Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tick Talk

They say Time Heals All Wounds.

This prognosis makes me uneasy, both as a wordie (for lack of a better word) and a doctor, because a) I dislike cliches and 2) it's just a way of beating around the bush, no? Isn't this what we say when we don't know when a problem will go away, or even if? Romance gone awry, lingering injuries, problems big and small that we are powerless to mend. Just when you think you are out of options - don't despair! There is one thing you haven't tried - Time! And the good news? It has a 100% effectiveness rate!

Furthermore, there is absolutely nothing in the entire universe that I despise more than hyperbole. All wounds? Each and every one? I assume this extends beyond basic flesh wounds and lacerations, but to what end? Wounds in which salt has been rubbed? The walking wounded? A wounded heart? Does it matter if the heart was broken via love lost or arrhythmia? Dropsy? (Does anyone even get dropsy anymore?)

I say with confidence and authority that time most certainly does not heal all wounds. Like trepanation, reparative therapy and retail therapy, Time as a treatment modality is not guaranteed effective (though I once used retail therapy in the form of these shoes to cure a particularly stubborn cough*).And I wonder - are we ever fully healed from the things that affect us? My own back injuries have been treated and no longer impede me the way they once did, but I still bear the scar and my nerve will never be the same. Am I healed? Does being healed mean that all evidence is cleared? Or just that the symptoms are gone? We are remarkably markable, us humans. Our bodies remember. And if therapy and treatment and ice cream and love can't heal us, what makes us think that something so amorphous (and debatable!) as Time, will?

One of the most common things I hear in my office is "I thought it would go away". Or else the problem seemed to 'go away', but then came back, usually with a vengeance. This is the problem with waiting instead of treating; you risk making an acute and often simple problem into a chronic and complicated one. Scar tissue builds up, compensating muscles take over. Inflammation sets in, pain cycles develop. Sure, healing takes Time, but it also takes effort. And in my experience, waiting and seeing is rarely the best choice of (in)action. All chronic problems started out acute, and only worsened with Time. So much for its healing powers...

So what is it about Time that we have such faith in, anyway? And if it truly is such a miraculous healer, wouldn't someone besides Jim Croce have bottled it up and marketed the hell out of it?

(get it? Time in a bottle? I've been working on an ending for weeks... and all I can come up with is a 70s song reference. But the point stands - when injured, don't wait! Get treated!)

* results not typical