I had a gut ache the other day. And what with there not really being a pill you can take for gut aches… Assuming I could be bothered getting out of my warm bed to get one. I did what my mother used to tell me to do when I was a kid. I put my hands on it to keep it warm.
My mother was born in 1927. She was about one and a half years old when the Great Depression broke out. About six and a half when it was “over.”
I say over, but as my Grandfather didn’t get paid much work over the rest of his life. So her Great Depression continued until she was evacuated during the Second World War. And for some time after that.
So, I was thinking that with an empty stomach, perhpas the only way of at least partially soothing it, was to keep it warm. Though by all accounts, there was no coal in the fireplace, and precious little clothing for warmth either.
And as I lay snuggling with my stomach, I started thinking about the scientific and medical developments I’ve seen in my lifetime. How very fortunate I am that my life is incomparably better than hers. And how grateful I am for that.
Genome sequencing (2003), dark matter (2006), t-rex tissue (2013). Water on Mars (2015), robotic body parts and gravitational waves (2016), lab grown body parts and hydrogen fuel cells (2017).
Not being a scientist, these are a bit complicated for me…
In 1969 there was the first solar power station, Gore-tex, oh, and the first man on the moon. The first microprocessor (1971), first mobile phone and the internet (1973). First barcode in grocery (1974), the Apple I (1976). The Dyson vacuum (70s – 80s), the Sony Walkman (1980s), the space shuttle and flash memory (1981). Computer Discs to store music (1983), the world wide web (1989), Linux (1991), QR codes and VoiP (1994). EBay (1995), HDTV (1996), WiFi became a world standard (1997). The iPod, Wikipedia, (2001), first robot vacuum (2002), kindle ereader and first iPhone (2007), 3D tvs (2010).
I think that’s enough of that now. I’m starting to panic that I haven’t got everything in this list.
While not technically in my lifestime, dialysis has had a major impact. The first attempts at dialyis were in the 1940s, but peritoneal dialysis as I used it, wasn’t invented until 1978.
Similarly, kidney transplants have taken place since the 1950. But cyclosporine, one of the major immune suppression drugs wasn’t discovered until the 1980s.
And in terms of vaccinations, there’s measles, rubella, mumps, pneumococcal disease, Hepatitis B, inflenza, Hepatitis A, assorted diphtheria–tetanus, meningococcal C, H1N1, Human papillomavirus, Herpes Zoster. Then it gets a bit confusing with more and more multi-vaccines coming out. And then we get to the Covid vaccines this year. I’m sure there’s more I missed.
That’s pretty impressive isn’t it?
Now and again, I see centenarians on tv celebrating their 10xth birthdays. The annoucers tell us in awed tones, that this person didn’t have washing machines or electric ovens or and indoor, fully plumbed toilet until 19xx.
I wonder what will be the most mind boggling thing about me. That I grew up before computers? That I didn’t have a car until I was 25? Or that I cooked all my own meals until I was 97.