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RSV Warning

Leah Sarich | posted Tuesday, Dec 23rd, 2014


During the holidays, new parents are so excited to show off their new baby to all the visiting relatives. But it’s very important that parents do not hand the baby off to any adult with a cold. That’s because it’s RSV season.

Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Calgary, Dr. Ian Mitchell explains RSV is a simple cold in adults but causes serious respiratory illness in babies, particularly those younger than six months of age. We develop poor immunity to this virus, so we will get it several times in our lives. It starts out as a sniffly nose in babies, which causes babies to have trouble feeding and become irritable. As the illness progresses it can cause respiratory distress which means the baby will have trouble breathing. That’s when it’s time to take the baby to hospital. There’s no specific treatment for the illness but in hospital, doctors will help baby get the oxygen they need and then support them with feeding, nutrition and hydration.

The challenge here is that about half of babies hospitalized with an RSV infection will go on to develop an asthma-like illness with every cold as they grow up. Some children will outgrow this asthma, others will go on to have asthma into adulthood. So, an RSV infection is very serious and parents must do everything they can to prevent it.

It’s the same message used to prevent other viral infections: wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands. Parents must insist even healthy people wash their hands before they handle the baby, and of course, anyone with the slightest cold cannot come into contact with the infant.

And of course at this time of year, that can be tricky when Grandma has flown in all the way from New Brunswick to see the baby but picked up a stuffy nose on the plane. But Dr. Mitchell says parents’ first duty is always to protect their child.

There is a trial underway in Calgary. Doctors are trying to come up with a vaccine to help prevent RSV infections. They’re looking for healthy children aged 2 to 5 to participate. For more information  call 403-955-2981 or email achieve@ucalgary.ca. For more information about RSV visit this website.


Hockey Night in Canada Cheat Sheet: Dec. 20

Jeff Simmons | posted Saturday, Dec 20th, 2014

his week, Hockey Night Canada has a great lineup in store for you.

There are four games being shown across the country, which include five Canadian teams.

In the Cheat Sheet each week, we’ll provide everything you need to know for Hockey Night in Canada:

Note: All games below are listed in Eastern time.


Ottawa Senators vs. Montreal Canadiens 
Channel: City
Broadcast crew: Paul Romanuk, Garry Galley
Game notes: Montreal has won its last three games against Ottawa…Habs defenceman P.K. Subban has 16 points (four goals, 12 assists) in 19 career games vs. Senators…Senators goalie Craig Anderson is 2-1-0 with a .931 save percentage in his last three starts.

Philadelphia Flyers vs. Toronto Maple Leafs 
Channel: CBC
Broadcast crew: Jim Hughson, Craig Simpson, Glenn Healy
Game notes: Toronto is 2-5-1 in their last eight home games against Philadelphia…Claude Giroux has 19 points (six goals, 13 assists) in 20 career games vs. Toronto…The Leafs are 8-2-0 in their last 10 games.

Also on Rogers: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. New York Islanders (FX)


Calgary Flames vs. Vancouver Canucks 
Channel: CBC
Broadcast crew: Dave Randorf, Mike Johnson
Game notes: Vancouver has won their last seven home games against the Flames…Calgary goalie Jonas Hiller has lost in each of his last five starts…Ryan Miller has a career .901 save percentage in five games against Calgary.

Holiday Eating Disorders

Leah Sarich | posted Friday, Dec 19th, 2014


At this time of year it’s often all about the food … the cookies, the squares, the turkey and more! But for those struggling with an eating disorder the holidays can be a nightmare.

I spoke with Dr. Monique Jericho, a Psychiatrist and Medical Director of the Calgary Eating Disorder Program, who says those who are being treated for an eating disorder are often prescribed a strict eating and food routine and over the holidays that routine is likely to be disrupted.

Dr. Jericho says it’s very important to try to stay with the food routine and not take a break over the holidays because the disorder is not taking a break. Dr. Jericho says some people with the disorder will start restricting their food intake prior to the holidays in anticipation of having to eat more to appear normal in social situations. Others suffering will feel very anxious about disappointing people who’ve prepared food… ie. grandma’s mashed potatoes she makes every year or auntie’s holiday cookies.

Dr. Jericho also says it’s not just about the food. Research shows people with eating disorders often also struggle with interpersonal insecurity so simply being in social situations can be very challenging. Dr. Jericho recommends families consider creating different traditions that don’t surround food. She also suggests staying home with just the close family unit and decorating the tree or watching a movie. It’s about taking some of the pressure off of the person struggling with the eating disorder.

And if the family chooses to share with other members of the extended family that their teen is struggling with an eating disorder they can counsel family to not comment on the child’s appearance or about how much they’re eating.

Also, it’s a good time of year to check in with your care team. If you or your child is struggling call Access Mental Health at 403 943 1500. You can also call the Calgary Eating Disorder Program at 403 955 7700. And for more information online visit this website for some very helpful tips.

10 ways to make holiday baking easier

Kristen Eppich | posted Thursday, Dec 18th, 2014

Holiday baking is wonderful. The nostalgia, the aroma, the sugar – it brings back memories and allows us to indulge in some of our favourite recipes. But who’s kidding who, the best thing about holiday baking is having it done – so we can enjoy the wares minus the mess and time.

Here are 10 quick tips to make your holiday baking a little friendlier, and relieve you of at least one sticky measuring spoon this season. Happy baking.

  1. Keep two sets of measuring spoons on hand. One for wet ingredients, one for dry.
  2. Measuring something sticky like molasses or honey? Lightly spray your measuring cup or spoon with cooking spray and it will slide right out.
  3. Eggs to cold? If your recipe calls for room temperature eggs, drop them (in their shell) into very warm water and let them sit for 5 minutes. Use immediately (do not return these to the fridge).
  4. Leave your butter out the night before. Defrosting butter in the microwave changes the composition of the butter and it won’t react the same way as naturally room temperature butter.
  5. Always bake on parchment paper. It saves cookies from sticking and time on clean-up.
  6. Making icebox cookies that need to be rolled and chilled? Cut the inner tube of a roll of paper towels in half lengthwise and rest the wrapped cylinders of dough inside. It will help them keep their round shape while the firm up in the fridge.
  7. If you want to shape cookies in advance, but bake off later in batches, freeze first on a tray. Once frozen, stack in an airtight container and keep frozen. Bake cookies from frozen.
  8. Buy disposable piping bags to make life easier for you and your kids when it comes to decorating sugar cookies. This allows you to have multiple colours on the go, and they can be rinsed out and reused.
  9. Use gel food colourings to tint icing. Gel colourings have less liquid so they don’t dilute your icing and they also have a more intense colour (so add sparingly).
  10. Know some basic substitutions such as these to save time running to and from the grocery store:
  • 1 cup cake flour = 3/4 cup + 2 tbsp all-purpose flour + 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • Rice flour, potato flour and cornstarch can all be used interchangeably.
  • Buttermilk can be made by adding 1 tbsp lemon juice to 1 cup milk. Let sit for a few minutes until it curdles, then proceed.
  • Spelt flour can replace all-purpose flour 1:1

Holiday Family Stress

Leah Sarich | posted Tuesday, Dec 16th, 2014


Ahhh the holidays. They’re filled with joy and excitement but also lots of expectation and stress. And for many families, just the ‘getting together’ part can be very stressful.

I spoke with Family Therapist Lynda Snyder and she says people need to really make sure their expectations for the holidays are realistic. For example, don’t expect your relationship with your father to magically be different this holiday season. Snyder says usually people are the same as they always are.

Snyder also recommends leaving room for a range of emotions at this time of year. For many people, the holidays are a time of remembering which can bring up sadness. And this is okay. For example, it can be difficult for people who may have lost a loved one this year. So it’s important to not expect everyone to happy and joyous all the time.

Snyder also suggests doing some planning in advance of the holidays. She says it’s helpful to divide up the responsibilities this time of year. She says some families have people that are very capable and those people are often left with too much to do. She suggests getting everyone, even those family members who are happy to let others take over, participate in the execution of events during the holidays.

It’s also critical to try and plan the holidays around family routines, particularly if there are young children involved. Yes, everyone especially the children are excited, but everyone benefits if the kids still can have a nap or even a break from the action. Snyder is a big believer in rest over the holidays. She says if a child needs to go down for a nap, the parent should rest with them and recharge their batteries.

And if there’s a touchy subject that needs to be addressed in a family, make sure there’s a good time to do so. Snyder says for many families they only get together over the holidays, so there may be no other time to discuss a particular subject. That said, everyone should plan in advance when that subject will be addressed so it doesn’t come up at an inappropriate time, like over turkey dinner. Families should go into these discussions with an open and cooperative attitude as well, so everyone can move forward.

If you’re looking for some help with your family over the holiday season, you can contact the Calgary Family Therapy Centre at 403 802 1680.



The year’s top YouTube stars

Adrian Lee | posted Tuesday, Dec 16th, 2014

Is this the year the Internet found its soul? Some of 2014’s most viral videos had an eye on issues—from a woman filming her catcall-filled walk around New York, to Emma Watson’s stirring speech about feminism at the UN. One, First Kiss, a short film where 20 strangers lock lips, was both artful and sweet. Then again, that catcall walk spawned a number of spoof spin-offs (“5 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Jets fan”). And some of the year’s other biggest hits involved a man getting kicked in the head by a train engineer while taking a selfie, and a “devil baby” prank video. Honourable mentions: The Tonight Show’s edit of clips from news anchor Brian Williams so that he performed Rapper’s Delight; and Too Many Cooks, an absurdist swell of genre films and sitcom tropes plucked from intentioned obscurity that propelled scores of think pieces. Here’s some of the best videos from the year that was:

Schadenfreude is a powerful, addictive thing, and this video of a selfie-taker being kicked in the head by the driver of a passing train proves it, with its 35-million views.

A newscaster takes advantage of a break to let loose and dance to the viral-on-its-own remix of a quote from the rapper T.I.—to the dismay of his co-anchor.

An argument between three toddlers over how to precisely describe how much it had rained ended up poking more than 11-million people right in the heart.

The Tonight Show edits NBC newsmen Brian Williams and Lester Holt to rap the Sugarhill Gang’s seminal song—with respects due to Sugarhill Gang’s real-life Big Bank Hank, who passed away this year.

This trailer for an otherwise forgettable horror flick loosed an animatronic ‘devil baby’ in the streets of New York, ratcheting up a stunning 48-million views. But while New Yorkers’ terror is amusing, the video’s popularity can perhaps be exclusively explained by the unimpressed passerby in the video’s middle portion.

The message of “10 Hours of Walking in NYC as a Woman” was powerful, but just as the enduring legacy of “S*** Girls Say” was its template for spin-offs of other niche categories, the video’s real success can be measured in the copycats it spawned. Some were equally stirring (“10 hours of walking in NYC as a woman in a hijab”); others were more jocular (“10 hours of walking in NYC as a Lamborghini”).

Good news: Emma Watson, refusing the typical dance that some female actresses feel the need to practice to avoid talking about feminism, made a speech to the United Nations that helped push it to the fore. Bad news: it earned her threats from men’s rights trolls on the controversial network 4chan.

It was never meant to live—it was intentionally consigned by absurdist cartoon purveyors Adult Swim to 4 a.m. infomercials—but we’re better off that someone loaded the catchy Too Many Cooks up to Youtube for the masses to relish. Ends up too many cooks don’t spoil the broth, after all.

Lauren Hill, a freshman player on Mount St. Joseph’s basketball team who was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour, lays in the game’s opening basket—to the roar of another school’s crowd.

More from the sports file: five days before Isaiah Austin was expected to be drafted in the first round of the NBA draft, his draft physicals found a genetic disease that would immediately end his career, before it could even begin. So on draft day, the league commissioner Adam Silver decided he needed to right that cosmic wrong.

Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe is a wizard after all—at rapping, at least.

Viral videos are sometimes all about luck. This pilot lost the camera he had attached to his plane and it plummets, somehow, landing intact and face-up—where it is greeted by a confused yet hungry pig.

On the other hand, virality can also require the extreme, delicate precision needed to hand-craft tiny burritos to feed to a hamster.Either way, this is adorable.

John Oliver’s takedown of net neutrality may not have received as many eyeballs as most of the clips on this list, but the fact that a video about deeply wonkish material got 7-million views—and inspired one legislator to actually deny the video’s claim that he was a dingo—means it well-earned its spot.

Chris Picco was set to have a child with his wife Ashley. But then Ashley died suddenly during childbirth, and his son, Lennon, had to bedelivered prematurely by C-section. Knowing that he would likely pass away too, Chris sang the Beatles’ mournful tune. Lennon died the next day.

Richard Dunn, trapped alone in the Las Vegas airport, filmed a creative music video for Celine Dion’s All By Myself—earning more than 16-million views and a plaudit from Celine herself.

All by myself from Richard Dunn on Vimeo.

With remarkably advanced moves, this plump baby from Korea captured more than 13-million hearts. (The one on the left gives a valiant effort, also.)

This artful short film of 20 strangers kissing ended up being an ad for a clothing line—but wasn’t a less cynical time when we simply believed in the pure spontaneity of 20 beautiful people making out?

When to Go to the Doc

Leah Sarich | posted Thursday, Dec 11th, 2014


It’s cold and flu season and that means many of us are not feeling well. But do our symptoms require a visit to the doctor?

I asked this question, of Acute Care Physician Dr. Raj Bhardwaj. He says if you’re feeling terrible come and see them. Secondly, he says doctors would rather see a bunch of people with simple colds and not miss the one person who has pneumonia. That said, Dr. Bhardwaj says come and see the doctor but don’t be surprised if you’re told yes, you have a cold and no, we’re not going to give you any antibiotics.

Dr. Bhardwaj wants to remind everyone that antibiotics only kill bacteria, not viruses. For example, Dr. Bhardwaj says most sinus infections are viral and don’t require antibiotics, most ear infections are viral and don’t require antibiotics and almost all bronchitis is viral and doesn’t require antibiotics.

So, what to do to feel better? Dr. Bhardwaj says do what your mother taught you to do. Rest, eat chicken soup and take some acetaminophen or ibuprofen (Tylenol or Advil.) But Dr. Bhardwaj does not recommend the cough and cold versions of those medicines. He explains those drugs dry out the nasal passages and sinuses. In Calgary, where it’s so dry, we should be focusing on humidity. He advocates for using the humidifier, and nasal rinsing. These actions will loosen up what’s inside the head and help you to get rid of all that mucus which will help you feel better and get rid of the virus.

Dr. Bhardwaj also says call HealthLink if you’re unsure of when to go to the doctor. You’ll be able to outline your symptoms to a registered nurse and they’ll tell you when to see the doctor. You can also go to the HealthLink website and track your own symptoms.


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