A few years ago, a movie about guilt, respect and an-unflagging belief in self was produced and shot in Baltimore, at Johns Hopkins University.
This movie: Something the Lord Made, was a success. I was hired to be ‘the gloved surgical hands’ of one of the stars.
For many people, especially first-time viewers, the movie rings loudly about racial exclusion and professional arrogance. However, from my vantage point, I’ve grown to appreciate the film for much more than the obvious.
This film ‘jumps in bed’ with the ageless argument that what has been accepted, ‘trumps’ what should be attempted. Even when, what should be attempted is the right thing to do.
For those who haven’t seen the movie, Something the Lord Made, traces the decades of efforts of two men: one black, one white. One: a skilled experimental surgeon, and the other: a skilled carpenter and self-taught veterinary surgeon. Two men who envision that ‘work’ with their ‘hands’ would make a difference.
This unlikely pairing developed the repairing technique for the ‘blue baby syndrome.’ Through canine experimentation, they determined that an anastomosis – a rerouting – of the subclavian artery to the pulmonary artery, providing another source of oxygenated blood, was required.
The successful attempt (highlighted particularly in the movie) was a landmark achievement, drawing attention on many levels, to: cardiac surgery (something that wasn’t done before – hence the movie’s title), institutional racism, and the challenge which occurs when desperate cultures are forced to work together out of respect for talent without the time required to appreciate individual need.
Having seen this movie, a dozen or more times over the years, I’ve recognized a similar pattern in my challenge of introducing Traditional Veterinary Chinese Medicine (TCVM) to an oft-skeptical public, lay persons and practitioners, combined.
In my case, as a house-call practitioner – I’m integrating an evolving system in a state which has allowed non-veterinarians to perform acupuncture without medical licensure.
As a veterinarian – I am uniquely able to showcase how TCVM (acupuncture is only ‘one of four’ skills in TCVM), blends seamlessly with current veterinary therapy.
I’m doing this in homes, away from the vaulted halls of academia, or impressive hospitals, in the US – far away from China, in Maryland.
Pet Parents appreciate it!
Although I’ve met my share of skeptics, most people with pets appreciate having the option of reducing the amount of medications they must give daily. They are stunned silly seeing their pets moving more freely, and are joyful when a practitioner has options to employ while they are awaiting a prescription or saving for an expensive surgical option.
However, not everyone is ready for change.
Like the naysayers in the movie, fearful of change, who professed a reluctance that cardiac surgery was stepping into God’s homeroom, the veterinary profession is moving rapidly away from the vaccine and parasitic prevention model to the diet (food and herbal therapy) and energetic model with many practitioners ‘kicking and screaming’ from the wings.
Pet parents, especially baby boomers and their children are leading the way! They are looking for answers, pulling many specialists away from the lecterns and into the light of the family living room – where ‘decisions’ are really made.
House call veterinarians, like myself, are frequently called upon to consult in geriatrics, pain-relief and hospice/palliative care. We are uniquely qualified to see how the pet’s environment plays an important role in disease management.
I’m blessed. My training and experience is rapidly becoming “something the Lord made.”