Sunday, March 27, 2005


It's always amazed me how so few people in the world are able to rise above their own small existence and see the bigger picture, on a national or global scale. So few of us are able to see through superficial qualities like beauty, race, nationality, religion and popularity, me included. I'd like to think I am progressing, but often, I run across another who reminds me just how far behind I am. I make assumptions about who people are by the way the look, by their nationality. I make assumptions about their intelligence or/and their values. I even make these assumptions about them based on how beautiful (or ugly) they are. I wish I were better than that.

I've blogged about HIV disease this month because I've been caring for these patients recently. My hospital is in an area where HIV is rampant and so we have dedicated a medicine service entirely devoted to caring for these patients. Many of my patients leave much to be desired. Many of them contracted HIV by IV drug use, many continue to abuse drugs or even sell them. Many have disregard for their own life much else the life of another, and many are simply unpleasant. Not to mention that their struggle has made them, simply put, emaciated and unattractive. Sometimes, I’m amazed at how I even register this as part of the clinical picture when it really has no place in it.

My attending this month is an amazing woman. She's cared for these patients since the AIDS epidemic began. She was here when the first patient presented, back in the early eighties. She was here when the first WOMAN was diagnosed with HIV, when it was considered an entirely gay man's disease. She's cared for patients who are still alive after twenty years and many who had no chance from the get go, either do to their disease or their attitude about treatment. Through it all she persists, not only persists, she thrives. She cares for them like a mother cares for her children. Watching that kind of uninfluenced love is intimidating and humbling the same.

Now she is working to help bring help to the millions of people infected with HIV in Ethiopia. She goes there routinely and is trying to coordinate clinics, physicians, classes, medicines, and sanitation that may help millions in that area survive. Her stories about the current state of medical care in Africa are a nightmare and one can't really begin to understand how they managed to fall so far behind the rest of the world in healthcare and living standards. Even sanitation is non-existent. I think, at least in my little world, that puts things into perspective.

So back to my point. She sees the big picture. The small picture is irrelevant to her. The book cover is exactly that, just a cover. The blinds have been lifted from her eyes.

How simply wonderful!

I hope to get there one day.