JUNE 4, 1938
NEW YORK, Friday—The more I see of modern surgery and what it has done to alleviate pain, the more marvelous I think it is. Today it is possible to do things for people which would not have been possible several years ago without the greatest fortitude on the part of the patient and the doctor, who also would have undergone real hardship. Now an injection will deaden pain and the doctor can operate without any anxiety as to how much his patient can stand. He can afford to be very thorough, for he knows the exact time that he has in which to work.
It seems to me perfectly marvelous to have accomplished so much in such a comparatively short space of time. In reading some of the diaries written at the time of the Civil War, one receives a most gruesome picture of the horrors to which patients were subjected. Nothing short of great personal courage made it possible, not only for doctors and patients to survive, but for nurses, many of them untrained, to do the things which had to be done under the conditions of that day.
All these reflections grow out of the fact that I spent 40 minutes at the dentist late yesterday afternoon and came out with three neat little stitches in my gum, and a beautifully cleaned out hole somewhere under my lip, which felt as thought it were back of my nose! I never had any pain. Though they told me I might be uncomfortable and that I had better hold ice to my lip intermittently throughout the evening, I really had no discomfort and applied an ice cube for only two brief periods.
This morning I left home with my brother at 9:15, did a number of errands and reached the Junior League Club House at 10:45 for the Todhunter School commencement exercises. Mrs. Ruth Bryan Rohde was to deliver the commencement address. She came in shortly after I arrived, so we sat and talked together until the procession was ready. Being a small school, the prizes awarded for the rest of the school are given out at the same time that the commencement exercises are held, and so the speaker must be prepared to meet the requirements of fathers, mothers, graduating class and primary group!
I thought Dr. Hendrik van Loon met all these requirements very well last year, and Mrs. Rohde did equally well this year. The girls looked sweet, as graduating girls usually do, in their white dresses with large bouquets of flowers. After the exercises were over, the entire audience filed up on the stage to wish these young things well.
There is something about all commencements which gives me a lump in my throat. They are a little like weddings, joyous occasions, but to elder people conscious of all that may lie before these unsuspecting youngsters, there is an element of pathos as well. One can but hope that the years of preparation will have given them some iron in their souls as well as the gentler virtues, for they will most certainly need all the iron they can acquire.
Afterwards we went to lunch with Mrs. Huvelle, the mother of one of the graduates, at Sherry's and then I paid a brief visit to the dentist. In a few minutes Mrs. Scheider and I will journey back to the peace and quiet of Hyde Park.