I order and review a lot of labs.
Basic labs include a blood count, kidney function, liver function, electrolytes (sodium, potassium, etc), cholesterol, and an A1C (if you’re diabetic).
These labs will typically help us monitor how meds may be affecting patients, how controlled or uncontrolled their medical conditions, and if any new conditions may be arising (anemia, infection, etc).
I remember one particular lab result. Let’s call the patient Lydia.
Her routine blood work showed decreased kidney function, something along the lines of Chronic Kidney Disease, Stage 3. However, she had no history of kidney issues. She wasn’t on any medications that would cause kidney issues either.
So, I decided to repeat this result within the next two weeks, at the patient’s convenience.
Then, a sudden drop in kidney function again. Along the lines of Stage 5, maybe headed towards dialysis.
I called the patient and ask her how she was feeling.
“Fine. No problems at all.”
And in that moment, I had to make a big decision. Refer her to Nephrology STAT? Send her to the Emergency Department?
Part of the problem when practicing Family Medicine is that I sometimes receive a lot of negative feedback and even ridicule from specialists and the emergency department.
I’ve had my fair share of ugly phone calls, defending my decisions on why I sent my patients to them and why I think the referral is needed.
So, here I was, making a big decision for this patient, in just a few seconds over the phone.
I sighed and caved in to the small voice that was nudging me to send her to the Emergency Department.
“Just tell her to go to the Emergency Department.” The voice said.
“Why the hospital? You can’t even say what’s going on. You know they’re going to call again, ask you a million questions that you don’t have answers to, tell you what to do instead, and then send the pateint right back to you.” The other voice said. The voice of doubt.
“No. Send her to the hospital.” The voice was much more certain. Louder. Firm. Confident.
“Lydia? I hate to tell you this but I think you need to go to the Emergency Department.” I sighed over the phone.
“Why? I really feel fine. Should I just drink more water?”
“Well, your kidney function is dropping too fast and this could be life-threatening. And if it is simply due to dehydration, which I don’t think it is, they’ll give you IV fluids, re-check your levels, and get you all better.”
“Well, OK I guess. I trust you so I’ll go.”
“And I appreciate that. Just stop by here and pick up your lab results so you can take it with you.”
And she did. She listened to my voice, picked up her labs, and went to the hospital, with nothing more than a phone call from her family medicine practitioner and two sheets of papers with labs on it.
All because a little voice deep inside told me she needed to go.
Turns out, she had a cancerous kidney mass. And it was perfectly encapsulated in such a way that they removed it on that very day. All of it. And her kidney function went back to 100%. On that very day.
All because I listened to the voice inside of me.
And that voice is the holy spirit of Jesus Christ. The spirit that Jesus left with us when he left Earth. We all have it. We just have to take the time to listen.
“…I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever–the Spirit of truth…” John 14:16 NIV
If it’s doubt, it’s not the holy spirit.
If it’s negative, it’s not the holy spirit.
If it produces more confusion, it’s not the holy spirit.
Jesus is the way, the TRUTH, and the life. Therefore, the voice that he has left within all of us is also of truth.
When things are difficult and you don’t know what to do, find a quiet room and just sit, wait, and listen.
God will lead you.