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On-line version ISSN 1806-907X
Rev. Bras. Anestesiol. vol.57 no.4 Campinas July/Aug. 2007
Consuelo Plemont Maia
* - 09.12.2006
A true sorrow is worthier than pretended happiness. On December 9, 2006, Consuelo passed away, taking part of me with her. Consuelo had always shown me that life is a struggle for survival, but no one can do it forever. In the end, one has to die, and this is the only finale that we are promised. The mind regards death a necessary, but impossible object. Necessary, because it pervades our lifetime. Impossible, because there is nothing to think about in death. Montaigne said that death would not be "the end", but the "final period" of life, its term, and its essential finiteness. And mentioning Montaigne once more, when he quoted what I consider one of the most beautiful lines: "I want you to perform and prolong the art of living as much as possible, and death to find me planting my cabbages, and not worrying about it or with my imperfect garden." Consuelo planted her garden and harvested her cabbages.
In 1974, two months into the first year of my surgical residency at the Hospital de Ipanema, I found out that my place was behind the scenes. Consuelo helped me make my first important decision in life to decide to become an anesthesiologist. She was always ready to listen to me and to give sound advice regarding the hardships of our profession and my professional options. In 1975, 15 days into my anesthesiology residency at the Hospital IASERJ, I decided I had made the wrong choice and was taken over by panic. I owe to Consuelo and her intervention my return to the surgical residency at the Hospital de Ipanema. Almost at the end of my residency (it lasted only one year) in 1975, when I saw a chance to be hired, I was assigned to help her with the anesthesia of Dr. Gilberto, at that time the person responsible for hiring physicians for the INAMPS. Before the induction of anesthesia I was offered the job. Consuelo and her motherly ways. I started my life by her side, but I was only interested in my professional ascension. I knew that at the end of my training, the world and the national reality in the area I was embarking on would remain untouched, but I thought that after a few years of academic splendor abroad, and a few studies published in Brazilian journals, the glorified country would reward my triumphs with something more than laurels. To be simple and objective, I was totally mistaken. I had also learned that academic knowledge is almost always the result of opportunities, more than merit and, for this reason, there were no differences between someone who had already published several studies or worked abroad and someone who was still writing his/her first individual study or someone who never would. It took me some time to learn and I can say, with all certainty, that it was not for lack of teaching. A person's liberties are proportional to the space he/she is given. I was always free to do whatever I wanted, because no one would ever stop me. Consuelo always allowed me this freedom, but this freedom is less democratic than a crowd. She always thought me that wisdom does not belong to anyone and always stimulated me to undertake clinical trials, saying that one should not always seek originality.
For a long time I really thought that my rightful place was at that hospital where I learned everything with her. My colleagues knew that I had prepared myself and eagerly desired her place. When I was not chosen, I will not deny that at that time my heart was broken. I went through a period of intense interior agitation, especially regarding Consuelo, because I had been left out. After a few years, I realized that my dear Chief had a greater vision for my future, and she was right. During all my life I made it a point to let her know the importance of having been denied that position. That incident made me leave an Anesthesiology Service that was ready and running and prompted me to look for my self realization, defying the daily grind, deciding to pursue not only Private Practice but also to teach regional anesthesia. Solidarity and generosity are compatible with one another: being generous does not stop someone from having solidarity; having solidarity does not stop someone from being generous. Consuelo taught me both solidarity and generosity.
Woody Allen once said: "how happy I would be if I were happy". Therefore, he never is and can never be, since he is always waiting to be. To me, Consuelo was the opposite of that quote: she was happy. I fall in love for people, paintings, words, books, or anything else, and it takes me a long time to fall out of love. One does not find a woman like Consuelo everyday. Who else, besides her, could gather and make the so many opportunities shine and reveal their own mistakes, lack of justice, hypocrisy of costumes, the stinginess of the easy success, or the demagogic discourse. She had everything to shine and to be hated, envied, misunderstood. She added wisdom to knowledge, and passion to wisdom. Each one of us falls in love with someone that represents what we would like to be. This passion I have for Consuelo it is not over just because she passed away it increases constantly; every step I climb in my life I discover how important she was. A person dies alone because no one can die in our place.
Consuelo thought me that values never triumph: the fight can always restart. I should conclude that the trajectory of knowledge transcends the artifices of self-promotion, rivalries, or alliances almost mafia-style among our colleagues in the same area. Montaigne said "there is nothing more beautiful and more legitimate than a man who behaves rightly and properly". If virtue can be taught, as I believe it can, is more by examples than what can be taught in books. Consuelo's greatest virtue was to show the way to the majority of her students, always being good and correct. With Consuelo I learned that: to behave properly is, above all, to do what should be done (be polite), then do what can be done (be moral), and finally, sometimes is to do what one wants to do, does not matter how little one loves oneself (be ethical). She showed me that life is worth living.
Luiz Eduardo Imbelloni, TSA