Posted by: terrapraeta | June 3, 2009

Ethno-Medicine


We’re on drugs
We’re on drugs
we’re all on drugs

We’re on drugs
we’re on drugs
in a sentence
we’re all on drugs
do you like drugs

System of a Down, Drugs

I have never had a very good relationship with the medical establishment. I think partly because I have always been relatively healthy – I had a patch in late high school/early college where I contracted Strep Throat about once a year, so I regularly had to go in for antibiotics to treat it – but beyond that, I never had occasion to be treated for anything at all.

In fact, the last time that I had Strep was a real doozy. I started getting sick within the first few days of starting a new job. So I ignored it. Couldn’t be taking a sick day in my first month of employment, and it came on slowly so I did not recognize it as strep. This went on for almost a month, until one day I woke up, went to brush my teeth and found that I could not open my mouth wide enough to accomplish my task. In tears, I called work and said I would not be there and then made an appointment to go see the doctor.

They prescribed Penicillin, as usual, and I took my ten days of pills… and then on day eleven, I woke up and my throat was swollen and sore again. So I called in sick a second time and went back to the doctor. Turns out the Strep had worked its way into my tonsils, so the penicillin was not strong enough to kill it. That meant another ten days of C-Clor (I think that is what it was called) and finally the infection was gone.

Funny thing is, I never got Strep Throat again. Although my body was not strong enough to fight off that embedded infection, I do believe that I developed a natural resistance as a result of the duration and or intensity of the infection. Imagine that – my own body developing a resistance to an invading disease 🙂

I had a couple run ins with doctors over the next decade: an OB/GYN that I hated during my pregnancy. He was a worthless… but I won’t go into that, because I ended up with a beautiful, healthy and strong baby boy. Pediatricians: the first place I went was horrible. I would always end up waiting past my appointment time in the lobby, and then once they brought me back, it was not unusual to wait for the doctor to show up for upwards of thirty minuted. Ridiculous. But then we moved and I found a better doctor that was really pretty okay.

When my son was five, we moved a couple months into his kindergarten year (our house took longer to sell than originally anticipated). The day after we moved, a Tuesday, I believe, he and I were running around the new house, boxes and tarps everywhere, trying to get over to his new school to register him. In the frenzy, he tripped on a tarp and fell, splitting his eyebrow on the step between our kitchen and family room. So I packed him in the car and took him to the local hospital emergency room. That did not go over well. Why isn’t he in school? Why don’t you have a regular doctor? How did this happen, again? I guess I can’t blame them: some people do horrible things to their children. And when I explained, I think it was all fine. But it did leave a bad taste in my mouth.

Then there was my experience with surgery. A couple years back I had an outpatient surgical procedure. Not a big deal, but I did have to fast starting the evening before. And I had to arrive at the hospital at 6am. I arrived and they prepped me by about 7am. I figured, based on what the doctor had told me that they had canceled his first procedure that morning, so I go lucky and was able to get it taken care of first thing. After waiting an hour and a half, the nurse came in and told me that the surgery was scheduled for 9am. What? Why was I here at 6, then? She couldn’t tell me.

But, eventually, they did take me in, the procedure went well and the anesthesia quickly began to wear off so that I could go home. They offered me water. It was awesome. After twelve hours without anything to drink, I was all over that. Then they sent my honey out to get me some food from their lounge. He came back with a cup of juice drink (you know, a little juice with lots of corn syrup and water) and a blueberry muffin. I drank a little juice and nibbled at the muffin. Finally, the anesthesia completely wore off and they were ready to send to me home. But one final check of my blood pressure showed that I was at 85/45. So they took it again, and again… probably six or eight times in all. And then they sent me home.

By the time I arrived home, I was in total sugar crisis. Between the car and the bed, I had to stop and sit down four or five times so that I wouldn’t pass out. Now, this sugar crisis was not unfamiliar to me. When I was in college, I drank a lot. I discovered that if I drank a lot, slept little and then neglected to eat, my blood sugar would get dangerously low. Then, while pregnant, they worried I would develop gestational diabetes. It never happened, but they kept testing me for it.

So I got home and I drank a glass of orange juice (real juice, not corn syrup) and took a nap. Then my honey made me some food and I was pretty much all better. Looking back on it now, knowing what I do now regarding diet and health, I am absolutely perplexed that a hospital would give sugary sweets to someone that has been fasting. What do they expect to happen? Absurd.

So now, far from the bland apathy I once held for the medical profession, I have come to hold the whole business with not a small bit of contempt. Not the doctors themselves (although certainly specific doctors), but the whole system that has become so integrated with the politics of big pharma and big agriculture that health has become less about how our bodies actually function and more about who pays the most money to promote their own products.

(Originally Posted March 1, 2007)

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Responses

  1. Is the medical establishment ethnocentric? Or money-centric? Why the title, and how does your personal experience testify to either?

  2. Yes and yes, Gregory… *All* medicine is ethno-medicine because like all other aspects of culture it is steeped in its own world mythology. Our particular ethno-medicine is money centric merely because our culture is money centric. It’s all of-a-part.

    The title merely reflects that basic understanding of the nature of culture as it relates to the medical establishment… as to my personal experience… well, that is exactly what the article is about… the occasions when I have interacted with the medical establishment and my perception of those experiences. I don’t know what else you want to know……….

    tp


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