Life Begins At...

The Retiree Magazine Summer 2011-12

Life Begins At.....

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Chronic illness – Do we have a responsibility in it? Dr Mary Casey A woman who I will always remember from my nursing career, presented to the accident and emergency department of the hospital I was working at numerous times each year with asthma. Wiser, not older! By Dr Mary Casey The woman lived in a situation where her husband was controlling and angry, her adult sons came and went as they pleased and, like their father, they did not treat her respectfully. I spoke with her on many occasions and, over time, observed that her admissions to hospital with severe asthma attacks followed family fights. When confronted with this truth, she would go into denial and defend her husband and sons regardless of their inappropriate behaviour. She made statements such as, "I shouldn't get angry" or, "I should have done this or I should have done that". She always left admission to hospital for treatment until the last moment when she could hardly breathe. One afternoon, she arrived, and despite hours of our exhausting endeavours to save her, she died. Sadly, many people in this world are sick; some chronically. There are more and more new diseases being identified every day, and the more common diseases are escalating. The prevalence of diseases are extremely high: diabetes, strokes, heart disease, high blood pressure, migraine headaches, arthritis, bowel cancer, lung cancer, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, multiple sclerosis, obesity and depression, to name a few. Healthcare costs are soaring at an alarming rate. Billions of dollars are spent on research, yet these diseases continue to escalate. There have been no cures for many. While there are no accurate figures for the number of us taking medication, in my 30 years in nursing – including assistant director at a hospital and now CEO of Nursing Group - most 162 THE RETIREE SUMMER adults over 40 are on some form of medication. Real health problems do exist, however very few of us look beyond medication for the answers. Fortunately we are hearing more about prevention these days: improving our diets, lifestyles, fitness and thinking. The last factor – our thinking – is often overlooked but I believe extremely important. I believe if we are in an almost-constant state of negativity – where fear, guilt, resentment, anger and the like eat at us over the long term – we are resisting something and our body responds accordingly. As such, awareness can be an additional important step in healing. Awareness is the easy part; however taking action is the challenging part. Making the effort to be excited about life, exercising regularly, eating nutritious food regularly, developing and maintaining a positive outlook, letting go of long-held negative emotions such as anger, fear or guilt can contribute enormously to our health. More research is being done by doctors, cardiac specialists and endocrinologists looking beyond science for reasons for illnesses and diseases. Unconventional cures are proving more that how we live and think contributes enormously to our health. Research shows that a diabetic's blood sugar can change just by talking about a stressful topic. For a long time, it was often considered a psychosomatic disorder. As far back as the 17th Century, it was claimed that depression or prolonged sorrow was a part of the onset of diabetes. Other work in the 1970s suggests that psychological factors influenced this disease. Rheumatoid arthritis, other autoimmune diseases – and even asthma – are also believed to have a powerful psychological component. This theory extends as far back as Hippocrates in the Dr Mary Casey (Doctorate of Psychology) is founder and CEO of Casey Centre, a leading integrated health and education service. Her latest book, The Healing Power of Truth ($29.95), is available from fourth century B.C., where he warned asthmatics to "guard themselves against anger" in order to prevent their severe asthmatic attacks. Some may think they are too old to make changes and remain in the same situation while their illness progresses or they get more and more miserable. They may become all-consumed by their miserable existence rather than enjoying life. More often than not, those closest to these people are affected and live miserable existences too. My suggestion is that you take time out of your day to sit and ponder about your body. How is it? Is it healthy, stressed, happy? Avoid making excuses and do something that makes you feel good. Find yourself a nice quiet spot, sit down and think about what you might change in order to feel good – mentally, physically and emotionally. When you change, the world around you changes!

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