Distraction Therapy, Twitter’s Great Strength

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Distraction therapy is a time-honoured, doctor-endorsed way to cope with pain of all kinds, chronic illness, lifelong injuries, basically 24/7 health problems that drive you bonkers if you don’t find some way to separate your mind from them even if it’s only doable for a minute.

Judy Taylor, the woman who couldn’t eat and suffered the pain of stomach acid leaking onto her skin for years, excelled at distraction therapy, as I wrote about in Lifeliner, my biography on her and how she made artificial feeding possible for tens of thousands who need it. She took distraction therapy to the humorous and jaw-stopping nth degree by baking cookies she couldn’t eat, cooking pot luck dishes she couldn’t eat for community get-togethers, and taking great glee in feeding people.

Friends would greet her enthusiastically and warmly whenever she showed up at events. Everyone was happy to see Judy. What they wouldn’t do is ask her how she was — they could see it in the way she talked or held herself or what she talked about — for they knew that she was there for the same reason they were: to enjoy the company of other people and to have a good time. They knew she didn’t want to talk about herself endlessly. They knew that if she did need to talk, she would approach them.

Judy compartmentalized her life so that she could cope mentally with living on artificial feeding, never eating, and the acid burn pain on her skin. That meant she only spoke her most personal pain to her nurse, her husband, and her Pastor. Her friends respected that; if she ever shared with them, they listened but respected that most of the time she wouldn’t. And that was OK.

She lived in the time before smartphones and social media. These great inventions provide even more kinds of distraction therapy. My fave is Twitter.

The nice thing about the online world is that it’s as easy to participate in for a disabled person as for “normals.” The ease of tweeting comes not because you’re healthy but in the way you’re wired. I think people who like to talk and chat and write and who see the confines of 140 characters a fun challenge, are the ones who like Twitter best — no matter what their abilities.

Some of us are like Judy. Those of us who know about Twitter have discovered it’s a most excellent way to distract a person. When you hop into the Twitter community, you can get riled up by the latest outrage in any part of the world. And be distracted from your own intense pain. You can laugh over funny cat photos. And be distracted from the serious issues in your life. You can debate politics with fellow Canadians or international fellow Tweeps. And feel normal. And sometimes you can talk about your own personal pain and find fellow sufferers to commiserate with for a little while or sympathetic people who want to learn more or listen to you. But if someone asks you every single day or even weekly how you are, Twitter loses its ability to be distraction therapy. It becomes just another place like everywhere you go in real life reminding you that your life ain’t that easy.

There may be no visual cues on Twitter as to how a person is doing; but there are Twitter cues like kinds of tweets, tone of content, pattern of tweeting, etc. And regular followers can pick up on when a person is going south and ask then: how are you doing? And like Judy’s friends listen carefully, chat a little while for as long as one can and the person wants to, and then interact with them normally, knowing distraction therapy is the best thing one can do for the hurting person.


Smashwords Winter/Summer Sale = Free Ebooks

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At one minute past midnight Pacific time on March 2, the special Smashwords Read an Ebook Week promotion catalogue goes live on the Smashwords home page.  Readers can browse the catalogue and search by coupon code levels and categories.  At the stroke of midnight Pacific time at the end of the day on March 8, the catalogue disappears.

The coupon codes only work at Smashwords, not at retailers served by Smashwords.”

I’ve enrolled all my ebooks in this super sale, from anywhere from 50% to 75% off to FREE. Click on the book cover of your choice to get your super-discounted copy and start reading.

Time and Space

Abans Accension Cover Buy This Book 120x180 Shireen Jeejeebhoy Job Cover Buy This Book 120x180 Shireen Jeejeebhoy Lifeliner
A Nibble of Chocolate, Cover Eleven Shorts  1 Buy This Book 120x180 Shireen Jeejeebhoy She Front Cover

Boxing Week Ebook Sale

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Get my first five ebooks for FREE, only during Boxing Week 2012! All available in all the main ebook formats: ePub, Kindle, PDF.


Lifeliner 300pxht Shireen Jeejeebhoy She Cover 300pxht Shireen Jeejeebhoy 2011 Eleven Shorts  1 Buy This Book 120x180 Shireen Jeejeebhoy Job Sessions 300pxht Shireen Jeejeebhoy 2011 Nibble of Chocolate 300pxht Shireen Jeejeebhoy 2011
Enter coupon code SA96J to receive Lifeliner for free on Smashwords. Enter coupon code MK92E to receive She for free on Smashwords. Enter coupon code VX88P to receive Eleven Shorts +1 for free on Smashwords. Enter coupon code XV56Q to receive The Job Sessions for free on Smashwords. Enter coupon code GG46W to receive A Nibble of Chocolate for free on Smashwords.

CIBI Buy This Book 120x180 Shireen Jeejeebhoy Check out major online retailers for Boxing Week sales for Concussion Is Brain Injury, my latest book in print and ebook formats now.


Chapters Indigo Print and Kindle. Print and Kindle. Print and Kindle.


Read An E-Book Week Is Here And So Are Hot Deals On My E-Books!

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March 4 to 10 is Read An E-Book Week!

To celebrate, Smashwords is running a promotion all week, and I’m pleased to announce that I’ve enrolled all my ebooks in it.

To participate as a reader, all you have to do is go to Smashwords, choose any or all of my ebooks, enter the appropriate coupon code given below, download, and read. It’s as easy as looking up at the stars…or, well, in the city, looking at your local streetlamp.

All Smashwords ebooks are available in every ebook format so that you can read my ebooks whether you have a Kindle, Sony Reader, kobo, Nook, smart phone, or computer.

So what are you waiting for, get browsing and downloading!

She: coupon code REW50

Lifeliner: coupon code REW50

Eleven Shorts +1: free with coupon code RE100

A Nibble of Chocolate: free with coupon code RE100

The Job Sessions: Why Do The Innocent Suffer?: free with coupon code RE100


HPN Awareness Week

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It’s HPN Awareness Week this week: 7 August to 13 August.

Parenteral nutrition, or “IV feeding,” isn’t just for patients in the hospital. We know that. And it isn’t as uncommon as it once was. The Oley Foundation has set aside August 7–13 for HPN Awareness Week to help spread the word that people can survive, and live a full life, on HPN, and to help create understanding of some of the challenges HPN consumers face.

HPN stands for home parenteral (or IV) nutrition.  When Judy Taylor became the willing and joyful guinea pig that made this medical technology viable, it was called TPN for Total Parenteral Nutrition. As I wrote in my biography on Judy, she became the first one because all her bowels were surgically removed; today most go on it because their digestive tract doesn’t function properly. They may not get or absorb enough calories and nutrients from food taken orally. Instead, like Judy, they get everything they need — proteins, fluids, calories, fats, vitamins, etc. — from a parenteral nutrition solution, or PN, delivered through a catheter directly into their bloodstream. Efficient.

Like Judy, people on HPN can sometimes be hospitalized due to a complication from the HPN (and they can be quite serious) or because of their disease. But because of Judy, it has long been common for HPN consumers to administer the HPN themselves, at home. HPN allows them to live at home, not be stuck in a hospital, return to work or volunteer, raise their families, and have all that people without bowel disorders take for granted.

The Oley Foundation is an American, independent, nonprofit organization founded in 1983 by Dr. Lyn Howard and her patient, Clarence “Oley” Oldenburg. In 1987, Judy was the first to receive their LifelineLetter Award, given to an adult consumer or caregiver who has been on therapy for at least five years and has demonstrated courage, perseverance, a positive attitude in dealing with illness, and exceptional generosity in helping others in their struggle with HPN. That was Judy to a T.

In a nutshell, the Oley Foundation provides information and psychosocial support to consumers of home parenteral and enteral (tube-fed) nutrition, helping them live fuller, richer lives. Their biggest programs are a bimonthly newsletter, conferences, and a Web site (, with a forum and online learning modules, and a network of volunteers who give their time to support other HPEN consumers. Through these, they provide the latest medical information on home nutrition support, coping tips, and networking opportunities. All of their programs are free to home nutrition support consumers. No matter where you live, if you know of someone who has a bowel problem and is going on HPN, let them know about this wonderful Foundation.


Journalists vs. Book Writers on Twitter

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Journalists and writers are similar, right? After all, journalism is a specialised form of writing. Well, if you go by Twitter, I’d say they’re different, quite different. Though there are exceptions, generally speaking journalists on Twitter get it, book writers do not.


Journalists get that it’s a great way to talk to their readers, to talk to each other, to talk about the stories they’re covering, to opine, to show up the ridiculous, and to let people know when columns/articles/blogs are up.


Writers, book or freelance, seem to be divided into two groups – traditionally published who sort of get it and indies who think it’s solely a platform to sell books or help fellow writers learn how to write and market.

Writer Tweets2-6Aug20911


Writer Tweets1-6Aug20911

Either way, journalists are way more interesting to follow than book writers. There are exceptions in both camps, as you can see illustrated in the writers’ tweets above, and my experience is limited by the relatively small number of hundreds of people I follow (I have no idea how people can follow thousands – I’d be permanently glued to my Twitter feed if I did that just to keep up, but then perhaps they don’t want to keep up, they just collect us like others collect coins, oh look, more shiny people to collect and follow but hardly ever read). Still, as a book writer and non-journalist, I stand by my opinion.

So what does that mean for my own book tweets? I tweet on a lot of stuff – from politics to news to brain injury to the TTC to writing – but my book tweets are boring. They’re the usual run-of-the-mill kind: here’s my book, please check it out, here’s what someone said about it, please look at it, here’s where you can buy it, please review it, please, please, pretty please with a sugar plum on top buy it so I can get a measly royalty cheque cause I’m not Margaret Atwood and need to beg, and I really, really, really hope you will buy it. I was never very happy with that, but after the difference between journos and writers became apparent to me, I became quite dissatisfied and started thinking about how to copy journos with regards to my book tweets.

I could tweet about my stories as if they were news stories… The only problem with that when it comes to my novel is that tweeting about a fictional story as if it was real may be a tad confusing, and so I’d have to indicate this is fiction and do all that within 140 characters minus the number of characters the link to the book consume. Yikes! I could opine on my characters, but once I publish my work I do not like to comment on the plot or the characters because I like to see what readers come up with, and the variety to me is fascinating. If I opine, then I will skew that. Still, that would be alright with my non-fiction works. I tweet about my writing when I actually sit down and write; those I don’t think are too bad. I just need to be more disciplined about getting them out of my head and onto the internet.

As you can see, tweeting (and writing Facebook statuses) about fictional works is challenging. I think what I might try is to use a journalist’s tweet that captures my attention as a template for one of my tweets on She until I get the hang of it.

“I let America borrow my rake and pruning shears and they defaulted.” (Paul Wells, one of my favourite columnists, from second illustration above)

I let evil take over my imagination, borrow my concentration, and it got me to write SHE. Hmmm… Or I let evil take over my imagination, borrow my concentration, but good got me to write SHE. Well, it’s a start. May use that one anyway.

“In theory, I *guess* he could grant permission to use it in parody, but — no, I don’t see that happening. The Commons would go crackers.” (kady, a fantastic live tweeter of all things House of Commons)

In theory, Akaesman could enter our space-time from a distant galaxy, but that wld send conspiracy theorists crackers. Lordy. Too long! Or In theory, Akaesman could appear on earth, but that wld send conspiracy theorists crackers. S’OK. But this is fiction, so I suppose I should tweet: In theory, my fictional Akaesman cld appear on earth but that wld send conspiracy theorists crackers.

The other challenge in coming up with more creative “buy my books, please, please, oh god, please buy my books” tweets is being able to do that every, single, friggin’ day. Unlike Amazon, Smashwords allows me to see when and how many people view my book page, as well as download samples and the ebooks. The days I don’t tweet on my books, no one comes on over. Not one single, solitary person. But tweeting every day about the same thing gets tedious for both me and my followers. I must change it up, and I suppose I can look at it as another way to practice the art of expressing imagination, but not so wordily.

I published this on my other blog too and received some insightful comments. Please feel free to join the conversation. I’d love to know what you think!


How Do You Know if You’re Malnourished When Fat?

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I was watching ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss  Edition (link has annoying video with audio ad) last night and heard the medical specialist inform the 456-lb woman that she was malnourished. I wondered: how did they assess malnutrition? How do we know if we’re malnourished, even when fat? So I asked my resident nutrition guru. Here is his answer.

As I discovered when reading through research articles and perusing Judy Taylor’s medical records for my book Lifeliner, Judy underwent many kinds of analyses of her body composition and assessments of her nutritional state at the behest of her doctor, my resident nutrition guru. After years of conducting such tests and reading the literature, my resident nutrition guru, aka Jeej, realised that they do not predict outcomes well and  that the best way to assess a person’s nutritional status is through Subjective Global Assessment, a method that he developed and that independent scientific research supports. The Assessment involves four questions:

  1. Are the bowels normal?
  2. Does the person eat a normal diet?
  3. Is the person of normal weight and neither losing nor gaining?
  4. Does the person have normal energy?

If the answer is yes to all four questions, then the person is not malnourished. Doing blood tests and body scans will not give a superior or even as good an answer as this assessment, although scans and tests sure are sexier and feel like real medicine.

But, I asked, what does normal mean?

Normal Bowels

Normal bowels are ones without diseases like Crohn’s or without resections or do not have ostomies. In other words, a not normal bowel is a bowel with severe problems that muck up a person’s ability to absorb nutrients or even digest food. Spastic bowel (irritable bowel) or lactose intolerance, as painful as they are, are normal, in this sense anyway.

Normal Diet

A normal diet includes all the food groups. One that skips fruits and vegetables is not normal. So eat them!

Normal Weight

It’s interesting watching old movies. Everyone is skinnier yet fatter. Women weren’t sticks; men weren’t pumped muscles. Yet they were healthy and energetic. I wondered: why do muscles look so different now, look plumper and more defined, when decades ago people had to be stronger because daily living required more physical work and some jobs required more strength or the same strength as they do now? Marbling. That was the answer I got.  Today, people have more  fat in their muscles, which plumps the muscles up. Think of top Alberta steak. It’s value comes from the fat that marbles the muscle so that during cooking, the fat liquifies and keeps the meat moist. Well, humans are nicely marbled too today, way more than in decades part, because of what they eat. Our diet has changed that much apparently.

I believe this change in the look of muscles and, concurrently, our average size, has changed our perception of what is normal. Some people think I look normal weight, but given my genetic heritage and my midriff circumference, I’m not. I’m too big. I bet when I reach my normal weight, I’ll be getting comments on how skinny I am. But if I was put back in time, I would fit right in with the general population.

Today, researchers consider that normal weight is best measured by stomach circumference. Men need to have stomachs <102 cm (40 in) in circumference and women <88cm (35 in), and the waist-hip ratio must also be <0.9 for men and <0.85 for women in order to be considered normal weight.

Although gaining weight is the central preoccupation and problem of North Americans, losing weight when not trying (i.e., with no change in diet, exercise, or lifestyle) is also not good, and going below a certain weight for your height leads to bad nutritional status too.

Normal Energy

Sometimes I wonder what is normal energy. Sometimes I feel like people of my parents’ generation had more energy than healthy people today do … or maybe that generation just didn’t whine about things but got on with it. In any case, you must differentiate between low energy caused by disease or injury and low energy caused by nutritional deficiencies. Many things can cause your energy levels to drop, like a chronic illness or recovering from an injury or surgery. It’s the unexplained changes from your normal energy levels that may signal malnutrition, assuming you’ve ruled out disease or syndromes.

So I asked: is it worth testing any nutrients? Yes. Three. Vitamin D. Iron. And Vitamin B12 in certain populations.

Vitamin D

This vitamin is important for bone strength and does affect energy levels. Briefly and simply, if you have too little Vitamin D, then your parathyroid hormone will shrink your bones, leading to osteoporosis. If you have too much, then the parathyroid will stop making bone, also not good. The levels of Vitamin D that lead to one or the other are not far apart. Tis a fine balance. Vitamin D supplementation will prevent the former from happening, but now that the Ontario provincial government is making people pay, how will you be able to afford a sufficient number of tests to know when you’re in balance and are keeping in balance? Well, there is one caveat: weight-bearing exercise or obesity, both of which stress the bones, will cause bone to continue to be created even if Vitamin D levels are high enough to shut off the parathyroid. If a person is using weight and gravity to stress the bones, then the real problem is in ensuring you’re taking enough supplementation to avoid a too-low level. However, there is now controversy over what that level is. Only time, unfortunately, will tell who is right.


We have known for decades that too little iron leads to anemia. Ferritin is a good indicator of iron deficiency, which is fairly common among young women. Too much iron will change your skin colour, among other problems. If you’re having energy problems, this is an obvious test to do.

Vitamin B12

Recent research shows that in the elderly — people older than about seventy years of age — low B12 can lead to cognitive decline. Apparently, the elderly metabolize this vitamin differently than the general adult population. I didn’t understand the science behind how eating normal amounts of B12 can lead to this decline in the over-seventy set, but suffice to say that researchers discovered that supplementing the diet with B12 in the elderly led to significant improvements in cognitive performance. In short, old people’s brains work better when given B12.

Vegetarians and vegans should also be tested for B12 as the best sources of this vitamin are from meat or lots of micro-organisms in water (I wouldn’t want to have the latter, my stomach less so!). The body stores this vitamin for five years, so if you’ve been eating a meat-free diet for that number of years or longer, then it’s probably time to be tested.


Please note: this is for informational purposes only and does not constitute advice of any sort nor can I give personalized advice. Also note that cholesterol and glucose tests are not involved in nutritional status and continue to be important tests regardless of nutritional status.


Smashwords Summer/Winter Sale of “Lifeliner” and “She” Now On!

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It’s summer in the Northern Hemisphere, and winter for friends in the Southern Hemisphere. In honour of that, Smashwords is kicking off their third annual Summer/Winter Sale, and they invited authors to participate. I answered their invitation with a resounding “Yes!”

Lifeliner and She will both be fifty percent off their regular price. And as always, all ebook formats will be available for download. So whether you have a Kindle, Sony Reader, kobo, Nook, iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone, smartphone, or a computer, you will be able to read all my ebooks. And for July only, at a special price too! Just click the images below to be taken directly to the respective book pages.

If you need instructions on how to download and read ebooks from Smashwords, please check out my 2010 post on Reading Any DRM-Free ePub on iPod Touch, iPad, or iPhone. To read an ePub ebook on your computer, download the free Adobe Digital Editions, then download the ebooks from Smashwords. And when you’ve finished reading, please don’t forget to leave a review on the Smashwords book pages! Enjoy!!

Lifeliner by Shireen Jeejeebhoy

She by Shireen Jeejeebhoy


My Ebooks Are Going Out Into The World

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She Cover for Website Page Shireen Jeejeebhoy I’m pleased to announce that my newest title She is now available at the awesome price of $2.99 in the Amazon Kindle store, along with my first book Lifeliner. Purchasing a Kindle ebook on Amazon is fast and easy with the 1-Click Buy button. You can also give She or Lifeliner or both as a gift. And as in any ebook store, you may download a generous sample to check out either book before you buy.

But that’s not the only place you can find She in. So far, Apple’s iBooks and iTunes now lists all four of my ebooks in ePub version in its store: She, Lifeliner, The Job Sessions, and A Nibble of Chocolate. The latter two are available for only 99¢. And in a bizarre twist, the Canadian ebook retailer kobo, hasn’t listed Lifeliner, a biography on a remarkable Canadian woman who made medical, world-changing Canadian history, yet they have listed A Nibble of Chocolate, a nice bite-sized look at the nutrition of chocolate with a recipe included because nutritious food should always taste yummy.

If you’re a Goodreads member, you can now purchase and/or read both Lifeliner and She right on the site, as well as fan my author profile.

And as always, all four of my ebooks are listed and available on Smashwords (and through the ebook app Stanza) for instant download in your preferred format to your favourite device.

I hope you will enjoy my ebooks and be inspired to make a donation towards the substantial cost of She’s editing, by clicking the button in the right sidebar. No good novel appears in public without first going under the critical eyes of an editor. And you can be assured that mine have and always will. I hugely appreciate all those who have already donated and helped me afford this necessary step. Will you not join their number? Regardless, as always, I wish you happy reading!