I was sitting around feeling sorry for myself the other day. As many of you know I had shoulder replacement surgery last year. I have now concluded that I may well have to have knee replacement surgery this year. As Bette Davis once said, “Getting old is not for sissies.” Truer words were never spoken.
I thought back on the surgery that replaced my shoulder. First of all, I slept through the entire procedure. Secondly, I had an excellent surgeon. And finally, as I woke up, I had gorgeous nurses seeing to my every need and medicating me for any pain I might have had either real or imagined. After being discharged from the hospital I experienced a few weeks of rehabilitation. Stretching and moving that put everything back in working order. Today, it is as if nothing ever happened. My new shoulder is painless and completely functioning. New knees will hopefully be a similar experience. So successful and painless was my last surgery that I still have the pain medication I was prescribed last year unopened and unused.
All this has caused me to consider, what if this was the Middles Ages? You know, of course, that in that period and for the years before and many after, shoulder and knee replacement didn’t exist. Pain medicine did not exist. I’m sure there were gorgeous nurses and “wenches,” but they were probably busy with other things.
Consider this. During that time, even if you were an emperor and you got hemorrhoids, Preparation H did not exist. If you got a headache or a toothache, aspirin didn’t exist. You could have a ten thousand man army and hundreds of concubines. You could own estates and palaces with immaculate grounds. You could have chefs who prepared the finest food for you but if you got indigestion, there was no Alka-Seltzer.
Oh sure, there were “witch doctors” and so-called “healers,” but modern medicine hadn’t yet been discovered. Somehow watching a kook dancing around chanting in tongues and sticking pins in a stuffed doll isn’t my idea of healing. Even with the power of suggestion, most people died of simple problems that modern medicine has long since dealt with. In those days a toothache could have been fatal. Measles, mumps, and most childhood diseases killed off many.
In getting ready for my next possible surgery, I have had x-rays and MRIs. The docs have looked inside my body without cutting me open. And all I had to do was just lay there and be still. The machinery did all the work. Even though what I am describing is now commonly done, how is that not a miracle?
How fortunate we all are to be living in the twenty-first century. Just imagine what the next few years will look like. They will be growing replacement parts on animals for use by humans. Cancer will probably be eradicated. Heart disease will be just a bad memory. Vaccines will be developed for the strange viruses now devastating many parts of the world. I think birth defects will probably disappear. When I was a kid, polio and leukemia were the scourge. Today many leukemia victims can count on full recovery. Polio is mostly just a bad memory.
I am seventy-five years old and can easily remember when one that old was truly an old man. Not so much anymore. I am certain as the years go by, hundred year olds will continue to increase and be quite common. And they will be healthy enough to enjoy life.
We all have so much to be thankful for. Not only good health but also good medicine. I have friends who are dealing with various challenges. Had modern medicine not been available, many of them would probably not be here today. Thanks to modern medicine, getting old is getting easier.