An Excerpt from “Lust in Medicine”:
Finally, a grand and good medical and personal lust, simply because it expands from self-centeredness to our patients and to others—i.e., it is not self-serving. This urge includes that of having children, described in my new novel, At the Heart of the Universe, set in China, about adopting our daughter at four months of age, and then returning to China with her when she was ten—and the amazing things that happened to make it a novel. A love poem to our love, our daughter.
The urge is broad enough to encompass the world of patients, and maybe even the world. The expense of spirit is for the sake of inspiring, and is an investment, not a debt. I recently heard a story about a woman doctor working in a leper hospital in Asia. A doctor friend came to visit her, and seeing the conditions and the hardship, said to her, “I couldn’t do what you do for a million dollars!”
She replied, “Neither could I.” One of the greatest things about the newer generation of doctors is this lust for making the world better—it’s astonishing what they have done before they get to med school, during med school, and what they go on to do after.
If that’s lust, give us more! Selfless lust for doing good? Saintly lust? It might just cure the world.
Image: Caroline Gamon
And please join us @ the book launch for At the Heart of the Universe:
Samuel Shem in conversation with Adam Pertman, Adoption Nation, and with Katie Surrey-Bergman and Janet Surrey. At Soho Playhouse, 14 Vandam Street, NYC. November 14, Monday at from 7 to 8:45. Free.