Monday, September 20, 2010
One of my favorite Capitol Hill families: Andrew, Effie and their dog.
I heard a segment on NPR's Morning Edition today that was all about the healing power of human touch. The segment was reported as if this is news. For heaven's sake.
The first piece of the segment was about a medical professor at Stanford who insists that med school graduates should know how to do a physical exam - you know, listen with a stethascope, check reflexes, look into the ears, down the throats, into the eyes of their patients. Believe it or not, taking the time to learn these skills is a controversial idea in the medical community. Why learn how to do a physical when they can simply order tests?
Of course there's a place for MRI's and such, but hearing that many (most?) graduates of med school have no idea how to listen for a heart murmur, for instance ... whoa! That line from an Elvis Costello song comes to mind: Well I used to be disgusted, now I try to be amused... No wonder I avoid western medicine unless I really have to partake of it. Thank God for the Sufi acupuncturist!
The second piece of the segment was a scientific explanation (nervous system based, mostly) of the process that makes physical touch good for us. I found it quite hilarious, listening to the reporter talk about pressure receptors under the skin, etc. Though I love anatomy and physiology, I really do, mechanical explanations of the experience of being human are so inadequate as to be laughable, (which is probably why I laughed).
How is it that medicine has strayed so far away from the reality of our flesh and blood, our interconnectedness, and the ways in which relating to each other directly can be healing? What happened?
The pedal shadow at the top is green because this bike had clear green plastic pedals. Very cool.