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ashokbhatia

Often, we hear that age is a mere number,
But also wonder if it makes us dumb and dumber;
Unless proper and timely steps are taken through channels right,
The chances of our becoming dull happen to be bright.

The body needs all the care and affection it can get,
The mind needs to be kept active, not to forget;
The soul needs nourishment of a different kind,
Otherwise it is left in torment and in a bind.

The zeal of youth makes us leap light-heartedly into traps,
The spirit of adventure keeps us wandering off the known maps;
Romantics at heart, fragile in maturity, we jump at gold coins with strings attached,
We behave like zombies, often getting disappointed over chickens un-hatched.

 ZOMBIES

When advanced in age, our optimism fades, no longer making the spirits lift,
A feeling grows that our guardian angels no longer care to bear a…

View original post 377 more words

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Lifestyle diseases like diabetes and hypertension have a tendency to quietly enter the house of our physical bodies, much like unbidden and unwelcome guests. In most of the cases, repeated attempts to entice these to depart and scour around for some greener pastures are unsuccessful. After the first stage of shock and denial has passed, a state of active acceptance comes about. The basic principle of a peaceful coexistence eventually gets followed.

Diabetes is labelled as a silent killer. This unwelcome guest has a tendency to enfeeble almost all the organs of the body. Its special affection gets directed towards ones which are already in a state of disrepair. These could be our heart, eyes, kidneys, feet or any other organ or limb which catches its fancy. Nerve endings get compromised. Initially, some tingling sensations may be there, more bothersome at night. Over time, sensations may be lost completely, leading to problems which do not even get felt.

Excessive thirst and frequent urination are the well-known symptoms of diabetes. These could easily get ignored and we could chug along in our lives, blissfully ignorant of the arrival of this unbidden guest amidst us. With urine, the body also ends up ejecting some minerals. The disease leaves one feeling tired and exhausted.

The alpha and beta of diabetes

At the core of this affliction is an organ known as the pancreas. Due to genetic reasons or owing to prolonged abuse, there are times when it refuses to behave like an alpha male. It ceases to run on all its twelve cylinders. It does not produce enough insulin, the hormone which controls blood sugar levels in the body.

The beta cells in our pancreas not only produce insulin but also govern the sugar level fluctuations in the body. So, the higher the level of blood sugar, the higher is the fluctuation of sugar levels in general. The fact that South Asian genes happen to be more susceptible to attracting this disease does not really comfort someone who is actually suffering from diabetes.

There are those in whose case the cells that produce insulin are selectively lost. They would qualify to be suffering from Type 1 diabetes.

The body surely needs sugar to keep active and kicking. But when the sugar intake is more than what it can handle, insulin production lags behind its demand. The pancreas is unable to keep pace. Those whose pancreas has started losing its efficacy over a period of time get categorized as having Type 2 diabetes. Often, obesity rules. The battle of the bulge gets lost. Pear pressure kicks in.

Then there is a portion of humanity which shows signs of an imminent onset of diabetes. These could be called pre-diabetics. Surely, there is some hope for them, provided they adopt an active lifestyle, change their diet pattern, and do not allow diabetes to walk in.

The delicately nurtured amongst our species, when they happen to be in the family way, face the risk of gestational diabetes.  Though it is a temporary condition, they end up having a higher predisposition towards Type 2 diabetes.

Sharing some key observations

Yours truly is neither a physician nor a person even remotely connected with the field of medicine. Nevertheless, here is a summary of what one has learnt so far. Some of you might find these of use. These observations pertain to Type 2 diabetes.

Blood sugar levels are a function of the following major factors:

  • Stress: The higher the stress levels, the higher the blood sugar levels. A prolonged challenging situation – whether on the home front or on the office front – could reduce the immunity levels of the body and increase the sugar levels.

Laughing things off helps, so does the company of those who exude positivity. Building up inner resilience reduces the impact of external circumstances, and thereby helps in controlling sugar levels better.

  • Physical activity is a basic factor. Be a couch potato or a chair tiger and repent at leisure. Regular brisk walks and light exercises help. But these produce results only after about six weeks, by which time the body forms a habit and starts demanding its daily dose of whatever physical regime you decide to follow.

Pottering about in the garden or in the kitchen and doing household chores provides some protection. Climbing up stairs and not using an elevator helps. Living life with lesser dependence on your favourite Ferrari helps.

But nothing to beat the efficacy of either cycling or a brisk walk, which is closer to the way a soldier would typically walk. Sweating it out is a key factor. It also helps with heart-related issues.

Much like a tube light needs an initial surge of additional power to get going, the body also needs an initial impetus of will power to walk the first 500 meters. Thereafter, once it has warmed up, a brisk walk often sounds more like a cake walk.

  • Medication cannot be taken lightly. It needs to be taken regularly, on time. This implies that meals required to keep the body and soul together also need to be taken on time, day after day.

Oral medication is convenient. At times, if it is unable to bring blood sugar levels within control (fasting values in the range of 70-100 and other values being in the range of 120-200), the physician may prescribe insulin injections.

Insulin has a singular advantage of the necessary hormone reaching the blood stream directly. But the flip side of using insulin, or any other anti-diabetic agent, is the risk of blood sugar dropping down to such dangerous levels as 60 or below. Symptoms could be tiredness, giddiness, excess sweating, palpitation and even coma and other          complications. This could even prove to be fatal.

To avoid such complications, a bar of chocolate, some dry fruits and biscuits should always be kept handy. Sugar cubes could also help. A glucometer needs to be used to immediately check the blood sugar levels and the incident reported to one’s doctor.

  • Diet is a crucial factor in managing diabetes. Our scriptures often extol the virtues of leading the life of an ascetic or a monk. Diabetes propels us towards such lofty goals in life. Controlling our taste buds is a serious challenge and needs nerves of chilled steel. When a piping hot junk food item like a ‘samosa’ comes up in front of us, or when a ‘rasgulla’ gets lovingly offered by an otherwise well-meaning friend, the deep reserves of our tenacity have to be marshalled to refuse these and instead pick on a green salad.

Even fruits like mangoes and bananas are harmless, if taken in moderation and if in the absence of any other item on our plate.

Some tests and parameters

  • Regular checks on blood sugar levels (fasting as well as postprandial, PP) are highly recommended.

For fasting level to be correctly ascertained, during the previous night, except for plain water, nothing else should be consumed after 10 PM. Medicines to be taken after the test. Normal breakfast can be had after about 30 minutes.

For PP, a reading would need to be taken two hours after breakfast, with nothing else being consumed in the meanwhile. Any deviation from this procedure can be brought to the notice of one’s physician.

  • Once in six months, our physician may recommend a test known as HbA1C. This one tells us the weighted average of our sugar levels over a period of the past three months, thereby indicating the extent of control we have exercised over ourselves during that period. A value below 7 would normally indicate a fair amount of control, though the exact value is best decided between the doctor and the patient.
  • Frequent eye and feet check-ups are necessary. Once in a year, functioning of the kidney needs to be reviewed by means of appropriate tests.

When prolonged tension leads to hypertension

Yet another lifestyle disease which creeps up on one is that of high blood pressure. If left unattended, this could result in the hardening of arteries, cardiac problems and an increase in one’s intraocular pressure in the eyes. Keeping this on a strict watch is in some ways even more crucial than regular monitoring of blood sugar levels.

Of doctors and miracle cures

The role of a doctor in managing diabetes is more akin to that of a guide. The hapless physician has no clue as to what our daily meals comprise and the amount of liquors and desserts we gobble up at social events.

Often, we may come across miracle cures made by those who are proficient in alternative streams of medicine, claiming to get us rid of diabetes in a short period of time. If followed, these could achieve good results in the short run, but could do more harm to the body in the long run. The reason is simple – these are not sustainable. In a controlled environment, these cures could really work. But when we are back in the civilization, living our routine lives and facing all the harsh slings and arrows of Fate, the short-term benefits could simply evaporate. However, there is a general belief that some medicines from alternative streams do work as supplements, somewhat nullifying the side effects of allopathic medicines.

A helping hand from the government  

One has no statistical evidence, but there is no doubt that those suffering from this lifestyle disease do end up suppressing the economic growth of the country they inhabit.

Revenue-hungry governments world over could think of imposing a hefty ‘sin tax’ on all things sweet. Tax breaks can be offered to those who suffer from a lifestyle disease. The delivery of public health services can be strengthened.

The civic authorities would do well to ensure that there are adequate provisions for bicycle tracks and for taking brisk walks in open spaces for its denizens. Public transporters could pitch in by ensuring availability of diabetic diets to those who might be in need of the same.

The trick of managing a lifestyle disease

The real control of diabetes and other lifestyle diseases rests in our own hands. Guided by a competent physician, management of these is no rocket science.

Basically, the trick lies in holding our chin up, looking ahead to a joyful life with clear eyes, and marching on with our lives, wearing this affliction as a badge of honour on our sleeves, aspiring to evolve spiritually, with nary a wrinkle on our forehead.

Bertie Wooster and Jeeves would heartily approve of a sunny disposition of this nature. So would Ashe Marson of the ‘Something Fresh’ fame.

(Inputs from Dr B S Suryanarayana, Additional Professor, Department of Medicine, JIPMER, Pondicherry, are gratefully acknowledged)

(Illustrations courtesy www)

(Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2013/05/05/o-my-beloved-when-would-you-depart

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2013/08/04/getting-india-in-the-pink-of-health

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/10/06/handling-the-diabetes-tsunami-in-india

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2015/07/01/how-diabetes-helps-us-to-improve-our-sq)

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ashokbhatia

Yet another New Year has dawned. It is time for me to exercise my tiny grey cells and fulfill my obligations to societyExercise 1 by making a resolution. Ideally speaking, I should make one which does not get consigned to the dustbins of my pious intentions before the first week of January gets over.

I happen to be a self-proclaimed couch potato. When it comes to being a lazy bum, I am a leader amongst men. The resolution which has appealed to me since the past several years goes something like this:

‘I hereby resolve, like in all the previous years, to start doing some kind of exercise.’

Had one of the Master Wordsmiths of our times, P G Wodehouse, been around, he might have permitted me to express myself in the following manner.

A couple of decades back, I was content to crawl out of bed and undergo the daily…

View original post 1,533 more words

Read Full Post »

Often, we hear that age is a mere number,
But also wonder if it makes us dumb and dumber;
Unless proper and timely steps are taken through channels right,
The chances of our becoming dull happen to be bright.

 

The body needs all the care and affection it can get,
The mind needs to be kept active, not to forget;
The soul needs nourishment of a different kind,
Otherwise it is left in torment and in a bind.

 

The zeal of youth makes us leap light-heartedly into traps,
The spirit of adventure keeps us wandering off the known maps;
Romantics at heart, fragile in maturity, we jump at gold coins with strings attached,
We behave like zombies, often getting disappointed over chickens un-hatched.

 ZOMBIES

When advanced in age, our optimism fades, no longer making the spirits lift,
A feeling grows that our guardian angels no longer care to bear a gift;
Our triumphs are many, but all sound mellowed and get under-rated,
The aged machinery creaks, a depression often seeps in unabated.

 

Each day, we shudder to look at a stranger in the mirror,
With brittle bones, fuzzy brains and a heart which is all of a twitter;
Different organs protest, the lining of the stomach seeks our regular attention,
Willing to try any system of medicine, keeping fit being the mere intention.

 

The mellow wisdom of advancing age we often forget to treat as an asset,
Giving back to society and relishing an inner glow before we walk into the sunset;
Doing what we always dreamed of doing does bring in a wholesome joy,
Listening to the body, nourishing it with a healthy diet, is the right ploy.

 

The world is still waiting with open arms, to be explored by us,
Glorious sunsets, resplendent seashores and deep gorges beckon us;
Sunshine eager to bathe us, gentle breeze to caress our wrinkled face,
River rapids and waterfalls aspire to spray us with natural grace.

 VACATIONS

Sleeping under the canopy of a star-studded sky on quiet nights,
The moon showering us with its soft azure rays with full might;
The sweet fragrance of flowers missed on the tortuous highway of life,
Await our attention in a lovely phase with minimum strife.

 

Time to take it easy and have a circle of friends around,
A tissue restorative on one side, a Plum book on the other, and our joy is unbound;
Soaking in the strains of soothing music and catching up on a classic movie,
An outpouring of creative juices, some light exercise, and life is groovy.

 

Basking in the inner glow of satisfaction, enjoying a deep sense of fulfillment,
For having crossed major landmarks of our lives on this firmament;
Oh, the freedom of soaring at will, free of the sap of life’s intricate bee-hives,
Pursuing our hobbies and passions dreamed of all through our lives.

 

Wondering if we can leave behind some marks on the shifting sands of time,
Motivating the coming generations to aspire beyond a penny and a dime;
Living the values, ethics, norms and beliefs we expect them to follow,
Always feeling positive, never believing that we lived our lives hollow.

 

(Related posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/01/12/6-things-to-do-before-you-turn-60

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2016/01/10/ode-to-old-age)

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Yet another New Year has dawned. It is time for me to exercise my tiny grey cells and fulfill my obligations to societyExercise 1 by making a resolution. Ideally speaking, I should make one which does not get consigned to the dustbins of my pious intentions before the first week of January gets over.

I happen to be a self-proclaimed couch potato. When it comes to being a lazy bum, I am a leader amongst men. The resolution which has appealed to me since the past several years goes something like this:

‘I hereby resolve, like in all the previous years, to start doing some kind of exercise.’

Had one of the Master Wordsmiths of our times, P G Wodehouse, been around, he might have permitted me to express myself in the following manner.

A couple of decades back, I was content to crawl out of bed and undergo the daily ritual of performing the morning ablutions. I would then proceed to the breakfast table, all geared up to attack the deep-fried stuff on offer, accompanied by liberal helpings of milk, with dates, dry fruits and corn flakes thrown in for good measure. A glorious start to the proceedings of the day!

These days, life presents different challenges. A health-conscious spouse ensures that the breakfast table merely offers a slice of apple, a boiled egg sans yolk, and some oats, which, on my luckier days, come with a dash of soya milk. My digestive juices register a strong protest at the lack of attention being paid to them. My stomach grumbles, but to no avail. The day starts on a somber note.

The epidemic of strict dieting and supreme physical fitness pervades the collective conscience of the denizens of our country. If I am not a member of a gym, I am looked down upon. If I am not following exciting tips on achieving a life eternal on internet and social media, I am considered backward. Friends bandy about health-monitoring apps on their smart-phones, making me feel inadequate, unsuccessful and depressed.

I am continuously exhorted to follow a wide array of exercise regimen, ranging from complicated yogic postures to Larsen exercises popularized by Ashe Marson of ‘Something Fresh’ fame. Physicians of all kinds keep threatening me that if I fail to do so, I shall meet a fate worse than death. To help me achieve a healthier life, a mind-boggling variety of methods are on offer. Each of these is vying for my attention, promising salvation in the form of perfect physique and robust health.

Movies are full of the virtues of having six-pack abs. Heroes, oozing testosterone, routinely thrash villains by the dozen. After surviving all odds, they eventually end up in a tight embrace with a perfectly formed specimen of the delicately nurtured amongst us. Opening a magazine, I run into semi-nude demigods with stiff upper lips and finely chiseled bodies, eyeing me rather condescendingly. Their bulging muscles make me turn green with envy. Switching on a TV channel, I am apt to run into a Bollywood diva imparting lessons on all kinds of aerobic exercises. All this depresses me somewhat. Realization dawns that I have failed to live up to the exacting standards of physique in vogue these days.

The younger ones in the family keep prodding me in the ribs, exhorting me to join a gym of some kind or the other. AExercise 2 neighbor who fancies himself to be a friend keeps inviting me to join him in his daily morning 5-km walks. He is of the firm opinion that unless one bends, stretches and undergoes a rigorous regimen of gravity-defying yogic poses, one has no hope of being able to survive.

Exercising is not easy. There are insurmountable odds to be overcome. One, the weather often plays spoil sport. If it is too cold, I find it pretty demanding to get out of the warmth of my bedroom. If it is too hot, I shudder at the prospect of sweating profusely after having done the prescribed quota of jogging, push-ups or whatever. If it is raining, I have a perfect excuse to continue to laze around in bed, quietly sipping my morning dose of a tissue restorative. On some mornings, I am just not feeling energetic enough to start the day by troubling my body in any way. On others, the rush to work makes it feel like such a waste of time. Then there are several assignments to be completed even before one heads to office, making it well-nigh impossible to indulge in the luxury of an exercise of some sort or the other.

Then there is the handicap of living in cities. Cocooned in a concrete match-box, one’s endeavors to throw about one’s limbs end up upsetting a lot of stuff. This promptly starts a verbal World War III between me and my better half. If attempted in the small balcony, I am apt to be looked at with derision and amusement by all those enjoying their morning cup of tea in the balconies opposite. If some of them happen to belong to the tribe of the delicately nurtured, my fate is sealed.

Moreover, by their very nature, cities take a jaundiced view of any kind of physical exercise, unless undertaken with some practical object in view. I may run to catch a bus or a metro but no eyebrows would get raised. I may even chase a just-dislodged cap on a busy thoroughfare – without causing adverse comment. I may skip and jump so as to avoid either an auto rickshaw or a speeding car. But, if I run simply because I wish to strengthen my heart or jump because it improves my calf muscles, I merely invite sarcasm and ridicule.

The privacy of my own home is also illusory in nature. Before beginning an exercise routine, I have to ensure the maid is not around, lest my efforts are either greeted with some sly giggles or misconstrued as advances of an amorous kind. If the milk vendor comes in just when I am getting warmed up, an irritating break comes about.

Even if I am able to snatch some precious moments to take care of my body in the privacy of my own home, pretty soon it becomes highly monotonous. Anything done routinely becomes so very boring. If I were to invest in a stationary bicycle, the prospect of having to peddle it while watching a favorite movie on my TV/laptop is so very appalling. The bicycle would merely end up evolving into a frightfully expensive towel stand.

This philosophy – of body over mind – makes me pause and think if all this emphasis on physical improvement does not have an adverse effect on the soul.

If I were to become a very strong person physically, I would cease to be a peace-loving feather-weight crusader of sorts. Given my super size ego, I am sure to become a guy who could impart coaching on the subject of ‘How to Lose Friends and Win Enemies.’ I would give all my colleagues an inferiority complex. I would simply dominate all conversations I become a part of. To me, silence would cease to be golden. I shall go about with my chest expanded, a nuisance to all whom I encounter. All this would drive me further away from my own true self. Given my soft and delicate nature, my soul shall forever be in torment.

It would also affect my moral fiber. Rather than being modest, as at present, I would end up being proud of myself. When I run into a highly intelligent person not being able to touch his toes forty times without bending his knees, I would simply feel superior and look down upon him. The old reverence and the deferential attitude would simply evaporate. This would be morally corrupting.

After having brooded for some time over this predicament of Homo sapiens, I have realized that what humanityExercise 3 really needs is a system of spiritual exercises which shall develop the soul in a systematic manner. This way, the soul can keep pace with the muscles and the self-esteem.

By joining an organization which conducts group meditations, I have managed to be assured of at least two hours of sitting in a hard-backed chair in an upright posture every single day. During this time, spread over four sessions, I nudge my mind towards creative visualization. I imagine that I am doing all the yogic postures and pranayamas prescribed by the yogis of yore. In between, much like a commercial break on a TV channel, I allow my mind to hover over some pleasurable experience – a chat with the kids, an uproariously funny scene from a Bollywood flick, or a delicious meal enjoyed at a friend’s place recently. All this is done while sitting in my bedroom, or even while sipping my early morning restorative on the balcony.

An approach of this kind, when tried for a week recently, has worked wonders. It has helped me to overcome the deep feeling of guilt for not taking adequate care of my body. My moral fiber is intact. My soul is contented, having been given an opportunity to grow in tandem with my physical self.

To sum it up, my entire being feels happy and joyful. I am still my sober and delicate self. I continue with my humble frame of mind, admirably calculated to nullify the sinful pride generated by rigorous physical exercises.

My friends have already started asking me the secret of my youthfulness. I have no hesitation in spreading some cheer around by sharing with them the special exercise regimen I have developed for myself.

I do believe that I now have a New Year resolution which will not fade away into unsung glory, to be rediscovered only at the end of the year. Hope most of you have also been able to come up with ones which really get fulfilled.

Happy New Year!

(Dedicated to P G Wodehouse. Illustrations done by Tanya are gratefully acknowledged.)

[Related Post: https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/a-potato-protests%5D

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My dear, never did I dream of being with you,

With silent feet you waltzed into my life, it is true.

 

You came in and took control of all aspects of my life,

All kinds of sweets and savouries are now denied by my loving wife. 

 

When others feast on dishes and foods exotic,

You make me learn the art of detachment and turn me into an ascetic.

 

To remain aloof from all kinds of cuisines and tastes,

You exhort me to walk, exercise and not let my life go waste.

 

I abide by all your wishes and try my best to keep you in good cheer,

I live like a recluse, satisfying all your demands, dear.  

 

When it comes to taking good care of me, my wife is near perfect,

But all my vital organs you alone appear determined to effect.

 

O dear Diabetes, my beloved,

It appears you are in no hurry to take leave.

 

But a guest needs to know when it is time to depart,

Hope you leave my abode before death make us part!

 

[Related Posts:

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2013/08/04/getting-india-in-the-pink-of-health

https://ashokbhatia.wordpress.com/2014/10/06/handling-the-diabetes-tsunami-in-india%5D

(Published in The Hindu dated August 11, 2013)

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/diabetes-my-dear/article5010531.ece

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