Practicing from the Heart in the age of Technology
"There is a man with a boil on his back in the suture room." The nurse at the urgent care, where I worked, informed me, one day, long ago.
The patient was a man in his forties with a large abscess on his upper back. On exam, it did not seem fluctuant and had an atypical and unusual characteristic to it. On further questioning, the patient stated that he had just returned from a hunting trip to Africa and on his last night there, had felt a bite like sting on his back and thinks that it might have been a spider bite.
I consulted a colleague, and we felt that an I & D was in order. After prepping and anesthetizing the area, we made a small incision. Seeing no discharge, we extended the opening and, to our surprise and horror, witnessed many tiny spider like insects crawl out of the wound. We managed to stop them from spreading, irrigated the wound and dressed it.
Apparently, an African spider or insect, laid her eggs under the patient's skin, and he unknowingly aided their immigration to New Mexico. Our great hunter brought back more than one trophy from his African Safari.
Diagnosis: Immigrating insects from Africa.
The recent Covid 19 epidemic, and the speed in which it moved across the entire planet, reminded me of that incident. Which is a testament to the extent of the spread of contagions of all kind. Something to which we all need to be alarmed about, and rather than blaming a group, or individual, seriously think of the ramification of our travels around the world. That brings to mind still, another historical incident so similar and comparable to the paralyzing atmosphere of our views of today's pandemic.
Back in 1721, a smallpox epidemic in Boston, Massachusetts, raged uncontrollably. A man by the name of Cotton Mather learned from one of his slaves that, back in Africa, they used a very effective method of inoculation to combat smallpox. Mather convinced a physician named Boylston to try the radical procedure. Upon learning, where the idea originated, the public was enraged, so much so that they chased Boylston out of town and firebombed Mather's house. Today too, our incredulous people would rather believe in conspiracy theories that have nothing to do with science, and put themselves, their families, and society at risk by playing the blame game than seek treatment. It is noteworthy that it is our own self-serving actions that are increasing the spread of contagions. So if we are not willing to change our wandering behavior, we should at least heed to the ways of controlling what we inadvertently allow to migrate with us.