Wednesday, July 20, 2011

This Particular Scandal

“One generation will commend your works to another;
they will tell of your mighty acts.
They will speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty,
and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
They will tell of the power of your awesome works,
and I will proclaim your great deeds.”
                                                  Psalms 145:4-6

Commending. Telling. Proclaiming. When thinking of God’s creation, we cannot keep secrets. We must share with each other what we have witnessed in the works of the Creator, some (perhaps most) of which have been unseen until now. Wonders unappreciated for simple lack of detection.

“In order to maintain and increase the renown of these discoveries, it appears to me necessary… to have the truth seen and recognized, by means of the effect itself, by as many people as possible.”        Galileo
I resonate with Galileo who, confronted with the truth that Earth was not the center of the universe, thought he would explode unless he shared it.
Discovery is not for hobbyists who would treat wonders and truths like collectibles, placing them in lock boxes for safe keeping.  Discovery is not an exclusive privilege reserved for especially-favored super-Christians.  Discovery is not only the stomping grounds of shepherds and poets, but of astronomers, too.  And grocers and greenskeepers and salesmen and second-basemen. “We’re all,” says Annie Dillard, “up to our necks in this particular scandal”(Pilgrim at Tinker Creek).
All of us. And up to my neck is right!  I have either been preparing for or practicing medicine for over thirty years. Infants that once screamed bloody murder on my infant scales are now hovering over their own babies being traumatized by the same ordeal.  Sage adults whose confident wisdom I once soaked in now lie confused in their beds, waiting for my next visit to the nursing home.  Children to whom I lectured about wearing bicycle helmets and to stop biting their nails are those for whom I now write medical school recommendations.

I have devoted most of my life to understanding the human body.  Patients who place trust in me for their families’ lives want to know that I understand the human body.  My patients do not care that I do not know how to ride a horse, fly an airplane, or hang drywall, and they could care less that I play double bogey golf. All they care about is this: do I understand their body and can I fix them.
I wasn't very deep into my medical school training before there began within me a nagging sense that something was up. The cadavers, the pathology slides, micro lab.  Might they have something more to say than what would show up on the tests?

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