Category Archives: Healthcare

Paul Maguire on Investigative Journalism


I have a real hatred for Injustice”

Paul Maguire, although from humble beginnings as his first job in a Superquinn store, now stands as the head of RTE’s Prime Time Investigates (PTI) and today addressed the journalism students of UL on the skills needed for investigative journalism.

As the seasoned journalist put it himself, you have to have a real joy and love for the job because sometimes it won’t always love you back. “If you’re standing behind a bush in the lashing rain for six months for the sake of one shot, which is literally what we did, you will feel like saying oh feck this and going home.” But you must really love it, and one of his own reasons for taking such pride and joy in his line of work is that he loves talking to people and hearing their story, “and I have a real hatred for injustice.”

But don’t fool yourself into the idea of becoming a rebellious vigilante of the public’s interest. Mr Maguire stressed that under no circumstances would PTI willingly hand over all or any of their information to Gardaí on an issue before it went to air. “We are not the second arm of the state.”

The job is becoming increasingly harder. There’s long hours, increasing difficulties with the Freedom of Information act, no paid overtime, and hours of waiting. According to Mr Maguire, a good investigation can take up to 18 months – which is true for the case of their documentary Profiting from Prostitution. The investigative piece on the trafficking and conditions of prostitutes in Ireland took over two years to produce.

But the stressed point of his entire message was that the people who you deal with are everything. You must realise that when a victim of whichever violation you are investigating willingly comes to you with information, you must consider yourself honoured. Mr Maguire revealed the extensive aftercare that his team provides to those directly affected by their work.

For example, take their aforementioned documentary on prostitution. They offered the prostitutes they encountered a range of external help from professional bodies, ensured those volunteers who spoke on camera were completely unnoticeable through the use of wigs and voice changes and even returned to those they were worried about to offer more help.

Mr Maguire stressed the importance of ensuring the people you work with are happy and safe. Even on the very last day of production, the RTE team will be willing to remove any content that their interviewees may be uncomfortable with. “When dealing with sensitivity, you must realise that they’re human beings. Don’t forget that fact in your haste to get a good story and reach a deadline.”

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Feed Yourself Pretty

Español: Glass of water. Español: Copa con agua.

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We all ignore it. The fact that vitamins, water, spice and everything nice actually do great things for our appearance. Instead, being the lazy make up reliant generation that we are (myself included), we say ‘meh’ to the healthy goodness of food and instead pull out the ever reliable concealer. So instead of thinking fruit is your enemy and water its evil twin, why don’t you give mother natures intended make up a go and give your cosmetic bag that well deserved rest.

Drop that bottle of coke immediately and I don’t even care if its diet.  How many times did your grandmother say you can’t drink better than water? And don’t you always see the pretty skinny girls carrying around huge bottles of water and think what the hell is in that bottle? Well I’ll tell you – there’s radiant skin, brighter eyes and shinier hair.

For your skin and hangover cure there’s nothing more rejuvenating than water. Its trick is that it hydrates skin cells and improves their elasticity, making them look less haggard and you less demonic after a wild night out. For your eyes, the simple method of dabbing them with water will leave the under eye area and tough bags brighter and cooled. And for shiny hair, the secret is to grit your teeth and stifle a scream, because giving hair a last-minute blast of cold water after washing will increase its shine tenfold.

And don’t forget your vitamins deary, another classic line from grandma but one that’s right yet again. The papaya fruit, exotic enough your grandma wouldn’t know whether to kill it or eat it, is stocked in vitamin A. The exact vitamin that is an antioxidant, removes dead skin cells, exfoliates and firms – something that will come in very handy when you’re nearing good ole grandma’s age.

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The weird and not so wonderful

English: Handmade soap

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To my knowledge, the only reason people would partake in extremely weird beauty treatments would be a slight lack of excitement in their lives, and a total lack of sanity. People who want to stick snails on their faces, snakes on their backs and lather up in someone else’s breast milk. Ew. Snails should be kept out in the garden under pot plants. Snakes belong only in tombs waiting for their enemies, Indiana Jones and Saint Patrick. And did these people not know of the age limit on breast milk? If there was a taboo on older children breastfeeding, then what social boundary did the people who use a soap made out of strange women’s breasts leap over?

Ok, so the snail bit first. There is a whole line of snail serum products on offer, to get rid of acne, stretch marks and dull complexion. Their slime boasts these fabulous results, and it’s the slime of not just any snail but the fanciest of all: Chilean snail “Helix Aspersa Muller”. Just let this elite snail slide around on your face or use his line of cosmetic products made from his ooze, and you’ll have your €70’s money worth. Il take a bottle of Clearasil instead, thanks.

Or why don’t you travel to Israel, where the lazy massage therapists let seven snakes do their job for them. Don’t worry, their non-venomous and I’m guessing they probably have years’ worth of training and a degree under their belt. Without expertise or a man in a turban playing a flute next to you, I can’t see the appeal or the reasoning for this one.

And the breast milk soap. Women who wake up one day and say, hey, my baby isn’t enough of a reminder of my pregnancy so I’ll make a bar of soap with my leftover milk. And for the people who use it, when it has no proven results better than normal soap, please go get your fetish kicks somewhere else and leave the poor sentimental mothers and their milk alone.

I don’t care what kind of flawless skin or muscle loosening these treatments bring. For a lot less money, disgust and weirdness I’m sure they stock something with the same results in Brown Thomas. This is where you will find me, safely hidden away from the snakes, snails and breast soap, and away from the “risk takers” of our world. I’d much rather talk to some nice sales lady.


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Needles are the new Sally Hanson

Hypodermic Needle Stomach Injection 3-1-08 8278

Hypodermic Needle Stomach Injection 3-1-08 8278 (Photo credit: stevendepolo)

Our country is riddled with the disease of paleness, but blessed be the bottles of fake tan at our exposure or I would never wear a dress again. Those of us who like the bronzed lifestyle buy fake tan by the bucket load, stand naked for spray tans, lie in UV light for hours and pop tanning tablets. We’ll go to pretty much any length to stay glowing, but would you go to the lengths of a drug addict?

Tanning injections are the new black market buzz that’s peeking interest in Ireland. Illegal, dangerous and not even approved for human use, these injections are the worst extreme Irish lasses have ever turned to for a tan. And I am truly worried. So much is wrong with them that I don’t even know where to start.

Let me explain what these injections are. They come as sachets of Melanotan powder, which is a chemical hormone that is being developed for skin intolerance to the sun. It then must be mixed with a “solution”, and injected daily with an insulin needle to the stomach area. Sounding a bit dodgy yet? It’s bought and sold over the internet, and contents can include an already used needle and incorrect dosage. Now I think were past dodgy.

Immediate side effects can range from nausea to increased blood pressure. That might not sound too bad, maybe you’d even be ok with the long-term side effects, a small thing known as cancer and that tingly feeling you get called organ failure. Do you really want to stab yourself to the point of sickness to look darker? The only thing I’ve left to say to this train wreck of dodgy needles, sickness, disease and desperation is thanks, but no thanks. I’ll take mine out of a bottle any day.

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Cancer won’t beat me

Me and my brave Mam

Sitting in front of me is a woman with a thin layer of grey hair on her head, a lit cigarette in her steady hands and experience in her faded blue eyes. This grey hair and this experience haven’t come with old age, because this woman is young. It came from her suffering battle with cancer, a battle which she is about to win.

Caroline Curran is a woman orientated around her family, her husband of 19 years Anthony and her only daughter Roisin. The day the news came that Caroline had breast cancer was the day this family became closer than ever. To them, she is the strongest woman in the world.

The diagnosis was made after she had discovered a lump on her breast, and was prompted to get it checked after a whole month of procrastination in fear. “I didn’t think there was anything wrong with my body at the time – although I knew the lump didn’t belong to my body, the thought that it could be cancerous was furthest from my mind.”

Imagine what it must feel like to get such devastating, life changing news. Imagine the mind frame one must slip into after discovering they had one of the most threatening, incurable cases in the medical world. And imagine the strength it takes to take on all of this and keep on going. The changes that happened in Caroline’s life thereafter were diverse and on a range from extreme to insignificant.

“The great thing was I got an excuse to leave a job I had never liked”, she laughs. “My body wasn’t able for the workload anymore once I began my [chemo] treatment.” However, one very demanding and agonizing change was the removal of Caroline’s right breast in late September. This operation consisted of 3 hours under the knife and a painful 5 day hospitalisation afterward. “So painful in fact, I had to be given morphine every few minutes for the first two days”, she remembers.

Caroline is now in the last stage of her treatment, which is radiation therapy, and she is pleasingly more than halfway through it. The finish line is just around the corner for her and breast cancer. “The strength just comes from within to face this and fight it, every woman has it”, she says with triumph. “I could never have gotten through this without the constant network of support from my family and friends. I owe them everything, and cancer nothing.”

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Herbal remedies to get you through Christmas

English: Herbs for Grüne Sauce/Green Sauce - a...

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We all know Christmas is a time for giving. But this Christmas, take the time to give a little something back to your body also. Over the past year you’ve probably exposed it to a stream of medication, antibiotics, fast food, stress and anxiety.  We all know what a typical Christmas has in store for our bodies – more exposure to harsh chemicals (that fourth glass of wine), inhaling mountains of your mum’s food and listening to your relatives moan (migraine much?). So this year, bring things back to basics and give your body a break.

Eats of Eden on Thomas Street is a great place to start. If you find in the past years you’ve had to loosen your belt after Christmas dinner then come prepared this year. Dorothy Anslow, the shops advisor, has helpful hints on how to avoid that bloated belly feeling post dinner. Drink plenty of water, “and even though we love our coffee, its best to avoid caffeine if you don’t want to feel bloated.” So that’s breakfast sans coffee and dinner with water. Check. If you find that isn’t helping and you want to resort to something stronger, then she suggests trying ‘Optibac Probiotics’. These are natural supplements for those who suffer from poor digestion and want to enjoy their meal.

If you find that your skin suffers at Christmas time when it’s exposed to the Irish weather at its harshest, then turn toward Holland and Barrett. They stock natural Aloe Vera gel, so instead of using soaps and shower gels with the extracts of aloe Vera, go straight to the source. Rub this gel onto your hands, lips and face to keep them soft and supple throughout the holidays, even if you’ve to deal with dirty dish water whilst washing up. If you suffer from more than just dry skin, like eczema or psoriasis, then Dr China packs some great remedies. All are natural and you can consult with the staff to find which one suits your skin type best.

If you find it hard to sleep the nearer it gets to holidays, be that the stress of buying presents, the late night family gatherings or your dads bad karaoke – Lavender Oil may be your answer. Dorothy, from Eats of Eden, has a few tips on sleeping easier through using the oil. “You can burn it, sprinkle it on your pillow or place a few drops in your bath.”

The oil also has uses for tension headaches. You can massage the oil directly into your skin, around the forehead and temples, for quick relief. Another natural remedy for migraines is peppermint tea. You can buy these tea bags in a local supermarket, or from health shops like Holland and Barrett. Just brew some tea bags or fresh leaves if you really want to feel in tune with nature, and relax. Let you and your body enjoy this Christmas.

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Beware the Baby Oil

Massage in Frankfurt, Germany

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Body oil should come with a warning on the packaging, or at least a set of instructions.  It’s not me being daft here, its basic common sense. Body oil can go terribly wrong, or terrifically good. Before I start off, however, I want to make the assumption that both I and the readers are fully aware of what body oil can do behind closed doors –  so there will be no stating of the awkwardness here thank you very much.

Use it in a couple’s bath to soften both of your skin, but be careful of letting your man know. Baby oil in his bath might be the tip of an iceberg of bubbles, scented candles and Adele on the iPod. You want to keep a slight bit of his masculinity intact, so what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him – just soften his skin.

It can be a great way to suggest romantic cuddling or it can be an awful mood killer. Every lady wants her man to hold up a bottle, dim the lights, spark the candles and offer a sensual massage. No one wants the “What’s the story with me, you and a bottle of baby oil?” text. Another thing the lady wants is smooth strokes with the right amount. She doesn’t want to feel like a slip and slide for your hands. Baby oil is messy, so use it sparingly with small amounts in the palm of your hand to avoid staining the sheets.

But don’t go too far on the massage. It’s better to safe and dry than sorry and slippery. Oil breaks latex, so if you are having sex, and safely, do not involve the poor bottle of baby oil. It will render the condom useless and become a real mood killer nine months down the line.


Organic vs. Chemical

Internationally recognized symbol

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When we think of chemicals, what comes to mind is the bleach under the sink and the oil rigs out in the North Sea– but most people forget about the chemicals going on their face.

Some chemical exposure is inevitable for our bodies, and it doesn’t matter if you’re a chain smoker or not. But the biggest chemical parasite lurking in our bodies and on our faces is makeup. For all you know, that expensive new foundation of yours is slapping a big biohazard sign on your forehead, instead of the great coverage that the nice sales lady promised you.

It’s hard for a girl to find out what the big industry is putting in her products, since even the ingredients are a game of cloak and dagger. Women typically use over more than 250 chemicals on their face daily, from crushed beetles to animal fat.

The cochineal beetles in South America are full of cactus juice, so when crushed they add the red tint that you put on your lips and cheeks. But the scariest part is that cosmetic companies don’t have to disclose any bug ingredients. It seems were going to be playing bug roulette with our lipsticks for a little while longer.

Animal fat is the stuff that makes your foundation spread and your lips glossy. The animal in question can range from road kill to strays to expired meat. For the sake of womankind’s compassion, I won’t disclose the journey from stray doggy to sparkly lip-gloss.

But don’t worry; a simple switch to organic products can quickly remove the ick factor. Zuii organic range is good for skin, with 95 % pure ingredients and against animal cruelty. Make the switch to this or any brand like it, and sleep with a little less toxins and a lot less horror at night.

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Something Smells a Bit Fishy

unedited My new pedicure free for use My photo...

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I’m sure by now most of you have heard of the fish spa. If you have, or if you’re reading about it here intrigued and want to partake, then let me warn you.  You could easily be contracting a disease the minute you put your feet into the tank.

This craze has swept from across the world – it came from Turkey, stopped briefly on an episode of Ugly Betty and hit the high street (including our own Limerick City) with a plunge.  These little fish, called Gurra Rufa, eat the dead or infected skin of a person’s foot.  It is sometimes popular among people who have eczema or psoriasis – not that it’s a recommended medical treatment.

It seemed amazing that putting your feet into a tank of water filled with tiny, little, flesh-eating fish left your feet supple. And personally, I cheered for joy when I saw such a salon come to Limerick. But then I asked myself, and now I am asking you, would you use a treatment that has been banned in 14 states in the U.S?

Standard regulation in all salons is that they must sanitise or throw out tools after being used on a patient. But in this case you can’t exactly sanitise the fish, and their too expensive to throw away. For all you know, you could be letting fish chomp away at your skin when they’ve just been chomping on an infected foot. Most fish spa’s will check and inspect the feet of patients, but who’s to say they’re 100% legit? What disease one man had on his foot you could be getting on yours.

Currently the Health Protection Agency is investigating the treatment and sanity risks. But until the filed report is released, I’m not risking my own feet to find out.

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Are you going to the Botox party?


Image by AJC1 via Flickr

Hi come in, the party just started. Have a drink while you wait, the professional is preparing upstairs. Once you relax it’ll be over soon, it’s a simple injection of paralysing toxins into your forehead. It might pinch a bit. Yes you read correctly, and don’t be shocked just yet. For all you know your closet friend could greet you with the same insane reasoning in a matter of weeks.

Welcome to the Botox party ladies, the newest and in my opinion most bizarre fad that’s swept the world of beauty as of yet. More and more frequently women all over the country have been hosting these parties, a mixture of cute fruity drinks and toxic injections. Once considered a pastime of the rich and beautiful, no one but the celebrities dared to be so self-indulgent.  But of course once we saw an actual party on the reality TV show of guilty pleasures, TOWIE, then everyone had to have one.

However Botox certainly isn’t something to be played around with, and here comes the science bit to explain why. Botox is in essence a paralysis that originates from a germ called Clostridium Botulinum. This germ was found in badly prepared food, but now at the price of €400 and above, it can be found in your forehead too. If this drug is not refrigerated at the proper temperature, if mixed with alcohol, or if your head is not in an appropriate headrest – you’re in the hazard zone. All of the above cases will lead to bruising on your face, drooping eyelids, headaches and the drug not taking effect at all.

Fully licensed practitioners will not give the injection to anyone drinking alcohol or without signing a release form – if you can persuade them otherwise then they probably have a lot more uniforms than the doctor’s one. So take a friendly suggestion from me if you ever get such an invite, or find yourself in a situation as horrendous as this. Take one good hard look at the needles lying on the frilly pillow, chug that drink and run straight for the door.

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