Ministry from Misery, in a Hospital…

In thirty-plus years of hospitals, procedures, surgeries, plaster and fiberglass casts, needles, tubes, and life-long scars, I’ve met and been worked on by many doctors and surgeons.  A majority of them I’ve not really gotten along with or cared for, as they’ve seemed to see me as only a patient and not the human being – or child – I was for many of these experiences that have influenced who I have become.  In the midst of all these doctors and experiences, I can honestly count on one hand the number I have grown to respect: just three.

The first, and greatest, is a man named Neil Weinberg whom I have written about in the past and was my pediatrician for twenty years.  No one had a better handle on the medical valleys that I walked through as a child than he did and in the moments when my family and I needed him most, he was there.   The second is a man only known as Victor, whom I called “The Vampire” because he was the one who came to draw blood from me when I was at Shriner’s for surgery.  Despite the nickname I gave him, his kind demeanor – reminiscent of Richard Attenborough in the Miracle on 34th Street remake – won me over in the midst of surgeons and residents that didn’t have the best attitude around me and cared little that medical reality would rattle a 14 year-old mind.  I never quite wrapped my mind around how a “blood doctor” who stuck needles in people for a living could be so kind, but he was (maybe that’s WHY he was the needle guy).

For many years I figured these two men would be the only ones on the “Welty-approved” roster, and they were; until a few months ago.  Then I found myself in the office of a specialist, Dr. Patrick Mufarraj.  In a saga that has spanned most of the past summer, I discovered what I thought was debilitating pain from back spasms has actually been kidney stones and that landed me in this new doctor’s office.  In all my years of medical experience this was new to me: a new face and in a foreign discipline.  I didn’t quite expect someone down to earth, someone who knew EXACTLY what was going on, and willing to put me under the knife – or, in  this case, laser – almost right away.  (For all the talk of the government shutdown in Washington last fall, because of my need for surgery, I saw it as a blessing.)  This was just proof that life can turn on a dime; in the doc’s office one day and on the operating table 48 hours later.

I think what impressed me most was the “why” behind it all.  When I asked the doctor why this is what he did, specializing in kidney stones and nothing else, he told me it is because he has experienced them himself.  He knows  the pain and agony personally that most who deal with this – at one time or another – go through.  His desire to heal another person from one of the most terrifying things that can happeninside the body comes from the depths of his own experience.  I’ve also detected that this man possesses a personal faith in God as well, which deepens the level to which he understands  the brokenness of the human condition and further shines light upon his desire to be used to heal and repair that which is broken.  I see him as a living example of what T.D. Jakes once said, that “Ministry flows from Misery”; my doctor’s desire to help heal comes from his own experience pain; that’s calling and purpose in action if I’ve ever seen it.

Not only so, but I suppose I should have expected to experience some of that myself as I spent time in the hospital.  After the first “Star Wars and the Death Stones” procedure, I met a guy named Larry.  Larry was one of the nurses at the hospital that was assigned to watch out for me as I was in recovery.  As I was preparing to leave the hospital and begin recovery at home, he noticed a number of the surgical scars that I carry and asked about some of them.  So I began to tell him the tale.  By the end, after hearing about premature birth, terrible odds, hospitals, being “frenimies” with Death, working on Capitol Hill, and the FENX, he was speechless and told another medical staffer it was inspirational.  I’ve just not grown comfortable with that, probably never will.

Ministry from misery, in a place where both misery and healing abound; amazing.



Posted on by Aaron in Uncategorized

About Aaron

Author, Speaker, and Super Nerd. Aaron Welty speaks and writes regularly connecting the dots of life, faith, and science fiction. Originally from Michigan, he now lives and works in the Washington, D.C. Metro area.

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