Tuesday, August 10, 2010

how we are hungry

No one in my line of work ever says, "It's so beautiful - so meaningful - what you're doing."  People don't look at graphs and n's and alpha values and feel the shell harboring their emotions crack.

I have to.  Every so often, I have to hunt for a study that is so powerful, and so beautiful that my jaw clenches and my eyes swell.  If I don't, I break under the politics of science.  I rarely find one.

So many years spent choreographing souls, extending life in my arms and dancing disease out of existence.  Science is not like dance.  No one ever reaches through the laminate of graphs and methodology to find the empathetic compassion of a fellow scientist.

I need to know that it can be so powerful - so beautiful - what I'm doing.

Apparently, it can be, and I lose sight of it:
What you do makes my jaw clench and my eyes water, though.

You see the day to day, deadlines to keep grants, shooting mice in the stomach with needles, and training new med school idiots who are clearly beneath you.

My second host mother, E, had the most warm, loving, wonderful parents. Her tall, strapping, powerful father slowly began to shake more and more each day until he was diagnosed with Parkinson's. All of a sudden this strong man was made to feel like an incapable child in his own body, leaving his tiny, frail wife to treat him like an infant. He felt emasculated and helpless.  He went on the most top-notch medication known at the time in order to control his uncontrollable shaking and ended up having psychedelic nightmares every waking and sleeping moment of the day. Waking up, shitting himself from fear, literally seeing a wrecking ball smashing through the room, muscling his weak body over his wife to protect her from his delusions.

I've seen another man, not much older than your parents, with a teenage child. But instead of looking his age, the stress from Parkinsons leaves him looking in his 70's, barely capable of continuing his accounting practice because it takes him over 5 minutes to write his name. He can't keep a conversation because the shakes take over and he can no longer concentrate. "It's a bad day," he says to me, when he can't even complete a sentence, asking me about his [business transaction].

My heart breaks. But you are doing something about it. Your blood, sweat, tears, frustration, stress, training...your life will contribute to the future. So other people won't go through life like this.
When I found out this is what your focus was, I heard my host mother in my head. "I don't wish this disease on anyone." She was on the verge of tears as she watched her father try to simply walk through a doorway with so much difficulty. I was so proud of you, and to even know you, right then and there.
Thank you, K, for reminding me that what I am doing can be so beautiful, and so meaningful.

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