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Dealing With Doctors. - Comments (0)

Printer Friendly Category: Articles,Behind the Lines
Author: John Malone
Date: 19th May, 2007 @ 03:11:40 AM

“The Lord helps those who help themselves,” the physician told us.

My wife and I looked at each other, but she only saw me with her left eye.

That’s because she has lost nearly all vision in her right eye, a large “choroidal ocular melanoma” obscuring almost all vision in her right.

I do not often mingle with doctors.

My father died from cancer at 65 – when I was 36 – largely at the hands of incompetent physicians.

One of my very best friends became an M.D., but our relationship was built upon our fellowship in the Scriptures after I had led him to Christ while he attended medical school at the local Jesuit institution.

He died from cancer when he was barely 42.

My next door neighbor was a brilliant neurosurgeon. We used to talk about technology, medicine, and the Scriptures. We were real friends. He died of cancer when he was 45. Before he did, he was restored to his early faith in Jesus Christ, and wrote hymns on his Alabama death bed.

One of my heroes, Dr. J. Vernon McGee, began his radio career after cancer treatments, and went home shortly after my father.

Since those men were taken home by the Lord Jesus, my only contact in the “medical world” has been a brilliant research physician who is remarkably unorthodox, and a chiropractor: someone distinctly NOT in the “medical world.”

The doctor advising Karen and me is an accomplished specialist and researcher in the field of ophthalmology, especially focused on ocular melanomas. He’s a full professor at one of the leading tertiary care clinics for ophthalmology, the University of Iowa Medical Center. He’s an obviously intelligent person – no doubt a top 0.01% or better – energetic, and in touch with his field. He’s precise in speech, careful with words, grips statistics, and, of course, understands not only the physiology of the eye, but the impact and processes of melanoma.

Melanoma, simply, is skin cancer. You wouldn’t think it possible INSIDE an eye. But the eye is formed from three layers, and the middle one, between the corneal (front) and retinal (back) layers is a very thin layer, called the uveal (named after Latin for “grape”) layer. This layer is pigmented like all skin.

Apparently my wife had some “freckles” in that layer, at the back, which became cancerous who-knows-when and have grown aberrantly, as cancer cells do, for who-knows-how-long. These cells formed a tumor that pressured Karen’s eye enough to finally cause retinal detachment, or something quite like it, and the loss if vision in that eye is what caused her to seek advice.

As her husband, I consider it my responsibility to protect her from this advancing threat. But how do you attack cancer, especially when the cause of it is unknown? So Karen and I turned to the Scriptures, and came to Psalm 118:7. We just want to know who is on our side in things.

The doctor explains to Karen there wasn’t really anything she could have done in the way of prevention. She reviews her diet, her behavior, and a thousand other things. This is what we do when we come upon such trouble.

Karen was and is very courageous. She immediately accepted that she may lose her eye, and even began to joke about it. I am taking it worse than she is, frankly, in terms of resignation.

Much of the last week or so, I have been educating myself on cancer, and tumors in the eye. One begins to understand what Solomon meant when he discussed his weariness in study. I did not study much biology in my school days. There is some chemistry still rattling around in my mind, but it’s of the inorganic variety. My understanding of electricity is a little better, but insufficient. Mingle the sciences together, and I easily get adrift.

Nevertheless, experience has taught me that one does not abandon himself to technical “experts,” especially in matters of the human body. No one understands the interaction of the human spirit with the body, and even more so, no one understands the operations of the Spirit of God in and upon a body. The very best of minds will readily acknowledge their failure to understand the larger part of these things which are the stuff of life and death.

I know this intimately well, because I am a technical expert. Analysis is a funny thing. It has its own techniques. Proper Bible study only enhances ones skills. One of the greatest dangers in being thorough in analyzing any technical matter is familiarity. It breeds carelessness.

Therefore, reviewing the work of someone more expert than you is not/should not be troublesome to the expert, and a fresh mind used to analysis can even be a welcome help.

Sometimes, however, it IS unwelcome. I witnessed this in detail when a friend of mind, a nuclear safety engineer, asserted his prerogatives to question the overwhelming tendencies of the medical profession to prematurely announce the impending death of his (inconvenient) son who was born with what they called “type II osteogenesis imperfecta.” That young fellow outlived all expectations, and became a rallying point for a researcher and body of work to be brought to the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

At this stage we are, at least, trying to see if the Lord will spare her eye. In that effort, I am trying to leave no stone unturned, but it’s hard to get any help from professionals. I have written to a couple of the more outstanding centers of ophthalmology, including the University of Miami’s Bascom Palmer Eye Institute.

I have even called a fellow at the University of Alberta, who ostensibly has fostered a breakthrough application of a commonly available drug that seems to re-enable sleeping mitochondria in cancer cells so they will wake up, and trigger the self destruction of the cancer cells (apoptosis). I reading about the complexities of our body’s operations at the cellular level, one readily agrees with the psalmist about our construction.

All of these considerations devolve upon us to weariness, and when sleep is robbed, we simply grow weary, and collapse into tomorrow. When Karen is sleeping, sometimes I put my hand on her head, near her eye, and ask the Lord to heal her, even though I realize that physical healing, while possible, is not promised in the atonement.

These doctors are people, too. They have their own lives, their own hopes, their own fears.

I have to keep telling myself that.

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