Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Medical Professionals

I don't know why I've been thinking about Medical Professionals lately. Not that I want to be one. I don't think someone who faints at the sight of blood would last one day in medical school. I'm just thinking that they see a part of the human mind on a day-to-day basis that the rest of us don't really see. It must be so shocking to see how different people cope with their loved one's going through cancer treatment, or being treated after a car accident, or any of the billions of things that can go wrong with our bodies. In "What A Friend We Have In Jesus" by Chieko Okazaki (which is fast becoming my favorite book) there is the following story:
"Dr. Larry Dossey was doing his medical residency in Dallas when he treated his first cancer patient, a man with a malignancy that had spread through both his lungs. He had few treatment options and decided to have none, yet every time Dr. Dossey stopped by his room, the man was surrounded by visitors from his church, singing and praying. A year later when Dr. Dossey was working at another hospital, a colleague casually told Dr. Dossey that his former patient was still alive and asked if he wanted to see the man's chest X rays. They were completely clear. There was not sign of cancer. But he had received no treatment--unless you count prayer.
Many years later, Dr. Dossey came across a rigid, double-blind study that had been done by a cardiologist at San Francisco General Hospital. Half of a group of cardiac patients were prayed for and half were not. Those who were prayed for did significantly better. But neither the patients, nurses, nor doctors knew which group the patients were in . It stunned Dr. Dossey. He said, "If the technique being studied had been a new drug or a surgical procedure instead of prayer, it would have been heralded as some sort of breakthrough."
He began looking for other studies and found more than 100 experiments that met scientific standards. Now he researches the connection between prayer and health full time. He has come to five conclusions:
1. The power of prayer does not diminish with distance and exists outside of time. It is just as effective to pray from someone thousands of miles away as it is to pray for someone at their bedside.
2. Prayer can be continuous. To a prayerful person, an attitude of prayerfulness can continue even when doing other activities or even while he or she is asleep. Dr. Dossey quoted a spiritual leader known as Isaac the Syrian who said, "When the Spirit has come to reside in someone, that person cannot stop praying; for the Spirit prays without ceasing in him."
3. There is no right or wrong way to address God. you can say a memorized prayer or pray spontaneously, although apparently those who offer personalized prayers don't give up as quickly.
4. The best kind of prayer is not a specific list of instructions to God but a plea that leaves the method of providing the miracle up to God. Dr. Dossey pointed out that it can be quite bewildering, in dealing with a specific health problem, to know whether you should prayer for an increase or decrease of blood flow to a specific organ, for an increase or a decrease in a specific type of blood cell. Prayers of relinquishment, such as "thy will be done" may seem like giving up to some people, but they actually seem to work best.
5. Love increases the power of prayer. He told about the tangible power of this love. One survey of 10,000 men with heart disease found a 50 percent reduction in frequency of chest pain among married men who perceived their wives as supportive and loving."

I think it would be so difficult to be a nurse or a doctor. But the most challenging thing of all would seem to be seeing people who do not have a relationship with their Savior, those that have never felt the healing power of prayer.
Our favorite Medical Professional graduated last weekend, Tony Smith. Check out the wonderful photos here


Jessica said...

He's my favorite medical professional too. Great post, great story. I might have to get my hands on that book.