Whenever I have to go to a hospital for medical treatment, the admissions process always asks me what my “occupation is,” and I always do an internal walk into my distant past. For six years in the 1980’s I was a Patient’s Rights Ombudsman at a major Chicago hospital. In our weekly meetings about possible “problem cases” I often heard that a certain patient’s chart was pulled for review solely because the patient had self-identified as an ‘attorney.’ Accordingly, whenever I was admitted to a hospital, my initial declaration was that my occupation was “Mediator” which never drew the same Risk Management attention as “Attorney” always drew.
With this backdrop guess what God brought me last month? But first, guess what I am doing in 48 hours? A total knee replacement surgery caused by my left knee being “bone on bone” after decades of running 10k’s and a couple of half marathons, usually on concrete. In an outpatient (same day surgery) procedure, my doctor will shave off the ends of my femur and tibia, insert a new metal knee joint, relocate my knee cap which will be pulled aside for the surgery, send me home with a walker and exercises to do at home for a week, then Physical Therapy for six weeks, and finally follow-up doctor visits at 3 and 6 weeks.
So last month I answered the phone in my office and spoke with a delightful lady who hired me to do a medical malpractice case. Nothing unusual about that, since I have been handling such cases now for decades. And what was her case about? A botched total knee replacement surgery! God, you’ve got to be kidding me? She had to get her surgery repeated at a different hospital and the surgeon doing the second surgery told her daughter privately, “Your mother probably should talk to an attorney about what happened in her first surgery!” Seriously, God? Did I really need to get a new case which is an example of a screw-up on the exact same procedure I will be undergoing? Again, God, you’ve got to be kidding me?
This phone call and new case raised my fear since I now have to focus very deeply on the “allegedly” negligent treatment my client received for this exact same operation I am having. “First, Steve, make sure they mark your LEFT knee and not the right!” Duh, and then I can easily spiral down a rabbit hole of worry and fear. But… now I have The Merton Prayer in my life, in every aspect of my life this prayer just keeps popping up with a calm that is, in my mind, divinely inspired and comes from the Holy Spirit. “I will not fear, for You are ever with me. And You will never leave me to face my perils alone.” Thank you, Lord, once again for helping me cope with fear. (Don’t worry friends, my surgery is at a different hospital with different doctors than my client had!)
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