I was driving with one hand, another hand searching for phone numbers through a ream of pages, and one of my knees balancing my phone on speaker as I called dozens of ENT offices to get an appointment in the week between second year and third year rotations. I knew time off once clinical rotations began would be tough, and I would already need to miss a day to see the Army’s regional audiologist. After considering my options, it seemed like the best idea to have an outside opinion about what might be going on.
I finally struck gold – an ENT had an opening for next Tuesday! My heart relaxed a little bit, and I focused my full attention on the rest of the drive ahead. After arriving where my friends and I were going to camp, I realized how strange it felt to kick-back and do things like kayaking, hiking, play with a certain irascible labradoodle. It felt strange because I still had no idea what the outcome of my hearing-loss would be! I knew I had done everything that could be done – I had asked for prayer, gotten a second-opinion appointment, and now was trusting God with what came next…..admittedly with some apprehension and expectation. I enjoyed the camping trip, getting dirty and bug-bitten enough to become grateful that I live indoors – and I also anticipated my coming ENT appointment the way you take a breath off the high-dive before hitting the water.
I woke up the morning of my ENT appointment, July 3rd, with some butterflies popping in my belly. What was the exam going to show? What if it was more than hearing-loss? What if….
I turned to Proverbs 3 for my reading that day. “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your steps.” I grinned at God’s personal attention to the state of my heart. The past week was a continual testing of if I would let my limited perspective dominate how I drew conclusions about what was going on with my hearing, or if I would choose to instead lean with all my weight on His trustworthiness, no matter the outcome. I was still bouncing around with nerves at what might happen: further and more expensive testing to determine the etiology, the unknown of how this would impact my future medical training, what it would be like if this never went away.
I arrived at the ENT and checked in at the desk. I sat down, trying to maintain a posture of boredom, but but instead fidgeting through a magazine too quick to actually read the words. Eventually, my name was called, and I was taken back to go through a full range of tests with their audiologist: pure-tone audiometry, pneumatic otoscopy, tympanometry, speech audiometry, acoustic immittance. Then I went to an exam room to wait for the ENT doctor to come in.
She arrived – smiled – and I relaxed. “I’m happy to tell you your results are 100% normal!” She could tell how relieved I was, and I was! I was also curious. “Do you know why my results reversed?” I asked. “No,” she said. “It could have been a reaction to a virus, or something else that might have cleared up over the last week – hard to say.” “Okay, well thanks for the good news!” I strode out of the office very much relieved that I would not need to answer the many what-if’s that had been circulating around my thoughts the last week.
In the following weeks as I followed-up with those who had prayed for me, I was grateful I did not need hearing aids or something else “prematurely.” I was reminded that my vocation was not my own, but God-directed, and he had the freedom to intervene or not when it seemed threatened. As I began third-year and clinical rotations, it felt like getting a second-chance on doing medicine and serving in the Army.
I thought I’d share this story as my introduction to the UDK blog to give some point of reference for future posts about a variety of topics – whether discipleship, dogs, oceans, or medicine. How about you? I’d love to hear in the comments section if any of you have had something dear to you become threatened, and how you handled the situation.