samedi 25 février 2012
I AM HAPPY TO BE A PHYSICIAN ANTHROPOLOGIST TO NATIVE AMERICANS
CHOOSE A CAREER TO SUIT YOUR PERSONALITY, NOT YOUR INCOME
Thank God for the Indians (Los Indios de America)
I had done particularly well in the latter years of my medical education that many of my mentors wanted me to follow them in their speciality: Cardiology, Gastroenterology, and General Surgery, None of which suited my personality. I was in my second year of post medical school training, when I met the Professor Endocrinology and we had a nice chat, I knew that Endocrinology and Endocrinologists were my type of people, as it fit well with my personality.
For me, having a father and a grandfather before me who had been very altruistic about their actions and humanitarian efforts, it was already clear that I would follow them. Never once had I thought of practising Medicine for money, not do I have high opinion about it.
Meeting the Indians of North America (the first tribe was the Meskwakia) settled the question: Think of others, put others first, bring some comfort to others before your own.
I have had such an excellent day at the last day of the clinic (I come regularly once a month to this clinic) that filled my heart with such contentment, I felt so grateful to the people I work with and I realized that each and every patient of mine, Indians of various tribes, leave something or other with me.
As is my custom, during a consultation with the Indians, I bring the conversation around Spiritual and emotional aspects of their lives, this is a great treasury for me, since each one of them gives me something. Reminds me of the Buddhist monks, silently standing in front of people’s homes or shops, silently receiving what is given to them, with gratitude.
My first patient was a Hidatsa man, an acquaintance of many years. I was talking to him about the importance of meditation and also of pranayama, he said we have similar things, in my country people go to sweat lodge, and when you put the sage o n those hot stones, the lungs are cleared and you are taking deep breaths.
Do you sweat here in this reservation? Sweat is the term used as in do you go to a sweat lodge.
No, he answered, to my surprise.
Men and women enter the sweat lodge here together and where I come from, women and men separately. I wondered loudly about this gender distinction.
He took a deep breath and went on to explain to me in detail the reason, which took most part of my consultation on this Hidatsa Indian who had come to see me about controlling his Blood Sugar.
We consider women to be very pure and men not so pure and we don't wish to pollute their purity with our presence.
Among our tribe, it was men’s duty to provide and protect, but it was women who were in charge of the day-to-day affairs of the tribe and take care of the tribe. In a way, they were the government and we were the soldiers.
Why are women purer than men?
The Great Spirit creates a new human being, it is created as a woman, and when it is known that it contains some impurity it is turned into a male,
When we have sweat lodge ceremony, we, the men go away from the lodge, quite a distance and wait for the signal. Women go in first to the lodge and do their ceremony and once they are finished, the head lady would send us a message and we wait yet another hour and go to the sweat lodge. By the time we arrive there are no signs of their presence. And we continue with our ceremonies.
So, you can understand why it is difficult for me to go to the sweat lodge ceremonies here in this reservation. In fact, I have never done those ceremonies outside my reservation.
He continued telling me a story told him by his grandmother. My grandmother told me, he continued, that your hair contains your story, the longer it is, longer you have lived and experienced more and it carries the story within itself. I didn't understand when she was telling me that, but years later when I was a Federal Officer, DNA studies of the hair strands were used and from the DNA of the hair they could tell a whole lot about the person, including the kinds of food they ate. My people knew about that long before the science proved them right, he beamed.
As he was preparing to leave, after I had finished the mundane parts of the consultation, such as refilling his medications, and talking about stress at work (more important than the medications), I was happy to be working with the American Indians, the earliest inhabitants of this continent.