Wednesday, July 8, 2015

"Cutting Edge Medicine"

Although, over the centuries, medical science has made monumental advances, at any point in history, we are inevitably stuck with what we’ve got. 

THE TIME:  Somewhere in the 19th Century

THE PLACE:  A doctor’s office.


DOCTOR:  Mr. Pomerantz.  How are you doing today?

AN ERSTWHILE (although identifiably similar) MR. POMERANTZ:  Can we talk about the reading material in your Waiting Room?  You’ve got manuscripts out there that are written on vellum!  And by the way, I had no idea you treated lepers.  And don’t tell me he’s not a leper.  I saw him fiddling with his nostril and his finger fell off.  And another thing.  Do you know what does not inspire a patient’s confidence in their doctor?  When there’s a “Bring out your dead” wagon parked in front of the building.

Are you experiencing some anxiety, Mr. Pomerantz?

Why do you ask?

Your jokes manifest a haphazard historicism. 

I hate going to the doctor.

Oh?  And why is that?

You guys hurt people.

Not like we used to.

That will be very comforting when I am screaming my head off.  Do you know the difference between medical treatment and torture?


Torturers don’t send you a bill.

That’s a good one.

True funny is always the funniest.

I understand your apprehensiveness, Mr. Pomerantz.  But be comforted by the knowledge that our methods, based on rigorous scientific experimentation, are almost certain to be successful.

You know who said that?


Every doctor in the history of the world.  The doctor says, “Almost certain to be successful” and the patient goes, “Great!”  And what do they give them?  A bottle of donkey urine.  An injection of bumblebees.  A “porcupine” enema.

None of those are actual treatments.

I am being metaphorical here!  I’m not saying medical science hasn’t made strides.  Anesthetic is good.  And that thing where you have to wash your hands… by the way, do you that?

You want to know if I’m keeping up?

I want the best medical treatment I can get.  Do you always wash your hands?

I wouldn’t say “always.”  But I’m getting there. 

I hear it’s important.  Although some day, they may discover it was a big waste of time.  Like they using crocodile dung as a contraceptive.  That one’s real.  I looked it up.

You can thank medical science for proving it unhelpful.

The same medical science that was calling it “The Answer.”

This is all very interesting, Mr. Pomerantz, and believe me, I would love to debate the limitations of science with you.  But I am afraid I have patients waiting.  So if I may ask – and if I don’t, this blog post will go on forever – what brings you to my office today?

Okay.  So, you know I’m not a doctor, but I have read up on this and I have asked around.  And what I think is going on here, based on my observed symptoms, is that my humors are seriously out of balance and we need to eradicate the poisonous toxins.  The problem is… and why I may appear kind of jumpy… is that I am not a big enthusiast of the prescribed medical treatment that you offer as a cure.


I don’t even like hearing the word.  I was wondering if, perhaps, you might have an alternative, perhaps more up-to-date, form of treatment.  O000000000ne that does not involve slithery creatures sucking the blood out of my body.

I understand your reservations about that treatment.  I must admit it is not one of my favorites.  And that includes inserting my finger in places that, outside of this office, would be cause for certain arrest and incarceration.  I also freely admit that, over the years, medical science has indeed gone in some unfortunate directions.

“Dead mouse paste to cure warts…”  “Earthworms for rapier wounds…”  “Implanting goat testicles as the preferred treatment for….”
No one is more aware of that sorry litany than the doctor.  But the fact is, the application of leeches to rectify humorous imbalances goes back twenty-five hundred years.  Unlike some regrettable wrong turns, this treatment has withstood the test of time.  Like the Newtonian “Theory of Gravity”, it is scientifically validated, and proven to work.

You are equating leeches with the “Theory of Gravity”?

Centuries from today, they will continue to believe in both.

I don’t know.  For thousands of years in China, they’ve been sticking pins in people to help them feel better.

Now that’s silly.

Says the man who is about to cover my body with leeches.

My Pomerantz, it comes down to this.  You have a humorous imbalance and you would like to have it corrected.  And there is one scientifically-proven method of doing that.

What you are saying is that it’s leeches, or nothing.


But I don’t want leeches!

That’s all I’ve got.  Now if you will remove your shirt and lie down on the table, I shall proceed to the ice bucket and retrieve “The Boys.”

Okay.  But if the treatment is proven wrong, I am going to be really angry about this. 

Do you have the kind that don’t stick that much?
FOOTNOTE:  I recently read that there is a group of cutting edge physicists who believe that their new theories should no longer need to submit to the mandated scrutiny of “The Scientific Method” so long as those theories are sufficiently “elegant and explanatory.”

I’m telling you.  These guys need to be watched like a hawk.

1 comment:

benson said...

Heard your podcast interview today. Very enjoyable. Thanks.