Saturday, February 23, 2013

Praying for Stem Cells

Mouse Stem Cells - Wikipedia

On 2/22/13, ABC broadcast the healing story of Robin Roberts.  One particularly moving part of the story for me was the stem cell transplant with Dr. Sergio Giralt.  After all the toxicity of the chemotherapy the moment for injection was complemented by a physician’s prayer and “tears in his eyes” of Dr. Giralt.  

What is remarkable is that these prayers are not unique.  What seems unique is the prayer offered by the physician. The mystery of this technology is a reality for physicians.   This is a great example of how technology and faith can co-exist. 

The larger healing story was of a family, faith, courage and the witness of this reality to a national audience.  Thanks be to God for healing agents like the nurses, Dr. Giralt at Sloan-Kettering Institute and the healing of Robin Roberts.

Monday, February 11, 2013


“True Religion is Care for the Widowed and Orphaned - 
With God Everything is Possible”

“To prevent disease, to relieve suffering and to heal the sick - this is our work.”
William Osler, Aequanimitas

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  
Romans 15:13 (NIV)

The movie, “Les MisĂ©rables”, is a powerful and sung story of suffering!  But there is another important dimension to the story, Hope.  Both suffering and hope are critical components of this universal story.  The question for healing agents is “Where do we find Hope?”.

One of my responses to residents facing a clinical challenge was “Hope is not a plan!”.   I was attempting to get them to see and state the “action items” as they confront the uncertainty of obstetric care.   But maybe they were “right”!  “Hope” is the basis of those action items that bring us to the tasks of care.  Hope is that longing for relief that comes from our calling to be with the suffering.  Hope is the spiritual basis of our longing to relieve suffering.

For Christians, suffering and hope are part of a story and a song we sing about a time when there will be no more tears or suffering.   Thanks be to God for the Hope and mission of relieving suffering.


Post: Hope, June 18, 2012
Cassel EJ. The nature of suffering and the goals of medicine. New England Journal of Medicine.  306(11):639-45, 1982 Mar 18.
Deal B.  Finding meaning in suffering.  Holistic Nursing Practice.  25(4):205-10, 2011 Jul-Aug.

Friday, February 1, 2013

"Seeing the Elephant"

We don’t yet see things clearly. We’re squinting in a fog, peering through a mist. But it won’t be long before the weather clears and the sun shines bright! We’ll see it all then, see it all as clearly as God sees us, knowing him directly just as he knows us!
1 Corinthians 13:12 (The Message)

There is “an elephant in the room” on what we believe about healing!  We accept the scientific evidence model but realize that it only partially explains our experience.  

We do know that there is a relationship between our beliefs and healing and most of what we believe is dependent on what we “see”.  Certainly, our vision is often biased and susceptible to illusion and misunderstanding even for those of us with the finest tools.  

One phenomena that needs specific attention is the “placebo”.   This phenomena is the “raison d'ĂȘtre” and a critical component of randomized controlled trials.  It is felt to be responsible for about  20% of positive clinical outcomes and only partially explained as a psychosomatic response.  The other side of this placebo effect is that we can only explain 80% of positive outcomes.

What I have come to believe is that healing is real, common and only partially understood.  The problem is not the reality of healing, but our ability to see it and name it.  We need to continue to look for and slowly see the grandeur of the mystery of healing.   Thanks be to God for the promise of improving vision!



Photo: Original by Christel Brabon
Post: April 17, 2011,  The Mystery of Healing
Post: April 4, 2012, Recognizing Healing
Kaptchuk TJ.  The placebo effect in alternative medicine: can the performance of a healing ritual have clinical significance? Annals of Internal Medicine.  136(11):817-25, 2002 Jun 4.
McQuay HJ.  Moore RA. Placebo. Postgraduate Medical Journal.  81(953):155-60, 2005 Mar
Diederich NJ.  Goetz CG. The placebo treatments in neurosciences: New insights from clinical and neuroimaging studies. Neurology.  71(9):677-84, 2008 Aug 26.
Finniss DG.  Kaptchuk TJ.  Miller F.  Benedetti F.  Biological, clinical, and ethical advances of placebo effects. Lancet.  375(9715):686-95, 2010 Feb 20.
Pohlman S. Cibulka NJ Palmer JL. Lorenz RA. SmithBattle L. The placebo puzzle: examining the discordant space between biomedical science and illness/healing. Nursing Inquiry. 20(1):71-81, March 2013.