On May 18th, I texted our daughter, “Grace, I just received some info on doctor I was planning to start with, which raised questions about him from interns who had worked with him. Could you pray and give me any guidance you might have?” (Grace is our second daughter.)
It was just six days before I was scheduled for my first PRP (Platelet Rich Plasma) treatment with this physician. Grace asked for his name, checked online reviews and found only positives. Well, there was one negative, but she dismissed it for a number of reasons. She sent me one review written by someone who had had the same kind of treatment for a torn rotator cuff. She wrote, “This doctor specializes in PRP treatment. Having a specialty in an area is really valuable. Another doctor might be good, but it doesn’t mean they will be good at the exact thing you are going for.”
Her words helped. I decided to stay with him.
After my first treatment, more questions came to my mind, so I called another doctor who said two things which really helped: “Yours is a great doctor,” and “The physiology works.” That last phrase has been so encouraging. I remind my shoulder of this frequently, “You have what you need to heal! Thank you for doing just that!”
This past week I went for my second treatment. My doctor, 48, and I were chatting before we started. I asked how he had been, which moved to how the year had been. He lamented, “It is so heavy as so many people come in with sadness and fear because of the pandemic.”
“This has been a year riddled with losses. It makes sense the emotions accompanying loss walk in here,” I responded. “Loss brings grief. But if we don’t process the grief, we are left stuck with heavy emotions.”
Whatever I said, struck a chord, for he said, “I’ve had so many losses this year.”
“What’s happened?” I asked.
My doctor began to share. “My youngest brother was hit and killed by a truck, while crossing the street November 6, 2020. Then, January 3rd, just when we began to think perhaps this new year would be better, my father-in-law called unable to walk across the room. I told him, ‘Dad, hang up, dial 911. You need help.’ The same day, my older brother was rushed to the hospital. He’d had a stroke. He had been the caretaker for my mom, who has alzheimer’s. Both my brother and wife’s father died days later, within a week of one another. My wife flew back to be with her dad before he died and help her mom.”
He choked up, “People brought meals every day. Every day.” Then, he stopped himself, “I shouldn’t be sharing like this. I never do this.”
“No fear, doctor,” I said. “People talk to me.”
He shared more. He stood, wiped his eyes and blew his nose. Then, re-masked, sat down and said, “You are a good listener.”
There we were, my doctor sitting on the patient bed and me in the chair, asking him questions. He shared how they had held a “surfer’s memorial” for his youngest brother in December.
“I wore my deceased brother’s wet suit. Around fifty other surfers, some friends I hadn’t seen since high school, 30 years before, paddled out into the surf at dusk in California and circled our boards beyond the waves. We shared about my brother’s life. There were 200 people standing on the beach and more on the cliff above. I shared about the danger of drugs and alcohol, for my brother had been so damaged because of addiction.”
His pain was palpable in the room but so was the presence of Jesus.
“While we were out there, fire trucks arrived. One of my buddies said, ‘Hey, look. I wonder if they are here because we are breaking restrictions.’ I didn’t care. After I got out of the water and got up to the top of the stairs, the chief came up to me and said, ‘We are here to support you all in honor of your deceased brother.’ I was so surprised.”
Before we moved toward my treatment, I asked, “Could I pray for you?”
“I would welcome that,” he said, resuming his place on the patient bed.
I prayed and after saying amen, opened my eyes to see my doctor, still sitting there, eyes closed, soaking in the prayer. He spoke softly, eyes still shut, “That was the most beautiful prayer.” And then after sitting there longer, he stood, wiped his eyes, and said, “Thank you.”
We shared into a scripture story (here’s the story I shared) and how God can use even bad stuff to bring about good results. He drew my blood, then spun it to separate the platelets and plasma. Eventually, I got to lay on the patient bed so he could inject my shoulder.
When done with the injections, he asked, “Could I give you a hug?”
“Absolutely,” I said.
Then he said, “You know. Would you, could you…” He paused, then began again, “We are having a memorial service for both my brothers next month. Could I fly you down for it? I’d like you to be there and pray for us.”
I was astounded. “I’d be honored,” I said.
As I stepped out of his office, my doctor followed me out and announced to his wife, the admin and the next patient, “I love this man!”
I laughed, astounded, as did the others. Here I had questioned whether this was the right doctor.
Clearly, I had been sent. I thought back to a favorite line from the 1992 movie Sister Act, “God has brought you here, take the hint.”
Where has God brought you?