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By EChamberlainMD, San Diego ~

Modern Medicine Versus Modern Christianity

Blindfolded Typing CompetitionImage by Foxtongue via Flickr
We see it on TV. From the comfort of the couch. The desperate poverty. The hopelessness. People we've seen on those infomercials, they're dead now. Starvation. Cholera. HIV. The Human Condition.

I saw a patient today. Or, rather, a person. She's been in the U.S. now for about a year and a half. Illegally. She was picked up at our border-- homeless, begging. She's been detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement and faces deportation one day unless somehow she gets asylum here.

Looking back at the description of how she was found back then when she was picked up-- "homeless, begging at the border" of the U.S.-- I imagine her along the side of the road, hovering like Jethro Tull's Aqualung in the shadows of Tiajuana. Starving. Cross Eyed Mary. But just a few miles from the sanctity of San Diego where I'm privileged to live. Desperately poor enough to violate our laws and do whatever it takes to cross over. Carry drugs. Sell her body for sex. A last desperate shot.

She was born into this, god's world, and grew up helpless and defenseless. She has Schizophrenia. And HIV. And a Meth habit. She was probably sexually abused along the way. Or she sold her body for Meth. Or she possibly just desperately sought out the warmth of human contact, sex, unprotected, with anyone who showed the interest. If you have Schizophrenia, you need human warmth. In this case, it was someone who couldn't give a damn about her and shared with her the feverish warmth of HIV.

I've never, even for a moment, been as bad off as she has spent her life. And, no, I wasn't born with a silver spoon. But I had a spoon.

In the year and a half she's been here in the U.S., she's gained 60-plus pounds. She must've been starving before. And the two measures of HIV that best tell me how she's doing-- her white blood cell "CD4" count and her HIV "Viral Load"-- are doing great. The virus number is so low that it's undetectable. Modern medicine has so improved her health that she's now really at no more risk of infections than you or I.

But unlike me, she faces going back to a poor country where no one will continue to pay for the one little (combination) pill that's now turned her health around. At $1700.00 a month (US dollars, as of May 2010) for the pill, who's gonna pay for that? According to my CIA World Factbook (2010), the per capita income in her world is about $6000.00 a year. Hers is less. The Factbook doesn't list the costs of funerals. I bet it's cheaper. She could one day have a little white marker. You know, in the shape of a cross, standing up stronger and longer than she could. Or else someone will just point to some vague spot in the field or the woods and say, 'I think they buried her there.'

Eddie Chamberlain

I saw a life that was good.
Just like it should,
It sparkled and shined.
But I must be blind.

I saw, just in my head,
A world that was fed.
A dinner bell chimed.
But I must be blind.

I saw justice for all.
Love was the law.
It's such a crime
I must be blind.

I saw soldiers come home.
No tomb of unknowns.
The world's peace of mind.
I must be blind.

I close my eyes
And I see
What I want to see.
But I open my eyes
And it's just me,
Blind to the way it must be.

I saw a life that was good.
The world understood
In heart, soul, and mind.
I must be blind.

I saw you saw it too,
Thought it was true
For a moment in time.
I must be blind.
And decades from now I'll be an old man and I could remember her. And hopefully it'll be different then.

Real Versus False Hope

What I tell her and any of my HIV patients who wanna give up and stop or have stopped taking their HIV meds is that, if it was me, I'd take them, hoping that in the next ten years or so we come up with a cure. Just hold on til then. We cured Polio. And Leprosy.* And TB (although it's back with a vengeance because of HIV). And Small Pox (although it could come back with a vengeance because of radical Islamist terrorists). If you don't think we can cure HIV, you're missing the point of human history.

But it's not the point of Christian history.

Her native country is "Christian." But no priest, no pastor, no here-ever-after, no shaman, no sheik, and no other sheister, can do anything for her HIV. Nothing. Two thousand years of belief and that's what they've come up with-- nothing. Nothing at all.

"Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you..... Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?.....Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven......If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you......whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you......Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give [it] you."

Is there not one Christian-- not one-- who asked to help this poor lowest of the low?

No, please, Christian do-nothing world, don't say I'll pray for you unless you say I'll pay for you.

*In 1991, the World Health Organization's (WHO) governing body, the World Health Assembly (WHA) passed a resolution to eliminate Leprosy as a public health problem by the year 2000. Elimination of Leprosy as a public health problem is defined as a prevalence rate of less than one case per 10,000 persons. The target was achieved on time. Over the past 20 years, more than 14 million Leprosy patients have been cured. Leprosy has been eliminated from 119 countries out of 122 countries where the disease was considered as a public health problem in 1985. Pockets of high endemicity still remain in some areas of Angola, Brazil, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, India, Madagascar, Mozambique, Nepal, and the United Republic of Tanzania.