Dandelion Attack Thwarted !

749px-dandelionflowerWe discovered this interesting story on Rocket News 24 this week and thought uour readers would be interested. We humans sometimes get over confident with our wide range of life-improving technologies and stranglehold on much of what Mother Nature has to offer. Walking down the street with a typical homo sapien swagger, we might scoff at the feeble little flowers growing between the cracks of our manmade concrete, feeling sure that we could take them in a fight whenever the need should arise.

However, every once in a while the flowers remind us how deadly they can be, much like they did in China recently. Try not to unconciously touch your ears while reading this story.

One day in China, a young girl aged just one year and four months managed to get a dandelion seed stuck in her ear. There it sat, a ticking floral time bomb nestled in the warm and moist enclosure of the girl’s ear canal, well out of the reach of even the bravest cotton swap or pair of tweezers.

Later on, the girl began to feel an intense discomfort in her ear and would cry incessantly. Her mother checked her out and could see something stuck in there. For two days she tried but couldn’t retrieve whatever it was, and there was no improvement in the girl’s condition. Finally she decided to take her daughter to the hospital.

According to the Beijing Morning News who heard from sources within the Capital Institute of Pediatrics in Beijing, medical staff initially attempted to remove the foreign body from the girl’s ear but it could not be taken out all the way.

dandelion earWith the object partially removed, the little girl was further examined by medical staff who found that the dandelion seed which previously entered her ear had begun to germinate inside her head. They determined the size of the young plant to be 2cm. The ear canal was full of the plant and blood could be seen in parts. It was decided that she needed surgery.
The doctors’ main concern was that the plant may have grown into contact with the brain or vital nerve endings, which would complicate matters significantly. Thankfully, the operation was performed successfully and the flower was able to be removed completely without serious injury. It was reported that the girl recovered from an post-op ear infection caused by the ordeal and is doing fine.

The medical staff of the institute, however, was left a little disturbed by the incident.“We’ve had cases were things like peanuts and beans, even nails, have gotten into the auditory canal of a child,” said the head doctor of the otolaryngology department. However, as one nurse who had worked there for ten years put it, “this was a first.”

So don’t go thinking we humans have the dandelions under our thumb. They’ve heard “momma had a baby…♪” one too many times and are looking for some payback. So stay vigilant, remembering to swab your ears and swab often, but be careful with those Q-Tips or else you’ll damage your eardrum… and then the dandelions will have truly won.

photos by Greg Hume 

Is the NHS in need of Terminal Care?

imgres-5You get to that age when health care becomes a top priority in your life, that is if you have manged to steer clear of significant illness when younger and the NHS is where most us turn. It is one of the most revered institutions on the planet and with good reason. During our working lives we all pay in fully expecting it to step forward with help when we really need it. The dynamics of the service are mind boggling with 1.7m employees and an annual budget of around £110bn, 370,000 nurses and 40,000 GPs. It stands to reason that nothing of this size can be managed without things going wrong. We all hope that we are not on the wrong side of things that do but is inevitable that eventually we will be. 

Age makes you vulnerable and for many it means that they are less able to deal with the life issues surrounding you let alone the illness itself. If you are lucky you have a support network of family and friends that can help you through it but many have not. The state is the only safety net they have. The recent exposures of poor health care and problems in the NHS must be of real concern to everybody especially to those that are truly vulnerable. The national press has been full of the reports but it still needs to ignite the fuse of public outrage at the level of the person in the street. 

A number of issues have been discussed in the these columns and you will find them on the site. Health care has been a common feature amongst the list our interests. We don't want to repeat too much of what has already been covered so we are now going to talk about some the more recent matters that have been at the forefront of the news. The first is the fact that the incident of death in hospital increases at weekends and holidays. I still put my own father's demise partly down to the fact his had his heart attack on Good Friday when it seemed that specialist clinicians were not readily available. Gerry Robinson, in his series of programmes on the NHS, very quickly discovered that operating theatres and expensive scanners were all to often idle from Friday afternoons to Monday mornings and he found it exceedingly difficult to do anything about at the hospital where he based his programme. 

Whilst in government the labour party substantially reviewed GP's contracts giving them vastly increased pay but less flexible availability leaving many practices relying on locums to deal with their patients out of hours. This has contributed to the crisis we now face where our doctors, consultants and senior staff are just not available for a substantial proportion of the week. When this became a hot topic recently it prompted an aggressive response from the BMA at their annual conference accusing the Health Secretary of wanting a "Tesco" NHS - open all hours. They asserted that the nation could not afford it especially as doctors would have to be paid premium rates at weekends which we gather can be as much as £200 nper hour. Consequently they went on the attack and passed a vote of no confidence in Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, accusing him wanting substantial change for ideological reasons. Those reports of the BMA view will have disappointed and worried most people. The fact is that there are many doctors out there that do work more than their standard hours and do their best to provide the cover that the nation and patients would want but it not widespread enough and there are too many large gaps through which people fall every day. The time has come for change but change that is not driven by increased finance alone but change that is cultural and focuses on excellence. The BMA needs to demonstrate that it understands the concerns that are endemic in communities and show its willingness to work with the government of the day to bring the NHS to the point of, once again, being the service that meets the demands of current day needs.

The reports of the breakdown in care at Mid Staffs and others have been horrifying but the abuse that the whistleblower, Julie Bailey, who exposed the Stafford Hospital failings has beggered belief. The neglect led to 1,400 lives being lost and Julie has been victimised by people whon claim that nothing happened at Stafford and there were no unnecessary dealths. Her mother's grave has been desecrated, she has had death threats and she has had to sell her cafe, which was the centre of the pressure group she had created called Cure the NHS. What is the matter with us all? The anecdotal evidence that something is fundamentally wrong is so strong that it cannot be ignored any longer and yet there are those who feel that the bullying of people who are prepared to stand up and be counted is fair game. It seems that illness amongst us does not always follow our conventional view.

Many readers of these columns will have their own experiences and we would love to hear them, both good and bad. In particular we would be interested to hear from the "silver" generation who have concerns for the future. It is only by constantly debating this issue that we will effect the change that we all need.

New Stroke Indicator

strokeThis peice was sent to Silverlinksnetwork quite recently and we thought it would be of interest to our many members. It does come from an American source but the principles are the same

STROKE:   Remember the 1st Three Letters.....  S. T. R.   


During a BBQ, a woman stumbled and took a little fall -  she assured everyone that she was fine (they offered to call paramedics) ...she said she had just tripped over a brick
because of her new shoes.

They got her cleaned up and got her a new plate of food.  While she appeared a bit shaken up, Jane went about enjoying herself the rest of the evening.

Jane's husband called later telling everyone that his wife had been taken to the hospital - (at 6:00pm Jane passed away.) She had suffered a stroke at the BBQ.  Had they known how to identify the signs of a stroke, perhaps Jane would be with us today. Some don't die.  They end up in a helpless, hopeless condition instead.

It only takes a minute to read this.

A neurologist says that if he can get to a stroke victim within 3 hours he can totally reverse the effects of a stroke...totally.  He said the trick was getting a stroke recognized, diagnosed, and then getting the patient medically cared for within 3 hours, which is tough.


Thank God for the sense to remember the '3' steps, STR.
Read and Learn!

Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately, the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer severe brain when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms of a stroke.

Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three simple questions:

S  *
Ask the individual to SMILE.

T  *
Ask the person to TALK and SPEAK A

(i.e. Chicken Soup)

   *Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.

If he or she has trouble with ANY ONE of these tasks, call emergency number immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.

New Sign of a Stroke -------- Stick out Your Tongue

NOTE:  Another 'sign' of a stroke is this:
Ask the person to 'stick' out his tongue.
If the tongue is 'crooked', if it goes to one side or the other,  that is also an indication of a stroke.

A  cardiologist says if everyone who gets this e-mail sends it to 10 people, you can bet that at least one life will be saved.  

We have done our part.

Hospital Care

health monitoringThe news this week that a young man ( 22) with a previous life of activity and fitness died in hospital through thirst, is on the face of it quite distressing. Allegedly, his calls for water were ignored and yet his medical procedure made it essential that he was hydrated. It is the subject of further investigation and we may know the truth of it soon. The complaint will be one of negligence on he part of the nursing and medical staff no doubt and it makes me shiver to think that it might be true. The allegation is that he was the victim of a lazy and careless staff. No doubt, like me you are getting increasingly concerned about the adverse reports coming from hospitals about the poor treatment handed out to patients. Having received the most excellent treatment whilst in NHS care I do know that it would be wrong to generalise. However, I am pleased that more is being made of those incidents that do occur. It was also to note that in the same week came a report of someone inventing a very simple device consisting of a water bottle with drinking tube strapped to the bed for the patient to use. A possible solution to the problem perhaps.t

Those of you that have been in a position of influence in a large organisation may have had the benefit of working under a culture of excellence. Dedicated attention to excellence and, by implication, intolerance of anything short of those standards brings with it greater job satisfaction. It is not easy to deliver overnight but if management is uncompromising whilst leading from the front with skill and understanding, excellence is an achievable goal. During the development phase significant improvements can be effected from the very start. What more important place can there be for excellence than in our hospitals and whatever the truth in the current story there is ample evidence to to make us all sure that not every hospital is giving an acceptable service even if the culture is one of mediocrity. The time has come for us all to take an interest and and give publicity to the examples you may have where the NHS service has been poor. This is a good place to start but don't ignore those instances when you have been the beneficiary of
excellence. Write about those as well. Indeed, in the past, I have followed up my experiences with a personal letter to the CEO of the relevant NHS Trust and I feel sure that it was appreciated and perhaps added a little bit of additional resolve to continue the pursuit of the highest standards. Health care is one of the most important issues in maintaining a quality of life for all of us and yet most people seem remarkably unwilling to get involved in the debate. So why not join in create some debate here for those things that you feel are important to discuss and perhaps even change.

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