Medieval Life versus Modern Medicine

I’m a pretty big fan of science — and by that, I mean the scientific method and its reliance upon testable theories and repeatable outcomes.  As a corollary, I generally respect modern medicine, and it’s not unusual to think, hey, without modern medicine, where would I be?  To put it another way, if I lived in the Middle Ages, wouldn’t life suck?

My last foray into modern medicine involved a rotator cuff tear, followed by surgery, frozen shoulder syndrome, and six months of excruciating physical therapy.  If I were a medieval peasant, I probably wouldn’t be able to use my arm at all, right?

Well, no, it turns out my shoulder problems were caused by the modern antibiotics Levaquin and Cipro, both of which I was taking for medically dubious reasons (as many people do) and other antibiotics weren’t available because of my allergy to Augmentin.

Augmentin was prescribed to me when I had contracted a horrible kidney infection, and I actually developed the allergy while taking it.  But hey, modern medicine saved me from a kidney infection, right?

Yes, but since I acquired it in a hospital, I’m going to put this in the medieval column.  I was in the hospital due to kidney stones, which were so big, they wouldn’t pass on their own.  After lithotripsy failed, the more invasive laser surgery was required.

Kidney stones are pretty horrible, and it’s easy to imagine myself in a medieval hamlet, blaming demons or whatever for my bone crunching pain.  However, it turns out my kidney stones were caused by high fructose corn syrup, so it’s more likely I’d be dancing around my medieval hamlet in no pain whatsoever, probably wearing tights, which I understand was acceptable back then.

I’d also been in the hospital to have my gall bladder removed, due to gallstones, which anybody who’s had them can tell you are almost as bad as kidney stones.  Oh no!  My medieval self would be unequipped to deal with gallstones … but (by now, you can see this coming) wouldn’t actually have gallstone problems in the first place.  In an ironic twist, cutting high fructose corn syrup and fat out of my diet to avoid kidney stones led directly to gallstones.

So far, the Middle Ages are beating modern medicine by at least three points, and I’m not even counting the clothes.

Not that I’m anti-modern-medicine, by any means, and I’m not about to revive the medieval practice of buying Head-On headache sticks to ward off brain goblins.  Instead, I’m going to give full credit to modern medicine for Imitrex, which is truly wonderful.