Through a Glass, Darkly | Humanities | JAMA Internal Medicine | JAMA Network
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July 9, 2012

Through a Glass, Darkly

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliation: Department of Internal Medicine, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee.

Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(13):985-986. doi:10.1001/archinternmed.2012.2765

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.—1 Corinthians 13:12

“Do you have any questions for us before we go to the bronchoscopy suite, Dr Bryant?”

Without corrective lenses—removed at the request of my bedside nurse, prior to administration of general anesthesia—the world is a series of blurred polygons that vaguely resemble familiar objects. To my left, the tall trapezoid that I recognize as the attending anesthesiologist is engaging me in a preoperative dialogue that is at once familiar and alien. To my right is a slender rectangle that I know is my wife. Though I can't see her crying, I can hear faint sobs and recognize the square box handed to her across my gown-covered chest—hospital-issued facial tissue.