Category: Health & Fitness

Subarachnoid haemorrhage

Jean

Subarachnoid haemorrhage

I was in my 30s when I suffered from subarachnoid haemorrhage which led to brain aneurysm.  I was very fit then and was never prone to any illness.

In fact I was on the treadmill when I had the attack.

My late mother came to visit me  here in London from the Philippines.   After scolding me for exercising right after finishing breakfast, my mother asked me what book I would recommend for her to read.

I wickedly recommended  The Blood and The Holy Grail, a 1982 book written   by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln.  This book was way way way before Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code.

The book is about the hypothesis that Jesus and Mary’s children went to live in France.  As soon as  I explained this to my mother, suddenly everything started to blacken and I was looking into a tunnel with my mother’s horrified face at the end of it.

I was in a dead faint for at least a couple of minutes.

As soon as I got up, I staggered to the bedroom and slept only to be woken a couple of hours later by my husband, who was called by my mother at work.

I was just so tired and sleepy that day and had a bit of a headache.

That night, my arms were so uncomfortably numbed.  Throughout the night, I would raise both my arms and moved them in circle again and again.  I was sleepy but so restless.

The next day, Peter took me to the doctors.  We saw Dr Andrawis (RIP) who at first thought I had the onset of a flu.  He even said that he won’t prescribe me any tablets as it would be cheaper to get them over the counter at the chemist.

Peter said that I did not have the symptoms of a flu as I was complaining of tingling, pins and needles in both my arms and legs.  I was sleepy but so restless.

This stopped Dr Andrawis.  He got a reflex hammer and then he called an ambulance to take me straight to the Royal Free Hospital.  The paramedic put a neckbrace on me which stayed for weeks while I had to stay perfectly still in bed.  Apparently this was the only way to find out where the exact location of the aneurysm.

I have to commend the medical and nursing staff at the RFH, I am sure I would have died if I had the hemorrhage in the Philippines.  (No disrespect to the Philippines, but the medical facility would have been horrendously expensive or something).  Everything was free with the NHS.

It was rather frustrating though at the hospital, they had to wake you up every couple of hours, 24/7.  This was to ensure that I had not succumbed to coma.  I was so tired.

I was rather cheerful though, I was thinking of all the weights I must have lost by being nil by mouth for so many weeks.

I also remembered the surgeon telling me how they are going to go about the surgery.  He said that they are going to open my head by the left temple to get to the burst blood vessel.  They would then put a metal clip into the where the aneurysm was to stop the bleeding.

He gave me all the possible outcome or side effect like memory loss, coma, impaired speech, vision, coordination, balance, stroke and even death.

The consultant was so lovely,  so I asked him if he can give me plastic surgery as well. 🙂

The brain operation took 5 hours.

Apparently I went very very cold during the recovery.  I think I must have been feeling really cold because I was babbling about putting enough sugar in my son’s milkshake!

After the surgery, I got better quickly but I had to stay in the hospital for more weeks.  The brain does have a way of coping by itself.  I keep having dreams of being a different person.  Sometimes as an Italian, sometimes as a journalist working in the Killing Fields.

The nurses still had to wake me up every couple of hours.  I really longed for a good long sleep.  I wanted to go home.

Thank goodness there were not much side-effect from the hemorrhage nor from the surgery except for forgetting words,  especially when I am talking. I used to be really fluent in English 🙂 my vocabulary was very good, but suddenly I was struggling for words.  This went on for years. Fortunately I am getting better.  I found out the reason for this was that the craniotomy was done near my temporal lobe, which control memory and understanding language.

Other early temporary side-effect was when the first few times I first opened my eyes, it was like looking through a kaleidoscope, complete with flashing lights, bursting with colours.  Also  the first night I was home, I woke up in the middle of the night and saw a man next to me I did not recognise. I had face-blindness.   It was Peter, of course and thank God the feeling lasted only for a couple of minutes.

I am all better now, except for the almost permanent high blood pressure.

I asked the doctor for the possible cause of the aneurysm, he said that I had a week vein in the brain.  It was also found that I have a sickle cell trait which did not help.

But mother always believed that I was blasphemous and was punished!  LOL 🙂 🙂 🙂

 

Increase Brain Power

It seems brushing one’s teeth is not only for health and hygiene reasons, it is so much more.

Brain Power

Increase Brain Power

There are also some research about the effect of chocolates to brain power.  Apparently the flavanols in cocoa can increase cognitive abilities, allowing for multitasking, i.e. ability to perform two or more tasks at a time.

 

Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital – UCLH

rntne_hosp

Royal National Throat, Nose and Ear Hospital – UCLH

I finally had my eardrum repair operation yesterday at University College London Hospital and I have to say the service and care were first class.  Excellent in fact!

Because I am growing older by the day, I am more susceptible to illnesses and diseases, which are rather unheard of when younger.  I find that I have a few more medical problems that require me to visit various hospital specialising with ailments of the human body ?

My experience with UCLH was the best.  The building itself is very old, inside is quite old as well but very clean and somewhat comforting.

The hospital is also a teaching hospital like the Royal Free Hospital.  The nurses, doctors, consultants and anesthetists were all professionally able. Their bedside manners were friendly, heartening and inspiring.

Additionally, I had a room all to myself.  It was like a private hospital, I was given a welcoming pack consisting of the blurb of what the hospital does, a pair of totes-like socks to use to walk on the very shiny, very clean tiled flooring to prevent you from falling. There were also eye mask, earplugs, dental kit, pen and paper all sealed in a lovely zipped plastic envelop.  The pen was so useful, I used it to answer all the quick crossword puzzle of the Metro newspaper, available at the reception of UCLH.

The food was  good, there were selections for everyone; those with allergies, vegetarian, who are kosher, also who wants halal food and for me, who eats everything. ?  I had the Chicken with creamy sauce, and it was delicious completed with jam pudding & custard.

Bimala was my personal nurse.   She was so kind and so cheerful but I also saw other nurses as well, who were equally kind, in the intervals of 15 – 30 minutes taking my heartbeat, temperature, blood pressure, etc.  Apparently to increase the level of oxygen to your body, you have to take a deep breath with your mouth wide open, that will also open your lungs.

Prior to the operation I was visited by the various doctors and the anesthetist, telling me what will happen and the likely side effect of my operation.  Apparently the ears control the facial muscles, the right side of my face can drop, I could have tinnitus, permanent hearing loss, etc.  All wanted to know if I might die during the operation.  Reassuringly, they laughed it off and said they don’t do death!

My surgeon was Dr Quinney, who I consulted at the Edgware Hospital.  He was very serious but you know you will be safe at his hand.

After my operation under general anaesthesia, I was gently woken by reassuring nurses about 4-5, two were Filipinas telling me Gising na Jean (wake up Jean).

I am so happy that we have the NHS.  We should all make sure that it is not privatised for all our sake!

Sober October

Sober October

go-sober-for-october

Autumn is October and to mark the start of this season, a worthy UK charity  Macmillan (cancer relief) has suggested that we make this month ‘Sober October.’

Instead of buying and imbibing alcoholic drinks, we should take up the challenge of being teetotal and donate the money we would otherwise spend on booze to charity instead.

A worthy cause we hope many will try.

A good friend who likes his lager will give it a go ;).

Drinking Alcoholic beverages  in large amounts can be a cause of cancer.

Alcoholism is a problem

These recent sobering statistics from Alcohol Concern highlight the problem.

Statistics on Alcohol

  • More than 9 million people in England drink more than the recommended daily limits
  • In the UK, in 2014 there were 8,697 alcohol-related deaths
  • Alcohol is 10% of the UK burden of disease and death, making alcohol one of the three biggest lifestyle risk factors for disease and death in the UK, after smoking and obesit
  • An estimated 7.5 million people are unaware of the damage their drinking could be causing
  • Alcohol related harm costs England around £21bn per year, with £3.5bn to the NHS, £11bn tackling alcohol-related crime and £7.3bn from lost work days and productivity costs
  • A minimum unit price is one of the most effective strategies of reducing alcohol-related harm. Selling alcohol for no less than 50p a unit would tackle health inequalities, reduce alcohol related crime, hospital admissions, lost productivity days and save lives.
  • Alcohol was 61% more affordable in 2013 than it was in 1980

Alcohol and Health

  • Alcohol is a causal factor in more than 60 medical conditions, including: mouth, throat, stomach, liver and breast cancers; high blood pressure, cirrhosis of the liver; and depression
  • In the UK in 2012-13, there were 1,008,850 hospital admissions related to alcohol consumption where an alcohol-related disease, injury or condition was the primary reason for hospital admission or a secondary diagnosis
  • However, if you include deaths where alcohol was a contributing factor (such as various cancers, falls and hypertensive diseases), the figure increases to 21,512: 13,971 for males and 7,541 for females
  • Males accounted for approximately 65% of all alcohol-related deaths in the UK in 2014
  • Alcohol now costs the NHS £3.5bn per year; equal to £120 for every tax payer
  • The alcohol-related mortality rate of men in the most disadvantaged socio-economic class is 3.5 times higher than for men in the least disadvantaged class, while for women the figure is 5.7 times higher
  • In England and Wales, 63% of all alcohol-related deaths in 2012 were caused by alcoholic liver disease
  • Liver disease is one of the few major causes of premature mortality that is increasing
  • Deaths from liver disease have reached record levels, rising by 20% in a decade
  • The number of older people between the ages of 60 and 74 admitted to hospitals in England with mental and behavioural disorders associated with alcohol use has risen by over 150% in the past ten years, while the figure for 15-59 years old has increased by 94%

We hope as many will take the time to digest the above and reduce digestion of alcohol this month and beyond.

sober_october_v1

Healthy Exercise

Jean on a portable elliptical machine in the garden with Diesel looking on

Jean on a portable elliptical machine in the garden with Diesel looking on

Healthy Exercise

After my hospital appointment today, I thought it was that final push for me to start exercising and hopefully lose weight in the bargain.

It is not easy to lose weight and yet it is so easy to gain weight.  In a heartbeat I can weight.  I had only to look at a chocolate and I can find myself inflating.  There is no justice in the world sometimes. 🙂

Anyways, I will try my very best to persevere with my new regime of keeping fit afterall there are so many benefits than can be gained from it.

These are just a few:

Regular exercise has an immune boosting effect.  It helps in fighting cough, colds and flu.

It also improves brain activity like the memory, alertness, attention span and concentration.


 

 

Heart Attacks

Did you know?

download (8)A study done by the Manchester Royal Infirmary with  600 patients who were heart attack victims, showed that a sufferer halved his/her chance to a repeat attack if he/she has a partner or close friends.

Enjoying a close relationship with a lover, a partner, friend or a relative can lower the stress-inducing hormone called cortisol, which is linked to high blood pressure.

Those without  partners were likely more to drink and take illegal drugs.

A study also examined what victims of heart attack were doing prior to the event.  It was found that more than half of the victims reported of being very upset and under a lot of stress within the 24 hours period.

Spring Clean For Health

One day there will be a telephone in every major city in the USA.
– Alexander Graham Bell

How partly prophetic! There is telephone everywhere now. Many have.

mobile
Spring Clean For Health

It is spring and what better time to examine health hazard objects in our everyday life.

Did you know?

17 per cent of all mobile phones in the UK are contaminated with nasties from the toilet.  And what’s more, office telephones are so full of germs.  Apparently we do not clean our hands well enough after going to the loo.  yuck.

Toothbrushes.  Dentists recommend that toothbrushes are regularly changed every three months.

81 per cent of contact lens cases contain harmful bacterias.  The cases should be washed regularly and changed every month.  It is safer to just use disposable lenses.

This is scary but did you know?  The handbag can be dirtier than the loo.  Whether the bag is designer or from a second-hand shop, it can get dirty.  Be careful where you park the back, in the toilet floor, toilet basin, etc.  Disinfect it inside and out regularly.

Your favourite mascara can contain harmful bacteria after three months.  So take note of the time you had used it, toss in the garbage bin when three months is up.

Pillows, wash the cases every two to three weeks and the pillow itself every three months.  Otherwise you will be sleeping on your own dead skin and the mites who feeds on them and notwithstanding the poo they make.

Man’s Best Friend

Diesel

Man’s Best Friend

jean & diesel

Did you know?

According to findings, dog owners are fitter and less prone to depression compared to those who do not have a canine pet.

This is rather bizarre but studies also show that just by looking at photos of cute puppies can increase your productivity at work.

Not only that owning a puppy/dog can enhance your social life too.  I remember a friend who used to ‘borrow’ our cute yorkshire terrier so he can walk her in the park.  Apparently our little yokie was a babe magnet. 🙂

 

Are you a lark or an owl?

Woman stretching happily on the left, man yawning on the right
How you feel early in the morning is affected by your genetic makeup

Are you a lark or an owl?

Whether you prefer being up at dawn or burning the midnight oil depends on your genes, experts have found.

Some of us leap out of bed each morning, raring to start the day. Others need at least one alarm clock – preferably one with a snooze button – to ensure they get to work on time.

And some of us happily stay up chatting until the wee small hours, while others prefer to be tucked up listening to ‘Book at Bedtime’ with the lights turned out.

We really are divided into larks and owls. And this is set by our genes, says neurogeneticist Dr Louis Ptacek of University of California.

He says: “Whether we like it or not our parents are telling us when to go to bed – based on the genes that they gave us.”

Scientists have come to realise the importance of understanding a person’s chronotype, the time of the day when they function the best.

If you have a fast clock you like to do things early, and if you have a slow clock you like to do things late”

Professor Derk-Jan Dijk,University of Surrey’s Sleep Research Centre.

Knowing how much of a lark or an owl we are should help us live more healthily in the modern 24/7 world.

Rick Neubig, a professor of pharmacology in Michigan, is an extreme lark.

“People I communicated with in Europe will always notice that they get emails from me very early in the morning.

“The other thing I like a lot which fits in with the early mornings is that I’m a fairly serious bird watcher. It’s much easier for me than other people to get up and see the birds at dawn.”

And it runs in his family.

“My mother would always drag us out of bed at 4 in the morning to go on vacation, and my daughter works out early in the morning.”

‘Strong genetic trait’

Dr Louis Ptacek is studying the families of larks like Rick’s that have Familial Advanced Sleep Phase syndrome. He got into this area of research when his colleague Dr Chris Jones met a 69 year old who was worried about waking up very early and whose concern had been ignored by other medics.

Drs Ptacek and Jones looked at her family.

“We recognised this was a strong genetic trait. We found the mutated gene resided near the end of chromosome 2”, says Louis Ptacek.

They knew that if similar genes were mutated in fruit flies and mice the circadian clocks speed up. The mutated gene made a different protein that affects the rhythm of the clock.

Prof Til RoennenbergLudwig-Maximilians University

They also study families of extreme owls, with Familial Delayed Sleep Phase syndrome. And they think this was due to a different mutation in the same genes.

Mutations in other genes have been found in other families with advanced or delayed sleep patterns.

We all have internal circadian clocks – the master clock is made up of thousands of nerve cells in the suprachiasmatic nucleus, a wing – shaped structure located in the hypothalamus, at the base of the brain.

The hypothalamus controls all kinds of bodily functions, from releasing hormones to regulating temperature and water intake.

This internal clock is reset every day by light. You might expect that since the earth’s day lasts 24 hours, everyone’s clocks would run to a similar schedule.

But they don’t. That’s why there are larks and owls.

“If you have a fast clock you like to do things early, and if you have a slow clock you like to do things late,” says Prof Derk-Jan Dijk, Head of the University of Surrey’s Sleep Research Centre.

‘A sleep map of the world’

Our clocks are not fixed throughout life. Anyone who has small children will know they’re prone to waking early, as do the elderly.

But whatever the speed of your clock we have to fit in with the way that society is set up with its 9-5 working times.

This can be particularly hard for teenagers, who generally find it hard to get up in the morning.

Prof Till Roenneberg of Ludwig-Maximilians University has looked at the sleeping patterns of this age group with the help of his Munich Chronotype Questionnaire.

“We can show that the famous lateness of teenagers is a real thing. They get later through childhood and puberty and reach a point of lateness at 19 and a half for women and 21 for men. It was so clear it was astonishing.

“Our database has over 200,000 participants. We are hoping for a sleep map of the world.”

Mary Carskadon, a professor of psychiatry at Brown University in the US, is campaigning for schools to start later.

“School grades don’t get always higher but for me one of the most important aspects of sleep loss is the issue of depression and sadness and lack of motivation of kids.

“The moods improve when schools start later.”

But not many schools around the world have chosen a later start time.

After all, most people do fit in with the working day, although they may be suffering from exhaustion.

Social jet lag

Prof Roenneberg has a catchy way of describing and measuring the sleep deprivation many suffer during the working or studying week, when we rely on alarm clocks to get us out of bed.

He calls it social jet lag.

He finds that the middle of people’s sleep on work days is usually earlier than that on free days. The difference is their social jet lag.

“On average people accumulate one to two hours of social jet lag, though some can get up to five hours, particularly in the young, who still have to get to work at the same time as older people,” says Prof Roenneberg.

Having social jetlag is like flying from New York to London every weekend. And it’s harder to get over social jet lag than time zone jet lag.

But Prof Roenneberg says there are things we can do to overcome social jetlag.

“We should be changing work times and making them more individual to fit in with our chronotypes. If that’s not possible we should be more strategic about light exposure.

“You should try to go to work not in a covered vehicle but on a bike. The minute the sun sets we should use things that have no blue light, like computer screens and other electronic devices.”

Lavender Bath Recipe

Our bath tub and delicious smelly candles! (photo by Peter)

Our bath tub and delicious smelly candles! (photo by Peter)

DSCN6485

The Greeks and the Romans used to infuse their bath water with lavender because of the scent and its therapeutic  properties.

The popularity of lavender has continued to present day and it is often advised to put a drop of lavender oil into your pillowcase to get a calming night sleep.

Below is an easy to follow recipe for a lavender bath for you to try.

Lavender Bath Recipe

Use a cotton handkerchief (man-size is the best one to use) or a muslin cloth.

Place 1/4 cup of dried lavender flowers in the centre of the fabric and gather the corners together and tie them securely with a little ribbon.

Tie the end of the ribbon just below the spout of the tap or faucet, ensuring that the water runs through the lavender blooms as the water fills the tub.

Have a calming warm bath, not hot.

Enjoy!

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