Ma's Personal Health Blog Part 13: Attitudes to health and sickness

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A detail from a miniature painting in the Raja...

A detail from a miniature painting in the Rajastani style, made by the artist LaLa in Udipur, ordered pecially by user:F16. Painted in September 2004. shows the Hindu god Dhanvantari. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today I wanted to blog about attitudes to health and sickness and how they change through the years. I can recall being a young medical student and thinking of my body pretty much as Brother Ass, able to take any kind of punishment. That included living on cheese on toast because I didn't know what vegetarians ate, trying to find out how much wine I could drink at "firm parties" with our medical teachers, even accidentally drinking the rum punch thinking it was fruit punch!


As junior doctors, we attended to the health of others while sacrificing our own. We began work at 9 am Friday and got off at 5 pm Monday.  I recall falling asleep on my feet while watching a monitor in ICU. If we were sick, we still worked, accompanied by a box of tissues.  Health was important--other people's health. We were supposed to be invincible.


And when I was a sadhvi or wandering renunciant, it was still the Brother Ass paradigm.  Instead of belaboring Brother Ass with alcohol, cheese on toast and long work hours, we fasted, slept in cremation grounds and contacted pretty much every tropical disease known, from amoebas to giardia to hepatitis to typhoid.


For the last quarter century I've been an Ayurvedic Practitioner, committed to optimal wellness, prevention and practicing what I preach. Healthy home cooked food, exercise, and techniques of Ayurvedic self-care became my life, as I was determined never to ask my patients to do what I wouldn't do myself. I had complete confidence in diet, lifestyle, yoga, meditation and herbs and sincerely believed that nobody who used turmeric every day would get degenerative diseases. I wasn't doing these practices to get well from an illness, but to maintain my status of  'twenty years younger than my chronological age.'


Then the sixties dawned, and little genetic time bombs started ticking anyway. I wasn't twenty years younger after all. (well, maybe ten? Five?) I was quite agitated by the sudden transformation from a fit, forty-something fifty-nine-year-old to a sixty year old with prescriptions and doctor visits. Although it was a relief when Dr. Kamath pointed out to me that I was really healthy for my age because although I had concerns, I didn't have any actual diseases. Of course, efforts at self-care motivated by anxiety and overwhelm are unlikely to prove successful. But it was a stage and an important one.


Then I started writing this blog, and I knew that my natural residence had resurfaced. True, I wasn't approaching self-care the same way as before. Before I was just setting a good example and living what I believed in. Now I am approaching self care with specific concerns in mind. I'm not just a doctor now, but also a patient. And I approach each day with a sense of curiosity, interest and adventure. It's exciting to find out what works, what doesn't. It's inspiring to share my journey with others and think that they can benefit. So you, dear reader, contribute to my wellbeing as I do to yours. We're in this together!

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    About this Entry

    This page contains a single entry by Alakananda Ma published on June 9, 2012 8:03 PM.

    Ma's Personal Health Blog Part 12: Setubandhasana-Bridge Pose was the previous entry in this blog.

    Ma's Personal Health Blog Part 14: Diet--calories or composition? is the next entry in this blog.

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