By Jeremy, an Ex-Christian Scientist group editor/writer.
Last summer, I experienced an infection in one of my feet. It likely happened while I was cleaning up an area outside of my workplace while wearing flip-flops, and I pricked my foot with something. Within a day, my foot had become quite painful and slightly swollen. I initially thought I had either badly bruised it or suffered a hairline fracture of a bone–it was more of a dull pain initially, so I wasn’t overly concerned or motivated to seek immediate attention–figuring if it persisted another day or so, I’d get it checked out. Later that day however, the pain suddenly became significantly more sharp and intense, my foot turned purplish-red, the swelling increased, and the redness began to move up my leg. At that point, I had the good sense to go to the emergency room as soon as I could.
I was quickly put on a course of liquid antibiotics, which I stayed on for a week–necessitating daily trips to the out-patient clinic at the hospital for injections. This was followed by a 10-day course of antibiotic pills. When the infection failed to clear, another 10-day course of antibiotics was prescribed. When I was initially in the hospital, I was informed that it was a serious infection, and if I had been diabetic I’d have possibly lost the foot, hence the reason I was asked a few times by different people if I was diabetic. A later consultation with my own doctor confirmed that it was likely a strep infection.
While the infection cleared after 25 days of antibiotic treatment, the lasting effects took much longer. The bacteria did significant tissue damage, and I experienced swelling in my foot for the rest of the summer. Even now, a year later, that foot still slightly swells up occasionally and feels slightly tender near the origin point of the infection.
I think back on how I might have handled this situation had I still been in Christian Science, and I shudder with fear at the thought of what might have been. Likely, I would have been extremely frightened at the symptoms, deeply afraid of what it might be; too afraid to really do something about it. I’d have sought the ‘help’ of a Christian Science practitioner and tried to ‘pray it away’. I’d likely have eventually sought out medical treatment, but much later than I actually did, and possibly after much more harm had been done. It’s entirely possible I could have ended up losing my foot, or worse yet, if the infection spread throughout my body, I might have lost my life. Who knows? These are all thoughts that pass through my mind as I think about this experience in that context.
Christian Science causes people to stick their heads in the sand when faced with serious physical issues. My own father, when his health began to decline, even said to me once when I suggested that maybe he should see a doctor, “I’m afraid of what they might tell me…” So, he suffered and eventually died of yes, a scary heart condition, but one that could have been successfully treated and managed. When I went to the emergency room with my infected foot, the doctors matter-of-factly looked at the symptoms, figured out what was happening, and started treatment. My fear was allayed when I knew what it was–an infection; an infection that, while serious, was easily treatable.
Reliance on Christian Science for one’s health care is a dangerous game of Russian Roulette. Sure, you might get by for awhile if nothing serious happens. I did for 41 years. However, when the bullet chamber is loaded, and you’re not prepared and don’t take proper action, the consequences can be serious. My Dad took his chances, and it killed him–slowly and painfully. Fortunately when I was faced with my loaded bullet chamber, I took action, sought proper treatment, and I still have two healthy feet to walk on.