Getting old is considered a privilege and we celebrate those octagenarians who are still playing the violin, running marathons or volunteering with the even more elderly. They should be celebrated but there is a dark side to being aged. Those who can no longer care for themselves end up in facilities that are all over the place with the services and environments they provide. Some are very good and some awful. A recent study has shown that some of the old people who sit listlessly staring into space are over-medicated. Treatment for physical problems makes sense and few of us of a certain age don't need help with blood pressure or something else. These people are given anti-psychotic meds, perhaps to help control them. In the study, when people were taken off of the pills, the were more alert, one old gentleman getting up and dancing to music when he hadn't shown interest in anything for months. Well, there's a surprise. As people age, they are more and more fragile. Metabolic systems age and drugs affect them differently. Pharmaceutical research is typically done with subjects who are male and young, certainly not aged. It's no wonder that old people aren't active and engaged if they are taking anti-psychotics when the correct dosage isn't even known. More people should be enjoying old age and coukd if the condition was better understood.
Mrs. Shadbolt treated me like her real grandchild and was so good to my mum. My paternal grandmother didn't speak much English and might not even have really understood who I was. My maternal grandparents had died long before I was born as
had my paternal grandfather. Grandma Shadbolt lived to be 100 but by that time her sharp, sharp mind had dulled a little. She had always worked so hard...physical work milking cows and working on the farm.
Merry eyes twinkle between
her wise old lady lids
And when she laughs, it is a heartly laugh
that ninety three years cannot mute
The table still groans with
her generosity and takes my
To her kitchen, a cavern
of warm, baking smells
and preserves and cheese
Home-made bread in
thick slices and
thick, dark coffee
rich with the cream
skimmed from the
Freshly churned butter
melts into hot bread.
I follow her to the barn
black and white Holsteins
patiently wait for the
"So,Boss. So, Boss."
She gentles each cow as
she attaches the machine.
Warm, frothy mild collects
She hefts and empties
pails with strong
Back in her apartment with
these hard times behind her-
her indomitable spirit
carries her forward
into the next year.
Most people can't wait for spring. With the warm weather, plants wake up and pollen is produced. Presto! Seasonal allergies. Allergies are the immune system run amok. A harmless substance like pollen is seen as a threat and the immune system springs into action, overreaction. Anyone who has experienced this knows that for a lot of people, the symptoms are an annoyance, interfering with sleep, breathing and causing general discomfort. To help alleviate the effects, antihistamines are available.
The allergen itself (usually pollen) triggers the allergic reaction. Histamines are released and they are the chemical messengers that stimulate other cells to cause the symptoms. Antihistamines act to interfere with the actions of histamines. First generation antihistamines are those like Benadryl which block the release of histamines. They are quite effective but cause drowsiness. If you have a job where you need to be alert (and what job can you do where you can nod off?), the first generation antihistamine isn't a good choice. The second generation drugs allows the histamine to be released but they block the receptor sites on the histamine's target cells. Their advantage is that they don't make you sleepy. A combination of the drugs works well for some people.
You can develop allergies at any time. I am mildly allergic to something in the air right now. My nose drips and I sneeze. There is a run on tissues in the house but I don't need antihistamines. If you suffer from the seasonal allergies, antihistamines work.
accepted for publication in The Fieldstone Review. It's an online literary journal produced by the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon. I opened an email from TFR (not the snail mail picture I've shown) this morning and was excited to read that my story would be in their 2016 issue. I read the email to Gary (it was short) and his comment was, "How much are they going to pay you?" Sigh. I had to explain to him that there would be no actual money but the prestige- priceless. I exaggerate, of course. Still, it isn't easy to have a short story accepted for publication. The story has to be decent, it has to fit the needs of the editors and it has to compete with many other submissions. All of these things present problems. Writing a story isn't easy. You can't just sit down at the keyboard and tap it out. Way more than that goes into even a bad story. Editors are inundated with submissions and many literary magazines are labours of love. Their editors have day jobs or the editing is a component of their day job. There are a lot of people who want to be published, too. Many of them are fine writers, many more are not and the editors have to read their work to find the story they want. There is luck involved. If your story hits a theme or subject that has been in the magazine lately, it will be rejected even if it is well done.
I feel like a won the crap-shoot this time. Hurrah. I'll post the link to my story when it actually appears.
Gluten-free products are everywhere and food manufacturers, seeing another great marketing opportunity, have jumped on the band wagon. The internet and Google have made self-diagnosis extremely easy (although not necessarily extremely accurate.) People, without seeing a doctor determine that they are gluten-sensitive or allergic to wheat. There are (many undiagnosed because diagnosis is tricky) people who suffer from celiac disease. In this disease, the small intestine with its amazing structures for absorbing the products of digestion are "attacked" by gluten. Their villi (an estimated 4.5 million of them) are changed and can no longer do their job. Symptoms of celiac are nasty and include diarrhea, bloating, gas (flatulence, farting),swollen ankles (edema), anemia, fatigue,
vitamin K deficiency, and excessive bruising and bleeding. These nasty effects are alleviated by following a gluten-free diet.
gluten-free products aren't fortified with vitamins (such as B vitamins, folate and iron) and wheat products normally pass through the digestive tract with no untoward results. Wheat and gluten are not villains. Substitutes carry their own health dangers. Rice products and rice flour increase consumption of serum mercury and arsenic that rice naturally takes up from the soil. Gluten-free products are less nutritious.
Simply, if you suspect you are celiac, see a specialist. Other conditions present similar symptoms but are not due to wheat allergy or gluten sensitivity. They include irritable bowel syndrome, small bowel bacterial overgrowth, and fructose (a sugar) and lactose (milk sugar) intolerance. None of these are harmless conditions but treatment should be for the correct disease.
Gluten-free isn't a healthy choice UNLESS you have celiac. Gluten-free is a marketing ploy but "big" food companies want your bucks and gluten-free is big business.
The idea is pretty horrifying. Find some brain dead people, not just those in comas, but those really brain dead, with no brain stem function. In other words, if the respirator and a variety of other aides fail, these patients quietly decompose. A US company Bioquark Inc. (I almost typed Bioquack), has been given ethical permission to find 20 patients and try to, well, revive their brains. Watching one episode of The Walking Dead shows this could be a bad idea. Death is a natural process and reversing it??? well, it turns out even vampires get tired of living.
The first stage of the ReAnima Project as outlined by Dr. Ira Pastor, Bioquark CEO, will be conducted in India where a cocktail of peptides, electrical stimulation and infusions of stem cells will be used to try and reverse the brain damage. People with brain stem death have permanently lost the potential for consciousness and the capacity to breathe. If some function can return to the brain stem, it could be considered a success. Similar procedures will be undertaken in the United States with the 20 "volunteers."
Stem cells are undifferentiated cells. This means they have the capacity be be specialized and become any cell in the body. It is hoped that the infusion of stem cells will "take" and function in place of the damaged brain cells. Stem cell therapy has been used successfully to repair heart tissue, eyes and blood disorders but there's a lot that isn't understood. Peptides can act as neurotransmitters, chemicals that transport nervous impulses from neuron to neuron. The electro-stimulation might "spark" the nerve cells so they fire. The basic nerve impulse is an electro-chemical event so perhaps the combination of these therapies can repair and wake some of the brain up.
I am not convinced. The "volunteers" couldn't speak for themselves so the procedure is without their consent. There will be no miraculous return from the dead; just a maybe some of the brain stem cells will fire again. I could be too negative. The research could lead to new treatments for such brain diseases as Alzheimers, Parkinsons, and comas. Perhaps it will but when its purpose it to re-animate the brain dead, it is wrong.
First, a confession of sorts. I did go to the Census 2016 website and because I had a short version, I was done is 10 minutes or less. Still, had I been selected for the long version, I have taken the time to fill it out. And it's not really like there's a choice. If you don't comply by May 10th, you could be fined $500, imprisoned for three months or both. This sounds draconian but governments at all levels need to know what their community profile is like.
A CBC article quoted here shows how important the data collected are. "The census collects demographic information on every person living in Canada. That information is then used by governments, businesses, associations, community organizations and others to make important decisions at the municipal, provincial and the federal levels. Results from the census are also used to help inform payment allocation at all levels of government."
The good news is that the first day the government website was up, Canadians, in their eagerness to complete the census, crashed the site. In 2006, the Conservative Government under Stephen Harper had made participation the long form census voluntary although the short form was still mandatory. Instead of 93.5 per cent of people filling the long form, only 77% did. This left government and other agencies struggling without sufficient information.
So, although I had the short form, quick and easy, to those who are completing the long form and some who have even more complicated surveys such as those sent to farmers- Kudos. Decisions without the proper information aren't going to be good. The new information, released 18 months from May 10, should guide the way forward.
Images filled my tv screen and iPad. Wind whipped the forest into a racing wildfire and Nature taught a hard lesson. Mere humans cannot control her rampages. A raging inferno developed, roaring on either side of Highway 63 and through Fort McMurray. All residents were under an mandatory evacuation order. The amateur images and videos I saw were shot by people escaping through shooting flames and rolling black smoke. A living, breathing hell. Evacuees had no choice. To escape the fire, depending on where they were, it was out south or head north on Highway 63. The City of Fort McMurray has one route into town and one out. There isn't a lot of settlement along the way.
Amazingly, the evacuation was orderly. There were reports of people trying to avoid the gridlock by jumping the meridian or driving through the ditch. Some of them got stuck. As one young man said, "There's no use driving like an idiot. You have to wait it out." To this point, there haven't been serious injuries reported. The hospital was evacuated. Some people were airlifted to Edmonton, others went by bus to hospitals in neighbouring communities. All kinds of stories of narrow escapes and separated family members are emerging.
Propane tanks and gas stations exploded; homes and businesses burned to the ground. Those are things. Fort McMurray and its people will return. There are tough times ahead and I cannot imagine driving through a wildfire. or experiencing the loss of everything. The biggest need now is cash. Donations of supplies and goods (other than gas and food) are not helpful.
As I write this (Wednesday, noon), I don't know if the fire will re-ignite. This morning the fires in the city had burned themselves out. Showers are in the forecast but lightning strikes could start a new fire. Rain. lots of it, is needed.
My heart goes out to the people of Fort McMurray. Albertans and Canadians are generous. We will see you through this natural disaster. Life does go on. Two new babies were born in the Noralta evacuation camp. Welcome.
I wasn't going to write about Ezekiel Stephan. Many more well-informed people than me have offered facts and opinions about his death from viral meningitis in 2012. His parents, Collet and David, have been convicted of failing to provide Ezekiel with the necessities of life.
This is a tragedy and Ezekiel's meningitis was treated with smoothies of maple syrup, peppers, garlic, etc. The only medical advice that the parents sought was of an RN who was a friend, and a naturopath they talked to on the phone. The more scary thing is that in Alberta Naturopaths and Naturopathy is "self-regulated." The College of Naturopathic Doctors of Alberta does the self-regulation which ranges from certification to recognition of training programs.
From their website: The HPA (Health Professions Act) requires that these regulatory colleges do this by:
NDs or Naturopathic Doctors can do a lot of scary (to me) things like administering intravenous vitamins and minerals, colonic cleanses, and chelation. Many of the naturopathic medications have no active ingredient, have harmful impurities and are not clinically tested.
Naturopaths need regulation from outside of their own body of practitioners. Perhaps the case of Ezekiel Stephan and the possible investigation of the naturopath the parents consulted will lead to better rules for these practitioners.
I've been writing on and off for years and this is where my more serious pieces will be.