Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Article Comments

The State Of Drug-Seeking In America: Nothing Should Hurt


This might sting a little…

When I was a child, I was often painted orange with Merthiolate.  My grandmother, like every good grandmother, kept a bottle handy at all times.  Merthiolate was an antiseptic, containing Mercury, that was marketed for cuts and scrapes.

A fall on the gravel, a slide on the pavement, a run through the briar patch and you’d be sitting on the kitchen table while grandma colored you orange with the magical elixir, which incidentally burned like fire!

On a recent emergency department shift, we were colluding about the general state of drug-seeking in America, which has been enabled by our ‘nothing should hurt’ ideology.   One of my dear friends, Nurse Nancy, had a realization; an epiphany, really.

‘It all went downhill when we stopped using Merthiolate and changed to Neosporin.  Neosporin doesn’t burn!”

We reminisced about the hot summer days when we all played and were injured, sought care from parents or grandparents, and ended up covered in orange.  It hurt, sure, and our loved ones tried to ease the pain by blowing on the Merthiolate while it settled into our disrupted tissues.

But despite the pain, we lived.  We returned to play, we were injured again, life moved on in its normal cycle of play, injury, rest, play, injury, rest.

Indeed.  Neosporin doesn’t hurt.  No conditioning to minor discomforts.  No acceptance that things, in their normal course, would hurt.  Maybe it’s the loss of summer as a time of free play, a time of exploration.  Perhaps it’s the tendency to play virtually; no abrasion on X-box.

I’m not that  saying illness and injury can’t be exceptionally painful.  I’m not suggesting we allow misery, or deny appropriate medications.  I’m saying, things sometimes hurt.  We live in a time when sturdy carpenters want Percocet for minor finger injuries.  When teens want Lortab for ankle sprains.  When young women with sunburns want something to ‘put me to sleep.’

Is that what we want for our children?  Is that lack of endurance, that distance from reality, what we desire for our future?

Maybe, if we could just go back to Merthiolate…

*This blog post was originally published at*

You may also like these posts

    None Found

Read comments »

Comments are closed.

Return to article »

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

Read more »

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

Read more »

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

See all book reviews »

Commented - Most Popular Articles