"Medicine might be divine," Teresa, the president of ACADIM tells me, "but doctors are not Gods." We're going to use this phrase to help us continue our discussion of coordinating the body and the social and the social model of disability. Teresa's words help us to think about how an individual can react to fixed conditions.
One of the purposes of ACADIM is to spread knowledge about Muscular Dystrophy in Rio de Janeiro. "Lots of doctors don't know what the dystrophy is," Teresa tells me, and she works for "adequate treatment". When she says that medicine might be divine, she works on the principle, spreading up-to-date knowledge, letting doctors know, and encouraging people with MD to find out accurate diagnostics and useful advice. She has a faith that it is through medicine that we can get to know our own bodies.
But doctors are not Gods. And with this I took her to mean a lot more than just a doctor who's unprepared to deal with someone who's got a Muscular Dystrophy. She particularly mentions cases of negative and immobilizing communications of diagnoses, but I think she's talking about a much wider issue: about people not letting their lives be ruled by their medical diagnoses.
She encourages people with degenerative muscular disease to consider the number of options they do have, and the number of possibilities that are open to them. If people go to the gym to work out and get well-defined muscles (sarado), she asks me, "why don't we with the disease go look for something for us to do too?"
The concrete suggestion here was hydrotheraphy. But what I admire in her question is that she saw something that she could not do - going to the gym and working on showing off a musculature - and she turned it into something that she could: valorizing the pleasure of working her own body.
What is at stake is not the divinity of medicine, but rather what we do with it.
Post modified Thursday, 17 March 2011.