By Charles Leyman Kachitsa
In primary school one of the interesting subjects we did was the study of animals in their habitants. It was one of those fascinating topics in science that every students got involved in. I can recall three particular animals that we studied in detail as they were readily available in our neighbourhood; ant-lions, frogs and grasshoppers.
The study on ant-lion was how they set their traps to catch food. So to understand this we had to go outside to look for the anti-lions, when we found them we knelt down to observe how they got about arranging the soil in a funnel-like form so that their food should fall in to bottom where they hid near the mouth. The lesson in life being that you need always to work harder to prepare for the opportunities that could come your way. This can be by equipping yourself through education or training. Not only should you equip yourself but be ready to grab the opportunity when they visit, be in front, open up so that this does not pass you by.
Frogs taught us more about communication. We learnt that the noise they make at night is not just any other but a form of communication advising other frogs or wading off danger. There was one particular type that we looked at that protected itself by producing some white pigments on its skin that was toxic for scavengers alike. One other type of frog was only seen after it had rained jumping joyfully to acknowledge the nice smell that followed a downpour. We also learnt the inside parts of bodies for living things including humans by dissecting frogs and analysing their inside body systems, intestines being the obvious one.
Grasshopper very useful for the study of outer visible body parts of animals such as legs and even eyes. They are also used in the learning of how coordination take place between the various systems in the body. The lesson here being that systems of the body must be all in good shape and talk to each other in the normal way otherwise problem in one system can affect the other systems. Harmony is the magic word, there must be harmony and clear demarcation with understanding of roles performed by each part or system. There is a lot we can learn from animals.
This week’s quotes we finalise looking at saying from a medical doctor who after treating so many patients became a patient himself to a complicated disease making him to question life. In the words of his wife at the end of the book, she says that the book carries the urgency of racing against time of having important things to say, as it was written while he was very ill. The author confronted death – examined it, wrestled with it, accepted it – as a physician and a patient. I am sure these quotes will make you reflect and re-examine your own life to see what really is the purpose of living. Read and enjoy:
WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR – What Makes Life Worthy Living in the Face of Death? by Paul Kalanithi
“While being trained as a physician and scientist had helped me process the data and accept the limits of what that data could reveal about my prognosis, it didn’t help me as a patient. It didn’t tell Lucy and me whether we should go ahead and have a child, or what it meant to nurture a new life while mine faded. Nor did it tell me whether to fight for my career, to reclaim the ambitions I had single-mindedly pursued for so long, but without surety of the time to complete them. —–Like my own patients, I had to face my mortality and try to understand what made my life worth living – and I needed Emma’s help to do so. Torn between being a doctor and being a patient, delving into medical science and turning back to literature for answers, I struggled, while facing my own death, to rebuild my old life – or perhaps find a new one.”
“I didn’t know. But if I did know what I wanted, I had learned something, something not found in Hippocrates, Maimonides, or Osler: the physician’s duty is not to stave off death or return patients to their old lives, but to take into our arms a patient and family whose lives have disintegrated and work until they can stand back up and face, and make sense of, their own existence. ———- My own hubris as a surgeon stood naked to me now: as much as I focused on my responsibility and power over patients’ lives, it was at best a temporary responsibility, a fleeting power. Once an acute crisis has been resolved, the patient awakened, extubated, and then discharged, the patient and family go on living – and things are never quite the same. A physician’s words can ease the mind, just as the neurosurgeon’s scalpel can ease a disease of the brain. Yet their uncertainties and morbidities, whether emotional or physical, remain to be grappled with. —— Emma hadn’t given me back my old identity. She’d protected my ability to forge a new one. And, finally, I knew I would have to.“
“I hadn’t ever considered that I could release myself from the responsibility of my own medical care. I’d just assumed all patients became experts at their own diseases. I remembered how, as a green medical student, knowing nothing, I would often end up asking patients to explain their diseases and treatments to me, their blue toes and pink pills. But as a doctor, I never expected patients to make decisions alone; I bore responsibility for the patient. And I realized I was trying to do the same thing now, my doctor-self remaining responsible for my patient-self. Maybe I’d been cursed by a Greek god, but abdicating control seemed irresponsible, if not impossible.”
From EPILOGUE written by wife to finish the book – “I hadn’t ever considered that I could release myself from the responsibility of my own medical care. I’d just assumed all patients became experts at their own diseases. I remembered how, as a green medical student, knowing nothing, I would often end up asking patients to explain their diseases and treatments to me, their blue toes and pink pills. But as a doctor, I never expected patients to make decisions alone; I bore responsibility for the patient. And I realised I was trying to do the same thing now, my doctor-self remaining responsible for my patient-self. Maybe I’d been cursed by a greek god, but abdicating control seemed irresponsible, if not impossible.”