Challenging Times

Recently I happened to pop into a coffee shop for a coffee and a sandwich and got into a conversation with a fellow male customer.  As our conversation developed he told me that he was unemployed, had high blood-pressure, high cholesterol was depressed and was experiencing insomnia.  His G.P. had prescribed medications for his blood pressure and high cholesterol and had also put him on anti-depressants and sleeping tablets.  He had previously worked for an accountancy firm, but due to the recession, had been laid off with no future prospects of being re-employed.  He told me he was really struggling financially and now did not have the cash to go to his G.P. for monitoring of his medication.  He is awaiting a medical card and has been told that it will take months for his application to be processed.  Neither is he able to afford the different medications and he had decided he would stop taking the medications for his high blood-pressure and high cholesterol; he had also stopped taking his anti-depressants, but had maintained the sleeping tablets as these gave him some relief from his overwhelming anxiety and sense of helplessness and hopelessness. 

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A Breakthrough in Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Research in University College, Cork has provided evidence that links the extremely distressing and embarrassing irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) to extreme stress in childhood. Up to now, medical doctors had found no obvious organic cause for this painful and debilitating condition. The researchers, Dr. John Cryan and Professor Ted Dinan found that individuals with the condition reported having a lot of stress in their lives and had experienced highly stressful events during childhood. Without going into the biochemical complexities of their research, it was found that higher glutamate (an essential protein) in the spinal cord may be contributing to the emergence of severe abdominal pain as reported by persons with IBS. The researchers believe that the current expensive medication is not very effective due to the fact that it does not target the glutamate transporter specifically. They are determined to develop a new drug that will be specific to the physical pain symptoms of the condition.

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Dangerous to be Male

Over the last month I spoke at two different conferences on being a male.  The first conference was held by the National Men’s Forum, which is a cross border organisation that concerns itself with the wellbeing of men.  The second conference, IBSC (International Boys’ School Conference) was in South Africa and this international get- together focused on boys’ education.  The private schools involved are in Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, Canada, USA and Northern Ireland.

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