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PostPosted: Tue Nov 18, 2014 12:36 pm 
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A new indigenous Stolen Generation

Don't ever sit comfortably in your armchair and describe the stolen generation as a thing of the past. Don't do that.

At this moment, there are 14,000 Aboriginal babies and children in foster care, out-of-home care, or residential care. The attempted annihilation of the First Peoples continues.

Karen, a Kuku Yalanji woman, was the proud grandmother to a new baby. Her daughter delivered the baby in hospital. Three days later, while the baby breastfed, Karen says child welfare staff came into the hospital ward and removed the baby from the breast, from the mother. The baby's mother suffered terrible postnatal depression. Two years later - never having set eyes on her darling child ever again - the mother hung herself.

Karen was so hurt and so angry she decided to take the welfare on. And last year, Karen won her case in the Federal Court in Queensland, to have her grandchild returned to her.

She thinks she can help others who are suffering the same fate.

In Gunnedah, earlier this year, Aunty Hazel witnessed the removal of yet another baby from yet another family. The baby was just 14 months old. In Aunty Hazels' kinship group, many women had been removed from their families, part of the last Stolen Generation.

She could see it all happening again. That was what made her decide to start Grandmothers Against Removal in January this year.

Karen is horrified at what she sees and wants a change in legislation to stop the removal of Aboriginal children. She says community services and welfare should not have the care and protection of Aboriginal children in any way.

"They need to know their culture and their heritage," she said.

And Karen says the rate of removal is escalating. To save and protect Aboriginal people and Aboriginal culture, it must stop.

I ask her why there seemed to be a period of time when it appeared from the outside as if the devastation of child removal was over. She said that people felt disempowered and so stopped talking about it.

Now she is fighting back. She says that Aboriginal children are being forcibly adopted out and now there are ten Grandmothers Against Removal in Gunnedah who have also started to speak out on behalf of this next generation of stolen children. They have been joined by others in Moree, Taree and Dubbo.

Paddy Gibson is a researcher into the Northern Territory intervention and has been travelling to remote communities. He and others held meetings to hear how the Intervention was impacting on those communities. At the end of each of the meetings, women approached him, seeking assistance to find out where their children were, or help to have the children returned. It happened almost at the end of every single meeting.

"I really discovered the scale on which this was happening and also what seemed to be insurmountable barriers for women who were trying to get their children back."

It was through those experiences that he started to have a serious look at the figures - from sources such as the Australian Bureau of Statistics and the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare - then he began to sift through the lived experience of Aboriginal mothers in NSW as well as the Northern Territory.

He was shocked.

"This was an underground phenomenon, people at the grassroots of Aboriginal communities, they felt under siege by child welfare departments.

"They were in this state of very open conflict - communities versus departments."

But instead of recognising that keeping a family whole was important, the departments continued to take the babies and the children.

Paddy was determined to support some of the stronger voices and began an analysis of what was going. He would make calls to welfare workers. He says there is this whole system which privileges the departments, which ignores the fate of the mothers and their children, and their needs.

One case was so cruel he redoubled his efforts. In Alice Springs earlier this year, police turned up to a house to remove a one-year-old child. The police brought welfare workers with them and they watched while police threatened this woman with pepper spray if she did not yield her child, says Paddy.

Then the department case workers went to the school of the woman's two older children. Without her knowledge or permission, the Department of Children and Families in the NT took her two children away from school and filed an application for a two-year protection order. The grounds were health concerns. The departments claimed that the woman's negligence was exacerbating the children's health issues. One child was struggling to put on weight, the other had a learning impairment, the other had a chronic bowel condition.

The woman fought the orders. With Paddy's assistance - but led by the mother - the woman went to see a senior paediatrician who was horrified at the removal. The paediatrician contacted the department. Just last week, after nine months of struggle, the case was closed and the children returned to their mother.

Here it is: Aboriginal children have the right to be in their families. If we want to intervene, we give not take. Give support. Don't take the kids. ... 1o69o.html

PostPosted: Thu Nov 20, 2014 8:57 am 
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Melbourne cancer mum's story leads to flood of donations

Australians have donated $90,000 in the past 24 hours to help a terminally-ill Melbourne mum fighting for more time with her premature baby.

Touching photos circulated yesterday showing Michelle Buchholtz, 38, in her hospital bed clutching her tiny girl, Ava Michelle Ansalone.

Ava was born last Friday by caesarean, three months premature, at the Royal Women’s Hospital due to concerns her mother would not be able to carry her full-term.

Ms Buchholtz's fiancé, Alex Ansalone, 37, started an online fundraising campaign to pay for her ongoing treatments — including chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a possible trip to China for alternative treatment not available in Australia — in a bid to give Ms Buchholtz as much time as possible with their daughter.

The couple told the Herald Sun they were awe-struck by the public's generosity, with the current tally standing at $100,000, including more than 1400 donations, according to their fundraising page.

"I can't believe how much people who don't even know Michelle and I are willing to support us," Mr Ansalone said.

Before Ava, the couple was forced to terminate two pregnancies due to aggressive chemotherapy.

They used IVF to get pregnant again, in the belief Ms Buchholtz was cancer-free, then discovered in August the tumours had returned and spread to her bones.

Ms Buchholtz is currently preparing for another round of chemotherapy treatment for an aggressive form of breast cancer.

The cancer is terminal, doctors say. Her wish is to survive long enough to take her daughter home from hospital when Ava is well enough. ... -donations

PostPosted: Sat Nov 22, 2014 2:32 pm 
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ACT veterinarians cracking under pressure of overwork, poor pay and reduced numbers

Damien Solley knows first hand that mental health problems are intertwined with working in the veterinarian industry.

Dr Solley has revealed two colleagues in the ACT and several veterinarians interstate, have attempted to take their own lives in recent years.

He believes a chronic shortage of veterinarians in Canberra is a contributing factor, coupled with compassion fatigue, long hours and stress.

After months of being unable to employ sufficient veterinarians to cope with the workload at the Animal Emergency Centre Canberra, Dr Solley had little choice but to join forces with the Animal Referral Hospital brand to help alleviate the pressure on himself and his colleagues.

"Suicide rates in our industry are pretty high," he said.

"They're overworked, do long hours and standardised vet wages against inflation haven't changed in 25 years.

"The average wage is dropping through the floor."

Dr Solley said veterinarians were often picked up by the public service, due to better wages and conditions, and he feels it might be nearly time to move on to another profession after 15 years.

He said his wife, Amanda, also a vet, has asked him to leave the industry multiple times.

"I've been very stressed for a long time. I've experienced compassion fatigue as well as general burnout. I'm still persistently burnt out after 10 years of continuous practice," Dr Solley said.

"I thought I was pretty tough and bulletproof but I've had instances of excessive or very sad euthanasia that have affected me.

"I had an experience early this year where I just had a weekend where every animal that I saw, the owners wanted it to be euthanased. I was here all weekend and all I did was fill up our body fridge with euthanased animals.

"By the end of it all, you don't realise but you can become quite depressed."

RSPCA ACT chief executive Tammy Ven Dange said she had visited almost every vet clinic in Canberra in the past six weeks and staff struggles were commonplace.

She said the organisation hopes to re-open its public vet clinic, closed since February due to staff shortages.

Australian Veterinary Association president Julia Nicholls said she was not aware of a "general shortage" of ACT vets.

Ms Nicholls said the AVA had initiatives, such as a 24-hour helpline and mentor support program to provide support.

"It's actually very hard to get statistics but we do believe from some of the evidence that perhaps there is a higher rate of mental illness in our profession," she said.

"We've got self-help things on our website and links to Lifeline and other support services like that - we're really going to ramp that up next year."

For 24 hour crisis support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. ... 1rt3q.html

PostPosted: Mon Nov 24, 2014 8:11 am 
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Chief Minister Katy Gallagher puts banks on notice over Mr Fluffy asbestos loans

ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher has put banks and utility companies on notice that they should come to the aid of families hit by the Mr Fluffy crisis.

Ms Gallagher has written to 50 banks, credit unions, insurers, electricity, gas, water and telecommunications companies, asking them to consider fee waivers, concessions and flexibility around charges and repayments while more than 1000 local families get through the buyback and relocation phase of the ACT government's $1 billion rescue package.

On Monday Ms Gallagher will announce at least five key banks have confirmed their support for Mr Fluffy families.

Commonwealth Bank, Members Equity Bank, Beyond Bank, National Australia Bank, and Teachers Mutual Bank are among the first banks to advise the ACT government they will be providing a compassionate response to homeowners.

The five banks' approaches differed, with measures in place ranging from flexible loan arrangements and fee waivers, depending on individual family circumstances. All five were putting in place Mr Fluffy relationship managers to offer special support to homeowners.

The Asbestos Response Taskforce will this week provide homeowners with a formal letter outlining the buyback conditions and their eligibility that they can present to their bank.

The Taskforce said 490 families had already returned their opt-in forms to receive independent valuations for the buyback. Of these, 124 valuations were already under way. More than a dozen families, meanwhile, have already settled on new homes ahead of the buyback with the real estate market experiencing a busy weekend of Mr Fluffy interest.

More than 52 families who have already had to permanently relocate from their homes have accessed more than $2.35 million paid out in financial assistance.

Ms Gallagher said she hoped that once legislation passed the Legislative Assembly on December 4, funds could flow to families from December 8.

In her letters to chief executives earlier in the month, Ms Gallagher said "owners and residents of more than 1000 houses across the ACT have experienced financial, social and emotional impacts not dissimilar to those of a natural disaster as the legacy of this dangerous insulation....

"There will inevitably be further distress, disruptions and, for some, financial pressures as we move ahead. With this in mind I am seeking the support of your organisation where you may have clients or customers facing hardship as a result of this issue.

Following the positive response of five banks, Ms Gallagher said homeowners were now best placed to have discussions with their individual banks on arrangements available.

"Some of these banks have agreed to put in place hardship and relief support similar to that accessed at times of natural disasters. Others will help homeowners service two loans rather than take on bridging finance when purchasing a new home."

The Commonwealth Bank, which provides home loans to an estimated quarter of all Mr Fluffy affected owners, had appointed the same team to help families as it had to assist in the aftermath of the MH17 airline crash and in bushfires and other hardship cases.

Matt Comyn, the Sydney-based head of retail banking services, responsible for 15,000 staff across Australia, became personally involved when a Canberra staff member asked for advice on the situation earlier this month during a staff meeting. He researched the Mr Fluffy issue and that day contacted Fluffy Owners and Residents' Action Group to ask how the bank could help.

ME Bank chief executive Jamie McPhee said he understood many families wanted to move on with their lives quickly. ME Bank had about 50 affected customers and had agreed to lend on their existing Mr Fluffy affected homes using standard lending criteria, and as soon as they join the buyback. "That means they can start looking for and potentially buy a new home as soon as possible," Mr McPhee said.

Beyond Bank Australia chief executive Robert Keogh said, "as a fellow Canberran I am well aware of the terrible legacy Mr Fluffy has left us".

Beyond Bank Australia will offer loans to those affected using their existing Mr Fluffy property as security as soon as they have joined the buyback and will waive any upfront fees and charges associated with the loan.

National Australia Bank and Teachers Mutual Bank also said they were already in close contact with a number of affected members to help them work through the situation.

Fluffy Owners and Residents' Action Group founder Brianna Heseltine welcomed these commitments but noted she had also fielded calls from distressed homeowners who had approached their banks and been denied finance on their homes due to the asbestos contamination.

The group's Facebook page was also naming and shaming banks who had showed a less than compassionate response, with the taskforce forced to intervene late last week for one family whose bank was denying them a deposit bond for a loan until they received the deed of surrender – preventing them from exchanging contracts on a new home.

Ms Heseltine praised IMB Building Society for being flexible and compassionate. She suggested specific ways banks could help all Mr Fluffy families included waiving administration charges, break costs, early repayment and exit and application fees, and facilitating a smooth transition for customers from mortgages on contaminated homes to new properties. ... 1r35r.html

PostPosted: Wed Nov 26, 2014 6:29 am 
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Doctors missed warning signs

An inquest has been told that a series of doctors and nurses failed to act on the signs of the blood clot which eventually killed a 28-year-old dancer and environmentalist months after she had married the love of her life.

Petra Zele died from a blood clot in her lungs in May 2010, after having been initially sent home from Fremantle hospital weeks earlier having complained of pain in her chest.

A nurse and a doctor there both said the pain was likely to be caused by a muscle strain, and gave Ms Zele pain killers and sent her home

But the inquest was told an electrocardiogram carried out on that night, which could have pinpointed the clot, was mislabelled and therefore not seen by the doctor.

Just over two weeks later, Ms Zele complained again of an acute shortness of breath, and went to see her family GP, who conducted more tests which showed serious problems with the dancer's heart and blood flow.

But Kate Ellson, counsel assisting the coroner, said neither the GP or the specialist he contacted told Ms Zele about the potentially deadly diagnosis.

Within 24 hours she was dead, having collapsed on the way to hospital.

The inquest was only called after Ms Zele's mother Jackie wrote to the WA coroner with her concerns.

And this morning, she was too upset to give evidence in a person - but had a moving tribute to her daughter read in court.

"She was always the life of the party, so full of life and high on life itself," her tribute said.

"She was a beautiful soul, and her beauty touched everyone she met. We believe her tragic death was preventable."

Ms Zele, who had a science degree and worked as a sustainability officer with Cottesloe Town Council, was an avid dancer who had never been unwell.

She had married the love of her life, Petros, who she met in Greece, only four months earlier.

Since Ms Zele's death, tests have revealed that her mother, grandmother, uncle and cousins all have an inherited blood clotting disorder.

The inquest is scheduled to run for five days. ... ing-signs/

PostPosted: Fri Nov 28, 2014 1:30 pm 
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FIFO culture has workers ‘afraid to take depression medication’

THE “toughen up princess” culture in our mining sector is so bad workers are afraid to take depression medication in case it shows up in their urine tests, a new report says.

An interim report by the parliamentary committee investigating a spate of FIFO suicides found a stigma associated with mental health “pervades the resources sector”.

“This stigma is a significant workplace cultural issue and is a major barrier to encouraging help seeking behaviour among the FIFO workforce,” it says.

The inquiry was instigated after the families of several FIFO victims who had committed suicide voiced their concerns to The Sunday Times and PerthNow earlier this year in an attempt to save lives and spare others their misery.

Among the families to speak up were the loved ones of Rhys Connor, a 25-year-old who took his own life in July 2013.

Rhys was a father-of-one and a carpenter and concreter.

His family released his suicide note to The Sunday Times, which warned West Australians “don’t know what it’s like to work FIFO and have depression”.

An interim report by the committee released today says a “lack of reliable” data about mine site safety for mental health issues was “immediately evident” once the inquiry started.

“From the outset there seemed to us that there are anomalies in workplace regulation in respect to jurisdiction as well as site and activity, and uncertainty mine safety definitions pertaining to mental health,” the Education and Health Standing Committee chair Graham Jacobs says in the report.

He said the committee “could not escape” that there are conditions that make FIFO work high risk to emotional health and wellbeing.

“One telling and emotional account was from a dad who pleaded with his son who was working on a FIFO site to report his depression to management, or to allow the father to do so,” Dr Jacobs said.

“The son begged him not to as he feared loss of his job.

“That son took his own life on the accommodation site some weeks later.”

The committee says it heard evidence that “a lot” of workers were “too afraid” to take antidepressants due to drug testing and management finding out if a person suffered from depression.

“It is essential that stigma and the associated fear of disclosure of mental health problems are eliminated from the workplace and that FIFO workers are able to get the treatment they require,” the report says.

The report says the committee heard from some that workers are “regularly” abusing alcohol on site and putting themselves at risk.

“Alcohol is often used as a non-effective coping mechanism by FIFO workers,” the committee found.

“Many submitters raised concerns about the permissive drinking cultures that remained prevalent on a number of sites.”

The committee said that “financial stresses” mean that often the only choice for a FIFO worker experience mental health issues is to continue in the sector.

The committee also found that travel time to and from site “frequently” occurs during a worker’s time off.

This has the potential to encroach on the amount of time they have with their families and “may therefore be a factor contributing to risks of disconnection and social isolation”.

The report says that FIFO “will remain” a feature of the WA employment landscape into the future.

“But there was a clear view that FIFO work practices could be improved to provide better protections for worker’ mental wellbeing,” it said.

The report says that major miner BHP Billiton acknowledged its workforce aligns with the cohort of people at risk of mental health issues, including depression.

According to the Chamber of Commerce and Industry the average age of a FIFO worker is 38.

The committee has already received 70 written submissions and held 12 hearings as part of the inquiry.

The report says a “more extensive” round of hearings will take place next year.

Dr Jacobs said the committee had “much more work to do” and was looking forward to recommending changes “that may save lives”.

The committee will table its final report in June. ... 7137049357

PostPosted: Sun Nov 30, 2014 8:46 am 
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Order to tear down Aspen Medical Ebola work posters

STUDENTS who plastered lampposts and letterboxes with posters urging health professionals to join the fight against Ebola in west Africa have been asked to take them down.

The posters said Aspen Medical, which is handling Australia’s response to the Ebola crisis, was looking for staff.

An Aspen spokesman said a student group which looked for work for graduates had asked the company it if could put up details on its internet employment portal. The company agreed. Then it discovered that posters had been put up along Victoria Parade in Melbourne.

“We have asked them to go back and remove them,” the spokesman said. ... 7138815757

PostPosted: Tue Dec 02, 2014 2:10 pm 
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Older brains still learn, but maybe too much

If you have ever noticed that you notice more as you get older, well, brain science might be on your side.

There is a catch, though: lots of that visual information isn't important, and it might be replacing more relevant stuff, such as where you parked the car.

A new study suggests adults who are well into their 60s and 70s can learn visual information just as readily as the whippersnappers in their 20s, but the elders pick up much more irrelevant visual information than do their younger counterparts.

The findings could help clarify the nature of cognitive declines that come with age. At least for visual perceptual learning, older brains remain "plastic," or changeable, but they might sacrifice stability, or long-term retention of information, the study suggests.

That is because of a decline in the ability to suppress information that is not germane to the task at hand, according to the study.

"Our brain capacity is limited," said Brown University neuroscientist Takeo Watanabe, co-author of the study published online in the journal Current Biology. "If you learn more unnecessary things, then there is a risk of replacing important, existing information in the brain with something trivial."

That is not a trivial matter. Professor Watanabe and his fellow researchers from the University of California, Riverside and National Yang-Ming University in Taiwan have been exploring how older people learn.

A study they published this month showed that learning-related changes in one part of older people's brains involved mainly white matter, while graygrey-matter activity changed among the young.

This time, dots showed the difference. Both groups - 10 youngsters and 10 seniors - viewed slides with a mix of six letters and two numerals on a background of moving dots and were asked to report what numerals they saw.

But it was perception of the dots that was being tested. Researchers tinkered with how many of those wandering dots moved in a "coherent" way from frame to frame. Some proportions were so small they were below the threshold of conscious detection, while others were too obvious to ignore.

It turns out these too-obvious patterns were ignored - but only among the young, the study showed.

Both groups showed increased learning as the dot motions became more coherent. But the learning plummeted after a certain threshold among the young, whose brains seemed to respond with a cerebral "whatever".

Researchers suspected the older folks could not help processing the irrelevant dot information. So they had each group perform a common test of processing speed, divided attention and selective attention.

It turned out the results of the dot pattern learning neatly correlated with the selective attention scores for the older folks. But there was no such correlation between those scores for the youngsters.

That suggests the issue among seniors is a decreased ability to suppress information that is irrelevant to the task.

Professor Watanabe and company want to take their results to the next level - comparing what parts of the brain seem to be responding in each group as they process information that is irrelevant to a task.

In the meantime, you could make the case that older drivers might have an edge over the young, at least when visual information matters. They might pick up subtle signals of potential hazards that youngsters suppress as "irrelevant".

So, noticing a creeping shadow of a car might keep an older driver from executing a dangerous lane change. But all bets are off if the older driver notices a rabbit. ... 1y0zz.html

PostPosted: Thu Dec 04, 2014 8:36 am 
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Majority of people ignore cancer warning signs, study finds

Cancer is one of the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. In 2012, there were around 14 million new cases of cancer and around 8.2 million deaths from the disease. But despite such alarming numbers, a new study by researchers from the UK finds that most people ignore cancer warning signs, attributing them instead to symptoms of less serious illnesses.

Of 53% of participants who experienced a cancer warning sign, only 2% considered the symptom to be cancer-related.

Lead study author Dr. Katriina Whitaker, senior research fellow at University College London in the UK, analyzed the responses of 1,724 people aged 50 and over to a health questionnaire that was sent to them in April 2012.

The questionnaire asked participants whether they had experienced any of 17 symptoms, 10 of which are defined as cancer "alarm" symptoms by Cancer Research UK. These symptoms include unexplained cough, changes in mole appearance, unexplained bleeding, persistent change in bowel habits, unexplained weight loss, difficulty swallowing and unexplained lumps.

Participants were not told which symptoms are cancer warning signs.

The respondents were also asked what they thought was the cause of any symptoms they experienced, whether they deemed the symptoms to be serious and whether they visited their doctor as a result of their symptoms.

Only 2% of respondents considered warning symptoms to be cancer-related

Results of study - published in the journal PLOS ONE - revealed that 53% of participants reported that they had experienced at least one cancer warning sign over the past 3 months.

The most common cancer warning symptoms reported were persistent cough and persistent change in bowel habits, while unexplained weight loss and problems swallowing were the least common.

However, the researchers were surprised to find that of the respondents who reported cancer warning symptoms, only 2% considered cancer to be a potential cause.

What is more, Dr. Whitaker says that of participants who reported the most obvious signs of cancer - such as unexplained lumps or changes in mole appearance - most did not consider them to be cancer-related.

"Even when people thought warning symptoms might be serious, cancer didn't tend to spring to mind," adds Dr. Whitaker. "This might be because people were frightened and reluctant to mention cancer, thought cancer wouldn't happen to them or believed other causes were more likely."

On a positive note, respondents did deem the cancer warning signs to be more serious than symptoms not linked to cancer - such as shortness of breath, fatigue and sore throat - and 59% of those who experienced cancer warning signs visited their doctor.

But the researchers say their findings show that the majority of people are dismissing potential warning signs of cancer, which could be putting their health at serious risk. Dr. Whitaker says:

"Most people with potential warning symptoms don't have cancer, but some will and others may have other diseases that would benefit from early attention. That's why it's important that these symptoms are checked out, especially if they don't go away. But people could delay seeing a doctor if they don't acknowledge cancer as a possible cause."

"Most cancers are picked up through people going to their general practitioner (GP) about symptoms, and this study indicates that opportunities for early diagnosis are being missed," adds Sara Hiom, director of early diagnosis at Cancer Research UK. "Its results could help us find new ways of encouraging people with worrying symptoms to consider cancer as a possible cause and to get them checked out straight away with a GP."

Medical News Today recently reported on a study published in The Lancet Oncology claiming that each year, half a million cancer cases can be attributed to high body mass index (BMI).

PostPosted: Sat Dec 06, 2014 7:34 am 
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After a Cancer Diagnosis, Learning to Let Go

The stars may have been shining in Berkeley that late summer’s night, but I couldn’t see them. I was doubled over in my backyard, puking, with the gut-searing spasms of a chemo patient.

This was not how my life was supposed to be. Only six months earlier I had been following a well-ordered routine as a history grad student, up every day at 7 a.m. to walk the exact same route from my apartment on the Southside to the University’s outdoor pool. By 7:30, I’d be slicing through the crisp water with an even crisper stroke. From there, I’d head over to Doe Library, arriving precisely at 9:00. Afternoons were spent teaching undergrads, and more nights than most I fell asleep in my boyfriend Noah’s arms.

My routine gave me structure and comfort – the way I imagine a strait jacket might feel to someone who is not struggling to get out.

The first hint that my tidy life was in danger had come earlier that year when, on my nightly route home from the library, a man had stuck a pistol into my ribs, demanding my near-empty wallet (I was only a grad student!) and my cheap watch (ditto). He nuzzled the gun deeper into my side, roughly pushing me in the direction of People’s Park, a dark hole known for drug trafficking and violent crime.

No good can come of this, I realized as I quickly assessed the situation. A moment later I saw a car approaching and ran toward it, screaming for help. ”Stop or I’ll shoot!” I heard the gunman shout as I rolled over the car hood and landed on the pavement, more disoriented than hurt, as the sedan sped away. When I looked back to where the gunman had stood — no one. Into the park, disappeared.

For a few days after, this bungled assault sat with me as just another pedestrian example of urban crime. Lucky for me it hadn’t ended badly, and I returned to my regularly scheduled program. As it turned out, however, that wasn’t the last of it.

Unconsciously at first, then deliberately, I started taking different routes to and from campus, randomly making my way to the pool, to class, to the library. It was as if my well-ordered life, with its promise of comfort, predictability, even safety, was now in jeopardy.

A month later came the testicular cancer diagnosis – and with it the required removal of the offending malignancy. With no routine to fall back on, the morning of my surgery proved to be a complete improvisation. Up before dawn, I lingered in the shower, holding both testicles for the last time. It felt like I was saying goodbye to a lover who had betrayed me, but whom I still loved.

Once dry, I freaked – not about the diagnosis, not about the surgery, but about getting dressed. I put on sweatpants and a sweatshirt (no, too casual); then dress khakis and a button-down shirt (too schoolboy); then jeans and a pullover (that wasn’t right either). Mastery of my domain had been reduced to the sartorial and ridiculous choice of what to wear to the hospital.

Ninety minutes later my sense of being dragged into a vortex deepened as I pulled up to the U.C.S.F. Medical Center, high on Parnassus Heights, enveloped in a swirling fog. By noon it was all over (the procedure anyway), and I was in my room, when suddenly Noah was standing above me with a spray of lilacs. Instead of being overjoyed to see him, all I could think was: “Here I am lying in a hospital bed, with a fake testicle and a catheter, unable to even lift myself out of bed with the pull bar hanging above me.” Obsessively trying to connect the dots of causation, I suddenly understood that my so-called well-ordered life had been an illusion.

I had read The Maltese Falcon earlier that year, drawn to its story. But now Dashiell Hammett’s words about how capricious life may be took on new meaning:

“The life [Flitcraft] knew was a clean orderly sane responsible affair. Now a falling beam had shown him that life was fundamentally none of these things. He, the good citizen-husband-father, could be wiped out between office and restaurant by the accident of a falling beam. He knew then that men died at haphazard like that, and lived only while blind chance spared them.”

I started to more fully grasp the lesson that had begun with the foiled mugging. Like Flitcraft, I was witnessing my own “falling beam.” I’d had no control over the gunman, but at least I had been able to choose flight. Facing a cancer diagnosis, my control had been reduced to jeans versus khakis. What might blind chance deliver next?

I was only too soon to find out.

Once home, I was determined to live my daily life as I had once known it, resuming my routines as best I could. A month later I was back doing morning laps, hibernating in the library, and spending time with Noah. From the outside, it was as though nothing had happened.

Then my early-stage disease was reclassified as Stage 2, and with the new diagnosis came weekly chemotherapy, which threw my routine completely out of whack. As my schedule fell apart I felt myself spiraling into chaos and I tried to take control wherever I could. Like an anorexic, I felt I could regain my sense of power and mastery by deciding what went in my mouth, embarking on a high-fiber, low-calorie, sugar-free, nearly organic, lean protein diet that I thought might improve my odds (but left me starving!).

By week four of chemo, even though I hadn’t yet lost a strand of hair, I went to my hair cutter and had her shave it all off. Then, I dumped Noah in the most perfunctory of break-ups. (If there were a chance that Noah would leave me, I decided to be sure to do it first.)

And that’s how I came to be puking in my backyard, completely adrift, and alone.

I didn’t have to be a member of Alcoholics Anonymous to know its first principle: “Admit you are powerless.” And that’s just what I did that night. The journey that had started with a gun in my ribs was ending with nothing less than a new understanding of the world. On that dark night, I came to see that I could not master the world about me, that it was time for a new way of thinking. What that was I wasn’t sure. But in that moment under the starry sky I finally understood that in order to hold on, I would have to let go. ... t-go/?_r=0

PostPosted: Mon Dec 08, 2014 12:11 pm 
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Depression Facts: Recognizing the Symptoms

Statistically, there are about 3% of Americans over the age of 12 that have experienced severe symptoms of depression at some point in their lives. Only about 35% of that 3% have actually reported seeing a mental health professional within the past 12 months.

What Is Depression?

Depression is a mental disorder essentially defined as the experiencing of moderate to severe depressive symptoms (or a depressed mood) lasting for more than 2 weeks.

Some of the Symptoms of Depression

Persistent sadness, worry, and/or anxiety.
Feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, guilt, and/or helplessness.
Suicidal thoughts and/or attempts.
Lack of energy or fatigue.
Loss of interest in activities and/or hobbies.
Difficulty focusing or concentrating.
Irritability and/or restlessness.
Memory or decision-making problems.
Changes in appetite/and or weight.
Changes in sleep patterns.

Recognizing symptoms of depression can help a person determine whether or not they are experiencing it. It is recommended to seek the help of a mental health professional to aid in the treatment of depression and its symptoms.

Depression Facts

Over the years, the study of depression has helped mental health professionals everywhere discover many pertinent facts about the mental illness. Men are actually less likely to experience depression than women are with women between the ages of 40 and 59 being the most likely age group to experience it. Some of the factors that may likely contribute to the onset of depression can include loss of a loved one, physical illness, and persistent work and/or family stress.

People who suffer from depression often lose interest in the hobbies and/or activities that they used to receive pleasure from enjoy. Depressed persons can also experience profound appetite changes (not eating or overeating) and/or weight changes (losing too much weight too quickly or gaining too much weight too quickly). Those suffering from depression do not seek help from a mental health professional may have an increased chance of contemplating, attempting and/or committing suicide.

Treating Depression

It is unknown why the majority of those who suffer from the symptoms of depression never seek any professional help. Perhaps more of them would do so if knew more about the methods and/or medications used to treat it. ... s/1420989/

PostPosted: Wed Dec 10, 2014 2:27 pm 
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Ashram’s doctor Henry Sztulman ‘was blind to child sex’

THE doctor at a Sydney ashram where children were ­beaten and raped by the guru saw nothing wrong happening, the child sex abuse royal commission was told yesterday.

Dr Henry Sztulman even gave evidence for Akhandananda Saraswati at his trial for child sexual assault because he did not ­believe the young women who said they were forced to have sex with the swami, the commission heard.

He said he never saw any evidence that the children were beaten and slapped and had “no idea” that Akhandananda and his second in charge, Shishy, whose name has been suppressed, were having sex even though they slept ­together in the same room.

Dr Sztulman, who lived at the Satyananda Yoga Ashram at Mangrove Mountain from 1979 for a decade, said he found Akhandananda charismatic and held him in high regard.

“He seemed to be a man of wisdom,” Dr Sztulman said.

The commission heard that he continues to practise as a doctor after being reprimanded by the Medical Tribunal in 2002 and found guilty of professional misconduct for prescribing drugs of addiction.

The tribunal found Dr Sztulman to be naive, irresponsible and easily manipulated.

“It could well be that his ­insulation from general practise while at the ashram contributed to his limited understanding of the issues of manipulative drug addicted patients,” the tribunal said in its judgment.

Dr Sztulman told the commission that when he realised the truth, it hit him like ‘‘an earthquake”.

The commission sitting in Sydney is investigating the ­response of the ashram between 1974 and 2014 to allegations or reports of child sexual abuse against Akhandananda, who has since died of alcoholism. The hearing continues. ... 7150495582

PostPosted: Fri Dec 12, 2014 8:36 am 
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Woman 'Burns' From Inside Out After Reaction to Friend's Medicine

A young mother is in intensive care after having a rare but serious reaction to a friend's prescription antibiotics that caused her to "burn" from the inside out.

Yassmeen Castanada, 19, wasn't feeling well on Thanksgiving, so she took a pill that her friend had left over from a previous illness. Soon, Castanada's eyes, nose and throat began to burn, and she was rushed to the emergency room, her mother, Laura Corona, told ABC News.

Her body erupted in blisters over the next few days, Corona said. She had to be sedated and placed on a ventilator.

"Her face changed within four days," Corona told ABC News. "I would wipe her face and all the skin was just falling off."

Doctors diagnosed Castanada with Stevens-Johnson syndrome, a rare but serious drug reaction that can occur even when drugs are taken as prescribed by a doctor, said Dr. Joshua Zeichner, a dermatology professor at the Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan who was not involved in treating Castanada.

"You're not truly burned, but what happens is you have compromised the skin barrier function," Zeichner said.

Inflammation and blistering occur on the outer layer of skin as well as the lips, eyes and genitals, leaving the patient vulnerable to infection and unable to properly balance electrolytes and stay hydrated, Zeichner explained. As such, these patients are treated like burn victims.

"You get very painful lesions on your skin that are basically blisters," said Neil MacKinnon, dean of the University of Cincinnati's Winkle College of Pharmacy. "Your whole body is in excruciating pain."

Castanada was eventually transferred to the University of California Irvine's burn unit, where doctors said over 70 percent of her body was damaged, Corona said. She's undergone several surgeries over the past few weeks, but her feet are still blistering.

Zeichner said he sees it most often with antibiotics, but MacKinnon said this sometimes fatal reaction is different from most reactions to antibiotics, which are usually limited to gastrointestinal symptoms.

"Unfortunately, we have no way of predicting who would have this type reaction," Zeichner said, advising that patients only take prescriptions given to them by their doctors. He said they should report any reactions following new medicines immediately to their doctors. And, if necessary, go to the emergency room.

Though Castanada is expected to miss her baby's first Christmas, Corona said she has hope her daughter will survive. Another patient with Stevens-Johnson syndrome spent two months in the same hospital and went home on Tuesday.

"Heartbreaking, just unreal," Corona told ABC's southern California station KABC. "Just watching your daughter burn in front of you, literally burn in front of you." ... d=27478608

PostPosted: Sun Dec 14, 2014 10:07 am 
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$100 GP fees in two years?

The average upfront cost of a 15-minute consultation with a GP could exceed $100 within two years under the federal government's proposed changes to Medicare, the Doctors Reform Society says.

The society, a lobby group that supports publicly funded universal health care, says the Abbott government's plan to reduce the Medicare rebate for doctors by $5 and freeze it until 2018 is promoting a "return to a failed privatised system of the past" with doctors free to charge what the market will bear.

Society national president and GP Con Costa said extending the current two-year-long freeze on Medicare rebates for another four years would hit GP clinics' budgets hard, driving many doctors away from bulk-billing and into increasing their fees for patients who do not have concession cards.

One GP said the changes would be devastating for the working poor and might stop them from seeking medical help.

In 2012, the former Labor government froze the Medicare rebate for a standard "Level B" consultation of up to 20 minutes at $37.05. The Australian Medical Association recommends GPs charge $75 for such consultations, meaning patients without concessions are usually out of pocket $37.95.

But Dr Costa said, given some doctors were already charging $80, it was likely some would be charging at least $100 by 2016.

Under the government's new proposal, if a doctor charges $100 up front, a non-concession patient would receive a rebate of $32.05, leaving them out of pocket $67.95.

"We're predicting a rapid rise in the cost to see a family doctor," Dr Costa said.

"Up until now, Medicare and high rates of bulk-billing have kept a lid on doctors' fees and charges in general practice. Once you destroy this cost control, you basically open Pandora's box."

The Australian Medical Association has long complained that Medicare rebates for GPs' work have not kept up with inflation and average weekly earnings. President Brian Owler last week said the increasing gap between rebates and the cost of running clinics would prompt some doctors to shift to more private billing.

At the moment, about 82 per cent of GP visits are bulk-billed. For patients who pay privately, the average out-of-pocket cost is $30.

The AMA estimates about a quarter of patients who are bulk-billed do not have concessions.

AMA Victorian branch president Tony Bartone said this group of patients were likely to face more "commercial fees" under the government's new system, due to begin in July.

He said upfront fees of $80-$90 were likely by the end of 2016. "I think $100 would be at the absolute outside extreme," he said.

Broadmeadows GP Dr Ralph Audehm said the government's proposed changes would mean his clinic, which bulk-bills everyone regardless of their ability to pay, would have to start charging fees.

He predicted a fee of at least $5 to cover the "pay cut of about 18 per cent" for the care of people without a concession and the cost of restructuring the front desk to start taking payments.

Dr Audehm said his practice, which cares for many needy patients, was already bordering on being financially unviable, leaving it little choice.

He said the fees would be devastating for some of the "working poor" – people on low incomes who do not qualify for concessions. "It will probably stop them seeking medical care when they need it."

The Australian Bureau of Statistics' most recent survey found 5 per cent of patients who needed to see a GP delayed it or did not go because of the cost.

Dr Costa said rising GP fees would pave the way for health insurers to argue they can cover the growing gap fees. "This is about bringing the insurers in," he said.

A spokesperson for federal Health Minister Peter Dutton said doctors were free to determine the value of their services, but were "encouraged to consider the personal circumstances of their patients when determining fees".

The spokesperson said bulk-billing facilities were available to every doctor and that under the proposal there would be no change for patients with a concession. ... 26ez7.html

PostPosted: Sun Dec 14, 2014 10:19 am 
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Dementia's hidden truth: Study to focus on 65,000 Australians living alone with dementia

An estimated 65,000 Australians are living alone with dementia and researchers are keen to know more about their lives.

In the new year, a team from the Dementia Collaborative Research Centre will launch a study into the lives of Australians with dementia who live alone.

Of the 225,000 Australians estimated to be living in the community with dementia, not in an aged care facility, about a third live by themselves.

With that number increasing, Alzheimer's Australia has identified the area as its top research priority.

Lead researcher Dr Jennifer Fletcher said the study wanted to establish how people at home with the condition were faring.

She said one of the biggest problems was locating the study's subjects, as dementia sufferers were sometimes too afraid to answer the door and the phone.

"We really want to know how they're doing, and in our study we want to compare them to people who don't live alone," she said.

"I suspect there's a lot of people and who are living alone and who are unseen.

"So you might not know that your neighbour has dementia, and they're coping with those sorts of difficulties."

She said researchers would focus their efforts on several suburbs in south-east Sydney.

Routine and notes now part of live
Ray, who lives about an hour outside of Melbourne, is one of the many people with dementia living alone.

He had a 35-year career with Victoria Police and was diagnosed with dementia in February.

During his time with the police, his life was all about systems and routine. Now he brings the same approach to living alone with dementia.

Next to his front door are two columns of notes and cards.

"Anything I have waiting to be done I write on a piece of paper, I put it down by the front door," he said.

"It means every time I go in and out, I'll see those pieces of paper, and I'll see the dates, and I know those things have to be attended to."

Ray uses similar techniques in town.

He deliberately makes extra trips to the ATM to help him recall the steps he needs to follow.

"I do it twice a week instead of once a week. And that way, I remember it better because I'm using it more often," he said.

Some of those living with dementia, like Ray, say they actually do better on their own.

"Living with dementia by myself means that I have to do everything," he said.

"Everything from buying my own food, going to the bank, paying my bills, all of those things that I have to do means that I keep using my brain."

Staying active key to being at home
Breda in Canberra also has her systems.

The 70-year-old lives alone and has had dementia for more than a decade.

She devotes an hour a day to word games to help exercise her mind, and she regularly spreads birdfeed in the backyard to stay active.

It all helps her keep her spirits up and stay in her own home.

"You have to keep trying to be independent," she said.

"It's good for you. It's good for anybody."

Dementia researchers said Breda and Ray were lucky.

Both had regular family visits, and Breda had a care worker who came once a week to take her to the shops – something she was not able to do anymore on her own.

"Going to town alone is not very good sometimes. I forget where I am," Breda said.

Dr Fletcher said there would be a lot more people like Ray and Breda in the future. ... -dementia/

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