Tuesday, 17 March 2009

“That’s what I don’t like about Western Medicine”

I’m having singing lessons (well, it was my first singing lesson tonight).  The teacher is very good, and I think that with time I might reach my goal of not making people’s ears bleed if I sing, but she’s a bit of a hippy.

I’m asthmatic, and during the lesson, I needed a puff on my inhaler.  This led to a discussion about “Western” medicine.  She asked a question (what I took to be) about whether I knew how I got asthma, and I said I had no idea.  This led to the title quote.  “They say they don’t know anything, but they also say, ‘do this, do that, we know everything”. 

I wasn’t having this!  I said (very mildly) that “Western medicine” has saved my life – I’d certainly have died as a child from various asthma attacks or chest infections.  It has also saved the lives of my wife and child when they required an emergency caesarean when my son was 9 weeks premature.  I suggested that “Western medicine” had probably saved her life, and she admitted that she had spent some time in hospital last year, and was very grateful.  But she still wanted her cake and to eat it as well… She said that “Western Medicine” didn’t know everything! 

Well, I replied, that was part of the beauty of it.  Science acknowledges that it is not perfect – it is not the end.  But the obverse of this is that science works to discover more, and drive back the boundaries of ignorance.

It’s important to confront these sort of attitudes.  It’s easy to do it in a way that doesn’t put people’s back up.  I made it personal about how much modern medicine has helped me and my family, and then suggested similar benefits were available for her too.  She was in no doubt of my position by the end of the exchange, but there was no rancour!


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