Friday, 28 June 2013

Symphysiotomy in Ireland - a terrible crime against women

Many of you may have heard about symphysiotomy in recent weeks but for those of you who haven’t symphysiotomy is yet another sinister chapter in Ireland’s past. Symphysiotomy was the practice of breaking a woman’s pelvis bone during labour instead of performing a caesarean section. It was once a common procedure in most places around the world up due to lack of sanitary conditions for performing caesareans. However with the advent of improvement to medical techniques, hygiene and clinical practise its popularity began to wane in the 19th century eventually leaving Ireland as the only country in the developed world that was still carrying out symphysiotomies in the 20th century.

Syphysiotomy in Ireland was, like as with so many other things, linked with the influence of the Catholic Church. At the time Caesarean sections could only be carried out four times, whereas symphysiotomy was seen as a ‘gateway to childbearing without limitations’. Caesareans were discouraged as they were associated with what Archbishop McQuaid called the ‘crime of birth-prevention’. Symphysiotomies were also carried out for training and experimental purposes, in particular for doctors who would be going abroad to third world countries. Symphysiotomies often went wrong and they had far reaching consequences and often lifelong consequences for the women on whom they were performed. None or few of the women were ever told at the time what was being done to them. The way in which they were treated was a complete violation of their bodily autonomy and has been described by doctors as “beastly cruelty and butchery”.

In Ireland it is estimated that 1,500 women unknowingly and without their consent underwent symphysiotomies during childbirth between 1944 – 1992. The Survivors of Symphysiotomy (SOS) are seeking redress through the courts for the permanent damage they suffered as a result of symphysiotomy, during which their pelvises were unhinged. Survivors of Symphysiotomy called on the Irish Government to have the statute bar lifted so the SoS can seek redress through the courts. The Justice Bill has now been accepted by all TDs in the Dáil. The Survivors of Symphysiotomy group now need to ensure this bill becomes legislation and all survivors are given access to justice as soon as possible and that Government acknowledges the wrongfulness of this barbaric operation and abandons its defective Walsh report.

I would urge you to give them your full support.

Monday, 24 June 2013

Cough CPR - DON'T DO IT!

It's been a while since I wrote up a sceptical post about medical misinformation on Facebook but there's something that has cropped up on my news feed several times over the last few months and I feel it needs to be addressed. The piece in question regarding 'Cough CPR' allegedly began circulating as a chain e-mail and like the chain e-mail the Facebook version urges people to share the information in order to "save someone's life".

The piece begins by telling us that since many people are alone when they suffer a heart
attack, without help, the person whose heart is beating improperly and who begins to feel faint, has only about 10 seconds left before losing consciousness. It then goes on to give detailed instructions on how to perform cough CPR. In some versions, the advice has been  that someone who thinks he or she is suffering a heart attack should repeatedly cough and go at once to a hospital, by car if necessary.

I hope after that last paragraph you are still reading because I don't want you to be one of those people passing that on. If a person, who is alone, believes they are suffering from a heart attack the FIRST thing they need to do is phone emergency services (and depending on your country ask for a cardiac ambulance, hell ask anyway!). If you are not allergic to aspirin (or are not under 16 or do not have any type of bleeding disorder) and have some nearby chew an aspirin. However do not get up and wander around the house looking for an aspirin. This may put unnecessary strain on your heart The British Heart Foundation says this, so don't sue me for giving medical advice! Now on that advice you can see that if you shouldn't be wandering around looking for an aspirin, then you definitely shouldn't be self-administrating cough CPR to yourself. Cough CPR may have it's place on rare occasions like settings such as the cardiac catheterization laboratory where patients are conscious and constantly monitored (for example, with an ECG machine). A nurse or physician is also present who can instruct and coach the patients to cough forcefully every one to three seconds during the initial seconds of a sudden arrhythmia. However a person on their own self-administering cough CPR runs the risk of exerting themselves which can result in cardiac arrest. Cough CPR is not taught on 'lay' persons CPR courses, or in First Response courses because it is generally not useful and can be dangerous in non-hospital settings.

An estimated 5,000 people die of heart attacks every year in Ireland so challenge the Cough CPR link if you see it, rather than sharing it.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Sometimes we don't feel okay

*Kicks tumbleweed away and dusts off the cobwebs* To any of you still out there who checks in here please have my sincere (and I really do mean sincere if you're still hanging around here) apologies for my long hiatus from blogging recently but rest assured I am already planning on new posts from here on in.
However I do feel like I owe you an explanation.

For the past few months I haven't felt okay, I haven't felt down, I've just felt meh (for the want of a more articulate word). While trying to help someone very close to me out of a tough time I fell into it myself. I lost interest in nearly everything, I lost interest in cooking, which I normally love (leaving himself to make us what he self describes as 'splodge'), I lost interest in playing the guitar, I lost interest in hanging around with people and most bizarrely I lost interest in reading. I lost interest in exercise and yoga which is a big deal for me too. In fact I regularly tried to make myself feel better by attempting to exercise in the morning, which resulted in me getting into my gym gear and then spending the day on the couch playing flash games, which resulted in me feeling like a failure because I couldn't even do some poxy exercise for half an hour.
Throughout all of that I know I am luckier than a lot of people. The only thing I had any real interest in was my maths course, and having even just that one thing makes a huge difference. The maths made sense, the numbers go in and all going well work out properly on the other side.

A couple of weeks ago I spoke to himself about how I was feeling, and I spoke with my friends and that is another part of life where I am lucky. My friends and husband understood. The were wonderful, to borrow an analogy from Hyperbole and a half, the weren't the type of people who tried to help me look for my dead fish. I know I should have never underestimated them but they made the talking easier.

So here we are, I feel I am doing a lot better these most recent weeks. I've gotten back into my reading, my cooking, my music and even exercising again. I'm not offering anything as a quick fix for anyone else because sometimes there is no quick fix and everyone has different ways of coping. This is just an extended apology to my readers for my lack of blogging and an offering to people who do feel down - one of the things I was most surprised by was the amount of people who have gone through similar, I thank them - they're conversations meant the world to me.

As I said I will be back to regular blogging soon but first I am off on my holidays tomorrow and so will recommence blogging properly here on Monday 24th June.

Thank you all for your support.