This morning I had a very dense cataract removed from my right eye.  I’m actually quite healthy, if not a little heavier than I ought to be.  Still, I seldom interact with the world of medical procedures.  (Except, of course, to do them to other people).  Last night, as I was going to bed, my children fretted.  ‘Is it dangerous, Papa?’  ‘Will you be blind?’  ‘Will you die?’  No, dear, no honey, no sweetheart…it’s all safe.

This evening, several  hours post-operative, I’m typically unable to sit still.  So I’m writing; a thing which is my natural state, my place of solace, peace and comfort.  But I’m writing with vision that is incredibly clear in my right eye.  Sure, it’s a little fuzzy up close.  I’ll need reading glasses for near vision.  But even at that, my sight is so much better than it was this morning that I’m flabbergasted.  Thank you, Dr. Joseph Parisi!

A few weeks ago, I had a minor bought of pneumonia, treated as an outpatient.  To use the parlance of many of my Southern patients, it would have been best characterized as ‘single, walkin’ pneumonia.’  I recovered nicely with inexpensive antibiotics and inhalers.  Thank you, Dr. Jaymie Meyers!

One hundred years ago, I might have died in my bed, wheezing, gasping, coughing and shivering.  My pneumonia might have taken me to the grave, and now my wife and children would still be mourning.

One hundred years ago, my vision would continue to deteriorate.  Glasses would help a bit, but in time I would have become a blind mine, my lenses so opaque that only bits of light came through.

One hundred years ago, my diabetic child’s prognosis would have been an early death, renal failure, blindness, constant nausea. Instead he is a thriving musician, artist, craftsman and blessed, delightful  goofball.

I could go on and on.  But I won’t. I’m grateful for what we have.  Yes, I’m privileged to have access to the wonders of modern medicine.  Yes, we can do better about providing access to all, even if we disagree on how to accomplish that very noble, very righteous goal.

But my point is that researchers, industry, insurers , physicians, nurses, paramedics, technicians of every sort, all allow us to overcome disabilities and survive injuries and illnesses that not very long ago (not long at all, in fact) would have left us dysfunctional or deceased.

As we look at our struggles in medicine, we would do well to remember that our problems are less of ignorance or incapacity, less of hopelessness and loss than of equity and fairness, of economic reality and human hope.

Western society has brought us so far in medicine that it’s difficult to look back and imagine what life was like when my grandmother’s brother was dying of influenza as a child.

I hope, as we try to do right by all, we remember that by virtue of compassion, science, love and faith, curiosity, stubbornness and even by virtue of the desire for profit, we in the West have come farther in a short time than all of the civilizations of the past put together, when it comes to easing suffering and saving lives.

I sit here, breathing easily and seeing clearly, and serve as testament to that remarkable truth.

Thank you for your thoughts and prayers!

And to God be the glory for all the blessings we enjoy.


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