Medicine 4

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Childbirth

Most mothers since the beginning of time had given birth at home with midwives or other women in attendance. It was a long, painful and exhausting experience. Finally in the 1850s wealthy women were offered some relief from ether after it was used for Queen Victoria during her labor. Following the Queen’s lead ether, chloroform, and even laughing gas in the United States, were administered for decades to women able to afford delivery in a hospital. Because some doctors were better trained than others babies being born at home were likely to have had safer births without the effects of these gases.

Painless Childbirth

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Page 1106 in our 1910 manuscript states that a method of “painless childbirth” had been developed by doctors, Bernard Kronig and Carl Gause, in Germany. Hallelujah! Just what every woman in the world had been hoping for. It sounded wonderful, even the name “Twilight Sleep” (Dämmerschlaf in German) was promising. Doctors from the US went to Germany to learn to use this new miracle combination of drugs that would herald childbirth without pain. Soon gas was out of favor and powerful drugs were in. 

Twilight sleep was said to be “especially suited to the requirement of nervous women.” I find it interesting that men were so sure what women needed in view of the fact that not one of them had passed a bowling-ball-sized human through their loins. To this day many men are inclined to have very strong opinions about a woman’s body and what she should be allowed to do with it, but back to the topic at hand. 

Twilight Sleep

Twilight Sleep was made up of a combination of morphine and scopolamine. Morphine is derived from opium and acts on the central nervous system, causing pain relief. Scopolamine comes from a mixture of nightshade plants. It causes patients to fall into a semi-conscious state resulting in amnesia.

Both drugs are still in use today, but not routinely with labor patients. Morphine is a powerful and useful pain reliever that can lead to opioid dependence in some situations. Scopolamine is used orally or by a transdermal patch to treat nausea, vomiting and motion sickness. You may have used or seen fellow passengers use these patches to prevent or combat seasickness.

Possible side effects from scopolamine listed today include the following:  drowsiness, disorientation, dry mouth, blurred vision, dilated pupils, confusion, hallucinations, difficulty urinating and rash.    https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682509.html

What is wrong with this picture? In retrospect, it does not seem a chemistry degree is necessary to foresee problems with this combination of drugs. The pain relief of morphine was a big plus for the laboring mother, however, it could depress respiration in the newborn leading to a life-threatening emergency. The scopolamine rendered the mother semiconscious during the painful childbirth experience, however, it caused amnesia. The mother usually remembered nothing of the experience including seeing her newborn for the first time nor hearing the first cries. The effects of this drug had significant potential to defer or even diminish bonding between mother and child. 

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Both of these drugs crossed the placenta and depressed the fetus’s central nervous system. For decades babies would be born drugged, and unable to breathe normally. It is no wonder they were held upside-down and spanked to start them breathing. After over sixty years of Twilight Sleep administration, the practice was abandoned in the 1970s due to the harmful side effects. Unfortunately, this was after the birth of my two daughters and I am sure after many of you or your children were born. 

Lakshmipati G. (Care of the Medical Outpatient, (Preface) 1st ed. 2003. pp. vii–vii. Nama publication, Coimbatore, Tamilnadu) has said:  

“Half of what is true today will be proven to be incorrect in the next five years. Unfortunately we don’t know which half that is going to be.” 

Sadly, this is true even today. One only hopes that such truth will be proven in only a few years rather than the centuries or decades it has taken in the past. 

 An Art or a Science?

Whether the practice of medicine is an art or a science has been debated for centuries. Many, if not most, feel that it must include both. For a comprehensive discussion of this subject read Dr. Sadhu Charan Panda’s research. He is Editor, Journal of Community Medicine.   https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3190445/

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Change, does it occur too fast or too slowly? 

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 The Complete Guide to Prevention and Cure of Disease is still in print. If you are interested in reading all 20 medical books in one volume written over 100 years ago see: https://www.amazon.com/Library-Health-Twenty-Books-One-Scholl/dp/B007GNBQB6/ref=sr_1_10?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1516977599&sr=1-10&keywords=library+of+health+by+Scholl

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Part 4 of 4

Truth

New Horizon 

Last night at the Golden Globes, Oprah Winfrey won the Cecil B. DeMille award.  She gave a momentous acceptance speech that I’m sure many of you heard. She spoke of empowerment and equality.  http://www.cnn.com/2018/01/08/entertainment/oprah-globes-speech-transcript/index.html

One of our readers, Lula, remarked to me in a private message that it reminded her of our Crooked Creek discussions last spring regarding “What I Know for Sure 1-5.” https://crookedcreek.live/2017/03/27/what-i-know-for-sure/

I agree because one of Oprah’s statements, in particular, bears repeating and remembering: “What I know for sure is that speaking the truth is the most powerful tool we all have.”

Thank you, Oprah and Lula. While truth has always been crucial, this is a time when women must not only be truthful but also demand truth from others. Truth, spoken by both women and men can bring about, finally, the transformation needed for women and girls to truly be equal . . . in respect, in compensation, in power.

This time is long overdue.

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Courtesy of Pixabay

 

What I Know for Sure 2

“No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.” Hal Borland

It has been over two weeks since we began discussing “What I Know for Sure.” To me, this absence of posts is no surprise. After all, there are so few things we know for sure, or perhaps I should say, that “I” know for sure. Your comments after that first installment of this subject were thought provoking and I look forward to you sharing more as we go forward.

Sometimes during the night, when revelations so often materialize, I think, “I must remember this for the blog,” but when morning arrives the thought has vanished. If I am so sure, why did that certainty evaporate with dawn? To me it is further verification we know so little for sure.  Or, perhaps it is that what we know isn’t of great consequence.

Listed below are the four (4) things which I declared, initially, I know for sure. Thank you for not asking me to explain #4! It is one which I feel strongly about and I wonder if you have things which you think too few people know for sure, but should be obvious.

  1. There are few things of which I am 100% sure, but one of those certainties is the fact that I love my family with all my heart.
  2. Having time alone is a necessity for me, but I sometimes forget how much I need to be with people.
  3. Native Americans should not be called Indians.
  4. Dish towels and dish cloths should be laundered separately and not with bath towels or underwear.

What I know for Sure Today

5. April is not delivering in March. That giraffe! Have you been watching? I have, since sometime toward the end of February, and somedays I feel so sorry for her and other days I am mad . . . at her, at the Animal Adventure Park, at her Baby Daddy, Oliver. It is irrational, I know. Nature cannot be rushed. It will happen when the time is right, etc., etc. Last week, on April 8, the park’s veterinarian said that was going to be the day, “April is showing signs of early labor.” NOT! Thousands watched the live cam in anticipation, but no baby. Poor April, gestation for giraffes is fifteen months and the offspring will weigh around 150 pounds. April has gone through this three (3) times before. She knows what she is doing. It’s the caregivers who apparently do not. 

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6. Love at first sight is a real phenomenon. Not romantic love, I don’t know about that, but a Mother’s love for her newborn. No matter how red, skinny or fat. No matter how covered with toothpaste-looking vernix caseosa, bald or not, a Mom is going to experience pure love the moment she looks at her newborn’s face.

7. Depression should be renamed.  Depression is a word from the late Middle ages meaning to “press down”. It evokes a slump or perhaps an indentation, nothing too significant. The word may refer to the economy (recession), weather (tropical) or to geography (relative to the horizon). It also is a medical diagnosis and this is what should change in order to more adequately portray the condition. In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) of Mental Disorders there are several diagnostic codes listed for variations of this disorder. It is not my intent to delve into the nuances of this diagnosis which can be complex and even terminal, but to encourage thought and perhaps dialog.

Too often, this diagnosis is considered to be a temporary “down” feeling which will pass, but in fact it is more likely to be a permanent condition that varies in intensity. If you struggle to understand friends or family members who you know to be depressed, please read this short account by John Pavolvitz, one of my favorite bloggers. I had been following Pavolvitz’s posts for over a year without knowing he suffers from depression, until reading this one:  http://johnpavlovitz.com/2016/07/05/the-privilege-of-mental-health/

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Photo Credit: Missy Cornish

As Borland’s quote at the beginning of this post, some things are a surety and they bring comfort. It is reassuring to know spring never misses its turn and no night lasts forever. As one of our readers has stated, “. . . . . the Sun always rises. Light transforms the darkness.” And, while this is true there are those who suffer from “clinical depression” who cannot know this for sure, everyday. No matter what we call depression, it is a diagnosis to be taken seriously, to be treated and to be better understood. That understanding brings light to sufferers.

Part 2 of 4

Theme photo by Akiko Kobayashi (Japan)

What I Know for Sure

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Thank you to Akiko Kobayashi (Japan) for this photograph.

Oprah

This title will sound familiar to fans of Oprah Winfrey. I admire Oprah, but have not followed her closely over the past several years, so when one of our readers suggested this topic, I admit that I had to do a little research. Cindi, a loyal follower of Crooked Creek, has added valuable feedback and encouragement, so I knew that I should take her suggestion seriously. 

Oprah has written a book on this subject and it was a success as just about everything is which she attempts. You can read the top 20 things she “knows” at: http://www.oprah.com/spirit/the-top-20-things-oprah-knows-for-sure

A book of things I know for sure would be a very short one, but I will attempt to come up with my top twenty. Rest assured, I do not consider myself anything like this famous and successful woman known the world over, but I do believe that this is a subject worthy our consideration, yours and mine. As we explore together, please share with us what you know for sure. 

More Gray than I Realized

When I was much younger there were so many things I was sure were true. As someone has said, “Often wrong, but never in doubt.”  That was me. Either black or white! I knew things. Things I had been taught, things I read in the Bible, things I felt in my bones. Looking back I can see how that was not only naive, but arrogant. Education, both formal and day-to-day experiences, prove repeatedly how little I know for sure. Some of my strongest opinions have bitten the dust, because they were just that, opinions. 

I remember taking a required philosophy course at The University of Louisville back in the 1970s and experiencing a major revelation during the first days. The professor, speaking from his wheel-chair, in front of about fifty students would present topic after topic from various angles. About the time I became convinced of one of his assertions he would quietly say, “But on the other hand” and then convince me of just the opposite. It wasn’t that I was easy, it was that he was good. After a few weeks of exposure to his fairness and uncomplicated brilliance I clearly saw how little I knew for sure. This does not mean that we do not have things we believe and believe in, but to me at least, it does mean that most subjects and opinions can be debated and looked at from other points of view. Our real truths will not be diluted by serious scrutiny, but we may be able to better understand another’s position. 

What I Know for Sure

The fact that I have a blog and that I like to share my thoughts and experiences must mean that I think I know something, right? No doubt it comes across that way and those who know me personally will quickly add that I am opinionated. So there, I’ve outed myself before anyone else has the chance. Before we go out too far on a serious path like Oprah though, I want to say that some of the things I know for sure are not earth shattering, but trivial. I’m going to share them anyway. Feel free to do the same. Collectively, I am sure we know many things, big and small. I’m going to start with the number one thing I know for sure and see how far we get today after that.

  1. There are few things of which I am 100% sure, but one of those certainties is the fact that I love my family with all my heart. My guess is that you love yours in that way, too. Many, if not most, things change over our lifetimes. This has not. 
  2. Having time alone is a necessity for me, but I sometimes forget how much I need to be with people. There are those who renew their energy by being with people, by talking and laughing and playing games. Those folks would simply dry up if they had to be alone for long. Others of us need time of quiet and calm at regular intervals or we become anxious and distracted. There are tests that show which type of person we are and each is labeled as some type of introvert or extrovert, but we don’t really need a Myers-Briggs or other personality test to know our personal requirements. Still, if interested here is one of those quizzes to reveal more than you probably want to know:  http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-win/jtypes2.asp
  3. Native Americans should not be called Indians. Columbus was mistaken. He did not land in India. If Native Americans want to use the term “Indian” they have that right, we do not. Why do we even celebrate Columbus Day? After all the suffering of this country’s indigenous people perhaps we should have a “First Peoples Day” instead.
  4. Dish towels and dish cloths should not be laundered with bath towels, underwear or other laundry. Please don’t ask me to explain. 

This is where I need to leave it for today. Perhaps I should apologize, because I have been thinking of this post for weeks and weeks and this is as far as I’ve gotten. These are the few things I know for sure as of today. I’m thinking as hard as I can and I know there are others to add to this list, I’m just not sure of them yet. 

Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.

(Author unknown)

Part 1 of 4