A new bundle of joy for Kelly Latimer, TV host and fitness enthusiast this year when Sienna came to her life. It’s never easy being a new mom trying to juggle a job alongsidefamily life, ask any mum about keeping up with the wet and dirty diaper count with a sleep-deprived brain.
You might know that Singaporeans are among the least informed about pain relief medicines. We chatted with Kelly and Dr Yeo Sow Nam – Director of The Pain Specialist, Mount Elizabeth Hospital and Mount Elizabeth Novena Hospital to find out how they preserve their quality lives daily.
Kelly, what are your tips on keeping your health on fleek?
K: Well… *insert dramatic hair toss* it’s not easy. Just kidding. It’s actually a lot easier to keep yourself on track than people think. A few simple steps each day will really help you stay on top of your game:
Sleep – sleep is often the first to go when you lead a busy lifestyle, but your body needs time to repair and rejuvenate itself.
#getsweat – do something each day that gets you sweaty. It could be a brisk walk, a swim, a yoga session or a full-blown workout, but it should be something. And for about 20-30 minutes each time. I tend to try and get a short workout in before I shower and sleep. It wears me out sufficiently and I go to bed feeling all sorts of awesome because I got a workout in.
Meditate – I try to meditate each night before I sleep using a guided meditation app. It improves the quality of my sleep and I feel a lot more rested in the morning. Throughout the day, I’ll also use the “breathe” function on my apple watch to calm me in situations where I feel overwhelmed.
Eat real food – this one is hard, because I love my food. Especially dessert. But if you can, try to make sure that you’re eating food that’s in its original state. A slab of meat instead of processed. Roasted sweet potatoes instead of fries. That sort of thing. The key is to consume nutrient dense foods throughout the day.
How would you educate or influence Sienna as she grows?
K: “Monkey see, monkey do” really applies here. Our children take our cues and learn from the people they see on a daily basis, doing the things they see us do. If Sienna sees me eating right, exercising daily and spending time to focus on myself and my health, then I think she will naturally want to do the same. I’m also big on questioning everything, and I’d like Sienna to do the same. If you don’t know the answer, ask. If you don’t have the knowledge at hand, do research. There are experts all around us who have studied far longer than we have, so we shouldn’t be afraid to tap on their knowledge. My godson’s father is a doctor, so he is usually my first port of call when I have any questions regarding health or medication. It’s important to ask the right people the right questions – a skill I hope to impart to Sienna from a young age.
With today’s cutting-edge technology, what do you think of the influence towards our health?
Y: With the advent of advanced technology and wearables, we are seeing more and more people interested in self-care and getting involved in their personal health-related issues and decisions. Patients no longer want to wait for the doctor’s instructions, but are keen to play an active role in managing their health responsibly.
Considering this, many Singaporeans are not confident to treat their pain with over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, and endure their pain unnecessarily by delaying or avoiding treatment. This may be caused by limited health knowledge, combined with a rise in confusing, conflicting health information available online.
This may also mean that the right information is not readily available online or easily understood by the layman. The role of the industry is therefore vital in providing the right resources at the right time and on the right platform so that Singaporeans can be guided on the right steps in managing their overall health, and in this case, their pain.
The 2017 GSK Global Pain Index shows that pain affects almost everyone. What’s your take on this?
Y: This goes to show that pain is a very relevant part of everyone’s lives, and not dealing with it appropriately can result in ripple effects on the economy, your family and social lives. As mentioned, education has never been more important. This is not limited to just the role of healthcare professionals, but extends to the need for collaboration within the healthcare industry.
We need to see an increase in partnerships between healthcare professionals, healthcare providers, pharmacists, governments, academics and even the media to address this issue. Ultimately, we need to empower people to manage their pain appropriately by improving their understanding on pain medications and helping them find solutions to treat it responsibly.
Kelly, share with us how the 2017 GSK Global Pain Index has influenced your perspective towards the health of Singaporeans.
K: If you look at the results from the 2017 GSK Global Pain Index, they revealed some alarming statistics on the impact of pain. For example, Singaporeans rank amongst the highest in the world for those suffering from body or head – a whopping 85%! What’s worse is that one in two Singaporeans choose to suffer in silence and one third will ignore their pain.
As a new mum, there are a couple of stats that really spoke to me:
- Pain causes parents to feel inadequate, lose patience and miss out on spending time with their children.
- Parents of children under 12 claim pain impacts their parenting abilities, with 77% believing they could be a better parent without pain.
- Six in 10 believe their pain makes it harder for them to listen and help their children with everyday tasks and seven in 10 believe they have less patience with their children.
The above results show that pain not only affects us as individuals, but it also has a far-reaching ripple effect on our children and family. Knowing this, I feel that it is my responsibility to treat my pain appropriately and to equip myself with the right knowledge on pain and its management so that I can be a better parent to Sienna and set a good example for her.
With that said, I encourage Singaporeans to ask their doctors or pharmacists if they have any doubts about medication so they can make more informed decisions about pain management and treat themselves confidently. I personally feel that there is no need to suffer in silence or attempt to power through pain. Treating everyday pain at its first signs and managing the root cause through exercise and overall fitness is key in minimising the negative impact of pain on our family, personal and social lives.
Photo courtesy of Kelly Latimer