Thursday, January 25, 2007

Iron Man

Dork takes it like a man

Revisiting preparations for a distant future jaunt, Dr Dork is planning having various immunisations updated.

Like many others born in the latter half of last century, some diseases to which Dr Dork's parents and grandparents were exposed had become eradicated (or virtually unknown) by the time he started playing with dolls setting fire to kittens pottering dorkily about.

For his psychiatric friends, Dr Dork is aware of his tendency towards neologisms.

Polio is one such affliction. It exemplifies many of the diseases that we now vaccinate against, which in their relative absence many of us become complacent about. In essence – an uncommon disease, that has nonetheless devastating potential.

Dr Flea has gone into some detail on the ramifications of poliomyelitis as part of his excellent vaccination series.

Dr Dork is not one to gamble with the health of himself nor his family.

The oral Sabin vaccine, now less commonly used, was a live virus preparation with a 1 per million (at most) possibility of contracting a strain of polio from the vaccine itself. The incidence has fallen so low, thanks to a program of eradication, that even this miniscule risk is too great, and the injectable Salk preparation, with no such possibility of disease inception, is used.

The major obstacle to complete eradication of polio, and the reason for an extra perforation in many, has been ignorance and misinformation.

Religious fundamentalism, to be blunt, is to blame for the ongoing existence of this crippling illness, and for many completely unnecessary deaths.


angry doc said...

I remember as a student reading posters about how the WHO planned to eradictae polio by the year 2000. I thought it was a noble objective and one within reach.

Then two years ago it came back with a vengence in Indonesia. It made me angry to the point of tears just to think of all the children who have become permanently disabled from a disease so easily preventable.

Reading your post reminded me of that again, and also this quote from 'Apocalypse Now':

"I remember when I was with Special Forces. Seems a thousand centuries ago. We went into a camp to inoculate the children. We left the camp after we had inoculated the children for Polio, and this old man came running after us and he was crying. He couldn't see. We went back there and they had come and hacked off every inoculated arm. There they were in a pile. A pile of little arms. And I remember... I... I... I cried. I wept like some grandmother. I wanted to tear my teeth out. I didn't know what I wanted to do. And I want to remember it. I never want to forget it. I never want to forget. And then I realized... like I was shot... like I was shot with a diamond... a diamond bullet right through my forehead. And I thought: My God... the genius of that. The genius. The will to do that. Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure. And then I realized they were stronger than we. Because they could stand that these were not monsters. These were men... trained cadres. These men who fought with their hearts, who had families, who had children, who were filled with love... but they had the strength... the strength... to do that. If I had ten divisions of those men our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are moral... and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill without feeling... without passion... without judgment... without judgment. Because it's judgment that defeats us."

The Horror. The Horror.

Surgeon in my dreams said...

I have to pull out Websters every time I read your blog! I thought I was semi-intelligent before I began reading you.

Help me remember....the hole those of us in the mid-40's age group have on our bicep....what vaccincation was that for? I cannot for the life of me remember.

Flea said...

If you're brave, you get a lollypop. If you're really brave you get a sticker too!



Bo... said...

We've got a patient here in Podunk, aged 101, who survived small pox as a young school-teacher in her 20's. It's both horrifying and fascinating to hear her tell the tale of how they quarantined the small-pox victims for over a month. She describes how terrible it was to suffer the symptoms of the disease without any medicine, even for headache pain relief. I simply cannot imagine...

Sid Schwab said...

Good on y', mate. My president (well, in the broadest sense) has decreed that the US won't help international agencies that mention many forms of birth control. The man who, when running, said our foreign policy should be "humble." I'm working on a post about the appendix and creationism. May have to hold off a bit, since I just got (as you know) a mention from a "news" service whose readers would probably take offense. Shows you how brave I am.

And, to a question above: the answer is "smallpox."

Dr Dork said...

Hi Angry,
Like the quote. I gotta admit I get angry about this also - very much so - but am trying to foam less at the mouth, so to speak, in the blog.

Probably smallpox - as Sid says - especially if it's lots of little scars in a circular cluster. Apologies for the obscure terms, my goal is succintness not verbosity, but it doesn't always work.

I love hearing the tales of elderly patients, too. Never cease to amaze me, some elderly patients I've seen, have a few incredible tales that I wish I could share. Confdentiality probs.

Hi Sid,
I could foam at the mouth for hours about HIV, contraception, religion and certain political viewpoints. We have a Catholic minister for health nationally, with a background in economics, who regularly attempts to impose his religious stance upon healthcare delivery. I don't care if people pray to Ba'al, Buddha or Burt Bacharach, but get very sad when people die because of someone else's religious beliefs, and very perturbed when religion and politics overlap. *Sigh*.

I think I'll have that lollipop now, Flea.

Kind regards

Shiny Happy Person said...

Neologism or not, I think 'dorkily' is a fabulous word, and I hope I find cause to use it on a frequent basis.

Vijay said...

Hi Dr. Dork, My first comment on your site and I have to quibble 'dorkily.' When you say that the oral Sabin vaccine is now less commonly used, I guess you are talking about those lucky countries which have good public health services. By numbers I am sure that the oral vaccine is more widely used than the injectable. I have not heard of a single case of Polio immunization with the Salk vaccine here in India. Have you heard of the Pulse Polio campaign in India where millions of children nationwide are immunised on two specific days annually with the oral Sabin vaccine.

Dr Dork said...

Thanks, Shiny !

Hi Vijay,
No need to quibble - I am highly ignorant as to the practice of medicine in India, I freely confess. As far as I am aware, given that polio still exists in India, and public health expenditure is relatively limited, it obviously makes sense in terms of risk/benefit ratio to offer the oral vaccine. My impression - and I'm no expert - was that recently in Oz, specifically, the risks related to the gastric shedding of live vaccine elements for several weeks afterwards to immunocompromised contacts was also a factor.

I'm referring to travellers from a country fortuitous enough to have good public health, specifically, and my own particular situation, of course, in retrospect this isn't that clear in the wording of my post.

It is very sad dealing with essentially untreatable, and essentially fully preventable, illness such as this.

Feel free to 'quibble' at any point. I'm only an expert on dorkiness...

Kind regards

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