January 30, 2019

Raising awareness #LeprosyEradicationDay

Today, 30th January, is remembered by most Indians as Gandhiji’s death anniversary. Gandhiji who played a major role in making our country a free nation, Gandhiji of the Sabarmati ashram and Satyagraha fame, Gandhi who brought forth the Dandi March and promoted non-violence. The use of the charkha and khaadi are often associated with the father of the nation.

However, what remains in the background is an important struggle that Gandhiji was involved in all through his lifetime...the struggle for eradication of leprosy.
It is therefore, that 30th January is also celebrated as ‘Leprosy Eradication Day’ in India.

India is a land of superstitions and myths. Although we have been successful in busting most of these old wives tales over the years, there are still a lot of misconceptions and illogical fears associated with diseases and infections.
Among these is the fear of leprosy and the people suffering from it. While most people are hesitant in even staying within talking range of the patients (insensitively termed as 'lepers' by the common man), there are others who harbor and spread false information regarding its spread and communicability. As a consequence, those who experience the symptoms often conceal them out of fear of the rejection and scorn from society, and sometimes even family.

Ergo, it becomes the responsibility of every aware member of the society that we become aware about this condition...and rid not just our society against this prejudice but also cleanse our own minds of the bias.

So let's start with the basics:

What is leprosy?
Leprosy is a chronic granulomatous infection that affects mainly the skin, mucous membrane, and nerves. It is caused by the bacteria M.Leprae (Mycobacterium. Leprae).
There are two types of leprosy:

  • Paucibacillary
  • Multibacillary
Leprosy is mildly contagious and is seen mostly in the lower socio-economic groups. 
It does not spread by touching or holding hands. 
M.Leprae cannot infect intact skin.

Leprosy is transmitted through nasal secretions or droplets. 

Genetic defects in the immune system may cause certain people to be more susceptible to the infection than others. 

Symptoms that should be watched out for:
Early symptoms include:
  • Numbness
  • Loss of temperature sensation
  • Pins and needles sensation
  • Reduced tactile (touch) sensation
  • Pain
  • Blisters/rashes/white patches
  • Bent fingers with ulcers
Late symptoms include:
  • Facial disfigurement 
  • Loss of digits
  • Large ulcers
Erythema Nodosum: Painful skin nodules accompanied by fever, neuritis, joint pain and edema. 

Leprosy, if detected at the right time can be treated and cured completely, and further complications can be prevented. However, there is no preventive measures for the infection. 
Diagnostic measures include skin smears and biopsy.

Currently, there is no vaccine against leprosy. 

(Only after and as adviced by consulting diagnostician/healthcare professional)

For paucibacillary Leprosy-
In Adults: 600mgs Rifampicin once a month
               +100 mgs Dapsone daily for six months. 

For multibacillary leprosy-
In Adults: 600 mgs Rifapicin once a month + 300 mgs Clofazimine once a month
              + 100 mg Dapsone daily 
               +50 mgs Clofazimine daily 

Towards a Leprosy-free India:
Leprosy treatment is free and available within easy reach. It is important to visit a dermatologist or nearby hospital on the first appearance of any of the related symptoms. 
However, most people shy away due to the stigma associated with the disease. The myths and discrimination against leprosy ends up being the cause of most cases of depression in patients. The brutal attitude of the society towards them makes them lose their will to live and fight the infection. Some stop treatment midway, while some others refuse to go for follow ups, thus resulting in complications and a fatal outcome. 
The microbe can be destroyed. It is eventually man who becomes the worst enemy of man. 

It is only we and we alone who can put an end to our ignorance. We must keep in mind that Leprosy is curable at any stage and is not a matter of shame. We, as educated citizens should make it a point to spread awareness about this disease. 
  • Through medical talks in schools, colleges, and other gatherings, we can clear the misconceptions about Leprosy. 
  • Be watchful for signs/symptoms in yourself and in your loved ones. 
  • Share the information via social media, in Whatsapp groups, via retweets.
  • Free yourself...of prejudice. Debunk those myths. 

Leprosy is not a curse. Neither is it a punishment, like some people believe it to be. It is simply an infection that can be fought with the right and timely treatment. 
It is simply a war that can be won by cleansing our minds of the fear and stigma associated with it.

Today, let's each take a step towards a Leprosy-free future!

January 06, 2019

#SmartHomeRevolution : Smart choices for a smarter you

As a child, I grew up on a healthy dose of children's films and cartoon shows. I remember being glued to the sofa, refusing to allow anyone else the liberty to have access to the remote or the TV. Among all my favorite shows, the two that topped my list were 'The Flintstones' and its extreme opposite, 'The Jetsons'. (The former lived in the stone age, with machines and transport powered by birds and dinosaurs. Contrary to them, the latter inhabited the future, and made use of the most advanced technology.)

While 'The Flintstones' made me giggle at the redundant lifestyle of prehistoric times, 'The Jetsons' would make me dream about a future wherein machines would be our slave and bring the world to our feet.
I was fascinated by Rosie, the household robot, who although authoritarian, handled the family's every need with great finesse and dedication. I marveled at teenage Judy's digital diary that she fondly called DiDi. I longed for a computer like R.U.D.I who could be as much as a friend to me as he was to George.
All of it seemed so magical back then...the inventions, gadgets, futuristic lifestyle. I would watch wide eyed, while the Jetsons made avail of equipment I had never seen nor heard of. I recall describing the series to my grandmother. Whenever I went over to her place, I'd fill her up on the shows I'd watch. And 'The Jetsons' hardly ever missed a mention.
As I animatedly regaled her with stories about the Jetsons, she would let my imagination soar, allowing me to explain at great length...scenes from the series and some from my own imagination.
In hindsight, it must have all seemed so crazy to her. Mechanical house robots and talking computers. But she never once let it show.
A woman who lived in times before the TV and telephone were discovered would never be able to imagine what power the Jetsons possessed on a child's imagination. But the Jetsons had made me believe in possibilities...and the possibilities, like always, were endless.

Cut to present day, my childhood fantasies do not seem so distant after all. In fact, we still have 43 years ahead of us to catch up with the kind of inventions the Jetsons used, and at the rate we are going, it will not be a surprise if we superseded them very soon.

Over the last few years, India has seen a stellar rise in technology, allowing the tech-savvy prospective buyer to fulfill his desires and suit his preferences. Up to forty percent of smart watches and google assistants have been sold via Flipkart.
Today, easy accessibility of the internet and smart phones in every small town and village has enabled India to bring about a digital revolution that promises to change the face of our country forever. Smart phones, smart watches, fitness belts, and of late, smart homes are on the rise. We are on our way to our Jetsons fantasy...
And the only way we can fulfill it is by embracing smart options for ourselves and for our homes.

Smart choices include:
  • Smart home - This includes thermostats, refrigerators, air conditioners, and other smart devices that come with Wifi capability, and can be controlled via apps on the smart phone. 
  • Smart lights - A smart home solution that can be operated and controlled using a simple app on your phone. 
  • Personal assistant devices such as Google home, Apple HomePod, Amazon Echo that are AI (Artificial Intelligence) powered, voice activated virtual assistants that carry out commands. These are integrated with your home automation devices.
  • Smart camera -  This smart camera not just safeguards your home from thefts but also makes sure you don't miss out on the important moments (like your baby's milestones) in life just because you are away. Wherever you are, smart surveillance cameras guarantees that the safety of your home and loved ones is just a click away. 
  • Smart wearable - These include smart watches that go as long as 45 days with a single charge, touch enabled fitness bands (like Mi band, Fitbit) that measure every step taken by you, bluetooth hats, smart glasses, smart headphones etc. 

Why make these smart choices?
Smart devices provide us with better security, reliability, and comfort.
It is used friendly and very useful especially for the elderly. It is the surest way of ensuring the safety of your loved ones.
Also these smart options save energy expenditure and cut down on expenses in the long run.

To understand further, let us imagine a day in the life of a modern day technology smart user aka you as part of the #SmartHomeRevolution...

It is morning.
You are woken up by a familiar voice. It is your friendly assistant, Google Home. It rattles off the  news headlines for the day.

While getting ready for your morning jog. you are in the mood for some music.
"Ok. Google. Play me Ed Sheeran's Shape-Of-you," you ask. 
Google Home obliges immediately. You hum along.

 A reminder from Google that you're getting late. You quickly strap your Huami Amazfit smart watch  on your wrist.
"Google, turn off the fan," you say, and step out, reassured by the fact that your voice controls your favorite home automation devices. 

You have now reached Joggers park. You check your watch for any call or message notification alert. The smart watch is a fitness tracker doubled up with a watch. As you complete your laps on the ground, it measures your physical activity. It records your heart rate and counts your steps. You are glad you decided to #GetFitWithFlipkart. Buying the multipurpose smart watch was the first step. 

 Four laps and you're done. You head home. 
At home, the water is heated for a hot, refreshing post-exercise shower, just like you want it. It is definitely a blessing that you can navigate through all your requirements from your smart phone app. 
A hot shower and breakfast later, you are all set to step out for work. Google Home reminds you of your appointments for the day. You have got it all covered...rather your assistant has it all covered. 

You leave for office, assured that your home is safe under the watchful protection of smart surveillance. 
You have installed the 360 HD home security smart camera. This enables you to monitor all activity inside and around the house with the help of the app on your phone. 

It is evening and you are on your way back from work. You have had a long day and you are tired. Also the scorching summer heat is making you feel irritable and cranky. You can't wait to get home. You have already switched on the air conditioner using the smart home app on your phone, a little before your estimated reach-time. Also the Philips hue smart bulbs allow you to schedule, turn on/off, and even dim the lights via your smart phone. 

Finally, you are home!! The long day and traffic has left you irate. But the crankiness from work soon disappears in the comfort of the dimmed out lights and the cool air of the air conditioner. 

You microwave your dinner, while simultaneously setting your assistant to task. 
"Google, play Sherlock from Netflix."

You watch a couple of episodes while having dinner. 
Then wash up and get into bed. Google Home plays soft instrumental music on your demand. It knows exactly what you need for a good night's rest.

The smart lights in your room dim out, and your drift off to sleep. 

The above scenario could easily become your everyday reality. At the click of a button, you can make a choice that will change your home and life forever. Flipkart offers great deals on smart home products. 
You can start out small and gradually keep upgrading your smart home options. Speaking from personal experience, I would recommend a smart watch or fitness belt (depending on your budget) and 'Google home' to be on top priority list. The surveillance camera is also a deal worth considering.

Let's make some smart choices today. We need to step up with the times.
Our homes are turning smart. Let's get smarter!

This post was written for #GetFitWithFlipkart, a contest by Flipkart and Indiblogger
If you liked what you read, please vote for it here.

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January 02, 2019

#WordlessWednesday : To you, to me, to us...

May this year be the pudding in our bread-and-butter existence...
Cheers to a fulfilling 2019!

Linking this delicious little wish to #WordlessWednesday. You can check the other submissions here.