Friday, December 17, 2010

Speaking of Transparency

Well, Wikileaks and all its implications dictates my sharing this week. My head is spinning with all the exposed secrets. Isn’t yours? Last week I wrote of a way in which government information and how it was withheld sculpted my father’s last years. And how family secrets molded my own confusing and often lonely childhood. Certainly I am not unique in this.

No secret that most psychotherapists, self-included, were drawn to the profession in order to smoke out their own conscious and unconscious threads of what makes them tick. In the process I believe some amount of good is done for others. I hope so.

By preference I have always been drawn to transparency in art and photography. Thick, opaque images do not stir me. That is why in my own painting I identify as a value painter, not a shape painter. In the days of color slides I recall how certain projections would give me shivers of excitement. I always yearn to know what is going on deep inside, and thrill when it is revealed..

A little over two weeks ago Catherine, my surrogate daughter, had a terrible fall. Her right arm dangling like a rag doll’s, the kind EMT’s in the ambulance administered sufficient drugs to contain her pain until a hospital x-ray revealed a seriously dislocated elbow. I gasped when I saw the x-ray. With anesthetic the arm was manipulated back into place. Splints were applied to immobilize the grossly swollen arm. A few days later, by plan, the doctors changed the splints, slightly repositioning the arm for healing. Terrible pain followed which resulted a few days later in another x-ray revealing the elbow once again dislocated. More anesthetic, re-setting, x-rays and splints. At this point she came to stay with me for two days. All went well until dawn’s early light yesterday when she woke with the same searing pain. Another trip to the ER and another x-ray revealed the joint still in place. What a relief. Nerve pain was the diagnosis, a pain feeling like a knitting needle being driven up her arm. A hard cast was applied to immobilize the joint until sufficient healing occurs to hold the bones in place. The transparency of the x-ray is the miracle that allowed the doctors in each case to make an accurate diagnosis.

When she studied in Cuba my former pilates teacher (and now surrogate granddaughter) Allejandra observed that the Cuban doctors had so perfected the science of the human touch that they could diagnose many diseases without the benefit of x-ray and special equipment. I tend to believe her. Though I do not cotton to psychics, I believe that the trained and focused mind of anyone can pick up things we normally miss. Sometimes I call this putting two and two together. Head often in the sand, it makes me shudder to think how much I miss. Can I improve? Of course. I think that being more aware will be one of my goals in 2011.

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