Tuesday, October 25, 2011


        You are all familiar with the months of January, February, March, December, etc. I’m sure you’ve used terms such as "the summer months" or "the winter months." Perhaps you’ve even heard the saying "a month of Sundays" (I don’t know what it means, either!). Well, currently, we are discovering another kind of thirty-day span: "the month of the doctor." Our October schedule this year has been entirely controlled by medical appointments!

         It may just be an unavoidable part of the aging process; one of life’s necessary nuisances. On the other hand, it could be the result of our annual summertime travels. From May through September, we visit medical professionals only if an emergency arises. Unless bronchitis, heart palpitations, or something equally fear-inspiring occurs, we steer clear of doctors in the summer.

         The result of our summertime avoidance of health practitioners is that they all want to see us for a semi-annual check-up at the same time in the fall. Returning to our half-year home in south Texas in late September, we are ushered into our "medical month" in early October.

         This year, doctor and dentist appointments consumed nine of the 31 days of that month. There were appointments for each of us with the eye doctor (not just any eye doctor, mind you, but a retinal specialist!), the dentist, the lab for blood work, our family doctor. Bruce then visited a different eye doctor (this one a cataract surgeon!) This week he will go back to the eye clinic for pre-op preparations, to the heart doctor for routine testing, and we will both see the dermatologist. Of course, Bruce will have to go back to the cardiologist for the results of his heart tests.

         Health care will have consumed nearly one-third of our entire month, and we’re still healthy! If we were sick, no doubt we’d owe the health care system every day of our schedules as well as our lives and our bank accounts!

         This year it looks as if "medical month" will be extended beyond October. We already have five more appointments scheduled in November. However, each time we read the list of obituaries in the daily paper, it is sobering to find so many listed there who are younger than we are. We breathe a prayer of thanks that our names are not yet included. We give thanks, too, for the skill and expertise of all those medical professionals who gobble up our schedules, for they are a major reason that we are still standing upright and above the sod.

         Doctors are sometimes criticized for "thinking they are God." But that misconception is not really surprising. They spend every hour of their professional lives trying to fix or improve upon the imperfections and wear-and-tear in God’s finest creation: the human body and mind. Their knowledge of the human body and mind (or at least of a small part of it!) is continually digging deeper into the mysteries the Creator has so far kept hidden.

       The story is told of a doctor who died and went to heaven. He checked in with St. Peter at the pearly gates and was told, "You’ll need to wait a little while before God can see you. You can make yourself comfortable in the waiting room around the corner. Your name will be called when God is ready to see you." The doctor was not used to waiting for others but he tried to make the best of it, thumbing through a magazine. 

        After about an hour, he could no longer contain his impatience. He slammed down the magazine and went back out to the pearly gates and let St. Peter know of his frustration.

         "Look, Pete," he said loudly, "You said it would only be a little while until God would see me. It’s already been over an hour and I still haven’t been called in. Am I going to have to wait for all eternity before I get my chance to stand before my Creator?"

          "Well, sir, I hope not," responded St. Peter. "I’m sorry for the delay in your appointment. But, you see, today God thinks He’s a doctor!"

          So, in the coming weeks, as we wait our turns in various medical offices, we’ll try to remember the Heavenly Healer and be patient. But we will also be thankful that our "medical month" only lasts about 60 days this year!

24 Oct 2011 - mshr