Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Pain Free World

On March 12th, the University of California San Diego Medical Center removed a diseased appendix. Yeah, whoop-de-fucking-doo, right?

Actually, yes indeed. See, they removed the appendix through the patient's mouth. I shit you not! They basically made a small incision in the patient's navel, inserted a camera into the stomach so they could see what they were doing (which is usually a good idea), shoved what I imagine was one of those stuffed animal grappling claws down this dude's throat and yanked out his appendix. I can only imagine the after taste of that procedure.

Why would they do this, you may (and should!) ask? According to the chair of UCSD Medical Center, Dr. Mark A. Talamini, 'The purpose of this clinical trial is to test more ‘patient-focused’ techniques for minimally invasive surgery. UC San Diego Medical Center is testing groundbreaking ways in which to perform surgery with fewer incisions, less pain, and more rapid recoveries'.

Well, then, there you go.

Quick sidenote here: Duke University has found that the appendix isn't useless after all. Turns out it's a 'safe house' for bacteria. According to this press release, 'While there is no smoking gun, the abundance of circumstantial evidence makes a strong case for the role of the appendix as a place where the good bacteria can live safe and undisturbed until they are needed,' said one William Parker, Ph.D. One more reason to get rid of those antibacterial soaps and gels. Remember, those kill good and bad bacteria.

Meanwhile, at University of Texas' Southwestern Medical Center, doctors performed the first single incision gallbladder removal. Traditionally, there are four incisions needed, but these dudes used one. 'Through a single hole, we were able to introduce more than one instrument into the patient’s abdomen at once, and we were able to remove her gallbladder very safely, just like we do routinely through four incisions'. Sweet. The goal is to prevent major scarring and increase recovery time. Increased recovery time = less pain.

The patient in this case was a female golf pro who was taking full swings less than two weeks after the surgery. That's pretty damn cool.

Not to be outdone are those same, creative, party people at UCSD Medical Center who removed one woman's gallbladder through her vagina. The process took less than 2 hours and sounds much more entertaining. The UCSD team even has a cool nickname for their new procedures: Natural Orifice Translumenal Endoscopic Surgery (NOTES). Top that, Texas Yahoos!

Oh, but I'm not done. Not even close. Suddenly, doctors are beginning to accept methods of acupuncture for treatment and using gold (yep, gold) to relieve arthritis pain. And now this news item from the University of Rochester Medical Center that, thanks to a process called Proteomics, a spit test may be more reliable and soon replace the standard blood test. Imagine, no more needles jabbed into you and blood spurting from your body when idiot doctors can't figure out what's wrong with you. Just spit in a cup and off you go.

With advancements in technology, new surgical techniques, and non invasive (or hole creating) testing we may be approaching the age of pain free medical treatment. No more worrying over that doctor's visit. No more suffering through debilitating joint pain; just buy some gold jewelry or visit an acupuncturist or the old standby vicotin pill popping to ease the burden.

While this is all great news, it makes me wonder why we can't spread this pain free fascination towards the animals we eat. Most of us are familiar with the brutal conditions (some would argue torturous and inhumane) some chickens, pigs and cows endure in order to provide us with food. More than a few of my friends have sworn off meat just because of the way the animals are treated.

If we spend billions trying to find alternative solutions to people care, then why not animal care. Don't argue that it's a business decision, either. With more humane treatment of the animals, the more people would be willing to eat your meat. If you want to argue business sense, then how about an increase in customers for your product? Those potential customers (and I'm betting there are a lot of them out there; those people that are limiting or eliminating meat, chicken and pork from their diets mainly because of the way the animals are treated) would be more inclined to buy your product if they are promised humane animal conditions in life and in death.

Whatever. I'm not here to preach about what you eat. People are going to eat what they want regardless. I just find it odd we spend incalculable amounts of time and money trying to make ourselves more comfortable while torturing and drugging animals that provide our means of survival.

Unfortunately, a useless space like this will have little effect on the meat and poultry industry's day to day operations and I can't expect to spur a nationwide boycott until things change.

What I can do is simply ask you to take a second before ordering that fifty dollar filet mignon while you lounge at Morton's or Shula's. Maybe one of you will decide on the pasta dish, instead.

It goes better with the $150 bottle of red wine, anyway.

Today's distraction: Some book autopsies for your viewing pleasure. No, they aren't gross. This artist actually creates amazing works of art from regular books. Not much impresses me, but this certainly does.


French said...

If this ends up being a duplicate, I apologize.

Well said, Big John. Very well said. If carnivores out there could take a minute and just research how unethically some of these animals are treated in preparation for slaughter, they might think twice about that steak or breast of chicken. Of course most won't give a shit, but many will.

Thanks for this. La thanks you too.

BeachBum said...

It's part of our problem. We're so spoiled and over fed that very little effects us.

We want our extravagant lifestyle and who cares what goes on behind the scenes.

And, for the record, I'm often guilty of this, too. Baby steps.

Ben Schneweis said...

I would've gone for that form of appendectomy, consdidering the disaster that followed my operation. The surgeon accidentally and unknowingly cut me while removing her tools...which led to six days in the hospital and a liter of blood in my abdomen. sweeeeeeeeeet.