I often wonder if anyone actually hears God speaking to them in an audible voice. I know He can, and has, done so with Abraham, Moses, Isaiah and others but I have never had that happen. I have felt Him moving me in a way, mentally, thoughts about one thing or another, feelings, burdens, however you wish to describe it but not in an audible voice, or one I just hear in my head like someone talking. Sometimes I get thoughts, gut feelings, concerns or however one would call that sense one gets about certain situations and feel I should do something and when I don’t follow through the thoughts start nagging at me about the issue. More times than I can count at work I’ve gotten that feeling. The patient is there for one reason, maybe sprained ankle or knee pain but one little thing they say or something I see makes me get a feeling they may have another issue that is unrelated to the main problem that day. At times I’ve ignored it even though deep inside I should look into the issue that occurred to me only to have patient come in later for the issue I had the concern about that ends up being a far bigger problem than the first one.
So, over my career I have learned to listen to that little voice in my mind saying “maybe they are here for the ankle but you need to check on their blood work.” Which is not normally done, in fact there is no reason to do that in such a situation. Or, a child that parents bring for possible ear infection I’ll get that feeling to also examine for something else. Now, regardless of how busy I am or how bizarre it seems I follow through on those feelings. I can’t remember all the times I’ve had that feeling and with rare exceptions that feeling is correct. Just a few of the more memorable instances are:
A patient was in for a regular follow up, he was a soldier that had been injured during a training accident and required a couple surgeries, physical therapy and a lot of time to heal. He was almost fully recovered and would be getting transferred to a different bad within a few weeks so it was probably the last time I was going to see him. He had gotten the assignment he wanted and going to the base he had wanted to go for several years but instead of being as excited as he should have been he would be expected. He seemed happy.. BUT…something in his eyes and voice caused me to get THAT FEELING. I couldn’t put a finger in anything in particular as why I felt that way or what may have been the issue but SOMETHING needed looked into further so instead of bidding him well wishes and moving on to the next patient we just sat and I asked if there was anything else even though I’d already asked him that question. He said no but I couldn’t feel comfortable yet so we just talked about new job, base, plans and such. I asked about those things and then let him talk and would occasionally nod my head and say hat sounds good, etc. While talking he at times seemed very upbeat and excited but other times indifferent, then a one point when he was talking about how great things were and how all was going exactly how he had planned he paused and said, “Sir, have you ever felt like no matter how perfect things seem none of it matters because things aren’t right, even if you’re getting what you always thought you wanted and life really doesn’t matter?” Ok, nw the alarms were starting to go off and not that little gut feeling. I asked a few more questions and found out he had sent his wife and kids to see his in laws and after done at the appointment with me and one other appointment he was planning to go home and commit suicide. He had already seen his case manager and social worker that day and no one had picked up on it! Those people knew him fat better than I did so they should have noticed something. Regardless, he needed help so, despite being behind in clinic we talked longer and it became obvious he needed far more than I could do for him so I asked if it would be okay if I called mental health to see if someone there would be able to talk with him more. He somewhat reluctantly agreed and I made some calls and as able to get it coordinated, explained to him what was going to happen, which doctor he was to see and walked with him to that office and introduced him to the psychiatrist and left. The psychiatrist called me later and filled me in on things. No big issues but lots of little things had been wearing the patient down. Then added, “even knowing ahead of time he was suicidal I don’t think I’d have picked up on this. How did you know?” Well, I had no explanation other than a gut feeling. He told me that they had s plan for safery and the patient was not going to be at risk for now and should do great. A few months later I got an email from the patient thanking me and letting me know he was doing well, no longer considering suicide and a little about his family and such.
Another time while working in Urgent Care parents brought in their 4 year old girl for ear pain saying they thought she had an ear infection. She was a beautiful child, smiling and happy. As I watched her and listened to them something seemed funny with how she moved one arm, just SOMETHING! I did the exam for ear infection and no ear infection present, then examined her right arm closer, definitely weaker than leg and then found the right leg was effected too. I coordinated for a CT scan, having to argue with radiology because they didn’t feel it was necessary but finally gave in. Because of her age she needed to be sedated so she would hold still during scan so I had to call anesthesia and had similar response as radiology but they also gave in and we got the scan which showed a large brain tumor. She was quickly transferred to the nearest children’s hospital and unfortunately I lost track after a few weeks but she’d had radiation treaments, surgery and was getting chemotherapy and seemed to be doing better. But as soon as the scan was don’t i was called about the results and the radiologist said, “I really didn’t think we’d find anything but Wow, good catch!” The girl had been seen the day before and that provider didn’t find what I did but it was probably there perhaps a little more subtle but it was present. But, that provider did not check further, had I not listened to that feeling she likely would have died in 1 or 2 days at most.
The last I will mention today was a teenager that came for knee and leg pain. That is very common in kids this child’s age, but something seemed, well, odd in how he described it. Not the typical type of pain, no injury he remembered and nothing I could find out about would say it was anything more than maybe growing pains. Nothing on initial exam seemed unusual, then, I looked in his mouth, not something I normally do when they are there for joint pain, but I took a minute, for some reason I can’t explain, to listen to his heart, lungs, abdomen, all of which were fine, and look inside his mouth. Some bruises were there. Well, some foods can cause that, hard foods, Captain Crunch and similar cereals certainly can injure the mouth. But, nope, hadn’t had any foods that SHOULD have caused it. Hmmmm, something off here but nothing I could put my finger on. So, while I normally would not do it, I ordered x-rays and some labs. The report on the x-ray was vague, which is often the case, but there was a comment that there appeared to be decreased bone density, the bones did not look quite right, not wrong, but not right. The lab showed mild anemia, lower than normal red blood cells, but his white blood cell count was extremely low. As I looked it over, I realized that due to what we call the differential, the percentages of one kind of white blood cell compared to the others, this child had leukemia. I arranged for evaluation by Oncology, a cancer specialist, and for follow up the next day by his pediatrician. After he was seen by both they called or emailed and told me they were surprised I had checked those things because clinically, the tests were not indicated, meaning the reason he was there did not typically warrant doing those tests, but because I did, this child was most likely going to do extremely well. I never heard more about him for about 2 or 3 years, then parents came in with a sibling and recognized me. They told me all about him and that he had made what was considered a complete recovery after chemotherapy, radiation therapy and bone marrow transplant. He was still seeing the oncologist and pediatrician and getting blood work and such done, but had been free of cancer for over a year.
I don’t say talk about these things to puff myself up. Now, I know I am a good doctor but I also know I am not the best either. I wish I was, but there are many that are better. My daughter has only been in practice for about 3 years and she is an amazing physician and will get even better with time. Far, FAR better than I will ever be. I don’t say these things putting me down, I feel I am quite a bit better than average at my job, but I know or know of, those that are better. I am certain there are many I don’t know that are better as well. The patients I mentioned had all been seen recently for similar issues or by others that should have picked up on something during the appointment but didn’t. I know one is a better pediatrician than I am at Family Medicine or Urgent care but she missed the correct diagnosis. So, what is it that made me able to find the problem. That small voice, that feeling, that sense that something needed looked at closer. Even though I was not walking with Christ at the time, I believe that God was telling me to check into things closer. He still uses us when we don’t walk with Him, He uses sinners for His good at times. That was the case in these instances. No way would I have picked up on the clues if He had not caused me to try to look into things further. I give God the credit and the glory for all these instances and many others over the years.
But, what about other times I have had the same feelings. Well, sometimes I feel it is God “talking” to me, trying to move me to a certain action, but then have doubts and hold off on acting on those issues. Maybe I get a feeling that I should call or otherwise contact someone, but I don’t, fearing that it may be ME wanting that and that it isn’t from God. Maybe if I try to contact this person or that person they will be upset that I “bothered them” and get angry at me. Maybe others will think I am being nosey or interfering with their lives, perhaps think I am trying to cause trouble. While that would not be the case, if those people feel that way, there won’t be any good to come of the attempts. I am having that feeling now about some people, thinking that they want, or need, to hear from me. Several people in fact: coworkers, friends, family, neighbors, etc. I need to figure out how to tell who NEEDS to hear from me, who WANTS to hear from me and who DOESN’T want me involved in anyway. All are people I care about, but perhaps they don’t, or say they don’t, care about me. HOW does one determine which of those feelings to act on? Different things for each, maybe just a quick hello, I was thinking of you and wanted to see how you were doing. Or, ask if things are okay. Perhaps a feel a particular burden for one person or another and feel like I have an idea about something, maybe someone having issues at work with others but it seems the issue is deeper than work, maybe family problems. I have acted on those at times, trying to not seem to be a busy body, but also trying to help them. One instance was a coworker that was usually pretty easy going, like everyone, they had their moments but for the most part, a good worker who started having a lot of little disagreements with people, nothing HUGE, but still, they were not acting in a manner that is normal for them. One woman I work with was doing that, several days I avoided the topic, didn’t ask anything, just talked about work issues with patients and such but finally, I had to ask, I COULD NOT help it, I had to because the little feeling had become bigger and the longer I delayed, the worse I felt about things. Well, as it turned out, her daughter had started being sick several weeks before, evaluation at first was normal, no abnormal labs or x-rays, but she was getting worse. Then, just a couple weeks before I talked to her they found a slight increase in the liver enzymes, the chemicals that tell if one’s liver is working properly. They looked back at all the other tests and they were normal, but just below the high level to be considered abnormal and when they looked even further back they found that her previous tests had been for a few years at the lower limits of normal. They had an indication it was her liver malfunctioning, failing, but not a cause. Repeat tests showed the enzymes to be even higher and just a couple days before they had discovered that the cause of the liver failure was an herbal supplement that she had started taking shortly before she started to feel bad. It was one that is not uncommonly used for moods that has very mild antidepressant effects. BUT, in a very small number of people that have the genetic predisposition it can cause significant liver problems because of the way their bodies and livers process and breakdown the chemical. Her daughter was at the point that it was not certain if the liver damage was temporary or permanent. If permanent, it would either require a liver transplant or would eventually result in her death. This woman had said nothing to anyone at work. No one had asked her, but a few others had noticed the behavior issues the same as I had noticed but never bothered to ask her about how she was doing, was something bothering her or in any other way showed any concern. I didn’t do that much, just asked if she was okay or was there anything bothering her. She had been bottling all that up, the only ones she had spoken to about it were her daughter, the doctors and her husband but she needed the outlet. I wasn’t walking with Christ at the time, but He still used me. I thank God now I was able to know then that He had a job for me and wanted to use me for someone else’s benefit. I felt bad for her, but she did say she appreciated the time and said it was a relief that someone cared enough to ask her about things. What a mighty, merciful and kind God we serve.
1 And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.
2 And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.
3 And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,
4 As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.
4 And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I.
5 And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.
6 Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.
12 And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.
13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entering in of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?
1 Kings 19:12-13
Yeah, I will admit, I am jealous of those that God speaks to in the way He spoke to these men and others like them. But, I still “hear His voice” but in a different way. But, what about those times one just isn’t 100% certain you really are feeling God tell you something and instead, perhaps it is just YOU that wants to do it? I was going to go into that now, but this is already a lot longer than I planned, so I will end for now, but address the question in another post to follow soon.
Lord, You are great and mighty, Glorious beyond my ability to understand or find the words to describe You. I praise You and thank You for all You have done for me and others. I thank You for the scriptures that tell me that You do speak to us at times. I pray I am ready, willing and able to hear or feel Your wishes for me. I pray in Jesus Name that You work in my heart to make it sensitive to You and Your will in my life. Work on the hearts of others that they too can feel You in their lives, those not saved, draw to You and those saved, please draw even closer than they are at this time.
Thanks for the visit and your time. I will be posting the follow up post soon, or at least as soon as I am able to understand what He wishes me to say. I pray all have a blessed day, and take the time to be a blessing to someone else as well.