This I Believe

Michael - San Diego, California
Entered on March 2, 2007

I believe that the most powerful healing medicine is love.

“Bible To Bedside”

And there I was. At morning rounds.

The day began as any other.

My list given to me on a crisp and clean sheet of paper.

With names of my patients neatly printed on it.

Soon to be folded, crumpled, written on, and stuffed in my pocket.

I glance at the ‘To Do’ list.

A busy service already.

1 admission in the Emergency Dept waiting, 1 woman on labor deck

And 3 discharges that have to happen before noon.

Our team divides and conquers.

One intern to Labor and Delivery

One intern to the Emergency Dept.

And I send the medical student to start on one of the discharges.

All with instructions to page if any questions.

I then head to the 7th floor.

This one should be easy and quick, I tell myself.

A discharge to Hospice.

Our team had valiantly taken care of him over the last three weeks.

And now, the only organ that was NOT failing him was his mind.

He had made the decision to switch to Hospice the day before.

And all that was left from me was a dictated note, a few signatures,

And to say goodbye.

As I walked in the room, I noticed a smile on his face for the first time in days.

And a deeper meaningful look behind his eyes.

I sat down at the desk and pulled out his chart.

Signing here and there, dictating notes,

And answering the multitude of pages I received.

I get up and walk over to his bed.

“Hi Doctor!” he says with enthusiasm behind his voice.

“Looks like I leave here today…”

His line of thought is interrupted by my pager.

As I was getting up to answer it, he says,

“I was wondering… could you get me a Bible before I leave here?”

“Sure, No problem” I say answering my page.

Contemplating just exactly how that was going to happen.

“Bible to Bedside” I wrote down on the nursing order sheet.

I then went about my business.

Sure enough, to my own surprise, five minutes later,

A Bible shows up.

I watch as the nurse gives it to him and he gently holds it with his hands.

My pager goes off. Another admit.

As I got up to say goodbye,

He gave me a look that I will never forget.

With tears in his eyes, he outstretched his arms, and said

“Dr. can you spare just a few moments and hold my hand before I leave?”

“I need human contact”

Those words hit me like a ton of bricks.

I had been so busy managing his medical problems and paperwork

And all the organs that reside inside of him

That I had overlooked a human

And that Sacred Essence that resides in all of us.

I took a brief moment to look at myself.

And there I was.

A finely tuned machine of modern medicine.

Years of knowledge, education, and experience to get me to this point.

Comfortable managing a multitude of complicated medical problems,

Cellphone, pager, PDA, and computer all at my fingertips.

And all of that knowledge and information…

Completely and Utterly useless

At this particular moment, with this patient.

And then,

The five words that I put down on my medical school application

Began to haunt me.

“I want to help people”

I took a moment to appreciate what was occurring.

Here was a man whose body was dying.

But his Spirit was still alive.

A Spirit wanting to share one last moment,

In this lifetime.

And it was his Spirit that was reaching out,

Knowing that I was the one that needed help.

It was at this moment that I turned off my pager,

Put down my stethescope and signout.

I pulled up a chair beside him.

Reached out

And held the hand of another human being.

He thumbed through the Bible, silently reading a few passages.

And I continued to just be there.

Holding his hand for what felt like an eternity.

The words were still echoing inside of me.

“I want to help people”

And there I was.

Holding his hand,

Learning how to do just that.