Thanksgiving For Medical Miracles

We have apparently just been through the season of thanksgiving for our American friends.  Speaking as someone who is on the outside looking in, it seems to be a celebration of two things … firstly the survival of a harsh winter  by the earliest white settlers and their fellowship with the local indigenous population, but also a time to reflect on all of the wonderful blessings that members of a modern society get to enjoy … and often take for granted.  Its a celebration of family and togetherness.  On an occasional American TV show, the thanksgiving dinner is featured and it seems a common practice for family members to share something that they are particularly thankful for in their own life.   I think its a lovely tradition, if you don’t happen to be a turkey.  I’d gladly trade our recent adoption of Halloween for the celebration of thanksgiving …. for all of the trials that we survive and for all of the endless good things that life bestows on us,  Our good fortune seems boundless and you don’t have to be religious to appreciate your blessings.

I have been thinking a bit about Thanksgiving this year.  Its hard not to, with Ebay, Twitter and Facebook constantly reminding you.  And like everyone in our society, I live a very privileged life.  I’m grateful for so many things.  But one of the ones I’m most thankful for, is one I have, thankfully, not yet experienced personally.

I am thankful for the medical profession and for the endless medical miracles that they have delivered.  Breakthroughs that have extended people’s productive lives by combating life threatening diseases and that have immeasurably improved the quality of life for people suffering from debilitative illnesses.  There’s a whole army of unknown, unsung heroes out there and I have boundless admiration for every one of them.  Not just the doctors and surgeons who are prominent in our minds by virtue of serving at the front line as it were.  But also to the countless people who are involved in inventing, perfecting and creating the amazing devices that make so many procedures possible, and the unseen scientists whose dedicated research provides the  knowledge for medicine to move forward.

I’m not talking about the new tits, new lips, tucked bum, pseudo medicine that people pay for, for no reason other than vanity.  I see on the TV schedule the other day, that women are even having surgery nowadays to make their vaginas more ‘attractive’.  Newsflash for those ladies; your wasting your money!  To one of those ‘real men’ that you are constantly looking for, your body, just as nature made it, will be beautiful enough.  And as a bloke, I have to say I’m far more likely to get lost in the beauty of a lady’s eyes, than I am ever going to be mesmerized by her attractive nether region! Lots of guys I know are attracted to nice breasts or curvy, feminine backsides, long legs and a pretty face.  But in all honesty, I don’t EVER recall any man I know, mentioning what a pretty twat some girl had!  Don’t mean to be vulgar but to a real man, who you are is infinitely more important than what your body looks like.  Oh …. that’s something else I am thankful for …. pretty ladies.  A pretty face, a nice smile or a lovely pair of eyes get me every time.  You blokes who live in Adelaide, Australia ….. just have no idea how lucky you are!

There was a time when I had a different attitude towards medical practices that conquered diseases and extended the lives of people who might otherwise die.  It seemed sort of unfair to me, that people were cheating the system and getting beyond their natural use-by date. Then a beautiful friend of mine suffered breast cancer and medical science kept her alive, probably beyond her natural span.  But I know that this world is a better place for having her in it and I’ll never stop being grateful to the amazing people who made it possible for my friend to stick around.

So elective cosmetic surgery aside, I think the medical profession is just filled with unrecognized saints and it really saddens me that we so readily take these people and their amazing compassion and skills for granted.  So this Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for every doctor, every nurse and every person working in the research and manufacturing fields of medicine.  Thank you all so very much folks.  I so hope I’ll never know you professionally but I certainly do think you’re great; every one of you.

That being the case, I was incensed when I saw a TV item recently, about people suing a company that manufactures artificial body joints.  It was suggested that many people had received a particular kind of artificial joint and that these were prone to wear, with metal being scraped away and leaching into the bloodstream, with possible nasty consequences.  Of course, there was one of those ambulance chasing lawyers looking to drum up business for a nice big class action suit against the manufacturer.  The very idea that it might be possible for a manufacturer of any medical device to be sued for the unanticipated failure of their product just highlights for me, the evil that pervades the legal profession.  Medicine is an evolving science and it seems to me, it has come an amazing long way in such a short time (my lifetime).  And now people take things like artificial hips for granted.  And in the ongoing pursuit of constant improvement in medical technology and procedures, its inevitable that there will be mistakes made.

I wonder if the people who line up to join this class action ever stop to do a little thanksgiving of their own …. for not being confined to a wheel chair or being bedridden.  I wonder are they capable of even realizing how blessed they are.  The ultimate outcome of these ‘class action suits’ against medical companies will have more far-reaching effects than simply (potentially) making a whole lot of lawyers and ‘victims’ rich.  It will destroy the incentives for further development of all manner of medical devices.  It will guarantee that those of us who might need in the future, the same mobility saving medical intervention that these people had … simply won’t be able to get it.  It will either be unavailable altogether, or it will only be accessible by wealthy people who can afford to pay the kind of prices that litigation shy medical supply companies  and practitioners will have to charge.

In my lifetime, I’ve watched as the so-called legal profession has infected our society with a litigation/compensation mentality.  I recall when I was young, we were amazed at how Americans seemed always to be suing each other.  It simply didn’t happen in Australia.  I suppose its one more characteristic that we’ve inherited from the Yanks … that we are now always on the lookout for a free lunch, compliments of some hapless company or individual … and some evil-minded, money grubbing lawyer.  While the medical profession has advanced leaps and bounds in my lifetime, it seems like the legal profession hasn’t at all.  They are everything that we read about them, and then some!

So my advice to all those folks out there who have enjoyed the benefits of medical procedures that have kept them breathing or that have kept their quality of life such that they are still glad that they are breathing … try a little thanksgiving of your own.  Don’t help to murder this wonderful Golden Goose … when you’ve already received YOUR egg.  Try being a little decent and tell the doctors ‘Thank you”  and the lawyers to “F off”!

Andrew Caddle 2013-11-30

A little musical interlude ,,,,,


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