As everyone knows who knows me... I love to read. Duhhhh. But I can't stand blood. When I shattered my wrist, I was okay until I looked at it :( Then I was seriously not okay... Just never been able to do blood - not mine.. not yours... not my child's...not even the fake stuff on t.v.
So why am I reading a book about brain surgery? I'm not sure. I do know that when the author, Dr. David Levy, starts describing his procedures, if it gets too graphic I just have to bail and skip to the next chapter. If it's not too gory and I can hang in there, I suddenly find myself rubbing my neck or my head in sympathy with the patient in the same way I find myself scratching my head when someone says "head lice".
So why am I reading this book???? Maybe it's because I just keep seeking, trying to learn from someone else, trying to get some tips from fellow travelers who have it way more together than I do.
So why am I writing a blog in the wee hours of the morning? Because I can.. since I've already taken a personal day off tomorrow from work? Yes and no....
I'm writing for myself - because I'm afraid if I wait until morning, I'll forget some of what I've learned and I really, really don't want to do that.
Okay, then... what have I learned? Well for one thing -that surgeons are typically full of themselves and proud of their objective, scientific reasoning abilities... until God gets a hold of them...
REally, the first part of the book is a pre and then post look at a man who lived the word "hubris" until he met his Messiah. When he encountered Christ things changed for him. (When E. Stanley Jones preached about Christ, someone told him If what you say isn't true, it doesn't matter. But if it is true, nothing else matters. I think Dr. Levy would agree.)
How did he change? At first, he didn't change outwardly. He was a pretty calm guy under pressure, very capable as he had always been. But privately, he was seeing that God does some amazing things in response to prayer. Finally, he reached the place where he just couldn't withhold these benefits from his patients without feeling guilty.
So he found himself praying with his patients in pre-op. As far as he knew, no other surgeon had ever done this; at least, if they had, he'd never heard about it. And he knew it would invite ridicule and scorn from his colleagues if it ever got out. So for a long time, he was careful to do it when no other medical people were around. But it wasn't feasible to keep on this way and soon he felt that God was telling him just to pray regardless of who was watching. Did he experience the things he feared - loss of respect from his colleagues, rejection? To some extent, yes. But not nearly to the degree that he expected.
Bottom line: the negative reactions were far outweighed by the positive benefits that he saw, both in his patients and in the procedures themselves. He realized that when he publicly acknowledged that God - not Dr. David Levy - held the ultimate issues of life and death - God was honored and pleased to "step in and help."
Okay. I'm with him so far. It's all good.
But the next step that he took really blew me away. He also saw how damaging bitterness, stress, and unforgiveness was to the health of his patients. Literally. So he began to search for a non-threatening way to broach the subject of forgiveness, feeling that bitterness was every bit as hard on the body as chain smoking. He reasoned that he wouldn't be much of a doctor if he didn't advise patients to quit smoking so... what kind of a doctor would he be if he didn't gently suggest that they get rid of toxic emotions?
He started gingerly approaching the issue of resentment and saw some dramatic results in those who took him seriously: chronic headaches went away, arthritis improved, etc. Don't get me wrong - he didn't see aneurysms disappear but even when he had to do procedures, the patients who had released all bitterness came through the process so much better than those who didn't.
Until he had one case that, even though he did his best and everything went right and they prayed before surgery yada yada, the outcome was still a disaster for the patient. It was probably the toughest surgery he'd ever done - very high risk. But everything truly went well -monitors showed it all went exactly according to plan. The patient could move his hands and feet in recovery which was a huge sign of success and such a relief to Dr. Levy that he actually had tears of gratitude running down his face. And then the patient began to lose control of his muscles and within 24 hours he was a quadriplegic. Dr. Levy was devastated while the patient was having trouble coming to grips with reality, wanting to know when he would be able to move again, etc.
Eventually the patient became very angry with Dr. Levy, blaming him for all of it, and the Dr.himself became angry with God. Pre-op, they were both okay spiritually and post-op they just ... weren't.
Dr. Levy tells about his own spiritual recovery and how he was able to resume praying in faith for his patients. But what gripped me most was the account of the patient. The man was extremely bitter and very hostile and within a year, his muscles atrophied to almost nothing. He only had very slight control of his right hand - enough to move a joy stick on his electric wheel chair - and that was all. And he had no hope whatsoever.
Although Dr. Levy had not caused the man's paralysis, after three years, he felt God was pushing him to make a social call on the patient - something he'd never done before. He asked permission and the man said he could come. When he arrived at the patient's house, the Dr. wasn't sure what to do or say - just felt he should check up on the guy and let him know he cared. The man was pretty much just a shell of himself and still full of smoldering resentment. Dr. Levy said what he'd said several times before: that he was sorry the procedure had not worked and that this was the very last thing that he had ever wanted to have happen.
But then he sensed God telling him to go further - that in order for the man to heal emotionally, Dr. Levy would have to ask forgiveness for putting the man in the wheel chair - something he really didn't do. This was really hard - so tough - for this gifted surgeon to do - but he did it. And then he asked if he could pray with the man. They walked through a prayer of confession, repentance and forgiveness - first on Dr. Levy's part and then on the patient's part. BEcause when Dr. Levy asked for forgiveness, it released something pent up in the man's heart.
When they finally finished praying together, the man smiled - a bigger smile than the doctor had ever seen on the guy's face - even back before the surgery. And then the man did something odd - he looked surprised and said that he felt slight electricity going down his right side. Within a few weeks the man was doing a different type of therapy and was able to use his arms to push/pull himself along between parallel bars with a professional helping him.
The guy had been slumped over in a wheel chair for three years in spite of therapy, barely able to use a toggle switch with one hand and then after verbal confession and forgiveness he was able to pull himself along on parallel bars and regain the use of his arm muscles?
I don't know about you but I think that's noteworthy.
An amazing prescription (I John 1:9, Mark 11:25, Matthew 6:14-15, James 5:16) for people who didn't even know they were ill because they really felt that their anger was justified and "normal". Last word... if you think, like I did... Oh, I know all about that stuff.. everyone knows your emotions can affect you physically.. but that doesn't apply to me b/c I don't have any problems with forgiving... then you might want a free consultation with the Great Physician, like I found I needed in the small hours of the morning. And Dr. Levy is really good at helping in that way - I recommend him; he's a great facilitator at leading a person with hidden anger and unforgiveness into the throne room of the One who holds all issues of healing in His hands.