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.


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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.