Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Business of Being Born

it's been a quiet day here. overcast. mid-70's. the gray sky overhead and tulips in my front yard evidence that summer is on its way...that change is coming soon.

and like most other days of the week, i'm inside. away from the warmth of the sun. away from the bugs and pollen and tulips. i'm inside studying. and thinking.

but today is just a little bit different. different because homework didn't take over my morning. because the earliest i looked at the clock was 8am...and my feet finally hit the floor when the digital numbers read 9:30. it was a treat to sleep in. and today is just a little bit different because i've been thinking. thinking about this thing we call medicine. thinking about the decisions that are made around it and because of it. decisions that are made in the name of all that is good & "right" & researched; made in the name of medicine.

after my grandpa passed a couple of weeks ago, i couldn't help but admire the strength of his children (my dad & uncles & respective wives). because they chose the higher good for him. they chose selflessness. they chose the pain of losing a loved one over the comfort that my grandpa's physical presence would bring. they chose freedom from pain and suffering over the chains of hospital beds and permanent catheters. they chose what was best for him. and isn't that what love is, anyways?

i am proud of them. proud because, in my mind, they made the right decision. a decision to let my grandpa's body take over...a decision to let him die. a decision that the medical community does not necessarily encourage or endorse. because of the good and "right" and researched options that are clearly at every patients' family's fingertips. the options that include heavy narcotics and permanent catheters and the risk of infection and a life that is confined to the sterile white walls of the hopsital. forget about the consequences. forget about the side effects. forget about the risks...we have antibiotics. we have more drugs that will help with the effects of those other drugs. and really, they say, you deserve to have him around just a little bit longer.

i'll be the first to admit that sometimes--many times--medicine isn't all it is cracked up to be. those consequences? those adverse effects? those "risk free" medications? all those things that they tell you?...well, it takes 4 years of schooling to understand them. and sometimes--many times--they just tell you what you'd like to hear.

and this is one of the tradgedies of modern American healthcare. because life is more precious than deserves to be lived free of the constraints of medications and catheters and sterile white hospital walls. and love is more sacred than deserves to manifest itself in selflessness and gratitude for past memories and choosing the highest good for your family member or patient or for yourself.

although jon & i are (hopefully) nowhere near ready to start expanding our family, i've been absolutely taken with the idea of midwifery. something natural. something empowering. something that generously places the control, the joy, the endocrinological high back into the womans experience of birthing. i think that in this country, we are scared. we are apprehensive. we are told to be scared about the birthing process...because, you know, it is dangerous. but we fail to remember that natural, life-giving birth has been happening for thousands of years. free from narcotics and medications and sterile white hospital walls. free from scalpels and surgical suites. and the 'experts' fail to inform us that it is a miniscule percentage of women who are truly at risk for a dangerous birth and who truly need all the intervention they so willingly push on each one of their pregnant patients.

i would love to go into obstetrics. aside from the flood of emotions i've felt at every live (hospital) birth i've attended (i could bring tissue??), i think it is one of God's greatest miracles. to bring another life into the world. to nuture and grow something so precious inside another human body. among all the medical miracles, this human miracle tops the list for me. and although obstetrics certainly does not present a family friendly schedule as a doctor, perhaps what excites me the most are the changes that could be made...the education that could take place for millions of women...and the options that could be presented that most women aren't aware of.

for the last hour and twenty four minuntes and eleven seconds, i've watched The Business of Being Born--a documentary on modern American birth practices...and the other options that exist for women. i was brought to tears. and as i sat sobbing at my computer, i realized that this....this is an experience God created for humans. this is an experience God created so that we, sinful creatures, could gain just a small taste of His majesty and life-giving creation.

obviously, i haven't been through the birthing process myself. i haven't experience the pain. or anticipation. or anxiety. or fear. and in the next few years, my opinions could change drastically. but this film has inspired something inside me i didn't know existed. it has fueled the fire to make a change to this thing we call medicine. to educate patients about what is really going on. and to not sit on the sidelines and watch thousands of American families believe the lies that their options are limited.

and my tears today were a reminder. that this really is something i'm passionate about. this really is something i'm excited and scared and anxious about.

and i could use your prayers. for guidance. and most of all, for the opportunties that i'm longing for. the opportunities to make a difference. to educate patients. and to journey into a new type of medical practice where politics or insurance or physician-opinions don't dictate intervention. a type of medical practice that gives the power back to the patient...and gives the outcome back to the Lord.

for the first time in a long time, i'm excited again.

if you have time to spare, i'd highly recommend watching the documentary. for a limited time, the full-length film is available online. take advantage of it :)

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