Saturday, April 12, 2014

Public health leadership and electronic cigarette users

From Gerry Stimson and published by the Oxford University Press

The recent study by Goniewicz and colleagues1 points to the increasing popularity of electronic cigarettes among people who want to quit smoking, adds to the growing scientific evidence about their real-world use and in turn raises questions about their potential to reduce smoking-related disease.
Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death and disease globally, associated with nearly 6 million deaths annually; in the European Union smoking rates average 29% of the adult population, with 700 000 premature deaths each year. Most smokers want to quit smoking but find it hard to give up nicotine. Progress with reducing smoking continues, but the pace is slow. It is hard to see how the current non-communicable disease burden can be met without a drastic reduction in smoking prevalence. It is also hard to see how that can come about with current anti-smoking measures. The package of interventions in the European Tobacco Products Directive, including large health warnings and bans on small packs, is on the evidence of the European Commission’s own impact assessment likely to reduce tobacco consumption only by ∼2% over 5 years, which translates into ∼0.5% decline in prevalence in that time. Elsewhere, similarly modest historical gains have been demonstrated: graphic warning labels, introduced in Canada in 2000, are estimated to have helped reduce smoking prevalence by between 2.87 and 4.86% over 9 years, i.e. between 0.32 and 0.54 per annum.2 The contribution of conventional treatment interventions to reducing population prevalence of smoking appears negligible: in randomized controlled trials, nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) improves the chances of quitting, but in the real world of consumer self-initiated quit attempts, NRT confers no advantage over stopping without any aid.3 The jury is still out on whether NRT has had a measurable population-level impact. Population level declines in smoking are important but modest, and few could agree that the pace of reduction in smoking is fast enough. This means that countries face continued smoking-related morbidity and mortality for many decades.
Where conventional ‘quit smoking’ approaches have lingered, electronic cigarettes are an attractive alternative to tobacco cigarettes for established smokers who are unable or unwilling to give up nicotine. The available evidence in this fast-moving scientific field indicates that electronic cigarettes do not raise serious health concerns and the science suggests that electronic cigarettes are many times safer than the smoked tobacco against which they are competing.4 They are clearly popular among smokers and ex-smokers: in a short time there has been remarkable uptake in their use, with an estimated 7 million users in Europe and 1.3 million in the UK; in the USA, the value of sales is roughly doubling each year, from $20 million in 2008 to an estimated $1000 million in 2013. In the UK, Robert West’s Smoking Toolkit data show that electronic cigarettes have overtaken both NRT and health service stop smoking clinics as the most common resource used by people who want to stop smoking, with one in three quit attempts now involving the use of electronic cigarettes. Tobacco sales are declining, in part attributed to the rise of e-cigarettes, and the US stock market analysts estimate that e-cigarettes will overtake tobacco sales within 10 years.
Trial results suggest that electronic cigarettes are at least as effective as NRT in a randomized controlled trial. However, RCT data alone are an insufficient basis for public health planning. An intervention needs to be effective, acceptable and capable of being adopted on a mass scale at low cost. If data on effectiveness and popularity turn out to be true in the longer term, electronic cigarettes could be a more effective intervention at a population level than other stop-smoking initiatives.
The rise of the electronic cigarette is a consumer-led self-help public health movement, mostly spread by word of mouth, social media and direct point of sale advice at e-cigarette shops, with, until recently, little mass marketing. What other public health initiative could claim so many ‘converts’ in such a short time? This consumer public health movement is all the more remarkable because it has not used health care resources. It has not been a cost to taxpayers—being paid for by the consumer. This consumer-led public health initiative has all the hallmarks of what public health hopes to achieve.
The core public health mission is to prevent disease, prolong life and promote health. Good public health initiatives work with individuals and communities. The WHO Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion states ‘Health promotion is the process of enabling people to increase control over, and to improve, their health … People cannot achieve their fullest health potential unless they are able to take control of those things which determine their health’.5 This seems to be exactly what electronic cigarette consumers are doing—taking control of things that determine their health. So it is also remarkable that this trend in electronic cigarette use has had little support from public health experts. Public health has yet to engage with this new movement. In many countries the medical and public health response has been negative and overprecautionary. The reasons for this are complex, but for people who have dedicated their lives campaigning against smoking and for an end of the tobacco industry it seems hard to accept that this disruptive innovation might be a solution to smoking. The caution exhibited by public health experts has led to a chasm between them and consumers: evidenced by comments on social media, many e-cigarette consumers see public health as the enemy of health and consumer choice. This should be cause for sober reflection by public health professionals and is an extraordinary situation that needs to be remedied from both sides to maximize the public health potential of safer alternatives to smoking.

Positive Blood Results in Children with M.E

The BBC have printed a very encouraging piece of research about M.E.  More power to the researchers, and may their findings be noted everywhere.

This is what the article said:


A study on children has found further evidence that ME, or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, could be caused by a virus.
Scientists at the University of Dundee study found abnormalities in the white blood cells of children with ME/CFS, suggesting they had been fighting off infection.
ME (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis), also known as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), causes debilitating tiredness.
About 150,000 people in the UK have ME/CFS, 15,000 of whom are children.
The condition is characterised by physical and mental exhaustion following normal activities. Symptoms can include muscle pain, sore throat, tender lymph nodes, multi-joint pain and headaches.
In the study, funded by ME Research UK and The Young ME Sufferers (Tymes) Trust, 25 children aged between seven and 14 with ME/CFS were assessed, along with 23 children of a similar age in a control group.
The report, published in the Archives of Paediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, said abnormalities were found in the blood of all the children with ME/CFS.
The results were similar to those previously identified in adults with the condition.
Samples taken from youngsters with ME/CFS contained higher than normal levels of free radicals - molecules that can damage cells, tissues and organs.
Virus debate
A much greater number of neutrophils, the most common type of white blood cells, were also found to be at the end of their lifecycle.
The report said the high turnover of neutrophils indicated the body's need to fight infection.

Start Quote

Professor Jill Belch
It's also important because some people do suggest that ME is a disease of the mind and here we are showing that it is a disease of the body”
Professor Jill BelchNinewells Hospital, Dundee
There is a continuing debate among scientists over whether ME/CFS is caused by a virus.
Several studies in adults have found evidence of a virus in people with the condition, but so far research has not proved conclusive.
Some doctors have said that the idea that different types of chronic fatigue are all caused by a single virus is not plausible.
Professor Jill Belch, an expert in vascular medicine at Ninewells hospital in Dundee who led the latest research project, said: "What we've found are blood changes that suggest chronic inflammation.
"This is important because it's showing an abnormality that we might be able to devise a treatment for, but it's also important because some people do suggest that ME is a disease of the mind and here we are showing that it is a disease of the body."
Dr Neil Abbot, of ME Research UK, said it was " fascinating to discover evidence of a persistent or reactivating viral infection".
"Although the cause of ME is unknown, more than half of all patients say their illness started with an infection," he said.
"The study undoubtedly adds greater scientific weight to the existence of a condition which, sadly, many still fail to acknowledge in spite of its severity."
According to Tymes Trust, children with ME can be treated with "scepticism" by the healthcare system.
'School refuser'
Jozef Mackie, 14, from Fortrose, near Inverness, was a sporty child who loved skiing, until the symptoms of ME began when he was nine years old.
His mother, Donna, said: "He was the boy whose battery wasn't working very well. He had to take more and more time off school.
"The other children were able to run around and do things after school and Joseph had to come home and lie on the settee."
For two years Jozef was labelled a "school refuser" and told it was "all in his head".
He was finally diagnosed with ME when he was 11.
"I haven't been treated very well," said Jozef. "I haven't been believed. They just think I'm putting it on.
"It's sore to get in and out of the car and I can't walk long distances."
Jane Colby, from Tymes Trust, added: "The medical profession must now take the consequences of ME in children seriously, and research into prevention and treatment must be given a high priority."

Sunday, July 21, 2013

New Vaping Blog

I have started a Vaping Blog at Wordpress in order to tell people a little about Vaping.  I think I'm going to move it to Blogger because it is much more customisable.  

But in the meantime, please visit Bakers Vapers Blog.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Gluten Free Oats Cookies


Flourless Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies
(gluten-free)
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 T brown sugar
  • 1 T plus 2 tsp white sugar 
  • 2 T raisins
  • 1 T oil or pre-melted margarine
  • 1-2 T milk of choice (start with 1)
Blend first 5 ingredients together in a food processor or blender.  
Mix with other ingredients, form into cookie shapes, and place on a greased cookie sheet. 

Cook 6 minutes at 375 F.

You can chop dried apple and add cinnamon to vary the recipe a bit.  

Potato Based Pizza



POTATO BASED PIZZA

BASE                                                FOR THE TOPPING


6 large potatoes                                 2 Garlic cloves

6 spring onions                                   1 onion

2 eggs                                               
chopped tomatoes                                                                                    

Salt and pepper                                  fresh basil leaves

Fry light                                            
6oz/170g mozzarella cheese                                                      



Peel and dice potatoes, boil until tender, drain return to pan and mash. Set aside to cool a little. Meanwhile finely chop the spring onions. Place the mash, spring onions and one egg into a bowl and season well. Using your fingers, mix well and shape into a ball. Cover the bowl and chill overnight.


Prepare the topping: Crush garlic, finely chop onion, remove skins from toms (if using fresh) and chop basil leaves. Place in a pan with sweetener and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring often until thickened. Season well and remove from heat.


Preheat oven 200C/400F or gas mark 6. Line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Place the potato mixture in the centre and, using your hands, pat into 10in pizza base. Beat the remaining egg and brush over the base, spray with fry light and bake for 10-15 mins or until lightly browned.


Spread topping over base. Slice mozzarella and arrange on top. Return to oven for further 6-8 minutes. Remove from oven and scatter basil over the top.

Monday, October 29, 2012

South African Rusks - NOT Coeliac friendly


1.5kg selfraising flour
3 eggs
250ml cream
500ml buttermilk or plain yoghurt
250 ml sugar
250g butter
5ml salt

Rub butter into flour.
Beat eggs and sugar.
Add buttermilk (yoghurt)
Mix to a soft dough. 
Form balls of dough & pack tight in a greased dish.
Bake at 180c or 350f for 35 minutes.
Break cooked balls and spread them on the wire racks in the cooker.
Dry overnight in cooker on a low temperature - 80c or so.

Cinnamon Rolls - Coeliac friendly



Gluten Free Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients:

  •  2 egg whites (powdered ones work well.  Follow instructions on the packet)
  • 8 oz ground almonds
  • Pinch of salt
  • 4 oz castor sugar
  • 1 level tablespoon cinnamon
  • Icing sugar

Method:
Beat the egg whites and salt until stiff.

Fold in sugar and ground almonds and cinnamon. 

Make mixture into balls and place on oiled baking sheet. Bake at 300F for 25 minutes.

Roll cooked balls in icing sugar.

Luscious Apple Cake - Coeliac Friendly



Apple Cake gluten free

Ingredients

  • ·         225g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
  • ·         450g Bramley apples
  • ·         Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • ·         225g caster sugar, plus extra for dredging
  • ·         3 large eggs
  • ·         225g gluten-free self-raising flour
  • ·         2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
  • ·         25g ground almonds
  • ·         1 tsp mixed spice
  • ·         1 tbsp demerara sugar

Method

Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan160°C/gas 4.
Grease a deep 23-24cm springform cake tin and line with baking paper.
Peel, core and cut the apples into 1cm pieces, and toss with the lemon juice.  Or use a tin of pie apples. 
Cream together the butter, caster sugar and lemon zest in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, 1 at a time, adding a little flour with each addition to keep the mixture smooth.
Sift the remaining flour and the baking powder into the bowl and fold in with the ground almonds and mixed spice. Stir the apple pieces into the mixture.
Spoon into the prepared cake tin, lightly level the top and sprinkle with the demerara sugar. Bake in the oven for 1 hour or until well-risen, brown and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. If the cake starts to look a little too brown, cover with a sheet of baking paper after about 45 minutes.
Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes. Remove the cake from the tin and place on a serving plate.
Dredge heavily with the extra caster sugar.
Cut the cake into generous wedges and serve warm with a spoonful of clotted cream, if you like.


Coeliac Disease

My dear granddaughter has been diagnosed with Coeliac Disease.  Her mum is very busy with a husband and household to run and three kids, a dog, a cat and two Guinea Pigs.  As she is so busy I am experimenting with some Coeliac friendly recipes.  When I find a recipe that works well, I will make it a few times and then show my daughter how to do it when she has a bit of spare time.

I have a few criteria for the recipes.

1.  They have to be easy to make

2.  Ingredients must be easy to find

3.  Ingredients should not be beyond the budget of an ordinary working family, and

4.  All the family should like them, not just the Coeliac person.  I don't think its good for one person in a family to be singled out and made to eat 'yucky' stuff while everyone else eats 'yummy' stuff.

Easy Choc Chip biscuits - Coeliac friendly



Ingredients:

  • 1 jar peanut butter
  • 1 cup choc chips
  • I cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder

Method:
Mix everything up in a bowl

Drop spoonsful on a baking tray

Bake at 190 for 15 minutes

These cookies really are delicious and very easy to make.

And no, I did not forget to include flour.  The biscuits are flourless, but truly, you wouldn't ever know because they taste wonderful.





Friday, April 20, 2012

Suggestion for Petition

SUGGESTION: The Government needs to be straight with us and tell us whether they believe an ill or disabled person has a right to live or not. Because if so many thousands of people are to lose the means for their survival, the only decent thing for the Government to do is to send out cyanide capsules with their refusal of benefit letters. Shall we embarrass them by putting a petition to this effect on the Downing Street website?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Lots of Catching up to do

Tristan is 6 days old, and to celebrate, Sean took us out for tea. Caelyn hasn't been able to eat much for ages because the baby was squashing her stomach, so she knew what to do with this!

Posted by Picasa

Tristan and big sister Wendy

The Story of Tristan's Birth

Dear Family and Friends 

I’m at home at last, so let me tell you the news.

Caelyn’s baby, Tristan James, was born during a gale with torrential rain on Monday 12 December.  As the winds were buffeting the car so much, they didn’t get to the hospital in time.  I had phoned ahead and Labour Ward had told me that they would examine her, but that they had no beds.

They got as far as the ambulance bay, and Nigel called an ambulance crew to come and help and they were calm and laid back about it until they saw Caelyn – and Tristan’s head!  No one knows how, but an emergency call must have been sent because two ladies came running in their scrubs.  A Paramedic sat behind Caelyn to support her shoulders and back; Nigel was in the front seat holding one of her legs and the N2O.  All four car doors were open so an icy wet wind was blowing through the car.  Somehow, some screens were put in place.  Caelyn was the only one who stayed relatively dry – everyone else was standing outside in the rain and wind.  I think they all were frozen.

Baby was born, and as soon as the cord was cut, he was bundled up and the lady who delivered him handed him to the other one and told her “get this baby inside”.  So off she went with Tristan (whose Apgar was 9 at birth and 10 at 5 minutes!) while the other lady saw to the placenta which came about 20 min later.  Then Caelyn was put on a trolley and taken upstairs.  She and Tristan were very cold, and even with lots of hot drinks and extra blankets, it took until 04h30 for her to stop shivering.

She was the talk of the ward, and several staff members stopped by to see her and wish her well.  It turned out that the lady who delivered him was a paediatrician!  I bet delivering her patients doesn’t happen too often!  Caelyn was very happy with the care she received. 

Then Meridian News started phoning the ward, wanting to do interviews, but she said she just wanted to get home.  She did cave in eventually – all sorts of news people were sending her messages on Facebook.  So here are some links.  The BBC filmed her for the News and the page has a video of the interview, if you can see it in your part of the world.
  





And she was in the top two stories of Meridian News too. 

After all that, Caelyn says she feels well for the first time in months, and Tristan is a contented little baby who is feeding like a gannet.

Well, thats quite a story to tell the lad when he grows up!  There is just one worry, and that is that he was conceived while his mother had a contraceptive device surgically implanted in her arm, and it has a failure rate of 0.04%.  The pregnancy was very troubled, and Caelyn spent a lot of time in hospital.  They stopped premature labour 3 times.  Her kidneys were failing and her breathing was a big problem, with her only having a Peak Flow of 150 for most of the time. Then he was born like this.  You know how we say that if there is a bizarre or weird situation, our Kate is in the middle of it?  I wonder if young Tristan is going to follow in his mother's footsteps ...

Friday, December 16, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Eventful Arrival of the New Boy

My daughter Caelyn went into labour last night when the weather was at its worst. The wind buffeted the car so much her husband couldn't get there fast enough & she said she had to push, so Nigel pulled into the ambulance bay of William Harvey. He called to the ambulance crew. When they came over, they could see his head.

A doctor & midwife came running. Caelyn was on the back seat of the car & the medical staff had to stand in the wind and rain to deliver him. They got soaked. As soon as he was born, they wrapped him up & took him in out of the weather, then the ambulance crew put Caelyn on a trolley to take her in.

Mother and baby are both well, and already the talk of the ward, with staff popping in specially to see him. They are due to be discharged later today.

In view of the circumstances of his birth, a special name is called for, but we can't think of one. His sisters can't wait to meet him.


A New Baby Boy

At about 10 pm on Monday 12 December, Caelyn had a son. He weighs 2.3 kg or 5 lb 12 oz, and he and his mum are both well.

When they left for the hospital, Caelyn asked me to phone to say they were en route. The midwife said they would examine her but they had NO BEDS AVAILABLE.

Then I had a call from my mum & I was expecting her to say they were being sent to another hospital, but she very excitedly told me he had been born in his dads car!  Nigel pulled up to the ambulance bay and asked for help. They were just about to get a wheelchair but then realised there was no time, so the ambulance man delivered him there and then, in a howling gale and torrential rain. Mum phoned me as they were helping then inside after the delivery.

Congratulations to all concerned. I can't wait to see Wendy and Teresa when they are told their little brother arrived in the night!

God bless them, every one!

Monday, November 21, 2011

An actual letter - supposedly. Anyway, its funny.

This, apparently is an actual letter received by the UK Passport Office.

Dear Sirs,


I'm in the process of renewing my passport, and still cannot believe this.. How is it that Sky Television has my address and telephone number and knows that I bought a bleeding satellite dish from them back in 1977, and yet, the Government is still asking me where I was bloody born and on what date.

For Christ sakes, do you guys do this by hand? My birth date you have on my pension book, and it is on all the income tax forms I've filed for the past 30 years. It is on my National Health card, my driving license, my car insurance, on the last eight damn passports I've had, on all those stupid customs declaration forms I've had to fill out before being allowed off the plane over the last 30 years, and all those insufferable census forms.

Would somebody please take note, once and for all, that my mother's name is Mary Anne, my father's name is Robert and I'd be absolutely astounded if that ever changed between now and when I die!!!!!!

I apologise, I'm really pissed off this morning. Between you and me, I've had enough of this bullshit! You send the application to my house, then you ask me for my bloody address!!!!

What is going on? Do you have a gang of neanderthal arseholes workin' there? Look at my damn picture. Do I look like Bin Laden? I don't want to dig up Yasser Arafat, for gods sake. I just want to go and park my arse on some sandy beach somewhere. And would someone please tell me, why would you give a shit whether I plan on visiting a farm in the next 15 days? If I ever got the urge to do something weird to a chicken or a goat, believe you me, you'd be the last bloody people I'd want to tell !!

Well, I have to go now, because I have to go to the other end of the poxy city to get yet another copy of my birth certificate, to the tune of £30. Would it be so complicated to have all the services in the same spot to assist in the issuance of a new passport the same day?? Nooooooooooooo, that'd be too damn easy and maybe make sense. You'd rather have us running all over the bloody place like chickens with our heads cut off, then have to find some arsehole to confirm that it's really me on the damn picture - you know, the one where we're not allowed to smile?! (bureaucratic  morons) Hey, do you know why we couldn't smile if we wanted to? Because we're totally pissed off!

Signed

An Irate Subject


P.S. Remember what I said above about the picture and getting someone to confirm that it's me? Well, my family has been in this country since 1776 ............ I have served in the military for something over 30 years and have had full security clearances over 25 of those years enabling me to undertake highly secretive missions all over the world. ......... However, I have to get someone 'important' to verify who I am - you know, someone like my doctor - WHO WAS BORN AND RAISED IN SODDING PAKISTAN !

Sincerely,
 

Monday, September 26, 2011

BIG ANNOUNCEMENT!




The scan picture clearly shows little feet.  This is Michelle's 18 week scan.  There is another picture I'd like to post of the baby reaching out with his arm.  His fingers are clearly visible.  There was so much excitement in the scanning room.  We saw his heart beating and we also saw the ridges and gullies of his brain.  Michelle says he is especially active this evening.






On the way back from the hospital, we called in at Caelyn's.  The two sisters were sooooo excited and were comparing bumps and maternity notes.  Its exciting for them to be expecting together.



They will be Winter babies.


One problem is that Caelyn's village gets cut off during heavy snow, and she delivered her two daughters quickly.  The midwife has told her to call at the first twinge and they are thinking it might end up as a home birth if its too dangerous to try to get to hospital.  That's Plan B.


 Plan C, if the midwife can't get to her, I've suggested that Nigel put her on a sled and take her to the Old Age Home nearby because at least three of the staff there have been senior midwives for a long time.  They obviously don't keep midwifery equipment there, but they would have a better idea of what to do than Nigel would.  


The other thing is that this winter is forecast to be a harsh one, and the cost of heating has gone up by double figures.  We couldn't afford it last year when it was cheaper.  
We will have to keep one room warm and stay in that one with the baby. Otherwise, we will keep heavy curtains closed to keep the heat in, drink hot drinks, move around, put on extra layers of clothing and use blankets when we are sitting still. 











Saturday, September 10, 2011

Little Animals

There was face painting today, and we have a new cat and a new dog.
 But they will disappear at bath time, so we won't have them long.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Michelle Expecting a Baby

When Michelle told her doctor she was pregnant, he didn't believe her because he has reports from 3 Consultants saying that she could not have children due to a problem with her ovaries.
We are delighted for her. This is a Miracle baby, and very, very welcome. Little one is due on 22 February.  Caelyn's boy is due at the beginning of January, so my guess is that the cousins will get up to a lot of mischief together.


Michelle's Baby

Michelle's baby age 13 weeks and one day. Baby was very active and was seen sucking his or her thumb. Baby is due  on 22  February.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Grandbaby News



Caelyn went for her 20 week Anomaly Scan.
The baby is fine, and everything is within normal parameters.
And its a boy this time!


We have never had a boy in the family.  What on earth does one do with one?
Apparently they are quite different to little girls.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Rare Opportunity

Sometimes people do great things for us and we move away and lose touch. As years go by, the understanding of just how much gratitude we owe that person gets deeper and deeper and we wish we could see them again to tell them just how much they affected our lives. Quite often, it isn't possible.


I had an extraordinary teacher in 1976. I have spoken of her often, and remembered the things she taught me. I didn't think I would have a chance to see her again in this life, and I very much wanted to tell her how much she meant to me - and still does. She was a petite Franciscan nun whose face radiated with joy. She was so excited about what she was teaching that her words would trip over themselves. That joy and enthusiasm made the message go straight in to the head of even the scattiest kid. She was gentle, funny, sweet, warm and holy, and quite irresistible, even to the stern Calvinist School Inspector.


I recently found an old friend, Fiona, on Facebook. She wrote Matric in the same year that I did, and she still lives in Durban. She is coming to England to visit her daughter in September, and I can't wait to see her.


She was also one of Sister Lucy's pupils, and astonishingly recently met up with her again. Fiona and her husband Rob teach adults Christian Doctrine, and Sister Lucy is also one of the teachers. Fiona passed a verbal message from me to Sister Lucy and then I emailed her, care of Fiona. She is 83 years old and living in the convent for frail Franciscan Sisters in Durban. We spoke on the phone. I was brimming over with gratitude that I was able to thank her for all she is and for all she meant to me. It is so seldom that we are granted such an opportunity.


But it gets even better. She said she was going to visit Ireland for two months to visit her frail older sister, and as soon as Sean heard that, he suggested we go and see her there. We fly to Shannon on Friday. He has heard so much about her over the years that he feels he knows her too. I really hope it all works out, but even if it doesn't, I am so blessed to have been able to email her and speak to her.


Here we are: