The Power of Prayer

I’m not a religious man. I’m certainly not a righteous man, you can ask anyone that knows me. Even my pastor knows this. But I am a believer in the power of prayer.

I married my lovely wife in 1988. In 1991, I think, she needed to have an endoscopy and a biopsy to rule out a gastric ulcer or some otherwise vague, unknown process that was busily at work inside her GI tract. Well, that’s what the Urgent Care doc guessed what the problem was.

Lea met with a gastroenterologist, and he suggested the procedure because he had no clear idea of what was going on inside of her either. We went to the Same Day Surgery clinic at Fairview Medical Center, a place we would spend a considerable amount of time at in the very near future. What we would eventually discover was Crohn’s disease, three years of misery, a year and half of time spent in the hospital for Lea, five surgeries, four near death experiences and roughly $1.5 million in medical expenses.

On this blissfully ignorant day, the procedure was unremarkable. The results were ambiguous. We were waiting for Lea to be released as the nurse went through the post-op instructions.

“As soon as you can pee, you can go home!” The nurse smiled. My wife did not. “I always have trouble with that after general anesthesia. This could take fifteen minutes, or fifteen hours.” The nurse smiled again and handed Lea a cup of water. And that’s when I decided to say something stupid.

“I’m a nurse. If anything goes wrong, I can take care of her.” I figured if we decreased Lea’s stress by taking her home, she’d relax and peeing on her own would be much easier. Psych nurse logic.

The clinic nurse thought about it, had us sign a release form, and home we went. Alas, my plan didn’t work. Hours later, Lea informed me she really, really had to pee, but couldn’t.

Simple solution. I needed to cath my wife. So I jumped in the car, got a cath kit, and talked my wife through what she had to do. Using sterile technique, I prepped the area, laid out the drapes–I had done this a few hundred times as a surgical technician–but those women were laying on an OR table, their legs were in stirrups, and they were unconscious. Their crotches were essentially at my eye level, and while this might sound like trivial detail, it is not.

Lea was laying on our water bed, about two feet lower than where I stood. She was perpendicular to me, and I was going to have to do this thing left handed, which is not my dominant hand. There’s an added degree of difficulty for you.

Now, for those of you that have never attempted this, when you’re going to cath a woman, you really need to visualize world peace, if you know what I mean. In order to do that in this situation, I almost needed to stand on my head. No problem, I’m a nurse, I got this. I took a deep breath, and essentially started jabbing the catheter in the general direction of my wife’s crotch, hoping the catheter would know where it was supposed to go and slide into her urethra.

My wife is a really sweet person. Pretty much everyone that meets her falls in love with her. Her smile lights up half the world. But she fired off a look at me that, to this day, will make my heart skip two beats when I think about it. She spoke in a low growl, about one timbre below demonic possession.

“What…in the HELL…do think you’re doing?”

Seriously, I almost started crying. Honey, please! my mind responded. I was raised by nuns! They never told us about this! I didn’t even know women had vaginas!!

“For the love of God, take me back to the hospital! ” Lea snapped at me. She. Was. Pissed!

Dear God, I prayed, please don’t let her head spin around! Pleasepleaseplease!! I was pretty sure Lea had started levitating off the bed.

I prayed one of the most fervent prayers for divine intervention ever uttered, and, bam! The catheter miraculously found the opening of her urethra, and I struck gold. I may have fallen to my knees in relief.

There were a lot of weird things that converged in this situation, but they weren’t over. The next morning, Lea STILL couldn’t pee on her own. I got another cath kit, but I had no problem with the procedure on Round Two. And she didn’t develop an UTI either.

Take that, real nurses. Who’s your daddy, now?

At the time I looked at it as a really great story to tell all my friends. It’s still a great story. But now I see it like this: that was the day my training in prayer began. I would pray a lot over the next three years, and also into the years that followed. And I can testify to this: God answered every one of my prayers. He has been faithful to us more times than I can count.

In an earlier post, one of my friends responded that I was blessed. Blessings evidently come in a wide variety of flavors, and often come disguised as a crisis. Something to ponder for all of us there…

So, fear not, and be of good faith. If God can hit a woman’s urethra without looking, He can do anything.