Pointspace’s monthly roundup | May



Greetings! Can you believe it’s mid-week already? Or more importantly (and scarily) can you believe it’s almost mid-year?? May has always had a nurturing feel to it: you have Mother’s Day; my dad’s birthday is in May; the name lends itself to many May Fairs and Fayres out there with their abundance of delicious cakes.


So what was interesting this month?


A few years ago I lost my voice for three days. It all started from a cough that just refused to go away; in fact they are the bane of my life. If my body was a castle (I know it should be my temple but the architect got the plans wrong) then I have a reasonably good defence against intruders. I have guardsmen placed strategically at the towers and walking along the fort walls to warn of any suspicious activity. Those who wish to enter must knock five times in rapid succession and then utter the password (cheesecake) whilst hopping on one foot. Then the drawbridge will be lowered, allowing them to cross the moat.

However the cheeky cough-bringers ignore all etiquette and protocol (so rude!) and bypass the drawbridge entirely, preferring to invade by coming through on stilts. They can still be stopped by shaving down the wooden stilts but of course this takes time, and sometimes a few sneaky cretins get through. Sometimes more than a few get in and have a wild party all at my expense and then make quite a fuss when I tell them it’s time to leave.

My strategy is to try to avoid getting a cough, or bringing out all my weapons as soon as I noticed the first signs of an itchy throat. But this particular cough just wouldn’t budge. It didn’t help that my part time waitressing job during university required speaking quite loudly and clearly in a lively atmosphere that included having a live opera singer (oh how my ears suffered, they would still be ringing the next day in a much more subdued ethics lecture). I would find myself shaken violently with horrible coughing fits. My chest hurt, my throat hurt and my taste buds despised me for the awful Red-Bull flavoured (western) and bitter (herbal) cough syrup that I knocked back.

And then one day I woke up to find I had lost my voice. Actually it took quite a while to notice as I don’t tend to speak to myself in an empty flat, but imagine my surprise when I tried to answer the phone and nothing, not even a squeak, came out.

This lasted for three days during which time I couldn’t participate in any conversations. Lounging comfortably on the couch lost its appeal as I couldn’t ask for certain things to be brought to me (I was still sick, remember). Most annoyingly of all was losing my expression. Things just aren’t spontaneous when you have to scribble something down in shorthand on the back of an envelope.

1.  Now imagine if this loss is more permanent, would you be able to deal with it? In this evocative essay from this month’s Vanity Fair, writer and speaker Christopher Hitchens describes the loss of his voice due to cancer, and dying.

2.  An online survey of Nursing Times readers revealed a depressing snapshot of nurses’ health and wellbeing in spring 2011. Two-thirds of nurses have suffered from the side effects of work-related stress. What does this mean? There is a decrease in exercise and eating healthily, and an increase in drinking and smoking. How can the NHS survive if the skeleton of healthcare is unwell?


3. A study has shown that fat removed by liposuction comes back within a year, just in a different area. Liposuction is usually used to remove fat cells from the thighs, buttocks or abdomen so when the fat cells reappear, they tend to migrate to the stomach, shoulders and upper arms. This is due to the body having a strict attitude towards the number of fat cells it wants but liposuction destroys the fishnet structure under the skin where fat cells live. A depressing side note of this study is that even when the women in control group of the study were told of these results, more than half still wanted to have the procedure done.


4.  Many people still associate acupuncture with pain relief, and rightly so due to its effectiveness as an alternative option. However acupuncture can be beneficial for other symptoms and conditions. In my guest post for Dr Zak Han’s acupuncture blog, I talk about using acupuncture for nausea and vomiting.


5.  And finally, biologist Adam Cole’s lovely, folky Mother’s Day song. It is a bit late now, but it made this geek smile. Who says scientists can’t be creative?


Enjoy the bank holiday!


Photo credit: Greg Clarke via flickr

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