In the beginning….
And so it begins. When I first started thinking about this journey of writing about
covenant medicine, I found myself torn between being a god in a white coat and a
servant. The book Covenant Medicine is that journey. What I hope to do is to build on
that journey and take you, if you are willing to come, to the inside of what it’s like to
practice medicine in a new age of healthcare. I’ll tell it like it is, no pulled punches, and
no excuses. I’ll come to you about every two weeks or so, and invite your comments. So,
hold on and get ready.
The parents stood there watching me. Bending over a small bed, I listened to the beating heart of their 2-week-old daughter. I moved my stethoscope left and right, up and down, hoping that the sounds that I was hearing was simply an echo from the chatter in the hall outside the room. It wasn’t. They had brought their baby in to the emergency room because she would start to cough and sputter while breast- feeding and would choke and turn blue. An x-ray showed an enlarged heart and lungs that were filled with too much fluid. She was admitted to the intensive care unit where I met her.
“I hear some heart sounds that are unusual. I’m going to order some more tests and ask our cardiologist to come see her,” I said softly, looking at the parents and trying my best not to show concern on my face.
“What is it?” the mother said, sitting down in the closest chair as she crossed her arms in front of her, trying to hold back her tears.
“I’m not sure, but there is a possibility that your daughter Maranda, has some fluid around her heart that may need to be drained and her heart is not beating as strong as it should”
I turned back to Maranda, continued to exam her, and wondered if this was going to be another of those cases where things turned bad quickly, parents wanting answers to questions that I couldn’t give them, and a staff of nurses, physicians, respiratory therapists, and more, who would shake their heads in frustration because there was nothing anyone of us could do.
The test and the cardiologist confirmed my diagnosis and fear, and together we shared the bad news. A dying heart due to a virus and only a heart transplant would save Maranda. A heart that is hard to come by and a heart did come. Maranda left the hospital a month later, acting no different than any other healthy baby her age. I tell you this story if to only say that life is complicated and not for the timid. In medicine today there is enough going on that sometimes we just want to go and hide. For Maranda however, we stood out in the open and said “bring it.”