By Dr. Alex Ooi
MBBS, MMed (O&G), FRCOG, FAMS, FICS, MBA
Stem-cell technology and applicability is advancing rapidly and its storage is insurance, in that you hope never to need its potential, life-giving, benefits. But the practical reality of the ability to correct a disease by progenitor cells is a stark reminder of how fragile human creation itself is and how prevalent it is we take our bodies for granted when in good health.
When asked to pen an article, I reflected on my experiences in the course of my work and decided to do something basic, non-academic for a change, on an appreciation of the beauty that emanates from the wonder of nature, life.
My pursuit of a career has seen that career become a part of my life — over 30 years on and still loving every moment of it. Managing the problems of patients and the attendant interaction with them and their relatives who come along for their visits, have both been the inspiration and source of a lifestyle philosophy.
The sleepless nights delivering a baby, performing caesareans or major pelvic surgeries can be worrisome but what in life is entirely not so? Stress is a necessity of and gives meaning to life. Patients who embrace and utilize it to bring about good outcomes handle their problems much better. Those who desire a “stress-free life” grapple for an unattainable goal, which often delays recovery from illness. Stress is perceived – even simple acts are very stressful to some whilst a breeze to others. By taking the latter attitude, positivity predominates.
In the course of healing illnesses and managing difficult transitions, I sense that many patients also wish to look and feel good. This led to my incorporating simple life-enhancing protocols for body and mental wellbeing. My sub-interest in keyhole surgery also led me to include liposuction/fat transfer to my range of services — a natural adaptation of a main surgical discipline of working through small openings for a major outcome.
An oft-heard admonition of “age is but a number” is indeed a good attitude to adopt. Patients who take action to manage their hot flushes, tissue laxity, loss of libido, wrinkles, pigmentation, aches and pains, loss of hair, fat in unwanted places, etc besides health issues, and are steadfast in facing up to them, are much better off. Patients who tend to grumble about already reaching 50, 60, even 40 and do nothing to resolve the problems that brought about the conclusions, seem to be locked in disgruntlement. However, those with realistic expectations and are mindful that any medical and life-style advances applied are only to defer the inevitable effects of ageing, (which nevertheless, is a gain in itself) are happier in life.
This one life we have, fraught with dangers and problems, is also filled with much joy and rewards. There is no necessity to push to the limits of indulgence and keeping up with the Joneses. Needs for living a life to its fullest are simple, easily attained and readily enjoyed by keeping a positive mind and a gratitude for the many mercies we receive from moment to moment. Talking about “needs” brings me to the other two ingredients of youthfulness.
Patients who understand that a car needs its cylinders greased, tyres inflated and tank filled, lead a fuller life of less illness by regular, effective (and targeted if for shaping) exercise. This is vital as we age. Mine is gym work of cross-trainer, stretching and crunches. Choose one that suits you and always find the time to fit exercise into your schedule. It will certainly make you feel (release of endorphins) and look good besides the proven health benefits. Even those among my younger patients who do not exercise face more difficulties in both delivering babies and undergoing major surgery. Further, these patients tend to be overweight, a situation with its own set of issues. The body’s ability to handle such stresses is compromised and this is magnified in the case of older patients. We tend to be less active and expend less as we age and thus, older means more exercise please!
As to eating well, well, it is not about how rich or expensive but picking natural foods with reduced calories and fat. It does not mean being choice-restricted as there is indeed a large range of good food. Can be tough for a start and to maintain but once in place, makes for more gain, health and youthfulness. Many patients who do well also look at taking supplements, avoiding medicines and vitamins wherever feasible. And oh yes, quit smoking and reduce alcohol intake!
Be positive, exercise regularly and eat well. These, along with managing disposition and self-image, will go a long way to reducing incidence of and speeding recovery from illness.