Thursday, October 6, 2011

Simple vs. simplicity

It's great to live a life of simplicity, not too encumbered by activity or overly rigid routines. Life should be lived searching for goodness and light, with a desire to find peace and joy in worship and service. Simple, right?

But, is simple  the same thing as simplicity?

Let's take going to the doctor as an example. In a doctor's office we might want more than just "simple" treatment.

The issues for some of us are complex; the work becomes a little harder, a little more intricate.  A doctor's office is no place for simple answers -- "Oh, he'll be just fine." or "I wouldn't worry too much about this."

No, in that setting, there should be scrutiny, maybe even a little tension -- not angry tension -- but, that tension that comes from wanting to solve a mystery, finish a puzzle, etc. (Even if it's just a routine visit). Striving for peace in any situation is still the goal, to serve and to search out goodness and light -- to deliver information, good or bad, with confidence and compassion. This can only be achieve with a heart trained on simplicity. Nothing should ever be entered into for the sake of keeping it simple. That's a trick the devil likes to play with us. He tries to convince us that we can cut corners, not work so hard, keep it simple. This attitude breads complacency.

In the case of my son with significant disabilities, the responsibility of being his advocate in medical situations is crucial. So, when I bring him to a visit, especially for something acute, I am coming expecting there to be some of that "good tension" -- a let's solve this kind of attitude.

That wasn't the case, much to my surprise, the other day when I brought him in with what I thought (read: KNEW) was an abscess on his hand.

The doc looked, and poked, and look again. "I think he bit himself there maybe, or do you have a dog?"

MAYBE? The swollen area was located just above where he has a LARGE callus from a chronic behavior of biting his hand when he gets excited or angry. (That's in the chart -- they've know him for years!)

"I think he's fine. Just watch it and let us know if anything changes."

I was so surprised. I could see the redness forming around the area; below the skin's surface it was starting to look an odd (what I thought was infected) color.

I said quizzically, "Really?"

The doctor stopped, and looked at me. I might have read a little irritation the the look because I was questioning the assessment.

Time to placate mom -- "I'll have another doctor take a look at it for you."

"Thank you," accompanied by a look of disbelief, issued from my mouth.

I've gone to this doctor for years -- this has never been the attitude (so, I'm going to give the benefit of the doubt that something else must have been interfering with this doctor's judgment).

The colleague entered the room and said, "I think we should do a needle puncture and see what is in there." (Read: this thing's infected; why are you asking me?)

So, that's what we did. And, as you probably have already guessed, it was REALLY infected. It took 3-4 minutes for the doctor to clear the infection from the wound. Then it was cultured to check for any "serious" bacteria. A strong topical antibiotic was applied (to combat any resistant bacteria!) and an oral antibiotic was dispensed.

Just 5 minutes prior, I was being sent home to watch.  Watch what? Watch my boy get seriously ill?

There's a difference between keeping it simple -- the in and out appointment that meets the insurance companies guidelines for payment -- and simplicity -- the spirit in which we trustfully operate and so, instill peace and confidence in those around us. 

What my son received initially was simple treatment; what he needed was treatment in the spirit of simplicity -- which he eventually received.


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