Friday, June 9, 2017

War medicine was from Mars, Social medicine from Venus ?

The very word "war" medicine seems to stir something vaguely Mars-like, deep within the soul of  your average chickenhawk doctor or scientist.

Successfully conceiving , safe in an academic lab at the University of  Chicago, a way to reduce combat deaths from shock seems to transport one almost up to the frontline evacuation hospitals, directly under hostile fire.

Being there, doing it, roughing it, all sweaty and virile-like : medical science with the smell of the locker room and the men's shower stall about it.

By contrast, what can any doctor - any real doctor - actually do about those dying of subacute bacterial endocarditis (SBE) ?

These hopeless cases shouldn't even be occupying an acute hospital bed - particularly in wartime.

They should be handled by women - nurses - in a secondary hospice or in a palliative care situation at home.

And arthritis 'care' - not really medicine is it ? Helping impoverished old ladies too frail to bend over properly to get dressed and to do their toiletry.

Again - women's work. A job for personal care assistants and social work case workers. Social medicine.

But (Martin) Henry Dawson persevered , hung on in there , all through the war, treating those chronically ill with arthritis and the very 4Fs of the 4Fs, those dying of SBE .

Perhaps because he was that rarity : an American medical researcher in 1940 who already had a stirling war record in the front lines (in the medical corp, infantry and artillery), with a medal for valour and two serious war wounds to back him up.

The Military Cross winner from Venus, as it were ......

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