Friday, December 02, 2005

"An apple a day keeps the doctor away."

Like most people, I thought this was just a mindless platitude. But fairly recently, it was pointed out to me that people used to mean this quite literally. The idea being, that if you had to see the doctor, you were sick, and being sick was bad. So it was a good idea to do whatever you could to avoid having to seeing a doctor.

As it stands now, going to see the doctor is a good thing. It means we have health insurance, or a referral from the HMO, etc. And when we see the doctor, he is going to figure out what the problem is and do what has to be done to fix it. So by the time we leave the doctor’s office, or shortly thereafter, we will be better.

We all expect that we are entitled to 80 years or so of disease-free, pain-free life, with little or no expense to ourselves. And if we don’t get it, it’s the fault of the medical establishment. When it’s put this way, this seems like a childish, self-indulgent attitude. But, through advances in medical practice, it actually becomes quite plausible train of thought for most of us. Now this is in general a great thing.

But we should realize that this state of affairs occurs for a reason. It is the result of our own preventative health effort, plus a well-functioning health care system, and not just the general state of nature. "An apple a day keeps the doctor away" has more going for it than we generally suppose. At the very least, we should realize that not all the cures and treatments offered by the medical establishment are going to work. And they are going to cost money. A lot of it.

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