Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Alzheimer’s: ‘It is an odd thing to grieve for someone who is still alive’

December 17, 2019

Ciara Jordan

As Published in the Irish Times 17/12/19

It is an odd thing to grieve for someone who is still alive.

Nothing has ever resonated with me more as when I heard Alzheimer’s described as the long goodbye. The grief with the illness is cruel and unforgiving.

A kind of limbo grief.

I feel like I don’t have a right to see something that reminds me of my mother and sit down and cry my heart out. Like when I got married and she didn’t understand what was happening, and doesn’t know her only child finally settled down after her spending years telling me to do just that.

You don’t feel like you have the right to this grief.

Because she is alive. I can see her. I can touch her. She was at my wedding.

Except it isn’t my mother.

I can tell her I had a walnut whip today and it was delicious and she will smile, childlike. But she doesn’t know what I am saying. Every now and then she will look at my wedding ring and admire it, but not know it is her daughter’s ring she is admiring. Mum sometimes knows she has a daughter, but not that I am her. She sometimes knows she has a husband but often asks my dad where he is.

Ciara Jordan wedding

Each time grief stabs at both of us.

My mother has had Alzheimer’s for more than five years.

That is a five-year goodbye.

The first sting of grief was the shock of her diagnosis. But that first year she just seemed a little more forgetful, a little bit more irritable. A little bit more scatty, but still my mother. Still her devilish tricks. Still her wonderfully wicked sense of humour. Still had her vanity. Still telling me to settle down and have some babies.

Initially, we were lulled into a false sense of security.

The next year, she seemed less my mother.

And the year after.

Slowly, she was stripped of those personality traits that made her my mum.

The past two years, Alzheimer’s has stolen her.

Every now and then, my dad and I will recognise glimpses of that devilish way of hers, but they are mostly gone.

It was her loss of vanity that was almost the biggest stab of grief. The first time I picked her up from her nursing home I was gung-ho: “not letting my mother go back to that place full of old sick people – she would hate it”.

Then I realised she didn’t hate it. She fitted in with the old, sick people. She actually seemed to like it. That was a blow of grief. And each time that sharp pain that takes your breath away reminds you that this is not a quick process. There are plenty more to come.

Ciara Jordan

I have tried to prepare myself for every stage of the disease and the inevitable stab of grief. But it doesn’t get easier. I hear people who have lost their own mother and empathise, but feel like I can’t because physically I haven’t lost mine.

It is a weird limbo. It is like a boxing match you thought you were prepared for but weren’t.

But I have lost my mother. And in many ways, I can hear her saying, “we just have to get over it and keep going”.

What I would do to argue with her again, and her to tell me she doesn’t like my dress or hair.

We are from Galway and Western Alzheimers, which provides care for people with Alzheimer’s in the west of Ireland helped us find out what our rights are with mum, and they provide long-term care which she is currently in.

Christmas is a hard time for grief and the support for carers and those who are left behind from Alzheimer’s. While there are supports for carers, these supports are limited, especially in rural areas and need to be increased so they are easily accessible right across the country.

Especially at this time of year.

Ciara Jordan - Fuzion CommunicationsCiara

Ciara Jordan is an Account Director with Fuzion Communications and she leads the media training team, from our offices in Dublin and Cork.

Diagnosis – The Power of Social Media

August 26, 2019

Diagnosis

Recently I have been watching Netflix’s new documentary series Diagnosis, based on the New York Times Magazine column written by Dr Lisa Sanders.

It’s an investigative series in which Lisa puts her column out to the world via social media asking anyone who recognises the symptoms of the featured patient to reach out to her and help solve this person’s medical mystery. The show cleverly exploits modern technology’s capacity to find and connect patients with people around the world who might be able to help solve their complex cases.

This series really highlights the power of the internet and the use of social media to me. As well as social media it also promotes the power of media and the positive impact it can create.

Diagnosis follows the lives of several people with unexplained illnesses. The responses to the online column, which was pushed out via social media platforms, were from doctors, medical researchers, people who recognise the traits of the mysterious illness and also from people who claim to be suffering from the same thing.

I have always recognised the value of social media but this programme changed my perspective on it, and what it can really offer to us beyond the generic posts we see daily.

It proves how beneficial, and in this case life-changing, the internet can be. The vast majority of those featured in the show have had their lives changed by the responses they received via this global crowd-sourcing.

Without the use of a world-wide platform these people might still be suffering, without any hope or answers.

Diagnosis has reminded me to never underestimate the power that the web and social media can have!

Emer Healy, Fuzion CommunicationsEmer

Emer Healy is an Account Executive with Fuzion Communications, a Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Are you creating Hygge [Hoo – gah] at work?

August 20, 2018

HYgge

I had never heard the Danish word ‘Hygge‘ before but a podcast that I listened to recently from Freakonomics titled “How to be Happy” resonated with me.

When Helen Russell, fashion editor of Maire Claire moved to Denmark from London with her husband, who had taken a dream job with Lego, she decided to write a book to try to figure out exactly why this country is officially one of the Happiest in the world!!

Her cleverly titled book, “The Year of Living Danishly” digs deep into the psyche of Denmark and why this dark, cold, highly taxed and very expensive country is so happy.

At Fuzion we always talk about #WinHappy as being a core philosophy of ours, creating a positive work culture, where we do great work for great clients but with a smile on our faces.

Some think it is a little Utopian but we believe it is possible.

In Denmark they talk about a very special thing called ‘Hygge‘ , which I found very interesting as it is one of the core reasons attributed to their ‘Happy’ success.

Even on the Visit Denmark website they describe it:

Hygge: The Danish Art of Cosiness

Hygge is as Danish as æbleskiver (Pancake Puffs!!) and it goes far in illuminating the Danish soul.

In essence, hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the good things in life with good people. The warm glow of candlelight is hygge. Cosying up with a loved one for a movie – that’s hygge, too. And there’s nothing more hygge than sitting around with friends and family, discussing the big and small things in life.
Perhaps hygge explains why the Danes are some of the happiest people in the world.

I remember visiting a Danish fashion client that we were doing work for and being quite surprised to see candles lighting at the doorway of the offices and in the reception area. The warm glow of those candles certainly softened the atmosphere and was conducive to a positive working environment.

The owners of the business had also brought their little dog to work, who was running around the place! Maybe I should bring Honey and Bert?

In a random Google of the topic around workplaces I spotted an article that mentioned seven ‘Hygge’ tips:

1. Bring a mug from home

Ironically, something we used do in Fuzion was to buy everyone a mug that we thought suited their character!

2. Make a relaxing work playlist

Hmmm…in my work space in the Cork office, close to the graphic design team we always have Spotify playing something that is not too intrusive. It’s more difficult with the PR teams in Dublin and Cork as they are on the phone a lot.

3. Spend lunch outside or take that time to unwind

Too much time is spent by some of us at our desks including lunch break – that is not good and is something that we definitely need to improve on.

4. Decorate your desk or workspace

There are a few pics from home and fun things on people’s desks, but I guess we could go a little further to make the place even more personal.

5. Host a potluck with co-workers

I had no idea what this meant but apparently it is savouring home-cooked meals that your work friends have cooked and vice versa.

I do love when Alma brings in some of her tasty home cooked treats – there is something very special when someone brings something in that they made at home.

“When everybody shares, everybody gets hygge,” is what one author on the topic said.

6. Do random acts of kindness for your co-workers

I love this simple idea as it promotes the idea of friendship and treating your fellow workers as something more than that.

7. Embrace teamwork

Apparently team spirit is part of the Danish culture. From childhood, Danes work in groups and are taught to seek and/or give help in the face of adversity. They are encouraged to remain confident despite their weaknesses and humble despite their strengths.

While we have a great team and do a lot together, too often when you glance down the office we are all busy, busy, with our heads stuck in whatever client work we are doing.

In Fuzion we do our own few things in the spirit of ‘Hygge’ that we could add to this list:

Breaking bread together – Fuzion Friday

Every Friday in both Dublin and Cork offices we down tools and we go for lunch together. We chat about the wins, we chat about the losses and frustrations of the week and we laugh and share weekend plans.

Cuppa anyone?

No one makes a cuppa without asking if anyone else would like a cuppa!

Birthdays

A present is always bought for you on your birthday and wait for it…. our people get a day off for their birthday, which they must take on the day (or very close to it a least). Our client, Regus does this and I thought it was a great idea so we introduced it two years ago.

Slagging/Banter

There is always a nice amount of friendly banter in the office, which is nearly always lighthearted and never bitter.

Holidays

The person who goes on holidays is given a token few quid to buy a meal on us but they nearly always buy some chocolates or biscuits for the office on their return.

Working Late

We don’t like to see anyone caught working late at the office – Saidhbh is the biggest culprit lately!

While it is never perfect and there are the normal pressures and stresses of work I think we do a pretty good job at creating our own “Hygge” – after all, why would anyone want to work in the opposite atmosphere? ….I certainly don’t.

What do you do to create your own Hygge?

At Fuzion, I guess we call it Win Happy!!

Greg 

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications who offer Marketing, PR and Graphic Design services from our offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

 

 

Take Responsibility and Mind your Bits!

February 20, 2017

Wow! I’d like to address the topic of Cervical Cancer, a topic that should be addressed anytime not just in January!

This blog is prompted by a recent prospect meeting I attended, where I received a Cervical Cancer Awareness brooch representing the ‘Pearl of Wisdom’ with a clever hashtag #ShareTheWisdom.

Due to my social media addiction, I of course published a post across all my social platforms in support of a very relevant campaign for women across the globe. (I’m so popular with my 35 likes!)

Cervical Cancer

Although prompted by the brooch this blog is one of personal experience and a result of my lack of responsibility for my own body, which led to an experience I never want to go through again, mainly because I did not know what to expect.

I visited my doctor because mother nature had gone AWOL and this resulted with me getting an unplanned smear test. The last thing you expect to get are negative results, which only scream the word CANCER in your head.

For an over-thinker like me this was not going to sit in one little place in my mind..Oh no! This was going to spread into every little space that has never ever been filled with, well anything (even the science/maths section).

I thought about the dreaded results so much that I ended up being a miserable mess and crying on my dear brother’s shoulder, mainly because my mother would have thought this was the end for me!! We can be quite dramatic sometimes but I’m afraid this is the reality of when you know nothing about cervical cancer.

I was called for a Colposcopy – not only could I not pronounce it but it’s not the fluffiest of words either, so this was quite daunting. I roped one of my closest friends into coming with me and we went up the night before (this of course was Valentine’s Day, so quite inappropriate!).

The next day I went to Holles Street Maternity Hospital where everyone was very helpful and I got all the information I needed. I had a treatment called LLETZ, which removed the abnormal cells on the cervix under local anaesthetic using a very fine, heated wire loop. At this time they also tested for the HPV virus.

Afterwards I felt quiet tired (the effects of the anaesthetic) with a slight discomfort and I won’t go into everything else but a few days rest and hugging myself was in order to get me back on track.

When my results came back they were all clear and I can’t describe the incredible feeling of relief when opening that letter and reading those words. I would be called back in six months for a follow up smear test to check that everything was okay, which thankfully it was – phew and finally the mind rests!

Thanks to my doctor, I was lucky but also I believe as women we know our own bodies and mine was telling me that something was up, just like you know when a tummy ache is coming on. If that little feeling is playing on your mind do not let it lie – GET CHECKED!

Of course I am aware that one of the issues in relation to cervical checks is the age barrier for public health benefit. Young women under 25 years can be affected by cervical cancer but they are not covered via the public system – It can’t be too cheap to get this done and many may not have the cash.

However it is important for us all to be responsible and proactive about our own bits. If you are under 25 and feel something is not right don’t put it off, speak to your doctor and get yourself checked.

Well done to everyone behind the Cervical Check initiative – it is so important that we #ShareTheWisdom

Don’t overthink and let it flood the science/maths section of your brain – Get checked as it could just be one of those life changing decisions.

Arlene

Arlene Foy is an Account Manager with Fuzion PR in our Dublin office.

For more information visit – http://www.cervicalcheck.ie


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