Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Romanticizing That Which We Do Not Know

I texted Jon the other morning: "off the top of your head, what advances in modern med have enabled Jack to be alive?"

He quickly replied: "ventilator, steroids, shunts, gtube, preemie IV food, incubators, vaccines, Synagis."

I read his list and thought, man, that is just scratching the surface. A text cannot contain what it took to get Jack to where he is today. The combination of medication, the equipment, the surgeries, the interventions, the transfusions, the antibiotics. The list goes on and on. I easily forget the amount of medical care Jack received from his first breath. And the science behind it all baffles the mind. How fortunate we are to live in a time when our son is alive because of these things! Just 30 years ago there was hardly a case of someone like Jack surviving. Today, because of these advances, micro preemies are living full lives.

You may wonder why I asked Jon that question. It's because as Jack's mom, I was mad. I was reading where a mother was lamenting her childhood and how bad it was that all her illnesses were quickly treated with antibiotics. And she was going to do things right this time around and tell us all in the process what "right" means. Instead of throwing antibiotics at an illness, her children would get a more natural or "wholesome" approach to their well-being. How wonderful for her to have that luxury. Reading further, she was praised in the comments for her wisdom and for her raging against "the man." Then she tried to sell some essential oils.

Friends, I have some righteous anger burning. There is something going on with our middle to upper-class American society. I am seeing it EVERYWHERE. We have lost our perspective. Things have been too good and not enough of us have seen life with medical struggle, without things like antibiotics. We have romanticized that which we do not know.

When we were getting our so-called over-abundance of antibiotics in the 80's, scientists were perfecting those antibiotics for premature infants. These are babies born with zero immunity and only live because of antibiotics fighting off infection.

Further, there are many places in this world that have zero access to even the simplest of antibiotics. Mothers are desperate for them as they watch their children die from preventable disease. And not only antibiotics, but medical care in general. Oftentimes, women walk 15 miles for a single vaccine for their child.

How privileged are we to complain about modern medicine. How shortsighted we are.

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Tricia said...

In a recent rant of my own, (, I noted it's became increasingly clear that we fear the "what if" far more than the diseases themselves.

Modern medicine for the win!

Mama Up! said...

Thank you so much for writing this! With all the vaccination/fear of medicine/etc. going around, it's helpful to be able to share perspectives like this one. People who are fortunate enough to have perfectly healthy kids do have the luxury of woo thinking. But when you don't, you don't.

Carie said...

I agree Jess. It's so easy to get caught on the far end of either side of the spectrum and "rant and rave" against anyone who believes the opposite. We've been so thankful this last year and a half to have essential oils as they've stopped many a heartburn, ear infection, strep throat etc...But then there are those days where oils aren't enough. Like today, after fighting a severe cold (with oils) for over a week. Enough was enough and I took myself to Now Care for some good 'ol antibiotics and was reminded how thankful indeed I was that I live in a country where I have access to such modern marvels. Six hours later and I'm already eons better.

Balance and perspective are key.

Julie said...

You know I like me some essential oils but I wouldn't even be here to use them if not for modern medicine (not once but twice). Sure the chemo and radiation I had as a 19 year old had side effects, some of which may yet be unknown but because of them, I have gone to college, grad school, became a speech therapist, married the love of my life and had two kids. I may not have survived the birth of the second one without modern medicine. I don't think we truly get how blessed we are that even if we choose to go "all natural" there's a safety net available at all times.

Anonymous said...

Well said Jess. The term "balance" is not pertinent when we are discussing facts vs. quackery. There are not two equal sides regarding vaccines. And dismissing unfounded claims and misinformation fos not mean you are at an "extreme" end of a "spectrum".

marion said...

This whole "all natural" thing drives me up a wall. Not because I don't see any value in trying to limit exposure to modern additives -- I shell out extra for the hormone-free meat and organic milk for my kids (because I'm a sucker, sigh). But because the "natural" state of affairs for most of human history has been small children dying in massive numbers. In childbirth. From prematurity. From infectious diseases. From accidents. It was horrible, but it was COMMON. The reason it is no longer common is the "unnatural" interjection of modern medicine. Yes, yes, modern sanitation has helped somewhat, but sanitation doesn't stop the spread of whooping cough, or do away with the need for artificial surfactant. I understand not wanting to give your kid antibiotics at the first sign of an ear infection, or eschewing high-fructose corn syrup, or imposing strict limits on TV in favor of playing outside. But airily dismissing the incredible contributions that modern medicine has made to our ability to see our children grow up marks someone as incredibly entitled.

Jessi said...

For me, it's complaining about the very things - antibiotics, for example - that saved my son's life so many times. That's what I don't understand. Medicine has somehow become not in vogue or "cool" anymore to a certain segment of our population. It's usually those who have never really needed to it or frankly, those who have forgotten, that are most vocal. But the truth is, and the perspective that is needed, is that there are still so many places that desperately need medicine in the word. Preemies still needs medicine to survive. We can't just sit on our "natural is best" hill and our "no pharmaceuticals!" while so many are still suffering around us. I don't like to use the word privilege, because it has become sort of a buzzword for many things. But there is nothing else I've come upon to better describe it.

Anonymous said...

My daughter and her cousin both got strep when they were about 3 years old. My daughter's was caught and treated with antibiotics right away, but her cousin's was not and advanced to scarlet fever. He spent a week in the hospital on IV antibiotics - his mouth was so completely crusted with white sores he could not speak without horrific pain. He recovered fully, but what if he hadn't had access to antibiotics? Horrible to think about. I've no idea why people aren't more grateful for modern medicine and the pain and suffering it prevents. And, of course, the children who would not have a life at all without it.

Alisha said...

YES. That's all I have to say. :)

❤ Alisha (limorgan22 on IG)

Anonymous said...

I am a crunchy do everything holistic mama. And I am also amazed at all the medical advancement we have in our country and all the lives it saves from the smallest baby and so many more. I feel the whole avoidance of medical intervention whether antibiotic, vaccines etc and doing things naturally is more from people seeing in many cases they have been overused or not done properly which can cause many problems (such as I personally have suffered). When properly done like with your child then YES! They are the best, but not everyone is in that situation. Balance is truly the key for us all with all the decisions we make in life, especially with our children. Ignorance is bliss for many and its hard to not get angry at someone's differing views. We lost our baby at 22 weeks gestation due to open O.B. neglect and miss care to the point of me almost losing my life while in a hospital (practically begging to have another O.B.) so I see why so many people don't want to follow "Dr's orders" anymore. I feel more angered at bad doctoring that has led to the problems we deal with now within our country over medical vs holistic as both are great when used right. People have the freedom and rights to completely make the medical decisions for their personal families and that right shouldn't be taken away due to someone disagreeing, but I think that having a balance of holistic and medical is the best but each has to do what is best for their own family.

The Kimmels said...

Yes, this. The things that we take for granted are things that other people are literally dying to have. Privileged indeed!