Brilliantly disguised

Sunset over Naples, Italy, May 2008 The light keeps breaking through the falling darkness!

Sunset over Naples, Italy, May 2008
The light keeps breaking through the falling darkness!

“We are all faced with a series of great opportunities, brilliantly disguised as impossible situations…” Charles Swindoll

I will always remember the first time I saw this quote.  It was fairly recently, in an email I got from an extraordinary person, Dr. Anitha John. She specializes in adult congenital cardiology, a relatively new field that is both demanding and in demand.  Dr. John has this quote appended to her email signature and contact details.

When we first sought her help as a local expert to work in consultation with Matt’s cardiology team in Norfolk, we were deeply apprehensive about Matt’s ongoing medical challenges.  Seeing this quote in Dr. John’s email was wonderfully reassuring, and my impression that we were in excellent hands was underscored and magnified.  You just have to love a physician with that kind of signature line, which matches perfectly with her attitude, expertise and compassion.

One of the great blessings to come out of our medical trials and tribulations has been the opportunity to know some of the most amazing medical professionals in the world.  Some have international reputations, and some are known only locally, but all have had a wonderful combination of education, experience, competence, humility, understanding, and respect for their patients and families.

There’s an unfortunate stereotype that physicians (and surgeons in particular) can be arrogant and uncaring, but we have never, ever found this to be the case with any of the doctors, therapists, nurses or other staff who have worked together to save Matt’s life more times than we can immediately recall.  Perhaps those who go into any pediatric subspecialty have an extra measure of the helping heart that draws people to careers in medicine, but I’ve had many years of close proximity to all sorts of medical personnel, and I know firsthand that they live and work with one impossible situation after another, always finding the opportunity within the challenge.  As much as any other support we’ve been blessed to enjoy, the faith and diligence of these providers has kept us going over the years.

Our proximity to health care professionals has given me a deep gratitude for the excellent medical care we’ve received, along with an abiding interest in eliminating the obstacles that still prevent far too many people from access to appropriate, compassionate health care.  If you have good health care providers, be thankful!  May we all draw inspiration from their tireless determination to find the opportunities that lie within the impossible.


  1. God sends us so much help in the form of doctors and health care providers! We are indeed blessed.

    • I agree. We take so much for granted that our grandparents and great-grandparents did without – antibiotics, hospitals nearby, specialty care for almost everything. It often hard to be grateful for anything when illness hits, but it does help to count our blessings at such times.

  2. MaryAnn Clontz

    Oh! The Beauty you captured of one of my very favorite displays by our Creator! Thanks for the reminder to praise God for good health and for good doctoring teams!
    Love, MaryAnn

    • Mary Ann, thanks so much for your visits here and your encouraging comments! We are surrounded by so many blessings, even in the worst of times.

  3. Sheila

    Julia, Bill and I are back in Garden City this evening and we just walked over to the beach to see the larger than normal moon come up. As I stood there in awe, I remembered so many with a prayer. I felt very blessed to be able to pray for Jeff, Matt, and you in a setting of such splendor. I so enjoyed your blog and read it several times today. A special prayer, Sheila

    • Thanks so much, Sheila! I’m happy you were able to enjoy the moon tonight. It was clouded over here, but I got some great photos of it last night! I am so glad you liked the post today; that quote has been an inspiration to me in the short time since I first heard it. We are grateful for your prayers!

  4. merry

    Julia, beautiful picture, thanks for sharing. I’m please you’ve received great care for your son Matt. So often all we hear is negative comments about medical personal. My daughter is a RN worked 25 years in cardiac unit, now teaches nursing. Many people have told me, she is a wonderful nurse. Of course, I think so. :} lol

    • Thanks Merry, it really does take a special gift to be a good health care provider. I am thankful that there are people who have that gift, if not for them we would not have as long or happy life as most of us enjoy. I appreciate your visits here!

  5. It’s good to know you’ve met so many caring people. That makes your challenges somewhat more emotionally survivable. To know you’re in good hands takes a lot of stress out of the equation. They’re not in it for the money in Alberta, that’s for sure. Our health care system is going thru some tough challenges. Dr’s, nurses and others in the system are all frustrated and extended to the max. The Minister of Health (Provincial Gov’t Elected position) took unprecedented measures and just fired an ENTIRE healthcare board (appointed positions of overpaid/oversee’ers) after they voted to give themselves bonus’s against the governments mandate of fiscal restraint and wage freezes for others in the system. I applauded his move. Who knows what’s next. An interim board has been hired to clean up the mess.

    • Through my activism on health care reform (which landed me at the White House with a front-row seat at President Obama’s first health care summit in 2009 – thank you for including this Republican, Mr. President! :-)) I learned more than I ever wanted to know about the challenges of implementing a national health care policy. Those of us who oppose certain parts of the Affordable Care Act aren’t heartless, as we are often portrayed; we just want to try to avoid the mistakes that have already happened in other countries. But it’s such a complex, gargantuan problem that keeps changing daily as medicine advances — and it’s very hard to hit a moving target. As your comment implies, it’s dicey to put people in charge of their own pay since almost everyone I know has considered themselves underpaid at one time or another! Health care cannot be treated like any other business, because the stakes are so high and the needs so critical that it’s rarely clear what can and should be cut out. There’s a fine line between treating it as a business, which can have disastrous ramifications to some people, and treating it as a bottomless money pit, which is already having disastrous ramifications to people and businesses and the economy in general. The biggest thing I have learned in the past four years is that there are NO easy answers. But I think we can all do better than what we’ve got now.

      • Complicated! yes very much so. Congratulations on being so involved. They couldn’t have chosen a better participant. You’re experience with healthcare and ability communicate so well with others must have been such a great help to the process.

        • Mostly I’ve been an observer; at the summit I found out that most of what our elected officials do is LISTEN, for hours and hours and hours. Despite the often justified practice of complaining or ridiculing them, their job is far from easy and I don’t envy them.

  6. Sheila

    Julia, I’m so glad I came back to see last Sunday’s blog. I just read the additional comments and know we have something else in common. Bill and I worry so about healthcare and it’s direction. Prosthetics and orthotics are being hit so hard with the cuts and also RAC audits.
    Bill wants to continue to care for people (which he truly does), but it’s so frustrating. Back to now…still camping, still raining. I love it!

    • I think camping in the rain would be so cozy! Yes, health care is quite worrisome, and there are no easy answers. Medicine and related disciplines have outgrown the old system, which is a nice problem to have in one sense, but we have limited resources for increasingly unlimited options. Jeff’s cancer treatment would not have even been offered to him as recently as 10 years ago; without treatment, the average life expectancy would have been 3-4 months, and he’s already had more than 9 months, most of which was at a high quality of life. But without the military health care, it would have already bankrupted us. I am so grateful for the amazing advances in prosthetics that enable our “wounded warriors” to be so mobile and independent even after losing limbs, but as you mention, funding cuts and nightmarish paperwork threaten to curtail most people’s access to such advanced care. I hope we do not lose good providers to the sheer frustration of having to deal with it all!


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