February 24, 2011

I am a Product of Modern Medicine

Last night on CBS news with Katie Couric, news of a study on Neurologic Post Treatment Lyme disease (nPTLS) and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome was broadcast (to find out more, check out http://www.prohealth.com/library/showarticle.cfm?libid=15959 and the news broadcast at time point 17:14 at http://www.cbs.com/cbs_evening_news).  The study was conduced at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey and claims that, unique proteins discovered in spinal fluid can distinguish between CFS and Lyme’s disease as well as from people in normal health.  If chronic fatigue syndrome can be detected through specific biomarkers, it is much harder to deny its existence.  In addition, such a study will give great insight into new treatments as well as allow for differentiation between CFS and Lyme’s disease (which present with very similar symptoms).  Before I go on, let me just say that I am in no way a medical professional and that I can only offer my opinion on the matter.  With that being said, if this study proves to be valid, it is a pretty big deal.

Having lived with chronic fatigue syndrome, I try my best to keep up with current research.  Whenever new information is released, I am reminded of the large role that modern medicine plays in my life.  For as many times as I’ve felt let down by the medical system, I can honestly say I wouldn’t be here without it, or at least I would not be the same person.  My thyroid would not have the capacity to control my body’s metabolism.  My POTS would leave me unable to walk or stand and my irregular blood pressure would take a toll on my heart.  I would be severely anemic.  My stomach would probably be a mess. And if that wouldn’t be enough to kill me, I would probably be depressed enough to commit suicide because my neurotransmitters are so screwy.  I don’t mean to sounds dramatic, but by having tests available to find my deficiencies and taking pills 4 times a day to counteract them, I am making my life livable.  And that’s a hard pill to swallow (pun intended).

I often hear from family and friends, “everyone has something” or “we’re all on pills.”  While these comments sometimes feel like they minimize my struggle, they do hold some truth.  In the past, there was no such thing as high cholesterol, Liptor, and Aspirin regiments; people just dropped dead of heart attacks.  Today, basic needs such as dentistry and orthodontia allow people to eat food with the nutrients necessary for survival.  If I hadn’t worn braces for 4 years and had several teeth removed, I’m not sure where I would be (probably in dentures or with a lot of extra teeth like a whale).  And then of course we can’t take for granted the fact that most of us in America have proper nutrition and hygiene to allow for basic functioning and prevention of disease itself.  We are so lucky that if our sex lives aren’t satisfactory, we can take Viagra to make that connection good again.

I guess what I’m really trying to say here is that modern medicine has pervaded our lives in immeasurable ways.  The bottom line is it makes chronic illness possible and it is the reason I am able to sit here and write to you all.  We are living longer than ever and are increasingly more functional then ever, despite odds that say we shouldn’t be.  And it’s only going further.  So for as much as I harp on doctors who have denied my illness, made me feel like a lab rat, or given me harmful treatments, it seems to be part of the package.  In a way, I feel proud to be chronically ill because I represent the possibility of managing symptoms and living a full life.  At this point in my journey, I don’t expect for a miracle cure to come along and save me; I consider it a miracle to be doing what I am doing right now. 

1 comment:

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