Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Gelukkig Nieuwjaar!

Or, in English, Happy New Year!

As New Year's eve approaches here in Montreal, I want to wish all my regular and new readers the very best wishes for a happy, healthy, and safe 2009.

I know that many of you come here to read because of illness or pain, so I hope that the new year brings improvements and easing of pain and discomfort.

I'll see you on the other side of the calendar page tomorrow.


Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Those flowers and potted plants do help you recover faster

Have you ever wondered why people send flowers to those who are sick or who had surgery? Of course, it's because they want to brighten up the room with color and life, but there's more to it than that. Believe it or not, blooming flowers do encourage healing and potted plants are even better, say researchers.

According to a study published in the October 2008 issue of HortTechnology, confirmed "the beneficial effects of plants and flowers for patients recovering from abdominal surgery."

Patients were randomly assigned to hospital rooms with or without plants during their postoperative recovery periods. Data collected for the study included information on the length of hospitalization, administration of drugs for postoperative pain control, vital signs, ratings of pain intensity, distress, fatigue and anxiety, and the patient's room satisfaction questionnaire.

Patients with plants in their rooms had significantly fewer intakes of pain medication, more positive physiological responses (lower blood pressure and heart rate), less pain, anxiety, and fatigue, and better overall positive and higher satisfaction with their recovery rooms than their counterparts in the control group without plants in their rooms.

An interesting note to this study—the majority of patients who had plants in their rooms reported that the plants were the most positive qualities of their rooms (93%), whereas patients without plants in their rooms said that watching television was the most favorable aspect of their rooms (91%).

The study suggests that potted plants offer the most benefit, as opposed to cut flowers, because of their longevity. Nursing staff reported that as patients recovered, they began to show interaction with the plants, including watering, pruning, and moving them for a better view or light. A number of studies have also shown that indoor plants make air healthier and provide an optimum indoor environment by increasing humidity, and reducing the quantity of mold spores and airborne germs.

This nonpharmacological approach to recovery is good news for patients, doctors, and insurers alike in terms of cost effectiveness and medical benefits. The study provides strong evidence that contact with plants is directly beneficial to patients' health, providing meaningful therapeutic contact for patients recovering from painful surgery.

That is interesting. I know as a nurse, people should be careful about what kinds of plants and flowers they send. Strong smelling blooms, like lilies, can be overwhelming in a small hospital room and senders also need to be aware of allergies for both other patients and the healthcare professionals. My youngest son is allergic to lilies and has a hard time being in the same room as lilies in bloom. If someone is a healthcare professional and has an allergy like my son's, it could be difficult for them to give proper care, especially in an emergency.

There are several types of flowers that don't have deep scents and, as the press release says, potted plants are a great option as well.


Don't forget to take the Living Will survey! You can find it here: Living Will Survey

News for Today:

Bypass surgery may reverse diabetes in obese teens

Cracking the 1918 influenza pandemic

Surgery lets man walk away from potential paralysis

Today at Seniors Support:

Managing your stress

Good-bye TV rabbit ears - it’s digital only coming soon

Today at Help My Hurt:

5 common causes of chronic pain

Today at Womb Within:

Odd or true? Burqas could cause mom/baby problems in northern countries

More about male midwives in history

Today at Cancer Commentary:

Insurance company, Cigna, sued over teen’s leukemia death

Every woman has a right to breast reconstruction

Monday, December 29, 2008

SURVEY: Living wills and advance directives

I've talked about the importance (I think) of living wills or advance directives. It's important that people know and understand what you want and, equally important, you need to know what others want if you're ever faced with making any important decisions.

I've created a survey for my Seniors Support site and I invite you to take it and to share it with as many people as you'd like. I'm going to gather the information together to see if we can get a good idea of who knows what about living wills and what more information needs to get "out there."

The survey can be found here: Living wills and advance directives.

Thank you all to everyone who participates.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Health care, tanking economy, and many worries

If you live in the United States, you may be one of the millions who have substandard or no health insurance. And, if you're in fear of losing your job or you have lost it, you may be heading that way soon.

According to an AARP survey on baby boomers and healthcare issues, "Nearly two out of ten adults age 45 and older are not very confident that they will be able to afford medical care in the coming year." The survey showed that 9% of respondents were not very confident and 10% weren't confident at all about affording health care, not a very encouraging result.

If the economy continues down its troubled path, these healthcare concerns will only worsen. I have heard some other points of view though, a glass half-full type of vision of what's happening. Some people are saying that a poorer economy will see people eating in more with healthier foods, rather than the huge high calorie, high fat, high salt foods that often come through the fast food restaurants. A slower economy may mean less expensive activities that can be replaced by hiking, cycling, or other outdoor activities. Socially, people may get together more as visiting family and friends becomes an entertainment alternative. So, maybe not all is bad. If we can keep healthier, we can keep our health costs down somewhat.

As a Canadian, I don't understand the strong opposition to having the government step in and help control healthcare costs and provide universal coverage for all and I feel very badly for those who have to make such tough decisions as to what is more important: eating or going to the doctor.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Don’t feel sorry for me because I’m working over Christmas

I celebrate Christmas and I have a loving family. I have my husband, my three young adult children, a sister, and in-laws with whom we can and do spend lovely holiday time. But I don’t begrudge working special holidays like Christmas and I rarely ever did. Of course, I’d rather not, but it is what it is and being upset over it wouldn’t change anything.

I can’t say that there’s something magical about working Christmas, because I don’t think there is. It’s a job, it’s work and it has to be done, whether it’s 3 o’clock in the morning or it’s December 25th. But the reason I don’t think it’s the end of the world is because December 25th is one day out of 365 and if you can’t be with your family on that exact day, who is to say that you can’t celebrate it before or after?

If you’re of faith and celebrate the birth of Christ, you can do so privately in your thoughts and, while it’s not the same as being in a church with your peers, God knows where you are and what you’re thinking.

If you celebrate a secular Christmas, the day shouldn’t be a big issue. Sure, traditions are nice, but should our lives be so centered on tradition that our heart breaks if we need to make an adjustment?

I read of a young woman who was absolutely furious that a few family members were going to spend Christmas day with another relative, a command performance, she called it. She was so angry that her tradition of the past seven years was being destroyed that she was going to call that relative to give her a piece of her mind. Is this the meaning of Christmas?

The woman had her family to celebrate on Christmas day for seven years. Does life change because on the eighth year, the plans change and she sees them another day? Is that what Christmas is supposed to be about? Your way or no way at all?

No – whether you celebrate Christmas or some other holiday, or even if you just enjoy the time of year, it is but a day. And the Christmas spirit is one that we should always carry with us and it allows us to love and celebrate with those around us, no matter when we are with them.

So, don’t feel sorry for me because I’m working on Christmas day. I’ll see my family on Christmas Eve. I’ll see them on Christmas night. And while you and they are enjoying Christmas day, I’ll be doing my bit to try to help others who also can’t be at home.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Concerned about Santa's health?

Have you ever considered Santa and his health? After all, he's older than old, not exactly in the best of physical shape, and he eats so many cookies that I wonder about his blood sugar and cholesterol.

Because of this, I wrote a letter to Santa expressing my concern. Maybe you can add to it too: Santa is a Senior too!

News for Today:

Piven's Doc: Stop Him From Eating Fish

Toronto doctors develop method to preserve lungs for transplants

Woman fainted from sandwiches, doctors report

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Contest at Help My Hurt - 1 year anniversary!

Help My Hurt was the second blog I took on; this is my first one. It's also the first one that I started within a network. I'd say it's doing pretty well and now we're celebrating the first year anniversary. . To celebrate, a reader is going to win a 25 dollar gift certificate to If you'd like to check out the contest and enter, head on over to Happy Anniversary Help My Hurt!


Friday, December 19, 2008

Cough medicine warning extended to under 6 year olds

I know, I remember what it's like to have a young child sick with a nasty cold. They feel miserable, you feel miserable, everyone feels miserable. For many parents, letting your child get a bit of rest means giving him or her a bit of cough or cold medicine.

I admit, I was one of them. I wanted them to cough during the day so they could get the crap out of their chest (what? "crap" isn't a medical term? ;-) but at night, I thought it important that they get a good sleep - or as good a sleep as they could - so I did give some cough and cold medicine. Seems that was a big no-no.

Earlier this year, there was a lot of news about how pediatricians didn't want children under two years old to get these medicines. There was no proof that they did any good and there were serious complications with some children. The age of "no cough syrup" has been raised to six years old in Canada after several cases of complications were reported. Health Canada has ordered that the medications be labeled to reflect the new warning.

What can you do instead? Pediatricians are saying to use saline nose drops or sprays, have humidifier to put moisture in the air, and provide lots of fluids. Thankfully, the colds do go away after a while.

Tip from me to preventing the spread of colds and viruses in your house:

Like most families, one child would come home with a cold and then it would spread throughout the house quite quickly. One day, I decided that if we all had our own toothbrushes, we should have our own toothpaste. I gave everyone (three kids, my husband and myself) their own toothpaste with strict instructions not to share. The amount of colds in our house plummeted. Sometimes, someone will come home with a cold, but it is very, very rare that anyone else in the house gets it.

News for Today:

Jeremy Piven's High Mercury Count: FAQ

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Slip sliding away...

For those of you who live in areas where temperatures dip below freezing (I just can't imagine living in a place like that - it's so foreign to me!), we've come to that annual season of "walk carefully or you'll break a bone." Yup, it's winter.

Some areas in New England were hit with a massive ice storm recently, snow storms have been blowing in from the west and really smacking southern Ontario, and southern Quebec isn't getting off too lightly. But, the danger isn't so much the snow, it's the ice. Or, later on, when the snow gets packed so hard that it's just like ice.

We just had one of those weather patterns where we had a lot of snow, then the temperature went up well above freezing, followed by a sudden dip to below freezing again. The result? Solid, sheer ice everywhere. Thick, slippery ice.

The news reports were talking about the emergency room visits and fractures, but a few emergency room physicians said that it's not the first day of sheer ice that's so busy for them; it's the day after when people get braver or find that they have to go outside.

Having fallen many times on the ice myself, sometimes seriously, I've tried to learn the tricks of the trade in not falling and if I do fall, how to fall.

The worst thing to do when you fall: put out your hand to stop it. If you put out your hand to break your fall, all the weight of your body and the velocity of the fall can cause your arm to snap as high up as the shoulder or as low as the wrist. I know it's an automatic reflex, but the last time I slipped I somehow had the presence of mind to pull my hand in and let my upper arm (heavily covered with my winter coat) take the brunt of the fall. The risk though, is that I could have banged my head.

Watch your back. Sometimes, when we slip, we jerk our body back upright to stop the fall and this can put a big strain on your back. There are times when it would be better to let yourself into a controlled fall to save your back.

Wear BOOTS. And by that I mean PROPER winter boots. High heels and fashion boots don't have a place on winter ice. Neither do running shoes or any other type of shoe. Like we need good tires for our car, we need good treads on our boots.

Consider buying those crampons they sell for city walking. I bought a pair at Tilley's and used them last year. They really do help you stay upright, but I found you can't walk long distances with them. But, they were a definite improvement when I was out walking the dog.

If you do fall and think you've broken or sprained a limb, or you've smacked your head hard, get it checked at an urgent care or emergency room. They're busy, but it's best to be safe than sorry, right?

By the way, if you're interested in how Santa can stay healthy and safe, you can go over to read my letter to Santa: Santa is a Senior too!

News for Today:

The Truth About 6 Holiday Health Myths

First U.S. face-transplant performed in Ohio

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Scotland may have it right

When I first began studying nursing, back when the dinosaurs were still roaming the earth, most nurses had stopped wearing caps but there were still rules about not wearing your uniform to or from work (in a few hospitals), not having long, painted nails, long hair, and so on.

It wasn't long before those rules eroded away completed and nurses could come and go in their uniforms, some not only had long painted nails, but they had artificial ones, hair was hanging down, and sometimes the uniforms didn't quite look like uniforms.

I remember on my very first nursing student orientation to the floor. We were on a tour of the unit and anxiously looking around, trying to get our bearings. We had been drilled into knowing what we could and couldn't do - it was almost always what we could NOT do, now that I think about it. We'd been told about the hair, the nails, the make up. We were told never to touch the medications in our hand but to tap them from the container into a pill cup, things like that.

Our teacher brought us to the medication room so we could check it out. In it was this very heavily made up nurse, hair swinging below her shoulders, tapping out medications into her hand, which - by the way - had long blood red nails. My poor teacher!

I's not just the nurses, I remember thinking, if nurses' caps were such an infection issue, why do male doctors wear ties that flop over patients' beds when the doctors bend over to examine patients? But, then it seemed to go to the extreme too - doctors began wearing much more casual clothes, to the point that it became difficult for patients to identify who were doctors and who were visitors.

Now, lest you think I'm pining for the old days, far from it! I don't want to go back to starched uniforms, inspections and so on, but I do think that we need return to a few common sense rules. And, it seems the National Health Authority in Scotland thinks so too.

First off, men's ties (and women if they wear them) are history. They're not allowed when staff are working with patients. Second, nurses are provided uniforms that are not to be worn out of the institution. Third, and the one that surprised me, to tell you the truth, is the banishment of the lab coat, the long flapping in the wind, white lab coat that has pockets deeper than a woman's purse.

The rules go even farther. Staff will not be allowed to carry pens, etc, in outside breast pockets and we're going back to the "tie your hair back" rule.

Let's hope that these measures do start cutting down on infections among hospitalized patients.

News for Today:

Teens may benefit from delayed school start times

Home, hospital rehab work equally well for COPD: study

3.6 million Americans living with active, undiagnosed psoriasis, unaware of associated risks

Today in my other blogs:

Can magnets relieve your pain?

Young men with cancer may not have to worry about fertility

Are you worried about post-baby sexuality?

Ouch, my aching feet

Alternative treatments - are they for you?

Monday, December 15, 2008

Third best Canadian Health blog

Thank you so much to everyone who voted for this blog in the best Canadian Blog contest. We came in 3rd, after Weighty Matters and Dr. Sharma's Obesity Notes.

I was seven votes shy of being number 2. But thanks to many of you, I did come in third so I'm not complaining!


Thursday, December 11, 2008

December 11: Change of Shift!

Welcome to my site, the host for this version of Change of Shift. Change of Shift is a blog carnival devoted to all-things nursing related.  Originally, it was going to be over at Nurses' Notes, but this site is updated more often.

Having read some of the other Change of Shift issues I had no idea how on earth I'd compete, so, here is what I did. Just click on the TV screen:

The changing face of nursing.

Joanne Oelkers presents Holidays and Nostalgia, posted at Laura, RN and blogger for NurseConnect. She describes the different kind of memories that both nurses and patients may have. She's a new nurse but it won't be long before she has her own special memories of working on the holidays.

Travel nurses bring a new face where ever they end up working. Sometimes their assignments are exciting and interesting, other times - not so much. I wonder what it must be like to be able to pick up and go work somewhere else. Personally, I think travel nurses must have a lot of confidence and are much braver than I am! So, for the brave traveling nurses, Bret Nellor presents Nice online tool to plan your drive to your next travel nursing assignment posted at Travel Nursing Blog. And, Jeff Long presents Get the most out of travel nursing. , also at Travel Nursing Blog.

Are you thinking about becoming a nurse? RehabRN presents The long and winding road posted at RehabRN. She says, "People always ask me about becoming a nurse. This post discusses a few preliminary things to think about before you start your journey, from RehabRN, a second career RN." More and more people are heading into nursing the less traditional route - straight from high school.

Speaking of school, this post brought a smile to my face. A new nurse and the amazing feeling of knowing you're not a student any more. Running Wildly presents Completion posted at Running Wildly. Congratulations to her!

I'm sure there are many nurses here who know what it's like not to be in a union or remember what it's like. The subject of unions can be pretty controversial. Where I am, in Quebec, we are unionized in virtually all places; there's no choice. ER Murse presents Who is the right Union for RN’s posted at ER Murse.

I wrote a very personal post about a doctor who I knew and his nurse companion who were killed in Mumbai just a few weeks ago: When Terrorism Hits Close to Home, Even It’s Thousands of Miles Away, posted at Nurses' Notes. How frightening must this be for the nurses who live in areas where terrorism is never far away.

What would a discussion of the changing face of nursing be without the Internet? Colleen Berding presents 'Tis the season posted at IT RN - Technology for Nurses.

This one's  a bit different; I wasn't sure what to say about it! Gemma presents Health & Medicine posted at VideoJug: LIfe Explained. On Film. And this one is about living a healthy lifestyle: Living Healthy presents An Oldie but a Goodie posted at Cory Albertson.

Finally, as one of the changing faces of nursing, we see more nurses caring for seniors and the elderly who are no longer able to care for themselves. One of my pet peeves involves something that many nurses do without even realizing it: treating their older patients like little children. Maintaining mealtime dignity - no bibs! was posted over at Seniors Support.


Oops! I forgot one. Here was an entry I received just as I put this together: Dean Moyer of The Back Pain Blog wonders whether or not saline solution could be another option for sciatica treatment in a follow-up article to his series on epidural steroid injections. His post entitled, Sciatica and the Saline Story is part of an ongoing effort to answer reader questions about sciatic nerve pain.

Images: iStock

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

When was the last time you cleared your medicine cabinet?

Whether you keep your medications in the bathroom (where you really shouldn't), in the kitchen, or in a cupboard elsewhere, when's the last time you cleaned it out?

What do I mean by clearing it out? All medications have expiry dates. Of course, if the expiry date is May 29, it doesn't mean that the medication will self-destruct on May 30, but the expiry dates are an important rule of thumb. If your medication has expired (prescription drugs, over-the-counter, even vitamins), don't use them.

Old prescriptions are another big cupboard clutterer. How many of you keep old prescriptions in case you'll need them one day? You should never save antibiotics. Ever. There are many types of antibiotics and different bacteria require different antibiotics. Plus, you need a full course of antibiotics, depending on the medication. If you have some left over, that means you didn't complete the course the first time you needed it. This increases your risk of developing an antibiotic resistant infection. It also means that what you have left won't be enough to treat another infection.

Are you keeping it to tide you over until you do see a doctor? {insert sound of loud buzzer} DON'T! If you take an antibiotic before your doctor has a chance to test you, you can mask the real problem. You could be taking the wrong antibiotic. You could be taking an expired antibiotic. OR, you may not have a bacterial infection at all but it may be a viurs. Something that an antibiotic can't touch.

So, where do you get rid of all these medications? Flush them down the toilet? NO! Please don't. We are already finding mutant fish because of medication that is peed out of us and flushed into the water system. Males with female traits, that sort of thing (from the birth control pill, for example). Put them in the garbage? Nope. Not there either.

The best thing to do is to bring all your expired or unneeded medications, vitamins and supplements to a pharmacy or drugstore. They know how to dispose of it properly.

News for Today:

Mediterranean diet plus nuts may cut heart risks

Rise in autism linked to shift in age at diagnosis

Half-dose flu shot may suffice for healthy young adults: U.S. researchers

Friday, December 5, 2008

Did we really need a study for this?

I sense another rant coming on. There's another study making the round of the news and it's a shocker, I'm sure. "Happiness is contagious." Really? Who'd have thought. It's a good thing that we have the researchers to tell us that.

Researchers followed almost 5000 people for 20 years to see how happiness was spread. And - the icing on the cake was that the findings were published in the respected British Medical Journal (BMJ).  Oy... did it really take that to know that happiness is spread around? How many of us didn't know already that if someone is genuinely happy and smiles at you, treats you well, that you'll often react with a lightened mood and a smile of your own?

How many of us haven't figured out yet that a really grumpy store clerk can often soften on the spot with a genuine smile and a thank you? How many of us didn't know that if we're in an unexplained bad mood, that the sight of something happy often will cause us to give a glimmer of a smile? Apparently not enough of us because we needed researchers to tell us about this.

Ok, have I been curmudgeonly enough for the day? I think I'll go smile at someone and maybe wish them a "bonjour!"

In today's news:

Experimental Vaginal Gel Doesn't Ward Off HIV

Vitamin E may up pneumonia risk in some smokers

Tip: Organizing Gift Buying for the Fibro-Fogged

Today at Seniors Support:

Living with seniors among us, what we miss without them

Looking for somewhere to live?

Trip-proofing your home for visitors - and for you!

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Blogging about health stuff - why?

Since my blog has been in the running for best Canadian health blog, I've been asked by a few people why I do it. After all, I make no money from it, I have no advertisers, and no-one has hired me to do it. This is unlike a few of my other blogs. I'm paid to write once a week for Nurses' Notes. B5media has hired me to write Help My Hurt, Cancer Commentary, and Womb Within. And, my newest project, Seniors Support, is one that I'm trying to get to be an income-generating blog. But this one, no income at all.

I'll tell you why I do it. I love doing it. Although I feel like I was born to write and I'm trained as a nurse, I think that I also have the heart of a teacher. That comes in handy as a nurse because you're always doing some kind of patient teaching. So, by combining my writing skills, my nursing knowledge, and my innate ability to teach - I've come up with the perfect outlet: writing my blog.

I like being able to find interesting information and sharing it. I like going through the news wires to see what is out there and what you might like to read about. It gives me something to do that is beyond what I do for others.

I have some wonderful non-blog clients. I love my work very much. But there's something about this blog that I just love to do and that's why I was so thrilled to make it to the second round of voting. It validates that what I'm doing is somehow helping others.

It's not the most popular blog in terms of number of hits per month, but I have many loyal and return readers. And I get a lot of drive-by readers who find what they're looking for through a search engine. but I like to think that the information I'm sharing, although not expert in any sense, is helpful to those who find it.

That's why I blog.

News for Today:

Report: Vermont Is Healthiest State

Study Shows How Shift Workers Can Improve Job Performance and Implement a Realistic Sleep Schedule

Children of U.S. Farmworkers Often Uninsured

Surgery a Boon for Most Common Form of Epilepsy

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Live, online chats for caregivers, Dec. 3 and 4

Are you a caregiver for a senior or an elderly relative? Do you have questions that you haven't asked or haven't gotten answers to? Sometimes being a caregiver can be quite lonely, despite the rewards. As more people begin to take advantage of the Internet, those who may not have had support before may only need to turn on their computer to find it now.

I received a press release from Rite Aid, which is holding two online chats (live) on December 3 and 4 at noon EST. Here is the press release I received:

Chats Feature Expert Advice from Geriatric Experts and a Rite Aid Pharmacist, Provide Online Network of Support for Caregivers

Camp Hill, PA (December 2, 2008) – On December 3 and 4, Rite Aid will host two free, live online chats to help caregivers find solutions to everyday problems ad answer common caregiver questions. To participate in the online chat, caregivers must register online at Questions also may be submitted by email prior to the event by sending an e-mail to Caregivers who are unable to participate in the event can view and print a transcript online after the event. Additional events will be available on the Web site as they are scheduled.

On Wednesday, December 3, from 12-1 p.m. EST, Attorney Vincent J. Russo, ESQ, will answer questions on elder law, special needs and estate planning. Elder Care Expert and Geriatric Care Manager Dr. Marion Somers, PhD, will discuss topics ranging from home safety to senior-friendly technology.

On Thursday, December 4, from 12-1 p.m. EST, Susan Strecker Richard, editor-in-chief of Caring Today, will offer advice on how to care for loved ones without sacrificing your own wellbeing and answer general questions on caregiving. Rite Aid pharmacist Natalie Teaff, R.Ph, will answer questions on medications, therapies and medication interactions.

The chats are part of Rite Aid’s “Giving Care for Parents” program that launched in September. The program includes a 20-page Caregivers Guide offering hints on financial planning and strategies for balancing careers and personal lives, especially when living with loved ones. It also has information on support groups, programs and resources such as medical facilities and businesses catering to seniors and caregivers.

If you do participate, can you let us know how it went? Unfortunately, although I'm almost always around, those two particular days, I won't be.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Monday, December 1, 2008

Medicine or food? A decision many need to make

If you have diabetes, how much did it cost for you to take your insulin today? If you are taking medication for high blood pressure, what was your day's cost? Did you know that morphine is one of the most inexpensive medications available in the pain killer category?

So, if morphine is so inexpensive, why can't the people in third world countries have it for those who are dying of cancer? Why does it cost an average African government worker two days of work to pay for one month of diabetes medications? And that's if he takes the generic. If he wants the name brand, it will cost him eight days of wages. Why are people taking only half their blood pressure medications to make them last longer?

The World Health Organization (WHO) studied 36 countries around the world. What they found was disturbing. The cost of medications in the poorer countries is skyrocketing because of all the people involved in getting the medications there. The survey looked at 15 medications that were commonly used, as well as four specific ones that were given for diabetes, asthma, hypertension (high blood pressure) and acute infections.

The WHO put out a news release, Essential medicines out of reach for most people, which says:

On the pricing side, the study revealed that “cuts” taken by wholesalers, distributors and retailers plus government taxes and duties are driving prices beyond affordability in many countries. In some countries, add-on costs can double the public-sector price of medicine, while in the private sector, wholesale mark-ups ranged from 2% to 380%, and retail mark-ups ranged from 10% to 552%.

Those in the North America and other developed countries know that the cost of medications can be outrageous. But it seems inconceivable that this can be even worse in countries that have virtually nothing to begin with.

News for Today:

Women with Mitral Valve Prolapse Are Treated Less Aggressively than Men and May be at High Risk

Accidental child poisonings still a major problem

Window widens for giving clot-buster to Canadian stroke victims

Today at Help My Hurt:

New treatment for plantar fasciitis

Today at Womb Within:

Sign breastfeeding petition to go to President-Elect Barack Obama

As usual, research findings question earlier ones - cholesterol this time

Are you careful about monitoring your cholesterol levels? If you're not watching the actual blood levels, are you conscious of how much "good" and "bad" cholesterol you're consuming? If you think you've been doing well, new research may, yet again, burst your bubble.

HDL is the "good" cholesterol and LDL is the bad guy. How do you remember which is which? I tell people to remember the "H" in HDL should stand for High, and the "L" in LDL should stand for Low. So, HDL is good and you want it high, LDL is bad and you want it low. To tell you the truth, until I started thinking that way, I'd mix them up the odd time too.

So, what's new? The Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology has issued a press release about a study that appears in its journal, the FASEB Journal. Researchers gathered data that they found in several studies on cholesterol and compared the findings. They found that HDL, while still good, had varying degrees of good. Some types of HDL were better than others, while some were minimal in helping reduce heart disease.

According to the press release:

The researchers came to this conclusion after reviewing published research on this subject. In their review, they found that the HDL from people with chronic diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, kidney disease, and diabetes is different from the HDL in healthy individuals, even when blood levels of HDL are comparable. They observed that normal, "good," HDL reduces inflammation, while the dysfunctional, "bad," HDL does not.

So, I guess that we've got to start learning which is which when it comes to HDL.

News for Today:

FDA sets 'safe' melamine levels in baby formula

Doctors ditch drug samples to avoid influencing treatment

24 hours of yoga raise money for AIDS

Global AIDS crisis overblown? Some health experts dare to say so

Today at Seniors Support:

Maintaining mealtime dignity - no bibs!

Giving medications safely

Top 10 myths about palliative care

Today at Womb Within:

Sign breastfeeding petition to go to President-Elect Barack Obama

Being disabled doesn’t rule out being a mom

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Made it to round 2! Please vote again!

Marijke: Nurse Turned Writer has made it through the first round of voting and is now in the second and final round. It's up against four other fine blogs but, let's face it, I'd love to come out number one!

If you voted in the first round, would you please consider voting again? And if you haven't voted yet, what's holding you back? :-)

If you do like it enough to vote, please make your vote count here! Of course, please feel free to pass this on to anyone else who may enjoy the blog and feel good enough about it to register a vote.

Friday, November 28, 2008

When terrorism hits home, even from thousands of miles away

Many of us have been shocked by the news of the terrorism and violence that is happening over in India right now. But, since most of us are thousands of miles away, the most we experience are the images on TV or the photos in the newspaper on online.

I was sitting here watching the TV news this evening and the newscasters were talking about the one Canadian who was killed in Mumbai. It was a doctor I used to work with many years ago, Dr. Michael Moss.

I can't describe the shock I felt. I wasn't close with him, he was a coworker who I came in contact with from time to time, so the feeling is truly of shock and disbelief. It turns out he was in the final week of a one month holiday.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Who'd have thought it: hair beads can cause fractured skull

You see them everywhere. Little girls with their hair done up with pretty hair accessories, which include the hard plastic beads that come in many different colours and styles. But, surprisingly, those beads can actually cause harm to the skull if the girl falls and bangs her head - and the bead is hit.

It's absolutely not a common problem and not a cause for a "bead ban," but it is very interesting. This article, Hair Beads Spurring Head Trauma in Kids, explains that it is rare, but what makes it a bit scary is that the beads can't be seen when the girls' head is examined by a CT scan, which means it can be missed.

I guess the story here is if a girl (or boy!) presents to an emergency room after falling on the head, if the doctor sees hair beads, he or she should keep in mind that this type of injury is really possible.

Today at Help My Hurt:

Barbara Bush and the “worst pain she ever felt”

Report says this is disturbing - but is it?

Pain is in the eye of the beholder

Today at Seniors Support:

10 tips for when your parents move in

Want to travel this holiday season? Why not?

News for Today:

New Approaches Make Retinal Detachment Highly Treatable

Smoking may worsen rheumatoid arthritis in blacks

Scientists doubt utility of CT scan as heart test

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Would you know if you were having a stroke?

It sounds like an easy question, but it's surprising how many people don't know the signs of a stroke.

Researchers at the Mayo Clinic studied 400 patients who had had strokes and found that only 42% of them recognized that they were having one. That means more than half did NOT know.

According to a press release issued by the Mayo Clinic, here are the signs you should watch for:

Strokes can happen quickly or can occur over several hours, with the condition continually worsening. The thrombus or clot that is causing the stroke can frequently be dissolved or disintegrated so blood can again flow to the brain. In such cases, immediate treatment can mean the difference between a slight injury and a major disability.

Interestingly only 20.8 percent of the participants knew about such treatment. By use of stents, medications and other technology, physicians can stop a stroke from spreading and greatly limit damage. Stroke symptoms include:

* Sudden numbness, weakness, or paralysis of your face, arm or leg -- usually on one side of the body
* Sudden difficulty speaking or understanding speech (aphasia)
* Sudden blurred, double or decreased vision
* Sudden dizziness, loss of balance or loss of coordination
* A sudden, severe “bolt out of the blue” headache or an unusual headache, which may be accompanied by a stiff neck, facial pain, pain between your eyes, vomiting or altered consciousness
* Confusion or problems with memory, spatial orientation or perception

So, which category do you fall in?


Don't forget!

Marijke: Nurse Turned Writer has been nominated as one of the best Canadian blogs. I'd love to see some movement in the voting though. In all fairness, I'm in competition with some pretty cool blogs so I'm not sure how it will go.

If you do like it enough to vote, please make your vote count here!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Would you vote for this blog?

Would you vote for this blog? I would love it if you did.

Marijke: Nurse Turned Writer has been nominated as one of the best Canadian blogs. I'd love to see some movement in the voting though. In all fairness, I'm in competition with some pretty cool blogs so I'm not sure how it will go.

If you do like it enough to vote, please make your vote count here!

Now it's the US's turn for Thanksgiving

We Canadians had our Thanksgiving last month and now it's our American neighbour's turn. It seems to be a much bigger deal in the US and it's quite the event getting families together for some family time and good food.

So, as you all get ready to enjoy the festivities, there are some health-related issues to keep in mind to help keep your celebrations safe and fun. They're a bit random, but all important:

If you have elderly visitors who have limited mobility and/or vision:

  • Be sure that all tripping hazards are removed. This would mean

  • moving scatter rugs

  • fastening down carpet edges

  • removing or taping down cords from walking paths

  • remove objects from the stairs

  • clearing up all spills to prevent slipping

For children:

  • keep them away from the cooking area as much as possible

  • keep candles, lighters and matches out of reach

  • place purses that may contain medications well out of reach

  • don't leave glasses with alcohol lying around, even if there's just a little bit left at the bottom

  • if you have any dangerous areas like a pool or pond outside, be sure that someone is always aware of where the children are, even if the area is locked off

General tips:

  • keep hot foods hot and cold foods cold

  • ensure all candles and cigarettes are extinguished properly

Today at Help My Hurt:

Hope for people who have gout

Maybe it is all in your head - but in a very real way

Today at Womb Within:

Women in labor can control their own epidurals

Prenatal test says Down’s - would you believe it?

Today at Seniors Support:

Gift shopping for seniors with special needs

Don’t decrease your sleep as you age - your heart needs it

If your parents lived to be 100…

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Information for seniors and about the elderly

A while ago, I proposed an idea for a site that would be full of interesting information and resources for a very important part of our society: Seniors and the elderly. The idea was shot down because they didn't feel that there would be a big enough audience for it.

That's not what I think.

I think that Seniors are becoming more computer-savvy and want to learn more about what's out there and what resources exist for them. They are adding their computers to their world to be able to communicate with families who have moved far away and to learn new things. I think it would be foolish to ignore such a large group of people.

Then, there are the elderly. I divide the two because, to me, the elderly are frailer and need some sort of care. People in this group are less likely to go on the Internet and, in fact, maybe some seniors are looking after an elderly relative. So, we also need a go-to site for people who are looking for ways to help their elderly loved ones.

The result is my new blog/site called Seniors Support. It's still in its infancy, but I know it will do well. There's a huge demand for something like this and I hope to fill it.

Please stop by Seniors Support to check it out. If you think it will be valuable, please send the link on to others who may be able to use the information.

Thank you!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

2008 Universal Children's Day

When we think of the sad situation of having a child die, we usually imagine a fatal disease or horrible accident. Sadly though, millions of children die every year from preventable illnesses, sometimes as simple as diarrhea. Other illnesses, like malaria and pneumonia are usually quite easy to treat and very inexpensively. Yet, the children are still dying.

The United Nations General Assembly established Universal Children's Day in 1954 in order to promote the welfare of children all over the world.

According to a press release issued by US Fund for UNICEF:

"These children are not dying from incurable diseases or causes. These children are dying from diarrhea, pneumonia, measles and malaria---things that cost pennies to treat or prevent," said Caryl Stern, President and C.E.O., U.S. Fund for UNICEF. "It is unacceptable and inexcusable that defenseless children continue to die when the technology, expertise and solutions to save them exist right now."

In 1980, the annual rate of under-five child deaths hovered at 14.6 million, which totaled 40,000 children a day. By 1990 that number was reduced to 12.7 million children annually. Last year annual child deaths declined to about 9.2 million, in spite of rapid population growth, many prolonged civil conflicts and the HIV/AIDS pandemic.

There are ways that we can help. My 17-year-old has been involved in raising money for mosquito nets. He plays in a floor hockey league - actually, this year he's an assistant coach. Every year his program exchanges small gifts but last Christmas, it was decided that instead of exchanging 10.00 gifts, they would donate the money for mosquito nets. I don't remember how many they bought, but it was a good number.

Back in June, there was an article in the New York Times about mosquito nets: A $10 Mosquito Net Is Making Charity Cool.

Let's remember and see if we can help those children - and those parents who are losing their children - in whatever small way we can.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Stem cells make trachea transplant possible

Organ transplants are risky. First, you need to be put on a waiting list that may be too long to find you a donor. Then, once a donor is found, there is always the chance that the organ will be rejected by your body. It only makes sense; we have no way of telling your body that it's ok, this foreign thing is something we want in there. The medications that people take after organ transplants are many and also have side effects. But then, there's the bright side: a life saved and a second chance. So, despite the many drawbacks, there are more benefits and the research continues to make transplantation more effective.

Now, there may be just the kind of breakthrough that scientists need. A 30-year-old woman in Spain has received a trachea (windpipe) to replace one that had collapsed and couldn't be repaired with surgery. The actual trachea came from a donor, but the cells in the trachea that would/could have triggered a rejection were removed or stripped from the trachea so they could no longer have that effect. The doctors then took some adult stem cells (the building block for producing bone marrow and blood) and other cells, and grafted (attached) them to the donated trachea. The stem cells came from a healthy part of the woman's airway.  The trachea was then left to "grow" the new cells and then transplanted into the woman.

Of course, this is the first of its kind and it's only been four months since the surgery, so long-term results aren't available. But researchers are happy with what has happened so far. The patient is now able to walk and care for her children without running out of breath.

How cool is that? And if they can do this with a trachea, can this be done for life-saving organs? One can only hope.

Today at Help My Hurt:

First the hips, then the knees, and now the ankles

Motrin felt the pain - pulled ad

Today at Cancer Commentary:

Have you heard of Movember?

What do broccoli and lung cancer have in common?

Today at Womb Within:

For fairness, a home birth that didn’t go well

Weight loss surgery helps women have fewer pregnancy complications

Although rare, increased chance of birth defects with IVF

News for Today:

Too little sleep tied to increased cancer risk

2nd Generation Antidepressants Prove Effective

One-third of asthma cases may be misdiagnosed, study says

How Likely Are You to Get Cancer?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Medical tourism - what do you think?

I've heard about medical tourism but I don't know anyone who has participated in this. Do you?

South Korea is building its own medical tourism industry to offer some competition to other countries, like India and Thailand. The South Korean resort island, Jeju, is welcoming Chinese and Japanese tourists who are taking a break from touring to have a little surgery done.

What some people may be surprised to hear is that the surgery is not only cosmetic but much more serious procedures, like heart bypasses and spinal surgeries. Joint replacements, particularly hips, are a big draw as well.

Who are these medical tourists?

The people range from patients from the United States who can't afford treatment at home to those from socialized medicine countries, like Canada or the United Kingdom, who don't want to wait.

What are the drawbacks?

The appeal of having surgery in such an environment is obvious. These hospitals are catering to you so you get the best of everything. In some places, transportation is arranged from the airport to the hospital, with luxury rooms waiting for you and your companion. Special diets and comfort amenities are all part of the tourism experience. But what about the drawbacks?

Many of these countries don't have the malpractice protection that countries like United States, which could cause financial difficulties if there are problems. Also, doctors in countries where the patients live are warning that if anything happens as a result of the surgery in another country, the cost of treating the complications become the burden of the home country.

What about payment?

For sure, these out-of-country surgeries are not cheap. But, in some places, the government is actually able to help you. In Canada, provincial health boards will provide you with some of the costs if you can prove that the procedure you are going for is not available in Canada or the waiting list is excessively long and could cause irreparable harm.

So, what do you think? Would you do something like this if it was available to you?

Today at Help My Hurt:

If you have lupus or other diseases, do you know about the Spoon Theory?

Interstitial cystitis differs if you’ve been sexually abused

Another pain you shouldn’t ignore

Today at Cancer Commentary:

Fertile Future

Childhood cancer - a devastating blow

Queasy Pops Nausea Suckers

Today at Womb Within:

Win a conception kit over at Lively Women

Choices in childbirth statement

News for Today:

Hypertension Develops Early, Silently, in African-American Men

Surgeons must do more to reduce infection: study

Top 5 Things Your Nails Say About Your Health

Friday, November 14, 2008

Could stem cell transplants be the answer to AIDS?

I read a few articles yesterday about a man who may have been cured of AIDS with a bone marrow transplant. Apparently, an American man with both HIV and leukemia was receiving treatment in Germany. His doctor recommended and proceeded with a stem cell (bone marrow) transplant for the leukemia but found, 20 month later, that the man was also HIV-free.

While this may seem promising and that was my first reaction, as I thought about it, I began to have my doubts. I don't doubt that this man's HIV went away, but was it the transplant? If so and if it does become a promising treatment, how realistic is it?

People with leukemia have a tough enough time finding a bone marrow donor who matches them, how would people find a donor for HIV. And, since there are  parts of the world that have so many cases of AIDS, like in many countries in Africa, how will they pay for such an expensive treatment? How could they even manage?

I don't mean to belittle the findings - if they're accurate. But I have a suspicion there's more behind this than meets the eye.

Today at Help My Hurt:

New IBS guidelines should include soluble fiber, antispasmodics and peppermint oil

Heart patients should use caution with pain killers

Today at Womb Within:

“He” is NOT a man, but “he” is pregnant again.

Sperm donor shortage in Britain

Today at Cancer Commentary:

Some sad news in the writer’s community in Canada - Emru Townsend

Cancer affects our pets too

Prostate cancer study halted

News for Today:

Spare tire raises death risk, even for the slender

Google Using Search To Track Flu Trends

ECG tests no better than physical for predicting heart disease: study

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bone marrow recipient, Emru Townsend, passes away

Back in May, I wrote a post about the importance of registering with the bone marrow registry and being a donor (Bone marrow transplants - would you be a donor?). I followed up this post in June with a good news post, that Emru had been matched with a donor (Great news! Montreal man is matched for bone marrow).

Sadly, now I must post that in the end, the leukemia was too tough and Emru passed away last night, surrounded by his family.

God speed Emru. I only met you briefly, but your story touched many people.

Today on Help My Hurt:

On this day of remembrance, a smile or two

Nominate your healthcare provider for fibromyalgia care?

Today on Cancer Commentary:

Do you know how to perform a self breast exam?

Young immigrant women to US must receive Gardasil - but not citizens

Vets at high risk for lung cancer

Today on Womb Within:

United States failing grade: care of premature babies

Today’s smile

News for today:

Obese Kids Have Middle-Aged Arteries

Heart needs adequate sleep

Vision test for elderly drivers linked to fewer vehicle deaths: study

Intimacy may defend couples against stress

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Remembrance Day 2008

November 11th: a day of remembering and of thanks for all those who fought for us and who continue to do their duty, be it fighting a war or keeping the peace. It's called Remembrance Day here in Canada. Regardless of the name, the sentiment is the same.

The years are passing and our veterans are dying. It won't be long before there are no veterans left from World War II, and the ones who fought in Korea are aging too. In Canada, we don't have the Vietnam vets, but in the United States, their memories aren't as heroic, it seems.

The photo is the poppy I wore on my coat this month. The symbol of the poppy is worn in Canada to remember those who fought in past wars and who are on peacekeeping missions now.

My parents were in the Netherlands during WWII although they rarely talk about their experiences. What does come through though, is their enduring gratitude to the Canadian soldiers who liberated them. We hear so often of America's role in the wars that many don't know about the strong presence of the Canadians, and the large number of Canadian lives that were lost.

As the memories of the wars fade, some people work to keep them alive. We need to remember so we don't make the same mistakes again. But keeping memories alive can be a difficult road. A Canadian singer, Terry Kelly, has used his talent with a song he wrote in response to an incident he saw in 1999, when he was in a grocery store. The employees and customers were observing 2 minutes of silence at 11 a.m. on the 11th day of the 11th month. All - that is - except for one man who was there with his young daughter.

His song, A Pittance of Time, was written for us to remember the past. I encourage you to click on the link and listen and watch.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Early signs of autism?

I have to start this post by saying that I personally don't know a lot about autism. I do know people who have children who have autism and I've read a lot about it. But, any information I write about is what I've gleaned from my research.

I do know that hearing that your child has autism can be devastating. In one way, it's reassuring to actually have a diagnosis for something that you knew was wrong but couldn't identify - but in another - you now have to deal with the diagnosis. Some children have mild autism and can function well in a "normal" environment, while others need much more care and guidance, and may not ever end up living as his or her peers. The spectrum is that wide.

It used to be said that autism was caused by the mother - she didn't pay enough attention to the child. I guess this reasoning came from the fact that the children usually do develop normally for the first year of life - at least, they seem to be developing normally. But, more and more research is beginning to find that maybe children with autism are showing signs of it well before it's noticed - and well before the vaccines that are often blamed are introduced.

There was a study published recently that described how infants looked at their caregivers. Normally, infants look directly into the eyes of their caregivers. This eye-to-eye contact is well known between mother and child. This looking into the eyes continues on as we grow and learn that this is what people want and it allows us to maintain a certain level of contact.

Interestingly, in the study, researchers found that the time that toddlers looked in the eyes of their caregiver could actually predict how social they were or if they had a social "disability." The less the child looked into the eyes, the higher the level of difficulty with interaction.

The same researchers worked on another study that examined what the children were looking at if not the caregivers' eyes. What they found was there was a greater likelihood that the child would focus on the mouth and its lip movements and sound.

And now, there is yet another study that is saying that there may be signs of autism as early as 12 months. In California, researchers have found that how a child plays with his or her toys may give clues into autism. The article, to by published in the journal Autism, found that children who were later found to have autism were those who played with toys that rotated or spun repetitively. They also would stare at toys, like rattles.

If these studies bear out what they have found, then this is yet another nail in the coffin of those who feel that autism is caused by vaccines. It is also something that may become an issue that should be on the checklist of well-baby checks.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Canadian "best" blogs

Although my blog reaches far beyond my Canadian borders, I never forget that I am Canadian. I must admit though, that I get a big kick when I look at the visitors who stopped by. I get visitors from the Philippines, India, Turkey, New Zealand, the Netherlands, England, and so many other countries. I hope that they find the information here helpful.

But, back to being Canadian. Many blog contests or searches for the best blogs end up being American. I have no issues with that as there is a huge market in the US for these blogs, but I was thrilled to see that there are Canadian Blog Awards. If you're like me and like to support Canadian initiatives, why not check them out? Last year's winner in the health category was Weighty Matters, by Ottawa family physician and obesity specialist Yoni Freedhoff.

Today at Cancer Commentary:

Are you ready to be a caregiver?
Michael Crichton, creator of Jurassic Park and ER, dies of cancer
Your income level affects survival of lymphoma

Today at Help My Hurt:

Cynthia Toussaint to be on ABC World News Now tomorrow
Use caution with on-line yoga videos
Aha! Proof that fibromyalgia *is* a “real” disease

Today at Womb Within:

Pre-eclampsia could be warning sign of future heart health
Can acupuncture induce labor?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election day in the U.S. - health care issues

As my regular readers may know, I'm Canadian. We had a general election in October, five weeks after it was called. But, as many Canadians, I have been following the US election with great interest. I think it's an historic time for all and I've been as captivated as many Americans in the back and forth between the political parties.

One major issue that I keep reading about and know of from American friends relating their personal experiences, is that of health care. As you make your decision of who to vote for, many of you are basing this on health care.

It's easy for me, as a Canadian, to roll my eyes when I hear the arguments against "socialized" medicine, but it breaks my heart when I read about my American friends who have to make job decisions based on insurance and who still end up paying large amounts of money just to get basic health care.

The Canadian medical system isn't perfect. It definitely has its faults and its flaws. But, I know that if I'm sick, I can go to the doctor (emergency room, clinic, etc) and get the basic care I need without having to worry about if I can afford it. Our buildings may not be flashy, our walls may need a good paint job, but the people who are working within the system are doing their best to make it work. I do wish I could wave a magic wand and fix all the problems we do have, but I also thank God that I don't live in a place where my health has a dollar value.

Please don't think of socialized medicine as a great big evil. Whoever you vote for, whatever your beliefs, please just take this thought away: there are only two countries in the developed world that don't protect their citizens' health: South Africa and the United States. If you want to be the greatest country in the world, you're going to have to make sure that the people in that country can afford decent health care.

Today at Cancer Commentary:

Obama’s grandmother dies of cancer, one day before historic election
Never discuss politics, religion or - Gardasil - at a dinner party
Patrick Swayze - hard at work a year after pancreatic cancer diagnosis

Today at Help My Hurt:

The migraine that’s not quite there, but won’t quite go away either
Bowling may give you more than you bargain for

Today at Womb Within:

TV shows do increase chances of teen pregnancies
Not rushing labor results in fewer Cesarean sections

Monday, November 3, 2008

More on the elderly and falling

One of my pet topics is preventing injury among our seniors. I've written a few times on the dangers of a senior breaking a hip and how this can be the beginning of a decline that can result in someone who was originally very healthy, seeing his or her independence lost forever (Broken hips in the elderly can lead to death).

When I teach first aid, I emphasize prevention of the accident to begin with before I start teaching what to do after the emergency happened.

Some famous people have fallen lately - two seem to be recovering, but one has died since his fall two weeks ago. Not long ago, Nancy Reagan fell and broke her pelvis. Recently, Barack Obama's grandmother, the who raised him, fell and broke her pelvis and hip. And the other day, author Studs Terkel, died two weeks after he fell.

There are several ways to minimize falls in the home and outside. They can't eliminate all accidents, but they can limit the chances of them happening:

Remove all scatter rugs, even those that lay on carpets. While scatter rugs on smooth floors can slip, scatter rugs on carpets can catch the toe of someone and cause that person to trip.

Ensure handles and side rails on all stairs, even if there are only 2 or 3 steps, are present and well fastened.

If there is carpet on the stairs, be sure it is well tacked down.

Consider putting rubber treads on wooden stairs.

Don't leave any objects on the stairs.

Have a nightlight that turns on when it senses movement, particularly at the top of stair cases.

Install grab bars in the bathroom.

Wipe up all spills immediately to prevent slipping.

Make sure all electrical cords are off to the side or in such a way that they can't be a tripping hazard.

Wear slippers or shoes with good rubber soles or anti-slip fabrics. Do not walk on non-carpeted floors in your socks.

If you take medications to help you sleep, do not take laxatives that will work in the middle of the night.

Do you have any to add?

Today at Cancer Commentary:

Patrick Swayze - hard at work a year after pancreatic cancer diagnosis
Pap tests can save your life - Q & A
Michigan voting on legalizing medicinal marijuana

Today at Help My Hurt:

Bowling may give you more than you bargain for
Rheumatoid arthritis and gum diseases?

Today at Womb Within:

Not rushing labor results in fewer Cesarean sections
More bad news about gaining too much weight in pregnancy

News for Today:

How To Tackle Downturn-Related Depression
Flu shot protects kids -- even during years with a bad vaccine match

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Time changes - more to it than the Clock Change Shuffle

Not everyone does the twice-a-year Clock Change Shuffle and according to the health experts, that may be a good thing. Besides the annoyance of having to change all the clocks in the house. car, purse, and pocket (and Lord knows, we have way more clocks these days than we ever did before), there seems to be a not-so-good effect on our health and well-being most of the time. But - it's not all bad.

Statistics show that there are more accidents in the few days following time changes and that many people suffer from sleep problems as they adjust to the one hour change either way. One would think that it's easy enough to make up for a lost hour of sleep in the spring and enjoy the one extra hour of sleep in the fall, but that doesn't seem to be so. And, pity the poor night-shift worker who has to work that extra hour in the middle of the night. I've done it and man, does that extra hour make a big, big difference in how you feel that night.

Anyway, back to health stuff. As weird as this sounds, falling back an hour in the fall slightly increases our chance of developing breast, prostate and colorectal cancers if you live in a northern country like Canada. The evidence isn't strong enough to warrant any action, but there is a link to the amount of vitamin D you get (from the sun) and certain types of cancer. So, organizations like the Canadian Cancer Society has issued a plea that we up our daily intake of vitamin D to balance out the lack of it from the sun during the winter months.

Now for the good news. Mondays are notorious high heart attack days in hospital emergency departments. Every Monday that is, except for the one following the change back from Daylight Savings Time. Swedish researchers published the results of a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, that showed there were 5% fewer heart attacks the Monday after the time change. Of course, if there's this effect in the spring, we can assume - and we'd be right, say the researchers - that there's a rise in heart attacks the the full week, not just Monday, after we go back to Daylight Savings Time.

Today at Cancer Commentary:

New MRI procedure may detect even earlier cervical cancer
November: Cancer awareness months for several health issues

Today at Help My Hurt:

Rheumatoid arthritis and gum diseases?
November is…

Today at Womb Within:

More bad news about gaining too much weight in pregnancy
November: Raising awareness on premature babies
Yes, your life is going to change

News for Today:

New Drug Approved for Overactive Bladder
Bed nets pay off with plunge in malaria cases in Gambia
Doctor with Down son denied immigration

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Yes, it's been quiet, but now we'll get back up to speed

If you're a regular reader, you may have noticed that my posting has slowed down considerably. I apologize for that. Part of it started when I was flagged as a spam blog; it really threw me for a loop. But then, as my blog was reinstated (I guess "they" figured out it wasn't spam!), I became very busy with various things. One of those was I now have a new blog, called Cancer Commentary. It is also on the b5media network, as are Help My Hurt and Womb Within.

Now that this is all settled and launched, I can begin putting my efforts back into my original love, this blog.

That's not to say I'm not busy! I'm renovating my house right now. We just had the bathroom done and it's just about finished except for the painting and I have to finish refinishing three cabinet doors. We ripped out the ugly, ugly, ugly, puke-green bath and bath insert (the walls too!), toilet and sink. We now have a lovely white tub with gorgeous tiling around it, and a new toilet and sink. I also repainted the vanity with a white melamine paint, as well as the mirror trim and the lamp trim. It looks so nice.

The kitchen was also targeted. Last Monday, our contractor ripped out the whole thing. Everything. So, all of our stuff had been moved over into the dining room, including the fridge. Cooking in such cramped quarters, without a stove, is - shall we say, challenging? As of yesterday, the floor had been laid and grouted and was dry. The cupboards (most of them) have been installed and the stove is now in and workable. We still can't use the counters and there's no sink, but that's ok. I'm not complaining. :-)

As soon as the kitchen is complete, hopefully by midweek next week, we'll still have painting to do, but that's minor, compared with what we've had. Then, our dining room is next. For one full month, I scraped and scraped and scraped to get some horrid, awful stucco off all four walls of the dining room. Not the ceiling, but the walls. Whoever applied it (and did a horrible job at that) should be forced to live the rest of his life removing stucco. Anyway, the walls underneath are ruined, but we found a great type of wall that we can cover them with. It's much thicker than traditional panelling and it comes in different styles. We can then stain them or paint them. But, it will be a big job to get that all up.

Those are the big projects - there are more small things to come. So, as you can see, things have been incredibly busy!

Anyway, so that's all the news there's fit to know about the blogs and time and renovations.

See you around!


Monday, October 27, 2008

Stress and health

If we ever needed any convincing that stress affected physical health, we shouldn't need it now - not with the economy the way it is and people losing their jobs and homes. But it doesn't take extreme stress, like a death or losing your home to affect people. Smaller stresses, even those that are pleasant, can affect us too. This includes getting married, moving, or having a baby.

How do the stresses affect us? It all depends on the person. Some people who are stressed can't eat. They lose their appetite and lose weight. As they lose weight, they also become malnourished as they're not getting the vitamins and nutrients their body requires. The result? The get sick. Or, they may overeat. Overeating can trigger other problems if the pounds start to add up.

Stress can affect your blood pressure, cause migraines, worsen chronic diseases like asthma or diabetes, and it can bring on other health problems, like shingles (herpes zoster). I remember when I got shingles, my brother had died three months before and I was sick with a cold that had triggered an asthma attack *and* I had a sinus infection. If that combination didn't cause enough stress to trigger shingles, I don't know what stress could be.

So - if we are under stress, what can we do to protect ourselves? Well, you know that whole bit about eating properly, getting enough exercise and sleep? It's even more important when we have stress. And, we need to listen to our body and listen well. If you're one of those people who loses appetite with stress, make sure you eat healthy foods when you do eat, for example.

We can't eliminate stress from our life, but we can change how we react to it.

Today at Help My Hurt:

Desperate Housewife Dana Delaney raises awareness about scleroderma
Fibromyalgia: “Most of those people are difficult patients”
Patients with heart failure may have higher risk of fractures

Today at Womb Within:

Lupus and getting pregnant
Half a million women dying each year - preventable pregnancy-related deaths
Depression in pregnancy increases risk of preterm delivery
Have abdominal pain? Meet the Virtual Doctor

News for Today:
Free flu shots linked to fewer deaths, demands on health care system
Immigrants more likely to suffer heart problems
Staph germs harder than ever to treat, studies say (AP)
Panic Attacks May Be an Independent Risk Factor for Cardiovascular Disease
Caregiving may be associated with poorer health in certain groups