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Editor's Commentary on “-ectomy”

 , November 30, 2013

When an organ becomes diseased, we disown it, we fight it, it becomes foreign. Patient’s fight cancer, battle heart failure. A body divided cannot stand. Medicine furthers this division by removing organs, replacing hormones, attempting to recreate the whole through technology. In -ectomy, Austin Wesevich draws on the paradox of dividing a patient in order to make them whole again. “We divorce / our organs from our bodies. / We divorce / our bodies from our selves.” While intervention is necessary and healing pain is productive, patients must somehow find their way back to an identity. They must now fight for a sense of wholeness. In an era of increasing technology and computers threatening to alter every corner of medicine, this humanistic role should be the bedrock of a physicians practice. Rather than merely hired guns who attack an illness, the best physicians work to keep the whole patient alive. “The nurse is the eye. / Physician, the hand, / cutting in a field full of fragments. / Yet one patient, yearning to be whole.” It is a tall order, but one we must strive towards.


Bryan Sisk
Deputy Editor, The Living Hand