So this week we are talking about Victoria Sweet's superlative memoir, God's Hotel: A Doctor, a Hospital, and a Pilgrimage to the Heart of Medicine.
As noted yesterday, this book is about Sweet's experiences as a doctor, working in a San Francisco hospital specifically designed to aid the poor. She also discusses her postgraduate studies of medieval medicine, and most particularly how taking care of the needy and the sick was approached by the well-known historical figure Hildegard of Bingen.
I stuck so many bookmarks in this one that they just look like an extra set of pages, sticking out the top. Let's see what I marked, shall we? (And here's an interesting note about this book: it's complex and interconnected without being a particularly challenging read. For most of these quotes I have to give you a little context.)
In one story, she is faced with a patient with a huge and horrendous bedsore, and she talks about how she views the sore not as something for her to fix (surgeons had already tried and failed) but something for her to help the patient's own body fix on its own. So this is what she says: "To see what else was needed, I had to start with a vision of Terry whole, complete, and healthy, in a future when all that was missing from her complete health was a pair of glasses. And walk my way back from that. Which I did. I walked past the repair of her teeth, the strengthening of her body, the strengthening of her will, the resolution of her depression, and the healing of her bedsore. I walked all the way back from the perfect future to the imperfect no, and then I organized my strategy forward." (p. 95.)
I love that. Not only do I wish all doctors did that, I wish I could do that in my own life, as a goal-setting technique. To see the whole person, or myself, in a state of wellness, and methodically list and (this is the important part) DO the hard, sometimes unpleasant work of getting there.
A bit more tomorrow. I feel like I am not doing this book justice--it is not one that really lends itself to the quick and pithy quote--but I will try.