Wednesday, May 9, 2007
I went to London back in 2004, and I remember seeing an exhibit about how many pills we take in a life time. The significance really stuck with me, making me wonder about how many pills I've been taking for my migraines for the last ten years, but I could never remember where I had seen the exhibit.
Yesterday, I was watching a TV show about London, and they were featuring the British Museum. They flashed an image of the pill exhibit in the Living and Dying Gallery, so I looked it up online. It is called the Cradle to Grave by Pharmacopoeia.
"Cradle to Grave explores our approach to health in Britain today. The piece incorporates a lifetime supply of prescribed drugs knitted into two lengths of fabric, illustrating the medical stories of one woman and one man.
Each length contains over 14,000 drugs, the estimated average prescribed to every person in Britain in their lifetime. This does not include pills we might buy over the counter, which would require about 40,000 pills each.
Some of the treatments are common to both: each starts at birth with an injection of vitamin K and immunizations, and both take antibiotics and painkillers at various times. Other treatments are more specific. The woman takes contraceptive pills, and hormone replacement therapy in middle age. The man has asthma and hay fever when young, but enjoys good health until his fifties. He finally stops smoking after a bad chest infection when he is seventy. He is treated for high blood pressure for the last ten years of his life and has a heart attack and dies of a stroke in his seventies. He takes as many pills in the last ten years of his life as in the first sixty-six.
Cradle to Grave also contains family photographs and other personal objects and documents. The captions, written by the owners, trace typical events in people's lives. These show that maintaining a sense of well-being is more complex than just treating episodes of illness."