Archive for September, 2008

Modern Medicine

We live in a great time and one of the reasons for that is the state of medicine. Not only has it come a long way from the bleeding and leeches of medieval times but in just the last 30 or 40 years great strides have been made.

Why then would anyone, especially someone like me who has benefited greatly from those self-same advances, ever think that could be a bad thing? Well I do, at least in part.

Along with the advances in medicine have come increased costs. Today larger and larger percentages of our incomes are devoted to paying for health care. I don’t propose we go back to the days of the country doctor getting paid in chickens and pigs but there has to come a time and place when we say: Enough!

Now I know that people expect medicine to cure all ills and keep us alive indefinitely, well into our centenary. That is the problem. It is those last few years that cost the most. In fact it is the last few weeks or months of life that take up to half of all our health-care spending.

I started thinking about this as a result of coming across a book. No, it wasn’t a serious policy book. As a matter of fact it was a funny cookbook Steve Graham wrote called Eat What You Want and Die Like a Man you can find it At Amazon.

After reading it and laughing so hard I nearly had a seizure I put it down and did some thinking. They say that one reason something is funny is because it contains a grain of truth. The book gave me the germ of an idea that has grown until I now am starting to explore it seriously.

It’s simple. If you are using medicine to extend your life a day, a week or a month and you know that it won’t do more than that, if it even accomplishes that, and you know at the end of that period you are still going to die then why bother? Unless there is some event that is so important, such as the wedding of a child or some other significant life event then why waste the money?

If someone is independently wealthy then all they are doing is wasting their own money but most of us aren’t that wealthy. The money has to come from somewhere and where will that be? – From our loved ones. Are a few extra days of life so important that we would impoverish those we leave behind?

I don’t think that is very Christian of a person. I don’t mean to suggest we all reach a point where we commit suicide or anything like that but I do think we should turn down medical care that won’t do more than move our date of death a week or two.

Care that helps ease suffering is one thing, there is no honor in enduring pain for no reason. It would be different, for example, if such care would cause a woman to lose a child she desperately wants to deliver alive. That is a case of the exception proving the rule. Other than exceptions like that, chosen by the patient themselves, care that eases suffering of a dying person should never be withheld.

The thought that my selfishness would cause my wife to have a mountain of debts to pay off after my death would be the worst torture because it would be self-inflicted. I could not face the thought I could cause her such pain. I’d rather go quickly and with as little fuss as possible.

I know these aren’t the thoughts you’d normally associate with a humorous cookbook but my train of thought took me on a strange journey. I didn’t set out to dwell on such a gloomy subject but it seems the older I get the more often I wind up thinking such things. I can’t blame Steve Graham for that. Go, buy his book and read it. It’s well worth the cost and you’ll laugh and you might even find a recipe you just have to try out.


September 1, 2008 at 10:19 pm Leave a comment


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