Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Here is a thought… Wouldn’t more people attend church/synagogue/mosque regularly if their local house of worship served coffee? There I was in a card carrying agnostic sitting in a synagogue last Saturday morning. It was 9:45 in the morning and brunch was nowhere in sight. My mother stood up on the “bima” (the stage) where she was being honoured in front of her community for celebrating her 70th birthday. The rabbi was saying some lovely words about this woman of valour and all I could think of was “why can’t I drink a coffee in here?” Wouldn’t religion be much better served if they had a little late cart just outside by the prayer books and skullcaps? You could help yourself or even order up the perfect Americano... all while you sat in a lovely comfy pew. While worshiping the God of your choice can't you drink from the nectar of another?
Admit it, the thought is somewhat unconventional, perhaps even disquieting but quite frankly I AM ON TO SOMETHING. In fact, I think the problem with prayer is their marketing. Bookshops have adopted cafes, as have movie theatres, airports and luxury retail outlets; should churches be far behind? You can have your late while you buy your Louboutins. Why not mix a macchiato with Mass or Musaf or Mosque?
All this sitting in a house of worship made me wonder about the scientific evidence was for prayer. Now let us pause for a moment, as I understand that I am now entering the unholiest of unholy. I am about to find scientific evidence to support or refute FAITH. I am aware that by definition FAITH does not need science, in fact it is by its very nature a pure leap away from scientific dogma. By our very beings that which we cannot prove, we believe. This is my disclaimer should I be banished to hell for writing this or worse… should my mother be reading my blog.
According to the scientific data there are three different types of studies involving prayer. The first is known as first person prayer, where one prays for oneself. It is widely accepted that prayer can aid in recovery, not due to divine influence but due to psychological and physical benefits. Many studies have suggested that prayer can reduce physical stress, regardless of the god or gods a person prays to, and this may be true for many worldly reasons. A study published in Gerontology in 2001 looked at 256 patients aged 65 and over awaiting cardiac surgery. The study prospectively examined outcomes post surgery and one of the variables they looked at we if the patients prayed for themselves. Although there was no correlate with outcomes, patients who prayed were deemed to be more optimistic going into surgery.
The second type of prayer is when someone prays over you (think “DEMON BE GONE!!”) in a sort of “heeling hands” type of method. A 2005 study published by The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine alleges evidence that eleven healers sent thoughts at a distance and were able to remotely influence the MRI-measurable brain activity in chosen partners who were physically and electrically isolated. Unfortunately this study has never been reproduced.
The third type of prayer studied is the most common and is called Third Party Prayer. This is where people pray for another person’s well being. Regardless of religious denomination, everyone has this. From Catholics to Buddhist, from Mormon Prayer circles to Mecca we all have some way to hope for someone’s well being. Even the best atheist among us has hope for her fellow sister’s health and welfare. Third party prayer has evidence on both sides.
The largest trial to look at Third Party prayer was The STEP trial (Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer in patients undergoing coronary Bypass Grafting) published in the American heart Journal in April 2006. The study involved over 1800 patients having Coronary Bypass Surgery and randomized them into three groups.
Groups one were patients who were being prayed for by others but the patients were told that there was no certainty that they were being prayed for.
Yes, doctors are assholes.
Group two were patients who were NOT being prayed for by others and were told that there was no certainty that they would be prayed for.
Group three were patients who WERE being prayed for and were told that they WOULD be prayed for.
In other words, the study looked at both the power of prayer and the power of knowing if you were being prayed for.
Unfortunately, the group that were prayed for and were told as such did the worst in terms of 30-day mortality and complications. In terms of any kind of complications anything from an infection to death the rates were 52.5% for group 1, 50.9% for group 2 and 58.6% for group 3.
The study showed that prayer itself had no effect on whether complications occurred after bypass surgery. Furthermore patients who were certain that people would pray for them had a higher rate of complications than patients who were uncertain but did receive prayer.
Yah, Science sucks.
But my dear girlfriends, ever the optimist (I have to be…. Skinny jeans are back in style) I will leave you with one thought….
In 15 years in medicine I have seen two patients literally come back from death after receiving “last rights”. One was on Christmas Eve 2002; the other time was Easter 2010. On this last occasion, I had told the family that their loved one had a catastrophic stroke and would never recover. The CAT scan confirmed my worse belief and the patient was in a comma. His family prepared for their ultimate nightmare and the priest came in and administered last rights.
Two hours later while we were moving the man to the bed in the ICU he woke up and asked for a drink of water. Hand to heaven… no word of a lie.
Make no mistake, I’m as good a cynic as the best of them, but both of those occasions made me believe for a fraction of a second; not in a god with a name… but in something more than science and myself.
Now if only I could get a good latte in a house of worship I might REALLY join the flock…
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
In the spirit of this season of renewal and rebirth, I thought I would take a moment to reflect upon that little thing called plastic surgery. I saw one of my cousins last weekend (shout out to her if she’s reading) a fabulous red head with a fabulous life. She is smart and funny and beautiful and I am not just saying this because she reads GGTH religiously.
She had gotten a new haircut. A great shag cut with just the right amount of bangs. They grazed her forehead in the perfect way and “fell just right”. I remarked at how much I loved her new hair and she responded mater-of-factly, “ It was either bangs or Botox and I chose the bangs. “ she said lifting her hair above her forehead to reveal only the slightest laugh lines.
Is this what it has come to dear girlfriends? Are the options indeed so limited as to restrict us to a new set of locks or a new set of looks? When were the options as limited as to be Restyline filler or a camoflouge cut lest our physical age see the light of day?
No judgement here. I myself no longer have naturally brown hair. My chocolate locks really do come from a box. Like my mother, I started to go grey at 30. Unlike my mother, I stopped going grey about a week later. Where my dear mama sports a fabulous plume of salt and pepper, I get my brown locks in the colouring isle at the local Shopper Drugmart every 3 weeks.
At $10 per bottle for the last 10 years, I have spent more than a mortgage payment fighting my age. Could Botox be far behind?
Sure my but could be smaller and my boobs could be bigger. I hate my nose and the more weight I lose the more my face and neck could use a lift. Vidal Sassoon himself could not hide the fact that years of sleep deprivation have created shadows under my eyes that even the best cut and colour could not hide.
Make no mistake, some of my BEST FRIENDS are Plastic Surgeons. It’s a great field of medicine that really has, like other areas of medicine been used for both “good” and “evil”. I once came close to having liposuction but when faced with the pain of having someone take a scalpel to my ass found my inner coward and hired a personal trainer instead. It turns out my ass still endured hours of suffering and I do not have the scars to prove it.
And then it happened. Last month an aquaintance invited me to a “Botox Party”. There in the comfort of someone’s home I would pay an entrance fee to have my face “shot up” by a community college graduate and a syringe of botulism A toxin. The age of renewal was in overdrive.
On April 30, the Food and Drug Administration in the U.S. approved the use of Reloxin as both an anti-wrinkle treatment and for treating spasm of the neck muscles. The cosmetic version Reloxin known as Dysport should be available in the U.S. within the next month or two. According to some studies, the newer Reloxin may last longer and may cost less since more dilution can be done in the reconstitution process (whereby a certain volume injectable saline is mixed with the purified toxin prior to injection).
Others say the two substances are not interchangeable since Reloxin may have a tendency to disperse into surrounding muscles and affect their function in a different way than Botox.
The same day the FDA approved Reloxin, it ordered the manufacturers of botulinum toxin injection products to add black box warnings - the agency’s strictest safety alert - to their labels regarding their risk of potentially life-threatening complication when the effects of the toxin spread far beyond the injection site.
According to the FDA, such an occurrence can cause symptoms similar to those of botulism, including unexpected muscle weakness, hoarseness, trouble breathing, difficulty swallowing, double vision, blurred vision and drooping eyelids. The agency said such symptoms have mostly been reported in children with cerebral palsy being treated with the products for muscle spasticity, an unapproved use of the drugs. Symptoms have also been reported in adults treated both for approved and unapproved uses.
The new warning label will apply to Dysport, as well as Botox and its variations. Botox is approved for the the treatment of wrinkles as well as the treatment of severe underarm sweating (primary axillary hyperhidrosis), crossed eyes (strabismus), and abnormal tics and twitches of the eyelids (blepharospasm). From a cosmetic perspective, Botox has been approved for dynamic glabellar wrinkles, forehead furrows (frontalis muscle) and crow's feet (lateral orbicularis oculi muscle).
2.5 million injections of Botox were performed in the US in 2008, making it the most popular cosmetic treatment that year. Reloxin and Botox Cosmetic must be injected by trained professionals with an intimate understanding of the anatomy of the face. Untrained injectors and injection of copycat or bootlegged, FDA-unapproved products are a major concern.
I have another cousin who is like a sister to me. I would do just about anything for her. She would like me to take a few weeks off from my practice and do a “Fresher Course” in Dermablend fillers and Botox so that I can inject her face regularly at cost. Despite my love for her (which known no bounds) and my thirst for knowledge, I don’t think it will ever happen. I am glad, however that there is now a cheaper option for her which is equally safe of administered by a trained physician.
As for my party invite… I RSVP’d no. Yes, Botox is a safe prodyct if administered by a trained professional. If I ever do decide to “turn back time” I will do so in the comfort of my Dermatologist’s office and not at a girlfriend’s cocktail party. Until that day comes, Bangs before Botox… It has a nice ring to it.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
My blog will come out... tomorrow... bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow... there'll be blog. Just thinking about Tomorrow clears away the bullshit and the sorrow....till there's now. When I'm stuck with a day that crap and frustrating. I just chick out my rack and smack there's light. Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow you only a blog away....
Thursday, April 8, 2010
I am a terrible driver. This may be because I no longer drive on a regular basis. This may be because I was never a fan of cars even before I returned mine for a bicycle. Or, this may be because I really like to do more than one thing at a time even when I am behind the wheel.
I do believe my husband first fell in love with me when we were first dating and I would drive him to University in my 1992 Dodge Colt. I drove with my knees while putting on a full face of makeup using the rear view mirror as easily as a one of those fancy bathroom magnifying mirrors. I drank my morning coffee, smoked my morning cigarette (heaven forbid the driving should be the only way I would risk my life) and still got us to class on time.
I have no doubt he was petrified and perhaps this has easily contributed to his new found love for walking everywhere. They say that often love spawns out of situations where one is fearful for one’s life…. In fact there is evidence that the brain secretes the same hormones during life threatening experiences as it does when one is in love. Neurohormones such as oxyytocin and Dopamine are at their peak during times of extreme stress and interestingly also at their peak during times of extreme pleasure…
You’ve all heard the stories; the urban love legends, so to speak. The couple met on a plane during turbulence and a hurricane and bad weather made them fasten their seatbelts and commit their lives to one another all while securing their own oxygen masks before helping to assist another.
This is perhaps why they always make contestants on shows like The Bachelor, bungee jump off a bridge or a cliff strapped to each other.
And yes, this is partially why my husband fell in love with me. I drove him to University each morning of our courtship and proceeded to apply a full face of make up (complete with mascara and eyelash curling) while operating the steering wheel with my knees and hoping for the best.
Oh admit it dear girlfriends… you’ve all done it. In fact according to an article published in the London Telegraph on October 2, 2009, 27% of women surveyed in the United Kingdom confessed to putting on makeup while driving. In fact 3% of all accidents in the UK are caused by this, one such resulting in death and a 2 year prison sentence for the offending driver/Max Factor wanna be.
Remember this translates to more than 1 in 5 women. Now let’s do some “Girl Math”. Consider that when it comes to areas of blame, guilt, calories and alcohol, all women lie. We lie about our weight, whether we our angry and if something is indeed our fault (Honey- if you are reading this- please stop immediately). So the 27% of women who indeed ADMITTED to putting on makeup is more likely to be 97%. Furthermore, add another 20% for the women who do not consider lipstick to be “make-up” and you have a whopping total of 117% of women using their rear view mirror for “true applications” so to speak…
And so I no longer drive. I do however take taxis from time to time and there in the back seat I create my very own SEPHORA counter on the way to my destination. The roads are inevitably a safer place and after 16 years… my husband safely (now an avid walker) still is madly in love with his wife.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
I know I know two weeks in a row and I am late... I'm blaming it on the fact that my husband has been playing God Of War III and has just informed me that while I was on call in the ICU this weekend in Campbell River, he was having sex with Aphrodite on the PS3 while two other cyber nymphs watched.... I will recover from this degree of geekiness in 24 hours and post by midnight tomorrow dear Girlfriends...