Thursday, June 6, 2013

The Miracle Game

A guest’s ankle injury didn’t seem serious, so I told her we’d wait a day before deciding on an x-ray. At her request, I wrapped the ankle in an elastic bandage while explaining that orthopedists believe that elastic bandages accomplish little.

As I wrapped, I mused on the superiority of western medicine. Unlike popular (and wealthier) media physicians, I have little respect for alternative, complementary, holistic, herbal, or natural healing systems that receive far more attention than this obscure blog.

My reasons have something to do with the fact that we genuinely help patients, but I prefer to stress how often we don’t. Alternative healers never say: “This treatment could be better…” or “We thought we understood this disease, but we were wrong…” or “We screwed up…” I and my scientifically trained colleagues do this all the time. But we learn from our mistakes.

When I’m feeling particularly hostile, I challenge alternative medicine fans to play the miracle game. I’ll name one of our miracles; then it's your turn. No fair using a secret cure. It has to be something we all agree on.  

My first western medicine miracle: the appendectomy. Appendicitis victims once died after weeks of agony. Then we discovered that snipping off the appendix (something any bright high school student can do) cured it. We take this for granted, but it’s a miracle that's saved millions of lives. Now let’s hear yours….

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