Overdiagnosis – the new mantra of health?

diagnosisIn today’s world, even in places as seemingly harmless as a ladies clubs, people have begun to discuss health and what kind of tests that we all should undertake.

Here, with modern technology and many players playing a role in promoting themselves, the new mantra for wellness seems to be medicines, tests and more tests. In fact, today one of the easiest ways to make money is  not working on making better devices or drugs. It is working on the market for existing drugs and devices by expanding the indication to include more patients. Similarly, for hospitals, the easiest way to make money isn’t to deliver better care; it’s to recruit new patients. Here, screening patients for a battery of tests does end up in not one but many recruits. This is perhaps one of the most successful recruitment drives that is currently running in the world. The simplest explanation for its success is that the medical world and even, public health communities have systematically exaggerated the benefits of early detection and downplayed (or completely ignored) its harms.

There is a complex web of root causes here. Some of it is about money; some of it is about true belief of diagnosis is extremely important. There is also the the legal asymmetry doctors face: while they are punished for underdiagnosis, they are never punished for overdiagnosis.

When it comes to ailments like the one I was diagnosed with, multiple sclerosis, what helped me most of all was looking for solutions while not succumbing to more tests  as soon as I got to know that allopathy does not have a solution as of now.

I did find solutions that have completely healed me and shall be eternally grateful for this.

However, I would also like to also emphasise that these worked because I consciously worked on my body, mind and spirit and did not put the cart before the horse as many people tend to do when faced with challenges that do not have a clear answer.

In my case, the answer has always been try to do your best and leave the rest. This attitude is a truism for for everyone always.

My journey has been chronicled in a book that can be purchased if one wishes at

<http://www.flipkart.com/dancing-life-living-multiple-sclerosis-english/p/itme9bdjmhmjbynn?pid=9789381398814&ref=L%3A-2962529945395445276&srno=b_70

Or

http://www.amazon.in/Dancing-Life-Living-Multiple-Sclerosis/dp/938139881X/ref=sr_1_1/279-7583332-8041567?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1442035925&sr=1-1

Users outside India can buy the book at

http://www.uread.com/book/dancing-life-jamuna-rangachari/9789381398814

The eBook versions are available at

Amazon Kindle: https://www.amazon.in/Dancing-Life-Living-Multiple-Sclerosis-ebook/dp/B01HB9KRDM

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dancing-with-life-jamuna-rangachari/1123950921?ean=9789381398753

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/dancing-with-life-2

 

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Relationships, bonding and recovery

recoveryWhen a person is affected by any ailment, in my case, multiple sclerosis, or MS, it is not he/she who suffers alone. Like many others who suffer from chronic conditions and diseases it becomes a struggle for the entire family. What compounds it for the patient and family is that no cure has been found yet and there are no set lists of dos and don’ts.

There are many family members of those suffering from MS who have been impacted by this ailment and handled it in their own ways. We need to understand we will only make ourselves stronger and wiser by handling it wisely.

Former US first Lady Michelle Obama’s father was a pump operator who was diagnosed with MS when she was young. Despite his struggle, she is proud of the fact that he strived to be a loving and supportive father and helped educate her and her brother; never compromising on giving them a better future. In that sense, he has surely been a role model both for Michelle and for me.

Famous author J.K. Rowling’s mother, Anne Rowling, suffered from MS and died in 1990 at the age of forty-five, before Rowling had achieved staggering literary fame as the author of the Harry Potter series. I truly admire the fact that Rowling has donated a lot of funds to MS research, hoping that a cure is found soon.

In my case, I have seen how this ailment has strengthened my family. In 2013, my daughter was with me during a long walk. At the end, a lady asked me if something was wrong, for my legs were aching and it showed. I got really irritated but just kept quiet. As we were walking home, my daughter, Samyukta, counselled me.

‘Remember when people would ask me about why I had not bought new shoes or dresses for an event, you used to tell me the only person we need to please is our own self. The same is true for you, Amma. You are trying your best to walk a bit more than you can. Even when Appa (my husband) tends to strain himself, it shows. However, he says he knows he has to stretch himself to the maximum extent always. He does not take the comments of others seriously at all. You too should not take these comments seriously. All you need to do is to please yourself,’ said Samyukta.

Wow! This was serious food for thought for me. My daughter had become wise way beyond her age.

Now, the journey continues. Having healed myself, sometimes there are many calls and discussions on health, healing and recovery in my expanded circle of friends. Here, I do feel a tinge of irritation when people do not take the steps I think they should take. Here I need to learn that I cannot and should not judge anyone as each of us is unique.

While it is good to share information, I still need to realise that everyone heals when they are convinced of recovering/ healing as the human mind is supremely powerful and is the real driver of our lives.

dancingwithlifeThose who wish to buy my book on healing from multiple sclerosis can do so at

<http://www.flipkart.com/dancing-life-living-multiple-sclerosis-english/p/itme9bdjmhmjbynn?pid=9789381398814&ref=L%3A-2962529945395445276&srno=b_70

Or

http://www.amazon.in/Dancing-Life-Living-Multiple-Sclerosis/dp/938139881X/ref=sr_1_1/279-7583332-8041567?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1442035925&sr=1-1

Users outside India can buy the book at

http://www.uread.com/book/dancing-life-jamuna-rangachari/9789381398814

The eBook versions are available at

Amazon Kindle: https://www.amazon.in/Dancing-Life-Living-Multiple-Sclerosis-ebook/dp/B01HB9KRDM

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dancing-with-life-jamuna-rangachari/1123950921?ean=9789381398753

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/dancing-with-life-2

 

Histology of healing

cellsHistology is a subject taught to all science students, especially those who study biology and medicine.   it is the study of the microscopic  anatomy of cells and tissues found in plants and animals.

Another diagnostic tool is histopathology that studies diseased tissue. These are powerful techniques but with this being the case, where do we go for solutions were we are detected with an ailment?

This is where very often, as of today, conventional medicine does not have a solution and we need to understand how to harness the power of the spirit and/or the mind as this is indeed the most powerful and complete solution which can not just cure the ailment but transform our lives.

We need to know the body itself can never heal unless we give it a command to begin healing. This command cannot be given by anyone else but our own self.  No doctor, no technique can help unless we begin believing we can indeed heal ourselves. For this, we first need to divorce ourselves from the so called ailment that has been diagnosed and we keep telling ourselves. We could begin by considering cells as miniature human beings. If junk food is bad for the physical body, negative thoughts is detrimental for the mind and soul. Perhaps this is more detrimental than mere junk food for thoughts stay for a longer time, sometimes causing more problems to us in our physical, emotional and spiritual life.

Instead, let us rebuild our own selves.  This is entirely in our control. Each cell can indeed slowly re-emerge as completely fine if we keep feeding it positive thoughts and affirmations. This is fortunately very powerful as the spirit is indeed very powerful and we can make it the ‘boss’ in our lives.

Let us always remember this and rebuild our lives steadily and forcefully.

 

Unconditional Love

loveunconditionalThe language of the soul begins with love. In the modern era, many of us have forgotten this and hence, we do need to go back to re-learning this law that is the primary law of our being complete wholesome human and humane beings.

We need to learn how to love everyone unconditionally — including our own self. This law can enable us to find the hidden strength and splendour within us and others.  Unfortunately, we have never been taught how to love unconditionally.  Almost all of our loving has been motivated by emotional desires programmed into us at an early age. 

The most natural love that we all experience is that of a mother for her child. Miracles are created through this love. Later, we spend most of our lives trying to define and find ‘love’ in all our relationships.

Most of our love experiences have taught us we must earn or deserve love before we can have it and that others must deserve our love.  This is conditional love. This is not love but a business transaction.  

This is why our well-meaning but unskilled attempts to love usually end up in separation and alienation.  

Parents tell their children they must get a certain number of grades to be loved.  My friend, Anita’s (name changed) son was convinced that he should aim to become a doctor as there were successful doctors on both sides of his family. He tried his best but could not succeed. They kept pushing and prodding him. His self-esteem plummeted to the lowest level as he was just not being able to relate to the subject itself. When his lecturers said he would be rusticated, he took the awful plunge of committing suicide.

The above is of course an extreme case but depression and stress seems to be the name of the game in a world that is craving for love, true love. In the area of parenting, many parents have forgotten that what is required from them is just pure love and not proving a point to anyone.  In fact, the most natural love that we all experience is that of a mother for her child. Miracles are created through this love. Later, we spend most of our lives trying to define and find ‘love’ in all our relationships.

In the Chakra theory, this is the second stage of being. This comprises of the Anahata center that is called the love center and the next center, the Visshudhi, that is both about communication and a sense of abundance.

Love comes with the unconditional acceptance of everyone and everything around us.  And how do we do this?  When your consciousness lives in the love centre, we instantly accept anything that anyone does or anything that happens, but of course, we are still entitled to our likes and dislikes.  For instance, a mother will love her child even though he/she upsets the milk and it smashes on the kitchen floor but would take the next steps of course.   In a situation like this, the mother thinks with love which is why she does not get emotionally upset.  This love is great as it does show us what love truly is. Later, when we begin comparing our child with others, the love diminishes and our child begins to sense this and usually gets into a love center of his/her own.

We can do this only by transcending our security, sensation, and power requirements. For it is only your emotional programming disturbs us when the events outside do not conform with the programming that we have conditioned inside of us.  As these requirements or addictions begin to melt away, we begin to experience everything and everyone around us in a different way.  We view them not in terms of how they meet our needs but in just accepting what is happening around us.

We know that if they are consciously on the path, they will similarly accept your moment-to-moment happenings for this is what helps them grow, too.  And if they are not consciously on the path and become angry, that’s their problem.  The only thing we can do to help them is to set an example of strength and completeness.

We begin to find that you can instantly accept what was previously unacceptable emotionally.  We must understand we really have no choice.

Most of us lead our entire lives trying to change whatever is happening all around us. This has to change if we need to understand what is our control and what is not. This itself can take a lifetime to understand.

This is why one of  the prayers I deeply resonate with is the one of Reinhold Niebuhr who said, “God give me the serenity to accept Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

 

Symbolism of Vishnu

vishnuimageIn Hinduism, the religion I was born into is full of Gods, each symbolising something quite deep and profound.

Vishnu who is said to have come to each many times is said to be the preserver of this planet just as Brahma is said to be the creator and Shiva the annihilator.

He is identified with four symbols: conch-shell trumpet or shankh, a discus called sudarshana chakra that whirrs around his index finger, a mace or gada and a lotus or padma.

The conch shell trumpet is a tool that announces one’s arrival. Thinking more deeply, it is actually all about communication. Communicating to others the world  about your aspirations and aims. Sudashrhana signifies awaremeness or experience. The mace or Gadha signifies power and the lotus or Padma signifies remaining unspoilt or untainted despite being among murkiness just as a lotus retains its purity despite being in muddy waters.

This principle, like all principles applies at the individual, societal and global levels.

Now, if we think of all of us as having a Vishnu in us, it is clear that to lead a complete and holistic life, we do need to communicate effectively, be aware of all that is happening around us, utilise our inner power and remain untouched by all the negativity around us,

In society again, we need effective communication, awareness, use of power in a positive way and remaining untouched by the murkiness that is bound to be there.

Naturally, this is how the world is also created. It is we who create the world and our world through our actions and thoughts.

By following the principles of preservation as shown by Vishu, it is possible to keep our planet wholesome and unsullied,

Let us then understand the principles behind symbolism, in this case of Hinduism and Lord Vishnu. I am certain all religions and philosophies must be having similar symbolisms. Understanding these can only enrich our lives.

Comparisons the bane of life

comparison2“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken”, said Oscar Wilde. Truly, in the foolish game of competitions and comparisons that we play, there is too much grief everywhere for absolutely no reason.

 We all are unique and it is absolutely foolish to compare ourselves with another just like it is foolish to compare one fruit with another.

In fact, my wise aunt told me once, “My dear, never compare yourself. It makes you either vain or bitter.” It was good advice but, like most good advice, it was easy to say but could not be followed.

I belong to a family where many are musically inclined. I grew up in North India while many of my cousins were in the South and were all either learning vocal music or to play an instrument. Now, I too loved music and always longed to sing, just for the joy of it but as most of my seemed to know a lot more than me, I was extremely insecure about even opening my mouth, especially in social events. On another note, I was pretty envious of their situation, especially in the musical arena. “How lucky they are that they have so many opportunities to learn, how wonderful it is that they attend the concerts of stalwarts,” I used to keep thinking. Apart from music, I used to think they were studying in better schools, had better teachers, in fact better everything. It was much later that I realised everyone has their own journey in life and it is foolish to compare my journey with theirs.

 Comparison is general just leaves us feeling like we’re just not measuring up to our own expectations or envious, like my wise aunt said.

In the journey of comparison, we keep feeling we are

Not accomplished enough.

Not attractive enough.

Not disciplined enough.

Not passionate enough.

Not smart enough.

Not wealthy enough.

Not _XXX___ enough

It would indeed help if we realise that

 

  1. Comparisons are always unfair.We typically compare the worst we know of ourselves to the best we presume about others.
  2. Comparisons, by definition, require metrics. Here, we need to know that every good thing cannot be counted (or measured).
  3. Comparisons rob us of precious time.We each get 86,400 seconds each day. And using even one to compare ourself or our accomplishments to another is an utter waste of time
  4. Each of us is too unique to compare fairly. Our gifts and talents and successes and contributions and value are entirely unique to us and our purpose in this world. They can never be properly compared to anyone else.
  5. We have nothing to gain, but a lot to lose.While comparing, we are in danger of losing our pride, our dignity and our passion.
  6. There is no end to the possible number of comparisons.The habit can never be overcome by attaining success. There will also be something—or someone—else to focus on.
  7. Comparisons often result in resentment. Comparison results in resentment towards others and then towards ourselves.

If we must compare, let us set the benchmark as our own selves. Like my grandfather taught and sang to us “Day by day in every way, I shall be better and better and better. So help me God, So help me God”.

Illness as a Sadhana

yogaIllness is a kind of sadhana for all of us  Whether it manifests as several days in bed with the flu or the large scale of years of struggle with a debilitating illness, getting sick has a wonderful way of stopping us in our tracks, forcing us into new priorities, and redirecting our lives.

True healing requires coming into alignment with our highest good, and if we address symptoms without supporting this realignment, we probably won’t sustain a state of health and well-being for long. We’ll need to manifest some new event to help us continue the deeper process of change we’re ready for spiritually.

In all my experience, I have found including a sincere prayer of thanking the Universe, the Cosmos or whatever we may call a Higher Presence does make us focus all our energies on positivity and only positivity.

There are many proponents of mind-body healing spectrum who say we’re responsible for the health or illness of our physical body. I really do not want to focus too much on this but do believe that when we take a longer, spiritual view, and let go of the notion that illness is bad or that we must have done something wrong to bring it upon us. All illness can be seen as purposeful, both to the personality and to the soul. The ego, (that is, the part of us that believes we’re defined by the limits of our physical body and, thus, highly vulnerable) can’t help but find illness threatening and regard it as the enemy. The ego, which tries to “control” its way to safety, turns the idea of self-responsibility into an exercise in fearful personal control, with illness being a sign of failure. However, as we address more deeply in another lesson, “responsibility” is not the same as “control.” We can only control what’s within the range of our conscious awareness. Illness is often a way we bring hidden, aspects of self to the surface and open to new options. This is, perhaps, one of its most important functions. So, rather than seeing illness as our failure to be responsible for our health, it’s more useful to view it as a sign that we’re ready to grow. The part of us that chooses illness is the “Self” with a capital “S”, the Spiritual Self that sees our highest good in a way the limited perceptions of our ego can’t.

 

From the perspective of spiritual reality, illness is a step toward wholeness. No one consciously chooses pain or illness, yet the experience of dealing with these challenges can lead us on a journey that ultimately delivers great rewards. I’ve heard many people with cancer and other life-threatening diseases describe their illness as one of the greatest blessings of their lives because it forced them to completely reshuffle priorities and pursue new paths that brought profound fulfillment. The illness gave them permission to make choices they wouldn’t have considered otherwise.

In my case, my grappling with multiple sclerosis has certainly made me a better person, emotionally, spiritually and yes, even physically.

Those who wish to buy my book on healing from multiple sclerosis can do so at

<http://www.flipkart.com/dancing-life-living-multiple-sclerosis-english/p/itme9bdjmhmjbynn?pid=9789381398814&ref=L%3A-2962529945395445276&srno=b_70

Or

http://www.amazon.in/Dancing-Life-Living-Multiple-Sclerosis/dp/938139881X/ref=sr_1_1/279-7583332-8041567?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1442035925&sr=1-1

Users outside India can buy the book at

http://www.uread.com/book/dancing-life-jamuna-rangachari/9789381398814

The eBook versions are available at

Amazon Kindle: https://www.amazon.in/Dancing-Life-Living-Multiple-Sclerosis-ebook/dp/B01HB9KRDM

Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dancing-with-life-jamuna-rangachari/1123950921?ean=9789381398753

Kobo: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-us/ebook/dancing-with-life-2

 

Alexander’s last words

Sometimes, we get teachings from the most unlikely source. Recently, my uncle, whom I would have never thought of bring philosophical shared this known but rarely applied story with me when having a cup of tea

He told me about the time Emperor Alexander lay prostrate and pale, helplessly waiting to breathe his last. He called his generals and said, “I will depart from this world soon, I have three wishes, please carry them out without fail.” With tears flowing down their cheeks, the generals agreed to abide by their king’s last wishes.

“My first desire is that,” said Alexander, “My physicians alone must carry my coffin.” After a pause, he continued, “Secondly, I desire that when my coffin is being carried to the grave, the path leading to the graveyard be strewn with gold, silver and precious stones which I have collected in my treasury.

“The king felt exhausted after saying this. He took a minute’s rest and continued. “My third and last wish is that both my hands be kept dangling out of my coffin.”The people who had gathered there wondered at the king’s strange wishes. Alexander’s general kissed his hand and pressed them to his heart. “O king, we assure you that your wishes will all be fulfilled. But tell us why do you make such strange wishes?”

At this Alexander took a deep breath and said: “I would like the world to know of the three lessons I have just learnt. I want my physicians to carry my coffin because people should realize that no doctor can really cure anybody. They are powerless and cannot save a person from the clutches of death. So let not people take life for granted.

The second wish of strewing gold, silver and other riches on the way to the graveyard is to tell people that not even a fraction of gold will come with me. I spent all my life earning riches but cannot take anything with me. Let people realize that it is a sheer waste of time to chase wealth.

And about my third wish of having my hands dangling out of the coffin, I wish people to know that I came empty handed into this world and empty handed I go out of this world.”

His last words were,Bury my body, do not build any monument, keep my hands outside so that the world knows the person who won the world had nothing in his hands when dying“.

We all know this and it has been told in various ways by many traditions but still fail to know that material wealth is of no use while working on our own inner selves that is our eternal wealth.

My uncle works hard but said he always remembers this story to remind him not to take any success or failure too seriously. This is why I feel apart from an apple a day, we all need a story a day to remain healthy.

 

 

Commonality and not differences

commonalityMy maid, who happens to be a Muslim was here when my sister-in-law was fasting once, abstaining even from water. The season was summer and it was quite difficult to not drink water. My husband and others kept telling my sister-in-law to have something to eat or  at least drink water. “You may get dehydrated in this heat,” she was told. Still, she stuck to her decision and did continue her fast saying “God will take care of me just like He takes care of everything else”.

The next day, my maid while giving a glass of water to my sister-in-law said, “You are right, Didi. God does take care even when we fast during Ramadan. I have been told by so many not to fast but have never felt tired or weak all through the month. They both smiled for they had completely understood each other.

This really was a true moment of solidarity. We often think of all the differences we have with each other but the fact is, we have more in common with each other. Especially in the area of faith, we all believe in a higher power, whatever we may call it. What really matters is we know we will be taken care of as there is someone up there, who always has our interest at heart.

As seen in the little anecdote above, people who understand the true intent behind an act always see the commonality and never the differences.  This is how solidarity is born.  Through and with complete understanding. Without trying to do this, we often keep criticising and judging others which is why even something like a fast, music or prayer is criticized and condemned. Instead, if we just take a moment to look at another’s statement or situation with complete understanding, the world would indeed be a better place.

Club of the 99

bagofcoins

Stories always have a lot to teach us. We may be familiar with the story of a king who, despite his luxurious lifestyle, was neither happy nor content. One day, the King came upon a servant who was singing happily while he worked.

This fascinated the King; why was he, the Supreme Ruler of the Land, unhappy and gloomy, while a lowly servant had so much joy. The King asked the servant, “Why are you so happy?”

The man replied, “Your Majesty, I am a mere servant, but my family and I don’t require much – just a roof over our heads and warm food to fill our tummies. We’re content with that.”

The king was not satisfied with that reply. Later in the day, he sought the advice of his most trusted advisor. After hearing the King’s woes and the servant’s story, the advisor said, “Your Majesty, I believe that the servant has not been made part of the 99 Club.”

“The 99 Club? And what exactly is that?” the King inquired.

The advisor replied, “Your Majesty, you shall see if you place 99 Gold coins in a bag and leave it at this servant’s doorstep.”

The curious king had it done. When the servant saw the bag lying at the door, he took it into his house. When he opened the bag, he let out a great shout of joy… So many gold coins!

He began to count them. After several counts, he was at last convinced that there were 99 coins. He wondered, “What could’ve happened to that last gold coin? Surely, no one would leave 99 coins!”

He looked everywhere he could, but that final coin was elusive. Finally, exhausted, he decided that he was going to have to work harder than ever to earn that gold coin and complete his collection.

From that day, the servant’s life changed. He became overworked, horribly grumpy, and castigated his family for not helping him make that 100th gold coin. He stopped singing while he worked.

Witnessing this drastic transformation, the King became more curious. He summoned his advisor who explained: “Your Majesty, the servant has now officially joined The 99 Club.”

He continued, “There are those people who have enough to be happy but are never contented, because they’re always yearning and striving for that extra coin. They keep telling themselves: “Let me get that one final thing and then I will be happy for life. And this goes on and on..”

We can be happy, even with very little in our lives, but the minute we’re given something bigger and better, we want even more! We lose sleep, happiness and we hurt the people around us who care; all these as a price for our growing needs and desires. Then we’ve joined the 99 club!

Author Unknown

 

This story is familiar. We hear such stories but forget the lessons it has to teach us. The fact is we never learn to count our blessings but look at what we don’t have be it in the area of wealth, relationships or even health.  This kind of discontentment does make us dissatisfied with life itself which is why ‘our’ world and by extension ‘the’ world seems a horrible place to be in. On the other hand, if we count our blessings, our perspective changes and the world correspondingly seems an amazing place to be in.

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