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DOCTORS DAZE
Wed, 28th September 2016
 

I regularly receive emails and letters about how I personally treat my body and keep healthy. Do I really follow the advice I've been discussing for a lifetime or is it all "theoretical" pie in the sky stuff? It is easy to preach (yes, my Dad was a preacher, although we seldom listened to him!). The answer is yes, yes, yes.

Although Dad preached to big audiences, he was a stalwart healthy father figure and as most kids do, I mimicked his lifestyle. Mum also. In my entire medical professional years, I have only been away from work for two weeks. I developed the flu in 1971. I've had an occasional weekend off, but not work time. My greatest belief is that illness may be avoided if you take regular precaution. Many say at least 50% of cancers are avoidable.

So here is my day as a doctor - all fitted around normal working routine. Up early and a 45 minute brisk walk. Brekky. This consists of one Weet-Bix with hot water and a teaspoon of honey. Then a slice of whole meal bread with marmalade and a cup of coffee. Lunch is a sandwich (varied, but I prefer egg!). Maybe a veggie soup in winter. Evening meal. Salad in summer, hot in winter. It consist of veggies, including as many colours as possible, not overcooked.

I am a vegetarian by choice, so protein comes from the huge variety of beans and legumes and peas - a huge number of dishes can be readily made, and are fat free. (Fish, poultry, lean meat is OK, but I happen not to like it.) Then a little bowl of stewed fruit, yoghurt and half a crushed Weet-Bix. No coffee. No eating between meals. No junk food. A few nuts if starving. At least one to two litres of water a day specially in summer. Room temperature tap water is fine (and cheap - mineral water, cola and fizz drinks and most commercial fruit juices are ridiculous, full of unwanted minerals, sugar and colourings).

I don't eat butter or marg, no added sugar, and minimum salt. I aim for a weight below 70kg, 93cm around the middle, and a BMI around 23 (that's weight in kilos divided by height squared). Excess waist fat is as dangerous as smoking, they say. I aim for 8 hours sleep a night.

Keep busy all day, set a daily goal plan, and tick off each item as completed. Now this routine is not for everybody, but suits me ... and my Mum who lived to 100 and Dad to 90.

 
SNIFFING

Q: 

My partner keeps sniffing and the continual sound sends me crazy. Surely it is preventable.

A: 

He most likely had a mild nasal infection which produced fluid, giving the desire to "sniff". Not enough to use a Kleenex. Now, the issue is probably still present, or more likely, it has developed into habit which he does automatically and unconsciously. These are hard to stop - a bit like nail biting, or blinking. Frequently stress situations aggravate. But a doctor check is worthwhile. There may still be some nasal pathology, such as bugs, polyps, inflammation or an allergy. These can usually be treated simply and effectively.

 
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ANOTHER WORLD

Q: 

Every night on telly one sees vivid pictures of vast numbers of kids in Africa and similar countries looking like death thin and emaciated, with gaunt sunken eyes. In the background there are thousands more.

A: 

Reproduction is rampant world wide, and builds up to the available food supply. With no TV, radio or other western essentials, the cheapest form of entertainment is sex. With no contraceptive measures, most women are in a state of continual pregnancy. Breast feeding for up to two years can check pregnancy. China's one child policy has dramatically reduced their population explosion. Probably providing massive oral contraception would be much more effective than immunization initiatives, which merely prolong life by a few years, for misery and early death is otherwise inevitable.

 
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ARTHRITIS

Q: 

Two or three times a year there is another "break through" treatment for arthritis. Is this true, or a load of rubbish?

A: 

Mostly it's a load of rubbish, probably pulled off a PR release that will commercially benefit some company. Majority of "wonder cures" for arthritis have turned out to be negatives, such as the NSAIDS, COX-2 inhibitors and many others. "New" is not necessarily better. As the hemorrhages and heart disasters of modern medicine have proved. Paracetamol is currently mainstream for ordinary osteo arthritis (the common kind). The acceptable alternative, glucosamine and chondroitin (crushed prawn shells) assists many, but takes at least 8 weeks to help "repair" bone cartilage surfaces. Even this has been downgraded by some recent TV news reports. I take the two for my arthritic knees and hips - it does help. (Or am I imagining it also).

 
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SORE LEG

Q: 

I have low back pain which radiates down my leg to the toes, and at times is unbearable, and in bed the leg jumps around. I've tried medication, physio, manipulation, acupuncture, hot and cold showers, but it persists.

A: 

A CT scan may indicate a bit of damaged disc or bone is pressing on the root of the giant sciatic nerve as it comes from the spinal cord and goes down the legs. Today, this can be quickly diagnosed. Microdiscectomy can be miraculous. Like being in hospital for 2-3 days, and coming home "totally cured". Referral to a neurosurgeon is the way to go. Incidentally, this can often be organised and completed within a week if you're in a private health fund.

 
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HEARING AND BATTERIES

Q: 

The other day I was horrified to see my little fellow sucking something. I asked him what, and he pulled out of his mouth a hearing aid battery. Granny wears hearing aids, and had obviously dropped one on the floor probably when inserting a new one.

A: 

If the little guy had swallowed it, the metal battery corrodes and can cause serious gastro intestinal issues, even bowel perforation. It is very dangerous, and removal from the small gut a very difficult procedure. In any case, it would have been difficult to know where to start as he developed symptoms, possible peritonitis (abdominal infection) by this stage. Please ask granny not to leave her batteries anywhere around the house. Incidentally, dogs love chewing hearing aids in case she drops the whole thing and Fido is lurking.

 
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This health advice is general in nature. You are advised to seek medical attention from your doctor or health care provider for your own specific symptoms and circumstances.

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