August 17, 2012
When I trained as a doctor, I was taught to deliver babies and suture wounds.
I learned how to administer IVs.
I was taught how to exam, and ask and prescribe.
I learned to listen: to my patients, and to my own intuition.
And in the listening, I've come to understand that there is much about doctoring that reaches beyond the instruction we receive in medical school, residency and fellowship.
At least in the doctoring I find myself doing. (Though I suspect I am not alone.)
For it has become more and more evident to me that the illness experienced by many goes beyond the physical, mental, or even emotional.
There is, in our culture, a dis-ease caused by a desire to know something greater than oneself, and a frustration with the inability to do so.
There is also, at times, a quiet shame about wanting to know this greater something.
As if, in our inability to define the "greater something" in a linear, rational manner, it is somehow devoid of merit.
And yet, life is not always linear. Nor is it rational.
It is, instead, rife with uncertainty and ambiguity.
We are presented with inexplicable miracles and great tragedies and soft blessings.
These come to us regardless of our planning, or goal-seeking.
They simply come, and we accept them or not.
They come, and we glimpse, however briefly, the "greater something."
Once we have glimpsed, it can be impossible to forget.
More frustrating still, it can be impossible to remember.
Never mind understand.
The dis-ease comes when we know, with our bodies and our minds and our spirits, that we are not resonating with this "greater something."
We know that we have become estranged from that which has birthed us.
Fortunate doctors we, who can recognize this estrangement, and call it what it is.
Fortunate doctors we, who can use, along with our IVs and medications and sutures, our other important healing tools.
Our love and compassion. Our connection with our fellow humans.
Our understanding that inexplicable miracles and great tragedies and soft blessings take place, and impact the minds and bodies and souls of our patients.
Our understanding that there may indeed be a very important "greater something," in which we are privileged to take part.
Whether we learned about it in medical school or not.