Last Thursday, I was invited to give a zoom lecture on cholesterol with my church fellowship. Attendees were all adults, mostly 50s and above. I took the reference to the talk from my department lipid CPG. After that, we had a lively Q&A session. I sensed there was significant anxiety about how much attention a person should pay in managing cholesterol and the role it plays in cardiovascular disease. I think the concern is due to the exposure cholesterol gets from media, regular health screenings and promotion of cholesterol lowering drugs and food by healthcare professionals. To put the cholesterol issue back in perspective, I sent out this message to the fellowship group below.
Remember that cholesterol is mainly related to heart disease and stroke. Heart disease and stroke have many other causes like age, hypertension, diabetes and smoking. Age, diabetes and smoking can be more dangerous than high cholesterol.
I have a regular patient who had a stroke and also a smoker. I told him that probability shows that if he stopped smoking, the chances of having another stroke is lower than forgetting his cholesterol medicines.
Age is a risk factor for cancer and heart disease and pneumonia. In fact, for the very old, it is the most important determining factor of death. For example, a car salesman is recommending you to buy a 20-year-old car. The car is accident free, the ex-owner is a careful driver, and the vehicle has undergone regular servicing. Of course, you would instead buy a 5 year old car. A 100 year old man who is fit still has a higher chance of dying than an obese teenager who is smoking.
So take care of your health because your body is God's gift to you. But don't be overly worried. Jesus is not a fitness instructor and our bible a fitness manual.
I have attached my department lipid CPG
Singapore is into its Day 58 COVID-19 outbreak and Day 23 of DORSCON Orange. The virus has spread to 50 countries with 82 000 cases confirmed worldwide and at least 2800 deaths.
The is reminiscent of my days with the SARS (2003) and swine flu H1N1 (2009). And other infectious diseases, there was the Zika virus (2016) and the perennial dengue. The mood on the ground was similar in all these infections. It usually starts with denial of the situation, then concern, followed by anxiety and panic, especially among the vulnerable population.
The bible has described pandemics in the Old and New testament. The earliest epidemic in the bible was among the ten plagues in Egypt. And during the Exodus, God killed 14700 and 2400 Israelites by diseases for various acts of disobedience (Numbers 16:49 and 25:9).
I think this would be a suitable time to write about events surrounding the current coronavirus epidemic and make reference to the bible and history at relevant events.
It has been more than a year since my last entry. I had been taking an extended break to attend to personal matters and ponder on my life directions. I have just spruced up my website with a new theme. And I will be rearranging the pages and updating some of the header pictures. More importantly, I have noted multiple spelling and grammar errors in my old entries which will need correcting. New articles are also in the pipeline. Thanks to God and your support.
In 2017 I read a book titled " A universe from Nothing" . It was written by Lawrence Krauss a physicist and atheist. Lawrence in his book argues that it is possible for the universe to be created from absolutely nothing using the laws of quantum mechanics and string theory. The premise of argument was interesting and forms my article “Something out of Nothing”
Why do we get dressed is a line of advertisement by Uniqlo clothing stores. The striking ordinariness of the question is what makes it catch our attention. We think the answer is obvious, we dress because it is necessary, to protect us from the elements, comfort and fashion. Why are humans the only living species that need clothing?
I post my answer in the Q & A section under Why do we get dressed?
My latest article is a self reflection on Pride. Pride was the sin the made Satan rebel against God. It is the sin the prevents man from turning to God. It is a terrible sin. But pride is almost never seen in a negative light like theft, murder or adultery. In the history of man pride was often celebrated and encouraged. From my youth, culture and institutions have been telling me to think positively, be proud of my talents and achievements, of my school, my professions and of my country. Pride is often confused with other Christian qualities. There can be subtle differences in thinking fondly of, or being thankful to God for which are good thoughts against Pride which is to think highly of oneself.
Pride is often found in positions of authority and wealth. I have served in middle management for several years. Having staff under me have caused me to have occasional giddiness of power. I have also seen senior staff previously benign, start to enjoy the power, strive for it and hold on to it. All of this is connected with pride. Recently I was asked by a few senior management doctors about what I thought about leadership. I explained my position that leadership was overvalued. I told them I fet was more important to learn how to follow and serve our patients and whoever was in leadership position was not very important. Quite visibly the senior doctors were uncomfortable with my remarks.
Here is a short video by Ravi Zacharias, a Christian born apologist comments on Christian leaders and pride
I tend to be collected and logical but my feelings can sometimes be contradictory and directionless especially when emotions are strong. And when that happens I write to make my feelings more logical, less confusing and makes it easier for me to understand myself. My upcoming article is on the topic of pride. Pride is a sin I have difficulty dealing with because I suffer from being proud and have been hurt from the pride of others. Through writing, I was able to better understand the problem of pride and its significance as described in the bible.
Today's post is more about expressive therapy. Writing and art can be forms of expressive therapies. Art therapy uses the creative process of making art to improve a person’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Usually art therapy is a form of visual art like painting, drawing, photography. I can’t draw so I write. Writing therapy was developed primarily by James W Pennebaker in the 1980s. But I never knew such a theory until I casually stumbled upon it when my friend, Partick, posted an article about James Pennebaker on facebook. When I read it, I realized that I was using writing as a form of self treatment.
Here is a post of my the article posted on my friend facebook
My friend Patrick Ng, is a gifted full time artist and musician. He is well known among local Sinngaporean art circles. He also uses his talents to tell people about Jesus. Below is a youtube video of him and an article in a Chinese newspapers on how art helped lift him out of depression
The Good Samaritan is one of Jesus’ most popular parables. Preachers often use it to encourage people to be unselfish, to think ahead and help others. I chanced across an old research paper title "From Jerusalem to Jericho" published n 1973 . I never had come across a parable of Jesus being examined in a psychological context and tested in a research setting. I have searched the web and am reproducing here one of the better summary of the research paper and also a bible commentary of the same parable. The researcher’s focus was the factors that affected the willingness to help a stranger while Jesus wanted to show the impossibility of finding a good neighbor.
From Jerusalem to Jericho
I attended a church camp in June 2016. That month a church member suffered a miscarriage and many church members came to know about it. So the above question was addressed to the invited speaker. . The speaker said there was no direct answer from the bible but he pointed out a few verses that suggested that babies or children that were not yet conscious of their sinful nature would go to heaven. The rest of the discussion can be found under the Q&A section
On 18 May this year one of my NUS classmate passed on. We were not close during medical school days and I did not see her again after graduation. Our class had only 150 students so everyone knew who everyone else was. Last year I heard she was ill from intractable cancer. On 19 May I saw her obituary in the newspapers.
People are usually confronted of their mortality when a friend or loved one is found to be terminally ill or dies. I am already in my late 40s and my work as a family physician brings me to manage patients of my age with chronic illness, and some with a past record of myocardial infarction, stroke and cancer. I am constantly reminded in my line of work that my time is running out but paradoxically I am often caught up with the contemporary and have problems prioritizing eternal matters.
How rightly so that Moses in Psalms 90 prayed that he needed both to be reminded of the brevity of his life and gain wisdom from it. So I too pray for wisdom to follow through with God’s reminders
Teach us to number our days,
that we may gain a heart of wisdom.
My classmate is a Christian so she spirit is now resting with the Lord. We will meet again one day.
*NUS = National University of Singaore
Benjamin lives in Singapore. He is joyfully working as a family physician in a public healthcare institution. Benjamin is happily married with 2 lovely children. He worships in a Bible Presbyterian church.
This website is the sole property of Dr Benjamin Cheah
Materials excluding links on this website are not copyrighted. They may be reproduced and distributed without fees.