Tuesday, July 05, 2016

A Thought On Preventable Disease

So my father in law had his left lower leg amputated today.

It was not a total surprise.  He has diabetes (Type II) and had already had his lower right leg amputated 10 years or more ago.  Decreased circulation leads to increased risk of infection.  He had non-healing wounds which would not respond to antibiotics and so....

He came out of surgery as well as can be expected (for which we are all grateful), but the doctors are giving him even odds for healing.

As I mentioned, this was not a surprise.  He has not taken the best care of himself over the years, especially after he was confirmed diabetic.  He will admit it.  And the hardest thing in the world is having someone you love have a condition which you know ends badly and they will do nothing about it.

Is all diabetes controllable?  No.  Type I comes on with no help at all.  But Type II can be very much be lifestyle driven.

But so are other things.  Just yesterday, doing some background research for a job interview, I read (via Wikipedia, your mileage may vary) that there are 448 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections every year.  That is new.  Every year.  Not existing.  And, apparently, even one case of gonorrhea increases a man's chance of prostate cancer.

(I know - weird research, right?)

32% of cancer deaths are related to cancers due to (wait for it)  tobacco use and poor physical condition (obesity, poor diet, lack of exercise, overuse of alcohol - again, Wikipedia).

So here is my point:  we know what causes these things.  We know what we can do to avoid them.  And yet, we do nothing.

448 million new cases of sexually transmitted infections a year.  That works out to one in every sixteen  people.  Dear Lord, we know how these things spread.  We know what causes them. And we know very simple ways of preventing them.  We have within our power the ability to, by behavior, greatly diminish them within the population.

And yet we do nothing.

I suppose for some cases there is not much many can do directly, especially in poorer parts of the globe.  But we are the First World.  We are supposed to know better.

Why do we do nothing?  Because it is hard.  Because is means self denial.  Because it may mean living in a way radically different than what we expected or wanted to.

There are many facing health challenges they never intended.  They ate right, lived right, exercised, and the bad news came anyway.  My message is not directed at you.

But it is directed at the rest of us, those of us who know better and can do better and instead do very little.  A lot, this is directed at myself who knows better.

I know we have fantastic medicine and I know we are making progress in fighting all kinds of conditions and diseases.  I work in the industry; it is one of the reasons that I continue to do so.  And there are really serious conditions - ALS, Alzheimer's Lupus, all kinds of CNS and genetic diseases, diseases of the Third World like Malaria and Hepetitus and Tuberculosis - and even Diabetes  - that we need to give attention to.

Can w at least all make the commitment to do what we can to get the easy wins out of the way?


Dawn McHugh said...

I think a lot of people live with self denial, it will never happen to me, young people think they have lots of time ahead of them yet to make changes and are invincible and before they know it they are middle aged and then think well is it worth it, I gave up smoking some 7 years ago, I dont drink have never really liked it I eat healthy and my lifestyle is very physically active, but I am under no illusion that damage may have been done in my younger years, all I can do is make the best of what life throws at me in my later years :-)

Toirdhealbheach Beucail said...

So first of all, yay giving up smoking!! We are all glad you did.

You are probably right about the self denial. I wonder if part of that is we spend so much time shielding them from the evidence of bad decision making that they do not make the connection. Still, at some point een the middle aged have to go "Hey, something is up here. Need to make a change."

As to the rest - we do the best we can and prepare for the unexpected. Things happen every day to folks that no amount of clean living and exercise would have fixed.

Thanks for stopping by! - TB