Saturday, January 26, 2008

Physician, Heal Thyself

As I was losing half a gallon of fluids out of my gut tube last night, I couldn't get a certain phrase out of my mind: "Physician, heal thyself." Unfortunately for me, the only healing available for acute gastrointestinal illness is time. After passing from the acute phase of my illness into the achey recovery, the earliest reference I could find to this maxim was:
And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country.
Luke 4:23

Generally, this phrase is understood as a rhetorical metaphor referring to the expectancy of folks in Jesus' hometown for him to work miracles there like he had elsewhere.

For it to be used metaphorically, the chances are good that "heal thyself" was around well before it was documented in the Bible. I am guessing it originated in those cradles of Western medicine: Egypt or Greece.

This is, by the way, the first time I have vomited in my adult life. Before last night, I never understood why patients weren't able to fully describe the color and consistency of their vomit. Now I know! The first thing on your mind after the purge (besides old proverbs, of course) is "get rid of it!"

1 comment:

Elissa said...

Ick. Stomach viruses are so nasty and exhausting... hope you are back to normal soon!! (I'm guessing med students don't get sick time?!)