Thursday, August 22, 2013

Questioner: The Health Authority

Medical authority overshadows the little person's hand

At three, I broke my arm. Perhaps, it was one of the first instances where I had no control over what they would do to me. My parents, who fully trusted the medical authorities, agreed with the French doctors as they twisted my arm into place. Of course, when we got to Indonesia, the local doctor remarked on how bad they had ruined my arm. This doctor, though more experienced, was not less crazy. The second time I broke the same arm, he took control and sent me to surgery. Yes, I was a child, I did not know better, but I thought that that pattern would end itself once I became older, an adult or at least a teenager, when I learned to say "NO!"

Disappointingly, it was a woeful fallacy. As a child, we were said that we were too young. As a teenager, we were said that we were too clever for our own good. As a young adult, we are always reminded of our lack of experience. 

Today, I was at the hands of an illiterate masseuse. My mother asked if he could cure my scoliosis. He was neither a licensed physician, nor an occupational therapist, but who are we to only place authority to internationally merited individuals, instead of those who learned traditional, yet potent, techniques from their ancestors? Actually, who are we to assign authority at all? In today's day and age, we are used to assigning certain privileges to others. We (I, myself included), strip others of their ability to give consent, instead we think that we know best, we give ourselves the authority that we stole from others. 

The Authority of The Needle

Those who treat and cure, especially legally licensed individuals (such as physicians, nurses, and occupational therapists), are assigned the authority to prescribe any medication and treatment. In certain cultures, being older is accompanied with the privilege to dictate the young. In others, being more educated allows one to advise others and determine their choices. Of course, all of these factors, such as age and level of education, are socially constructed. Their importance is also socially constructed. 

After experiencing certain instances where I was unable to fight back or make my own decisions, I realize how the importance of having the ability and right to choose and be heard is, especially when it comes to health. This issue, as small as it seems, could extend to larger dilemmas, including euthanasia and abortion. A sensitive topic, the issue of choosing and being heard seem to be one of several cases to be discussed in future posts.

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