Beliefnet
The day began just like all other days on that August Friday in 2004. I was on the pulmonary consult service in the hospital, and on the agenda was a bronchoscopy on a patient in the coronary care unit. "Cool," I thought, because I absolutely love performing bronchoscopies. Bronchoscopy, for those not in the medical field, is a procedure in which a flexible tube with a light and camera on the end is placed through the nose and into the lung. I can actually see the airways on a video monitor, and we can do various procedures, such as biopsies. I had to perform a biopsy of the patient's lung tissues that morning.

I paid absolutely no attention that it was Friday 13th.

The "bronch," as we pulmonologists like to call it, started out as smooth as all others I have done in the past. I talked to the patient beforehand; I gave the patient numbing medication in his nose and throat; I gave him sedating medicine so he could be more comfortable. Getting into the lung was not problematic, either. Everything was fine.

I did the biopsy, and as expected, there was some bleeding. Usually, this stops right away. In this patient, however, it did not. The blood kept coming, and coming, and coming, and coming. I tried to stop the bleeding, but I could not. I was prepared to stand there for as long as I needed to until the bleeding stopped, but the nurse told me the last thing I wanted to hear: "Doc, sats are 74."

That means that the oxygen level is dangerously low. Another colleague was with me during the procedure, and he suggested I pull the scope out and place him on a high amount of oxygen. I agreed and did just that; the problem was the oxygen level still stayed low. Thus, I had to intubate the patient, which means place a breathing tube down his windpipe to help him breathe and stabilize the airway.

There was blood everywhere. I tried to suction out as much as I could, but the blood kept coming. Thank God, it slowed down to the point where I could see his vocal cords, and I placed the tube into his windpipe.

We confirmed the location of the tube and were breathing for him, but I could not relax. I had since called for help, and almost immediately, a barrage of people showed up. Suddenly, the patient lost his pulse and blood pressure. CPR was immediately instituted, and we administered emergency medicines in his IV. I suctioned out as much blood as I could from his airway. Thank God, his pulse and blood pressure returned. We rushed him back to the coronary care unit. His blood pressure was dangerously low, despite multiple medications that increase blood pressure. Things did not look good.

I was a complete wreck. For sure, this was an unexpected occurrence, and it occasionally happens. Nevertheless, I could barely think the whole rest of the morning and day.

I went back to his room repeatedly to check on him. He was stable, but still very sick. Later on that night, he took out the breathing tube unexpectedly, and--surprisingly--did just fine.

By the next morning, he was a little confused, but was alert and responsive. He seemed to recognize me, which made me feel great. I asked him how he was feeling, and he said, "Shi--y." I was beside myself in joy. He continued to improve, and he returned to his "baseline" state, the state he was in prior to the bronchoscopy.

Whew!!! I know what you are thinking: Friday 13th is bad luck because this was one very bad day.

I beg to differ. Fridays are the holiest day of the week for Muslims. It is the day on which Adam--our father--was created, and it is the day on which God will hold the Day of Judgment. Friday is the Muslim sabbath, and we offer special congregational prayers on that day, during which a sermon is given (indeed, I gave the sermon that day at the hospital). In addition, any odd number, of which 13 is one, was preferred by the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) because, when you pair off a group of 13 things, you are left with one, a reminder of the One God of Abraham.

Nope. Friday 13th is a good day for me.

Superstitions are forbidden in Islam. The fact that I had a disaster on my hands that Friday 13th was decreed and ordained by God. It had nothing to do with the fact that it was Friday 13th. That would have been true if, on the way to the procedure, I had crossed the path of a black cat while walking underneath a ladder and then crashing into a mirror and breaking it. If I ended up having a bad day, it was because God wanted me to have a bad day.

I will never forget that fateful Friday 13th. Yet, was it bad luck? No. Will I get nervous if I have to do another bronchoscopy on another Friday 13th? No. In fact, despite the bleeding disaster, the patient survived and did just fine. God saved my patient's life, and I am so very grateful for His Mercy. I would call that good luck, wouldn't you?

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