I’ve recently been suffering from a bad cough, a cough so bad I would wake up in the middle of the night and hack uncontrollably for nearly an hour. I went to the Doctor and was prescribed three different drugs, prescription strength Demazin to dry out my sinuses, Ventolin so my passages would open and I could breathe and Erythromycin to actually clear up the infection. The Demazin and Ventolin worked great but half way into the second E-mycin course it was clear that the infection wasn’t going away, my cough had returned with a vengeance and the Ventolin was making things worse. I return to the Doctor and this time was prescribed Amoxicillin and after just two tablets my symptoms started to subside and I am no longer coughing. If I went back to 1900 and gave someone Amoxicillin for a bacterial infection they would think I was a magician. This principle of advancement is hilariously summed up in this scene from Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home. Of course we aren’t repairing dysfunctional kidneys with a single tablet just yet but think about the marvel that is modern medicine.
One of the main differences between human beings and other animals is how we cooperate and help each other. There is an old saying:
It means, in essence that the closer you are to me genetically, the more I will look after you. But modern medicine and especially the hospital turn this idea on its head. A hospital is a building that is full of strangers who, regardless of your personal choices, deeds or crimes, will go out of their way to return you to the best health they can. It literally doesn’t matter whether you are the worst child killing monster the world has ever seen, when you set foot inside a hospital it is as if your crimes never happened and everyone inside will work tirelessly to heal you. This doesn’t mean that certain individuals won’t also pass judgement on you or refuse to work on you but there will be enough other people in the hospital that will help you.
This is astounding to me, we are the only species on Earth that will go to this level to help a stranger. My wife works in the PACU department of a major hospital, essentially she helps people come round after they have had an operation. She tells me stories that are sometimes hilarious (you stuck what in where?) and sometimes so terrible that I won’t relate here but one thing is clear, she isn’t doing this tiring and difficult job for the money. The pay isn’t great, she gets paid about the same as an electrician, now an electrician is an important job and I’m thankful they exist but without PACU nurses you would die or suffer major consequences after an operation. Hospitals are filled with hard working, dedicated people who are helping strangers return to health and I find that wonderful and amazing and I am thankful for it. Modern medicine with it’s magical pills and potions and the hospitals full of magicians and devices are the greatest inventions the human race has yet devised.