As I expect the reader will gather, although Nathan’s very life hung in the balance, his journey perhaps affected the lives of those around him more than it may have impacted Nathan himself. Having had the pleasure of visiting with him after a nearly full recovery, I know this is true for me. Although I am competitive by nature, I do not see my competitiveness as one-upsmanship on my part. Nor is it the wisdom that inevitably accompanies the ceaseless advance of time. Nathan, although young, is not particularly naive, nor is he blindly optimistic. I gather that he has a deep, inherent comprehension that he was close to death. Though he was characteristically reserved when discussing it, I could see in his eyes that he knew. With time, his demeanor changed. Anxiousness became acceptance; worry became hope.
I have been wonderfully blessed in a profession that allows me to assist, to comfort, and to ameliorate suffering. At times I have taken it for granted; on other occasions, I have been narcissistically vainglorious about an operative success. Egocentric attitudes like these can derail the most competent physician. Nathan’s tragedy emphatically reminds me that usually it is not about us. I work with incredibly talented and gifted individuals, each one part of a large, complex team. We did not “fix” Nathan; I couldn’t stop his bleeding. We utilized our knowledge and tools and were deeply committed to and invested in saving him. In these situations, some patients survive. I can’t tell you with certainty why some patients like Nathan survive and some don’t.
To focus too intently on the medical details, though, is to miss the point. Every one of us faces our mortality; there is but one recorded exception in history. The mystery, beyond our understanding of life, of death, and of life after death is what makes Nathan’s experience so compelling. What is our purpose in this life? Why is there suffering? What is the point of it all? As a bit player and a witness to these events, I can say that I could palpably discern what unwavering faith felt like when I interacted with Nathan’s family. I, for one, believe it made a difference.
I am truly honored to have been one of many who were able to interact with Nathan and his large devoted family throughout their ordeal. They touched many in profound ways, and I for one am better for having had the privilege. I have asked Nathan more than once what this experience means for him going forward. Refreshingly, he has not given me an answer, certainly not one that is canned or pat. Frankly, it is his and his alone. I, selfishly, have viewed this as a “second chance” for him, one he “should not waste.” Perhaps I should take my own advice. We are not blessed with insight of this type every day.
—Dr. Dan Robertson, MD
“Michelle Davis’s book is an inspiration. It is a tale of faith, prayer, and miracles. The book is intelligently written and takes you through one family’s epoch of unbelievable stress and deep worry for their beloved Nathan. His survival was nothing short of miraculous….”
-Carlos H. Rodriguez, MD, FACS
Chief of Surgical Specialties Spectrum
Health Medical Group Grand Rapids MI
“This is a moving account of the power of faith and wonders of modern medicine. For Nate, it clearly took a village to save and restore his young life. Stories like this one give focus, meaning, and purpose to our hundreds of volunteer blood donors and blood bank employees who can be proud of the role they played in Nate’s survival and remarkable recovery.”
Director of Community Relations and Marketing, Michigan Blood
Nate’s story and survival is an amazing sequence of events that is truly nothing short of a miracle. I realized that even though I had done my part to care for Nate, there was no telling whether he would survive when he flew to Grand Rapids in the helicopter, and that, sometimes, what may seem like coincidences are too numerous to be just that. The many health care personnel and providers involved in his care understand why we do what we do everyday when a patient like Nate lives on to tell his experience. The staff at our hospital in Alma takes pride in being a part of his story.
-Dr Jeffery Bonacci, MD