Website © 2020 David E. Smalley, M.D.

Updated 2/21/2020

Another Blog Article by David E. Smalley, M.D.

This article is on a principle of general interest that is covered much more in depth in the book, The Miracle of Pain.  The content is educational and should not be used as medical advice.
The original photos below emphasize the wonders of nature around us, which reflect the miracles within us.
September 20, 2019 — I am getting older; will it heal?

Most patients do not realize that getting older does not stop them from healing in many circumstances.  Yes, if you have a hip fracture as an elderly patient, some will die from the subsequent consequences, but most will not.  It is amazing how well the large bone fracture heals when we stabilize the bone with surgery and afterwards teach the patient what they should and should not do.  No, a disease like diabetes does not prevent things from healing.  If it is out of control, healing may be slower.

Many other medical conditions also do not prevent healing.  An example is leprosy, a disease that, like diabetes, creates problems that lead to amputations.  Dr. Paul Brand, a British trained orthopedic hand surgeon, found in India that the loss of protective sensation in leprosy was the culprit.  As he retrained himself and other providers to teach patients how to protect themselves, their wounds healed.  A red spot did not become a blister.  A blister did not become an open sore.  An open sore did not become an ulcer.  An ulcer did not become an infected wound.  An infected wound did not become infected underlying bone.  Gangrene and amputations were prevented in those who were willing to learn.

New Tender Daisy Bud

Young Blooming Daisy

Dr. Brand wrote emphatically about pain being a warning sign.  He wrote, “…Pain is not the enemy, but the loyal scout announcing the enemy.” (Paul Brand, M.D., Phillip Yancey, Pain: The Gift Nobody Wants, HarperCollins, New York, October 1993, page 187.)

I have written, “Because patients are getting older, sometimes they assume that they cannot heal.  There may be a little truth to that because we tend to be more set in our ways.  As we age, we tend to have difficulty learning new things.  We are stiffer.  We like our ruts!  Learning or memorizing good things as we get older will tend to counteract that.  A patient in his mid-thirties with elbow pain asked me, ‘I cannot heal because I am getting older, right?’  I could not believe he said that.  I was much older than he was at the time and told him, ‘If you cannot heal, then I am in real trouble.’  Age is important, but a much bigger influence on healing is what we do and what we do not do.” (David E. Smalley, M.D., The Miracle of Pain, All Rays of Sunshine Book Publishing, Riverside, California, August 2018, page 17.)

Mature Blooming Daisy

Older Mature Daisy After Full Bloom

We cannot always control how our body responds to challenges, whether it is a broken bone or a chronic skin condition.  But, if we learn with the challenges, we will do better and many times heal.

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Old Daisy With Beautiful Residual White Petals