Long Strange Trip

It has been more of an amazing trip than a strange one. I could go all the way back to my childhood and relive all the old pains. Why would I do that? For today, I’m just going to go back three years to 2014.

It all started when I woke up one morning and my hands were in severe pain and looked like I had been hitting a wall all night. I lived with the pain and the swelling for nearly two weeks, until it got to the point that I couldn’t open a jug of milk without using channel lock pliers to help me.

The doctor ordered blood tests and my mind began racing. I convinced myself that I had cancer. Within 24 hours, I found out that it was “only” my heart – that I didn’t have cancer. I was so happy! No cancer! Just my heart.

That’s how scared I was of cancer. Having open heart surgery is pretty serious stuff but I didn’t care because I didn’t have cancer. Ten days after my surgery, I had a check-up and within two hours, I was readmitted back into the hospital.

I had internal bleeding. After the bleeding was controlled I had a colonoscopy and found out that I had two feet in my colon that were covered with polyps. They ranged in size from peas to golf ball. Instead of removing all the polyps, the surgeon removed the two feet of my colon and sewed me back up. And once again, I waited in fear, wondering if it was cancer. And once again, I got the good news that it wasn’t cancer.

As I healed from these surgeries, I began to feel good about the future. I had plans to move to England and I now knew I had a clean bill of health. My heart was strong and better than ever and most importantly I didn’t have cancer.

In 2016, I left America and made the journey across the pond. I found a job within a month and for the first year everything was going great. It was when 2017 started that things took a turn. I developed a sore throat and it never wanted to go away. I went to the GP and was given antibiotics to help with tonsillitis. After the ten day treatment, I felt a bit better but still had some pain swallowing. I was given a second round of antibiotics and told if it wasn’t better in a week to stop back in.

After a week, the GP sent me to an ENT, who did some tests and he believed it was cancer. It still didn’t mean much to me. I just didn’t feel like I had cancer. I had surgery to remove the tonsil and to get a biopsy. This time the results did say cancer. My worst fears had become a reality.

My wife and I went to The Christie Cancer Centre. The number one cancer centre in Europe was practically in our backyard. I would have radiation and Cetuximab. Cetuximab is given like other chemo drugs, but it isn’t a chemo drug in the sense of the word. It belongs to a group of cancer drugs known as monoclonal antibodies. These drugs are sometimes called targeted therapies… It may also make the cancer cells more sensitive to chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

I was feeling confident with it all. Having been a caretaker for my ex-wife(breast cancer) I knew how chemo made her quite ill and very weak, while radiation didn’t seem to bother her as much. After three weeks of radiation I was spent. I was defeated and very weak. I no longer could eat and just speaking became a major chore.

I wanted to quit. I wanted to walk away from it all and just live for however long I had. The specialists wouldn’t have that and admitted me to the hospital where I would finish my treatment. When it was done. I went home and suffered the after effects for over a month. My neck was burnt and skin just fell off the right side of my face. From my lips, to the cheekbone, to my neck, my skin was burnt and everything I did was a new experience in pain.

As that began to get better, my tongue started to swell and swallowing became a new experience in pain. Now four months since treatment ended, my tongue is still tender but now I no longer use pain pills like I once did. The swallowing is still a challenge and at times I can choke on food quite easily.

Six weeks after treatment ended I went back to work in a bakery dispatch. It was very physical labour, but I managed and never complained and worked my ten hour shifts just like everyone else. I only wanted one shift a week until I built my strength back up, but after two weeks I wanted something new. So I applied for a job at Piccadilly in Manchester and was hired at the carpark working security.

At the beginning of May I went to see the oncologist and received news that a recent scan and bloodwork showed no signs of cancer. He said he couldn’t say “cured” (that takes five years) but he is confident about a cancer free future for me.

The last week of October, I learned I had cancer. Seven months later I am cancer free. I am back to work, at a new job, averaging 36 hours a week. While the timeline says everything has happened quite quickly, the truth is it has been a long strange trip.

Body Basics

The human body is the beginning and the end, without a healthy, fit body our lives are reduced to series of medical woes. It is also what we tend to take most for granted and neglecting. But taking care of marvelously engineered body is a priority and not an option.

Health is wealth is an old adage that we hear and spout so often that it has lost any significance for us. Until that sudden, unforeseen visit to the nearest doctor. And at that point, it is already too late. In an age of consumerism and conspicuous consumption, health is an anomaly. You can’t buy it. At any price. Health is defined as the condition of a person’s body or mind and it has to be nurtured and maintained in a continuous process that affects all aspects of your life or, to use a new age term, lifestyle. That is a lot easier said than done in today’s world and the lifestyle generated by that world.

Seriously Stressed

The modern lifestyle brings with it its own baggage: stress, tension, work environment generated problems – posture, carpal tunnel syndrome, noise, pollution, etc. Each of these, minor irritants in their own right, contribute their bit until the aggregate is greater than the parts and unfortunately we tend to realise this only when it is past the point of no return. The picture of urban health is a grim one indeed. But, before you decide fatalistically that since you are doomed anyways, might as well as have fun and reach for that cholesterol clogging, calorie laden meal and decide to skip the walk to watch your favourite telly soap, consider the fight back options. The range, variety and possibilities will delight you.

Food First

Eventually it all boils down to food-the fuel of life. Food affects our health in the most primary way, being the basic building block. A change in food patterns and a mismatch between the food pattern and the lifestyle being lived is the biggest culprit. From the fundamentally active, physical lifestyle of the earlier generations, the urban world has become a sedentary space. We no longer have the time or space to burn our calories. Long working hours, urban traffic and urban housing conspire to keep us seated for the larger part of our lives and the result is weight gain. Eating healthy is the easiest step to health. It does not mean starving yourself or denying yourself. It simply requires switching to healthier options. Opt for whole grains to refined ones. Use cooking oils that are naturally fat and cholesterol free such as Olive oil. And remember the basic equation: what you eat should not be more than what you burn as body fuel.

Fighting Fit

If lifestyles have changed so have the fitness options. Some are your everyday, basic variety. Where possible, opt for the stairs rather the elevators. If it is short distance and there is a proper walking path, use two feet instead of four wheels. Your health and the environment, both will benefit.

Gym

The gymnasium, your friendly neighborhood variety or the super trendy multinational variety, fondly abbreviated to gym, has evolved a lot from the original Greek model. Then it was a place to develop the mental faculties alongside the physical prowess of young men. Today, half the tradition is upheld with gyms having become the altars where the average man and woman shed copious quantities of sweat and cellulite to appease the gods of health and musculature. The options are innumerable, from ancient techniques such as Yoga and Tai Chi to modern corruptions such as Krav Maga and Kick Boxing, from gleaming edifices to technology such as treadmills, nautilus trainers to cross trainers to dances as a fitness fountain, the gyms cover the horizons. Well trained acolytes, otherwise known as trainers are always on hand to not only help but to custom design a training program that is ideal for your body and your problem areas.

Spa Style

The other route to holistic health is the more luxurious spa route. Traditionally spa stood for a route to health that was dependent upon nature’s gifts in the form of geysers or hot water springs where the water and mud are saturated with minerals. Drinking of these waters, bathing in them, mud baths and body wraps help in improving health directly by curing certain kinds of diseases and indirectly by making up certain kinds of mineral deficiencies and by detoxifying the body. Spa treatments today are a continuation of the same principle. Massages that use aromas to address health concerns, skin treatments that seek to undo the damage of pollution and urban living, and a holistic assessment of body are some of the hallmarks of spa treatments. The focus is less on the physicality of the body and more on the internal health of the body.

Or you can have both. The Addiction gym and spa chain perfectly combines both, luxury alongside fitness facilities. Catering to lifestyle pressures, gyms and spas offer innovative features such as flexible timing and customized training programs.

Solo Star

Ultimately, health is in the hands of the self. Not all the trainers of the world or massagers or chefs of the world can give you good health unless you want it yourself and are willing to burn for it. They can only make the path smoother and the targets more achievable. If you take your health seriously or want a perfect body or to increase your stamina and endurance, it is time for you to sit down and make a choice. Choose a path that appeals to you and then stick with it. Remember, the healthier you are the more you will enjoy your life.

How to Beat Your Burnout

Ever notice that you are always rushing through the day to get things done. You don’t pay attention to your body and mind cues that are speaking loudly to take a break until one day your head spins and you have a complete breakdown by being burned out when you no longer can carry on. There are remedies for this kind of burnout and I recommend very simple and empowering ones in this article. Read on to find out.

Here are a few tips:

1) Have 7-8 hours of sleep every night

Make sure you are having enough sleep every night so that you wake up fresh and healthy ready to meet the challenges of the day.

2) Take a short afternoon nap

In case you went to bed the night before somewhat late, you can make up for it by taking a short afternoon nap ranging from 30 minutes to 1 hour. You will be re-energized doing your tasks happily for the rest of the day.

3) Drink plenty of water

Water is a free resource and it should be available in your office plentifully. Take in as many glasses of water as you can throughout the day. That way you keep yourself hydrated and full of vigor to work on your projects enthusiastically and productively.

4) Drink hot energy drinks

During breakfast instead of taking caffeine, take a hot energy drink. It will keep you upbeat and energized throughout the day so that you can effortlessly carry on with your tasks for the day.

5) Take a short leave from the office

When you see yourself short of focus and energy to get along with your daily office routine, take a short leave for 1 or 2 days. Have enough sleep, laugh and play and spend quality time with your family. You will regain energy and your mind will be fully aware to cope with your daily work tasks gracefully once again.

6) Take a prospective vacation

When the year has come to an end and you have worked hard enough at the office, feeling tired and drained out of energy, make sure to take a long enough vacation with your family to a distant quiet place so that by the time you return to your workplace, you are happy and eager to start all over again.

Summing up these are some of the simple and rejuvenating ways that you can beat your burnout and continue to put effort into your tasks painlessly without letting your energy and vigor run out voluminously.