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Posted on May 7th, 2014, by

Close Encounter of the Human Kind

The scene of this essay is set in San Antonio. The doctor Verghese goes there as a volunteer, applying for the night shift. Like Selzer, Verghese in his essay describes several encounters with his patients. The first patient had infection of both feet which became swollen. The doctor prescribed her some antibiotic and a night with elevated feet. This was his way to provide physical healing to the patient. Further, Verghese indicates that there are several symptoms of refugees’ diseases. These are: sore throat, bronchitis and diarrhea (Close Encounter of the Human Kind).

Along with the progress of the essay, the author is reminded of his healing experience in India and Ethiopia, where there were very few resources at hand, and a careful listening as well as thorough examinations were provided as a part of the healing politics. This point of the essay is similar to that of Selzer’s, as he also emphasized on the spiritual healing rather than the treatment of physical symptoms. There is one more similar point of these two works. It lies in the fact that neither Selzer, nor Verghese could do anything about diseases in the areas where they travelled. The latter simply said I’m sorry to the local resident, indicating that he had no means to help him. Selzer seems to just investigate Haiti, trying to understand the politics of healing in that area. It is common knowledge that there are no proper medicines against AIDS among the existing ones. And Selzer just wanted to research the problem and understand the reasons of spreading AIDS among Haitians. The AIDS epidemic in Haiti and the way it is destroying the local people is a real problem, but there seems to be no solution to it.

As for Verghese’s essay, it is necessary to admit that despite his attempts to cure local refugees, there is also no particular solution to the problem of their physical and spiritual sufferings. It is clearly shown on the example of Verghese’s encounter with an elderly man, who is almost blind, with high blood pressure and blood sugar, and doesn’t have any money for proper medication, so doctors have to give him samples, saying Whatever we have. Whatever we have (Close Encounter of the Human Kind). And all Verghese had to say is that he was very sorry that the man had such a trouble.

In the end of the essay he indicates that despite certain spiritual support given by doctors, the encounter of two Americans, a patient and a doctor, is incomplete, as the latter cannot provide a proper treatment to the patient.

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