Gratitude for modern medicine
On the Bright Side
June 24, 2023
I've had a rough few weeks lately, which explains my absence in the last issue of The Loop, but I'm pretty much back to normal now ("normal" for me, anyway).
I took myself to Kaiser's urgent care in Lancaster one day because my left foot was swollen up and I couldn't put weight on it without a great deal of pain. I was told I probably had a sprained ankle and was fitted with a walking boot, which I was to wear for a week.
At the end of that week, when I was still in a lot of pain and unable to walk without the aid of a crutch, I took the boot off and discovered my foot was even more swollen. In addition, it was hot to the touch and red, and the color was creeping up my leg.
Back to urgent care I went, where I was diagnosed with cellulitis, a common (but potentially serious) bacterial infection. Off went the boot and in went an IV port in my arm so that they could administer heavy duty doses of antibiotics. After a few days of going down to Lancaster for those daily injections, I was given the instructions and the means to administer the antibiotics for myself at home for another ten days.
All that is behind me now and I'm happy to say that I can walk again without aids; the infection is gone, and my foot and leg are no longer red. The whole experience was actually a little scary, and the injections were somewhat of a hassle, but I lived through it and gained a new appreciation for modern medicine.
Before penicillin and all the antibiotics that were later developed, I most certainly would have lost my left foot, or perhaps my life. But thanks to the antibiotics that be, I was "cured" within a couple of weeks. I'm allergic to penicillin, which would have worked best and fastest, but thanks to modern medicine there were alternative antibiotics that worked just as well for me.
I wonder how many scientists and research and medical personnel have been involved in developing these "miracle" cures over the years. I have no idea, but I am eternally grateful to Alexander Fleming and all the rest of them.
I also marvel at the idea that I was able to administer the antibiotic medication by myself at home, which saved me (and my friends who drove me; special thanks to Leila, Joan and Julee!) several more trips to Lancaster. An IV port was inserted in the inside of my elbow, which stayed there for the duration of my treatment. The mechanics were such that I had long enough tubing that I could use both hands to screw on the receiver to the syringe (a flushing syringe, then the antibiotic syringe, then flushing again), and viola! No muss, no fuss. Easy peasy.
Besides the medicinal research and development, I marvel at the people who design such medical equipment, including things like the boot I wore for the first week. From tubing to syringes, to easy connecting pieces, to tape and wraps, to boots and other stabilizers, it's amazing how many things have been developed by people (or more likely, by teams of people) over the years.
Even medical aids that have been around for a while – like walkers and wheelchairs and scooters of all shapes and sizes – are better today than they were, say, 20 years ago, with the development of lighter weight and stronger materials and more adaptable accessories. These things can also be found today at drug stores and other places without having to wait for a doctor's prescription or having to go to medical supply specialty stores. It's no fun needing one of those types of aids, but if you do need one, like I did, it sure is nice to know they're available and accessible.
I know there is much more to say (and to be thankful for) about modern medicine – and I know modern western medicine is still learning and discovering and is also lacking in some areas – but I'll leave it here for now with a feeling of gratitude. It certainly served me well over the last few weeks. I hope it serves you as well, too, whatever your needs, and I hope you too remember to take a few minutes to be grateful for the things it does so well.
© 2023 Mel Makaw. Mel is a local writer/photographer; her book, On the Bright Side, a Collection of Columns is available locally at Tehachapi Arts Center and Healthy Hippie Trading Co. Mel welcomes your comments at email@example.com.