Friday, June 22, 2012

Daydream Believer

Medical Intelligence and the Healing Art.

Is intellect the agency for a medical cure?

Is the patient the sum total of his illness?

These questions invoke, provoke and ultimately revoke the currently held sway, which rings freely today.

The modern human mind is plagued with the notion that all problems can be solved through enumeration. The increasing value being placed on technology is a testament to the desire to farm that thought into action. It is all about creation, replication and enumeration. The science of discovery has taken a back seat to the numbers game. 

The computer generated data, with all its wonderful gains and purported ills makes for a charting scheme. Charting the numbers to create a graph to prove an unproven hypothesis is the call of today’s intelligentsia.

In medicine we lord over and frown upon, with impunity, those that want time and discussion, a moment with the patient, unencumbered with the contrivances of “fill this form and appeal that one.” Time has been force-morphed into money. Everything, even diseases have been converted into a series of 1 and 0s and dollars. But dare I ask the question? Dare I inquire whether knowing this hefty bag of minutiae harbors any benefit for the patient? 

Didn’t think so. 

Our knowledge too has become superficial, yet deeply filled with mindless data. We feed off of each other, nuances of this and that and when it comes to the original calamity that we hope to fix, we turn our eyes away from the other set of eyes and stare into the flickering screen with nothing left but a deeply furrowed forehead, eyes reduced to slits and all nose, and the screen in front of us. We have become the caricatures of our own creation. Oh yes we may know that a certain Wnt signaling mechanism is needed to create and possibly propagate colon cancer and even prostate cancer, but what does that do for the patient? Or for that matter the knowledge of the manifest KRAS mutation in a large percentage of pancreatic cancer patients, or the SHANK-2 or -3 gene mutation and the haplo-insufficient Copy Number Variants (CNV) known as a disruptive influence in brain neural network leads to Autism Spectrum Disorder, but what of that? Can that mutation ever be fixed and if so, might that lead to some other downstream malady? Especially when we don’t even know whether the genetic mutation was a cause or an effect of nature or nurture. The SCN5a (Sodium Channel gene) at 3p24-p21, one of 30 such mutations in coronary artery disease is well known and we would look awfully smart when we propound that information to the laity, but does that fix any problems? My point is, information is coming at us in zeta-fold containers of bits, yet we still have to fight each illness one patient at a time. Don’t we?  And each disease manifests differently in different patients because of many, many underlying factors. Don’t get me wrong; new scientific information is good and one-day the accumulated knowledge will presage the dawn of newer therapy. But until such time, let us tend to the problems at hand and use the partial information wisely.
by Brian Christie

And there in lies the conundrum of intelligence. What is medical intelligence? Is it the bookish data of this and that, which impresses rather then seeks to heal? Is that why modern medicine considers a patient a sum total of his or her illness, rather then a human being with illness? Is “healing” just another art form defined by someone in some esoteric journal with a given set of data-points?

No wonder our primitive brain where human emotions and connections reside, is atrophying at a grand scale. Forgetting, for a while patients, the society has built and fortified a wall between humans, Human affairs have undergone a paradigm shift of sorts. We are isolated, more and more, from the emotions of his and her. We seem attracted to every disaster, or morbid event broadcast on television and revel with goose pumps and shrieks watching scary movies about, death and dismemberment, about vampires and vultures and aliens that grow inside and suck life away. Maybe in some surrogate way our lives are being lived via this art form. Human life is now a game.  Maybe what we have imagined has become us.

Where is the connection? Where is the warm kind hand placed on a shivering shoulder? Where is the comfort of an embrace? Where has knowing the essence of a human through his or her life, gone? Where are the details of his or her marriage, birth of a child, divorce, loss of a livelihood, the very quintessence of each person’s humanity logged in the medical chart? Where is that historical reference of a patient’s real call for help? Where? Who really cares anymore? Why should they? Information is everything and time is money.

Maybe we need to exploit that limbic connection once again. Maybe we should have mothers mothering, so that no more “Columbines” happen. Maybe we should have father’s attentive to the needs of their children and not their wants. Maybe we should spend time as a family reveling in each other’s daily exploits, rather than glued to the macabre flickers of far-away disasters, tragedies and inhuman behavior on the television screen. Maybe we should rejoice in the birth and not spend countless years worrying about death. Maybe we should smile more and frown less. Maybe we can say, “Hello friend” and shake someone’s hand without wanting something in return. Maybe we can rejoice in the hard work and creativity rather then in the greed, desire satisfaction and selfish pursuits.  Maybe we can think about the patient and only about the patient. Knowing that all grand pursuits of pure thought and action ultimately lead to great joy in health, wealth and human connections. 

Maybe we can. Maybe we will. It lies within us. Dig deeper and find that humanity once again. Therein lies the salvation for our species.

Dream Big.
Live life to the fullest.
Help those in need.
And your fortunes will multiply manifold.

"Oh I could hide 'neath the wings
Of the bluebird as she sings..."

Be a Daydream Believer.

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