Thank you for visiting this blog. Writing about health in a responsible way requires quite a bit of time and research, and as much as I enjoyed posting here, I just haven’t been able to keep it up. In addition to freelance projects, I am writing for North Shore Community Resources. As part of my job for NSCR, I write the monthly Senior’s column for the North Shore Outlook. It’s a great job.

So, for now, The Probe is closed, but you can follow me  on Twitter @josiepadro.


After finishing the last post, I recieved an email about the Endocrine Society’s recent position statement on hormone replacement therapy (HRT).

Even with this recent reassurance (sort of) that HRT may be helpful for women who begin the treatment soon after the onset of menopause, the Endocrine Society offers no firm guidelines.

 Again it boils down to  weighing the costs and the benefits.

Read the position statement here.

Ivy therapy

A friend tells a story about his little sister who, as a child, had kidney cancer. After surgery and chemotherapy she recovered completely and went on to have a totally normal childhood. At summer camp one year, she became confused when the counsellors warned campers about poison ivy.  She wondered, how could an IV be poisonous?       

Of course IV (intravenous) medications are meant to be theraputic and sometimes curative. But as with any treatment, there is always a risk of complication. Putting a needle directly into a vein can introduce infection into the blood stream and any blood infection is serious.      

So I was surprised today when I picked up the Saturday Globe and Mail and read an article describing a new health trend in which healthy people are going for intravenous micronutrient therapy (IVMT). One person who has been getting these treatments was quoted, saying “‘there’s no downside’ to the procedure.”      

The downside of IV therapy is outlined in this Slideshare document.      

It says,    

 ” Any break in the skin carries a risk of infection. Although IV insertion is a sterile procedure, skin-dwelling organisms such as Coagulase-negative Staphylococcus or Candida albicans may enter through the insertion site around the catheter, or bacteria may be accidentally introduced inside the catheter from contaminated equipment.   

Infection of IV sites is usually local, causing easily visible swelling, redness, and fever. If bacteria do not remain in one area but spread through the bloodstream, the infection is called septicemia and can be rapid and life-threatening.”  

A study conducted at Yale University that looked at treating fibromyalgia with IVMT was presented at the American Public Health Association’s 2006 Meeting and Exposition. The reserachers noted some improvement of symptoms but could not say whether the results were statistically significant.   

With any treatment or procedure, whether it’s conventional or not, we each have to decide whether the risk is worth the benefit, but we have to make sure we know what those risks are.    

I’ll choose to get my micronutrients the tasty way – with fresh, whole foods.  
























Crack open  almost any health, fitness or lifestyles magazine this month and you’ll probably get advice on how to beat the heat.

I think we all know to stay in the shade and drink plenty of water, and if those around us show symptoms of heat exhaustion or heat stroke we need to get some help for them.

As I’ve mentioned, my chosen addiction is coffee, but when the temperature creeps up, I just don’t want a steaming cup of java. In Spain they have a wonderful concoction called Granizad(o) de café, which is simply coffee and shaved ice. Of course, you pour in mounds of sugar, stir and there you have it.

receta del granizado de cafe

Since I have yet to taste a good granizad here in Canada (though I think some of those chain outlets are trying) I’ve come up with my own chilled caffeinated drink. It’s simple, filling and guaranteed to give you that needed cool mid-day jolt.

Josie’s Coffee and Ice Cream Smoothie

All ingredients can be changed, modified, increased or reduced – that’s the beauty of a smoothie.

2 scoops vanilla ice cream (I like to use Western Family brand because it’s cheap and the vanilla taste isn’t overpowering.)

1 heaping tsp sugar (more or less to taste)

1 scanty tsp instant coffee (more or less to taste)

roughly 1 cup 1% milk

Blend the above ingredients in a blender or with a whisk till smooth, and there you have it. While I never use instant coffee to make coffee, in this drink the instant coffee creates a wonderful carmelly taste that you don’t get if you use real chilled coffee. I don’t know why.

This recipe has 323 calories, 12.5 g total fat, 8 g saturated fat, 0 trans fat, 55.5 g cholesterol, 187 mg sodium, 41 g total carbohydrate, and 11 g protein.

To calculate the nutrients in this recipe, I went to NutritionData.com, an excellent tool for figuring out what’s in the food you eat. It not only provides data  for basic ingredients, but it also  gives nutritional breakdowns for prepared and fast foods.


Coming back to this blog is like entering a room I haven’t been in for a while – it’s a kinda stale and dusty. But I’ll do a little sweep and post this anyway.

Speaking of dust, the topic of this post is allergies. I’ll start with a little story from my nursing days.

 One of our patients, a little guy about four years old, was going for surgery first thing in the morning. It was about 6 am, the end of night-shift, and he was up because he’d been given his pre-surgery sedation meds. We were stitting at the nursing station and he was on his nurse’s lap, when he basically keeled over and stopped breathing. Panic ensued (I know that’s a cliché – but it’s fun to have the opportunity to write it).

If you’re going to stop breathing, the best place to do it is in a hospital, and lucky for this little guy, we were able to bring him round easily. What had happened was he was just particularly sensitive to the medication he’d received and would have been fine with a lower dose.

The next time I was on days I overheard our booming manager saying we had to tell this boy’s parents that he was allergic to the medication.

Ummm…no. He did not have any facial swelling, his airway didn’t close. The drug meant to sedate him, simply went too far and suppressed his breathing.

This, I worry, is the kind of thing that makes people believe they’re allergic to things when, in fact, they’re not. The consequence could be that the next time this little guy goes to hospital, he will not be given the drug that caused him to stop breathing. If he’s truly allergic to it, he shouldn’t have it, but if he’s not, it might be of benefit to him in certain situations, but at a lower dose.  (I suggested to my manager that we just tell the parents what exactly happened, so they know he is sensitive to the drug. They would have to get him tested to find out if he is actually allergic to it.)

All this brings me to this New York Times article about food allergies. Researchers who did a literature review of 12,000 research papers on allergies and found that 30% of the population believes they have some kind of allergy. They concluded that the definition of the term allergy is not clear and that many people confuse intolerance to certain foods (for example lactose intolerance) with a true allergy.

They also concluded that the skin-prick or antibody test alone are not sufficient to determine an allergy.

For more information check out these Merck Manual sites (so great that it’s on-line now – I’ll add it to my blog roll):

Allergic reactions: introduction

Anaphylactic allergic reactions

Merry melodies

If you’d like to read my article,” Toddler tunes:  exploring music with the under-four set” in blush, it’s now on-line. It was really fun to write – it took me back to the days when I’d dance around the living room with my little guys.

A fairly new magazine, blush is for parents of children under four. It’s a lovely little mag available for free in Please Mum stores and elsewhere.

It’s been a while since I last posted here. It takes a bit of courage to slink back.

Here’s a link to a recent article I wrote for the Editor’s Association of Canada’s publication Active Voice.

Click here and flip to page 28.

Music is fun

In my ongoing search for information about music for the article I’m writing I happened upon this video. Vancouver needs stairs like these!

Just thought I’d post this link about Todmorden,  a town in England, which has taken to heart the concept of eating local. But it’s more than eating local – it is about supporting local food production and ensuring a food supply for its citizens. As I’ve been learning, that’s what food security is all about.

According to the article which appeared in the November 29, 2009 issue of The Independent:

“In under two years, Todmorden has transformed the way it produces its food and the way residents think about the environment. Compared with 18 months ago, a third more townspeople now grow their own veg; almost seven in 10 now buy local produce regularly, and 15 times as many people are keeping chickens.

The town centre is dotted with “help yourself” vegetable gardens; the market groans with local meat and vegetables, and at all eight of the town’s schools the pupils eat locally produced meat and vegetables every lunchtime.”

Read more.

Books in the hood

I just wanted to add my support and admiration for my friend Amanda Grondahl who has started up a couple of groups for women in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side (or DTES as it’s known).  She is heading up a book club as well as a writer’s group and women in the area are eager participants.

At first Amanda was having a hard time locating enough books to supply her group, but the Vancouver Teacher/Librarians organized a book club of their own to help supply the needed books. Amanda simply informs them of the book her group will be reading and the teacher/librarians meet to read and discuss it first. They then pass on their books to the DTES women. What a beautiful arrangement!

For more information about the DTES groups, check out Amanda’s East Meets West blog.