Wednesday, May 02, 2007
Gray is a nice color. It matches everything. My new bathroom is gray and I have lots of gray clothes. My love of gray ends here. I don't like living in a gray world. I like definite answers to things. I like black and white. That is why I became a math teacher. Math is not a wishy-washy subject. There is a beginning and an end--a definite end. While there might be multiple routes to get to that end, the final result is always the same. While there is room for discussion and which roads are best traveled to reach the desired location, there is no doubt as to what that location is.
Medicine is gray. Doctors think they know what to do and lots of times they do. But, there are often too many roads to choose from and they don't all lead to the same destination. Unlike math, a wrong turn cannot be fixed with the back of a pencil. A wrong turn can cost someone their life and cause lots of pain. No matter how good the doctor, there is no guarantee of success when they choose the path they will follow. This is not true in math. The worse thing that can happen is that a problem comes out wrong and someone will show the correct method.
My mom is living in a gray world now. We are gambling with the tracheotomy. No one really knows if it will help her or not. My dad is torn about his decision to do it or not. How can he agree to let her die when there is a chance she can live? How can he subject her to a life of tubes? How can he make any decision when he doesn't know the outcome?
I have a new appreciation for the fine doctors and nurses in the critical care business. Every day they work with patients that are very ill and help people make decisions about life and death. They don't tell you what to do, but explain the choices that can be made in terms anyone can understand. They are trying to make sense out of the grayness, but they can't turn it black and white. How much easier life would be if they could.