Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Self-Limiting Illness


Our Samoan Peace Corps Medical Officer uses the term, “self-limiting illness” to describe a number of medical conditions not requiring her immediate attention. These illnesses include a list of infections, diarrhea, colds, low-grade fevers, etc. Each volunteer has a medical kit containing over-the-counter drugs, a first aid kit, manual, and asked to be patient before calling her 24 hour cell phone. As I am suffering from a “self-limiting” flu, her words linger in my brain.

It is difficult to imagine an American doctor using the term “self-limiting”. Both the doctor and we are culturally conditioned to take action. “I don’t care what you do, just do something” are our words. So, the doctor does. We happily give our insurance card; the doctor happily looks at the bank account. Our illness either goes away, or prolonged and made more tolerable, or we die. At least, something is done.

In nature and for those living close to it, there are few sickly creatures, for death comes quickly to the infirmed. It is the manner of all things. What difference does one day, or one year make against the eons of time? I know the answer to the question. Yet, all within me cannot accept its conclusion.


Anonymous said...

Hilarious, and reminds me of my own Peace Corps illness experiences.

We had one guy take it so seriously that he only contacted the doctors once he'd managed to develop bronchitis and laryngitis. He texted the doctor, and when she called him back a second later, alarmed, he couldn't make a sound, his throat was so bad. Which of course alarmed her more until he texted to say why he'd picked up the phone and said nothing at all. :)

Feel better soon :)

Anonymous said...

You have short timers vacation blues or gitters discribed as "self-limiting illness" with bill in mail.

Anonymous said...

Question with regards to the medical advice? Is the person a medical doctor or another PHD?