Last Thursday, as I sat at the breakfast table with my regular group of seniors, it occurred to me how remarkable the advances in medicine have been in my lifetime. I can vividly remember the Polio scare of the 50s, and all the precautions that our parents took to prevent us from contracting the dread disease. We were forbidden from drinking at public water fountains, and from swimming in the community pool in our federal housing project. The fear of being placed in an “iron lung,” or having to be fitted with metal braces for our legs was overwhelming. Then, along came Jonas Salk and his miraculous vaccine, and the disease was virtually eliminated (along with the well-founded fears) through inoculation.
The next big thing was the heart transplant, first executed successfully by Dr. Christiaan Barnard in Capetown, South Africa, in 1967. Would wonders never cease? we thought. Today, heart transplants, while not exactly routine, have become accepted procedure, with more than 5,000 of them performed around the world each year. In the same vein, the cardiac pacemaker, once a dicey proposition, has become the routine way of handling arrhythmia, or an irregular heartbeat as it is commonly known. Receiving one has become so routine that I doubt that anyone over the age of 65 doesn’t know someone personally who has one. Two of my closest friends have had a pacemaker “installed” within the last two weeks, and one of them was at the breakfast table Thursday—just a week after the procedure!
This morning, I received a call from my physician’s office informing me that my latest blood work had shown increased hypothyroidism, a condition that can lead to higher cholesterol levels and potential risk of stroke (we know about strokes). Not to worry! He had already phoned in a prescription for Levothyroxine, the generic name for the synthetic form of thyroxine, a thyroid hormone replacement drug, and by the time you read this, I will already be taking it, and hopefully reducing my cholesterol.
Years ago, when a senior citizen developed cataracts, he or she was relegated to sitting at home with eyesight that was severely compromised. Today, most everyone who develops this normal condition of aging undergoes cataract surgery, during which the cloudy lens of the eye is replaced with an artificial lens that lasts the remainder of a lifetime. If your teeth wear out, there are dental implants. Hip replacements, knee replacements, corneal transplants, spinal fusions, etcetera—the list is endless. We are truly living in the age of medical miracles. So, take heart (pun intended), whatever it is that ails you, modern medical science is probably already hard at work to find a cure or treatment. To paraphrase comedian Yakov Smirnoff’s oft quoted line: “What a world!”
If you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share it with a friend or re-blog it. If you’d like to follow my blog, just click on the “Follow” button at the bottom righthand corner of the page. You’ll be asked to enter your email address, and you’ll receive a confirmation email in return. I only post once per week, and I never share email addresses.
- Learn more about me and my writing, check out my website at: www.joeperronejr.com
- Like my author page on Facebook