January 28, 2015

South Africa's 'ghost boy' trapped inside his body

What a remarkable story and testament to the power of love.  How many parents, in a similar situation, would have given up or begged doctors to end his life.  After all who would want to live like that.  Instead, we see endurance, fortitude and love begetting more love and happiness.

Man Awakens After 12 Years in a “Vegetative State,” Says “I Was Aware of Everything”

In the 1980’s, 12-year-old Martin Pistorious became seriously ill with what doctor’s believed was Cryptococci Meningitis. His health started deteriorating and Martin lost his ability to move, make eye contact and even speak to others. His doctors told his parents, Rodney and Joan Pistorious, to bring him home and let him die. They told them he was as good as a vegetable.  However, he didn’t die.  Joan said, “Martin just kept going, just kept going.”

According to NPR news, his father would get up at 5 o’clock in the morning, get him dressed, load him in the car, take him to the special care center where he’d leave him. Rodney said, “Eight hours later, I’d pick him up, bathe him, feed him, put him in bed, set my alarm for two hours so that I’d wake up to turn him so that he didn’t get bedsores.”

For twelve years, Martin’s family cared for him without any sign that he was improving. Joan started to despair and even told her son, “I hope you die.”  Today she acknowledges that was a horrible thing to say but says she just wanted some sort of relief. Remarkably, now Martin is 39-years-old and says he was totally aware of everything going on around him.

South Africa’s 'ghost boy' tells of waking from coma but finding himself trapped
Martin Pistorius spent eight years awake but unable to communicate with his family or medics, forced to watch Barney, the children's TV show, reruns

 Martin Pistorious

“Everyone was so used to me not being there that they didn’t notice when I began to be present again,” Mr Pistorius, who wrote a book entitled, Ghost Boy, about his experience, told NPR. “The stark reality hit me that I was going to spend the rest of my life like that - totally alone. It’s a very dark place to find yourself because, in a sense, you are allowing yourself to vanish.” His mother’s words to him were his lowest point, he said.  “Every time she looked at me, she could see only a cruel parody of the once-healthy child she had loved so much.”

The turning point came, he said, because of his desperation to escape the daily re-runs of Barney, the children's television program about a purple dinosaur, in front of which he was placed by staff at the care home where he spent his days. “I cannot even express to you how much I hated Barney,” Mr Pistorius told NPR.  He taught himself to tell the time by the sun so he could work out when he would be able to escape from the cartoon marathon.
--
Eventually, when he was 25, one of the therapists that worked with him picked up on his almost imperceptible smiles and nods, and asked for him to be referred for further tests.  “Happiness surged through me. I was Muhammad Ali, John McEnroe, Fred Trueman. Crowds roared their approval as I took a lap of honor,” Mr Pistorius said.

In the years that followed, Mr Pistorius learned to use a computer to communicate, taught himself to read and write and trained as a web designer.
In 2008, he met his wife Joanna, a social worker living in the UK, and fell in love.  “I’d experienced love as a boy and man, as a son, brother, grandson and friend, I’d seen it between others and I know it could sustain us through the darkest of times,” he said. “Now it was lifting me closer to the sun than I ever thought I would fly.”

Today, the couple live in Harlow, Essex and Mr Pistorius speaks through a voice synthesiser and moves in a wheelchair.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:23 PM | Permalink
Categories: Death and Dying

January 24, 2015

"The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection"

Johann Hari writes The Likely Cause of Addiction Has Been Discovered, and It Is Not What You Think

If you had asked me what causes drug addiction at the start, I would have looked at you as if you were an idiot, and said: "Drugs. Duh." It's not difficult to grasp. I thought I had seen it in my own life. We can all explain it. Imagine if you and I and the next twenty people to pass us on the street take a really potent drug for twenty days. There are strong chemical hooks in these drugs, so if we stopped on day twenty-one, our bodies would need the chemical. We would have a ferocious craving. We would be addicted. That's what addiction means.
----
Professor Peter Cohen argues that human beings have a deep need to bond and form connections. It's how we get our satisfaction. If we can't connect with each other, we will connect with anything we can find -- the whirr of a roulette wheel or the prick of a syringe. He says we should stop talking about 'addiction' altogether, and instead call it 'bonding.' A heroin addict has bonded with heroin because she couldn't bond as fully with anything else.

So the opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection.

He points to the experience of Portugal where decriminalization of drugs has been a great success.

An independent study by the British Journal of Criminology found that since total decriminalization, addiction has fallen, and injecting drug use is down by 50 percent. I'll repeat that: injecting drug use is down by 50 percent. Decriminalization has been such a manifest success that very few people in Portugal want to go back to the old system. The main campaigner against the decriminalization back in 2000 was Joao Figueira, the country's top drug cop. He offered all the dire warnings that we would expect from the Daily Mail or Fox News. But when we sat together in Lisbon, he told me that everything he predicted had not come to pass -- and he now hopes the whole world will follow Portugal's example.
--
This isn't only relevant to the addicts I love. It is relevant to all of us, because it forces us to think differently about ourselves. Human beings are bonding animals. We need to connect and love. The wisest sentence of the twentieth century was E.M. Forster's -- "only connect." But we have created an environment and a culture that cut us off from connection, or offer only the parody of it offered by the Internet. The rise of addiction is a symptom of a deeper sickness in the way we live -- constantly directing our gaze towards the next shiny object we should buy, rather than the human beings all around us.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:00 AM | Permalink
Categories: Culture and Society

January 23, 2015

Health roundup: Coffee, nuts, brain food, a drink a day, a lunch hour walk and chilly feet

From Well at the New York Times

The Benefits of a Lunch Hour Walk - even gentle lunchtime strolls can perceptibly — and immediately — buoy people’s moods and ability to handle stress at work.

A Drink a Day to Lower Heart Failure Risk - A new study, in the European Heart Journal, followed 14,629 people for 24 years, starting at an average age of 54. It found that moderate drinkers have a lower risk of heart failure than either heavy drinkers or abstainers.  Compared with abstainers, men who drank up to a drink a day — a glass of wine, a 12-ounce beer or a shot of liquor — had a 20 percent reduced risk, and women a 16 percent reduced risk, of heart failure. The advantage gradually declined with heavier drinking.

Coffee May Cut Melanoma Risk -  slightly.  Drinking four or more cups of coffee was associated with a 20 percent risk reduction compared with those who drank none.

Eating nuts may be better for you than taking statins

London Telegraph. Brain food: 6 snacks that are good for the mind  .Blueberries, salmon, avocado, whole grains, broccoli, dark chocolate.

Chewing gum for 10 minutes can be just as effective as flossing

Salt 'is less of a health threat the older we get': Study finds there is no link between consumption in over-70s and mortality

Why juicing might not be so healthy after all…experts have warned of its dangers labelling it ‘as bad as Coca-Cola’ They claim juice is to blame for weight gain, diabetes and dental problems.  Whole fruit is better.

Chilly feet CAN increase the risk of catching colds and flu, leading expert warns 
Many people carry the bugs which cause colds and flu in their nose already, without it causing symptoms that make them ill.  But if the temperature of their feet drops, it causes a change in the whole body which leads to their nose becoming cold, he explained. …and the blood vessels in the nose to constrict,' ....
‘Your skin goes white, the inside of your nose and throat goes white and blood flow to the nose is reduced.
‘The white cells that fight infection are found in the blood, so then there are fewer white cells to fight the virus.’

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:06 AM | Permalink
Categories: Health

Bigger every year

Annual March for Life, Washington, D.C. 2015.

 2015March-For-Life...

650,000 marched, over half under the age of 30.  So why is the national news media almost completely silent about it?

John C. Wright writes  this

My question for the reader is this: why can the Morlocks not even admit the size and vehemence of the opposition here?  What is gained by pretending we do not exist?  Or, to ask a more precise question, would not striking the pose that they are opposing such a large and bold movement allow them to portray themselves as heroes, and gain them more?

They cower before the weather, and before the Koch Brothers, which do not threaten them at all, but these marches display the strength of a society that bids fair to abolish abortion in our lifetimes.

The young and highly motivated survivors of the antinatal holocaust are gathering, and they see the economic disaster overpopulation scaremongers have done them, they can see the demographic disaster of Europe.

Why do the Left pretend real threats to their hellish hegemony do not exist, but flaunt in comical excesses of emotion their pantomimes gestures of exaggerated opposition to utterly unreal and imaginary dangers?
Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:44 AM | Permalink
Categories: Culture and Society

January 17, 2015

"I’m now retired, so I have no scientific career to protect by spreading lies."

A retired climate professor and glacier expert publicly declared global warming to be a good thing.

That's  Dr. Terry Hughes, professor emeritus of earth sciences and climate change at the University of Maine,
in an interview by the College Fix.

But what he wants people to understand is that climate change researchers and politicians collude to create fear of a disaster that will never happen. -  climate cycles overlap with election cycles, which helps politicians “get electoral visibility by pounding the panic drums.”

“You will never read or hear any of this from the scientific and political establishments,” Dr. Terry Hughes, professor emeritus of earth sciences and climate change at the University of Maine, told The College Fix. “I’m now retired, so I have no scientific career to protect by spreading lies.”

He said he thinks dire global warming predictions are really all about lassoing federal research funding and votes.

“Too many (the majority) of climate research scientists are quite willing to prostitute their science by giving these politicians what they want,” the glaciologist added.

His reasons for why global warming is a good thing, Hughes told the Capital Journal, is that “atmospheric CO2 would greatly increase agricultural production,” “thawing permafrost would increase by one-seventh Earth’s landmass open to extensive human habitation,” and “if the sea level did rise, there would be a global economic boom,” among other arguments.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:47 AM | Permalink
Categories: Environment

Miscellany

In Aeon, How Stories Change Hearts and Minds

One man talked about his identification with Santiago, the beleaguered fisherman in Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. The man said he sometimes felt an inner pull to go back to his drug habit, but that Santiago’s will to persevere motivated him to stay a sober course. ‘The fictional character was alive for the student at that crucial moment, an inspiration, a stranger become a friend,’ Waxler writes. ‘It was not an exaggeration to say that a story had caught this student’s attention and perhaps saved his life that day.’ In a study of 600 participants, rates of criminal activity declined by 60 per cent compared to only 16 per cent in a control group.

Something Amazing: Gravity Glue

Vinepair's United States of Alcohol

 United-States-Of-Alcohol-Map click for full size

You won'f forget the Royal Dutch Guide Dog Foundation commercial for veteran dogs.

The Beautiful Math Inside All Living Things from RealClearScience

For most evolved life, efficiency is everything. It is in pursuit of this perfection that some of nature's most astounding patterns have arisen. Ever count the petals of a flower or the spirals of a pinecone? Each will always be a number from the Fibonacci Sequence, in which the previous two numbers add up to the next: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, etc……At first, this is mind-boggling. Why would Nature do this? But as YouTube educator Vi Hart pointed out, the reason is beautifully simple. Plants want to maximize the amount of sunlight they receive, so logically, each petal should never completely block another out. "This design provides the best physical accommodation for the number of branches, while maximizing sun exposure," the University of Georgia's Nikhat Parveen described.

The Victorian Fight Against Filth Mud was ubiquitous on London’s streets during Victoria’s reign. It was mostly horse dung, plus particles of iron and cobblestone…..Lady F.W. Harberton ( Florence Wallace Pomeroy, wife of Viscount Harberton), who campaigned for sensible female attire, claimed to describe the flotsam caught up in a trailing skirt during a walk through Piccadilly—including a piece of pork pie, orange peel, cigar ends, toothpicks and part of a boot.

The murder that has obsessed Italy On 26 November 2010, Yara Gambirasio, 13, went missing. Three months later her body was discovered in scrubland nearby. So began one of the most complex murder investigations in Italian history, which will reach its climax later this year.

Much of the investigation focused on DNA evidence from Ignito 1 (unknown 1)
If Ignoto 1 really was the son of the late Giuseppe Guerinoni, the only explanation was that, somewhere out there, was his illegitimate child. “It became,” Ruggeri says, “an investigation within an investigation.” She was now hunting a woman, presumably in middle- to old-age, who 30 or 40 years ago had had an affair with a married man, now long dead, and given birth to a boy who went on to murder Yara Gambirasio.
--
Long-forgotten infidelities and old suspicions surfaced. Bonicelli laughs as he describes how his journalists discovered five illegitimate children in two small villages: “Five! We could have started a gossip magazine. It was like an open sewer: we were receiving anonymous letters, stories, people telling us about backgrounds and cuckolds.” A society which had always prided itself on its sense of loyalty and traditional Catholicism, suddenly discovered the betrayals in its midst. “Perhaps the point is this,” Bonicelli wrote in an editorial, “we don’t know each other any more.”

The Overprotected Kid A preoccupation with safety has stripped childhood of independence, risk taking, and discovery—without making it safer. A new kind of playground points to a better solution.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:15 AM | Permalink
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South Africa's 'ghost boy' trapped inside his body
"The opposite of addiction is not sobriety. It is human connection"
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Bigger every year
"I’m now retired, so I have no scientific career to protect by spreading lies."
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