When Medicine Hits a Roadblock

One of the lessons I highlighted in the post I made about “Forever Today” was that medicine doesn’t always have the answers. We rely very heavily on doctors and drugs to keep us healthy, or even alive. What we often forget, however, is that sometimes, medicine fails to help us. When we find this out, we’re often surprised, shocked, or angry. How can something that’s meant to keep us healthy prove to be unable to do just that?


The Frustration …

Though I understand the frustration of a patient finding himself at a roadblock, I don’t want to be too quick to blame the whole of medicine. The reason is that I understand that we can’t expect to have all the answers to everything. Science, in general, has slowly progressed over hundreds of years. This means that in the past people knew less than they know now. This also means that in the future, they’re going to know more than in the present moment.

That’s quite a frustrating thing to deal with, especially when speaking of specific cases, such as the one of Clive Wearing. It’s easier to speak in abstract terms, and generalize everything. But when we start paying attention to a particular case in which medicine failed to do its job, we get angry. Alternatively, we feel sad and disappointed. But then again, we have to learn to live in the present, with all the limitations it brings.

Even as a student, I find myself frustrated when I’m studying something one year, only to learn the next that due to research, that thing is not believed to be valid anymore. I start wondering why on Earth did I spend all that time trying to remember something, when now it’s useless. However, I’ve started to attempt at least to live with that. It’s simply a “side-effect” of the present day. Plus, I try to remind myself that it would have been that much worse if I would have been born in the past.

I think we have to take that attitude and use it when it comes to medicine as well. Now, I’m not saying we should settle. Never settle! Ever. There are alternative things we can try when medicine is unable to help. What I am saying, however, is that we should at least try to put that frustration aside, because it’s probably not going to help. Instead, put that energy into finding different ways to cope with the medical issue you have.

The Body Doesn’t Always Need Medication

Sometimes, we’re too quick to assume we need medication. We forget that the body is created to deal with disease and intruders on its own. At least generally speaking, it has the capability of curing itself.  Of course there are cases when outside help is needed, but those cases should be the exceptions. As things are right now, those cases are the rule.

To some degree, it is understandable that we prefer medication over self-healing. We live in a society where we just don’t have the time to be sick. We need to become healthy as soon as possible. Yesterday would be great, in fact.

The problem is that in this process, we’re handicapping ourselves. Instead of letting our immune system become strong and able to fight on its own, we push it aside and take antibiotics. But we don’t think of what will happen when antibiotics will no longer be able to fight bacteria. And that time will come, because by taking antibiotics we’re actively selecting for resistant strains of bacteria.


So, at the end of the day, maybe it’s time we understood the caveat that comes with living in this very moment. That is not to say that we have to give up because “all the answers are not here yet”. We can at least try to find some of the missing answers ourselves 🙂



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