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

 

3 thoughts on “I Had A Fool For A Doctor

  1. Hmmm…I guess I’m a bit confused now. When we were growing up and felt “sick” or had an ache, pain, or various ailment you always told us to get up and move around and we’d feel better. I’m wondering now if we should have asked for a second opinion?!! 😉 Thanks for making us tough!

    • I would have given you a second opinion. You weren’t sick- just trying to get out of school! You never got “sick” or had an ache, pain or ailment when it was vacation time. 🙂 As a great teacher now, you know all the tricks. Aren’t you glad Mom and I knew your “tricks”?
      Love: Dad

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