Archive for May, 2011

SEXUALITY AND CANCER

Posted on May 29, 2011, under Cancer.

Because gynecological cancer relates specifically to the reproductive system and body parts that create our ‘sexual’ identity, the impact on sexuality and fertility can have significant consequences on a woman’s sense of self and intimate future.
An intimate relationship is one of life’s great joys. This can be expressed in a variety of ways, most commonly in sexual activity. Equally joyful is an intimate relationship with ourselves that reassures us, as women, that we are feminine and valued as sexual beings despite changes to our body. Just because we may have had radical treatment to save our life, treatment that changes our physical and gynecological self, does not mean we are ‘sexless’.
Immediately after a cancer diagnosis the primary focus for many women is on the physical issues around restoring good health. Sexual activity and other expressions of intimacy are often foregone, ignored or delayed as women come to terms with the impact of the medical (physical) treatment that has to be undergone to survive. It is only after one has come to terms with the physical coping that the realization of the impact on fertility, sexuality, body image, intimacy emotions and spirituality becomes apparent. The way in which this initial ‘physical’ phase is managed has an enormous impact on the way a woman will not only resume her life, but also in the way she sees her self as sexually relevant and ‘female’.
Whilst issues are relevant for all women independent of sexual preference, identity or relationship status we have included specific information for lesbians as research shows that these women have particular issues when dealing with gynecological cancer.
Many women at the time of diagnosis still see themselves as sexually desirable, despite body shape or age. Others have been celibate for some time either by choice or due to factors such as widowhood, and therefore body image and sex are not that relevant in the greater scheme of their life activities.
The range of women we interviewed covered the broad spectrum of relationships of all ages and stages in the life cycle – single, divorced, newly married, long-term married, lesbian, new mother experiences. The quality of their sexual activity and levels of intimacy was determined by the quality of the relationship prior to the diagnosis. Those in stable, caring relationships with good communication between them restored the intimate aspects of life far quicker than those whose relationships were in jeopardy before diagnosis.
Fertility issues were significant for all pre-menopausal women despite the status of their relationship. Young single women were concerned about the possibility of forming a long-term relationship. Many women, regardless of age, found it difficult to accept the surgical scars and saw them as a barrier initially to resuming or forming intimate relationships. The good news is that all these reactions are entirely normal in the process of recovery. The better news is that most of these feelings and reactions only last for a short time.
Do you know that the quicker intimacy can be resumed after a cancer diagnosis, the quicker your self-esteem and body image issues can be resolved?
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ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS

Posted on May 17, 2011, under Anti Depressants-Sleeping Aid.

Volumes have been written about the phenomenon of AA. It has been investigated, explained, challenged, and defended by laypeople, newspapers, writers, magazines, psychologists, psychiatrists, physicians, sociologists, anthropologists, and clergy. Each has brought a set of underlying assumptions and a particular vocabulary and professional or lay framework to the task. The variety of material on the subject reminds one of trying to force mercury into a certain-sized, perfectly round ball.
In this brief discussion, we certainly have a few underlying assumptions. One is that “experience is the best teacher.” This text will be relatively unhelpful compared to attending AA meetings over a period of time, watching and talking with people in the process of recovery actively using the program of AA. Another assumption is that AA works for a wide variety of people caught up in the disease and for this reason deserves a counselor’s attention. Alcoholics Anonymous has been described as “the single most effective treatment for alcoholism.” The exact whys and hows of its workings are not of paramount importance, but some understanding of it is necessary to genuinely recommend it. Presenting AA with such statements as “AA worked for me; it’s the only way,” or, conversely, “I’ve done all I can for you, you might as well try AA,” might not be the most helpful approach.
History
Alcoholics Anonymous had its beginnings in 1935 in Akron, Ohio, with the meeting of two alcoholics. One, Bill W, had had a spiritual experience that had been the major precipitating event in beginning his abstinence. On a trip to Akron after about a year of sobriety, he was overtaken by a strong desire to drink. He hit upon the idea of seeking out another suffering alcoholic as an alternative. He made contact with some people who led him to Dr. Bob, and the whole thing began with their first meeting. The fascinating story of this history is told in AA Comes of Age. The idea of alcoholics helping each other spread slowly in geometric fashion until 1939. At that point, a group of about a hundred sober members realized they had something to offer the thus far “hopeless alcoholics.” They wrote and published the book Alcoholics Anonymous, generally known as the Big Book. It was based on a retrospective view of what they had done that had kept them sober. The past tense is used almost entirely in the Big Book. It was compiled by a group of people who over time, working together, had found something that worked. Their task was to present this in a useful framework to others who might try it for themselves. This story is also covered in AA Comes of Age. In1941, AA became widely known after publication of an article in a national magazine. The geometric growth rapidly advanced, and in 1983 there were an estimated 1 million active members world wide.
Goals
Alcoholics Anonymous stresses abstinence and contends that nothing can really happen for a drinker until “the cork is in the bottle.” Many other helping professionals tend to agree. A drugged person-—and an alcoholic is drugged—simply cannot comprehend, or use successfully, many other forms of treatment. First, the drug has to go.
The goals of each individual within AA vary widely; simple abstinence to a whole new way of life are the ends of the continuum. Individuals’ personal goals may also change over time. That any one organization can accommodate such diversity is in itself something of a miracle.
In AA, the words sober and dry denote quite different states. A dry person is simply not drinking at the moment. Sobriety means a more basic, all-pervasive change in the person. Sobriety does not come as quickly as dryness and requires a desire for, and work toward, a contented, productive life without reliance on mood-altering drugs. The Twelve Steps provide a framework for achieving this latter state.
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HIV: SKIN PROBLEMS-BLISTERING RASH: HERPES SIMPLEX INFECTION

Posted on May 9, 2011, under HIV.

Blisters are small, fluid-filled bubbles that often break, becoming open sores filled with clear fluid or pus. Blisters can occur in groups in one specific area of the skin, or they can be distributed all over the skin.
Like red rashes, blistering rashes can be caused by adverse reactions to drugs. The most common causes of blistering rash in people with HIV infection, however, are two related viruses, herpes simplex and herpes zoster.
Herpes simplex infection-Infection by the herpes simplex virus is extremely common in healthy people. There are actually two different types of herpes simplex viruses: Type I and Type II. Type I most frequently causes the infection of the mouth called cold sores. Type II causes sores on the genitals and the anal region and is regarded as a sexually transmitted disease. Herpes simplex hides in nerve cells and periodically becomes active, causing recurrent blistering rashes. In people with weakened immune systems, herpes simplex can also affect skin on other parts of the body, and can even affect the internal organs.
Blood tests show that 15 percent to 50 percent of otherwise healthy people have one or both types of herpes simplex. Most of these people have either no problems or rare outbreaks; some have attacks more frequently, but these are brief, not severe, and restricted to the lips or genitals. By contrast, people with advanced HIV infection can have herpes simplex infections that cover a larger area of the skin, can be more painful, and can last longer.
Treatment with an antiviral drug called acyclovir (commercial name, Zovirax) usually controls symptoms. Acyclovir is available as pills and as ointment to be applied directly to the sores; when infection is severe, acyclovir can be taken intravenously. Treatment does not eliminate the virus. As a result, the infection can recur; recurrence can often be prevented or at least reduced in frequency by taking acyclovir pills.
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