“By golly, Jim, I’m beginning to think I can cure a rainy day!” – Dr Leonard “Bones” McCoy – Chief Medical Officer, USS Enterprise
Yes, I’ll admit it; I watched Star Trek. My son was a HUGE fan and his interest was contagious. What amazes me is that some of the things that seemed so futuristic on that show have become reality. Tricorders were a constant presence, used for data analysis and recording. Medical tricorders were used for analyzing a patient.
NASA now uses a LOCAD, which monitors space stations for onboard fungus, E Coli and salmonella. Not so different from the fictional Tricorder! In the not too distant future, we will benefit from handheld devices that check for cancer, diabetes and bacterial infections. Development is in the works!
It really is amazing when you stop to think of the recent medical advances we now take for granted. Joint replacements, cardiac stents, statin drugs and MRIs are all commonly used. Open-heart surgery for valve replacement isn’t that old a procedure and now, in some cases, is being done as minimally invasive surgery. In our grandparent’s day, having one’s gallbladder removed was major surgery; now it’s routinely outpatient, with three tiny incisions covered by Band-Aids. Cataract removal meant lying in a hospital bed with sandbags around your head to keep you immobile. My mother recently had hers removed by laser and stopped for lunch on the way home. My current amazement is the treatment for my father’s macular degeneration. My friend’s mother is now legally blind because of this common condition. For just the past decade, there is a treatment that slows the progression and in most cases even restores some vision loss. Monthly injections into the eyeball of the exact same drug- but in a much lower dosage- that is also used to treat colon cancer; my father is now able to read two more lines of the eye chart, and he’s only had three injections so far. I stay by his side through the process, which is pretty simple and totally painless, according to him. It always makes me smile and say a little “thank you” to those child science nerds who saw the future in the crew of The Starship Enterprise.