Last week, a friend and colleague shared some medical news regarding her child. An MRI had provided much needed--and extremely helpful--information regarding her child's struggles in learning to walk. As a result, they now have options for treatment, and reasonable hope for improvement.
This news reminded me of the medical struggles of my firstborn. When she arrived at twenty-six weeks gestation, surfactant was "shot" into her lungs to allow them to expand, and she was breathing without a ventilator within twenty-four hours. I was told that had she been born three years earlier, that medicine would not have been available, and she probably wouldn't have survived.
MRIs, surfactant...medicine has come so far in the past sixty years. Had my friend's child been born back then, she might have been institutionalized. My child certainly would not have survived the day.
There's more than just medical advances to ponder, though.
Back in the "good ol' days", I wouldn't have had friends of many colors at school. My academic abilities might not have been nurtured, nor would I have been encouraged to go to college. I certainly wouldn't have had roommates of different ethnicities, who introduced me to their cultures and taught me tolerance and opened my eyes to prejudice. I wouldn't be working in schools that are microcosms of the diversity of our country. My original teaching position wouldn't have existed, as students with special needs were not included and served in public education.
I wouldn't have been able to sign my own lease on an apartment, or have a credit card in my own name. When I married, I wouldn't have had access to the family planning options available now, especially the ones that have kept me alive, since I ran the risk of dying in childbirth. I wouldn't get to openly acknowledge and support the same-sex relationships of friends and family.
Advances in pollution control, environmental safety, technology and communication affect my life in positive ways on a daily basis. Even something as simple as smoking bans in public places make life better for us all. The growing acceptance of our differences, in ways that increase love and diminish hate, make us better people.
I'll take the present over the good ol' days, thank you very much.