Eat, Pray, Love… Without the Eating.

September 14th at St. Francis Heart Hospital. Nine-month-old Mikey has been in the Pediatric ICU for just a few hours. Earlier in the morning, he had open-heart surgery to close a large hole in his heart.  His family was standing around his bed watching him as he lay in a medicine-induced sleep, a respirator breathing for him, and at least six tubes either draining or pumping fluids into his tiny body.

The PICU nurses who had been calmly caring for him suddenly began to move more deliberately, checking and rechecking the equipment that monitored his vital signs and speaking to each other with a growing intensity. They paged cardiologists who rushed to the bedside. His parents stood together in silence as doctors and nurses determined the problem. Their baby was bleeding out into his chest. He would have to go back into surgery immediately.

doctors_pushing_gurneyAs Mikey was prepped to go back to the operating room, his parents were joined in the PICU by grandparents, an aunt and uncle. They stood around his bed, simply held hands and prayed, staying there for as long as the nurses would let them, until Mikey was wheeled out of the room. His family continued to pray, standing in the empty space where his bed had been.

We watched all this as we stood in the PICU beside the bed of our own son. Just six months old and weighing barely twelve pounds, he, too, had had open-heart surgery that morning to correct a myriad of congenital problems. We added quiet prayers to those of Mikey’s family — in part, praying for our own son and asking God’s grace for the both of them.

In what seemed like only minutes, Mikey was unexpectedly back in the PICU. The nurse told his parents that he had been taken into the O.R., but by the time they got ready to open him up again, the bleeding had suddenly stopped on its own without explanation or any intervention. At that moment, we all relaxed the grips of hands held too tightly and allowed ourselves to breathe again, giving thanks for answered prayers.

There have been many scientific studies over the years about the power of prayer. Some investigations have suggested that prayers offered for the sick, even by strangers, had accelerated healing. Other reports said it has no impact at all. I don’t think the findings of these studies by detached researchers is important. What matters is what we believe.  On many occasions, I have experienced  the incredible results of positive thinking and an optimistic outlook — none more powerful than the recovery of our own baby after a week of touch-and-go moments in the PICU.

On the 9th day after surgery, our cardiologist visited us in our son’s room and rather matter-of-factly said, “I can now tell you with confidence that your son is not going to die.”  I was stunned. That possibility had not entered my mind — not even remotely. Sure, we had been given the mortality rate speech from the surgeon, but instead of dwelling on the 10% chance of devastating heartbreak, we focused on the 90% positive outcome and enveloping our baby with the kind of love that would save Harry Potter from Voldemort.

That was September 14, 1994. Today is September 14, 2010. The 16th anniversary of an amazing day. We still keep in touch with Mikey and his family. Both our boys are strong, healthy young men who believe in the power of prayer because they have lived through it.

Please share your experiences with positive energy, directed thinking, meditation, spirituality or whatever you call prayer.

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