I have seen a lot of people who are suffering from hypertension and diabetes. It is as though almost everyone has developed these diseases.
When I was a young man, the only people who seemed to have high blood pressure were those who drank a lot of alcohol and smoked excessively. These were the middle aged men. But then again, people did not set much foot to doctors. If they felt a twinge or out of sorts, they resorted to herbal teas and medicines. They would not tell anyone who asked that they were not feeling well.
Surprisingly, I did not see many victims of strokes. But then again, not many people lived very long. They died a few years past seventy. But that was considered old age back then.
It was the same with diabetes. People learnt, at least the conversation said so, that their blood sugar was high when ants followed the urine. The treatment was often herbal again. People used the karila (bitter melon) bush and other leaves that abounded.
Today medicine is playing an important role, but people still avoid going to the doctor. And there is a reason. Unless one uses the public institutions, medical fees can be cumbersome.
People are less active these days. The experts all say that diet and exercise play an important role in health. However, these days with a plethora of taxi services, people do not walk much. If they have to go anywhere, no matter how close by.
If they are office workers, they sit most of the time; sometimes not even taking the time to get up and walk around. The result is that many young people develop Type 2 diabetes. Their diet does not help.
There was a time when people walked with their lunches. Lunchtime was when people shared what they had. These days, people look for the office assistant to go to the nearest food vendor to buy whatever is on offer. Of course, there is the ever present bottle of Coca Cola, because most people seem to be addicted to that beverage.
All the literature talks about sugar and everyone knows that aerated beverages are loaded with sugar. Dangerous, too, are the energy drinks that so many young people seem to like. The result is that blood sugar levels go up and people suffer.
I have seen too many young people requiring dialysis. I was at the dialysis centre on the East Coast Demerara conducting an interview. The doctor took me into the area where I saw a girl no more than twenty-seven.
I suspected that her genetics had something to do with her condition. But there were the others just over forty. And they are many. For starters, the initial diagnosis shocks them. They take some care to preserve their health then revert to old habits.
Too many times, I heard some of them say, “Something got to kill me.” But when the crisis comes, it is another story.
I had a son who was hypertensive and diabetic. He was also alcoholic. I spoke with him on many occasions, but he always said that he had things under control. Then his birthday came with death close behind.
I had friends who spoke of persistent headaches. Not long after, they suffered a stroke. Just this past week, I met a friend who had migrated. He too suffered from high blood pressure. He got a stroke. As he told me, he did not go overboard with his medication for the high blood pressure.
He was close to tears during the conversation we had. He became philosophical and I could understand. We do not recognise what we have until we lose it.
Six years ago, I recall having headaches. High blood pressure was far from my mind until a doctor assured me that I was hypertensive. For me, that was a death sentence. Worse was to come. I was in New Jersey for some reason or the other. It might have been for my mother’s birthday.
There is a street sign two doors from where my sister lived. I could not read it, but I thought that my sight was deteriorating because of old age.
I was exercising but I was eating everything under the sun. Then I got a serious giddy spell. I crawled home. I went to the doctor on February 15, 2012. I found that my blood sugar was over 400. The doctor immediately ordered insulin, but I declined.
It was more than a week before my blood sugar went down and it has stayed down at normal levels ever since. I shunned sugar, watched what I ate, and exercised like a mad man. That has helped. Junk food is a no-no and I routinely test both my pressure and sugar levels. I am alright.
In fact, my eyesight has reverted to what it was before that spike in blood sugar.
But my friends are not as disciplined as I am and I worry for them. Sometimes medication is not enough as a work mate informed me just hours ago.
As boys, we played like all boys should do. We ran, we swam, we climbed trees and were generally active. That certainly helped once we continued being active as we got older.
Should so many young people go after the fast foods? Then there is the rise in cancers. The armchair specialists blame this on the preponderance of fast foods.
Google is ubiquitous; all the information about these lifestyle diseases are available, but many do not even seek the information. There is nothing better than one’s health.
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