While on a shuttle bus from the airport to the city, I found an old man next to me. He was coughing incessantly. He touched my shoulder to ask if at all I had a tablet for cough. In fact, he saw me taking one before. Politely I admitted I got none of that right then. After a while, he tapped on my thigh, “Sir, will you please give me any tablet?” I was nonplussed. I thought for a while and relented. Presto, his cough stopped. A few minutes later his stop came. Before getting down, he paused and shouted out a question. The rest of the passengers were all ears. ‘Sir, what was the tablet you gave me?’ Sincerely I shouted back, “Sorry Sir. I had only one of those, and I forgot its name”. He got off the bus, disappointed. Then a young man who was sitting across the aisle asked me, ‘Sir, can you recollect its name before you get off. My dad too suffers from cough?” I ignored his plea. Before getting off the bus, I showed the eager young man a buttonhole on my shirt with the missing button. Alas, some ailments/ symptoms are imaginary, and any medicine is nothing but belief, trust or just plain good-old faith.
Most medicines are palliative in kind, and they only take care of the symptoms, exceptions being in antibiotics and surgical interventions. Our body really cures itself of our most ailments, using its own defense or corrective mechanism. This is thanks to our DNA and other programs that I guess must be fighting the viruses, epidemics and endemics. Next, hygiene and our good habits prevent many of the avoidable diseases. Half the ailments lie in our mind with cure obtained only therein. The first question in a greeting from anyone goes as: how is your health. We habitually give a standard reply and say that we are quite OK, irrespective of whether we suffer at that particular point.
I know a man who was admitted into an emergency ward only because he had met with at least ten people in a row that morning, and all of whom enquired him only casually why he was looking dull. In fact he was hale and healthy, and on way to his work.
In today’s media, print and visual, health as a topic occupies a predominant slot/column. We have even dedicated TV channels for our good health. Health tips are ubiquitous, be they oral, printed or telecast. We tend to assume that were we to know more about health, we can get over our illnesses faster. Commercial advertisements for improving health are only aimed at promoting sale of health products. They gain public confidence while banking on consumers' hope and insecure feelings. Only piddling awareness they instill. On the other hand, sincere efforts from the governments to educate masses on health remain a far cry. Despite this, even lay people are knowledgeable about vital numbers involving BMI, BP, Cholesterol, etc. It is a welcome development no doubt. Looking at clinical examination reports the patients are able to tell what should be the normal range in test values for a healthy individual.
The other day I underwent a nuclear scan for my two-decade-old operated heart. After my reports came in, my radiologist advised me to ignore the images beamed on his monitor along with figures and graphs. He advised me that I should rather be more concerned about how I actually feel inside my head.
These days, younger generations are learning more on health from Google, Wikipedia, et al. The drug portals on the net throw more than adequate or necessary light on health, medicine and alternative cures. Quackery is on the rise. Many medical practices and drugs that do not go through exhaustive clinical trials are entering the public domain as ‘sure’ cures.
In the absence of medical care that is adequate for our vast country, something or other seemed better than having nothing at all. In my humble opinion, most of the alternative medicines are just honey, joggery, and some innocuous substances. This is when they do not to contain opiates and steroids, that god forbid. However, alternative cures go a long way in helping certain patients recover faster, due to the latter’s staunch belief, either in the medicine or the giver or both, via patient’s psychosomatic route. All said and done, a kind word coupled with a tender personal touch will go a long way in any cure. Let good faith in one’s own well-being assure the sick a faster recovery, of course supplemented by their sincere prayers.