Caring For The Sick

At some point in our life, we are faced with a situation where we need to take care of a loved one who is ill. The patient could have a health problem or an accident or a disease; with a severity ranging from mild to something serious. In any case, we need to jump in and take control of things until they can get back on their feet. From some such caregiving experiences, I learnt some things. Today I want to share some ideas that can make the task of caring a little manageable.

Firstly, do not let your emotions get the better of you. Be strong. Your mental strength can contribute to or deplete your energy levels. Don’t waste time pondering about why the accident occurred or why it happened to your loved ones. Instead, keep focused on what needs to be done to improve their condition. Have trust and confidence in God. His blessing will heal the sick.

In most cases, it will be difficult to keep your life and work on hold to take care of someone else. At times, your frustration or irritation can get the better of you and create a bitter experience for the patient. Take all the help you can get from others wherever it is extended. Do not be too proud to take aid. This will help in overcoming the strain it puts on your health and time. This will go a long way in keeping you sane.

Carefully and precisely follow the doctor’s advice, down to the T. It is essential to carefully file all prescriptions, test results and reports that the doctor gives you. These things could get misplaced easily. In western countries, the doctor’s office might maintain the patient’s files. I would advise you to record all your doctor’s suggestions and advice, just in case you might forget. Discuss with the doctor about the diet and the dos and don’ts.

Generally, doctors give some specific instructions for each medicine based on mealtime or dosage. Keeping this in mind, have three boxes and label them as ‘morning/afternoon/night’ or ‘breakfast/lunch/dinner’. Arrange the medicines into these boxes accordingly. This will make the task a lot easier and you don’t have to recollect the instructions every time. Moreover, the chances of errors get reduced. In some countries, healthcare professionals offer this service for a small charge, so you can avail them based your the affordability. It saves time and effort in the overall process.

Diet for the patient needs special attention. Conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney problem etc require a restricted diet. Certain foods should be avoided in each of these conditions. Discuss food restrictions with your doctor at the get-go. Keeping an inventory of items available in the pantry and refrigerator will prove to be handy while cooking and shopping. I would suggest keeping a list of food items to be avoided as well. In case of injury care, it is prudent to keep a separate inventory of dressing material, antiseptic lotions, pain relievers etc in a special box. It saves time and energy in going for things each day.

A quick tip that I found helpful at times is to keep a bottle of water or juice and a healthy snack on your bedside table. It helps when hunger strikes at all odd hours.

Another helpful tip is to always keep a baby monitor in the patient’s room so that you can monitor them. Keeping their room clean and airy also helps; fresh air improves the mood of the patient.

Be mindful of the patient’s mental state. They might say hurtful things or behave rudely. We need to remember, its just the struggle with the pain that is driving them. Be patient with them.

Through this process of caring for the patient, most people forget about themselves. When you are the primary caregiver, you need energy and rest too. Eat well and if possible, get some rest. Keep in touch with your other friends and relatives to keep your mind fresh and active; take a break from the stress.

Celebrate progress and improvement, however small it is. This will work as a morale booster to motivate the patient and yourself.

These are some things that I felt I could share with all of you. There might be many more tips that I am not aware of and did not mention. Please feel free to express your opinion in the comments section and let us know. Have a blessed day! And if you have a sick person at home, my prayers are for their recovery.

Karma Strikes When You Are Down

We Indians are well known for our belief in karma and fate. Plainly speaking, karma is what we do in life; our actions, that are driven by an intention. However, in everyday parlance, kama is used as a way to refer to payback. Everybody says karma’s a bitch, and I thought that they were just being resentful when it is time to pay back for their deeds. We humans, frequently act without consideration for consequences, so when it is time for payback, we are always caught off guard. However, karma is never as simple as just payback. It always comes with a twist. It hits when it is least expected.

Atonement for mistakes seems reasonable and justified when one is in luck. For instance, I laugh at my friend when she slips and falls down; If she were to ridicule me when I fall, then it would be payback. What actually happens is that when I slip and fall, it happens publicly and everyone laughs at me. My friend may not laugh, but I have to endure the embarrassment. That is how karma works. It does not just involve reparations, it is about the pain of reparations as well. Do you think I am exaggerating? Well, let me explain with an anecdote.

Karma always comes to collect when we are already down. By habit, I am a punctual person. The bus that I take to work, is usually late to pick me up. The driver always blamed the other passengers for being late. I used to criticize them in my mind for being tardy. I also complained to the management on a few occasions stating that the drivers’ excuses were as bad as a kindergartener.

Karma finally came to collect on the worst day. On that fateful day, I started out on time, however, my sandals broke; I had to go back to change them. As the bus is habitually late, I did not worry about it. As my luck would have it, on that day, the bus was early as the management decided to take action on all the complaints. I missed my bus that day, I had to take a cab to work. I had trouble getting a cab and I was late to work. Unfortunately, it turned out to be the day that my manager decided to do a surprise visit. Karma played its hand, and I was caught. Although I am generally punctual, my manager decided to set a precedent. My manager would not accept my explanation, he fined me half a day’s pay.

There are many such incidents that every one of us must have experienced at some point in our lives. I once splashed water from a puddle on a pedestrian in my rush to get to work. Before long I faced karma, a passing vehicle ran over a puddle, just as I was entering office. On another instance, I lied to my boss that I was having my tooth extracted and skipped work on a Friday. A month later, the crown on my incisor came off during a business lunch. It caused quite an embarrassment for me. My incisor was chipped in half when I was in school. I had a filling done and covered it with a crown to appear natural. That had to come off right when I bit into a juicy piece of chicken.

Such is the game plan of karma. It strikes when we are already facing bad luck, just to make the payback a bit more painful and memorable. I guess that is its way to ensure that we learn the lesson in the first instance. If we miss that lesson, then we are in for many more embarrassing life lessons, all courtesy of Karma. I can only pray that I learn my lessons at the earliest. If possible, I can also watch others and learn just to escape any personal lessons. Do you have any such instances?

The Irony of Life

When we are young, we just can’t wait to grow up. I used to scan through my mother’s cupboard and admire her collection of sarees. My sister used to try out my aunt’s high-heel sandals. She even sprained her ankle once while walking in them. Sometimes we imitated the behaviour of grown-ups during role play.

Today, after leaving childhood far behind, I miss those days. My cousins and I reminisce about those wonderful times and unforgettable anecdotes with great pleasure. It is ironic that when we were actually going through those early years we never paid attention to the present, our sights were set on the future. We never thought that we would miss those times. Future seemed rosier than the present.

Childhood is the age of innocence. We laughed and smiled as easily as we cried and threw tantrums. Bitterness was forgotten as soon as we saw something sweet. Even a false compliment took us sky high and perched our spirit on the treetop. If we had friends to play with and treats to fill our pockets with, then we were rich. Back then, we felt quite powerless and looked up to the older folk and envied their authority.

With age came understanding. My company of friends is now filled with wise-brained adults. Something as simple as a smile can be interpreted in numerous ways, depending on the facts and circumstances. We seldom cry, at least not as often as in childhood. Compliments are dissected to see what’s behind the words. False compliments are now called ‘flattery’. We exercise authority over the children in our house yet we envy their carefree life. This is the irony of life.

The age of innocence was filled with curiosity about every aspect of being an adult. Our heads were filled with “Why?, How? When?”. As all queries met their answers, curiosity died. Life turned into one big chore. Today, excitement is not a feeling we experience often. For this, we were desperate to grow up!

Now as our legs are racing to the future, our heads turn back to see what we are leaving behind. The heart still longs for that beautiful world of innocence. Now we try to bring back to life the little child inside us that we left ignored for decades. This is the greatest irony of life.

Comics That Coloured My Imagination

I grew up in South India and back then, there were no smart/mobile phones. The internet was unheard of, and general households did not have computers. There was no such thing as cable T.V, and all we had to rely on for entertainment was Doordarshan, the national channel. My main sources of entertainment were going out to play with friends, pursuing my hobbies and reading a storybook. 

 During this phase, out of sheer boredom, one day I dared to glance through the pages of the large and unmanageable (for my age at that time) newspaper. I was delighted to discover a tiny comic strip titled “Scamp“. I fell in love with the cute little dog who had floppy ears. I pestered my mother for more comic books, and that’s how I discovered a treasure trove of cartoon characters from Walt Disney. Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Pluto, Donald Duck, Scrooge McDuck, Beagle Boys etc. Every time I read the comic book, I used to get transported into that imaginary world where all the characters came to life and played their part as per the story. I could easily forget my worries when I had a comic book in my hand.

 One evening, my father came home from work with the day’s newspaper in his hands, and it seemed much bulkier than usual. When I unrolled the paper, a copy of ‘Tintin In Tibet’ rolled out. From that moment, my love for the famous comic series started. 

 Soon, Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny, Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam, Porky Pig all became part of my addiction. The more comics I read, the greater was my craving. I went on to read Richie Rich, Little Dot, Little Lotta and Casper. Even to this day, I cherish those wonderful and carefree days. As I read, I admired the creativity of the writers and illustrators who created these characters.

 Looking at my interest in reading, my mother rented children’s magazines and comic books for me. That’s how I was able to read all the popular children’s magazines of the day, that were circulating in India. I read Champak, Chandamama, Balamitra and Tinkle. Every month, my sisters and I scrambled to get the latest copy and each of us wanted to read it first. Tinkle was our clear favourite. After all of us finished reading we recollected some of those jokes and laughed again and again. 

 Back then, magazines were popular and they thrived in the absence of cable television. Most of them published a few comic strips that I fondly followed. The Sunday newspapers carry a special page of comics, and I eagerly waited to read them. Tintin, Asterix, Blondie, Beetle Bailey, Hagar the Horrible, Denis the Menace, Hi and Lois, Garfield, The Lockhorns, Calvin and Hobbes etc. were the order of the day.

 One summer, I visited my uncle’s house and stayed there for a week. I was thrilled to discover that he had a treasure chest of comic books. No, I am not talking metaphorically. He had a large, old, metal trunk filled with comic books. I spent the entire week reading all the comics. I returned to my uncle’s house for the next few summers and spent a week there just to read the comics from his collection. He had a very large collection of Amar Chitra Katha comics, Panchatantra, Jataka tales, The Phantom, Mandrake the Magician, Flash Gordon, Archie, Tarzan, Spiderman, Superman and many more.

 Today, many years later, I am lost in my world of work and deadlines. But, I see that my son is enjoying his journey in the world of comics. It’s a different set of characters that have taken over his world. Marvel and DC characters are colouring the imagination of young minds. If you are also a lover of comics then, tell me which comic characters are your favourite.

COVID TIMES

The morbidity of the current phase the world is experiencing needs no introduction. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect something like this. As a child, my Social Studies teacher explained, in detail about a disease, an epidemic and a pandemic and the impact of an epidemic on the economy. The teacher insisted that these topics are important from the exam point of view.

Those long, sleepy, boring afternoons were gone writing down notes about all these topics. I always wondered why Social Studies class was during the after-lunch session. I cursed the Ministry of Education for including these topics in the syllabus.

“With all the advancements in Science, Technology and Medicine, is it even possible to have a pandemic? Why are they making us learn all these definitions?”, I complained to my friends. Today I have to eat my words.
“How did we get here?”, sometimes I wonder. How did we forget to learn from the experience of other countries suffering from this crisis? Why did some national leaders get complacent and what on earth convinced them that this deadly virus will not reach their shores? With a plethora of social media platforms like Whatsapp, TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and what not filling up our airspace and phones with a tsunami of information from every far corner of the earth, how did we not take care and proper precautions to avoid the spread of this deadly disease? Did we really need the government to lay down an iron-handed rule before we take things seriously?

While some people took the required precautions, some of us took to the beach. While some headed to the supermarket to hoard up supplies, some used the time to party with friends and family. I don’t blame any of them, in fact, I never expected the world to come to a standstill, nor did I believe that so many innocent lives will be lost.

Today the hospitals are like a war zone and all the hospital staff are the brave soldiers fighting to save humanity. The police force that normally is engrossed in fighting crime is playing the roles of either a kind mother begging people to stay home or a desperate father who does not hesitate to serve a few hot ones with his cane just to keep people safe. The internet is flooded with sad stories, the newspapers are crying out woeful figures of fresh new cases and news channels on T.Vs, show videos and images that bring tears to the eyes of even the hardest hearted person.

My heart is filled with pain for those who are suffering and fear for the safety of my family and friends. Doubts loom large in my mind about how long will it take for this dark spell to break? When will the economies around the world heal? Is there any use in the blame game that is making rounds in the world of rumours? These dark times forecast a bleak tomorrow. As the world is choked with desolation, all we can think of now is to get down on our knees, look up to the sky and pray.

Pray for hope, pray for the lives that are battling for a breath of air, pray for a safer tomorrow for all of us. Stay home and stay safe.

Don’t Waste Your Forgiveness On Everyone

Many people offend us or hurt us in different ways, all through our life. Some of them apologize for this, some don’t even realize that they have hurt us need to apologize. But, how many times do we forgive people wholeheartedly? I do not mean saying the words, “It’s alright” or “All is forgiven”. I mean how many times do we accept their apology and move forward? I’m guessing it is not many times.

My intent is not to say that we are not forgiving people by nature. In fact, we want to forgive them. But our conscience cannot allow us to forgive them. What could be the reason for this?

Many people say sorry without meaning it. They apologize now but, repeat the same mistake again. Some people make light of their error by joking about the situation. By doing this they are belittling our emotions. In some cases, people apologize and hold a grudge in their heart. They start distancing themselves from us and avoid interactions. All the above actions indicate that the person is not really repentant. Should we forgive a person who is not repentant? I believe we shouldn’t.

I am sure most of you are thinking of the saying, ‘To err is human, but to forgive is divine’. That saying might be true. However, I also believe in ‘Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me’. I love the second saying. What about you my friends? What is your opinion on this?

Quitters Are Not Losers

Many of us have it drilled into our head that quitting is equivalent to failure. We all have heard the proverb, ‘Winners never quit and quitters never win’. So, what exactly is quitting? The dictionary might term it as, to cease an action or course of action. Everyday parlance refers to quitting, as giving up or throwing in the towel or accepting defeat. However, is it that simple?

We are told to, ‘Try and try until we succeed’. But, how long can we keep trying, while the whole world carries on and leaves us behind? It might seem like an achievement that shows our determination and willpower to continue trying. However, what is the cost of all the attempts? What about the opportunities missed while we kept working on one goal? What about the time lost in all these failed attempts to succeed? Is any single goal worth all this?

Some might say that a few goals are worth the cost and that our scientific community and innovators would not have achieved half the world’s greatest inventions if they quit after a few attempts. We can pick any of the greatest innovations of our age, and say confidently that they were achieved only because the scientist did not quit.

Now, coming back to the meaning of quitting; to quit does not mean to give up without making a wholehearted attempt. For any task or goal or aim, we need to plan our path to success and execute the plan with dedication and determination. When faced with obstacles, we should go back to the drawing board and find a way around the roadblock. Then, proceed on our path to success. If we quit at the first sign of difficulties, then we can term the act as giving up. This is wrong and this attitude will never lead to success.

However, despite going back to the drawing board multiple times, if we are not able to find a workaround or if we continue to fail, it may be time to step back and pick another choice. It is evident that with the available resources, you cannot achieve success. It is wise to stop trying until you can find new resources or new ideas. I would not call this quitting or losing or giving up.

Repeatedly trying to walk into a wall and expecting it to become a doorway is not a wise thing. We needn’t stop every time we face a wall. Instead, we should stop this course of action and plan a new way to get to the destination. Just because we quit using plan A does not mean that we do not have a plan B or C to succeed.

Lessons Learnt From COVID-19 Pandemic.

Today, all headlines are dominated by information about or related to COVID-19. Social media too is inundated with the same topic, even comics and jokes are not spared. I don’t blame them for this. If one looks at the latest updates, a staggering number of people are infected in different countries around the world. There are close to 200,000 people affected in 146 countries and the number of fresh new cases continues to rise.

According to the World Health Organisation website, “Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that causes illnesses ranging from a common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).”

In light of this, it is very easy for people to panic. More than fear of our safety, we are concerned about our loved ones who are elderly and vulnerable. It scares us to hear about all the people in China, Italy, Iran, Korea, Spain or anyone in any other country who are suffering and live in fear.

Thinking about what we can do to help the situation has motivated me to write this post today. Here are a few precautions and measures we can take up to help our family and friends, in improving the situation (many of these things we already practice in our daily life).

  • No more handshakes and hugs to greet people. From now on, join your hands and say “Namaste”. 
  • No more touching or rubbing the face unnecessarily.
  • Washing our hands frequently is an excellent habit. Especially after we visit the washroom, before and after meals, before and after we meet people and lastly, after we cough or sneeze.
  • Cover your nose and mouth while coughing and sneezing, preferably with tissue paper or fabric as the germs die after some time on the surface. Always,, dispose of used tissues carefully, so that the infection does not spread.
  • Some of us have the habit of touching different surfaces, even when not required. For example, we run our hands along the railing or rest our hands on a table etc. Try to reduce touching unsanitized surfaces when you are in public places.
  • For now, until we get a grip over the current situation, avoid crowded areas and maintain an arms distance from people.
  • This particular one is important for the current situation. If possible, stock up the pantry to last for two weeks, so that you can avoid going out frequently. I don’t recommend panic buying, but this is just a way to minimize the need for frequent visits to public spaces. 
  • There are many herbs and spices, that boost immunity and help alleviate the problem. Tulsi (basil) tea is said to relieve and prevent respiratory illnesses. Turmeric boiled in milk helps relieve irritation in the throat. Eucalyptus oil helps to ease out nasal congestion. There are many other such small remedies which are worth trying.
  • Take vitamins regularly. A healthy body has a better chance at fighting infection. At the same time, I want to stress the importance of a healthy and balanced diet. Fruits and vegetables supply the body with the required nutrients to build our immune system. 
  • Sleep is as important as a healthy diet. Being deprived of proper sleep can hamper the body’s chances to heal itself. Get a good night’s rest and by that, I mean a full eight hours of sleep. The results will be excellent for your health.
  • Everyone should adopt a mild exercise routine. Yoga has many exercises that help keep the respiratory system healthy. Some very useful yoga asanas are Bhastrika, Kapalbhati, Bahya Pranayam, Agnisar, Anulom Vilom, Bhramari, Udgeeth etc. We can find step-by-step instructions on these asanas, on the internet and Youtube.
  • And lastly, do not panic and stress about what might happen. Watching continuous news updates on the spread of this virus can add to your stress levels. We all know that stress kills, so do not lose your cool over the Coronavirus. Take all precautions and have faith in your preparedness.

These are some things that came to my mind. If you have more suggestions to add to my list, I will be extremely happy to hear from all of you. However, I would like to add here that the above precautions are something that will help us in life, irrespective of a virus pandemic or not. Cultivating these habits will keep us safe in the long run. Wishing you all good health.

It is Time I Make My Own Decisions

How many of us can honestly say that all the decisions we make in our life are our own? Not me. I have been asked this question and I realized that most of the decisions that I make are not my own. I merely do what the situation demands or what I am obligated to do. Are you in a similar conundrum?

All the women would be thinking, such is the life of a woman. As children, our parents make decisions for us. As teenagers, our friends and boyfriends hold the strings. After marriage, our husband dictates our life and later our children do it. But, here is a shocker, men don’t fare much better either. It is either parent, peer pressure, society, a boss, familial pressure that dictates most of the decisions we make. Basically, everyone is being managed and manipulated into making decisions that we don’t agree with them.

A most common example to this point is the college course that one chooses. Most would think that the course would depend on our strengths or on our dream jobs. However, many of us end up taking up a course that is considered to be a popular choice or one that our parents wanted to take up. We end up with the responsibility of fulfilling their dream at the cost of ours.

The clothes we wear are often prescribed by friends and society. Whether we like them or not, we end up following some fashion trends, just so we can fit in. The office we work and our post is mostly determined by peer pressure. How many times have we heard the words, “Your cousin has already got promoted to a manager, how come you are still a…..?”, “We are planning to apply for XYZ interview, why aren’t you applying too?.

Recently, I met my cousin, who went over budget to buy an apartment in a particular locality. Even though the whole place is stuck in litigation due to environmental issues, they bought it. When I asked them why they did not check all this before booking their apartment, their answer astounded me. Apparently, many of their co-workers had purchased property there. They convinced my cousin to go ahead despite the court case. Their logic was when so many people have bought land there, the court will rule in favour of the majority. I found their justification warped, but my cousin could not escape the constant stress from her co-workers.

These are just a few simple examples that I have quoted here. Many of us make more risky and damaging decisions because of family obligations or societal demands. The latest trends of TikTok challenges, Facebook challenges are a case to this point. We have seen many teenagers and children buckle under the pressure of friends groups and take up drinking, drugs etc. So how does one avoid this? How can you become immune to this pressure?

I have observed that self-aware people, confident people, focused people are immune to this pressure to a large extent. When you are aware of your inabilities, more than abilities, you can make an informed decision for yourself. You will not fall prey to emotional blackmail when you are confident in your decisions and abilities. One more way to avoid peer pressure is when you are focused on your goals. Your determination to achieve goals will keep you from being distracted and helps you stick to your course of action. A supporting and understanding family will also go a long way in avoiding these stresses and wrong decisions. At the end of the day, everyone will have to find a way out of this by themselves. There isn’t a straightforward solution that works for all, we need to find the right mix to treat each problem differently.

Depression is Not Always A Psychological Issue

Depression is often seen as a psychological disturbance where a person is persistently sad. The other symptoms include having trouble with concentration, getting easily annoyed by small things, unexplained anxiety, a negative perception of every situation, morbidity etc. The description I have given here is not the textbook explanation of depression or any symptomatic guide to detecting depression. These are traits that I have seen in a few patients of depression that I have encountered.

In fact, I have endured most of these very symptoms at one time in my life. My continuous work stress led me to believe that I might have a serious issue on my hands. So, I booked an appointment for myself and visited the doctor. After hearing my case, the doctor just prescribed a mild antidepressant and some sleeping tablets for me. He did not bother explaining my problem to me or tell me why I needed those pills. I was dismayed at this behaviour, but I still took the medicines. I tried them for 2 weeks and found no improvement. Moreover, I was always sleepy, which got me into trouble at work. When I went back for a followup visit, the doctor wanted to increase the dosage. I was not convinced, so I decided to take things into my own hands.

I did some research on the matter. There were many articles about the seriousness of the illness, the stigma attached to it, the symptoms and possible treatments techniques etc. But, most of the information was only from a behavioural and psychological standpoint. I wanted to avoid taking antidepressants and sleeping pills. I turned to yoga, meditation, walking, and other hobbies to keep my mind stress free and relaxed. It helped to a certain extent, but every now and then, my mind would take a turn into that dark alley where the shadows lie.

This is when I found an article about how nutritional deficiency leads to mood swings, anxiety, depression, fatigue, irritability etc. All these symptoms point towards depression when they persist over a long period. This got me thinking, I immediately booked a lab test for myself to check if my problem was less psychological and more to do with nutrition.

I was having B complex deficiency along with being anaemic. This meant I was having a deficiency of iron, vitamin B9, B6, B12 among other things. The article I had read suggested that a deficiency of all the above vitamins along with magnesium, selenium, iodine, omega 3 fatty acids, vitamin D etc tend to lead to depression. I took the results to a local doctor and he prescribed a set of vitamin supplements and a new diet plan. Within a few weeks, I was feeling more like myself and eventually, I made a full recovery.

What shocked me about this episode, was the psychiatrist that I approached at first, did not ask for any such tests. He did not check about my general health, my eating habits or any other symptoms apart from psychological ones. He was in a hurry to just prescribe antidepressants. My initial research always spoke about the psychological factors and aspects and hardly ever spoke about the impact of nutrition and food habits on our mind. They speak very vaguely about eating healthy food and avoiding junk food. But I had no idea, a simple vitamin or mineral deficiency could disrupt our mind, behaviour and attitude as well.

I was lucky to get out of this mess without any damage done. I want everyone to become aware of the impact of nutrition and healthy food on our body and also our mind. If you suffer from depression, anxiety or any such psychological problems, make sure you also check for any vitamin/ mineral deficiencies and hormone imbalances. I am sure your doctor would have checked on this, unlike mine. But, it is always better to be informed about all the aspects.