“She’s going in now for an emergency caesar [c-section] – his heart rate keeps dropping too much.”
My Mum ended our phone call to chase up the theatre staff, a thousand kilometres away I hurled up some prayers, and less than 10 minutes later I was looking at the first picture of my new baby nephew.
Both my sister and baby J have been given the all-clear, and I have added incentive to finish the baby blanket I’m making for him. In the past twelve hours, I’ve been further amazed and have marvelled at the care and medical techniques available to us today in Western civilisation.
Just think: four thousand years ago women were using hippopotamus dung as a contraceptive, and hysteria was a mental illness believed to be caused by the uterus wandering around inside women creating trouble and weird symptoms. Two hundred years ago leeches and mercury were accepted medical treatments, and hysteria was still a bane to polite society (although a popular “cure” for many was *ahem* literally in the grasp of a small group of investigating doctors). In the early 1900s women were sent to the asylum for conditions such as asthma and unkempt hair. In the 1970s smoking had no known health consequences, and unmarried mothers-to-be weren’t given pain relief during labour. I quite like living in the twenty-first century, thank you very much.
I am beyond grateful for the fact that medical knowledge has progressed so far. It’s grown to such a point that we have education campaigns which have significantly improved health in countless areas of health: vaccination, the importance of nutrition and clean drinking water, brushing teeth, breast examinations and pap smears just to name a few. That there are apps available which remind you to examine your breasts every month is brilliant, handy and – in my case – a needed prompt to look after myself more regularly than every two years or nine.
Because last month I did my prompted check, and noticed a difference. Puckering and tenderness on one side, promptly followed by my sitting on the bed with my head between my knees saying “Just breathe, it’s fine, nothing to worry about, IT’S JUST ONE OF THE SIGNS TO WATCH FOR WITH BREAST CANCER.” Repeatedly.
Incredibly happily, two doctor’s visit and ultrasound later, I’ve been given the all clear and multiple pats on the back about being so vigilant and prompt in getting checked out. Don’t get me wrong, I can catastrophise with the best of them, but I also know that early detection and investigation is one of the best weapons in fighting cancers, illnesses and newly opened bakeries.
So I’m especially thankful that we have such incredible technology and specialists available to us. Medical professionals who have trained and studied for years, building on our ancestral healers’ and mystics’ knowledge, safely delivered my nephew into a world full of wonders, delights and loving family members. Today’s western medical capabilities were able to examine me, and deduce that “current severe stress” were the likely culprits in aggravating a lymph node which then gave me my mammary melt-down. My iPhone sends love notes about upcoming appointments and reminders (and alerted me to a new Vietnamese bakery opening, which sell the biggest, most glorious caramel slices available outside my own kitchen).
Sure, technology also means we are all well acquainted with Dr Google, while postures and social skills are arguably deteriorating, but for me and my family, medical knowledge and technology means today is an incredibly wonderful place to be.
What are you grateful for in today’s medical arena? What technology or apps do you use regularly for your health and well-being? How has medical knowledge/technology improved your day, week, year, life? What medical fact from history do you know which has you fascinated/horrified/astonished?