Categories
Health Humour

Self diagnose with Google

Everybody and anybody who has an illness, a pain in the leg, a hurt somewhere, will use Google to find out what ails them. There is an inherent danger in that, but if you use a search engine that way, and believe the first result, then good luck to you, The Darwin Awards may need another category.

The rest of us go to the doctor, the dentist, or whatever health professional is appropriate. What if your company health plan depended on using Google to diagnose? That’s what Catbert, the evil director of Human Resources did today in this Dilbert cartoon. Arc Welder anyone?

If by chance you do suffer a tooth ache, then a Google Search could pay dividends, at least for short term relief. My toothache post has been insanely popular for a couple of years now and a few people have learned something about dealing with the pain. I found that swishing Vodka around in my mouth helped a lot. It says it on the Internet, it must be true!

I wonder what Britney Spears Googled that told her to shave her hair off? Poor girl.

Categories
Health When-in-Ireland

Choosing a memory foam mattress

Yawn. The mundane things in life are top of my agenda today. We’re looking for a new mattress and considering how much time is spent asleep in bed it’s criminal not to buy the best you can afford.

From research it appears that memory foam mattresses are the best to go for. I would certainly hope a new mattress would help my sore back! Tempura mattresses have been recommended to us but they’re hard to buy in Cork. Casey’s Furniture have them but they’ve always been over priced in their city center location. Another brand I have come across is Visco and it appears to do the same job. According to one salesperson they’re firmer than Tempura mattresses but I need to ring around a few more places before we make up our minds.

If you have one of these mattresses I’d love to hear about how comfortable they are. Try searching for any information on either brand and you’ll only find are online-stores trying to flog you one!

This page is better than most however. Here’s what they say about Visco-elastic mattress, which I presume applies to Tempura too.

  • Body heat reacts with the foam to soften it.
  • The mattress then moulds and re-moulds to your body’s contours.
  • Provides excellent support and enables natural movement during sleep.
  • Helps to maintain correct posture and align spine horizontally when lying on your side.
  • Hypo-allergenic with anti-microbial properties.

Off to town shortly and out with the credit card..

January 3rd 2007 – we went into town this afternoon and tried a few places before buying a bed in Swan Beds. It’s a memory foam mattress. A bit pricey but less than Casey’s were looking for. Hopefully it’ll be delivered next Wednesday!

Categories
Health Mind

Chosen To Suffer

A mentally ill and severely depressed patient walks from morning mass at a convalescence home. She has been living here for many months because her elderly parents cannot cope with her at home.

She stops the priest who has just offered up the body and blood of Christ in holy mass and asks him, “why am I suffering?” His reply both startles her and frightens her, “You are chosen to suffer for everybody else on this earth”.
She asks him if she will get better and his reply is a short and terse, “I don’t know”.

Where is God? Where is hope?

“You are chosen to suffer for everybody else on this earth”.

Categories
Health When-in-Ireland

Bupa to leave Irish market

I can just imagine the cheers and celebration going on at VHI HQ this afternoon as it was announced that Bupa, the second largest health insurer (with 22% of the market) is going to pull out of the Irish market because of risk-equalisation.

Two things really annoy me about this decision:

  • When they set up shop in the first place they knew that risk equalisation was inevitable. It’s a side effect of how the Irish health insurance market works. Everyone pays the same premium, the incumbant VHI has older and more costly members and risk equalisation meant compensating VHI. They should have planned realistically for it although how one can plan to compensate another company a sum of money larger than one’s own entire profits is beyond me.
  • Why couldn’t they have come up with a more imaginative solution. If VHI had simply given Bupa a percentage of their elderly members to even out the age spread of their memberships then VHI wouldn’t have had a leg to stand on and risk equalisation wouldn’t be an issue.

I’m a Bupa member as is my wife. A friend of mine works for Bupa in Fermoy. We’re all sorely disappointed at the decision today. There’s still Vivas Health but I wonder what their plan is to cope with the huge payouts VHI will want off them in a couple of years.

The company is blaming the move on a scheme known as risk equalisation – which it says compels it to pay €1 million every week to compensate other insurance providers for covering older consumers.

The company claimed the move would force it to hand over €161m to its rival over three years, even though its profits for the period would be just €64m.

Michele linked to a newsletter written by Martin O’Rourke, the boss of Bupa Ireland. As I expect the Bupa website will disappear sooner rather than later and this message with it, I’ll copy/paste it here after the jump as a record of what evils a monopoly does to an industry.

bupa-ireland.jpg

Continue reading “Bupa to leave Irish market”

Categories
Health

Running to catch up with the world's fittest man

I still haven’t read the couch to 5k plan I linked to over two years ago, but someone else did take turning 30 seriously: Dean Karnazes. At the age of 30 on a night out with the lads he decided to run 30 miles. He had no special training, but he says, “and I just got this feeling. When the clock struck midnight I told them I was going to run 30 miles. I guess I was having an early midlife crisis.”

Dean hasn’t stopped since, he runs 70-80 miles a week and at the age of 43 has just completed 50 marathons in 50 days! Read about his story written by a gasping Jeremy Taylor who struggled to keep up with him on his 23rd race.

I turn 31 in a few days time, I think I might manage walking home from Blarney village a mile away, with a following wind.

Categories
Health Movies

How to make cocaine

Cocaine use is ruining many lives, the social side effects of paying for an expensive addictive habit ruins society but it’s also disgusting all the crap they use to make cocaine. As it’s an illegal drug you have to take what you get: petrol, cement, calcium oxide, ammonia, H2SO4 and of course coca leaves. This video takes you through the process of from picking the leaves, chopping them, spraying them wth the above chemicals and filtering. Ugh. Everyone should see this video. It might stop someone experimenting with it in the first place.

The Swearing Lady has been reading about Cocaine use in Ireland and the UK. It’s being cut with carcinogenic chemicals to increase yields so on top of the chemicals above drug users are really f*cked. (via and I’d swear Damien linked to the movie a few days ago too)

Edit: the video that was here is long gone, but here’s a text description of how to make cocaine. Reminded me of Breaking Bad reading that.

Categories
Health

Brighten your day

I didn’t know it but Scott Adams, the creator of Dilbert lost his voice 18 months ago. He suffers from a rare condition called Spasmodic Dysphonia. Even though there is no cure for it he has written a great article about his experiences and how he never gave up trying to get his voice back. If you’re having a bad day this will cheer you up. Amazing and inspirational story.

To state the obvious, much of life’s pleasure is diminished when you can’t speak. It has been tough.

But have I mentioned I’m an optimist?

Edit! The post has been removed from Scott Adam’s website because it appears in his new book but thanks to Google Reader I found it again:

As regular readers of my blog know, I lost my voice about 18 months ago. Permanently. It’s something exotic called Spasmodic Dysphonia. Essentially a part of the brain that controls speech just shuts down in some people, usually after you strain your voice during a bout with allergies (in my case) or some other sort of normal laryngitis. It happens to people in my age bracket.

I asked my doctor – a specialist for this condition – how many people have ever gotten better. Answer: zero. While there’s no cure, painful Botox injections through the front of the neck and into the vocal cords can stop the spasms for a few months. That weakens the muscles that otherwise spasm, but your voice is breathy and weak.

The weirdest part of this phenomenon is that speech is processed in different parts of the brain depending on the context. So people with this problem can often sing but they can’t talk. In my case I could do my normal professional speaking to large crowds but I could barely whisper and grunt off stage. And most people with this condition report they have the most trouble talking on the telephone or when there is background noise. I can speak normally alone, but not around others. That makes it sound like a social anxiety problem, but it’s really just a different context, because I could easily sing to those same people.

I stopped getting the Botox shots because although they allowed me to talk for a few weeks, my voice was too weak for public speaking. So at least until the fall speaking season ended, I chose to maximize my onstage voice at the expense of being able to speak in person.

My family and friends have been great. They read my lips as best they can. They lean in to hear the whispers. They guess. They put up with my six tries to say one word. And my personality is completely altered. My normal wittiness becomes slow and deliberate. And often, when it takes effort to speak a word intelligibly, the wrong word comes out because too much of my focus is on the effort of talking instead of the thinking of what to say. So a lot of the things that came out of my mouth frankly made no sense.

To state the obvious, much of life’s pleasure is diminished when you can’t speak. It has been tough.

But have I mentioned I’m an optimist?

Just because no one has ever gotten better from Spasmodic Dysphonia before doesn’t mean I can’t be the first. So every day for months and months I tried new tricks to regain my voice. I visualized speaking correctly and repeatedly told myself I could (affirmations). I used self hypnosis. I used voice therapy exercises. I spoke in higher pitches, or changing pitches. I observed when my voice worked best and when it was worst and looked for patterns. I tried speaking in foreign accents. I tried “singing” some words that were especially hard.

My theory was that the part of my brain responsible for normal speech was still intact, but for some reason had become disconnected from the neural pathways to my vocal cords. (That’s consistent with any expert’s best guess of what’s happening with Spasmodic Dysphonia. It’s somewhat mysterious.) And so I reasoned that there was some way to remap that connection. All I needed to do was find the type of speaking or context most similar – but still different enough – from normal speech that still worked. Once I could speak in that slightly different context, I would continue to close the gap between the different-context speech and normal speech until my neural pathways remapped. Well, that was my theory. But I’m no brain surgeon.

The day before yesterday, while helping on a homework assignment, I noticed I could speak perfectly in rhyme. Rhyme was a context I hadn’t considered. A poem isn’t singing and it isn’t regular talking. But for some reason the context is just different enough from normal speech that my brain handled it fine.

Jack be nimble, Jack be quick.
Jack jumped over the candlestick.

I repeated it dozens of times, partly because I could. It was effortless, even though it was similar to regular speech. I enjoyed repeating it, hearing the sound of my own voice working almost flawlessly. I longed for that sound, and the memory of normal speech. Perhaps the rhyme took me back to my own childhood too. Or maybe it’s just plain catchy. I enjoyed repeating it more than I should have. Then something happened.

My brain remapped.

My speech returned.

Not 100%, but close, like a car starting up on a cold winter night. And so I talked that night. A lot. And all the next day. A few times I felt my voice slipping away, so I repeated the nursery rhyme and tuned it back in. By the following night my voice was almost completely normal.

When I say my brain remapped, that’s the best description I have. During the worst of my voice problems, I would know in advance that I couldn’t get a word out. It was if I could feel the lack of connection between my brain and my vocal cords. But suddenly, yesterday, I felt the connection again. It wasn’t just being able to speak, it was KNOWING how. The knowing returned.

I still don’t know if this is permanent. But I do know that for one day I got to speak normally. And this is one of the happiest days of my life.

But enough about me. Leave me a comment telling me the happiest moment of YOUR life. Keep it brief. Only good news today. I don’t want to hear anything else.

Categories
Health

Cancer chemical found in coffee

A cancer causing chemical has been found in coffee. Acrylamide is the drug in question and “only chips and crisps are responsible for greater quantities on average.” (That’s fries and chips to US readers)
Yet again, I’m glad I gave up coffee! Unfortunately the chemical is produced during cooking, “particularly high-temperature processes such as frying and roasting” and so bread and biscuits have high levels of it. Damn.

Categories
Health

How to Brush Your Teeth

John goes over the technique he uses to brush his teeth. I should spend more time on my teeth, as tooth ache really really hurts! Oooowwww!

I always assumed flossing was to remove the food particles from between your teeth, but I was informed the main reason for doing this is to remove the plaque build up underneath the gum line. In fact, even if you brush your teeth properly, you have only cleaned 60% of the tooth surface. This highlights just how important flossing is.

Categories
Health

The power of the Sleep Cycle

The power of the Sleep Cycle – or how to get by on less if your time asleep is a multiple of 90 minutes.