Friday, May 27, 2005

Injury Time

It has been one of those months! About 3 weeks back I burnt my wrist by accidentally pouring piping (via the microwave) hot porridge over it. The result being a sight that appeared to resemble 1st degree burns. This was coupled two weeks ago with twisting my ankle while popping out for a quick supposedly timesaving run.. So much for trying to make good food and attempting to get fit! Saying that, none of us can predict what is going to happen next.

One of the things I have learnt since my most recent injury is the difficulty associated with getting back to the road of recovery. Most people are probably tired of my story of how I was about to launch into an accelerated pace and then unknowingly putting my foot into jeopardy between a pavement slab and a grass verge. However, in my view the most cutting part of the story is what happened when I fell…

Landing on my hands and onto a grass verge between the pavement area, I immediately tried to sit-up. I shrieked words to distract my brain from the pain from the ankle area. I also noticed two girls on the opposite side of the street. It appeared as if they were laughing at my fall, or maybe I was just being paranoid. They were standing in front of their house, inside their drive-in. After a few moments, or literally a few seconds they were joined by their mother, who appeared to have emerged from parking her car in the same drive-in. She too chuckled before they collectively marched and retreated to into their house, closing firmly the front door behind them. In the meantime, I rocked backwards and forwards and tried to stand-up.

The walk home took about 10minutes so the run I went on was disastrous. Firstly, because of the injury sustained and secondly because the total calorific cardio burn probably resulted in very low (single digit) number!

Recovering from an ankle sprain or any personal injury can be a drain on ones sources, not forgetting those around you that have to put up with, in my case, the fuss I make. What was even more disappointing was the attitude that I had to put-up with on the day of the fall. I wondered what I would do if someone had fallen down in front of my house. I would certainly rush out and see if they were OK.

If we magnify the varying attitude to each other from a worldwide perspective, we know that the road or house we live in is simply territorial. Eventually, each country is joined by the same soil. Possessiveness about national boundaries is irrelevant. The world is already injured by the rate of deforestation, affecting us all, for example, one country produces 25% of the world’s pollution but has a 4% recycling performance. There are also those that cannot receive enough aid or drugs to reduce their pain due to disease. Are we no better than those that laughed at my fall by ignoring the suffering on our doorstep?

Ending on a positive, its great that there are many that give selflessly and are an example to others. Instead of chasing celebrities that are only reflecting one dimension of life, i.e.: a reflection of our own, collectively we need to work on not standing for politicians that provide limited smiles of assurance. Today the world needs less time to be spent on deliberating pain and more on reducing injury time - with the potential of accepting our responsibility to each other. Write to your MP to put pressure on the UK government to consider that the G8 summit in GlenEagles in July could make a difference to reduce the world’s suffering.

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Friday, May 20, 2005

Seeking an alternative cure

While doctors are reluctant to give credence to cures that seem unexplained, some practitioners in alternative health techniques are happier to leave open this soft-focus door.
Symptoms of even serious conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and multiple sclerosis can vary from week to week and tumours can very occasionally, head into spontaneous remission. There are documented cases of all the symptoms of cancer disappearing, at least temporarily, when no treatment is being administered.

There is also something called the placebo (a substance containing no medication and prescribed or given to reinforce a patient's expectation to get well) effect. Many doctors say that people often credit an alternative treatment with producing a miraculous improvement when what is happening is, in fact, simply temporary relief resulting from the psychological effect of the treatment. That leaves swaths of alternative medicine open to the charge that they offer only unproven therapies. Some could suggest that this may mean that quacks of all sorts could be let loose on the public. More importantly, we need proper systems to control therapists. With the exception of chiropractic and osteopathy, which are regulated by law, alarmingly anyone can set up shop as an alternative practitioner and attempt to perform all manner of intimate activities on people, regardless of their skill!

However, writing off the placebo as no more than a trick of the mind may be a mistake. More and more research into complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) suggests that the placebo can produce powerful effects. In terms of making people feel better, one explanation is that the pleasant experience, and the expectation of cure, makes the body release pain-relieving chemicals called endorphins. Another suggested explanation is that immune system suddenly starts to work - possibly because of an improved psychological state in the patient. ‘It’s about the power of belief,’ says Professor David Peters, the editor of the book Understanding the Placebo Response in Complementary Medicine. ‘The more we know about the way the body and mind work together, the clearer it is that the mind affects every cell in the body.’

I believe that our bodies are so complex that different treatments work for different types people. Sometimes a combined treatment can work or type maybe suitable.

I certainly do not rule out the power of faith as there always a need to have faith and see this as a different point. An optimistic outlook helps but this is easy to say and difficult to accept if one is actually suffering.

There appears to be a missed opportunity here. For example, the need for a rigorous / solid study that seriously engages with researchers to develop new scientific ways to verify the possible or subtle effects of complementary care. Dialogue between clinical research and those that have a rich heritage of traditional cures or knowledge is essential.

There is much that we do not know about the power of cure’s that is within nature itself.

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