Many years ago, I attended a seminar where the presenter made the point that the only limited resource, we have is time. When you pause to reflect, it is the case that all of us have a finite amount of time on this planet. Furthermore, the amount of time when we are able to do that which we want to do is even less. Yet, there remains an obsession in some parts, including elements of the medical profession, that death is an option and that an extra few days at the back end are worth any price (literally and metaphorically).
This has been laid bare over the last two years. New data from the CDC shows that one in five high school students contemplated suicide with 37% reporting an impact on their mental health and 44% reporting ongoing sadness or feelings of despair.
It is easy for politicians to front press conferences and give a daily update on deaths from or with Covid. It is not so easy to give an update on the mental health of the community. Neither will we see updates over the next two decades or longer about the health impact of lockdowns including delayed cancer and heart disease diagnosis and treatment or ongoing mental health issues.
This brings us to the passing last month of Shane Warne. It is fair to say that he did more in 52 years than most of us would in two lifetimes. As he opined at the end of the Amazon Prime bio-pic “I smoked, I drank, I bowled a bit of leg spin”. Those who knew him all described him as a modest man who was equally at home with celebrities and people on the streets of developing countries.
His children in eulogies described him telling them that manners were free and always to say please and thank you. Social media accounts are also free, but a large number of participants park their manners (assuming they have some) at the door. It is interesting how people feel that they can be highly abusive, behind anonymous Twitter handles, in a way that would not be allowed in real life.
Since the start of the year, we have also lost Meatloaf and Glen Wheatly (manager of John Farnham and bass guitarist of the Masters’ Apprentices). Die Hard star Brice Willis has stepped away from acting, suffering from aphasia (this is a symptom not a diagnosis) which impacts the ability to speak.
Many years ago, I was facilitator at a conference where Patch Adams spoke. As part of the presentation, he asked a group of doctors to raise their hands if they wanted to go to an aged care facility. No prizes for guessing that no hands went up. He then asked the obvious but difficult question – why do we keep building them? The answer to this is also evident at one level but not so clear at another.
Most of the world outside of West Australia is getting on with life and living with Covid. There is acceptance that after two years, with high vaccination levels and a mild variant in omicron that the threat is no greater than seasonal flu and probably less so. Increasingly people are saying we want to live life rather than just be alive. This is consistent with human behaviour over centuries. There has always been a quest for better amongst humans.
Going forward there will be those who choose to stay inside and not go to venues, let alone travel. This is absolutely fine, and people should do what they feel is appropriate for their own situation and circumstances. Others will want to live life as they always did and make up for lost time. This is also appropriate. Neither group should stop the other doing what works for them.
We all have a finite amount of time on the earth. How we choose to spend it is for us, and not government or anyone else to decide. Use your time in a way that works for you.
Medical Doctor, author, speaker, media presenter and health industry consultant, Dr Joe Kosterich wants you to be healthy and get the most out of life.
Joe writes for numerous medical and mainstream publications, is clinical editor at Medical Forum Magazine, and is also a regular on radio and television.
Joe is Medical Advisor to Medicinal Cannabis Company Little Green Pharma, Chairman of Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association and sits on the board of Arthritis and Osteoporosis WA. He is often called to give opinions in medico legal cases.