Friday, November 04, 2005

Dr. Bob -- another great post

I thought I was done posting for the day. One last glance at this morning's unfinished reading (I have about ninety or so sites on Bloglines...have to click the "Mark All Read" feature about every other day, drop back a few yards and punt.) and I got snagged. Here's another gotta read:

I have long marveled at an observation I rarely hear made: that a patient, a complete stranger, after one or two short visits, allows a surgeon to perform what is often a high-risk surgical procedure on their body, with something approaching blind trust. Granted, there is trust accrued in the degree, the board certification, the training, and hopefully the reputation of the surgeon you (or more likely, your family doctor) have chosen. But in reality, the information gap is real, and the leap of faith substantial. The “eyeball test” only goes so far: is the personable, knowledgeable professional you meet in the office a ham-handed clumsy oaf in the OR? Is the obnoxious, cold, arrogant technician a highly competent surgeon (a dichotomy often imagined as the norm), or instead a hot-headed impulsive boor whose ego trumps caution in surgery while denigrating all around him? Fortunately, neither scenario is typical–most surgeons are well-trained, professional, and highly competent–but how will you know?

He has described a procedure that failed to go as planned.
But Dr. Bob is a man of God whose surgery includes more than other people in scrubs and a cabinet full of medical supplies.

You see, I pray before surgery–and I prayed before this one, for guidance, wisdom, and good judgement, as I often do. If you are of a skeptical bent, and disinclined to give weight to such superstition, at least humor me by accepting that such an act might focus the mind and center the soul. But only a fool would deny that there is much beyond our control–and few things teach this lesson more clearly than surgery. It was not always thus: I have lived a life where skills and talent were all that was needed to succeed–a formula which led me inexorably on a downward spiral of failure. So I pray.

But to pray is to expect answers–and with that lies the unspoken assumption that all will turn out as I would wish. And so, it is God’s fault–is it not?–if the outcome is not what I would desire. Did I not have my patient’s best interest at heart in this request? Would not a good God answer this prayer to the benefit of both me and those He entrusted to my care? And so it appears, ipso facto, that God screwed up–and I get to take the heat. Bum rap, it seems to me.

But maybe–just maybe–there is a bigger picture in all this. Maybe I get to learn how little really is under my control. Maybe I learn to depend more on Him than on myself. Maybe–and this is a tough one–my shortcomings, my imperfections, which can cause harm as easily as my skills beget good–can work beneficially in some unfathomable way, even for those who must bear the suffering of these very imperfections. Some of the worst, most painful episodes in my own life have proven in the long run to be blessings unimaginable at the time–perhaps it can also be thus for others, even when I am the instrument of such adversity. A frightening thought, this–a terrible power.

Just. Go. Read. You will find it worth your time.
(But if time is limited, go to the next post about Theo van Gogh, which took a lot more time and effort. Bookmark Dr. Bob for later.)

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