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February 14, 2018 | Hibiscusmatters |



Something new in mobile hearing service

Less may be more

A mobile hearing clinic that is pure vintage on the outside, but state of the art inside made its debut in Orewa last month. Triton Hearing was searching for a vehicle it could use to introduce a mobile hearing service and found the 1949 Bedford bus languishing in a garden in Whangarei, where it was up on blocks and being used as a bach. Triton’s managing director James Whittaker says it was a little rough and not able to be driven, yet it was exactly what he’d been looking for. “The average age of our clients is 72, so a vintage vehicle like this really resonates with them,” he says. “Also, we work in a stigma industry – no-one wants to talk about their hearing difficulties – and we wanted a bus with character so it would be a real ice-breaker.” The company repaired and boosted the engine of the bus, which was named Penelope. The interior was converted into a modern hearing clinic that provides a full diagnostic service, including issuing hearing aids, via a live electronic video link with an audiologist. A trained hearing nurse provides the hands for the audiologist, operating

The Council of Medical Colleges (CMC) is encouraging older people to talk to their doctor about whether they could take fewer medicines. The CMC leads the Choosing Wisely campaign, which encourages patients to ask their health professional: do I really need this test or procedure, what are the risks, are there simpler, safer options, and what happens if I don’t do anything? In the Waitemata DHB region, 30 percent of people aged over 65 are taking five or more long-term medications. The rate is 35 percent for the whole of NZ. CMC chair Dr Derek Sherwood says it is important older people get their medicines reviewed regularly. “This helps make sure you are receiving the best treatment. When a doctor or pharmacist reviews your medicines they will check things like what medicines you are taking and why, how many different medicines you are taking and any side effects you may be experiencing.” He says some medicines are more likely to cause side effects in older people. “Benzodiazepines like diazepam, and antipsychotic medicines like clozapine or risperidone are two examples of this,” he says.

Triton Hearing managing director James Whittaker, left, with former bus driver Peter Luey.

equipment such as the otoscope, which looks down the patient’s ear canal. The test results are read directly by the audiologist as they come through. The bus was launched last November and driven to Orewa for its debut as part of Triton Orewa’s Innovation Open Day last month. While there, it attracted a lot of attention – particularly from Peter

Luey who just happened to be passing by. Peter drove Penelope back in the day when she was Birkenhead Library’s mobile bus, so it was a happy reunion. The hearing service is now on the road, and Penelope is available to visit local retirement villages, sports clubs or community organisations. Info, or to arrange a visit, phone Lucy Rei 0800 454 542.

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| Hibiscusmatters | February 14, 2018

Love Food Hate Waste

Summer storage secrets



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Summer is in full swing, which means your kitchen should be full of sweetcorn, salad and stone fruit. Unfortunately, the Coast’s humid climate means that produce deteriorates far quicker at this time of year, making it more important than ever to store your food correctly. Here are some storage secrets to keep food fresh in the summer heat – Aubergines (eggplants): Store aubergines somewhere cool, but not in the fridge. Refrigerating them can affect the flavour and lead to browning. Avocado: Ripen at room temperature, then refrigerate once ripe. Once you have opened an avocado, wrap the leftover half (with the stone in) tightly in cling wrap or store in an airtight container. Bread: During summer, keep bread in the fridge or freezer so that it doesn’t grow mould. Cherries: Should be ripe when you buy them, so pop them into the fridge to extend their life – that’s if you don’t eat them all on the day you buy them! Cucumbers: Store in the fridge or at room temperature. Iceberg lettuce: Store in a lettuce crisper, otherwise wrap in paper towels and place in a resealable plastic bag. Salad greens: Make slimy salad a thing of the past by keeping your salad greens in an airtight container in the fridge. Stone fruit: Store ripe stone fruit in the fridge. If it needs to ripen, keep at room temperature – storing in a paper bag with a banana speeds up ripening. Sweetcorn: Refrigerate sweetcorn in its husk to keep it fresher for longer. To save on dishes, cook corn in the microwave. Put the sweetcorn (in its husk) in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes per cob. Cooking times may vary, depending on your microwave. Allow to cool slightly before peeling. Tomatoes: Store tomatoes at room temperature – refrigerating them affects texture and flavour. If they have gone soft, use them for cooking. Hibiscus Coast Village in Red Beach enjoyed two days of celebration last month to mark their 30th anniversary. The celebrations included a ‘bubbles and cake celebration’ accompanied by Dixie band music from a group run by resident Jack McCulloch. American comedian Phyllis Diller opened the village with David Hartnell 30 years ago and there was a tribute to the pair at the anniversary. There were speeches by some of the village’s most long standing residents, the village’s founder John Bethell, past chief executive Alan Edwards as well as Glen Sowry, chief executive of the village’s current owner, Metlifecare. A bowls match between staff and residents stirred up a competitive atmosphere. The second day saw a complimentary dinner and dance for more than 220 residents that continued far into the night. The village, and the Peninsula Club in Whangaparaoa, both built around the same time and were among the first retirement villages to open in NZ.


*Dr Kathleen is not a registered GP / Medical Practitioner, and as such does not prescribe pharmaceutical medication.


February 14, 2018 | Hibiscusmatters |


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Emma Howe, pictured with daughter Jessica, says it can sometimes be difficult to find a café or restaurant that truly understands the needs of people who have a food allergy.

Food allergies a test for eateries For anyone with a food allergy, dining out used to be a challenge, which many felt was not worth the effort. It is estimated that between six and eight per cent of children have a food allergy, and between two and four per cent of adults. In children, the most common allergies are to cow’s milk and egg, followed by soy, peanuts, tree nuts and wheat. The majority of children will lose their allergies by age three to five years although allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, fish and shellfish are generally prolonged. This is why these four allergies are the most common amongst adolescents and adults. Fortunately, restaurants are becoming more aware of the prevalence of food allergies and are more prepared to accommodate special requests. Gluten-free options, for instance, are now commonplace on local menus. Emma Howe, of Stanmore Bay, was diagnosed with coeliac disease around nine years ago. She says that finding safe gluten free (GF) food is still a challenge. “Often cafes will use the same tongs to serve, or GF food is touching non-

gluten food in the cabinet,” Emma says. “Sometimes food is listed as GF when it actually isn’t. For example, if fries are cooked in the same oil as crumbed or battered items that contain gluten then they aren’t safe for me to eat.” Despite the challenges, Emma eats out regularly. She says it would be helpful if restaurant staff were educated to keep GF products separate and to use GFonly tongs. “I think more cafes and restaurants are trying, but they often get it wrong. One crumb of gluten can have lasting and nasty repercussions for someone with coeliac disease.” Emma says she’d also like to see local eateries offering more savoury items. “We don’t always just want cake. “I recently spent a week on a cruise where all food was made for me and I didn’t get sick once. They even supplied a slice of layer gluten free chocolate cake decorated with Happy Birthday Emma. “It can be done, but education is the key. Gluten free is not just a fad diet for a growing number of us.”

Shed volunteers wanted Hibiscus Men’s Shed chair, Stuart Johnston, addressed more than 30 paidup members at the first open day of their temporary premises at 1 Brightside Road, Stanmore Bay on January 30. Stuart says the organisation is grateful to the various donors of equipment, and especially for a grant that has allowed the purchase of additional, modern woodworking machinery. He said with more than 230 names now on the mailing list, membership is expected to grow quite fast. He also issued a call for more volunteers – supervisors are needed so that the Men’s Shed can open more days; and Trustees, so that the administrative load is more evenly shared. “Without volunteers, there can be no Shed.” Info:

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| Hibiscusmatters | February 14, 2018

Helping hand from fitness coach Where’s the wheelchair at holiday time? A local health and fitness professional, Richard Bruce, is providing free assistance to the Special Olympics Hibiscus Coast team and others in physical need, who could not normally afford the service. Richard recently met with the Special Olympics Hibiscus Coast and plans to work with their teams, free of charge, for one hour a week. He will also offer some free services at The Connection in Silverdale and hopes to also assist people in need in the wider community and at local schools. Richard left his job in window blind sales and fitting to train as a fitness coach in 2007. His approach is holistic and he works with people of all ages and physical abilities, including helping with nutrition. He describes his work as “functional movement and health coach”. He coaches in the outdoors as much as possible, as well as in his home gym in Army Bay, and does lots of floor work. “I have had clients who can barely walk and can’t get down to the floor and back up,” he says. “I ask them – ‘what happens if you trip over?’ You have to work progressively towards these goals and perhaps use aids, such as a chair, to start with.” Richard was hit by a car when he was 14 and says he is extremely lucky not to have lost a leg. The experience gave him an understanding of what it is to live with a disability, as well

by Simonne Dyer of Greypower

Richard Bruce is extending a helping hand, free of charge.

as a lifelong interest in health and movement – a word he prefers to ‘exercise’. “It’s not about ticking a box called ‘exercise’,” he says. “All movement is important – whether it’s housework, gardening, or playing with the kids.” Adding as much of possible of this type of exercise to your day – stretching, walking while speaking on your mobile phone, taking the stairs, not the lift – is key.” The body is designed to move, so if your day is largely sedentary it has an effect “like letting water stagnate”. “Spending hours sitting affects muscles and posture as well as the lymphatic system, which works on muscle use.” Richard is looking forward to helping the Special Olympics team. “It’s important that my service reaches the people who need it most and offering a few hours free of charge is a way to give back to the community.”

In an article I wrote last year in the Grey Matters column, I noted that it was time we had 24-hour urgent care facilities on the Hibiscus Coast. The hours were restricted to between 8am and 8pm and outside of those hours urgent care was only available at North Shore and Waitakere Hospitals. I had contacted Waitemata District Health Board and was assured that 24 hour urgent care would be provided by the end of the year. It is now 2018 and there is still no word about when this extended facility will be in place. But now I have found another deficit in our health system. On Christmas Eve I was shopping at Fruit World in Silverdale and as I stepped down to the car park my ankle gave way and I sprawled out on the pavement. On Boxing Day morning I found I had broken a bone in my foot in three places, badly sprained my ankle and cracked a few ribs. I was treated at Red Beach Coastcare and sent home with my foot in a moon boot and a pair of crutches with instructions not to put any weight on my foot. I was also given an appointment in a couple of weeks time for the fracture clinic. I quickly found I could not use the crutches both because of the pain it caused in my ribs and also at 80 years of age I do not have the upper body strength and promptly fell down on a visit to the bathroom.

Fortunately I only badly bruised. I realised I needed a wheelchair to get around and contacted ACC, who said they couldn’t provide anything until the first week of January as their equipment suppliers were closed for the holidays. Not even a skeleton staff was available. I phoned every pharmacy in the area to see if I could rent a wheelchair and found the only one available had a faulty front wheel and was unusable. I phoned both North Shore and Waitakere hospitals and explained my predicament but their short answer was they don’t lend wheelchairs and I would have to wait until after the holidays. Finally in desperation, as I was tired of crawling to the bathroom, I phoned the Maygrove Retirement Village Hospital and explained my predicament. Without hesitation I was told to send someone and they would lend me a wheelchair immediately – and at no cost whatsoever. I kept on at ACC and finally, on January 3, a fantastic knee scooter was delivered to me However this complete holiday closure of a very much needed facility, particularly for the elderly and frail, is ridiculous. Surely a skeleton staff could be rostered over the holiday period to help people who become incapacitated to be able to stay and function in their homes? This situation is not good enough.

Fiona Stark Dip.Pod.,S.R.Pod

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February 14, 2018 | Hibiscusmatters |

Is the pain of Arthritis cramping your style?

Health with Tania Adams, pharmacist

Getting to the heart of it On Valentine’s Day, February 14, and in the lead up to it, there are images of hearts everywhere you look. This is because in ancient times, people believed that the heart was the centre of all emotions, leading to expressions such as ‘he has a strong heart’ or ‘she has a good heart’. So, medically speaking, how can you tell if you have good, strong heart? There are a number of things you can do to make sure your heart is operating at its best. Blood pressure High blood pressure can quietly damage your body over a number of years, including damaging your heart. Check what your blood pressure is to start with –120/80 is considered ideal. Should your blood pressure be considered too high, a doctor can prescribe medication to help lower it. Healthy weight Are you too short for your weight?! Body Mass Index (BMI) is used to work out whether you are a healthy weight for your height. Carrying excessive weight can put you at higher risk of heart disease. Losing just five to 10 percent of your weight can greatly decrease your risk. Cholesterol High cholesterol can cause plaques to form in your arteries, leading to a higher risk of a heart attack. Cholesterol can be kept lower by making changes to our diet and increasing exercise. However, some people need medication prescribed by their doctor to lower it. A cholesterol ratio of less than 4.0 is ideal. However this can differ depending on your health and family history. Smoking Amongst the many health risks increased by smoking, your risk of heart disease is increased. Smoking cessation products are available through Quitline and may now also be prescribed by a qualified pharmacist. Exercise Studies show significant decreases in the incidence of heart attacks in active people. Doing just 30 minutes of moderate physical activity a day can help. Start small and speak to your health professional first. Healthy Eating It doesn’t have to taste like cardboard to be good for you! Healthy eating is a lifestyle, not a fad diet and there is a lot of information to help you on your way. Try for some recipes. The Big Kiwi Health Check is being promoted by all local Unichem and Life Pharmacies in February and is a chance to have your blood pressure and BMI measured, free of charge, to help you understand your heart risk. This service is available year round, but for a charge. Alternatively have a chat to your doctor about any concerns you might have. Electric moves Auckland Transport (AT) has purchased 20 electric vehicles and plans to have an emission-free fleet by 2025. Auckland Council and Watercare are also moving to replace diesel and petrol vehicles with electric cars. Next month AT will trial battery powered buses with the goal of not purchasing any more diesel buses after 2025. Mayor Phil Goff has also asked Council and its CCOs to find economies through more efficient use of their fleets.

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| Hibiscusmatters | February 14, 2018

Parkinson’s: A natural treatment alternative By Coll Bell, of Matakana At the ripe old age of 55, I had just returned from UK where I’d been building boats. I was in the process of building our new house, but things weren’t going to plan. It had reached a stage where using a hammer to nail the beams together had become so frustrating that on some days it became impossible. There were other problems too, like fitting into tight spaces, not being able to get back up when in the prone position, staying upright and an annoying tremor in my right hand. I finally relented and made an appointment with my GP who referred me to a neurologist at North Shore Hospital. The verdict was delivered: “I am sorry to say, Mr Bell, that you show all the signs of having Parkinson’s Disease.” A prescription was issued, and I was sent on my way to come to terms with the news. It was certainly a bit of a shock, but one positive thing was I now knew why life was awkward and this helped to ease my frustration when it came to manual tasks. Being new to medical matters, I followed the advice of the professionals and started on a course of medication with the drug Sinemet. It wasn’t long before I started to notice subtle changes. Yes, my dexterity improved but I seemed to have lost the desire to do anything, eat anything or enjoy some of my passions. So began

Coll Bell believes that being “on the bean” has given him a better chance of living a normal life with Parkinson’s including his one hour a day “digger therapy”.

the slippery slide into side-effect hell. Depression and nausea were two of the worst. The actual symptoms of Parkinson’s became secondary to the side effects, so after a year of suffering, I made a decision. I threw out all the medication and let my body establish normality. I tried various alternatives such as CoEnzyme Q10, acupuncture and even just trying to adjust to carrying on with normal tasks and accept that it would take three times as long as it used to take. None of these worked for me. But then I discovered the magical properties of the mucuna bean. After some research and the sourcing of a New Zealand supplier, I embarked

Our experienced midwives will care for you from conception to 6 weeks after the birth of your baby. We work from Whangaparaoa to Maungaturoto Coast to Coast.





From left to right: Creaghan Mitchell, Melanie Brownlee, Alisha Preest, Terri Jury, Donna Hamilton, Nicole Upton, Nicky Snedden and Kathy CarterLee

on my ‘alternative’ journey. Mucuna pruriens (Mp), sometimes known as velvet bean, is a leguminous plant, which grows literally like a weed in many tropical and sub-tropical parts of the world. In India, it’s been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine. It contains L-Dopamine, the main ingredient in conventional Parkinson’s medication. Recent international studies have looked at it as a good alternative to conventional medications in third world regions, where it’s freely available. The results of several high-level, randomised, double-blind crossover trials done last year alone are freely available online – all conclude that Mp works. However, this research hasn’t filtered down to this part of the world and last year, Med Safe banned the sale of Mucuna L-Dopa in New Zealand and no-one seems to want to talk about it. It’s a shame, when the use of this natural treatment has saved me from all the awful side effects of the commonly used pharmaceutical treatment. I still go ‘cold-turkey’ every six months to check if I’m cured, but after 10 years my symptoms are still there. But what I find most upsetting is the total lack of information available on the subject. I’m happy to talk to anyone about my experience of using Mucuna bean for Parkinson’s. My email is: collcaroline@

Unplanned outcomes The mucuna pruriens plant, also commonly known as velvet bean or cowage, contains a natural form of levodopa – the same drug found in Sinemet used to control motor symptoms of Parkinson’s. Parkinson’s NZ chief executive Deirdre O’Sullivan says many people find levodopa treatment very effective, but doctors carefully manage treatment with levodopa because of its side effects, particularly the development of involuntary movements (dyskinesias). Ms O’Sullivan says that while natural treatment options may hold a certain appeal, they can bring unwanted risks of their own. “Supplements are not regulated to the same standard as the drugs approved by MedSafe in New Zealand,” she says. “People may not know how much levodopa is in each dose or how often they should take the plant extract. Relying on a natural supplement with levodopa could lead to unexpected or undesired outcomes.” Anyone with Parkinson’s considering alternative medicine or natural treatment options should consult their doctor or specialist. Parkinson’s NZ strongly recommends against replacing medication with an alternative treatment. Info: 0800 473 4636 or

Milford Eye Clinic

Orewa Branch

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Providing comprehensive eye care to the people of Rodney and North Shore since 1978 Cataract, Glaucoma, Macular Degeneration, Retina, Cornea, Laser, Oculoplastics, Paediatrics.

Melanie Brownlee 021 263 3133 Kathy Carter-Lee 09 425 6749 021 425 115 Donna Hamilton 021 140 9866

Terri Jury 09 423 7350 021 23 71856

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Creaghan Mitchell 021 901 550

Nicole Upton 027 972 4442

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For all appointments phone 09 426 6875

Hibiscus Matters Health feature 18  

Hibiscus Matters Health feature 18

Hibiscus Matters Health feature 18  

Hibiscus Matters Health feature 18