Monthly Archives: July 2012

no blogging for a bit

I wont be blogging for at least a couple of weeks. Taking some R&R.

God bless

St. James, the Pillar and the shell.

I like Mary Salome who doesn’t get much notice in Scripture. I imagine she was a good, hard-working wife of a fisherman. I think her husband Zebedee was most likely dead by the time her kinsman Jesus began His mission, as she was able to follow Him and help take care of Him and His followers, including her two sons, James and John. Jesus named them Sons of Thunder. They, along with Peter were the only apostles to be given a name by Jesus. In Jewish tradition that’s important.

At the foot of the cross Mary Salome stood with the other three Mary’s and her son John. Jesus gave John to His mother and we can be sure Mary Salome was happy with that.

After Pentecost James took none companions and went on a missionary journey to Spain. He brought the people the Gospel and the people were completely disinterested in what he had to say. He was disheartened and went to the Lord in prayer. Jesus heard the prayer of His dear friend and sent His Blessed Mother to help James.

She appeared to him standing on a pillar of jasper, held by angels, and holding a wooden statue. She gave the pillar and statue to James and asked that a church be built. James did as she asked and built a small chapel where she had appeared to him. That is now the great basilica of Santiago de Compostela, probably the most visited pilgrimage site in the world.

His vision of the Blessed Mother is the earliest one ever recorded and as it happened while she was still alive on earth it is considered the earliest known case of a saint bilocating. (St. Pio is probably the most well know saint who did this).

James returned to Jerusalem where he was martyred in 44 AD. His disciples took his body back to Spain and had a grave made for him there. He has been denied burial in Jerusalem.

What about the clam shell symbol? There is a legend – which may be true- that a knight was taken by his runaway horse and plunged into the sea, armour and all. He cried out to Saint James to save him and immediately floated on the water. A wave washed him back to shore and he found he was covered in clam shells. So the symbol stuck (if you’ll excuse the pun).

Anyway, on this feast of St. James I can’t help thinking of his mother Mary Salome sitting in heaven with a smile on her face as her boys, the Sons of Thunder, did good.

Antibiotics war – we’re doomed! Dooooomed I tell you! And it’s all the patient’s fault!

Recently there has been a couple of MSM posts about how awful patients are demanding antibiotics for no good reason and how this has led to the current scary scenario where more and more infections are now resistant to antibiotics. Meanwhile there has been a mild suggestion that doctors over-prescribe antibiotics, where they aren’t needed, just to get bolshy patient’s off their backs (poor dears). Even those reports about the horrible side effects of antibiotics, including obesity bizarrely, tends to lean toward blaming the patient.

Why is it that doctors get so uptight and snarky when patients know about their own health and bodily function, but then blame patients for ignorance over medication?

Meanwhile the history of misuse, and continued misuse, of antibiotics in meat production seems to have been quietly forgotten. Of course the over prescription of these drugs happens in poor quality animal care.

Thanks to the massive misuse of these drugs we now face more “superbugs” that are horribly resistant and therefore obviously more dangerous and difficult to treat. Most of us know about MRSA and most of us, I am guessing, know someone who has been through that nightmare.

But the knowledge that antibiotic use needed serious reformation has been around for well over 20 years. In the book Osler’s Web, which I reviewed, Johnson mentioned a book published in the 1980’s that warned of the impending bacterial and viral crisis the Western world faced. Nothing was done.

When considering the shocking misuse in food production alongside the incompetent use by medics, it’s hardly surprising that patients are sicker for longer.

Let’s look at three little cases.

Case One: A long time ago when I was still a nurse, a woman was referred for psychiatric care because she appeared lethargic, anxious and depressed. So a Community Psych Nurse went out to see her and so an assessment. She discovered that this patient was on four different antibiotics and had been for some considerable time. On questioning the patient the story emerged that she had been to the GP with an infection and he’d given her a prescription. He gave her no info about the tablets so when she finished she assumed she should ask for a repeat and as she got the repeat she presumed that was correct. She later went with another infection and got another antibiotic and did the same. Feeling ill she returned and was given another one and so on. Each repeat prescription request was filled with no questions asked.

The CPN went to see the GP who was pretty rude to her but he cancelled the  scripts. Soon the woman was feeling much better. Rocket science this ain’t.

The second case is a very young lady who has suffered repeat infections since childhood. No doc has ever taken blood so no blood cultures have ever been done. She’s had no specialist care and is already unable to take two antibiotics, leaving her with very very few choices. She has finally been referred but I have to wonder how much damage has already been done through medical neglect. She has quite a few shocking tales to tell about her treatment since childhood. The fact that she carries infection that is immune to two abtibiotics is not her fault at all – it is plainly and startlingly the fault of her past GP.

Then there’s my story. I get repeat chest infections. Back in childhood they were frequent but nothing like these last couple of years. In the past I would have blood taken, usually in hospital- as I was there a lot, and the correct antibio given. It was given for  7 or 10 days and I wouldn’t need another lot for quite some time.

But as things went wrong again I learned a lesson. If I went to the doc at the beginning of an infection to get it nipped in the bud, I was almost always turned away as he couldn’t “hear” it. Or there weren’t enough symptoms. This meant I would then have to go back a few days later when it was bubbly and I was so feverish even a doctor couldn’t miss it and he would give 5 days of Amoxicillin. Hardly a target antibio. Giving it for only 5 days, which would simply knock the infection back, meaning a couple of weeks later there is was again and a couple of weeks after that I was back with “in yer face” infection. This has left me taking Amoxicillian every 6 to 8 weeks for months on end. A bit like inocculating the bloomin’ infection really.  The only time I get a targetted antibiotic is when I’ve been in hospital and blood cultures are done.

It’s time to stop blaming the patient and do something genuine to sort out the problem.

Feast Day of St Bridget of Sweden

Today is the feast of my beloved St. Bridget. She is one of the three women patron’s of Europe along with St. Edith Stein (Sr. Benedicta of the Cross) and St. Catherine of Siena.

She was married around age 13 or 14 to Ulf who was then 18. They had 8 children together, one of whom, Katrin (Katherine) is also a saint. (St. Katrin of Verdena or Katherine of Sweden, depending on spelling and translation).

Bridget and Catherine of Siena were more or less contemporaries and were both fighting for reform in the Church and a return of the papacy to Rome from Avignon.

While Catherine and Bridget worked for reformation and tried to intervene in the war making politics of Italy and other parts of Europe it would be the Jewish convert Edith Stein who would give her life for the soul of Europe under Hitler’s wholesale destruction of the Jewish people.

Europe needs all the prayers it can get these days. These three along with St Benedict and others would be wearing out their knees, but it’s heaven and so they aren’t.

Just in case you were wondering – what happens with FM/ME…

This will take just a little more than 4 minutes of your time and took the very ill maker just over four months of her life.

And it breaks my heart that so many children and teens have this truly hideous disease. But it is heart warming to see that talent isn’t dimmed.

Please spend another 5 minutes watching this vid made by a 13 year old. You may think the photos are unimportant, but if you look…you will see.

I cannot begin to tell you how horrible this disease it, or how much I utterly hate it. But there is some light and these vids shine it.

Friday Freebies

Free Videos

NeoK 12 vids on all sorts of things.

I am sure most of you already know about Khan Academy.

We have found this site Study Jams and I’ve used some of the vids for the children as learning back up.

Other freebies.

Ellen McHenry’s Basement Workshop has lots of free downloadable games and things to make for lots of subjects. Looks good to me.

End of term trip.

It’s the end of term for schools this week. Our lot have more or less finished and anyway they are already well into next years work.

Yesterday Iona and Jenny (my oldest son’s girlfriend) joined another couple of Home Ed families for a trip to the Museum. The main focus of the trip was the Egyptian displays as that’s what we’ve studied in history with the younger ones.

They had a great time and Ronan came back with lots of photos of various displays, including the mummies.

I stayed home this time to recover from my hospital stay. It was so quiet! I read and watched a bit of Dr Ray and felt much better by the time they all came back.

There are some plans for the Summer for meeting up with folks hopefully. J has hopes of helping Heleyna fulfil her ambition.

She came downstairs yesterday morning and in her just woken up, slightly groggy state announced, “I want to hold a frog.”

These were the first words of the day!

J has a friend with a pond full of tadpoles at the moment, so hopefully Heleyna’s ambition can be met there.

Sometimes you meet the most amazing people.

Things went a bit wrong, and I ended up spending the night in the lovely facilities offered by what is affectionately called “The Three Toilet Seats on the Hill.”

You can see why it has that name

There was a lady in the bed next to mine in her 70’s. She overheard my conversation with one of the nursing assistants about having 6 children and home educating. The lovely NA wants a big family of her own. Good for her.

Later, when I been given the “get out of jail free, with drugs” card and my neighbour was told they were getting her a bed on Cardio we sat together and talked.

She too has six children, 3 boys and 3 girls. Her husband worked hard and died a few years ago when her youngest was quite young. The following year her brother was killed in an accident and she took in his wife and 5 children. She didn’t tell me this in a boastful way – just very matter of fact. This is what her family would do. Her older brother would have taken them, but he wasn’t in the country by then. So she took them in. No quibbles, no worries.

She married very young in Pakistan and lived a happy life. She loved in a most amazing way, and now she is very ill. Please pray for her. I think I will remember her for a very long time.

It is lovely to meet people like this. I assume she is Muslim, and I bet she does pray five times a day. She fights her illness with a gentle resignation. I hope I remember her when I am getting frustrated and angry about mine.

I must add here that while I hate hospitals and have had awful experiences with doctors; the staff over the last couple of days were lovely.

family finances – who are we taking care of?

There was a report recently that said that something like one in seven families in the UK are stretching their income between dependant children and elderly parents who can’t pay their bills. Many of those in their middle years are not having the lifestyle they expected (I wonder what they expected) as they are having to keep children, including adult ones and their own parents from financial disaster. It was reported as a terrible thing, but I think most of us who are truly struggling to make ends meet, still keeping a roof over their heads, food on the table and ensure education for our adult children it isn’t so awful. Is it difficult? Yes, very. Does it mean lots of doing without? You bet. But is that so awful? Maybe it’s expecting a certain lifestyle that’s the problem?

After a few months of unemployment (neither could sign on) both our lads have jobs again. Both are doing skilled and challenging work and both are paid minimum wage. Note; minimum wage is not a living wage. On top of this both lads have been expected to work hours for free so in reality they are on less than minimum wage. This is true for many of their peers also.  Worse still, many adults are leaving Uni with a degree that wont get them a job and are taking on “internships” which is working for nothing, often for big money-making firms.

There are a lot of people our age on two quite nice salaries and therefore I can’t see why they would mind caring for grandma’s gas bill when she can’t pay it. especially if grandma’s hard work and care was the leg up the financial ladder for her children.

Perhaps the fact that less money must go further will bring down the cost of living and help everyone. So far that doesn’t seem to be happening. But a girl can dream.

In the meantime while we can’t hope for a good Catholic approach to the workplace with just wages and subsidiarity within families, it is good to know that so many other families are caring for their own.

There was a Catholic/Christian family I read about from a home ed site that showed a family, living on one a  bit wages, caring for their 11 children, home educating them and having granddad living with them too.

The parents noted the ridiculous way the benefit system works and that they are made worse off financially because dad works and he and mum are married.  Until there’s a Govt with the will to support families that wont change.

My oldest daughter has been advised to sign on. The friend who told her she should do this asked why she hadn’t done so yet. Well, because she’s trying to build up a little business of her own in her cakes. She is held back by the fact we need a considerable financial injection to make  the kitchen up to scratch and then pay for it to be licensed. Meanwhile she tries to sell to friends and family. All this is good but she should sign on said our friend. She then went through the “hoops” that must be jumped. She must accept being treated appallingly by staff at the benefits Office. Then she must take lessons in applying for jobs she wont get and attend a “job club” where she must do what most people automatically do from home anyway. But it’s worth it to get the dole money and  pay the bills.


Life isn’t a bed of roses, trying to hold it all together in a shockingly high cost country, but we work together and although I know the older three would love to have their own place and more independence – for now, this works for us. God has been kind and I refuse to be afraid for the future, (no matter how sick I get) I know He will step in when He needs to. It’s a good thing we have Him, because we certainly can’t put trust in the “princes” can we?

Three quick thoughts about Montessori based education.

As I am planning a Montessori approach with Heleyna I have been doing a bit of reading and watching some Youtube videos to see how it works (and how it compares to the Charlotte Mason Method) Looking at how Montessori classrooms work two things strike me as interesting.

First of all, the classroom is fairly quiet. The children have plenty of room to move around and not all of them are sat at a table. Many of the children are sitting or lying on the floor with a mat rolled out on which they are working. We do some of that already here. So there’s not such much of a shift in gear for that. I want to get a couple of plain rugs that can be rolled out as a work space.

The other thing I learned was that in the classroom activities are stored in an order of left to right. Then when a tray activity is laid out, it too is put out left to right. The teacher said that this begins to give a logical order for the child to learn from and helps them when they come to learn to read and write that we do that from left to right.

Now, Avila has some dyslexic tendencies. One of these is that books, cards and just about anything else she does she does right to left. This makes a lot of things back to front. She also had a tendency to write like that, although not so much these days. However her letter and number reversals continue.  Her biggest bug-bear is in maths that goes from right to left in sums and left to right in reading the numbers.

I had already decided to invest in some number placement blocks and number cards for her and now I am more decided in this.

The final thought was I learned that Maria Montessori insisted that the children should have a beautiful environment to work in. She believed that beauty helped stimulate a child’s love of learning and his natural motivation to learn. The materials they use and the order of the room is therefore important.  She undountedly learned this working with the children of the slum areas of Rome.

I’ll have to think about how that will translate in our learning environment here.

God’s Interdict. Worse than the Pope’s.

When reading history the times that make me squirm the most are when the Pope passed an interdict on a city or even a whole country. Under the corrupt rule of King John (Plantagenet) things got so bad that the entire country was put under an interdict. The people were denied the Sacraments. The babies were not baptised, Mass was not said and the Sacraments of the Sick were not given. I cannot begin to imagine the loss, the feeling of being orphaned that the people bent under such a ruling must have suffered as they were thrown into a spiritual desert. It seems, on first reading, that the Holy Father of that time, or at other times was cruel indeed.

But then Scripture warns us that God too will cause an interdict of the people if we so choose. If we can’t be bothered with God, finding other things in life more interesting, more useful or just more relaxing, then He will leave us to it. He doesn’t force Himself on us.

The consequences of abandoning His way happens naturally. So we contracept and abort away our children and find we are short of priests and religious, and even those traditional lay people who cared for the parish. We have made those few children that got past the barriers into princes and princesses so they don’t know how to serve. We have made vocations into professions and undermined the meaning of the word vocation.

Now we see our priests working overtime to run more than one parish, and sick priests being run into the ground as there is no one to take over from them.

We are supposed to learn from this, just as Israel was supposed to learn from the diaspora and their being removed from the Temple liturgy. Israel did learn and she was taken back to the Promised Land and allowed to rebuild the Temple – although not so grandly as Solomon had done. She went back to her liturgy and was blessed.

I don’t think I am being overly optimistic when I say I see some signs that we are coming out of our exile and that God will allow us to rebuild our liturgy and worship Him in freedom, ‘freed from the hands of our enemies in uprightness before Him’. But we still have a very, very long way to go and must face the growing persecutions across the world and the real possibility that in the Western world we may bring an inderdict on ourselves.

In quiet praise of my parish and our parish priest.

Friends were over today who had been with us on Sunday when we celebrated with Avila her First Holy Communion. They mentioned how lovely our parish priest is – a solid, genuinely holy bloke. He’s about to be given another parish to run alongside ours as the PP from there isn’t well and is being moved (hopefully to lighter duties).  It’s a lot for one man to do.

He has made our Parish a lovely welcoming place where families can feel at home and where those of have little ones or children with various challenges don’t have to feel out of place about being there. It meant that on Sunday friends of ours who have children with Aspergers and ADHD (the real version) and babies could be there and not feel unwanted.

Father even preached against spending so much time looking at how others are behaving that we forget to look at ourselves.

So many parents who are battling the daily challenges of children with disabilities, chronic illness and all the attendant behaviours can feel that they are not allowed to leave the house, let alone enter a church.

As it happened the extra children with all their “stuff” were well behaved and relaxed during Mass and this has to be partly a reflection that their parents could be relaxed in the knowledge they would not be “noticed”.

Then there was me in the corner with my weird movements and STILL I keep saying “And also with your spirit!” When will I learn?

Thank God for my parish.

When the Wolves Came; Fr. Francis Pfeifer dodges the bullets of the drug pushers

I’ve been cleaning and tidying and listening to Al Kresta’s interview with Fr. Francis Ted Pfiefer OM whose memoir When the Wolves Came is to be made into a DVD.

He faced the powerful and violent drug cartels of Mexico and tried to continue to serve the people he had been sent to shepherd. He admits he was very much afraid and having been shot at went to kneel before Our Blessed Mother in the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Crying with fear he said he needed an immediate answer. Could he leave? Instead of God giving him permission to get away and find somewhere safer to live, Our Blessed Mother asked him to stay and trust her Son.

In his interview with Al Kresta he mentions in passing that as he was also a trained paramedic he had delivered most of the children of his parish.

Kindle UK book

It is good to see the stories of some of our brave priests being told. I can’t get the book just yet, but if any of you read it let me know what you think.

Avila’s First Holy Communion.

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Avila received her first Confession on Saturday and her First Holy Communion yesterday. It was a lovely day for all of us. Family and friends gathered to support Avila on this special day. Lots of home ed families joined us to celebrate and Father said some wonderful things about families educating their own.  It is good to have a PP who supports our decision to home educate and supports it openly.

Friday Freebies: phonic readers

You can get a set of early phonic readers from Fun Phonics

Progressive Phonics

Free Phonic Readers


Clarkness readers and Reading Hawk

Online readers from Oxford Owl

Starfall with black and white downloads  (really useful for the child who needs low stimulus)

Free Montessori downloads from

Montessori for Everyone

Montessori printshop

Montessori mom

1+1+1=1 montessori printables

Home Education; you live and learn.

My youngest, She Who Talks Mightily is 5 years old. It’s amazing to me to think that if she had gone to school she would already be near the end of her Reception year and heading for year 1.

Almost as soon as she started learning I noticed she did best with tactile objects and that she tends to think in pictures. This is shown through her many drawings which are pretty good, and tell lots of interesting and, odd stories.

I did buy a couple of Montessori things back then and I have used them, sort of. But the whole business of getting them out, making the lessons and organising a hands on activity instead of having her so the the same stuff her older siblings did, just went out of the window. It was so much easier to have her do the same as they did, because it’s what I’m used to. I was already having to shift gears in approach thanks to my health problems so I let Heleyna’s learning needs slide a bit.

The fact is, Heleyna has her own way of learning and she needs a more Montessori type approach. Making her do things the way the others did things is frustrating both of us. It just isn’t working.

I should have done what I planned to do in the beginning. So now we are starting again and I will be investing in more Montessori stuff as soon as I can budget for it.

Thankfully being home educated means Heleyna can have an education that best suits the way she learns – as soon as her mother gets her act together – and that adapting to her needs will not impinge on the learning needs of the others.

Osler’s Web by Hillary Johnson Review

Osler’s Web; Inside the Labyrinth of the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome Epidemic. (My copy has a plain cover rather than the rather disturbing -but accurate one shown here)

Here is a book that shines a light on what medicine is playing at with people severely sick with ME, called Chronic Fatigue Syndrome just to laugh at “tired women”. If you want an insight into how 21st Century medicine can make medieval hedge witches look like well trained professionals, this is the book. Ms Johnson spent a long ten years researching and writing this thick tome of evidence with little commentary from herself, as she lets the facts speak for themselves.

From 1984 to 1994 Johnson follows the unfolding stories of the doctors and scientists who tried to get answers for the patients whose lives were being devastated by this disease.

The inside of the Centre’s for Disease Control is not that surprising. There’s a lot of status quo pen pushers and people who do not want interesting times to happen to them. They will ignore, shift responsibility and generally muck about rather than do anything worthwhile. The CDC is well known for being very late to every disease and having little control on anything. So the fact that the CDC were so out to lunch over the outbreaks of ME across America isn’t surprising. The fact that the NIH are not better is also not surprising (I worked for the NHS remember).

What was shocking was the utter maliciousness of staff there, especially Stephen Straus whose vindictiveness was irrational. (He died in 2007, Kyrie Eleison) This man’s single-minded misogyny and total lack of integrity caused so much damage to the research and care of patients and shockingly because he was a “big gun” his lack of scientific rigour or basic honesty leaves patients without care still.

Walter Gunn who had worked hard retired from the corrupt CDC before his time, “his resignation testament to the agency’s continued negligence in the the realm of the disease as well as Congress’s failure to regulate the agency.” (p 556)

A 1992 survey conducted by clinical psychologist Leonard Jason of DePaul University suggested that close to 40% of CFS patients eventually dropped out of mainstream medicine altogether. Brutalised by their reception in doctors’ examining rooms, they ceased consulting doctors, preferring instead to wait out their disease away from the medical profession’s unhelpful counsel. (p584)

The fact that this survey is so accurate and still true today is an indictment of the medical profession. As an ex-nurse I am utterly ashamed that seriously ill people can be treated like this and nothing is done to stop it. Another psychiatrist named Goodrich was married to a wife, also a psychiatrist,  with serious ME.  He was troubled by the callous responses doctors gave his wife. I know what she has gone through because I have received those responses from arrogant self serving medics who see the dx “Fibromyalgia and ME” and immediately act like I’m a non-person, disposable.

Goodrich was angry enough and realistic and courageous enough to stand up for patients with ME. He pointed out that AIDS patients had suffered the same pompous refusal to accept their situation – especially children with AIDs – as ME sufferers at that time. While AIDs had to be faced as it killed it’s patients fairly quickly and fairly often, he thought ME wasn’t killing enough people even though the suicide rate was so high, so the medics were too thick to see it’s devastation. Goodrich added,

A case can be made that CFS is a worse disease than AIDs at least for the 50% of cases that are severe, since the patients’ lives are totally disrupted by pain, mental confusion, physical weakness and other[symptoms)…Such patients often envy AIDS patients who can anticipate eventual relief of symptoms through death.” (p.585).

Johnson compares the shoddy standards of the CDC over ME/cfs and the doors shut in the faces of service veterans struggling with what came to be known as Gulf War Syndrome.

Apart from the rare cancers like Burkitt’s and some others, deaths from ME were mainly due to suicide in those first years. Johnson notes that it was the deaths, especially high profile deaths with AIDS that finally forced the CDC to take note.

More than 20 years down the line we are more aware that people are dying of ME and it’s related symptoms, especially heart failure and stroke. But still the professionals are not catching up.

When the book Emerging Infections was published, Johnson notes, it was made clear by its scientist authors that the CDC was nowhere near ready (and some might add or willing) to face emerging new or renewed infections. Surveillance measures even for listed diseases were pretty poor.

The heroes of this story are real doctors like Dan Peterson and Paul Cheney who were on the front lines of the Tahoe outbreak. Dr David Bell who watched young children and teens have their health and lives ripped away from them. Elaine deFreitas who discovered the virus clues and whose protocol the CDC utterly refused to follow, so that her work was not replicated and proved.

This Review is worth reading