It feels natural to preserve my life, yet the means to get there seem very unnatural. Modern medicine is strange to me; a human being is treated like a programmable computer, and the drugs are the algorithms. I sat here as the doctors hacked my system to a delete a cancerous virus. They have a lot of data saying that the drugs they introduced will remove the malicious software and reset my internal operating system. Although medicine is just as unnatural to me as computers, both are realities I’ve had to accept and embrace in order to keep living in today’s world.
The part that really bothers me is when the medical personal blindly follow a sequence. The other morning, after checking my blood pressure, the nurse returned saying the doctor had ordered antibiotics because low blood pressure can be a sign of infection. “That blood pressure is within my normal range,” I told her, “look at my chart”. “Yes, but it’s really low, and when it’s this low we give antibiotics”, she said as an attempt to get me to accept the preset. I pointed out that the data from the other vitals were in the preferred range, meaning there were no other signs of infection, and that if she looked at my chart, she would see that my blood pressure reading is always “too low”. Every time they change nurses on me, I have to explain that I am not lightheaded or dizzy, that I am not going to fall down when I get out of bed. Regardless of its range, the way my heart functions serves my system without a glitch.
A symptom here is just something to delete. But, just as removing code without considering why it is there, will most likely cause another problem, just taking away the symptom can also cause more issues. I’ve had heartburn for days now; on it’s worst day the nurse eagerly offered me Pantaloc. She said that it works very well in reducing acid and that she often takes it when she gets heartburn from taking too much Advil. Taking a drug to counter the effects of another drug….I’ll never be able to make sense of that. However, my heartburn is not due to Advil, its due to a lack of mucosa lining my gut. Since the chemotherapy attacked rapidly dividing cells, even ones that I need, like my stomach lining, have had to accept some casualties. The cells will grow back, but until they do, I can subdue the pain with the medical methods they have in place. The drug has not fully deleted the problem; the heartburn still runs in the background, but at least the pop-ups are less distracting.
I was never about just treating symptoms, but there comes a time when comfort is necessary. And when I consider everything they have put in my system, one little pill does not add much to the cumulative effects. I know I need to clean up later, and just as moving one more file to the recycle bin won’t add much to the process of cleaning up a cluttered desktop, the clean up of one more pill won’t either.
Things will function again in a more optimal way. Now that the threat is removed from my system, the wisdom of my body will take over and do it’s best to prevent other malware from installing. They release me from the hospital when my immune system has a good enough firewall to keep out the highest risk threats. But, I’ll need extra security for the next few months and will have to be discriminative of what I allow in over the next year. I know I’ll be tempted to take shortcuts to resume a normal life, but, I must remember that as with any new life, a transplant must be handled with care.
Although the care I need to take is going to feel like an inconvenience much of the time, I hope the lessons I learn about acceptance and self-care will transfer over into other areas of my life. And, I hope to not only handle myself with more care but to be just as care-full with those around me.
Image: Visual hunt