Misogyny!

The Supreme Court verdict has called out a discriminatory practice based on a sexual taboo — an unspoken endorsement of untouchability — and simultaneously challenged male primacy in the matter of worship.

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Misogyny

 

Misogyny is the hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against women or girls. Misogyny is manifest in numerous ways, including social exclusion, sex discrimination, hostility, androcentrism, patriarchy, male privilege, belittling of women, violence against women, and sexual objectification. Misogyny can be found within sacred texts of religions, mythologies. Why this thought process exists is very simple to judge. Nature has created humans as males and females; females have been given a very important job of giving birth to children. The science of childbearing and giving birth has made the male and female bodies differently, with women’s bodies between certain age are made ready to conceive. In the initial phase of history, the marriages took place even before the girl’s body was ready to conceive and both husband wife hardly knew anything about the birds and the bees.

Over a period, the so-called legal age for marriage went on increasing and now it is theoretically minimum 18 years for girls. The monthly cycles of women, created different thought process in the initial phase of history, but it seems not much has changed even today. The women are supposed to be impure in that phase of their monthly cycle. Many women have difficulty handling menstruation both physically and mentally. Handling this aspect on a practical basis was also very difficult, even 70 years back,  due to lack of knowledge and lack of proven clean methods to handle periods. This led to calling women impure, weak and what have you! Also, during pregnancy and childbirth, women needed to take it easy or sometimes rest, completely! This led to calling and looking at women as weak and inferior individuals. Probably if a male is made to give birth to a child, then he would know who is weak!

I read a news item in today’s Pune newspaper that in a crowded public place, a guy tried to misbehave with a woman. When he was caught and taken to the police station, he said, “Oh, I thought she was a whore!” This is purely a misogynist statement. This is our society’s behaviour with women! Reading the M J Akbar and Sabarimala stories, this is the type of reaction we are getting from men and some women too! These are so-called strong women who think women should have retaliated there and then instead of being crybabies and complaining years after the MeToo event took place.

Many are surprised with the way people from the advanced, highly educated  Kerala are behaving against the Supreme Court Verdict on Sabarimala, not allowing all ladies (including those of menstruating age between 10&50) to visit Ayyappa Mandir. Kerala is the most literate state in India with the literacy rate of 110% (it is jokingly said that 10% are monkeys from Kerala which are also literate!). Many including women have stopped the ladies from entering the Mandir. I am sure most of you are not aware of Kerala’s poor history in sticking to so-called traditions.

The Channar Lahala or Channar revolt, also called Maru Marakkal Samaram, refers to the fight from 1813 to 1859 of Nadar climber women in Travancore kingdom for the right to wear upper-body clothes to cover their breasts. I will not go into too many details but it was a tradition in those days of baring of the chest and shoulders in front of people of higher status and was considered a sign of respect, by both males and females. Only Nair community ladies were allowed to wear blouses but Nadar community, from so-called lower caste, were not allowed to wear them. Uneasy with social status, many Nadars embraced Christianity and started wearing long clothes. Nadar women later started wearing blouses, similar to Nair community. This led to Channar revolt which went on for 40 plus years though British rulers and Royalty from Travancore tried to force this issue.

We are all aware that the humans started with wearing loin cloth made from tree leaves. But the concepts of civil behaviour started evolving too. Wearing clothes was part of this evolution. The Kerala region has been way ahead of other parts of India in literacy and education, from the beginning. But religion and castes superseded the normal thought process in the brain of Keralites too, and the result was Channar Revolt! It was logical that Nadar women should have been allowed to wear blouses.

With this type of thought process, it is not surprising that in the whole of India Misogyny has been the common trait. The basic difference in Me Too and Sabarimala is that at the heart of the matter, is the question of the body. In Sabarimala Case, the celibate body of the lord counterpointed against the “impure” body of the menstruating woman. In Me Too, the sexually entitled body of the male (any male) over the sexually vulnerable and dis-empowered body of the female (any female).

Underlying both conditions is a deep-rooted misogyny, casual in Me Too and customary on the part of Sabarimala. Yet both are two sides of the same patriarchal coin, and both betray such a profound contempt for — or fear of — the female body that they have to either punish it by casting it out or control it by subjugating it.

What these two phenomena have done? Sabarimala has openly said, let us continue with a different kind of untouchability, to hell with the constitution. What MeToo has done is that it has brought out in open, what has been happening for a very long time and one of the dirtiest open secret; some people are already saying that it is an elitist movement but in India the elite and the maid servants are so close on a day to day basis, that this movement will also spread in non-elite strata, thanks to the elite ladies who are leading this revolution.

What MeToo in M J Akbar and other’s case, and the Supreme Court verdict on Sabarimala have done is to unshackle the troublesome business of female sexuality from patriarchal control. MeToo has called male sexual predators to account not simply by naming and shaming, but by refusing to succumb. By not ceding control over their bodies. By rejecting them and registering their revulsion. The Supreme Court verdict, similarly, has called out a discriminatory practice based on a sexual taboo — an unspoken endorsement of different untouchability — and simultaneously challenged male primacy in the matter of worship.

Friends, this sudden loss of power at the hands of women in one instance, and via a judgment on the other, has hit patriarchal privilege bandwagon in an unexpected — and unwelcome — ways. What causes resentment is that it is female sexuality, under patriarchal control all these years, that has upset the apple-cart. The fact that it cannot be used to justify discrimination/untouchability under a different garb, even in a place of worship. In future, it cannot be abused at will and with impunity. The fact that women will no longer fall in line, and or remain silent.

Misogynists of the world, be careful and warned in the future! The ladies brigade and the Indian constitution are now slowly waking up! As far as Kerala is concerned, Sabarimala is only one month and it is early days, compared 40 year plus war of Channar Lahala!

Don’t be anxious about anxiety!

Anxieties will be there, it is how we handle them is going to be the key!

Anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress. It’s a feeling of fear or apprehension about what’s to come. The first day of school, going to a job interview, or giving a speech may cause most people to feel fearful and nervous. There is a difference between anxiety and anxiety disorder. Getting anxious is natural in humans and getting anxiety disorder is also not uncommon. But mind you, the disorder is a disease whereas anxiety is a natural thing. Anxiety is a natural response of our mind to the situations we are in! In life, we do not have much control over a lot of things that are happening around you. In such conditions, we have apprehensions which get converted into anxiety. The chart below shows the difference between anxiety and anxiety disorder.

Anxiety-vs-Anxiety-Disorders-Infographic

What are the causes of anxiety disorder? Most of us can handle day to day anxieties regularly. In fact, some of us excel when under stress. Stress and anxiety have a correlation with each other. From sports field typical example is of Virat Kohli. His game blossoms when there is stress, like chasing a large score in a one-day match. He is one of those rare sportsmen who takes anxiety or stress in stride and in fact does better under such conditions. Let us not forget that all of us can do this but we need to train ourselves mentally and should be willing to take challenges!

In primitive ages, human life was always full of anxiety. Gathering food every day, looking for water every day (due to lack of big storage systems), gathering twigs for fire, saving oneself from natures vagaries. On top of that saving yourself from wild beasts, and the worst enemy was sickness or injury. Medical science was so primitive in those days, that getting well from sickness and injuries was a big anxiety! In today’s life, these basic things don’t cause anxiety but probably each era has its own anxieties. Now we can still have anxiety about health because some of us may not have money for treatment. Latest no. 1 anxiety point today is the temporary non-availability of internet connection or not having your cell phone near you! Anxieties will be there, it is how we handle them is going to be the key!

Our main endeavour should be to handle day to day anxiety and to know when we have an anxiety disorder and how to handle it.

In the case of an anxiety disorder, the feeling of fear may be with you all the time. It is intense and sometimes debilitating. This type of anxiety may cause you to stop doing things you enjoy. In extreme cases, it may prevent you from entering an elevator, crossing the street, or even leaving your home. If left untreated, the anxiety will keep getting worse. Anxiety disorders are the most common form of emotional disorder and can affect anyone at any age. According to the American Psychiatric Association, women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.

What are the causes of anxiety disorder?

As with many mental health conditions, the cause of generalized anxiety disorder similarly arises from a complex interaction of biological and environmental factors, which may include:

  • Differences in brain chemistry and function
  • Genetics
  • Differences in the way threats are perceived
  • Development and personality

The treatment on anxiety disorder is  too vast a subject to be discussed here. So in brief anxiety disorders can be treated with medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two. Some people who have a mild anxiety disorder, or a fear of something they can easily avoid, decide to live with the condition and do not seek treatment.

It’s important to understand that anxiety disorders can be treated, even in severe cases. Although anxiety usually doesn’t go away, you can learn to manage it and live a happy, healthy life.

Day to day anxiety

This is already explained above, humans can find their own way of overcoming it and in fact, there are ways to handle this to our advantage. We need to understand what anxiety is.

Anxiety is a Body Signal

Anxiety is a signal sent by our body to our mind and brain. We need not like the experience of anxiety. In fact, our body generates this signal so that we will pay attention to the issue in hand so that we can stop that issue from getting out of hand. It is like a baby crying when the baby needs milk or needs a change of diaper. It is like a patient in the hospital ringing the bell for the nurse. Once we start looking for a solution and start working on it, the anxiety level starts reducing simultaneously.

Never let anxieties accumulate

Treat anxiety like a water storage and its management. Rainfall brings the water to the rivers and we build dams to store water which is later used after the rains stop. At the same time, we can use the stored water and send it to areas which don’t have sufficient rainfall, using canals. If the stored water in dams is not released on time, then the pressure will build up due to excess water, the dam can break. Stored up anxieties do exactly the same thing. We can collapse if our anxiety level crosses a limit, which again depends on the individual!

Put anxiety to good use

In cricket parlance, if a batsman is good then he can utilize the fast bowler’s speed to good use. If he connects the ball well in the right direction, the fielder will have no chance of stopping the hit, because the batsman has taken the advantage of bowler’s speed. Another thing anxiety does, is to release adrenaline in our body. When used well, adrenaline can help us to perform the same job even better and more efficiently.

Treat anxiety as your friend

If you treat anxiety as a friend, you will be able to focus better and will have more energy, even if you are tired. Anxiety keeps us on our toes and makes us a pay attention to issues on hand.

What are natural remedies for anxiety?

Lifestyle changes can be an effective way to relieve some of the stress and anxiety you may cope with every day. Most of the natural “remedies” consist of caring for your body, participating in healthy activities, and eliminating unhealthy ones.

These include:

  • getting enough sleep
  • meditating
  • staying active and exercising
  • eating a healthy diet
  • staying active and working out
  • avoiding alcohol
  • avoiding caffeine
  • quitting smoking cigarettes

I will share with you an anxiety story. My colleague, Deepti who was handling all technical aspects in my software business, has now been handling the India operations of a US based company since last 4 months. This was a major change in her life, as when we were colleagues the buck stopped with me. Now it stops with her! I am  sure she has gone through a major anxiety spell but I am also sure that she will manage to overcome these anxieties and handle the show confidently in future, once she starts accepting  these anxieties as day to day anxieties, and, this is important, with support from her family and friends! !

Friends, anxiety is a thing with which all of us live! Whether to make anxiety our friend or foe is in our hands! Cheers!

Human nature, a mystery!

Free as the wind
Tall as a tree
Wide as a mind
Deep as a sea

Human nature is a bundle of fundamental characteristics—including ways of thinking, feeling, and acting—which humans have in them, naturally. I have used a few lines from a Michael Jackson song, released in 1983, which appealed to me very much the way the lines tell us about the nature.

The question of whether there are truly fixed characteristics, what these natural characteristics are, and what causes them, are among the oldest and most important questions in philosophy and science. The science that examines human nature is psychology and more recently also neuroscience. These questions have particularly important implications in economics, ethics, politics, and theology. This is partly because human nature can be regarded as both a source of norms of conduct or ways of life, as well as presenting obstacles or constraints on living a good life.

How much do we know each other? It is a million-dollar question and I am not sure if we have an answer to this question. Let me assure you that this is not a rhetorical question. Yesterday, we had chat session, over a cup of coffee, with an old friend of ours. His wife has travelled to the US to help their daughter with the baby. He is from the same engineering college as Jaya and I went. He is a couple of years senior to me and we have done some professional work together.

We met, maybe, once a year or so, for a cup of tea, generally in my office; he would leave his home early to come to my office for updates and tea. We always had terrific interactions both professionally and personally. Jaya also knew him from college days as his sister was a year senior to her in school. Somehow in all these years, we had never met personally. I would always tell Jaya that he is a terrific person, with a lot of clarity on everything, a great sense of humour and the person to have as a friend! Yesterday’s chat reconfirmed all our views about him. We reluctantly ended our session, with a promise to meet regularly and asap!

When can we say that we know someone well? When we have a few meals together, or when we meet someone over a drink, once a while? Or when we meet someone over a cup of tea once in a while? In Hindi, someone may say, पहेचानता हूँ पर जानता नही हूँ ! This means I know of him but I don’t know him! Our friend told us a story. He said that a few years back, he and couple of his friends went for stag holiday out of Pune, for 2/3 days. On the first night, they chatted a lot, had a few drinks, and in general, enjoyed. By the time they felt sleepy, it was well past midnight. One of their friends insisted that the next day they all must go for a walk on the beach, early morning. Except for this person, others felt that they should laze around, instead. This friend was insisting so much that there was a minor disagreement. Ultimately only that person went to the beach. My friend said they all knew each other for 55 years plus, they were aware that this friend had a few strong views but on that day it was almost like “My way or the high way”! My friend said that though we knew each other for so many years, have met reasonably frequently but they came to know about this aspect of his personality only after they stayed together. Does it mean that you know someone only when you live together at least for a small duration?

I am sure one would start knowing someone well during life and death situation like war, or when you live together in hostels or dormitories. This living together for studies, doing small and big things together daily, borrowing small money for tea during month end money shortage, helping each other with studies, playing together and most importantly living together, brings that bond, a closeness which otherwise can never be there.

This brings me to another question. What forms your nature? What forms your persona? Is it in your genes? Is it in your DNA? When we say that something has come from genes or DNA what does it really mean? Children from the business community become business minded because from childhood they listen to various aspects of business being discussed at home. Children from doctor families tend to join medical courses because they always hear medical stories or discussions at home.

Consider this example. Two siblings one a lady and the other a man, not much of age difference. Born and brought up in an orthodox modern family. Their path in life has been, outwardly, exactly the same. High intelligence,high IQ, same education engineering plus post-graduation in management, started as trainees, reached the top of their respective organizations, extensively travelled, with long stays abroad for various professional reasons! The lady is a leader with excellent management skills, equally involved in family life, excellent human relationships! The gentleman obviously a good professional but as human being very difficult to deal with, sometimes too aggressive in personal things too! What has made that change mentioned in the last sentence? Only thing I visualize is the vast difference in EQ or Emotional Quotient! Do you pick up EQ on your way? Similarly you can pick up Empathy on the way! In simple language, the lady has become a cosmopolitan and the man has never reached there, missed his bus! The man missed out on picking up stuff from EQ & Empathy shops!

Considering complexities of human nature, I am just going to comment on a couple of important characteristics of humans as there are are too many to discuss!

What is the difference in introverts and extroverts?

One major difference between the brains of introverts and extroverts is the way they respond to the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is a chemical released in the brain that provides the motivation to seek external rewards like earning money, climbing the social ladder, attracting a mate, or getting selected for a high-profile project at work. When dopamine floods the brain, both introverts and extroverts become more talkative, alert to their surroundings, and motivated to take risks and explore the environment. But this dopamine is higher, in general, in extroverts!

Why people become aggressive?

There are many psychologists who believe that our aggression is mostly due to a biological input such as hormones, genes or our amygdala. Experts feel that our aggression is more nature than nurture, suggests that aggression can be found in the structure of the limbic system of our brain and this is where the amygdala can be found. The Amygdala controls one’s ability to perceive emotions towards others. This idea first started as it is believed the amygdala triggers our aggression. There is the other side of the argument, in which people believe that our aggression is a learned behaviour due to our experiences and the people around us. Jury is still out why we are aggressive?

Friends, the concept of human nature is traditionally contrasted not only with unusual human characteristics, but also with characteristics which are derived from specific cultures, and upbringings. The “nature versus nurture” debate is a discussion about human nature in the natural science that will always go on. The type of human nature I prefer is expressed the lines below, which are also from the same song by Michael Jackson.

And do just what comes natural
The first thing on your mind
Do just what comes natural
I prefer your kind of human nature

Only problem is that the natural in some people is not good enough to make you a good person in the society where we live!

Medical illiteracy!

And don’t avoid or postpone that yearly check-up. Its for us!

Us non-medical people are known for their Medical illiteracy! But my recent experience tells me that people from the medical field are also not far from us, when some event, which does not happen on day to day basis, occurs. At least Jaya and I have a curiosity bug so whenever someone known to us has a health event, which we don’t know much about, we go to Google baba and ask him questions, I think sometimes he gets fed up of our questioning!

Health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions. Health literacy is dependent on individual and  communication skills of lay persons and professionals. 

I was detected with vocal cord carcinoma five years back, I avoid using word cancer, as carcinoma sounds fancier! I was hardly aware of the treatment. The only words I knew were radiations and chemotherapy! Sachin, Priya (She is a doctor)and Jaya took up the googling part and I opted to face radiations! I thought at that time, that one or two radiations are given to attack and hopefully beat the cancer back. Then maybe a few chemo tablets, and I would be done! But that is not how it was done. For my carcinoma, Immunotherapy was a better treatment in place of Chemo. There were 34 radiations! I simply did not know anything about cancer treatment. Ok, I will share with you the knowledge I picked up. 1 or 2 radiations are given as a palliative treatment when the patient is in real pain. But in that case, it is not THE treatment. When the possibility of a patient getting cured is good, 20/30/40 radiations are given depending on factors too complex for me to understand. Various improved therapies are given as newer ones are made available to mankind. Chemo remains cost effective, as it is a well proven old therapy.

Recently, a friend called me to seek an appointment with a neuro physician from my family. His 40-year daughter had difficulty in walking. Our common orthopaedic surgeon friend suggested taking advise of a neuro physician. They took the treatment and the lady is advised a certain injection to be taken, life-long! This lady had finally reached a doctor, five years late. The story does not end here. My friend while talking with the doctor said that he also has diabetes which is well under control. But he also said that he was required to perform dialysis twice a week, most of his teeth are damaged due to diabetes. What is the meaning of controlled diabetes? Do these people give such a low importance to their health? How can they not know about the illness they have after what they go through? Do they not want to accept it? How could my friend say that he has controlled diabetes?

I have chatted with a few friends, who are doctors. The various reasons for the apathy shown have come out. Mainly its human nature to avoid facing facts! If I do my yearly check-up and find that there is an issue, instead, why not delay it by a few months. Some are like butterflies, who go from one doctor to another and keep on going. This they do till they get an advise which is close to their expectation. I know of someone who went to ten different doctors for his cartilage problem. Nine said that surgery is needed, one said let us try medicines and physiotherapy. When asked, he claims that he is doing good, but cannot ride his big bike, his leg pains. Cannot drive a non-automatic car as he is in pain if he is required to operate the clutch pedal.

Then there are some patients, who have monetary difficulties, which is understandable. Some have a marriage in the family so will get themselves operated after the marriage, acceptable. But some will postpone their blood sugar checking, want to do it after they come back from their dream holiday! Reason? If sugar values are bad then they can’t binge on their holidays. A friend is doing Dixit diet, recent “In Thing”, making rounds on WhatsApp! It’s a good program suggested by a medical doctor, with a rider. Take it up under your doctor’s advice. This friend binged on ice creams and sodas and chocolates for a couple of months. On checking, for sugar value found them alarming; in normal course too, he is a dibetic. A month after starting this diet, his sugar values miraculously improved, they still showed that he has diabetes. He is claiming that due to this diet, there was a terrific improvement. The simple fact was that since he binged his values were bad and when he stopped those sweet things his values improved!

Now here is a very interesting story. Here both husband and wife are doctors. The lady is having some symptoms for 15 days. Initially, her husband says, oh you are getting old now. So, to prove him wrong, she would try and show that things are normal. After a few days, her husband says, “See, I was telling you, show positive intent and you will be all right.” She calls Jaya (they are friends) and shares her health issues. Jaya suggested that she should see a specialist. Four more days are wasted in this. Finally, she goes to see the specialist! Both were somehow bent on following their physician’s advice, rather than meeting a specialist. The husband drops her at the clinic and goes for some “important work”; to him she is just making a fuss. The specialist checks her, does some tests. The doctor diagnoses a major health issue and insists that she should immediately get hospitalized. Our friend says, “Is it ok if I get hospitalized later in the evening after my husband comes back?” Specialist insists and gets her hospitalized. She said that 15 days back when the first symptoms were felt, there was a possibility that a major event had started in her body. Fortunately, it has not culminated in a catastrophe. We need to arrest this event as early as possible.

With both being doctors they are expected to have better knowledge. Why they did not want to meet the specialist? In the best case scenario, the result would be a false alarm. But life is never simple. The catastrophe did not happen but her body was hurtling in that direction. How do you analyze this event? What could have led this couple, especially the husband with a casual approach? Even after treatment had started, he did not meet the specialist for two days, to ask details. One day we went to meet her. In the same hospital, we met a common friend, also a doctor! Our friend still does not want to accept the diagnosis, it seems. He told the common friend, “My wife is having suspected xxx!”

Another case was a person who had some uneasiness, he could not use his left hand to get his two-wheeler down from the stand. His left eye looked to be drooping. After a couple of days, he took a decision to see an eye specialist! He explained the details but the doctor felt that eyesight  was ok; the beauty was that the eye doctor also did not realize that something different was happening. To cut the story short he was forced to see the correct specialist. The specialist on checking said that a major event could be happening in his body. He was rushed to the hospital and in a couple of days, he underwent brain surgery; he was fast going towards stroke. In a couple of months more, he needed to undergo triple heart bypass surgery. Ok, I understand that a commoner may not understand that he was going to have brain stroke. But when left eye and left hand were having a problem, he should have gone to a physician at least! Though finally, it was a neuro physician who diagnosed the issue. When the body is near such a catastrophe, I am sure there is a strong signal from the body that something is seriously wrong! But people just seem to miss it!

How to make people aware of such things? How to train them to look for body signals? My worry is if trained doctors can misjudge the situation so badly, non-doctors are obviously going find it difficult. Body or mind has the natural instinct of fight or flight. Why such instincts do not come into act in situations mentioned?

Friends, I strongly urge all of you to be safe rather being sorry! Don’t go by statement that doctors always squeeze you! They only work for money these days. Don’t keep on doctor hopping. Go back to GP concept. Keep on going to the same physician regularly. He or she will always give you the right pointers as they know about your health conditions the best. And don’t avoid or postpone that yearly check-up. Its for us!

Cancer Survivor!

Cancer Survivor? Maybe Cancer Beater?

This is a term used to describe cancer patients who did not die though they had cancer. To me this a very derogatory term. I have undergone cancer treatment 5 years back. I came out the illness successfully. Why call such a person a survivor? The patient has undergone a major treatment, faced it bravely, lived with dignity, how can the patient be called a survivor?

The word “Survivor” has following definitions which I am trying to understand.

These definitions give a different flavour to the experience of going through cancer treatment. About 50 to 70 years back, C-word was a scary word and anyone who had cancer, it was assumed that the result will be death. Hence the term survivor came in use. Due to early detection, improved treatments, family and friends’ support, these days not every body detected with cancer, dies within a short duration. In fact % of people recovering the condition has gone up, drastically. Following points have jointly changed cancer scenario so much that I do not like being called cancer survivor. Why not a heart attack survivor? Why not a stroke survivor? Why not a nephritis survivor?

I will share with you the information that I gathered while I was undergoing the treatment.

In recent times there have been major changes in cancer management due to

1. Early detection

With awareness, with improved diagnostic tools people do go to their doctors early. It is definitely proven that early detection definitely improves the chances of getting cured like any other disease.

2. Advanced imaging technologies have created sophisticated diagnostics.

In olden days the only way to look inside the body was an x-ray or by surgery. With CAT scans, MRI’s doctors can really “see” inside and can even understand the different types, by looking at images.

3. Improvements in chemotherapy and its side effects

You will be surprised to know that in developed country England, first Oncology department was established as late as in 1970. The word chemotherapy brought out pictures of a patient losing hair on the scalp, patients having terrible side effects like diarrhea. But so much progress has taken place in this science that these symptoms are not seen in some patients. Instead of intravenous chemotherapy, now chemo tablets are available. The cost of the treatment has also gone down substantially.

4. The advent of treatments like Immuno therapy which has a couple types

  • Stimulating your own immune system to work harder or smarter to attack cancer cells
  • Giving you immune system components, such as man-made immune system proteins
  • This treatment is still costly but very effective in the certain type of cancers.
  • Sometimes this is given in place of chemotherapy
  • I was treated with Immuno therapy instead of Chemotherapy and had reasonably less side effect with no hair loss at all and minor weight loss.

5. Progress in surgical techniques which allows lesser and lesser removal of tissues.

In olden days, surgeries used to be drastic and a lot of body tissues were cut away. When I was in school, one of my father’s friend had cancer in the facial area. His left side including the left nostril, was simply removed! In my case, luckily, the only surgery that was needed, was for biopsy purpose!

Now with improving surgical techniques where surgeons use probes, many times surgery is not drastic.

6. Radiation treatment

  • There have been tremendous changes in radiation therapy. It appears that Radiation therapy will be the cancer treatment of the 21st century. There two major new methods have been proven and are used extensively
  • Image-guided radiation therapy (IGRT) is the use of imaging during radiation therapy to improve the precision and accuracy of treatment delivery. IGRT is used to treat tumours in areas of the body that move, such as the lungs.
  • Intensity-modulated radiotherapy (IMRT) uses linear accelerators to safely and painlessly deliver precise radiation doses to a tumour while minimizing the dose to surrounding normal tissue.
  • The radiation oncologist will speak with you to determine whether IMRT is the most appropriate treatment for you. If so, your doctor will perform a physical exam and use CT scanning to conduct a treatment simulation session. Other imaging procedures may be used to help determine the exact shape and location of your tumour, and a special device may be created to help you maintain the same exact position during each treatment. Your doctor will give you specific instructions based on the type of exam being performed. I was treated with IGRT.

7. Progress in awareness

  • Perhaps the biggest change of the past 60 years has been in our attitudes. It’s no longer a disease to be mentioned in hushed tones, and increasing survival rates mean that more and more people are alive to share their story of beating cancer.
  • People no longer have to hide a diagnosis of cancer for fear of what others might think, and numerous celebrities have gone public with their personal stories. Fundraising events for cancer charities are commonplace, generating vital money for research, advocacy and support.
  • But, more importantly, we’ve also seen a big change in public awareness about the things that can cause cancer and the warning signs to look out for. Many organizations are working hard to improve early diagnosis of cancer by raising awareness of symptoms amongst public and health professionals.
  • But sadly, one thing has not changed. Some people still believe in alternate medicines. These treatments rarely cure patients in large numbers. These people finally go for treatments discussed above, but many times its too late!

8. Progress in preventing cancer

The reason why someone gets cancer are many

  • Scientists have slowly understood that it can be caused by some viruses too!
  • Smoking is definitely the number one reason for cancer
  • But some cancers also show hereditary links, out of which obesity is one of the main reasons

Friends, I have tried to explain the progress in the management of cancer. Deaths due to cancer are decreasing year by year but the number of cases is increasing. The reason is our life expectancy has gone up and the possibility of cancer increases with age. Another cause is smoking control; smoking  is controlled world over in public areas. This is another reason for the decrease.

I am sure now you have understood why I am unhappy with the term cancer survivor. Now it is no more a dreaded C word. Any person undergoing a major health issue is nervous, tense and uneasy till the cure is achieved. Some achieve it some don’t! Heart attack deaths are even more in numbers than cancer deaths but people somehow accept heart attack event more easily. One good thing is now people openly talk about cancer! Public figures like Manisha Koirala, Sonali Bendre, Cyclist Armstrong are some names. On personal level, I was moving around for three months with feeding tube inserted in my nose. A friend asked me why I did not  cover my face with a scarf to hide the tube, when I went in public? I asked him, “Why should I do it? I am undergoing a treatment and the tube is my major support device? There is nothing to be ashamed of to hide it!” Help cancer patients to remain more dignified by treating their disease as any other major disease by NOT using word Cancer Survivor!

Mind Over Matter!

The placebo effect is a well-known treatment in the medical field!

Mind over matter means the use of willpower to overcome physical problems. But I am not going strictly by definition.

In my younger days, I used to eat Paan (Betel Leaf) regularly. Many times, it would so happen that I just could not fall asleep after eating betel leaf, maybe some ingredients from Paan would take over my mind. But this happens otherwise also. On some days my mind works in overdrive; every few minutes new thoughts come to my mind. I toss and turn for an hour or an hour and a half. The speed with which my mind works is unbelievable. What is it that makes one’s mind work furiously? What is it that puts mind on idle? But this phenomenon can also be put to good use. As I was musing about this, many examples came to mind. 

Recently my daughter Priya went for a training program to Hyderabad. She was leaving her four-year-old daughter with the family, naturally. This was her first such journey without her daughter. There were more tears in the eyes of the mother than in those of her daughter. Priya had prepared her daughter with the idea that she will travel. So, her daughter’s mind took over the matter and she was ok. After Priya came back, I told her that this was the real-life example of mind over matter. This was a very simple example but we have read of many complex distress situations where mothers have shown extraordinary efforts to help their kids to be saved from dangerous situations, by making physical efforts way beyond normal human strength. A child stuck underneath a car or child precariously stuck on a tree! Researchers have found no explanation besides Mind Over Matter (MOM). 

The placebo effect is a well-known treatment in the medical field. It is a well-proven fact that during treatment of diseases, certain % of patients get well without medication. The doctors offer patients a very simple tablet like calcium tablet or a paracetamol to treat difficult diseases. I know of my colleague for the last 20 years, who gets anxiety and panic attacks, sometimes because of stress in family life and sometimes situations, even he can’t explain. He gets palpitations, increased heart rate, numbness in limbs and so on. I have guided him to the best of physicians and neuro physicians in Pune. They check all sorts of things like ECG and the stuff as a precautionary step. But they always conclude the same, almost zero problems. He is given a placebo and “gets well” in a day or two. That he is a hypochondriac adds to the complexity! But his symptoms are real! The placebo effect is getting proven more strongly day by day. Pharma industry is going through a big churning because simple bland tablets are curing the patients instead of their costly medicines. Just the thought of being treated by a good doctor cures patients.

It seems counterintuitive that increasing numbers of people are claiming to put a greater effort into exercising and eating a nutritious diet, yet there are more obese people in the world than ever before. Some researchers think that positivity is a missing variable in the weight loss equation, and a lack of it is what’s keeping people chubby. An exercise was conducted on a group of hotel maids, all of them were overweight. After discussing with them, researchers found that these maids used to do a lot of physical work every day. But all of them somehow had a perception that they were not doing enough exercise. They were then divided into two groups. One group was told that their daily physical activity was studied and found to be more than recommended by doctors. The other group was not told anything. A month later, the research team returned to the hotel and reevaluated the maids. They found an overall decrease in systolic blood pressure, weight, and waist-to-hip ratio in the informed group. The other group had no significant physical changes. The researchers concluded that the maids had not made any changes in their work pattern but the their “information” somehow created a positivity in their mind and it started working on their bodies.  

There is a classic story of a young athletic woman from Newyork. She used to go jogging every day in the Central Park in Newyork. Some area in the central park can be lonely, sometimes. Worst misfortune hit the lady. She was caught by surprise, attacked and brutally raped. They found her after some time and was rushed to a hospital in the unconscious state. She was in the same state after three days. A doctor was checking her on the fourth day. The lady suddenly sat up for a minute or so. She was disoriented but she asked the doctor, “Where are my jogging shoes?” He was a smart doctor, he realized that there was a strong lady and in spite of the trauma, she was more concerned about her shoes. He told his family to get the shoes to the hospital and kept them in such a way that she would see them every time she opened her eyes. She came of out of unconscious state after a week or so but every time she “woke up” she would ask the same question about shoes. She became normal in two months and started jogging again. The doctor explained to the family that the lady was a fighter and had a very strong mind. So even during the trauma, she was more concerned about her jogging and she could put rape behind!  

In the Indian city of Hyderabad, a family has taken up an activity as social work. They claim that they have knowledge of a medicinal paste which cures Asthma. They give it only during some special auspicious days (according to them). A small issue is that they put it in the body of a small fish. The fish needs to be swallowed. Hundreds of thousands of people, from all over, go there during those days, including many vegetarians. After all, it is supposed to cure the Asthma. The patient needs to look up and fish is shoved down the patient’s throat. I can imagine the thoughts going through a vegetarian patient’s mind. Does it work? Honestly, I do not know. I am not aware of statistics. But I am sure it must be working as the placebo. I checked with a friend of mine who visits Hyderabad for this purpose, regularly. When I asked him, “Does the treatment work? Is it really effective?” He is a pretty normal guy, normally. He said, “Of course, it works”. So, I asked him, “Then why to go every year?” He looked at me, now we are not in touch with each other after my question. Placebo, maybe!    

Mind over Matter (MOM) is a real phenomenon and it makes humans achieve many things which physically may never have been possible, except for MOM! 

Oscar Leonard Carl Pistorius is a South African sprint runner and a convicted murderer. Both of Pistorius’ legs were amputated below the knee when he was 11 months old. He got artificial limbs for him became a Paralympic champion,  At the 2011 World Championships in Athletics, Pistorius became the first amputee to win a non-disabled world track medal. At the 2012 Summer Olympics, Pistorius became the first double-leg amputee to participate in the Olympic Games.  His photo is shown below.

MOM anybody? Yes, it is the real phenomenon and does amazing things for the humans! 

Pistorius

 

 

 

 

 

Gay Abandon!

It is none of anybody’s business what people do inside their bedrooms as long as both parties agree to whatever they do.

Aarticle-377-2

Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code is a section of the Indian Penal Code introduced in 1861 during the British rule of India. Modelled on the Buggery Act of 1533, it criminalizes sexual activities “against the order of nature”. Its application to consensual homosexual sex between adults was found unconstitutional in 2018.  

6th September 2018 was the D day in the lives of gay people in India. If you read the statement above, you will realize that this section of penal code was based on buggery act of 1533 (anal sex)  and introduced in the Indian penal code in 1861! Wow, this is called following the old traditions! Where was the world in 1533, then in 1861! We have been following the very old thought process without changing anything, we have been following it simply because someone said so. How is anyone concerned with private things in the lives of others? How can such a relationship become a criminal act? What is the crime?  

In most species in the world, we have males and females! This is created by nature for a natural process of procreation. I will not talk about other species as their brains are not as developed as human brains. With the improved and knowledgeable brain, the “feelings” started to come into the picture. To procreate, an intimate closeness gets created between the male and female involved due to the sexual act they perform, or at least I presume so! What I have read in old literature and history is that discussions were not as open as the love and closeness discussions, in today’s world.  

Even till the first 50 years of the last century, marriage was an event as routine as any other life process. In those times life expectancy was quite low. At the time of marriage, a male could be easily elder to the female by 8 to 10 years. Average female age at the time of marriage in those times was between 12 to 16 years. My mother was 16 and my friend’s mother was 13 when they were married. Knowledge about the birds and the bees in those days, at that tender age, must have been low.  About the “feelings”, the adage was you get married love will happen; but in most cases, children first happened. How much love was involved later is difficult to judge. With low life expectancy, the husbands simply died by the time women got into the age of feeling love. The birth of children at a young age did not give female enough time to think of love. It probably remained in closets or in mind. 

In olden times it was discussed that love and sex should be between a male and a female. Male/Male and female/female pairing were naturally considered taboo. This relationship was a given religious angle, like everything else in olden days. “God has created Males & Females to create their progeny.” Period! Do we mean to say that these so-called queer relationships never existed before? Remember Shikhandi in Mahabharat? Krishna advised Arjuna to fight Bhishma with the help of Shikhandi’s, as she was born a male and then had a sex change or maybe she was a eunuch. There is an open discussion on this subject in Mahabharata. While this subject of complex sexual identities was discussed openly in Mahabharata, different relationships between Male/Male and female/female were not discussed. Pre-marital sex was discussed differently; Kunti got “boon” from Bhagwan Surya and Karna was born! Oh, come on!

I think, as usual, the priests made this subject taboo to take advantages, to keep control on society. I am sure there must be a hidden ritual somewhere, where priests would “cure” female gay relationship problem my forcing the females to “stay” with them and perform “pooja”, the natural way. 

My thinking on such subjects is quite blunt! How is it the concern of others what a pair does in privacy? It is none of anybody’s business what people do inside their bedrooms as long as both parties agree to whatever they do. It is like eating food or having a drink or smoking cigarettes. Is someone a vegetarian or a nonvegetarian? Is someone a teetotaler or drinks alcohol regularly? It is simply no one else’s business. 

Similarly, two males or two females may like or love each other. They may have sex with each other. This is even today called unnatural sex. What is the definition of natural sex? Is sex natural when it happens between a male and a female? Is there no so-called unnatural sex between a male and a female?  Does it become natural only when sex is performed in a certain way? Sex is an act between a couple of any sex. Because someone in the government had slept over, pun not intended, such acts were called criminal due to an old law. What is criminal about a sexual act between two consenting adults? Many times, such acts are also described as amoral? What is moral? What is right and what is wrong? In sexual behaviour the operative word is adult; even if one of the two is not an adult then the act becomes amoral and I totally agree there. Before becoming adults, humans do not have the capability of deciding things on their own, because of immaturity.  

Somebody made a comment on the Supreme Court ruling that now the gays will openly show their affection in public. I totally disagree. Currently, there are so-called normal couples who show the PDA (Public Display of Affection) but not all do it. The number of couples showing PDA is comparatively quite low. I think the same % will apply to gay couples too! The gay people are also like anybody else. They do their jobs, they have parents, they have relatives. They are like you and me. The only thing different will be that they will not be able to procreate, for obvious reasons! But in the world, around 8 to 10%  of the so-called “normal” couples are also not able to procreate due to various reasons.  

Societies have certain rules and regulations. These keep on changing, sometimes an old thought process comes back to the society. But just because someone has a different sexual inclination, society should not make them criminals. The different sexual inclination is nature’s doing. Some minor tweaking in chromosomes must be happening at the time of birth which changes the behaviour of humans including their sexual behaviour. Such humans cannot be treated as criminals for the way they are naturally born!  

Next law I am told on the hit list of Supreme Court is adultery law! It is about time we repealed the old thought process from the modern society. But this is another subject of discussion.