Unlearning to relearn: a physician’s thoughts

Guest article by Dr. B.M. Hegde

The Ebola outbreak sets the context for some ruminations on life, death, disease and health

I was supposed to be a good student in school and medical school, and passed examinations with credit. In retrospect, half a century later, I feel that was not a compliment. It is only now I realise that what one learns in school is not what lasts long, and it is probably not the whole truth anyway. What one studies there is only information that is many a time doctored to suit the convenience of industry or the powers-that-be.
The label of a good student gets into one’s head. When I completed my training abroad, passing examinations there, I was fooling myself into thinking that I “knew it all”. To that extent I was also arrogant. Early on in my life, I learnt the lesson of my life. The incident is still fresh in my mind. I was called to the hospital one day at 2 a.m. to see a patient brought dead after a massive heart attack. My colleagues wanted me to pacify the relatives as they could not come to terms with this young man of 34 in the pink of his health, that too a health freak, dying so young. I found the young wife rolling on the floor wailing. When she saw me, she suddenly turned around to catch my ankle to ask me the most profound question in my life that transformed me completely. She asked me: “Why did my husband die, doctor?”
That morning was my enlightenment from my arrogance and ignorance, put together. Till that time I did not realise that I was such a big ignoramus. There is a saying: “A wise man knows he is a fool, but a fool always thinks he is wise.” That was my state of mind then. If only she had asked me, “how did my husband die, doctor,” I would have given her a textbook thesis on heart attacks. She asked me “why”, which has no answer in positive reductionist science that modern western medicine follows.
I somehow tried to extricate myself from that difficult situation by giving some solace to the wife and relatives, but her question kept troubling me. Then I went on to unlearn what I had learnt till then, to relearn again.
Later I came across the acceptance speech of the young Nobel Laureate in physiology, Charles Sherrington, in 1899 at Liverpool University where he became Professor of Physiology at 42. “Positive sciences cannot answer the question ‘why’; they can at best answer ‘how or how much, but not why’,” he said. That gave me some solace but I was still curious to know: “why” does one get sick?
That led me to various fields of human wisdom — religion, theology, psychology, spirituality, alternative medical systems, philosophy, Sanatana Dharma’s Karma Theory, sociology, and even teleology. I am still searching for answers.
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has given me an opportunity to search for more answers. Two questions bug me. Throughout the history of disease and death, the poor, the ignorant and the deprived have suffered and died the most; the rich and the powerful escape much of the time.
In this context, two statements by leading men in this world startled me. In his book, Man the Unknown, the Nobel laureate Alexis Carrel argues that all mental patients should be put in the gas chamber as they are an economic liability on society. Bill Gates, in an unguarded moment, said that immunisation is one of the methods to control the population. I didn’t think much of it then, but now it makes sense. With vaccine-sceptics crying hoarse about vaccine-related deaths which the establishment science condemns, right-thinking people need to think on those lines.
When swine flu broke out, those who laughed all the way to the bank were drug barons. The rich always win. There seems to be a pattern in all these to agree with the biblical statement: “For whosoever hath, to him shall be given…”
Now comes Ebola that has been around on and off for some years but was confined to West Africa. This time it broke loose and is threatening to spread far and wide.
Liberian scientist Dr. Cyril Broderick wrote in the Liberian Observer that “Ebola is a genetically modified organism.” The book, The Hot Zone, confirms that infectious agents like Ebola were once developed into bioweapons by the U.S. Army, but says such research was outlawed by President Nixon in 1969. As of now there is no confirmation of the theory that Ebola is being studied for bio-terrorism.
The poor suffer and die always in nature except in the modern western medical interventions industry — which kills only the rich. The poor cannot reach that and are thus saved. History tells us that from the time of Galen almost in 127 A.D. only rich patients were dying because they could afford to pay their doctors; the poor survived, diseases notwithstanding. In 19th century London, the surgeon Arbuthnot Lane used to remove rich people’s colons as he thought the poisons from their colons were the cause of their illnesses. It only took the courage of a man like Bernard Shaw to write Doctors’ Dilemma, which forced Professor Lane to close shop. Audits today show that the medical establishment is the leading cause of death in the world, but the poor of the world escape that fate as they do not get to go near that trillion-dollar illness care industry. The biblical verse gets twisted here: “For whoever hath, to himshall not be given.”

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