Monthly Archives: March 2016

When something is not sexy enough…..

Just adding the word “sexy” to a headline, will guarantee a reader’s interest….if that is not enough- here are some facts that should be more persuasive-

  • 9.6 million people infected in 2014
  • 1.5 million deaths in 2014
  • 140,000 children died from this in 2014
  • 480,000 have the drug resistant strain
  • 1/3 of the world carries this infection

Most people reading this will be wondering what I am talking about……TUBERCULOSIS

The world’s leading infectious disease killer.

However, public perceptions of this killer are distorted by images of emancipated, skeletal people coughing their lives out, dying a painful, horrible death. Unlike other diseases, there are few pretty celebrities talking about their battles with TB & while even HIV got its day on silver screen and of course famous people have used their major health challenges to fundraise and raise awareness. Lance Armstrong with Prostate Cancer, Olivia Newton John for Breast Cancer, Michael J Fox for Parkinson’s and many others.

But for something that affects one in three people in the world, there is an awful silence about the scourge- where are the runs, the ice bucket challenges, the walks, the arm bands or the pretty plastic flower clips???

Is it because it is still considered to be a “poor people’s disease”? Probably

Is it because people who get it in the developed world, don’t generally talk about it, is it still a taboo? Most likely

Frankly, as a disease, it’s just not “sexy” enough to capture people’s imaginations!

Not many know that TB can affect other parts of the body- lymphs, spine, heart & eyes are common. How many realise that TB is increasingly being diagnosed in the West as well, with travel and migration. How many people actually know that treatment for TB is a long drawn process with patients needing to take a handful of tablets daily for months together for it to work.

8 years ago, after over 2 years of being constantly sick, unresponsive to regular antibiotics and having seen every single specialist in Melbourne and having every possible test done – including an angiogram, I was finally diagnosed with TB.
The aggressive 22 month treatment came with some pretty ugly side effects. And 8 years on, I still struggle with many seemingly simple things.

Interestingly, what stuck with me are people’s reaction to finding out- 1 person physically moved  a few feet away and another actually said “Jeez, it hasn’t helped you lose weight!” But not much else, people don’t want to know how I picked it up, most Indian’s don’t realise that in many big metro’s prevalence rates are between 80-95%!

But that aside- I was in good health, had access to great medical care and was able to afford the long drawn out treatment and ensured the healthy diet so critical to recovery. But I STILL struggled and continue to live with some of the side effects. Just imagine the plight of the millions not so lucky…..

On World TB Day- cannot be a better time to share my story-

Nope, it’s not very sexy, but it is quite deadly…..But it can be conquered….Let’s

“Unite to End TB”

One of my most favorite songs, coincidently in this movie, Rajesh Khanna’s best friend is dying of TB…..






Don’t guilt me……….

As most parents of teenagers and young adults will recognise, a frustrating aspect of parenting is “discussions” with them. The sometimes long drawn out, mindbogglingly convoluted drag out sessions, that leave you exhausted and drained- and then waking up the next morning and realising that it achieved no purpose!

Generation gaps are alive and well. As parents, you usually want your children to achieve their full potential, avoid the pitfalls that you or others may have encountered and learn from experience.

Simple? Understandable? Logical even??

Apparently not!

In the most recent iteration of our usual heated discussions with my 21 year old, a throwaway line from me, elicited this response “You’re always guilting us”

The argument came to a screeching halt….I could not fathom what on earth she meant.

I had been telling her about the challenges our generation faced while growing up and how those challenges influenced our present actions and views.

And I found her statement “that was then, this is now” very hurtful…

But later that evening and much into the next few days, my thoughts kept returning to what she had said “You’re always guilting us” and she clarified that she did not just me us, her parents- she meant all parents attitudes towards their children.

I looked back and found a disconcerting picture, as parents, we often do things “for our children”. Sometimes career choices, where we live, the kinds of things we may forgo are because we believe they will benefit our kids.

The newspapers recently carried a story of a young girl, who was miserable in a private school, that her parents struggled to keep her in, because of the pressure she was under. Her parents wanted her to benefit from every possible opportunity they were getting for her. Some years on, she is extremely disappointed with how her school experience panned out. Her mother now feels she went through all the struggle and pain for no gain & feels cheated as well!

Thinking a bit more about this and you will see that much of what we do, to get a desired response from others in our lives is trying to raise a feeling of guilt in them…

Our movies and TV shows continuously drum the guilt factor in the other person.
In a movie recently, teachers are treated badly and then come on national tv and speak emotionally about how students learn from them, go on to become successful in lives and then forget their teachers. The students then soul search and come to the realisation that they have neglected their teachers and shower them with flowers and messages of support.

Other movies have shown suffering parents, who slog their lives away to get a better life, the children become extremely ungrateful and then in a tear jerking climax the parent makes the ultimate sacrifice and the grown son or daughter realises just a bit too late how they behaved.

A story of a son who was horrendous to his mother because she had lost an eye and looked ugly, he leaves her and does not look back, when she dies he discovers that she had given up her eye, after he loses an eye in an accident as a child. His sense of guilt for all his actions toward her, tear him up!

We seem to find it easier to make others feel beholden to us because of what we do for them rather than let them cultivate their own feelings for us.

I don’t believe we want our children or others to repay a debt but maybe we want them to remember it? Not sure….

But at the end, truth be told- we do guilt our children……and maybe we shouldn’t…one can but try!