I had a three-pronged kidney stone that had to be mechanically extracted about eleven years ago. After two weeks of periodic episodes of fairly acute pain, I embraced the notion of getting that critter out of my body. The urologist told me, before initiating the procedure, that he would insert a stent to make sure that blood and urine would continue draining during the first week of healing. “When we remove the stent,” he assured, “you’ll feel better instantly.”
All full of hope, optimism and confidence, I reported for the removal. The next several hours were all full of pain, nausea, vomiting and an intense desire to implant a stent into that urologist. I’m sure he wasn’t worried in the slightest; he knew there wasn’t a chance in thunder that I was going to do anything requiring physical activity beyond reaching the rim of the porcelain receptor.
I was reminded of that yesterday after talking to my sister about the aftermath of her thirty-three radiation treatments. Like many others questioning the wisdom of their choices, she has discovered the intensely painful truth that recovery is worse than treatment.
As the nerves begin regenerating after their several weeks of submission, the body begins to be fully aware of just how much abuse it has suffered. From the deep soft tissue to the skin on the surface, all flesh in the affected area has been burned. With each new revelation that was previously hidden, downplayed or only vaguely mentioned, patients like Freeda must cope with the deeper dimensions of agonizing physical elements. In addition, many of them also gain a greater sense of skepticism for pre-procedural medical advice.
For some reason or another, I am reminded of evangelists who invite sinners to the altar of salvation, talking only of this marvelous moment of miraculous deliverance and saying nothing of the entire life of obedient sacrifice that Jesus demands. If we truly believe that the cure is dramatically and incomparably better than the disease, can’t we be confident that full disclosure is the only sensible practice?