Friday 31 December 2010

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

I must admit to being dull and boring as New Year is meaningless to me!  In the good old days when I was young and wanted to celebrate - we could never get babysitters as they were all young and also wanted to celebrate!  So we were stuck inside and accepted our lot!

So, New Years Eve, across time, has become  just another day, as have birthdays.  (Birthdays to me are just the day after yesterday - I am just one day older!)  This does not really mean I am dull and boring, as as an eternal optimist, I am happy 99.999% of the time

Nevertheless, I am aware, that folk put great stead in the beginning of a New Year!  The New Year is a time of renewal, of change and of hope that the dark side of the past year will not infiltrate the possibilities of a bright new beginning.  A new start.

So let us all start anew and accept the things that we cannot change and endeavour not be downhearted by them.  This is easy for me to say as a moronic optimist, for we all have our crosses to bear and my experience of life is not yours.  Whatever burdens you might carry - I hope they become lighter; reach out and touch those who can give help and guidance, or just comfort.  Give comfort to those who are less fortunate than you.

I sincerely hope that this New Year is good to you!

On a lighter note - things look good for me financially next year as my SPAM reports that there is over £3 million just waiting for me to collect!  Sorry, I must go soon as I have to provide my name, occupation, bank details, etc to collect this welcome booty!

I cannot recall meeting jung-c, w-moulder or e-puentes - but I must have made a hell of an impression on them - for they want to give me millions!  Yes!!!

Life is good!

Happy New Year!

Anna :o]

Thursday 30 December 2010

Asthma and cigarette smoking

I am sorry, I know this is flippant - but I was clearing out my 'My Pictures' and came across this:

I don't even remember saving it!  Times have changed and evidence based medicine has come to the fore - unless, that is, evidence is manipulated by Big Pharma and those in medicine with a particular agenda, .However, at least, those under six were protected!

Anna :o]

Saturday 25 December 2010

Dr Who and A Perfect Christmas Day

Dr Who and A Christmas Carol

What a wonderful Christmas Day this has been!  A lovely dinner - half an hour late as usual as I can never get the timing quite right!

My marvelous family are the most precious gift on this day.  Who needs material presents when you have your family?

And then, the best Dr Who Christmas edition ever!  Perfect!  Matt Smith and a wonderful cast of actors, complimented by the brilliant Katherine Jenkins.  If you missed it, see it here on iplayer.   You have until January 2nd!

This day has been perfect!

Have a great Boxing Day!

Anna :o]

Friday 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas Folks!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

If you're going last minute shopping - don't forget the honey!

Anna :o]

Saturday 18 December 2010

Smokers to be denied routine surgery to cut costs.

I have admitted it before - I am one of those evil people, whose smoke drifts menacingly into every nook and cranny, polluting the atmosphere with its particulates from mainstream and drift smoke as I suck away on a cigarette.  I am the harbinger of death; my second and third hand smoke infiltrating the very core of the young and innocent.  I deserve the remarks I receive from passers by who are predominately middle class and middle aged males who feel they have the right to abuse me.

I do not doubt that smoking is damaging to health and it is estimated that one in six to one in ten deaths are related to smoking.  It is probable that this estimate is correct and equally probable that it is a gross overestimate depending on what research you read.

Science and research are wonderful things, that is, unless they deliberately mislead.  Most of my research is based on data provided by Scotland as England doesn't appear to have its finger on the button here.

We are led to believe (as science provides the figures) that since the smoking ban in Scotland (March 2006) that coronary heart disease (CHD) and heart attacks (MI) have continued to decrease in numbers year on year on; a 17% decrease in MI admissions in the year after the ban.

Now this is odd!  If you visit isdscotland and download Table MC2 you will see that CHD has continued to fall since 1995 year on year on.  Research would suggest that this decline could be attributed to effectiveness of cardiologic treatments and changes to risk factors (including smoking) prior to the ban; but of course after the ban, the decline is only due to the ban!

During my research I came across the Iron fist, velvet glove blog and with Chris's kind permission I have reproduced a graph which illustrates that MI's actually increased after the ban.  Please visit his site; Chris as you will see, is not a chain smoking half-wit! 

I have also researched respiratory disease, particularly asthma.  I don't have any respiratory problems nor to my sons, despite being raised in a smoking household.  I know that asthma is unpleasant  and frightening for the sufferer.  It has become more common in the last thirty years and scientists do not really know the cause, but believe it could be our change in lifestyles, i.e., central heating, carpeting and lack of ventilation in homes which provide an ideal environment for the house dust mite; less fresh food and less exposure to infections and of course exposure to cigarette smoking.  I do not doubt the latter.

It has been reported that childhood asthma admissions have dropped 18% per year since the Scottish ban, Chris has debunked this again.

You might think that I am a rabid smoker demanding my place back in the world, but I am not - I am just an ordinary person, saddened that research has been manipulated to give a false impression of health gains to suit a particular agenda.

The reason for this post is this article in Pulse.  It appears that smokers will be denied routine surgery unless they quit or complete an  NHS Stop Smoking course.  NHS Surrey has take the lead here.  Read it all, including the comments.

Smokers will contribute (as tax revenue) £10.5 billion into the coffers this year.  Source: HM Revenue & Customs.  This equates to 11.55% of the NHS budget for England (£110 billion).

Who will next become society's dog to beat - alcoholics, the obese, the elderly or you?

Anna :o]

Sunday 12 December 2010

Victims of Alcohol (Part Two)

Alcohol Related Dementia

At the end of my second year as a nursing student I had to give a presentation on a self-chosen topic related to health.  I chose alcohol.

In those days education was given in a school in the hospital grounds and also at a general hospital in a nearby city.  We had ward based - both in psychiatric and general hospitals - and community based placements, and gathered a great deal of practical experience there.  I overcame my dread of giving injections at a depot clinic in a day hospital.

My only observation of the old school v graduate nurse debate is that both produce excellent, good, mediocre or bad, indifferent nurses.  That is it!

We had hospital based libraries and much information could be found there.  Computers were very much in their infancy in the sense that it was pre-Wiki and the gathering of all the information that existed in the world had not begun.  And, I did not possess a computer.  My research then was purely library based and also involved contacting agencies and charities who focused on alcohol related problems.

My presentation was well received, but in hindsight, alcohol related dementia was not a part of it.  I never came across it in my research, nor was it mentioned by charities etc, nor was it highlighted that a relevant section and thus learning was missing from my project.  I do not recall any patients diagnosed with it during my time as a student nurse.

But, it existed.

After qualifying I worked in the community for many years and during the last fifteen years, in a nursing/care home setting.  I have worked in my present home for thirteen of these years and am proud to work there.  Initially our resident group was what you would expect of a nursing home, those suffering from age related dementia and a few with enduring mental health problems.

However, over the last five years or so, our resident group has changed; several of our residents have alcohol related dementia and the age at admission is getting younger and younger.  This change is also apparent in our sister homes across the country (we are a very small group and do not wish to become an uncaring chain).

What is Alcohol Related Dementia?

Alcohol related dementia is related to the excessive drinking of alcohol and affects memory, learning and other cognitive  functions.

Recent research suggests that moderate drinking may have a protective affect against Alzheimer's as against heavy drinkers or those who do not drink alcohol.  But is this information reliable?  We have to consider who is included in the research, who drops out and how dementia is identified.  Would some of the subjects in this research not develop Alzheimer's regardless of moderate drinking?

Alcohol has a serious negative effect on the central nervous system and can affect the brain directly as a neurotoxin.  Alcohol generally effects the brain as a result of malnutrition when the person does not eat properly, resulting in vitamin deficiencies (particularly Vit B1 - thiamine) or through alcohol  related liver damage.

Is alcohol related dementia a true dementia?  Evidence would suggest that in its early stages recovery is possible, especially in women.  Alcohol related dementia can present in the early thirties, but is more usual in the fifth to seventh decades.  For recovery to be possible, the person must abstain from drinking, improve their diet and receive vitamin  (especially B1) supplements.

What is Korsakoff's Syndrome?

Korsakoff's is very much like alcohol related dementia, same causes, but results in destruction of certain areas of the brain and changes in memory are the main symptoms.

Korsakoff's is usually preceded, but not always, by Wernicke's encephalopathy.  Wernicke's usually develops suddenly and presents with three main symptoms - although these are not always present.  These are involuntary jerky eye movements or paralysis of muscles that move the eyes, drowsiness and confusion and poor balance, a staggering gait or an inability to walk.

If Wernicke's is suspected treatment must be immediate, consisting of high doses of intravenous or intramuscular thiamine and most symptoms reverse in a few hours.  If left untreated or not treated early enough, brain damage occurs in the mid part of the brain resulting in severe short-term memory loss and is then considered as Korsakoff's.   Wernicke's is a giant alarm bell - it means stop drinking NOW!

This memory loss is filled by confabulation, which is an effort to make sense of the present by filling in the  gaps of the past.  Confabulation, although the reasons for it are sad, is an amazing thing and the stories (not lies) that our residents tell us and truly believe, are wonderful.

Our residents with Korsakoff's are the very same people they were before alcohol abuse took over their lives, mainly good people and sometimes, but rarely, bad.  They accept their situation, that is, living in a care home and rarely, if ever, question the reason for it.  I find them amazing and have a great deal of respect for them.

It is estimated that alcohol related dementia affect over 150,000 of our population; this may seem a small number, but it is probably only the tip of the iceberg, many sufferers being protected by their brave families, or street and hostel dwellers that do not come to the attention of the medical profession and are therefore unreported.

It is estimated that there has been an increase in reported alcohol related dementia - 20% today as apposed to 10% ten years ago - in those of early onset dementia, that is, before the age of 65.  My home would reflect that.

Why are most of us not aware of this alcohol related harm?  Most of us do not realise dementia can be a consequence of alcohol abuse.  Why?

It is not my intention to be a party-pooper as we near this time of festivity.  I drink alcohol myself and enjoy it.  But let us consider that Christmas and New Year will be very difficult for those families who have a alcoholic in their midst.  I shall delay my post re their plight until the New Year.

Anna :o]

Friday 3 December 2010

Victims of Alcohol (Part One)

It is not my intention to preach here - just to make aware.   I like alcohol - I like the way it makes me feel; it makes me more creative; it is another guest when good friends visit.   It can add a warm glow to life or it can be the stuff of nightmares  You can control it or it can control you.

There are many quotes attributed to Churchill in regard to alcohol, such as "Always remember I have taken more out of alcohol than alcohol has taken out of me" and "My rule of life as an absolutely sacred rite smoking cigars and also the drinking of alcohol before, after and if need be during all meals and the intervals in between them."

There has been debate as to whether Churchill was an alcohol abuser and historians would contend that he was not so, but alcohol dependent.  Alcohol abuser or dependent - he was undoubtedly a great man and a great leader.

Alcohol has been a common feature in those that have occupied Number Ten.  Tony Blair confessed to using alcohol as a prop during his time as prime minister; Nye Bevan and Micheal Foot were hard drinkers; Harold Wilson was a bit more secretive about brandy consumption; Maggie liked her Scotch an HH Asquith - the last Liberal PM was nicknamed "Squiffy."  Other party leaders or deputies such as George Brown, Charles Kennedy and John Smith have/had problems with alcohol; Brown and Kennedy's careers being seriously affected by same.

Handel, Bach, Schubert, Brahms and possibly Mozart were all dogged by alcohol abuse and in most cases it was the death of them.  These were great men and think what more they could have accomplished without alcohol - or maybe, alcohol fired and enhanced their genius?

Other great alcoholics in the field of writing are Dylan Thomas, Ernest Hemingway and Brendan Behan; WC Fields, Richard Burton, Liz Taylor in the world of acting: Elton John, Eric Clapton and Robbie Williams in music and George Best and Paul Gascoigne in football - in both instances, alcohol ruining their careers and in Best's case, taking his life.

All of the above are people of great talent - but they are remote from us.  They may touch our lives with their music, their writing or we may love/hate them as politicians; but they are not part of lives as family, friends or neighbours.

In some of our lives, the effects of alcohol are close enough to touch a raw nerve.  We may be an overt/covert alcoholic ourselves; our partner might be one, our father or mother, our friend or workmate.  In some way, our life might be affected by alcohol abuse, and if so, it will probably be our unwanted little secret.

Alcohol can be a good companion or our worst enemy.  Out there, in that big wide world, there are many hidden victims and following posts will focus on their plight. 

Do you think alcohol can inspire and enhance genius?

Anna :o]