Mr. T. - A Different Perspective
Mr. T. is a fit 84-year-old man – still quite active – whom I saw in the office last week to check on his heart rhythm. “Look at all these medicines I’m taking,” he complained. “I feel like a drug store!”
Indeed, the man had nine different prescription medications for various ailments.
“Let’s see,” I said, as I sorted through his bag of medicine containers. “This one is for that awful stomach ulcer you were diagnosed with six years ago. You’ve had no problem with the ulcer since then. You know, a generation ago, people often needed part of their stomach removed for recurrent bleeding from these ulcers. We’re fortunate to have a medicine like this one.”
Methodically, I went through Mr. T’s medicine bottles. There were two for his blood pressure. They have been effective, and significantly reduced Mr. T’s risk for stroke, heart failure and kidney failure. There were two for his diabetes, which have lowered his risk for heart and kidney disease as well as preventing the severe circulatory problems that a generation ago resulted in amputation of the foot or leg in many people.
We discussed how uncommon it would have been for, say, his grandparents to live and be active well into their 80’s, as Mr. T. has been. I concluded that we should be grateful rather than resentful that we have learned so much and have developed effective medications for so many of the conditions that might have been lethal 30 or 40 years ago.
In Genesis, God tells us to master the earthly domain (Ch. 1: 26-28). Modern medicine’s marvels are one way in which we are fulfilling God’s commandment. Taking care of ourselves as best we can and treating the body as sacred – as God’s creation and possession – is another. I hope I gave Mr. T. a different perspective on the medicines he takes.
Dr. Joel Roffman has spoken to many church, synagogue and support groups. His book, Coping with Adversity: Judaism’s response to illness and other life struggles is enjoyable, uplifting and informative. It is meant for people of all faiths and can be viewed at http://www.copingwithadversity.com/. It is available at Barnes and Noble, Borders, and Amazon.com.
Dr. Roffman is also the Health and Fitness Center Faculty Advisor on the Computer School for Seniors campus. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.