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Doctor Explores Spirituality and Health Intersection

Armen Hareyan's picture

Practitioners of modern medicine often focus on the diagnosis and management of an illness rather than taking a holistic view of a patient's body, mind and spirit. When illnesses are minor, the outcomes are usually good. However, a patient with a life-threatening illness can experience a life crisis that requires physicians to be expert in both medical science and the care of the patient's psyche and spirit. For a person to walk through the valley of the shadow of death, and survive, requires a sense of hope and the will to live. These arise from the human soul, a mysterious part of our being. Another mystery is that patients who are prayed for have better illness outcomes than those not prayed for, whether or not they know of the prayers. For some patients, healing and recovery are spiritual.

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Dr. Allan Lohaus describes this truly crucial part of his healing and recovery in his memoir, "MAYDAY! A Physician as Patient" (Synergy Books, February 2006, ISBN 0-9755922-9-7, $18.95). "MAYDAY!" is an incisive and honest, yet sensitive, account of this doctor's journey from being a physician to patient and back. Dr. Lohaus was, at times, disoriented by high fevers, medication and pain. The reader experiences firsthand a patient's mind during life threatening illness and recovery. This journal based account of his one-hundred-plus day hospitalization, recovery and healing is complete with emotional and spiritual insights.

During the most trying part of his illness, Lohaus asks to meet with a psychiatrist. At the first visit he tells Dr. Gregory, "'I feel fragile. . . really fragile, emotionally.' I pause, fighting back tears. 'The fevers are really getting to me. The migraines with them are the worst pain I've had during this illness.'" The care of his psyche and spirit began that day. Throughout this hellish journey, accompanied by his wife, family, friends, clergy and Dr. Gregory, readers hear Lohaus' prayers, conversations with God, and gratitude, and learn of his hope, faith, and will to live. His rebirth to life is a new beginning of body, mind and spirit. For this doctor-patient, healing is spiritual.

Dr. Lohaus received his medical degree from George Washington University. He was a clinician and faculty member with Johns Hopkins Medical Faculty for 24 years. He has published clinical papers regarding cancer research, abdominal surgery, as well as obstetric and gynecology topics. Lohaus currently resides in Clarksville, Maryland with his wife. He has three grown children.