Wednesday, March 7, 2012


Fr. Dale Matson

“When Jesus heard it, he saith unto them, They that are whole have no need of the physician, but they that are sick: I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.” (Mark 2:17, KJV)

I had a tonsillectomy at age 11. Other than a spiral femur fracture, it is the most traumatic experience I have ever had. The surgery was done by our family doctor in a small suburban hospital. I can still remember the doctor coming in after his first two tonsillectomies with blood all over his surgical apron. I walked into the operating room and was told to lie on the table. I was held down by the staff and the ether mask was put over my face. I was terrified as I lost consciousness. I threw up in the parking lot as we left that day. A week later at our summer cabin, I began to vomit blood and clots. I remember my mother saying, “You’ll stop bleeding.” My response was, “Yeah, when there is no blood left.” My dad drove me the 40 miles to the emergency room at William Beaumont Hospital. By the time we arrived I had fallen asleep and stopped bleeding. The emergency room physician gave my dad some aspirin which is probably the last thing I should have taken since aspirin promotes bleeding. That summer I was extremely anxious and had recurrent flash backs of being held down on the operating table. It was probably what we would diagnose as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder today. I vowed to myself never to be forced to go to sleep again, had a mistrust of the medical community and have put off necessary surgeries since that time.

Recently, I have had two surgeries with a little more than a year separating them. They were not without risk but ordinary and routine by today’s standards. These surgeries could be considered “elective” but eventually both problems would have become necessary surgeries. Both were delayed for years because of my fears about the operating room and my distrust of the medical practice in general. My quality of life has suffered because I delayed the surgeries.  My surgery a year ago was a local anesthetic (spinal) and the surgeon Dr. Cunningham did excellent work. Three weeks ago I had a local anesthetic once again and once again the surgeon Dr. Grewall did excellent work. There are many folks who would just as soon be asleep during their surgeries but I have not come to that place.

Both surgeries have restored a quality of life that I have not had for at least a decade. In addition to the Spiritual Gifts of healing, God has given us physicians and caregivers who can produce miraculous results in cooperation with the healing powers He has given our bodies.

It seems like the older I get, the more “ologists” are a part of my contacts list. This week, I went to my dermatologist for itching that was as severe as the times I have gotten poison oak. I was sure it was some exotic untreatable disease. Her diagnosis confirmed it. I was aging and no longer had the skin oils that plagued me with pimples at age 13. It was just a matter of better self-care using a skin lotion daily. Problem solved. Thank you Lord for those who practice medicine.

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