Flatlander Faith

Apologetics from an Anabaptist perspective

Tag Archives: health

Why Couldn’t I Be The Healthy One?

It was the morning after my father’s funeral and my cousin Dennis and I were sitting at a table with my mother looking at old photographs. Here was a school phot from when I was in Grade 2 in a one-room school. There were two little boys in the front row, one bright-eyed, smiling and healthy-looking, the other wearing a heavy sweater and making a feeble attempt at a smile. Impulsively, I pointed at the healthy looking boy and said “That was me!” Dennis gave me a funny look, then said, “No. That was David Harlton. This is you over here.” And he pointed at the sickly-looking boy.

Of course he was right. I think that I just wished that for one moment in my life I could believe that I was the healthy one.

I had frequent bouts of colds and flu as a child and was well-acquainted with Buckley’s White Rub and various other home remedies. I am a genuine phlegmatic; it’s not often that I don’t have some nasal congestion and a frog in my throat. My sense of balance has never been good either. I was probably about five when my parents put me on a merry-go-round, no doubt expecting I would be thrilled at the ride. My head began to whirl and my stomach to churn and they had to quickly take me off.

In later life, I realized that the “cold and flu” symptoms were almost all allergic reactions to dust, pollens and other stuff in the air. These reactions often led into sinus infections and recovery times were a matter of several weeks. This also affected my inner ear, giving me a poor sense of balance.

When i was in my twenties I discovered antihistamines and they have helped me cope with life. A little pill once a day, a corticosteroid puff in each nostril once a day, plus echinacea and/or decongestants when needed, keep me going most of the time. But I still can’t always escape those times when allergy symptoms leave me feeling wiped out. This time of year seems about the worst.

I have learned by experience that some occupations are best avoided. I’m just not the robust type who thrives on outdoor activities.

But maybe that’s alright. I’ve been coping with this for 73 years now and it hasn’t done me in yet.  Someone once said “A man show what he is by what he does with what he has.” That has inspired me to forget about what I don’t have and can’t do and to try and make the best of what I do have and can do.

I am even thankful that my frequent sicknesses facilitated my love for reading, and writing. Perhaps God has allowed these circumstances to help steer me in the direction He wanted me to go. In any case, here I am, with all the things I have experienced, observed and learned in life, and I want to use them all to His honour.

Why some fats are healthier than others

Years ago nutritional experts told us that cholesterol was the main culprit in heart disease and that we should try to eliminate it from our diet. The food industry happily jumped on the bandwagon, rejigging the formulation of their products and telling us how heart healthy their new products were.

Then the nutritionists said, no, cholesterol isn’t the main problem, saturated fats are far more dangerous. Once again, the food industry, the diet industry and dear old Aunt Grace took it upon themselves to get us to stop eating so much saturated fat.

Wrong again. Now they tell us that the real culprit is too much Omega 6 oils in our diet. Our body requires a roughly two to one ration of Omega 6 to Omega 3. Too much Omega 6 in the diet reduces the ability of the body to convert the ALA (Alpha linolenic Acid) Omega 3 in plant foods to the EPA (Eicosapentaenoic Acid) and DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acid) forms of Omega 3 that protect us from diseases. An elevated intake of Omega 6 is associated with an increase of inflammatory diseases. The list of such diseases includes: heart disease; obesity; type 2 diabetes; macular degeneration; irritable bowel syndrome; rheumatoid arthritis; asthma; cancer; autoimmune diseases and psychiatric disorders.

The problem is that most of the oils that we have turned to in our stampede to eliminate saturated fatty acids from our diet contain mostly Omega 6 Essential Fatty Acids. Such oils include corn oil, sunflower oil, safflower oil, cottonseed oil, peanut oil and sesame oil. Soybean oil has a ration of seven to one Omega 6 to Omega 3. Even olive oil is high in Omega 6. Canola oil runs at the ideal two to one ratio.

Flaxseed oil has four times as much Omega 3 as Omega 6, which is why eggs from chickens fed a diet containing flaxseed have the ideal two to one ratio in their yolks.

Fish oils have mostly Omega 3. In addition, the Omega 3 in fish oils is already in the form of EHA and DHA which can be immediately used by the body. Since I have suffered from macular degeneration, I now take an Omega 3 supplement with the highest DHA number that I can find to reduce future deterioration.

Daylight Saving Time is hazardous to your health

Most readers of this blog will now be on Daylight Saving Time. Here in Saskatchewan we didn’t set our clocks ahead. When I was a boy, the province was on Mountain Time and towns and cities could choose whether to go on Daylight Saving Time. In addition, the eastern half of the province lies in the Central Time zone and some towns there opted for Central Time. It made for much confusion, even on a short trip. The frustration prompted a decision to place the whole province on Central Standard Time year round.

Research suggests that Saskatchewan may be on to something. Setting clocks ahead for DST messes up our biological rhythms, which can be disruptive for people who have difficulty getting to sleep. Besides insomnia, the studies note an 11% increase in traffic accidents in the week following the time change, an increase in workplace accidents and a 55% increase in heart attacks. A move to Saskatchewan (or Indiana, or Arizona) would eliminate that stress. (I am not aware of any studies on the effects of the stress caused by relocating.)

Are you in the grip of, or under the influence of, a virus?

War is hell. The First World War, from 1914 to 1918, resulted in the death of 10 million soldiers and 7 million civilians. At least 20 million more were wounded.

As horrible as that sounds, the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918 to 1919 caused at least 50 million deaths, some say 100 million. Beginning in January 1918, it quickly swept around the world, infecting 500 million people. This epidemic was different from most flu epidemics as the highest mortality rate was among the young and strong. It is now thought that the immune system of the healthiest people overreacted to the virus and made it far more deadly. The young, the old, and those with compromised immune systems were more likely to survive. This has not been the case with most subsequent outbreaks of influenza.

The 1918 epidemic was caused by a Type A H1N1 virus. The outbreak appears to have begun at a military staging and hospital camp at Étaples, France. Historian Mark Humphries of Memorial University of Newfoundland thinks that the disease may have originated from the 96,000 Chinese labourers who worked behind the British and French lines on the Western Front. He cites archival evidence that a respiratory illness that struck northern China in November 1917 was identified a year later by Chinese health officials as identical to the Spanish flu.

Wartime censors limited the reporting of the flu outbreak in the combatant nations. Spain was neutral during the war; thus news reporting from Spain was allowed and inadvertently this epidemic became known as the Spanish Flu.

The disease is known as La Grippe in French, I suppose meaning that one is in the grip of the virus. The French name was still commonly used 100 years ago by English-speaking people. At some point English-speaking people switched to the Latin word influenza, which means that one is being influenced by the virus.

Symptoms of the flu include coughing, fever, tiredness, aching muscles, joint pain, headaches and chest discomfort. These symptoms do not usually accompany a cold. Sore throats and nasal discharge are symptoms of the common cold and are less often associated with the flu. Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea may occur in children with the flu but not often in adults. What is often mistakenly called the “stomach flu” is usually gastroenteritis, caused by a rotavirus. Allergy symptoms may mimic cold symptoms, but are not so easily confused with the flu. The most severe flu symptoms generally last only a few days, but it may take two weeks or more for full recovery.

The influenza virus is still a serious health concern. In a normal year more than 12,000 Canadians are hospitalized due to the flu, and 3,500 die. I don’t have information for other provinces, but here in Saskatchewan free immunization is offered to all residents over 6 months of age. The vaccine contains an inactivated virus and cannot give you the flu.

I have had recurring bouts of allergic rhinitis, the common cold and the flu all my life, not always being able to distinguish among the three. Time and experience, plus numerous consultations with doctors, have taught me that most of those episodes were due to allergic reactions to dust, pollen, moulds and various other things. However, an allergic reaction can reduce my immunity to the flu virus and I have had some rather lengthy bouts with the flu, leading to pneumonia in at least one case. I have been getting the annual flu shot for at least ten years now and it has definitely reduced those bouts.

Health vs Wealth

When we are young we spend our health to gain wealth

And when we are old we spend our wealth to gain health.

-Author unknown

This is a wall motto we saw in the Miner house at the Jack Miner Bird Sanctuary many years ago.

What is wrong with me?

I have been having repeated bouts of extreme lassitude, characterized by headaches, aching legs and a lack of energy that is unusual even for a guy in his seventies. Several days ago, I woke up with a nosebleed, something that hardly ever happens to me.

At that point a light came on. Five weeks earleir I had an appointment with the otolaryngologist and he recommended that I buy and use a sinus flush kit. It dawned on me that my headaches, etc pretty much coincided with the time I had been using this kit.

That led to an internet search. Three different websites say the use of these devices is generally quite safe, but all listed three possible negative effects: headaches; fever; nosebleeds.

Check. Check. Check. One other interesting bit of information is that these things originated with a form of Hindu ritual cleansing.

Now, I know a few people with extremely superstitious minds who would say my reaction is a sign of a curse from using such a heathen product. I don’t have thoughts like that. I am comfortable with Paul’s admonition to buy and use whatever is sold in the shambles (in this case Walmart) without asking questions.

One little question does arise, though. The doctor is of Indian origin, whether he is a practicing Hindu I do not know. But does he recommend these products to his patients strictly on medical grounds, or is his recommendation somewhat coloured by his religious background? How many of us really understand the presuppositions that go into our decision making?

In any case, I have stopped using the product and I am slowly beginning to feel better.

Doctrines of the humanist religion

1.  Nothing is real that cannot be understood by the human mind.

People choose to believe in spirits, magic, witchcraft, astrology, scientific theories or various “holy books.” These are merely attempts to fit all things seen and experienced into a framework that appears to give a logical explanation for every detail and event. I may call myself a lover of the truth, when in reality I am unwilling to believe anything unless I can explain it to suit my own intellect.

But the God who is really there does not fit man’s measure, He is a revelation, not an explanation.

2. Man is inherently good – all his failures are due to a lack of knowledge. He will make better decisions if he is better informed.

We may think we need a better understanding of how to appease the pagan gods or spirits, psychological counselling in order to understand the root causes of our emotions, or a university education to give us advanced mental tools to cope with the world we live in. How often have we said “If I had known then what I know now, I would never have done what I did,” when the real problem was not a lack of understanding, but the real problem was that we found the temptation overwhelmingly attractive?

 

Knowledge cannot give us the strength to withstand the seductive power of sin. A true knowledge of God will both open our eyes to the danger and give us the spiritual fortitude to choose not to yield.

3. It is a great evil for a man to be deprived of the things that bring him pleasure.

The things might be material goods, recognition, pride, bodily comforts, the right kind of work, or the right amount of leisure time. Is not the good life a sign of the favour of the gods, or of God’s blessing? Why can’t I have work that is ideally suited to my nature and expectations? Why can’t my wife, husband, parents, friends or boss treat me better? If only I had a little more money, a better job, or if only I lived somewhere else, things would go better.

How happy are the people who have the things that we think we need?

There is a widespread belief in our day that we have a right to physical health. We may base this belief on our faith in modern medical research, in the idea that physical healing was provided for in Christ’s atonement on the cross, or in natural healing, herbs, psychic healing, or in some form of shamanism. In each case, when one who holds to such a belief is faced with an incurable sickness it brings about a crisis of faith. Some believe that admitting they are sick would be a lack of faith, thus they resolutely refuse to face reality, living and dying in unreasonable fear. Others spend all their substance in search of healing, travelling over land and sea in search of a doctor or healer that has the secret to make them well. Then they die, leaving their families destitute.

4. The evil that men do is produced by their natural instinct for survival in a faulty environment. Man will only be truly happy and good when all sources of trouble and worry are removed.

Life insurance, property insurance, health insurance, unemployment insurance, social welfare programs, labour movements, peace movements, liberation movements, revolutionary movements, eternal security, reincarnation, the millennium, the social gospel – all have their origin in the premise that the basic goodness of man will show itself once all the external hindrances are removed. Some of the things mentioned have worked for the material betterment of people, but is there any evidence that they have helped produce happier, kinder, better people?

All of these thing are only vain attempts to hack away at the branches of sin, none of them attack the root of sin.

All four of these doctrines come into play in our society’s ideas about child-rearing. We are told that a child can only develop her true potential for good if she is given maximum access to information and allowed freedom to choose what she shall believe and do. Is it any wonder that many parents speak of their children as a burden? Is it any wonder that when parents grow old and come to their declining years, their children consider them a burden?

(to be continued)

 

Cancer Centre

My wife had her first visit at the Cancer Centre yesterday.

Now isn’t that a scary way of starting a conversation?  The visit really wasn’t so scary.

Let me start at the beginning.  Four months ago Chris decided that the tiredness she felt after a day’s work had to be due to something more than being somewhat overweight and out of shape.  She saw our family doctor and was sent for blood tests.  When he saw the results of those tests, the high white cell count caused him to immediately suspect that she had CLL – Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia.

At first, the mention of leukemia sent us into a panic.  Then I googled CLL and found that the word chronic means that people don’t die from it.    That brought a little relief, but there was still a lot of uncertainty as to what it means, and will mean, for Chris.

A suspicion of CLL is not a diagnosis.  Not too long ago the only way of obtaining a definite diagnosis was to take a bone marrow sample, not an enjoyable experience.  New technology allows doctors to examine the external shape of white blood cells to determine if they are normal or if they show the malformation that is characteristic of CLL.  Chris had that test and it was positive.

She has had x-rays and a CT scan that show no internal organs are affected.  She has had periodic blood tests and visits with a hematologist at Royal University Hospital.  He told her that the later tests show very little change from her first test, meaning that the CLL is progressing very slowly.

Now the hematologist at RUH has passed Chris’s file on to a hematologist at the Cancer Centre for ongoing monitoring.  The road from here looks like this: they will do periodic blood tests to monitor her condition.  The next test will be in three months and if it shows very little change the tests will be spaced out further.  In time, if the CLL causes further complications, chemotherapy will be necessary.  But this won’t be anything like the chemo that she had thirty years ago after she had cancer.  It will probably only involve taking pills, and will have very few side effects.

CLL is not curable, but it is treatable in its more advanced stages.  And the treatment is generally quite effective.

For the present, Chris is learning to live with CLL, pacing herself and accomplishing more than if she were to get frustrated and try to do more at one time than her body could cope with.  God has been good to us in times past, making a way for us in all the troubles we have faced, and we trust He will continue to do so,

Being thankful for little things

Today I woke up early, sat up in bed, stood up, had a shower, got dressed, read a chapter in my Bible, had breakfast.  I walked, bent over, sat down, got up, knelt down and got up.  In all of this I did not feel any excruciating pain.  Today I rejoice in being able to do the mundane things of life without the fear of stabbing pain.

Yesterday was different.  Sometime in the night I tried to shift in bed, found my feet trapped between my wife’s feet on one side and a cat on the other, and felt a jolt go through my back.  Everything I did all day was painful.  It hurt to move my arms to slide them into the sleeves of my shirt.  It hurt to sit down.  Getting up was worse, even though I tried to keep my back completely straight.  I walked slowly and carefully.  Getting into the car was bad, getting out was almost all I could do.  I felt the bumps in the road, I felt pain when I turned to look for cars beside or behind me.  Sometimes just turning the steering wheel gave me a stab in the back.

It was the cat’s fault.  My wife was innocently asleep.  I was asleep too, just unconsciously shifting position, until the stab of pain in my back.  We have trained the cat to sleep somewhere else, but every once in awhile he will sneak onto our bed when we are asleep.  But the cat was asleep, too.  How can I feel too upset with him?

It just happened.  A reminder that there are alternatives to going through life with no conscious awareness of what the bones and muscles in my body are doing.  I took aspirin and Tylenol through the day and that dulled the pain.  Still, when I went to bed last night I did it very gingerly and shifted very carefully until I found a position that caused me no pain.  And I stayed in that position until morning.  And the cat didn’t come near the bed all night.

During the night it unhappened.  Whatever was out of place in my back slipped back into place.  Today I am free and perhaps for the first time I realize what a blessing it is to be able to do all the little everyday things of life without pain.

Psalm 139:14 – I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.

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