Wednesday, November 2, 2011

At the Famedio (Milan's "Pantheon") the "Greats of Milan" will be honored, today, including my dear sweet departed husband, Prof. Em. Mario Tiengo

I don't usually share personal things on this blog, lots of other people do that so you don't need yet another stream o' consciousness, but today my personal life and wonderful Milan coincide. Today, my dear sweet husband, Mario Tiengo, whose death a year ago blew out the light in my life, is being honored among the "Greats of Milan."...More......

How to sum up such a great man in so few words? How to even begin to record, let alone transmit, everything he did for Italians suffering from acute, chronic and psychogenic pain? For palliative care? For those giving childbirth, preferably painlessly? To raise the awareness of general practitioners and pharmacists about pain therapy? The international fame that he brought to Milan? His almost countless publications and organized conferences, his participation in the founding of so many principal Italian anesthesiology and pain therapy professional associations and journals?

For decades dedicated to profound scientific, philosophical, cultural and sociological studies in the field, Mario founded the world's first university chair in the physiology and therapy of pain at the State University of Milan in 1982, and covered the role until his retirement in the 1990s.

He founded and directed one of the first, if not the first, pain clinics in Italy, the Padiglione Bergamasca, made possible by a generous donation of the Bergamasca-Visconti family in honor of one of their beloved family members whom Mario had helped.

He founded and directed the Anesthesiology and Intensive Care department at Milan's Mangiagalli hospital dedicated to gynecology and obstetrics, bringing epidural analgesia to Italian women.

He participated in the birth of palliative care in Italy, though his focus remained acute, chronic and psychogenic pain.

The latter interested him particularly in the last decades of his life because he saw in it a heuristic tool for trying to understand the great philosophical question that has fascinated humans for millennia, the 'brain-mind' question, in other words, where does our consciousness come from, a soul that is a thing existing apart from the body, or the 'mere' result of the incredible complexity of our brains? Scientists succeed in finding ever smaller particles and ever more rapid electrical and chemical transmissions, but we still don't know what connects our outer reality to our inner reality. For this reason, of all the historic great minds his favorite was Descartes, who thought to identify this point of contact in what he called the "pineal gland." "Let us not disparage Descartes for his 'poor science', rather, let us remember that he described and analyzed using the knowledge and terminology of his day," Mario always said, "just because something can't be detected and measured doesn't mean that it doesn't might mean that we simply don't have the right tools, yet."

Open minded, with a sincere interest in all and others around him, a big heart, genuinely concerned for his patients, whom he saw as sufferers and not as numbers, a scintilating intellect and a captivating speaker and teacher able to gauge even the most complicated concepts to the audience he had in front of him, an adored and adoring husband, a life and soul companion, his death has left Milan and the world much poorer, and has left me teetering on the edge of a bottomless abyss, held up only by the wings of his love.

Born in the Veneto, but transferred to Milan to get his medical degree, Mario remained in this marvelous city, learned to speak the Milanese dialect, and--like me--became an adopted Milanese, unable even to conceive of living somewhere else.

Thank you, Milan, for this great honor bestowed on such a great and worthy man.

(For more about Prof. Em. Mario Tiengo, here's the website I dedicated to him; he wrote the texts in Italian, and I translated them into English: "Good Evening Doctor,"


Margaret said...

I'm so glad you shared this. I am so sorry you lost him, and I am glad that you can see how much he meant to the people of Milan.

Anonymous said...

Incredible remarkable man... I truly hope that the pain you feel can be somewhat lessened knowing how much your husband was able to do and give for others. Thank you for sharing.

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