The patient lies on the table. He’s been beaten badly about the head, and burns show round his neck, as if he had been dragged by a rope. Bright red blood trickles out of one ear. He has lost his trousers, and his shirt is in shreds. He cannot tell you what day it is. In this emergency you have brought him to Doctor Synod, the inheritor of 2,000 years of wisdom in the care of human souls.
The doctor has measured the patient’s head with calipers. He has counted the moles on the patient’s back. He has listened with his stethoscope to the patient’s kneecap. He has plucked one of the patient’s hairs and analyzed its pigmentation under a microscope. All the while, he jots his impressions in a notebook, humming bars from “Be Not Afraid.” Then he pats the patient on the head, steps gingerly over a detached intravenous tube, and beckons you into his office for consultation.
“How bad is it, Doctor?”
“Oh, not bad, not bad at all. You must understand our new philosophy of medicine,” he says, taking out a handkerchief to clean his glasses. “It is good to be in perfect health. But who among us is in perfect health? I certainly am not, nor are you.”
“But Doctor, the blood—I am afraid he’s hemorrhaging!”