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.

 

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

 

Mild or severe that is only semantics

yoga_postPeople often tell me now that the multiple sclerosis must have been pretty mild. The fact is, mild and severe are just words. Here, I can share only my story. In 2002, I was thirty-three and working as a software professional in Mumbai when multiple sclerosis (MS) first struck me, though it took me nearly four years to be diagnosed and begin the healing process in earnest. MS is an inflammatory disease in which the insulating covers of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord are damaged. This damage disrupts the ability of parts of the nervous system to communicate with each other and the rest of the body.

I was caught by surprise by the various health problems that had started attacking me one by one; for all these years I had been taking reasonably good care of my health. Every morning I took a walk by the sea side. Though I never really went to the gym, I usually used the stairs in my building instead of the lift as a minimum fitness routine.

Since I didn’t know back then that I was suffering from MS, I kept myself engaged in my literary pursuits. Two of my books, One and The Magic Liquid were published in early 2005.

But at the time that my mind was active, my physical condition was plunging low. MS was slowly and stealthily entering my life, though I was not aware of its entry.

So, in a sense, I became a writer at more or less the same stage as MS entered my life … and writing became my tool towards healing myself as well as helping society. I had started writing in 2002 as an outlet for the anger and helplessness I felt after the Godhra riots. Many followed after that. Now my sixth book Dancing with Life: Living with Multiple Sclerosis talks about my journey with MS and how it has changed me as a person. However, before reading this book, you must know what this book is not. This is NOT a medical book of any kind. It is NOT about a universal solution to MS, the ailment I was diagnosed with. It just talks about therapies and thought processes that have proved beneficial to me, and I hope might prove beneficial to others. This has made others also better and essentially, that is my best reward of all.

Essentially, its is a book affirming the power of life, the power of hope, and the power of strong determination to live life with a purpose. It attempts to give hope and power to everyone, whether or not one has a health challenge.

In other words, it is a book that tells us to never give up on life.

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

 

 

 

Cancer injected with a gift of happiness

happinessI met a young mother full of verve in my colony recently. She knew almost everything about nutrition and health. I asked her if she was a doctor or a nutritionist to which she just shook her head.

After she left, another young woman who was sitting next to us told me her story, which one could call heart wrenching or inspiring, depending on one’s perspective. This lady’s young son was diagnosed with leukemia when he was just ten. After a few rounds of chemo , radiation and the works when she found no improvement, for a while she felt extremely  depressed and went into the “Why me?” kind of thought pattern.

The doctors did not have an answer, her friends did not and she just started praying again and again for guidance.

Serendipitously she met a senior in the ward who told her that all she could do now was to make her son as happy as he could be in the days of his life to make his mind and spirit more robust.

With this began her journey of looking for solutions for a complete life for her son. She began consciously giving him healthy, nutritious food and taking him to see all the events he loved. The boy started taking part in all games and sports in the colony, read a lot of books and made many friends everywhere.

With this, the little boy’s life changed from being only about treatment to one that made him look forward to life.  Life for him and the family started becoming joyous with hope for complete wellness injected in the process.

“I do not know what will happen next but I do hope and pray for as must happiness as is possible for my son. This can happen only if I myself remain as happy as I can be. This is possible only with complete faith that I shall be guided on the right path by the Almighty,” became her mantra in life, which is why she became an inspiration to everyone around her.

After all, this mantra is indeed applicable to all of us.

Adieu, Louise Hay

louisehayesWhen I came to know recently that Louise Hay, who had brought in the power of affirmations, hope and faith had left us, I started thinking about what she and her book meant to me.

We all know that Louise Hay has inspired millions of people to heal themselves. As far as I am concerned, I too read her book, Heal your life, when I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS). According to her theory, MS indicates rigidity and lack of flexibility.  In my case, I have always been extremely determined in doing my best in my profession and in all other areas. If one thinks deeply, determination when carried to the extremes does become rigidity as well.  This rigidity usually focussed on the results that I started expecting for my efforts.

Now, I have understood that I need to accept the situation I find myself in and am yes focussed on doing my best but am NOT focussed on the results that I would get.

This brings me to another tenet that I have been taught since childhood, that of the Bhagavad Geeta  which says “Karmanye vadhikaraste Ma Phaleshu Kadachana, Ma Karmaphalaheturbhurma Te Sangostvakarmani”. When translated it means “To work you have the right, but not to the fruits thereof.”  When applied, it  means that our only concern should be about doing your duty to the best of your ability. Don’t worry about the results of your actions for those are outside of your control.

This when applied in our lives is really complete acceptance of the situation we find ourselves in while continuing to do our best in all the areas we find ourselves in. I tried doing this to the best of my ability and found that this ailment was not so dreadful after all. In all areas, I just did my best and did not expect anything. Soon, Voila, I did find myself completely healed through alternative therapies, primarily acupuncture whether one calls it a cure, a remission or recovery. This indeed is the pattern of the universe. Miracles do happen when we accept and then surrender to the divine will.

As far as Louise Hay is concerned more than the cause she had pointed out, what she had given me was an indelible hope that nothing is incurable and we do have the power to heal ourselves.

The affirmation she suggests for multiple sclerosis that I suppose is applicable to everyone is “By choosing loving, joyous thoughts, I create a loving, joyous world. I am safe and free.”

In my case, I did affirm  all the time and it surely did help me in never feeling depressed in any part of my journey of healing.  This I am sure did have a role to play in my recovery.

Reprogram and deaddict yourself

livingfreeMany of us may think addiction is only about substance abuse either smoking, drinking or using drugs. This is actually not true and complete at all. Addiction could be about anything. One may be addicted to sweets, situations or even people. Now, there is nothing wrong with either the people or things we are addicted to. It is our attitude that needs to change.

How do we do this? One thing we could explore is to see how the addiction makes us act mechanically like a robot. I know a friend of mine who would blindly keep eating sweets although she had been diagnosed with diabetes. This of course created problems but she could just not stop. To change the pattern of tests and retests, she had to reprogram herself. Slowly she did begin changing her behaviour and life did begin to change.

The same is true even of emotional needs. Many of us are addicted to other people’s opinion of us. This is surely not necessary and logical. We could be happy when compliments are given but not make it an addiction. To change the old programming, choose one or two short, pithy reprogramming phrases that counteract specific demands.  Thus to counteract the demand for approval and /or compliments, the phrase “I don’t need approval/compliments” would be appropriate.

Similarly for a situation when one is addicted to never making mistakes, we could say, “I don’t have to reject myself if I make mistakes” would help. We could reprogram by replaying the scene and re-experiencing our emotions.  We could get in touch with the suffering your addictions have caused us and with a determination to get free.

Some simple steps we could use are

  1. Close your eyes. Take ten deep, rapid breaths. Tense the  muscles. Build up all the emotional energy we can.
  2. Reprogram with intensity and power.
  3. Repeat your reprogramming phrases with gut-level determination until we feel that they have become part of us.
  4. Put yourself back in the same scene — this time with the new programming in operation.
  5. Reaffirm the new programming by visualizing yourself responding to the situation with new positive responses and feelings based on your new programming. Reaffirm that you can be free of old programming — free to be how you really want to be in order to enjoy all of your life.

With this, let our energy build for a drive toward freedom.

Connect with understanding

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive,” says the Dalai Lama

connectwitheveryoneThis is indeed true for humanity and all human beings in general. The fact is all positive emotions are interlinked and hence when we connect, love increases and therefore our world seems a much better to live in. This is a fundamental truth of life itself.

We do need to know here what to take seriously and what not to. Most of the problems in life itself is because we do not work on understand all kinds of people in the world. The world does indeed consist of different types of people but it is entirely in our control to see how we handle each kind. This is indeed one of the primary tests of life. One of the stories that I still remember in this context is that of a heap of skulls.

A Sufi mystic was passing through a cemetery and he came upon a heap of skulls. Out of curiosity he took one skull. He had always been of the thought that all skulls are almost the same, but they were not the same. There were a few skulls whose ears were joined together; there was a passage. There were a few skulls whose ears were not joined together; there was a barrier between the two. There were a few skulls both of whose ears were joined to the heart but not joined together; there was a passage running to the heart. He was very surprised. He prayed and asked God, “What is the matter? What are you trying to reveal to me?” And it is said that he heard a voice. God said, “There are three types of people: one, who hear through one ear; it never reaches anywhere — in fact they don’t hear, just the sound vibrates and disappears. There is another type, who hear, but only momentarily — they hear through one ear, and through the other ear it is lost into the world again. There are a few souls, of course, who hear through the ears and it reaches to the heart.”

And God said, “I have brought you to this heap of skulls just to help you remember it when you are talking to people. Talk only to those who take whatsoever you say to their hearts — otherwise don’t waste your energy, and don’t waste your time. Your life is precious: you have a message to deliver.”

This tale shows us that though there are different kinds, we need to know how to handle each one of them. Essentially, it is our attitude we need to try to improve. After all, we all have messages to deliver and this is exactly what we need to focus on.

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