Monday, April 25, 2016

"Whosoever humbles himself shall be exalted."

by Chris Foster, resident at Wesley Palms Retirement Community

AS A PHYSICIAN I am bound, of course, by the Hippocratic Oath and its first principle, "Do no harm." This ancient document moves on to more positive aspirations and so do I. I have never considered it sufficient to simply avoid doing harm. I believe we have the moral obligation to seek to do good wherever, whenever, and in whatever way we can.

That was probably what motivated me while growing up in Glascow, Kentucky to choose a career in medicine. It began with a Bachelor's degree in Biology at Vanderbilt, followed by Med School at the University of Louisville. It was there I met and fell in love with Kathy, a nursing student from Indiana. We dated for a year, then decided to get married despite the fact that student nurses were not allowed to marry. A private ceremony was held in Kathy's home in Indiana and then we returned to Louisville and continued to live in our separate dormitories. We did keep an off-campus apartment, but that was kept secret too. Only on the day of Kathy's graduation two years later did we "come out" and wear our wedding rings in public.

Next came a three year residency in ear, nose and throat surgery in Roanoke, VA and a two-year hitch with the U.S. Air Force before I could begin my private practice back in my home town.

In 1969 Kathy and I and our two sons moved to La Jolla, California where I pursued the dual careers of surgery and teaching at the University of California San Diego (UCSD) School of Medicine. There was symmetry in that since I have always been both an active practitioner and a teacher.

While doing both of these demanding tasks I also became certified as a Bible instructor and for many years taught a large adult Sunday School class at La Jolla's Torrey Pines Christian Church. So now you know that a foundation of my philosophy of life and system of ethics is solidly based on Biblical principles.

My career as a surgeon came to a sudden end when I lost my sight, literally overnight. I am now legally blind, though I continue to see shapes and images "as through a glass darkly." I still dream some nights of being back in the Operating Room, but with nothing but a 40 watt bulb for light.

But when one door shuts another opens. I now, in my retirement, am actively involved with the Braille Society, both as a student and as a teacher.

Let me share with you one of the most important lessons I have ever learned. Several years ago I was President of the San Diego Ear, Nose and Throat Society. We were meeting at the beautiful Atlantis Restaurant. Our guest speaker was Dr. Bill House, who was one of the world's greatest ear surgeons. My job was to introducing him. Just prior to the introduction we were served Tortilla Soup. All of a sudden I got very hot. My tie had fallen into the hot soup and was being soaked up like litmus paper. As I stood to introduce him, Dr. House noticed my tie and my embarrassment. He then intentionally put his own silk tie into his soup. He began his speech by commenting that apparently this was a custom in San Diego. I never eat soup without remembering how this very great, but very humble, man helped ease my moment of red-faced chagrin. Ever since I have looked for moments when I might do something similar for someone else in their time of need.

"Whosoever humbles himself shall be exalted" is an excerpt from Aging As An Art Form: Through the Eyes Of Residents of Wesley Palms by Wesley Palms resident Don McEvoy. The book contains 50 stories, experiences and life lessons either self-written or told to Don through interviews.

Don McEvoy is storyteller, former pastor and civil rights activist. Aging As An Art Form is available from Outskirts Press and Proceeds from the book benefit the residents of Wesley Palms.

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