Saturday, June 22, 2013

Saturday Round-Up - Day 22 of Blogathon 2013

Happy Saturday! It's day 22 of the Blogathon and finding ideas isn't all that difficult considering all the news that's been around the past few weeks.

Saturday is round up day here. On Monday, Blogathon participants were challenged to post videos on their blog. Here are a few of the blogs that participated:

Want to catch up on this blog's week's posts? Here is what we talked about this week:

Relaxing Sundays, Good for the Soul
When It's Time to Say Good-bye to a Beloved Pet (with video)
Easier-to-Understand Drug Labels for Canadians
Health Care - from Your Tablet or Smart Phone?
Distracted (Texting & Talking) Walking - No Sympathy Here
Obesity - a Disease?

Friday, June 21, 2013

Obesity a Disease?

Is obesity a disease? A result of lifestyle? An adverse effect of medications? A symptom of a disease? What is obesity and should we be trying to define it?

According to the American Medical Association (AMA), yes we do need to define it and, yes, obesity is now a disease. This declaration has surprised some in the medical community because an advisory committee had actually advised against this new designation. But the AMA isn't the only physicians' organization to say obesity is a disease. An article was published not too long ago in the British Medical Bulletin that said the same thing. The abstract says:

"Obesity is associated with the development of some of the most prevalent diseases of modem society. " It goes on to list the increased risk for diabetes, coronary heart disease, and gallbladder disease, as other problems that include the endocrine and respiratory systems. " Obesity is not a social stigma but an actual disease with a major genetic component to its aetiology and a financial cost estimated at $69 billion for the USA alone."

A CTV article says:

Supporters argued that obesity fits the criteria of a disease, since it impairs body function and can lead to serious conditions such as Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

Detractors argued that obesity was more of a risk factor for other conditions, rather than a disease on its own.

Critics of the new designation fear that by labeling obesity as a disease, people will stop choosing lifestyle changes as an option for losing weight. While it's true that not everyone can lose weight through changing their habits, many can - and the idea that this isn't necessary because it's a medical problem could result in more people having surgery or taking medications than is really necessary.

To be clear, not everyone who is obese is overweight because of poor diet or lack of exercise. There are biological and medical reasons that may be the driving factor. But, we can't deny that we have a problem with obesity in our society these days that is, for many people, caused by poor diets and lack of exercise.

So, is obesity a disease? What do you think?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Distracted (Texting & Talking) Walking - No Sympathy Here

We see it every day. People looking down at their phones or are in deep conversation as they walk down the street or through a mall. Many times, we see these people walk right into obstacles or even down stairs. They walk straight into intersections because they're so busy texting or reading their latest text. They don't hear cars honking because their phone conversation has all their attention.

And you know what? I'm afraid I'm going to say that if they walk into a telephone pole or fall down the stairs because of their behaviour, I'm not going to feel sorry for them. Unfortunately though - the damage doesn't stop just with them. Their stupidity and selfishness (I *must* take the call/read this text/send this message NOW) behaviour affects not just them, but the people around them.

Picture this: a texting pedestrian doesn't see the stop signal and walks straight into traffic - and is hit by a car. I don't feel bad for the pedestrian, but my heart breaks for the poor soul who was driving that car. That accident was caused 100% by the idiot who didn't pay attention to the road and has quite likely not only changed the pedestrian's life forever (if the pedestrian wasn't killed), but the life of the driver will never be the same.

If you're texting and you fall down the stairs, break several bones or get a concussion - you're not the only one affected. The people who have to help you are. Your family and friends are. Your coworkers are. What could possibly be so important that you can't wait until you're at your destination or, at least, you stop (over to the side!) to do what you have to do. Yes folks, "step aside." I've had people stop in their tracks, right in front me, as they stop to read something on their phone or to dial a number. As I smash into them, they look at *me* as if I did something wrong. Excuse me? We're walking along the sidewalk at a quick clip, you stop in your tracks because you want to look at your phone and it's my fault I couldn't read your mind and make a split second decision to move around you?

Lest you think I'm just on a rant, I will tell you about a study that was just published on this issue:

Distracted walking: injuries soar for pedestrians on phones. Here are just two examples: "One 14-year-old boy walking down a road while talking on a cell phone fell 6 to 8 feet off a bridge into a rock-strewn ditch, suffering chest and shoulder injuries. A 23-year-old man was struck by a car while walking on the middle line of a road and talking on a cell phone, injuring his hip."

And don't get me started on the number of parents with young children I see pushing strollers or holding their children's hands while the parents are deep in conversation (voice or text), ignoring their children the whole time. I've seen young mothers on the phone, push their stroller right into traffic because they aren't paying attention. I'm afraid to say, it's almost always a mom I see doing it.

Nothing is that important that you can't step aside or wait a few minutes to deal with it.

Rant over. I think.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Health Care - from Your Tablet or Smart Phone?

What do you do if you have a quick question you want to ask your doctor or a nurse? Do you have access to someone? Can you call your doctor's office for an answer? What if you're not feeling well, but you don't know if it's something that should be looked at or if you'll be better if you get a good night's sleep? The answer might soon be in your pocket, purse, or backpack if you have a tablet or smart phone.

Today's world is full of instant communication. Having a phone in hand all the time makes phone calls or texts a quick thing to do, rather than when you used to have to wait until you got home, to the office, or even if you found a pay phone. The Internet has added to this "instant-ness" by providing you with information as fast as you can type your search request. So, can our health care fall into this type of category?

According to an article written by HealthDay News, which undertook a survey on how people might want to use their technology for their health care, "one-third of respondents who are online said they were "very" or "extremely" interested in using smartphones or tablets to ask their doctors questions, make appointments or get medical test results."

For the past two years, I have been able to make appointments with two of my doctors online and I do like that convenience very much. The convenience of making appointments online is considerable and this was reinforced a few weeks ago when I had to make an appointment with another doctor the "old-fashioned" way, by phone. It took a few calls before I could finally get through to someone. But, once I did, the receptionist was very helpful and apologetic.

With the online booking system my other doctors use, you can make your appointment and if it's not soon enough for your liking, you can check daily for cancellations and grab one if an opening comes up. The drawback to the system, however, is these doctors have cut back on their receptionists or their hours and if you need to call to ask a question (no email), it's very, very, VERY difficult to get through. You have to call many times, different times of the day to finally speak to someone because their system doesn't take voicemail.

While being able to email your doctor to ask questions may be appealing to many people, we have to take into consideration practicalities. One email from you might not take much time to answer, but if your doctor receives 30 emails in a day from patients, some with complex questions, when is she going to have time to respond when she is supposed to be seeing patients? And, of course, we all know how email piles up when you're not in the office, so if your doctor is off for a day or two, is working in a clinic or hospital for a day, or is just at home overnight - that 30 emails can easily balloon to a much higher number. This system may not be sustainable.

On the other hand, a system that allows doctors' offices to send normal test results straight to a patient via text or email could save considerable time and stress on behalf of the patients who may be worrying about what the tests will show. Many doctors will say to patients "We'll call if the tests show anything out of the ordinary," meaning they won't call if things are normal. But that leaves people hanging. Did the doctor not call because the tests were normal or did he not call because the results haven't come in? Or did he not call because the tests did come in and he did mean to call, but something happened and the call never happened?

So, what do you think? Can you get hold of your doctor or healthcare professional whenever you need? Would you like to be able to email your doctor? But how would it be possible for the doctors to take on this extra task in their already busy day?

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Easier-to-Understand Drug Labels for Canadians

If you're sick, trying to figure out how you should be taking what medication should be the last of your worries. Unfortunately, not having clear drug labelling can be confusing and add to medications being missed or not being taken correctly.

According to an article on

"[A]s many as 1 in 9 emergency room visits are related to drug adverse events, and 68% of these visits are preventable. Patients often suffer because of drug labels, packaging or names that they've misunderstood."

This isn't difficult to see. Many drugs sound alike or look alike, and when you're not feeling 100% to begin with, mistakes are bound to happen. While the article doesn't go into much detail about the new labelling, the fact that the issue is being addressed can only be a good thing.

As a nurse, I often had to give discharge instructions to patients, explaining their medications and who they should be taken. But as a parent, relative, and friend of people who take medications, it became plain to me that what may be obvious to me isn't to everyone. For example, take the medication ibuprofen. That's the generic name, the common name. But people in North America also know it as Advil, Motrin, or Nuprin. For prednisone, the generic name, people may know it as deltasone. And that's just the simpler drugs. I've been known to say to someone who is asking for something for a headache, "I have some ibuprofen," only to get a response, "is that the same as Advil?"

Another problem is medications that sound alike. Celexa (an antidepressant) could be easily confused with Celebrex (an anti-inflammatory); Cozaar (for high blood pressure) with colace (a stool softener); Flonase (a nasal spray used for allergy congestion) with Flovent (an inhaled steroid, often used for asthma; and Miralax (a laxative) with Mirapex (a medication for Parkinson's disease). These are just a few examples. The Institute for Safe Medication Practices in the US has compiled a long list of similarly named medications.

What do you think? What could manufacturers do to make drug labels safer?

Monday, June 17, 2013

When It's Time to Say Good-bye to a Beloved Pet

Pet owners know how hard it is when it's time for their beloved animal to leave. Sometimes, our pets die on their own, but all too often, we have to make that decision. It's so very difficult.

I grew up with dogs and cats. When my children were young, we started off with guinea pigs and then dogs joined our family. We couldn't have cats because a few family members are quite allergic to them.

Rox waiting at the front window
Our first dog was our beloved golden retriever Rox. We loved that dog with a passion we didn't think possible. He was goofy, silly, but incredibly loving golden. But he left us when he was too young. He had stomach cancer. He came to us when he was 2 years old. He died when he was 7.

Rox was such a special dog that others, some people who swore they would never get a dog, adopted one after spending time with him. His gentleness eased so many fears and his eagerness to please won over so many people. I remember him greeting our milkman every time he came, jumping for joy when he saw him. The day after Rox died, the milkman came to the door and looked past me to see Rox. When I told him that Rox had died, he cried. Rox was that special.

A while later, we adopted our first greyhound, Oscar. Oscar was a real character. While Rox will always be my heart dog, Oscar had a special place all his own. He loved life. He was 2 years old, as was Rox when he joined us, when we got him straight from the racetrack. He was a poor excuse of a racer, which is why he was so young, but he was a major star in being a part of our family.

Goofball Oscar

Greyhounds are the polar opposite of golden retrievers. They are often called the feline dogs. They do need some special care that other breeds don't, but they're not the high strung, high energy dogs that many people think they are. Most greyhounds I've met are more than happy to snuggle on a soft bed or couch.

I used to keep a "diary" of Oscar and his antics. After he died, I published a book, Oscar's Diaries, Life as a Retired Greyhound. Sadly, he also died of cancer, at age 5.

Dee, her first day
We then adopted Dee, a retired broodmom greyhound. She had been kept to breed and had never lived in a home. She was 9 years old! She didn't stay with us for long, only 9 months, but she had a great 9 months. She was a brat, a real brat - but she deserved to be.

Making that decision is tough and our veterinarians know that. There was an article published recently in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, describing a tool that is being developed by researchers at Michigan State University. They are hoping that such a tool will help make this sad decision a little bit easier.

Today's theme of Blogathon 2013 is using a video. I was going to make a video, a how-to about something health-related, but as I was poking through my files, I found this video I made after Oscar died. I think it says so much about the love that we have for our pets and I still miss him - and all my other beloved animals, very much.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Relaxing Sundays, Good for the Soul

I just remembered the other day that I did a "relaxing Sunday" thing during last year's Blogathon. So, I'll do it for the remaining ones for the month.

What do you do to relax? Do you like to read? Exercise? Do a hobby? Everyone needs something to help them with some down time. In our house, my husband loves to read newspapers - and look at maps. If I ask him what he's looking for with a particular atlas or map, he'll say "nothing, just looking." I have to admit, I find maps fascinating too. My parents had an atlas (do they even publish those any more?). I used to love taking it off the shelf and just look at the different countries and far away places.

I like to read too, but my real relaxation comes from my quilting. Last week, I spent two and a half hours in a waiting room, waiting for someone who was undergoing a medical test. I brought with me some work, my Kindle for reading, and a lap quilt that I'm working on. It turns out that the lighting in the waiting room was perfect for some hand quilting and although I hadn't planned on it, I quilted straight through that whole time.

unfinished quilt top
Often, I quilt while watching television or a movie. Sometimes I listen to an audiobook, but I rarely just quilt without something going on around me. I actually feel that the quilting is an addition to what I'm doing. Watching tv? Ok, better quilt so my hands are busy. Listening to some music? Get quilting... but rarely do I just sit and quilt.

What was particularly remarkable about this time was that it was so meditative, so relaxing. I could listen to conversations around me, think and ponder about life, or just zone out and look at my stitching. The time didn't drag at all as it often does if I'm reading a book while I wait. I think because while I'm reading, I get distracted by sounds and conversations. With the quilting, it was all part of the experience.

For the quilters who are interested in seeing what I'm working on, here it is. It's an unmarked fan quilting pattern, starting from the bottom up. I read that Bonnie Hunter did this, but she goes around the edges towards the middle. I thought that for this quilt, the fans looked better from the bottom up. I'm using a lovely cotton thread of many colours and the batting is a dream to quilt through, a cotton batting that I bought at Joann's by the roll. I still have about eight inches of quilting to do on it.

close up of quilting

So, how do you relax?