Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Simple Choices - By Aruna Venkatraman

A Guest Post From: Aruna Venkatraman
Do we know the difference between a tortoise and a turtle? I didn’t; I just looked it up before penning the last sentence. You can say, most of the time we don’t need to know. Well, it’s only on that one rare, embarrassing moment when an innocent query from a child that leaves us wondering why we never checked it out before!
I’m glad that now I need to spend just a couple of minutes to find such answers, thanks to the Wikipedia and scores of specialist sources online. But how long do you think we can celebrate our innocence from scores of topics that are relevant nowadays- how long will the world’s oil last at the rate at which we consume it? How long will freshwater come through our taps despite the callous wastage we do in overusing it, leaving leaking taps unattended?
No, I’m not an environmentalist, a rebel or a person with a negative attitude towards life. You can say, let such worries lie till we really need to face it; we’ll think of something.
I’m saying, why can’t we start doing our little bit as and when we can?
After all, when I am on a stretcher being rushed to a hospital after my first heart attack I won’t be able to figure out what to do. Besides, it might be too late to be able to do something, even if I think of it.
Increasingly, most health conditions are now falling into the category of “too late to be able to do something, even if we know what to do”, if we don’t sniff them out on time. And they are all becoming younger. Researchers and doctors are just as perplexed as we are, on the suddenness, the variety, and the surprising level of unexpectedness of most ailments. Of course, there is a lot of hope and options nowadays. But, like my very-loved GP says-“why don’t you just start drinking that 2 more glasses of skimmed milk daily, and have popcorn in the evening instead of biscuits?” Simple, isn’t it! All doctors agree that increasingly just taking small, preventive steps go a longer way than we actually realize.
Even fifteen years ago, our folks lived simpler lives. Their low ‘need to know’ interests were supported by a large dearth of information, no medium to deliver that information, low level of awareness that they need to look for such information at the right time. Like my mother casually remarked the other day while I was heaving her masala pestle in the absence of my gym 2 pounder; “we used it so much but we didn’t know that just continuing to wave it around in the air would have somewhat saved our bones in old age”.

Amazing, isn’t it? And so simple. It’s all there- we just need to read, use, and spread that info with friends, parents and folks we know. Definitely, you would agree that, now, the ‘good to know’ has become ‘have to know’. I waited to get my first big health problem, at just 31 years of age, to realize this, so I’m doing my little bit to make sure you won’t need to!

So feel free to join in to this Wikipedia on health. Put in those queries that nag you. Add those lovely tips your gran used to force you to do when young. Know all you can about your health. And give an intelligent, well-informed, broad shoulder to your increasingly hectic, busy doctor, when you approach him next with your health problem.

Cheers to your health!

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