William Nolen and the face of medical scrutiny
William Nolen, like most surgeons of his generation (he earned his medical degree in 1953), was wary of treatments outside traditional medicine. At the same time, he was frustrated when his patients had ongoing problems like asthma, arthritis, or paralysis that he couldn’t cure. He hated having to tell patients there was nothing else he could do and they would just have to live with their condition.
Nolen recognized that this sometimes drove desperate people to non-traditional practitioners who promised to help them when doctors had failed. But Nolen believed no one without a formal medical education should be dispensing medical advice. It was a waste of time and money that would only lead to more disappointment.
He changed his mind in 1971 after reading an account by New York Times editor and columnist James Reston on Chinese acupuncture. “Now,” Nolen wrote, “it appeared that there was at least a possibility … I might sometimes have been wrong. Maybe — sometime, somewhere — I’d had a patient beyond my help, but not beyond the help of a Chinese practitioner or of someone else.” [Read more…] about The Faces of Miracles — Chapter 5