Newsletter July, 2021
What now?? Living with Uncertainty – Living through a Pandemic
by Dr. Robin Murray, Clinical Neuropsychologist, Psychologist.
In these challenging Covid times Dr. Robin shares her experience, thoughts and helpful tips on staying positive.
This is a topic that is on our minds particularly here in Sydney. We have been Covid free for quite some time but now face an increasing number of cases! And I know this has been so for Canadians and Melburnians for quite some time. Living with uncertainty isn’t easy- I know I spent 2020 feeling quite low, and so did many of my friends.
In reality though, life is uncertain. We think we are sailing along smoothly and then something unforeseen happens to turn our lives upside down. Almost three years ago I lost my partner very suddenly. I knew he did not have many more years to live but thought I would be there to look after him as he grew older and then suddenly he was gone. We have probably all had similar experiences and lived with the grief and pain that followed. But we weren’t prepared for Covid nor were we ready for wearing masks, sudden lockdowns, quarantines and the closing of borders.
It hasn’t been easy but we have gradually come to realise that luxuries like travel abroad may not return for quite some time. The poet Keats first coined the term, “negative capability” which means the acceptance of “uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason” - this is perhaps hard to do but here are some ways we may try out to see whether they can help us.
These are things that we can't predict and often are extremely unlikely. However, the more we focus on them, the more terrified we will be of the trip! It is better to focus on the positives - bike riding through the rice paddies, yoga on the beach, seeing your friends who live there, visiting a coffee plantation, or watching a Balinese dance performance.
The likelihood that you will actually see a Balinese dance or gamelan performance (if you want to) is much higher than the chance that you will have your purse stolen.
These are just some thoughts that have been helpful to me and to others. I hope they may be helpful to you. I would love to hear your thoughts!
Cardiovascular Risk and You
by Dr. Charmaine
We had a special guest to Dragon Talk (June 2021), Dr Paula Harvey, cardiologist and co-director of the multidisciplinary Cardio-Rheumatology clinic at the Women’s College Hospital, Toronto, Canada. I am going to give you a brief summary of the evening and I thank Paula for permission to use these images.
Did you know that by having an autoimmune disease we have at least twice the risk of developing a cardiovascular complication? In fact, cardiovascular complications are the #1 cause of death for us. So this is an important topic.
The inflammation can effect any part of the heart, a complicated organ, to be sure.
(Prasad M et al: 2014 CardioRheumatology, Nat Rev Cardio doi 10, 1038/cardio 2014.206)
The following diagram shows how the inflammation isn’t only in joints but also along our blood vessels. These are PET scans showing where there is inflammation. The person on the left has uncontrolled inflammation of an autoimmune condition. The person on the right is a control.
(Mehta et al, Ach Derm 2011)
So….what can we do. There are risks that are non-modifiable such as our age, gender, and race. However, there are modifiable risks and these are what we need to pay attention to.
Starting in the top left corner and moving right
1st line: sleep, salt, smoking
2nd line: cholesterol, sedentary lifestyle, sugar, obesity
3rd line: stress, diet, depression.
We need to “know our numbers”
We need to take our medication to keep our inflammation at a minimum not only to protect our joints from damage but also to prevent vascular and cardiovascular complications.
We need to monitor our numbers semi-annually and some, such as inflammatory markers, more often.
Some of our anti-inflammatory medications can cause our numbers to shift. Eg, prednisone (prednisolone) can cause an increase in insulin resistance and a rise in blood sugar.
JAK inhibitors such as tofacitinib ( Xeljanz) can cause a shift upwards in cholesterol. Leflunomide (Arava) can increase blood pressure.
Biologics and statins may have a beneficial effect on the lining of our blood vessels.
There are things we can do! Let’s do them.
Sleep tips by Behnam Kian, RN
I had insomnia for such a long time. However, with the help of professionals, I now have good sleep. Here is what I've been doing for a better sleep, I hope this helps.
A great doctor once told me that; "You should go to bed only for two reasons sex and sleep, nothing else" 😊
Safe and Happy Dreams!
Dragons join Johnson & Johnson leaders in Reconciliation Week
l-r: Susan Hughes, Dragon Claw Charity, Don Palmer, Malpa.org, Lynda Holden, Proud Dunghutti woman, Director of Board, Dragon Claw Charity, Maeve Eilki, Senior Manager, Communications & Public Affairs, Janssen Aust., Kris Ashpole, Head of Global Community Impact, Johnson & Johnson Australia and New Zealand. This was held at Janssen’s base on Eora Land.
Together being braver with more impactful action
by Charlotte Hill
NUTRITION FOR CARDIOVASCULAR HEALTH
Nutrition alongside other lifestyle factors such as sleep and stress management play a critical role in the aetiology and management of cardiovascular disease. A reminder of why food is so important:
With this in mind I wanted to share my top food tips in relation to cardiovascular health:
Here is a simple heart healthy recipe for you all to enjoy.
COVID Update by Nurse Jill
The following is based on my research sourced from the official Australian Government Covid-19 site, the official World Health Organisation site, Our World In Data - Statistics and Research site and 'Post Script' ABC News site.
Another month and a multitude of changes to our Pandemic status! It would seem that the Delta Variant from India has become one of greatest concern and has been described as the 'dominant global variant'. Which means, the original Wuhan Virus is almost nowhere to be found now and the 11 new variants named by the WHO are far more transmissible and dangerous.
Variants Of Concern:
Variants of Interest:
Also in the last month are many changes to our vaccine status. So now poor AstraZeneca has been relegated to the "over 60's" and "not fit for purpose" for anyone younger. In Australia we have had 60 cases of TTS (Thrombosis with Thrombocytopenia Syndrome) or in Canada, VITT (Vaccine Induced Thrombotic Thrombocytopenia), 15 of which required Intensive Care and 2 of which sadly died. However, the latest advice for those of us who have had the first dose without any complication (including myself), is to go ahead and have the second dose after the appropriate time interval.
Also, as a nation, we are assured that our vaccination details are
Recently we have secured 25 million doses of Moderna to be approved by the TGA and which hopefully will arrive by the end of the year. 10 million doses for the "ancestral virus" and 15 million upgraded doses for ongoing boosters.
Then, of course, is the Pfizer story, the "hottest property" in the world at the moment. Apart from the 20 million originally promised, the government has acquired another 20 million, though no one knows when they will arrive. So now the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for people 16 to 60 years old, although there seems to be a slight problem with supply as the age demographic has grown.
The next greatest cause for concern is our vaccine "rollout". Due to intermittent confusion, some important and vulnerable demographics have been missed along the way, aged care facilities, nurses and care workers, quarantine workers etc. Despite a slow start, Australia is slowly picking up pace. Lets look at the facts: numbers of people vaccinated in other countries
And so I ask, what is happening here? Naturally there is some vaccine hesitancy due to the concerns regarding AZ. Is there really a supply problem? Or is the problem that we had no large vaccine hubs until recently. Curiously though, what has been at the front of my mind in the last month, is that for decades we have had vaccines for a multitude of diseases, without much thought to statistics or adverse effects. In fact we have insisted that our children have these vaccines and proudly Australia has one of the highest coverage of vaccinated children (5 years of age) at 95.22%. And so, with the most horrendous disease of our lifetimes (3,875,609 deaths in 19 months), we must continue to have vaccines, wear masks as required, observe social distancing and record our movements with QR codes (to assist contact tracing).
Post Script: Exciting News reported on ABC 20/06/2021.
The Victorian Government has announced, in partnership with the Monash University Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences and the Doherty Institute, the development of both a new mRNA Vaccine and a Protein Vaccine, with linked Phase 1 Clinical Trials starting October/November this year. About 150 people will be involved in the clinical trials, with preliminary results expected to be available in the first half of 2022. During the clinical trial process, upskilling and specialised laboratories will be organised.
ABC publication has advised that the next Pfizer shipment will not be until August/September.
Recommendations for Canada (from Dr Charmaine)
As of June 17, these are the NACI (National Advisory Committee on Immunization) Canadian recommendations.
For first doses, NACI recommends that:
NACI's previous recommendation - that people who wanted earlier vaccination could receive a viral vector vaccine rather than wait for an mRNA vaccine - reflected the limited supply of mRNA vaccines at the time and the imperative of protecting vulnerable populations from serious illness and death from COVID-19.
For second doses, NACI recommends that:
Receiving a second vaccine dose for a two-dose schedule is essential to provide better and longer-term protection against COVID-19 for individuals and for the entire community.
Contact National (Australia) Help Line
Our friends at Musculoskeletal Australia provide a contact free national Help Line!
Do you have questions about dealing with pain, your musculoskeletal condition/s, treatment options, COVID-19, or accessing services? Then be sure to call their nurses on their free Help Line. They’re available weekdays between 9am-5pm on 1800 263 265.
Our tentative (always open to change!) schedule for DragonTalks
Please share with anyone with an autoimmune condition who might benefit from a safe space to share and learn.
|July 6/7||Osteoporosis: Presentation for us by Osteporosis Canada|
|July 13/14||Coffee time (no agenda)|
|July 20/21||Art Therapy: a hands-on experience (Jan's d-om-law, Katrina)|
|July 27/28||Finding meaning (Robin, Paul|
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