Monday, July 06, 2015

Focus on dignity and respect for patients

Everybody knows your dignity goes out the window in the hospital--those backless gowns (ask for two and put one on backwards to cover your fanny), people calling you sweetie and hon (or "youngster," the WORST for older people), ignoring people who can't articulate needs quickly and clearly, on and on.

My mother, who suffered from dementia, was once in the hosp with a urinary infection and they got sick of taking her to the john, so they told her to just go in her pants and they would clean it up later. She was crying because she didn't want to.

Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a big woo teaching hospital in Boston, has done pretty well in cutting physical injuries to patients and is now zeroing in on emotional injuries.

"Emotional harms can erode trust," says the doc in charge of this initiative.

When patients evaluate care, sure enough, they tend to focus on emotional slights.

Thy started a database of emotion complaints similar to the physical hard one. They defined emotional harm as failure to respect the patient as a person. Inlcuded were things not resulting from lack of respect, such as the person requiring a colostomy bag.

I remember once being hospitalized and refusing to get weighed. I did not require medication based on weight. I have found--over time--that the first-thing weigh-in tends to slant every comment and treatment toward weight. They put on the white board that I refused to get weighed. This was supposedly to alert new caregivers coming on, but one took it as a challenge--she used the scale in the bed to weigh me and then triumphantly announced my weight.

Well,, good for you, honey--I never went to that hosp again.

Friday, July 03, 2015

Don't blow off a finger--OK?

I guess most people know fireworks are explosives and explosives are dangerous.

Even so-called "safe ones," such as sparklers, can be 2000 degrees F.

In 2014,  more than ten thousand people turned up in ERs with fireworks injuries. Most of t these were around July 4, of course.

Keep these away from kids--even if you supervise--more than half of kids injured were being supervised. Dad--hear that?

Some safety tips:

--Observe all local laws.
--Never allow kids to play with or light fireworks--even sparklers
--Older children should be closely supervised
--Buy from reliable sellers
--If packaged in brown paper--they may be for public use and thus filled with lots of whallop
--Read and follow labels (again, Dad)
--Be sure everyone is out of range before lighting
--Light fireworks on smooth dry surfaces--never around dried grass or leaves
--NEVER relight duds that did not go off!
--Light one at a time
--Dispose of by soaking in water 15 mins after firing and then put in trash
--Never light fireworks in a glass or metal container
--Never point fireworks at someone, even in fun
--Don't carry fireworks in your pocket
--Whoever lights the fireworks should wear ear and eye protection
--Use long matches, not cigarettes or lighters
--Never shorten or lengthen a fuse


We used to wave sparklers around. I loved those curling black snake things...but they were hot, too.

My father also had a little cannon his dad had brought back from the Spanish-Am War. He set it off on the Fourth. The police always showed up. But then they started helping.

A different time, no doubt. But wouldn't you rather eat ice cream than sit in an ER?


Thursday, July 02, 2015

Scoliosis usually spotted in school age kids

Scoliosis is a disorder in which a normally straight spine curves to one side.

It affects 2-3% of the population (National Scoliosis Foundation). This is 6-9 million people.

It  is found in all ages, but mostly develops in kids from 10 to 15 and is most common in girls.

Parents most often notice it and it can be detected in screenings at school. Eighty to 85% of cases have no known cause, although it does seem to run in families.

It also apparently cannot be prevented, no matter how much you emphasize good posture. So don't feel guilty, parents.

Scoliosis can sometimes seem like it appeared overnight. The curve of the spine may be waiting for a growth spurt to become evident. One should may seem higher than the other. On hip may be higher.The head may seem off-center. When the child bends forward, one side of the back may seem higher than the other.

According to Fabien Bitan, MD, an spinal surgeon at the Atlantic Spine Center, the treatment starts with observation and repeated examination (curve under 25 degrees). Maybe every six months.

Bracing may be recommended to keep the curve from getting worse. Some braces are worn all the time, some at night. They don't reverse the curve but can keep it from getting worse. If the curve stays below 40 degrees until the child stops growing, it will slow, gaining maybe one degree a year.

Surgery is only recommended when the curve is more than 40-50 degrees, bracing has not halted it, and the patient is still growing.

Alternative treatments such as physical therapy, electrical stimulation, or chiropractic don't work.

If someone says your child has this, learn about it, involve the child, and provide a lot of encouragement.

Usually it will not interfere with normal childhood.

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Please secure windows

Children climb up, explore everyplace, they are fast--and they fall out of windows.

Falls from windows cause more serious injuries than any other fall kids take.

They studied this at Loyola.

--Keep furniture away from windows--esp cribs, changing tables, or anything kids can use to climb. (My ex could climb out of his crib before he could walk.)

--Screens keep insects out--but don't keep kids in! Use a window guard (Google)--one that releases in case of fire.

--Or use window stops that only allow a 4-inch opening. (I used to put a nail in the side of the sash.)

--Keep windows locked when you can.

--Do not allow kids to play on balconies or roofs.

--If you can put chips or grass beneath windows.

This child is thinking about the window--you are not. You must think about it ahead of time.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Sometimes older people discouraged from having pets

I want another dog.

I think.

We once had a dog and four cats. One cat remains--she has been walking around in here forever--we are not even sure how old she is. My daughter was in HS when she came as a kitten--and my kid is now 33. I am writing a cartoon about this cat, and she loves being our one and only, but I miss dogs.

Then I bills, food bills, tripping risk, can't walk it with my arthritis, attachment. Well, attachment is what I want.

There is a paper in the J of Activities, Adaptation & Aging, reviewing pet ownership by us oldies.

They say older people maybe can get older pets, but older pets mean more vet bills.

The researchers said maybe the IDEA of disability is worse than the actual disability.

Shelters, they said, could match animal to owner better. Meals on wheels could include pet meals. Maybe people could adopt on a trial basis.

Many assisted living places allow small pets--but nursing homes do not. I remember a very yippy-barky Pomeranian at one place Mom lived--it always lunged on its leash in the lobby trying to take a good chomp out of you.

My grandmother loved her dachshund. Years after she moved into a nursing home, she asked after him. Finally my dad said, "Now, Lennie, what would it be like if dogs were running all over in here?"

She thought a second and said, "Heaven."