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Archive for March, 2014

Thought Catalog

Dear Dad,

Thank you for holding me tight as a baby, even though it might have seemed like you were denying strangers the pleasure of holding me — I know you just wanted to protect me. Thank you for being there when I took my first steps in the world and for holding my hand until I got there. Thank you for letting me have all of the snacks that Mom wouldn’t allow me, and for being my partner in crime.

Thank you for punishing me and teaching me that to succeed in life I need to play by the rules. Every time-out that I spent rocking myself back and forth in my room to pass the time just makes me appreciate you more now. Thank you for yelling at me, even when I sobbed and screamed about how much I hated you. You didn’t deserve the cruel names I…

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logic

People smoke for many different reasons. Smoking is very addictive because tobacco contains a powerful drug called nicotine. Smokers have also been influenced by the clever marketing tactics of tobacco companies for many years.

Nicotine as a drug

Cigarettes are deliberately designed to give you a fast nicotine hit. It takes just 10 seconds for the drug to reach your brain from inhaled cigarette smoke. Nicotine causes addiction in much the same way as heroin or cocaine. It is just as addictive as these ‘harder’ drugs.

Nicotine is a stimulant that increases your heart rate and affects many different parts of your brain and body. Smokers get a high because nicotine triggers the release of dopamine in the brain – a chemical linked to feelings of pleasure.

This also means that smokers start to make a mental link between the act of smoking and feeling good. Because of this, smokers can also become addicted to abstract things like the taste of cigarettes or the feeling of smoking, as well as the nicotine itself.

 

Withdrawal symptoms

Addiction explains why giving up smoking can cause nicotine withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms include cravings, irritability, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, restlessness and disturbed sleep.

As your body adjusts to the lack of nicotine, these symptoms will start to disappear and most will go away within a month. Withdrawal symptoms can be difficult to cope but the benefits to your health are well worth it.

Nicotine as a poison

Nicotine is a neurotoxin (a poison that kills nerve cells) found in tobacco plants. It acts as a defence mechanism to stop them from being eaten by animals.

However, in cigarettes, the level of nicotine is too low to cause poisoning. And the nicotine in nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) is a safe way to come off the nicotine in cigarettes. Using NRT can double your chances of successfully quitting.

Tobacco advertising and promotion

Half of smokers die from smoking-related diseases. The tobacco industry needs new customers to replace the 114,000 people who are killed by smoking in the UK each year. Cigarette manufacturers make sure that:

  • they know exactly why people smoke
  • they cleverly market products to attract new customers.

In the past cigarette manufacturers have deliberately targeted children and young people. The industry spends a great deal of money on making cigarettes seem glamorous, appealing, fashionable and attractive. Most smokers started when they were young and image conscious. Young smokers often find it difficult to give up in later life.

Cigarette advertising is now banned in the UK. So the industry is developing new and subtle tactics to avoid prosecution.

Stress and relaxation

Many people claim that smoking helps them to cope with stress. But in fact, nicotine is a stimulant and won’t help you to relax. Smokers probably think a cigarette makes them feel better because when they aren’t smoking they suffer from nicotine withdrawal.

Other personal reasons for smoking

People have many other personal reasons for smoking. Smokers may:

  • use smoking as a support for when things go wrong
  • enjoy smoking with others as a shared activity
  • use smoking to start conversations and meet new people
  • smoke to make themselves look more confident and in control
  • think that cigarettes help them to keep their weight down
  • have a cigarette when they’re feeling bored or lonely
  • smoke when they need a break or a moment to themselves.

Knowing why you smoke is one of the first steps towards giving up.

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4'0000

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fags

How I quit smoking 2 packs of cigarettes a day

 

For some 28 years, I had been hooked to smoking like a furnace, and smelled like one too. Back then, in university, it was real cool to smoke. Almost everyone did, and those who didn’t were ‘not in’.

I started with a stick, smoked after dinner on my parents’ 2nd floor balcony, where the wind could blow the smoke away. Inhaling hurt my head, the smoke hurt my nose and throat. But I continued to smoke and increased frequency. In 5 years, when I started to work, I was smoking a pack of Marlboro reds a day. For a year or so during & after my first pregnancy, I did stop smoking “for the sake of my daughter”. I continued to smoke for the next 23 years, and built up to 2 packs a day, having short clean periods when I had colds. I’d try to extend these “dry”spells, but I always ended taking up the habit again.

In a way, I was outwardly proud of my smoking, as if it was a life achievement. Yet deep inside, I wanted to kick it off my system. I was starting to weaken. My dad hated my smell as I tended to him on his death bed. The scent stuck to all my clothes. Some of my officemates would stick pictures of blackened lungs on the corkboard beside my desk, or in my drawer. And my daughters were getting paranoid they’d get cancer in their teens from inhaling second hand smoke. I know I tried my best to quit, but my will just seemed to be totally uncooperative. I’d go ‘clean’ for a few weeks, only to start again. Those episodes started to become a boring series of failed attempts.

 

Accepting the problem and asking for help

Strange things do happen. About 20 years since I lit that first stick of cigarette in my parents’ home, I started to seriously look for ways to stop smoking. I started to dance again, and eventually teach dance, hoping the necessity to keep fit would inspire me to keep off the smokes. Yet, I always reverted back to a habit that I was starting to really detest.

Then in 1998, I surfed the net, looking for other people who had kicked the habit, to learn how they did it, and if I could perhaps copy their experience. I left several pages open at a time, and clicked on a vaguely familiar name – Eckankar. I knew I’d seen it before, and it felt as if I had known it for ages. I was intrigued by words that seemed to rise from the screen, engrossing words that seemed to mirror beliefs I didn’t realize I had till then. I stuck on the point that God sends messages to each one of us through the Holy Spirit in the form of words that we read, or conversations with others, or some other form. I felt a peculiar lightness and knowingness as I read and openly accepted Eckankar’s basic philosophy, so much so that I felt the urge to resume my research on spirituality which I had started almost a decade earlier. Eventually, I requested Eckankar for a free intro book.

I continued to check out another site, and as I stretched out for a break, I realized that I had not smoked a cigarette for more than an hour. My last one, I estimated, was right before I clicked on the Eckankar website. Right there and then, I resolved to quit smoking (again, for the nth time)., This time however, I consciously called on my God to help me do it. I practically verbalized my plea: Please dear God, I really want to quit this terrible bad habit, which I’ve been trying to for so many years. Maybe with your help, I can finally do it. No, I believe that with your help I can finally do it. Surely I haven’t been able to stop smoking on my own. But I know you can actually help me. Please God, help me quit smoking now. Thank you for your help in advance. I repeated my plea in various words over the next minutes. And for the first time, I knew I’d be able to finally quit smoking.

 
 

The Turning Point

 

As I telepathically talked with God, I cleaned out my ashtray of cigarette butts into the waste basket. Knowing I had to put in my share of the work as I asked for God’s help, I threw in the ashtray too. I hesitated a second before I took the rest of the unlit cigarettes, broke and mashed each one and threw them in with the ashes and crumpled packs. Next I went through my drawers to collect all my lighters, matches, and rest of the remaining 6 packs of cigarettes. I opened each one, still talking with God, asking for support and strength, promising that I will try to do my part, broke each cigarette, and threw them in with the rest. I now ended. with a basket full of mashed unlit cigarettes. Temptation was starting to set in. I got the urge to reach into the basket for a fairly intact stick. I stood up, took the basket, walked down the 4 flights of stairs from my loft to the ground floor of our condominium building, and emptied my basket into the huge trash bin.

I gave the basket a last hard knock to make sure every single cigarette was in the bin. Then I heaved a big sigh, and could feel myself patting myself on the back. “Great girl, you did it.” But soon as took the first step up the stairs, I felt remorse, and questioned myself why I did such a stupid thing. Then this other part of me started shooing the remorse away. I talked to God in my mind again, as I struggled up the stairs. When I reached the door, I knew for sure that I had passed my first test. I wondered though how many more tests I’d have to hurdle.

 
 

Thanks for the reminders

The next day, I told my husband about my action the night before, hoping he and my daughters would help me in case I am tested to light a stick. i also informed my friends about my decision. I soon noticed that smokers now refrain from smoking in my presence, or at least stood up and walked to the far end of the table, not that I ever asked them to do so. Who really knows why they acted/reacted the way they did. It just seemed as if I had a “no smoking” sign on my forehead.

Turned out that I did not have any more major smoking tests/temptations, or perhaps I did not see the tests as hard ones. I continue to hang on the fact that I had asked my God for help as I admitted my limitation and surrendered the outcome of my efforts to Him. In return I just had to live up to my own promise.

Finally Free

 

In the 10 years since I admitted my inability to quit my cigarette addiction, I remember having been tested no less than 4 times, all in my dreams, in various occasions when a friend or a acquaintance would offer me a cigarette. The first test came some months after I actually quit. I took the proffered stick, put it in my mouth, lit a match but did not light the cigarette. I had remembered my promise to God just in time. On the second test, about a year later, I stuck the cigarette in my mouth, but never lit it. The third test came on the fourth year, and the final one was on the 7th or so year. In both dreams, I sat among smokers, not a bit tempted nor bothered.

Today, our home is totally smoke-free. My husband quit 5 years ago. I feel my lungs have opened and cleared up. I have joined and enjoy singing with our alumnae chorale singing and dancing for charity. My husband has taken to biking regularly. Our noses are much more sensitive now to a variety of wonderful scents and odors. I am aware that my clothes smell much better now, and surely I do too.

HAVE YOU GOT ANY TIPS TO STOP SMOKING ? MAKE A COMMENT

 

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mhcghana

MHC was approached by a freelance journalist, Angela Sarpong, to write an article pertaining to Maternal Health. Ms. Sarpong works for local and international blogs and websites writing on various issues. She came across our website and was moved to write an article for us. So here it is, some helpful and handy tips to help you reduce risks during your pregnancy:

Image

Health during pregnancy is one of the world’s biggest issues at the time. Although thank the Lord most of pregnancies finish normally, there are still an important number of child and mother deaths in Ghana, and so part of the solution is to provide more information to the mothers. Here are some tips on how to keep you and your future baby healthy during pregnancy:

Medical care – It is extremely important you attend all your visits. Indeed, proper prenatal medical care is basic to avoid risks and…

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babysmokin

We know that it can be difficult to quit smoking. But we also know that you want to give your baby the best possible start in life.

Quitting smoking is the most important thing you can do to improve your baby’s health, growth and development. But there are many old wives’ tales about smoking during pregnancy that actually stop mums-to-be from quitting. So we want to share the facts that you need to know.

No matter what stage you’re at in your pregnancy, it’s never too late to stop smoking. The NHS offers specialist support for pregnant women who are trying to quit, so once you’ve read this page the best thing you can do is get in touch with us – we’re here to help you, your partner and your baby.

Promo smoking and pregnancy

Know the risks

It’s difficult to imagine when you can’t see your baby, but smoking when you’re pregnant is like blowing smoke in your baby’s face. When you smoke a cigarette, the poisons from the cigarette smoke are passed on to your baby.

Not only is this very distressing for your baby, but the exposure to these poisons can last up to 15 minutes at a time. It’s like putting your baby in a smoke-filled room for 15 minutes.

This happens for each and every cigarette you smoke, so cutting down on your smoking rather than quitting completely will still have a harmful effect on your baby’s wellbeing.

How smoking affects your baby in the womb

The lungs

When you smoke you breathe in more than 4,000 chemicals from the cigarette. The smoke goes from your lungs into your bloodstream. That blood flows to your placenta and umbilical cord, right into your baby’s tiny body. This causes your baby to struggle for oxygen.

The heart

One of the chemicals found in cigarettes is carbon monoxide, a dangerous chemical that gets into your bloodstream.

This restricts the supply of oxygen that’s essential for your baby’s healthy growth and development. This causes your baby’s tiny heart to pump even harder.

How smoking affects your newborn baby

Your baby’s tiny body is completely dependent on yours, so if you smoke throughout your pregnancy, your baby will go through nicotine withdrawal once it is born. This can make your baby stressed and irritable and it may be difficult to stop them crying.

Smoking while you are pregnant also increases the risk of your baby dying from cot death by at least 25%.

How smoking affects your children

Second-hand smoke is very dangerous for anyone exposed to it, but it is particularly dangerous for children babysmokin

Children exposed to second-hand smoke are at risk of ear infections, bronchitis, pneumonia, asthma attacks and meningitis. Last year in the UK, 300,000 GP visits and 9,500 hospital admissions were caused by children breathing in other people’s cigarette smoke.

 

WHAT DO YOU THINK MAKE A COMMENT

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TOMB STONE

 want one so bad I begin to itch

But the more I have the more I get a stitch,

When I have one I feel satisfied

But the more I have the more I might die,

The one after tea is definitely the best

But the more I have,the more pains in my chest,

I used to run,I used to be fit

I need to cut down or definitely quit,

From freshness to blackness I can’t understand

My body was good,but now it is bad

All of them kill,no matter the brand,

You can kick it,yes you can,

Put it out before you choke

Trust me mate, please don’t smoke

By Christopher Wolvet

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NO SCHOOL TODAY

I’m staying home from school today.
I’d rather be in bed,
pretending that I have a pain
that’s pounding in my head.

I’ll say I have a stomachache.
I’ll claim I’ve got the flu.
I’ll shiver like I’m cold
and hold my breath until I’m blue.

I’ll fake a cough. I’ll fake a sneeze.
I’ll say my throat is sore.
If necessary, I can throw
a tantrum on the floor.

I’m sure I’ll get away with it.
Of that, there’s little doubt.
But even so, I really hope
my students don’t find out.

by Kenn Nesbitt

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NO SCHOOL

I don’t want to go into school today; Mum, 
I don’t feel like school work today.
Oh, don’t make me go to school today, Mum
Oh, please let me stay home and play.

But you must go to school, my cherub, my lamb, 
If you don’t it will be a disaster, 
How would they manage without you, my sweet, 
After all you are the headmaster! 

colin mcnaughton

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A sad student who may not want to go to school.
A sad student who may not want to go to school and whose anxiety may actually cause him to have symptoms such as headaches and stomachaches.

Many kids look forward to going to school.

They may not always enjoy every single part of the school day. But in general, they like spending time with their friends at school, learning new things and being challenged.

Some other kids just dread going to school though. For these kids, going to school may become so stressful that they have temper tantrums over going to school or complain of symptoms such as headaches, stomachaches, or chest pain.

Why?

For some kids, there is an easily identifiable trigger for school refusal, such as being bullied, death in the family, or move to a new neighborhood. Following one of these events, especially if they are associated with the child staying home with a parent for some time, the child may not want to go to school any more.

Although school refusal has been associated with both separation anxiety disorder and social phobia, the easiest way to think about it is that school refusal is a ‘difficulty attending school associated with emotional distress, especially anxiety and depression.’

Symptoms of School Refusal

Not surprising, school refusal is most common in kids who are five to six years old, when they are just starting school and in their first year of kindergarten. It is also common in school-age children who are about 10 to 11 years old, toward the end of the last years of elementary school.

In addition to having temper tantrums and crying when it is time to go to school, symptoms that children may have when they don’t want to go to school may include vague complaints such as:

  • stomachaches
  • headaches
  • nausea
  • dizziness
  • chest pain
  • joint pain

Although these symptoms can also be found in children with other medical problems, one good sign that they are being caused by school refusal is that they get better later in the morning once the child understands that he is going to be able to stay home.

Other signs that a child’s symptoms might be caused by school refusal include that your child:

  • is gaining weight well.
  • does not have a fever, vomiting, or diarrhea.
  • does not have as many symptoms when he isn’t in school, including weekends and holidays.
  • has no obvious physical signs of illness when you visit your pediatrician. For example, he may have joint pain, but no joint swelling or limited movement of the joint.
  • in general has other fears, phobias, or symptoms ofanxiety, such as clingy behavior, excessive worrying or nightmares.

Managing School Refusal

Of course, the main goal in managing school refusal is getting kids back in school. Unfortunately, when kids seem sick and are trying to stay home from school, it is not always easy to recognize that they are avoiding school.

That is why a visit to your pediatrician is usually a good first step when your kids don’t want to go to school. This can help ensure that your child doesn’t have a physical condition causing his symptoms. Unfortunately, while a physical condition can often be ruled out after your pediatrician talks to you and your child and does a physical exam, some children with school refusal end up seeing multiple specialists and having many tests before a diagnosis is finally made.

Once a diagnosis of school refusal is made, it can help to:

  • make sure that your child goes to school each day, since the more he stays home, the harder it will be to get him to go back to school.
  • understand that even though your child likely doesn’t have a physical problem causing his symptoms, that doesn’t mean that those symptoms aren’t real. So your child isn’t necessarily making up symptoms, such as stomachaches or headaches. They may just be caused by his anxiety about going to school.
  • talk to your child and school staff to see if you can figure out what is triggering your child’s school avoidance behaviors, such as a bully, school performance problems, or trouble making friends.
  • consider getting help from a child psychiatrist and/or a child psychologist, in addition to your pediatrician, especially if you feel like you are having to force your child to go to school each day.
  • have a plan for when your child has symptoms at school, such as spending 10 to 15 minutes in the nurses office and then returning to class.
  • keep a symptom diary and see your pediatrician on the days that your child feels like he really can’t go to school.
  • consider family therapy if there are any stressors at home, like a divorce, separation, discipline problems, death in the family, new sibling, or a recent move.

One of the most important things for parents is to be open to the idea that a child’s symptoms might be caused by school refusal and not a physical problem. This will help get your child back in school faster and avoid unnecessary medical tests. Even if you are not convinced that your child has school refusal after seeing your pediatrician, you can keep your child in school as you proceed with a second opinion or further evaluation for a physical problem.

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Non-Mom's Blog

6 Tips to Help New Parents

Whether it’s your friend’s first time having a child or your sister delivering her fourth born, figuring out how to be a help instead of a hindrance during those first few days of the baby’s life can be difficult. New parents often feel overwhelmed and exhausted as they adjust to their new role. Help your friend or family member adjust to life with a newborn by following these tips:

Ask

While it’s a simple suggestion, simply asking how you can help can open the door to lending a helping hand. Some new parents want to limit interaction with others during those first few weeks to bond with their newborn while others may welcome opportunities to introduce their new baby to friends and family. From helping with laundry to holding the baby so they can take a nap, new parents may welcome the opportunity to…

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