- Religion and Philosophy
Angel Over My Shoulder
“See these?” I asked the patient, flicking my fingers over the hoops in my ears. “These are my insurance policy.” I was making reference to the winged cherubs dangling from their golden perch just beneath my OR cap as I made ready to begin the day of surgeries. “These are the angels over my shoulders watching out for you.”
As an OB/GYN physician, I like to reassure my patients that they are ultimately in God’s hands prior to heading into the operating room for even the most minor case. I want them to know that their surgeon is guided by a force higher than nature and more reliable than chance.
“God bless you, Doc,” my patient whispered to me as our hands met across the rail of the gurney. Like many people, she was probably terrified of the potential complications and the pain associated with the abdominal hysterectomy planned for her that day. But it seemed to help that I drew her attention to my two little symbols of faith. Perhaps they gave her a focus other than fear.
“Don’t worry. You’re going to do great,” I told her. The patient and I had previously discussed the fact that I cannot guarantee a perfect outcome. But I let her know that she could trust me to do my best on her behalf. If a complication occurred, I would work through it with her, relying on God’s help.
The angel earrings had been a birthday gift from my parents. I doubt they realized the significant role that the jewelry would play in my life and career in medicine when they made the purchase. Since then, I have acquired other symbols to wear. A cherub necklace or a simple cross might adorn my neck beneath the scrub shirt on occasion, helping me to see the hand of God in my life. I realize that these icons are only symbols of faith, not faith itself. They’ll be there whenever I operate, and so will God be, right over my shoulders.