I have a confession: I hate hospitals, and I’m afraid of sick people. The revulsion is not about the blood and gore; after all I did cut open a bunch of animals before, held brain slices in my hands, and was taking part in a dissection of a human cadaver. But there is this one thing about sickness, about hospitals, even about the dentist (although I AM afraid of those guys for other reasons as well) I can’t stand.
They make you realize that you are a sack of meat.
I suspect most other people go through their lives conveniently forgetting that inside we have a bunch of disgusting intestines, spongious lungs, fecal matter, and a lot of other things which are -frankly- not pleasant. We live our lives pretending that skin deep we are the persons we think we are, and not some biological automatons. We like to pretend that we are filled up with our “personness” and not blood. That we are some kind of avatars of ourselves, and there’s no bone, fat and sinew under that beautiful skin. And hospitals throw this into your face. They force you to accept that if a piano falls on your head, there won’t be “you” lying under the wrecks, but a bunch of red smeared pieces of meat and bone with some teeth mixed in. What made it “you” is gone. Hospitals force you to face the fact that you are mortal. Every time a doctor opens you up, you realize that you are subject to the laws of this physical world, that small microbes can kill you too (and not just some people in Mexico you’ve never met), and that perhaps your body is not as robust as you imagine. As soon as something goes wrong, you realize how quickly and terminally things can change. And that the end is probably going to be long and uphill struggle against a progressive degradation of your body. IF you are lucky.
Perhaps women are different; after all, giving birth is not exactly a clean and easy process, so they have to accept this early. Maybe it’s only me. Ever since I realized that everyone I love was going to die (myself included), I have not been able to accept this as a fact. And as a biologist, I can only say one thing: we humans, on the whole, are quite disgusting from the inside. There’s nothing wrong with superficiality.