“Parting a soup is not a miracle, Bruce. It's a magic trick. Now, a single mom who works two full-time jobs, and still finds the time to pick up her kid at soccer practice, that's a miracle. A teenager that says "no" to drugs and "yes" to an education, that's a miracle. You want to see a miracle, son? Be the miracle”.
- Bruce Almighty , Morgan Freeman (God) to Jim Carrey (Bruce), when Bruce shows off his newfound powers by parting the soup in a bowl in front of him.
In 1871, a scientist investigating an age-old disease managed to discover under the microscope a tiny rod shaped body in the tissue fluids from some patients. He went on to publish these findings in 1874, and historically, he is credited to have discovered this bacterium. The name of this scientist is G. H. Armauer Hansen, we know the bacterium in Medicine as Hansen’s bacillus, or more scientifically as Mycobacterium leprae- the bacterium that causes Leprosy. Before these times, leprosy with disfigurement and disability, was considered to be an illness brought upon oneself by one’s actions.
There are two reasons why this discovery was significant. 1. This was the first bacteria identified with a disease in humans, M leprae, causing leprosy 2. This connected the concept of germs causing disease and showed how social conditions like poor socioeconomic status, overcrowding, poor health may be associated with illness.
In the Bible, Jesus is said to have cleansed a leper, curing him- which is regarded as one of his miracles. As the world looks for a miracle and respite from this illness, some things are going to be part of the next few months. Even if we control Covid-19 and reduce our new cases to a bare minimum, there will be isolated patients with Covid-19. Most of us will by lucky to get a mild infection and bounce back. What do we do in the next few months after we get back to a normal life?
Will we discriminate against those sporadic cases who get Covid-19? Or will we step up precautions and help families isolate themselves with the confidence that they will be cared for?
Will we ensure that if someone close to us is reported- we shall isolate ourselves and the patient, while providing food, water and shelter?
Will we ensure that if our neighbor is infected with Covid-19, we will ask their wellbeing over the phone and reassure them that we are with you in this fight?
As the quote says, “there but for the grace of God, go I”. That patient with Covid-19 could be anyone of us.
We need to promise not to let anyone stigmatize anyone with this illness.
Mother Teresa, often called as the Saint of the Gutters for her work with the poor and underprivileged (and with victims of leprosy) said, “The biggest disease today is not leprosy or tuberculosis, but rather the feeling of being unwanted.”
If we are able to overcome our fears, and follow good scientific practices of isolation, hand washing, protective facial gear, without discrimination/ stigmatization or abandonment of patients- we will have ourselves a miracle. We will be the miracle.
Stay safe, stay strong Cheers Mahesh