Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 1, Issue 36, Tuesday February 10, 2004






Interpreter of Maladies

Dr. Nighat Ara, Psychiatrist

Q. I am a 28-year-old female. All my brothers and sisters are well established according to friends and neighbours. My father thinks otherwise. He is not happy with what we are doing. He wants us to become Government employees, to him it is the most respected job. We certainly do not agree with him. This had to a series of fights with him. I know fights never work. I want to do what I am doing and add the same time to make my father happy as well, but he is being very stubborn in his views. Please help me. How can I help him understand the situation and make him respect our decision?

Ans: Adult children have the right to choose their life-style including career. Authoritarian parents try to impose their decisions on the children and expect complete obedience. They fail to show respect to their children's independent needs and choices. Some parents tend to consider their children as an extension of their own life and try to fulfil their unaccomplished dreams through them. This leads to manipulative behaviour and power struggle. However, not infrequently we see children trying to do what their parents couldn't do or cherished to do. As a natural phenomenon, children subconsciously idealise their parents and parents can become successful role models for them.

However, here it seems that your father's life experience tells him that government job is better than other kind of work. This is not a question of right or wrong, rather it is a question of choice. In fact, individuals vary in their personal need, priority and life experiences. If a respectful job is important for one, challenging but more rewarding nature of job could be important for another. Instead of accepting these differences, if your father tries to impose his decision on you, it would mean he has to take the responsibility of the consequences of this imposed decision.

Is he willing to take this extra burden? Assertiveness is an important interpersonal relationship skill. As an assertive person you need to clarify your reason, interest and passion for the kind of work you are choosing without becoming aggressive or impolite. You cannot make him understand if he has a biased outlook and this is your limitation. On the other hand, your desire to make him feel (happy!) the way you want him to feel is almost trying to control his feelings.

Again, you shouldn't feel responsible or guilty for his unhappiness, you can only be responsible for your own happiness. It is true that your action has an impact on him but as an adult it is ultimately his responsibility to cope with the situation. He has a right to express his disagreement and disapproval, but you have the option to disregard or comply with his preference. You may feel concern, compassion and goodwill for your father but not necessarily at the cost of your psychological well being. This is your assertive right and if you fail to exercise it with your father, it is likely that you'll give in to undue demands of other authority figures in future too. So, I would say, under this circumstance it would be better if you take charge of your own life and leave your father with his opinion and feelings and allow him to deal with it in his way.

Dental wise

DR. Mahfujul Haq Khan BDS, DDS, FSDCE (USA), PhD (Japan), Post Doc. (Japan) Specialised: Crown and Bridge work, and Periodontal plastic surgery (USA) Senior Medical Officer, Department of Dentistry, BIRDEM Hospital

Dear Doctor,
I am a Bangladeshi, working in Singapore. I use to read this magazine regularly through Internet version. My wife is 2 months pregnant and this is our second child. During her first pregnancy she had suffered from sever gum infection and needed to visit dentist several times during her pregnancy in Singapore. To be very frank it is very expensive to have dental treatment in Singapore. My question is why she is suffering from gum infection only during pregnancy? Is it common for all? What is the precautionary steps we can take this time to prevent this infection? -Anisur Rahman

Dear Mr Rahman
Thank you for your asking questions from abroad. I know it should be very expensive. I would like to explain this more elaborately for other pregnant woman also. You mentioned the term "Gum Infection", but we call it as "Pregnancy Gingivitis".

Pregnancy Gingivitis What is Gingivitis?
Gingivitis is defined as the inflammation or swelling of the gum tissues. Most cases of gingivitis are the result of poor oral hygiene. If plaque, the bacterial film that builds up on your teeth, is not removed daily by brushing and flossing, the plaque can irritate the gums, making them bright red, tender, swollen, and sensitive and bleed readily.

What is Pregnancy Gingivitis?
As most people are aware, pregnancy causes tremendous change in a woman's hormonal activity. Estrogen and progesterone are secreted in progressively greater concentrations throughout most of pregnancy, causing a variety of effects. Perhaps the least known hormonal effect is how hormones can cause pregnancy gingivitis. The marked difference when a woman is pregnant is that the bacterial content of the plaque increases and changes, resulting in more damaging bacteria which in turn causes greater inflammation. Swelling of the gums is usually first seen in the second month of pregnancy and generally reaches a peak by the middle of the last trimester. It can remain that way for 3-6 months after delivery. The seriousness of the gingivitis can range from mild to severe depending on the gum problems existing before pregnancy. Pregnancy generally worsens pre-existing gum problems, sometimes dramatically.

How widespread is this condition among expectant mothers?
Gingivitis has been reported to occur in approximately 60 to 75 percent of all pregnant women. The severity of the condition can range from mild inflammation with redness, to inflammation with swelling and bleeding, to even more severe cases where periodontal surgery is necessary. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, call your dentist immediately for an appointment. Your dentist should clean your teeth thoroughly, do a periodontal (gum) evaluation and instruct you on home care.

Could gingivitis affect my baby's health?
New research suggests a link between pre-term, low birth weight babies and gingivitis. Excessive bacteria, which causes gingivitis, can enter the bloodstream through your mouth (gums). If this happens, the bacteria can travel to the uterus, triggering the production of chemicals called "prostaglandins," which are suspected to induce premature labour.
Should I receive dental treatment while I'm pregnant? Good oral health care is vital during your pregnancy. Continue with your regular dental cleaning and check-ups to avoid oral infections that can affect the foetus, such as gingivitis and periodontal disease. Dentists recommend that major dental treatments that aren't urgent be postponed until after your child is born. The first trimester, the stage of pregnancy in which most of the baby's organs are formed, is the most crucial to your baby's development, so it is best to have procedures performed during the second trimester to minimise any potential risk.

How can I prevent?
There is so much to learn and remember during pregnancy that I have come up with a quick tip list that you can refer to during your pregnancy:
1.Brush three times a day and floss/interdental brush daily.
2.Avoid mouthwashes with alcohol. They tend to dry out oral tissues. Warm saline is the best mouthwash.
3. Be sure to see your dentist at the very least once during pregnancy.

You can reduce the incidence of pregnancy gingivitis by doing everything on this list!

For further information visit WWW.aikodental.com






Mental prostitution

In this day and age, with the current fascination for movies made concerning prostitutes or the confusion of young adults, we have pushed the less sensational issues onto the back burner. This fascination for the lives of such people is not new to our society, nor to any other.

To watch a movie about a prostitute has always been categorised as good taste. It is a sign of sophistication to show concern for the needy, the noteworthy, and the luscious under-privileged ones. What about the insignificant others? What about the man who sells his body everyday, not in a sexual manner but through physical and mental labour, sacrificing his pride, to provide food and clothe for his family? Why is his prostitution so under-rated? Why doesn't anyone care how he lives or dies? Maybe because these men are everywhere, they are the ones who serve us at restaurants, the ones that drive the cabs we take from point A to B and they are the ones who are genitors and bus drivers. Looking at them reminds us of failure. Who would spend the time focusing on the lives of such men? I wouldn't. Would you?

Recently, a 50-year old gentleman by the name of Joynal Abedin died in a brutal accident. Mr. Abedin worked as a chef for an Indian Restaurant. On his way back home after a long workday he was killed in a hit-and-run accident in Maryland. He was only two minutes away from his residence.

In the hospital he took his last struggling breaths, alone, without his family or friends, as the hospital and police didn't contact his friends or foes. Apparently there wasn't enough information to locate Mr. Abedin's relatives.

His family, desperately searching for him finally found him, not through a phone call or a letter but through a hospital bill of $17,000. It is still a mystery how the Hospital or Police could not track his family down when Mr. Abedin was near death but they found them when it came to sending the fat bill while Mr. Abedin rested cold in a morgue remaining close to anonymous. I do not care to focus on the ignorance of the hospital or police workers.

I am sure Mr. Abedin's story itself explains the negligence and gluttonous nature of such authorities. What I do want to focus on is the life of Mr. Abedin and many others like him who are still silently living and dying. Few months' back eating kebabs at a popular "hole-in-the-wall" I met a man in his 50s, wiping tables and picking up plates and glasses after customers. He was not as old as his spine allowed him to bend. With his head resting on his chest he diligently did his duty. After exchanging few words with him, he said, "I use to be a photographer in Bangladesh." For a second I saw a glow in his eyes, but the next second he looked as insipid as the soggy washcloth in his hand.

A few months before that, I met a chauffeur who had the task of dropping me to my destination ordered by his boss, a Bangladeshi Diplomat. The Bangladeshi middle-aged chauffeur had three children.

He told me about his eldest daughter who studied at Dhaka University, but now works for a convenience store during odd hours, he told me about his 18-year-old handicapped son, a victim of Down syndrome, and his 15-year-old who achieved straight A's. He works day and nigh to buy a computer for his children who must have a better life than he does, who shouldn't have to wait hand and feet for anyone. For them he noted down my quotation for current prices of computers in the market, a computer that he will never touch or learn to use, but will pay for with paycheques earned through arthritic pain and his Master's harsh words.

There is a current trend in Indian films showing the lives of old parents being neglected by their children and the tragedy of it. Why does one have to be old and helpless to be noticed? What about making films about the very process of becoming feeble? The middle age for the lower middle class, the age before one breaks down, the age when a person is best for his money and labour but not his words.

I am not a filmmaker or a scriptwriter, neither have I the power to start some great organisation for the over-worked middle-aged Bengali ones. I can only throw an idea, which might flourish or be buried. From now on, though, my anxious eyes and heart will wait for a dedication to the not so glamorous and easily disregarded ones, for the Joynal Abedins.

By Iffat Newaz



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