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...with Jesus, doctors and common sense


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God bless you.

Since April of 2008, I have been fighting a brain tumor, prostate cancer, end-stage

congestive heart failure and a progressively bad back.

By the grace of God, I have been gainfully employed for 37 years as a newspaper

reporter and I also have been able to have great medical insurance coverage for my

family and myself.

But after undergoing back surgery (a lumbar laminectomy) on Monday, Aug. 10, I

found myself two days later having to verbally protest against efforts to release me before

I had experienced sufficient recovery where I could stand and at least stagger on my


Dr. Frederick Brown, a highly acclaimed neurosugeon with the University of Chicago

Medical Center, had performed the 90-minute operation on me. The operation was a

success in terms of me surviving it. But long before it could be determined whether it had

repaired my herniated disc to allow me to stand and walk without pain, a couple of lower

ranked doctors (Dt. I. T. and Dr. K. H.) were trying to get me to agree that the hospital had

done all it could do for me and to agree with their desire to release me.

For most patients undergoing a lumbar laminectomy, I am told that this operation

is done on an out-patient basis and that the patient is released either on the day of or the

day after his surgery. I was hoping for a response close to that. But because of my

high-risk status as an end-stage congestive, heart-failure patient, I was expected to be

held over for a day or two to make sure the operation had no serious, adverse effect upon

my heart.

For my birthday on Tuesday, and for Wednesday, my recovery was so slow that

pain, soreness and stiffness in the area of my surgery prevented me from standing or

walking on my own. I was disappointed by this slow recovery. But I was not hopeless. I

was realistic. At my age and with my weak-circulating heart, I did not expect a speedy

response to treatment.

But as early as Wednesday morning, Dr. I.T. was suggesting that the hospital was

ready to release me and that I could continue painful recovery at home. I told him that I

could not see myself leaving earlier than Thursday and was hoping that I would be able

to at least stand and walk on my own before leaving at all or that I'd just immediately

check into another hospital.

On Thursday morning, although I had been transferred from the ICU to a regular

room at 1:30 a.m., I still had not progressed well enough to leave the hospital. But Dr. I. T.

said that the hospital might have to release me Friday because the physical therapist

said she felt I was ready to go home.

"I find it hard to believe that a doctor would release a patient based solely on what

a physical therapist says," I told Dr. I. T. "Especially since that therapist has yet to see

me stand and walk on my own."

Allow me to say that in my 40 years of going to the University of Chicago

Hospital for medical care, on the whole, I have been treated well. It is not a perfect

hospital. Otherwise, I wouldn't have had three ribs broken during my 2001 triple bypass

or had to undergo another serious operation to stabilized my sternum when some

experimental titanium plates failed to do the job. But the fact I still seek care from them

is because I have confidence in the likes of Dr. Valluvan Jeevanandam, Dr. Allen

Anderson, Dr. Kenneth Brown, Dr. Loveland, Dr. Darby, Dr. Fedson, Dr. Al-Sadir, etc.

So when Friday morning came, I was still in the UCMC. I had progressed well

enough to stand and walk on my own. But I remained in dire pain. Still, I felt for sure that

I could be able to leave by Saturday morning. Dr. I. T. apologized for giving me the

impression that he was trying to rush me out of the hospital. He also defended the

therapist, who gave me the impression she was trying harder to get rid of me than to help

me recovery.

"Maybe she did a good job helping you to recover from whatever," I said. "Or maybe

she has done a great job on everybody else you have seen her work with. I can't argue

about those possibilities because I know nothing about them. I can only speak about my

relationship of working with her and the impression she gave me."

But when Saturday morning came, suddenly nobody was anxious to push me out

the door when my blood test suggested some kidney problems. For the first time, since

I was moved out of Intensive Care, my blood was drawn and tested. I was happy about

the efficient, painless job that Joseph Wells did in drawing my blood. Hospital personnel

say that I am a difficult stick when drawing blood because my veins are so small.

"But the truth is that a lot of personnel either don't know what they are doing, may

be in a bad mood and may be a little scared at the time they are drawing blood," Wells

said. "So they don't do a good job. They have to stick the patient several times. But I

start looking for the best veins as soon as I'm entering the room. I believe I'm good at

this because I believe it's gift to be able to take blood without hurting people. This job

also requires patience as much as skill."

Wells, a native of Pascagoula, Miss., says he got his training from Northwestern

Hospital in Evanston, and that he hopes to keep working and learning so that he can

go as far as he possibly can in the medical field.

"It's all in the touch," said Wells, who is built like an NFL fullback or linebacker. "You

have to have a tender touch and you have to have a passion for helping people get


Now, it's Sunday morning, and I still am in pain as I am being transferred into the

cardiac ward to continue my recovery from the back surgery and to start preparation for

the implantation on a heart pump as a bridge to heart transplantation.

But I don't think I'll ever get over my displeasure at a physical therapist and a doctor

trying to rush me out of the hospital before I was well enough to leave even though I

had first-class insurance coverage plus Medicare as a supplement.

God bless you.

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At first you put your trust in GOD. You leaned heavy on prayer. You placed your caregivers in GOD's hands, but made a decision that you would be the CEO. GOD has heard your prayers. I am reminded of my first public prayers at church. I was a little girl praying like the elders...cooling boards, winding sheets,clothed in my right mind, etc....not a clue what I was talking about, just that I was talking to God in His son Jesus' name and it was what you were supposed to say. Hallelujah, I've come to know what all of it means and more. Pastor Slaughter used to pray about being so close in sleep to sing and praise with the Angels who watched over us but with God's grace we were awakened to a new day, clothed in our right minds... There is no doubt you've been hanging out with some of those angels, but God is merciful and Great. He allows you to aid in your care, be that CEO, all to His glory. AMEN!

BANKS' RESPONSE: Isn't it so marvelous, the similarities we share in our

childhoods. We were born in the church, grew up in the church and often when we

were kids out of church, we'd be kids playing church. That's because church was

our oxygen, Gwen. It was so frequent with us, it became second nature and we just

couldn't get enough of it. We would breathe church, eat and drink church. We

would play-sing, play-pray, play-preach, play-baptise, play-deacon, play-usher and

play-trustee. We'd simply copy what we saw the elders do. Now, we are the elders

and the church life is all real to us, now. Best of all, the results are real. We don't

have to play praising God. We actually seek to praise him every second of the day.

We don't have to play shouting either We really shout and the joy of the Lord is our


I always look anxiously to the Suntimes online to see if you have written and given us an update on your condition. These last few months have been so difficult for you and I've prayed that God would hear your pain. As a cancer survivor, I am not fond of hospitals and medical staff, although I know of the blessings that they are to those of us in need. I'm sure I was a difficult patient, as many are, when in pain and distress. Thank God for your successful procedure and those that have shown skill and compassion in your care. As always, you and your family are in my prayers.
You inspire me with your hope and faith..God bless

BANKS' RESPONSE: God bless you, Margaret, and thank God for your

suffering, for you are richer because of that experience. You know what it's like to

be down on your back and at the mercy of nurses and doctors and other hospital

personnel. It's not easy to be a good patient when you are in deep pain and the

nurses can't response fast enough or with the right attitude to help you feel better.

The last place some people need to be working is in hospitals. Their top priority is

to get paid. And everybody needs a job to earn a living. But if one lacks compassion

and love and patience, he should not have suffering humans placed in his care. A

bad attitude in the possession of a nurse is lethal. Even people who feed us that

lousy food--the least they can do is feed it with a smile and with gentleness. Isn't

it bad enough that we have to eat it? Use your experience, Margaret, to enlighten

others. Being sick isn't a pleasure trip or a plush assignment. But we all must stand

that watch at some time or another.

How good to see you've had the strength to post another entry! I'm hoping that, by the time you read this, your pain has subsided considerably, and that your back is on the mend. One more surgery for you (aside from that heart transplant).

Have you any idea when they will be implanting your pump? I hope that it's fairly soon so, that when the Holidays come, you'll be feeling much better and can fully enjoy your family.

What a 66th birthday! I can imagine that it hasn't been pleasant, but you're still here. And you're still being blessed with recovery.

BANKS' RESPONSE: Yes, John. Thank God that, slowly but surely, I'm getting

my back back. You'll be surprised how off-balanced an injured body part, no matter

how small, can throw you. I am told by UCMC's highly acclaimed Dr. Allen

Anderson, my cardiologist, that "the numbers" from my latest heart catherization

were not just good but even maybe a little better than the previous ones. What a jolt

of encouragement! So the plan now is for me to recover from my back operation

and then schedule the implantation of the heart pump, depending upon how urgent

that implantation is. You're right about the holiday timing. I want to be at my very

best health, even if it requires the assistance of an LVAD, when winter holidays roll

around again. Yes, I want to be at my best for the colorful autumn leaves and the

harvest season. I love the smell of burning leaves in the fall as well as the smell of

freshly-harvested apples and peaches, the taste of apple cider, the smell of burning

fireplaces and the Thanksgiving fellowship and dinners. I'd like all my senses to be

operating at peak efficiency. After all, what good is a nose, if one can't smell the

fragrance of kitchens pungent with holiday cooking? Eyes, if one can't see the

technicolor panorama of fall? Ears, if one can't hear the mating chirps of love birds,

the chiming of cicadas and crickets or the howling of winter's winds? Skin, if one

can't feel winter's chill or wool's warmth? Taste buds, if one can't savor mama's

pumpkin pie, roast turkey, dressing and cranberry sauce? Imagination, if one can't

fantasize Santa Claus, snowflakes and jingle bells on the night before Christmas?

or toes, if one can't wiggle them in mud? Feet, if one can't enjoy an outdoor stroll?

May you continue to heal well and continue getting stronger everyday. With the health care debate on, it makes us so appreciative of group insurance. Think of those who are at the will of individual health care insurance who pay top dollar for our premiums year after year, but as soon as we get sick, we are dropped from our insurance policies. Doesn't seem fair does it?

BANKS' RESPONSE: It does not seem fair, Elie, because, when this

happens, it is not fair. Those who pay premiums are entitled to the care for which

they are insured. But some companies try to play doctor and ensurer to cut cost

and cheat patients. Then they also iterally stall their patients to death or into

sub-par payouts or no pay-outs. In many of these cases, they do this to pay

crooked, ruthless, greedy CEOs unearned multi-million-dollar salaries plus

undeserved multi-million-dollar bonuses while they have mismanaged the

companies into multi-billion-dollar ruin.

Mr. Banks, your story has been an inspiration to me as I suffer from a chronic illness and have to deal with pain on a daily basis. I believe that pain is God's reminder to us that we have a purpose here on earth and that purpose is to keep on loving and giving to our fellow man. It is clear that God still has a purpose for you on this earth. Not only to continue to spread the word of His Love, but to continue to love each other. I know that it may seem that Dr. IT and Dr. KH are not deserving of your love, as it is natural to put one's needs ahead of others. That is why they deserve your love and understanding even more. I will pray for the two doctors, as I am sure you have.

BANKS' RESPONSE: It wasn't a matter of me disliking Dr. IT and Dr. KH for

what they were suggesting to be done. I simply disagreed with them and refused

to abide by their judgement to my detriment. Nobody knows your body better than

you do. Moreover, I don't think the decision to release patients who have undergone

surgery should be left solely in the hands, head or heart of a physical therapist, who

has not really worked to improve the patient's condition. I felt that I should at least

be able to stand and to walk a few steps before being released after undergoing

a back operation. Check this out. I saw the so-called physical therapist just twice

and I was in so much pain the first two days after surgery that I was unable to stand

on my own. She made matters worse by repeating herself as if I were hopeless,

senile and ignorant. "Do you want to work with me today?" she asked. "Sure," I

said. "That's why you're here. Aren't you? Let's try." But the pain was too great for

me to stand on my own during her two visits. Then she tells Dr. IT that she

concluded I was well enough to go home. Why Dr. IT and his associate would agree

with that conclusion when they themselves saw no progress to substantiate the

physical therapist's claim is very, very troubling to me. And although the

neurosurgeon, Dr. Frederick Smith, did his job, the actions of Dr. IT and KH would

greatly discourage me from going to this hospital again for similar surgeries, or

recommend it for anybody else. God bless you, Mike, in your health struggles and

I pray that you get the best care possible whenever you have to be hospitalized.

Hello Rev. Banks

I am writing to let you know that there is not one day that I don't pray for your health and healing. It is always good to read and hear about your medical progress. You are and have been for a long time a true inspiration to others. You have touched lives beyond measure and I am talking from a personal experience of that blessing. Thank God! slowly but surely we will be able to tell of God's recoveries and healings in your life again again and again.

Love Beverly Rogers

BANKS' RESPONSE: Day by day, every step of the way, God is healing me.

And this business of touching lives is by no means any monopoly, Sister Rogers.

For years and years, you and your dear husband, Wiley, have been touching

lives with your active love for Jesus and for your fellowmen. It's always nice to

run into Christians in vital prestigious walks of life, whether they be doctors,

lawyers, engineers, chemists, educational professors, firemen, architects,

scientists and career police officers as you and your husband are. Your dedication

to God's church and your support of God's preachers are matchless. The laymen

likes of you and deacon Rogers have long been the backbone of the Christian

church. A God-sent preacher can find no better allies than you and Deacon Rogers.

I thank God for your continued prayers and I love the both of you for the ways you

have embraced, defended and supported God, me and my family down through

the years. May God shower untold tons of new blessings upon your household so

that your joys may be full in Him and His perfect peace abides in you. God bless


It took me about 50 years to realize that "they don't care". I used to think that every one else felt like me; that I only wanted the best for you, and was willing to do my part to help -sepcaially if that was my JOB!

But No. Some of these people have no compassion and are very selfish. It is appalling and -- they don't even have a clue!Sad indeed.

BANKS' RESPONSE: But thank God that He is always there for us when

others fail us. For there's not a friend, MaryEllen, like the lowly Jesus. No not one.

No not one. That's why I'm so glad that in the Great Commission, that Christ Jesus

made in sending us all into the world to preach, teach and live His Word, He

promised never to leave us alone. For He said, "Lo, I am with you alway. Even unto

the end of the world." So our enemies should always take note that when they

dig ditches for us, they must also ditches for the Lord God Almighty. And you know

and I know that there is no ditch too big or too deep for Jesus, who is so high you

can't get over Him, so low you can't get under Him and so wide you can't get

around Him. Yes, there is no ditch big enough for our awesome God, who is

omnipotent and omnipresent, infinite and eternal. So let the International Union

of Ditch Diggers beware that when they mess with us, they mess with the Lord.

And their arms to too short to box with God.

Dear Mr. Banks
First of all, I wish you a speedy recovery and all the best. A number of years ago I underwent a laminectomy myself and I remember the pain and feelings of helplessness after surgery. Fortunately enough I had my surgery in one of those countries with socialized medicine, so I was able to stay in the hospital for a few weeks until I was capable to function on my own, and the price was right too: free. When more people will speak up, maybe the myth of the great American Medicine will meet reality.

BANKS' RESPONSE: Glad to see that you had a full recovery from your back

surgery, Allan. It's been three weeks since my surgery and, although the pains in

my lower back have decreased, I still feel pains in my left groin and leg when I

stand or walk for a few minutes. And these are pains I was hoping the surgery

would remove. Perhaps they are related to poor blood circulation, which is a

by-product of my end-stage congestive heart failure. I pray to God that every

human being, not just every American, one day will have access to affordable,

if not free, competent medical care.

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Lacy J. Banks

Lacy J. Banks, 67, has been a Sun-Times sportswriter/columnist for 38 years and a Baptist preacher for 58 years. He has preached at more than 100 different churches in the Chicago area. A native of Lyon, Miss., Banks graduated from the University of Kansas with a B.A. in French and he served three years in the Vietnam War as a U.S. Naval officer. Lacy and wife, Joyce, have been married 42 years and have three daughters and five grandchildren. Among beats Banks has covered for the Sun-Times are the Bulls, Fire, defunct Sting, Blackhawks, Wolves, Cubs, defunct Hussle, Rush, Sky, college football and basketball and pro boxing.



About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lacy Banks published on August 16, 2009 4:03 AM.

I'M SPENDING MY UNHAPPY 66TH BIRTHDAY IN THE HOSPITAL. was the previous entry in this blog.

I'M NOT AFRAID TO DIE. WHAT ABOUT YOU? is the next entry in this blog.

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