Sunday, May 18, 2014

Normal Patient, Extraordinary Moments

It was the most normal of surgeries for me. An abdominal hysterectomy. Big fibroids distorting the uterus and causing heavy bleeding. Her story was all too common, not at all thrilling. She had lost significant amounts of blood from the menstrual flow, and her blood level was one third or one fourth the amount of normal. Each time she stood up, the dizziness came because she had lost too much to really sustain herself anymore. She had already received one bag of blood replacement, and two more were on the way. So, I gave her the options of medicines versus surgery, and she desired a hysterectomy to remove the offending uterus and permanently stop the bothersome flow of blood. The bleeding was too much to send her away, so I put her on the schedule for the next morning.

The case went well, no complications, no excitement. And just as I was closing up, I heard her crying, almost weeping. I leaned over the curtain that separates the body from the face, usually keeping the humanity veiled away from the surgical field. I asked, “Is she okay?”, wondering if she was feeling pain from the surgery. The response was rewarding. She was weeping for joy. She had just asked the anesthetist if the bleeding would ever return (which I did cover in my counseling, but she must have not completely understood). When he told her that she would never again have this problem, the tears began to flow. She heaved her chest as she gasped air in between sobs. And then she began to sing praises to the Lord. A sweet, sweet moment breaking through the ordinary clamps, knots, scissors, scalpel of routine surgery.

Just a half hour before, while I had my hands buried in her abdomen assessing the size and mobility of the distorted uterus, I had thought about how blessed I am to be able to operate. Blessed that people would trust me inside their bodies. Blessed that I’ve had training to provide good surgical skills. Blessed that God cares for my patients long after my hands have finished their work.

My contentment in my calling, and her delight in newly found relief from the heavy burden she bore mixed together in that operating room – swirling around in worship to the God who gives good gifts, and allows us to do the same. I’m grateful to be able to pour energy and life into another. And I’m grateful that He is the One who she praised and glorified. 

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