I am musing about Twitter. Any thoughts you have, feel free to share them in comments. Because if you tweet them I won't get them.
I just finished a book by David B. Agus, called The End of Illness. It's a bit dense in places but makes for very thoughtful reading. His take is that cancer is not a disease, it is a process. Rather than saying someone "has cancer", we should say they "are cancering." He feels that prevention and early detection are all important, and I suspect few would argue with him there.
Then he takes a bit of a detour through our body, talking about it as a system. I can't emphasize how important that point of view is for understanding where he is coming from. All to often our medical system take some part of our system in isolation by observing we have some condition, and then providing a cure for it. We've had a lot of success with that over the last couple generations, but that approach hasn't got us very far with cancer.
To say our bodies are intricately balanced in many ways is an understatement. He talks a bit about how our bodies deal with Vitamin D, for example. It appears there is an optimum amount to have, and that providing more doesn't do us any good, and in fact may harm us in some subtle ways. Our cells have ways to regulate it. He also makes the point that taking multivitamins in pill form is not as good as getting them from food.
Towards the end of the book he talks a bit about prevention. Here are at least some of his suggestions; you'll have to read the book to see the supporting evidence.
- Keep to a regular schedule.
- Get good sleep on a regular schedule.
- Move throughout the day.
- Eat real food.
- Reduce your daily dose of inflammation.
- Stay abreast of new health technologies.
- Take charge of your own health information.
- DO NOTHING. The body can often heal itself given a chance.
I'd like to talk about a couple of those points, and this is purely my own perspective. The sleep thing - athletes are always told about how important rest is. Well, it's more important than that. I worked shift work for a few years, and I know how messed up I became. Now I understand a bit more about what happened to me, and that was scary shit. So much of our system depends on getting good, regular sleep. Without that everything else is messed up, our eating, how we digest the food, our stress levels, how alert we are, how well our memory works, how well our body deals with illness. It starts early, kids that have messed up sleep patterns are at enormous risk later in life for a variety of conditions and diseases.
If there is one thing that is against the rules in North America, it's doing nothing. We aren't allowed to do nothing. Our kids are driven from activity to activity. Adults are tied to their jobs 24/7 now, even on vacation. There is always another email to deal with, or some crisis somewhere. It never ever stops.
But that isn't good for us. At least once a week I like to relax, and do nothing for an hour or two. I mean nothing. I'm not reading, sleeping, listening to music, eating, or doing anything. All I'm doing is sitting quietly. Some might say I'm meditating, and fair enough, I won't argue. I like to let my mind and body settle, and just breathe quietly to myself. Having a cat purr nearby is good. Of course I can hear the outside world, but I let it pass by. I don't think of anything in particular, and I don't NOT think of anything. I let my mind go where it wants to go. Sometimes it flits from topic to topic and I'm thinking about whatever issues are in my life at the moment, but that often passes quickly. Normally my thoughts become more sluggish and calm, along with my body being more relaxed. Oddly enough, I don't feel heavy; I feel light and relaxed, as if I could float across the room on a stray breeze.
We do an easy spin on the bike to flush out our legs and help recover. I think of this as easy spin for the brain, to let it explore where it wants to go, at whatever pace it feels is best. Sometimes I'm lucid dreaming, in an odd state where I'm still awake, perfectly aware of the world around me, yet I'm dreaming and can control the dream. That's the best. I always feel refreshed when I get up. There is always a way to take notes nearby because I usually find that I've made a decision about something, or I know what I'm going to next, and I don't want to lose it.