Advent 2021

Witness: Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Witness: Mary Davis

Scripture: Jeremiah 29:11

Weekly Theme: Hope

My great-nephew, Seth Flatt, was living the American dream. In 2015, he graduated with honors from a prestigious private college and was in his first semester of medical school. He was athletic, good looking, had a great personality, lots of friends and a loving family.

A family friend who was a doctor suggested to Seth’s mother she should check on how he was doing. He knew from personal experience how grueling medical school could be. When she got to Seth’s apartment she found him barely functioning and having suicidal ideation. He came back home and was hospitalized for a week.

He bounced from job to job. Finally he found a job as an associate research and development scientist at a company manufacturing medical test strips. However his life started unravelling, he hated this job.

He became withdrawn from family and friends. His body started ballooning with stretch marks around his abdomen and pads of fat on his cheek bones. He became sullen with periods of hyperactivity making bizarre crafts to sell. I was convinced he was bipolar, his mother feared schizophrenia. He told his sister that he thought he was losing his mind and was in turmoil.

In 2018 he went to his primary care doctor for a routine annual exam. The doctor ordered routine lab tests. One blood test showed extremely high levels of cortisol, 13 times the amount considered clinically significant. He referred Seth to an endocrinologist with a diagnosis of possible Cushing’s disease. The doctor laughed initially saying, “You don’t have Cushing’s, women in their forties have Cushing’s.” Most primary care physicians never encounter Cushing’s and hardly any make a preliminary diagnosis.

Cushing’s is a disease characterized in part by mood swings, depression, irritability, weight gain, fatigue, muscle atrophy and a long list of additional symptoms. Untreated patients usually die in a few years. The doctor then looked at Seth’s file and a picture in his chart from four or five years earlier. Then he looked at Seth and said, “Oh my, maybe you do.” Tests revealed Seth had a tumor on his pituitary gland at the base of his brain. Surgery at the Mayo Clinic removed the tumor, but the doctors said he had to go through withdrawal from the high levels of cortisol, which they warned was more difficult than coming off drugs or alcohol.

Fast forward three years and Seth has completely recovered, is a second year PhD candidate in chemistry at Notre Dame, and has regained his personality, good looks and athletic body.  He also has a wide circle of friends, including a charming young lady and he is shopping for a ring for her!

A gift of healing from God? Oh yes, but God was involved from the very start, that blood test was never ordered by the doctor! It was not a test normally given and the doctor told Seth he did not order it and had no idea why it was done.

Prayer:  Thank you God for this new day.  We thank you for the people you put in our paths to be our guides.  To help us in our times of greatest need.  To direct us when we are lost.  To give us hope.  Amen.

Discussion/Reflection Questions: 

  1. Have you ever had a time when a friend or family member came alongside you in a time of great need?  
  2. Our lives have peaks and valleys, where are you right now?  What got you to the peak or how did you come to be in the valley?  
  3. We can praise God in the peaks and valley, spend some time today thinking about Jesus, our hope.  How might you praise God today? 

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