strange_medicineBy chance I overheard someone say that medicine went absolutely nowhere for thousands of years. I thought hmmm, that’s strange.
Think about it. The Romans, the Renaissance, the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution.  Indoor plumbing and the printing press and the steam engine. Playing cards, double-entry booking keeping and the Spinning Jenny.

Medicine? Zilch. Nada. Except, of course, for the four humors-blood, black bile, yellow bile and phlegm.

In fact, during all this time medicine did more harm than good. A reasonable argument can be made that patients of the great Hippocrates, 2,500 years ago, received better medical care than our first president, George Washington. Sick with a sore throat, he was drained of four quarts of blood by three of the finest doctors in the land. Each took more than the last, and poor George died within hours.

Medicine did, finally, get better, around 1850 or so. Doctors discovered things like anesthesia and germ theory, and, for the first time began keeping track of what they did.

Having wanted, like most authors, to build to a sizzling climax, this turn of events was most unfortunate for me and my book.  It was, however, a great boon for mankind, and something I’ve learned to live with.

These days my doctor hustles me in and out, and in the waiting room I still have to choose between Golf Illustrated and Sky and Telescope. But I figure things could be worse, lots worse…



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