Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Questions and Answers with an Asthma Specialist

Phil is a do-it-all woman-Mother, Wife, Caretaker, Respiratory Specialist, Now Doc Executive, World Traveler, Sister, Aunt, Daughter, and one of the best female golfers in the world. I got a rare free moment with her as she multitasked: caring for her mother, hanging out with her son and preparing for work the next day.
How long have you worked in the heath care profession?

Pretty much all my working life, since I was twenty years old...I began working with the Civil Service for a short period after high school and quickly decided that just wasn’t for me. I then applied to nursing school in Drogheda, County Louth.

How long did that take?

Give or take four years of nursing school which I thoroughly enjoyed, great years! The caring profession has always been a challenging field however; I always had a passion for it and therefore, it seems to come natural to me.

Was there a core curriculum?

Initially, it would have been general nurses...later I majored in Respiratory Care. This was an easy choice for me, many of my relatives; father and niece included suffered from the negative effects of asthma. Subjects such as math, physic, science, and chemistry were required before nursing courses could be taken. I’m sure things have changed since then...this is many years ago.

How long has you been working as a Respiratory Specialist?

Close to ten years. I recently earned a degree NUI in Galway, Ireland. I hold diplomas in COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), NIV (Non-Invasive Ventilation), OSA (Obstructed Sleep Apnoea) and Asthma.

What has stayed the same in the field of nursing and where would you see the biggest change?

In the last thirty years there have been dramatic changes, not much has stayed the same. These changes have been for the better. ..for example cancer care has improved...nobody needs to die in pain anymore,,,that was very common when I first began. End of life issues can be demanding. ..what I mean is, to achieve a balance between dying with dignity and preserving the sanctity of life itself.

I never heard of Obstructed Sleep Apnoea.

It’s actually quite common, a lot of the time, people complained about snoring, feeling fatigued, and poor concentration. By monitoring them overnight, I can quickly assess and determine if they are positive.

What is the treatment?

Depending on the cause....for example if they are overweight, I would refer or recommend them a dietician and generally they would need a CPap, a device that delivers a controlled, positive air pressure to maintain an open airway...

You are much diversified!

Yes, I am also involved in Primary Care as a Nurse Manager in the out of hours GP service, called ‘Now Doc’ located in Carrick-on-Shannon, Ireland.

What services do you provide at ‘Now Doc’?

It’s a telephone advice triage system. The nurse receiving the call decides if the client requires a home visit, centre visit, or ambulance....or, simply self-assisted care.

Do you experience any trends when you are on call?

That depends on a variety of factors: viruses in the air, the flu-which is contagious, or tummy bugs...

What do you believe is a more effective approach to the treatment of disease: Chinese or Western?

I feel that each has its place...but I would always encourage each individual to take it upon themselves to take on a healthy attitude to life. Eating right and getting enough exercise are key...I cannot stress this enough...stay off the cigarettes and curtail your alcohol intake.

Do you think natural herbs and remedies are better for the body compared to contemporary medicines?

Yes...and I do think the body has a great potential to heal itself, all we need to do is be kind to it and listen to what it’s telling us. There are many flowers out there that can help with ailments such as fluid retention or inflammatory diseases...I hope eventually we will begin to appreciate and acknowledge the many cures nature provides again....

It’s obvious you are one to take your own advice there.

Thank you...I do like to stay active. I try to go for a game of golf once a week, I’m off chocolate and wine for Lent at the moment...

Oh my god, what’s left?

Um...anyway, when I can’t golf, I catch a few minutes at the local gym. I love to swim and whenever I can I try to take country walks instead of always driving. Simply things are always beneficial too, the stairs instead of elevators....

While we are on the subject, is exercise considered a preventative measure for asthma?

Yes, exercise is beneficial, if your asthma is not exercise induced, it’s important for people to be aware of their breathing and how breathing techniques can improve asthma symptoms.

What about diet?

Again, a healthy, well-balanced diet, avoidance of any known food triggers (fish, nuts, etc.) and eating in moderation and keeping a healthy weight.

What is your favourite pastime?

That would have to be golf. I took a few lessons and fell in love with the game. It has become a big part of my social life. I love the fresh air, the competiveness and meeting up with my close friends. I have been a serious player for many years and my team, The Ladies Golf Club of Carrick-on-Shannon and I earned an All Ireland Final in 2003 and many local competitions...the interclub ILGU competitions are always fun, trying to get the better of our neighbouring clubs.

What countries have you visited?

My husband, son John and I are world-travellers...we try to see something new every year. Before the birth of my son, my husband and I took a tour of Italy and Israel , Cyprus, Amsterdam, Holland...these places are the only four places he has yet to see. As a family, we’ve been to the United States on several occasions to visit my family there (Massachusetts, Maine, Florida, Georgia, and of course New York...Buffalo, Westchester, New York City, etc). In Europe, Livigno, Italy (for various ski outings), Paris, France (twice), Majorca, Spain, The Canary Islands, Oslo, Norway (for our close friends’ wedding), Portugal, London and Manchester, England (to see my husband and sons’ favourite team, Manchester United!

What was your favourite destination?

I’ve enjoyed every place I’ve travelled son’s favourite places are Massachusetts and Italy. Italy for the snow/skiing and Massachusetts where cousin Kevin lives.

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