Apparently I’ve been using the wrong vocabulary for my routine movements throughout my 23 years. Everything is now dorsal or ventral, anterior or posterior, caudal or cranial. My body can now be easily dissected by three planes, sagitally, transversely, or coronally. In the medical world, my body is assumed to be in the anatomical position, even if I’m cowering on the floor, sitting cross-legged, or stretching my arms and back as I wake up in the morning.
I can already see how intimidating, confusing, and frightening medicine and disease can be to patients not in the field. How would anyone know what a myocardial infarction is, let alone anything *else* that I haven’t learned yet. The analogy of learning a new language resonates completely; I’d be just as confused if I spoken to in Portuguese or Arabic, knew it was something important or life-threatening, but didn’t understand what was being said.
I’m also curious as to what extent the medical school process is a means by which med students are taught to think that people are objectified and standardized. Granted, it only causes harm if a doctor cannot control his emotions and feelings enough to help a patient; at the same time, however, it seems like we’re being told that patients and people are a set of neurons, tissues, and molecules that, in most cases, have some sort of malfunction, bacteria, or virus that is ailing them. I think it’s too easy to forget that diseases aren’t just physical, that they affect families, communities, emotions, communication, and social interactions. Patients are people, not computers with a bad hard drive or memory chip.
I wonder how long it’ll take me to get the anatomical terms of position down. Until then, I’ll be picturing every patient in a mannequinned daVinci pose, arms slightly away from his body, palms forward. Lifelike, yes, but still lifeless in my mind. And that’s what I’m worried I’ll be losing down this path.