Yesterday morning was spent at my wife's cousin's house attending her daughter's funeral. She passed away the night before due to lungs failure. She was not even 40 yet and she left three young daughers, the youngest barely 7 years old and the eldest in Primary 5. Her husband told me the lungs failure occurred because of complication in her diabetes.
I keep on seeing the television health adverts on what things to look out for when you are suffering from diabetes - all in the line of look after your feet etc, because the feet is always the first part affected by cuts etc and untended can cause other complications later on. What struck me is not so much the advert but the existence of the advert itself. To have an advert which keeps on airing repeatedly (to those who watched RTB) means that there is a serious problem. According to the MOH website, the third leading cause of death (2001) in Brunei is Diabetes Mellitus. I am not a health or medical expert to say whether this includes all complications due to diabetes but even on its own is already the third leading causes of death.
In the afternoon, I visited my wife's brother-in-law (biras) at Gleneagles-JPMC Hospital in Jerudong. He has just undergone a heart bypass operation as a couple of his arteries are blocked. I was quite surprised that he had to undergo the operations. I had always seen him as a very active man, he is not the one that sits down doing nothing but he goes fishing, he tends to his kebun, in fact he is so active that he is always busy doing something. But I guess when you are in your 60s, body parts do tend to fail. Alhamdulillah, he is making a very quick recovery, now being able to walk about and maybe in one or two days will be released. So at least I guess that's something to be thankful for leading an active life. Heart diseases is the number one leading cause of death in this country and related to that is the Cerebrovascular Diseases which is at number four.
In this month, most of us will be visiting the graves of our loved ones. Some of us will be visiting the graves of someone close to us who died young and some who died at the 'right' age. The young ones who died young include those who died due to cancer (2nd leading cause of death in this country) and even road accidents (6th).
You know it's scary when you realise just how mortal you are? I am always reminded of this whenever I take my hypertension tablets, check my blood pressure monitor and read my glucose meter. Two things we can take from today's entry is firstly, how much lifestyle diseases are affecting us, yes including road accidents and secondly, how prepared are we, both emotionally and financially?
The morbidity rate of Diabetes Mellitus was barely 5% before the 1990s and by the turn of the 21st century is now close to 30%. It shows just how much the Brunei lifestyle has changed over the last 10 years. Are we becoming too affluent or just leading the wrong lifestyle? Too much junkfood? Too busy lifestyle?
In terms of financial planning too, we sometimes forget. A retired senior officer came to see me very recently inquiring whether his future pensions could be paid now to help him pay for his house. Apparently he only built the house after he retired and now he does not have enough funds to complete the house. Being retired and suffering seriously from a couple of diseases above, he said he might not make it beyond 60. He is worried his family will have nowhere to stay.
It is not just houses but also emotional support. When a young woman or man passed away, it is always the children that we worry about. People always say those who have gone are now at peace. It is those left behind that have to worry. We can help the orphans with the financial assistance, just watch how many donations are given in this holy month. Monthly financial assistance is also given through the Community Development Department. But who gives out the emotional donations? The young children brought up without their mother or father or both?
Perhaps today, we might start thinking of whether we should go for that sungkai buffet and use the savings to add that to our bank account for future use. Even if we do go, maybe we ought to reach out less for that roasted lamb and go for the salad instead and go easy on that thousand island dressing. We should not spend too much time at that restaurant and go to the mosque soon after sungkai to do the terawih prayers, perhaps those 20 rakaats will perhaps help us lose a few calories. And drive carefully back.
Photo credit: "Learning About Metaphors" at www.booksbychildren.com.