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‘My child’s health is paramount’: Gabrielle Daleman’s mother on her daughter’s mental health battle





In my mind, Canadian figure skater Gabby Daleman is a tiger. I told Gabby’s mother Rhonda that her daughter’s fierceness as a competitor sets her apart. Rhonda chuckled at my comment.

“I call her a tiger too. She was born in the year of the tiger on the Chinese calendar,” she said. “I always say to people that she is so fierce on the ice but that doesn’t always translate off the ice.”

Daleman has gone public with her mental health struggles. Her story is about discovery, diagnosis, acceptance and the pursuit of mental health. 

Rhonda Daleman, right, went to great lengths to help her daughter seek the right treatment. (Submitted by the Daleman family)

Turns out that although it’s the backdrop, skating doesn’t have as much to do with the story as one might think.

“Athletes who are attracted to figure skating are perfectionists, which is about being concerned with the achievement of perfection,” said Rebekah Dixon, who holds a master’s degree in developmental psychology and has taught psychology and human development at the college and university levels.

“This leads to being more focused on other people seeing you as perfect, which in itself is a problem, because you’re focusing on something that is unattainable.”

The family business

I sat down with Rhonda to talk about how Daleman stepped away from the rink months ago in an effort to regain her mental health.

Gabby Daleman is two-time national champion, world bronze medallist and Olympic gold medallist in the team event.  It’s helpful to think about skating as the Daleman family business. Rhonda’s coworkers call it ‘her other job,’ Gabby’s father Michael is fully involved, and brother Zack, who is a Canadian national junior pairs skater, is also Daleman’s best friend.

Daleman first went on the ice when she was just a few weeks shy of her fourth birthday. It was not love at first skate. She was sobbing and frightened. A kindly coach at the Aurora Skating Club scooped her up and carried her around the rink, her first two times. By her third trip to the rink, Daleman happily skated by herself.

Very early on, it was clear that she was a bit of a skating prodigy. She challenged her earliest instructors with, “I’m bored. Can we do something else now?”

The rink was a great place for Daleman. She experienced success and accomplishment — satisfactions that were far harder to come by at school. Daleman has attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and a learning disability. The challenges she faced in the classroom led to teasing and bullying by the other students. As a globe-trotting elite athlete, Gabby started receiving special accommodations from the school.

It wasn’t fun for Daleman and especially heartbreaking for Rhonda.

‘Something’s wrong’

“For those who are born with a propensity towards depression, environmental factors can bring it out. Nature or nurture, it’s hard to tell,” says Dixon, who has a private practice catering to national and international elite figure skaters.

“A perfect storm is created when you have heredity factors and an environment filled with expectations.”

That was the case with Daleman. The crisis came in fall of 2018, when she fell and hit her head during a training session before Salt Lake City’s Figure Skating Classic. Not wanting to cause a fuss and believing that no real injury had been caused, Daleman kept the slip to herself.

While in Salt Lake City, and after a subpar performance, Rhonda sensed that something was wrong.

Left to right: Father Michael, Gabrielle, brother Zack and Rhonda are a close-knit unit. (Submitted by Daleman family)

“I honestly handled it badly. I got upset. I didn’t understand why her excellent training didn’t translate in performance. Gabby’s dad Michael told me to go cool off, which I did, but Gabby saw all that,” said Rhonda.

“I kept saying ‘something’s wrong.’ My intuition was right but not about the right thing at the time.”

Daleman was starting to crash. Training in Toronto resumed. One day, she broke down on the ice, sobbing and exhausted. She called her sports psychologist who told her to see her family doctor immediately; the doctor said she needed to see a psychiatrist.

“What happened next was the anxiety and depression were in crisis mode, and shortly thereafter, Gabby became physically ill with pneumonia and strep throat.” Rhonda says. “After her course of antibiotics, Gabby wanted to skate. Once on the ice, she tells coach Lee Barkell that she can’t see. Her vision is completely blurred, and Lee says ‘get off the ice.'”

Rhonda says Gabby complained of a severe headache and not being able to see. Rhonda knew this was not just pneumonia.

At home in the kitchen that day, Daleman collapsed and lost consciousness for a few seconds. Her terrified parents took her to the emergency room. The attending physician, after lots of questions, concluded that the fall at home was the result of an earlier concussion, likely the fall pre-Salt Lake City. But there were still additional issues of depression and anxiety for Daleman.

“We came to find out that many of Gabby’s symptoms, including the depression, anxiety, visual disturbances and fatigue are common in patients facing post-concussion syndrome,” said Rhonda.

Wellness over winning

As a parent, you know when your child is struggling. Once upon a time, you might have worried that your child might not make it back to their former competitive glory.

Not this time.

“I realized that it didn’t matter how great an athlete she was, she needed to regain her health,” Rhonda said. “She has two national titles, three if you count her junior title, one world medal and an Olympic medal; what else can you hope for as a parent with an elite athlete child?  The reality was that if she couldn’t, she couldn’t. It doesn’t matter. My child’s health is paramount.”

Rhonda took five weeks off work to help care for her daughter until she was well enough to slowly start to come back to skating.

Daleman competing around age six. (Submitted by Daleman family)

Theirs was a multi-pronged approach to Daleman’s care. A strict diet to address stomach issues, a medication regimen, and appointments with psychologist, psychiatrist, sports psychologist, family doctor and ongoing support from coaches, friends and family.

The medication adds an extra layer of bureaucracy, requiring paperwork from the prescribing doctor and Skate Canada to apply for exemption status from World Anti-Doping Agency guidelines.

Daleman’s progress has been encouraging, and she is returning to this week’s Canadian figure skating championships in Saint John, N.B., to try for a third national title. Regardless of result, everyone concerned agrees it’s wonderful to have Daleman back on the ice.

“This journey is so much harder than you think it’s going to be,” Rhonda said. “If you suspect or you feel that there is something out of the ordinary with your child, try and figure out what that might be. Never hesitate to get another opinion whether it is medical or from a friend, and then pay attention to what the professionals say and have patience with the process.”

A profound question still hangs in the air: is figure skating part of the problem, or part of the solution to Daleman’s battles with mental health?

“Both,” says Rhonda  “The problem stems from the athlete’s need for perfection and the pressure they feel to be perfect. The solution comes from the feeling that you skate because you love it. You can be a great skater, but it doesn’t always have to be perfect for you to be successful.”


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Health Ranger posts new microscopy photos of covid swabs, covid masks and mysterious red and blue fibers





(Natural News) What follows is a series of microscopy photos of covid swabs (a synthetic swab, then a cotton swab), a covid mask and some zoomed-in photos of mysterious red and blue fibers found in the masks.

The magnification range for these photos is 50X to 200X. Most were taken with white light, but several (as indicated) were taken with UV light.

The images shown here are 600 pixels wide. We have higher resolution images available to researchers and indy media journalists; contact us for those hi-res images.

More microscopy investigations are under way, and new images will be posted as they are finalized.

First, this series shows the carbon fiber layer of a covid mask, illuminated with UV light:

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5,800 test positive, 74 die of coronavirus at least 14 days after getting fully vaccinated





(Natural News) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday, April 15, confirmed some 5,800 breakthrough coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in the U.S.

A breakthrough COVID-19 case is defined as someone who has detectable levels of SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19 – at least 14 days after getting fully vaccinated against the disease.

Nearly 400 breakthrough cases required treatment at hospitals and 74 died. A little over 40 percent of the infections were in people 60 years and above and 65 percent were female. About 29 percent of the vaccine breakthrough infections were reportedly asymptomatic. The figures were for cases through April 13.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky told a congressional hearing on Thursday that the causes of the breakthrough cases are being probed. “Some of these breakthroughs are, of course, failure of an immune response in the host. And then some of them we worry might be related to a variant that is circulating. So we’re looking at both,” she said.

The CDC is monitoring reported cases “for clustering by patient demographics, geographic location, time since vaccination, vaccine type or lot number, and SARS-CoV-2 lineage.” It has created a national COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough database, where state health departments can enter, store and manage data for cases in their region.

Where available, respiratory specimens that tested positive for COVID-19 will be collected for genomic sequencing “to identify the virus lineage that caused the infection.”

Positive test less than two weeks after getting fully vaccinated is not a breakthrough case

The number of cases the CDC has identified does not include people who contracted COVID-19 less than two weeks after their final dose. The two-week marker is important, said infectious disease expert Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

A human body should have enough time to develop antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 after that timeframe. Before then, a person won’t necessarily have the built-up immunity needed to fight off an infection. According to Dr. Adalja, cases that occur before the two-week mark are not considered breakthrough cases.

Dr. Adalja also noted that more research is needed to determine if highly infectious variants of the virus are behind the breakthrough cases. “It is crucial to study breakthrough cases to understand their severity, their contagiousness and what role variants may be playing,” Dr. Adalja said.

More than 78 million people have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in the U.S. as of April 15.

“To date, no unexpected patterns have been identified in case demographics or vaccine characteristics,” the CDC said in a statement. “COVID-19 vaccines are effective and are a critical tool to bring the pandemic under control.”

But the CDC conceded that “thousands of vaccine breakthrough cases will occur even though the vaccine is working as expected.”

Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist and professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, agreed with the CDC. “These vaccines that we’re using are fabulous but they’re not perfect,” he said. “At best, they’re 95 percent effective in preventing serious illness, but minor illnesses can occur.”

According to U.S. drug regulators, Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine is 95 percent effective in preventing infection. Moderna’s was shown in a clinical trial to be 94.1 percent effective while Johnson & Johnson’s was 66.9 percent effective. Only Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which received its emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Feb. 27, was tested when variants were circulating.

The percentages are based on results from vaccine recipients two weeks after the final vaccination.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, stated in a briefing last week that the breakthrough cases are not a cause for concern.

“I think the important thing is to look at what the denominator of vaccinated people is. Because it is very likely that the number of breakthrough cases is not at all incompatible with the 90-plus percent vaccine efficacy,” he said. “So I don’t think that there needs to be concern about any shift or change in the efficacy of the vaccine.”

More info needed before drawing conclusions from breakthrough cases

The percentage of vaccine breakthroughs in a population depends on multiple factors, including vaccine efficacy, the amount of virus circulating and the length of time since vaccination, according to Natalie Dean, an assistant professor of biostatistics at the University of Florida.

“I love to see small numbers as much as anyone, but know that numbers like this cannot be directly interpreted as a measure of vaccine efficacy (although I have a feeling they will be). We can only interpret them against a background rate in unvaccinated people,” Dean wrote on Twitter.

“Similarly, ‘most breakthroughs have been in elderly adults’ should not be read as the vaccine is less effective in elderly adults. The majority of vaccinations (and the longest amount of follow-up time) have been in elderly adults. Again, we need more info to interpret.”

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More people died from fentanyl overdose than coronavirus in San Francisco last year





(Natural News) More people died from fentanyl overdose than coronavirus (COVID-19) in San Francisco last year, a microcosm of a larger nationwide problem coinciding with the pandemic.

Data from San Francisco’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner shows that 708 people were killed by fentanyl in 2020, an astonishing 118 times more since the introduction of the drug in the city just five years earlier.

That figure nearly tripled the 254 COVID-19 deaths recorded in the city for the whole of last year. More than 8 in 10 deaths were male, and just under half were white. People aged 55 to 64 made up nearly a quarter of the fatalities. Nearly 40 percent of the deaths occurred in open-air drug markets such as the Tenderloin and South of Market.

The number of overdose deaths in the city could have been far worse as more than 3,000 addicts suffering from an overdose were administered with naloxone, the lifesaving medication that reverses overdoses.

San Francisco’s death rate from fentanyl overdose continues to rise this year as 135 died by overdose in January and February, putting the city on pace for more than 800 deaths by the end of the year.

The city has become a significant part of a larger trend. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data on Wednesday, April 14, showing that more than 87,000 Americans died from drug overdose over the 12-month period that ended in September last year – the highest since the opioid epidemic began in the 1990s.

Lockdowns lead to more cases of drug overdose

The surge represents an increasingly urgent public health crisis that may be correlated to the government’s monotonous battle plan against the COVID-19 pandemic.

On March 19 last year, California became the first state in the U.S. to implement a stay-at-home order. It subsequently endured the longest lockdown of any state in the country.

The pandemic and accompanying lockdowns are believed to be partly responsible for the soaring number of drug deaths for obvious reasons. Lockdowns have badly disrupted the social services in the city, including drug addiction treatment. Drug experts say the isolation of the past 12 months is causing vulnerable residents to turn to opioids.

“We see the death and devastation getting worse right in front of us,” said Matt Haney, San Francisco Board of Supervisors member. “It’s an unprecedented spiraling, directly connected to the introduction of fentanyl in our city.”

Fentanyl first appeared on the streets of San Francisco in 2015. There were just six deaths from the synthetic opioid that year, 12 deaths in 2016 and 37 deaths in 2017. The figure skyrocketed when the drugs became widely available in the city in 2018.

Kristen Marshall, manager of the national drug harm reduction DOPE Project, noted the grim irony that while social isolation could save lives from COVID-19, it had undoubtedly contributed to the number of overdose deaths.

“Isolation is also the thing that puts people at the absolute highest risk of overdose death,” she said.

Pandemic exacerbates rise in deaths from drug overdose

The number of deaths from drug overdose started rising in the months leading up to the coronavirus pandemic, making it hard to gauge how closely the two phenomena are linked. But the pandemic unquestionably exacerbated the trend. The biggest jump in overdose deaths took place in April and May when fear and stress were rampant, job losses were multiplying and the strictest lockdown measures were in effect.

Many treatment programs closed during that time while drop-in centers, which provide support, clean syringes and naloxone, cut back services.

The data released by the CDC shows a 29 percent rise in overdose deaths from October 2019 through September 2020 compared with the previous 12-month period. Illicitly manufactured fentanyl and other synthetic opioids were the primary drivers, although many fatal overdoses have also involved stimulant drugs like methamphetamine.

Unlike in the early years of the opioid epidemic, when deaths were largely among white Americans in rural and suburban areas, the current crisis is affecting Black Americans disproportionately.

“The highest increase in mortality from opioids, predominantly driven by fentanyl, is now among Black Americans,” Dr. Nora Volkow, the director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, said at a national addiction conference last week.

“And when you look at mortality from methamphetamine, it’s chilling to realize that the risk of dying from methamphetamine overdose is 12-fold higher among American Indians and Alaskan Natives than other groups.”

Dr. Volkow added that more deaths than ever involved drug combinations, typically of fentanyl or heroin with stimulants.

“Dealers are lacing these non-opioid drugs with cheaper, yet potent, opioids to make a larger profit,” she said. “Someone who’s addicted to a stimulant drug like cocaine or methamphetamine is not tolerant to opioids, which means they are going to be at high risk of overdose if they get a stimulant drug that’s laced with an opioid like fentanyl.”

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) supported Dr. Volkow’s claim, saying that transnational criminal organizations cause a spike in overdoses by mixing fentanyl into illicit narcotics.

According to the DEA, Mexican cartels often purchase the drug components in China and use human mules to smuggle the narcotics to lucrative drug markets north of the border.

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