Category Archives: Medical

A nearly fatal flaw on ferries

If you think you have allergies or sensitivities then you should read this article and take precautions on BC Ferries and airplanes. Click here, pdf file, or the newpaper copy to learn more. Here is the newspaper version. I have archived it entirely because I am an allergy advocate and I hope this never happens again to another individual.

Policy relies on a doctor being aboard, so when a local girl had a life-threatening allergic reaction, there was no help

MARCH 1, 2011

A 14-year-old Comox Valley girl proved a potentially fatal flaw exists in B.C. Ferries emergency medical procedure – two years later the company continues to operate with an Achilles’ heel.

The transportation giant has always operated its medical procedure on one assumption – a licensed B.C. doctor is on board.

With over 2,000 people on each sailing ferry staff don’t usually have a problem finding a physician, in fact often they see “one or two or three doctors come forward,” said ferry spokeswoman Deborah Marshall.

But on March 4, 2009, when a 14-year-old girl went into anaphylactic shock in the middle of the Georgia Strait, there were no doctors on board. The one thing she needed most to survive, no one had the authority to administer.

Michelle Chowns remembers that day with clarity, because when the ferry docked two years ago, paramedics said her daughter was minutes away from dying.

It was a close call she doesn’t want to see repeated, but despite her best efforts to advocate for better training or new policy, B.C. Ferries continues to stand behind its medical procedure.

“It gets so frustrating I feel like banging my head against a wall,” Chowns said.

“I don’t think anyone is taking this seriously or has really grasped the severity of the situation … they brush it off without really looking at it, recognizing the gaps and trying to fix them so this never happens to another child.”

Her daughter, a Vanier High student, was coming home from the Penticton Music Festival when she ate a cashew and went into anaphylaxis, a life-threatening reaction that can be fatal if not treated with epinephrine.

It was the last thing Chowns expected to hear because doctors had never flagged her daughter, Cheyanne, as at risk for an allergic reaction. She was tested every six months. The teen had even eaten nuts before and never had the run of symptoms that were spreading rapidly throughout her body – from swelling and nausea to running eyes and nose.

When her daughters’ guardian called to tell her what was happening, Chowns immediately gave permission for her daughter to have epinephrine. The symptoms were all too familiar having dealt with the reactions in her anaphylactic son.

“It was scary … I knew what was happening and that it was important for Cheyanne to get epinephrine, but I wasn’t sure if anyone else understood the urgency. Time wasn’t on their side,” Chowns said.

Incident reports from B.C. Ferries say Cheyanne had trouble breathing and was brought to the first aid room. Her tongue, lips and throat were swollen and a rash had spread from her chest and neck down to her arms.

Her limbs had also gone numb.

The chief steward paged passengers to see if any doctors were on board, but on that day, no one answered the call.

Staff has an emergency kit with the epinephrine Cheyanne needed, but without a doctor, the only thing they could do was give her oxygen and an antihistamine until paramedics took over in Nanaimo. The report said the antihistamine did little to stop the swelling.

Each of B.C. Ferries’ vessels carries an emergency kit with injectable drugs for several medical problems, including anaphylaxis, but the only people allowed to use the contents are licensed B.C. physicians. Policy prohibits occupational first aid attendants from administering medicine over liability concerns, even in life-threatening situations.

First aid attendants aren’t doctors and don’t have access to passengers’ medical histories, Marshall said.

“We could be causing more harm than good” and the company is unwilling to place to responsibility for another person’s life in the hands of their employees, she said.

Marshall wouldn’t discuss the anaphylactic incident citing privacy concerns, but called the event unfortunate and stressed that the girl turned out OK.

The system has worked until now, and even knowing its not a failsafe procedure, Marshall said B.C. Ferries is reluctant to change policy.

Chowns calls the response lackluster, believing B.C. Ferries dropped the ball.

What would have happened if her daughter had died on board that ship? Would they have changed policy then?

Two years after her daughter nearly died, Chowns is still haunted. She wonders why the ferry didn’t turn around and head back to Horseshoe bay or use ship-to-shore radio to get medical advice – and she especially doesn’t understand why B.C. Ferries continues to operate knowing if there was a medical emergency and no doctors, the result could be fatal.

The Comox Valley Allergy Awareness Committee is aware of the close call and suggests B.C. Ferries follow in suit of WestJet airlines, which ensures there is backup in an emergency.

Like B.C. Ferries, the airline has an emergency medical kit to prepare for everything from heart attacks to severe allergic reactions, but it also recently added epinephrine auto-injectors for adults and children. The auto-injectors are intended to make it easier and faster to administer medication, said Robert Palmer, spokesperson for WestJet.

The airline doesn’t have many issues with allergic reactions. It can usually count on guests who suffer from life-threatening allergies to carry their own epinephrine and be the first to administer it during a reaction. The airline provides the failsafe. If a passenger is too incapacitated to inject the medication or needs a second injection until the plane can land, WestJet employees have the equipment and medical guidance to help.

There are usually doctors or nurses on board to help in an emergency, but employees are still obligated to call a medical hotline, which will instruct them on what to do. Airline policy allows staff to administer medication under the guidance of MedAire, a global emergency response centre that provides real-time medical assistance to people in remote locations – at sea or in the air.

“Whether it’s a heart attack, allergic reaction or a guest vomiting profusely and experiencing chills and fevers, we don’t take any chances,” Palmer said.

“This is about the safety of our guests, why would we (take chances)?”

A nearly fatal flaw on ferries – Comox Valley Echo, March 1, 2011

Click here to read a clearer version of the newspaper article. 


Comox Valley, BC, Canada: Comox Lake Water Quality Monitoring Program – 2008

Are we not equal or is there a lack of standards? I don’t feel like we are treated equally when I compare the number of times water in my community is tested considering it is at high risk for contamination compared with other BC communities Wayback/pdf) whose water source is closed and a low risk for contamination. On July 16, 2012 (pdf) a man tragically died in our water source. I didn’t hear our health authority was doing additional testing to ensure our water was safe. My condolences to the man`s family. Portland dumped 38 million gallons of water after a man pees in their reservoir (pdf). Isn’t someone dying in our water worse or is it because we have more water that makes our water safe, or perhaps Portland overreacted. Exhibit 5 lists the potential contaminants in Comox Lake. Click here or the pdf file to read the entire report or an excerpt below.


Page 18


According to the report, they test the following:

3.2 Water Quality Monitoring Description
3.2.1 Water Quality Testing
The current water quality monitoring program for the Comox Valley water system include
the following analyses:
• Weekly bacteriological analysis on distributed water
• Continuous chlorine residual analysis of the treated water
• Monthly metal scan and hardness analysis on raw water
• Annual testing on distributed water for trihalomethanes (THMs), alkalinity, chloride,
fluoride, sulphate, and the parameters listed above.
Analyses are currently performed by North Island Laboratories in Courtenay, which is
approved by VIHA.
Exhibit 9 lists the parameters, as well as their testing frequency.
Raw water is sampled at the lake discharge. Treated water is tested at the chlorination
building. Distributed water is sampled at four locations on the distribution system, which are: West Courtenay Reservoir, Marsden Reservoir, East Courtenay Reservoir, and Comox Reservoir. Exhibit 10 shows the reservoir locations.

Chlorine residual

Escherichia Coli (Microbiological)
Total Coliform (Microbiological)
Non-Coliform Bacteria (Microbiological)

Hardness (Physical and chemical)
Aluminum (Metals)
Antimony (Metals)
Arsenic (Metals)
Barium (Metals)
Beryllium (Metals)
Boron (Metals)
Cadmium (Metals)
Calcium (Metals)
Chromium (Metals)
Cobalt (Metals)
Copper (Metals)
Iron (Metals)
Lead (Metals)
Magnesium (Metals)
Manganese (Metals)
Mercury (Metals)
Molybdenum (Metals)
Nickel (Metals)
Potassium (Metals)
Selenium (Metals)
Silicon (Metals)
Silver (Metals)
Sodium (Metals)
Strontium (Metals)
Thallium (Metals)
Tin (Metals)
Titanium (Metals)
uranium (Metals)
Zinc (Metals)

Alkalinity (Physical and chemical)
Aluminum (Metals)
Antimony (Metals)
Arsenic (Metals)
Barium (Metals)
Boron (Metals)
Cadmium (Metals)
Chloride (Physical and chemical)
Chromium (Metals)
Copper (Metals)
Fluoride (Physical and chemical)
Hardness (Physical and chemical)
Heterotrophic Plate Count (Microbiological)
Iron (Metals)
Lead (Metals)
Manganese (Metals)
Sodium (Metals)
Sulphate (Physical and chemical)
Temperature (Physical and chemical)
Trihalomethanes-total (THMs)
Uranium (Metals)
Zinc (Metals)

Diem Brown: My Many Moods After Egg Retrieval to Prepare for Ovarian Cancer

I’m not familiar with this young woman who has been diagnosed and is being treated for Ovarian Cancer. I feel, based on the way she writes and the comments on this post, that she has won the hearts and respect of her followers. She provides very insightful comments that I feel her blog is worth sharing. I normally don’t like to highlight any personal information but given the seriousness of this disease, I will make an exception in this case so that other woman can learn from Diem Brown’s experience and her supportive followers. I wish her and others going through Ovarian Cancer to stay strong. I admire the tenacity and spunk of this young lady who is facing life head on.  You  can really tell the worth of an individual when they are down and I don’t feel that she is ever down. I am in awe of Diem Brown.

Inside Diem Brown’s Final Days and Her ‘Peaceful’ Goodbye – I’m honoured to have been able to follow Diem. She was a women overflowing with tenacity and who never gave up!

27 Sep 2014

27 Sep 2012

20 September 2012

13 September 2012

23 August 2012

16 August 2012

9 August 2012

Her post for 2 August 2012, click here.

Her post for 26 July 2012

Her post for 12 July 2012, click here.

Her post for 19 July 2012, click here.

Other posts regarding Ovarian Cancer.

Hopeful treatments:
Cell death offers hope on fertility and cancer treatment

Thyroid and health

I know sooooo many women who have a Thyroid problem so I’m going to add some links here. A lot of individuals are being misdiagnosed with something else when really they have a Thyroid problem. Read the links below and see if you know anyone  this may help. Please share. Thanks.



Cyanobacteria: Blue-green algae poisoning threatens livestock

Here is an article with a good picture of cyanobacteria. I don’t have confidence with their descrption of where it can be found in water or how it should be treated. I also don’t have confidence recommending which country is an expert on cyanobacteria. I do have confidence stating there are huge gaps internationally regarding cyanobacteria so extreme caution should be used both in how to identify it and treat it. Here is a report report74_management_strategies_BGA (2)  from Australia that I think is worth reading – even it recommends consulting a cyanobacteria expert and another website that gives good information about cyanobacteria species. I’m not a scientist, I just like to read and find conflicting information so please consult with an expert on this topic rather than follow my ramblings. Thanks.


Several livestock deaths have been attributed to blue-green algae poisoning in North Dakota recently, putting livestock producers and veterinarians on alert.

Cases usually occur in late summer or early fall, when stagnant ponds and the right nutrient conditions allow for overgrowth of algae, according to Gerald Stokka, North Dakota State University Extension veterinarian and livestock stewardship specialist. However, this spring’s mild weather and warm water have been ideal conditions for algae blooms to occur.

Blue-green algae, also known as cyanobacteria, typically grow in stagnant, warm pond water. When the algae die, they produce a toxin that is poisonous to most livestock and wildlife, including ducks, geese, rabbits, muskrats, frogs, fish and snakes.

Under favorable conditions, blue-green algae can double in number in 24 hours, and these blooms can turn pond water blue to brownish green.

“A close watch for unexplained livestock deaths is important,” Stokka says. “Consult a veterinarian to find a cause of death so steps can be taken to prevent additional livestock deaths.”

He also urges producers to take note of any dead wildlife around bodies of water because that could be an indication of blue-green algae in the water. The algae flourish only in the top few inches of water, so toxic concentrations typically are found just in small ponds where waves don’t mix the water thoroughly. Blue-green algae blooms do not occur in lakes and rivers.

A veterinarian can help determine if a particular pond has toxic concentrations of the algae, Stokka says.

Another option is to send a water sample to the NDSU Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory. The lab also can diagnose a blue-green algae problem in dead animals if someone sends a liver sample. For more information on how to submit samples, contact the lab at (701) 231-7527 or (701) 231-8307, or visit its website at

If a pond contains toxic concentrations of blue-green algae, keep animals from drinking the water by fencing off the pond and providing another source of water. Because the toxins are concentrated at the surface, water may be pumped from the bottom of deep sloughs or potholes to watering tanks.

Generally, toxic algae blooms last only a few days, but they may persist for several weeks.

Small ponds that don’t drain into other waterways or bodies of water may need to be treated with copper sulfate or an algicide. Stokka recommends a treatment rate of 2 pounds of copper sulfate per acre-foot of water. That approximates a rate of 8 pounds per 1 million gallons.

Toxin levels increase immediately after treatment, so livestock should not be allowed to drink from treated ponds for a week.

For more information on detecting blue-green algae and protecting livestock from its toxins, contact your county office of the NDSU Extension Service. Ask for the publication “Cyanobacteria (Blue Green Algae) Poisoning.”



Cyanobacteria: It’s Easier Being Green Than Blue-green

The Oregon Health Authority gives a much simpler definition of algae for those of us who aren’t plant biologists. Click here for the full article or read an excerpt below.


Kermit the frog sang the song “It isn’t easy being green” lamenting the troubles of being a frog. The blue-green I am referring to is blue-green algae. What is it and why should you care? First things first. According to “algae are any of numerous groups of chlorophyll-containing, mainly aquatic eukaryotic organisms ranging from microscopic single-celled forms to multicellular forms 100 feet (30 meters) or more long, distinguished from plants by the absence of true roots, stems, and leaves and by a lack of nonreproductive cells in the reproductive structures: classified into six phyla Euglenophyta, Crysophyta, Pyrrophyta, Chlorophyta, Phaeophyta, and Rhodophyta. Blue-green algae are defined as “a widely distributed group of predominantly photosynthetic prokaryotic organisms of the subkingdom Cyanophyta, resembling phototrophic bacteria, occurring singly or in colonies in diverse habitats: some species can fix atmospheric nitrogen.” it is also called Cyanobacteria.

The Oregon Health Authority gives a much simpler definition of algae for those of us who aren’t plant biologists. They say “algae are microscopic plants that grow naturally in oceans and fresh water. Under certain conditions, some algae can grow into a large visible mass called a bloom.” The blue-green is one of the algae that produces toxins (poisons) that can cause serious illness or death in humans and even pets, wildlife, and livestock.

Blue-green Algae Waves

What does an algae bloom look like? Scientists describe blooms as looking like a scum or foam on the surface of the water that can appear in various colors such as white, brown, green, or in this case blue-green. Don’t let that fool you though because you can’t tell whether what appears to be an algae bloom is toxic or not just by looking at it. The water has to be tested to be sure. If the surface of a pond, lake, or reservoir looks suspicious to you (doesn’t aways look as green as the picture above) it’s better to stay out of direct contact with the water.

You might remember that last summer there were some blue-green algae advisories throughout Western Oregon which included Walterville Pond, Dorena Reservoir, Dexter Reservoir, and Tenmile Lake in Coos County. The one issued for Dexter Reservoir could not have come at a worse time considering it was issued July 3rd. just one day before crowds of people gathered along the shore for a 4th of July celebration with entertainment, food, and fireworks sponsored by the Dexter Volunteer Fire Department and the Lowell Volunteer Fire Department in conjunction with Eugene Daily News.

2013 Swimming At Dexter Reservoir | Photo by Tim Chuey

Despite the advisory some folks did go into the water and I know I saw a couple of dogs frolicking and splashing near the shore. I don’t know if anyone got sick, but they were taking an unnecessary risk. Being near the water or even boating, as long as you don’t get a heavy spray of water hitting the boaters, is not a problem. You must have direct contact with contaminated water. “Skin irritation or rash is the most commonly reported health effect. Other symptoms range from diarrhea, cramps and vomiting to fainting, numbness, dizziness, tingling and paralysis. The most severe reactions occur when large amounts of water are swallowed. The chronic effects of long-term exposure to algae toxins are being studied.”

If you enjoy a picnic, camping, or boating near area lakes and reservoirs you should make sure the water is not going to harm you, your family, or your pets.

Canada`s lack of drinking water standards: Fracking waste water being injected into old wells in northeastern B.C.

This is not safe at all. Does our government and elected leaders understand that our Human Rights are at risk? reports “there are literally thousands of different water systems in British Columbia—more than 3,000 public and community water systems under provincial jurisdiction and 468 small First Nations water systems under federal jurisdiction. While water systems share some common features, individual water systems are designed in different ways and will face specific issues and challenges.”  Here is a ijerph-11-04634 (2) Drinking Water Quality Guidelines across Canadian Provinces 2014 that states more research is required due to the high degree of variability in drinking water management and oversight capacity between urban and rural areas. While research is recommended our water is being contaminated due to the lack of consistent drinking water standards across Canada. Add global warming and fracking to the mix and we have a recipe for disaster of unknown proportions. If you know of any other reports that should be archived, please forward it to me through a Comment below; I would be very grateful for your help. Sorry, I had quite a few problems getting this document to look and read correctly so I`ve given up. Please read it though. Thanks.

In this Action Plan for Safe Drinking Water in British Columbia  report dated 2002 it states:

There are more than 3,300 water systems in BC:
British Columbia’s Water Systems
There are more than 3,300 water systems in B.C. The 96 systems
operating in large municipalities serve close to 90 per cent of the
population. The remaining 10 per cent of the population is served
by a variety of public and private systems:
 • Small municipalities (57 systems);
 • Regional district service areas (97 systems);
 • Improvement districts (211 systems);
 • Private water utilities (185 systems);
 • Water users communities (118 systems);
 • First Nation reserves (468 systems);
 • Individual private wells and domestic licensees (est. 63,000);
 • Others including Crown Corporations, industrial operations,
 BC Parks and private campgrounds, mobile home parks,
 restaurants and service stations (estimated 2100 systems).
Approximately 2,000 systems have fewer than 15 connections


Based on the conflicting number of water systems reported below, I don’t believe the BC Government has any idea how many water systems we have in BC. If that is true, then how can they have control over the safety of our water?

In this report waterreport08_web BC Govt of Health report titled Progress on the Action Plan for Safe Drinking Water dated 2008 dated 2008 it states there are over 4,591 different water systems in BC and 945 on Vancouver Island.

In this reported drinking-water-report-2011 Progress on the Action Plan for Safe Drinking Water in BC 2011 dated 2011 states there are 4,550 water systems in BC and 746 on Vancouver Island.


I have been watching the boil water advisories in Powell River who installed a water treatment system a few years ago and still have too many boil water advisories for my comfort level. Why is that?



In this report dated 2004 titled Please Hold – A Report on Diminished Monitoring and Enforcement Capacity in the Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection it states:

“there are 320 human icons on this report’s front cover. Each
represents a public servant who lost his or her job with British Columbia’s
Ministry of Water, Land and Air Protection over the past three years. Colour
changes signify job losses in a new job category. The large mass of 128
purple icons on the bottom half of the page, for example, corresponds to
the 128 Scientific Technical Officers whose jobs were lost. For a complete
breakdown of job losses by category see page eight of this report.”

The above report further states:

Viewed in isolation, the cutbacks to the Ministry of Water, Land and Air
Protection may seem dramatic. When recent history is considered, however,
they take on added gravity.

Drawing on payroll and budget data from the provincial government it is
possible to arrive at figures on just how many people and/or full-time
equivalent positions were dropped from the public payroll over the past

Two ministries where substantial cuts occurred were MWLAP’s predecessor,
the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks (MELP), and the Ministry of
Forests (MOF). Payroll data shows that between the years 1991 and 1996
employment in both ministries rose considerably. But from 1996 through
2000 employment levels steadily dropped.4

The number of regular MOF employees fell nearly 17 per cent from 4,590 to
3,823. In MELP the cuts were deeper, amounting to an even 22 per cent,
with the number of regular employees falling steadily from 2,336 in 1996 to
1,823 by 2000.

It also has a table which I’ve cut & paste below and states:

Two ministries where substantial cuts occurred were MWLAP`s predecessor, the Ministry of Environment, Lands and Parks (MELP), and the Ministry of Forests (MOF). … MELP was subsequently split into two ministries – MWLAP and the Ministry of Sustainable Resource Management or MSRM.

Cuts resulted in employment declines by:

MWLAP 29.8%

MSRM 50.4%

MOF 27.9%


July 2001 1,317 FTEs 1,519 FTEs 4,083 FTEs
(1st Liberal budget)
Feb. 2004 924 FTEs 754 FTEs 2,942 FTEs
(latest budget)
Total Lost 393 FTEs 765 FTEs 1,141 FTEs
Percentage Decline 29.8 % 50.4 % 27.9 %

I strongly recommend reading the whole report to understand how these cuts are going to affect us with respect to fracking in BC.



Here is another report from our Ombudsman dated 2008 that is well worth reading too.



Click to access Ombudsmans-Report-on-Drinking-Water.pdf

Click to access waterreport08_web.pdf

Click to access safe_drinking_printcopy.pdf
ijerph-11-04634 (2) Drinking Water Quality Guidelines across Canadian Provinces 2014
waterreport08_web BC Govt of Health report titled Progress on the Action Plan for Safe Drinking Water dated 2008

drinking-water-report-2011 Progress on the Action Plan for Safe Drinking Water in BC 2011

Warning To Gulf Volunteers: Almost Every Cleanup Worker From The 1989 Exxon Valdez Disaster Is Now Dead

This is like signing up for a war. Would you volunteer to help? Click here to read this article.

In case you forgot – we’re still fighting vCJD – variant Creutzfeld Jakob Disease, vCJD

The writer of this article is right – I had forgotten about this disease because I haven’t heard much about it in the news. I wonder if this test is worthy of further research or not. Click here to read the full article.