Brainstorm with the class the list of medical terms; then write a sentence using medical terms to characterize art. Explain to the class the effect this term has on the meaning of the sentence.
An antidote is something that counteracts a poison. By associating antidote with the restoration of ability to feel for another, Kingsolver implies that the inability to feel for another is a poison. Further this poison is so noxious as to take us to the edge of numbness.
The use of the word gift instead of antidote weakens the precision of the sentence and takes away its power of association. Gift is a much more general word than antidote, and it does not offer the implicit judgment about the inability to feel for another.