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Medicines and Me

The wise women who understood herbal remedies and the witch doctors who called upon the spirits to cure the ill and the injured were revered and also feared for their knowledge and powers.

The scientists who today discover medical cures and the doctors who administer them are also revered and feared.

Sometimes, I wish that it would be acceptable to simply let nature take its course - if I loved my life less, if only I could be assured that "nature's course" did not involve pain - I would be able to relax and accept whatever my fate may be.

But I'm not ready to give up the daily involvement with the people I love. I'm not ready to part from the beauty and grandeur of the world. I'm not ready to give up the identity that I have acquired and that is uniquely mine. I still have a lot to give as well as to receive.

Prayer is for many, a key element in building defenses against the afflictions in life. But, there are many who follow the precept that the Lord helps him who helps himself.

And so – I take medicine.

I have regular visits to a number of doctors. Sometimes, I think that I have a separate doctor for each part of my body. Sometimes, it seems that each separate part of my body is betraying me and developing new illnesses and weaknesses and aches and pains – and that all of these are in competition with each other to see which will be the focus of my attention, the flavor of the month. Sometimes, the various medicines that are prescribed interact with each other and cause rather than solve problems.

The Internet is a blessing and a curse. Sometimes, there is not enough clear information and there are too many possibilities. Sometimes, the information is very clear and very frightening. They say that medical students develop all the symptoms of the diseases that they read about or observe. "Dr. Internet" can also have that effect.

Often, after years of believing that certain medical theories or practices are correct, new research proves them to be wrong or even harmful. Sometimes, the old wives' tales that science has laughed at prove to be right after all.

New discoveries are announced every day and new cures are just around the corner – maybe not in time for whoever needs them today.

Money plays a difficult role in all of this. Perhaps the best specialists, paid privately, will give me the best care. Perhaps the most expensive medicine, not covered by insurance, is the one that will do the best job. Perhaps the medicine used today for a particular ailment exists only for the purpose of making profits for the pharmaceutical industry while other cures which will not make these profits are not even researched. Perhaps the entire medical industry is based on the "Chelm" tale of looking for the lost coin under the street-light rather than in the place where it was actually dropped.

Many of the people who care for and want the best for me have pet cures that they absolutely believe in and that they "know" will help with whatever ails me. In fact, I learn that there are many popular theories or remedies that claim to be able to cure all sorts of illnesses from the common cold to the big C, from allergies to the big A. How can I resist genuine attempts to help me?

I have a friend who described a miracle diet that she follows. She said, "You know when you go to the supermarket and fill your cart with some of this and some of that, well, I'm not allowed to have any of those things." When I grew up, milk was considered to be wonderfully healthy. Today, it turns out that many people are allergic to milk. Is cholesterol important and which sort is good and which sort is bad? Fruit, obviously, is healthy – but how is it grown and what is it sprayed with? It's healthy to be a vegetarian – but perhaps it's even healthier to be a vegan?

Among my friends and neighbors there are those who take (and also sell) natural cures for everything. I feel like Alice in Wonderland with instructions to "drink me" or "eat me". There are magical teas, mixtures of the most amazing fruits, pills that rejuvenate, health foods of all sorts. Perhaps, believing is an important ingredient in the effectiveness of these cures.

Alternative medical practices are becoming more and more popular and accepted. Many of them have been in use for hundreds or even thousands of years in some cultures and have, apparently, proved effective. There are skilled practitioners who can help with problems that modern medicine cannot solve. Which methods? Which practitioners? How many treatments?

There are those for whom exercise or sport of one sort or another is the key to becoming and staying healthy. They may be right, but there are so many of them. On the other hand, there is the joke about the popular doctor whose approach suits the less active patient. This doctor says, "You are born with a certain number of heartbeats. Running uses them up more quickly." To the question, "Isn't it important, doctor, to "keep in shape?" He answers, "Round is also a shape."

I'm terribly tired of trying to decide what I have to do to be healthy or just to develop a "holding pattern" in order to stay alive a few more years.

Until further notice, I will simply take my medicines and try to appreciate and enjoy the blessings of my life every day and to make the best of any opportunities to enrich the lives of others. 

 

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Thursday, 18 July 2024

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