Medicine and life
A while back I had a CT pulmonary angiogram which fortunately turned out to be normal. However, as I sat staring at my whole body depicted like an Australian aboriginal X-ray picture of a kangaroo, I felt perturbed. It was as if I had been violated; undressed with all my "bits" on show for a stranger to analyze, poke and prod, zoom in on, re-orientate and cyber-dissect; even reconstruct in 3D colour.
This is the frozen form of an Egyptian mummy for someone in a millennium hence to do a post-doctoral thesis on the vasculature of middle aged Australian males in the early 21st century.
In the National History Museum in London there are the skeletal remains of 20,000 individuals, many of whom came from Australia. Only a few have been repatriated. These were collected by Science but perhaps more likely, as an anthropological curiosity; some after dinner speech at the Royal Society. As white men of the Interglacial Period, we think nothing of this. They are not my relatives. We have lost our connection with the mystical. The right cerebral hemisphere has been overwhelmed by left brain dominance and accountants.
I thought what an Australian aborigine would say about my feelings. They never cease to amaze me about their perceptions of life and the world. The sheer élan of modern medicine has overlooked the subtlety of the human condition with its religious and spiritual dimensions. We cannot measure these with ultrasound or the impudence of a CT scanner. They have no p value and thus are meaningless. We are in the Dawkinsonian Era, post-Darwinian and heading for a spiritual Golgotha as the Earth groans.
The feeling of being unraveled, revealed and undressed by a scanner is not on our radar. For Pete's sake, man, it is just a CT scan and it has just saved your life (notwithstanding about 6mSv).
The blips on our screen say "pathology", "diagnosis", "intervention" and or "terminal". The patient is all one big intellectual cyber puzzle while in us still lurks the unconscious; the dark unlit cave paintings of Lascaux and of the Australian Kimberly. All these symbols of red ochre and cobalt have been obliterated by the soot of modern thinking; the Liturgy according to Saint Cochrane, reductionism and the latest modern "medical breakthrough" in the Sunday Sun.
So go and see what your giblets look like and whether your abdominal aorta has just a hint of calcification as this is how you will look as your bier is rolled into the crematorium or lowered into the damp earth of eternity.
It is just you and yet not you at all.