Dementia – can you escape the inevitable?

posted in: Times of India | 0

I have written about many diseases.

Some like Julius Caeser, simply marches in…bold, brazen, no bars held and very often fatal. Others are the giggling, silly types. They pose no threat to life. They come seasonally, tease, flirt, and wither away with time. Then there are the serpents in the grass types. The perfect camouflage before the final hiss.

In complete contrast to all others that exist, Alzheimer’s Dementia as a disease is an entirely different reptile. An absolute sadist that almost pleasures in its slow execution. Objectively, it touches none. From the toes to the tip of the finest hair, nothing gets ruffled. In other words, there’s no external insult. What we have instead is a functional ruin. An inside out annihilation of God’s most chosen subject.

Loss of memory, loss of cognitive skills, loss of intellectual capabilities…complete rubble beneath a smooth architecture. Where do we stand now? How are we, scientists, physicians, and humans dealing with this rampant newcomer? Are we doing enough? Time to regroup ourselves.

Experts in Alzheimer’s have identified a new category called…

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Prescription drug addiction: When physicians become drug dealers

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It was always there. Physicians overprescribing controlled substances weren’t born last night. For decades opioids have been prescribed with complete comprehension of their deleterious effects. There was knowledge that these prescription drugs introduced addiction. That these drugs were sold on the streets were also known.

Why this fracas about this new found epidemic? What has triggered the global nerve so fiercely? Not difficult questions. Agonizing literature of infants born from mothers hooked onto narcotic prescriptions, now suffering from both adverse and withdrawal effects finally dented an utter nonchalance that had shrouded the practice of medicine. This was a disaster that was waiting to happen. We now have an epidemic that has spilled into a new generation.

I have always been a firm advocate of governance in education. It is dangerous and fatal to have knowledge that does not possess conscience. More so in medicine, that is dynamic, rapidly evolving and ultra-sensitive. And here lies the tragedy of this epidemic. The very same men and women who are in the business of saving lives are the points of entry to this new avenue of human annihilation. For those hardened in sin, statistics may not matter. But the look of thousands dying every year from prescriptions can be downright nauseating.

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An evening with a professor and a politician

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When was the last time you heard of a meritorious student, etched in academic brilliance opt for a walk of life riddled with conflicts, chaos and unending challenges? You might argue, rarely but not unheard of. And I would agree. For before Congress became a circus of revolving clowns, we did boast of the very geniuses entering politics with the bare dare of the very courageous. But times have changed. The shoeshine boys have been replaced by the rugged, the rustic, the ridiculous many mouthing tons of rubbles.

Interacting with Tathagata Roy, chief engineer, lawyer, author and professor turned full time politician was thus a refreshing saunter into the good old vintage days of Indian politics. I caught him one reluctant New York summer, close to an evening… the breeze a gentle tease, the wounded sky destined for the dark. We huddled and let him speak.

But for the followers of facts and figures, some statistics first.

If you have heard of Professor Roy then you are either from West Bengal, or an engineer affiliated with the first metro rail of the country or a lover of Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, the erstwhile founder of the Bharatya Jana Sangh.  On the other hand if you haven’t heard of him, I won’t blame you. For he is neither the one to thunder the podium, nor the genre to generate “Friends Romans, countrymen lend me your ears’ kind of response.

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When obsession is a disease

posted in: Times of India | 0

It’s amazing how emotions trapped in human mind toss and turn under the command of time. What is innocence in childhood turns ignorance in an adult. Rebel in a country is a patriot to the other. Taciturnity in a classroom is obedience in a church. Forever chased, emotions turn fugitive to the relentless hunt of a society restless by nature.

Barring one infamous exception.

Obsession. An ubiquitous human emotion perennially present from childhood to adulthood, from cradle to the coffin. From an obsessive husband to an obsessive mother to any obsessive ritual, this is one heck of an emotion that is obsessed by default. We physicians call it a disorder.

I am always leery of the expression ‘genetic influence’. For, one, it adds an air of profundity that a disorder should not enjoy and two, it transcends a life span and seriously challenges our management. But like so many others, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) does have a strong genetic component. And like many more, environmental factors (like a certain streptococcal infection) also adds to the influence. Despite all these proclivities, scientists have reclaimed grounds by capturing a circuit in the brain, a pathway through which these compulsion traverse: cortico-striato-thalamo-cortical (CSTC). This is important and a landmark breakthrough for now we have a way of tampering with this disorder’s relentless march.

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Why all physicians should watch Munnabhai M.B.B.S

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It does not have the somber ambiance of The Doctor, where a brash MD himself succumbs to throat cancer and is hushed to humility. It does not carry the macabre interaction of a supposedly psychologically disturbed man and a tyrannical nurse as seen in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Neither does it inspire an awakening as Philadelphia did through a gay lawyer fighting AIDS.
Munnabhai MBBS is anything but the tempting medical plot hashing out tears, tension and hope. It walks clear of such obvious seductions. Truth be told, the movie is as loud as it can get, carries all the ingredients of Bollywood absurdity and harps on emotions, raw and running. But take a moment to peer beneath the rubble and you would smell a treasure. A rare treasure’s takes on a mission that has degenerated into a profession soaked with cynicism and slit throat parlance. And I am no film reviewer.
Let us take an earthly stand. When was the last time, we physicians have put our right hands up and taken the oath that we would take care of patients over and above vested interests? When was the last time, save glorious exceptions, we have crossed the borders of our financial gains and taken a bow for the penniless sufferer? When was the last time we thanked the hospital sweeper for his services to patient care? For that matter, when was the last time a medical book was written to highlight the absolute necessity to reach out to a stage four cancer patient other than through mindless chemotherapy and pain medications? Fact remains that medicine, like none other profession has become the yardstick of a cultivated upper lip vocation, to pursue and prevail. In our pursuit for perfection we have lost the imperfect patient.

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Yoga, through lens: A refreshing endeavor

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The setting was perfect. Sunk in an affluent ambiance of baroque vividness, the Beaux Arts street façade of New York’s Indian Consulate had all the splendor and reminiscence of Hardouin Mansart’s style of French Renaissance. .
Lodged in the reception Hall of this Indiana limestone construct heaving under a mansard roof of blue slate, I first met Benoy Behl. One did not know from the calm pitch of his voice that he was only a few minutes away from his lecture and demonstration at the Consulate’s monthly media lecture series. In the company of a very scholarly Consul General Dnyaneshwar M Mulay, we floated in cheery abandon from history to philosophy to ancient India…

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WordPress Resources at SiteGround

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