Friday, June 12, 2009

Job's Variant

I'm not sure whether I have told this story before, but when I was in charge of blood transfusion transfusion at my old hospital (which lasted for 29 years), there were just two occasions when we managed to give a patient the wrong blood. On both occasions we gave a Group O patient Group A blood. The first time was in August. The orthopedic ward was closing for the summer, so patients having hip surgery returned from the operating theater to the general surgery ward for recovery. Two patients returned at the same time, and the ward sister instructed a nurse to set up a unit of blood on Mr A. The nurse confused Mr A with Mr B, failed to carry out the usual check, did not involve another nurse as she should and gave Mr A's blood to Mr B. Mr B had a severe transfusion reaction, went into kidney failure, but, fortunately, made a complete recovery.

On the second occasion, five years later, the mistake was made by a laboratory technician cross matching the blood at night. Here, he picked up a tube of blood to cross match and found some compatible blood. It was only after he had issued the blood to the ward that he realized that the tube of blood he had matched against had not come from Mr X, but from Mr Y. Realizing his mistake he rushed over to the ward and snatched the drip out of the patient's arm. Only 20 mls had been transfused and the patient suffered no ill effects. The astonishing thing was that Mr B and Mr X were the same person. The only patient we had ever inflicted the wrong blood on in nearly 30 years and we did it to him twice!

Murphy's Law states that if anything can go wrong it will go wrong. When I first wrote about this remarkable coincidence, I coined the term 'Job's variant' of Murphy's Law; not only would everything go wrong that could go wrong, it would all go wrong at the very same time. If you read the book of Job, you will realize what I mean.

As I look back at the past 5 years I consider myself a victim of Job's variant. Many of my readers won't understand this, but those who know me best will realize that the cancer and its problems have just be the culmination of bad things happening to this family. If you understand what was at the back of Job's calamities you might begin to wonder if the same thing is not at the back of mine.

CS Lewis in the 'Screwtape Letters' tells us that the Devil welcomes both the materialist and the magician. He tells us that the two mistakes mankind makes about the Devil are to take an inordinate interest in him and to believe that he doesn't exist.

In "Tramp for the Lord", by Corrie Ten Boom she tells of a visit to Poland while it was still behind the Iron Curtain. Despite sleeping for a full eight hours she always awoke exhausted and weak. It wasn't that she had picked up an infection or was being poisoned by pollution. A local Pastor explained their predicament, "Your tiredness is nothing less than an attack of the devil. He does not like your work here in Poland, for the Antichrist is busy here, arranging his army." He then prayed over them, rebuking Satan. Thereafter the tiredness left them. Corrie Ten Boom further testified that they had felt the same tiredness on other speaking tours, even in some American cities, but on rebuking the devil in Jesus's name, the tiredness always left them.

How should we view this testimony? For those who do not know her, Corrie Ten Boom was a Dutch lady who was famous for hiding Jews from the Nazis in World War II. She was herself arrested and sent to the Ravensbruk concentration camp where her sister died. After the war she toured the world preaching a gospel of love and forgiveness, even on one occasion being confronted by one of her camp guards and being challenged to forgive him. She was not a fatuous, air-head Christian, but one who had really suffered for her faith. But she came from an old school Christianity (she was 50 when the war began); was her experience merely psychological?

The Bible tells us that our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12)

Why should I be attacked? The only prominent thing I can do now is witness through this blog. Many have told me how it has strengthened their faith. Satan, I am not going to stop writing this blog no matter what you throw against me. Reader, praying friend, if you want to know what to pray for, please pray against the evil one.

In the Book of Revelation we read of how Satan was brought down. "They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death." (Ch 12:11)


Anonymous said...

You may be surprised when you finally get there (heaven) to find that writing this blog is not a small thing but a big one in His eyes. You are the only consultant I know who is blogging along with the patients and answering humble enquiries. There is still a big hierarchy in medicine and you are breaking down barriers.....Yes, I will pray...

Anonymous said...

I will pray.
I needed to read this words today for my own situation.
And, thank for your blog. I am so grateful to Him for your work.

St Paul, MN

Anonymous said...

Terry you are in so many ways a hero to me, though I realize that you are not trying especially to be heroic.

Although I never identified it as Job's variant of Murphys"s Law, astonishingly an eeriily similar (almost absurd) calamity occurred to the same patient for whom I was responsible more than 10 years apart and never once occurred to anyone else during my more than 30 years of practice.

I wish that I had your would prove to be helpful!!!

I have used the story of Job more than once in discussing life's inherent unfairness to both my patients and my own children.

My wife and I both pray for you,


Anonymous said...

Dear Dr Terry,

I have prayed. And will continue to pray. May you be well. May you be blessed. I thank you so much for the depth of your sharing.

joyful joyful said...

Amen, Amen, and Amen....

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your CLL efforts and your witnessing. I have learned a lot about both from your blog. It has been a help in both realms, too.

John Wagner said...

I have been praying for you and now I have another specific thing to pray for you. Your witness is being read around the world. I believe you will hear from our Lord when you see Him face to face, "Well done my good and faithful servant." God bless you, Dr. Hamblin and I pray you will have many more years for witnessing and serving our Lord.

Brian Koffman said...


Your faith and strength seem bound together. I love your story about how a spiritual or mental reboot can change a pain or fatigue situation, sometimes at least.

Stay strong and faith full, my friend. You are always in my heart and mind. I will say a Mi-sheberakh for you tonight, the Jewish prayer for healing.