Jesus and Med Tech Gave Me My Life Back

Last Sunday, I was chatting with other guests at a friend’s rooftop birthday gathering. One woman proudly told us she worked at a local hospital, adding “I am so glad it’s not a Christian hospital!”

I was floored.

People have all kinds of reasons to distrust Christianity. I get that. But a faith-based health organization, Adventist Health of Portland, together with my doctor and the electronic chart system that kept me in direct contact with my care team, was responsible for me being physically well enough to attend the event in the first place.

I was raised as a liberal Episcopalian and wrote a memoir exploring my relationship with Christianity in my early 30s. These days I am never entirely sure what I believe. One thing I can tell you is that part of following Jesus is a core belief that doing the right thing is more important than money.

The website for Adventist Health Portland includes an explicitly faith-based mission: “Living God’s love by inspiring health, wholeness and hope.”

Issues of fairness and equity in the U.S. healthcare are so widespread that it’s hard to know where to even begin to makes things better. I can’t tell you for sure whether faith-based values were part of the decision matrix that made my surgery possible, but it seems entirely consistent.

What I experienced personally can only be described as a “Room at the Inn” situation.

For several months, I had been getting weekly IV iron infusions for anemia. My iron levels were that low. The cause was fibroids with menorrhagia. Over six years, the condition progressed from minor annoyance to debilitating illness.  In the summer of 2022, I was too weak to ride my bike or go out jogging. I slept 12 hours a day. Once, I had been an avid devotee of the Portland music scene. Now having an active social life or dating was out of the question. It was all I could do to clock in to my remote job and cook and clean for myself.

I had already had one surgery (hysteroscopic myomectomy, unsuccessful) the previous fall. The six benign tumors in my uterus came right back, and the bleeding intensified. I was on a wait list through the Oregon Clinic for a second surgery, but had been told the backlog stretched six months or more. Then, right around the Labor Day holiday, things got worse.

I messaged my doctor via the Patient Portal to let her know:

I had my most severe hemorrhage since July 22 last night… There was blood all over the bathroom floor.

Sorry for the graphic detail but I hope you understand I am not exaggerating. I am taking 10 mg of Norethindrone daily. Up until now that has controlled the bleeding successfully.

I got an immediate reply, requesting that I come into her office for blood work. On that same visit, I was given a surgery date — less than two weeks away. My doctor had put in an emergency request for an operating space and Adventist Hospital had answered that call.

I scrambled to get the time off from my work and find a relative to help me through the recovery process. I got a full hysterectomy, but kept my ovaries. Remarkably, the laparoscopic procedure did not require an overnight stay. The hospital staff was caring and attentive, staying late until they were sure I was safe to leave. Within a week, the pain was mostly gone. Within three weeks, only faint scars were visible.

It took over six months for my hormonal balance to even out. But eventually, I got my life back.

The best analogy I can provide is a stained glass window in a cathedral. The procedure itself was a tangible and genuine miracle of modern science. The fact that different medical communications systems were able to connect to bring about a favorable outcome, just as much so.


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