August 2021 is very special for me personally. 25 years ago in August 1996, I started private practice as a Physician in Borivali, the north west suburb of Mumbai, India’s commercial capital.
Now, 25 years later, my oldest daughter, Grace, at the age of 22, has embarked on her own journey as a working adult. She has joined as a Consultant to a firm in Delhi from the 1st of August, 2021, after majoring in Political Science.
This is also the month when my son Mark passed the 12th standard final state board exams. Due to the COVID pandemic, he did not have to give the final boards, and that is a different story altogether!
I can think of starting my journey towards retirement, I jokingly mentioned to my family. It is also time to hang up my parenting boots, I feel, and enjoy the benefits of having homeschooled three kids during the last two decades.
A quarter of a century now truly seems like something that I can get a grasp of, a moment in time that encompasses almost half of my life as of now.
We have also added two kittens to our family in July 2021.
Looking back, I am amazed at the way my life has unfolded and remain eternally grateful to God and the wonderful people who have blessed me in so many different ways in these years.
I have learnt so much, and grown so much, in these years.
The journey of life is best enjoyed with people, in loving relationships, where we can encourage one another to be a better version of who we were yesterday. And I can say that for me personally this has been absolutely true.
During the COVID pandemic, I was longing for a break for myself and my family. The last break we had taken was in December 2020. So as the second wave hit Mumbai and indeed the entire world in March, I was working as always, juggling online and walk in patients at our Hospital in North Mumbai.
As soon as the kids finished with their online exams and assignments, we planned to take a small break. I explored AirBNB and did find some interesting places but their website was glitching so that led me to use Google Maps and Google earth to zoom in on some promising places.
We first selected Alibag, since it is within four hours drive. My last memories of Alibag were not pleasant at all, a rocky beach streen with garbage, debris and stinking.
So this time I selected a place right near a beach that looked nice. We reached there in four hours. The beach was amazing. It was big, flat and here are some pics!
The setting sun and the receding tide gave us a glimpse of an amazingly beautiful scene.
I have never seen a beach like this.
I went for a morning walk, and saw another side of this pristine beach.
The local fisherfolk use this beautiful beach for doing their big job. I was shocked to see many men doing this in the morning.
Local fishermen say that they have been using this beach for defecation since many generations. One said that they do the same at Worli, sensing somehow that I am from the city.
I asked them, dont you have toilets in your home?
He said, yes they do, but they like to do it in the open, where there is fresh breeze. He seemed reluctant to stop this.
I informed him about the danger from fecal coliforms. I felt that was the best I would do in the short time I was there.
I hope the local administration will tacke this ina socially acceptable manner and that this practice will stop.
I also saw locals bringing in these plantain trees and dumping them as well on the beach.
I wish that all of the people here would be good stewards of God’s wonderful creation that they have been entrusted with to care, protect and keep clean.
The beach is full of hard working creatures who do their job after every tide. These tiny creatures make burrows in the sand and roll out these small round balls of earth.
There are also many colourful shells and creatures all around.
The beach is beautiful but you need to see this as well
I would like to appeal to people to please be careful where you throw trash. The sea will return whatever it cannot degrade.
The beach still retains its magical charm, as you can see from the pictures I am sharing here. I wish this beach to remain anonymous, somehow hoping that this will protect the fragile beauty of this amazing place.
Wishing you many short breaks in the days to come, stay safe and happy!
Working 55+ hrs/week leading to nearly 750k deaths per year: Study published in the HT on 18th May 2021
Working long hours is killing hundreds of thousands of people a year in a worsening trend that may accelerate further due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization said on Monday.
In the first global study of the loss of life associated with longer working hours, the paper in the journal Environment International showed that 745,000 people died from stroke and heart disease associated with long working hours in 2016. That was an increase of nearly 30% from 2000.
Dr S P Mathew, Physician, also added that workers need to take ownership of their time, set boundaries and understand that their life is not all about just working.
The joint study, produced by the WHO and the International Labour Organization, showed that most victims (72%) were men and were middle-aged or older. Often, the deaths occurred much later in life, sometimes decades later, than the shifts worked.
It also showed that people living in Southeast Asia and the Western Pacific region — a WHO-defined region which includes India, China, Japan and Australia — were the most affected.
The study covered the period 2000-2016, and so did not include the Covid-19 pandemic, but WHO officials said the surge in remote working and the economic slowdown resulting from the coronavirus emergency may have increased the risks.
“The pandemic is accelerating developments that could feed the trend towards increased working time,” the WHO said, estimating that at least 9% of people work long hours.
I frequently come across people who WFH [Work From Home] who say that there are no time limits, no boundaries for work. As a Physician, I am concerned about what this is doing for the health of our most productive generation.
Here are some suggestions to preserve your health and yet enjoy your work:
Set clear boundaries, both Physical and Mental, between work and personal life.
Keep a seperate mobile phone for official work and set the time when it will be kept on, with clear communiction to your colleagues and the office on when to contact, the response times and escalation matrix.
Two numbers and two emails.
In the spirit of keeping the two separate, having two phone numbers and two email addresses usually ensures that there is no cross-pollination between your two worlds and this means that if the client calls or tries to get hold of you they won’t be calling you on your personal number or at the weekend or when you’re on holiday (because they don’t have it).
And if you have adopted options one or two above, this ensures a relaxing time away from work.
Exercise regularly. Just 30 minutes is enough. There are three different types of exercise: Cardio, Strength, and Balance/Flexibility.
We are all well aware of the benefits of physical workout, but we are also lazy to dedicate ourselves to spend our time-off in the gym or to do sports. On the other hand, it’s an obvious time-management problem.
How can we manage all the work and find time for a workout? My hypothesis is that we actually don’t consider Exercise a priority when planning our free time.
Your brain is the primary tool you use to perform at your job and you want it to be sharp. Studies indicate that our mental firepower is directly linked to our physical regimen. And nowhere are the implications more relevant than to our performance at work. Some of the outcomes of regular exercise are:
Prolonged mental stamina
Instead of viewing exercise as something we do for ourselves — a personal indulgence that takes us away from our work, it’s time to start considering physical activity as part of the work itself. It’s a concept Arianna Huffington popularised as “Work-Life integration” where time-off, training, resting etc. are actually mechanisms that increase our output and outcomes at work.
Exercise can also give you more energy and you will feel more awake at work. Being on top of your game will assure that you perform your work correctly and to the best of your ability.
One way to be more productive on the job is to have improved mental health. Regular exercise can help control and prevent feelings of anxiety and depression. When you exercise, your brain releases serotonin that helps you feel better and improves your state of mind, making the stresses of work easier to handle. Regular exercise may also help you deal better with stress and this can lead to improved relationships with your colleagues and a more secure future at your job.
Power walking, running, weight lifting, swimming or jogging can help reduce your risk of developing certain types of illness and disease. With an improved immunity, you minimise your chances for getting influenza and the common cold as well as your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, obesity, hypertension and heart disease is greatly reduced.
So if you wish to enjoy your work and be more productive, work smart, not hard. Remember to enjoy your life and your work.
This week has been heavy on my heart. Elizabeth Rogin, 42 years, wife of Rogin and mother to Esther and Rafael, left her physical body behind after a severe COVID infection in May 2021. Her family is very involved in our Life group, a close knit local community that is part of the Living Hope Church in North Mumbai, India.
We had all gone together for a walk arranged by our Life group into the mangroves near our house in February 2021.
Little did we know that this would be the last time she would be walking these beautiful trails with us.
The COVID pandemic is raging all across the world, and India is no exception. These are the headline news these days:
Sadly, Elizabeth became one of these numbers. The statistics are tragic in itself. But we know that statistics do not tell us anything about the human beings impacted by this pandemic. Equally tragic was the fact that her father passed away in April due to heart failure, and her mother passed away a few days after Elizabeth, due to COVID.
As a Christian, I believe that each human being is of infinite value because of the very fact that as human beings we are created in the image of the Living God. You and I have intrinsic value. I remember Elizabeth, her life, and would like her to be remembered for posterity. She has touched many lives.
I asked people who knew her to send me something about her:
She was passionate for the advance of God’s kingdom and tried to use every opportunity to put faith into action! A gentle encourager in the faith and defence of the Gospel. She will be missed!
Elizabeth loved God and his Word. She was very committed to different meetings. Loved to evangelize. For the study of the book of Revelation, she and her whole family used to attend. Recently she became a part of my ladies prayer group. Whenever there was a prayer request, she would pray and believe the scriptures over them. She was a woman of faith. Yet she carried such a gentle spirit. I want to thank God for her life, said Julie,
Dominic said: I remember Elizabeth to be a woman who hungered for God’s Word and eager to learn and practice sharing God’s love with the lost. I remember she was one in our LG to step out of her comfort zone and practice sharing God’s word in Hindi. She also encouraged her children to do. Lots to learn from her🙏
She was rooted in the Word..she had a no nonsense attitude..never hesitated to speak her mind..even if it meant having an opinion different from the room..she had a radiant smile, added Rachael.
Vinita said: I remember Elizabeth’s gentleness, her strong conviction of God’s faithfulness and her passion to see the lost saved. She was a woman who loved God’s Word and was focussed in obeying what she learnt. Though all of us are heavy burdened by the loss of Elizabeth from our midst, we are confident that she is now in the best place, she ran her race well. Her faithful life encourages me to be faithful until the Lord called me home to a place of eternal rest
Esther aunty added: Elizabeth was a wonderful woman of God. She loved and studied the Word thoroughly and was very passionate for the lost. She may not have talked much, but she was a very loving and caring person. Very respectful and considerate towards the older folks. Will miss her greatly and her smile. Will continue to pray for Rogin and the children for God’s amazing strength,grace and mercy on them.
Jenny spoke for herself and her musician husband Cleon: Kind hearted. Caring towards the needs of others. Confident in the Saviour she worshipped. Warm and welcoming. Prayer warrior. Elizabeth will surely be missed by our family. She was very sweet and loving to us. We won’t forget Caedmon’s first day of school when she stood with Rogin, Esther and Raphael to welcome Caedmon to his school which made us feel welcomed and made it a special moment. Elizabeth was a blessing to our family also by her hospitality after Callan’s birth. Jenny added: Elizabeth will truly be missed and words cannot describe how we feel. We are blessed to have known her.
Miriam John wrote: Elizabeth was a wonderful woman of God. She loved and studied the Word thoroughly and was very passionate for the lost. She would not talk much but was very loving and caring person. Very respectful and considerate towards the older folks. Will miss her greatly and her smile. Will continue to pray for Rogin and the children for God’s amazing strength,grace and mercy on them.
For Elizabeth: beautiful smile, a zeal for God. Always ready to reach out to others needing help. Will miss you. Said Mineta Singh
Keith wrote: Elizabeth – knowledge of the Word of God, very helpful. Loved fellowship and an outdoor person.
Elizabeth was a humble person and very dedicated to Gods word, the time which we spent together in our LG saw her week after week with love for Gods word, wrote Leena.
We have had many moments when we got together as a Life group or as a Church. I remember Elizabeth as the quiet one, who would observe and help others at all times.
She was at the centre at many events and get togethers that we had. She never missed any corporate gathering.
Alverna said: I admired Elizabeth a lot. Although she was a quiet reserved person , she always came alive when learning or studying God’s word and during our church teaching programs. Always asking questions and listening attentively. She had such a passion to study God’s Word. She always had so much love and care in her conversations with me. And I loved her smile. Always lighting up the room. Her Good and faithful work here on earth is so visible in her children who have a firm foundation in Jesus.I will miss seeing Elizabeth in Church and our LG gatherings but I know she is rejoicing in heaven and asking all her questions directly to Jesus.❤️
Ibel said: The time I met her personally at her home, I could see her true joy in God alone and her kind welcoming nature.. I recollect as a VBS teacher in the church, how well and simply she had explained out the message from the Word to the seniors class. She was truly interested in the salvation of every soul she met along the way.. Same goes for Rogin, her husband, together both had passion for God’s kingdom. We will miss her physical presence, but she truly inspired everyone around her to walk and grow in faith.
Sheba added: Beautiful ode to a gentle soul!Elizabeth would drop by to meet us every few months & it was truly endearing to see how her life was completely centred around God & her family. She’d gifted me a book for my Engagement with life lessons whilst embarking on the journey – perhaps the most meaningful gift I received on the occasion. Such was her persona – thoughtful, warm & beautiful inside out!
I also remember a Life Group celebration event we held at the Hope Centre where again she was the centre of attraction, as you can see clearly in this picture.
We will miss her dearly. We pray for Godly comfort and wisdom to Rogin in this time. I believe in this: I know that right now she is in the best place possible. Faith in Jesus fills the emptiness you experience and satisfies your spiritual hunger for purpose, permanence, and pardon.
Anita said: The quiet, ever smiling Elizabeth is my friend and harvest partner. I do not want to refer to her in past tense because she is now living an everlasting life in the arms of our Savior and will always live in our hearts.
She added: Her deep knowledge of the Word of God, passion for the lost are the things I want to remember her for, always. Her child like smile and the twinkle in her eyes is what comes in front of me constantly. Though she was a person of few words, she has left a huge impact on me personally. I love you Elizabeth and want to say that you ran your race very well. Goodbye my dear friend till we meet again.
She has been completely healed and has obtained the promise that the Lord Jesus gave, to free us from Sin, Sickness and Death. She is enjoying eternal life with our Lord and the saints from all ages in heaven. Jesus Christ said ‘For this is My Father’s will and purpose, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him [as Savior] will have eternal life, and I will raise her up [from the dead] on the last day.” ‘ John 6:40 https://my.bible.com/bible/1588/JHN.6.40
This is the choice that the Lord who made us all gives us. He gives us free will to choose. Would you choose to accept the costly gift of forgiveness of your sins, by believing [putting your faith, hope and trust completely] in the fact that Jesus Christ, the sinless man, took on your sins and paid for them by dying on the cross? Remember, death and the grave could not hold Jesus. He came back to life, defeating sin and death itself! Jesus is alive.
The choice that God gives us is simple, either believe that God has done it for you, or keep on trying to do it your way. Some try to even deny that they are sinners. Others try to pay for their own sins by doing good deeds.
Dear reader, the God who made you and me knows you and loves you no matter what. He loved Elizabeth, and she loved, believed and trusted in Him. That is why she is enjoying eternity in heaven now. Not because she did good works, so that she could boast. None of us can do good works to get into heaven or have our sins forgiven. If you have done a wrong, no court will pardon you because you did something right the next time!
There is a huge and very serious issue when a nation faces a shortage of such a basic and essential thing like Oxygen.
Then we have the threats that follow:
This is happening in the Capital city of India, Delhi.
Here is the headline in todays HT
The Delhi high court on Saturday asked the Centre and the Delhi government about their preparedness to deal with the peak of the second Covid-19 wave expected by mid-May, terming the mounting cases a “tsunami” and warning that it will “hang any person” who tries to obstruct oxygen supplies to hospitals. Talking tough, the bench of justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli asked both the Centre and the Delhi government to “interact and co-ordinate” with each other for ensuring supply of oxygen.
This huge surge could be the result of people mingling together in March for various reasons, including playing Holi, as pointed out by some youth whom I asked for their inputs.
What is being done about it?
What is going on, you wonder? Where is the planning and infrastructure and foresight needed, you may wonder.
Definitely there are heroic efforts underway by dedicated people who are doing their best to augment Medical grade Oxygen production and transport.
The Government has also stepped in with tax rebates.
I am documenting this for posterity, so that I do not forget the situation, ever.
In the Hospitals I manage, the team has really been great, being good stewards of the Oxygen and also going beyond their call of duty in arranging Oxygen for us from far and wide.
God bless all those who are working in this sector, the Oxygen producers and transporters and also the healthcare workers and the patients.
I am Dr S P Mathew, practising as a Consultant Physician in General Medicine in Mumbai, India since the past 25 years.
There has been a huge increase in the number of cases of Corona once again at the time of writing this.
Since March 2021, I am seeing quite a few people who get RT PCR/Rapid antigen-positive symptomatic Corona after taking one or even two doses of the IM Vaccination against Corona.
Even more troubling for me is the many cases I am seeing who get breathlessness, fever, and decreasing Oxygen saturation a few days after taking the first or even second dose of the intra musclular COVID vaccine being administered currently.
Their RT PCR test is not done yet or the report is awaited. There is a huge Diagnostic Capacity over load for the RT PCR test, once you book it often takes 3 to 5 days to have someone come over to take the swab. So, many people are unable to test, and hence definitely there is under reporting of actual number of active cases. The HRCT Chest done for these patients shows featured typical of COVID. The patients have to then hunt for a bed in a COVID facility, even though they are not officially positive.
A few of the vaccinated ones, especially Healthcare workers, who were among the first to get vaccinated in early 2021, developed Corona symptoms with RT PCR and Rapid Antigen positive. They have got good levels of S1/S2 antibodies in their blood when tested. And yet they became ill.
Here is an example of a Doctor, who took the Covishield vaccine as follows: 1st dose 20th Jan 2021 2nd dose 11th March 2021.
Rapid Antigen positive on 2nd April 2021. He had fever with minimal weakness. All routine fever workup tests were negative. We tested him for protective S1/S2 antibodies.
As you can see, even after taking two vaccines and having good antibody levels, he became symptomatically ill and had to be quarantined for 14 days.
The good thing is that he had a mild illness and could be managed at home with basic medications. Ofcourse he could not go to work, and a Radiologist is also a daily wage earner like millions of others.
We repeated his antibody levels after eight days of natural infection.
As you can see the natural Corona infection that he got pushed up his antibody levels to more than 400.
Surprisingly, I have yet to see a single patient who got Corona naturally in the past. and then gets symptomatic and RT PCR positive Corona again.
This led me to ask a few basic questions: There are literally millions who have already got Corona in the last one year in India itself. Why are no cases of confirmed reinfection reported yet in those who caught Corona naturally? Why have I not seen a single case so far here in Mumbai?
Is it because natural Corona infection somehow confers better protection than the vaccine? Does the natural Corona infection give you better local upper respiratory tract humoral immunity?
I am definitely not advocating that you should preferably get Corona naturally. An infection with the Corona virus can be fatal especially in the high risk populations.
How then do we develop immunity against Corona in the best way possible?
I feel that a nasal vaccine that mimics the natural Corona infection may give you better local and systemic immunity than the present intra muscular vaccine.
As of now, it could be selection bias that as a Doctor I am seeing so many cases who are presenting after taking the intra muscular vaccine.
My recommendation is to consult a specialist before going for the vaccine to make sure that you are safe from the potential side effects, especially if you belong to the high risk groups that have been shown to have a higher potential for side effects.
Another important precaution to take if you are going to get vaccinated is to avoid crowded centres, ensure physical distancing and hand hygeine very strictly.
Also please remember that our bodies and immune systems are designed to work best when the mind and spirit are at peace, the Shalom concept that is vital to good health.
So my plea to you is that you would also set aside time daily to connect with your Creator who has designed you in a most wonderful way, and rest in that relationship of love, acceptance and joy. In that you will get wisdom beyond and above what you get from the world around you.