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

 

Advertisements

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

 

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

 

 

 

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.

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.

Say goodbye to worry

As long as we are alive, we have two options, either to live in fear or live fearlessly. To live fearlessly, we need to work on driving it away, thinking there is no other option. In fact, long ago, the when success and failure were the only options, the leaders of ancient Greek armies burnt the boats upon landing on shore so there was no going back. With no way to make it home besides victory, the resolve of the soldiers was strengthened. Similarly in our case, as the only option is to live, let us follow through and face our fear.

I used to be worried about falling down and hurting myself after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.  then slowly began climbing starts one floor at a time and was soon able to combat this terrible fear of falling and moved on in life. It then felt like no big deal at all. After overcoming my fear, I suggest the following steps to everyone –

  1. Start facing the fear daily – Once we have awareness of the fear the most effective way to knock it out of your life is to face it. Start off with small steps and build up your confidence until the fear is more manageable and you are ready for the big action. As you work with the fear more, you’ll also gain more and more awareness of how you can tackle it.
  2. Repeat – Don’t stop taking bold actions until the fear is minimized. The more the action is repeated, the more negligible it becomes. The fact is when we handle fear, whatever it may be, and later realise we actually survived it, many things in life you may have feared previously seems to shrink. Those fears become smaller. They might even disappear. We start thinking that what we thought was a fear before wasn’t that much to be afraid of at all. Everything is relative. And every triumph, problem, fear and experience becomes bigger or smaller depending to what you compare it to. The fact is to gain a wider perspective of human experience and grow we really have to step up and face our fear. In this context, facing our fear can be surprisingly anticlimactic. From a distance and in our mind things may seem very difficult and frightening. Most of the time, it is not true at all..
  3. Take action and get busy -‘Worry gives a small thing a big shadow’ says a Swedish proverb. We can’t sit around think and waiting for courage and confidence to come knocking on the door. If we do, you may just experience the opposite effect. The more you think, the more fear we build within.The reality is that 80-90 percent of what we worry about never really comes into reality. If we combat fear, then more than half the battle is won.

If fear is the enemy, who or what can combat it? The answer is surprisingly simple. Fear can be combated only by its arch enemy, love. Love of all that is wonderful in the world and love for every little event we come across in the world and indeed love of all that is present in life,

Ultimately, the one and only thing that can improve our chances of becoming better is actually in our control, as fear can never be cured by anyone else but our own self.

 

Cinnamon, the balancer

 

In all the research that is going on in the world, it would greatly benefit if the entire scientific community, particularly the doctors know  the power of spices. For instance, cinnamon is a spice that is not just aromatic but also has a lot of medicinal properties and has always been recognised for this since time immemorial.

cinnamonCinnamon is native to Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon and the south-eastern coast of India, while the closely related Cassia is native to China. Cinnamon and Cassia are both small tropical evergreen trees that grow up to 20 – 30 feet tall, with aromatic bark and leaves.It has been used as an ingredient throughout history, dating back as far as Ancient Egypt. It used to be rare and valuable, and was regarded as a gift fit for kings. In fact, even wars have been fought for cinnamon and the Taoists have called it the ‘food of the Gods’.

Coming to our body and health, a paradox in metabolism is that, while the vast majority of complex life on the planet requires oxygen for its existence, oxygen is a highly reactive molecule that damages living organisms by producing reactive oxygen species.

Consequently, organisms contain a complex network of antioxidant metabolites and enzymes that work together to prevent oxidative damage to cellular components such as DNA, proteins and lipids.

In general, antioxidant systems either prevent these reactive species from being formed, or remove them before they can damage vital components of the cell. Thus, the function of antioxidant systems is not to remove oxidants entirely, but instead to keep them at an optimum level. Here, cinnamon is supposed to be very good. Apart from this, it is  considered to be good in controlling diabetes, heart ailments and arthritis.

In my case, I did and do include cinnamon in my diet, particularly after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. For those who are not aware, multiple sclerosis (MS) is an autoimmune disorder of the CNS (central nervous system in which myelin components are particularly targeted by the immune system resulting in demyelination of axons and associated debilitating symptoms, In spite of intense investigations, no effective therapy is available for this disease yet.

Personally, I have benefitted from various therapies (all natural) as I did not and doo not wish to be a guinea pig on all the scientific research going on in the allopathic world. Here, cinnamon has become a part of my life. The best thing of course is that this can be easily done by not making major lifestyle changes. Side effects, if any, are only positive.

Apart from the herbs, my entire journey on recovery has taught me that health and life in general is all about maintaining balance in all areas and yes, listening to what our body, mind and spirit is telling us.

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 NOW 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

A heartfelt review

dancingwithlifeThank you, Kanika Juneja for this wonderful review. It means a lot to me as the greatest reward for any writer is to give a wee bit of hope and inspiration to others.

“Although I tried to remain positive, I had wilted with worry by the middle of my visit. Would there be a quick deterioration in my condition? Would I also end up in a wheelchair? Would I need to use a walking stick? Would I be able to continue to speak properly, without slurring? Would I become blind? ”
A chill ran down her spine when Jamuna Rangachari pondered over these devastating questions. At thirty three, she seemed to have it all : a job she loved, a wonderful family and perfect health. Her world came to a stand still when the doctor diagnosed her with Multiple Sclerosis in 2002.

The questions were so many and the answers, uncertain.
However, one night she decided to take the charge of her life and started to wage a war with her auto – immune disorder. She went ahead to try all the possible alternative therapies to finally find solace in acupuncture, a therapy that changed her life.

From talking about various useful therapies to sharing about her changed life perspective and how faith and determination can help one in overcoming any challenge, this book is a must read for all the people suffering from this debilitating disease.

As an M. S patient myself, I could resonate with not only her fears but her life philosophy that talks about the importance of love and gratitude in one’s life. I would like to conclude by quoting my favorite lines from the book :
” On my M. S journey, I began to understand that every natural thing exists on several different levels at once. It is like a multilayered pudding that had a base, jelly and icing. Every layer is necessary for the pudding to be tasty and all of these layers when combined make it a thing of beauty. In this life, the gross level at which we can see and easily understand things ends at the tangible body…. Above these layers is another layer, which is even more powerful. This is the layer of what is called karma, fate or destiny. It is essentially acceptance of the cards that are dealt to us by life. We can communicate with this layer only through prayer, positive belief and gratitude for the small mercies God or the universe has bestowed on us. ”

When one has such a powerful view point, one can not help but ‘Dance with Life.’

Affirmations, Visualisation, Faith et al

 

visualisationWhen I was initially diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, the primary thing I had to combat was my emotion. I did not know what was going to happen next but then, started thinking differently. After all,  who knows what is going to happen the very next moment in the journey of life? I started thinking only about possibilities.

In the process, I realised that the plethora of information on the internet, while can be pretty useful can also be a nightmare if we take it too seriously. As far as ailments go, the less one reads about what can go wrong, the better it is for our own health and wellbeing.

I think we need to listen to our own self in the area of body, mind and the spirit is what we need to cultivate instead of focusing on negativity and statistics.

If fact, if medical statistics were indeed to be proven right, most of us would be dead in a world where there are just too many ailments floating around.

So, what does one then do?

I  have experienced that it is a firm focus on success stories and affirming and visualising that we too will be one of the success stories is the only thing that we can do our own lives better. This could be called the power of attraction, the secret, inner healing, faith or all of these combined. Again, in today’s word there is too much focus on semantics or not the actual implementation. The fact is, the ability to see things before they actually happen is what enables us to pursue our dreams and ultimately achieve them. In fact, the better we visualize the future we want, the better our chances to make it happen. Whatever we may call it, let us always visualize a better future to make our present moment better and increase the chances of a better future.

Let us then focus on the present and do all that we can do in the present moment to make it better, not just for us but everyone around us. If nothing else, it would make us focus on possibilities and change our mindset for the better. This is bound to create a better world for all.

Today, by working on the body, mind and spirit, I am happy to say I have indeed healed completely.

 

%d bloggers like this: