Several years ago, the White House issued an executive order banning the use of torture as an interrogation technique. I’d have to say this is a Good Thing. A moral nation should try its best to avoid practices such as “mutilation, cruel treatment, outrages upon personal dignity, and humiliating and degrading treatment.” Those are activities you don’t want anything to do with, either on the giving or receiving end.
My only problem is that the executive order didn’t go far enough. It should have included a ban on such measures as treatments for MS.
You may ask, “Torture is a treatment for MS?” Let me back up that admittedly outrageous claim with some examples. Here are some of the “cruel treatments” I’m talking about.
Being forced to give oneself injections every day (or even every week) could easily come under the category of humiliation. It’s especially true when you have to keep finding fresh, undamaged spots to inject. Reaching around to the butt can be particularly degrading.
That’s actually the easy one. The tests one undergoes to determine the presence or progression of the disease can be “outrages upon personal dignity”, beginning with the MRI. I’m pretty sure you could get terrorists to spill their guts if they were forced to lie in a claustrophobic pipe while listening to deafening banging sounds with a tube hanging out of their arms.
And that’s an improvement over the pre-MRI “myelogram”. I’m pretty certain the device was invented by Josef Mengele.
Don’t even get me started on the euphemistically-named “lumbar puncture”. If Bin Laden had survived his capture, he would definitely been given one of those.
Evoked potentials are not as common as they once were, but just looking at someone undergoing that test is sufficient for most people to be “scared straight.” Basically, any procedure that involves attaching electrodes to the head should come under the provisions of Executive Order 13491. Just having to stare at those shifting images for an hour or so is cruel and unusual punishment. (Though it’s no more excruciating than sitting in front of “Two and a Half Men” for half an hour.)
Then there’s acupuncture.
The fellow above* had it hard, but I’ve heard worse. I have a friend who was left on the table and forgotten, pins and all. That must be what happened to the guy to the right. At least he got a multiple-movie deal out of it. My friend, whose experience inspired this post, didn’t fare so well. She was offered a free return visit to the same practice. Oh yeah, that’s an appealing prospect. What do they do for an encore, pour lemon oil all over her while she’s on the table?
All the preceding, however, are mere child’s play compared to the Test from Hell. That sobriquet will have to suffice because I can’t remember its technical name. This one required the insertion needles deep into random body parts. I don’t think it really mattered where; the doctor seemed to poke whatever struck his fancy and inflicted the maximum degree of pain. As if that weren’t enough (and believe you me, it was plenty) he wiggled the needles around! If you’ve never had a needled jerked around while it was embedded deep in the fleshy part of your hand, you’re really missing out.
When that test was done, I was curled into a fetal position and lying in a pool of my own sweat. At least, I hope it was only sweat, but I’m not taking any bets. It gets worse. A couple years later, my doctor went to look for the test results and couldn’t find them. I had to take the test again. The first time, at least I had no idea what I was in for. The second time, I had weeks of dread in anticipation of the torture session.
And torture it was. There can be no other description. All to deal with an illness that can be a torture in itself. Although it’s nice to have oral alternatives to the injections, it’s not all good news. I fear we’ll someday see the following news release:
Washington, DC — The US Defense Department, overriding the jurisdiction of the FDA, has announced the approval of waterboarding as a treatment for Multiple Sclerosis. Although it isn’t known to have any therapeutic effect on the disease or its symptoms, there have been no other uses found for the practice and military interrogators have been suffering from depression since it was banned. Further research is underway to test the efficacy of Chinese water torture and bamboo shoots under the fingernails.
Couldn’t be any worse than the needle test.
*A special thank you to my renaissance friend Scott, who drew the cartoon.