After preping the patient with mucho sedation, anticeptic coverings galore and lined up the gadgets just "so," the doctor called an obligatory pre-surgical "Time Out." I was impressed that they have this step in the surgery protocol. All activity stops for a short period of time, maybe 1 minute. We all just stood there and breathed. I took the time to feel my feet on the floor.
The OR charge nurse positioned me near the patient's head, behind the IV stand, nowhere near the anticeptic range. I had a little step stool so that I could get really close and above the patient, well - as close as I could handle.
The doctor began. Cutting, but no bleeding because of the cauterizing tool that quickly sealed the flesh and minimized blood loss. Wow. After the flesh, the doctor cut through muscle and moved any organs out of the way with this kind of curvey-spatula-looking steel tool. Gently, tenderly, continuing.
The, the doctor cut out the rib and removed it.
AAAACCCKKKK! I am pretty sure that the doctor looked at me and said, "Look Chaplain, I just removed the rib." Wow, I replied. Now THAT is biblical! For just one moment, I thought the heavens would open and God's Kingdom would be made manifest in that OR room. No kidding.
Later, I learned that this piece of live flesh - this flexible, transparent, fibrous strip of rib - would become the core piece of the human-made L1 vertebra - well, a combo-solution, really. Part human-invention and a whole lot of God's creation all neatly inserted into little ol' L1.
For the next three hours, I continued watching. Amazed, awed, gawking and inspired.
As God was working in all our lives, it turns out that I was with this very patient two days earlier, praying with him about his anxiety for this very surgery. What joy to go visit him again today and praise God with him, together.
I'm sure I have nothing else to say about this. I'm grateful to tears.