It has been a long time since I wrote in my blog. The holiday season is very busy for surgeons (having met their deductible, many people try to have surgery before the end of the year), and then the time just got away from me. I started this entry right before Thanksgiving.
As a Christian, my life is dedicated to trying to bring glory to God in any little way that I can. Now, I often fail, but it’s a striving and a focus that informs my day to day living. I don’t think that we have a “spiritual life” and a separate “secular life”. I think it is all integrated. As such, when I come into an exam room or the operating room, I am thinking “What is God doing here? How can I join in with His work?” Sometimes it is as simple as giving her an antibiotic, other times it is praying about a struggle in her life, or praying that the surgery and recovery go well, and using my surgical skills to help her.
I used to pray with every patient before surgery and take a spiritual history on every patient, but that began to seem a little too rote and forced. Now I follow the leading of the Spirit. When I feel that I need to pray or ask probing questions, I do it. It is amazing how God answers, often in ways I didn’t expect. Just the other day, I prayed with a patient who had just found out she had rectal cancer. I could see that she needed the comfort of knowing that God will be with her in her fight.
Patients are often surprised to have their doctor pray with and for them. Sometimes I feel a little silly praying for a what is for me a simple routine bladder lift; I mean, it’s not brain surgery or heart surgery. But then again, for the patient, there is nothing simple or routine about it. I typically pray for the surgery to go well, for the entire OR team, for the patient to be healed and to recover well, and for her to have peace as she goes into surgery. Most patients are very grateful for the prayer. Occasionally I can see that someone feels uncomfortable, so I try to be sensitive to that before I pray.
I have some examples that show how God has answered prayers in my practice and in my life. One day the robot at the hospital broke down before my case. That was just one of many things that had happened that day. There were odd delays and unexpected events that occurred. Everyone did great and no one was harmed by any of the issues. But it was really stressful on me, because things weren’t going smoothly. I just continued to lean on the Lord and pray for my patients and for our whole surgical team. One of my patients told me that she was shocked when I prayed for her, but she told me that a sense of peace filled her heart and any nervousness that she had was gone. Her surgical procedure was changed at the last minute due to the equipment malfunction so there was a lot of anxiety for her. But the Lord gave her amazing peace. She is now several weeks postop and doing great.
Another example was a stone case. I had been covering this patient in prayer for a few days prior to the surgery date due to her underlying health issues and the size of her stone. This case went from a simple laser case to an open bladder case because the stone was bigger and harder than anticipated. I was also concerned because I thought the bladder had partially ruptured when I was using the laser. When I realized that I had to open her up, I called my office to let them know that I would be running late for my other patients due to the change in the plan. I didn’t know it at the time, but my staff then all took a moment to join hands and pray for our patient. Well, the open surgery went about 500% better than I had expected: there was no rupture, the bladder was not as malformed as I thought it might be given her underlying disease, and the stone popped right out (it was about a 4 inch stone). Another answered prayer! She recovered beautifully and is doing better than ever.
Not only do I pray for my patients, but my staff does, too. We all get to participate in what God is doing. He cares about every part of our lives, even our urological health!
I have always been so thankful for the privilege of being a doctor and specifically a female urologist. I hope that God is honored in my service to my patients. I am humbled for the opportunity.