On my initial visit to Dr. L's office, HL and I had to wait quite a while before being ushered into the consulting room. The cubicle's walls were crowded with even more explicitly religious mottoes than those in the waiting room. As I read them, my apprehension increased.
There was nothing subtle about the surgeon's computer screen saver, either in the medical allusion or the piety.
Dr. L. turned out to be a short man with a harried air. He spoke with no trace of an accent, though he had an Asian name and facial features. His framed diplomas indicated that he had been educated in the state. He may have been born there as well. I was glad that the physician was a native English speaker, since he had to interpret the details of my X-ray and describe the operation that I needed.
Dr. L. explained the problem with efficiency and authority. I understood that the bone would knit crookedly without surgical intervention. Dr. L. proposed inserting a little metal plate in my wrist to align the ends of the broken radial bone. He would secure the plate with pins, and the bone would heal around them. The metal plate would be a permanent addition. Dr. L. was willing to perform the operation on the following day.
I was more than ready to have my wrist reconstructed. For once, the prospect of general anesthesia did not perturb me. In fact, by that point I looked forward to a few hours' respite from the pain that had racked me for most of a week.
After Dr. L. instructed me on the pre-operative protocol, I thought that the consultation was over. Dr. L., however, had something more to say. He informed HL and me that he, and everyone who worked in his practice, belonged to a fellowship of faith. It was hardly a surprise. Evangelical Christians are common in this region. Such fundamentalists' beliefs used to seem ludicrous to me. Here, even those educated in medical science are not immune to the promise of salvation. When Dr. L. offered to pray for me, I managed not to squirm. Instead, I accepted what was meant to be a gift with the best grace that I could muster. I was not about to risk alienating a surgeon whose skills I needed.