Today the doctors introduced a new medicine called anti-thymocyte globulin (ATG). It’s an infusion harvested from rabbits that have been pumped up to produce antibodies that can destroy human T cells. The ATG will serve as a prophylactic against the rejection of the new stem cells.
I have no idea how the rabbits are treated. I imagine that they are at least encaged. I don’t know what the over-production of anti-bodies does to them. I’m not a principled vegetarian although I know that it is better for the environment not to eat factory-farmed cattle. That’s an argument for reduction, I think, not cutting meat completely out of the diet. Animal suffering in factory farms is real, and I think we should try to eat animals that are raised humanely. But once again, that’s not an argument for principled rejection.
The issue of causation in the suffering is complicated. The rabbits have already suffered. I have not caused that suffering (if there was any) by using the medicine harvested from them. Some people who call themselves road kill vegetarians accept that argument across the board—they eat what is already dead. That seems awfully lenient. Nothing at my grocery store is ruled out. If by using this medicine I’m responsible for rabbit suffering it is either symbolically so, which I can’t really make sense of, or it’s in virtue of the market demand that is created by my usage. That demand might be real, but it’s very small. It’s far from clear that there would be any market effect if I did not use the medication. Markets are complicated and I don’t understand them very well, but I know that they tend to adjust. So, my usage might simply be “corrected for” by someone else’s. But maybe the usage matters simply in virtue of being mine rather than making matters any worse. Would a principled vegetarian reject this medicine? Would she have good reason to do so? The benefit to me is potentially enormous. But how many rabbits will suffer or be killed in the future by the demand created?
The infusion of ATG runs over the course of three days, with today being the longest at 13 hours. So, in addition to the bags of water and the two kinds of chemo, Ginger Rogers is especially loaded down today. Hope she can still dance! The truth is that I’m feeling a little tired today and may not be dancing that much myself.
I woke up early and did my exercises, 30 mins on the bike and 15 mins with the dumbbells. I took a little nap after breakfast and have been light headed and tired ever since. Perhaps that explains my logic above! Otherwise, I am doing fine. I’m looking forward to seeing BF and (possibly) MF later today. But I will be spending lots of time in bed, the place my care givers prefer me to be when receiving the ATG. I have a bit of an anti-authoritarian streak in my personality, but I try to be a very good patient. When you comply that way, you don’t have many things left to decide. I decide to write the blog (while I have the energy), to exercise (again while I have the energy), what to read, which music to listen to, what to watch, and when to nap. In different circumstances it would a nice vacation. The range of choices available to me is pretty limited. But it is, after all, by choice. I’m not frustrated by it.
I really like the Epictetus quotation that LT sent: “There are things in your control, and things not in your control, and if you keep your will confined to what is in your control, you can be happy.” Stoicism seems the perfect philosophy for patients. But maybe for that reason it’s not well-suited for citizens and activists.
Extend a prayer or a silent expression of gratitude for the bunnies.