by Micaela Fassina
Since February is Heart Health month, here’s a story for you. My name is Micaela and I survived a heart attack.
I was 44 years old, with 5 children between the ages of 5 and 13. I was relatively healthy, and trying to get into better shape. I was doing aquafit 4 times a week and learning to play hockey in a weekly mom’s clinic offered by our local hockey association. There is no history of heart problems in my family, I don’t smoke, or drink excessively, and I try to eat as healthy as 5 kids and a busy schedule let me. I’m a stay-at-home (or in-the-van) mom: at the time of the heart attack we were in the middle of a kitchen & 2 bathroom renovation and had 4 kids in soccer, 3 kids on swim team, 2 kids in diving and one in synchronized swimming. (Before you say anything, we do not force our children into any activity they don’t want to do – this was all their choice.)
On July 18, 2017, it was business as usual. The kids and I were at our community pool for their daily lessons and my aquafit. However, a child (not mine!) had been sick in the pool and it was closed while it was being shocked with chlorine. So lessons were dry-land, and the moms decided to do “land-fit” instead. I set aside my iced coffee, fully expecting to finish it in half an hour, and sat down to do some sit-ups. Except I couldn’t pull myself up for even one! Ok, on to lunges. Three lunges in, I experienced the strangest thing I’ve ever felt: an explosion radiating out from my chest going down both arms and up my neck into my jaw, and at the same time, a vice clamping down on my chest, all of it painful. I figured it was heat stroke, or sun stroke, or dehydration, or something. I went to sit down, but was now feeling nauseous and I knew something was very wrong. We had just recently lost an acquaintance to an undiagnosed heart attack, and my symptoms mirrored his. So I called my mom to come get the kids and then lay down in the grass. In the 10 years we’ve been members at our pool I never once lay down, so next thing I knew I was surrounded by concerned friends and lifeguards. They called 911, while my sister-in-law called my husband. Other moms were trying to keep my kids occupied and out of the way; apparently one of my kids was swinging a baseball bat around! Two of my kids refused to be distracted and sat watching me at my most helpless. I tried to reassure them, but was so sapped of strength that I could barely talk.
I never lost consciousness and my heart never stopped, but my memories of that time are disjointed and surreal. I remember trying to crack jokes to lighten the mood, and being disappointed that the firemen that answered the call weren’t better looking. I kept on eying my iced coffee hopelessly, wishing I could finish it. A friend rode to the hospital with me, and I made sure that she had grabbed my cross-stitch to bring along, just in case. By the time I was going through triage, I was already feeling better and was hoping it was just an embarrassingly strong case of indigestion. In fact, when my husband arrived at the ER, he didn’t have to ask where I was; he just followed the laughter.
Tests after tests were run: blood work, multiple EKGs, CT scan, ultrasounds and X-rays. Everything was coming back negative, except for one item in my blood work: my troponin levels were rising. Troponin is an enzyme released when the heart has been damaged – proof that I had suffered a heart attack even though I was perfectly healthy according to all other test results. After a night in the ER, it was decided that I would be admitted and sent to have an angiogram, which is a procedure where a catheter is fed through an artery in your wrist (or groin) into your heart. Dye is then injected through the catheter while you watch live X-rays images of your heart pumping. If necessary, this is also the time when stents would be inserted. It took a while, but the cardiologist finally found the remnants of a 30% tear in a secondary artery, which had already scabbed over and was healing by itself. Two days after the actual incident, I had an official diagnosis: Spontaneous Coronary Artery Dissection or SCAD.
SCAD affects mainly, but not only, otherwise healthy women of child bearing age. There are no specific or consistent symptoms or warning signs. Some people experience the same pain I did, while others compare it to severe and lingering heartburn. SCAD can be a minor tear like mine, or a full-blown rupture requiring bypass surgery, or instantly fatal. It can recur, but why in some and not others is a mystery. Because SCAD is a rare diagnosis, there is currently not much research or information.
I’m currently on a daily regimen of blood thinners, beta blockers and baby aspirin for at least one year. But there’s nothing I can really do to prevent another SCAD from happening, since no-one can tell me why it happened in the first place! They have ideas: it might have been stress from the reno or over-exertion, or the heat, or my not having had breakfast that morning, or Mercury aligning with Pluto, or Zeus arguing with Poseidon on Mount Olympus… I sometimes wished I had been a smoker or morbidly obese, because at least then there would be a reason for the heart attack, and something concrete I could do to prevent another one from happening. And that is another source of frustration: trying to make people understand that SCAD is different from a “traditional” heart attack. My mother is still trying to rationalize what happened; she remains convinced that there must have been something in my life I could have done differently.
My life since SCAD has been different, but the same. It took a couple of months for me to feel “normal”. I was not allowed to exercise for 3 months, after which I did a stress test (12 minutes on a treadmill) and got the all clear for everything except heavy lifting and isometric exercises. I’m seeing a psychologist for my PTSD, and thanks to social media, there is a great on-line community of fellow survivors offering support and understanding from around the world.
My latest cross-stitch project
The initial recovery combined with the medications left me exhausted for quite a while. I have to watch myself and my stress levels, and make sure I have more “me” time and that I don’t over-extend myself – too much. With 5 kids currently in hockey, swimming, music and drama, there are days when I have to be in multiple places at the same time and I don’t know which way to go. But that’s what family, friends, a good support system and carpooling are for. And when I’m having a bad day, it’s ok to say, “I can’t do this” and go hide under the covers for as long as I need. Every time I hear of a woman my age passing away suddenly and for no known reason, I wonder if it was SCAD (Dolores O’Riordan springs to mind). But ultimately, I’m learning to not dwell on the what-ifs and the what-might-be. The most important thing is that I am alive and well right now, and still rocking the mom-wife-daughter-sister-friend thing.
Micaela Fassina, Supermom of Five Montreal, Quebec
Grab some hot chocolate and browse through the wonderful creations submitted to the 2nd Annual Snowman Contest.
Click on the images below to get the full pictures and the details on the snowmen.
Lillian’s and her grand daughter’s adorable snowman, Hants County A Nova Scotia snowduck Nora’s take on a traditional summer treat with a snowman twist: the Snowsmore! Mama Snowman and her baby Donna made a melted beads snowman, Guysborough
Abby’s colouful SnowFish! Ronda Boudreau’s snowmen Havre Boucher 4-H Club and one of their snowmen! Scroll down the post to see rest of them. Cohen and Sherry made a Tartan proud snow-person representing Cape Breton! Huggable snowman and his friends!
Dani and the snowman she made in her backyard. Havre Boucher 4-H Club had a great time building 3 snowmen and a fire! Scroll down the post to see more pictures. Daniel and Thomas’ beautiful snowmen “Edith and Marjorie”! A Nova Scotia snowman dreaming of sand and sun! Cecy’s beautiful snowman!
Catherine and Emily (pictured) built their family! The youngest is sitting on her Daddy’s head! A worried snowman and an angry snowman made by Donavan and Keagan Gillis in their Lapland 4-H club! Paris, Sophia, Julia and Sophie. Julia is an international student visiting from Brazil. This was her first time building a snowman! Jeff and Kylee made this snowman. The snowman is sad cause he will be leaving soon (but will be back next year). Snowsisters built by Isla and Harrison.
Maleigha made this upside down snowman. Got flipped over by the strong Nova Scotia winds! Gina’s adorable spare sock snowman. St. Joseph’s 4H Club members with their beautiful snowmen masks! Matthew with his lovely colorful snowman! This magnificent snowdragon was built by the Pinch family: Matthew, Stacey, Sylar and Dalton. The snow creature, built in three days, was inspired by Autism Nova Scotia who set up a program for Dungeons & Dragons to help people with autism work on their social skills. See more pictures of him below.
The Blais’ family “little” snowman Happy tall snowman and his friends 🙂 Bridget (from Bayfield) made a colourful snowman family. Scroll down the post to see them building their snowmen. Samantha & Sabrina built this snowman: Mary, with her baby Patti snuggled in a toque. A Nova Scotia snowshark
Livia’s mini-snowman built with very limited amount of snow! Owen’s little snowmen – small but mighty! Madison and her beautiful snowman Gregg! Scarlett’s 1st Snowman! Lucille’s ‘Upside down kinda day in Antigonish’ snowman!
Madeline built this adorable little snowman in Sydney. Jacqueline’s adorable tin snowmen from Cape Breton. Lucas and his two wonderful snowman friends! Sheila’s beautiful tartan snowman! Lauchie, Duncan and Adrienne with their happy hockey player snowman!
Ellie and Jack with their snowman! A wonderful recycled tire snowman! Frosty the illuminated 3D yarn snowman! Johnny Miles running snowman A lovely tall snowman and his friends.
Lucy’s Easter snowbunny hopping over to wish you a hoppy day! Chillin’ Highland Snowman Finlay and Ronald with their happy family snowman. Bridget’s NS version of Scotland’s “Nessie”, a snow Loch Ness Monster Lauchlin, Jack and Sophie from Afton built a StFX Xmen Snowman. They’re cheering for the XmenHockey team who are in Fredericton competing for the AUS cup. Go X Go!
Click HERE to find out how to submit your own snowman picture for a chance to win prizes!
The 2nd Annual Snowman Contest is supported by
To browse through more pictures scroll down the post!
Maleigha made this upside down snowman. Got flipped over by the strong Nova Scotia winds!
Mama Snowman and her baby
Johnny Miles running snowman
Chillin’ Highland Snowman
Donna made a melted beads snowman, Guysborough
Cohen and Sherry made a Tartan proud snow-person representing Cape Breton!
Bridget’s NS version of Scotland’s “Nessie”, a snow Loch Ness Monster
Paris, Sophia, Julia and Sophie. Julia is an international student visiting from Brazil. This was her first time building a snowman!
Finlay and Ronald with their happy family snowman.
Samantha & Sabrina built this snowman: Mary, with her baby Patti snuggled in a toque.
Madeline built this adorable little snowman in Sydney.
The Blais’ family “little” snowman
St. Joseph’s 4H Club members with their beautiful snowmen masks!
Frosty the illuminated 3D yarn snowman!
Catherine and Emily (pictured) built their family! The youngest is sitting on her Daddy’s head 😊
Ellie and Jack with their snowman!
Lillian’s and her grand daughter’s adorable snowman, Hants County
Madison and her beautiful snowman Gregg!
Jacqueline’s adorable tin snowmen from Cape Breton.
This magnificent snowdragon was built by the Pinch family: Matthew, Stacey, Sylar and Dalton. The snow creature, built in three days, was inspired by Autism Nova Scotia who set up a program for Dungeons & Dragons to help people with autism work on their social skills.
Lucas and his two wonderful snowman friends!
Gina’s adorable spare sock snowman.
Nora’s take on a traditional summer treat with a snowman twist: the Snowsmore!
A worried snowman and an angry snowman made by Donavan and Keagan Gillis in their Lapland 4-H club!
A Nova Scotia snowduck
A Nova Scotia snowshark
Bridget (from Bayfield) and Buckie (from Afton) made a colourful snowman family!
Ronda Boudreau who loves snow made these two snowmen!
A beautiful Nova Scotia snowman dreaming of sand and sun!
Lauchie, Duncan and Adrienne with their happy hockey player snowman!
A lovely tall snowman and his friends.
Sheila’s beautiful tartan snowman!
Abby’s colourful SnowFish!
Lauchlin, Jack and Sophie from Afton built a StFX Xmen Snowman. They’re cheering for the XmenHockey team who are in Fredericton competing for the AUS cup. Go X Go!
Dani and the snowman she made in her backyard.
Snowsisters built by Isla and Harrison.
Lucy’s Easter snowbunny hopping over to wish you a hoppy day!
Matthew with his lovely colorful snowman!
Lucille’s ‘Upside down kinda day in Antigonish’ snowman!
Owen’s little snowmen – small but mighty!
Daniel and Thomas’ beautiful snowmen “Edith and Marjorie”!
Cecy’s beautiful snowman!
Happy tall snowman and his friends 🙂
Scarlett’s 1st Snowman!
A wonderful recycled tire snowman!
Livia’s mini-snowman built with very limited amount of snow!
Jeff and Kylee made this snowman. The snowman is sad cause he will be leaving soon (but will be back next year).
Havre Boucher 4-H Club had a great time building 3 snowmen and a fire!
Huggable snowman and his friends.
Click HERE to find out how you can submit your snowman picture for a chance to win prizes!
Vision boards are a fun and creative way for children (and adults) to set personal goals every year.
They offer a great way for kids to get motivated and take action to reach their goals, especially in the tween years when most kids seem to start losing their motivation to engage in activities, or see the benefit in doing various tasks.
These simple visualization boards can help them hone in on their interests while developing much needed planning skills for the future.
Here are a few simple steps to creating vision board:
Keep it simple
All you need is a medium size poster board and glue, or a cork board and pins. Any type of material can be added onto the board: cutout pictures from magazines, newspapers, or simply written goals on a piece of paper, anything goes.
Big dreams & small dreams
It’s absolutely wonderful to dream big and include amazing goals on the vision board, but make sure to also include realistic and achievable goals.
Set specific goals
It helps to set specific goals and to think out of the box. The vision board can contain more than just ‘material’ things. It can include activities they would like to do, amount of money they need to save to purchase something they want, skills they would like to acquire or improve, places they would like to visit, ways they can give back to their community.
It’s also important to come up with a plan to actively work towards achieving the set goals.
Include short term goals
Short term goals are easier to achieve and in turn can motivate children to fulfill the rest of their vision board goals.
For instance, if your child wants to receive a higher grade on their next week’s math test, then ask them to come up with a plan in order to achieve this goal (e.g. do an extra 5 minutes of math every day).
Include long term goals
Long term goals require more thought in terms of action planning, but can be broken down into smaller tasks along the way.
For example, learning to type using all ten fingers can seem overwhelming at first, but this skill can be achieved gradually over time. So, practicing keyboarding 5 minutes every day, while tracking and rewarding progress weekly, can make this goal attainable by the end of the year or sooner.
Get creative. They can personalize their board by adding things they love and things they are grateful for (e.g. the family pet).
As a parent, you might also learn something new from your ever-changing child. My son added on his board: ‘Learn to do Bardownskis’. So, I asked him if Bardownski played for the Montreal Canadians. He laughed at me. Turns out Bardownski is not an NHL player, it’s a type of hockey goal, where the puck hits the hockey net cross ‘bar’, then drops ‘down’ landing in the net …the ‘ski’ part apparently just makes it sound cooler!
The bigger picture
Keep the vision board in their bedroom, in plain sight, as a reminder. When a goal gets accomplished… CELEBRATE!
If some of the goals don’t get reached by the end of the year… no worries. Learning to deal with setbacks, thinking positive, and noticing the good intention behind any goal setting is just as important as reaching the goal!
Vision boards can be a useful tool at any age. So try making one for yourself too. The outcome might surprise you.
By Jennifer Van Den Heuvel and Regina Cozzi
My HEAD to clearer thinking,
My HEART to greater loyalty,
My HANDS to larger service,
My HEALTH to better living,
For my club, my community, and my country.”
These are the core values of 4-H and what the four Hs represent.
What is 4-H?
4-H is a non-profit youth organization. It exists in over 80 countries, and has over 25,000 members Canada wide1.
How does it work?
Although 4-H is governed nationally by 4-H Canada, each province contains and supports multiple clubs. 4-H clubs are divided by region throughout the counties (e.g. West-River club, Heatherton club, St-Andrews club, Landing club, Goshen club, etc.). Each 4-H club organizes meetings and activities for their members, and has volunteer leaders for various projects.
The number of projects has flourished over the years. What originally started with agricultural competitions in the early 1900s1, has now evolved into an array of projects2. Here are a just a few:
If a club does not offer a project your child is interested in, then arrangements can be made to join the project meetings of another club that offers the project of interest.
Younger children (ages 7 & 8) known as Cloverbuds, can also become 4-H members. This non-competitive group can still take on a project, or simply join the Exploring 4-H program, which encourages them to explore more than one interest, yet allows them to complete 3-4 smaller projects within their capabilities (e.g. crafts, cake decorating, photography & woodworking)
Usually, each club holds a General meeting once a month. Later in the season, each project leader holds sessions with the members to complete certain projects. For example, in Woodworking, members can meet once a week to work on their projects from December to April. In waterfowl, weekly meetings only start once the ducklings are hatched, and take place from May to August. In general, project work occurs over a six-month period.
In March, each club holds a Club Rally Day. Members, including Cloverbuds, can either give a short speech or do a demonstration on a topic of their choice (they can talk about their pet, an experience, demonstrate a recipe, DIY project, etc.). Selected club members move on to the Regional Rally (in April), and then to the Provincial 4-H weekend competitions a month later.
Judging Day takes place in May. During this event, members become judges! They compare and evaluate four items (or animals) within their project category and rate them. For example, ‘Foods’ members might have to compare four cakes, rank them based on their appearance (and taste!), and give reasons to support their decision.
This is a great opportunity for members to develop their reasoning skills and be able to effectively communicate their reasons for making a given choice. This exercise also gives them a perspective on the standards and quality expected for their own projects.
Achievement Day. Once all projects are completed, they are evaluated, by the 4-H local staff members, based on their quality (this is also based by age and years of experience in the project). All members need to participate in this event in order take part in the local Exhibition or 4-H Day, at the end of summer.
Run-offs. This is a county level competition, where one junior and one senior member, for each project, is chosen by the project leader to represent their club. Subsequently, run-off winners can compete at the provincial show.
Exhibition Day! (also known as 4-H Day). At the end of August-early September, 4-H members can take part in the Eastern Nova Scotia Exhibition, ENSE. This is when members finally get to showcase their project work or show their animals (livestock showmanship), and get ranked against other members of their club and county.
Some of the projects displayed in the ENSE.
The 2016 4-H theme was: “Let’s be Green in 2016!”
Winning members move on to the 4-H Provincial Show. Provincial competitions usually take place at the end of September. This is quite an event!
Antigonish County project display (NS Provincial Exhibition, Truro)
What are the benefits of 4-H?
The 4-H motto is:
Besides acquiring skills in a specific project, 4-H members develop numerous life skills, such as:
- Public speaking skills
- Judging skills
- Communication skills
- Entrepreneurial skills
- Leadership skills (which could count towards High School Personal Development credits)
Last, but not least, 4-H offers many opportunities for scholarships, awards, mentorship from project leaders, leadership development conferences (e.g. StFX 4-H Society), national trips and exchange trips!
4-H members take part in many fun group activities too. Each club organizes get-togethers like BBQs, entertainment, recreational activities (bowling, swimming, Christmas Bake-off, etc.), team competitions (4-H woodsmen, tug of war) and let’s not forget the famous Camp Rankin, a week-long summer camp based in Cape Breton. Loads of fun and a great way to develop lasting friendships.
4-H clubs actively contribute to their community. Whether it’s a community clean-up, ticket sales for charity, or caroling at Christmas time at the hospital, 4-H members learn at a young age the importance of helping others and how they can make a difference in their community.
How can my child join 4-H?
November is 4-H month! Registration is open. The deadline is Dec. 1st.
If you would like to register your child in 4-H, contact your regional Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture, NSDA office, to find your nearest club. If you reside in the Antigonish or Guysborough County, click on the 4-H promotional brochure and visit the Antigonish County 4-H Council Facebook page for updates. For additional information visit 4-H Nova Scotia.
Testimonials from 4-H members
We asked 4-H members to complete this sentence: “I love 4-H because…”
Here is what they had to say:
“I’m always learning new things and having fun!”-Olivia
“I get to try new things, meet new people and go to new places.”-Nora
“my brother was in it.”-Cameryn
“I can be with my friends and make things.”-Brennan
“they always welcome me and I get to try new things.”-Marley
“you learn how to do all kinds of cool things.”-Percy
“it is lots of fun and way to stay busy.”-David
“I love animals and because it’s a really good program.”-Sydney
“of the life-long friends I have made and skills I have learned.”-Danya (parent and previous 4-H member)
“of all the different things I can do.”-Mallory
“I get to meet new people and get to hang out around the farm and cows.“-Mark
“there are so many opportunities to become an active member and get involved in your community. 4-H allows you and challenges you to be a critical thinker and always learn, develop and better yourself on so many platforms.”-Iain
“you get to learn new skills.”-Ava
“I get to do new things that I can’t do at other places.”-Tony
“it is fun.”-Jacob
“you get to go outside.”-Ben
“I get to do a lot of different things that I like.”-Gabriel
“you learn lots of new stuff throughout the year.”-Baileigh
“I like showing calves.”-Ryan
“it is a really nice program and I love animals.”-Cassidy
“I like the variety of projects 4-H has to offer.”-Leah
“it encourages me to try and do new things.”-Casey
“it’s a great way to make you feel a part of a community.”-Emily
“they accept me for who I am. They help me accomplish things faster and they are always kind and cheerful. They challenge me to do my best.”-Maddison
“I love going to camp Rankin.”-Jaelynn
“it broadens my job options for the future.”-Angus
“it encourages learning and self development.”-Elliot
“they have free food and it’s a great experience.”-Hayden
“I get to go to camp Rankin every year and it’s always the highlight of my summer.”-Shannyn
“The projects are a lot of fun and the trips are great.”-Alex
Exhibition Day projects 2017
Hope you join us!
Thank you to Sheri Lambourne and Dawn Barrington-Hodgson for helping with this post.
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by Erin Aucoin
I have a question for you. Can you even remember the last time you spent a day without using technology? Probably not, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing! Computers and technology have become so engrained in our lives because they are extremely useful and computer science is arguably the fastest growing career field. You would think that we, as a society would be encouraging everyone to take advantage of this and to be more computer literate. But we’re not.
Only 30% of Math and Computer Science students in Canada1 are female even though the job prospects for computer science students are consistently among the most promising2. In a time where most of the revolutionary products are technology related, this statistic is very discouraging.
My name is Erin and I started a society for Women in Science at St. Francis Xavier University this year. I was inspired to do so for a couple of reasons. First, I am the only graduating female physics student this year and this has led to quite a few interesting conversations. Secondly, I have spent two summers working for the X-Chem Science Camps at St.FX organizing the computer science camp and it was easy to see that the girls loved the activities just as much as the boys. I think that there are a lot of fields of science and technology, which severely lack women. A lot of really smart women don’t even consider a career in physics, engineering or computer science and this is a shame.
Women often think that coding isn’t for them because virtually all of the big names in tech are men (think of Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk) and we rarely hear about the female pioneers of computer science Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper and Katherine Johnson (featured in the movie Hidden Figures)
Women pioneers in computer science: Ada Lovelace, Grace Hopper, Katherine Johnson3,4,5
or the current female influencers in the field like Helen Greiner6 and Marissa Mayer7.
Current influencers in computer science, Helen Greiner and Marissa Mayer6,7
Beyond this, the most fun part of computer science, video games, are generally marketed towards boys. Even though there twice as many women over 18 playing video games as boys under 18.
Computer science is everywhere so I think that EVERYONE should learn how to code! With this week being Computer Science Education Week, it’s the perfect time to teach yourself a little bit of programming!
The great thing about computer science is how easy it is to start! There are thousands of tutorials online which will teach you the basics of any programming language you want. My favourites are Code.org, Scratch.mit.edu, and Codecademy.com. The first two are especially great for kids because they let you start programming right away without having to learn any of the syntax (commas and semi-colons that have to be in just the right spot).
Image retrieved from http://partners.disney.com/hour-of-code/wayfinding-with-code?cds
In my opinion, one of the most rewarding feelings is coding your first program, getting the computer to draw a red circle or add some numbers together or even just to say “Hello World!” It doesn’t matter how much of a background you have in technology, you just have to decide to start!
Happy Computer Science Education Week!
Erin Aucoin, BSc Physics Student President of Women in Science Society firstname.lastname@example.org
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Sources: 1 http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/75-006-x/2013001/article/11874-eng.htm 2 http://www.monster.ca/career-advice/article/highest-paying-degrees-in-canada-ca 3 https://www.britannica.com/biography/Ada-Lovelace 4 http://www.newyorker.com/business/currency/code-and-the-quest-for-inclusive-software 5 https://www.nasa.gov/feature/katherine-johnson-the-girl-who-loved-to-count 6 http://www.inc.com/will-yakowicz/best-industries-2016-drone-manufacturing.html 7 http://www.leadersbiography.com/marissa-mayer/
by Dr. Maureen Allen
Getting active with persistent pain can be a huge challenge.
Persistent pain or long term pain is a common condition experienced by 1 in 5 Canadians. It can feel similar to acute pain but the two conditions are very different.
Acute pain or short-term pain occurs when you have damage or possible damage to your tissue. Once your body repairs the damage your pain alarm should shut off.
Persistent pain on the other hand occurs long after tissue has healed. This pain is less about damage and more about the central nervous system which is part of your pain system.
The following post answers some frequently asked questions and contains tips on how to stay active with persistent pain.
Can persistent pain be cured?
There is no cure YET for persistent pain but our understanding of this life changing illness is growing. Unfortunately there is no blood test or X-rays that can confirm you have persistent pain. It’s because your pain has persisted more than 3 months and has never gone back to normal that it has received this diagnosis.
Persistent pain can also be found in illnesses like fibromyalgia, back pain, Crohn’s disease, migraines and irritable bowel disease just to mention a few. Despite the fact that these occur in different parts of your body the cause of the persistent pain is still the same: an amplified pain system.
Will activity help my pain?
ABSOLUTELY!! Our tissues are designed to move. When we stop using them they get weak and deconditioned. Because persistent pain is caused by a sensitized or amplified pain system, attempts to move your tissue may be painful and sometimes can result in a flare-up of your persistent pain. The important thing to remember is you are not causing damage by moving. It’s how you move that matters most. Activity needs to be done in the right way to minimize pain flare-ups. If walking is an activity you like to do, here is an example on how you might approach walking.
It’s good to plan a time for your walk the day before and be sure it’s on a surface that is flat with no hills. This calms the pain system and helps make life more predictable and less chaotic. Remember it doesn’t have to be perfect, the important thing is that you try.
Finding your activity tolerance
Activity tolerance is the amount of activity you can do on a good pain day and a bad pain day that will not cause an increase in your daily pain intensity.
Your daily baseline pain is the intensity of pain you experience on a daily basis that is not a flare-up. In other words it’s the average or typical amount of pain you live with every day.
A flare-up however is an increase in your daily baseline pain that can leave you debilitated for hours, sometimes days. When this occurs the intensity of pain you experience may go off the 10 point scale.
Tips on staying active
1. Pay attention to the pain intensity
As you begin your walk, pay attention to the pain intensity you are experiencing. If your pain intensity is 5 on 10, how far can you walk before it starts to creep up to 7 on 10?
2. Calculate your activity tolerance
If you start to feel the pain intensity increase at ten minutes, calculate your activity tolerance or starting point by taking half that time or 5 minutes and plan your daily walk once or twice a day sticking to the 5 minutes. This may not seem like much, but it will be a safe amount of time that can be gradually increased over time if you do not experience any flare-ups.
If you prefer not to use time; distance or land marks may work better. In this situation the land mark you choose which caused an increase in your baseline pain should be cut in half.
It doesn’t matter if you use time or distance to find your activity tolerance. It’s whatever works for you. There is no right or wrong way.
3. Plan ahead
Now that you know the ideal time or distance to avoid a flare-up, plan the best time of day for your walk. On the day of your walk do not let pain sabotage your plan. It is important to try. Remember you’re not causing damage by moving.
It may seem like you’re not doing much at this stage, but research shows that using activity in this way can help to re-train or re-boot your pain system. Minimizing flare-ups are essential to calming pain. Be patient and gentle with yourself.
4. Plan your progression
If you were able to walk for 4 days at the distance and time you picked then you can add a minute to your time. If you use distance, pick a new target on your route that feels safe but still challenges you to nudge the edges of your pain.
5. Don’t get discouraged
Sometimes despite your good planning a pain flare-up may occur the next day or a few days later. Don’t panic or get discouraged. When this happens your time or distance may need to be adjusted or you may need to look at how your day is structured.
You are not alone
Remember you are more than just a person living with pain. You have dreams and aspirations like everyone else. Begin to take the steps to help you move forward.
Talk to your health care provider to see if a referral to a pain self-management program may be beneficial for you. It may help you explore other activities that could be more suitable for you and your abilities. Be open to trying different things. Look at what your community has to offer.
Maureen Allen, MDDirector of Emergency ServicesSt. Martha’s Regional Hospital
Source: Understanding Persistent Pain:Finding calm in chaos, a guide for patients and their families, Dr. M. Allen, 2017.
(images by pixabay.com)
By the same author:
The countdown is on! We are in the midst of planning for the 4th Annual World Oceans Day event.
There will be a lot to see and touch! Some of the interactive stations that will be available at the Biology Dept. during the event, include:
Cool preserved specimens
Sting ray display
Make-your-own fossil print
Sea-weed station with a special treat
Conservation station led by the StFX Aquatic Resources Dept.
Piping plover station led by the Bird Studies Canada organization
Conservation station led by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans
Dolphin communication station led by Justin Gregg Ph.D.
Live sea anemones, sea urchins, sea stars
Variety of live crabs
Live blue lobster
Attend the event for hands-on fun!
Celebrate World Oceans Day! Explore the Biology dept.’s marine touch-tanks and learn about various marine organisms.
Posted by Country Parent on Saturday, June 3, 2017
For time and location click here
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Following the Pokemon Go craze and the water bottle flipping madness, the latest fad taking over is… Fidget spinners! Just like hacky sacs and yo-yos did it the past, these cool little toys are quickly gaining popularity with kids of all ages. And stores are constantly running out of stock!
Enter the YouTube videos: There are thousands of DIYs online on how to make fidget spinners; with zip ties, with shoe laces, with bearings, without bearings, the list goes on.
Our kids tried most of these alternatives when they couldn’t find the spinners in stores. However, they still wanted the real deal. So, after we lost our cool status as parents, yet again, when we refused to purchase them online and pay double the amount in shipping and handling, they decided to place a 3D printing order with the local library.
And they were not alone!
The Peoples’ Place Library has been swarmed with 3D printer requests for fidget spinners and the Highland Bike Shop has been ordering bearings non-stop.So how are they made?
The Lulzbot Taz5 3D printer uses a PLA (polylactic acid) plastic derived from corn starch. The 3 mm filament is melted to a temperature of 205°C and the build platform on top of which the object sits, is kept at 60°C. The platform slides along the X axis as the print nozzle moves along the Y and Z axes to form one layer at a time in order to build the spinner.
Play the short video to watch the printer in action.
The fidget spinner can be assembled once it’s dry and cooled to room temperature. The bearing is then placed in the center and tapped in gently with a rubber mallet.
The rest of the pieces are added in, the hexagon nuts and the bearing caps.
And there you have it, the final product:
Simple, inexpensive and thank-goodness-for-this-3D-printer-because-my-kids-were-driving-me-bonkers fist bumps all around!
Thank you Sarah O’Toole for all your help!!
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June 8 is World Oceans Day, a global ocean celebration marked by special events, exploration, awareness, education, conservation, initiatives and beach clean-ups.
This year’s theme is: Our Oceans, Our Future.
For the last three years the St. Francis Xavier University Biology Dept. has been hosting World Ocean Day events for the community. This year marks our 4th event!
On June 11 the department will open its doors for a few hours to showcase the marine touch-tanks to the public. This is a wonderful opportunity to discover and learn about marine biodiversity.
There will be much to see and ‘touch’! We promise, you won’t be disappointed 😀
So, save the date on your calendars and join us this summer. Your kids will LOVE it!
This event has been registered with the World Oceans Day organization.
Click HERE for updates on activities and participating special guests 😉
“Makerspace is a place where people come together to make projects in a communal space. It is a metaphor for a unique atmosphere that encourages tinkering, play, and open-ended exploration for all. A collaborative learning environment where people share materials, ideas, and new skill with one another. Our Makerspace enables community partnership, collaboration and creation.”
-People’s Place Antigonish Town & County Library
I visited the new Makespace with my son and was pleasantly surprised to see all the free equipment and software readily available to anyone who wants to use it. From STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) learning to artistic development, this wonderful space has everything to cultivate the imagination and innovation in every child, and adult.
Here are some of the cool things we discovered during our guided tour with Sarah Armstrong.
This takes Legos to the next level! Great opportunity for children to create and command their own robotic creations to move using the Mindstorms® Lego® series.
Great introduction to programing, coding and circuit building to create prototypes and awesome inventions.
This kit allows you to connect objects that can conduct electricity with a computer program, in order to turn the objects into touchpads. For example, you can make a banana piano where you use the bananas instead of the keyboard to make music.
The Silhouette Cameo
The Silhouette cutting machine is amazing for DIY projects. From simple cut-outs to stick-on vinyl creations… it does it all.
(Note: limited supplies can be purchased at the library at a low cost.)
The Singer® Sewing Machine
This top of the line sewing machine can be used for any sewing project.
This adorable machine is a scrapbooker’s heaven! It allows you to emboss and die cut cards, labels, tags, and much more.
(image from www.editingluke.net)
If you do, then you definitely grew up in the 80’s…
Well, Makerspace has the latest 3D viewer. You can download your own Apps and use them for this 3D virtual reality viewer. How cool is that?
A variety of software
AutoCAD for 3D design, Adobe Creative Suite CS6, Adobe Dreamweaver for web design, Adobe Flash for animation, Adobe Illustrator for creating designs and logos, Photoshop for modifying images and graphics are readily available for free.
The 3D Printer
This machine is AWESOME! You can create 3D models of anything, including the latest toy fad… fidget spinners! You can go to Tinkercad.com, download a design and email it to the library for printing.
(Note: there is a cost for the printer materials)
Combine the power of the 3D printer with the MakerBot® digitizer for even more possibilities. I remember seeing this on TV, but to actually have a digitizer available in town is very exciting!
The MakerBot® scans an item and turns it into a digital design which can then be printed in 3D! Watch the video below.
Great opportunity to convert old VHS tapes, collecting dust, into DVDs. Vinyl records and cassettes can be converted into CDs and MP3s as well.
The Makerspace is a wonderful place to create and stretch one’s imagination. I was very impressed with the quantity and quality of the technology, and the creative equipment available to the public for free.
Your children will love it!
Go check it out 🙂
Note: Make sure to call or email the library in advance to ask about availability.
(The Makerspace is sponsored by the Friends of the Antigonish Library (FoAL))
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