Can you remember a time when you’ve had to do something that you really, really didn’t want to do? So much so, that you would have preferred, for example, to stand in the middle of the mall singing show tunes, or sleeping outside, for a week, in the heat of summer?
Then you can imagine how much I didn’t want to go to an appointment I had with a particular physician a couple of weeks ago. You see, I…don’t know how else to say this…I despise him…and I hoped I would never have to be treated by him ever again. (Aren't you impressed with my godliness?! Well, it gets worse...keep reading.)
I have been his patient two times already. First, was soon after facial pain burst into my life when I was scared to death and desperate for answers. After Dr. Mason wasn't able to recreate the pain during his examination, I convinced him to let me jog around his parking lot, believing (wrongly) that my pain worsened upon physical exertion. You’ve really got to read my post--it’s quite a story! ("On Being Treated Like an Idiot"- Feb 11, 2011)
Bottom line, I was completely humiliated by Dr. Mason and his staff, and it was the first time I realized how people experiencing “invisible” pain could be written off as “head cases”.
A few years later I had to undergo surgery with Dr. Mason, having been told he was the best surgeon for my, now visible problem. Still, his manner was dismissive and I was treated as an overly emotional person who had made a bigger deal of my pain than was necessary. This time, I let him know his behavior was disrespectful of me along with everyone else who suffered with severe pain. He couldn’t have cared less.
You can imagine, then, how I felt when a physician referred me to Dr. Mason for the third time, after seeing something on an x-ray that concerned him. I knew he wouldn’t recommend Dr. Mason if he didn’t believe it wasn’t the best option for me. I agreed to go, and left his office politely, although as soon as I got into my car, I acted like a three year-old throwing a tantrum. I tossed my purse into the seat beside me, slammed my water bottle into its holder, and exclaimed angrily, “I can’t believe I have to put myself through this again!”
I have undergone several painful and scary procedures, in addition to three brain surgeries. You’d think I’d be able to handle one painless doctor's visit. However, on the morning of my appointment with Dr. Mason, I was a basket case. A good friend, Sandy, was over and suggested we pray for the impossible…for Dr. Mason to treat me with respect, proper care, and kindness.
I almost smirked during the prayer.
Something amazing happened though. When Dr. Mason came in to see me, he looked me in the eye (for the first time ever) and asked me what was going on. In the past he had always read the faxes from the referring physicians and sought little input from me. Throughout our appointment, Dr. Mason treated me like an equal, as together we discussed my case, looked at my x-rays and decided on the next step. (minor exploratory surgery). Not one negative or dismissive remark was spoken. I was too amazed to respond when his voice filled with compassion just as we were finishing up our time together, “I know you are concerned about this and so am I," he said. Let’s just take this one step at a time, okay?” We walked out in the hall together, as I stuttered a thank you.
Just as I turned to walk away, wondering what in the world had just happened, he called out, “I’m sorry, Judi, but it is going to take longer than I’d like to schedule you for surgery. I am recovering from some surgery myself--knee surgery--so I’m a bit behind.”
“So that’s it!” I thought, a light bulb going off in my head. “He’s experienced life as a patient and it’s made him a better doctor!.” I left his office, glad for an explanation for his changed behavior.
Not a single cell of my prefrontal cortex reminded me
of the prayer lifted up by Sandy only a few hours earlier.
I called Sandy when I got home, though, to tell her about the change in Dr. Mason’s demeanor, and my opinion about it. Sandy listened before responding in her gentle way, “Yes, maybe being a patient does explain the change in him. Or maybe, it’s because we prayed for him to be different, and God made it happen. Either way, God granted our request!”
God had granted our request, and I had not once considered this possibility.
Sandy, without intending to do so, shined a light into a dark area of my soul --my lack of faith, and my hypocrisy. I am always talking about the importance of prayer, and just had an article published on prayer in a little magazine called "The Lookout" . Yet, I don't live really expecting God to answer my prayers.
…God forgive me.
And I hope you, my fellow sojourners and friends, will forgive me too. I better believe now that God answers our prayers and we can live expecting Him to do so. Please don’t let me forget that, or forget the scriptures I have pasted below as a reminder.