HomeatheismNope, no miracles


Nope, no miracles — 1 Comment

  1. Oy. My husband has been in dire straits in the hospital, as you know, in recent weeks, having had his sternum, sternal cartilage and some rib ends removed due to a rare infection. He had a code blue last week — lungs collapsed and heart stopped during an open-sternal cardiac wound-vac dressing change. Even though on heavy pain meds, he had a panic attack during the dressing change, and, during the brief few moments it was uncovered, his wound was basically a giant “sucking chest wound” in first responder terminology, so he hyperventilated due to the panic attack, and bang, code blue. I was in the room and actually saw his lungs collapse and saw his heart leap up through the missing sternum. As soon as he coded I immediately got out of the way, and out of the room, so the staff could respond. About 40 people and a crash cart were in that room in 30 seconds. Was I scared? Of course — my husband was in deep trouble. But I also knew the smartest thing to do was to be out of the way and within shouting distance if I was needed.

    When a code blue is called the hospital always hustles a pastoral care person to the family, and I was glad to see Janet, who is VERY professional, and who already knew we are non-believers, and who makes herself available thusly: “If you are a non-believer, I’m here just in case you need to talk or a shoulder to lean on.” She brought me cold water, put her arm around my shoulder, and asked if I minded if she prayed silently. Of course I didn’t, all good intentions are welcome, right? But another well-meaning person, a church-based visiting Eucharistic minister not affiliated with the hospital’s trained pastoral staff, also heard the code blue, found me, asked if I was Catholic and wanted Communion, and I said “no, thank you” as politely as I could. She then asked if I wanted to pray with her and I declined. Instead of asking me if I minded if SHE prayed (of course I wouldn’t), as Janet had asked, she persisted and asked, “Are you SURE you don’t want to pray with me for your husband? I don’t understand.” I said that I didn’t pray and that I was trying to remain calm while listening for signs of progress (and I was: I didn’t hear a defibrillator, no shouts of “CLEAR,” etc…. all good things). She seemed shocked that I didn’t want to pray, and started to ask me more questions, so I said, “I know you mean well, but I have to concentrate on what’s going on. I don’t have time to explain my lack of belief. My husband is in trouble in there. I have every confidence in that team of professionals in there. No offense intended, but he needs medicine, not magic.” She huffily said, “well, I don’t believe in MAGIC.” And she backed away. Janet professionally stayed by my side. When a nurse came to tell me, “He’s stable for the moment, if you want to follow us to ICU, they’re moving him out of the room now,” I could hear the same woman (who hadn’t gone far away) proclaiming to some people nearby, “It’s a miracle!” No, it wasn’t . It was the lightning-fast response of good nurses who called code and started respiratory response immediately, of respiratory therapists, of a pulmonologist who quickly got his lungs re-inflated, and a good cardiologist who stuck his hand in the hole in my husband’s chest and massaged his heart, and ALL of these people who kept this life-and-death ballet choreographed as they ran him to ICU to get him onto proper machinery. It took all of those people, their collective years of training and experience, professionalism and teamwork, all working together seamlessly, to pull that off.

    Now if absolutely nothing had been done after the code was called and Dave began to have a pulse, breathe again, and simply got up and walked home, well, then we could start talking about the possibility of miracles. But please, religious people, do not insult the hard work, intelligence, education, skill and dedicated teamwork by crediting ONLY your deity with the recovery. I don’t mind if you say “Thank God!” You might be thanking your deity for “helping” the doctors. You have the right to believe that. But do not say it is a miracle. That implies that the medical staff could have done NOTHING and he would have survived.

    And please, religious people, riddle me this: If a man allowed his baby daughter, over and over again, to re-injure herself in household accidents so he could be seen as the heroic father who rushed her to the hospital in time to save her life, out of some imbalanced need to receive praise and be called a hero … and that behavioral pattern was discovered … that child would be taken away, and the man would be charged with child abuse. And we would, as a society, scorn that man, and rightfully so! But if “God the Father” allows one of his “children” to become seriously ill over and over so he can be credited with “Miraculous Cures” — essentially, the same behavior as described above — people WORSHIP him. How, religious people, do you explain that? Deliberately causing your children to suffer, so you can get kudos if you deign to cure them? Or sometimes deciding NOT to cure them so their loved ones can be “punished” for lack of faith, or at least blame themselves for not idolizing you enough? What kind of narcissistic psychopath IS this deity? To give a good man such trouble while child molesters walk around in perfect health? To give cancer to CHILDREN? To do these things so he may later wallow in updrafts of praise if he feels like providing relief to the suffering person? HOW can anyone believe this deity, if it exists, could be GOOD?

    Three cheers to Janet, who simply followed me to ICU waiting and stayed until Dave was on the ventilator and ready for me to see him, and who sat with me kindly, quietly and helpfully, as a good friend might, and talked about what the staff was likely doing at the moment, and who listened patiently while I wondered aloud at the effects of being anoxic for a few minutes, and whether whacking against the rib ends had bruised his heart, and if he might have some brain damage from this event, and why the frack he was not given a sedative in addition to pain meds, and how frustrating this whole damn thing was, etc. etc.

    Sigh. You get good ones and you get loons. As for the child in the story, yes, the use of the hand was remarkable, even lucky, after that sort of injury. But it was not miraculous.