Erin: SO i need advice
Monthly Archives: November 2009
I was a sickly child. I was burdened by constant respiratory infections and dyspeptic symptoms. When I was seven, my parents had the good sense to, despite their relative lack of wealth, to take me to an esteemed doctor, the best in Little Rock, Arkansas. That doctor, who had spent several years studying medicine at the Sarbonne, was an expert in Leech Therapy.
At the time, using leeches was unknown, especially in our small southern river port. Only a few years later, everyone was using leeches. Leeches for back pain, leeches for diabeetus, leeches for blood borne illnesses, humor balancing, whatever. And they worked. That’s the remarkable thing. My respiratory problems were gone after a good week of leeches and a therapeutic visit to Hot Springs. My doctor advised me to keep using leeches, visiting him once a month for two hours, in order to maintain the renewal of good, healthy blood in my system. At any time I could have stopped the therapy and probably maintain some level of good health for a while, but like my mother always says, better safe than sorry.
As you can imagine, the recent report from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) on leech therapy has been very upsetting for me and my bowels. They claim that the advice is cautious and that they’ve been debating it’s value for “over 400 years.” The news that they believe this therapy may be unnecessary and possibly even endangering me, and that they claim there is “science” to back it up is bad enough. But knowing that the government may prevent my monthly leech therapy sessions is really terrifying. Everyone knows the best way to prevent a humor imbalance, and therefore dyspeptic symptoms and respiratory ailments, is by forcing the body to renew it’s blood supply. It’s common sense. And that’s why I’m standing up against this so-called “science,” and I won’t let the government ration my health care. Who are they to come between me and my esteemed doctor? Next thing you know, I’ll be told that the mercury treatment I have been given off and on for my recurring yaws is ineffective and dangerous too.
I am currently an Americorps VISTA. Just so you know this blog is no reflection of the corporation or anything like that. Anyway here are some funny videos that Paul Newman narrated about VISTA:
“Are you a white person? Why don’t you put that valuable skill to work!”
Because I am a currently nonpracticing but still licensed advice columnist, people sometimes ask me: “Kaitlin, what is the most charismatic bacterial phylum?”
This is always a tough call. As someone who is particularly interested in environmental causes, I am of course tempted to say cyanobacteria (side note look at the strange decorations on that website). When I really take the time to define and appreciate charisma though, I always settle on the same answer: the Spirochetes.
Spirochetes are delighful, dancing coil-shaped organisms. Their shape says “party,” where the shapes of other bacteria say “textbook diagram study session.”
Two Facinating Spirochaete:
1. Syphillis (Treponema pallidum)
Syphillis is probably the most well known spirochete, made famous, of course, by the documentary “Jerri’s Burning Issue,” which chronicles a high school student’s struggle with the disease. It also well known for afflicting most people who achieved any greatness in the ninteenth century.
This American Life recently featured a man who claimed that the development of the syphilis treatment Salvarsan, the first antibiotic, was a major turning point in the path that American medical care took to becoming the crazy mess of problems talk about daily. His argument was that it was the first time medicine actually cured people of a disease, changing people’s expectations of medicine as a whole.
2. Lyme disease (Borrelia burgdorferi)
Lyme disease was discovered fairly recently, with the first cases being diagnosed in 1975. Lyme disease has been made most famous by former Real World Seattle cast member, Irene McGee. Our knowledge of Lyme disease is murky and it is controversial among doctors. Like the early days of the study of syphilis, most of the controversy lies in whether or not Lyme disease is a short term or a long term illness. People believed that once syphilis was treated with mercury (which was the earliest treatment) until the symptoms went away, it was cured. It wasn’t until many doctors began to notice and draw connections between a huge variety of symptoms in patients who had decades before been diagnosed with syphilis that syphilis was discovered to be chronic. This debate is currently happening with Lyme disease. Lyme disease is exciting because it can lead to symptoms that look like both schizophrenia and arthritis. The worst symptoms are probably various forms of dysautonomia like palsy.
There you have it. The spirochete is a terrifying, sneaky bacteria with a shape that makes everyone want to be it’s friend. Congratulations, Spirochaete!