27 June 2012

A Fixer-Upper

When I walked into the waiting room at the opthamologist's yesterday, I thought to myself, "What, is this the Retiree Benefits Office?"  I was the youngest in the room by a good 20 years.  As the tech was doing the metrics on my eyes, she commented, "You're kind of young to be in the situation you're in."

I'm scheduled to have cataract surgery on both eyes within the next five weeks.  The left eye had gotten really bad; the right is well on its way.

Seems every few years or so I'm in for some kind of repair job.  Systemically, my health is pretty good.  Mechanically, well, things seem to kind of fall apart and need some patching up.

I'm not complaining at all.  In fact, I find it fascinating going through all this.  Certainly there's the recognition of just what it means to have the kind of body we humans have, and that is schooling enough in the practice of non-attachment.  But what cooks my grits most is the recognition that the kinds of procedures I've had done on me require materials, skills and technologies not even imaginable a mere century or so ago.  The (quality of) life I enjoy today is a direct outgrowth of the mental and material leaps of the 20th and 21st centuries.  In all honesty, had I been born 50 years earlier I would have died from the cancer I had when I was in my late 20s.  Even had I averted that fate, I would have become palsied, lame and well on my way to blindness by now.

In each case, what has preserved me another day and another year was the honing of the surgical arts.  Whether it was the orchiectomy that managed to get the testicular tumor out intact, the discectomies that cleared out three shot dics and fused a few vertebrae together, or the cataractectomies I'm about to have, in each case it is the unprecedented precision of the modern surgeon that makes all the difference.  

So once again I find myself brimming with gratitude to the men and women – bodhisattvas all – who did what it took to perfect their medical skills.  May they, and all who make their work possible, be at ease!

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