Thursday, July 24, 2014

Miracles of modern medicine

"It's alive. It's alive."

-Frankenstein, the movie
From the novel by Mary W. Shelley

If you're anything like me, your idea of experimental medicine is something like what's described in the movie classic, Frankenstein. You know, electric arcs, bubbling test tubes, and a giant green-colored guy with bolts where his dimples oughta be.  Fact is, though, the whole field is getting more amazing all the time. Rarely a day goes by when we don't hear about some friend who's getting a new knee, hip or other moving part. Heart valves, retinas, hearts and lungs, and a whole bunch of other organ transplants are also becoming amazingly commonplace, with full facial transplants and lush new heads of hair also on the list of interesting ideas.
But wait.
There's a whole gaggle of amazing new stuff on the horizon, including supercool concepts like a bionic eye that transmits a signal straight from a teeny-tiny camera mounted in a pair of glasses and linked to the retina of a blind person.  And one of my absolute favorites among the neatest, newest stuff...3-D printer technology that was originally used to create prototypes of various new products like toys and shoes, but is now actually being used to--wait for it--crank out human body parts.
Oncology is another medical field that's getting its share of nifty new notions. If things go right, I'm soon going to be involved in a forward-thinking clinical trial that will use targeted gene technology to go right to the source and block cancer growth and spread. The drug--called Buparlisib, which has got to make you wonder who names the darn things--has been pretty successful so far at blocking metastasis in several kinds of cancer. We're hoping it will work for me, too.
But it gets better.
I had just gotten off the phone with one of the zillion or so docs I've been getting to know in Chicagoland, when I witnessed a bit of highly effective modern medicine that literally took my breath away. My wife and a pal of hers were sitting on the front porch, watching our grandkids and one of their buddies approach on their bikes. Suddenly, before you could say "that's gonna leave a mark," young grandson John accidentally rear-ended his big brother and took a major-league, knee-scraping tumble onto the pavement.
The grandma-lady and her friend rushed to the scene.
John tried to tough it out without giving in to tears, but it was a nasty scrape, for sure. Grandma administered a dollop of antibiotic salve and the medicine she knows best. Meanwhile, her friend bolstered him with encouraging words regarding his manliness and courage. And even I, the old grumpa himself, kicked in with a little help from my treasured trove of White Sox bandaids.
And John?  He got better, too
Pretty soon, he was back on his bicycle, heading for the park.

Because when it comes to little boys and grandmas, hugs are the best medicine of all.

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