Archive for May, 2012

Top Five Regrets

Top Five Regrets

By Bronnie Ware

For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last three to twelve weeks of their lives.
People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learned never to underestimate someone’s capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.
When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me
This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people have had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.It is very important to try and honor at least some of your dreams along the way. From the moment that you lose your health, it is too late. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it.
2. I wish I didn’t work so hard
This came from every male patient that I nursed. They missed their children’s youth and their partner’s companionship. Women also spoke of this regret. But as most were from an older generation, many of the female patients had not been breadwinners. All of the men I nursed deeply regretted spending so much of their lives on the treadmill of a work existence. By simplifying your lifestyle and making conscious choices along the way, it is possible to not need the income that you think you do. And by creating more space in your life, you become happier and more open to new opportunities, ones more suited to your new lifestyle.
3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings
Many people suppressed their feelings in order to keep peace with others. As a result, they settled for a mediocre existence and never became who they were truly capable of becoming. Many developed illnesses relating to the bitterness and resentment they carried as a result.
We cannot control the reactions of others. However, although people may initially react when you change the way you are by speaking honestly, in the end it raises the relationship to a whole new and healthier level. Either that or it releases the unhealthy relationship from your life. Either way, you win.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends
Often they would not truly realize the full benefits of old friends until their dying weeks and it was not always possible to track them down. Many had become so caught up in their own lives that they had let golden friendships slip by over the years. There were many deep regrets about not giving friendships the time and effort that they deserved. Everyone misses their friends when they are dying. It is common for anyone in a busy lifestyle to let friendships slip. But when you are faced with your approaching death, the physical details of life fall away. People do want to get their financial affairs in order if possible. But it is not money or status that holds the true importance for them. They want to get things in order more for the benefit of those they love. Usually though, they are too ill and weary to ever manage this task. It is all comes down to love and relationships in the end. That is all that remains in the final weeks, love, and relationships.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier
This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called ‘comfort’ of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content. When deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again.

When you are on your deathbed, what others think of you is a long way from your mind. How wonderful to be able to let go and smile again, long before you are dying. Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.

The Truth About Shisha Smoking

The Truth About Shisha Smoking

Shisha may not offer the same taste, or smell, of regular cigarettes but don’t let that fool you. Shisha (or waterpipe) smoking may end up being more harmful for your health than most people realise. Way, way more harmful.

Misconception About Shisha
While cigarettes are universally considered harmful, shisha doesn’t usually appear on our radar as a potential health hazard. Says Dr K Vijaya, Director, Youth Health Division, Health Promotion Board, “Many consider shisha smoking to be an occasional social activity and hence, not harmful. The tobacco used for shisha smoking is often flavoured which masks its danger and increases the appeal of shisha smoking to youth and young adults.”

This social nature of shisha smoking may even lead to addiction, she says. “In a study conducted by Maziak W et al (2004), authors noted that as shisha smokers receive comparable or higher doses of nicotine compared to cigarette smokers due to the social nature of the activity, addiction can set in. However, there has been no published study on when this addiction comes about and whether shisha tobacco is more addictive than cigarettes,” explains Dr Vijaya.

The main culprit for causing addiction is nicotine, which is found in shisha tobacco as well as regular cigarettes. This substance is as addictive as drugs like heroin and cocaine, according to Dr Vijaya, and shisha smokers have been shown to receive similar or even higher doses of nicotine. She says, “Shisha smokers reportedly suffer from many, if not all, of the indications of nicotine dependence. These include craving for nicotine fix, anxiety, restlessness, difficulty concentrating, headaches, and irritability.”

More Dangerous Than Cigarettes
With sweet scented flavours like apple, grape or peppermint, shisha smoke certainly doesn’t smell or taste like your typical harsh cigarettes. But beneath that innocent fragrance, the smoke it produces is just as harmful — containing tar, carbon monoxide and nicotine just like cigarette smoke.

Dr Vijaya explains further, “Cigarette smoke contains over 4000 chemicals of which 400 are poisonous and at least 69 are cancer-causing. Besides measuring concentrations of three of the constituents of cigarette smoke – tar, carbon monoxide and nicotine – there are no ISO standards to measure the concentration of the rest of the constituents of cigarette smoke. Similarly, studies have revealed that smoke released into the atmosphere when shisha tobacco is burnt contains tar, carbon monoxide (from incomplete combustion of the shisha tobacco as well as the charcoals used to burn the tobacco), nicotine, heavy metals and cancer-causing chemicals. However, concentrations of the ‘heavy metals’ and ‘cancer-causing chemicals’ are not known.”

What Shisha Can Do To You
Dr Vijaya lists the various health risks posed by shisha smoking:

a. Cancer Threat
The charcoal used to heat tobacco in the hookah increases the health risks by producing high levels of carbon monoxide, metals, and cancer-causing chemicals. Even after it has passed through water, the smoke produced by a hookah contains high levels of toxic compounds, including carbon monoxide, heavy metals, and cancer-causing chemicals. Hookah tobacco and smoke contain numerous toxic substances known to cause lung, bladder, and oral cancers.

Irritation to the mouth from exposure to tobacco juices increases the risk of developing oral cancers. The irritation by tobacco juice products is likely to be greater among hookah smokers than among pipe or cigar smokers because hookah smoking is typically practiced (with or without inhalation) more often and for longer periods of time.

b. Heart disease
Hookah tobacco and smoke contain numerous toxic substances known to cause clogged arteries and heart disease.

c. Flu
Sharing of smoking pipes increases risk of tuberculosis and flu.

d. Second-hand smoke
Second-hand smoke from hookahs poses a serious risk for non-smokers, particularly because it contains smoke not only from the tobacco but also from the heat source (e.g., charcoal) used in the hookah.

Yaba drug

To whom always go for wet and loitering at night spot, please take note & be careful of this new breed of drug!!
The pills come in pretty colours of dusky rose, green, red and orange. Placed in a palm, they look innocent enough, like pencil-eraser sized pieces of candy, – something a child would love. Closer inspection will show that there are imprints of these alphabets “R” or “WY” which tell you that what you’re looking at is the drug called Yaba – which is set to become, if not already, Thailand’s most abused drug after heroin.
Also called “crazy medicine” in Thailand, Yaba is a mayhem mix of Methamphetamine (Meth) and caffeine which is shaped into a circular bright-coloured pill.
Meth is also known as “Nazi Speed”, a reference to its widespread use (under the brand name “Pervitin”) by Hitler’s men during World War II. Malaysians would know it better by its street name, Shabu.
Call it what you may, the names do nothing except to claim more fans. The fact that it is sometimes flavoured – grape, vanilla and orange – and referred to by the Thais as “chocalee” helps with its popularity among children young as 10 years old.
Yaba is considered to be even deadlier than pure Meth, its counterpart more popular in the western hemisphere. Incidentally, Yaba has already made its entrance into the United States.
In 2005, that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration said it had seized at least 12,000 Yaba tablets from mail facilities throughout the nation, manufactured by a single foreign organization.
Small enough to fit a regular drinking straw, which is incidentally how the drug is transported, Yaba can be swallowed as pill, or heated on an aluminium foil, its fumes inhaled – a technique which is also called “Chasing the Dragon.”
Children, teens are targets
The physiological effects of Yaba are nearly identical to methamphetamine, according to federal researchers. The only difference is, with Yaba the ‘high’ can last for days instead of hours.
Caffeine helps slow down the release of meth into the body. First, it starts with an adrenaline rush, like racing down the first hill of a roller coaster for hours.
Your body temperature rises. Chills shoot down your arms, legs and chest.
Some users hallucinate sensations such as bugs crawling under their skin. They bite or pick at their skin to get the bugs out. Then, when the high is coming to an end, users clench their fists, their face gets rigid and the whole body may shake.
Some people will sleep for days following the high, known as “crashing.” Drug enforcers agree, however, that it’s not the length of the ‘high’ that makes Yaba more dangerous than meth, it’s who Yaba is marketed to – children.
According to the US National Drug Intelligence Center, the fact that the pills are bright coloured and candy-flavoured as well as distributed through legitimate pharmacists give the perception that it is safer than other drugs.
In Thailand, drug dealers are marketing this drug to the younger generation, getting children, teenagers and 20-somethings hooked on the drug to both increase demand and get younger, hipper dealers.
If you know which alleyway to head to in Thailand, don’t be fazed when men call after you in halting English, “Yaba. I have Yaba. Good quality. You want?”
Only RM30 a hit
A Yaba pills can cost between 300-500 Bhat (RM30-RM50), sometimes more, depending on demand and sometimes, quality.
Since 2003, Thailand’s war on drugs has been more of a violent, physical war.
Responding to an epidemic of Yaba use in Thailand, its then-prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra approved measures to treat a drug pusher as “a dangerous person who is threatening social and national security.”
The ensuing campaign resulted in the homicides of 2,275 drug criminals in three months, more than double the number killed during any three-month period before it, according to Human Rights Watch.
The Thai government maintains they were killed by other drug criminals, but the human rights group remained skeptical and cited cases of police shootings and “extrajudicial killings.”
This has done nothing to deter the the Yaba pushers and addicts, not only in Thailand, but also all across Southeast Asia.
Wherever you go, be it to Laotian villages, Thai construction sites, nightclubs in Shanghai, Tokyo or Dhaka — methamphetamine which is Asia’s new high, is now as easy to buy as a bowl of noodles or a packet of rice.
Its popularity is a symptom of the region’s astonishing economic growth. This new prosperity has liberalized trade, reduced transportation costs, accelerated the movement of people and products, and created a vast middle class with cash to burn.
Mobile methamphetamine labs
All this has helped traffickers shift their product to millions of fresh consumers.
Add to this is the fact that Meth is cheap and easy to make. Unlike opium fields in highland Southeast Asia, meth labs can’t be detected by satellite.
Something that grows out of the ground can be much more easily detected than a mobile ‘laboratory’ that can be dismantled and moved within a couple of hours.
And these ‘laboratories’ are reputedly capable of producing huge amounts of methamphetamine.
Asia’s appetite for narcotics is now so prodigious that it attracts criminal organizations from across the planet. Iranian and West African drug mules are now routinely arrested at Asian airports.
Meth can be eaten, smoked, snorted or injected. It is said to boost energy, self-esteem and sexual pleasure, but can also cause paranoia and aggression.
It is highly addictive and withdrawal symptoms include fatigue, anxiety and long-term depression.
That addiction is difficult to treat, partly because the drug’s popularity straddles social and economic divides, town and country, work and leisure.
Yaba’s high and low
The same drug that helps labourers endure back-breaking work in the fields allows affluent urbanites to party till dawn.
Eighteen-year-old Chaiya Charoen is one among thousands of teenagers who rely on Yaba to get through the day. He asks to be called Chai, a curt dismissal to his full name which translates as victorious and triumphant in Thai.
A Yaba addict since he was 17-years old, the sprite-faced teenager gamely shared what got him hooked on the drug.
Chai tells us that he comes from an average family in terms of finances. He is the fourth of five children.
He had his sights set on a university education and the competition for a scholarship was fierce. There were many times that Chai felt he couldn’t keep up with the demands of maintaining a consistently good grade.
One day, a friend told him about a pill that could help him stay awake and give him the surplus energy he needed to study and keep up with the competition as it were.
“This was an ex-schoolmate of mine and he gave me the pill and explained how it can be taken. I was falling back on my grades and I needed to do something about it. I thought, how bad could just one pill be? So I took it,” he said, shoulders shrugging in apathy.
Chai confessed that the initial phase was great and he began taking Yaba more often than not.
He would study after every Yaba hit and initially scored good grades. But as the days progressed, his grades began dropping and eventually he stopped thinking about his education altogether, not caring in the least about the consequences.
As for the money to buy Yaba, Chai unabashedly admits to stealing from his parents and older siblings. This is something he still does.
He said that his parents probably know what he’s doing, but are just too tired to punish him or scold him any more.
“So they just leave me to my devices, which suits me fine,” he added unapologetically.
Chai is also unrepentant. He doesn’t see a reason to quit Yaba; in fact he doesn’t want to and knows that he will never be able to give it up.
His need to “chase” Yaba is too great.
“If I don’t do this daily, how am I going to continue my day? I know that this has destroyed my life. I have no interest in anything else and I don’t care about what it does to my family because all I care about is where am going to get the money for my next hit.
“I know I’m going to die in a couple of years and I have no more friends. No one wants to talk to me any more and this includes my family. So what’s there to live for?
“I might as well just keep on doing this – like a slow suicide until my time time comes,” he said, face hard but with eyes spilling out tears.
“I have nothing else but this,” he continued, taking out a straw which contained four Yaba pills – enough for a two-day hit.
Even as Chai now admits, “I wish I hadn’t listened to my friend that day, when he suggested I take Yaba,” one wonders if there is truth in his words.
More so that he said this while placing a pretty pink pill on a ready piece of aluminium, lighter expertly held in the other hand.
“Maybe I’ll give this up one day,” he smiled through glazed eyes as he claimed the first wafts of smoke.

The Not-So-Great Mall of China

The Not-So-Great Mall of China: Welcome to the world’s largest (and loneliest) shopping centre

It was trumpeted as the world’s largest retail mall, with shoppers able to browse through 1,500 stores, take a stroll along a mock Venetian canal or even have lunch in front of an 85ft replica of the Arc de Triomphe.

But the New South China Mall, which opened in 2005, stands empty with 99 per cent of its shops having remained unleased and attractions including a 553-metre indoor and outdoor roller coaster standing idle.

It was designed to attract an average of more than 70,000 visitors a day to the city of Dongguan, but has less than a dozen shops in its 9.6million sq ft of floor space.

The world’s largest mall stands empty

Abandoned: The New South China Mall is the largest in the world, with space for 1,500 stores, but has less than 12 shops

Just before it opened the mall, which is located in China’s southern Pearl River Delta, it was heralded by the New York Times as part of ‘China’s astonishing new consumer culture’.
The mall’s developer, Hu Guirong, sent a team travelling around the world for two years in search of ideas.

It features seven zones modelled on different parts of the world, including a replica of the bell tower of St Mark’s Square in Venice, as well and area dedicated to downtown San Francisco.

South China Mall
Eerie: Shop workers walk underneath a 550m rollercoaster in the deserted amusement centre

South China Mall
Vast: A man on a tricycle passes a Russian-styled triumphal arch at the 9.6million sq ft shopping centre

South China Mall
Attraction: A bored attendant makes a phone call next to the ghost train ride at the mall

David Hand, a retail analyst at Jones LaSalle in Beijing, said: ‘They set out to the be the biggest, and hoped that being the biggest would be the attracting factor.

‘It hasn’t delivered.
‘The Chinese love shopping, they love brands, and they love international products, even though the average income is low.
‘New shoppers are born everyday. We won’t run out of them.’

South China Mall

South china Mall
Run down: The mall sign stands unlit and, right, an abandoned gondola on the mock Venetian canal

South China Mall
Continental: The mall also features a Venetian canal, replica of the Arc de Triomphe, downtown San Francisco and themes from Las Vegas

China has been hit hard by the global recession, and the city of Dongguan is known for its popularity with low-paid factory workers.

The only occupied areas of the mall are near the entrance, where several Western fast food chains sell burgers next to an abandoned go-kart track.

Dick Groves, a retail consultant based in Hong Kong, said the failure of the New South China Mall was down to inexperience in leasing business and an undisciplined financial system.

‘When it’s easy to get financing without having to convince someone of the project’s feasability, and without having to show pre-leasing commitment, you can start to get into trouble,’ he told The National.

South China Mall
Failure: Only Western fast food restuarants have survived at the mall’s entrance

South China Mall
Fun fair: A family look at a pirate ship ride in the mall’s amusement centre, which does attract some visitors

Around 500 new malls have been built in China over the last five years.

All of them are said to be waiting for the arrival of the middle class, with China the largest growing economy in the world before the recent global recession.

5 Ways To Control Fibromyalgia With Diet

5 Ways To Control Fibromyalgia With Diet
New research shows that picking these foods may ease pain
Fibromyalgia, a chronic disease that causes pain and swelling in more than a dozen points all over the body, affects as many as 5 million people. Because doctors are still unsure of the cause of fibromyalgia, treatment can be frustrating (and often a process of trial and error). “Fibromyalgia symptoms are only about 30% amenable to current pharmaceutical strategies on the market,” says Kathleen Holton, PhD, MPH, lead author of Potential Dietary Links in Central Sensitization in Fibromyalgia.

That’s why many patients are taking matters into their own hands and experimenting with alternative treatments, including dietary changes. Forty-two percent of fibro patients reported that symptoms worsened after eating certain foods, and though much of the research is in its preliminary phases, there’s some evidence that simple diet tweaks may ease fibro pain. Read on to get five food rules for fibromyalgia patients. Just be sure to consult your doctor before drastically changing your diet.

Read more:

1. Load Up On Vitamin D
Many adults are deficient in vitamin D to begin with, but this sunshine vitamin can be vital to fibro patients. “Vitamin D deficiency can mimic some of the symptoms of fibromyalgia. All patients should be screened for deficiency,” says Holton. Studies show that vitamin D deficiencies can cause bone and muscle pain, and upping levels of this hard-to-get vitamin may help. A 2008 study found that pain patients with low levels of vitamin D required almost double the dose of painkillers as those with adequate levels. Holton recommends taking a supplement, especially during the wintertime.

Read more:

2. Avoid Additives
Common food additives, like monosodium glutamate (MSG) and aspartame, can act as excitotoxin molecules, a chemical group that has the ability to activate neurons that increase sensitivity to pain. Anecdotally, easing off these additives can help, and one very small study of four patients found that eliminating MSG and aspartame resulted in a reduction of fibromyalgia symptoms. The research is far from definitive, but it may be worth trying if you notice your symptoms worsen after Chinese takeout or too many diet drinks.

Read more:

3. Say Yes To Fish
Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fatty fish, like salmon, walnuts, and flaxseed, are known to reduce inflammation and help prevent cardiovascular diseases. However, their soreness-reducing traits may also help pain patients. A 2007 study found that after just 3 months of supplementing omega-3 fatty acids, symptoms such as morning stiffness and painful, tender joints decreased. Though this study did not include fibromyalgia patients (it included rheumatoid arthritis (RA), irritable bowel syndrome (IBD), and dysmenorrheal patients), the results show promise. Fibro patients often have co-morbidities such as IBD and RA, so omega-3s may benefit them as well. Try adding salmon or walnuts to your diet, or, if you don’t like those foods, try adding flaxseeds to your cereal or oatmeal.

Read more:

4. Nix the Caffeine
Because sleeplessness is commonly associated with fibro, it may be tempting to fuel up on coffee to get through the day. This, however, may be a mistake. “Some patients use caffeine to compensate for not sleeping well, which can lead to a circular problem where the ‘solution’ of taking caffeine to stay awake is actually causing the problem of not sleeping at night,” says Holton. Caffeine can set you up for a crash and, if sipped later in the day, may disrupt sleep schedules. Holton recommends antioxidant-packed decaffeinated green tea as a healthier alternative.

Read more:

5. Veg Out
Some researchers speculate that oxidative stress may be a cause of fibro symptoms. Oxidative stress occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough antioxidants to battle cell-damaging free radicals in the body. Most fruits and veggies are packed with important antioxidants, like vitamins A, C, and E, which fight free radicals to keep your body normalized. Certain studies also show a raw, vegan diet can improve symptoms, but that’s difficult for most people to follow.

If you do choose to eat meat, though, opt for a small portion of grass-fed beef. “It is an excellent source of iron and vitamin B12, both nutrients which are extremely important in keeping your pain-processing nervous system healthy,” says Holton.

Read more:

Fresh milk?



Didn’t like shopping there anyway. Yesterday I was at my local TESCO’s
store buying a large bag of Winalot dog food for my loyal pet and was
in the checkout queue when a woman behind me asked if I had a dog.

What did she think I had, an elephant? So, since I’m retired and have
little to do, on impulse I told her that no, I didn’t have a dog, I was
starting the Winalot Diet again. I added that I probably shouldn’t,
because I ended up in hospital last time, but I’d lost 2 stone before I
woke up in intensive care with tubes coming out of most of my orifices
and IVs in both arms.

I told her that it was essentially a perfect diet and that the way that
it works is to load your pockets with Winalot nuggets and simply eat
one or two every time you feel hungry. The food is nutritionally
complete so it works well and I was going to try it again. (I have to
mention here that practically everyone in queue was now enthralled with
my story.)

Horrified, she asked me if I ended up in intensive care because the dog
food poisoned me……… I told her no, I stepped off the kerb to sniff an
Irish Setter’s arse and a car hit me.

I thought the guy behind her was going to have a heart attack he was
laughing so hard. I’m now banned from TESCO’s. Better watch what you
ask retired people. They have all the time in the world to think of
daft things to say.