Medicine Is Poison

My dictionary says medicine is, “A compound or preparation used for treatment or prevention of disease, especially a drug or drugs taken by mouth.”

The word medicinal means, “To have healing properties.”

Now, one more definition.

Poison is defined as, “Anything that kills or injures through its chemical action.”

The fact that medicine is poison used for healing is not unknown and is the reason why doctors are rigorously trained to determine dosages and risk versus reward balancing in all treatment.

What I want to point out is how words and pronouncements, especially in terms of a diagnosis, are also medicinal. Words can be poison. They can lead to healing or they can injure the patient. Doctors are not nearly as well trained in using their words medicinally as they are trained in using drugs and surgery as tools for healing.

What we innocently call good or bad “bedside manner” is more important than we give it credit for. The right words can be as critical to finding the right balance for successful treatment as knowing correct dosages of drugs.

Words can be poison.

At age 71, my father was told, repeatedly, that he was too old to be a candidate for a lung transplant. Specialist doctors advised him not to bother trying to get on a transplant list because he’d never be accepted. My dad has IPF (Interstitial Pulmonary Fibrosis) and without a lung transplant he was going to die soon.

Fortunately, my dad rejected those words and chose to find out for himself. He persevered, seeing many doctors until one agreed to put him on the list. He received a lung transplant in 2005 at age 73 and now lives with my mom, independently, at age 87.

Doctors are often not as adept with word medicine as they are with prescriptions and surgery.

We need to be proactive when being given our diagnoses, prognoses and treatment plans. We need to be empowered to reject words that are poison to us. Even if the words are true, but given in a way that causes harm, we must protect ourselves.

What examples have you experienced when words have been used as medicine or poison?

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