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Let’s Talk About Sex

Growing up, I was taught there were three things one didn’t discuss in polite company: sex, religion and politics. Religion and politics can lead to heated arguments – just look at several countries around the world at the moment with very volatile political environments. As a respite from the politics, let’s talk about sex, baby.

Edit October 24, 2016: Judging by the comments received on The AIMN, it seems I may did have made clear my main argument, so I’ll be blunt. I’m hypothesising lack of sexual compatibility can result in love dying in a relationship. Lack of compatibility can be the result of lack of knowledge, lack of skill, lack of similar desires/needs and the societal repression of female sexuality. I specifically avoided the use of the word “love” in order to retain focus. There is no question that love + sex can and should be, well, mind-blowing!

My focus is the social repression of female sexuality and the lack of training/skill development generally. Sometimes I read articles that make my blood boil. I read one such article yesterday. Apparently, in 2016, it is still OK to send completely different messages to our young people.

He spoke to the girls about sex — and how they shouldn’t have it — in a mandatory assembly, during the school day, attended by all 350 female students. But he spoke to the boys about “dating tips” in a voluntary, after-school assembly attended by only 25 male students.

….

In response to a question, Henning explained that guys are sexual so the species won’t die out, while girls have a low sex drive so the planet will not get overpopulated.

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New medications, new energy

Saturday I did over 12,000 steps. I could not have done that twelve months ago. Hell, I couldn’t have done that four months ago. I recently changed medications for my auto-immune arthritis (which specific arthritis it is, is still open for discussion – or I may be extra lucky and have two).

Initially I was hesitant to be too “wow this is wonderful”, as I expressed back in August. I am now down to 3 mg of prednisolone a day which is, I am told, a very minor dose. So I like this new drug. I don’t feel twenty again, I’ll admit, but then again, I’m not twenty. Something I need to try to remember more often when I am drooling over a classmate doing a 100 kg dead lift. She IS twenty!

There is just one minor issue. Don’t do the sun worshipper thing. I knew Drug A and the sun were not good together, but I believed Drug B and the sun got along. Not so. I went to Florida to visit old and dear friends and enjoyed the sun and the pool and a fair amount of alcohol. At one point G said, “Maybe you need some sun cream, you’re getting a bit red”. I duly applied sun cream but the damage was done. I ended up with a very speckled complexion on a part of my anatomy. Three weeks later it wasn’t getting any better and I asked the chemist if there was a cream I could apply. Chemist’s response (knowing my drug regime) was “Go to the doctor. Now.” Bugger, not what I wanted to hear. OK, off to the GP who suggested I see a skin specialist. I don’t want to see yet ANOTHER specialist!

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The Challenges of Life

Sometimes life throws us so many curved balls it takes a while to fight one’s way out from under the pile squashing the life out of you. 2015 was a very tough year. My life changed in many ways. I found myself single. That was tough enough, but I also found myself unemployed. Made redundant is the correct term.

Stress is a prime trigger of auto-immune conditions and mine went into overdrive. There was a raft of things I couldn’t seem to manage, writing being one of them. I’d think about writing from time to time, but seemed to have an immovable case of writer’s block. The stress of being unemployed meant I didn’t sleep well which of course helped absolutely nothing!

I was on a DMARD, let’s call it Drug A, for most of 2015 and the first half of this year. I won’t name the drug as it works well for many people and I don’t want to discredit it in any way. It also doesn’t work too well for many other people. I didn’t have the really nasty reactions that are possible on Drug A, but over time it changed my hair, caused skin lesions and made me ITCH. Itch like there was no tomorrow – at times I could have ripped my skin off. If my hair touched my neck it felt like my neck was burning. The lesions didn’t itch, they just looked ugly. I’d be up every hour and a half at night to visit the bathroom (that alone makes sleep difficult). I had no energy and felt totally useless.

I. Was. Over. It.

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Sixty is the new forty

Sixty is the new forty, so they say. It had better be, because on Friday I turned sixty. People talk about the “big five-O” – let me tell you, the “six-O” is bigger!

Where is your party invitation, you ask? Yes, well, I did want to have a party. I had a massive party when I turned forty, nothing when I turned fifty. I mightn’t be able to dance when I’m seventy, so sixty it had better be, I thought to myself. However, as I was going through a period of getting my meds right and couldn’t guarantee I’d feel up to partying when the day arrived, I’ll do something later when the weather is better. As it turns out, I’m as fit as a fiddle right now and could well have partied until the small hours. Thank you to my wonderful medicos who seem to have struck the right formula!

I'm SIXTY!

My daughter snapped the above picture last night when she and my son-in-law took me out for dinner at a local Thai restaurant. Lippy eaten off and no nail polish, but who cares! They gave me a lovely Coeur de Lion necklace and earrings that are just so right for me!

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My dietitian and me

My Dr G (G for gastroenterologist) sent me off to see a dietitian. Given weight management is also important for arthritic conditions, this was a sensible recommendation all around, I thought. We had a bit of a rocky start to our relationship, did Ms D and I. Our first appointment was changed three times before I got to see her! I sent her all my eating records from MyFitnessPal so she could analyse my current intake. My second consultation was yesterday morning and I have to eat more vegetables and more dairy. I knew about the vegetables already (guilty as charged), but the dairy I had been avoiding. Apparently women my age (there’s that damn age thing again) need lots of calcium. Ms D also noticed I have a weakness for the odd piece of chocolate (small, within my calorie limit).

Ms D is keen on legumes. I’m not. I blame that on my mother’s broad bean fetish (I hate the darn things). I’ll eat green beans, but Dr G wants me to stay away from them due to the fructose. I’ve agreed to eat baked beans every now and then.

Did you know a standard serve of porridge is 1/2 cup? HALF A CUP? I’ll starve to death. On the other hand, I am supposed to eat four serves of grain (cereal) foods a day. Oh, that includes bread I’ve just realised, so maybe achievable. I was envisaging eating muesli with my dinner. I think I can have two serves of porridge for breakfast!

I am to snack on walnuts or almonds, but brazil nuts (my favourite) were not considered as “fit for purpose”. Now, I like walnuts, but I wish the “Healthy Eating for Adults” and MyFitnessPal talked the same language. The former talks grams, the latter talks “walnut halves”. There is no correlation between what each thinks a serve is. The former says 30 grams, the latter says four halves. Four halves is nowhere near 30 grams. I’m confused. (NB: I did find another entry later for 25 grams, that will do)

Does Ms D know how expensive walnuts are?  Nearly $12 for 400 grams. Mind you, at 25 grams a day, that will last sixteen days. I hope. I have resident two-legged rats……. I’m hoping they don’t like walnuts……

HealthyEating

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The abrasiveness trap: High-achieving men and women are described differently in reviews

Fortune

Not long ago I was talking to an engineering manager who was preparing performance reviews for his team. He had two people he wanted to promote that year, but he was worried that his peers were only going to endorse one of them. “Jessica is really talented,” he said. “But I wish she’d be less abrasive. She comes on too strong.” Her male counterpart? “Steve is an easy case,” he went on. “Smart and great to work with. He needs to learn to be a little more patient, but who doesn’t?”

I don’t know whether Jessica got her promotion, but the exchange got me wondering how often this perception of female abrasiveness undermines women’s careers in technology.

I focused on performance reviews for a couple of reasons. First, reviews provide written documentation of people’s perceptions. My friend called Jessica “abrasive,” but would he put that into her lasting professional record?…

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How safe is the patient safety net?

Here is another health issue. This one impacts me too. Being a family, the safety net threshold is higher, but only one person is sick. Thankfully my meds are not too expensive and I’m still working, but I can see how this would impact pensioners or those on the DSP greatly.

Doctor's bag

How safe is the patient safety net?

In the ‘Blogging on Demand’ series you get to choose the topic. If you have a great idea you want the world to know about, feel free to contact me. Perth GP Dr Jacquie Garton-Smith proposes a change to the PBS safety net to protect vulnerable patients.

“One thing that my patients with chronic disease on lower incomes find difficult,” says Dr Garton-Smith, “is that they have to pay for all their medications until they hit the safety net. Even if people are only paying the lower rate for scripts, it adds up if they are on a number of medications. I have seen it affect compliance at the beginning of the year when they have to decide which medications they need most.”

The general patient safety net threshold is currently $1,453.90, and the concessional threshold $366. When someone or their family’s total co-payments reach this amount, they only have to pay the concessional co-payment amount…

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Autumn flowers in Melbourne

I’m out walking again – slowly and for short periods of time. As during the GCC last year, I can’t resist collecting pretty flowers in my travels.

I am COMPLETELY “flora ignoramus” so I have very few names! I simply enjoy the beauty of nature. Readers enjoyed my shots last year, so I’m picking up the habit again. Makes a change from unwellness and political debate!

If you are interested in last year’s shots but missed them, here is a selection.

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Ethics and integrity in health blogging

A fellow blogger, Carly Findlay, has today published Health blogging, honesty and authenticity. I am not nearly in the same league as Carly when it comes to writing about health. It was never my intention to write about health at all, I wrote about civil rights and politics. Then I got sick and my health and political concerns merged with the battle to save our universal health system. I’ve morphed into a part-time health blogger by accident of circumstance.

Carly’s article is very timely and appropriate, as she highlights:

There’s a rise in health and wellness bloggers – many of which have reached celebrity status. And celebrities have now reached medical practitioner status. As my friend Anne Marie said, introducing this article, “get your medical advice from a doctor, not from a celebrity” (or blogger). These people are not qualified to dispense medical advice or treatments – they are social media celebrities.

The very wise Pip Lincolne wrote

“Being well-known does not mean you know well.”

Ain’t that true.

I worry that the alleged doubts of Belle Gibson’s cancer and charity donations (and also the death of ‘Wellness Warrior’ Jess Ainscough, Pete Evans, and actor Charlotte Gregg’s baby paleo book) will discredit genuine illness and certified health bloggers. Pete and these three women have online fame – many followers who believe in the lifestyle they’re selling. As far as I know, they don’t have medical or nutritional qualifications. They claim they’ve healed through food. (And Belle might not have had any illness to heal!) And that is alarming.

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eHealth – what is the future?

This is an extract from my latest article for The Australian Independent Media Network.

As a patient seeing multiple health professionals and having registered, in great hope, for eHealth, I was very interested to hear the doctors thoughts about their own profession. I understood the patients’ perspectives all too well.

There was a general consensus from the medical personnel about the silo culture of medicine in this country. As Dr Ranjana Srivastava said (in relation to repeat testing), “when doctors work in silos, you kind of don’t want to get into other people’s way”: we see this in many walks of life, not just medicine. Dr Charlotte Hespe spoke about the difficulties of getting results across barriers of fragmented communication, Dr Nick Bretland spoke of having to fax (yes, fax) forms to a public hospital to get x-ray results. I had an MRI and the films were available on my smartphone 5 minutes after the scan. Yet the GP has to fax forms to get the results? Bureaucratic red tape forms many of those barriers.

Professor John Dwyer stated ” … we do not have a patient focused health care system.” Assoc. Prof. Terry Hannan of Launceston General Hospital said, “patient centred care is the patient having their own record.”

Read the complete article ……..