Saturday, June 18, 2005

Faith Healing?!

Here I am at work on a Saturday, waiting for my first patient of the day to come out of the Operating Room. Saturdays are pretty slow as most of the cases to be done have been on the 'wait and see' list for most of the week, and the docs are playing 'catch-up.' I work in a Level 1 trauma facility, so most minor orthopaedic cases get bumped, day after day after day. That's the way our health care system's free, but you have to prepared to wait. And, it provides me with a job.

Earlier this week, a Filipino "Psychic Surgeon" named Alex L. Orbito was arrested here in Toronto for fraud. I have seen this man on a TLC programme years ago, and he has a video available that demonstrates how he performs his surgery.
Really quite fascinating, if not terrifying to realize that there are people so desperate to be cured of their diseases and disabilities that they are willing to try anything. It amazes me that he has not been tossed in jail years ago and forced to stop practicing this nonsense. However, that is just my opinion. The power of belief is stronger sometimes than logic.
I am reminded of the years I spent working in Saudi Arabia. Most of the nurses I worked with were Filipino, and they were deeply superstitious, and when events out of the ordinary happened, rumours spred from one to another like wildfire. I remember there was a nurse working at the hospital who had kidney failure, and needed dialysis. She had been working in Saudi for many, many years and all of the money that she earned actually made her quite wealthy back home. She knew that she was ill, but her benefits did not cover dialysis, and if she were to go home, all of her savings would be spent on medical expenditures. She did not want her hard-earned savings spent that way, so she worked, and worked and worked until she collapsed and died. It really was quite tragic, as she was not an old woman.
What was interesting about this death was that the Filipina girls I worked with were TERRIFIED that her ghost would come back to haunt them! The housing accommodations were not that big, they were assigned 2 to a room, however, in their fear there would be 20 of them crammed into one room, taking turns staying awake at night and praying for one month! It was the rainy season (which lasts about a week) and they were convinced that it was caused by her sadness. And, they swore up and down that when this woman's husband found out that she was dead, that his hair immediately turned pure white!
I haven't thought about this in years, and for some reason my memory was triggered by this Psychic Surgeon. He probably had many believers in the Filipines where he got his start, and because people basically have the power to believe anything that they want to (even if it is based in superstition, or desperation), his unique brand of faith-healing has traveled the world.
I think the power of the mind CAN be a very powerful thing, and I have honestly seen a miracle or two in my time as a nurse, although none of these can be credited to any particular type of faith-healing.
These miracles, when they happen, defy any kind of logic.
And, they become a perk of my job, no matter how long I have to wait between miracles.