Question Of Outgrowing Defects And Diseases
( Originally Published 1921 )
"The doctor said that the child would out grow it," When you hear this expression do you ever stop to consider what it means? Sometimes it means that the physician is trying to give courage and hope with regard to something about which you are worried. At other times it means exactly what the physician says.
There are many conditions of the heart that have to do with its development. Some plants, animals, and people develop more quickly than others, and some are affected by a temporary or a permanent arrest of development. One morning I saw a physician in my office whose heart, in the light of the X-rays, looked like that of a child. This man had led a strenuous life, with an enormous country practise, a family of eight children, and all the things that go with medical work. But all his life his power of endurance had been limited. I had seen him once before, about seven years ago, and at that time he was also doing an enormous amount of work, with even less endurance than he has now. Another man came to see me the same morning, one of my old professors from the medical school, a man eighty-one years of age, who was refused life insurance because he had a heart murmur when he came home from service as a surgeon in the Civil War. These men, considering their age and circumstances, were both better than they were at the time that their heart trouble was first discovered. In other words, they are in a sense outgrowing their condition. The first man has had from the beginning an undeveloped heart, and I have promised him that when he gets to be as old as the second man he will really be twenty years younger in the process of developing. These men represent two ways in which heart trouble is outgrown. In the first man the heart really is outgrowing its trouble by a process of development. In the second, the trouble is being outgrown by a process of compensation, the heart becoming strong enough to overcome the leak that was discovered so many years ago.
The knowledge of this power of nature to overcome difficulties is a consolation to people with heart trouble, but it should always be understood in the proper sense, that nature takes its own way to cure things and not our way. Our way would be to take out the damaged valves and put in new ones, or to make an undeveloped heart grow rapidly to its normal size. Nature knows better than this, and chooses, in course of time, to take care of the trouble by a process of compensation.
Not only in heart disease, but in every relation of life, things are evened up by the law of compensation, so that every one has, if not an even chance, at least a more nearly even chance than we have dreamed.