Surgery and Prayer

Sorry for keeping some of you in the lurch.  After some initial postponements, my wife had her surgery.  Everything went well and she is resting.  I nearly had a heart attack myself when the surgery center gave me the cost sharing estimate, $3,879!!!!

FFS!

Great, if I get a new job at a lower salary… ugh.  That’ll be fun.  But at least my wife will begin to be able to reuse her hand.  More than likely she’ll need surgery on her other hand in a year or two.  She currently doesn’t qualify for carpal tunnel surgery on that hand, but by the time she qualifies we’ll have different insurance (and a different job).

I got to be honest with you, I had a small panic attack yesterday.  Surgery always makes me nervous ever since our first child.  Joshua’s birth was quite an ordeal, and I was honestly frightened that I’d lose both my baby and my wife.  That moment was the start of my mental health struggles.

So yesterday I was sitting in the waiting room, already a bit nervous, when an older couple came through the door.  Apparently they were the grandparents of a man in his 20s going in for surgery.  Grandma was a bit too cheery for a surgery waiting room.

Grandma: Can I pray for you (grandson)?

Grandson: Ugghh, sure?

Grandma: [in a ridiculously cheery voice] Dear Lord, we entrust [grandson] to your care. Be with him and help his body heal through this surgery.  Give him strength and confidence.  Lord, we just want to thank you.  In Jesus name, Amen.

There, now you’re in good hands!

Now he’s in good hands?!  Now?!

What, so if you didn’t pray God would have overlooked him?  Did God have other plans until you reminded him of your grandson’s surgery?

And you know what? Where was God for the THOUSANDS of years before antibiotics, surgery, and anesthesia?!

NOW YOUR GRANDSON IS IN GOOD HANDS?!  How good were His hands prior to modern medicine?  Did God wait till the 20th century to attend medical school?

And where is God for all those who die in surgery?  Where is God for all those who die in simple routine surgery?  Are these “good hands” tied up for still births?

If history is any proof, your grandson will be in good hands once he’s in the care of experienced and educated RNs and Doctors (RNs don’t get enough love!).  My wife lived during the birth of our first child, not because God was watching out for her, but because we live in America with some of the best nurses and doctors that the world has ever seen.  And why are these doctors so good?  Because of the scientific revolution.  100 years ago my wife and child would have died.  Where was God’s “good hands” then?

I know that the grandma was doing what she thought was helpful. While her prayer filled me with anger, I don’t blame her.  I’m not mad at her, she seems like a sweet lady.  But her faith reminded of the lack of spiritual help we actually receive.  I’ve “relied” on God for years, thinking someone was there to look out for me and save me.  But there is no one there, and that reality still hurts.

I left the waiting room and went to the hospital cafeteria.  The panic set in.  What if my wife doesn’t wake up?  How am I going to take care of my kids? What will I do without her?  Ugh! Why don’t they serve alcohol at the hospital?

Ring, ring

Nurse: Mr. Jameson?

Me: Yes

Nurse: Your wife is all done.  Would you like to see her now?

Me: Yeah, I’m in the cafeteria.  I’ll be there shortly.

Walking back to the surgery center, trying not to run.

Me: Hey baby, how you doing?

Wife: Really good.  I was having a small panic attack, but they got good anti-freak-out drugs!  So I’m going (sic) fiiiiiiiine!

Me: (to the nurse) Can I get some of that stuff?

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10 thoughts on “Surgery and Prayer

  1. Congrats on the surgery! Glad she made it through okay. I had to go through those and they made a world of difference! But damn! That’s quite a co-pay for an out-patient procedure! I looked it up and your costs are around average, which sucks.

    My best wishes to your wife for a speedy recovery! I’m sure she will be overjoyed to hold her child once again without as much pain.

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  2. The placebo/ nocebo (negative side) effect is a powerful part of the human psyche; a lot of research has been done on the effectiveness of sugar pills and how factors such as size, shape and color may contribute. (Red pills are more effective than other colours, and amazingly, placebos have an impact even if we *know* they’re placebos!). Prayer has such a powerful placebo effect: if you believe it’s going to help, it actually does help. As you say, there is no rational reason for this—but we are not rational animals but “rationalizing animals” (Robert A. Heinlein). I’m not sure what to do about this since I don’t believe, but I know that traditions and rituals exist for a reason.

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  3. So sorry to hear about that co-pay. What use is insurance these days when co-pays can still drive us to the poorhouse?

    Want to respond to what Darrell said above about prayer helping as a placebo. Actually there was a study years ago that said it didn’t help at all, that those where prayer was involved were less likely to survive. Why? Best guess (don’t really remember all the details of the study): those who faced the facts tried harder, trusted the doctors more, turned to science more, took their medicine as ordered, etc.

    So how do we deal with the grandmas and the thousands of others who want to pray for us or with us? Am I insulted? A little bit, but I’ve got enough to do without making an issue out of every peccadillo. Dawkins says something to the effect that we should be open, perhaps more confrontational, and wear our atheism as a prominent badge. But ask Neil Carter about the consequences of his father-in-law finding out where he stood. Sometimes for my own benefit I will tell a white lie or duck the question. When I know that I am not talking to anyone who is going to understand what I am talking about, I don’t try. You know, the old cliché about trying to teach a pig to sing. You just piss off the pig. Actually, the pig doesn’t care. We’re the ones who suffer frustration. So, let us pick our battles, and to me the important battle is for the minds of the young, not the old farts who know everything and have no interest in a different point of view.

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  4. Gah, Horrible copay. A friend of mine, who has the double whammy of Aspergers and inadequate schooling, has an uninsured job history; she was without insurance for about 2 decades before the ACA. She managed to accumulate roughly $40K in medical bills because of emergency surgeries and other emergency care, and she had no real hope of paying those bills off. Her current employer (our Federal government) told her to lose the debt, using bankruptcy if she had to, or lose her low-paying but otherwise ideal job. With a lot of distress (because no honest person wants to reneg on debts!) she went through bankruptcy and has had to start over.

    I share this because you might well be job-hunting with debt on your financial record, and that may come up as an issue. Many employers insist on running a credit check on future employees. They don’t like candidates with debt. So, if the issue comes up, you may need to have a ready answer. Sorry to offer bad news, but this is something you should be aware of.

    I wish I could believe in prayer to Somebody, Somewhere, because then I could pray for you. But I don’t, I can’t, and all I can do is shoot off positive vibes in your direction. That doesn’t help, I know.

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