When we associate texting with our health, the topic is usually bad news: texting while walking/driving causes accidents; constant texting causes carpal tunnel syndrome; texting too much damages personal relationships etc. etc. However, as the following studies show, texting has also proven to have distinct health benefits. In fact, mobile phones have found a place in the modern delivery of health care. It’s called Mobile Health, or mHealth, which covers any use of laptops, cellphones, tablets etc. in collecting patient data, monitoring patient health and delivering services.
Here are four ways that sending and receiving text messages can improve our health:
• An emergency room doctor at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Rhode Island led a study that offered a violence prevention and intervention program via text messages to young female patients who’d experienced peer violence. The teens overwhelmingly agreed to the follow-up service, believing the supportive messages could help them avoid violent situations in the future, and they indicated they would recommend the service to other young girls at risk. The results of the study were released this past March, and the positive outcome has the hospital looking at ways to expand the service to reach out to at-risk male youths and non-English speaking teens.
• A University of Connecticut study observed positive results in HIV/AIDS patients who connected with their health care providers via text messages. Earlier this year, The Center for Health, Intervention and Prevention (a division of the university) released the results of a study in which patients who received text message “intervention” were found to be more likely to stay on track with their drug regimen and have better health than those who just saw their physicians for follow-ups every few months.
• Persons at risk for type 2 diabetes could benefit from text message reminders about their health, according to a University of Michigan study. Persons who signed up for and received regular messages about eating healthier, drinking more water, exercising etc. were more likely to lose some extra weight and live a healthier lifestyle, according to the study results released in 2013.
• Receiving a simple “how r u” on their phone from a loved one can be a much needed lift to someone who is isolated or feels alone, according to a University of California Berkley study that began in 2010. The project, led by a clinical psychologist, involved sending mental health participants regular messages asking about their moods, suggesting they think about positive things that happened to them and reminding them to take their medications. When the program ended after a number of weeks, several patients reported missing the regular connection. To someone who’s depressed or under stress, a concerned text message is a welcome connection and immediately makes them feel cared for – proving that through texting you really can “reach out and touch someone.”
Feel Good Messages
Downhome asked our facebook friends, “What’s the BEST news you ever received via text message?” Here’s what some said:
“I got asked to be a godmother for the first time.” – Chantal Oake
“Friend’s baby’s arrival.” – Fousty Touton
“‘I’m coming to get you’ – when I was stranded.” – Tracy Perry Stepanuk
“Pics of my grandbaby-to-be.” – Wendy Roenigk-Crane
There are two main reasons to visit the Little, Big Bear Safari, located about 90 minutes from Moncton in Acadieville, New Brunswick. One, of course, is to safely view black bears as they roam onto the wilderness site. Another is to meet Richard Goguen, a.k.a. “the bear whisperer.”
“My husband has a gift with animals,” says Vivianne Goguen, who co-owns the attraction with her partner. The couple built an observation tower in 1998 with the intention of inviting the public to safely view and photograph black bears in their natural environment. But one bear had a slightly different plan. During construction, an orphaned cub wandered into the area and, as Vivianne puts it, “adopted” Richard. They aptly named the cub, which Vivianne says followed Richard around like a dog, “Pooch.”
“After a few years she had babies and we said, ‘Oh great, she’s going to become wild and that’s ok – but after a few weeks she brought her babies out and literally introduced them to grand-daddy,” says Vivianne. “She pushed them towards Richard.” Now 16 years later, the Goguens believe Pooch has passed on, but three generations of her descendants still visit the site very frequently and maintain the unusual bond with Richard.
Check out this shocking footage taken at the Little, Big Bear Safari. Richard enters the scene at 1:20.
While they do not guarantee sightings, Vivianne says their tour groups have missed out on seeing black bears only twice since opening to the public in 1998. Once visitors are safely inside the 26-foot-high tower, Richard lures the animals to the site with food. “We have the same permit as hunters – we have the right to leave little treats,” says Vivianne, adding, “but we shoot with cameras only.”
Local biologists have openly criticized the business, saying Richard’s close relationship with the bears is extremely risky – not only putting himself in harm’s way, but also anyone who may encounter one of these bears in the wild, outside the safety of the Safari. Vivianne maintains they have never had any complaints of that nature and believes the bears prefer Richard only. However, she warns, “We don’t suggest that people do that in their backyard. Don’t try to do this.”
To find out about other wild encounters available right here in Atlantic Canada, see the July issue of Downhome.
Editor's Note: Richard's interaction with black bears is extremely risky. Never, ever approach a black bear if you encounter one in the wild. To find out what to do if you do encounter a black bear, click here.
A Newfoundlander living in Nova Scotia for the past 28 years, Lisa Braye’s ear is still fine-tuned to the sound of the Newfoundland accent. Whenever the 46-year-old hears that unique lilt roll off some stranger’s tongue, she says she just can’t help but ask, “What part are you from?” But one day last fall, Lisa’s favourite conversation starter wound up leaving her completely speechless.
On October 3, while enjoying a night out at a bar in Lower Sackville, Nova Scotia, Lisa overheard that familiar twang from a couple seated nearby her and, as usual, she began chatting them up.
As Lisa predicted, the couple, Shirley and Jeff Taylor, were from downhome.
“They told me they were from St. Anthony and then they asked me (where I was from) and I said, ‘well, I was born in St. Anthony actually, but I grew up in Corner Brook because I was adopted out,’” explains Lisa. Curious, Shirley asked Lisa how much she knew about her birth parents – which wasn’t a lot. Lisa’s adoptive parents, Gae and Rex Braye, knew only that her birth mother’s surname was either Grinham or Greenham and that Lisa’s name at birth had been Ivy; she knew nothing of her birth father.
After revealing those few pieces of information, along with her date of birth, Lisa says, “their mouths were open and it was just total shock.”
“(Shirley) said, ‘I would say 100 per cent but I’m not going to because I have to call her – but I’m 90 per cent sure that my best friend is your biological mother,” says Lisa, recalling the conversation that took place. The following evening, Shirley phoned Lisa and confirmed that her best friend, Liz Grinham, was indeed Lisa’s birth mother, and gave Lisa Liz’s phone number.
“Every emotion any person could ever have I had it that whole weekend – happy, excited, nervous, shocked – you name it,” says Lisa. Despite the emotional rollercoaster, Lisa quickly picked up the phone to speak to her biological mother for the first time.
“I felt like I had to call her because you hear these stories of adopted kids who hate their parents,” says Lisa. “So I called Liz to basically tell her that I didn’t hate her for giving me up whatsoever, that I had a loving family and I had a great relationship with them.”
A mother’s dream
That first telephone conversation with Lisa was overwhelming, says Liz, bringing back a flood of emotions from the heartbreak she endured the day after giving birth to her more than four decades ago.
“The nurse brought her in and she told me I had to feed her,” begins Liz, and for the first and last time, a 19-year-old Liz held the bottle of milk to her baby girl’s mouth. “Then the head nurse came in and told (the nurse) off because she gave me the baby – because I wasn’t supposed to see her.” After a falling out with her boyfriend, and having been turned away by her own parents, Liz, now 66, says she had previously signed documents that relinquished her parental rights. But Liz says those few precious moments with her infant daughter were enough to change her mind. Unfortunately, she was told, there was no going back.
But as the years rolled on, her baby girl was never far from her mind.
“On her birthday, the 16th of May, I used to go around the floors saying, ‘I wonder where she’s at, is she alright? If she had a good life and stuff like that – just mumbling to myself,” says Liz. “I never talked about her much, because it hurt too much.”
Liz later had three more children and in 1999, she and one of her daughters, Loretta, decided to search for the missing piece of their family; they quickly reached a dead end, though, told that nothing could be done until “Ivy” (Lisa) came looking for them.
Meanwhile in Nova Scotia, Lisa was becoming curious about her roots as well. Around the time she turned 40, Lisa says, she began pressing her adoptive mother, Gae, for more information.
“It just seemed like I was hurting her, so I said, ‘no, I’m not going to do nothing till she’s passed away and if it’s my loss than it’s my loss.”
In 2011, Gae passed away at 79 years of age. Lisa was planning to resume her search for her biological parents when she stumbled upon the Taylors last fall.
Together at last
With Lisa’s blessing, within a few weeks of finding each other Liz and Loretta were flying to Nova Scotia. The Taylors hosted the long-awaited reunion at their home.
“(Liz) was sitting at the kitchen table there and she didn’t know what to do, like I could tell she didn’t know whether to stay seated or stand or give me a hug or whatever,” says Lisa. “She just looked at me, and I said, ‘well would you like a hug dear?’ And she come over and grabbed a hold of me, started bawling her eyes out and just said, ‘Oh, I got my baby back in my arms again.’”
“We cried and we laughed and we did it all,” says Liz. “She’s still my baby to me.”
When word got out about the twist of fate that led to Lisa’s reunion with her mother, a flurry of media attention followed, with news stories popping up in both provinces. One of those stories reached the home of Wilson Osmond of Triton, Newfoundland – Lisa’s biological father.
The year that Lisa was born, Wilson says he moved to the mainland, where he settled down and started a family, including two daughters: Lori and Lisa (yes, another Lisa). He returned home to live in 2001.
Lisa and Wilson have since connected by telephone, and they’re planning their own reunion this summer.
“I feel great about it, yes I really do,” says Wilson, 68, adding he thought bout Lisa often throughout the years.
Since running into the Taylors last fall, Lisa’s family has expanded considerably. In addition to finding her biological parents, she’s gained four sisters and a brother – plus nieces and nephews.
“I’m going to have to start working two other jobs just to send Christmas presents,” says Lisa, laughing – but it will be more than worth it.
“It’s filled a void that’s always been with me, and I’m sure every adopted child has that void,” she says.
It’s going to be a whirlwind summer vacation this year for Lisa, who’s planned visits in both St. Anthony and Triton – but her first stop will be Corner Brook, to pick up her adoptive father, Rex, who plans to accompany her.
Rex says he plans to give both Liz and Wilson a hug when he meets them; after all, without them he never could have been Lisa’s father.
“We loved youngsters,” says Rex who, together with his late wife, had a hand in raising about 85 foster children who passed through his home. He believes if his wife were alive today, she would be pleased to see her daughter reunited with her biological family. “She would think it was wonderful,” says Rex, “because that’s the type of person she was.”
Whether you’re spending the weekend boating, camping or partying at the cabin, here are some tongue-in-cheek, but surprisingly practical, things to take or do to make the most of this May Two-Four. (In order of no importance.)
1. Pack several changes of clothes: rubber clothes, wool clothes, flannel clothes, summer clothes. Be like the Scouts, prepared for anything.
2. At least 5 tarps – one to cover the cold, wet ground; one to go over the tent; one for the cooking area; and two more to block the wind.
3. Deck of cards, to keep the youngsters from killing each other ’cause it’s too miserable to play outside.
4. Sunblock. Many May campers have been caught off guard by a sudden sunny break and come home looking like a lobster.
5. Lifejacket, seriously. And wear it. A seat cushion won’t save you from drowning.
6. Cell phone, preferably a smartphone so you can tell your whole social network if you get lost, or that you’re in the woods and forgot toilet paper #bummer.
7. Guitars, harmonicas, ugly sticks – if you can’t play them, you can use them as noisemakers to keep the bears away.
8. Garbage bags to put your sleeping bag in – to keep it dry at night.
9. Snowsuit to sit around the fire at night.
10. Newspapers – they make great fire starters and, if you’re stuck, toilet paper.
11. A shovel – in case it snows, and to clear a spot for your camper/tent.
12. Good quality fly oil to douse yourself in.
13. Coat hanger, to use as makeshift rabbit-ears antenna, a fire-proof handle for the camp kettle, a marshmallow roaster, or a slim hope of unlocking your car to get the keys inside.
14. Disinfectant wipes to wash off every surface of the cabin after you find out what rodents have been wintering there.
15. A hat that will keep your head warm and dry, and make you presentable for the trip back to civilization.
16. A bucket to carry water, to sit on around the fire, to hold the fish you catch, or to pee in if you’re that afraid to leave the tent at night.
17. An axe to chop wood, cut through ice, or pose with for “outdoorsy” photos for facebook.
18. Homemade bread and tea bags. You can’t start the day without a feed of toast and tea!
19. Disposable dishes and cutlery. The weekend’s too short to be doing housework.
20. Dry wood for the campfire or cabin stove – ’cause you won’t find a dry stick to burn in the woods in May.
21. Snowmobiler locater beacon – so rescuers can find you when the unforecasted overnight snowfall crushes you in your tent.
22. A can opener. There’s nothing more frustrating than when you break the tab-thingy off the can of sausages, beans, KAM etc. before you get it open.
23. Stick of bologna – walk softly over the marsh but carry a big stick!
24. Say “shag it” and rent a hotel room.
25. The best way to survive May 24 in NL? Spend the weekend with friends and family who you can count on for a good time no matter the location or the weather!
You'll be taking a step back in time with a visit to Bonavista's Mockbeggar Plantation, the former home of Newfoundland politician F. Gordon Bradley. Bradley played an instrumental role in Newfoundland's Confederation with Canada and went on to become the province's first representative in the Canadian cabinet. The Mockbeggar site, which Bradley occupied from 1939 until 1966, consists of a main residence as well as four outbuildings: a cabinet-maker's shop, a barter shop, a cod liver oil factory and the property's oldest structure, an architecturally impressive fish store built in the 1700s - affectionately known as the "big store." From May to October, visitors may tour the main residence, which has been restored to its 1939 charm and reflects the time when Bradley lived there. Friendly interpreters dressed in period clothes will answer any questions you have while you explore this historic home, built in the late-19th century.
Recently, Linda Browne sat down to chat with Newfoundland icons Sandy Morris and Greg Malone of the legendary Wonderful Grand Band. To learn more about the WGB's upcoming shows, the band's early years and how they really felt about wearing pantyhose, check out the August issue of Downhome, on stands now.
To hear more, have a look at the following video clips.
Click here to enter to win a copy of the band's first self-titled album on CD.
Greg Malone and Sandy Morris discuss why it's great to be part of the WGB.
The guys share a bit of news about the band's upcoming projects.
Malone and Morris chat about the rerelease of their first self-titled album on CD, recorded at Clode Sound Studio in Stephenville in 1978.
Here we are, a bunch of Newfoundlanders. All five of us are from different parts of the island but, like many before us, we find ourselves working together far from home. We are here in Afghanistan...not because the military made us come, but because we volunteered.
We joined the 3CSU from Montreal to come here on the Rotation Support Assistance Team (RSAT). The only thing we Newfies have in common with the French is that we both pronounce the number three as "tree." We are all Supply Techs from different bases across Canada. We risk our lives here every day in Afghanistan, just doing our jobs; for each of us our weapon of choice is a C7 rifle and we have it with us 24/7. We work in 45-55 degree (Celsius) weather all day, counting stock that ranges from toothpicks to tanks. Many days are spent inside sea containers that can get another 15-20 degrees hotter.
The living conditions are not that bad if you don't mind sharing one huge tent with 200 soldiers. You do have the privacy of a 12 x 8-foot room within that tent, with two bunkbeds, four people and all their kit. It's best to have your drawers marked, or you might find your roomie wearing them! Outside our tent, there are 10 portable toilets and a small mec-shelter with five showers and sinks.
So far we've seen four trees and 10 blades of grass. The only water we've seen is the sacred poo pond. The camp has been on a fuel restriction every week but one since we landed here in the middle of June, so we have to walk (weapons in hand) about two kilometres to and from work every day for meals at the mess. If the winds are blowing northwest, we get the undesirable whiff of the poo pond, which usually occurs right at suppertime. But that doesn't stop us from heading out to the ball hockey rink for our weekly game, or to the boardwalk for a good cup of Timmies. I'm sure you've heard there's a Tim Hortons here (thank God).
LS Young is the oldest of our group at the ripping age of 45, but somehow he has spent the least amount of time in uniform. Five years ago he found himself unemployed for the first time. He decided to join the military, even though he was 41 years old, and did the tests alongside men and women young enough to be his children.
Even as his family and friends were telling him he was nuts to enlist, he took off for basic training and in a few years he wound up here in Kandahar. All his buddies back home in Halifax call him "Buttons" because he doesn't have any medals, but when he goes back with the General Campaign Star hanging on his chest they will have to find a new nickname for him.
Cpl Haynes joined the army four years ago and is on his third trip to Afghanistan. This time leaving his family behind was a little more difficult than previous deployments because the day before he left, he found out his fiancee is pregnant with their first child. Cpl Ryan still has a network of family and friends in Turks Cove as well as Greenwood, and Cpl Simms has a wife and children waiting for his return home to St. John's.
I joined the forces in 2001 right after high school, becoming a reservist in 36 Service Battalion, St. John's. I transferred to the regular force in 2003. This is my second mission; I spent six months in Camp Mirage in 2005. I have family and friends I miss back in Conception Bay South and a fiancee, Tarra, at home base in Winnipeg.
So this is who we are, and here is our message: To all the soldiers past, present and future, we offer our thanks for their sacrifices and dedication. The job for us is almost done, as we will be heading home over the next few weeks, back to our respective wings and bases. We had just a couple of months here, which is nothing compared to the soldiers who train, often away from home, and then come here for six to nine months in the conditions described to you earlier. It is them who we salute and wish a safe stay in Afghanistan.
We would also like to thank Downhome, Newfoundlanders and Labradorians, and everyone in Canada who have been supporting the troops. It may seem like a small thing, but the banners from the schools, the letters and postcards, and everything else sent here from Canadians who support us in our mission, are proudly hung all around camp. Whenever a soldier has a bad day (and it certainly happens), no matter where they go here in Kandahar Air Field or out at one of the Forward Operating Bases, they have those banners and posters signed by thousands of Canadians of all ages to remind them why they are here.
As for us five, we are proud Canadians and true Newfoundlanders.
Editor's note: Cpl Upshall wrote this piece during his recent stint in Afghanistan. In September, he and his army buddies finished their tour and returned safely to Canada.