Tuesday, 21 May 2013

"She's a real twenty-first century

child," one of our neighbours told me. She had come over with her three year old granddaughter to deliver a "sick chair" for the Senior Cat to repair. 
Her granddaughter was dressed up as a doctor and was busy examining the teddy bear I keep, among other things, to amuse small children. Her chatter to the bear was about going for a "cat scan" and "pussy will not scratch and it doesn't hurt".
Her mother had recently had a CT scan and it had been explained that it did not hurt but no mention had been made of felines!
CT scans did not exist when her grandmother and I were three. When the Senior Cat was three even an x-ray was a major event. His grandparents did not even know about x-rays when they were three. The human body was even more mysterious then that it is now.
I had also been talking to a friend earlier in the day. She was about to take her cousin to the doctor. This morning there was an e-mail to say that she had taken her cousin for another CT scan in the afternoon. They are now waiting for the results. The results will probably be available today. It is one of the marvels of twenty-first century medicine.
The neighbour and I wondered though - what will medicine be like when her granddaughter is the age we are now? We think medicine has advanced dramatically - and it has - but it may seem primitive by then. 
We are a long way from being able to "cure everything". I doubt we will ever be able to do that. If we could find a cure for everything, including old age, we would surely cease appreciating how precious life is. There is also little point in living longer if we cannot live better. The increasing number of older people with dementia surely tells us this. 
A week or so ago someone was being interviewed on the television news service about some research being done on the brain. He was asked how much we knew about the brain. His reply would probably have startled many people because he said, "Almost nothing."
And perhaps that is one reason why living things are so interesting and why we have so many people interested in trying to find out more. It is because we do not know - and that can be the most interesting thing of all.

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