Saturday, November 03, 2007

Superstition Trumps Medicine

Not for me. I can tell the difference between fantasy and fact, superstition and science.

But just yesterday I had an experience at the mammogram center and was able to watch superstitious Muslims in action. A recent post by Pastorius and some of the comments thereto have prompted me to write this essay about what I observed.

In came an elderly muslima on the arm of her husband, who was also feeble and walking with the assistance of a cane. They were accompanied by their adult son, who was probably in his early thirties.

The muslima's turn came to go back to the imaging portion of the center. Trouble! Her husband and her son wanted to accompany her. Of course, the innner sanctum of the center is strictly for women only.

You say, "What's so strange about her family wanting to be with her?"

Nothing. Except for the two men's major concern.

They didn't want her to take off her hijab.

Her husband was very insistent about the importance of wearing that hijab at all times. And her son was every bit as insistent. Even when only women will be present? Hmmmmm....

Her son began to gesticulate frantically, in spite of his perfect English. He was obviously very, very angry. For a minute, I thought that he was going to hit the receptionist with his cell phone. His demeanor was that threatening. Furthermore, both men seemed certain that an exception would be made. An accommodation.

But the personnel at the mammogram center stood their ground.

Well, I got back into the inner sanctum quite a while later. There sat the muslima in one of the dressing booths, with the curtain pulled back. She was wearing her hospital gown and her hijab. Was she ever glaring at all the infidel women present! And she, of course, refused to join the waiting area in the inner sanctum.

Just as soon as I had my gown on (I didn't even get the chance to sit in the small gathering of women around the coffee table, as I usually do), I was called for my turn with the technician, who asked me, "Would you mind taking off your gown?" I had to laugh at that one. To get a good read on a mammogram, removing the gown is essential. I surmise that the technicians had already had a rather unpleasant experience with the muslima, who was still sitting in her dressing booth when I left. Obviously, she had not received her turn, even though her appointment preceded mine by several minutes.

Both her husband and her son were still present when I left and headed for my car. Her husband, the only man in the room, had repositioned himself in the waiting room so as to keep the door of the inner sanctum in sight at all times. Her son was outside and talking on his cell phone. He was still gesticulating frantically.

But here's my point. These people were so worried about the lady's taking off her hijab that all of them were willing to jeopardize the diagnostic efficacy of a mammogram.

Having already had my breast-cancer scare some ten years ago, I know only too well the importance and the necessity of having an annual mammogram at my age. Staying covered up is not worth my life.

I don't know the outcome of the muslima's encounter with the mammogram center. I hope that she did whatever it took to have a mammogram. But, honestly, I have my doubts. For Muslims, superstition trumps science.


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posted by Always On Watch @ 11/03/2007 05:11:00 PM