Sunday, November 3, 2013

The Return Of The Prodigal Daughter

When I was in training, I had the mistaken belief that disease was treatable. I felt human weakness resided in the inability of the physician. If a patient deteriorated, if a battle was lost, it was because we weren't skilled enough. I studied with every extra moment. I followed the gurus and hung on each word of wisdom that flowed from their eloquent lips. I embraced the wonderful naivete, hoping against hope, that illness was curable and human fallibility could be scrubbed from our pristine souls.

There was a time after residency when I lost faith in medicine.  I kneeled at the steps of a broken shrine. In the great war against nature, we physicians waged an imperfect and often losing battle.  We flung our minuscule pebbles against the three headed dragon of cancer, cerebrovascular disease, and infection.  The darkness of night was set afire by noncompliance, resistance, and futility.

Many wars were lost, few were won.

Yet battle warn and beleaguered, humility, the prodigal daughter, returned to re stake her claim.  And I learned that being engaged is a gift that each physician can give.  When we listen, when we care, we provide a salve more precious than our impotent pills.  Our hands can be more adept than scalpels.

I've ended at the beginning.

The science of the novice has been tempered by the wisdom of humility.

I continually strive to use both.

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