Saturday, June 29, 2013

The Last Blogathon Saturday Round-Up for 2013

It's the second to last day of the Blogathon 2013 and we've covered a lot of stuff. This blogathon is also a great way for me to learn about and introduce you to new blogs or rediscover older ones. The theme day for today was supposed to be a Wordle, a cloud of words from your blog. Last year I made one without any problems but for some reason, I can't do it this year. So, I decided to check to see which posts were the most popular this month instead.

The three most-read posts are ones that pop up all the time, two are several years old. They must be serving a purpose because every day, people come to my blog when they search for this information online. They are:

Broken hips in the elderly can lead to death
How can you die from pneumonia?
and a more recent post, from last year: Fibromyalgia - yes, it's real/no it's not.

These posts were followed by some from this month's blogathon:

Fibromyalgia cause discovered?
Distracted (Texting & Talking) Walking - No Sympathy Here
and 5 health and fitness apps I like

Do you have any favourite posts, maybe something that made you stop and think about how you felt about the topic, or that you disagreed (or agreed) with something I've said?

Friday, June 28, 2013

Another Child Dies in a Hot Car

Sadly, it happens every year. Every. Single. Year. Children are left in hot cars and they die of hyperthermia, heat stroke (Watch That Summer Heat). Last year, I wrote about the senseless deaths by drowning (Drowning Isn't Noisy). It looks like heat stroke is this year's topic.

This week, a 2-year-old boy died after being left for a "significant number of hours" in a hot car. I don't know the whole story. I don't know who forgot or how that happened, but it has happened before and it has happened too many times. Sometimes, the children are deliberately left in the car ("I'll be back in a few minutes," which turns into much longer), sometimes the children get into the car without anyone knowing, but often, the deaths occur when the child is forgotten. How does that happen?

The theories I've heard is that people are distracted, they're thrown off their routine, they're forgetful, they're busy. But are we really that distracted, that routine-oriented, that forgetful, that busy that we forget that we have a child in the back seat? How can that happen?

I heard on the radio today a host asking for ideas on how this can be prevented. One woman called in and said there should be an alarm that buzzes if someone gets out of the front of the car, but not the back. I guess she figured it could be a weight-triggered alarm like the ones in the front seat that tell you that you've not put on your seatbelt yet. But do we really have to start adding more technology to our lives? And what if we depend on it and the alarm doesn't sound? Then is the child's death the manufacturer's fault for not reminding the parents?

A friend of mine had five children. She laughs when she tells the story of the time when her husband took the a few of the children out for a bike ride - and forgot the baby in his crib. She said, "oh, he was busy, he didn't think about it." I didn't think it was funny. I was horrified. If you're the parent-in-charge, how do you forget a child? I'm not talking about having two adults around and each thinks the other has a child - this is one parent who was responsible for the child.

We have so much going on in our lives, but we need to take responsibility for things too. My children outnumbered us, there were three of them and only two of us. And we were as busy as most people with similar lives. And I was a far from perfect mother and I know I'll be a far from perfect grandmother when the time comes. But I wonder, in what circumstances could I have forgotten a child in the car. And if I did, would I not notice it quickly? "Hey, where's _____?"

What do you think?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

(Re)Connecting With Others Through the Internet

I received an email yesterday from someone who I'd not thought of in a long time. We met (virtually) when I worked for my first online job. We didn't work together for long - he is a physician who was a consultant - but we worked well together. It had been about 15 years or so since we last communicated when his name popped up in my email box. A lovely surprise.

As someone who isn't always the most confident of people, I'm always a bit amazed when others go out of their way to find me to get back in touch. Sometimes it's a person I knew from childhood, other times, an old colleague. It's a nice feeling to know that someone reached out, took the time to find me, for whatever reason.

The Internet gets a lot of bad publicity because of the ease with which it is used for bad stuff. People can and do use it to cause problems, commit crimes, and hurt others. But bad people will do bad things, no matter what is available. And the Internet is a tool - that's all it is. It can be a tool for bad, but it can also be a tool for good.

Think about the world it has opened for so many who might otherwise be isolated: the homebound young mom who can connect with other mothers for support and companionship and the lonely senior who can get online and join groups of like-minded people. The person who lives too far away from university but who is aching to learn can now enroll in online education. The voracious news junkies can read newspapers from around the world. Grandparents can Skype with their grandchildren who live across the country or on another continent. There are so many people who use the Internet to enrich their lives or just to help them get through their day-to-day existence.

To me, it's often about connecting - or reconnecting. The email I received from Jeff made me smile yesterday.  Have you ever reached out online to someone from your past? Is there someone who would smile if they saw an email or Facebook request from you?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Deaf Boy Hears Dad for First Time - Is It Right or Wrong?

If you are on Facebook, you may have already seen this video, but if you haven't seen it - you should. Imagine being three years old and hearing a sound for the first time. And that sound is your dad's voice. (You can watch the video here.) The look of amazement on his face is priceless.

Grayson Clamp, the boy in the video, is one of the first children to receive a new type of implant that helps the brain hear sound. He had been fit earlier with a cochlear implant, but without the necessary nerves for the implant to work, he was not able to benefit. This newer type of implant Grayson received has been around for a while for adults, but only recently was approved for a trial among children.

There is debate among the deaf community about this procedure. I worked with hearing impaired children in the early 80s and I learned of the debate then. There are many who feel that the push to have deaf children hear can be damaging, that by trying to "fix" them, society is teaching the children that there is something wrong. There are some groups in the community that are vehemently opposed to teaching deaf children how to lip read and speak, if possible. Yet there are some in the community who equally opposed to sign language, while others say it is the only way to go. And now that helping children hear has gone beyond external approaches (lip reading and signing) and gone to invasive procedures (implants), the debate is even stronger.

When I was younger, I often thought that being blind would be the worst disability in terms of losing a sense - but when I worked with the hearing impaired, I learned that when you can't hear, you are so isolated from the rest of the world. You can't hear the person behind you on the bus saying "excuse me," has she tries to pass. You can't hear the warning sirens nor cheers of joy. You can't communicate easily with the hearing world. So while I can understand that some people may not want the children to feel they are broken and need to be fixed, I can't understand why some people would want to restrict their children to a world where they can only communicate with others who can sign.

What do you think? Are we going too far in trying to help children with no hearing gain that sense? Or should we continue to do what we can to give the children what we can?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Fibromyalgia Cause Discovered?

It sounds a bit too good to be true, but maybe a new discovery into what may cause fibromyalgia can bring hope to those who have this mysterious disease. Researchers in New York claim that they have found that people with fibromyalgia had more sensory nerve fibers at certain sites in the palm of the hand. The researchers believe that this finding could explain the hypersensitivity and increase in pain sensation, because of the link between these nerves and the pain that people with fibromyalgia feel throughout the body.

While I'm not thrilled with the article title (too sensational and not quite true), Fibromyalgia Mystery Finally Solved! does do a good job of explaining the findings.

The study, published in the medical journal Pain Medicine, was based on a small study group, so much more research needs to be done. But, if there is something to this, not only could this be a basis for better treatment research, it could help prove to nay-sayers that this is an actual disease with actual effects.

Sadly, fibromyalgia falls into the invisible diseases and if you have an invisible disease, it is easy for some people to dismiss your illness as "in your head," or an excuse to get out of doing something. Some people are determined to prove that fibromyalgia doesn't exist (Fibromyalgia - It's Not Real/Yes, It Is). For those of us who have it, fibromyalgia is very real.

If you are looking for more information on fibromyalgia, I wrote an article for Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain magazine, called You Don't Have to Look Sick to Be Sick. This may explain things for you.

In the meantime, it's nice to know that the research is continuing. One day, there will be an effective treatment, if not cure.

Monday, June 24, 2013

A Nurse's Life - Stress

Nursing is one of those professions that seems to polarize people. Over the past many years, when speaking with members of the public and even healthcare professionals, I've found opinions to be rather strong about who or what they believe nurses to be and what the job is like. Some people believe that nurses are angels (we're not), others believe that it's an easy job and that nurses are their servants (we're not), and yet others believe that a "smart nurse" is a wannabe doctor (we're not) and that if you're not a "smart nurse," then being a nurse was as close as you could get to becoming a doctor (it's not). Oh, and many believe that doctors are nurses' bosses and that nurses can't and don't think on their own (so not true). We can't forget that there's also the whole other group of people who have no clue at all what it is like to be a nurse and what nurses actually do. (What Do Nurses Really Do?)

As with many professions, nursing has changed over the years. Just in my professional lifetime, there have been so many leaps in technology and in responsibility that it would be impossible to list them all. Patients in the hospital now - on regular units, not ICU - are sicker than they ever were before. The patients we kept in the hospital for several days when I began nursing are now, if kept overnight at all, discharged as quickly as possible. Nurses are expected to keep up with it all.

The CBC had a feature that discussed how low staffing numbers in Canadian hospitals affected how nurses perceived and did their work; I think it's a must-read for anyone, health professional or not. And it's important to keep in mind that this isn't a Canada healthcare system vs U.S. healthcare system issue. Staffing ratios are in issue throughout the continent so while nursing has always been a stressful position, it's getting worse. Fear of mistakes is paramount. And, unlike some jobs where a mistake is annoying, perhaps expensive, but fixable, a nurse's mistake could cost a life.

Nurses need more support. They need more people going into the profession so there are fewer shortages and demands like forced overtime. They need better support in the hospitals. They need for the public to understand that they aren't miracle workers and if the public demands that the nurses do non-nursing tasks, then the nurses don't have time to do what they are supposed to do.

Nurses aren't perfect. There are some who shouldn't be in the profession and everyone knows someone who has a bad story to tell about such a nurse. But it's so important remember that this is not representative of the profession. There are bad teachers, but not all are bad. There are bad bank tellers, but not all are bad. There are bad accountants, but not all are bad. Nurses are for the most part, very caring and very good at what they do. They have to be to keep going back to it shift after shift.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Relaxing Sundays - A Day to Slow Down?

There is something to be said about the belief that one day should be sacred, set aside for family and play or relaxation rather than work. In a simpler world, it was possible for many but not for everyone. As a nurse, I worked many Sundays or holidays - days that were supposed to be days of rest. And now, in today's always-on society, there are no days set aside when society just slows down, forcing people to sit back.

Stores are open seven days a week, sometimes 24-hours a day. People work around the clock in their various jobs. Even people like me - those who work from home - can fall into the trap of working when maybe we shouldn't be.

Of course, taking a day to do what you want to do rather than have to do doesn't mean it has to be a Sunday or even a whole day, but it is important do this. It's a way to refuel yourself, to remember that life isn't all about working and moving ahead. It's also about enjoying what and who is around you.

When was the last time you took a walk just to take a walk? Not to get exercise, not to get from point A to point B, but to look at the neighbourhood, to people watch, and just be part of the experience. What about reading a book for the pleasure of reading it - not for work and not because someone told you that you should? If you like to create, when was the last time you made something just for the pleasure of doing so?

If you find yourself getting stressed or feeling like you have too much to do, maybe that should be the time to sit back and make time for yourself. Stopping the hamster wheel before it starts to spin out of control is a lot easier than trying to get off it when it's spinning too fast.