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Feelgood

Friday, November 11, 2011

Early arrival Premature babies fi fight ght to survive against the medical odds: 8, 9

EAU DE VIE

Brothers with eczema visit French hydrotherapy centre: 4, 5

MIND FOCUS

How to flourish in challenging times: 6

HOT STUFF

Eight brands of drinking chocolate put to the taste test: 12

Picture: iStockphoto

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2 News front Kate O’Reilly WHAT’S ON ■ CONCERT FOR CANCER: Touched by Cancer presents Some Enchanted Evening, a night of music dance and laughter at the Church of Our Lady and St John Carrigaline, tonight at 7.30pm. The Carrigaline-based charity was set up by the Sisk family after the untimely death of Mary Sisk last year and funds raised will go cancer services at the South Infirmary. Tonight’s concert will be compered by Billa O’Connell and the artists taking part include Linda Kenny and The Carrigaline Singers. There is no admission fee (donations gratefully accepted). For further information on Touched By Cancer contact Bernice O’Connell on 086-3781366. ■ CARING FOR CARERS: The Education Centres of St Patrick’s University Hospital/Marymount University Hospice, St Luke’s Home and the Mercy University Hospital have collaborated to offer two lectures on Caring for Carers on Tuesday November 15. This two-hour session will look at the challenges of working with reduced resources. Session one, aimed at medical and support staff and will be held in the Auditorium at St Patrick’s, Curraheen Rd, Cork from 2.30 to 4.30pm. Application forms from Michelle Goggin on 021-4501201; www.stparticksmarymount.ie, cost €25. Session two, aimed at religious and lay ministry, will be held in St Luke’s Home, Mahon, Cork from 7.30 to 9.30pm. Application forms from Claire Coakley on 021-4359444; www.stlukeshome.ie/education-centre, cost €25. ■ CARDIAC SUPPORT: The Cardiac Support Group North Cork is holding its AGM at Mallow Day Care Centre on November 14, at 8pm. (086-3883180). ■ CHRISTMAS MARKET: There will be a Christmas Market and Coffee morning in the Castle Hotel Blarney tomorrow Saturday November 12, from 10am to 12.30pm. Proceeds to Cope Foundation. ■ DOWN SYNDROME CONFERENCE: Down Syndrome Ireland will host a one-day conference on the medical, emotional and mental health issues facing teenagers and adults with Down syndrome on Saturday, next November 19 in the Ramada Viking Hotel, Waterford. A version of this conference for health professionals will be run in the same venue on Friday November 18. ■ JOIN A CHOIR: St John’s Central College is home to a multicultural, non denominational Gospel choir. Rehearsal time is from 6.00pm to 7.15pm (on Mondays in St John’s lecture theatre, Sawmill St, Cork). Contact Catherine Murray on 086-8634304. ■ RETINA 2011: Irish charity Fighting Blindness have organised its first Public Engagement Day during the Retina 2011 Conference, which is being held today and tomorrow at the Science Gallery, Trinity College Dublin. Three free public sessions tomorrow are open to patients, family members and anyone interested in medical research. Anna Moran 01-709 3050 or www.retina.ie Items for inclusion in this column can be sent to koreilly8@gmail.com

FeelgoodMag

Feelgood

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Your act of kindness will benefit you as much as the receiver — you can prove it this weekend, says Arlene Harris

Happy returns T

HIS Sunday is World Kindness Day and the World Kindness Movement (WKM) is urging people do something nice for someone else and recognise the importance kindness plays in helping to achieve peace throughout the world. Michelle Tay of WKM says offering kindness towards our fellow man, embracing diversity and recognising the similarities between cultures will help to break down boundaries across the globe. “The purpose of World Kindness Day is to look beyond ourselves, beyond the boundaries of our country, beyond our culture, our race, our religion; and realise we are citizens of the world,” she says. The Random Acts of Kindness movement also plays an active role in bringing people closer together. Working under the WKM umbrella, this US-based movement offers daily suggestions for simple random acts which could make someone’s day but which cost nothing and take very little effort. Suzanne Costello director of the Samaritans, Ireland, says a kind act or a listening ear can make all the difference to a person who is suffering from loneliness or depression and the volunteers at all of their branches nationwide are there to offer kindness, 24 hours a day. “All our listeners are volunteers and give their time for free on a regular basis to help other people,” she says.

HELPING HAND: Everyone’s a winner when we look beyond our own needs to offer kindness to others.

“Their kindness and understanding makes a huge difference to the thousands of people that get in touch, who are experiencing a whole range of problems and stresses in their lives.” Being kind can also help to advance your career as coaching psychologist and author Sophie Rowan explains. “A recent study from Harvard University has shown that one good turn between colleagues has three degrees of separation, encouraging spin-off acts of kindness.” she says. “There has been a lot of research proving that the feelgood factor of being involved in a kind deed not only creates positive in-

teraction between colleagues — and even strangers — but it can also validate the benefactor as being both good at their job and a nice person. “And it doesn’t have to be a grand gesture either – simply remembering someone’s birthday, making a cup of tea for a colleague or just askin g if someone needs help — these are simple deeds but go a long way towards harmony in the workplace.” Be a bit kinder on World Kindness Day and experience the benefits for yourself. ■ Seeworldkindness.org and randomactsofkindness.org.

HEALTH NOTES (MRI) scans of their own brain activity as they carried out a finger-tapping task. After a time they learned to alter activity in specific parts of the brain affected by Parkinson’s. Study leader Professor David Linden, from the University of Cardiff, said: “This research won’t stop the progression of the disease ... But it does have the potential to alter the course of motor symptoms and possibly reduce drug requirements in early disease. “This may have the effect of delaying more severe motor complications and improve the quality of life of patients affected by Parkinson’s disease.”

A joint initiative from Tesco Diets and Diabetes Ireland could turn weight loss into a donation for charity. Lose weight while supporting one of the biggest health challenges in Ireland, the rising number of people with diabetes. The initiative from Tescodiets.ie, promises to turn every pound in weight lost by following one of their diet plans into one euro, which will then be donated to Diabetes Ireland.

The Irish Heart Foundation will hold a free blood pressure and cholesterol testing clinic at the Family Resource Centre, Farranree, Cork, on Wednesday, November 16, from 2.30pm to 4pm. For further details call 021-4505822 or if you have questions about stroke or heart disease you can contact the helpline 1890-432787. The HSE is hosting an information evening about fostering teenagers on Wednesday, November 16, at 7pm, in Unit 9A, Kinsale Road Roundabout Business Park, Cork. The Cork Fostering Department is recruiting couples and individuals, with or without children, who would enjoy the challenge of young people and have some insight and awareness into the needs of an adolescent. No special qualifications are needed. For more information, contact Christina O’Brien at HSE Fostering Resource Unit, or call www.irishexaminer.com www.irishexaminer.com

EATING WELL: Diabetes Ireland has joined with Tesco for a new diabetes initiative.

Picture: Getty

021-4923025; email: fosteringcork@hse.ie. EARLY symptoms of Parkinson’s disease may be improved by teaching patients to regulate their brains, a study suggests. Scientists allowed a small group of five patients to monitor magnetic resonance imaging

www.irishexaminer.com feelgood@examiner.ie

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2011

People are risking their health by coming off long-term medicines to give their body a “detox”, according to new research. A British poll of 1,000 people found one in five thought it was okay to occasionally stop medicines for a long-term condition such as diabetes or asthma to cleanse their body. Almost one in three people surveyed thought it was fine to take over-the-counter medicines that a pharmacist had specifically recommended for someone else. Experts warn that the consequences could be catastrophic for people with, for example, asthma, diabetes or depression.

Editorial: 021 4802 292

Advertising: 021 4802 215


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In profile

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THE SHAPE I'M IN

Charlie Landsborough

A tour de force S INGING legend Charlie Landsborough plays four gigs in Ireland this month. The Merseyside-born performer has won just about every award in the British country scene and has also received a nomination as Best Global Country Artist in the Country Music Association Awards in Nashville. The youngest of 11 children, he grew up in the Merseyside docklands — in what he says would now be considered an underprivileged area. “I was in no way deprived. We had dogs, cats, ducks out the back and at one stage a monkey. There was always music in the house. My four brothers were all seafarers so I grew up with four Christmases a year — when they’d come home they’d bring all these wonderful gifts.” Charlie, who has just turned 70, came to prominence in Ireland in the mid-90s after his song What Colour Is The Wind dislodged Garth Brooks from the number one slot in the Irish charts, fighting off competition from Celine Dion and The Chieftains. “Ireland is a second home to me. I owe an awful lot to Ireland,” he says. Married to Thelma, whose family background is Irish, the couple have three sons and five grandchildren. ● Charlie Landsborough performs at Riverside Park Hotel, Enniscorthy on November 15; Clonmel Park Hotel, Clonmel on November 16; Mullingar Park Hotel, Mullingar on November 17; and The Abbey Hotel, Donegal Town on November 18. For more, log onto www.charlielandsborough.com. What shape are you in? I’m not in the best shape in the world. I never have been — I’m very slim. I feel fine, considering my age — I’ve got no aches or pains. I have a gym in my garage and a ski machine so I exercise periodically. I lead this healthy lifestyle and then I blow it all when I go on the road — I eat McDonalds and drink too much. Do you have any health concerns? I have an enlarged prostate. I take herbal tablets for that which have helped enormously — I don’t have as many visits to the toilet during the night as I used to. I also take cod liver oil and a probiotic. What are your healthiest eating habits? I don’t overeat. I have a very light breakfast — cornflakes and a piece of toast. After that, I don’t eat until 5pm or so, when I have a really good meal. I fast occasionally, once every couple of months. What’s your guiltiest pleasure? I’m not wildly into chocolate or anything. I admire how people can get great pleasure from eating. I don’t — to me, it’s something I need to get out of the way. I love being out for a drink with company. What would keep you awake at night? I don’t suffer from stress and that’s because of my faith. Things that usually concern me are my family and my hopes for them. Generally, though, I lay things at the Lord’s feet. How do you relax? I play a very bad game of golf. I love being out in the fresh air. I love being with my grandchildren. I also like to sit in my study with my books, music and guitar. Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Feelgood

I don’t suffer from stress and that’s because of my faith. Things that usually concern me are my family and my hopes for them

Do you suffer from

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I’d love to hire a hotel and invite all the characters and eccentrics who have coloured my life. Among those, I’d invite Spike Milligan, Billy Connolly, St Paul. I’d also like Thomas A Kempis to be there and, on the musical side, Bob Dylan and The Beatles. What’s your favourite smell? Honeysuckle. Do you cry easily? Yes, particularly if I’m watching news footage of a tragedy in the world, especially if it involves children or older people. What would you change about your appearance? When you hit 70, you sort of say it doesn’t matter anymore. I’m a bit of an odd looking character but that doesn’t matter.

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What trait do you least like in others? I don’t like arrogance at all — people who belittle others and have a bullying persona. I like humility — a wonderful trait that’s often overlooked now. What trait do you least like in yourself? I wish I was more confident and a little less self-righteous. What would cheer up your day? The smiles of my grandchildren. I love animals too, so the wag of a dog’s tail, the look in an old dog’s eyes would also cheer me up. Helen O’Callaghan

Target more females in Munster and Cork than any other daily newspaper. To reach them, advertise in ‘Feelgood’.

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Tel: 021 4802265 lori.fraser@examiner.ie

GUITAR MAN: Liverpool-born Charlie Landsborough, 70, says he considers Ireland as a second home.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2011

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Two brothers with severe eczema are being successfully treated in a French spa. Helen O’Callaghan reports

TEAMWORK: Mícheál Galvin and his sons, Ciarán, seven and Cathal, nine.

Picture: Nick Bradshaw

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FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2011

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Skin deep water cure I

T MIGHT sound like a fashion of the 1800s but for the past two summers a Dublin-based couple have brought their two sons to take the waters at a hydrotherapy centre in France. Parents of five, Mícheál and Róisín Galvin have battled with their nine-year-old son Cathal’s severe eczema since before his first birthday. His brother, Ciarán, seven, has a milder form of the condition, also called atopic dermatitis, which affects between 10% and 20% of children worldwide. For Cathal, the eczema started as patches of redness and itching behind the knees and elbows. “It just seemed to march on through his body until he was almost completely covered in it. It took over completely and was very itchy,” recalls Mícheál, a self-employed consultant engineer, who describes how as a family they “just got stuck into” their son’s care. “We went through putting wet wraps on at night. You’d have jars of emollient all over the place. The suits were cold and wet so you’d have the child in front of the stove. You’d do that, minimum, three times a day. Each time the procedure took half an hour.” Faced with a condition for which they felt little prepared, the Galvins made understandable errors in their sons’ care regime. “With emollient baths, you have to heat the emollient in a jug of boiling water, then pour it into a bath of water. If the bath’s too cold, the emollient curdles and is no good. So we tended to keep the baths warm. It took a while to realise they were too warm. We also thought a long soak would help — in fact a short dip of between two and three minutes is enough.” The Galvins found keeping their home cool and well-ventilated was key. The boys sleep with minimal bed clothing and with bedroom windows open. “There’s always a draught across the house — the rest of us would be wearing thermals. The best Cathal’s ever been was in minus 15 temperatures last winter. It was amazing — we thought he was cured.” One of the most poignant aspects of Cathal’s experience with eczema is that he likes to get a viral infection because it acts as an immune distraction, giving him relief within 24 hours. Keeping the boys’ bedroom temperature at a steady 16-18 degrees is vital in fighting night-time itching and scratching. “That’s a huge challenge and means sleep disturbance is a big thing. Cathal has missed a lot of school because of it — he wouldn’t be in shape for going to school next day. You’re always trying to get the balance right between not over-medicalising and medicalising enough that they get adequate sleep. “Some of the meds are very sugar-based and destroy their teeth. And giving the medicine every night causes it to lose effect. “You’re all the time learning what works for you and your family. You could say 100,000 times ‘stop scratching’ but you feel silly. You have to come up with a solution. Some kids use sharp objects, like rubbing against a rough wall — you try to avoid these habits developing. “It took a while to realise cutting the nails with scissors wasn’t enough – it leaves an edge. Filing back nails four times a week does less damage. Giving the boys something cold — like a stone — to roll along the surface of the irritated skin also helps,” says Mícheál. Their sons’ condition means more laundry, more car-hoovering — and careful planning when the boys go outside the home environment. “A family wedding can be difficult — there’s a lot of heat in function rooms. And a

B&B with lots of carpeting means you’re not guaranteed a night’s sleep.” Over a year ago, staff at Crumlin Children’s Hospital recommended bringing the boys to the dermatological hydrotherapy centre at Avene in the south of France. Located in the Languedoc-Roussillon region, the centre’s 100% dedicated to dermatology. According to popular history, the water’s curative properties were discovered around 1736 after a horse, abandoned by its owner because it had a severe skin rash, was later found cured — observers saw it bathe and drink daily in the Avene thermal spring. Through the 1800s, medical publications recognised the value of Avene water and in 1871 it was successfully used to treat third degree burn wounds of victims of the Great Chicago Fire. Avene water is bacteriologically pure, it has a high silicate concentration (making massage of skin easier — oil isn’t needed) and low sodium content. The low mineral salt content means crystalline deposits on the skin are minimal. Approximately 2,700 patients a year come to Avene, 10% from outside France. More than 40% come for help with atopic dermatitis, while about one-third come because of psoriasis. Upon arriving at Avene, the patient’s daily programme is determined by the hydrotherapy physician — core treatments include

simple baths, as well as whirlpool and hydromassage baths, showers and full body sprays and drinking the water. Complementary treatments include localised sprays, scalp showers, underwater massage by a physiotherapist and thermal spring water compresses (useful for flare-ups of the condition). “Patients stay three weeks and — for six days out of seven — have four daily treatments,” says dermatologist Dr Pavlina Dulguerova, adding that analysis of almost 5,000 patients over eight years showed improvement in 90% of patients with atopic

dermatitis and similar improvement in psoriasis sufferers. “When patients arrive the second year in-a-row, their skin condition’s already improved compared to year one.” For Mícheál and Róisín Galvin — whose sons have been on steroids and immunosuppressants — Avene appeals because of its natural approach. “It’s important not to over-treat the condition,” says Mícheál. “If you load on steroids, the skin will be better for three days but the problem’s back the following week. Steroids can cause thinning of

Eczema: fact file ■ Eczema or atopic dermatitis is a chronic, allergic and inflammatory skin disorder. It can affect all age groups.

hay fever or a family history of allergies.

■ Eczema is estimated to affect one-in-10 people at some stage.

■ Main symptoms include redness, weeping skin, pain, heat, tenderness, scaling, crusting, dryness, broken skin and small blisters.

■ Atopic eczema is due to a hypersensitivity reaction (similar to allergy) in the skin, which leads to long-term inflammation. Sufferers often have asthma or

■ Eczema is three times more frequent than it was 30 years ago — statistics show a rise in frequency of atopic dermatitis in industrialised countries.

the skin. What’s the point of saying ‘son, you’re better now for three days but I’ve damaged your skin’? Over-use of steroids can also affect the child’s growth. “As parents, it’s good to know we’re not adding to the problem. We’re using the natural Avene water and cream and they’re having an effect on the condition. For Cathal, the cold water spray takes the edge off the itchiness for a couple of hours. We’ve found using the sprays and creams keeps skin moisturised so the boys spread the steroid cream more thinly. We now get three weeks out of the steroid compared to just one week before. “The boys have liberal access to the Avene creams — you cope better as a parent if you can encourage self-treatment.” At home in Oldtown in north county Dublin, Cathal and Ciarán are on the local Wild Geese hurling team. “Their energy can be depleted because of sleep disturbance so we decided to have them focus on just one sport.” The Galvins are realistic about their sons’ condition. “There’s no silver bullet, no cure,” acknowledges Mícheál. But they have hope. “We already see Ciarán begin to grow out of the condition. Our hope is they both will.” ■ Cost of three-week course of treatment at Avene is €600 (not including accommodation). aveneie@sanofi.com.

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Two brothers with severe eczema are being successfully treated in a French spa. Helen O’Callaghan reports

TEAMWORK: Mícheál Galvin and his sons, Ciarán, seven and Cathal, nine.

Picture: Nick Bradshaw

Feelgood

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2011

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Skin deep water cure I

T MIGHT sound like a fashion of the 1800s but for the past two summers a Dublin-based couple have brought their two sons to take the waters at a hydrotherapy centre in France. Parents of five, Mícheál and Róisín Galvin have battled with their nine-year-old son Cathal’s severe eczema since before his first birthday. His brother, Ciarán, seven, has a milder form of the condition, also called atopic dermatitis, which affects between 10% and 20% of children worldwide. For Cathal, the eczema started as patches of redness and itching behind the knees and elbows. “It just seemed to march on through his body until he was almost completely covered in it. It took over completely and was very itchy,” recalls Mícheál, a self-employed consultant engineer, who describes how as a family they “just got stuck into” their son’s care. “We went through putting wet wraps on at night. You’d have jars of emollient all over the place. The suits were cold and wet so you’d have the child in front of the stove. You’d do that, minimum, three times a day. Each time the procedure took half an hour.” Faced with a condition for which they felt little prepared, the Galvins made understandable errors in their sons’ care regime. “With emollient baths, you have to heat the emollient in a jug of boiling water, then pour it into a bath of water. If the bath’s too cold, the emollient curdles and is no good. So we tended to keep the baths warm. It took a while to realise they were too warm. We also thought a long soak would help — in fact a short dip of between two and three minutes is enough.” The Galvins found keeping their home cool and well-ventilated was key. The boys sleep with minimal bed clothing and with bedroom windows open. “There’s always a draught across the house — the rest of us would be wearing thermals. The best Cathal’s ever been was in minus 15 temperatures last winter. It was amazing — we thought he was cured.” One of the most poignant aspects of Cathal’s experience with eczema is that he likes to get a viral infection because it acts as an immune distraction, giving him relief within 24 hours. Keeping the boys’ bedroom temperature at a steady 16-18 degrees is vital in fighting night-time itching and scratching. “That’s a huge challenge and means sleep disturbance is a big thing. Cathal has missed a lot of school because of it — he wouldn’t be in shape for going to school next day. You’re always trying to get the balance right between not over-medicalising and medicalising enough that they get adequate sleep. “Some of the meds are very sugar-based and destroy their teeth. And giving the medicine every night causes it to lose effect. “You’re all the time learning what works for you and your family. You could say 100,000 times ‘stop scratching’ but you feel silly. You have to come up with a solution. Some kids use sharp objects, like rubbing against a rough wall — you try to avoid these habits developing. “It took a while to realise cutting the nails with scissors wasn’t enough – it leaves an edge. Filing back nails four times a week does less damage. Giving the boys something cold — like a stone — to roll along the surface of the irritated skin also helps,” says Mícheál. Their sons’ condition means more laundry, more car-hoovering — and careful planning when the boys go outside the home environment. “A family wedding can be difficult — there’s a lot of heat in function rooms. And a

B&B with lots of carpeting means you’re not guaranteed a night’s sleep.” Over a year ago, staff at Crumlin Children’s Hospital recommended bringing the boys to the dermatological hydrotherapy centre at Avene in the south of France. Located in the Languedoc-Roussillon region, the centre’s 100% dedicated to dermatology. According to popular history, the water’s curative properties were discovered around 1736 after a horse, abandoned by its owner because it had a severe skin rash, was later found cured — observers saw it bathe and drink daily in the Avene thermal spring. Through the 1800s, medical publications recognised the value of Avene water and in 1871 it was successfully used to treat third degree burn wounds of victims of the Great Chicago Fire. Avene water is bacteriologically pure, it has a high silicate concentration (making massage of skin easier — oil isn’t needed) and low sodium content. The low mineral salt content means crystalline deposits on the skin are minimal. Approximately 2,700 patients a year come to Avene, 10% from outside France. More than 40% come for help with atopic dermatitis, while about one-third come because of psoriasis. Upon arriving at Avene, the patient’s daily programme is determined by the hydrotherapy physician — core treatments include

simple baths, as well as whirlpool and hydromassage baths, showers and full body sprays and drinking the water. Complementary treatments include localised sprays, scalp showers, underwater massage by a physiotherapist and thermal spring water compresses (useful for flare-ups of the condition). “Patients stay three weeks and — for six days out of seven — have four daily treatments,” says dermatologist Dr Pavlina Dulguerova, adding that analysis of almost 5,000 patients over eight years showed improvement in 90% of patients with atopic

dermatitis and similar improvement in psoriasis sufferers. “When patients arrive the second year in-a-row, their skin condition’s already improved compared to year one.” For Mícheál and Róisín Galvin — whose sons have been on steroids and immunosuppressants — Avene appeals because of its natural approach. “It’s important not to over-treat the condition,” says Mícheál. “If you load on steroids, the skin will be better for three days but the problem’s back the following week. Steroids can cause thinning of

Eczema: fact file ■ Eczema or atopic dermatitis is a chronic, allergic and inflammatory skin disorder. It can affect all age groups.

hay fever or a family history of allergies.

■ Eczema is estimated to affect one-in-10 people at some stage.

■ Main symptoms include redness, weeping skin, pain, heat, tenderness, scaling, crusting, dryness, broken skin and small blisters.

■ Atopic eczema is due to a hypersensitivity reaction (similar to allergy) in the skin, which leads to long-term inflammation. Sufferers often have asthma or

■ Eczema is three times more frequent than it was 30 years ago — statistics show a rise in frequency of atopic dermatitis in industrialised countries.

the skin. What’s the point of saying ‘son, you’re better now for three days but I’ve damaged your skin’? Over-use of steroids can also affect the child’s growth. “As parents, it’s good to know we’re not adding to the problem. We’re using the natural Avene water and cream and they’re having an effect on the condition. For Cathal, the cold water spray takes the edge off the itchiness for a couple of hours. We’ve found using the sprays and creams keeps skin moisturised so the boys spread the steroid cream more thinly. We now get three weeks out of the steroid compared to just one week before. “The boys have liberal access to the Avene creams — you cope better as a parent if you can encourage self-treatment.” At home in Oldtown in north county Dublin, Cathal and Ciarán are on the local Wild Geese hurling team. “Their energy can be depleted because of sleep disturbance so we decided to have them focus on just one sport.” The Galvins are realistic about their sons’ condition. “There’s no silver bullet, no cure,” acknowledges Mícheál. But they have hope. “We already see Ciarán begin to grow out of the condition. Our hope is they both will.” ■ Cost of three-week course of treatment at Avene is €600 (not including accommodation). aveneie@sanofi.com.

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Feelgood

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No pain no gain? Suffering can be instructive, but for you to flourish it must be countered by positives, says Kate Butler

I’m not a believer that suffering is good for you. But suffering, to some extent, is unavoidable

W

HEN the recession hit, there was a view that adversity would do us no harm; that the Celtic Tiger had made us soft, too spoilt. But psychologist Maureen Gaffney says these ideas should come with a health warning. “Bad times don’t necessarily toughen us up,” says Gaffney. “If that was the case, then all those people unfortunate enough not to have been loved properly as children would all be flourishing. We know that’s far from the case. “I’m not a believer that suffering is good for you, it’s not. But suffering, to some extent, is unavoidable. What people need to understand is, if they react in a certain way, they can turn the lead of the bad things that happen them into gold.” Flourishing, Gaffney’s new book, published by Penguin, is about excelling in relationships, career and day-to-day living. Gaffney’s work encompasses her clinical practice, her consultation work with companies such as Intel Ireland and her appearances on the radio shows of Gay Byrne, Marian Finucane and Vincent Browne. As the director of the doctoral programme in clinical psychology at Trinity College Dublin, she is at the vanguard of education in her field. It is the science and professional experience at Gaffney’s disposal that makes her book so relevant for these tough times. One of the

MAGIC FORMULA: To flourish we need to maintain a 5:1 ratio of positive to negative experiences. Picture: Getty studies that inspired her to write Flourishing looked at the reaction of people to horrifying life-changing circumstances, such as rape, being a victim of a terrorist attack or becoming paralysed after a car accident. The study revealed that a significant minority of this group flourished after the event. “This phenomenon has been called various things, like stress-related growth,” says Gaffney. “I call it flourishing under fire. What is really interesting is when you look at how

they do it, they don’t flourish in spite of what happened, but they flourish because of what happened to them. They managed to turn what happened to them into an opportunity to be something, to do something that they otherwise could not or would not have done.” For Gaffney, Flourishing is not a holy grail to be achieved through meditation or burdensome life changes. She says that flourishing is a state that we have all achieved at

To feel happy right now... ■ The three small things: Over the course of six weeks you set aside a couple of minutes once a week to write down the three things you are grateful for in your life and why. It might seem a very small thing to do but at the end of six weeks, you are going to be significantly less depressed, have fewer symptoms and generally be happier in your life, even though you will have experienced the same ups and downs that you normally do.

Psychologist Maureen Gaffney says difficult times present opportunities for growth.

Feelgood

■ Having a positive purpose: A couple of years ago, at the height of the Celtic Tiger, I became increasingly aware of how discourteous people were getting. So I decided one day that I was going to be exceptionally courteous. People smiled broadly back, chatted, waved,

which in turn makes you feel better. It does slow down your day, but in a very temporary way – I’m always in a rush — but at the end of the day I had achieved more and felt calmer and more in control of my day. ■ Counteracting worry and rumination: Worry and rumination are a huge block to being resilient. We all have a list of ‘what ifs’: what if I lose my job, what if I can’t pay my mortgage, what if my son gets expelled from school? You have to have a strategy of simultaneously thinking the good outcomes. Once you do that, it has the effect of not letting you get caught up in an endless spiral of worry and rumination.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2011

Maureen Gaffney

some stage of our life — our personal best. “We’ve all flourished at some point. What’s interesting is why we flourish so infrequently. The evidence is that if you take the readership of the Irish Examiner, for example, at any one time only 20% are flourishing, in the sense of being at their personal best.” While it might be impossible to be in a flourishing state all of the time, Gaffney says that it is well within most people’s grasp to be at their personal best more than just one fifth of the time. Gaffney’s book is written in an easily-accessible style, but it is underpinned by scientific research. One remarkable finding provides the magic formula for how to flourish: it states that for every negative interaction you experience in life, you need a minimum of three positive experiences to counteract the negative. The ratio 3:1 (positive to negative) is sufficient to keep you on a psychological even keel; but if you want to flourish, you need to increase the ratio to 5:1. “The reason that 2:1 [positive to negative] is not fine is because there is overwhelming evidence that no matter what kind of human functioning you are looking at, the power of negative is just overwhelmingly strong — in other words, bad is stronger than good,” says Gaffney. “Our attitude to negativity is a bit like it was to the environment before — we thought, until relatively recently, that you could chuck any old rubbish into the air, into the water or onto the land and that it would somehow go away. Now we know differently, now we know that if you have one big toxic spill or relentless pollution, it can destroy whole eco systems. “The same is true of human behaviour. For all the inevitable negativity that happens, all the disappointing news, the depressing thoughts you might have, to be able to absorb its impact and manage day to day, you need three positives for every single negative. And if you want to flourish, you need five.” Gaffney describes herself as naturally optimistic. Married 35 years and with two children — a daughter who is studying to be a surgeon and a son who is a solicitor — it might seem easy for her to flourish. But her advice is presented in such a friendly and persuasive way that it’s hard to resist. “I’m not asking people to do this because I’m suggesting it. I’m just saying give it a try: you’re your own best scientist, you know,” she says.


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No proven benefit to medicating children with mental illness

War on drugs

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HAVE always believed that the sources of human distress lie in an individual’s life story. Indeed, the research presented in my recent article showed there is no evidence for a biochemical basis to human misery. Professionals who subscribe to the notion of mental illness are well-intentioned, but they do not appear to have kept abreast of research findings. Physicians either don’t read the research literature or they read it and ignore it — in both situations there is a case to be answered. It has taken 200 years for psychiatrists to begin to realise that the causes and cures for human desperation are in relationships, not in biochemistry. The idea that adult distress could be explained by neurochemistry is also applied to children in distress, the more common conditions being ADHD and bi-polar depression. In 2004 The Lancet in its editorial spoke about the chemical-imbalance explanation for childhood depression as being “one of confusion, manipulation and institutional failure”. As in last week’s article on ADHD, two questions need to be posed on childhood depression: 1. Is there a biochemical basis to childhood depression? 2. Do anti-depressants work for children diagnosed with depression? Since the 1980s, children and adolescents are the first in history to grow up under the threat of ‘mental illness’. Up until then, young people who acted-out, bullied, were shy and timid, were teacher’s pets, ‘nerds’, inattentive, or over-active were considered normal and it was expected that they would eventually find their niche in life. Over the last 30 years, schoolyards have become populated by children diagnosed with mental disorders, most notably ADHD, depression and bi-polar depression. The parents of these children are told that there is something wrong with their children’s brains and that they may have to take psychiatric medications for the rest of their lives, just like a ‘diabetic takes insulin’. What parents have not been told is that, in spite of 50 years of research, the chemical underpinnings of ADHD, depression, bi-polar disorder and schizophrenia remain unknown and the prescription of drugs for these conditions has no basis in research. Neither have parents been told of the side-effects and long-term effects of these medications. In short, there is no chemical that fixes human distress. Yet, there was a 40-fold rise in the number of children and teenagers with the diagnosis of bi-polar depression from 1995 to 2003. Summarising the research on the use of lithium, antidepressants and mood stabilisers to help depressed youth, in the book Anatomy of an Epidemic, Robert Whitaker says that these drugs “cause metabolic dysfunction, hormonal abnormalities, diabetes, obesity, emotional blunting, cognitive decline and early death.” This is proof of the most tragic sort that

Feelgood

Tony Humphreys

the drug-based paradigm of care is doing a great deal more harm than good. The medicating of children and youths became commonplace only a short time ago, and already it has led millions to drug-induced lifelong illness. The number of ‘seriously mentally ill’ school-going American children rose from 16,200 in 1987 to 561,569 in 2007. What is even more worrying is that pre-school children are now being diagnosed with mental illness and duly medicated — the numbers tripled between the years 2000 and 2007. Children who become severely distressed need health-care professionals to emphasise the importance of environment and the importance of emotional relationships to a child’s well-being. Children who are distressed need to be assigned a ‘mentor’ and their parents and teachers need help and support on how best to be with themselves and with the children in their care. Furthermore, when young people require residential care, they need to be helped without psychiatric drugs. As one therapist clearly put it: “When kids are off the drugs, their personalities come back. They are people again.” When dealing with children, our approach should be to ask: ‘What has happened to him or her?’ and not ‘What’s wrong with the child?’. The story of the child needs to be the basis for intervention (rather than a checklist of symptoms) and interventions need to emerge from that story. Inevitably, when we gather details of the child’s life, tales of emotional or sexual or physical or intellectual violations or neglect across all these dimensions are uncovered. There is no need for a biochemical explanation. A child cannot develop maturely without a warm and enduring connection to another human being and that connection cannot be made if the child’s spirit is embalmed with drugs. Dr Tony Humphreys, is a clinical psychologist, author and speaker. His book with co-author Dr Helen Ruddle, Relationship, Relationship, Relationship is relevant to this column

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1 DAY

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021-4802265 email: lori.fraser@examiner.ie

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Target more females in Munster and Cork than any other daily newspaper. To reach them, advertise in ‘Feelgood’.

Call Lori Fraser

Tel: 021 4802265 lori.fraser@examiner.ie


TERAPROOF:User:desodriscollDate:09/11/2011Time:14:48:30Edition:11/11/2011FeelgoodXH1111Page:8

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Male story health 8 Cover

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Every year in Ireland 4,500 babies are born premature. A new book, Tiny Footprints, tells some of their traumatic stories. Áilín Quinlan reports

M

OLLY Dowdall had a tough start — born prematurely at one pound six ounces, she had cardiac surgery before she was a month old, a bleed on the brain, and a battery of blood transfusions. “She’s my miracle baby,” says mum, Orlagh, who gave birth to Molly at 26 weeks in March, 2006. An estimated 4,500 premature babies are born in Ireland every year and Molly is one of 80 featured in a new book, Tiny Footprints, to be launched on Thursday, November 17, to mark World Prematurity Day. “I had a miserable pregnancy, I was sick the whole time and very sore. My whole body was aching, but there was never anything wrong when I went to the doctor,” says Orlagh, 46, from Balbriggan, Co Dublin. A 24-week scan revealed that Molly was small for her dates, and that there was little fluid surrounding her in the womb. Not long afterwards, Orlagh went into spontaneous labour. “She was just one pound six ounces and absolutely tiny, only the size of my partner, Philip’s hand. They took her into intensive care and ventilated her because her lungs were not fully developed,” she says. It was a difficult time. The doctors warned that the first 24-48 hours were critical. Molly made it through, but she remained on a ventilator for four weeks. “I stayed in hospital for a week and visited her constantly. I had given birth via a Caesarean section and couldn’t drive, so when I went home I had to get the train and do a lot of walking to see her,” Orlagh says. At three weeks old, Molly had cardiac surgery at Crumlin children’s hospital. “She should have been in the womb for another 12 weeks, so she was still teensy. They had to use special magnifying glasses to carry out the operation. She got through that, but over the next few weeks there were a number of other problems which had to be resolved — she had a bleed on the brain, several blood transfusions and a number of infections. “In all, she was in hospital for just under four months and when she came home she weighed six pounds and two ounces and was just four months old. She had a very difficult start in life.” That is in the past — these days, Molly’s strong, healthy, happy and in junior infants. “She’ll be six next St Patrick’s Day and is petite still, but strong and healthy and very happy,” says Orlagh. Among the toughest challenges following Molly’s birth was learning to do without the support available in hospital. “When we were in the hospital, frightening and all as it was, there was always someone there to help, but when we got her home we felt very much on our own.

Too little in life, too soon ONE of the biggest issues for premature babies and their parents is developmental delays — physical, mental, emotional and cognitive. Premature babies can take longer to reach milestones. A baby born prematurely is taken immediately to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) or to a special care baby unit (SCBU). Depending on a number of factors, including the baby’s birth weight or its state of health, it can spend up to months in hospital. Some have to spend time on ventilators — machines which perform the breathing process for them — while others will be linked up to assisted breathing machines. They may have undeveloped digestive systems, which can result in feeding complications. Some may have to be tube-fed as their suck reflex has not developed — this means they have to be taught how to feed by bottle or from the mother’s breast. Others may even stop

temporarily breathing, experience a decreased heart rate or suffer from brain bleeds. Premature babies also face potentially fatal bowel infections, anaemia, heart problems, infection, hernias, fluid accumulation on the brain, cerebral palsy, vision problems, hearing problems, development difficulties, and learning disabilities. However, once the baby is well enough, it will be discharged from hospital — though some have to be accompanied by specialised monitors or equipment. Many premature babies may require extensive follow-up hospital appointments in the months, and even the years, ahead, and may need to be referred for treatment through different therapies and clinics.

Above, Sarah in an incubator at two pounds; below, Sarah is now a healthy five-year-old.

Above, Diarmuid was also born at 26 weeks; below, with his mother Bridann.

happen next. You are constantly living on a knife edge. You are worried sick. “When you are with her, you want to stay there but you can’t. It’s so distressing to look at her, with all the lines going in to her. You can’t touch her or hold her, but then, when you come out, you feel guilty and you just want to go back in again. You’re plagued by conflicting feelings.” Sarah has a one-year-old brother, Adam, who was born at 38 weeks.

ty Hospital in Holles Street — but she never got there. “They wanted to send me to Dublin, but Diarmuid was delivered a few days before I was due to go. He weighed 970g — he was tiny, a miracle baby, the size of two joined fists,” Bridann says. After his birth in October, 2009, Diarmuid was put on a ventilator in a special baby-care unit, and later transferred to Holles Street. “He was in hospital for a total of 10 weeks and when he came home he was still tiny, only about five pounds 10 ounces,” she says. The experience was an emotional roller-coaster, says Bridann, who works full-time at home caring for her son. “When you have a premature baby, you don’t know whether you’re coming or going, you’re in such a state of shock.” But all that’s behind them now — these days, Diarmuid’s a typical, robust two-year-old. “His speech is slightly delayed, but other than that he seems to be fine — he’s a normal, healthy two-year-old. He is a little miracle — he has reached all the normal milestones and he’s great. “To look at him, you’d never think he was so tiny when he first came into the world,” says Bridann.

■ For more information, visit www.irishprematurebabies.com

“One of the most difficult things was not actually knowing what age she was, because premature babies have two ages — an actual age, which is from the date that she was born, then the ‘corrected’ age, which is measured from the date she was due. “Molly was 14 weeks early. It was very confusing, so when I was looking at a maternity book, I didn’t know, for example, whether she was two months old, which was her corrected age, or six months, which was her actual age.”

SARAH’S STORY After losing premature twins, who lived for only an hour after their birth at 22 weeks, devastated mother-of-three Lisa O’Callaghan was determined to try once more. Unbelievably, tragedy struck again — her second set of twins was born prematurely at 30 weeks in July, 2006, and only one survived. After having her first child, Andrew, now aged 20, Lisa, a stay-at-home mum from Celbridge, Co Kildare, was devastated when she was told, following repeated ectopic pregnancies, that her only chance of having more children was through IVF. She took on the challenge. In March, 1997,

She should have been in the womb for another 12 weeks, so she was still teensy. They had to use special magnifying glasses to carry out the operation

Feelgood

Charity reaches out to families

Challenges faced by premature babies and their parents

Above, Molly Dowdall soon after she was born at 26 weeks; below, a recent picture.

DIARMUID’S STORY Picture: iStock

after two rounds of IVF, she gave birth to twins, Jonathan and Amy. They were born at 22 weeks and weighed just 500g and 540g respectively. “They passed away after one precious hour,” says Lisa. “It was a very traumatic time. Seven more cycles of IVF resulted in Lisa becoming pregnant with twins, Sarah and Rebecca, who were born in July, 2006 at 30 weeks. Rebecca was born with anencephaly, a condition which means that she lacked a major

portion of her brain, skull and scalp. She lived for just two hours. Born weighing under two pounds, Sarah, now a healthy five-year-old, also had her share of problems. “Sarah had stopped growing at 26 weeks and was tiny. She had a condition called inter-uterine growth restriction and when she was born she was just under two pounds, or about 940g. “She went straight into the high-dependency unit and stayed there for two weeks. In all, she was in hospital for nine weeks,” says

42-year-old Lisa. “The hardest part of having a premature baby is walking into ICU, because you never know what to expect — will she be there when I go in, or will I be told she has another infection and is ill?” Throughout the weeks following Sarah’s birth, she had different problems. “At one stage, she got MRSA and was put into isolation,” Lisa says. “One of the most difficult things about it is the constant strain of not knowing what will

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2011

Bridann Halpin-Keane barely had time to realise she was pregnant before baby Diarmuid made his entrance at just 26 weeks. “I only found out I was pregnant about three weeks before he actually arrived. I barely had time to get used to being pregnant,” says the 29-year-old from Co Roscommon. Because Bridann has type one diabetes, she was kept in hospital for observation. “They decided to keep me in because of the diabetes and a number of possible complications, including pre-eclampsia.” Concerned by the implications, her doctors decided to transfer her from Mayo general hospital in Castlebar to the National Materni-

ESTABLISHED in 2009, Irish Premature Babies supports and provides information for parents who have premature babies in Ireland. The only nationwide support organisation for the 4,500 families affected by a premature birth every year in the country — one in 16 women gives birth to a premature baby — the charity started as a parent support group solely run by parents of premature babies. “Parents need counselling and support, and guidance about where to find help and information. The challenges of a premature baby are very different to those of a term baby and the organisation wants to help provide support,” says Dr Elizabeth Tully, mother of a premature baby and research manager at Dublin’s Rotunda Hospital and member of the organisation’s fundraising team. The organisation’s latest initiative for parents — Tiny Footprints, a 340-page book packed with the stories of parents who have had premature babies — will be launched on November 17, World Prematurity Day. “The idea for the book came from discussion between parents on FaceBook about the problems and challenges they faced and the kind of things that helped them through it,” says Tully. “We felt that being able to read the stories of other parents was one of the most helpful things that we could do as a charity so we decided to run with the book. Tiny Footprints , €15, includes the story of Jay and Rocco, twin sons of Georgina and Nicky Byrne from Westlife. They tots were born at 32 weeks and needed ongoing medical attention when babies. Proceeds from the sale of the book will be used to purchase a house in Dublin for the use of parents who have to travel long distances to stay in Dublin while their premature babies are being cared for in hospital. The tripartite launch of Tiny Footprints will take place on November 17, Pillar Room, Rotunda Hospital, Dublin at 6pm; the Ardilaun Hotel in Galway 6pm; Rochestown Park Hotel, Cork, 6.30pm. ■ For more information, visit www.irishprematurebabies.com


TERAPROOF:User:desodriscollDate:09/11/2011Time:14:48:30Edition:11/11/2011FeelgoodXH1111Page:8

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Male story health 8 Cover

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Every year in Ireland 4,500 babies are born premature. A new book, Tiny Footprints, tells some of their traumatic stories. Áilín Quinlan reports

M

OLLY Dowdall had a tough start — born prematurely at one pound six ounces, she had cardiac surgery before she was a month old, a bleed on the brain, and a battery of blood transfusions. “She’s my miracle baby,” says mum, Orlagh, who gave birth to Molly at 26 weeks in March, 2006. An estimated 4,500 premature babies are born in Ireland every year and Molly is one of 80 featured in a new book, Tiny Footprints, to be launched on Thursday, November 17, to mark World Prematurity Day. “I had a miserable pregnancy, I was sick the whole time and very sore. My whole body was aching, but there was never anything wrong when I went to the doctor,” says Orlagh, 46, from Balbriggan, Co Dublin. A 24-week scan revealed that Molly was small for her dates, and that there was little fluid surrounding her in the womb. Not long afterwards, Orlagh went into spontaneous labour. “She was just one pound six ounces and absolutely tiny, only the size of my partner, Philip’s hand. They took her into intensive care and ventilated her because her lungs were not fully developed,” she says. It was a difficult time. The doctors warned that the first 24-48 hours were critical. Molly made it through, but she remained on a ventilator for four weeks. “I stayed in hospital for a week and visited her constantly. I had given birth via a Caesarean section and couldn’t drive, so when I went home I had to get the train and do a lot of walking to see her,” Orlagh says. At three weeks old, Molly had cardiac surgery at Crumlin children’s hospital. “She should have been in the womb for another 12 weeks, so she was still teensy. They had to use special magnifying glasses to carry out the operation. She got through that, but over the next few weeks there were a number of other problems which had to be resolved — she had a bleed on the brain, several blood transfusions and a number of infections. “In all, she was in hospital for just under four months and when she came home she weighed six pounds and two ounces and was just four months old. She had a very difficult start in life.” That is in the past — these days, Molly’s strong, healthy, happy and in junior infants. “She’ll be six next St Patrick’s Day and is petite still, but strong and healthy and very happy,” says Orlagh. Among the toughest challenges following Molly’s birth was learning to do without the support available in hospital. “When we were in the hospital, frightening and all as it was, there was always someone there to help, but when we got her home we felt very much on our own.

Too little in life, too soon ONE of the biggest issues for premature babies and their parents is developmental delays — physical, mental, emotional and cognitive. Premature babies can take longer to reach milestones. A baby born prematurely is taken immediately to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) or to a special care baby unit (SCBU). Depending on a number of factors, including the baby’s birth weight or its state of health, it can spend up to months in hospital. Some have to spend time on ventilators — machines which perform the breathing process for them — while others will be linked up to assisted breathing machines. They may have undeveloped digestive systems, which can result in feeding complications. Some may have to be tube-fed as their suck reflex has not developed — this means they have to be taught how to feed by bottle or from the mother’s breast. Others may even stop

temporarily breathing, experience a decreased heart rate or suffer from brain bleeds. Premature babies also face potentially fatal bowel infections, anaemia, heart problems, infection, hernias, fluid accumulation on the brain, cerebral palsy, vision problems, hearing problems, development difficulties, and learning disabilities. However, once the baby is well enough, it will be discharged from hospital — though some have to be accompanied by specialised monitors or equipment. Many premature babies may require extensive follow-up hospital appointments in the months, and even the years, ahead, and may need to be referred for treatment through different therapies and clinics.

Above, Sarah in an incubator at two pounds; below, Sarah is now a healthy five-year-old.

Above, Diarmuid was also born at 26 weeks; below, with his mother Bridann.

happen next. You are constantly living on a knife edge. You are worried sick. “When you are with her, you want to stay there but you can’t. It’s so distressing to look at her, with all the lines going in to her. You can’t touch her or hold her, but then, when you come out, you feel guilty and you just want to go back in again. You’re plagued by conflicting feelings.” Sarah has a one-year-old brother, Adam, who was born at 38 weeks.

ty Hospital in Holles Street — but she never got there. “They wanted to send me to Dublin, but Diarmuid was delivered a few days before I was due to go. He weighed 970g — he was tiny, a miracle baby, the size of two joined fists,” Bridann says. After his birth in October, 2009, Diarmuid was put on a ventilator in a special baby-care unit, and later transferred to Holles Street. “He was in hospital for a total of 10 weeks and when he came home he was still tiny, only about five pounds 10 ounces,” she says. The experience was an emotional roller-coaster, says Bridann, who works full-time at home caring for her son. “When you have a premature baby, you don’t know whether you’re coming or going, you’re in such a state of shock.” But all that’s behind them now — these days, Diarmuid’s a typical, robust two-year-old. “His speech is slightly delayed, but other than that he seems to be fine — he’s a normal, healthy two-year-old. He is a little miracle — he has reached all the normal milestones and he’s great. “To look at him, you’d never think he was so tiny when he first came into the world,” says Bridann.

■ For more information, visit www.irishprematurebabies.com

“One of the most difficult things was not actually knowing what age she was, because premature babies have two ages — an actual age, which is from the date that she was born, then the ‘corrected’ age, which is measured from the date she was due. “Molly was 14 weeks early. It was very confusing, so when I was looking at a maternity book, I didn’t know, for example, whether she was two months old, which was her corrected age, or six months, which was her actual age.”

SARAH’S STORY After losing premature twins, who lived for only an hour after their birth at 22 weeks, devastated mother-of-three Lisa O’Callaghan was determined to try once more. Unbelievably, tragedy struck again — her second set of twins was born prematurely at 30 weeks in July, 2006, and only one survived. After having her first child, Andrew, now aged 20, Lisa, a stay-at-home mum from Celbridge, Co Kildare, was devastated when she was told, following repeated ectopic pregnancies, that her only chance of having more children was through IVF. She took on the challenge. In March, 1997,

She should have been in the womb for another 12 weeks, so she was still teensy. They had to use special magnifying glasses to carry out the operation

Feelgood

Charity reaches out to families

Challenges faced by premature babies and their parents

Above, Molly Dowdall soon after she was born at 26 weeks; below, a recent picture.

DIARMUID’S STORY Picture: iStock

after two rounds of IVF, she gave birth to twins, Jonathan and Amy. They were born at 22 weeks and weighed just 500g and 540g respectively. “They passed away after one precious hour,” says Lisa. “It was a very traumatic time. Seven more cycles of IVF resulted in Lisa becoming pregnant with twins, Sarah and Rebecca, who were born in July, 2006 at 30 weeks. Rebecca was born with anencephaly, a condition which means that she lacked a major

portion of her brain, skull and scalp. She lived for just two hours. Born weighing under two pounds, Sarah, now a healthy five-year-old, also had her share of problems. “Sarah had stopped growing at 26 weeks and was tiny. She had a condition called inter-uterine growth restriction and when she was born she was just under two pounds, or about 940g. “She went straight into the high-dependency unit and stayed there for two weeks. In all, she was in hospital for nine weeks,” says

42-year-old Lisa. “The hardest part of having a premature baby is walking into ICU, because you never know what to expect — will she be there when I go in, or will I be told she has another infection and is ill?” Throughout the weeks following Sarah’s birth, she had different problems. “At one stage, she got MRSA and was put into isolation,” Lisa says. “One of the most difficult things about it is the constant strain of not knowing what will

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2011

Bridann Halpin-Keane barely had time to realise she was pregnant before baby Diarmuid made his entrance at just 26 weeks. “I only found out I was pregnant about three weeks before he actually arrived. I barely had time to get used to being pregnant,” says the 29-year-old from Co Roscommon. Because Bridann has type one diabetes, she was kept in hospital for observation. “They decided to keep me in because of the diabetes and a number of possible complications, including pre-eclampsia.” Concerned by the implications, her doctors decided to transfer her from Mayo general hospital in Castlebar to the National Materni-

ESTABLISHED in 2009, Irish Premature Babies supports and provides information for parents who have premature babies in Ireland. The only nationwide support organisation for the 4,500 families affected by a premature birth every year in the country — one in 16 women gives birth to a premature baby — the charity started as a parent support group solely run by parents of premature babies. “Parents need counselling and support, and guidance about where to find help and information. The challenges of a premature baby are very different to those of a term baby and the organisation wants to help provide support,” says Dr Elizabeth Tully, mother of a premature baby and research manager at Dublin’s Rotunda Hospital and member of the organisation’s fundraising team. The organisation’s latest initiative for parents — Tiny Footprints, a 340-page book packed with the stories of parents who have had premature babies — will be launched on November 17, World Prematurity Day. “The idea for the book came from discussion between parents on FaceBook about the problems and challenges they faced and the kind of things that helped them through it,” says Tully. “We felt that being able to read the stories of other parents was one of the most helpful things that we could do as a charity so we decided to run with the book. Tiny Footprints , €15, includes the story of Jay and Rocco, twin sons of Georgina and Nicky Byrne from Westlife. They tots were born at 32 weeks and needed ongoing medical attention when babies. Proceeds from the sale of the book will be used to purchase a house in Dublin for the use of parents who have to travel long distances to stay in Dublin while their premature babies are being cared for in hospital. The tripartite launch of Tiny Footprints will take place on November 17, Pillar Room, Rotunda Hospital, Dublin at 6pm; the Ardilaun Hotel in Galway 6pm; Rochestown Park Hotel, Cork, 6.30pm. ■ For more information, visit www.irishprematurebabies.com


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Dr Julius Parker is a GP with HSF Health Plan’s free 24 GP advice line. For more information visit www.hsf.ie or lo-call 1890 473 473 If you have a question about your health email it to feelgood@examiner.ie or send a letter to: Feelgood Irish Examiner City Quarter Lapps Quay

Medical matters

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Q

We’re thinking of having a baby. How long does it take to get pregnant? We are both in our early 30s.

A. This is one of the most common questions from people trying for a baby, and one of the most difficult to answer. It’s different for each couple. Everything being equal, 60% of women will conceive in six months, 85% in a year and 90% after two years. Many factors affect your chance of getting pregnant, and taking steps to increase your chances will improve your health. If either of you smoke, stop. Easy to say, but there’s advice and support available. If you’re overweight, or significantly underweight, this can affect your fertility. If your body mass index (BMI) is over 29 or under 19, or your partner has a BMI of over 29, improve your eating habits. Many women give up alcohol when they’re trying to conceive, but there’s no evidence that one to two units per week causes problems. If you have other illnesses, such as diabetes or thyroid disease, you should control this as well as you can. Visit your GP for a check-up. It’s also sensible to see your GP for a review if you are on any regular medication, to make sure you’re on the right drug at the right dose. Another key factor is how often you have sex. If you have a fairly regular menstrual cycle, there are ways of predicting the approach of ovulation. Planning your sex life around a few days each month can make trying for a baby stressful. Most experts do not recommend this approach unless you’ve been trying for a year, and after you’ve seen your GP for some advice. Aim to have sex every two or three days and remember it’s not just about trying for a baby. One thing you can’t do much about is your age, and this is more significant for a woman. After the age of 35, female fertility starts to fall. This means that if you are over 35 and you’ve been trying for a baby for six to 12 months, you should see your GP for advice. If you’re under 35 and both of you are fit and healthy, you should probably wait for 18 months before seeing a GP as it’s unlikely there are any significant underlying problems. Good luck. Q. My cervical smear result has come back saying I have mild dyskaryosis. What does

NEWS UPDATE

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The HSE’s annual Seasonal Flu Vaccination Campaign is recommended for at-risk groups, such as people over 65, children over six months with a long-term illness requiring regular medical follow-up, pregnant women, those with lower immunity due to disease or treatment, under 18s on long-term aspirin therapy, residents of nursing homes and other long-stay institutions and healthcare workers. This year, new regulations have been introduced to allow pharmacists to give the flu vaccine. The vaccine is available free of charge from GPs and from pharmacists to all those in the at-risk groups. People

STICKING POINT: The flu jab is critical for at-risk groups. with a medical card will not be charged to visit their GP or pharmacist for the vaccine — those in the at-risk groups without a medical card

this mean? I’m really worried. A: Most people have their cervical smear believing all will be fine, so it can be a real shock to be told you’ve got an abnormal result, especially if all your previous smears have been normal. It’s important to say that mild dyskaryosis does not mean you’ve got cancer. Dyskaryosis is a medical term which describes the appearance of the cells taken from the cervix (the neck of the womb) when you have a smear. A specialist doctor looks at these cells under a microscope and can recognise changes in the cells. About 5% of all smears are described as having mild dyskaryosis. These type of cell changes usually go back to normal without any treatment, so it is safe to wait a short time to see if this happens. Most doctors will recommend having another smear in six months. If this turns out to be normal, you should have another six-monthly check.

will be charged a consultation fee for the visit to their pharmacist or doctor but will not be charged for the vaccine itself. The vaccine only lasts for 12 months, so it is important that those in the at-risk groups get vaccinated again this year. The World Health Organisation has advised that the vaccine protects against three common flu virus strains, including the H1N1 (swine flu) strain, which is still circulating this year. Seasonal flu vaccines are safe and have been given for more than 60 years to millions of people across the world. Reactions are generally mild and serious side effects are very rare.

If a second smear shows that the mild dyskaryosis is still present, you will be asked to see a gynaecologist for a special test called a colposcopy. This is done in an out-patient-clinic and you’ll be given a full explanation of what to expect. This can completely treat the abnormal cells on your cervix, although you’ll need to have more frequent smears for a few years afterwards. Having mild dyskaryosis will give you no symptoms and you needn’t change anything you do, although you shouldn’t plan for a baby until you’ve finished treatment. Having sex doesn’t make the cells on the cervix worse and you can’t pass on abnormal cells to your partner. You should use contraception during this time until your doctor advises you otherwise. Although this has obviously been a shock for you, there is no reason to worry. Mild dyskaryosis normally goes back to normal without needing any treatment, and as long as you have the follow-up smears your doctor recommends you can be sure nothing unexpected will happen.

NOTE: The information contained in Dr Julius Parker’s column is not a substitute for medical advice. Always consult a doctor first

Catherine Shanahan MUM’S WORLD Feelgood

THERE comes a time in every young boy’s life when a gun holds more promise of fun than any other toy in his playroom and a good shootout cannot be outdone, even by the offer of a Happy Meal. This business of killing imaginary enemies is part and parcel of childhood and few, I believed, would argue otherwise. Imagine my surprise then to find there are many mums who harbour serious anti-toy-gun sentiments, born of fears that a youthful interest in firearms could get their sons hooked on the hard stuff. I find this kind of reaction over-the-top. Deny a child a toy gun and his imagination will help him invent one, by means of a banana or a coat hanger or a bottle of window cleaner, or by taking bites from a sandwich until it resembles a revolver. Besides there are studies which show a ban on toy weapons can backfire, such as Gun Play, a paper published in the American Journal of Play in 2008, where the author argues that the moral panic about boys and guns is unfounded. Jay Mechling, a professor of American Studies, argues that boys who don’t have access to fantasy play with toy guns and other symbols of power are missing out on a common way of learning the difference between real and fantasy violence and between real and stylised aggression.

Gun play also offers the opportunity to pretend to die, which Mechling argues may hold an unexpected psychological benefit. Children, he says, have real fears about death but pretend dying allows them to work through their anxieties with positive outcomes. Pretending to die and then coming alive again can help tame real fears about dying, he says. The British government has, in the past, endorsed the notion that playing with toy weapons helps in a young boy’s development. Under guidance entitled Confident, Capable and Creative: Supporting Boys’ Achievements, it urged staff in nurseries and playgroups to resist their natural instinct to stop the use of guns or light sabres among toddlers. It said fantasy play involving weapons and superheroes allows healthy and safe risk-taking and could also make learning more appealing. There are others who argue the real problem with toy weapons is that they symbolise aggression, and that too keen an interest could ultimately culminate in a Need to Talk about Kevin or Evan or whoever. The experts claim we face a crisis of play in contemporary society. So what is the anecdote? “Leave the kids alone,” says Mechling. Teach them respect as part of their development. It isn’t guns that kill, it’s people.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2011

Imagine my surprise to find that there are many mums who harbour serious anti-toy-gun sentiments, born of fears that a youthful interest in firearms could get their sons hooked on the hard stuff


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Experts share their top tips on enjoying a longer life. Arlene Harris reports

The bonus decade

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ESPITE the clichés about time flying by, 10 years is actually quite a long time. In terms of life expectancy, most of us would be delighted to have an extra decade on the clock. Yet a growing number of us are living unhealthier lives — eating and drinking more, exercising less and getting stressed out and depressed with the world around us. So we have consulted the experts and compiled a list of lifestyle changes which could add 10 years to your life.

“There is evidence to show that unhappy relationships have a negative impact on health,” he says. “People under stress find it difficult to cope with the normal challenges of life and in turn haven’t got the time or energy needed to build and maintain a nurturing relationship.” Here are his tips on how to maintain a happy relationship. ■ Be at ease with yourself and partner ■ Have respect for each other ■ Don’t expect perfection ■ Admit mistakes ■ Forgive and give ■ Communicate and be honest ■ Regard each other as equal ■ Commit to work at the relationship, especially through difficult times

BODY WISE The most obvious way to prolong your life is to become healthier and Dr Bridget Maher, medical director of VHI says there are a number of easy changes which will improve your physical health. “It’s never too late to start making positive changes to your health and wellbeing,” she says. Changes can be made at any age and will have positive effects even when adopted later in life, resulting in people living longer, healthier lives. “Eating well, being active and avoiding smoking can cut overall risk of heart disease, cancer and diabetes,” she says. ■ Aim for at least two to three 20-minute sessions of cardio activity per week — this includes, dancing, walking, cycling or swimming. Over time this can be increased ■ Pick an activity you enjoy — otherwise you will not stick to it ■ Watch portion sizes and calorie intake — men require an average of 2,500 calories and females 2,000 per day in order to maintain healthy weight ■ Eat healthily and start every day with a good breakfast ■ Don’t eat late at night ■ Drink lots of water ■ Reduce alcohol levels as, in excess, it can cause long term problems such as liver disease, heart disease, cancer and pancreatitis.

CAREER CHOICE

NATURAL HIGH: Look after a few fundamental factors — from diet to relationships — and you’re likely to add years to your life. Picture: Getty BE HAPPY Physical health is obviously vital but looking after the mind is just as important. Ted Tierney of Mental Health Ireland says being happy is a big step towards being healthy. “Maintaining a positive outlook can improve the quality of life for any individual,” he says. “There is a distinct connectivity between our physical and mental health. Developing a consistently healthy lifestyle and managing our stress levels helps us to improve our quality of life and in turn the longevity of our life span.” He says a number of factors can help reduce levels of stress and depression, including: ■ Don’t let tension take over ■ Share problems

■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■ ■

Escape and do something you enjoy Work off anger Give in occasionally Do something for someone else Take one thing at a time Don’t be a perfectionist Don’t compare yourself to others Give others a chance Be more social Plan more recreation time

RELATIONSHIPS Liam Lally of Accord says that couples who are happy together are likely to be less stressed and potentially healthier than those who are not.

180,000

John Fitzgerald is the managing director of Harmonics, which specialises in career coaching. He says that being happy at work is vital when it comes to maintaining good mental and physical health. “Work can be a very stressful place and with the advent of e-mail and texting, we are never very far removed it,” he says. “People are competing to hold on to their livelihoods and are working longer — this makes them more stressed and less happy which can lead to health problems.” “But while jobs are definitely scarcer, companies are still looking for people who can add value.” Here’s how to be happy at work: ■ Decide what’s important to you in a job and look for an organisation which matches your values. ■ Make a list of your strengths and approach companies to try and sell your skills ■ Create an alternative plan to move jobs within the next six months ■ Take time out for your friends and family ■ Try to worry less and make positive plans for the future.

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Irish people are affected by it.

1 in every 3 families live with it.

30,000

of us have it and just don’t know it yet. �����������������

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It has been described as the biggest health crisis of the 21st century and by the end of the decade the number of Irish people who will have it will reach a quarter of a million. In “Let’s Talk Diabetes” a special booklet we give

FREE BOOKLET

you tips and advice about detecting, preventing, treating and living with diabetes.

Feelgood

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2011

MONDAY, NOVEMBER 14


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Food survey

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Sip of the dark stuff

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OFFEE has its baristas to make good coffee and they are often trained to make good hot chocolate, too. At home there is a vast difference in the result we get from making hot chocolate in different ways. For our survey today we tried a dozen hot chocolate drinks, from simple powder to swirl-around sticks, with a few granulated ones in between and selected eight to illustrate differences. We followed the instructions on the tins and packs, but found those that suggested simply pouring hot milk onto a few spoons of powder lacked flavour. When we made them all again, adding the chocolate to the pot with the milk, once it had come to under boiling point, they improved vastly and we ended up with much more satisfying, creamy, rich drinks. Seeing as we are using a saucepan anyway to heat up the milk, we may as well add chocolate. For those who like to heat milk in a mug in the microwave, try adding the chocolate half way through and giving it a stir before returning to the microwave. The result will

Eve drinking chocolate, 250g €5 An impressively high 55.8% cocoa solids with a little vanilla flavour to give it a light kick, results in great depth of flavour. Tasters of all ages liked this. Rich and smooth, it reminded one high flier of apres ski warmth in its luxurious finish. The tiny buttons are heated in a saucepan with milk for two minutes. While two dessertspoons is recommended per mug, one could be enough for those used to powdered versions. From Eve shop, College Road, Cork. Score: 9.5

Roz Crowley still be better than if you just heated the milk. If you don’t have drinking chocolate at home and fancy a cup, a few squares of chocolate added to milk in a saucepan will give an excellent result. With the calcium in milk, the theobromine in chocolate making us feel good, we could do worse in having a cup of hot chocolate as a snack. For even more pleasure, froth some milk like a cappuccino to pour on top and grate a little chocolate to finish. Some like cinnamon which is extra warming and helps with coughs, fatigue and digestive problems. Put a cinnamon stick in the milk as it heats.

SWEET DREAMS: Take the brrr out of winter with a mug of hot chocolate.

Pralus Cacao Show hot chocolate mix, 250g €9.90

Clipper Organic Fairtrade drinking chocolate, 250g €3.49

Green and Black’s organic hot chocolate drink, 300g €4.95

In an attractive oval shaped tin, good for Christmas stocking gifts, this hot chocolate needs no fancy wrapping — it is delicious. With 75% cocoa solids, it is best added to milk in a saucepan to bring out its rich flavour. Quite a pure, slightly bitter chocolate, it needs some sugar added to taste, so less powder can be used to good effect and to maximise servings. Great, silky texture. Not cheap. From The Chocolate Shop, English Market, Cork.

Rich and chocolaty, with a decent 40% cocoa powder, this drinking chocolate powder is a cross between the flavour of milk and dark chocolate, with visible sugar crystals. All ingredients are organic and Fairtrade. It thickens nicely giving it a satisfying weight.

The instructions to pour hot milk over four teaspoons of these granules results is a fairly weak mixture compared to other samples, and we found we needed at least a heaped dessertspoon to be satisfied. It was also best stirred in the pot and heated, whisking with a fork. This way it became rich and creamy. The organic fat-reduced cocoa powder and organic dark chocolate give a fairly lively taste, but is still a bit sweet.

Score: 7.5

Score: 7

Score: 9

Cadburys drinking chocolate, 250g €2.81 Three heaped teaspoons added to a mug of hot milk is recommended and this makes quite a pleasant drink with enough chocolate flavour. 25% cocoa solids means there is quite a lot of sugar and there is also 0.38g salt per serving which is low in itself and adds to the flavour. Score: 7

Butlers hot chocolate drink, 10 servings, 230g €3.95

The Spanish Chocolate Company, Tesco, 350g €5.97

Bellarom hot chocolate, Lidl, 400g €1.49

These discs of 29% milk chocolate come with a soft, mousse-like core. This dilutes the chocolate and intensity of flavour. Each disc is added to the saucepan with cold milk and heated. Fans of this brand of chocolate were disappointed in this drink as it was more sweet than chocolaty. There was a back taste of toffee which one taster liked.

This has a good, thick texture like the chocolate familiar to those who have enjoyed it in Spain. However, the thickness comes from added starch and it is sweet instead of chocolaty and quite sickly as a result. Excited by the texture, tasters were let down by the taste. It reminded some of warmed up chocolate icecream.

This is more a sweet drink than a chocolate one with just 9% cocoa powder among a long list of emulsifiers and sugars and their substitutes. There is also 1% salt. The instructions are for use with hot water, and even stirring it in a saucepan did not improve it. None of the tasters liked it. It’s cheap, but not worth the price.

Score: 3.75

Score: 4.5

Feelgood

Picture: Getty

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2011

Score: 2


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Male Male health health 13

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Blinding migraine L

IAM HURLEY, 60, gets a migraine every week — 35 years after first getting what he thought were ordinary headaches. “Initially, I thought they were bad headaches or hangover headaches, but then I started getting them when I hadn’t been out at night.” Today, he’s one of the estimated 12% to 15% of Irish people who get migraine. According to the Migraine Association of Ireland, it generally features a one-sided throbbing headache which is episodic and lasts hours or even days with total freedom between attacks. “I would wake up with the migraine, take over-the-counter painkillers, but I’d have to spend the day in bed in the dark and I couldn’t stand noise at all,” says Liam, who was working as a painter and decorator in London when his migraine started. “It’s like you’re totally disabled, you can’t get out of bed because you’ve no strength and no motivation and you can’t face the light.”

Deirdre O'Flynn MOSTLY MEN HEAD FIRST: Liam Hurley has had to learn to live with crippling migraine. The father of three praises his wife Sheila for her patience. “We’ve been married 23 years and she has seen me through dark days and dark nights,” he says, adding that finding the right medication has been vital to the management of his migraine. “What works for one won’t work for another and the secret is to take the medication as soon as you know the migraine is coming. For me, if I feel down in myself on a particu-

lar day, I’ll know that I’ll have a migraine the next day. It’s the same if I’m absolutely wrecked tired — I’ll have a migraine the next day.” Liam had mixed luck with his employers. “I lost quite a bit of time off work in London, but the company I was with almost minded me. Then they went into liquidation and I found another employer who was not too sympathetic.”

Cancer society has new charter

Floods bring the added danger of Weil’s disease

The Irish Cancer Society has developed a Patient Charter setting out its recommendations for prostate cancer patients, from investigation right through to treatment and beyond. The charter arises out of feedback from prostate cancer survivors that they needed more support and information. “We had heard anecdotally through the National Cancer Helpline and Men Against Cancer (MAC), that men’s prostate

CONFLICTING reports about comedian David Walliams contracting Weil’s disease during his recent charity swim along the Thames, are a timely reminder for anyone who may come into contact with dirty water during flooding to keep an eye out for any possible signs of the disease. “Water in the mouth can lead to gastrointestinal troubles or Leptospirosis (Weil’s Disease) which originates from rats’ urine and can be contracted through any open cuts or

cancer journey was not altogether positive,” says John McCormack, CEO of the Irish Cancer Society. More than 2,500 new cases of prostate cancer are diagnosed in Ireland each year, which makes it the second most common cancer affecting men in this country. It is rare for younger men to get prostate cancer but risk increases when you are over the age of 50 years. To find out more or get support, contact the helpline on 1800 200 700.

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SWITCH OFF: Rescue Night is a combination of the five Bach original flower essences found in Rescue Remedy, plus the Bach flower essence white chestnut, which has been traditionally used to help switch off the mind from unwanted, repetitive thoughts that can be increased at this time of the year. The Rescue Night range is designed to calm your thoughts and help you have a good night’s sleep naturally. It comes in a spray, dropper and fast-dissolving melts. Prices start at €7.95, from pharmacies and health stores. And if you would like to be in with a chance to win a luxury, two-night break in Dublin, courtesy of Rescue Night, visit www.rescueremedy.ie/nightcompetition.

Feelgood

even through the eyes and mouth,” says Dr Graham Fry, medical director, Tropical Medical Bureau (TMB). A heavy rainfall will increase the risk of rats’ urine being swept into rivers and can increase the risk of swimmers contracting leptospirosis. Weil’s disease is a serious illness that can kill. Symptoms includes sudden fever, diarrhoea and a skin rash. Ten cases of Weil’s disease have been reported in Ireland so far in 2011, according to the TMB.

Picture: Denis Minihane

According to the Migraine Association of Ireland, migraine costs Irish businesses an estimated €252 million every year as a result of lost productivity. For Liam, it’s a case of one day at a time, watching for his own individual triggers and treating the migraine as soon as it manifests itself. ■ For more information, contact the migraine helpline on 1850-200378 or see www.migraine.ie.

DId you know...

Keeping stress to a minimum, being married and a moderate drinker may be the secret to a long life for men (Source: Oregon State University)

A good night’s sleep

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SLEEP PROGRAMME: Canadian psychiatrist Dr Craig Hudson was in Dublin this week to launch his ‘one week to better sleep’ programme. The programme is available in health stores and pharmacies stocking Zenbev, a drink developed by Hudson that contains pumpkin seeds, which trigger sleep. Zenbev costs €28.99. Tips: ■ No exercise two hours before retiring. ■ Have a light carbohydrate snack before retiring: milk, cream crackers, wholemeal bread. ■ If you’re not asleep within 15 minutes, get out of bed and relax in your bedroom (no TV). www.zenbev.com.

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SOOTHING CHAMOMILE: Chamomile is a traditional remedy that induces calm and sleep. Melissa Dream contains lemon balm (Melissa officinalis), which works with chamomile to promote sleep. Melissa Dream contains selected B vitamins and the amino acid l-theanine, known for their calming properties and magnesium to relax muscles and nerves, which is good if you suffer from restless legs. Melissa Dream is €7.50 for 20 tablets from health stores, or from naturalife.ie.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2011

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HERBAL TINCTURE: A.Vogel Dormeasan is a tincture made from valerian and hops, used by herbalists to relieve sleep disturbances caused by mild anxiety. Nichola Murphy A Vogel’s natural health specialists recommend 30 drops in water 30 minutes before bed to aid sleep, for adults only. She says this tincture can work the first time it’s taken, bringing swift relief without the grogginess associated with some conventional medicine. Dormeasan is €10.50 for 50ml from health stores and selected pharmacies nationwide. For further information, see www.avogel.ie.


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Beauty

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The news on... THE CHEEKS THE minimalist, clean face was a big look on the catwalks with very matte satiny skin and understated eye makeup, but even for women with super healthy skin, in the dead of winter it can be a hard look to carry off. Soften the look a bit with a dab of cream blusher — try Max Factor: Creamy Blush in Soft Copper, €10.79. It’s very flattering and the creamy formulation is great for using on the drier skin that most of us suffer from in the colder months.

Emily O’Sullivan

Foundation won’t knock years of your face but it will boost your radiance and give your skin an even tone

Take three... NEW MASCARAS

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look less like myself in the morning. Someone else is taking over. Someone with baggy eyes and flappy jowls. Someone with uncontrollable hair. It takes a quick cup of strong coffee to sort out my mental state — it takes a lot more to sort out my physical one. When I was younger, I never thought I’d be the type of person who put her ‘face on’ in the morning, but as I grow older, and as the weather grows colder, wrinkles, dryness and greyness are taking their toll. I don’t like heavy foundations, but I am coming around to the idea of giving up my year-round tinted moisturiser and jumping into something a little more substantial. Recently, foundation received an upgrade. Now, it’s not acceptable to produce just a base — it has to be an anti-wrinkle foundation, a lifting foundation, or, as in the case of Max Factor’s latest launch, a foundation with a serum. But how much of this is just guff — can your foundation give you high-grade protection against the sun, blur your wrinkles and fill out your tax return within the space of a few hours? The answer is probably not. I’ve tried a lot of anti-ageing foundations, and I’ve yet to find one that has made me look younger. Yes, they’ll even out your skin tone and they’ll boost your radiance, but as for turning back the years? No way. A foundation’s success lies in its ability to perfect your skin, and this is where anti-ageing foundations have an edge over other formulations. As you age, your skin gets drier, so many are boosted with super-hydrating ingredients. I asked a septuagenarian friend to trial the new Repairwear laser-focus all smooth makeup from Clinique. The verdict? She didn’t

AGE ACTION look any younger, but her skin felt like pure velvet. And that can’t be bad. If you’re after a multi-tasking foundation with punch, though, there are two that have caught my eye lately. One is No 7 Protect & Perfect foundation, €21. Okay, so it’s not new. In fact, it’s been out a few years, but if you want a foundation that is going to really help your skin, then my vote is for this one. It contains some of the same unique ingredients found in the clinically-proven wonder serum, Protect & Perfect, and, best of all, it looks great on the skin. It’s lightweight, but if you’re transferring from a tinted foundation, and you want something reasonably sheer, then it’s a good one. Max Factor’s new Ageless Elixir 2 in 1 foundation plus serum, €19.99, pushes the boat out in terms of mixing foundation with skincare. If you like the idea of your skin be-

ing protected (from a wrinkle and from a SPF point of view), then this could be right up your street. This foundation offers a good coverage, but perhaps because of the high skincare properties, I found it didn’t last terribly well and I needed to reapply by the late afternoon, as my skin was starting to look dewy with very noticeable pores. If you’re looking for something with a touch more lasting power, then try Clarins’s skin illusion natural radiance foundation, SPF10, €29. It has quite good coverage without making your skin look heavy or too matte, yet it covers with a barely-there effect that makes your skin look like your skin, which you can’t argue with. After all, we all have anti-ageing creams to deal with our wrinkles. Maybe, in the end, a foundation should just do what it’s meant for — to give you great-looking skin.

you’re after a foundation that feels great, looks well, but needs touching up, then it’s a good choice.

anti-ageing products that I’ll use, because it’s been independently, clinically-tested to work. This foundation is along the same lines. Use it with the serum and you never know — you might look like you never used that sunbed in the late 1990s.

L’Oreal Volume Million Lashes, €14.99. A nice chunky packaging makes this mascara feel pretty substantial. The millionizer brush is great for separating lashes, and, unlike many mascaras that seem to pile on the product, this one is very good at separating and extending to give lashes a very clean look. It is meant to be violet, but I didn’t notice any colour when it was on the lashes. Lasts very well, without any smudge at all. Rimmel Volume Flash Scandal Eyes Mascara, €8.55. This is a big thick mascara, almost the same shape as the Volume Million Lashes but housed in a bright, almost neon packaging. The wand is thick and gloops the mascara onto it, maybe a little bit too much at the very tip, which you’re best removing with a tissue to take off the excess. All the same, it give great volume and doesn’t smudge. Estée Lauder Sumptuous Extreme Lash Multiplying Mascara in Extreme Copper, €27. The wand of this mascara looks exactly like a mini Christmas tree — which strangely enough turns out to be the exact shape you need to coat all your lashes. This gives a dense volumising look to the lashes, and the copper colour is very, very subtle — so much so you’d think you were wearing a dark brown or black.

STUFF WE LIKE MAC Matchmaster Foundation SPF 15, €36. MAC’s new foundation comes in many shades, so if you’ve been having trouble matching your skin tone to a foundation, this could be the one. It has a gluey texture and didn’t suit my skin type, but if you want a good, long-lasting base with an excellent range of tones, try it. Max Factor’s Ageless Elixir 2 in 1 Foundation + Serum, €19.99. It’s got great skincare qualities. It goes on with good, natural coverage, but didn’t last well through the day. If

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Clinique Repairwear Laserfocus All Smooth Makeup SPF15, €35. A great choice for mature skin tones, this foundation left our tester’s skin feeling “velvety”. Designed to accompany Clinique’s excellent Repairwear Laserfocus serum, it glides on, lasts through the day and leaves the skin looking soft and natural. No7 Protect and Perfect Foundation, €21. Protect & Perfect is one of the only

Lancôme Teint Miracle Compact Foundation, €39.50. A compact foundation can be handy — particularly if you need touch-ups on the go (or just for a nose powder). This foundation has good cov-

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erage with a papery, powdery effect that won’t suit all skin types. It left my skin radiant and perfect, but it was a little too noticeable. For regular foundation wearers who want something with good coverage. Clarins Skin Illusion Natural Radiance Foundation, €29. A new fave. Clarins does excellent skincare and its foundations are up there with the best of them. This foundation promises radiance and it delivers — it goes on well, gives great coverage and doesn’t look cakey or unnatural. Love it.


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Q

You recently wrote about testing that identifies exactly what vitamins and minerals your body needs. Do you know where this can be done? A standard blood test will show only levels of vitamin B12. Can you suggest a comprehensive test for vitamins?

Megan Sheppard Do you have a question for Megan Sheppard? Email it to feelgood@examiner.ie or send a letter to Feelgood Irish Examiner City Quarter Lapps Quay Cork

A. The Walmer College and Holistic Centre in Dublin (01-8329645) has a number of practitioners who use a range of modalities to treat individuals according to their needs and preferences. One of these practitioners, Beverly McGovern, specialises in nutritional treatments, including vitamin and mineral deficiency testing, Chinese medicine diagnosis, and testing for the 100 most common allergens. A consultation takes 45 minutes and costs €65. There is a free nutritional deficiency assessment available via the supplement company, G & G Vitamins. It also provides free nutritional advice from a trained practitioner so you can tailor a nutritional programme, following the assessment. This is not as accurate, or definitive, as physical testing of nutrient levels, but it can be an important first step for individuals who are strapped for cash. G & G’s free nutritional deficiency test is available at www.vittest.co.uk. For B12 levels, it is best to get a 24-hour urine MMA (methylmalonic acid) test. The other two types of B12 testing include serum B12 testing by radioimmune assay (RIA), and microbial assay. RIA is less accurate than microbial assay because it detects all forms of cobalamin (B12) — including those that are inactive. Microbial assay is the most commonly-used serum B12 test. Since levels of MMA increase in the urine without the presence of B12, the MMA test is by far the most accurate. It is also the most expensive. Q. I had an MRI scan to confirm mild arthritis at the end of my spine. I have a shooting pain in my thigh and down my left leg. What treatment would you recommend and will the arthritis progress? I am 60 years old. A. I cannot tell you whether or not your arthritis will progress, or even if treatment will help with the pain and discomfort. I can tell you what has worked well anecdotally and in double-blind crossover trials. The 2002 study showed that patients responded well to a supplement containing turmeric (curcuma longa), also known as curcumin, and the resin of the Indian frankincense tree (boswellia serrata). Both boswellia and curcumin have been used widely for their anti-inflammatory properties, while curcumin also acts as an antioxidant. The inflammatory agent nitric oxide is thought to be a significant factor in arthritic

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David Wilkie, Health Perception specialises in products which have been designed to suit individual needs with respect to musculoskeletal conditions and injuries. They also offer customer support on 00-44-01252 861454 or by emailing queries@health-perception.co.uk. For more information and details of support groups, visit Arthritis Ireland online at www.arthritis-foundation.com. Q. A friend, who is 31 years old, has an overactive thyroid gland. Symptoms include tiredness and a lot of sweating. What treatment do you advise and how long will it take to get under control? Is it completely curable or does it mean medication long-term? My friend has a child and has also lost weight.

SPINAL ARTHRITIS: Patients respond to a supplement containing turmeric. Picture: iStock

conditions, as it is present in much higher levels in individuals with arthritis. Curcumin actually inhibits nitric oxide production, hence its effective action as an anti-inflammatory agent. FSC has combined boswellia and curcumin with ginger to increase joint mobility. Available from www.all-ages-vitamins.co.uk, 60 tablets cost £12.63 (€14.76). You can expect to notice a difference after a month, and after three months of taking this combination your resting and active pain levels should be significantly reduced. Do not take supplements containing ginger if you are on any blood-thinning medication. Essential fatty acids will help to alleviate any pain and inflammation caused by your condition, so it would also be worth considering supplementation. Health Perception (www.health-perception.co.uk) has developed a product called Omega Plus, which provides both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Co-founded by Olympic gold medallist

A. Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland overproduces thyroid hormones, which is why this condition is also referred to as overactive thyroid. Because there are so many different causes of hyperthyroidism, it pays to have a more specific diagnosis before your friend takes pot-luck with remedies — natural or otherwise. The most common cause is Grave’s Disease, where the thyroid has lost the ability to respond to the normal control by the pituitary gland via TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone). This is a hereditary condition which is five times more likely to affect women than men. If this disease is the cause of her symptoms, then she would be wise to seek out immune-modulating remedies, since it is considered to be an auto-immune disorder. It is best to consult with a health professional rather than self-prescribing, since so many crucial bodily functions are linked to the thyroid and pituitary glands. Thyroiditis can be another cause of hyperthyroidism, usually the result of inflammation after a viral illness, although it also occurs in 8% of women after giving birth. The majority of individuals with this type of hyperthyroidism return to a normal state of thyroid functioning within six to nine months. Dr Patrick Magovern, who has a special interest in thyroid function, says an individual who is having problems with their thyroid therapy needs to have their free T3 and free T4 measured. Wellbeing may be as simple as rebalancing the free hormone levels. “I also consider it important that minerals such as iron, selenium, zinc, etc, which are important for the transformation of T4 to the much more potent T3 are at optimal levels,” says Dr Magover. “Likewise, it is important that there is proper adrenal function.” Dr Magovern (No 3 Drummartin Road, Goatstown) uses a combination of conventional and alternative therapies, including nutrition, acupuncture, homeopathy, and testing for food intolerances.

■ NOTE: The information contained above is not a substitute for medical advice. Always consult a doctor first.

Megan puts the spotlight on: This condition is often misdiagnosed, or even undiagnosed when individuals are too embarrassed to attend a doctor. Skin issues are common and complicated, with a suspected half of diagnoses regarding skin conditions turning out to be incorrect. The skin is the largest organ in the body, so instead of looking at which magic potions, lotions, and creams work externally, it is best to start treating your condition from the inside out. Psoriasis is caused by a defect in the skin that causes cells to multiply 1,000 times faster than normal skin. These extra cells build up, causing the silvery scaling associated with this condition. In more than half of all cases, the problem

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It is thought that is inherited — the body cannot which is why inmetabolise saturated ternal treatment is fats from meat prodthe best place to ucts properly in peostart in keeping ple who suffer from your skin healthy psoriasis, switching and clear. to a low-fat vegetarChanging your ian or vegan diet diet to avoid cermakes sense. tain foods, such as Taking nettle tea, the gluten in and a milk thistle wheat, and taking and dandelion brew more care about the products you A GOOD SKIN: Nettle tea helps eliminate will help to support the elimination use to wash and toxins. Picture: Getty organs — particularkeep the skin ly the liver. clean will both As far as supplements go, vitamins A help.

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 11, 2011

Psoriasis and zinc have been found lacking in sufferers. Fish-oil capsules, or a serving of oily fish twice weekly will provide the essential fatty acids that your skin needs to normalise cell production. There is an external remedy which can help — Themba, a herbal cream made by The Little Herbal Company. This cream utilises the powerful properties of Kigelia africana (also called the ‘sausage’ tree, due to the shape of the fruit) to help inhibit the abnormal skin growth rates. Apply the cream morning and evening to help with itching and flaking. Themba is available from Health Matters (8 Grafton Street, Dublin; 01-6710166).


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Feelgood 11-11-2011  

Feelgood 11-11-2011