Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)

Life in the Pedestrian Lane: A few more pills

All the people I visit with these days have the same story

I take 15 pills a day and once a week an extra one. Only five are actual prescriptions, the others are supplements of one kind or another, “highly suggested” by one or another of the doctors in my life. Hubby does the same but his doctors are different from mine.

All the people I visit with these days have the same story. My sister and I spent half an hour over Thanksgiving comparing meds and doctors and every time I see a friend at some random spot someone has been to the doctor or “picking up pills.” I saw a mime the other day that said, “You know you are old when you run into your friends at the pharmacy instead of the night club.”

When I was a child, we had one family doctor and he was our doctor for years, delivering my brother and sister and taking out my tonsils. He set a broken bone or two and even visited our home when I had the measles. In those days the only “extra” doctor your family might have was an eye, ear, nose and throat person if you needed glasses, and of course a dentist, who you visited once a year whether you needed to or not.

Back then, many little towns had a doctor who had probably been there for at least two generations. If he happened to be young and new he had done his time with the old doctor, learning about the idiosyncrasies of everyone in town and the old guy was still there, coming in to the office an hour or two every day, because everyone knew he’d never retire.

The only meds we used were aspirin, iodine, castor oil, and Vicks Vapo-Rub. Penicillin was being used for the military on an experimental basis. It didn’t come into widespread use until 1948. Before then we used sulfa drugs and hoped we didn’t get an infection that couldn’t be cured by hot compresses and grandma’s magic potion.

My four kids were all delivered by the same doctor at the same hospital, and he was our doctor until we moved away from that small community. We moved to another about 30 miles away with a doctor who welcomed us and was our only care giver for at least 10 years until we moved to Alaska.

We lived near two college towns which had “speciality” doctors: obstetricians, surgeons, pediatricians, maybe even an orthopedist for sports injuries; just in case something went wrong and the general practitioner couldn’t or wouldn’t handle it. My family never needed a specialist until recently, when it has become the trend for the family doctor to make the diagnosis, then hand you off to a specialist to treat the problem.

There was a certain comfort to having the doctor who had treated you all your life be available when you needed him. He knew if you’d had your tonsils removed, or if you might be allergic to walnuts. Even that when you were 6 you’d stepped on a nail and gotten an infection that affected your gait into adulthood. He could likely recall if one of your parents had gout and if that ache in your big toe might be genes coming to play.

Like in so many things, we have traded humanity for progress and efficiency in medicine. My mom spent two weeks in the hospital when my brother was born. I was in the hospital 2 ½ days with our youngest. Today, giving birth is often not even an in-hospital event. And today, babies and mothers are not likely to die from childbirth because of pre-natal care not known of even 50 years ago.

Diseases that decimated populations just a generation ago have been nearly eradicated because of pills and/or vaccines (think malaria) and childhood scourges are no longer the risk they once were because of vaccines and sanitation. Surgeries that kept you in the hospital for a week or two as recently as 15 years ago now are performed by a robot, orthoscopically, and have become nearly an outpatient procedure.

Medical innovations, pharmaceutical discoveries, and just plain common sense in some cases have changed medicine considerably in the past generation or two. So I guess greeting a new doctor or two and finding a new pill in the pile is small price to pay considering I am older than dirt, a privilege not enjoyed by everyone in the generation before me.

I’ll see you at the pharmacy!

More in Life

Christ Lutheran Church Pastor Meredith Harber displays necklaces featuring the cross in this undated photo. (Photo by Meredith Harber/courtesy)
Minister’s Message: Interwoven together for good

I hope that we can find that we have more in common than we realize

Virgil Dahler photo courtesy of the KPC historical photo archive
This aerial view from about 1950 shows Jack Keeler’s home on his homestead east of Soldotna. The stream to the left is Soldotna Creek, and the bridge across the stream probably allowed early access to the Mackey Lakes area. The road to the right edge of the photo leads to the Sterling Highway.
Keeler Clan of the Kenai — Part 6

“Most of those homesteaders won’t last”

A sign points to the Kenai Art Center in Kenai, Alaska, on Sunday, May 9, 2021. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai Art Center accepting submissions for ‘Medieval Forest’

The deadline to submit art is Saturday at 5 p.m.

People identifying as Democrats and people identifying as Republicans sit face to face during a workshop put on by Braver Angels in this screenshot from “Braver Angels: Reuniting America.” (Screenshot courtesy Braver Angels)
KPC lecture series to feature film and discussion about connecting across political divide

“Braver Angels: Reuniting America” is a nonpartisan documentary about a workshop held in the aftermath of the 2016 election of Donald Trump

Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion
This basil avocado dressing is creamy, sweet, tangy, and herbaceous — great for use on bitter greens like kale and arugula.
Memories of basil and bowling with Dad

This dressing is creamy, sweet, tangy, and herbaceous

Photo courtesy of Al Hershberger
Don and Verona pose inside their first Soldotna grocery store in 1952, the year they opened for business.
Keeler Clan of the Kenai — Part 5

By 1952, the Wilsons constructed a simple, rectangular, wood-frame building and started the town’s first grocery

Minister’s Message: Finding freedom to restrain ourselves

We are free to speak at a higher level of intelligence

Dancers rehearse a hula routine at Diamond Dance Project near Soldotna on Thursday. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Moving into magic

Diamond Dance Project all-studio concert puts original spin on familiar stories

Orion (Jacob Tremblay) and Dark (Paul Walter Hauser) in “Orion and the Dark.” (Promotional photo provided by Dreamworks Animation)
On the Screen: ‘Orion and the Dark’ is resonant, weird

Fear of the dark is natural, not some problem that Orion has to go on adventure to overcome

Most Read