Nuisance Phone Calls

September 29, 2010

I need your help! For some time now, I’ve been receiving nuisance phone calls on a landline at home and while it’s not a huge issue, I’d really welcome some advice on how to solve the problem. If you have experience of dealing with a malicious caller, I’d love to hear from you.

The caller is male, probably of Far Eastern origin and rings our home phone number up to 5 times a day… well, on the days/evenings when we’re at home anyhow. We have caller ID on all our phones but the phone number from this caller always shows as ‘unavailable’.

If I answer an ‘unavailable’ call, I only say “hello” and wait for a response. There is always a delay before the same male voice says “hello” back. If I say nothing further, he rings off. Sometimes I pick up the phone but say nothing and he will say “hello” repeatedly at which point, I put the phone down as I recognise his voice.

On occasion, the caller has tried to lure me into conversation with the pretence that it’s a sales call. I avoid this as I know that most malicious callers gain pleasure from upsetting the person they call. By showing no emotion, I’m hoping I may be able to put him off.

When he rang this afternoon, I said “hello” and then as soon as I heard his voice, I took great pleasure in blowing a loud whistle down the phone. I hope it really hurt his ear but unfortunately, it hasn’t put him off.

My daughter answered the phone to him this evening and she recognised his voice straight away. She told him calmly that she knew where he was calling from and that she’d reported him to the police. He immediately went on the defence and said that his location couldn’t be traced. This reaction confirms that he is a malicious caller. My daughter repeated to him in a calm voice, that she had reported him for making harassing phone calls and then put the phone down. He has not rung since.

You may well ask why we continue to answer calls which show the number as ‘unavailable.’ The answer is that my mother is very ill at the moment and every time the phone rings, I wonder if it is the nursing home trying to contact me and so I answer the phone just in case. While the nuisance caller doesn’t  know this fact, his calls are proving highly insensitive at a time like this.

On looking online for solutions on how to deal with malicious callers, it appears that some phone companies offer a ‘privacy manager’ service, but at a cost and it irks me that I should have to pay to get rid of this guy.

Is this really the only solution for dealing with nuisance callers or has anyone got any other ideas?

A Breath of Fresh Air

September 27, 2010

Any patient who has ever worn a conventional oxygen mask for any length of time, will know the discomfort involved and also appreciate the difficulty created by the mask in terms of communication.

An Irish university student, James D’Arcy has come up with an innovative way of delivering oxygen to the hospital patient. The Flo2w offers a new user experience in respiratory therapy and represents a real breakthrough in patient comfort. It’s also more efficient than the current masks used which surely has to be welcomed in this current era of cutbacks in hospital resources?

James has been shortlisted for a prestigious international prize having made it to the finals of the James Dyson Awards. I wish him the very best of luck on October 5th.

“A University of Limerick student has been shortlisted for a prestigious international prize for a revolutionary new oxygen-delivery system.

James D’Arcy is the only Irish entry to make it the finals of the James Dyson Awards with a device called Flo2w.

The device holds an oxygen tube to a patient’s head with an adjustable headpiece that can be clipped on and off.

Mr D’Arcy (23), from Minane Bridge in Cork, has already beaten more than 500 entries from 21 countries across the world to make the final 18. He could win the grand prize of €12,000 plus €12,000 for the design department at the University of Limerick, where he has just completed his final year.

Mr D’Arcy said his invention is a new way of delivering oxygen to a patient and eliminates many problems associated with the current device that supplies oxygen.

“Flo2w eliminates the big, intimidating, one-size-fits-all mask that is currently being used,” he said. “The subtle design makes the user feel as if they are not even wearing it. The oxygen is supplied to the patient through nasal tubing.

“The system integrates a new form of regulating oxygen in an innovative and easy way for both the patient and health care professional.”

Other inventions to make the global shortlist include an ultraviolet sportspack designed by a Canadian that eliminates bacteria and odour from the user’s shoe.

The James Dyson Foundation will announce the global winner on October 5th.”

Information Source: The Irish Times and the James Dyson Award.

Taking A Breather

September 18, 2010

Next week, I head to my favourite part of the world to enjoy a short break in the company of old friends. I always say… there’s no better place than Connemara for enjoying healthy fresh air which comes straight in off the Atlantic. It sure blows away the cobwebs and refreshes you, ready to take on whatever life throws at you next.

And, there’s no better place to enjoy a pint of Guinness® either. As Arthur’s Day coincides with our holiday, I’ve no doubt we’ll join in the worldwide celebration and raise a pint to Arthur.

For those who’ve never been to Connemara, I can highly recommend it. It’s hard to put into words what it is about the place that draws me back year after year. This video says it better than I ever could…

‘Bike Ride in Connemara’ by Ralph Lavelle, June 2009

Back soon!

Menopause Moments

September 15, 2010

Feeling flush… during the day or experiencing hot sweats at night? The menopause is a normal part of life, just like puberty. It is a natural consequence of ageing and signals the end of the fertile phase of a woman’s life. Years ago, menopause was a taboo subject but in this day and age, there is no reason why women should sit back and suffer in silence. Be proud of your menopause moments!

The menopause happens for most women sometime between the ages of 45 to 60, although it happens earlier for some and later for others. It is usually a gradual process that stretches over several years. Each woman is different, some will sail through with little or no symptoms, while others will suffer difficult symptoms which can often last for years. There are no specific support services available in Ireland so it can be difficult time for women as they try to deal with the symptoms.

Aged 53, I am now in the throws of the menopause and having hot flashes to beat the band. When you have a hot flash, there’s no mistaking it. A sensation of intense heat spreads over your face and the back of your neck, followed by skin redness (flushing), drenching perspiration, and finally a cold, clammy feeling. Typically, these symptoms begin at the head and spread downwards towards the neck and chest. They can last anything from 30 seconds to 5 minutes. When hot flashes occur during the night, they are called night sweats. My nights are now spent throwing off the duvet because I’m too hot and uncomfortable only to wake up some time later feeling horribly cold and clammy.

I’ve no qualms about announcing my menopausal status. It’s not something that we as women should feel embarrassed about, or try to conceal. The menopause is merely a sign that our bodies are moving on and a reminder that we are now in the second half of our lives. I believe that there is a real need for more openness about the menopause.

People joke about having a senior moment so why shouldn’t women joke about having a menopause moment?

Learning is Fun!

September 9, 2010

I’ve always been fascinated by how the body works and so I really enjoyed studying anatomy and physiology as a physiotherapy student many moons ago. An Irish company has now come up with a novel way to visualize how the human body works. Learning has never been so much fun!

An award-winning Interactive Media Design company, eMedia in Galway (creators of the excellent Pocket Heart app) have developed a brilliant new web app, Pocket Body which brings science to life.

Pocket Body is a novel way to visualize how the human body works, in 3D. The information is presented in an interactive, mobile and accessible format which will help biology students, healthcare professionals and the general public, in visualizing the complexities of the human body. It contains a learning programme with a built-in quiz as a self-test capability, to assist in learning and exam preparation. It also has potential for use in patient education.

So, whether you’re a student needing to learn, understand and memorize all of the anatomical features and functions of the human body, or a health care professional looking for a novel way of communicating a diagnosis or procedure to a patient, colleague or trainee, this creative new software will facilitate you…

Pocket Body will be available on the Apple platform for the iPod, iPhone, iTouch and the new iPads. It costs between €11.65 and €15.50.

While researching this post, I came across a great website The Frog Blog which has been created by two science teachers at St. Columba’s College, Dublin and provides a brilliant online resource for the promotion of science. The blog is frequently updated with science news stories from all over the world and contains a wide range of articles in a wide variety of subjects, from astronomy to technology to zoology.

The Frog Blog has been nominated for an Irish Web Award in the Best Education and Third Level Website category. Good luck guys!

The Irish Web Awards 2010 take place at the Mansion House in Dublin, on 16th October, 2010.

Patients are a nuisance

September 6, 2010

Whatever savings and cutbacks are having to be made in these harsher economic times, curtailments in the treatment of sick children are not something that most of us are prepared to tolerate. As the HSE continues to push for efficiencies in the public system, many children in this country are being denied treatment and more and more problems are arising in terms of patient care.

Our hospital system is breaking down as the basics simply aren’t happening. The embargo on staff recruitment has resulted in operating lists (elective surgery) being cancelled without warning, out-patient appointments being cancelled and phones not being answered in many departments. Frontline staff are fed-up and disillusioned and many of the consultants are no longer advocating for their patients. The bottom line is… patients are suffering and it seems that even sick children, don’t count anymore.

If you think I’m exaggerating, have a listen to this interview with Professor Michael O’Keeffe, Consultant Ophthalmic Surgeon in Temple Street Hospital (a children’s hospital in Dublin). Thankfully, he’s not afraid to speak out.

Interview Credit:  ‘Today with Pat Kenny’ on RTE Radio 1.

Photo: Steph’s theatre gown, captured on mobile phone.