“Another one? What is going on?”
“I know!” I texted back. “It’s not just you. All of my dermatology clients are seeing a huge increase in patients with melanoma diagnoses.”
“Wow! Hopefully it means we are all getting better at our diagnostic skills, especially with our dermatoscopes.”
Ever since most dermatology offices reopened a few months ago, after modifying their office workflow to accommodate the new safety precautions necessitated by the COVID19 pandemic, I have noted a dramatic increase in the number of melanomas I have been diagnosing. At first, I thought it was because of the backlog of patients who were unable to see their dermatologist because of the prioritization of urgent and acutely ill patients and the overall shutdown of most outpatient physician offices. However, when this trend continued even after the initial weeks of reopening, I thought there might be other explanations. This dermatologist with whom I was texting is very adept at using a dermatoscope. This hand-held device magnifies the visual features of moles and many other dermatologic conditions. In the hands of an expert like my colleague, it can be a valuable diagnostic aid to determine which moles are pre-cancerous and need to be biopsied. Her explanation was plausible but her next text caught me off guard.
“And maybe it’s because we are spending more time with our patients!”
Was that a tongue in cheek statement or was she serious? Regardless, how does one respond to such a statement? I gave an emoji thumbs up and reflected upon the exchange. Today’s physicians have many tools to assist them in arriving at an accurate diagnosis. However, the most important remains the one between our ears. Nothing will ever substitute for the time a health care provider spends with their patient and pondering their disease. Additional laboratory or radiological examinations can help to narrow the differential diagnostic possibilities or confirm a diagnostic impression, but it all begins with the precious time spent taking a careful history and performing a thorough physical examination.
The Bible tells us of many examples of how Jesus Christ took the time to listen to the people who came to Him. One touching exchange involved a rich young ruler.
Just then someone came up and asked him, “Teacher, what good must I do to have eternal life?” “Why do you ask me about what is good?” he said to him. “There is only one who is good. If you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” “Which ones?” he asked him. Jesus answered: Do not murder; do not commit adultery; do not steal; do not bear false witness; honor your father and your mother; and love your neighbor as yourself. “I have kept all these,” the young man told him. “What do I still lack?” “If you want to be perfect,” Jesus said to him, “go, sell your belongings and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” When the young man heard that, he went away grieving, because he had many possessions.
Matthew 19:16-22 (CSB)
Jesus precisely diagnosed the rich young man’s sinful disease of being attached to his worldly possessions. Jesus spent the time with him when presumably all his advisors and servants who relied upon him, simply gave him lip service and agreed with him that he was good enough to merit salvation and eternal life. In spite of these sycophantic answers he was receiving, he knew something was not right and he sought out Jesus Christ.
Jesus did not tell everyone who came to Him to sell all of their possessions. Each answer He gave was unique, directly addressing their deepest needs. He spent time with and truly listened to this rich young ruler’s plight. He knew what truly ailed him and gave him the honest solution. It is regrettable that the young man, after hearing Jesus, did not take His advice, but left, knowing that he was unwilling to act on His answer.
When we are willing to spend more time with Jesus Christ, He will reveal all the sins that are afflicting our souls and preventing us from living a fulfilled life that He intended for all of us to enjoy. It is up to us to accept His diagnosis and act upon it.
Love and trust the Lord; seek His will in your life.