Apr 09 2010

Coeliac disease and the life-long gluten-free diet

One of the manuals that I’m doing for my Advanced Communicator Bronze Toastmasters International award is on Technical Presentations.

Project 3 requires the speaker to present technical information to a non-technical audience using a PowerPoint Presentation and to accept questions during the presentation.

This seemed a marvellous opportunity to talk about a subject very dear to my heart – Coeliac Disease. When I was diagnosed in 1987, weighing just 47kgs, I was gravely ill. My GP hadn’t recognised what was wrong with me but did get me rushed to hospital when he realised just how anaemic I was. Even after diagnosis, he found it difficult to comprehend that an alimentary disorder could be due to an autoimmune response and not be an allergic reaction.

There’s only one treatment for coeliac disease, a life-long gluten-free diet, which requires considerable self-discipline and understanding of food composition. It hasn’t been so very hard for me, because I was so very ill when diagnosed and I don’t want to go back there again. Other people may feel subliminally ill with the condition and then resent the treatment that is prescribed. Yet others see danger in all foods because they don’t have the necessary understanding of what is, or is not, gluten-free. This isn’t helped by manufacturers changing at intervals the constituents of the food that they process and manufacture. A gluten-free food one year is not necessarily gluten-free the next.

I realised that I had made a big impression with my presentation, so I thought I would try to extend it to a wider audience online. I transferred the file to Slideshare and recorded an accompanying dialogue which I had hoped to attach to the online presentation. It didn’t work, possibly because the sound file was just too large.

Undeterred, I am reproducing both the slideshare presentation and the podcast below. Start the podcast recording which will tell you when to click through the slides. You’re already on slide 1.

The aim is to show why coeliacs must avoid gluten found in wheat, rye and barley and what foods are gluten-free.

Click the arrow on the display below to start the podcast (audio track).

The slideshow below displays Slide 1. Click the arrow to move to Slide 2. The podcast will tell you when to move on to the next slide.
Apr 09 2010

Panto time at Toastmasters

Toastmasters has been keeping me busy. I am now Vice-President of Public Relations for East Midlands Speakers Club as well as putting in the last effort to complete my Advanced Communicators Bronze award by the end of June.

East Midlands Speakers met Spa Speakers in Wellesbourne, Warwickshire, on 23rd January, yes, that long ago, for our second panto party.

Freed from the restraints of imposing a Toastmasters’ moral on the story, I let my imagination rove from the idea I had had back in 2008 after Ollie performed the stooge in his wet suit. I was struck by the image of Ursula Andress emerging from the tropical waters of the Caribbean. Thus Ollie became a focal point in my script as James Bond, though this time wearing his dinner suit.

I spent several evenings watching early James Bond films plus the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy for further inspiration. I mean, most everybody likes to dress up as a pirate.

This is how Treasure Island, but not as you know it, came to be written. I had a willing cast of ten, but not so willing that they were prepared to learn all their lines in time for performance. The Dame (John) wore an outrageous costume, and Pussy Galore (Roma) appeared with legs.

We even opened with a dance to Thriller, thanks to choreography from Jeannette and Judy.

Rather than my attempting to describe any more, watch the videos. The performance is in two parts to comply with YouTube’s limit of 10 minutes per video. Watch for Yvonne’s cameo performance as Calypso and the group song at the end.

Enjoy! We laughed our socks off.

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