Diabetes or DIETese!

Diet5

This blog is going to be an attempt to make us look at diets in a lighter vein. Take your diet seriously but don’t take your self seriously. I get worried when people my age take diets too seriously! But this applies to all age groups. Please do not take this blog seriously, I want people to enjoy their diet!

I am a normal human being who is handling diabetes for the last seven years. I know what diabetes is but here is my disclaimer. My knowledge about Medicine is zero so what I write is based on the internet and social media (which I take with a pinch oh sorry, a fistful of salt) and interaction with others including medical experts. After this brief background of what I think I know, I am going to write about the confusion that is created in my mind with diverse and conflicting information about diabetes.

Ok, let me clarify that the word DIETese is not a spelling error. I feel that DIET is a “sickness” that has recently cropped up and it is spreading as much as diabetes; hence the word DIETese.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a life-long disease that affects how our body handles glucose, a kind of sugar, in our bodies.

Type 2 diabetes is more prevalent than type 1. Hence I will write about type 2.

The pancreas makes a hormone called insulin. It’s what lets your cells turn glucose from the food you eat, into energy. People with type 2 diabetes produce insulin, but their cells don’t use it as well as they should. Doctors call this insulin resistance.

At first, the pancreas makes more insulin to try to get glucose into the cells. But eventually it can’t keep up, and the sugar builds up in your blood instead.

Some of the reasons for diabetes are

  • Genes
  • Extra Weight
  • Metabolic Syndrome
  • Too much glucose from the liver
  • Bad Communication between cells
  • Broken Beta Cells

Is diabetes reversible?

All the literature available says that diabetes is manageable but not reversible. I know someone who has managed diabetes for more than forty years. Through diet changes, excercise, weight loss and by taking medicines under doctors advise, people are managing diabetes. The drugs that are given are not able to reverse the body condition that causes diabetes. The literature says that very early detection and enough weight reduction can partially repair some of the damaged cells. In that sense, diabetes is partially reversible. But in most cases, since the symptoms are not severe in the initial phase, detection is delayed. Hence chances of cell damage reversal are less.

Following are different methods of controlling diabetes

  • Taking medicine
  • Exercise
  • Diet control and reducing carbohydrates from food
  • Snacking- eating at short intervals of two to four hours
  • Calorie control
  • And many more

I am now going to discuss mainly about diets. I have heard of Tripathi diet, Divekar diet, Bose diet and the latest is Dixit diet. Each one of them has different thinking and ways of managing things. At least I have not heard of Divekar and Bose diets talking about diabetes control; they speak mainly of weight reduction and control. These diets talk about snacking and suggest eating the food that we usually do. Eating more carbs is harmful anyway, both these diets recommend a reduction of carbs from our food. Tripathi diet suggests a diet which is different than what we typically eat. Dixit diet talks of having only two meals a day, but eating regular food.

When I read about these diets, a few questions cropped in my mind. How long should we follow the dieting regime? Should we eat foods during this phase which we usually don’t eat? In Tripathi diet, I understand that eating Jowar, and Bajra Bread (Bhakri) has been suggested. In India, people from different states and areas eat different types of food. In northern India, people eat Wheat and Cornbread. They eat rice only on special occasions. In southern India, people eat foods based on rice. They rarely eat roti or any bread. Jowar and Bajra Bread (Bhakri) is consumed in certain parts of Maharashtra and Gujarat. How can people from North and South adjust to this diet? How long can they eat Bhakri? How long should such diets be continued?

That brings me to the method of testing for diabetes. The first method is fasting sugar and Post Prandial sugar. This combination gives some indication of blood sugar at that particular instant. The second method is HbA1c value; HbA1c refers to glycated haemoglobin (A1c), which identifies average plasma glucose concentration. This value is the average of the previous three months. To a layman like me, the first method is a photograph taken at that instant and the second method is like a video made for the previous three months. To give you an example fasting & pp values were 105/160 on that day but HbA1c value was 7.0! These values don’t confuse me anymore.

I have read Dr Dixit’s speeches where he starts with a comment that his diet is for people with obesity issues. I will share with you his quote from the Times of India. “Giving information about a diet plan that is helpful in an effective weight loss program and prevention of diabetes, Dixit said that his regime is not for the individuals below 18 years of age, and the people who are already suffering from diabetes.”

My confusion starts here. A lot of people who are already diabetic sing paeans of the Dixit diet whereas Dr Dixit is saying that it is not meant for people who are already diabetic. For weight reduction eating two meals a day is an obvious solution. (I am talking of non-diabetic people) If you have only two meals, how much can you eat at a time? By accepting this, diet does not let you eat food at will. If this is Dixit diet for weight reduction, then you don’t need a diet. The simple rule is that if you feast on food all the time and don’t exercise your weight is going to increase.

A lady weighing 90 kgs, went to her doctor and said, “Please help me reduce weight.” On asking what she ate on that day, she said, “I had sweet tea in the morning with a few cream biscuits, had breakfast of potato hash brown and eggs. My husband comes late, so I had a fistful of salted peanuts. He got delayed, so I had two pieces of Mithai before a late lunch.” The doctor said, “Madam you had two full meals before lunch.”

My second confusion. My understanding of sugar values is that when we eat food, the sugar goes up and then starts reducing. In Dixit diet (which is not for diabetic people as per Dr Dixit) after every meal you do not eat anything for eight hours. The gap reduces sugar level in the body, and your body is going towards hypoglycemia. You remain in hypoglycemic condition for the majority of the time. What is the result?  As you are hypoglycemic most of the times, your HbA1c value is going to reduce. Can anyone continue such diet life long?  I don’t think so. To me, HbA1c value reduction due to “Dixit Diet” is a false indication. Once you start your food at regular intervals, your correct values will get reflected.

I have a suggestion for people on Dixit diet. They should wear saffron and live in the Himalayas. You call them, “Hey, let’s have coffee at ten at Vaishali.” “Oh, I am on Dixit diet!” Next week you call again and say, “Buddy Dilip is the town we are meeting at five for some Chat and Bhel.” “Oh, I am on Dixit diet.” How many times are you going utter this sentence? Are you stopping socialising because of your diet? How long do you want to continue? Don’t forget that you can get out of circulation fast. Your friends will have fun discussing your diet. My question is what happens if you take a couple of tablets a day, maintain discipline? Don’t forget that beyond a certain point your tongue becomes very active and demands food which you have been eating for 40/50/70 years. Wear stylish clothes and eat your bhajiya occasionally; don’t take me seriously about saffron. A minor binge is not a crime, don’t keep on thinking only about your diet!

Some of the effects I have observed on people who are on diets (this is my definition of DIETese)

  • People having diabetes (and on diet) keep checking sugar values very frequently
    • I knew someone who would check values three to four times a day and change his medicine dose on his own
  • Keep checking their weight every day
  • Decline to attend programs where some eatables may be served
  • On one on one level, they say that they are always anxious
  • They get hunger pangs if they keep long gaps between two meals
  • Some suffer from acidity
  • Others get migraine

A friend started Dixit diet and declared that his HbA1c value reduced from 8.5 to 7.5 in three months. He was in the US with his daughter and used to eat three ice creams every day. He stopped eating that and ….

Diabetes is manageable DIETese is not!

Medical illiteracy!

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!

Conditions Apply, really!

Conditions apply is a term used while advertising things. Hence some advertisers specifically write, “No conditions apply.” Conditions Apply is a commercial way of saying, “Take it with a pinch of salt”. When I was in school there used to be an advertisement of a radio set. It would say, “Listen to any station in the world”! The cost of the set would be less Rs.100/. I asked someone how is it possible? Not that I was an expert in this but I felt that there was something wrong. That person showed the small print in the advertisement. It said, “When you are at that place”! Small print! Now you know what I mean. That was a radio set which could capture Medium Wave stations when you were at that place.

Does this happen in commercial space only or it happens in our lives too? Yes and no both are the real answers, because life is never defined in Black & White or in 1 & 0. There is always grey shade in all facets of life. The love we get from parents, the love we get from kids, the pets, these are all with “No conditions apply.” This happens in the case of close childhood friends too. But ultimately everything in this world follows a Marathi idiom दिसत तसं नसतं म्हणून सारं जग फसत  which means that the world is not as we see it or as it appears to us! Or “The grass is always greener on the other side!”

Jackfruit, Coconut are typical real-life examples; they are both rough & tough from outside, but when we get through the top layer, inside is sweet, tasty and coconut water is pleasing. Customer is the king is supposedly today’s motto. Today I read an article by an expat professional white Caucasian American lady. She has been living in Pune for last couple of years. She has openly talked about discrimination that happens world over including the US! On the surface we don’t see it. She said that you may think that there is no discrimination in the US but the skin color does play a big part.

She shared a story about an incident in Pune. She and kids were in a departmental store. There was another couple where the lady was Caucasian but her kids had dark skin (mixed marriage). While a service assistant was stocking some bottles in a shelf, she dropped a bottle. She went and told her manager that the dark-skinned kids broke it. He came and told their mother that he would charge her. She was surprised! Our expat friend had seen the incident; she knew the manager and he was the nice guy. But that day she saw the real side of the person. She insisted to show the video, and the truth came out! The service assistant was the culprit. The manager did not even apologize! Real world!

When we go to foreign countries, we see huge Indian diaspora first, second and maybe even third generation variety. They apparently merge quite well with the local society in behavior, dress sense, and discipline. But when some of them come back to Bharat Desh, they are back to their “normal” selves. One of my classmates who lives in Sydney, Australia, has a young desi neighbor, CA by training. The young man once told my friend that he was going on a holiday and looked ecstatic. My friend asked him if there was any specific occasion! The young man said, “ I am looking forward to the moment I land in Delhi, I am going to drive the car. I want to break traffic signals at least 30-40 times! I am feeling claustrophobic in Sydney!” Will his Australian colleagues be able to recognize him when he is in India?

What could be the reason for such two faceted behavior? Is it how we grow up in our young phase? Does the changed environment not have any effect good or bad? Do humans normally behave this way? Is the growth phase so important in life? It is said that human brain grows 90% in first 5 years! Maybe the behavior pattern gets etched in the DNA by that time.

There was an interesting study shared in Readers Digest. They selected about ten cities each in various countries in the world in all the continents. These were from tiny villages to towns, to cities to metropolises. They kept wallets in public places as if somebody had dropped them. Wallets had personal identifications, family photos and tidbits to make them look genuine. Wallets also had money equivalent to US $ 100/ in each wallet, in local currency. There was interesting findings. All the events were captured on video cameras kept at strategic locations for study purpose. 90 to 95 % wallets were returned to authorities in villages. This % started reducing as the population of the place started increasing and was the worst in metropolises, 40/45 %. They concluded that the integrity reduced maybe due to anonymity that humans get in metropolises. This pattern was the same in all continents, across the races! I am quite sure all the persons who kept wallets with themselves, were reasonably normal persons but the circumstances changed them.

We have read from olden times about gurus, mullas and priests taking advantage of the faith people keep in them. We read horror stories about such people who sexually exploit women followers. God’s people and exploitation? Things are not as they look. I have known of people who will always have tika on their forehead, perform Pooja daily for couple of hours but are absolutely corrupt in professional lives. How can we explain their behavior? Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde? We know of doctors who perform illegal tests like sex determination of foetus and on the side are known to be great social workers! A “well-known” industrialist manufactured Gutka in huge quantities in a very modern factory. He never displayed easily visible board of his unit. Minted money, though he obviously knew that Gutka causes cancer. He used to donate huge money for medical cause, opened cancer treatment hospital. Some people sarcastically would call it his “customer complaint center” to handle side effects of his premium product, Gutka!

A well established builder has a similar story. His was a typical rag to riches story and was included in curriculum in commerce college courses. This story was written by a famous management guru. A couple of years back news started trickling in about his cheating in business. He and his family were arrested last year and are in jail. He has ditched thousands of retirees by taking money from them, in the form of fixed deposit and not returning it. He cannot, as his companies which took the money are bankrupt. The family has hidden treasure which police are trying to locate. Of the course one of his sons lives a condo where he pays Rs.4/ lacs per month rent! Doyen of industry!

Are we all this way? Are we waiting for an opportunity to cheat arise? Do we all make a show of how good you are, what a philanthropist you are? I was thinking to myself. Have I ever cheated in the ways explained above, knowingly or purposely? At least I don’t remember doing it. I asked another friend of mine the same question and he also said the same thing. But we have a common friend who was in government service. He must have retired 10 to 12 years back. I know what the salaries were and what the pension is. But he spends money all the time as if the world is going to end tomorrow. We knew that he was one of most corrupt officials. But to others who don’t know him well, he is a god-fearing human being, very pious in life.

I always wonder about such people. There are only two ledgers in this world that every individual has to match. One is your own ledger which you have to match every night, before sleeping and the other is when you meet Him! There is a solution. If you find that your ledger on the earth does not match every night (obviously you can’t sleep well!) Amend your ways while you have the opportunity.  But once you take the final journey and meet Him, how can you mend your ways? You have a non- return valve on your way back! Choice is yours!

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

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!  

 

maharashtrian-full-meal

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!

Turn into cotton!

A noted Poet Kedarnath, Jnanpith Award winner, has written a Poem; I am sharing couple of lines from the poem.

Aaj ghar main ghusa toh ajeeb drishya tha,

Suniye, mere bistar ne kaha 

yeh raha mera isteefa (resignation), 

main apne kapaas ke bheetar jaana chahta hoon 

Roughly it translates to

“Today when I reached home, my bed offered its resignation, 

Telling me it wants to go back to its original self (turn into cotton) or maybe go back to roots!” 

Beautiful lines. The poet has elegantly explained the philosophy of life. I feel that  our life and persona is made up of certain character when we are born; some of it we acquire later during our life’s journey. I am trying to interpret these beautiful lines. During our life, we achieve various things, we travel to different destinations, many people even look very different when they age. But I feel that from within we don’t change much. We all want to turn back into cotton when we reach golden phase in our life! It is wanting to go back to roots. It is trying to get away from your station in life, gracefully!

In today’s times when people migrate from their countries of origin, in large numbers, this feeling of back to roots must be pretty acute. At the beginning of life all humans are almost same, as babies; it is their growth that brings changes in them depending on their intelligence, environment and other life defining factors. Sometimes being at the right place at the right is also an important factor.  As you grow in life, it may be as professionals, businessmen, doctors, officers, politicians. But inside we must try to remain the “cotton” mentioned in the poem. If this does not happen then mental clashes start, agonies start, when one’s time arrives, to end the innings. The mind does not accept that you are no more a mattress, which is a system, and you are not an important parameter of that system. You were good at some stage hence you became  the mattress. Now you may have crossed your shelf life, your expertise may have become irrelevant, there may be better people available or the requirements of the whole system has changed. Or it maybe the your health may not permit! With that change, expectations about you may have changed. Good idea, will be to turn into cotton!

I will share how a friend handled a similar situation in life. He established his engineering business over a period of 25/30 years and was doing pretty alright. In the meanwhile, his son joined him in business. The son was also well qualified and trained to take over the business and was already 45 years old. My friend slowly started giving reins of the business to his son. But over a period, he realized that many of his employees would come and discuss decisions taken by his son, with him. They were trying to get them ratified. This sometimes led to minor tweaking of decisions. Though there were no major disagreements between the son and the father, sometimes displeasure was visible on the son’s face. My friend had a dilemma about handling this situation. One fine day he called his son and told him, “Look Son! From this month end, I will stop coming to factory as I want to retire”. For next six months my friend did not go to factory, even once. After that he started going back to factory; his old cabin was retained. But he found that hardly anyone would come to him to ask work related suggestions or opinions. How this was achieved; my friend decided to turn into cotton. He understood the meaning of this phrase “Turn into cotton”! Now he goes to office every day, gossips in the right sense. Just tries to understand what is happening but never gives any opinion. He achieved what he wanted to do using foresight, by turning into cotton!

Friends turning into cotton does not mean that you don’t do anything after you are not needed. Like Sachin Tendulkar is trying to bring in sports, as a subject in academics. He rarely gives any specific suggestion about cricket. He tries to use his stature to imbibe  overall sporting atmosphere in schools, in different forums. In ancient mythology they discussed about Vanprasthashrama. I am not talking of that; but one can gracefully withdraw at the right time. Health permitting you can contribute in different ways.

I hear about some of our friends, who have lived for 45 to 50 years out of India, trying to come back to roots, trying to contribute in some ways. Some take time; a classmate of mine has come to India only once in last 45 years. Maybe he is an exception but they all do come back! You never remain mattress all your life! It is a simple philosophy but difficult one to digest! All good things have to end at some stage!

Post script:

I found the couplet from Kedarnathji  in a news item; Kedarnath Sing died of old age, only three days back on March 19th 2018! May his soul rest in peace! I know this is just a coincidence but now I am trying to get his book of poems to understand his simple but beautiful thought process. Incidentally, this couplet was mentioned by Film Actor Raj Babbar in a tweet he sent, on being asked to resign as chief of Congress party in Uttar Pradesh. Since it was mentioned in a tweet, it was difficult to understand if it was written in humility or sarcastically!

Ignore body signals at your own peril!

Medical Illiteracy or Ignore body signals at your own peril! I was in two minds about the title for this blog. But the second option prevailed.

Not all of us are doctors by training and not all of us could have access to basic medical information, at least, during pre-internet days! It’s a highly specialized field. But in our day to day life health conditions keep on changing, as you grow older. Some changes can be discrete and some may be obvious. In our own and families interest, we should take care of having basic information and knowledge and decodify the signals our body sends.

Since this is a current ongoing medical event, I am not sharing the names, as I usually do! Yesterday, in my office I was talking to my colleague. Suddenly she said let me make an urgent call. She called and as the call progressed she sounded quite worried and anguished. After the call I asked her what happened? Her brother was not keeping well for ¾ days and she had called to find out how he was doing! She came to know all the details only after the call. He felt weak in the office; since he is diabetic and with BP issues, he asked his colleague to fetch a chocolate for him, to overcome low sugar issue, if any! He felt slightly better but decided to go home as he was uncomfortable. When he tried to use his scooter, he could not use his left hand properly; he felt very low strength in his left hand. Next day he saw a doctor who gave him some medicines and asked him to run tests. Sunday, he saw an eye specialist as he was feeling unease in the left eye!  The doctor indicated some distortion around the left eye. All signals were obvious but our friend probably lacked knowledge about the effects. I immediately coordinated an appointment with a neurologist. In next two hours he was hospitalized in a CCU. I shudder to think if my colleague had not made that call!

I will share many more such events but this particular event has made me very uneasy. It is just by chance, that I overheard a conversation and then got the wheels moving fast! There were specific indications, the person or his family did not understand the details of what was happening but can they also not understand that there was something going wrong with the body. How to inculcate this discipline in the whole family? These things are never taught in schools but these need to be picked up from someone or somewhere. A human being generally does not have detailed knowledge of most subjects other than his own subject. But health is one area which is common to all humans whether they are kings or paupers! I feel that this learning be made mandatory in school curriculum, so that people come to know basic symptoms regarding the emergency events, like heart attack, stroke and others.

In olden days there was the system of GP or general practitioners. GP’s were family friends, advisors, mentors for the whole family. I have known of GP’s who have treated four generations from families. For anything and everything related to health and not related to health too, the families would take advise of GP’s. So, they knew  most of the things about people in the family. If required, GP’s would ask the people to go to experts. In today’s times of no GP’s, I feel that a family should be going to a fixed physician and do things as per his/her advice and suggestions. Since our friend did not have “GP”, the doctors whom he saw, could not guide him properly.

It can be a good idea to guide people into basics of health management and emergency management. Basic training about patient resuscitation is one aspect but such emergencies don’t come so frequently. More than that, knowledge about basic symptoms is most essential. This will reduce time between symptoms and start of treatment. My friend Shashi has a history of stroke. A few months back when he had very high fever and felt faint, he immediately got himself checked from experts. This gave him peace of mind.

I will share one event with you to explain what I mean by lack of basic knowledge in other areas. A professor of arts with a doctorate, drove his car for two days. You will ask me what is so special about it? One of the tappets in the engine had broken and he drove the car with a lot of noise. To understand this, he did not need to know that tappet was broken but he only needed to understand that something was broken and was making loud noise. So, he should not drive the car! Period. But no! He drove on for two days accompanied by big noise! Is it so difficult to comprehend that there was something wrong with the car and not what is wrong with the car?

Two things generally happen. One is signals are simply not understood and sometimes signals are ignored. Our friend did not understand the gravity of the signals, the body was sending. However, I will tell you of someone, a few years elder than me. He apparently had good health, outwardly. He used to go to gym regularly. One day he went out, after  he came back he said that he was a bit tired and would rest for 15 min. 10 minutes later, he was dead due to cardiac arrest. He was diabetic but values were controlled. He was going to the gym regularly. Then why did this happen? When his papers were checked, the values were never good; he was informing his son, who lives abroad,  that everything was ok. He went to the gym every day; he always drove the 500 meters distance! Did minor exercise and chatted with friends, tea, have fried stuff and smoking followed. What he did was not accepting the true body condition, which further deteriorated with wrong food and smoking.

Let me assure you that our body and brain are very sharp in understanding the signals that are generated in our eco system. In young age we start knowing who our parents are, in adulthood we catch the right love signals. As we grow older, we know how to find better opportunities in jobs and in business. All this is done by capturing the signals, the indications that are emanating in our surroundings. But why can’t we catch our body signals which tell about our health? In life we master various things without formal training. Then why we cannot do it about our own health? Is it due to thought process that Cancer, Heart Attack, Strokes happen to someone else? Sudden deaths occur mostly in accidents, most other deaths  are because of ignoring the signal system created by HIM! So please keep track of these signals, it may be twitching of an eye, shaking of hand while holding a glass, heaviness in body especially on only one side, sudden sweating and so on. But at least “create” for yourself a GP system and take his/her advise as we grow 40 plus!

Cheers! Life is too beautiful to be wasted by ignoring signals from the world’s best design, “Our Body”!

When things get tough…

InternetGenie

Pramod somehow caught hold of Genie, managed to make Genie run at the high speed that was expected of him. Genie as usual started narrating a story. He started with a question, “Pramod, how do you feel is the life of an artist? What do you think keeps the artist going? What drives the artists to pursue their art?” Pramod knew that if he uttered a word, Genie would slip out of his control and system will hang! So Pramod did not give any reply to the question asked.

As usual, Genie kept on talking. Pramod, you must be wondering why I am asking you about artists! Ok let us be honest, you are not one, but you are now a closet blogger and blogging is like what artists do. You write your blogs as an individual, publish them and hope that your readers will like them, readers criticize them, disagree with you. When you started writing, you had only three readers, your family. Slowly your frequency of writing increased, you started getting a few more readers. Then during last few months, the “hits” started increasing because your frequency of writing increased, and the blog spread also increased. It took you about 4 years of consistent writing, to reach reasonable hits. Pramod, your livelihood is not dependent on this activity, so it hardly mattered to you whether people read your blog or not! You will continue writing blogs as and when you want as there are no deadlines.

But what about new singers, painters, sculptors and many such people who start their careers and hope that their art reaches a lot of people. How many of these people even reasonably succeed as full timers? They struggle every day not only with success but in making money! Doctors and engineers who work independently also have similar issues, but they can take up some job. But they don’t have to struggle on day to day basis! Where will artists get jobs? Musicians may get but singers, dancers, sculptors they must be on their own. Their work gets tested every day, criticized every day, and they are sure not whether their effort will be commercially succeed! The group of people who can use their talent is quite limited and competition these days is tough. Pramod, I heard that a Picasso painting got sold for US $ 450/ million. What did Picasso earn in his life time?

Hindi film industry music now is a big business. But with so many artists are trying their luck, there is tremendous competition. Top singers like Sonu Nigam, Shaan, Abhijeet have formally said that they are currently not being offered many songs. Same is the case with Kumar Sanu! There are many singers who are one or two film wonders and they are inexpensive! Pramod, you will be shocked when you hear this story. One artist was almost begging to a music director to allow him to sing in a movie and somehow managed to handover his cd. When the music director heard the song later, he found out that the singer was award winning singer for best song, the previous year. After that song, singer did not get any assignments.

There is one more shocking story, Pramod, about lack of control of artists on their earnings! Famous Hindi song “कजरा रेwas sold by a cell phone company for download as caller tune. The total business for this one song was Rs.16000/ crores, almost 2.8/ Billion US $! They shared the money 50:50 with music company. How much did the lyricist, singers, music directors get? Zilch! This one song could have made many artists millionaires! This movie was released in 2005, now it 2017! There is legal action going on. Pramod, I am not sure if they will get their money in their life time.

But what keeps these artists going? Passion! And secondly “No Option”! Pramod, in their passion I am sure, artists did not get trained to do anything else, other than their art! There are few people like M F Hussain and Lata/Asha sisters who were commercially successful ; there must have many equally good artists who did not become commercially successful. The artists mentioned above have also been successful but at a very young age they are “out marketed” by competition!

Pramod, I want your reply on this as I know you have strong views!! Pramod just could not keep quiet. He said, “Genie, there is no substitute to passion! I get a feeling that many great things in this world are done purely due to passion. If Steve Jobs did not have passion there would not have been Apple. Without passion there would be no Federer or a Tendulkar. Passion has driven social workers like Baba Amte and Maharshi Karve. Artists and individuals who work only with passion are the real creators in this world! This inherent toughness in them keeps them going in tough times. ”

With this statement Pramod broke the golden rule of silence that Genie had locked him in.  At that instant Genie slipped out of Pramod’s grasp, Genie’s speed became equivalent of 2 G and system hung!  Genie could not help but make a passing remark before escaping. “Pramod, I agree with you. But what is the reason in you to have this passion for blogging?