Mind Over Matter!

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

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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.

Dr. No…! Or Dr. Knows!

Doctors are Professionals like everyone else; they are experts but make same errors like everyone else!

Whenever there is a discussion taking place about medical field, most of the reactions are, “These guys always cheat!” It is like a popular phrase in not so rich a country like India, “All business people are profit mongering thieves!” This sentence is contradictory. Business is an activity of making one’s living or making money by producing or buying and selling products (goods and services). The definition clearly states that it is an activity for making money. It is also said that doing a job is noble thing to do but we forget that when we do a job, we do it for someone who is doing business!

This discussion came about during a chitchat at home where five of the family members were doctors. Subject for discussion was basically how much is the right fee for medical advice, surgery, tests etc. Tests performed are standard procedures where almost identical methods are used for evaluation. The only difference could be a little more automation and sophistication of equipment. So, fees here should be uniform. But ultimately charges are market driven. Consultation and surgery fees will differ as these are dependent on individual skills and expertise.

A doctor friend of mine bought a modern computerized x ray machine. I asked him why did he buy this expensive machine. His reply was very different and interesting. He is my age. He said, “Pramod what is your opinion about my buying this machine.” I said, “Fantastic! Now you will be able to judge patient’s problems better!” His establishment is in the older part of our city where rates for services are generally inexpensive. He told me, “You are one of the very few who has appreciated my going with latest technology, most said what is use if you are not going charge fancy rates.” His further comment was most interesting. He said, “Pramod, consider this as my Mercedes! I would rather move around in a Wagon R as roads in this area are small and congested. I enjoy using this modern equipment, as it helps me improve my diagnosis.”

Among all the pathy’s, we have to accept a fact that only in Allopathy, a lot of research is taking place. All this research is sponsored by pharma companies, who else will do it? It is the business of pharma companies to find new drugs which help improve treatment and rate of cure. Fifty years back, when cancer was detected, death was imminent. There was no chance of cure. This was happening because the equipment of those days, knowledge of doctors, quality of drugs created a situation where it was always too late! But now all these things have improved so much that detection is early, equipment and drugs are better and so is knowledge of doctors. This has resulted in improving cure rate tremendously. When research is done a lot of money is invested. The companies try to get ROI as early as possible (it makes business sense) but when they get competition the prices of new drugs or equipment start tapering off fast. The pharma companies are not thieves; they are investing a lot of money for betterment of themselves and also of the mankind. It is duty of pharma companies to be profitable on behalf of the share holders as they are not a charity organization.

I am not saying that all the pharma companies are saints and there are bound to be black sheep. But this is true in all fields and in all pathy’s. It’s human nature to cheat but this % is generally similar everywhere. Also, like in every field there are checks and balances. There are organizations and associations which track malpractice. I will give you an example. Years back one of the giant pharma company’s sales guy met a doctor in Harvard Medical School. He suggested to the doctor, that if the doctor prescribed certain drugs to patients, they would pay US $ 5000/ month. The doctor promptly reported this offer to his management. There was a court case and the pharma company was fined US $ 940/ million! This still does not mean that such things are not happening but these are not as rampant as they are said to happen.

There is another theory. The threshold values of BP, Diabetes, Cholesterol are changed frequently to suit the pharma companies. This is done with the help of famous doctors. During last fifty years computerization has helped medical field as it has helped all other fields too! These threshold values are not absolute values. Medical fraternity decides this based on the study of large number of patients over a large period of time. Finally, they average it out. What computerization has done is that collecting data and processing it has become extremely accurate and fast. Previously it was taking maybe 30 to 40 years to analyze changes due to manual methods, now this is done every 10 to 15 years! Hence, we notice these changes introduced, as the changes are more frequent! Another reason for this is that in the modern world of internet, news and information spreads really fast!

The fees charged by doctors, medicines prescribed by them, methods followed by them are based on their knowledge and experience; obviously the fees are market driven too! We hear the stories about doctor A squeezes the patients but doctor B does not. The fees charged by these professionals are absolutely market driven. Do you know what fees are charged by Supreme court lawyers? Sometimes these are in lacs per day. I know of one patent attorney who charges about 20 k per hour! Heart Surgeons charge in lacs for bypass surgeries.

Now a new trend has started in medical field about which we all need to be careful. Dental technicians now start their own clinics and charge 1/5 th of the fees charged by the dentists. Many of their patients end up, going to real dentist after wasting money and sometimes with incorrect treatment.  Dieticians suggest diets to people sometimes without knowing medical history of patients. When I said this during a discussion, one of my friends was angry. He said, “Doctors have no clue about diets!” I asked him, “What clue do dieticians have about medical side of the person?” There are certain orthopedic technicians who start their own practice. Physiotherapists have started their own practice. One person has ten bed facility to give traction. I know of someone who has taken 40 plus traction sessions of one hour each, from this person, without medical advice. Traction is suggested by Orthopedic Surgeons based on certain criteria. Many patients take treatment from Physiotherapists without even taking advice from Orthopedic Surgeons. Patients go by treatments suggested by non doctors!

I am not saying that everything is hunky dory in the medical field. Major errors do happen even in case of celebrities. Hema Malini’s mother was operated upon right leg while she had problem on her left leg. That too in a hospital in New York. Mistakes and goof ups are part and parcel of this field. If you want to know first-hand, how things do go wrong, read a book by Dr. Atul Gavande, “Checklist Manifesto”! Atul is well-known Indian born surgeon who lives in America. Dentists have told me patients come to them after being treated by other doctors where they have undergone root canal treatment. On re checking they have found that the cheats had never performed root canal!

I will round up with a very interesting story told to me by my Daughter Dr. Priya. She is a pediatric dentist. An eight-month old baby was brought to her. The parents said that the baby had a gold tooth, yes Gold Tooth! 3 to 4 other dentists had already seen the baby and had declared that this gold tooth must be removed and can be done only under general anesthesia.  Parents naturally did not want treatment under anesthesia. Priya checked the baby and used a small tool to check the “gold tooth”. She just gave a small jerk and out came the gold tooth! Well it was an ear piece which the baby’s mother had lost, stuck in the baby’s mouth. Time taken ten seconds, anesthesia not needed, fees 0.00 rupees!

Friends, select your doctor in such a way that you get a great treatment if needed. And Yes! Don’t be scared, there are goof ups as in any field but % of cheats is also similar to any other field!

Diet! Don’t repair, if it ain’t broken!

Don’t fiddle around with your body if it is not needed!

Don’t repair, if it ain’t broken! This is a statement that needs to be uttered many times in our life! Internet and Google Baba have made it easy for people to understand the stuff and get information about almost anything. This also makes human race suddenly “smart and intelligent”! Selecting people for Nobel prizes is going to be tough in future as there are millions of people who seem be experts on almost all the subjects under the Sun!  

 

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This thought came to my mind as I took part in a discussion on a WhatsApp group. Except me probably most knew a lot more on the subject of dieting! Majority had experience of 2 to 6 months on the subject. They said the diet A is a fantastic diet and works wonders. There were of course some hidden gems who did not take part in the discussion. I am not talking about any specific diet, its pros and cons! Its advantages and disadvantages! But above image which shows typical Maharashtrian square meal, if followed regularly, will ensure that no special dieting is required. We are a group of people around the age of 70. Some of us are thin and few others are plump, but only two are obese; some are fit and others are not so fit! I don’t know the actual figures but my assumption is that at least 50% from our group have some medical issue or the other, or maybe they have a history of some major health problem from the past. My judgment is that 10 to15% are lucky enough to have remained successfully free of major health issues.  

There are health experts or maybe the diet experts. Some are doctors and most are non-doctors. From what I read, majority of these are not from medical background. I had my basic question during the discussion. Who should diet? What is the age at which we should start this new regime? Under whose guidance should we start the diet? Suppose someone has diabetes issue, then should that person follow a diet which says that you must eat every 8 hours and the eating time should be not more than 55 minutes at a time? Suppose one is required to take diabetes medication three to four times a day, then it is an obvious no no! To me a majority from the group will be ineligible. Then why is it that people want to start something new, which can have effect on their health directly? Is it only for weight loss? Or is it for something else too? Is this something about novelty because people have too much time on hand? The people who have started this diet, to my knowledge, did not appear to have any weight issue.  My worry is that at our age, our body looks fit and may have dormant problems, waiting to happen hence we should be careful when start something new, and unproven method. It is claimed that a diet eliminates diabetes tablets. What is the issue if you are required to take a couple of tablets a day? Heavens are not going to fall on you!

As against this some people seriously need to do something about their weight, classic case was that of Anant Ambani. He lost 108 kgs in 18 months by natural process. https://www.indiatimes.com/health/buzz/here-s-the-secret-behind-anant-ambani-s-stunning-weight-loss-253270.html 

Of course, later on a well-known diet expert was declared to be his advisor, which was untrue. I am sure Anant must have followed a very strict regimen under medical guidance. His was a classic case where drastic things were needed under medical guidance.  

We need to understand something. Doctors are also people like you and me; they are also likely to make errors. Dieticians are not our regular doctors; how will they know about individual medical issues and about our body? I will give you an example of how tricky the situation is. I came to know about a person who had a medical issue, called vertigo. He is elder to me by about six years and lives abroad. When the vertigo attack comes, the person feels blank, dizzy, faint and gets vomiting bout for about ½ hour. Tablet prescribed to him can then be taken, once he stabilizes. I asked a question to known doctors in Pune, most said that he should stop driving, a couple of them said, no comments! But the treating doctors have told him to continue driving! (60 miles an hour?) If there is so much difference of opinion among the doctors on a serious health condition, should we start something new, as yet unproven, at the age of 70?  

To my understanding, at the age of around 70 our body has taken a lot of beating; under Indian conditions all this group is “driving on reserve tank”, using two-wheeler terminology. Average life expectancy in India is 65 years! Why not enjoy bonus life unless someone’s idea of enjoying life is going on a diet, as yet unproven! Try not to become a guinea pig, nobody is forcing you. During the discussion on WhatsApp group, a friend Sudhakar said, he feels pangs of hunger in the early morning phase. Then why? Why not enjoy your early morning chai, omelet, or fruit or whatever you eat. I am not aware if he has any specific health issue. I am sure that he is smart enough and won’t start something different if he has some health issues.  

I am aware of another diet being strongly followed in Pune. It is does not talk about timings for eating food, it says eat moderately every 2/3 hours. But the diet suggested by that expert is very much different than what we normally eat and drink! It starts with a smoothie made up of Pudina and different condiments. It suggests Jowar bread instead of Wheat bread and so on! Now at this stage of life, our eating habits are so much entrenched in us, that the followers of this diet, talk only about diet when they meet; they miss their “normal” food so much. Their socialization has come to zero. For eight hour wala diet, the socialization must have been  drastically cut down because if you are invited at different time, than your meal time,  for a drink and/or food, what do you do? Your hosts will not know that you have skipped the meal,  if there is a large crowd present for the party, but if you are invited in a small group/individually or during an office business meeting or during holiday travel how do you handle it!

There are other aspects also. Some of these people, charge you for treatment,  latest famous treatment is based on videos on internet. No consultation fee, no direct interaction with the expert- correct me if I am wrong! Another person, charges Rs.1.5/ lacs for a 5-day session in a Darjeeling resort. About others charge, I do not know. It’s about your need for a treatment, or about how much proven it is. Or maybe the expensive treatments give you bragging rights!

It reminds me of a famous fish treatment in Hyderabad; it is said that it cured asthma. What is done is that a family, who did this social work free, had a recipe for a potion! This potion they would stuff inside some small fish. This fish was supposed to be gulped (more pushed down your throat) and not chewed. I met a friend of mine after quite a few years. I was trying to fix up a time for dinner with him. But he said that he to go to Hyderabad for this treatment. He was quite gung ho and said that it was helping him to cure his asthma. I said, “How do you know it is helping you?” He said, “Oh! I go to Hyderabad every year for the treatment!” Every year? 

Something fishy!

Full Positivity!

Come out of tough situation with full positivity!

Human body and mind are most complex things in this world to understand. In our body the design, the reactions, the capability to absorb physical as well as mental shocks is un believable! We sail through the life following different trajectories as per our destiny. But we do not know where it is going to take us. The destiny may lead us through our life with routine ups and downs but in some cases life can be full of major ups and downs. These ups and downs can be by way of illnesses, accidents, business upheavals. Each person will handle it in a different way.

A friend of mine went through a major upheaval almost 25 years back. His wife had paralysis attack and her activities have been severely restricted since then. He was working full time, his children were young and needed parental support. Luckily, his mother has been staying with them. First few years were tough for the family but they adjusted to the realities of life. It is easy for outsiders to say a few encouraging statements once in a while but it is the family that has to handle the situation. My friend managed everything beautifully. His daughters got married, he has grandchildren but the most fascinating part is the smile on his wife’s face. Whenever we meet, the smile on her face puts one at ease. We know how tough the life has been for her. She and her husband obviously decided to face the problem head on instead of shying away from it. I am sure when they came out of the immediate shock, they must have said, “It is not only the health issue but it is the issue related to the whole life. Unless we try and get the completely derailed life back on track, life is not going to be what it was. I am sure they both have worked very hard for the same. Both their faces are always with a smile. Adding to difficulties, now his mother is around 90 years of age so he needs to support both the lovely ladies, he of course has support staff but I am sure the smiles will be there forever! That is because they tried and successfully found a solution for the whole life! Hats off to the family!

I have another friend who also had a paralysis attack a couple of years back. His one side is paralyzed. Naturally he took some time to come to terms with the condition. Last time we met about six months back, initially he was not really comfortable even meeting us. But we met him again recently. As soon as we entered his house, we could see the change in his demeanor. He was smiling, he looked fresh and he chatted with us with enthusiasm. When I asked him how his new treatment was helping him; he explained that the lady who is giving treatment to him has told him that his whole body is being treated for improvement rather than only the paralyzed area. She has told him that to come out his problems, his whole body needs to synchronize and improve rather than only his damaged areas. After understanding what he said, a thought came to my mind. Will improvement only in body condition, improve his life quality? He should also try to improve his social life to the extent possible. Then I asked him, ” Why don’t you come to my home after a couple of weeks?” Initially both he and his wife were a little hesitant. But then I discussed with them the logistics. We ultimately found a solution. Then I explained to him why I am discussing this. I said, ” The lady has told you that it is not only the damaged parts of your body, but the whole body should synchronize. Taking this logic further some trials in socializing will take your recovery further as a whole. So it is the combination of our body and our mind is what makes the whole life!” He liked my thought and said, ” Pramod , I will definitely come to your house.

I also want to touch upon another important aspect of life in such situations! It is the person who is unwell, who takes the major brunt. But lest we forget, the person supporting the unwell person also shows great character. Handling the unwell human being for months and years is not easy. At the same time, this  person cannot discuss openly his or her feeling. They are not “allowed” fall sick. They have to keep on doing things with ever smiling face. They also show toughness in such situations. They are like infantry in the army taking the full-frontal brunt of the situation, day in and day out! In such situations, the person who is unwell and the person who attending have both to be equally positive, if not more in case of support person. In case of ladies, who tend to share some tears in tough situations, cannot even do that, to look positive!

Friends, I hope none of us have to go through such phases in life. I can say this from personal experience. When I went through cancer treatment in 2013/14, I have seen how Jaya struggled to support me. For one full month, I was required to be fed through rice tube. My first feed would be at 5.30 and my last feet ended at 11.00 pm. The feed was every three hours. I have seen Jaya juggling to handle the situation. At some stage, we took a decision to avoid even receiving phone calls. Though we knew that people were concerned about me, taking phones and responding was a task by itself, adding further to Jaya’s burden! But let me tell that Jaya handled the situation “womanly” yes pun intended; it could not be “manly”, men cannot do this with such an aplomb!

One thing all of us can do is to help others in best possible manner without intruding their private space. But don’t feel shy, do it! There have been others who supported Jaya! In tough situations, as the saying goes, only tough can get going! Rest assured, we have it in us, just do it! Only full blown positivity can encourage you to do it!

 

To do or Not to do!

Be careful while getting some procedures done on your body!

Advent of technology brings many benefits to the human race in curing illnesses, diseases and body conditions. They also help in better and improved diagnosis due to inventions like imaging technology. When modern techniques like Laser are used in surgeries, the benefits are manifold. The Laser technique uses probes to perform surgeries; this avoids the external cuts hence improves the healing process and  speed.  I know of someone, 91 years of age, who underwent a surgery, which without Laser technique may not have been possible.

But again the new techniques and technology  are used  for  certain procedures  which are not  proven or their long term effects are unknown.  There is a  procedure called Lasik. LASIK or Lasik (laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis), commonly referred to as laser eye surgery or laser vision correction, is a type of refractive surgery for the correction of myopia, hyperopia, and astigmatism. The LASIK surgery is performed by an ophthalmologists who use a laser or microkeratome to reshape the eye’s cornea in order to improve visual acuity. For most people, LASIK provides a long-lasting alternative to eyeglasses or contact lenses.

While talking to an eye surgeon, I  asked  him  his  opinion  about  Lasik.  He said that anything that is done to our  body,  against  the  nature,  can  be risky,  dangerous  and  some of the detrimental effects  may be  seen  after  a  long  period has passed.  He felt  that  this  maybe  done  for  a  specific  reason;  for  example, for joining  armed  forces  certain  eyesight  requirements  are  there. This  is  also  done  on  people  who  want  to  be  in  show  biz  like  movies,  TV.  Using eye  glasses is considered taboo for younger aspirants. But he made a valid statement. He said, ” In our city there are 13 eye surgeons who perform this surgery for sometime. Why not a single one of them has undergone Lasik? If they perform this surgery on hundreds of patients, do they not find it safe enough?”  This reminded me when I had visited an electronic item chain store called Radio Shack, in Boston with my son Sachin.  We bought a few items and went for billing. This was many years back. Their system was so slow that I said to my son, jokingly, that these guys seem to have ancient computer systems that have a speed of a bullock cart. I said this in Marathi. The person on the counter was smart enough, he understood what I had said, “Sir, upgrades are for customers, not for us!” Like  many  drugs,  these  new  procedures  will  have  side  effects  but we don’t  stop  using them.  In  fact  judicious  use  of  modern  technology  is  going  to improve  our  life style.  Laser  assisted  cataract  operations  are  the  classic examples  of  such use.

Humans  are  known  to go overboard  sometimes,  and  get  things  done  that  should  not  be  done.  These procedures maybe  essential in show  business (says who?)  but  can  cause  lethal  damage, sometimes.  Michael Jackson  and Sridevi  are  two  names  that  come  to  mind.  They  had  performed  some  procedures  over  a  period  of time  which  made  their  skin  lighter.  Both of them, originally had darker complexion. If we compare their  videos from  early  and  later  days,  you  can  distinctly  notice  the  change  in  colour  of  their  skins. Even a nondoctor like me understands that the skin colour  rarely changes  over  our  life  time. Skin colour is due to Melanin, and it is HIS gift! We cannot do much to change it!  What treatment they took, I am not aware.

But both of them had early deaths which could have been due flogging of their body to improve their skin  colour.  A well-known blogger and writer  Ratna  Rajaiah  had written an interesting blog  about  skin  colour. As we are all aware that the South Indians normally have dark skins. She mentioned that in Southern India, during growing phase of girls, there is an advice given to her to “Talc Yourself”; just finished your bath, talc yourself. Going out, talc yourself, have done nothing for some time, talc yourself. She mentioned that “talc oneself” is an obsession in South Indian ladies. The weather conditions are very humid and add to that the colour of skin, this leads to excessive use of talcum powder. It has been a human thought process since thousands of years, that anybody who is good, is fair skinned and those who are bad have always been dark skinned. This old thinking prevails and people want to be “Gora”, fair skinned.

This obsession has led to people taking treatments for the skin “improvement”. They should have asked their surgeon if anyone from surgeon’s family was given this treatment. Maybe all these doctors were Caucasians! Another thing people want to control is their body shape. It is well proven over thousands of years what is good and what is bad for our body. But still people go out of their way to control weights and in case of women their figure, the so called 36-24-36-hour glass figure. Controlling weight is good but good idea is to eat sensible things and exercise regularly. People don’t do these things and then want to do crash diet, follow severe work out regimens.

Another thing that ladies do, is to control body to “Zero Figure”. Honestly, I do not know the real meaning of this. But the girls who are in modelling and advertising, try to achieve Zero figure. For what? God has made woman’s body keeping in mind child bearing capabilities. Procreation is the most important aspect of human life which keeps continuity. HE has given the right size, shape and contours to take care of child bearing. Ok, you don’t want a child but HE is not going change design only for you. By making such drastic changes in your body, you are inviting trouble. I hear that some these girls have bulimia. Bulimia is an emotional disorder characterized by a distorted body image and an obsessive desire to lose weight, in which bouts of extreme overeating are followed by fasting or self-induced vomiting or purging. Princess Diana had bulimia!

As usual the questions arise why, why and  why?

Friends I shared with you some things  where  doctors  do  some  procedure  on  patients  but  will  never  do  it  on  themselves.  People in show business get somethings done, but these  are  basically  against  nature.  Some people follow regimen which  are  against  HIS design.  So  is  your  career  so  important?  Is looking beautiful so important  even  if  the  risks  are  known?  Is bulimia accepted? Why not try a different profession? There are enough choices in life, choose the right one, choose the path which does not go against the nature. To me at least, health is more important than the so called successful career.

Who is the best doctor for you?

Best doctor is NO doctor!

During a discussion about a surgery of a 91-year-old gentleman, a question was raised, how will his body handle this surgery? His physician was confident and his surgeon, a urinary expert, said he will perform laser surgery. The surgery was performed and a couple of days later the gentleman is recovering well. His surgery team also included an anesthetist. The surgery was nothing complex and for a younger person it would have been a routine surgery. Due to age the situation was a little more complex. But this team apparently was good, confident and more importantly must have handled such complications due to age, before. This last factor is very important.

Our body is a complex organism, on top of that, every individuals body behaves differently, reacts differently. When this surgery was discussed during a conversation with someone else, not from Pune, that person asked a question. Why with similar issues a person from their family was not being operated upon? This is a very valid question, but it also depends on the team of doctors who look after the patient. Such laser surgeries are performed in various cities now. This is not about competence of the team but there is a possibility that this team has never performed such surgeries on old patients. This other person is 80 plus and is suffering from the same issue. The surgeon may be confident, but physician may have different views. But the question is why this option is not even discussed about this patient. Performing or not performing any procedure will depend on different parameters but the most important is specific experience of the team of doctors in that area.

Another person I know about has been having heart issues since last several years. Recently when the person had major health crisis, the person was taken to a large hospital. Looking at the criticality, the experts decided to perform angioplasty as a last resort. This plasty improved the patient’s health many folds. The question arises why this procedure was not done several years back; this problem has been existing for years, but doctors in those times took a decision that angioplasty can not be done. Again, it boils down to the experience of the team to perform such procedures or it is about their opinion and decision not to perform angioplasty in that situation.

A friend of ours has been having health issues, she is same age as me. She was taking treatment from a physician. Once the friend said that she wanted to get herself checked by our physician. Checking was done, all tests were performed. Body parameters from previous tests and current tests were similar. But her previous physician had told her that everything was hunky dory though it was not. The results were so obviously out of range, even a non-medical guy could understand that she needed more control on her parameters. Why did this happen? I am sure that the previous doctor also had his views or may be his treatment is different. So, treatment again depends on the knowledge, experience of the doctors who treat you.

My father died in the year 1980 of a massive heart attack. My nephew Atul, who is a well-known physician in Pune, was a medical student at that time. Sometime recently, we were discussing about my father’s death. Atul said, “Mama, in those times the doctor’s knowledge was limited. Testing methods were also limited. So, the doctors could not judge the seriousness of his problems. I distinctly remember that he had back pain and was quite uneasy for 4/5 days before the attack.” Similar was the case of my father in law. He died a couple of years earlier than my father. He had a heart attack, was hospitalized and came home after 10 days. A few weeks after that, he was told during the follow up visit, that he was now hail and hearty and could now lead normal life. Next day early morning he died of a massive heart attack. Heart attacks are notorious for their behaviour but sometimes it also depends the doctor who is treating, his experience in handling specific cases. Was it a case of wrong judgment by the doctor?

Does it mean that our treatment and our health is based on luck? No definitely not. Doctors have good knowledge. But an individual patient may have some variant of a disease. If the treating doctor has never come across such variants, things can become complex and tricky. Most of the time, we may not take an opportunity for second opinion, even if the disease lingers on. It is sometimes good idea to take second opinion. By doing this we are just dividing the risk.

Honestly speaking, I also do not know how to handle situations discussed. Whenever required go to a good doctor. But one way will be go by the doctor’s reputation.  I know of a friend who decided to go take treatment from a certain doctor because he was near their home. There are far superior doctors available in Pune. Once you find a good doctor who could be a physician, stick to him and go back to the concept of “family doctor”, like we used to have GP’s in olden days. He or she will be your regular doctor, will know about your health in details. Any other health issue from different areas, should be treated through him by different specialists. They will work in tandem and chances of you getting superior treatment improve. Of course, the best doctor is NO doctor! But this can be only in our wish list!