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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Asbestos Awareness Week

Recently I was contacted by a lovely lady named, of all things, Heather. She had emailed me a plea through this blog to help get the word out about mesothelioma, a deadly cancer that is commonly caused by exposure to asbestos. Mesothelioma primarily attacks the pleura which is the outer lining of the lungs and the internal chest wall. It is a horrific disease that is painful and terrifying.

Wish I had the nerve to pull off platinum hair!

Three months after giving birth to her daughter, Heather was diagnosed with mesothelioma and was given just fifteen months to live. Wanting to give her daughter the chance to know her mother, she and her husband hunted for the best care they could find which led them to Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital and Dr. David Sugarbaker, renowned thoracic surgeon. Today, Heather is a seven year survivor of mesothelioma who has dedicated her life to helping victims of this pernicious disease. I am happy to help her.

When Heather was a little girl, her father would come home from work with his coat covered in drywall dust. Drywall dust they now know contained asbestos. Whenever Heather worked outside the house she would wear her dad's coat and this is how her exposure to asbestos happened and why she was diagnosed with mesothelioma at such a young age. Heather is from the United States, where between 1999 and 2010 mesothelioma killed 30,000 Americans. I did a little search and found seven stadiums in the United States that will hold 30,000 people. Think of an entire stadium of people dying and the numbers are pretty sobering. Only about 40% of the people diagnosed with this terrible disease survive the first year. About 20% survive the second year but by year three the percentage has dropped to between 3% and 8%.* Thanks to Heather's aggressive approach to her treatment, she is still with us and her daughter has a Mom.

I decided to investigate the rates of this disease in Canada. It is equally as grim here.Our mesothelioma rate is one of the highest in the world and rising. Guess why? Up until recently we had most of the world's asbestos mines here in the Canada. Happily the last two mines, one of them the world's largest and ironically located in Asbestos, Quebec were closed down in 2011 (I'm guessing that's where the product got it's name from). But the damage has been done.

2.1 out of every 100,000 people in Canada are diagnosed with mesothelioma every year. Due to the latency rate of this disease being between 20 and 50 years, these rates will not fall any time in the near future and in fact will probably climb. By this I mean that the disease can appear anywhere from 20 to 50 years after your exposure to asbestos. This is why when you watch home renovation shows and they find asbestos in the walls, it is such a big deal and it is so expensive to deal with. Have you seen what they have to do to the house and what they have to wear? It is a disgusting lethal product, naturally occurring or not. Have you seen what the fibres look like? Head on over to Wikipedia and see. They look alien.

"In the good old days", not only was asbestos used in cement, insulation and other housing materials, it could also be found in shingles and siding and also paint. It is not surprising that it became popular to use because of it's properties. It had sound absorption, average tensile strength, was fire resistant and it was affordable. Chances are, if your house was built between 1930 and 1950, then it likely will contain asbestos in one form or another. As well, right into the 20th century as many as 4,000 household products contained asbestos in varying amounts. Disturbing news indeed.

Helping Heather get the word out is the least I can do. In Canada, cancer in general accounts for 30% of Canadian deaths each year. Of those 30%, mesothelioma (classified under lung cancer) plus breast, colorectal and prostate cancers make up over 50% of all cancers. I haven't yet looked up the stats for the US, but I'm sure it is just as bad or worse.

April 1st to 7th is Asbestos Awareness Week. Head over here and have a look at Heather's story and spread the word. And more importantly, donate. Give people like Heather a chance at treatment and survival. There's a good chance it could be someone you know.


*This information was obtained from the website asbestos.com.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

On All Things Grammarly

I use Grammarly's plagiarism check because sometimes imitation isn't the sincerest form of flattery.

I was recently introduced to the above website and it couldn't have come at a better time since I only just became a student again. Attending university is scary enough on its own, but one of the things they drill into you, besides knowledge, is that plagiarism won't be tolerated.

Every time I write a paper, I am terrified that I am not giving the proper endnotes or footnotes for quotes and material I am using. Grammarly will help me with that. It will be a "second set of eyes", so to speak (thanks Nick) before I get to that final draft.

So far, Grammarly is quite easy to use. You plunk your document into it (either on the web or into the downloadable version for your desktop), click what type of check you want it to do, eg. general, academic or business and in mere moments you have a thoroughly checked paper. The one I chose to check came up with 76 issues, eep! None of them plagiarism I'm happy to report! But here is an idea of what Grammarly checks for you:

Contextual spelling check
Grammar
Punctuation
Style and word choice
Passive voice use
Confusing modifiers

That just names a few!

As I intend to be a student for some time and possibly a writer, I can see Grammarly being a good friend to have on my side.

Have a look and see what you think! I even used it to check this blog post, ha ha!

Grammarly.com

Friday, April 15, 2011

Just Chugging Along

It's been some time since my last update and I find I forget that I even have a blog. With ongoing problems with my back and not being able to sit for long, it created a problem indeed when it came to trying to produce a blog post.

However, the pain is subsiding and I am most grateful!

Basically the update is this: Hayden's feet are still determined to to turn back in and he will require surgery. We are planning to delay it until the Fall and attempt to do as much as possible to possibly avoid it. This involves physio, home exercise and returning to the boots and bar. I'm sad about this but he seems to accept it at this point. However, he forgets what it is like to sleep in the contraption, so we shall see!

Other than that, things are pretty good. We are all finally over this weird respiratory virus we got and it is desperately trying to be Spring in Vancouver!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Lewy Body Dementia Awareness Week

(click to make bigger)

This is an emotional post for me to write. How do I talk about this? How do I detach myself long enough to educate people about this devastating disease that is now insinuating it itself into my life and even more so, my parents' lives?

For most people who have known my dad for a long time, they will identify with him as being gregarious, active, vital and genuine and I hope this is how they will always think of him.

About four and a half years ago, my mom started noticing that my dad was having some memory issues. She wasn't the only one. People at his job had noticed too so it needed to be checked out. Not too long after that, he began to develop some movement difficulties. My Dad was referred to a neurologist and was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease.

For the next while his condition was treated as Parkinson's with medicine for movement disorders and he also took a medicine to slow the memory problems. It was suggested that he retire from his job as he worked around high voltages as an electrician for the local electric company.

In early Spring , my mother started noticing some major changes in Dad. This was during a major trip they'd taken to Australia earlier in the year. He was more often confused, his movement had slowed even more and he was at times "seeing things" that were either not there or his brain was mis-identifying objects. The symptoms worsened once they were home.

Mom was dissatisfied with the doctor that was tending to Dad's "Parkinson's". His bedside manner was undesirable and he was ONLY treating the movement disorder. She came into contact with the Senior Mental Health chapter near her and they arranged for an in home evaluation and a following meeting with the psychiatrist.

It was determined that Dad has Dementia with Lewy Bodies. He is 69 years old.

Most people hear the word "dementia" and automatically think of Alzheimer's, but this particular dementia differs from Alzheimer's in that it includes hallucinations and due to the movement disorder, falls. It differs because the patient can phase in and out of certain symptoms. That is to say, one day the patient may forget how to do something and the next day they may not. It also brings with it a bouquet of other issues, such as REM sleep disorder, excessive daytime sleepiness and restless leg syndrome. All of these things can have occurred before the actual diagnosis.

Lewy Body Dementia usually has a rapid progression and there is no cure for it. Commonly misdiagnosed as Parkinson's Disease, it used to be considered rare. It no longer is as it may potentially be the second most common subtype of dementia after Alzheimer's.

Because DLB has no cure, it gradually renders people incapable of tending to their own needs. Caregiving is thus very important and must be carefully managed over the course of the disease. Caring for people with DLB involves adapting the home environment, schedule, activities, and communications to accommodate declining cognitive skills and parkinsonian symptoms.

My goal at this time is to support my parents as much as I possibly can, both physically and emotionally and to educate people about this disease. Hug someone you love today because you never know what tomorrow may bring.


The Lewy Body Dementia Association has a full, comprehensive website devoted to this disease and have launched their awareness week today, running until October 16th.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Update on Hayden

I took Hayden to a follow up appointment on Monday with his orthopaedic surgeon and it has been determined that his feet are relapsing and he will need to go into casts again.

I can't say I am all that surprised because I had my suspicions way back in January when I noticed he was going up onto the toes of his left foot when he ran. At that time I took him in and when Dr. Pirani got him to run, he wouldn't do it! Of course. It was, however, decided then that he has "tibial torsion" in his left leg, which causes the foot to look turned in. The thing that DID surprise me was that his right foot is also relapsing. Didn't see that one coming.

Basically it just gradually got worse and I couldn't put off a visit to the ortho any longer. So sometime in November (hopefully) he will begin a six week course of casting, with them being changed every two weeks.

So what does this mean aside from the back trauma this is going to cause me? Well, his school will have to be notified so they can arrange for help for him. He will likely be in a wheelchair, so I'm not sure how the school will handle it as the school is not even remotely wheelchair accessible - it is 100 years old, after all! But we'll figure it out I suppose. There's a good chance Hayden will sort out how to walk in the casts because lots of kids have done so. But that will take a while for him, I'm guessing.

After the casting, it will be decided whether he needs to go into the boots and bar again (oh boy, don't even get me started on this one) or if he will require a tendon transfer surgery, which will require more casts.

I'll post another update once I have more information!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Book Review: The Crimson Rooms by Katharine McMahon



The Crimson Rooms by Katharine McMahon

A woman arrives from Canada on the doorstep of a family of grieving English women with more than a little surprise. The family is expected to accept what is before them and furthermore, support and welcome the situation.

In post World War I London where women are still struggling to make their mark in a male dominated world, Evelyn Gifford is fighting to become a lawyer. Having been given a slight opportunity to advance by the only law firm who will accept her, she soon finds herself embroiled in two important cases, one a sensational murder trial.

Along the way, while trying to understand the arrival of Meredith, who shares a shocking secret with her, she works to save one client and gain the trust of another; finds herself in a surprise love affair; and turns out to be a better sleuth than her male counterparts.

This story had me hooked right away. Not only do I absolutely love historical novels, but the added element of Canada (my home and native land) delighted me to no end. The story follows so many little rabbit trails and as you get to know Evelyn better, you realize she has a stronger constitution than she gives herself credit for, especially when learning how one can make the ultimate sacrifice for love.

In addition, you get a real feel for what women fought so hard for in the way of rights and equality; something that sadly still happens today. These women were the true trailblazers and paved the way for womankind worldwide.

I can't recommend this book enough and while I am sorry to say that this is the first book I have read by Katharine McMahon, it is a fault I intend to rectify immediately! (Good heavens, I've adopted the language of the book already!)

I very much appreciated the opportunity to read this novel and thank MotherTalk for giving me the chance to do so. Look for the the release on February 8, 2010. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! The following online book retailers will be carrying it:

Amazon
Barnes and Noble
Borders
Indie Bound

**I wrote this review while participating in a blog campaign by MotherTalk on behalf of G.P. Putnam's Sons / Riverhead and received a copy of the book to facilitate my candid review. Mom Central sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.**

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Scala Bio-Fir Anti-Cellulite Shaper Wear

Okay Ladies, pull up a chair, grab a drink and listen closely. I am going to tell you about a product that I discovered recently and it's A-MAZING.

First off, I have no affiliation with this product or the company who sells it - I am merely a believer (can I get an AMEN?) This product is Scala Bio-Fir Slimming/Shaper Wear and it reduces cellulite. Did you hear that? REDUCES CELLULITE. Not only does it make you look terrific while you are wearing it, but it does a job for you at the same time!

I had passed by this little gem of a store in my neighbourhood many times and had noticed the sandwich board outside advertising this great product. I have purchased over the years a number of slimming garments only to be disappointed by them. They're too tight in the leg, or they roll funny or they are too hot. Everything Scala is not.

Here's how it works. Hot off the knitting machines in Brazil, the fabric these garments are made with contains tiny crystals (called Active Bio Crystals or Far Infrared Rays) that continuously massages your skin. The massaging action causes friction, stimulating blood flow at the skin level. The increased blood flow stimulates the body's lymphatic system which then melts away the subcutaneous fat layer and the toxins responsible for cellulite and the liquified fat is then disposed of by either the kidneys or liver. I am sure drinking extra water during this time would only help to flush away the waste faster.

Sandra Kesselman, who owns Noir Fashions - the sole distributor for Scala in Canada - waited for three months to get a Medical Device Establishment License from Health Canada to sell the shaper wear. To me, their approval was an indicator that it worked, but I had to try it for myself.



Approximately 6 weeks ago I purchased both the High Waisted Knee Length Slimming Panty (above) and the Slimming Legging. I began wearing the knee length one daily. Scala promises results in 30 days but I am here to tell you that I saw changes in the cellulite on my thighs in about two weeks! After one month of wear there is a definite difference. The dimpling and lumpiness is much reduced, in fact almost completely gone! In addition to that, the garment is extremely comfortable, breathable and there is no tightness or rolling in the leg. All versions have the rubberized waist band to prevent slippage and rolling.

I had given myself the goal of one year to exercise and get toned again and the plan was to get liposuction for the cellulite if my efforts hadn't helped in that regard. Scala has saved me the trouble and expense.

Considering what these garments do, you would expect to pay a premium for them but they cost about the same as regular girdles and shaper wear at department stores, with the prices running between $50-65 depending on the garment. To care for these garments, machine wash them but hang them to dry to preserve the lycra content. The crystals are unaffected by regular washing.

Currently at Noir Fashions, Sandra is carrying 6 products in this line, one of them for men.

I had to opportunity to ask Sandra a couple of questions about her involvement with Scala.

Heather:
How did you come to learn of the Scala Bio Promise Line?

Sandra:
I’ve being representing SCALA in Canada for almost 5 years now. I import and distribute the brand collection all over the country. We started with the outerwear and the traditional shapewear lines. In February 2009, they launched this new amazing line. It took us about 3 months to get the Medical Device Establishment License from Health Canada to distribute the product in the country.

Heather:
What benefits have you noticed from using these garments?

Sandra:
I'm wearing mainly the black legging as my uniform since I delivered my baby girl 4 month ago, and I can really testify that the product is amazing on improving circulation. I’ve got bad varicose veins from the pregnancy and they were very painful, after using the product for 2/3 weeks, I got much better, no pain and the appearance of the veins are much lighter. My legs were also very swollen from the pregnancy, I retained lots of liquid, I took my measurements and I lost one inch on my calf muscle area and 2 inches on my thighs after a month of wearing the product.

Heather:
What future products can we expect in this line?

Sandra:
I’m about to receive the posture bra and some pantyhose made with the same material.



Right now there is limited information on the internet about these awesome cellulite-busting undergarments and I just had to share my success and happiness with what they have done for me!

These fine products, along with many more fashionable Scala items can be purchased at:

Noir Fashion
3950 Main Street
Vancouver, BC
Phone: 604-628-9561
Fax: 778-737-1591

To contact Sandra either call her at the above number or email her at sandra@noirfashion.ca. She is very friendly and willing to answer any and all of your questions!

Go on, GIVE THEM A TRY!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Knit the Season, a Review


It's appropriate that the third installation in this series by Kate Jacobs would come to me now, when the weather is turning cold and holidays abound.

In August of 2008 I read the first novel, The Friday Night Knitting Club. Besides the fact that I am a knitting maniac, the characters just enraptured me and the ending left me quite bereft, to be honest.

That following Autumn, I had the privilege of reading and reviewing Knit Two, the second novel. Picking up the story five years later, Kate Jacobs wove a wonderful story of a group of characters, all attempting to "let go" in some way. My previous review is here. I also had the chance to see Kate Jacobs in person in January of this year at an event at a local knitting store, Urban Yarns, which was most thrilling to me!

And then we get to Knit the Season. Fast forwarding another few years, there are many exciting events and opportunities afoot and this time each character is now struggling with togetherness, with both family and friends. As with the previous two books, I did not want the story to end as these women have become friends to me.

I will venture to say that I found this book more painful to read than the last two. And by painful, I mean emotionally. Georgia Walker, a character who was lost to us in book one, was remembered in small vignettes in a variety of voices, some new to us. I found it very hard to read these flashbacks and not cry. In The Friday Night Knitting Club, Georgia was known to us, but we only got necessary snippets of her past. Kate Jacobs went one step further with Knit the Season and opened up some of the finer intimacies of Georgia's life. It was entirely fitting that she should still be the centrepiece of the story.

Put this book on your list for the upcoming holidays, either for yourself or friends and family. I'd love to think that this series could go on, but we shall see. Kate Jacobs has created some other great characters in her other novel, Comfort Food. Maybe we'll see what's happened to them next!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Sunday Scribblings #180

The thing with the tattoo was that it never stayed in the same place. Always roaming around on her body, surprising her with new locations and sometimes, new shapes. Often people would look at her in surprise and say "I didn't know you had a tattoo!" and she would have to try and pretend it wasn't real because she knew in a day or two it would be somewhere else, probably somewhere hidden, and explaining was just too hard.

One day something new happened. She arose at her usual hour and wandered to the bathroom to freshen up. Today the tattoo was plainly in sight on her left forearm and was in the form of a very lovely butterfly. As she inspected it lightly she felt a tingling in her arm around the outside of the tattoo. The tingling became more intense and warm as the skin began to pucker and then rise slightly as an actual butterfly took shape from her arm. The wings were so delicate and translucent in glorious colours. She searched her brain for what genus it might be but was at a loss. After some time, the tingling began to subside as the butterfly completely emerged from her arm, leaving only a faint imprint where it once was. It flapped its wings once and then lifted from her and headed for the open bathroom window. Something in her wanted to cry "don't go!" and she almost reached out her hand to it, but she thought better of it because she had noticed something new about herself.

She felt free.

******************************
Just a little short story for Sunday Scribblings. The theme was "Tattoo". I guess you can figure out that the tattoo wasn't a tattoo at all. I wonder who can guess what it really was?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Daniel X - Watch the Skies


I have had the privilege of reading the second Daniel X (Watch the Skies) book in a new series by James Patterson. I read and reviewed the first book almost exactly one year ago and I can honestly say the sequel does not disappoint.

If you are looking for a lively, fun, action-packed, gore-filled series for your 8 to 10 year old son to read, then get these books. I promise he won't put them down. I'm a 41 year old Mom and I was mesmerized by this young adult novel!

Daniel is a 15 year old Alien Hunter and boy, is he ever good at what he does! With the help of a team of conjured experts, he is able to track down, outwit and overpower the featured alien in each book. I can hardly wait to read the next one!

In this particular edition, Daniel goes up against his toughest alien yet and is almost defeated many times in some nail-biting scenes. It makes me worried for what's to come!

As with Mr. Patterson's Maximum Ride series, there is no urgent need to read the first novel as he artfully catches you up without repeating too much from the previous novel. This is one thing I appreciate very much about his writing.

The chapters are very short, so as to keep the attention of even the most disinterested reader and what an accomplishment for a non reader to say they've read a 90 chapter book! There's a definite "squick" factor when it comes to the battle scenes as Mr. Patterson very vividly describes them which had me wishing my imagination wasn't so active at times, tee hee!

If you are looking for an interesting and exciting read for your child, not just your son, then this is the series to get them started on. There are some words which may be difficult for earlier readers, so a parent might want to follow along, but other than that, hang on to your hats because it's one heckuva ride!
 
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