I remember when I was in University studies in the States, I was assigned to a regional hospital to make the rounds with an ER doctor. I spent one year shadowing one of the most sincere and respected ER medical physician in the region.
Week after week, the cases that he saw in the ER ranged from various injuries, accidents, medical conditions, drug overdoses, and even some wanting a doctor's permission for a few days off from work. I remember the worst and best cases as those memories float quickly to the forefront of my mind. Inclusive, were, tragically, domestic abuse situations, fatal car crashes, and fatalities related to gang violence. As I sped through the year, with my coursework, and commuting to and from the regional hospital, I learned so much about the human spirit to survive and thrive through the worst of pain to endure another opportunity to breathe again.
Regardless of scientific research, I do know that God's presence in the ER certainly changed the dynamics of the patients outlook on the situation. Whether blood was gushing from a chain saw/tree cutting cocktail or the dehydrated flu case, God was always fully present when someone prayed. Regardless, also, of the outcome, whether flat-lined read out on vitals, or discharge from ER, God still remained in the midst of the stormy moments of rain.
I learned about praying for patients while in the ER from my mother. I remember when I had reconstructive jaw surgery, and was wired shut with what seemed like Edward Scissorhand's gloves, there were foggy moments in ICU for few hours recovery. My mom told me later, that my blood pressure and vital signs had gone up substantially at one point, and doctors were keeping a close eye on the situation in case my vitals took a sharp turn. She told me that she came close to my bed, and watched the monitor that was recording my vitals. She began to pray, and she watched my vitals return to normal levels as soon as she asked Christ to fill me with peace.
I guess I could say that it was nice of her to pray. It certainly kept a smooth transition from surgery into recovery. Thanks to God as well who prompted my Mom to pray, and there, within that point, lies the secret... do we listen to that nudge of stepping out "normalcy" to embrace the Christ, who never settled for normalcy.
Who wants to settle for normalcy when Christ Himself walked on water? Peter, wanting to be with Christ, got out of his normal life in the fishing boat to be close to Christ, which, to me, exemplifies the exact place where each would want to be.
I certainly have a long journey to get to that sweet place, but I know that in the midst of that long journey, is the realization that I will arrive. As Peter must have known, once he looked into the eyes of Christ, that he, one day, would arrive.
Its about where we keep our eyes, I reckon, and where we keep our focus. On what I remember most about my ER boss's lessons were about where I kept my focus. One of my biggest struggles in the ER, working with the physician was the distracting deterrents. Whether it be, as I stated, blood dropping to the floor, eye sockets seeping out fluids, or the mixing screams of bones being placed back in joint with the melting shrieks of the patients voice, I never seemed to rid myself from the attachment. The true blow to the head came one night around 1030pm when a man was admitted for knife wound.
It wasn't something I hadn't seen before, but what I got to do was something of a first virgin type step for me. My ER boss was dealing with several cases that were slammed in within a few moment's apart. It was Friday night, and believe it or not, yes, much to the strangeness of the myth, a full moon was out that night.
I wouldn't blame the full moon on the sequence of events, however, it was a full moon, nonetheless. The doctor and I were checking on the knife wound. The man was beside himself with pain. Lidocaine, morphine, and a few other locals were given, and he became a calm and gentle soul. Th wound had been cleansed, wiped out, and ready for packing. The doctor heard screams down the hall.
"here, pack this up," and handed me the packing tape, gauze, and instruments to allow the open wound to heal up. It was going to be a long night for this guy. I began to pack the wound as it was a nasty hole that needed to heal from the inside out.
I didn't feel so good.
As I hit the floor, like a stiff board of timber that had been hacked by a chain saw, I remember the man commenting on my sudden bolt to the floor as the doctor rushed back in. My head hit the floor, as I remember focusing on, not the packing of the wound, but the man's bloody screams of pain.
I had taken my eyes off the purpose. I had taken my eyes off the goal and the task, and focused on the distracting winds of stormy rains.
Just the other day, that happened again, except it wasn't a blow to my head, but to my spirit...
I've founded a soccer club in Perû, which allows an opportunity for marginalized communities to rally together in unification projects to promote wellness through sport. Through generous partners that are globally connected, these teams provide a source of safety, hope, and pride for all members. We are currently competing in Copa Alianza en the region of Villa Maria, andour team has secured the first two wins of the first two games.
The blow to the head came within the first 20 minutes of the first half. One of our best players sustained a nasty blow to his head. It wasn't easy for anyone when he hit the ground like a cement block to the sea. I cringed and the coach ran straight out. The medical kit came scurrying down the dirt pile. It wasn't the best place to crack a head open. As people here don't have places to use the toilet, the ground near the stadium is sufficient, and sufficient is the wind that blows through to carry the waste into the air. Highly probable is the landing of bacteria on an open flesh wound.
I ran down to the court, which was enough steps past fecal matter, rubbish, and dirt onto the field. This is what was I ran into.
Typical blow to the head with eyes rolled back up, with the whites of the eyes filling the visual field. Flickering of eyelids and trembling of limbs stated enough.
A blow to the head.
The bloody gash was deep enough to see some intense white portion of the muscular tissue that bluntly screamed a trip to the local emergency room. As the medical team began to administer first aid requirements before removing him to the local transport, I had flashbacks to the blow to my head. I kept my eyes off the goal, yet, I was willing to get into the zone to experience the uncertainty of the windy rain of my inner storms. Sometimes, sticking our head out into the danger zone reveals a revelation of God's will for us to be in His presence. Peter definitely stuck his head out when leaving his buddies in the stinky fishing boat, and risked his life.
Are we willing to risk our lives in sticking our head out to risk a blow to the head ? If it means that we somehow get to experience more of the presence of Christ, is it worth it to you ?
Part of the human experience, to love, to cry, to invest in relationships, to invest in God's work means a profound walk in humility. We aren't any better than the person next to us, but yet, the only difference is that we have a bleeding head wound to show that we were willing to take a hit for His cause and His purpose.
Advocacy never came without a bloody risk in the face of danger's ugly scream.
Getting our hands and feet dirty for the cause of hope for others requires a will to risk. As the team wrapped this player's head up, I felt sick to my stomach on 3 counts.
1.) This player was willing to risk a blow to his head to win for his team.
2.) This player didn't worry about what would happen to him, but that he would reach his goal.
3.) There was a lot of blood.
Feeling responsible, our team loaded him into the NGO's van and risked him to the local hospital about 8 minutes by car. As they floored away, I realized that I didn't pass out from all of the blood, nor did I feel that I was going to loose my ham and cheese sandwich with espresso*2 that I had consumed that morning.
When I had arrived at the scene of the local hospital, there were literarly hundreds of people waiting to get treated. Broken bones, limbs packed in ice, laying next to the patient's bed, and women giving birth surrounded the local ER. In this marginalized community, a regional hospital was the only place that people could go to get treatment, and people came in from the region's one million resident's to seek medical attention.
This was a blow to the head. I couldn't believe that there were people needing treatment, individuals holding their broken arms, others with blood seeping out of wounds, and others vomiting on the cement but couldn't get treated because they couldn't afford the $2.75 USD admittance fee.
How does that make me feel? Its like a blow to my head.
Getting special treatment, not because of who we are, but because we could pay, our team player got seen straight away. This is advocacy in action. Does someone in the upper %10 of our global wealth have an interest in helping get some of these people into the ER department to be seen? Please... It only costs $ 2.75 USD.
At any rate, as our staff stayed with our soccer player, he received the treatment he needed. Stitches, CT scan, prescriptions for 2 weeks of anti-biotic, pain relievers, and anti-inflammatory were all lined up for him. Another blow to my head. Pity that there are not more individuals that hoard our global wealth who are willing to shell out $5.00 USD for a couple of people to get some medical attention. Myself included.
This is a blow to my head and to my spirit. Who am I... I can do nothing, but only in Christ's shall I live, move, and have my being...
What will it take for us to understand our global responsibility to help those in need, aside from the humanitarian compassion to help others who are marginalized...
its what we are called to do by God...