RDP Tuesday: Health

I seem to be on health trip at the moment. Perhaps it is because I no longer go to a store to buy food but choose from my computer screen and now I have a selection of tangerines, oranges and lemons, so my vitamin C ration is cared for.

I have developed a love of dealing with fresh food knowing what it is exactly, and not prefabricated ready made food where the origins are a little doubtful. I remember my last visit to England where you could buy easy to spread butter. It really was, no carving and having bread ripped apart by the knife a perfect cover for the bread, but why was the butter easy to spread. Was it a chemical process, or just a simple solution? I do not know, but I would never buy it – far too suspicious.

And so I have my oranges and lemons for a healthy in between snack.

RDP Tuesday: Health

FOWC with Fandango: Health

Infusion Hospital

A tablet for this and  a pill for the rest
We cannot be ill, we have all the best
If you feel sick, then just swallow it down
Medicine has an answer, no need to frown
You need iron in blood? No problem it’s here
Just swallow a few nails,  do not have fear
Your heart beats too fast, you need a spare part
Replace it at the hospital to give a good start
And if you fall and might break a limb
It will be nailed back together, future is not so grim
We are all healthy, it might cost some money
The doc will look after you, he finds it quite funny
There is no escape from the final solution
Be careful how you breathe, there might be pollution
The end result remains  thanks to the boffin
Health does it all, for the coffin they carry us off in

FOWC with Fandango: Health

Writing is healthy


Do you ever feel like these Hostas in my garden in Autumn? Lifeless, droopy no go? That is now a thing of the past. I was reading an article today from a link supplied by Facebook. If something is in Facebook, it must be true, although a month ago one of their leading news reports told us that we would have the end of the world on 21st September, but it could also be 22nd or 23rd etc. I was not very happy about this as my dad would be 100 years old on 24th September and that would have been a disappointment to us all, especially Queen Elizabeth II of England who was sending him a telegramme on 24th September. Luckily it did not happen, although in the meanwhile I believe the engagement with world endings has been postponed until the next comet appears on the horizon.

In the meanwhile I had a consolation. Returning to Facebook and its prophesies and gems of truth, there was a connection to an article with the title “Science Shows Something Surprising About People Who Love to Write” as if it was meant for me. I love to write and am always good for a surprise, so I read further. It seems I will profit from strong physical and health benefits. At last I can spring out of bed in the morning and ignore the pains in my joints, I am cured. Just 15 to 20 minutes writing during three to five months does the trick, and do not forget I write at least an hour a day, when I am not taking photos to illustrate my work.

If I write about traumatic, stressful or emotional events the effect is re-inforced. My blood pressure will sink, although I was not so sure about that. I have an average of 115 to 120 something, and that is low enough. Even my physical wounds will heal quicker. Does this mean that if I have one of my unpredicted falls, where I break an arm, or perhaps even a leg, the bones will knit together again within a day or so.

It seems that we writers go less to the doctor probably because we are so busy writing we do not have the time. We also sleep better due to writer’s exhaustion, like falling asleep at the computer perhaps. Blogging might, or could, trigger dopamine release. Here I was a little overstrained but it seems that low dopamine leads to lack of motivation, fatigue, addictive behavior, mood swings and memory loss. Now I know why I love doing housework, cooking and washing – I never feel tired and never lack energy. I am not addictive to anything, except perhaps to writing, but writing is healthy and I am convinced that my moods are always well balanced, I am the personification of satisfaction. And I would add, like an elephant, I rarely forget anything.

“What did you say Mr. Swiss? I should make a shopping list for tomorrow in case I might forget something again. Yes, of course, it will make the shopping trip much more enjoyable, my dopamine levels will reach a new high point.”

Now we know why we blog. It is healthier and we might even live longer, although that was not in the article.

Weekly Writing Challenge: Fit to Write

Health and wellness. That old saying tells us that if you have your health, you have everything. However, health can mean much more than physical wellness. This week, we want to know what it means to you.

07.01.2010 Was Nun

Health means a big worry lifted from my mind. If my/our health is suffering in some way it is as if a Damocles sword is hanging in the air, never knowing when it will drop and cause damage.

I have been lucky up to now. I have had my surgical problems which have been dealt with by a hospital visit and afterwards recuperation; nothing really grave or threatening and everything “benign” as they say. Two memorable three hour and seven hour operations never to forgotten were the revenge from my twin sister/brother that I decided to stifle when I was born. There was only to be me as the main actor in the play of life and my dark half was to stay put. She/He did stay put until I was around fifty years old. The cells started growing. Should I dig a grave to bury her (you know like Stephen King did with his Dark Half) or see a doctor. I saw the doctor and he had fun removing the collection of growing cells, but he lost the first time round because my other half returned with revenge. At the second try, it was a success and my rival was removed (with a few other unnecessary organs like an appendix) never to appear again.

Otherwise I have been given a healthy life more or less. Due to an overfeeding of sugar, cakes and biscuits (my fault entirely), my body refused to produced enough insulin to cope with it, so for the past twenty years I have been taking tablets for my diabetes 2. The problem with diabetes is basically that you do not realise you are ill. I can measure my levels to see how it is developing, write the numbers in a book, and forget it until you see the doctor. He was not pleased with my evening diet of potato chips and salted peanuts, and gave me a warning coupled with a course of tablets against too much cholesterol. Asking how long I have to take the anti-cholesterol tablets, I was told forever.

I have survived up to now, but my golden oldie status needs some care. Do I really want to inject insulin, measure everything I want to eat for its sugar values (and it is not everything that is sweet is sugar). Examine each meal for its carbohydrate content for the rest of my earthly existence. The answer is no, so I have to do something about it.

For some time I am now careful of what and when I eat certain foods. I spent two miserable evenings suffering from chip and salted peanut withdrawal symptoms, but I stopped smoking fifteen years ago, so I can do that as well, and I did. I have even lost some surplus weight which was turning my figure into a triangle. To my advantage is that I do not like eating food when I do not know the origin. I like cooking and I do not buy precooked fancy frozen food when I can make it myself. I would rather not eat it. I like lasagne, but my own lasagne, and not some mixture of unknown animal (horse?) and vegetable. I can buy meat from the butcher and make my own tomato sauce, no problem. Not that horse meat would bother me, I quite like it, but I prefer beef in my lasagne.

Some people do not eat meat; they call themselves vegetarian or a step further, a vegan. Not my sort of thing and I really am not sure if this goes under the name of healthy. During the week I rarely cook meat for lunch, just at week-ends. I have no problem with meat, but I do not have to eat it with every meal. And being vegetarian does not mean just leave the meat out. With something it has to be compensated, otherwise I doubt if it is a healthy diet.

Back to the healthy details of life. I live in constant fear that my father would fall ill. He is now 98 years old, but has no dangerous illness. His main problem is walking. He never leaves his house, but his food and washing are cared for. He would never complain of pain and I am glad to say that he is still a clear thinker. He may not hear so well, but when he does he has a sensible answer ready.

We all grow older and do not know what might lie ahead. Aches and pains that were completely unknown suddenly appear. Twenty years ago I could spring out of the bed in the morning; today I have to think about it, and not too quickly. It might be my blood pressure drops with a sudden movement: better to take it easy.

I have never been a physical exercise person. Always enjoyed a nice walk in the country, but I mean walk and not a running marathon to prove how good I am and to find out where my limits are. I take it easy. I found that I should do something for my physical shape. I have some friends that swear on yoga. When I heard that yoga is not just sitting on a mat and crossing legs, but moving the legs in impossible positions (for me), I decided that would not be my thing. I then discovered Tai Chi. Nice and slow, concentrating on collecting energy in the Dan Tien (lower abdomen) and no rush, just take it easy. I decided that was the thing for me. I ordered a DVD but decided that was not enough. I searched for a course and found exactly what I wanted needed and since almost a year I am a weekly visitor and member of the local Tai Chi gathering.

Otherwise my keep fit exercises are usually brain training writing blogs on the computer. Sometimes I even adapt to a poetical write, or I might go on a photo safari with the camera. There are ways and means of keeping fit even in the senior years. As the Tai Chi mogul always says “there is no hurry in Tai Chi”, the motto of my life. There is no hurry in living; it all takes care of itself. Just be sure you have a good insurance.

Weekly Writing Challenge: Fit to Write

Daily Prompt: Right to Health

Is access to medical care something that governments should provide, or is it better left to the private sector? Are there drawbacks to your choice?

Bürgerspital Solothurn

I have lived in two systems, and I mean live. Twenty-two years with the British National Health Service and forty-six with the privately organised Swiss Health system, so now might be an opportunity to judge the two systems.

The British National Health Service was most likely created that everyone had a right to a qualified doctor and treatment in a hospital without the weight of heavy costs, it is and always will be free, although I believe there are so.called perscription charges for the medicine. I grew up with this. If you were ill you went to the doctor’s surgery. When I was younger you just went, took the chance that you had a good doctor, and might have to wait for an hour or so to take your turn to see the doctor.Today things are a little bit different. You first of all make an appointment, the doctor sees you, but as far I can judge, you still have to wait for an hour or so to see the god in white.

As far as hospitals are concerned in England, under this NHS system, it is every man for himself. You have an emergency? Let us hope that they have a free bed, time and a good organisation in the particular hospital you are delivered to. They may not have room, so you get directed to another hospital. If they are badly organised (and some are), you might not be seen as soon as you would like to. Note: this does not apply to all hospitals, mainly those in London which seem to be bursting at the seams in some places. If you are lucky enough to live outside of London or other large cities, then you would probably be seen to quite quickly.

Of course you always have the option to pay for your treatment, in which case you will not be seen by the NHS system, but are immediately put into a private ward, attended to by private and well paid nurses and everything is fine: something like the Queen and her family, perhaps a well known artist or politician: no problem. If you are Fred a common worker, then it is more luck than judgement that you get correct treatment. This is all based on my experience, remembering my dear uncle who was diagnosed with diabetes. He was given an appointment a few months later (they had no time for him). Unfortunately he could not keep the appointment, he had died in the meanwhile.

My experience remains vivid in my imagination. I had an unfortunate accident whilst on holiday in London of falling and breaking my lower left arm – on Tower Bridge of all places. Luckily my friend was with me and she took me to the hospital which I chose as it was near my father (thinking of the problems he would have visiting). First of all I had to wait for an hour amongst others until I was actually seen. I was x-rayed and taken to a ward as an operation would be necessary. Luckily it was a clean break of my lower left arm. I was wheeled to the ward although I was perfectly able to walk. My first contact with health and safety in England I suppose. My ward was more like a hall with at least forty beds, and we were a mixed bunch. Some had been there for a few weeks, some a few days, and we all had something different. I seemed to be the only broken arm. Probably realising that I was Swiss and used to other things I was offered a private room, knowing that I would be privately insured. I saw the private room and said no thankyou. It was partitioned off from the main ward by glass windows and contained two beds. The beds were the same low class of bed as the one I was to occupy in the ward, so I really did not realise the difference.

Cleanliness: Well you expect a hospital to be clean, to stop germs spreading. The windows were filthy, although they sent a man to clean them, but he did not clean them. He had a filthy rag, wiped over them a bit, leaving a frame of dirt and grime at the edges, and considered his job done. As far as the floor was concerned: it was about the size of a football pitch in a long way. One woman cleaned it while I was there. She had one bucket of water and one mop. She never changed the water or cleaned the mop and did the complete hall with it. I think she just spread the germs and dirt in a different direction.

I had a visit from a group of doctors who were planning on my operation. They seemed to be quite surprised that I actually asked questions about my operation, something never dared by english patients.

“Will I have a full aneasthetic” was confronted with looks of disbelief.

“Of course” was the answer, the lumber anesthesia seemed to be something unknown in a British hospital, which I had gone through a few times in a Swiss hospital as a normal process, although I would say for a broken arm it might even be refused in a Swiss hospital, due to complications. When I asked about the lumber anesthesia I was met by bewildered faces. Probably only available for private patients in England.

Anyhow my operation was performed, everything went well. They put me on a drip afterwards, which I still had suspended the next morning, although it was completely empty for a few hours. I asked the nurse if I could go to the toilet.

“I will bring you a bed pan.”

“Huh, but I can walk, I am ok, just remove the empty drip.”

“Oh no, the doctor has to do that.”

In Switzerland our drips are on wheels and we can actually walk around with them. I promptly removed the drip myself (oh horror for the nurse) arose and went to the toilet. The food was absolutely inedible and if the operation and the accident did not kill you, the food probably would. I ate almost nothing. Other patients that had a longer stay only ate salad, at least it was not cooked.

One evening I remember the door of the ward opened and a young man clad only in a pyjama burst into the ward. He sat down and moved around by sliding on his solar plexis. The nurses wanted to help and tried to sustain him. He eventually found his way to the fire staircase and wanted to use it to “break out”. We were on the fourth floor. The nurses could do nothing to stop him, so I really expected a doctor or medical personelle to give him some sort of tranquilising injection, but this was not a thing of reality in the english system, probably too expensive. Anyhow we were eventually saved. The caretaker arrive, who seemed to be an ex wrestler or boxer and removed the intruder by the shoulders. It seemed the solution was often there is no room in england in the psychiatric wards for patients, so they are transferred to a normal ward. I also learnt from some other female patients, that they had actually spent some time in a male ward, because there was more room.

Another point I would add: it seem that today in England you actually only get a chance to see a specialist or have the necessary treatment if you doctor gives you a letter of referral for the hospital. What that is I do not know, and how the doctor bases his reason for giving one is also a mystery to me. Other countries, other systems I suppose.

The result of this free Government Medical Care, at least British – definitely no thankyou.

So now let us switch to Switzerland: a country that has no government care, but based on private insurance. What you pay and what you are insured against, is basically your own business, but there are certain basics which almost everyone has. You are covered for your doctor, you are covered for general wards in hospital and for operations. You pay a certain amount per month (I pay mine every two months) which can be about four hundred Swiss francs a month (give or take 50-100 francs). Every new year you have to pay the first three hundred swiss francs yourself (this amount is based on my experience), afterwards you pay 10% of every bill yourself, the rest being covered by the insurance. Hospital costs are completely covered as well as basic operation costs. This is basic general insurance and you can expect up to perhaps 6-8 people in a ward, but no more.

As a comparison I was unfortunate enough to break the top half of my left arm a few years after my first breakage (in the meanwhile I had had the wire removed from my first breakage in a Swiss clinic, thank goodness). Anyhow after breaking my arm an ambulance was called for which arrive a few minutes after the telephone call. I was given a pain killing injection already at home and was shipped off to the hospital in an ambulance in our local town straight away. After arriving at the hospital I was immediately x-rayed and it was found that I had knocked a lump of bone out of my arm, a complicated compound breakage. Immediately I was seen by the surgeon, my arm was fixed in a resting position and I got an apology from the surgeon that he would only be able to operate the next morning. I was put in a bed in a ward. My family had been visiting (we have no visiting hours in Swiss hospitals – it might be there is a doctor visit, then you just have to wait until he is finished, but no problem). I was operated the next morning, also with a full aneasthetic. The surgeon explained how he would do the operation and the reasons why I would have to be put to sleep though the complete operation.

After the operation I was put in my hospital bed. The next morning I was asked if I wanted to wash at the sink or take a shower. I said shower – no problem. The shower room was in the ward, the nurse came with me and helped. Just packed my damaged arm in plastic. The food was quite good and edible. Perhaps a bit tasteless, but hospital food never really uses a lot of spices for health reasons. I had a drip which I could take with me to the toilet and back to the bed which was on wheels. I could even walk around in the hospital and go outside into the garden or to the hospital restaurant if I felt like it and wanted to. I was on about the seventh floor, but no problem, I could take the lift. After a week or so I was released from the hospital. A week later I had an appointment at the hospital with the surgeon who operated. I knew his name, what he looked like and he even knew me and showed me my x-rays once again. I was even given my x-rays of my arm, complete with metal plate and screws on a DVD – no problem.

So you ask what I prefer? This is no problem for me. I would rather pay for a treatment that I trust than have a free treatment that I do not trust. I could write more, but long blogs (and this is long enough) are not so interesting perhaps, can be a bit boring. Perhaps I am lucky to be able to afford my Swiss health treatment, but I know what I have. Just to mention you can have half private (2 people to a room), or private (a room on your own). It is a matter of cost of the insurance. By the way the beds are fully electronic: just push the right button and you are in a sitting position, laying flat, higher up or lower.

As far as what is better, my example in only based on the British and Swiss system. I know from others that Sweden has a very good state medical system, Italy is not to be recommended, or Russia for that matter. Each country seems to develop its own way. I only know that the States is quite expensive, but who am I to judge it.

Daily Prompt: Right to Health

Photo: Entrance to our local hospital in Solothurn