Two patients in medical ward were in a coma – one old and one young.
The old one was just rolled in a few minutes ago; she was in her 70’s and was already on palliative care for liver disease. The nurse said she had been in that state a long time and wasn’t going to make it. The young one, in her twenties, had been with us for three days – her family found her collapsed and unresponsive and she hadn’t improved since she arrived. She had a history of seizures, so we thought maybe she had an uncontrolled seizure so long that her brain could no longer function. I prayed for her healing, but also sent the chaplain to discuss with the family that no improvement in 3 days was not a good sign.
After 2 weeks on the ward, without many resources and with some of the sickest patients I’d seen in my life, I sure had become quick to give up. I never would have thought that both patients would bounce back to full recoveries.
Praise God that my nurses checked the sugar in the older patient – it was low, but not terribly low or “coma-inducingly” low. However, within an hour of giving her an injection of sugar, she was up and talking, bright and cheerful. When I came into the room to evaluate her, I couldn’t believe that she was the woman I had seen admitted before. She could have been that patient’s daughter – decades younger, vibrant and healthy. She still had pain, which the palliative care team treated, but they helped her leave the same day, to enjoy the time she had left with her family. It’s been a long time since I’d seen a terminal patient that full of life.
And the younger patient, she woke up too, albeit slowly. Within 5 days of admission, she was sitting up and eating, and we were praising God for such a recovery. We found out later that she had been given increasingly high doses of seizure medications, the kind that build up in the blood and take three days just to be halfway cleared by the kidneys. She was essentially poisoned by the cumulative effects of her prescription medications, something we never guessed in all our time scratching our heads about her case. But God knew, even if we didn’t, and He brought healing even when my faith was slim about her outcomes.
I didn’t do much for either of those patients, but they were to me a wake-up call. When I pray for healing, I need to believe God can heal. When I want to throw up my hands and give up on a patient’s chances, I need to remember these two who bounced back the same day, even when they were critically ill, even when we had so few resources to share with them. Praise God that life and death, healing and sickness, are not in my hands, but His.