Interfering With Nature

His memory is not what it once was. He finds unfamiliar and new intellectual tasks to be more challenging than they once were. Moving as fast as he can, he walks slowly in his home. His capacity for thought and movement are diminished and he perceives his enfeeblement to be necessary, a certain path each must take on our march toward eventual death.

He thought he was being witty when he told me that I was “interfering with nature”. It was obvious to him that as we age, we must decline. It is his experience that, as he ages, he must necessarily become less of who he was, rendering physical therapy, with its aim of progress, an unnatural pursuit.

As witty as he may have been, there was an inherent and unsettling fatalism in his words. He is a retired physician, and almost all that he has known (professionally) was, indeed, unnatural. Be it medication, surgery, or the increasing number of devices capable of helping patients breath, sleep, or eat, he has seen medicine become more technological, less personal. The less he feels like himself, the less he expects the medical community to treat him as a person. Physical therapy should (when done right) be a departure from this practice, utilizing science to (instead) create an experience that is both personalized and natural.

Upon reflection, I do not interfere with nature. I care intends to enhance that which is already intrinsic to him. A wittier therapist would have said so.


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