Friday, 13 January 2012

Thought Picnic: Some Unsolicited Advice

Enduring hope

I sit here almost exhausted of too many things I could care about with only one thing that keeps me going, I have life and I have hope no matter how remote that seems.

I woke up very early to make my home of 10 years presentable, we are having a photo-shoot of sorts because I have had to put it on the market and the first set of pictures were somewhat unsatisfactory.

Observing and reserving

This rough journey started a few years ago, benign and almost unconcerned a brownish blotch appeared on my left foot and once I noticed it was quick to research it and came down on the view that it was just athlete’s foot, so to the chemist I went can got Mycota cream in what had become a regime of self-medication for decades of my life.

Until then, I probably had only been to see a doctor 5 or 6 times in more than 15 years and I only did because I was in serious pain or needed emergency treatment by reason of a mugging that happened some 8 years ago.

Besides, I was on vitamins and other kinds of supplements, all with the view to keep me healthy and with a mind that seemed to defy all semblances of frailty.

Don’t leave it too late

This time, I was wrong. In the weekend, I finished reading the biography of Steve Jobs and also saw that he was so right and determined in many things but when it came to his health, he was very wrong and by the time he joined up with his doctors to ameliorate the situation, he was already too late in spite of and despite the resources he could call upon to address the situation, the 9 months of folly between discovery and effective professional medical intervention, he was already in terminal decline.

I have been fortunate and lucky, I never had any of the resources he had but in the Netherlands where I moved to over 11 years ago to start a new life we have a medical system and social medicine scheme that can provide the best medical treatment available and I have some of the foremost medical brains on my case.

What looked like athlete’s foot some 9 months before was worse, what I put down to tiredness by reason of a somewhat sedentary life was in fact my life ebbing away, I was at a point where without intervention I would have been dead within 5 weeks – I had skin cancer.

Restarting is tough

It took a hospital bed to ground me to that stark reality, a life almost at zero and the struggle to rebuild my life again and there is much that remains uncertain 27 months after that diagnosis – I have seen plenty and I have seen penury, I have hoped against all hope to do amazing things I could never have done when I seemed to have it all, I have lived a wonderful life.

Despair has probably been kept at bay, depression I have had to contend with and humiliation constantly rams my portals oblivious of the things I have borne, felt or feared – but each day comes and each day goes of what is left of this life and what one must do to make it even more significant if one has that time.

Much of this could have been prevented in terms of immediate medical attention and even before that making certain career choices that might have provided a more secure income stream but like I have written before; if you have your health you dare to think yourself invincible, couple that with youth and you almost think you are immortal – Nothing, my friends could be further from the truth, we are neither invincible nor immortal.

Use doctors well

There is one piece of unsolicited advice I have to give and it pertains to your health. Your health is not a plaything, it is critical to every facet of your wellbeing and without it you only have your hopes to live for if the pain lets up for just a moment.

Medicine is there for a reason and doctors have a function and purpose we will do well to engage. We can if unsatisfied obtain a second, third or fourth opinion but those opinions are not to be trifled with – some things require immediate action despite our foolhardiness or fears; our bodies are not inanimate.

If you have adopted a lifestyle of self-medication and Internet-researched medicine, you need to err on the side of caution. Without the requisite medical knowledge what your research should do is equip you with questions to ask the professionals and ensure you get satisfactory answers but do not ever pretend to become your own doctor – even doctors know to see other doctors for impartial advice and help.

Now for a bit more house-cleaning to do – I used to get someone to do all this for me.

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