Archive for December, 2010

Posted on 30 Dec 2010
Autism

How To Know Your Child Has Autism

The moment you think your child may have something wrong with them your heartbreaks. You reach a level of fear and uncertainty. Will it be noticeable? Will it make it so they won’t have friends? Will they ever marry? The questions pour in, and you’re left wondering what the answers will be. The feelings are no different when you think your child may have autism, or be on the autistic spectrum.

The main questions on your mind are probably, how can I tell my child is autistic? What are the symptoms? And where do I go from there?

Let’s start with the symptoms. What are the common symptoms of autism in a child?

The symptoms fall under 5 main categories. You may find your child has all of them, or some of them. The thing you need to remember, is autism is a spectrum disorder, which means your child can have all or none of the symptoms, in varying severity. We will cover the first two in this article.

Let’s start with the first category of symptoms. Difficulties with social skills. You may notice your child has a really hard time making friends, or an inability to make friends at all. The may be the odd child out, and visibly so.

They will rarely be the child to approach another child, and may not even show interest in other people at all. All in all, they have great difficulties in all mannerisms necessary for starting and maintaining a relationship with another person, both physically and socially

The next set of symptoms fall under communicative issues. You may find they are unable to speak at all, and when they do they may use very infantile languages such as pointing and grunting, instead of vocalizing with words as to what they want.

Or they may have properly developed language skills that suddenly regress or disappear all together. This can be one of the scariest moments for a parent. Your little one is doing everything right, hitting all the proper milestones and suddenly wakes up one day unable to speak or interact at all. They may also be unable to understand and comprehend facial cues and mannerisms, to them it’s like everyone is walking around with a blank face. There is nothing for them to read in the faces of others.

These are just two of the main symptoms of an autistic child. If your child has either or both, you need to seek professional help for your child, as early intervention is key in maximizing that which your child can do, later on in life.

Posted on 24 Dec 2010
Asthma

How Exercise Helps With Asthma

When you have asthma, it is harder to have a hobby than people who don’t for the simple reason that you get tired and run out of breath faster. Most people with asthma are too careful that they neglect themselves of most daily activity fearing an asthma attack. But on the contrary, asthma sufferers can actually do some activities to help with their asthma. If you have asthma, you don’t have to worry about exercising as this can in fact help you.

It is important that before you do any exercise that you consult with your doctor for their recommendation and that you always have your inhaler ready. Getting advise from your doctor should be your number one priority. Working out can help with improving your asthma over time. Many experts advise people who have asthma to take time to exercise because it can help with managing your breathing, improving your posture and relaxing which are aspects that affect your asthma. Choose an exercise that you can handle to avoid tiring yourself. Simple and easy exercises for about 30 minutes a day should be enough. An important note as well is to use your inhaler at least 15 minutes before you start working out.

Cardio exercises are highly recommended for people with asthma because this helps with proper breathing and keeping your heart strong. Walking might be the best cardio for asthma sufferers as it is the easiest. Once you have set a pace, you can start with some running too. Yoga is also an option before doing aerobics. Yoga can help with proper breathing other than just improving your flexibility. Another good exercise that can help with your breathing is swimming. Don’t forget to start slowly with any exercise that you do before taking it to the next level. Start your workout with stretching and always cool down after.

When doing your exercises, make sure that you always have your inhaler available. Getting an attack while you workout is okay. All you have to do is rest and, if you still can, do another round. If you get another attack, you have to stop. When you exercise, a great idea is to breathe through your nose and not through your mouth because that can trigger asthma attacks. Breathing through your mouth allows cold air to enter directly to your bronchial tubes while breathing through your nose filters the air that you breathe. Make sure that you exercise in a place that has minimal pollution and allergens like pollens. And always have someone with you when you workout and let that person know that you have asthma.

Managing your asthma is fairly easy. Just make sure that you take the necessary precautions to avoid making your condition worse. Having asthma should not hinder you from doing activities to maintain your fitness. You simply have to remember that moderation is key.

Posted on 23 Dec 2010
Nutrition

Ionized Water

The health benefits from ionized water, unfortunately, are not easy to find in the beverage industry.

Beverages are a huge part of the worldwide marketplace, in which we put our money into almost each and everyday. But just how do these particular beverages compare to the health beneficial properties of ionized water? The healthy properties of alkaline ionized water are not common among other beverages in the industry and that is very unfortunate, because what is being missed are needed to maintain optimal health.

Sad but true, the healthy anti-aging properties of this special kind of water is the complete opposite of what the average packaged beverage has to offer. I would like to emphasize that the beverages I’m relating to are not health supplement liquids, but just regular beverages such as many bottled waters, sports drinks, and carbonated sodas. The 2 main properties that I will cover is whether or not a beverage is healthy by being alkaline, or rich in antioxidants.

Determining how the properties of ionized water compare to other beverages.

First of all, to determine whether or not a beverage is healthy, we must find out if it is alkaline or acidic. Of a liquid is shown to have an alkaline pH, it then can have the ability to neutralize and help remove acidic waste from the body. However, if a beverage has an acidic pH value to it, then it will most likely lead to an increase in stored acidity. The human body has an optimal pH value of 7.365 to stay in a sate of homeostasis. Quite fortunately just by drinking alkaline water, that healthy state can be easier sustained and kept. Simply by keeping acid levels low alkaline water can help your body remain in this state of slight alkalinity and homeostasis. However, consuming acidic foods and beverages will most likely add to the problem of acidosis.

Beverages that have an overly acidic pH also mainly means that they are a source of toxins that damage healthy tissues and cells. You can also call these toxins free-radicals. Many, if not most bottled waters being sold on the market today are acidic.There are a few main reasons because of this. One reason is that just by storing any kind of water in a closed bottled, it will become more and more acidic overtime. Another reason is that large majority of bottled waters go through a ‘purification’ process that is either called reverse osmosis or distillation. Through this process, water can lose many natural occurring alkaline minerals, and thereby losing the alkaline pH. Without these minerals, the water then will have an acidic effect on the body. However, please let me note that not all bottled water has an acidic pH, some either have a neutral pH or slight alkalinity. Bottled waters that are not acidic, however, most of the time still do not have any anti-oxidants and is still oxidizing on the body that causes cellular damage.

And it still gets worse..

Only being a small part of the problem, specifically with our society consuming too much acidic beverages, there are other beverages that can be many times more acidic than even bottled waters with a mild level of acidity. Many store-bought packaged drinks such as sports drinks, carbonated drinks, and energy drinks can have a strong acidic pH value rather than a mild acidic pH value with various bottled waters. Making these types of beverages hundreds, if not thousands of times more acidic. By having a stronger acidity, these beverages can also have a higher potency of toxins, oxidants, and free-radicals which can cause cellular damage. A primary reason why these beverages can be so strong in acidity is because of many unnatural ingredients such and various sugars and acids. It can be true that these ingredients can make the beverages taste a lot better and lasts longer, but on the other side of the equation it also makes them more acidic, toxic, and unhealthy. Consuming these ingredients on a regular basis can make it a lot harder for us to sustain a state of homeostasis.

In the end.. it is all up to you in making the final decision!

It is of an utmost importance to focus not only on the quality of foods we consume on a regular basis, but also what kind of beverages and water. Depending on what exact path we choose for our regular lifestyle, we are either moving towards an acidic body, or we are moving closer towards a state of homeostasis and happiness. When taking into consideration that our bodies’ are composed of up to 75% water, it is then one of the healthiest and most wise decision to consume the healthiest water possible. If your mission is to be in the best, most optimal health possible, it is important for you to prevent acidosis in the body by drinking an abundance of alkaline ionized water!

Posted on 23 Dec 2010
Mood Disorders

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a psychiatric disorder. It is a strange type of depression that is related to the winter season. As the days become shorter during the fall and winter, the depression pursues in people suffering with this disorder. It is also called as ‘winter depression’, ‘winter blues’ or the ‘hibernation reaction’. It is also represented as SAD for Seasonal Affective Disorder.

INCIDENCE:

This disorder is more frequently found in individuals who live in areas farther away from the equator, affecting women more than men. People suffering with the seasonal affective disorder react adversely to the colder temperatures and the falling levels of sunlight.

This disorder is found more frequently related to the winter season, but may also be sometimes associated with the summer season.

CAUSE:

Till now, the exact cause for this disorder is unknown. Studies are being carried out to know the exact cause. The proposed theories describe the lack of sunlight to be a common factor responsible for this disorder.

Sunlight has shown to cause a change in certain chemicals present in brain. It has also been found that persons having a low vitamin D level in blood are more susceptible to developing this disorder. It must be pointed out here that sunlight plays a major role in activation of the vitamin D present in the body. Thus, somehow, sunlight and vitamin D may be a factor, yet studies are still under progress and no exact cause can be told with certainty.

SYMPTOMS:

The symptoms of seasonal affective disorders are like those of depression. These persons suffer with the complaints of fatigue, irritability, concentration defects, muscle pains, increased spells of crying, insomnia and over eating thereby leading to obesity.

People suffering with this disorder during summer show some opposite symptoms like loss of appetite and weight loss; but insomnia is a common complaint.

TREATMENT:

The treatment lies in provision of light to the affected individuals. This is called as ‘phototherapy’. For this treatment, it is the quantity of life which is important and not the quality. Thus sunlight is not necessary; instead exposure to special light boxes for at least 30 minutes daily is the requirement.

Change of climate is also helpful. Moving to the areas which are hot during the winter season in one’s own environment can increase the light exposure and thus reduce the symptoms.

Medical treatment includes certain medications which inhibit the re uptake of serotonin. This performs an anti depressant effect on these individuals.

Meanwhile consulting a good psychiatrist also proves to be beneficial. Currently there are no specific medical tests or investigations available to diagnose the seasonal affective disorder. The whole diagnosis is based on clinical symptoms. Yet, once diagnosed, providing treatment in the form of phototherapy, medicines and psychiatric consultation gives good results.

Posted on 21 Dec 2010
Diseases

Salmonella Typhimurium

Salmonella typhimurium (a.k.a salmonella enteric typhi or salmonella typhi) is a gram-negative bacterium that is rod shaped and among the common types of the genus Salmonella. A causative agent of typhoid fever, it is transmitted via feco-oral route. Once it reaches the intestines, it gives off enzymes that make it resistant to being destroyed by antibodies. This will allow Salmonella typhimurium to multiply in numbers, destroying the inner lining or epithelium of the intestines.

As a result, the infected person will suffer gastrointestinal manifestations such as:

– Constipation or diarrhea

– Abdominal cramps

– Nausea and vomiting

Anorexia or loss of appetite

Other clinical manifestations include:

– Fever

– Malaise or generalized body weakness

Headache

In some cases, Salmonella typhimurium will multiply by living inside immune cells. Since they are now recognized as part of the immune system, they can penetrate the intestinal wall and travel to the blood stream, causing a condition called bacteremia (which means presence of large quantities of bacteria in the blood). They will then reach the lymphatic system, and will continue to multiply in the lymph nodes, spleen, bone marrow and liver. Salmonella typhimurium will continue to grow and multiply, leaching into the blood stream again, causing secondary bacteremia. They will now infect the gall bladder and go back to the intestinal lining, particularly the Peyer’s patches, resulting to inflammation and eventually ulceration.

At this stage, the patient will manifest:

– Abdominal distention

– Spleen and liver enlargement

– Significant loss of weight

If the patient is left untreated, mental affectation will now manifest such as apathy, confusion, and ultimately in some cases, psychosis. These manifestations often show in the 3rd or 4th untreated week of the infestation. If the untreated person resolves the signs and symptoms without treatment, that person now becomes an asymptomatic carrier, capable of infecting hundreds of people.

Treatment of Salmonella typhimurium involves use of fluroquinolones such as ciprofloxacin, ofloxacin, and pefloxacin. Third generation cephalosporins such as cefotaximine, ceftraxone, and ceftazidime are also utilized as treatment. Since the Salmonella typhimurium is starting to show some resistance to the said drugs, it is important that strict compliance to the medication is a must: that means continuing the therapy even though symptoms have started to disappear. Follow-up is advised for relapse can occur a week after the medication and 3 months after the start of the therapy.

To avoid getting infected by salmonella typhimurium, it is advised that you follow strict hygiene by washing hands before and after food handling especially if the food is raw and you just came from the comfort room. Always make sure that eating utensils are clean and you eat in a clean and well-maintained.

Posted on 20 Dec 2010
Depression

Children With Depression

Depression in children is still somewhat unknown territory for most of us. The scientists started recognizing that children can become depressed only in the 1980s. But till this day a widely supported belief that children can not be depressed still exists.

The misconception often enough consists of what do they have to be depressed about? and their feelings are not mature enough for depression. Well, these people are wrong.

Study of depression in children in US shows that anxiety disorders can appear by age of 6, at 11 you can be affected by behavioural disorders, mood disorders at 13 years old, and by 15 – substance use disorders.

Children these days are subject to enormous pressure and have very little control over their life – school marks, bullying, peer pressure, parental problems (break-ups and divorces), abuse, death of someone they love, physical illness, relationships, etc. They also absorb enormous amount of information, are under a lot of stress, and their emotions subsequently are mature enough for depression and other conditions like ADHD, self-injury, eating disorders, etc.

So what are the signs of depression in kids?

– Feeling unhappy, sulky and irritable

– Rage and anger

– Doing badly at school

– Loosing interests in usual activities and hobbies

– Tiredness, insomnia, stomach aches, headaches with no obvious reason

– Major weight loss

– Feeling of worthlessness

– Suicidal thoughts

The treatment for depression in children usually consists of therapy, to which they respond really well at their age. This is true in light and mild depression.

Antidepressants is something that doctors happily prescribe for kids these days, but please remember three things before you consider agreeing to this kind of treatment.

1. We still don’t know long term effects of taking antidepressants at such an early age. Scientists say that some antidepressants increase amount of brain cells, and although it seems like a good thing, children absorb enormous amount of information and their brain is constantly re-adapts, so we don’t understand how more brain cells will affect them.

2. Antidepressants should only be prescribed in severe depression with suicidal thoughts in kids, but ironically one of their side effects on children and adolescents are suicidal thoughts and major depression. FDA issued warnings forĀ  (Paroxetine) and Prozac (Fluoxetine) which are given to kids in depression.

3. These drugs can only be taken under constant supervision of a doctor (better if he/she specializes in pediatric psychiatry and knows the correct doses, plus you need to rule out the bipolar disorder diagnosis first, because some antidepressants can increase mania in this condition. Make sure your child is participating in some sort of therapy as well.

All in all, just give your love and support to your child – let them know that depression is a very common problem and find someone they can talk to about their problems (even if it’s not you).

Posted on 18 Dec 2010
Mental Health

The Hoarding Characteristics Of Reality Show Packrats

Here’s a news flash: The hoarding you’re convinced you’ve just diagnosed may not what you think it is. Television reality shows openly displaying hoarding behavior gives us a birds-eye view of the problem, and assures us that we’ve now found the label to apply to our family member’s disorganization. However, not everyone is born neat and clean, and some people struggle to overcome old habits that made disorganized clutter a way of life.

The hoarding we are talking about is actually quite a bit different from mere messiness. A person can be disorganized in the way they keep their house or office, and not be pathological. The hoarding that compulsive stashers engage in is a far different animal.

Compulsive hoarding is characterized by acquiring and holding on to lots of things that the person places a certain value on or sees as important. The hoarding we’re referring to is related to obsessive compulsive disorder, and often connected with dementia, schizophrenia, anorexia, and Alzheimer’s disease. Some scholars disagree as to whether the hoarding behavior is a version of obsessive compulsive disorder, or whether it is its own symptom presentation that is just under the obsessive compulsive umbrella. You will often see compulsive behavior, such as ordering, counting, organizing, and repeat actions. Afflicted people will not only often be perfectionist, but also have a hard time making up their mind.

You can typically distinguish between hoarding and a disheveled home because there are standard characteristics that evince far more troubling behavior. The hoarding behavior is not really being lethargic about cleaning your environment; it’s more like an inability to stop amassing so much stuff. The compulsive tendency will lead them to engage in surplus shopping, running through sales papers looking for bargains, and have even been known to dig through their trash and others to find stuff. Obsession is a big part of what you’ll see too. These folks can be found counting their stuff or inspecting it. They may even call you on the phone to check on their goods. At times, they’ve even been known to do destructive skin-picking, nail-biting, and hair pulling.

Perhaps a more thorough way to understand the hoarding pattern is to realize that the clutter that overtakes a person’s home is actually symptomatic of the greater problem beneath the surface. The bottom line is that the main problem rests with how folks think and relate to their belongings. The undergirding emotion is typically fear, as people are fraught with obsessive thought and distortions due to their fears.

Specifically, people are generally fearful that they will need something in the future and therefore they cannot get rid of it. Thus, it’s not surprising to see people be very emotional about their wares, and try to keep track of it all so they won’t deal with the disturbance of not having access to it. This is why the hoarding takes the form of piling stuff up rather than filing it away where it belongs.

You’ll also notice that people are very indecisive. They cannot figure out what to keep and what to toss, and so they just don’t decide. They would ordinarily be anxious about making the wrong decision, and so they just don’t bother. There may even be some things that they want to keep real close to them always, as these items have come to represent some person in some way. Note that control is a big issue for these sufferers too. Lots of times they do not feel in control of their life, and so they gain some mastery over being able to control their stuff.

Posted on 17 Dec 2010
Depression

Do You Suffer From Bipolar Disorder?

Among the depression types bipolar disorder is one of the hardest to diagnose.

Why? Because the symptoms of this depression is like a giant pendulum, swinging your mood from manic to depressive phase. So, the other name for bipolar disorder is manic-depressive disorder.

You see, when you are in manic stage – you’re agitated, even anxious, you have delusions of grandeur, big plans, fantastic schemes to get rich quick (don’t confuse it with scammers who intentionally flood World Wide Web with these mad ideas). You make dangerously impulsive decisions; go on a huge shopping spree you can’t possibly afford… Have some sudden compulsive ideas which you MUST bring into life. You feel high, your self-esteem is overblown, you’re restless and often can’t sleep at night. You feel like you live on the edge, and often you are.

Psychiatrists sometimes diagnose this stage incorrectly as schizophrenia.

After a high stage you either come back to reality or go straight to depressive stage.

This part of bipolar disorder has all the classic symptoms of severe depression, and it’s no wonder that doctors often miss the full picture if they pick up on only the depressive part of the problem. This is why it’s very important to know the full story before the diagnosis.

Bipolar disorder is an illness that you often get at an early age. You might be diagnosed with ADHD, have difficulties concentrating at school or work, often have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) as well, you family might have a history of mood swings, famous impulsive crazy decisions.

If you suspect that you do have it, start keeping a diary recording any unusual behaviour. Ask your close friend or relative to do the same.

So, what is the treatment for this type of depression?

This is a life-long illness, which needs treatment that allows you to control you moods. So, the doctor will probably prescribe you few types of medications.

1. Mood stabilizers and medications preventing convulsions (Lithium, Lamotrigine, Valproic Acid, etc.)

2. Antipsychotics (Olanzapine, Quetiapine, Aripiprazole, Risperidone, etc.) which will treat the manic phase

3. Antidepressants (Fluoxetine, Paroxetine, Sertraline, etc.) for the depressive phase.

Depending on the severity of your bipolar disorder you’ll get different combinations of these medications.

If your doctor is really good, he/she will try some sort of depression therapy as well to help you with finding your own coping mechanism for this illness.

Any of you familiar with this illness? Do you suspect a friend or relative might have it? Please, share!

Posted on 16 Dec 2010
Asthma

Why Does Overbreathing Cause Asthma?

There are many different theories as to what exactly causes asthma, but one of the most prevalent and well researched is the theory of overbreathing.

According to this theory, asthma is a defense mechanism that protects the body from overbreathing, and in particular from the loss of carbon dioxide in the body.

Most people understand that when we inhale oxygen, it is transported around the body by molecules called haemoglobin. When the oxygen has reached its destination it is released from the haemoglobin and is used by by the cells.

A key but misunderstood player in this equation is carbon dioxide. If the level of CO2 in the body is not at the required level of 5% then the release of oxygen from haemoglobin will be compromised. Although oxygen will be available, cells will not be able to use it if levels of carbon dioxide are too low.

This process was discovered in 1904 as is called the Bohr Effect. It is the main theory behind why overbreathing is what causes asthma attacks.

When you overbreathe you exhale a great deal of your CO2. The lowering of your carbon dioxide binds the oxygen and haemoglobin molecules together. Since oxygen is not getting to your cells you may feel the desire to overbreathe even more in an attempt to “get more oxygen”. Unfortunately, this only makes matters worse.

Because this process of overbreathing can create such widespread negative effects, the body must come up with a defense mechanism. One such defense mechanism is an asthma attack. During an attack breathing will become restricted and this gives the body a chance to normalize the levels of carbon dioxide. Once the carbon dioxide has reached an appropriate level then the cells of the body can get the oxygen that they need.

This sets up an interesting paradox. In order for an individual to oxygenate his body, he must try to breathe less rather than more. Breathing less ensures the conservation of carbon dioxide which in turn allows the appropriate oxygenation of tissues and cells.

Although this theory of overbreathing and carbon dioxide has not been proven to cause asthma, there is good evidence to show reduced breathing removes asthma attacks. One method of breathing called the “Buteyko Method” uses this theory extensively, and it has shown to be very effective simply by advocating certain exercises and drills that reduce breathing volume and thus prevent or reverse overbreathing.

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Posted on 14 Dec 2010
Mental Health

Are There Lizards In Your Relationship?

In Imago Relationship Therapy there is a great emphasis on safety. An Imago couples counsellor will work hard at keeping both partners safe and ensure that they keep each other safe as they are talking. This post looks at why it’s important to feel safe in our relationships and how this allows growth for both partners.

Let’s start at the beginning, and I mean the very beginning for us humans. We are going to talk about the human evolutionary journey.

There is now plenty of evidence to suggest that our brains formed in three stages:

  • First our lizard brain formed (the brain stem) – we were pretty basic creatures at this stage so needed tactics to stay alive. When under threat this part of our brain tells us to fight, run away, freeze (think rabbit in headlight) or submit.
  • Next came our mammalian brain (the limbic system) – this allowed us to have emotions, become social animals and form relationships (think wolves in packs).
  • Finally our logical brain (the cerebral cortex) – this is our thinking part, the only animal with a bigger cerebral cortex than humans is the dolphin (so don’t play chess with them ‘cos they will beat you). This is our speech, writing, maths, time and logical process centre. It’s the part of the brain that allows us to make decisions and veto those biological urges we have that may not be useful for us, e.g playing dead when sitting examinations has never been a great strategy if we want to progress up the education ladder.

I guess you can see where this post is now heading! When we apply this model to our relationships it becomes obvious that shouting at our partner is not going to get us what we want. If they get scared then old lizard brain kicks in and you may as well be talking to a gecko! Their brains are not going to have the capacity to think things through and they are just going to be focusing on survival. Logic and mammalian brain are switched off and they get ready to run away, do nothing, attack back or just agree with everything you say in an attempt to shut you up. Been there? I know I have!

Everyday strategies to avoid lizarding your loved one!

Many of these techniques are naturally built into Imago Relationship Therapy, but you don’t need to be working with a therapist to do them. Try the following:

  • Book an appointment with your partner when you want to talk about something important to you. It may be that they are ready to listen to you right there and then. If not, agree a time when both of you are in the right frame of mind to discuss the issue.
  • Avoid criticism, contempt, stonewalling and defensiveness when talking to your partner. Once you introduce any of these bad boys into the conversation you are going to be talking to a lizard faster than you can say “Godzilla”! Check out my post on these four relationship wreckers here.
  • Stick with “I” statements. Talking about yourself rather than your partner is much less confrontational and will keep your partner safe.
  • Have a soft start up. Ease your way into the discussion rather than hitting your partner full in the face with your demands! “I realise you are working really hard to bring money in for the family and I miss you when you aren’t around at dinner time” feels very different to “you are always bloody late for dinner you selfish pig”! John Gottman found that he could predict the outcome of an argument from the first sentence very accurately. Soft startups allowed discussion to happen (lizard free), whilst harsh startups pretty much always rapidly descended into arguments where both partners felt hugely wronged.
  • Repair as you go along. Once more, Gottman found that couples adept in the art of repairing whilst arguing stayed together. It was one of the most common skills found in couples that had been happily married long term. A repair attempt might be something like “yeah – I could see how you would think that, I was pretty grouchy yesterday” or “I know you are stressed at work at the moment and you don’t mean to snap at me”. It’s basically putting yourself in your partner’s shoes and validating their point of view.

If you can do a few of the suggestions above you are well on the way to a lizard free relationship. You’re not going to get it right all the time, no one does, but these techniques can make a significant difference to the feel of the relationship and make it a safer place to be. With safety comes the potential for change and growth for you both.