Thursday, May 29, 2014

The Future of Health

I picked up what looked like it might be an interesting book at the library the other day. It's called Maine Roots: Growing Up Poor in Kennebec County. I've probably mentioned before that I like reading about such things - depressed times and how people coped with them. I have my reasons for this obsession.

It's interesting, as the book takes place in the early part of the 20th Century. In the late part of the 19th Century, that part of Maine was bustling. Several small communities sprang up around the Kennebec River and its tributaries to support the logging industry. There were thousands of small farms, and most of the people subsisted quite comfortably, if not extravagantly, on what they grew on their farms.

Then, the railroad came along with its produce grown all over the US, and the small farmers along the banks of the Kennebec, with their thin soil and short growing season, could not compete. Things dried up, and by the time the Great Depression hit the rest of the United States, much of what had been bustling communities had dried up into near Ghost Towns.

It's important to note that before the Great Depression, industry was booming. The world was getting smaller as the railroad connected the eastern US to the western US, and steamer ships brought goods and people across the wide Atlantic and to our shores. It was a time of huge technological and medical advances. Food was plentiful. Goods and services were available and most people could afford them, and for those who didn't have the cash-on-hand, the former, more conservative, attitude toward credit slackened. People started borrowing to buy what they wanted or thought they needed.

It wasn't so very different from the world in which we find ourselves today. Everything looks more extravagant from this side looking backward. Certainly, we pay a lot more in dollars today for the same goods and services that were purchased back in those days, and, perhaps, we live more comfortable (if not better) lives than our great-grandparents. We also do a lot less, move a lot less, and consume a lot more.

But the markers for what happened in the early 20th Century to recur are present today. We borrow too much money. We consume too much. We've grown too fast.

As the saying goes, those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it, and I submit that the average person - who thinks he/she knows history - doesn't really know all that much about what happened back in the day, or why. If we had learned those lessons from our great-grandparents and grandparents, we would have avoided debt. We wouldn't have trusted in the "system." We wouldn't be where we are.

But we have a short memory, and history textbooks aren't designed to really teach the how's and why's of where we've been.

And where we are destined to return.

Maybe more today than back then, we have the tools to weather another economic collapse, if we start putting them together now.

I have my opinions about modern medicine, especially the pharmaceutical industry, but my opinions are irrelevant to the fact that, our medical systems is incredibly complicated and horribly expensive. The average person already can't afford medical care, even though the recent ACA attempted to rectify the situation. There will be gaps in care, or the mandated insurance policy won't pay for the care the individual really needs. The ACA will likely fail, too, though, and we'll be left with care that we can't afford and that won't make us better.

The option is self-care, and we have a wonderful tool in a set of books that is published by the Hesperian Press. The point of the books is to provide information and assistance to communities where medical care currently doesn't exist, but the books can be incredibly helpful in the future.

If you've gotten this far, the whole point of this entire post was to provide a link to the Hesperian Health Guides. I was fortunate to be gifted a copy by my aunt many years ago, and I've since downloaded digital copies of others of their books, including the books on dentistry and midwifery.

There's no such thing as too many books.

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