Breath of Life
“…He Himself gives to all life and breath and all things.” (1)The framed scripture on my clinic desk serves as a humble reminder that we doctors have no power other than that which comes from God’s hand. As a physician, I am but an instrument of His handiwork.The faithful and faithless alike do not know the interceding prayers offered as I review each medical chart before meeting them in the exam room. But God hears and gives wisdom for each of His children.
The last patient of the day has been seen at the Pulmonary Clinic but work is not done just yet. Medical supplies need to be restocked in each exam room. Cleaning. Sterilizing. And paperwork. On that note, Nurse Jen wheels in a cart stacked with today’s patient charts for my completion.
“All’s ready for tomorrow’s clinic, Dr. Michaels. Have a good evening.”
“Thanks, Jen. Get home to your little ones.”
Picking up my favorite black pen, I dive into the task at hand, the wall clock ticking away the minutes until my pen signs the last Lauren Michaels, MD. Leaning back into my chair, I take a long cleansing breath. Day’s done.
That moment of satisfaction is interrupted by the melodic sounds of my cell phone.
“Oh my God, Lauren, please meet me at Children’s Hospital emergency room! I’m in the ambulance with Melody…I’ll explain later. Please hurry!”
“I’m on my way, Kate…” Her urgent pleas continue.
“Oh, please pray, Lauren…it’s serious.” I hear the tremor in my best friend’s voice. It’s her precious two year old daughter in need of prayer.
“I’ll be praying every second of the way. See you soon.”
Entering ER room 3, I catch sight of little Melody lying nearly lifeless on a stretcher. Kate cowers in the corner, tears streaming down her face. I give her a firm hug. No words necessary.
“O2 sat 73% on 3 liters and she’s burning up…temp 104,” one nurse shouts.
“Pharmacy just delivered the IV antibiotic. Get it started stat! And up the O2 to 4 liters…have to pink this baby up quick! ” the ER physician orders.
“Breathe! Breathe!” I pray.
Kate and I are asked to step out into the hall; ominous thoughts overwhelm me. Must be brave for Kate. Soon we hear over the intercom, “Code blue… ER room 3.” The words take our breath away.
In an instant I am in the midst of resuscitation efforts. Melody is a dangerous shade of blue after her respiratory arrest.
“Dr.Michaels,on staff here ,pulmonologist. Get an endotracheal tube in and a vent here stat!” A nurse practitioner starts the procedure. I glance at the cardiac monitor. Heart rate rapid but expected.
“Breathe! Breathe!” I pray.
Soon the wonders of medical technology take over, the ventilator artificially breathing for Melody. I step out to let Kate know she is stabilized for now. She gazes toward me frantically. I remind her… God gives life and breath. She breathes out a sigh of relief. Kate too knows the power of our God.
Melody and her machine are quickly transported to the intensive care unit. Kate and I follow into the long dark night ahead.
At her bedside, Kate and I hold a faithful vigil. The rhythmic beeping of the heart monitor is nearly hypnotizing, yet an assurance of life.Intravenous antibiotics infuse… waging a silent war. Swishing sounds emanate from the ventilator. Artificial breath.
“Kate, get some rest in the lounge chair in the corner.”
“No, I couldn’t…”
“Just try…I’ll be here watching.” I squeeze her hand.
I continue the vigil, observing Melody’s chest for signs of spontaneous breathing between the ventilator-forced breaths. The monitor displays 100% O2 sat. A nurse reports her temperature is now 101. The antibiotics are winning against Melody’s pneumonia and sepsis.
Hours meander on. Kate sleeps lightly, awakening every so often to ask, “How is she?”
I assure her, “God is fighting alongside her. “
Morning is near. So weary. “Breathe! Breathe!” I pray.
Then God breathes His breath of life into Melody as I watch her first spontaneous breath and then another and another. Her blue eyes open, sparkling now. Man’s machine can soon be discontinued. I awaken Kate ; mother and daughter are soon holding hands.
I quietly slip out of the room, my footsteps echoing in the corridor. I smile, knowing I have seen God’s marvelous truth unfold . I know in my heart, “…He Himself gives to all life and breath and all things.” (1)
*(1) Acts 17:25 from NAS
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