Monday, February 28, 2011

Hope On The Horizon

Thursday afternoon I was released from the hospital and I was able to resume my radiation treatment that very same day.  The next few days were spent in a hibernation type state.  I was extremely fatigued which the doctor explained to me was the result of coming off the steroid I had been on along with resuming my treatments.  Sunday I finally emerged from my mostly sleeping state and spent a wonderful day with my family.
But I have so much more to tell about what transpired while I was in the hospital.  In the Hospital Update blog I mentioned how my doctors were exploring an outside the box treatment for my case.  I am happy to report that as we continue exploring, we are also now in action.  The treatment is a shot administered every three months intramuscularly and it is currently being used by endocrinologist to treat pituitary tumors.  It has also been used to treat glomus tumors (the type of tumor I am believed to have) in several cases.
On Wednesday a team of endocrinologist came to visit me at the hospital.  They were armed with two medical articles that showed success in stopping tumor growth with this treatment in the case of two patients.  It is extremely difficult to find patients with the type of tumor that I have so the endo team was clearly excited about the possibility that I could be success number three.  They were so excited that they had already ordered the treatment to be delivered to the hospital for the following day and if I consented I would be receiving this injection as soon as it arrived at the hospital. 
My family and I were not as eager to consent.  We had many questions and concerns about lack of data.  We wanted to speak with my team of doctors, with endocrinologists that we know and trust, and of course with my radiation oncologist.  After speaking with all appropriate parties we learned many things that helped make our decision a no-brainer.  First, the medication is commonly used and FDA approved.  It is experimental in treating my type of tumor but it is by no means an experimental treatment.  In fact, I had already had the medication injected into me when I did a test to better examine the properties of my tumor.  The side-effects are GI related.  I might have to endure some nausea and stomach aches but I could achieve stoppage of tumor growth or even shrinkage in exchange.  Seems like more than a fair trade-off.  My radiation oncologist said we could do this in conjunction with my radiation treatment and he told us that he had two patients that went to Italy for this medication and it shrank both of their tumors.  Now that was music to our ears!  We asked how would we know what worked - the radiation or the medication.  The response from all the doctors including the endo team was, "Who cares."  We had to give it to them.  We really don't care what works at the end, as long as something does.
Wednesday night my usual night nurse came to check in with me.  About an hour later, another nurse, who happens to be a nun enters my room.  She introduces herself and tells me that she is going to be my nurse for the evening.  I ask her about the other nurse and she just smiles and tells me it's going to be her tonight.  As she leaves the room I consider what it's like to be a nun and a nurse at the same time.  It's not something that you can hide and I'm sure that different patients react to this in different ways.  I felt comforted.  Around 3am my nurse enters the room and tells me the medication has arrived and she's going to be administering it.  To be completely honest I had been looking forward to a shot free, blood drawing free night.  I tensed a bit because I had no prior relationship with my new nurse.  Did she know what a chicken I was?  It was dark and the middle of the night.  Had she seen the bruises all over me from the needles?  As she's asking me to lay on my side I decide to relax and to trust God; after all this is a nun administering a treatment which might shrink my tumor.  This is a nun administering an injection that could save my quality of life.  And then as I'm in the middle of a whole gratitude rant that I was giving God and mentally high-fiving 'the big guy' about the irony of my nun nurse I feel her gently snap me out of it.  I turn in disbelief and say, "Sister, you did it?"  When she responds that it's all done I wanted to spring from my bed and hug her.  I didn't feel a thing!  I was still waiting for her to do it!  I then tell her that she is amazing and that I had not felt a thing.  She seemed pretty surprised herself but she was beaming that I was so happy with her.  After she left my room I did not see her again but she will be fondly remembered as my nurse nun who administered the first of what could be the cure we've all been praying for. 
My friends, the prayers are working.  I am in touch with God’s constant presence and immense love for me during this time.  I will write a full blog entry on this topic but for now I’ll share this.  My relationship with God has been evolving during this time.  As many of you know I have a wonderful father and we have a great relationship.  I see my relationship with God much like I do my relationship with my own father.  It is extremely loving, always present, light-hearted, and fun.  I never thought I would describe my relationship with God as “fun.”  After my treatment injection I fell asleep laughing and conversing with God.  My thoughts were something like this:  “So much for your super mysterious ways huh…I mean the whole blood clot, yeah I didn’t see that one coming, that was pretty genius; I gotta hand it to you – brilliant curve ball!  But a nurse nun!?  And I thought subtlety was one of your strong suits?  Thanks for that.  Another one for the history books…Good one!  Good one!”

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Hospital Update

I cannot express how touched I have felt by the outpouring of messages, phone calls, emails, facebooks, and support from so many who have reach out to me during this time.  My family and I thank you for the immense role that you are playing in my healing and in the strength that I draw from your support during this time. Your thoughts and prayers have definitely been working! 
The best news that we've received so far is that the tumor has not extended down my neck.  The tumor appears to have swelled, which is an expected side-effect of the radiation.  The doctors say that the swelling should subside in about a year.

The next best news is that I should be able to resume my radiation very soon - either by Thursday of this week or Monday of next week at the latest.  It is imperative that I complete my radiation treatment since surgery is not thought to be a viable option at this time.  My team of physicians is also exploring other outside the box options in conjunction with the radiation treatment in the hopes that we may be able to achieve some shrinkage of the tumor in the future.  This is excellent news!  This is the silver lining of having gotten this rare clot in my jugular vein.  It has put me back in the forefront of my doctor’s minds and they are once again intrigued by what a rare case mine appears to be.  In addition to this outside of the box exploration they are also looking into a plan B just in case the radiation is not effective.  One of my physicians is speaking to a world expert this week about my case and seeing if I am a candidate for a new experimental treatment.  Of course, the hope is that the radiation will be effective and stop the growth of my tumor.  But like all who know me know, I'm a plan A, B, C, and D type of a girl.  So having my doctors speaking to world experts about my case and exploring all possible options gives me great peace of mind and once again makes me realize how blessed I am.

For the past couple of days the doctors have had me on IV blood thinners in order to manage the blood clot.  It is tricky to get the blood thinners at the appropriate levels in my blood so they had to draw blood every 6 hours in order to manage the amount of thinners they were giving me.  This has been the worst part of my hospital stay by far.  Like I had said earlier, I'm a huge pain chicken.  Needles had started to not bother me as much but the blood thinners cause me to bruise very easily.  On top of that, we can't draw blood from the arm that my IV was receiving the blood thinners and that arm happens to be the one with good veins.  So I was running out of veins because every time they stuck me, I would bruise and it would hurt.  But I can stop being a cry baby already because that's all over now!  I only have to check my blood levels daily now and they have disconnected the IV so I can use the veins on the good arm.  Just this development alone today has me feeling a million times better!  The only downside to disconnecting the IV is that I'm on a new self administered medication shot to replace the IV blood thinner.  They've done this so that I can leave the hospital and return to my radiation treatments as soon as possible.  I'll have to administer these shots once daily to my stomach area until my new blood thinning oral medication reaches the appropriate levels in my blood.  Then I can stop the shots and just take my oral blood thinner and I'll only require a weekly blood test to monitor the levels of blood thinner.  I will be on blood thinners for approximately six months.  They require monitoring of your diet and of course being extremely careful to not cut yourself or hurt yourself because I'll be at increased risk for excessive bleeding.  The blood thinners can also cause blood clots so it's something I just have to keep a close eye on.

The current plan is to have me discharged by tomorrow or Thursday at the latest.  The doctors have all been commenting about how a-typical my case is.  The chances of getting blood clots are rare.  The chance of getting a large blood clot in your jugular vein is extremely rare.  But while it appears that I have a little rain cloud above my head, what seems even more clear is that I always have angels with umbrellas at the ready. I have such a high sense of gratitude for how these days events have transpired.  It was a long weekend and all of my doctors were out of town.  However, they made it known through contact with their teams and personal phone calls that they made to me and my family that they were on top of everything.  They have been in communication with each other about my case all this time.  They have been beyond proactive and on top of this.  I really could not hope for a better group of doctors to get me through this ordeal. 

I am in very high spirits.  I know that this is just a bump in the road that will soon become a memory that will serve to remind me of what I am capable of overcoming.  Thank you again to all of you who are following my story, who are sharing your inspiration with me, and who are keeping me in your thoughts and your prayers.  I am so present to your love and support and the blessing that you are in my life!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Amazing Tales From The Hospital

I've been eager to write this blog entry for a couple of days!  I've been hospitalized at Jackson Memorial Hospital since Friday evening.  Let me rewind to Thursday evening when I discovered that the head of my neurosurgery team was out of town for the long weekend.  My step-mom, Ili, went to work on contacting him and with her usual diligence she was able to reach his office and they contacted him personally.  He recommended that I see the neuro otologist on my team because he is an expert in the neck area as well.  When Friday rolled around Ili was not willing to risk that the long weekend would pass without me seeing a doctor so she took the liberty (and then apologized profusely) of calling the doctor's personal cell number and explaining to him the situation.  He was very gracious and told her to bring me right over to his office. Luckily my mom was already over at my house and she drove me to the doctor's office right away.  The doctor took a look at the MRI and his first thought was that it looked like I had a blood clot in my jugular vein.  The MRI report revealed that in addition to the clot there may also be some additional tumor extension down my neck.  The doctor decided that it was important to have me hospitalized to run additional tests and of course to treat the blood clot if that was in fact what was going on.
The floor in the hospital where the doctor's team works was full.  They did not even have a bed available much less a room and a private room was out of the question.  They informed me that a bed would become available in the early evening but I would almost certainly have to share a room with someone else.  Of course Ili sprang into action and called my professor who works at Jackson to see if there was anything he could do to expedite the process of admitting me into the hospital.  We were in a building without cell phone reception so she had to call my professor from a land phone at the doctor's office.  I later learned that the call did not register on his phone.  Ili left him a message and then we went down to the admitting office in Jackson.  They informed me I could go home and get some rest (it was about 3pm at that time) and they would give me a call as soon as a bed became available for me.  So back to my home my mom and I went.  I thought about trying to call my professor again from my phone or texting him but I figured he was busy and he would get back to me whenever he was able to check his messages. Around 8pm I received the call from the hospital that a bed was available.  Nate, my mom, and I hurried over and Ili met us here.
As Nate and I walked over to admitting the UM/Jackson campus was dark and quiet.  There was hardly a person in sight.  We entered through a different building to take an inside route to the admitting department.  As we walk through the doors I see my professor coming down the hall.  I can't explain the relief of walking into the building and seeing a familiar face.  Not just a familiar face, the only face that I know could and would be eager to help me in any way he could.  He had not received Ili's message so he was wondering what I was doing in the hospital at that time.  I explain to him that I am being admitted and of course he wants to know why I hadn't called him.  I explain that I figured he was busy and of course he tells me to please never to be in this situation again without  getting in touch with him as soon as possible.  He springs into action right away to find out as much information as he can and then to make sure that I am placed in the best hands possible with the most attentive nurses available.  He walks us all up to the 14th floor (the floor where my doctor's team works) and I am taken to a bed that is in a room with another woman.  The woman looks to be in pretty bad shape and she has her husband staying in the room with her.  This is against hospital policy because when two women are staying in the same room only another woman is permitted to accompany the patient overnight.  My wonderful professor starts working his contacts and trying to get me a private room.  According to the staff, there are no private rooms available.  But his perseverance opens doors - a HUGE door.  There is a room (technically a suite) on the 14th floor that is the benefactor's room.  This room is not normally open to patients.  It is not even prepped to receive patients.  All of the furniture was placed in the center of the room and it required about 2 hours to get the room ready for us to occupy it.  Someway, somehow, my professor managed to get me moved into this amazing room.  There are not enough words that I can say to express what a difference this has made in my hospital stay - what a blessing this has been for me and my family.  Being in this room has completely transformed this entire experience.  My professor called our chance meeting that night synchronicity.  It definitely was synchronicity but for me it was also nothing short of a miracle.  This is a huge campus.  The chances of running into anyone you know are slim to none to begin with.  I really was and am so incredibly aware that I have angels working overtime for me.  Not only is he one of my angels - he has been one of my angels through this whole ordeal, really helping me in any way possible throughout this journey but that night there was another force at work to place us in each other’s path.  Incredibly, he also told me that he never takes the route he took that night.  He just happened to decide to walk a different path for no particular reason at all.  Syncronicity is an understatement! 
Ok so let me describe this amazing room that I'm in. It's a corner room with views of the city skyline all around.  It has wood floors, a kitchen area with marble counters and back splash, a refrigerator, a microwave, a couch that is a pull-out bed, two recliners, a table with two chairs, an executive desk, a walk in closet, a beautiful bathroom with a very spacious shower, a flat screen TV, and of course a hospital bed.  It feels much more like a hotel room than a hospital room.
Once my room was ready I was transferred in and then the nurse came over to put in my IV.  She collapsed two of my veins.  This has never happened to me before.  It was very painful and my arm was pretty badly bruised.  She felt awful.  I felt awful for her and terrified for me.  I am a huge chicken for all things painful so I was shaking like a little leaf with pain and fear.  I knew I had to get an IV so whether we collapsed more veins or not, skipping the IV was not an option.  The needles they were using were huge!  I ask the nurse, "Can't you just use whatever IV you use for babies?  Please give me the IV that can be used on a fetus.  That size would work for me."  Luckily the nurse called over someone who was very good at putting in IVs and the third attempt proved to be the charm. I was telling Ili and Nate that if I had been given the option of no collapsed veins and a smooth IV insertion but I would have to stay in the tiny shared room or I could endure the collapsed veins again and be in the room I am in, I would choose the collapsed veins.  The collapsed veins experience in that tiny dreary white walled room would have been a different experience altogether. 
I went to sleep that night with a bruised arm but with a heart overflowing with an incredible amount of gratitude!  I fell asleep having a conversation with God.  I was so excited about how much I could feel His presence in my life that night that it took me a long time to fall asleep.
Saturday morning I had a sonogram of my neck, a lung X-ray, and an EKG. The sonogram revealed that I do in fact have a fairly large blood clot in my jugular vein.  I am currently being treated with heparin to break up the clot and they also have me on a steroid to decrease the inflammation.
Saturday was a wonderfully hectic day.  There was a nonstop flow of friends and family stopping in (of course this incredible room can accommodate them all).  We also had pastries and doughnuts for the nurses, doctors, and staff so they would stop in on their snack breaks.  I was showered with flowers, balloons, get well wishes, and all the love a girl could need and want to get her through a situation like this one.
At midnight I had a CAT scan to check and see if the tumor has extended down my neck.  We are still waiting for the neuro radiologist to take a look at the results.  If they do find that the tumor has extended down, I may require surgery, but we won't know the full scoop until later this afternoon.
This morning, the nurse informed me that I would need another IV because the steroid and the heparin cannot be admitted through the same IV.  As you can imagine I mentally went into panic mode.  I quickly started begging that they administer the steroid orally.  Luckily my wonderful nurse was able to get the doctor to agree to my request.  Unfortunately the only downside is that I need to have my blood drawn every 6 hours to make sure they get the dosage of the steroid correct.  However, they are monitoring my blood levels for another reason as well.  My tumor is highly vascular and since I am on blood thinners there is a risk of bleeding.  I can tolerate the drawing of blood every couple of hours.  They use a tiny butterfly needle instead of the monster needles that are used for the IV.  I feel very lucky to only have one IV instead of two.
I am in very good spirits and luckily my pain is being fully controlled.  Right now the expectation is that I will be in the hospital for quite a few more days.  If it turns out that I do need surgery then we will reassess the plan.  I am feeling extremely grateful to have so much support from my wonderful friends and family.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your prayers, your thoughts, and your well wishes!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Pokes, Prods, and I Don't Knows

We go to our doctors to fix what ails us; so when we hear the words, "I don't know what's going on", it's particularly disturbing. I've heard these words quite a few times in recent months. Not only do I have a rare tumor, the presentation of my tumor is a-typical. So naturally it should come as no surprise to me that I am once again baffling my doctors.
On Monday night I began having an odd pain on the right side of my neck and shoulder. I asked Nate to please massage the area for me and of course he lovingly obliged. The next morning the area was swollen and it was so tender to the touch that a massage would have been unbearable. Before my radiation treatment I informed the nurses what was going on and they had the on call physician take a look at me. After speaking to my doctor, they agreed that it was unwise to proceed with radiation without first finding out what was causing the pain and inflammation. A blood test and an MRI were ordered for today.
Last night was probably the most difficult night I've experienced so far. I was in so much pain that Nate and I were contemplating if we could find a way to prop me up so I would be in a sitting position and still be able to sleep. Eventually we opted for a mixture of Benadryl and Percocet and I was finally able to be comfortable enough to get some rest. At 6am we were up to head back to UM to get my blood work done. My doctor happened to be in early so I stopped in to see him as well. He said that he's never seen anything like what's going on with me for the type of tumor I have and the amount of radiation I am receiving (which is a low dose due to the location of my tumor). He decided that we should put the radiation on hold until we find out if whatever is going on is a result of the tumor, the radiation, or something else entirely. We agreed that we would speak on the phone tomorrow after he's had a chance to review the results of the MRI. At 4 pm I was off to do my MRI with and without contrast which meant that I had the pleasure of receiving two injections today. Two and a half hours later I emerged from what has been the smallest MRI machine I've been in to date.
When I got home my step-mom and I were examining my shoulder and neck area.  The best way I can describe it is to say that it looks like one of those people in an exorcist type movie where you cringe looking at the way their body is contorting (ouch is an understatement).  Luckily that's not going to be the explanation for whatever is going on here.  *I laugh to myself a little thinking see, it could always be worse.
In summary, I've had my fill of pokes and prods to last me a while and I'm ready to hear something, anything other than, "I don't know what's going on." But on the bright side, all these injections have made me much less afraid of needles.  All in all I'm hanging in there and I'm tyring my best to be what Nate believes me to be.  Whenever he knows that it's going to be a rough day, he makes me laugh and says, "Don't worry babe, you're tough."  I don't know if I'm tough but I know my tumor is so I better bring my A game or at least put on my fighting face and tell this tumor that it's in for one heck of a fight!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Joyful Tears

Today I met the dress I'm going to get married in.  I spent the day with my mom, my step-mom, my youngest sister, and one of my closest friends and bridesmaid, Martha.  Grandma also joined us later in the day once we had found the dress.  I tried on, and really liked, several dresses but once I found the perfect dress, I just knew.  It really was like love at first sight!  Apparently the moms knew too because they both had tears of joy in their eyes.  My mom said to me, "The first time I held you in my arms, I could have never imagined this day."  Then of course I was crying.  What can I say, we're a sappy family.
For a little while today I had some pain because I didn't take my medication on time but for the most part, I got to be a normal girl, shopping for the most exciting day of her life, with the women she loves by her side.  It was just perfect!  Thank you moms, sister, friend, and grandma for making this day so special for me.  I love you! 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

I'm Outing Myself

Over the past couple of days I've noticed that my scalp has become sensitive on the right side and I've lost a bit more hair than I'm used to.  The doctors and nurses have assured me that eventually I will lose my hair in patches. I've mentally prepared myself for this.  The past three days I've gone to wig shops to find out what my options are for new hair.  Today the lady that works at the wig store I visited told me that she likes wearing wigs so much that she purposely shaved her head bald!  I found it odd but at the same time it gave me a lot of hope for this whole wig thing.  It doesn't seem like it will be so bad at all.  For starters there are tons of options of hair, density, lengths, color, etc.  You can really customize your wig any way you want.  I've decided to use this as the opportunity to have the hair I always wanted.  The wig will take about two weeks to make and so I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I don't lose too much hair between now and then.  If I do, I'll survive.  It's not exactly like I'm keeping this whole radiation and hair loss thing a secret.
So now that I've gotten over the whole I'll have to wear a wig thing, I'm wondering how I'll deal with the, I'll be bald in patches thing.  Will I want to see myself like that in the mirror?  Will I mind if Nate sees me with my bald patches?  I have had guy friends tell me that they think bald is sexy.  What?!  I only associate bald with sick.  I don't want to look in the mirror and see myself as sick.  One of the funny things about this whole ordeal is that I've been so glad that I don't look sick.  Even when I feel awful, I can do my hair, and put on some make up, and just like that I can at least fake it on the outside.  Faking it on the outside makes me feel a little better on the inside.  But what about when there's a half bald girl starring back at me when I look in the mirror?  It seems silly that in the midst of all of this that is so serious I would be worried about something so superficial.  I'm going to out myself a little here, but I never (never ever) wash my hair and not blow dry it.  I have curly hair.  I have no clue what my curly hair looks like because I style my hair no matter what.  I could be dead tired and I'll still never go to bed with wet hair.  The reason is that the thought of seeing my hair in it's crazy natural state in the morning freaks me out so much that I just will not do it.  So if you're wondering if this might really be an issue for me, that should give you an idea of what lies ahead. 
But I'm sticking true to my possibility of being someone who rolls with the punches.  I'm going to take it one day at a time and try to let go of being frustrated over that which I cannot control. 
My youngest sister told me the other day that sometimes it is difficult to relate to me because I am not angry about what is happening to me.  She is glad that I focus on all that is positive during this time but she said it makes me sound like I'm way too perfect.  I understand her point of view.  She's angry about what's happening to me and if this were happening to her, my view might be angrier as well.   The reality is that I am not in touch with any anger.  I have no idea who I should even be angry with and the truth is I don't have the energy to be angry.  But I am scarred and lately I'm often frustrated but if there's one thing I'm not it's perfect.  So I outed my superficiality for you little sis. Hope this makes me sound less "rainbows and butterflies."  *wink* I love you!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

A New Appreciation For My Radiation

First I want to apologize for taking so long to post a new blog. I've had increased pain this week and the radiation makes me exhausted. I've been sleeping about 13 hours a night and then napping for a large portion of the day. The doctor says this is to be expected. My body is trying to repair the healthy tissue that gets damaged during the radiation and that takes a fair amount of energy to do.

This week something different happened. Remember when I wrote about how wonderful my radiation room is? Well it turns out that all radiation rooms are not created equally. Twice this week I was sent to the room right next to my usual room. To my surprise it looked like a hospital room with a big radiation machine inside. Immediately I wondered where my beautiful blue ceiling with my fiber optic stars had gone. As I lay there  starring at the bland popcorn ceiling I realized what a completely spoiled brat I am! I was seriously distraught that my room was suddenly changed on me. I even made a point of letting them know the following day how much I had missed my relaxing room with my beautiful star filled sky. I actually look forward to my radiation sessions because of this room. The second time I was sent to the "bland" room my unhappiness must not have been concealable because the radiation tech apologized that I wouldn't get my stars that day. But as I lay there I realized something else. There are patients who have never seen the special room. They have no idea what they're missing! Maybe while I was in the bland room there was someone experiencing the magic in the other room for the very first time. That thought immediately made me feel better. On Friday my usual radiation tech told me that I would almost always be in the special room and I told her about all the thoughts I had about my room and the other room and she said, "Well it's a good thing because now you can really appreciate your sessions so much more." She was right. I have a whole new appreciation for how lucky I am to be able to associate my sessions with something so beautiful and relaxing. Before I left on Friday I made sure to let her know that if someone came in for radiation while I was there that had never experienced the magic in my usual room, I would gladly take the bland room for them. I know what a difference its made for me and I would love to be able to give someone else in similar shoes as a piece of the radiation magic. During this time I realize more and more how much the little things mean; how much small acts of kindness, both given and received, can make your whole day a little more bearable.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Love Note For The Miracle Workers

Today the Dr. Oz show featured an anesthesiologist that claims he heals his patients via modern medicine and faith.  The audience had a whole section that was filled with patients that claim they have been healed by this doctor.  They also said that they believe faith played a major role in their healing.  Dr. Oz polled his audience and 86% said that they believe faith can heal. I too side with the audience.  Faith heals.  But just after I say or think those words, I hear a little voice in my head say, "but how does it work?"  Well apparently Dr. Oz has the same little voice as mine in his head.  There are several "scientific theories" as to how faith healing works.  The medical community acknowledges something called spontaneous healing.  This is when the body heals itself and there is no scientific explanation for exactly how this happened.  Would it have happened whether the patient visited a faith healer or not?  No one can say; but skeptics of faith healers say yes.  Another theory is the placebo effect where a patient believes that they are doing something that will heal them and then it does.  A valid point was brought up by another physician, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical school, who also became part of the panel on this mornings Dr. Oz show.  He stated that we use the term placebo effect for anything that we can't explain via modern medicine.  Placebo effect can be used to explain spontaneous remission, a misdiagnosis, faith, a certain mental state, or mind over matter.
Dr. Oz brought up a poignant study of one of the most comprehensive trials ever done on the power of prayer and its effects on healing.  Cardiac patients were prayed for by people from afar and then the patients progress was measured.  The results were shocking to many because they indicated no measurable results in the patients condition.  He then asked the faith healing doctor why it is that so many people with faith pray that their illness gets better and many of them remain sick.  Does he have some special connection to "the source" that others lack?  His answer was, "no."  He said the only difference he can see is the person's state of mind at the moment and their connection to the love that they have for everyone around them.  The psychiatrist agreed that modern science is just beginning to tap into the link between love and health.
For the skeptics, a patient that had been diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis 15 years ago, a condition where the life expectancy is no greater than 5 years, joined the panel on the stage.  She also happened to be a physician herself.  Dr. Oz had reviewed her file several times and called it "miraculous."  Side note - there are now 3 western medical doctors in the front of the room all using words like faith, miracles, and prayer.  She saw the healing anesthesiologist and shortly after her condition was completely gone.  Dr. Oz confronted her with what other doctors might say to try and explain what had occurred, which was that she was misdiagnosed.  She asked him how they would argue with a biopsy and the images that she had of her lungs.  He could only conclude that there would be nothing anyone could say.
I should also note that the anesthesiologist does not charge for his "healing" services.  He holds healing days where people come from all over the U.S. to be seen by him and not a cent is paid.  He makes his money from his regular day job of medical doctor.
For me, the segment was fascinating.  Anytime that science and faith get together, they have my attention.  I am after all the daughter of a theologian and an aspiring psychologist.  What interested me most is the couple of lines spoken about love and healing.  The anesthesiologist oozed love.  He was an older soft spoken man.  He chose his words with careful consideration like the way people who are referred to as wise do.  I would imagine that people feel comfortable and at ease when he tells them he will be their anesthesiologist. I wonder if the reason why the study with the cardiac patients yielded no measurable healing is because love was not added to the equation.  I have not read this study but I would imagine that since it was people from afar that were praying for these patients, they were not people who knew or loved the patients.  I'm not trying to take away from the fact that I'm sure they were good people, trying to do a good thing; but how much love was poured into the prayer?
There was a time in my life when I would cry or get teary eyed in church.  Although I must admit that I don't go to church as much as a good Catholic girl should, this still happens to me when I'm there if I allow myself to be fully present.  My step-mother had noticed this, and a long time later she commented to me that I must have not been very happy during that time in my life.  I was shocked and explained to her that it was just the opposite.  My teary-eyedness would come from a place of gratitude and communion with others.  It would come from a connection with love; love for my life, my family, and the kindness and goodness of others.
One thing I can say for sure about this time in my life is that I am healthier than I might otherwise be because of love.  I know that there are so many people praying for me and what is felt more than anything by me and my family is the outpouring of love from our community.  It swells my heart with more gratitude than I can justify with words.  I believe that prayer and love can combine to produce miracles.  Thank you to all the miracle workers in my life!  I want you to know that I truly feel the love.  I say thank you so often in person and in emails but those words fall short.  It is my hope that through my life, through the person I am, strive to be, and become, I will make you proud.  Thanks again miracle workers.  You are lovingly in my prayers too!