Roy Exum: COVID? Try Vitamin 'P'

Wednesday, July 29, 2020 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

A couple of years before my blessed mother went to her Heavenly reward in 2014, she would spend her ordinary afternoons with her TV preachers and, Lord, it was such a blessing; mom was in her late 80s. She had a deep wish not to go in a nursery home – and who could blame her -- so I moved into the upstairs of her beautiful home to tend to her and we had the most wonderful assortment of folks she adored take care of her during the day.

She loved everything about it … the dogs who would cuddle her in thunderstorms, the girls who doted on her and she taught to cook, the endless array of visitors. Trust me, it was bliss. But every afternoon, she would watch her TV preachers and, once I gave the okay she could indeed enjoy a glass of white communal wine with each new show, it was all for the better and hers was a delightful life. We would go to different churches on Sunday, a reason to get all gussied up, and always have a proper Sunday dinner with whatever friends would share their stories and laughter. Just perfect, if I do say so.

One particular afternoon, I came in on the tail-end of a sermon by the much-renowned John Hagee, who we both liked, and Rev. Hagee shared a notion that struck a deep chord in me. He allowed how God answers even the simplest prayer … but how is He to answer that prayer if you never ask? I’d never thought about it but if it is true on earth, it’s true in heaven. You don’t pray that your wife is sick – He knows that! – you instead pray for His Healing, His grace, His mercies so your wife will get better.

Some years later I remembered that, and in My Morning Readings, I found a sermon that Dr. Hagee had given:

* * *


(From a sermon John Hagee: “The Decision to Pray with Power”)

What is prayer? Prayer is conversation with God. You don't have to talk to God in the King James. You don't have to speak in a foreign language or make it I am a pentameter. Some of the best prayers I've ever prayed sounded like this, "Help"! And that's a fact. Prayer is not sending God to run on your errands. A Christian must get on his knees before he gets on his feet. Prayer is not getting God prepared to do your will. Pray is getting you ready to do God's will. The Lord's prayer, say this, "Not my will but thine be done". Say that with me. "Not my will but thine be done".

Prayer is the only way to release the supernatural power of God in your life, in your marriage, in your business, to show you great and mighty things. But the question is, as powerful as God is, God cannot answer prayer until you pray. You often hear or I often hear people say, "Well, I wonder when God is going to do something".

The initiative rests with you, not God. God says, "When you pray, I will answer". "What you bind on earth, I'll bind in heaven. What you lose on earth, I will lose in heaven".

But the initiative rests with you. God's not sitting there wondering what you want. He wants you to tell him, because if you tell him in faith believing, you will receive it. Give the Lord praise in the house.

As powerful as God is, he cannot answer prayer until you pray it.

Prayer is the key that unlocks the gates of heaven and closes the gates of hell. I saw the power of prayer all of my life in my mother. When she got on her arthritic knees and started whispering the name of the Lord, every demon in Harris County started running for Louisiana. Prayer has the power to cure sickness and disease.

My older brother was healed of epilepsy because of my mother's prayer. Medical science couldn't touch it. But God Almighty healed my brother. Prayer can shatter the shackles of misery and habits that enslave you. The torments of your son, the thing that's destroying your daughter, your husband, your wife: prayer can change that.

* * *

Prayer has worked for time immemorial. We cringe as our COVID-19 cases in Hamilton County exceed 5,000, as over 100 are in Chattanooga hospitals with over 25 in ICU. More deaths this month than last, a record exceeded in less than 30 days. We have 43,000 school children primed to start within three weeks and, in the midst of this, a nurse practitioner in Illinois has just penned an essay on MedPage Today’s about an amazing serum. She calls ‘Vitamin P.’

The author, blessed with the whimsical name of Daisy Sherry, is a much-accomplished nursing PhD who is on the faculty of Lewis University, a private Catholic university located about 30 miles south of Chicago. Lewis University has 6,400 students – over 98 percent receive some financial aid – and it is recognized as one of the top colleges in the Midwest. Several days ago, Dr. Sherry wrote:

* * *

By Dr. Daisy Sherry, PhD, ACNP-BC

As a nurse practitioner, I have the privilege of helping people achieve their health care goals. But in light of recent events surrounding social justice, I find that I am increasingly challenged in new ways. Ways that my training and likely other nursing or medical schools did not address. I have that uncomfortable feeling of being ill-prepared to address the ramifications of social justice on the health of my patients. Let me share one abbreviated story.

C.M. is a 57-year old Hispanic female seen for “not feeling well” for the past five days. She speaks primarily Spanish, needing our clinic translator. Symptoms started while in the middle of cooking dinner for the family. She had a sudden and profound wave of feeling tired, having to sit down and rest with relief after 20 minutes. No pain, nausea, dizziness, sweating, fever. No past medical history. Unemployed. She is apathetic with an unremarkable physical exam. 12-lead ECG revealed marked ST-T wave changes in inferior and lateral leads.

I immediately went into auto-mode, as many providers do when having been through a case many times. I explained what was going on with her heart, the seriousness of the situation and that she needed to go to the hospital for further evaluation. At this point, CM’s daughter, with whom she lives with, joined the conversation as she had been waiting in the lobby. I felt resistance and panic from the daughter right away about bringing CM to the hospital.

After going back and forth with the daughter, there was frustration and silence. The daughter removed her Bluetooth earpiece and began to sob. She couldn’t handle one more stress being sandwiched between work, caring for her mother, her sister with special needs, and her own three school-age daughters, let alone the financial impact.

On top of that, CM’s daughter was gravely concerned that if CM went to the hospital, an undocumented immigrant, then she would be setting her up for deportation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Sobbing continues, and the once stoic CM now is tearful.

My immediate reaction is to put my arms around both of them and offer them tissues. We remained silent. Before I knew it, I was also overwhelmed with emotion and empathy for this family, shedding a tear with them. Now, what to do? I feel awkward and uncomfortable. Following my human instincts, I asked if we could pray together. We stood holding hands in silent prayer, no more than two minutes, taking in our “vitamin P.”

Emotions in a patient encounter are a real clinical challenge and, if not handled well, can have devastating effects.  I have to call out that the emotional piece of patient care goes missing in training programs. As I think back about my own training, I was prepared to be systematic. That use of auto-mode in providing care has cultivated an emotional numbness in me that disregards emotions and feeling uncomfortable.

Clinicians have to become more comfortable with being uncomfortable. For me, in that moment of uncertainty, as a human being, I advocate turning to prayer, or “vitamin P,” to find comfort and clarity. Recall, the word prayer, by definition, is an expression, an earnest hope, and does not require any religious affiliation.

For me, vitamin P has been a successful, real-time way to address challenges alongside traditional evidence-based practice. My patients appreciate the time and value of kind words shared. I realize not all people are at a place, emotionally or psychologically, to engage with patients in this way. At some point though, there comes a time to unpack feelings we carry from our patients’ struggles. Prayer can give voice to these emotions, help process, and bridge a gap in patient care, with one human connecting with another.

And for CM’s case, after our vitamin P, we found clarity and connection to determine the best decisions for her.

I urge all clinicians, including those in academia, to do better by patients in the next generation of providers. Prepare yourselves to be uncomfortable. Consider taking your vitamin P.

* * *

Elmer Pettyjohn, a black man who had such a great deal with my upbringing he became a second father, told me many times, “Sonny boy, God does always come the minute you call Him … but there has never been a day when He wasn’t right on time.”

* * *

* -- Matthew 7:7 – “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.

* -- Matthew 21:22 ESV – “And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.”

* -- John 14:13-14 ESV – “Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.”

* -- Mark 11:24 - Therefore I say unto you, What things so ever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive [them], and ye shall have [them].

* -- Matthew 6:34 ESV -- “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

* -- Deuteronomy 31:6 ESV – “Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

* -- Psalm 23:4 ESV – “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.”

* -- Romans 8:38-39 ESV – “For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”


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