Sunday, April 25, 2010

"I'll mull that one over" or Random Thoughts on Modern Medicine

After 20 years of living in America, I have decided that the problem with modern Western medicine is that we take pills for everything.

No, seriously. We're all about treating symptoms. Have a cough? Take cough suppressant. Doesn't matter why you have a cough. Just take this pill and go back to work and keep feeding the capitalist machine until you fall over dead.

Wow, I just got pessimistic there, but this is meant to be kind of stream-of-consciousness, so whatever.

I think gynecology is the worst offender in this regard (says the girl who's never been to a gynecologist...apparently I'm supposed to, but all the stories I've heard don't make me want to leap up and make an appointment...) I have heard (from trustworthy sources) that no matter what problem you're having, you walk out of an appointment with a prescription for the Pill. Really, it seems like you walk in there and before you even open your mouth the doctor says "Here, I'll write you a prescription for the Pill and it will solve all your problems."

No, it will screw with your body and put you on a fake cycle of sorts while excess iron builds up in your body and next thing you know you're 30 and keeling over from a heart attack. (Something I learned in a biology class this semester: There's a reason women under 50 don't have heart attacks as much as men and older women. And we should be really, really happy that we get all our iron buildup flushed out of us on a regular basis.)

Of course, the Pill isn't just the magic panacea of gynecology. A doctor once tried to prescribe my sister the Pill for epilepsy. I have no idea how that one is supposed to work. (I should note here: Yay modern medicine, for the 3 different anti-epileptic drugs my sister does take. I'll give it credit for inventing those.) My dermatologist once very insistently tried to get me on the Pill for acne. (I think that one has some vague basis in hormone levels or something.) Seriously, apparently a 13-year-old girl is not old enough to say NO THANK YOU. So my mom had to say it for me, loudly and repeatedly. (I love my mom. Go Mom.) Like, yeah, Ms. Dr. Dermatologist, I'd much rather die of a stroke or breast cancer than possibly risk a little scarring on my face.

My mom also put her foot down this one medicine that's normally used to treat cancer and has side effects like suicidal thoughts. Really, where is your sense of proportion when you'll put teenagers at risk of suicide so they don't have bad skin? (I'm sure they monitor the kids to make sure they don't actually off themselves, but still.)

So then I went on what I called the Deformed Baby Rats medication. You see, back then I was a voracious and, quite frankly, desperate reader. (I'd gone through the entire children's section at the library and my mom wasn't willing to let my 13-year-old self loose in the adult section.) So I read the fine print on my acne medication just to give my brain something to do with itself. And found out that if I should happen to get pregnant while on it, my poor little embryo would be at risk of developing major spinal deformities. This was determined by high-dose rodent tests, hence my nickname for the medicine. (When I noted to the dermatologist's nurse that I was a bit concerned because the medicine they were giving me caused deformed baby rats, her comment was, "Well, don't marry a rat.")

(She was joking, but still.)

Eventually that medicine started burning my skin off, so I switched to a considerably milder substance that was apparently lower on the teratogenic scale. (There's a scale, did you know that? I think the DBR medicine was a 3 and the new one was as 2, but don't quote me on that.) And I read the fine print on that too, because apparently at 17 I was just as desperate for reading material. (Then I went to college and had the Honors program and got my fill of reading for the first time in my life.) And found out that Other Medicine merited a 2 because it had never been proven teratogenic. Because they'd never done tests to see if it was. My, that's terribly reassuring. Seriously, the first one is at least honest that it causes spinal deformities. This one says to me "One of these days people are going to complain and we'll finally do a test and find out that it can cause your baby to be born without limbs." (Or something like that.)

I'm not on that one anymore either, mostly because I am lazy but partly because I am principled and would rather start now on getting all these lovely chemicals out of my body so that it will be a non-toxic environment for my future embryos.

Well, that post went on for a very long time without really having a point. To distract you from that fact, I'll give you a video:

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