Nowadays, cesarean sections are a standard medical procedure and keep us from living in the age where having a baby was like playing Russian roulette with your vaginal canal. It used to be that any sort of birthing complication commonly resulted in the death of the mother, but today if anything goes wrong during the delivery of a baby, doctors are ready to quickly cut the bastard out. If it weren't for C-sections, there'd be a whole lot more single dads.
"Another pallet-load of Hot Pockets will keep my depression in check."
So what's the problem?
Lately there has been a staggering increase in the number of women getting C-sections. Sure, a lot of these are totally necessary and life-saving, but a lot of them are not. The World Health Organization recommends a C-section rate of around 15 percent, but here in America it's twice that. And we're not even the worst offenders. Brazil can't get enough of them -- in some hospitals, 80 percent of babies are born by way of the blade.
It turns out that a growing number of C-sections are being ordered by patients just for the sake of convenience. Louise Silverton of the Royal College of Midwives (which has got to have the worst college parties ever) says that women are frankly terrified by the prospect of having to squeeze a watermelon through a garden hose, especially if the alternative involves a truckload of sedatives, some scented candles and Huey Lewis and the News.
Vaginas, start your clenching.
What's more, in the era of working moms, many women are getting C-sections just so they can schedule the birth in advance, taking the decision away from the baby, who doesn't know jack shit about running a tight ship.
"I've scheduled your next installment of 'childhood' for Q3 2013. For now, I need you working the Jenkins account."
Then again, who are we to say what women should or shouldn't do with their bodies? Even if they're aware that C-sections carry an increased risk of death or injury to both mother and baby? Sure, but also consider that women are often being pressured into having C-sections by their doctors. And surprise! The motivation for the pressure seems to be money.
Recommending a natural birth is just a lawsuit waiting to happen if something goes awry. But more troubling is that profit-making hospitals are far more likely to perform C-sections than non profit hospitals, even when serving similar populations. C-sections free up beds a lot quicker, and converting a vaginal birth to a surgical one adds a sweet $1,000 of profit.
Seriously, how many more pictures like this could we possibly have?
The discovery of penicillin has gone down as one of the greatest achievements in the history of medical science, and since then, we've been able to cure countless diseases that we used to treat just by sending sufferers to a "sanatorium," which was sort of a hotel where you waited to die. Antibiotics, which have only really come into heavy use within the last 100 years or so, have made us a healthier, happier human race. Surely there's nothing bad we can say about this medical godsend ... right?
Penicillin: Making bad decisions easier.
So what's the problem?
The problem is that antibiotics are incredibly overused -- one study found that as many as 80 percent of prescriptions for fluoroquinolones (a common antibiotic used for things like bronchitis) are unnecessary. Part of the reason for the overuse is that so many of these antibiotics are given to people with viral infections. Those of us who listened in high school biology know that trying to fight a virus with something that only kills bacteria is like trying to fight a puma with a fog machine. It doesn't work, and it doesn't make any goddamn sense.
"Oh God, it's not even slowing down!"
Sometimes doctors aren't sure if the infection is bacterial or viral, and are just playing it safe, but often they're well aware that they're basically prescribing an expensive placebo. They often give antibiotic prescriptions for stuff like the common cold virus because we're whiny morons who don't understand the difference, and it's just the quickest way to shut us up so they can attend to someone having a Code Blue. The problem is then exacerbated by the fact that colds and flus typically get better on their own, but we attribute the recovery to the truckload of antibiotics that were really no more effective than the voodoo exorcism we attempted.
But the risks of throwing around antibiotics like confetti may far outweigh your peace of mind. About 70,000 people get rushed to the ER per year for side effects caused by unnecessarily prescribed antibiotics, including diarrhea, yeasty vagina and good old-fashioned permanent hearing loss. Even if you're not that unlucky, it's still a bad idea to take antibiotics flippantly -- your body builds up a resistance to them, so when you get a real bacterial infection down the track, you're going to find that antibiotics are now useless to you. Good work, body.
Pro Tip: Huffing ether makes the common cold way less sucky.
This story gets much, much worse, thanks to, of all people, that bastard Charles Darwin. See, due to natural selection, when you bombard your body with antibiotics, the only bacteria that survive are those that have learned how to beat the system -- and those are the bugs that get to escape back into the world. The more antibiotics you take, the faster the process happens. The result is that an increasing number of people are dying from infections like tuberculosis because we've gone and turned it into super-tuberculosis.
Because of this, our current antibiotics will eventually be completely useless for anything. When this happens, transplant surgery will be nearly impossible, appendectomies will be incredibly risky and gonorrhea will get a whole lot nastier. Experts predict we might suffer the fate of the aliens at the end of War of the Worlds as soon as a couple of generations from now. So maybe, the next time you come down with a case of the sniffles, you should drink lots of fluids and harden the fuck up.
Answer: At least a dozen.
You can learn about, contact and observe Colin at www.colinelzie.com.
For more medical insight from the doctors at Cracked, check out The 7 Most Pointlessly Horrifying Plastic Surgery Procedures and The 10 Most Insane Medical Practices in History.
And stop by Linkstorm to discover why eating all that peanut butter is not good for pooping.
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