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Cosmetic foot surgery is dominating the news but is this type of surgery really that helpful?

Women are undergoing cosmetic surgery in order to fit into stilettos

The “Cinderella procedure” is a preventative bunion operation popular at the Beverly Hills Aesthetic Foot Surgery.  More and more women are undergoing such operations in order to fit into a tiny pair of heels.

Having grown up with congenital hallux valgus (a form of bunion) and undergoing corrective surgery at 15 years of age I know only too well what it’s like to be unable to fit into a pair of high heels.

I was mocked by a shoe website for entering and leaving the Big Brother house in the same pair of shoes as I only have the one pair that I can wear comfortably, despite this I won’t be undergoing surgery.

Feet seem simple enough but they are actually rather complicated structures, it took me months to learn to walk again following the medical procedure I had.

What’s more, messing about with one joint can lead to referred pain at another which is the warning podiatrists are giving women before they consider undergoing this procedure.

If you are thinking about undergoing surgery to fit into a pair of shoes you should decide if it’s worth the pain that could arise for the pleasure of wearing those stilettos.

In my opinion shoe manufacturers should start making shoes available in sizes which fit onto real peoples feet before women start adjusting their feet to fit into heels!

This week a documentary captured the moment that paralysed Richard Rudd told doctors he wanted to live by blinking his eyes.

Locked-in syndrome can leave blinking as the only means of communication. Image: Filomena Scalise

It halted a decision from his family to turn off the life support machine which was keeping him alive.

Richard suffers from locked-in syndrome, he is awake and aware of his surroundings, but is paralysed so he can’t communicate.

Total locked-in syndrome is the paralysis of every part of the body making communication impossible.  In some cases, such as Richard’s, patients can still control their eyes.

Jean-Dominique Bauby also had the condition, the former editor of French fashion magazine Elle suffered a stroke.

Despite the illness the journalist wrote a book called The Diving Bell and the Butterfly.  A friend read through the alphabet and Bauby blinked at the correct letter to transcribe his memoir.

Image: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The UK has been ranked top for provision of end-of-life care in an index drawn up by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

End of life care has been ranked at the top of 40 countries throughout the world. Image: vitasamb2001

The index ranked 40 countries on their treatment of the dying and because of palliative care, hospices and the access to pain killers, the UK ended up at the top.

Shockingly 8 per cent of people around the world don’t receive palliative care.

Palliative care in the UK involves supporting patients and their families when they are facing life-threatening illness.  The National Institute of Clinical Excellence believe this should include:

  • Treating dying as a normal process
  • Providing pain relief
  • Supporting patients and their family
  • Including psychological and spiritual aspects of care

Image: vitasamb2001 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

By Yvette Martyn

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Children have been omitted from a trial of x-ray body scanners at Manchester airport

I find it very interesting that children have been omitted from a trial of x-ray body scanners at Manchester airport, the news of the restriction made me believe there is a danger to the children from the level of radiation.

After all people should minimise their exposure to x-rays unless it be deemed entirely necessary, with the obvious example being to detect fractured bones. However, Sarah Barrett, head of customer experience at Manchester Airport claims, “passengers can go through this machine 5,000 times a year each without worrying, it is super safe and the amount of radiation transmitted is tiny”.

Imagine my astonishment to realise the restriction was due to the law regarding indecent images of children considering the further statement from Ms Barrett that, “the images are not erotic or pornographic and they cannot be stored or captured in any way.”

Don’t get me wrong, I agree that pornographic images of children are something the law should strive at all costs to prevent, looking back I wished such a stance existed 14 years ago, when my Gran had submitted a picture of me in the bath to the local village fete and I had to endure the fact that the residents of the village of Wansford had seen my naked body.

But I would like to pose the question, as somebody whose career prospects lie in the field of paediatrics, will there be a day when political correctness goes too far?

The threat to paediatric medicine

I do hope that there should never come a day when restrictions directly conflict with the interest of a child’s health, after all; examining a child occurs currently under the protective watch of a chaperone, and unless entirely necessary a parent is always present.

If this society gets any more politically correct I wouldn’t be surprised if a doctor is forced to conjure up diagnoses from a sketchy child’s history or worse still a ill baby babbling incoherently in front of them. Doctors may be forced to throw darts at a board chock-a-block with medical terminology, just to reach a diagnosis for the parents whilst protecting themselves from the accusations of abuse.

Have I gone a bit too far? Perhaps, currently this is only a trial, but how can it be implemented without being tested on children? Without knowing that children riddle and fiddle and do everything possible to avoid standing still whilst the image is taken?

Say it does get implemented and given the lack of research, the decision is made to continue to omit children, is this not a loophole for terrorists to indulge in? You have to reason with the fact that a 2006 terrorist plot catapulted baby milk into the realms of a terrorist’s weapon and reports of children suicide bombers continue to headline the papers.

So is this display of political correctness a step too far? I have to say yes, it can’t be that difficult, give the employees involved the same stringent checks of healthcare workers, destroy the images as soon as the verifications required have occurred and ensure parents that guaranteeing no child on the plane is carrying items which would put their child’s life in jeopardy is well worth having the image taken, checked and promptly destroyed.

Image: Graeme Weatherston / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

By Yvette Martyn

90 deaths have so far been attributed to swine flu in the United Kingdom; although only 44 have been reported in the media. But is the death toll correct?

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90 deaths have so far been attributed to swine flu but is the death toll correct?

Only five deaths have been described as otherwise healthy individuals prior to the contraction of the virus. 25 of the victims have been described as possessing underlying health problems and 14 gave no information.

On reading an article detailing the post-mortem results of a swine flu “healthy” victim, Louise Jones, a 24 year old from Greater Manchester, I found it interesting that a blood clot in her lung had been described.

Known in medical terminology as a pulmonary embolism, the clot travels to the lung from a site elsewhere in the body but usually originates in the legs, a condition known as DVT.

Reading the coverage of the young woman’s untimely death I noticed many articles attributed her death solely to the H1N1 virus, the subtype of influenza known as swine flu, other reports more encouragingly gave details of her diagnosis with swine flu and pneumonia whilst describing her ultimate death from a pulmonary embolism.

Looking into her death I am limited in the information obtainable, the media states that the post-mortem attributes her death to a pulmonary embolism caused by the contraction of the H1N1 virus, but it does bring into question other risk factors Miss Jones may have possessed.

The virus almost undoubtedly caused her to require bed rest, a immobile position which places a person at a higher risk of developing a pulmonary embolism. Other risk factors which may be relevant to Miss Jones include a family history of clots, smoking, the oral contraceptive pill and long journeys (articles do mention a recent return from Crete for the 24 year old but it is not stated if she was in a cramped position for a lengthy passage of time).

She is described as, “fit and healthy” by her father, but it is important to note that in childhood she was diagnosed with asthma, a condition which does increase the risk of developing complications of the H1N1 virus.

Death from the H1N1 virus can occur in a number of ways, as a direct result of the condition due to pneumonia or acute respiratory distress syndrome; both of these conditions involve the virus spreading from the upper airway into the lungs.

Then there are deaths which are as a consequence of swine flu but not directly relating to the virus such as dehydration, electrolyte disturbances, sepsis and secondary bacterial infection. People with underlying health conditions also run the risk of their conditions becoming worse and leading to their death, so a seemingly healthy person whose condition is controlled on medication such as diabetes may see demise in their health due to the contraction of the virus.

When death certificates are issued the cause of death may be noted as a person’s chronic condition, and not as a result of swine flu, which ultimately caused their death.

The death of such a young person is always a tragedy and the complicated measures required in attributing a death to a certain cause can lead to misleading information. That does not mean Miss Jones did not die as a consequence of swine flu.

In fact it does not mean that any victims of swine flu have had their deaths attributed to the wrong cause, on the contrary: swine flu deaths are likely to be underreported due to the complicated nature in detailing a cause of death.

Image: Yaron Jeroen van Oostrom / FreeDigitalPhotos.net