Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Baby Talk and Prayer

In the past few weeks as my wife's pregnancy has progressed, now to 24 weeks, I have begun talking to the baby here and there. Usually it is right before bed when I'm pretty tired, which causes some interesting trains of thought to run out of my mouth. Often though I find it challenging to talk to the baby and of course, being the future physician & scientist that I am I need to figure out why. That's when I realized that talking to the baby in my wife's womb has striking parallels to...

Prayer. Yes, I am comparing baby talk to praying to God Almighty. Let me explain.

1. In both cases I'm talking to somebody that I have an important, soul-level connection with yet,
2. The person is an unknown mystery to me
3. The person has great power to ultimately change my life
4. In both cases I fear my ability to hold up my end of the bargain in the relationship
5. Both provide me with infinite learning opportunities
6. Both can and will bring me moments of great joy and happiness, and moments of frustration and... frustration
7. and the list goes on and on.

Anyhow, whenever you make analogies there is always the point at which the analogy fails. God of course loves me unconditionally despite my flaws, while the baby in its humanity will have periods of conditional love for me.

Ultimately though I think that my struggle results from my inability to consistently have faith in what I cannot see. I have always said that my faith struggles with God are caused by my scientific nature of needing to observe with sight, sound, and touch. However, the baby is narrowing that definition for me. I can feel the baby kick inside Katrina. I can hear its heartbeat on the monitor. I can even see the ultrasounds and Katrina's womb growing. However, I cannot see the baby directly and that is the disconnect. That is my disconnect with God as well when I'm not in tune with other aspects of my reality with Him, which is vastly more often than I would like.

So that is the dilemma that I'm working through.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Human Condition VS. The Human Physician

As a modern medical student I am fortunate to attend a medical school that has required curriculum in medical ethics. Normally in this class we discuss the ethics of issues like medical justice, rationing of limited supplies (i.e. donated organs), spirituality in medicine, etc. Today however, we strayed a bit onto the personal side, the human side of the physician, talking openly about the skeleton in each physician's closet...

Medical mistakes have historically been something physicians do not discuss for several reasons. First, admitting a mistake means admitting fallibility in a profession that commands perfection from all angles. Second, fallibility is not too far from loss of self-confidence and loss of peer respect. Third, our society is vehemently litigious.

Most physicians make very few mistakes in any given time period and only a small percentage of those mistakes do harm to a patient. However, even a harmless mistake, once realized by the physician creates deep feelings of anxiety, self-directed anger, fear, and oftentimes depression. These more severe responses are certainly heightened as the magnitude of harm done to the patient increases. But, for the 3 reasons listed above, and many more unmentioned, the physician is not allowed to deal with those emotional and spiritual issues in a psychologically healthy way. Many spend the better part of their career carrying this baggage until they learn to deal with it effectively or unfortunately turn to alcoholism, drug abuse, divorce, and suicide.

How we deal with this problem is a topic for a different discussion. My point today is the significance that this was discussed at length by 200+ future physicians in small groups today at Des Moines University. This is a historic paradigm shift for this profession! Today students were given the opportunity to understand that we will eventually make dire mistakes despite all the best intentions and training we'll have. We learned that we need to prepare for this by having support systems in place so that these events can be properly processed, grieved, and learned from. This is a great time in medicine now that physician's are beginning to care for their own physical, spiritual, and mental health. Hopefully more take action in these areas.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Am I Chicken Little?

So if I remember right, in one version of the old fable, Chicken Little is actually right about the sky falling. In this real world case I would like you to look back at my February blog, The Hole in Health Care Reform and then take a few minutes to read this NY Times article about the current health care situation in Massachussetts:

In Massachusetts, Universal Coverage Strains Care by Kevin Sack.

If you are really bored you should take some time to review the testimony from the February 12th hearing of the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) committee. In short, the same thing will happen nationwide as is happening in Massachussetts if we get the 47 million Americans insured by EITHER universal health care or free market. The title of the hearing was:

"Addressing Healthcare Workforce Issues for the Future"

I still believe in Universal Health Care variants that provide a government operated OPTION to compete with private health care insurers, but we do have to address the health care provider shortage. I certainly am saddened that there may now be true and significant examples to validate my fears from my original blog.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

A Beautiful Face

This afternoon Katrina and I had the amazing privilege of seeing our baby's face for the first time at our 20 week ultrasound (pics below). We held each other's hand, shed a tear or two, smiled a whole lot, and both tried to decipher as much of the images on our own as we could, still relying a lot on the technician to point out various organs, bones, etc. We also kept true to our desire to not find out the sex of the baby officially. This was a very unique experience for me because I tried so hard to only view the ultrasound through the eyes of an expectant father and not as a medical student. I guess that is the challenge I will face the rest of my life... to take the physician glasses off when necessary. Anyhow, enjoy the pictures by clicking below!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Unfortunate Reality Check - Islamophobia

Please take a moment to watch the video linked below. It is a several minute clip from ABC’s newsmagazine ‘PrimeTime’. We all need to examine ourselves for how we feel about Muslims and the Islam faith. This video was both saddening and uplifting to see both responses, definitely uplifting to see those who supported this woman. I was most deeply touched by the father of an Iraq soldier who came to this woman’s aid.


Christianity has had a tendency to isolate and allow this type of discrimination to occur both within and outside the church. This is definitely not Christ-like and not the teachings of the Jesus that is my savior. While I and other Christians know the importance of faith in Jesus Christ, we must ensure that Christ-like values of grace and love are shown to the world and not anti-muslim, anti-gay, anti-whatever. Just a little reality check amidst our deep engrossment in the chaos of all our lives.