View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Neurological disorder

I would like to use my blog postings to raise awareness of two progressive neurological disorders called Progressive Supranuclear Palsy, and CBD, or Cortico Basal Degeneration. I was pointed to a support group, the PSP Association, which does valuable work here in the UK to support both patients, carers and health professionals to deal with those conditions. There is no treatment or cure for either.

With thanks to John of for raising awareness.


The fishing boat Kalahari sank this afternoon, just as the Coastguard helicopter was in the process of putting a pump on board to stop the ingress of water. Stornoway Coastguard was contacted at 4.39pm this afternoon with the message that the other boat was sinking near the Sound of Harris, and deployed the helicopter. Just as the winchman had been lowered down onto the deck of the Kalahari, the boat went down and both winchman and fisherman ended up in the water. They were both safely taken out by the helicopter and returned to Stornoway for medical checks.

Source: MCGA

Vaccines, cancer and teenagers

Promised you a post on those subjects, so here goes.
Last week, an on-line acquaintance published a blogpost (to which I am not going to link) with links to some very extreme if not positively extremist views on the issue of vaccination and consent. I'm not going to specifically reply to the content behind the links, but instead will make some broader points.

An American boy of 16 was diagnosed with leukaemia (blood cancer), and was prescribed chemotherapy. That is never pleasant, and the young man was predictably quite sick as a result. When the time came for a second course, his parents refused to give consent for the treatment, saying they would take their child to a herbal therapist instead. The doctors involved in his care took his parents to court and obtained an injunction, forcing them to submit their child for treatment. They have been accused of medical terrorism by some.

A child of 16 is close to adulthood, in my view, and under British law, a child aged 12 or over will normally be consulted on treatment. I agree with the doctors that withholding treatment from a cancer sufferer will severely jeopardise that patient's life. Whether a court order is the way forward I very much doubt. As far as I am aware, forced treatment is possible in cases of mental illness, in cases where danger exists for patient and / or the public at large.

The second point concerns the vaccination against Human Papilloma Virus HPV, which is currently being introduced for young teenage girls. HPV is implicated in the development of cervical cancer, and is sexually transmitted. Quite a few parents baulk at the prospect of their 13-year old being vaccinated against a sexually transmitted disease, fearing it would suggest to their daughter that she is at liberty to have sex without having to fear for the consequences. Although I don't have kids of my own, I feel that it is up to the parents (and schools) to give proper sex education to their children, including the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases and what to do to prevent contracting these. They should also advise their daughters how to view the HPV vaccinations.

Tuesday 13 May

Bright and sunny, as I watch the ferry coming in on its customary lunchtime call. Visibility is excellent, with the hills of the Applecross Forest (not a tree there, incidentally) loom up from 60 miles away across the water.

There is a possibility that the ferry might start sailing on a Sunday, which (at the moment) it does not do. Lewis has a strong tradition of Sabbath observance, and there is a groundswell of opinion against sailings on a Sunday. However, in recent years, voices have become louder to sail 7 days a week, if only to alleviate capacity problems on the ferry and for social reasons. On Thursday, executives from the ferry company are here to discuss this matter with involved bodies like the local council and the Lord's Day Observance Society.