Joy and Peace

I subscribe to a variety of medical literature from diverse sources.  Among the most enlightening of these is the MayoClinic.com feed which routinely churns out accurate medical information in layman-friendly terms on topics that affect the entire household.  But, today’s update caught me by surprise!

It was a short but cogent piece on “Energizing the Human Spirit“, written by an Oncologist from Mayo by the name of Edward Creagan.

Here’s the full text (as it’s too short to quote partially without losing its essence):

Let me share with you an intriguing observation. While visiting Central America as part of a medical program, we stopped by a prominent hotel. In the courtyard was a gathering of professionals in their late 20s and early 30s who had all the appliances of success.

Designer leather jackets, designer eyeshades, and the other mark of success, the laptop warmly embraced in a leather case. They were not happy campers. I did not see one smile. There was a palpable tenseness in their posture as they awaited the opening of a technical business meeting.

Across the courtyard were the custodial staff and the groundskeepers. They also were of the same age, but there was an infectious joy in each of them. The smiles, the laughters, the sense of camaraderie were in stark contrast to that of the professionals.

So, what am I trying to say? What I saw was simple. Joy comes from relationships, peace comes from relationships, and the toys and the trinkets and the gadgets, while important for daily lives, do not bring us peace and joy.

So, as we reflect on the winding down of the autumn season, and as we prepare for winter here in the Midwest, what else can we seek out to bring that joy and that peace that so energizes the human spirit?

It’s worth thinking about, isn’t it?

Motivation Secrets

One of my all-time favourite blogs – Zen Habits – recently posted yet another gem, this time on The Only Two Secrets of Motivating Yourself You’ll Ever Need:

… The more I learn about it, the more I realize that motivation isn’t that complicated.

Sure, there are numerous tips that can help, numerous tactics and strategies I’ve used with success. But it really all boils down to two things.

And those two things are so deceptively simple that you might decide to stop reading after I name them: 1) Make things enjoyable and 2) Use positive public pressure. But read on for more on how to use those two things to motivate yourself for any goal.

You really should take the time to go through the entire post.  You’ll recognize much of yourself, and your friends & family, in the examples and challenges written about.  And, best of all, you’ll also find the solution to them. 

Thank you, Leo!  I’m heading home with a print-out right now…

Break Down

Almost a year ago, when I wrote a post entitled “Heart of the Matter“, I did not know that the subject would assume so much more significance for me personally, in such a short time.

Last month, when my mother had suffered “acute cardiac failure” – a heart attack – all we could do was rely on the folks in the ICU to help bring her to a stable level.

She spent nearly 10 days in the ICU, but recovered.  Once discharged, she was advised to rest at home for two weeks, after which appropriate investigations and a course of treatment would be explored.

At the next consultation with the cardiologist, we were advised an angiography.

The truth was to hit home soon.  I already knew from earlier readings that “intervention cardiology” was one of the biggest money-spinners in the entire Health industry, across the globe.  I also researched some more and, predictably, discovered that the use of stents is now a very common (and very expensive) course of treatment in most cases involving a non-fatal heart attack.

In Indian terms, each individual stent placed inside the heart would cost around 200,000 rupees.  And, only the cardiologist would be able to decide on how many stents would be necessary in a particular patient – the same cardiologist who would stand to gain significantly in economic terms, if he advised the use of stents!

Even the angiography procedure itself, was not without risk.  After all, we were talking about a 70-year-old woman who weighed 30 kilos, had just spent 10 days in the ICU and had a 20-year history of bronchial asthma and a 3-year history of hypertension.

I’d have to learn the basics of cardiology very quickly, in order to help decide on the best course of action.

What followed is several hours of googling and reading other scientific literature, and numerous consultations with intervention cardiologists of repute… just to determine how we should proceed under the circumstances.

There were so many questions that needed answers: How soon do we need to get the angiography done?  What about other non-invasive options like a Magnetic Resonance Angiography (MRA) or a CT Angiography?  Do we need a Thallium Scan?  If so, should it be done before or after the angio?  If we do need a stent, should it be a medicated one?  Etc. Etc. Etc.

In the end, thanks to all the reading and being able to find a cardiologist within the circle of known friends, we were fortunate to get good advice at the right time.

(If any of you do need to know what I now know on this subject, write to me through this site and I’ll tell you all about it.  Bottom line:  The decision needs to be your’s.  And, you need to know a bit about all this, to make an informed one!)

The coronary angiography was scheduled a few weeks ago, and the good doctor found all major arteries clear of any blockages.

There would be no other need for any intervention, for the time being.  She would go home to make a full recovery.

Read More :

Drug Eluting Stent Overview – Angioplasty.Org
Drug-eluting stents: Do they increase heart attack risk? – MayoClinic.com

Cross Roads

I believe it was John Lennon who observed : “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

We had big plans for July.  For one, it was my birthday month!  The idea was to have a good time, of course.  Dinner with the folks, going out with the kids, maybe even a quiet meal (minus kids?) with the missus, if possible!  We’d even booked a weekend getaway to a nearby hillstation resort.

Then, Pumpkin came down with a bad case of the flu.  It was right around the birthday.  It took nearly 10 days to get her rid of the bug.  Meanwhile, lots of discomfort, fever, cough and sleepless nights.  She also missed school for a few days.  Needless to add, the weekend getaway quickly got away from our hands.  But, she started getting better.  And, we thought the worst was over.

Then, Ma came down with a really bad asthma attack.  Or so we thought. 

After a day of increased asthma medications, when it refused to abate, we took her to the physician to find out that she also has a bad chest infection and a very rapid heartbeat.  She needed to be immediately hospitalised.

So off we went to the hospital.  A routine ECG and a 2D echo later, we were told that it was a massive heart attack, and a chest infection and an asthma episode!

Since then, she has spent an entire week in the ICU, on an aggressive course of drugs through an IV and a central line, to help control her respiratory function, her blood pressure, her cardiac failure and what not. 

At one point, the chances of survival were reportedly less than 50%.  Frantic calls were made to all the near and dear ones.  But, she came through it.

Today, she is finally out of danger, and is being moved out of the ICU. 

Of course, the road to full recovery will be a long one.  But, we’re moving in the right direction now…

The Benefits of Failure

A blog I recently discovered – Lives Less Ordinary – is already beginning to reap rich rewards! 

Through it, I chanced upon the complete text of J.K. Rowling’s commencement address at the annual meeting of the Harvard Alumni Association. 

Rowling’s speech is rich in inspiration and wisdom, and a must-read for any one, regardless of age or background.  Most notably, it covers two subjects: 1. The Benefits of Failure, and 2. The Importance of Imagination.  I was most intrigued by the first.

While it’s impossible to reproduce the essence of her speech without reproducing it in entirety, here’s just a brief glimpse of why it is worth reading… and re-reading…

Ultimately, we all have to decide for ourselves what constitutes failure, but the world is quite eager to give you a set of criteria if you let it…

So why do I talk about the benefits of failure? Simply because failure meant a stripping away of the inessential. I stopped pretending to myself that I was anything other than what I was, and began to direct all my energy into finishing the only work that mattered to me. Had I really succeeded at anything else, I might never have found the determination to succeed in the one arena I believed I truly belonged…

You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.

If you’ve ever feared failure or experienced success, you can benefit from this.  Read the entire speech, today.