RUNNING AN EXTRA MILE

Katie Cooke, Dr Colin DohertyAmong runners one moment a woman, collapsed on the ground and frothing at the mouth the next. For a short time she is lost to the convulsion and then she scrambles to her feet and sprints away. Katie Cooke will not let epilepsy get in the way of a race. The 19 year old student from Cherrywood South Dublin has what her specialist doctor calls “an arsenal of epilepsy, contends with 15 convulsions daily that makes her unconscious. Katie said, “her whole body shakes feeling her muscles jump, like everything has been sucked out of her so cannot breathe. So every single day she often loses control.  Despite having to cope with multiple seizures, Cooke won prestigious events including her age group in the Dublin City Marathon and she runs 5km in under 17 minutes. She is often seen pounding the streets with her running partner, Dr Colin Doherty, who is her consultant neurologist. But she was not always so athletic.Katie Cooke with a running trophy

Image copyrightKATIE COOKE

Diagnosed at the age of nine with frontal lobe epilepsy, she managed condition with medication until it deteriorated when puberty hit and her hormones started “kicking up.”She was not able to get out of bed, unable to do anything for herself and could not really speak. My Mum was dressing and showering me,” she says. Cooke was admitted to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin where she remained for 10 months. Despite being involved in numerous medical trials she regressed, lost control of her back and hips, and by the time she was discharged she wasn’t able to walk. And she could not hold herself up in a wheelchair for about seven months but being stubborn person wanted to prove to people what she could do. After a lot of physio started jogging every day and started to absolutely love the freedom.

Katie Cooke in a wheelchair

Image copyrightKATIE COOKE

Cooke now runs every day and says a missed session sees the tiredness and dizziness of her earlier condition return.  Running only alleviates her symptoms, it has not been a cure. The raised heart rate brought on by running triggers more seizures than if she did not run, but Cooke says it improves her general well-being which is a negative worth accepting. Her neurologist, Dr Doherty, has weighed up the pros and cons from a medical perspective. “The particular challenges of having epilepsy and long-distance running are similar to walking challenges too and I think the general benefits outweigh these risks,” he says. “If you took the average long-distance runner and measured all their health parameters against someond who does not run you would find, no matter what disease or disorder they carry with them, they are better off.” So health conditions affected by starting exercise, it is always important to consult your doctor first.


Dr Colin Doherty explains epilepsy

Various scientific images of brains

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The brain consists of about three billion cells and all of these cells are active, but they do not fire together, the brain is a de-synchronised machine. A signature of epilepsy is the cells fire together in a synchronised way. If a million cells fire together it causes a change in behaviour, when all three billion cells fire together that causes convulsion or a fit. There are about 40 distinct types of epilepsy. In some cases people will just stare blankly, others will wander around in a confused state and there are those who fall to the ground with convulsions. Competitive running was initially a non-starter for Cooke. As soon as she had a convulsion during a race paramedics withdraw her from the event, but a chance comment at one of her consultations led Doherty to offer himself as her running partner and he has kept her on track ever since.  He says: “I’m a specialist in epilepsy but my sole role when running with Katie is to stop people from taking her off in an ambulance. I just stand there and say ‘Katie’s fine, I’m her doctor, she’s going to recover.” Despite Cooke’s seizures, the nature of her epilepsy means her body does not require lengthy recovery time, she is able to immediately get up and run again. Doherty believes it is her fitness levels which help with recovery._93538541_mediaitem93538539.jpg


Hear more from Katie and Colin

Listen to the BBC Ouch talk-show to find out more about Katie Cooke, Dr Colin Doherty and their running partnership. “Katie is a very serious runner, and she trains properly. I’m very confident that this is a really positive experience for her,” he says. As well as sport, college, Cooke also has to navigate a social life and relationship with partner Jack, a role most daunting at night when Cooke’s seizure’s make her scream, thrash around and cause the bed to shake and shudder. Cooke says: “He’s one of the most chilled people I know and he sleeps through my seizures which is a bit weird. He wakes up for the odd one because some are quite violent and was slapped in the face before, but he just falls asleep again.” In terms of intimacy Cooke says sex does not trigger seizures, although a fit can occur at such times, and women report an increase in convulsions around the time of ovulation and their period.Jack and Katie Cooke

Image copyrightKATIE COOKE

Her nightime seizures are accompanied by hallucinations of a shadowy man who she says “comes for her” and it is these which leave her most exhausted. She does not sleep well at all,” she says. Her education suffered and she missed the majority of secondary school. Despite that, she managed to cram three years worth of curriculum for the Irish Leaving Certificate into one year, secured a place at college to study sports management. Doherty calls her a “remarkable young woman” for all she has achieved while handling so many severe convulsions on a daily basis. When people watch Katie drop to the floor mid-run it is alarming but Doherty believes being public about it will help others with the condition. So there is need to facilitate people to live a normal life as possible and they need to be encouraged to do everything, he says. The biggest barrier is not the safety issue but the perceptions of other people.”

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GOOD MOOD FOODS

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Good mood foods improve good feelings and thinking process due to the residues from chemicals, fertilisers, insecticides, pesticides plus environmental toxins. So those with a history of mental health problems can benefit from good food. The Kellogg brothers originally noticed diet deficiencies affecting mental well being so introduced multivitamin cereals to help eat better. Others diagnosed with ADHD nine years ago, and with OCD, and a generalised anxiety and SPOV ( intense phobia of vomiting) in 2016 were helped to change diet too. Panic attacks was dishearteningly regular feature in a life of one man who recently changed his diet as living proof of good mood foods. By actively seek out anything that could make life easier, heard there was a relationship between mood and food. So intrigued, gained from these benefits of knowing diet affects physical health, in bad ways and good. Fast foods can increase your risk of heart disease, while omega-3, found in nuts and oily fish, can boost heart health. There is growing evidence that what we eat affects our mental health, too. Two of my favourite foods doughnuts and muffins are among the baddies. One study found eating mass-produced baked goods affects the  risk of developing depression. Others showed increasing levels of zinc in the diet can actually treat depression.

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But I started taking the idea seriously when I discovered that Jenny Edwards CBE, the Chief Exec at the Mental Health Foundation, planning series of lectures on the subject. “We’re planning to explore the facts and bust the myths around nutrition and other lifestyle factors in mental health she says. “There’s a growing evidence base showing that a good diet not only impacts on our physical health, but our mental health too.”I’d  noticed this myself. Everyone has weeks that include more cheesy chips, chocolate and fast food than is generally advisable. For me, those weeks are ones of lethargy. One of the ways my ADHD manifests itself is I find it difficult to sit and do nothing. But, when I eat badly, I feel exhausted, with little desire to do anything other than plank my own bed. Not only that, but I’ve noticed that after few days of eating junk food, intrusive thoughts synonymous with OCD I worked hard to overcome in therapy starts to re-appear.

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Julia Rucklidge, a professor of clinical psychology at University of Canterbury, New Zealand, has spent the majority of her researching life investigating the role of nutrition in mental health. Julia’s work has predominantly revolved around micronutrients. “They are vitamins B, C, D and E,” she explains minerals like zinc, iron, magnesium. Magnesium, for example, is great for helping people with sleep problems.” According to Professor Rucklidge, it’s not about “one magic food or one magic nutrient it’s combination of nutrients that seems to improve mental wellbeing. Julia believes optimal diet for improving mental health would see a reduction in processed foods, including takeaways, sugary drinks, refined grains and refined sugars. She suggests “moving towards Mediterranean-style diet, where you’re eating fresh fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, nuts, fish.” This is echoed by Sarah Owen, specialist dietitian working in mental health, who believes in a poor mental health can be exacerbated by modern diets, where we’re “eating less fruit and vegetables and having fewer home-cooked meals” than in decades past. I decided to have a ‘healthy’ week, avoiding all processed foods, to see how I felt. I stocked up on vegetables, unsalted nuts, fresh fruit, arrived in office each day with prepared Tupperware container of nutritious salads. 9f5c63df-2316-46e4-b94f-98f84bc48339

Therefore by day three there was already a substantial difference in my mood. I was waking up before my alarm, my energy levels were steadier, and I felt productive. I made sure I ate fish for omega-3, potatoes and pasta for carbohydrates, lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, a little plain dark chocolate this was supposed to be balanced, after all). By the end of the week was grateful chocolate birthday cake was passed around the office. But I was struck by how much better I felt. The World Health Organization says by 2020, depression will be second leading cause of world disability. No one is claiming mental health issues can be solved solely by changing diets. Jenny  Edwards raises concerns about some advice already available. There’s a lot of dubious content online she says. “Any advice given has to be based on facts but it’s a step in the right direction. The Bible in Philippians 4:6-7 says do not be anxious, panic about anything but in everything by prayer supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the PEACE OF GOD, which surpasses all human understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY PRINCESS

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YAHWEH God, RICH in MERCY, because of the GREAT LOVE with which HE loved us, even when dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ by GRACE you have been saved. And raised us up with Him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. So in the coming ages He will show immeasurable riches of His GRACE in kindness towards us in Christ Jesus. You are GOD’S Chosen generation and royal princess in the KINGDOM OF GOD in Jesus Name. As written in 1 Peter 2:8-10. You are Chosen by God in Christ HIS people ROYAL Princess Priest, HOLY nation, God’s special possession to declare Praises of God Our Father because you are GOD’S BELOVED Favoured Favourite Daughter in Christ.  So according to Psalms 107:1 we GIVE THANKS to the LORD YAHWEH, for HE IS GOOD HIS STEADFAST LOVE for us endures forever in Jesus Name!!!

END OF THE CIGARETTE

The cost of a packet of cigarettes in Australia will reach AUD$40 (£24) by 2020

Image copyright Getty Images 

Australia was the first country in the world to introduce mandatory plain packaging for tobacco products and UK will have followed suit by May this year. But will any country copy Australia’s plan to keep increasing taxes until a packet of cigarettes costs AUD$40 (£24)?

It’s not easy being a smoker in Australia.

The smoking bans started inside – in workplaces, bars and restaurants – and moved out. “Smokers would congregate on footpaths and near public transport creating clouds of smoke – what we call ‘smoking hotspots’,” says Mark Driver, Sydney’s Park and Recreation Planner.

“Now, smoking is prohibited within 10m (33ft) of a playground, within 4m (13ft) of the entrance to a public building, at rail platforms, taxi ranks and bus stops.”

Those are the rules in New South Wales, but they are mirrored in many other states. Smoking is banned on many beaches, and most Australian states have now banned cigarettes in jail. All states ban smoking in vehicles if children are present. Fines vary, but in some places you may be fined AUD$2,000 (£1,210) if you smoke in the wrong place. And even if you don’t, you’ll be paying more than that each year by 2020, if you smoke just one AUD$40 pack a week.

No smoking sign, Edinburgh Gardens, North Fitzroy, Melbourne

Image copyrightGetty Images

It’s already five years since Australia became the first place in the world to make plain cigarette packaging compulsory. Tobacco-advertising has long been banned, and now branding has too. The boxes are a drab, dark brown colour (deemed the ugliest in the world by a team of Australian researchers), they carry no logos, and graphic health warnings cover most of the front of the box. You see this gigantic, see-and-never-forget kind of image of throat cancer – a hole in the neck, or what a stroke looks like with a brain sliced open,” Chapman explains. Some smokers say they don’t even look at it, but there has been research which shows that with the people who engage in those avoidance strategies, it’s actually a predictor of them quitting later on.”Cigarettes on a shop shelf in Sydney, New South Wales, May 2016

Image copyright Getty Images 

All this came on top of anti-smoking campaigns that have been driving down smoking rates in Australia since the 1970s. “It’s a toxic, poisonous mix of substances, including ammonia, the bleach in toilet cleaner; acetone, the chemical in nail polish remover; benzene, found in paint stripper; and hydrogen cyanide, used in rat poison,” went one advertisement. “And smoking delivers it straight to your body.” The evidence shows that these hard-hitting, graphic ads that really show the harms of smoking are the most effective says Scott Walsberger, head of tobacco control at Cancer Council NSW. But other campaigns have also tried a gentler approach, emphasising how quickly a smoker’s health starts to improve once he or she has quit.

Australian Quitline smoking advertisement

It was this approach taken by creators of an interactive, behavioural change app called My Quit Buddy, launched in 2012.

Offering tips for giving up with the daily motivational messages, distractions to overcome cravings, and a place to share success stories and celebrate milestones, it has now been downloaded more than 400,000 times in Australia alone.


My Perfect Country

In a world where a lot is going wrong, there is also a lot going right. So, what if you could build a country with policies that actually worked, by homing in on ideas from around the world that have been truly successful?


“It shows people that just by even quitting for five days, you can start to see changes – you’ll have more money in your wallet, your skin becomes clearer,” says Paul Den, one of My Quit Buddy’s creators.

“And the community forum shows people that they’re not alone – people generally trust other people more than they trust the government.”

The cumulative effect of these policies is that smoking rates for adults have almost halved since 1980, says Henrietta Moore, of the Institute for Global Prosperity at University College, London, and are now at about 13%, compared to a global average of about 20%. There has also been a decrease of almost 23% in the rate of hospital admissions caused by smoking. Simone Dennis, an associate professor at Australian National University, says a culture of shame surrounding smoking has begun to emerge, and that itself has become a smoking deterrent. Take, for example, the policy of confining smokers to areas where they will not create a public nuisance. If you think about smoking in public, those tend to be spaces that no-one wants to hang out in anyway,” she says. So smokers feel marginalised because they can’t be citizens in public spaces any more, because they’re restricted to these kind of ‘dirty spaces.'”


Tobacco in Australia

  • The government has committed to reduce the number of adults smoking on a daily basis to 10% by 2018
  • Plain-packaging rules insist that 75% of the front of a cigarette pack is covered by a health warning, and 90% of the back
  • Tobacco taxes rose 25% in 2010, and are now rising 12.5% every year
  • The Tasmanian parliament has discussed a bill that would ban smoking for those born after 2000
  • Australia has not gone as far as Bhutan and Turkmenistan which banned the sale of tobacco products

Read: The battle for control of the cigarette packet


These days, smoking is often taken up by people who are on lowest rungs of the socio-economic ladder, she points out, and adds a burden of shame to people who might already be marginalised.” If it’s the poor who are now the most likely to smoke, it’s hard to see how they will afford the AUD$40 pack of cigarettes.

Credit: Original article title Australia Stubbing Smoking By30 January 201

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CHILDBIRTH LONELINESS

_93856458_img_3770Childbirth loneliness transition affects mothers in isolation without extended family support. As many experience, Molly Forbes is a sociable person but became very lonely when she had a baby
A commission started by murdered MP Jo Cox is investigating loneliness in the UK, which is an epidemic affecting people of all ages and backgrounds. Here, two young women share their stories. In 2010 Molly Forbes had her first child, Freya. But after the birth she was confronted with something she had not prepared for: loneliness. A “sociable person”, Molly – then 26 – was one of the first of her friends to have a baby. Her husband was out at work all day and she did not have close family living by. The loneliness of being a new mother was a real surprise for me. It just hit me,” she said. You are suddenly at home with a baby. You feel safer there so you stay home but it makes you more isolated. “When you go out, you want to be seen to be doing a good job and being happy. If you admit you’re lonely, you might be labelled as not coping. Molly Forbes says you want to be seen to be doing a good job and being happy says Molly. The commission planned by West Yorkshire Labour MP Jo Cox before she was murdered last June – says a fifth of the population privately admit they are “always or often lonely.”_93856435_photo-17
But two-thirds of those would never confess to having a problem in public, it says Molly, from Devon, said that rather than being honest about how she was feeling, she had “put a brave face on – and that can make you more lonely”.
“Looking back, I was definitely feeling quite anxious. “I was worrying about money, about whether I’d go back to my job – and when you don’t have someone to talk to, these worries can spiral out of control.” Molly had lots of friends, but found she couldn’t talk to them about her post-baby concerns. She started writing a blog and made connections with other mums online, and from there I started meeting up with people and found friends that way. The commission says three-quarters of people who are lonely on a regular basis do not know where to turn for support. It is looking for practical solutions to beat loneliness. Molly’s advice for new mums? “Spend time making friends with pregnant women, so you have a support network ready to go once the baby is born.” Find other mums to provide support network Molly said._93885386_ornstein

Who is feeling lonely? Parents – Action for Children found 24% of parents surveyed were always or often lonely. Teenagers – 62% are ‘sometimes lonely’ and one in 20 never spend time with friends at weekends. Carers – 8 out of 10 carers feel lonely or isolated as a result of looking after loved ones. Refugees and migrants 58% of those surveyed in London cited loneliness and isolation as their biggest challenge. The elderly 1 in 3 people aged 75 and over say feelings of loneliness are out of their control. The deafblind charity Sense has said that up to half of disabled people will be lonely on any given day. Have you experienced loneliness? Do you have advice or tips about how to deal with feeling isolated? Talking is key says Michelle so avoid ‘Bottling’ it up. For Michelle Ornstein who has a learning disability, there is nothing worse than being alone. “When Iam here on my own, I feel really down and anxious,” she said. The 22-year-old, from Essex, said her anxieties had got worse in recent years, leading her to leave college. There was an incident on school bus where Michelle was wearing her hearing aids close to a group of people being loud. “I just burst out in tears on the bus. I got myself so worked up and thought this is it. I cannot do this Michelle said. At one point I couldn’t be left on my own at all, I would not let [my parents] out the door. Spending time out of the house and with friends is key to countering loneliness but, Rossanna Trudgian, the Head of Campaigns at Mencap explained, a third of youngsters with learning disabilities spend less than an hour outside their homes on a Saturday. “Social isolation and fear of negative attitudes can remain huge barriers towards feeling welcome and included in society,” she said. But things have got better for Michelle. Talking things through with her family helps and this week she starts a new course. Michelle’s advice is talk she said: “If you keep it to yourself, you will bottle it up to build up anxieties so not go out.”‘Few admit it.’ Michelle is not the only young person experiencing loneliness. _93856429_photo-2

The Mix is an online support service for under-25s. This year, it has seen a 26% rise in the numbers of those accessing loneliness support service, compared to the previous year. Jo Cox begun setting up the commission before murdered in her constituency last June. Community manager James Pickstone said loneliness was an underlying issue shared by many people who visit the service though it was “rarely discussed openly.” He said: We see a lot of young people feeling very isolated at college and university, living away from home, not having the social life expected associated with university experience.” Younger people experience loneliness differently from how older adults do. Prof Graham Davey from the University of Sussex explained “Younger people appear to be focused on the friendship networks and number of relationships they have and experience loneliness as a function of the fewer friends they have.” In today’s society, friendship networks represented nowhere more obviously than on social media. Whether perceived to be a successful user of social media is with many followers one is likely to have impact on feelings of loneliness, anxiety, paranoia and mental health generally,” the psychology professor said. But you won’t find too many status updates about feeling lonely because ultimately Prof Davey argued loneliness has a stigma and few people want to admit they’re lonely. Have you experienced loneliness? Do you have advice or tips about how to deal with feeling isolated? Email your comments to haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk

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TO GOOD MEMORIES

 

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