Melody Jacob


The talk of the town revolves around the latest wave of anti-obesity drugs, which are gaining popularity not just for their remarkable weight-loss outcomes but also for unexpected additional benefits. One standout medication, Semaglutide, originally introduced as Ozempic for diabetes and later as Wegovy for obesity, is causing a stir due to its potential to lead to a significant 15% to 20% reduction in body weight.

However, beyond mere weight loss, these medications, including others in the same category that mimic the natural hormone GLP-1, seem to possess an intriguing capability: curbing cravings for more than just food. People using GLP-1 drugs have reported decreased inclinations toward addictive and compulsive behaviors, such as alcohol consumption, smoking, excessive shopping, gambling, and even nail-biting.

Dr. Caroline Apovian, co-director of the Center for Weight Management and Wellness at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women's Hospital, has heard similar anecdotes from her patients, particularly regarding reduced cravings for alcohol and sweets. The mechanism behind this phenomenon is not entirely clear, but it appears that GLP-1 drugs, in addition to suppressing appetite, may influence the brain's reward pathways, typically activated by substances like food, alcohol, and nicotine, as well as pleasurable activities such as gambling or shopping.

The potential advantages of GLP-1 medications go beyond weight loss, with Wegovy showing promise in lowering the risk of serious heart issues by 20%, according to a report from the drug's manufacturer in August 2023. This groundbreaking trial involving 18,000 people could mark the first instance of GLP-1 drugs providing cardiovascular benefits to overweight individuals without diabetes.

Yesterday, I attended a friend's graduation ceremony, and it was enjoyable. He attended Glasgow Caledonia University. It's a well-known university that features students from different countries—quite a diverse university and population.

As I was crossing the road to enter the graduation hall, I spotted the first person with a graduation gown, and I felt anxious in a good way. I called my friend to come pick me up from the front of the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall so I could take some photos of him before the graduation ceremony started.

I took lots of lovely photos, and he was pleased with them. We entered inside, showed a pass to the security guide, and I found my way to my seat with the guidance of my friend, who was graduating.

While seated, the graduation took some time to start, but it was a lovely ceremony that began with the school staff working in and opening speeches, followed by the PhD graduates being called out to the bachelor students.

It was such a beautiful sight; they all walked out, holding their certificates and diplomas like they were the keys to a whole new world. I sat there, soaking it all in and enjoying every bit of the ceremony. People were buzzing with excitement. I could hear the laughter and cheers of invited friends and family, and everyone was eager to capture the perfect moment on video. The energy skyrocketed when names were called—screams, cheers, and the sweet chaos of celebration filled the air. It was a genuine outpouring of pride and happiness for each graduate.

After the graduation, we headed to the university building. Lots of students continued taking photos while the social media team of the university was trying to gather students for photos that would be used on the university website.

Having taken some photos of my dress, I entered the library area to warm myself up because it was a very cold day. At that moment, I found myself pondering:

1. How many of these students genuinely require this degree?

2. Will they make practical use of the knowledge gained?

3. Could the funds spent on tuition have been invested in more innovative pursuits?

4. Are some of these students on a celebratory path that might not align with their true destinies?

5. How many of these students would never use this certificate?

6. How many of these students does the UK actually provide job opportunities for?

I kept thinking about these questions as I watched students come and go in the library area.

The UK takes in lots of students each year for educational purposes, and lots of them leave their jobs and high-ranking positions with the mindset of getting a decent job after studying in the UK, but for most foreign students, this is far from reality.

Why would the UK admit students into master's programmes only to find them often starting at the lowest job levels in the real world? If they meet the qualifications for a master's degree, shouldn't the knowledge imparted enable them to attain roles at a corresponding level?

To what extent have these foreign students truly achieved success? This was the question that kept coming to mind as I looked at all of them dressed in their beautiful outfits.

I read an article before sharing this post, which states that international graduates encounter a significant challenge in securing graduate-level employment in the UK. Currently, only 7% of all international graduates succeed.

If the UK stands by the quality of education it imparts to foreign students, why the struggle for these graduates to secure well-paying jobs? It's more straightforward for a UK citizen with a bachelor's degree to secure employment than it is for a foreigner armed with a PhD. This stark reality demands scrutiny and explanation.

How much have these foreign students accomplished?

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Dealing with the recurring discomfort of indigestion can be a bit perplexing, but fret not, as there are ways to handle those flare-ups without solely relying on medication.

Diving into the larger picture, it's essential to recognize that sluggish digestion is just one piece of the puzzle. Older adults, in particular, might find themselves grappling with conditions that can trigger regular indigestion, including gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), ulcers, and food sensitivities such as lactose intolerance. Chronic indigestion is also often linked with digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and functional dyspepsia, both of which entail persistent symptoms without a specific cause.

Fortunately, indigestion usually fades away on its own over time. Over-the-counter aids like antacid pills, liquids, or stomach-soothing medicines such as bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol, Kaopectate) can offer relief. Acid blockers like proton-pump inhibitors (e.g., omeprazole or lansoprazole) or H2 blockers (e.g., famotidine) are also potential options for managing heartburn.

Navigating the culinary landscape can also play a role in taming indigestion. Here's how you can make a difference:

- What: Pay attention to what you eat and drink when indigestion strikes, and consider cutting back on or avoiding problematic items like spicy and highly acidic foods, coffee, citrus- or tomato-based beverages, and processed or fatty foods.

- How: Opt for smaller servings and eat at a more leisurely pace. Avoid multitasking while eating, as it hinders mindful consumption. Experiment with more frequent, smaller meals throughout the day.

- When: If indigestion tends to haunt your evenings or disturb your sleep, consider having dinner earlier and refraining from eating within two hours of bedtime to prevent overloading your stomach when digestion slows down.

Feeling adrift due to job burnout, an empty nest, retirement, or the loss of a partner is a shared experience, especially as we age. Matthew Lee, a sociologist at Harvard University's Human Flourishing Program, emphasizes that confronting this loss of identity is crucial. The response to this existential question, whether proactive or passive, can significantly impact one's health.

The Power of Purpose:

A sense of purpose is linked to various health benefits, including enhanced cognitive skills, mood regulation, decreased risks of chronic diseases, and longevity. Studies suggest that individuals with a sense of purpose navigate stress more effectively, potentially mitigating the physiological effects of chronic stress. Moreover, purpose-driven individuals tend to adopt healthier behaviors and engage in proactive health screenings.

Embarking on the Journey to Purpose:

While finding purpose is a unique journey for each individual, cultivating it is within reach. The following 10 suggestions, derived from the Harvard Special Health Report Self-Care, can serve as a compass on this transformative quest:

1. Zero in on your strengths: Seek input from friends and family to identify your unique qualities, considering how these attributes can bring meaning to your life and the lives of others.

2. Reflect on overcoming obstacles: Use your life experiences to assist others facing similar challenges, turning personal struggles into a purposeful endeavor.

3. Create a purpose timeline: Trace the evolution of your purpose at different life stages, extracting lessons learned to inform your current situation.

4. Seek inspiration from role models: Identify individuals whose work you admire, exploring ways to incorporate similar elements into your own pursuits.

5. Become a mentor: Share your knowledge and skills with others, fostering reciprocal relationships that contribute to both personal and collective growth.

6. Consider the world's needs: Identify a cause meaningful to you, recognizing that your skills can address unmet needs in your community or the broader world.

7. Read Viktor Frankl's "Man's Search for Meaning": Gain inspiration from Frankl's observations in Nazi death camps, emphasizing the vitality derived from meaningful connections and acts of generosity.

8. Write your story: Chronicle significant stories from your life, detailing childhood memories and answering questions about yourself, creating a legacy for future generations.

9. Compose your obituary: Reflect on what you want to be remembered for, drawing inspiration for your present purpose.

10. Imagine winning the lottery: Envision a life without financial constraints, identifying ways to integrate elements of these desires into your current circumstances.

Initiating the Journey:

Approach this process without pressure, as exploration opens up possibilities. As Lee suggests, "Explore the possibilities; it gets you moving again, and momentum can take you further in ways that you may find rich, rewarding, and even surprising." This journey is not about reaching a destination but discovering the richness and rewards inherent in living a purpose-driven life.

When Jimmy Carter decided to embrace hospice care at his Georgia ranch earlier this year, it wasn't a resignation; it was a conscious choice to prioritize comfort and relish the joys of everyday moments. This decision, far from being perceived as "giving up," underscored a profound shift in understanding the purpose of hospice — a choice to savor life's richness during challenging times. Yet, many are still unaware of this transformative insight into hospice and palliative care, which could significantly enhance their ability to shape their lives during serious illness, according to Harvard experts.

Choosing hospice doesn't mean you're giving up getting medical care; it's focusing on comfort with the medical care you do receive, explains Dr. Carine Davila, a palliative care physician at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital. This sentiment is echoed by Sarah Byrne-Martelli, a board-certified chaplain and bereavement coordinator, who emphasizes the importance of helping individuals envision the end of life as a time spent at home with loved ones, enjoying favorite shows and meals, rather than being confined to a hospital bed.

Understanding the nuances between palliative care and hospice is crucial. Palliative care extends support beyond end-of-life considerations, offering relief for those seriously ill at any stage. It acts as an extra layer of support for patients, families, and the healthcare teams involved. Conversely, hospice care is specifically tailored to enhance the comfort of individuals with serious illnesses, often extended to those with a prognosis of six months or less. However, many people, like President Carter, choose hospice even when the end of life may be further away.

One thing this year has taught me is that peace cannot be traded. I was with someone who never saw the good in me but constantly said bad words to me, especially after leaving Ukraine, and was so sad, losing a lot to the war. I was down, and my mental health was affected. I am not perfect, but this person saw themselves as perfect and always asked for change, never wanting to change or improve anything about themselves.

I consistently told this person they needed to change the way they looked at things. I adjusted, but they remained in the same place, desiring more changes and setting conditions. Despite having high self-esteem, I kept trying to figure out the problem. Eventually, I understood that in life, you have to accept that you are the problem and leave to escape a toxic space and save yourself.

When I accepted that I was the problem, I broke off and decided to stop communication with this person, the same person reached out and said we needed to find a way to fix things. I replied, "You said you needed peace, and I was a problem and never accepted that you could make a mistake. I want you to be at peace, especially with the fact that you made it clear to me that asking questions took away your peace. I won't stop asking questions, and I want your peace to be with you, so no thank you."

Every day we encounter different situations and behaviors; not every meeting needs closure. This includes friendships, relationships, and marriages. Sometimes the fact that you are not seen, valued, or heard is enough for you to leave and find closure when attempts to make things work prove unsuccessful. 

Sometimes you have to accept that you are the problem!

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