Monday, March 3, 2014

Miracles Miracles Everywhere But Not a One I See

Two years ago this past month my Dad was in the intensive care unit (ICU) for two weeks on a ventilator (machine that breathes for him).  I came home one day from the hospital scream sobbing because I knew he was going to die.  My sister and I were 4 and 5 months pregnant respectively and my brother and sister in law were 8 months pregnant.  Those were the worst days of my life.

I have a rule about hospitals.  I work in them every day so I know how they work.  If you are unable to speak for yourself, someone has to be there at all times to advocate for you.  I am especially interested in patient safety and know that you are more likely to die of a medical error in a hospital than to die of motor vehicle accidents, HIV, and breast cancer combined. I have four siblings and between us, our significant others, and my mom we tried to be there all day every day around the clock.  This was very hard on all of us with families, work, and babies on the way.  Circumstances and exhaustion being what they were I was there  I burned through my accumulated days off that I had been saving for my maternity leave to post vigil by his side.  I couldn't do the nights because I needed to be home, but I was the physician of the family so I felt it was my duty to be there to ask questions, get answers, and fill in the gaps during the day. 

I had two small humans at home with a third on the way.  I went to my obstetrician (OB) for no reason other than I was irrationally terrified that all this stress was killing my unborn baby.  I could barely hold on, how could this small human growing inside of me?  I wanted to hear SH3's heartbeat.  I don’t know how he knew, but he offered to pray with me.  I sobbed as he prayed and couldn't believe how he knew that is exactly what I needed at that moment.  
SH3 and her Pa Pa sharing laughs and a snack

I have thought of this moment often when I am trying to muster the courage to pray with someone I care for in the hospital. Do they want me to?  Will they be offended?  What if they say no?  I had never discussed God or faith with my OB, but he knew that what I needed was completely out of his hands.

Last week there was a conference in my hospital about medical miracles and all those speaking had very strong faith the evidence of which was beautifully bursting out of them.  This patient had lived because of prayer when by all accounts she should have died.  She has since gone on to do amazing things and is a lovely person with purpose.  I left thinking, what about when things are awful and you never find out why they were so terrible?  What if I never get my “Why me God?” answer?   Does my suffering have a reason?  I felt cheated.  In the Bible Hebrews 11:1 says Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.  Faith to me is trusting God in the moments that have no answer or conceivable reason; confidence in those situations that God does exist and is real.   

A few months after his hospitalization my dad was healed from the crippling spine degeneration and back pain he had for 20 years.  I am a physician and have, in some capacity, helped my dad and watched him struggle with this disease my entire adult life.  It was real and horrible until one day when it was gone.  Elephant tranquilizing doses of pain medications abruptly stopped without withdrawal symptoms.  Oxygen no longer needed.  He could touch his toes.  A miracle, no one will ever convince my family or I otherwise.  My mom had prayed every single day for over 20 years for a miracle and when it was here we couldn't believe it.   We kept waiting with bated breath for it to all go away—days, weeks, months passed.  He is healed and it didn't go away.

My parents watch SH3 by herself sometimes when my husband volunteers at SH2's school.  It is rare that SH3 has the undivided attention of two adults, so I know they all relish the time.  My mom captured the picture above and texted it to me on one such morning.  It made me cry and strangely enough I wasn't sure why.  Faith is the assurance of things hoped for...  If you had asked me two years ago if my father would ever be sitting comfortably at a kiddie table laughing and snacking with his baby granddaughter I would have refuted it immediately.  It was not for lack of faith; I was just being realistic.  I am not sure I could have even hoped that something so wonderfully simple could ever happen. 

With one snapshot the evidence of things not seen suddenly became something I actually could see, a tangible poor quality cell phone camera image.  Photographic evidence that it is not about me at all.  My "Why me?" just became "Thank you God for using me" to bring SH3 into the world (and SH1 and SH2 for that matter) to help restore my father's health and zeal for life and small humans.  There are miracles around me most of them happen to be in the form of beautiful small humans, three of which are perfect little ladies born knowing a Pa Pa that I could only hope to dream they would ever meet.  I just need to look a little harder for the evidence.  God is real. These are my miracles, all of them.

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