Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Feeling grateful for modern medicine

It’s easy to take modern medicine for granted. We pop a pill or go under the knife, and just accept this is the way it should be.

I’ve had cause to think about it since Kristian, our four-week-old, was diagnosed with Pyloric Stenosis after three days of vomiting. It’s a condition that stops food passing through to the intestines, so he was becoming increasingly dehydrated and losing weight. Quite simply, without the operation, he would have died.

I am so grateful to the doctors and nurses at Nairobi hospital, although since his insurance hadn’t started yet, it will be my turn to feel ill tomorrow when the bill comes. It got me thinking, though, about how many of my friends and family would be dead if we hadn’t had the medical advances we all now embrace as part of daily life.

Last year, Charlotte, our daughter, contracted pneumonia, and was in hospital for three days getting antibiotics through a drip. Without that, there was a good chance she would have died. Without an inhaler, my wife's asthma may have done for her. I’m also thinking about all the other people I know who’ve had medical complications – the friends who would have died in childbirth, or from malaria, or meningitis, or any other number of common conditions. I’m sure everybody has a big list of people they know who may have died without medical intervention.

Hell, I’m even thinking of other simple advances, such as spectacles. I’m blind as a bat, and back in prehistoric times no doubt I would have been gobbled up by that sabre-toothed tiger I didn’t notice until it was too late.

We are so fortunate we have managed to bypass the physical elements of natural selection through application of our large brains, allowing the weaklings such as myself to thrive. Here’s to the medical profession!