Saturday 28 November 2009

Nigeria: Yar'adua's health, a truth but not the whole truth

The truth is somewhere out there

After all the speculation about the health of President Yar’adua of Nigeria, it might have come as a welcome relief that someone has dared to say what ails him.

My concern has been if there is so much about transparency, honesty and truth about his government why amidst the rumours we have all heard it has taken almost three years into his perm to admit to anything.

Before we go away in some sort of contentment at the receipt of knowledge, it is quite surprising that we have from all sorts of sources assumed and believed that the President had a kidney problem.

New news on health

The Economist (Once I find that link, I will publish it)revealed sometime last year that a specialist kidney department was built at the General Hospital in Katsina where the President was once governor, no doubt to cater for his health problem rather than to address a statistical propensity to kidney ailments of the people of Katsina State.

With the revelation of this new acute pericarditis ailment [2] which is an inflammation of the lining around the heart, should one suppose this has been the ailment all along, something has been contributory to this ailment like the open secret of the pre-existing kidney condition or the previous check-ups were just routine where the President simply avails himself of better medical facilities in other countries apart from his own.

There is a reason why courts require on oath to know the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

A truth but not the whole truth

As far as this ailment is concerned, we have come upon a truth, I am not convinced it is the whole truth and for how the President has not squared up with us Nigerians about his health and the possibility that keeping his health might just preoccupy him to the extent that he might be inadvertently derelict of his constitutional duties, this is hardly news to base a headline on.

I see this more as a decoy, having fed the frenzy of news seekers with this acute pericarditis ailment that can be cleared in weeks, one might be conned into the satisfaction that his return would herald a complete return to health of the President to assume and execute his duties and functions with new vigour.

It was probably impossible to keep the news of his sudden airlift to Saudi Arabia under wraps even during the Hajj pilgrimage and having visited a hospital, the news was salami-sliced enough to follow the metaphor of the mini-skirt – short enough to keep the interest but also long enough to obfuscate essential detail.

A duty to perform

Now, it is everyone’s wish that the President of the great and good country of Nigeria be in perfect health, we can blandly pray for health since we are unsure except through revelation of the exact ailment – no one wishes him ill, but like one has opined in blogs before, to have faceless people run the country accountable to no one as the President allows rumours of his health to fly about leaving us thinking he is incapacitated rather than able, we are done the greatest disservice.

Opportunity still abounds for a show of honesty and truthfulness by our President and let us hope those opportunities would be taken.

Meanwhile, before we speculate any further on the truth, the lies and the half-truths, let us pray.


BBC News - Nigeria President Umaru Yar'Adua 'has heart problem'

Friday 27 November 2009

Phone upgrades and iGadget digs

Trendy toys and business tools

The other day, my pastor’s son was showing off his phone and was all so excited about the features and things he could do with his phone. I did not really have an earful before I said; I used a phone not a toy.

He had an iPhone; now, I have nothing against Apple technologies, you need pioneers, mavericks and daring-do to change the marketplace – Apple does a good job with bringing innovative and sometimes technologically appealing products to the market, they create trends and force competitors who have been at the game longer to do better with their offerings.

If you get my drift, I do not want to be locked into proprietary products with monopolistic contractual agreements that make me stand out as trendy but almost foolish at the same time.

In prison and seeking solitary confinement

If my point has not be driven home about the concept of iPhones being trendy though conceptual toys whilst my HTC Touch Diamond 2 is a business tool, having a mobile phone contract is as hard enough as being in prison, then some smart people go to the governor, beg, queue up and the proudly show off that they have been able to obtain solitary confinement, yes, the iWhatever user is in solitary confinement.

Solitary confinement is indeed, independent, individual, and maybe incredible but an innovative way of separating the maverick of disruption from the pool of assumed conformity which in itself represents a kind of freedom many a Granny Smith eater never enjoys.

With the alliteration of I’s all over the place that cannot that will not gather with the We’s that make society in the quest for being different, in any country, if a network fails, my phone can roam, if your iPhone network breaks you have a very expensive iBrick, it is like having your glorious Bugatti breakdown on the motorway – who is showing off now?

I think I have made my point about why there is the well worn saying of the Mac being the best thing to wear to keep you dry in the rain. No funny comments will be entertained, if you have a counter-rant, put it in your blog and backtrack to mine.

Upgrades and charades

So, I decided after church on Sunday to upgrade the ROM of my HTC Touch Diamond 2 (codename HTC Topaz) phone from Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.1 to Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.5. Thankfully, I had a phone HTC was willing to upgrade, my old HTC P3600 (codename HTC Trinity) did not get a ROM upgrade from Microsoft Windows Mobile 5.0 to Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.0.

I suspect there were quite a few features in that phone that put a reliable upgrade beyond the engineering department of HTC, I am not bitter; the phone served me well for almost 30 months.

What I cannot understand about the provider agreements and contracts in the Netherlands is I cannot get anyone to give me a phone with English as the core language, but I can get an online mobile phone shop in the Netherlands to get me an English phone, negotiate the contract with my provider and still have it cheaper than if I walked into my provider’s shop on the high street.

That is how I got both my HTC Trinity and my HTC Topaz phones in UK English. When getting a phone like this I have always invested in getting decent programs for security, maintenance and backup.

Tools and utilities

For security, I use Carty Studio’s Ultimate Theft Alarm; it binds my SIM to my phone and if another SIM is inserted and not registered, it sends SMS messages of the SIM identity and of all calls made to a designated phone. Since my landline can receive SMS messages, I do not need another phone to make a trace of my mobile.

I also use a number of tools from the SPB Software House as SPB Pocket Plus and SPB Backup. The SPB Backup program is quite good, especially when you need to do restores. SK Tools is a good mobile phone maintenance utility that includes the ability to tweak components of the phone and edit the registry.

So, I first backed up my phone to the mini-SD Card in my phone which has a 16 GB capacity and then downloaded the ROM upgrade. I could not use the European version of English because my serial number was not accepted.

I switched to the UK HTC site and after keying in my serial number which was present on the phone packaging rather than having to dismantle my phone and look under the battery, I got the 170 MB file which was 10 times faster to download from Asia than Europe.

Where is my graffiti?

I hooked up my phone to my Microsoft Windows Vista system which was running the Windows Mobile Device Center application and started off the ROM Upgrade Utility. In about 30 minutes the upgrade was done and the phone ready to run on Microsoft Windows Mobile 6.5. (WM65)

The first thing I noticed was that the Block Recogniser stylus input option had disappeared, I have been doing Graffiti since the Palm Pilot/HandSpring days and some faceless apparatchik had decided to take it out of WM65.

After surfing the net and finding out that all sorts of tweaks were necessary to get that feature back, I almost repented of my folly, I was also not keen on having to reinstall a good 20 bits of software and utilities I had with WM61.

So, I upgraded my version of SPB Backup and started the restore, it noticed the ROM had been upgraded and offered the ROM Upgrade Mode option with a checkbox to Overwrite Existing Files.

I unchecked the box and restored, the phone came back up but with bit missing, some programs were restored and others crippled, so I returned to the Restore process and chose to Overwrite Existing Files.

On a resetting the phone, I had all my applications from WM61 restored and Block Recognition available as the default text input system without the need to change it each time I reset the phone as I did with WM65.

Online storage of phone data

I am still getting round the new features in WM65, but I can say getting SPB Backup was more than a good investment, it was a wise one.

Since mobile phones now contain more personal and social information than diaries and address books of old, backing up the data is critical, so not only do I synchronise the phone with 2 systems at home, it is now synchronised over the air to where with my Windows Live account I can store my address book and data, view that information anywhere without my phone and restore it to a compatible phone if need be.

Obviously, one needs to find a balance between the paranoia of someone accessing your data online and the self-importance of thinking everyone is really interested in seeing your data. I think in some ways Microsoft services are nominally secure enough and really phones are not for critical data like bank accounts, credit card numbers or such pertinent personal information.

In the worst case, you can decide what you want backed up and what should remain on your phone, however, the online storage of phone data is not only useful it is necessary for the times.


iPhone - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

HTC Touch Diamond2 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

HTC - Products - HTC Touch Diamond2 – HTC Topaz - Overview

HTC - Products - HTC P3600 – HTC Trinity - Overview

HTC Corporation - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

HTC Touch Diamond2 UK - Online PDA shop where I got my deal for a UK phone in the Netherlands

Apple Inc. - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Windows Mobile - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Carty Studios - Ultimate Theft Alert v3.5!

SPB Software for Windows Mobile (Pocket PC, Smartphone, PDA), Symbian, iPhone

SKTools features

Graffiti (Palm OS) Block Recogniser - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Wednesday 25 November 2009

A wardrobe of wounds dressings

A different kind of person

The illness I had has been a road of experiences I probably would never have travelled by any other means – I could see nothing that would have brought me in contact with many of the things I have learnt about doctors, nurses, hospitals, care and many other areas of health and healthcare management.

Most importantly, that aspect of humanity that moves beyond sympathy to empathy, the sharing of common interests or experiences and the willingness of many to go long beyond the call of duty for so little remuneration for their services and they gain such satisfaction, fulfilment and contentment for what they do.

As one thinks about these things you can only count your blessings and be in gratitude for meeting people in whom hope and enthusiasm is in ascendancy whilst cynicism, scepticism and apathy finds little place to take root – we can hopefully learn from them that the whole wide selfish and independent world owes a lot more to the better virtues of these people dotted around our lives than the independent spirit of grabbing all you can get for the adrenalin fix of winning against everyone else.

Do not touch those wounds

My last visit to hospital was another revelation in wounds management, now, I have always been of the impression that all wounds need to be treated directly, plasters and bandages need to be under-laid with ointments, potions or some sort of rub, it needs to be picked at, if not molested till it all turns out right – well, that, I have learnt is wrong.

In my case, the cancer lesions which present themselves as deep tissue wounds were never touched except when biopsies were taken, they were covered with a gauze, then some lint to absorb and pus or draining fluids, then bandaged up.

The only time the wounds were touched was a good 4 weeks into my treatment when the wounds nurse decided all the necrotic tissue had to come off to allow fresh tissue to breathe and heal over.

Greasy bits and old things

Until then, the gauze applied as a very greasy fine netting which kept the wounds moist and for a while, it was the best course of treatment, that gauze came under the marketing name of Cuticerin [1]. Before then, when I visited my doctor, she removed the cotton wool which I have put on the wound and as you know that tugs at the main wound if any exudate were produced and it did not help in the healing process.

Then she used Betadine [2], a gauze impregnated with a brownish household disinfectant for wounds, but as I got to the hospital, I was told that kind of treatment was old because it stained the wound and did not help in identifying clearly if the wound was healing or not. I would suppose the brown colour comes from the iodine content.

Gauzes with transparent or colourless impregnations were the in-thing as far as they were concerned, in fact, there was no trace of Betadine in the hospital.

So, for weeks, my wounds were dressed with Cuticerin, until the neighbourhood nurse got concerned that the moistness seemed to be spreading to other seemingly healthy areas and healing did not seem to be progressing as they thought it should.

Ionised from greasy looks

This caused the re-evaluation that had the specialists think things were maybe fine, but in need of the opinion of the wounds nurse.

The wounds nurse had one look and decided the gauze should change whilst cutting away the necrotic tissue. That gauze was an Antimicrobial Calcium Alginate Wound Dressing, generally known as alginate to the industry and this with the tradename Suprasorb A [3].

The active component of this dressing was the silver oxide ions which bind with bacteria in wounds, hence lowering infection; more so, it was dry and very absorbent. You can leave the dressing on for as long as 7 days till it literally falls off, that way you never adversely tampered with the wound or the platelets formed as part of the healing process.

I did not know that there was this big debate about wounds management in the medical world between moist dressings and dry dressings, but the use of alginate represented great progress in the management of the wounds I had.

All those deteriorating moist areas dried up, adhered to the dressing and within weeks all the areas were dry and healing progressing apace. In the process a lot more necrotic tissue could be removed.

Good feeling touch

On my last visit to the hospital, the doctor had a look at my foot and decided the alginate dressing was now not as effective as it should be because the core area of the wound was dry apart from some small areas producing fluid and the source of most of the pain I suffered.

This doctor apparently knows a lot about wounds management and changed the dressing to a silicone based film with 1 millimetre diameter holes commonly called Mepitel [4]. This film places snugly on the wound and allows it to “breathe” and all seepage or exudate to be soaked up on the lint compress which should be thick enough to absorb the fluids if any.

Removing it is also kinder to the wound surface and it can last up 7 days, though the lint dressing should be changed daily as advised.

I must say, through experience, I have learnt quite a bit about wound care, it is all very interesting, I doubt if a new type of dressing would be needed between now and the full healing of the wounds.


[1] Smith & Nephew - Cuticerin*

[2] Betadine - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[3] Activa Healthcare - Products - Suprasorb A

[4] Mepitel Dressings Datacard

Thursday 19 November 2009

Somali woman mercilessly stoned to death

This Islam is strange

This aspect of Islam is one I find so unfamiliar and devoid of any iota humanity, it loses the real function of religion and lets a kind of evil barbarity lose on a hapless people.

A 20-year old “adulteress” was stoned in Somalia [1] whilst her boyfriend was given 100 lashes of the blessed rod for his sins.

Sometimes I wonder who gives the judges the domineering influence over people to the extent that they can take life without mercy on the premise of the adherence to a religion or creed.

My Muslim heritage

At the risk of being labelled as someone who does not understand the vagaries of Islam or Sharia law, it is really beside the point that I do have a Muslim heritage in that my paternal grandfather was Muslim and so is my uncle.

If I ever met any two people who ooze with humanity, compassion and humility, I would put those two Muslims at the front of the line, so it really baffles me when I hear of these rather heinous acts of crime and punishment procedures that terrorise people in conformity rather than persuade of them of a goodly situation.

Does Sharia law know mercy?

This was a 20-year old girl who really could have been mercifully forgiven, put under the care of a matriarch who could help her mend her “immoral” ways and make her a better citizen in the society in which she lives.

In fact, the harbingers of “real” Sharia law whose outlook does not include the concept of leniency surely should in their prayers for mercy and forgiveness to God not expect to find any mercy from the god they worship, who in their minds allows for this kind of violence in the name of justice and purity.

Casting the first stone

What I even find most primitive as to label it Neanderthal is that they can find people who would willingly pick up stones and stone a half-buried woman to death with all the blood, screaming and goriness of it all – is our humanity really that inured to any feeling that people cannot for once constrain themselves and jointly appeal for some sympathy?

At this point one wishes there were a Rabbi like in the times of Jesus [2] who whilst not condoning the adulteress highlighted the fact that sin is sin, from the little white lie to the seemingly egregious act of adultery. He sanctioned the punishment of stoning but asked that the one without sin cast the first stone – even amongst the most pious of the adherents in Somalia, none can be so pure to have been able to cast the first stone.

Entertained with death

In what can only be a kind of bizarre sense of satisfaction, no men ever get stoned for adultery – women always seem to get the rotten end of justice – as if the public enjoy the wail of death as the woman’s blood gets splattered all over the ground and the judges applaud themselves for having such great control over the people.

The last thought in this matter should be deep enough for anyone to understand and it must be true for all intents and purposes in this world and hereafter. “They who show no mercy, no matter what cause they stand for; deserve no mercy ever.”


[1] BBC News : Somali woman stoned for adultery

[2] John 8:3-11 - Passage Lookup - New Living Translation -