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The Creator's Playground

Often I can't help suffering when I really want to.  

Bob sat across from me in the office.  He was seeing me for chronic sinusitis, and he was feeling better. But his eyes told a different story.  Since I had last seen him, I found out that tragically, one of his children was accidentally killed.  But the truly horrifying thing was  it was the second child in his family that had been accidentally killed....

As an allergist, I am of course primarily interested in finding out the allergic problems my patients face, and alleviating their suffering. But my allergy textbooks take a sterile, clean approach to allergic disease, and you won't find the word "suffering" in any of them.  Furthermore, in the course of talking to many patients over thirty-one years, I have found out the disappointing truth that, in reality, I help a very, very small amount of Suffering.  And even more disappointing was the realization that I often don't have an effective way to alleviate their greatest suffering.  

But I have a story.  

When my children were little, they came to me and implored me to build a playground.   Bright, anxious voices bubbled with excitement telling me how blissfully happy they'd be if only I would get this for them. And, of course, since I loved them so much, I had a playground built.  And I have to admit, if I say so myself,  it was a beautiful one.  I mean I really think it had everything my children would want. (And apparently it did, judging by their reaction...!)  But I knew one thing, and I dreaded it:

They'd get hurt while playing.   Gravity, force, and mass were impartial to wishes on the playground.

As it turned out, one day Lizzy came in, screaming.  She had fallen and hurt her knee.  And it was a pretty bloody mess.  And of course, she said,

"Daddy, make the pain go away...now!"

And, honestly, I think she thought I could.  

Because, up to this point, she thought I could do everything. After all, I was her Father, a Doctor for goodness sake, and soooo old and wise that I could really work magic.  After all, I'd made the playground, right?  And she had heard stories of me helping many people in the office, right?  So why couldn't I help her when she really needed it? When she was suddenly, against her will, engulfed in a world of pain?    

And, frankly to me, having decades of life on this world, I looked at her pain as a "small thing in the big picture".  But I cared for her.  And so her pain wasn't really "small" at all, but important to me.  But as I cleaned her knee and  put ice on it,  the funny thing was she didn't feel my arms around her, or my love, because she was hysterical with pain.  And she wanted it gone. Now.  She was oblivious to me and the love and sympathy I had for her pain.  She was angry.  But I wasn't angry at her even though she shouted at me.   I made the playground, and now I wasn't  going to help her take away her pain?   Behind her tears, she really was saying,

Life was so unfair.  And disappointing.  And painful.  

As I said before, I can't take away many of my patients' suffering.  And I don't have an easy, pat answer for most of it.  But I remember my experience with my daughter.  And my role as Creator of a playground for her.  And I knew that someday, when she was much older and no longer playing on that playground, but in a different world, a world more mature, the bruised knee-- and more importantly, the memory of that bruised knee--

would heal.

Later, Dude

 

 

 

Posted on Saturday, May 5, 2012 at 05:24PM by Registered CommenterGeorge F Kroker MD FACAAI | CommentsPost a Comment

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