statue near the Charles Bridge Prague

Dude, put down the knife…When all you’ve got is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. When all you’ve got is a sharp blade…

A little over 15 years ago my colon ruptured. You don’t want any more details than that.

Along the way to figuring out what the problem was, which took over 6 months, I had to deal with a number of specialists, all who had a gauntlet of tests that they wanted me to go through. (One even made me go for two months without coffee, because of some medication.)

There are a couple doctors who stand out in my memory from that time. First is the surgeon, who while not the friendliest person I’ve ever met, did a great job…I’ve had zero problems since.

The other is a urologist. Now to be fair, he is the one who figured out what was wrong with me. However, there are a few other memories that stand out from my time with him:

1) On my first visit, upon learning that Liz and I had just had child number 3, he suggested that it was time for me to get a ’snip.’ This is before we even talked about why I was there. Although I said ‘no,’ he brought it up several time over the course of the next month.

2) When I was a kid, I heard that if novocaine was injected improperly it could cause some kind of damage…so for the next 5 or 6 years, I had all of my cavities taken care of sans novocaine. YET, the two most intense levels of pain I felt in my life, were a) unnecessary and b) at the hands of this doctor.  He basically discovered something that my gastroenterologist discovered 2 days later with a much less invasive procedure.

Thankfully, once the diagnosis was made, Liz called a friend from Syracuse, who convinced her brother to do my surgery. Dr. Urology was amazed that we were able to get this guy to take my case, as he was, ‘the best in the area.’ So Dr. Urology contacted the surgeon and suggested that they collaborate on my surgery. The guy actually wanted to remove part of my bladder…I already have enough difficulty on long car trips.

Thankfully, the surgeon decided that Dr. Urology would not be taking part in the surgery and that his plan to shrink my bladder was ridiculous.

Liz thinks all the procedures the guy did/suggested, were to pay for his vacation home. I’ve always thought he just liked trying new procedures. But, there is probably a mixture of both elements.

Regardless, while he did provide a service to me, the whole relationship was really about him. I just happened to get caught in his orbit for a period. Heck, if I’d followed his advice, he would have gotten a small check for an additional procedure, and we would never have gotten to know Méabh. And I would have had to make a lot more bathroom stops.

This came up in my head recently as I was thinking about some church leaders. Especially in this celebrity culture so much of the evangelical church finds itself mired in.  Where God’s will always seems to involve said leader taking a position of more and more prominence. Where serving others is great, as long as it serves my purposes at the same time. Where the number of people who walk away from the church for good continues to increase…but as long as new people are taking their place, and the numbers continue to get bigger, this isn’t our problem.

I met a lot of doctors during that period of my life. The ones I remember most fondly are the ones whose focus was what is the best path to get me from a place of sickness to a place of wholeness. Maybe that’s why Dr. Urology was so amazed that I could get the surgeon I did…because that is the type of person everybody wants.

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