From those wonderful folks who gave you Pearl Harbour


In my Challenges of Global Poverty course provided by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo at MIT, the last week briefly covered health; provision, success policy etc. One of the most interesting parts discussed was that people often want a drip or shot, to over-medicate themselves, when in fact a course of antibiotics, anti-inflammatories or even less would do the trick. They have previously been given a shot by some backstreet doctor, as this is all they had access to (think barber surgeons in Victorian Britain). This isn’t only attributable to developing countries but to developed countries and not only in critical healthcare but what could be loosely described as a consumer product.

I draw parallels with a situation discussed in From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor: Front-Line Dispatches from the Advertising War by Jerry Della Femina, the book that inspired Mad Men. In it he describes the introduction of a new antiseptic fluid, like Dettol (it might have been dettol, I need to revisit it). This new Dettol unlike it’s predecessor didn’t sting, but had all the benefits. That’s a good thing, they’re on to a winner, right? No.

It bombed; no one wanted this product! The sting, that brief moment of pain reassures the patient, the user, the consumer that it is working, that everything is going to be alright.

If over many years you have been taught or have experienced one particular situation and formed a solid perception of this ‘reality’, regardless of the authority of whomever is telling you it is wrong, that perception and the resulting behaviour will be extremely difficult to change. This equally applies to anyone of any economic or educational background and multiple contexts as it is only human nature.

Human nature is a bitch to break, but as a child I was known to my Mother as ‘The Destroyer’.



I can walk… kinda. For two weeks I could not bear any weight on my left leg. I couldn’t fully extend it and I’d often wake up in agony, desperate to pee, but would have to crawl or hobble to the toilet. The pain, the physical aspects of this injury and it’s complications I can handle, but the effect those physiological effects had on my psyche was beginning to be too much. 

My consultant and physio didn’t know what had caused this (and still don’t) I wasn’t getting any better and for the most part I didn’t leave the house, unless I was going to the hospital for those two weeks. Since September 23rd 2012, when I ruptured my ligaments and damaged my cartilage, this was the only time I wasn’t able to walk. I could not see any daylight and no one had any advice for me. I would not wish this injury on anyone; except for my sworn enemies, obviously.

This was only two weeks, two weeks out of a recovery period of 9 months and I was cracking up. People with far more serious ailments, with no guarantee they’ll fully recover, will have shown far greater mental strength. I need to work on that.

Anyway, I’m recovering and can walk… kinda. At first I just pushed through the pain. It was as if I was learning how to walk again; I had to change my stance, my gait and approach. I had to think about what I was doing. Putting one leg in front of the other, in succession, is harder than it sounds! I still can’t lead with me right (stronger) leg; there still exists this barrier on my left calf that prevents me from doing so, but it’s getting better. It’s progress, but this is just the beginning and more pain and more challenges are yet to come. Stay tuned.