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                                        Dr RICHARD's Desk - May 2010
Reviewed   14  April  2021      

                             Smart Phones and Pavlov's Dogs

THE PITCH of a baby's cry was deviously designed to trip all of your body's alarm switches to make sure you cannot ignore it. The same goes for ringing telephones –"the great interrupter". For some reason people generally don't mind being interrupted by a ringing phone but may curtly refuse a personal interruption. This ringing phone phenomenon has expanded thanks to communication technology - but there is a cost.

Smart phones are extremely useful but they are now causing their own medical and relationship problems. Employees are increasingly being caught in the technology trap of being 24/7 online and 24/7 available. In effect you are working much longer hours than ever before but curiously afterhours phone interruptions do not seem to be classed as "real work". Smart phones are influencing a steady intrusion of work into home life and certainly blurring the traditional work – leisure/family time division. These phones are also affecting interpersonal communication. How often have you been in a group when almost everybody is checking their phone rather than actually chatting to each other.
H/O phoning at night
Partners are now complaining husbands are frequently getting out of bed during the night to check for office emails whether the phone has rung or not and then ducking into the cupboard to reply. We have patients furtively checking their smart phone during a medical consultation while pretending to listen…..and also a commonly observed phenomenon in Jakarta movie theatres!

Head offices in  distant time zones are frequently to blame. Ignoring or forgetting their fellow employee might happily be snoring away they send messages anyway and often expect an instant reply. Disturbed sleep for you and your partner follows as does increased stress. It is much easier to send a text message from afar than risk an unimpressed voice reply during the early hours. Your 2am answer may be commendably diligent but does it really help the cause very much? Of course the messages may be important but they are very rarely urgent.

It all sounds like a Pavlov's dog type conditioned reflex with the reward being a message on the screen. Unfortunately the reward is irregular –much like a poker machine - so it is very difficult to overcome the I-must-check-for-messages-now reflex action……and you think your kids are addicted to their electronic toys!

Being on line 24 hrs can be useful but needs review. The solution?  Turn off your phone overnight or ask your partner to answer your phone out of hours and to give very clear advice to the caller about time zones. It is just possible your  wife, with children to get to school next morning, might not be as enthusiastic as you are to answer your phone at 3am…..and don't send messages yourself after hours.

"When you knock off, switch off"  remains a good practice. No doubt you will have withdrawal symptoms but you will get over it. With a bit of self training you can do it !

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                              Rabies in BaliBali monkey
An Australian tourist recently contracted Rabies in Bali after a monkey bite at the Monkey Forest in Ubud.

As before, consider Rabies Vaccine and don't touch any animals  in Bali. An established Rabies Infection is fatal.

Rabies in Bali has obviously spread from dogs to monkeys.

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                Why Bother Reducing your Cholesterol Levels ?
WELL THE EVIDENCE shows it is worthwhile. The benefits of cholesterol reduction are related to age: A 10% reduction  produces a 50 % reduction in the risk of serious heart disease at age 40, 40% at age 50, 30% at age 60, and 20% at age 70. These are large reductions. The benefits occur  quickly: Most of the benefit is apparent within two years and the full benefit after five years.

For a good indication of your Risk of a Cardiac Problem in the Next 5 years go to: and insert your own values in the boxes. Takes about 30 seconds. Try inserting various different  values in the boxes especially with the non-smoker or smoker box and see the difference in cardiac risk.

If you have a guilty conscience sit down while you are doing it . . .

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                      Rumours and Reality . . . . Sorry to Spoil the Party !!
Rumour:  The best recipe for sobering up is hot coffee and a cold shower.Mary-Kate Olsen drunk
Reality:  In a word, No !   Dosing a drunk with caffeine is little more than a time-honored waste of time. After a few cups of Brazil's Best, a drinker may be wide awake - but just as drunk as before. 

Rumour:  Stronger stimulants, such as amphetamines or cocaine, help sober up.
Reality: They make things even worse. These drugs trick users into believing that they're speeding toward sobriety. Why?  Because stimulants temporarily mask the depressant effects of alcohol, giving drinkers a false sense of security without improving coordination or concentration or driving skills.

Rumour:  Beer and wine cause fewer "serious" problems than hard liquor.
Reality:  Beer and wine contain more water than spirits but have the same potential for problems.
Mel Gibson drunk
  Rumour: Cocaine and alcohol effects cancel each other enabling party people to stay sober longer.
  Reality: They might think they're sober, but they're not. In fact, the body converts the breakdown products of cocaine and alcohol into another chemical which is twice as toxic as cocaine alone.

Rumour:  Taking aspirin before drinking avoids a hangover.
Reality: Aspirin increases the absorption of alcohol, particularly when taken an hour or so before drinking. If anything, aspirin increases the odds of a hangover.

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     Is there any hope for humanity ?
MEDICATION errors and misunderstandings are too common but sometimes with medication errors you just have to scratch your head. A sweet old lady looking very uncomfortable,  waddled in and insisted on standing during the consultation.

Her prescription had been for a plastic device for a chest problem. Directions on the device were " Remove cap and push up bottom" . . . you can guess the rest.    True story !

If you have any suggestions or topics you would like discussed please contact me:
Dr Richard Tomlins

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Dr Richard Tomlins
If you have any suggestions or topics you would like discussed, please contact me:
     Dr Richard Tomlins


Smart Phones & Pavlov's Dogs

Rabies in Bali

Why Bother Reducing your Cholesterol Levels?

Rumours & Reality . . . Sorry to Spoil the Party

Is there any hope for humanity ?