnant with not one baby, but two. A 9-year-old girl, 80 lbs, was pregnant with twins.

No-one knew she was pregnant until she started complaining of severe stomach pains. That's when it was discovered that she was already four months pregnant. The problem was though, that at her size, her uterus isn't big enough to hold one baby, let alone two. So, what would happen? Likely, she would have died, along with the babies.

Abortion performed

The decision was made to abort the babies, something that is illegal in Brazil unless a judge says it's ok. What is shocking is that the judges may ok abortion if the pregnancy is due to a rape or there are medical complications that would put the mother's life at risk. Here, in this case, we have both. And yet, the Church has excommunicated the doctors who performed the abortion and the mother of the child. The rapist? Oh, he's allowed to go to church. He's still in their good graces.

Should I repeat that? The stepfather is in jail, but he wasn't excommunicated. Oh, and by the way, according to this article, the stepfather is also suspected of sexually abusing the girl's handicapped 14-year-old sister. The girl wasn't excommunicated because you can't excommunicate a child.

The doctors

Thankfully, the doctors are being treated like heroes by many. I say thankfully, because if they were scorned, I'd be afraid they'd not make such a decision again. But what is disgusting me is not just the Church's reaction, but that of every day people.

The reaction

I read a woman's forum when I have time. There is one poster who spouts off Catholic teachings in such a black and white manner that she can't see that sometimes, there is no room for discussion or anything. She wrote that the girl should have carried the pregnancy to term and, if necessary, deliver the babies early, around 5 months, because she'd heard that babies that young can survive.

Excuse me? Yes, babies born at 5 months may survive, but when a set of twins is delivered that young, from a 9-year-old no less, that's hardly the ideal circumstances.

My heart aches for this girl. I wonder if she even knew she was pregnant.

This isn't a moral issue folks. It's a medical issue. The girl would likely have died. The twins would likely have died. At least with the abortion, one survived.

Monday, March 9, 2009

One of the oddest videos/ads I've seen in a long time

I'm not sure what to think about this. I sat down to figure out what I'm going to post on today. I figured I'd do some serious, down to earth stuff. But, of course, I got distracted and started checking links that people suggested and I was mesmerized (sort of) by this one:

The Amazing Toilet

I'm trying to figure out what the advertising team meeting was like when decided to try flushing down plastic letters and numbers, dog food, carrots, golf balls and more. Then, as I was watching it, all I kept thinking about was all the plastic they were sending into the sewer system.

Anyway, what the heck, I figured I'd share it with you. I never thought I'd spend a couple of minutes of my time watching a toilet flushing, but it's oddly fascinating.

Next post, we'll get back to real health stuff. Promise.


Cookie diet: Yesterday was day 3 of the cookie diet trial: I'd written that Friday's cookies (the "blueberry") were disgusting and I couldn't see myself continuing this test, but Saturday's cookies were banana and not bad at all. Yesterday's were raisin oatmeal, also not bad at all. Problem is, I've got several packages of blueberry that I just can't eat. I doubt I'll convince them to trade them, but maybe I'll give it a shot anyway. My Dr. Seigal free sample arrived but has been at the post office since Thursday, since I've not had time to pick them up.

I began on Friday at 162 lbs. Saturday's dinner was a bit of a loss because it was my brother-in-law's 60th birthday and yesterday's dinner was upside down too because we had a bit of a family emergency and there wasn't much time to prepare anything properly. So, yesterday I was 159 and this morning I am again too.

Friday, March 6, 2009

blech - Day 1 of the cookie diet

Oh please, tell me that these cookies don't taste so awful for the whole time. If so, I won't be able to give this Smart for Life cookie diet a fair trial.* Today it is Blueberry cookie day. I went into the storefront yesterday to choose three flavors and this one seemed ok. But. Oh. My. Yuck.

It's not so much the flavor, it's the texture. I'm extremely tactile and texture oriented. There are certain sensations I can't stand, like rubbing over velvet, feeling a seam in my clothes, stuff like that. I also have a very strong reaction to food textures. For example, I like Jello, but I can feel it if there's just one undesolved crystal and that turns me off completely. I like my food either hard or soft - not both. Certain textures make me gag even. It's not fun.

So, I am - right now - eating my fifth cookie of the day and all I can say is, I hope tomorrow's flavor is better, because there's no way I can do this for very long. What amazes me is the comments that people post and the radio personalities who say the cookies are delicious! Ick. By the way, I have tried warming them and freezing them (not at the same time!) as suggested. Same result. Ick.

*I don't  normally try diets like this - I'm able to control my weight with good food choices, but since I do have some weight to lose and another cookie company offered me a free trial, I thought I'd buy some Smart for Life and then try these ones for a week or two and then the free ones from Dr. Saigel to see 1) if they work and 2)  how they taste.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Artificial nails in the spotlight thanks to "Octomom"

For the women who are reading this, have you have had artificial nails? I used to think I never would because I'd read horror stories of people who had problems. Also, as a nurse, we're not supposed to have them because of the infection control issue, so that was always a barrier too. But, about 5 years ago or so, I got my first set of gel nails, supposedly better than acrylics (I have no idea; I've never used acrylics).

I loved them. You have to understand that I have short stubby fingers and not nice long lean ones like so many people I know. I also have nails that break if you look at them. No-way, no how could I ever have long nails. Believe me, I tried.

So, for a few years, I did the gel nail thing. I loved how my hands looked. They made me feel good and sometimes we need to do things that make us feel good. Until, I got an infection in not 1, not 2,  not 3, but 4 fingers (or 3 fingers and my thumb).

The infections got so severe that we weren't sure that oral antibiotics were going to clear them up. And, considering I need my fingers to type for my living, this was not a good situation. I took off the gel nails and let my nails grow out. I ended up getting a few more infections along my nail beds over the next few months, but thankfully, that's stopped now.

To this day, I mourn my beautiful nails. I didn't have them sharp and squared, I made them softly rounded and just really enjoyed having nice hands and nails. Of course, now I'm scared and can't/won't go that route again, plus I work with patients sometimes still, so I shouldn't have them.

Now, the safety of artificial nails has been brought into question because of Nadya Suleman, so-called Octomom. I remember seeing one of those first images of her caressing a baby's head, with her long nails and I did wonder about them. It seems I'm not the only one. Ken Gerenraich, a podiatrist who serves as CEO of Woodward Laboratories, a California company that makes hand, foot and skin antimicrobials, wrote to Ms Suleman expressing concern over her nails and the vulnerability and safety of her preemies.

According to this article, Nadya Suleman: Eight tiny babies, 10 long fingernails, Dr. Gereraich pointed out that such nails are a hotbed of bugs that can cause infection - which is precisely why we nurses aren't supposed to have them.

I suggest you go over to the article and read what he wrote. Do you think it will make any difference? Somehow, I doubt it.

(For the record - I'm not against artificial nails. I'd have them again in a flash if I knew I could)


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The newest diet craze

You must have heard of the Cookie Diet, even if you don't want to or need to lose weight. They're talking about it (meaning celebs and news people) everywhere you turn. Even local radio DJs across the continent are in on the action. Many have tried the Smart for Life Cookie Diet and rave about the results.

I have to admit, I'm skeptical. But then, I'm skeptical of just about anything that seems too good to be true. But, I'm also curious. Curious enough to take up an offer of a free week's supply of Dr. Seigal’s Famous Cookie Diet. I had already spoken with the Smart for Life people here and will be trying a (not free) few weeks of their cookies.

I don't have a lot to lose, only about 20 pounds to be in my healthy zone. I know I can lose it if I follow proper nutritional guidelines. I personally really like the Weight Watcher's recipes. I have a few of their cookbooks and find their recipes very tasty. But, I am very, very curious about these cookie things. And hey, if I'm going to get a free trial, I might as well give it a shot and then I can share my results with you so you can make your own decisions.

I've read up on what's available on the Internet. I know they're very low calorie diets and they don't emphasize exercise until you're on the so-called maintenance plans. I do know the risks of very low cal diets so I'll be careful and if I feel sick or have any issues, that's the end of that experiment. I also am going to get back into playing my Wii Fit. I love that thing. I had to put it away in October when we started doing so much work on the house, but now that it's all done, I have no excuse not to get back into it.

So, we'll see. I've read everything from the cookies taste great to they taste like sawdust. I've read about the different types (Dr. Seigal vs Smart for Life) and a whole bunch of other things.

A fellow blogger, over at b5media, Scott, wrote about the diet in his blog, Health and Men (Friday’s Food Feature | Eat Cookies, Lose Weight?). I admit, I left a comment expressing my doubt and said that it would be better to eat sensibly. And, I do still believe that. But, since the diet is still popular a year after he wrote that, I figure trying it to see how it tastes and works would be a fun thing to do.

Getting over 100 visitors per day now

When I started this little blog two years ago, I wasn't sure where I was going with it. It just seemed like a good idea to let people know what I do and that I'm available to be hired for writing or other similar projects.

It turned out to be a good idea, because I've gotten a few projects because of this site, and I always get a kick out of being number 1 in Google (unsponsored link) if you type in the term "nurse writer." What can I say? Small things make me very happy sometimes!

But now, I'm starting to get days when I get more than 100 unique visitors to my site. They aren't spiders or bots or whatever, but legitimate visitors. I know this because I can see where they're coming from and what search terms or links led me to my blog.

Up to now, I've been using, the freebie part, that allows me 100 visits - after that, the oldest visits are deleted. For a long time, it took several days to get to 100 visits. That decreased to a couple of days, and now, I have to reset the stats just about every day. Pretty cool, I think.

So, thanks for visiting!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Deciding when to visit an ER

I'm sure many of you have come across this - something happens, an accident of some sort, and you're encouraged (or are encouraging someone) to go to the hospital. But, when do you decide and how do you decide if a hospital visit is warranted?

Yesterday, I took a major (and I mean *major*) wipe out on the ice. I was just about to get into my car, my foot slipped on the ice. I fell so hard, that a guy loading up his car three houses away heard the whack. I fell straight like a board. My son was stunned because one moment, we were talking over the hood of the car, the next moment, I was gone.

After much discussion between the stranger, who came running over, my son and my husband, about if I should go to the hospital, I got up and, nursing a very, very painful elbow, limped into the house. Going to an ER on a Sunday night wasn't in my plans, thank you very much.

The thing is, the guy who ran over was very, very insistent that I go to the hospital - his concern was a concussion. My kids were insistent because at that point, we thought I may have cracked my elbow. I held off, not because of some sort of "tough mom" or martyr complex, but because I really didn't think that what happened was ER-worthy.

Because I'm in Canada, the decision wasn't a financial decision either. I just didn't want to use up a physician's time, as well as the x-ray techs, nurses, and everyone else involved if it wasn't necessary.

It turns out that I did make the right call. None of my injuries were ER-worthy. This morning, my elbow hurts, my hip is ok unless you touch it and then I go through the roof (just a bad, deep bruise because I bear weight and have full range of motion), my neck is Not Happy and - just to make sure that we're fully covered, I developed a migraine over night.

Would you have gone to the hospital or an emergency clinic? Would you have encouraged someone else in that situation?

News for Today:

Doodling May Boost Memory

Study: Many heart guidelines based on thin evidence

Experimental drug helps MS patients walk better: study

Today at Cancer Commentary:

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month

Today at Womb Within:

Herbs during pregnancy? Are they safe?

Today at Seniors Support:

Talking to your doctor about alternative medicines

Friday, February 27, 2009

Good night, sleep tight, don't let....

the bedbugs bite!

Bedbugs are making a comeback and they're being found in the nicest of places. Ick.

When my daughter was younger, we did a good bit of traveling for her dance competitions. We stayed at the lower end of the chain places for the most part because traveling isn't cheap - that's for sure. There were horror stories passed among the moms and we all hoped for the best when we ventured out to yet another competition.

But bedbugs? Ick.

The good news is that they really aren't a health hazard. The bad news? They're Ick. They bite. They itch, And they hitch-hike a lift back to your place if you're not careful.

How do you tell if your bed has bedbugs? They hide in crevices, so check the seams of the mattress and box spring, where the mattress meets the headboard, and even in wallpaper seams near your bed.

If you suspect you have bedbugs, the only way to get rid of them is with a professional exterminator. The good news is that this is usually very effective. If you're visiting somewhere and don't want any uninvited critters coming home, put your luggage, coat, etc, on a hard surface like a dresser or table, not the bed, chair, or carpet.

If you're bitten, there's not much you can do. The bites are itchy, like mosquito bites, but they will go away. As far as we know, bed bugs don't carry diseases, so take care of the bites as you would any other.

Ok, now I'm grossed out for the day.....

News for Today:

Car-Crash Death Rates Depend on Where You Live in U.S.

2nd Md. Teen's Death Also Blamed on Flu; Officials Urge Shots

Grand chief encourages First Nations to donate organs, tissues

Today at Seniors Support:

Video: A Parent’s Wish

Hobbies like reading or knitting may reduce memory loss

Today at Cancer Commentary:

New tool guides doctors to save cancer patients’ fertility

Breast cancer? Yoga may help you

Today at Womb Within:

A new source for people with cancer worried about fertility

Check your vitamins for iodine - you need it!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Preventing repetitive stress injuries from computer work

I learned a while ago that some people are more prone to tendonitis than others. Guess which group I fall into? As a result, I'm always trying to find ways to prevent bringing on new pain. Sometimes I'm successful, sometimes I'm not.

When it comes to working on the computer, I try to vary what I do to avoid having the same motions all the time.  I have a MacBook that I carry around the house. When I work at my desk, I have it hooked up to a keyboard and when I'm elsewhere in the house, I use the unit itself. What I did find last year is that if I use the computer for too long at the kitchen table, I develop excruciating neck pain - to the point that I can't move. It took me a while to put the two together, but when I stopped using the computer in the kitchen for a few weeks, the pain eased off and disappeared altogether after a while. Huh.

Anyway, all this to say, I've tried different styles of mouses (mice?) and trackballs, to help my hands. I loved my big trackball until I found that it messed up my thumb. That was unexpected.

Fast forward to now. Last month, Wacom sent me a Bamboo pen and tablet to test out in place of a mouse. I know many people use - and really like - the Bamboo for art programs and designing, but the idea of using it instead of a mouse was intriguing. So, that's what I'm doing now.

I set it up last month but didn't really use it too much because it takes some getting used to. I kept going back to my mouse, but this weekend, I started to use it more. I'll keep track of my progress and do a review after I've used it for a good length of time. So far, I like it although I still find it a bit awkward. I imagine that will lessen in time.

What do you use? A mouse? Trackball? Something else?

In Today's News

Vitamin D tied to muscle power in girls

New Advances May Treat Stroke Faster, Better

Woodworkers Lend Skills to Injured Soldiers

Shift and blue-collar workers more likely to be obese: StatsCan

Brain injury raises epilepsy risk for years: study