The individual who is away from work on medical leave, but is seen walking around the streets of Castries, is instantly black-listed in many local companies. Can you even imagine what would happen if that individual was “caught” relaxing on the beach? For a similar reason, many persons prefer to work their way through their illnesses.
I recall one gentleman in his early fifties; he insisted that he could not accept medical leave because his desk was covered with incomplete assignments. He hurried back to work, his blood pressure reading 250/120 millimeters of mercury; a blood pressure high enough to cause a stroke, a heart attack, loss of vision or renal impairment. He left my office saying, “But Doc, I don’t feel a thing.”
Ladies and gentlemen, let us pause for a second. Have you all seen those televised obituaries? Well, what you see is exactly what we experience every day in medical practice. Forty to sixty year olds succumbing to diabetes, high blood pressure and other treatable, controllable or preventable diseases. These pre-retirees are literally dying in their quest to secure their future and that of their families.
Slow down folks and please take heed! These chronic non-communicable diseases are silent killers. Which means you may think you are fine but diabetes may be robbing you of your eyesight. You may urinate and not feel a thing, but your prostate may already have malignant changes.
So what about those who get to sixty and beyond? Are they faring any better? My people, I have to disappoint you once more. The reality is that most of them end up two-D: with depression and dementia.
There are many medical explanations for conditions which lead to impaired memory and decreased mental function. Alzheimer’s, some claim, may be caused by taking iron supplements. Others blame aluminium cookware, adviding that stainless steel is better.
I need now to make reference to an old adage once taught at primary schools. “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” is what our teachers would say. Your medical doctor may take that statement a little further by advising “Hard work and not enough play can make you two-D one day.” So, as hard as you work, just as hard you must play and every hour at the job must be matched with equal time having fun.
With all that said, I hope I have made my point. For the sake of our mental and emotional health something just has to be done. The isolation that currently exists in families and communities can no longer persist. Every adult Saint Lucian must make time for fun, leisure, rest and relaxation.
Politics also has a role to play in all of this. Libraries, theatres, parks with benches and the development of more effective crime prevention techniques will encourage folks to get out of their homes and mingle freely on the streets. I long to see our retirees, greeting and chatting with glee, as they meet old friends and family.
Our governments must recognize that a healthy and happy adult population will be more productive; and more importantly, a lot less expensive. We would also have more grand-parents, animated enough to share precious stories and strong enough to give just the kind of love, and possibly a spanking to an unruly child, that made many of us better human beings.
Still my people, in sweet Saint Lucia we need not wait on the politicians to have fun or find a place of relaxation. There are beaches everywhere and families can always organize house parties. You might chose to join a gym, where you can Zumba your way to health and a fitter body. Pumping iron also has well known benefits. Look at Rick! He’s still on TV giving voodoo politicians endless mépwi.
Dr. Andre R. L. Matthew MD is a local medical practitioner and a member of the UWP.
He is vying for the position of deputy political leader at the Party’s convention on Sunday.