Help from heroes
When 56-year-old Ken Rudge had a severe stroke in March 2011, his grandson Ethan, then 11, was upset and confused. ‘When he saw his grandad in hospital not able to move or talk, it was a terrible shock,’ remembers Sue Rudge, Ethan’s grandmother. ‘But you don’t know how to explain it to children.’ A stroke usually happens when a blood clot blocks the flow of blood carrying nutrients and oxygen to your brain. As well as physical consequences, a stroke can impair people’s thinking and communication, according to the Stroke Association (www.stroke.org.uk).
When Ken returned home, Ethan wanted to do something to help. Sue found Different Strokes, a support group for younger sufferers (www.differentstrokes.co.uk): ‘I saw a post from Medikidz, which produces cartoon books explaining medical information for children. They were looking for a child with a grandparent who’d had a stroke to write a book around so we applied and soon heard that Ethan had been chosen.’
Medikidz was founded by two doctors, Kim Chilman-Blair and Kate Hersov. Frustrated by the lack of resources to explain medical conditions to young patients, they set about creating their own. The Medikidz are five superheroes from Mediland, a planet shaped like the human body, and each kid represents a different part. There are over 100 titles on paediatric conditions and a handful on adult illnesses, including breast cancer and now strokes.
At the start of the stroke book, Ethan gives up trying to talk to his grandfather because ‘he’s just so different’. Heading to the park on his skateboard, he is whisked off to Mediland where the Medikidz explain what has happened to Ken. ‘Ethan thought it was really good,’ says Sue.
Three years on, Ken can walk 30 to 40 metres with a walking stick and a calliper on his left leg. With his family, he took part in this year’s Step Out for Stroke fundraising walk organised by the Stroke Association, which, Sue says, was ‘brilliant’.
• Medikidz Explain Stroke, £8.99 plus postage from www.medikidz.com
Following my recent item on preventing food poisoning when preparing raw chicken (16th June), several readers wrote in with their ‘awful’ experiences of campylobacter. Gill says, ‘For two nights I slept on towels on the bathroom floor. It took a week before I could go out and to add to the misery I had builders in!’Although she washed her hands thoroughly with soap before and after handling the chicken, a tiny piece lodged under a fingernail. ‘I put my finger in my mouth later for some reason, felt the chicken and immediately spat it out but it was too late.’ Her advice, after talking to her GP, is to wash your hands afterwards with an antibacterial wash and scrub over and under your nails with a brush.
Q. I always get sinus problems and a stuffed-up nose on a plane because of the fierce air-conditioning. Is there something to help?
Pharmacist Shabir Daya suggests taking an immune-boosting supplement for a week before your trip. Daily Immunity contains a blend of herbs including oregano, vitamins D3 and C, plus zinc. He also recommends Flight Spray, a nasal mist designed to prevent the mucus membrane drying out. It contains turmeric, a broad-spectrum anti-microbial. Food Science of Vermont Daily Immunity/£25 for 60 capsules, and Jetzone Flight Spray/£13 for 15 ml, both from www.victoriahealth.com.