Tuesday, November 15, 2011


In Population 485, the author Michael Perry, who is also a rural EMT, described his attempt to rescue the victim of a car accident. He explained the pain a victim experiences when a breathing tube is inserted down the victim's nose. Further in the chapter, Perry graphically delineated the trauma of being shocked with defib paddles.
After reading the chapter, I set the book aside, momentarily appalled at the straightforward portrayal of anguish at the hand of rescue. In my mind, paramedics and doctors swoop in as the soothers of suffering—-not the inflictors of it. It had never occurred to me that to save my life one day, a medical professional might have to inflict pain, be it setting a broken bone, stripping the skin from a burn, or shooting electricity through my chest. To comfort myself, I rationalized, “In that moment I doubt I’ll mind how much they hurt me. I’ll be grateful for their efforts no matter how excruciating.”
Just before I continued reading the book, a deeper parallel jolted me.
In our age of anesthesia and epidurals, Advil and Lidocaine, we forget that hurting is sometimes necessary for healing and that life sometimes can’t be numbed. Being rescued is uncomfortable such as when a friend inserts the tube of truth into my collapsed mind, suffocating from self-centeredness. Or when God decides to reset my attitude or shock my heart back to beating when it’s grown dead toward Him and others. Or when He strips away layers of my soul, scorched from the sin of the world and myself.
I pray that in those moments, no matter how excruciating, I’ll realize how close to death I truly am and embrace the pain of the rescue.