I Had A Fool For A Doctor

Self Examination In The Mirror

At first glance the title of this blog seems judgmental and unkind, and one which may cause some to think, “I would like to know the name of his doctor and avoid ever making an appointment with him!” Far from judging the qualifications of another I have recently been in the mode of self-assessment concerning my own health.

Approximately 2 1/2 years ago I was asked a simple question by a respected friend at church, “Who is your doctor?” I knew the basis for the question was my friend was searching for a family doctor and wanted my recommendation for such an individual. I jokingly said to him, “I am my own doctor and prescribe whatever I need for myself. Why just the other day I looked in the mirror, and asked my doctor how I was doing, and he said I was doing just fine, and didn’t need to return for another year.” My friend who asked the question said, ” Never mind. I’m going to get a second opinion and another recommendation!”

Despite my joking and frivolous answer I soon was to discover I had certainly been evaluating my own health without the assistance of a qualified physician. I not only had misdiagnosed a long-standing heart problem, but in failing to seek earlier help had delayed some much-needed medications and surgical interventions. I was living proof of a saying I heard years before, “A doctor who treats himself has an idiot for a patient and a fool for a doctor!”

In less than 6 months of the question from my Christian brother, I went from taking 2 prescribed medications to taking 7 separate medicines daily. By the end of the year I had undergone a triple-bypass heart procedure and was being treated for long-standing atrial fibrillation. I am still being treated for an abnormally high heart rate and have had multiple interventions including 2 cardiac ablations. A person who has had one knows what I’m discussing, and my purpose is not to describe an ablation procedure. It is a cardiology procedure done in the hospital with a 2 day-stay for the purpose of slowing the heart rate. As of this writing my heart rate is normal, and my life-style should return to the status it was over 2 years ago. I seem to have been a dumb, slow learner, but at  least now smart enough to ask for help. I have now sought the proper care from at least 4 excellent physicians.

As a physician in practice for almost 50 years I took great pride in correctly diagnosing the conditions of my patients. But when it came to my self-evaluation I was proven to be a fool and an idiot at the same time. What a recommendation!! 🙂 There is a bright side to this; however, and the application has an eternal perspective.

Every one should be in the mode of self-assessment to discern their own motives, desires, dreams and actions while submitting those thoughts and actions to the Lordship and direction of Jesus Christ. When one fails to surrender his thoughts and plans to His Creator and Savior, he is immediately on a path which will lead to failure and possible destruction. Self motivation and self direction are the results of pride and  rooted in the worldly advice which says one should “be his own man and direct his own path.” The award-winning song “I Did It My Way” made popular by Frank Sinatra in the 1970’s perfectly describes this kind of thinking and living.

Many of us have been modeled and taught self initiative from childhood. Success in life is more frequently gauged by our intellect, our profession, our net worth and our retirement plans. While there is nothing inherently evil in these parameters, they focus more on the present status with precious little view to the future, particularly our eternal future..The focus is inward instead of outward, and the goal is on self and not on others. Considering the life expectancy of the healthiest among us to be approximately 75 years, we don’t have long to try to get it right. Having already exceeded that age by several years one might assume I would have had a clearer understanding.

The journey Cathy and I have taken for the past several years has helped us focus more clearly on our relationship with each other and our plans together going forward. In past years when health was not an issue there seemed to be less urgency for planning ahead, and not enough intentionality on my part in making certain my relationship with Cathy was Christ-honoring and fresh every day. The loving and sacrificial care she gave me when I was helplessly disabled from multiple hospitalizations and surgical procedures made me see more clearly and appreciate more fully what a treasure she is to me. Nothing will highlight one’s true character more than a serious health problem.

For these and many other reasons both Cathy and I affirm the truth from Romans 8:28 which assures us God will work all things together for good for those who love God and are the called according to His purpose. I did not purpose to be foolish in treating myself medically, but the results were disastrous and almost fatal. As I finally surrendered to wise counsel, God began working it all out for our good and for His Glory. I am so thankful neither God nor Cathy have given up on me!

Dr. John

 

The Differences Between Doing Well And Well Doing

Mercedes Benz

Model A Ford

As a result of recent heart issues and a series of hospital admissions with tests and procedures, I have repeatedly been asked the question by loving,concerned family and friends, “How are you doing?” The context of the question is, of course health, but in a larger sense I have been pondering just how am I really doing? My general response to almost every health-issue query has been, “I am doing well”, when in the back of my mind I am thinking I’m not doing well at all! Is it possible for me to be doing well when all around me seems to indicate just the opposite?

An evangelist friend Junior Hill from Hartselle, Alabama has a paperback book published in 2002 entitled “Out Of Season” which Cathy and I have been reading together. The overall theme of this well-written book is for all Christian workers and especially pastors and teachers to remain faithful to their call to love and serve God in whatever situation they may find themselves. This beautiful book has come to Cathy and me at an especially critical time to help us focus on the really important issues of life and service to God through others. Even when health was good, how many of us have not pondered how poorly we seemed to be doing when our external circumstances seem to point that way?  Brother Junior helps clarify and refocus such negative self-analysis by referring often to the passage from the Bible in Galatians 6: 9,10 in which the Apostle Paul admonishes all believers; “And let us not be weary in well doing for in due season we shall reap if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith”. KJV

There is a clear distinction between doing well and well-doing, and the distinction has to do with our focus. A person who has tremendous wealth demonstrated by living in a luxurious home, wearing the latest designer clothes while driving a Mercedes-Benz sports car, may think he is doing well. While another individual living in a rented one bed-room shack, wearing second-hand clothes and driving a broken-down Model A may not think he is doing very well at all. A deeper focus for each of these individuals to see just what they are giving their lives to might reverse their answers.

Doing well tends to focus on the externals of life, the worldly pleasures and treasures which at best are temporary.While well doing focuses on matters of faith, concern for others and a deep desire to know and obey God’s Word which is eternal. The former passes away while the latter is forever. Discouragement is always at the doorstep of the one whose external circumstances are poor, and when invited in and offered a seat he will stay as long as allowed. Although never intended all of us are guilty of nurturing our disappointments in order to obtain the maximum in attention and sympathy. It takes intentionality and resolve for the enemy of discouragement to be thrown out and kept out of our thoughts and lives. Our #1 enemy, Satan loves to constantly whisper in our ear we are getting just what we deserve when we look around and don’t find many of the attractive and shiny things our neighbors are enjoying. His constant harping may sound like this, “See how poor you are? That’s the result of your trying to be a so-called good Christian! Give up all that nonsense and I will make you more comfortable like your neighbors.”

While recently an in-patient in a hospital for several days I was able to share the principle of well-doing with a hospital employee who was in my room more often than I would have desired. He was a phlebotomist (blood drawer) named Chris, and was taking samples of my blood every 6 hours to help regulate my blood clotting mechanism. I began asking him about his goals in life, and he said he was considering becoming a doctor such as an orthopedic surgeon. He said he wasn’t sure he could afford the time and the cost required to achieve such a goal, but wanted to be a doctor so he could do “a lot of good for people.” I reassured him he was already doing a lot of good for people by being the very best phlebotomist. God had gifted him to be very steady and confident in his skills, and he really was the best phlebotomist I had ever had. (I had lots of others over the past 2 years!) I further encouraged him to not compare what he had in terms of houses, clothes and cars to what an orthopedic surgeon might have. They would seem to be doing well while he would seem to not be doing so well. The truth is he was well doing because he was using his God-given skills to help lots of people, and this was well-pleasing to God! I was able to further explain to him the passage from Galatians 6 where God promises as he continues well-doing, he will reap much greater rewards from his God and his Savior. He had told me he was a Christian. When he left my room for the last time he said, “Thank you Dr. Moore. You helped me a lot.” I said, “Thank you Chris. You helped me a lot!”

As a result of carefully examining the real issues of my heart (the intent of my heart instead of the heart rate) I am resolving to focus entirely on well-doing instead of doing well. I would certainly enjoy doing well, which I know won’t last, but I will continually reap the greater rewards of well-doing which will last forever!

Dr. John