Christmas and New Year – The Price of Overindulgence!

Parents are happy that the Christmas concerts are over.

Students are happy that schools are closed for holidays.

Businesses are happy that there will be a last minute rush to buy Christmas presents.

Mothers and may be some dads will be busy (and perhaps happy) doing their last minute baking and cooking.

Although there will be no peace on earth, there will be joy and happiness in many homes.

On the other hand, there are some families who find this time of the year very stressful and difficult.

Some families cannot afford the extravaganza of the Christmas festivities – the tradition of exchanging gifts, lavish feasting and partying.

Some cannot partake in the Christmas celebrations because they are sick, they are in pain, or are on the verge of dieing.

There are some who are lonely and sad because they have lost their loved ones since last Christmas.

But one thing good about our society is that there are so many voluntary organizations that take care of people for whom life has been unfair or difficult.

The generosity of the people who contribute to these organizations in cash and kind speaks volumes to our humanistic society. A society where so many are willing to give rather than complain about not having enough.

Just before Christmas almost everything in the city grinds down to a slow pace.

The hospital will be empty accept for the very sick. Most doctors (except those who are on-call) will get some time to spend with their families.

But the Christmas lull is be broken by the arrival of Boxing Day.

Emergency department gets busy – thanks to too much food and alcohol.

There will be patients with tummy ache, diarrhea, and vomiting – probably due to food poisoning. Some will have bowel blockage, some will have stomach and intestinal bleeding, some will have gall stone attacks, and some will have pancreatitis (due to gall stones or alcohol abuse).

Some will come with chest pain and heart attack. Some will be in heart failure. Some may get asthmatic attacks, some may get migraine.

Some will get involved in motor vehicle accidents, and some will get involved in fights.

Those who survive all this will soon recover to get ready for the New Year’s Eve bash. There will be more food and more alcohol. And then there will be a hangover and 2003 will be history!

The New Year will arrive with mail box full of bills instead of Christmas cards. And businesses will tempt you to buy more when everything goes on sale.

Isn’t this all wonderful? We go through the same cycle every year! And although people complain about it, there is no way anybody can change it. It is part of our life – just like day and night.

Am I being cynical about Christmas and New Year’s celebrations?

May be so. But as a physician I feel I should warn you (not that you didn’t already know about it) that there is a price to pay for over indulgence – especially when it comes to shopping, eating and drinking alcohol.

Believe me, I have seen it all.

Before I slowed down in my practice, for almost 10 years, during the Christmas week, I had volunteered to be the general surgeon on-call at Medicine Hat Regional Hospital (the old Medicine Hat General Hospital). It used to be a very busy round the clock seven days. What I write here is what I have seen.

So, enjoy the Christmas and the New Year’s Eve bash – but do it in moderation. Know your limit and you won’t regret it.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Don’t drink and drive. This column will be back in January, 2004- hopefully without a hangover!

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