What Having The Coronavirus Taught This Physician About Religion & Give up

With so many unknowns, I figured I had to do two things: The first was surrender, since this was so much bigger than me and I really didn’t have any control. The second thing was to look within and figure out what I could control.

I found that sitting in loving-kindness meditation, expressing forgiveness and compassion for myself and others, and practicing gratitude every day helped me stay steady. Focusing on how I could be of service to others—including my husband, my patients, my family and my friends—was important too. Sure, I could sit in my own stress and just think about how crazy everything was (and sometimes I succumbed to this), but I knew that wasn’t going to help anything!

When Jesse’s condition still had not improved after a few days in the hospital, I felt like I had to do something different. While sitting in meditation that day, I remembered reading several medical studies about the power of prayer in healing. That thought came to me then to call all my spiritual friends and ask them to pray for Jesse. I believe that there is great power in numbers, especially when it comes to prayer and positive energy. This inner guidance felt almost like a relief—finally, there was something else I could control about this seemingly out-of-control situation.  

So in between FaceTiming with Jesse, doing telehealth sessions to my patients and giving Jesse’s family and friends updates on how he was doing, I started making phone calls. Everybody I called said they would gladly pray for Jesse. Many of them called their friends and colleagues to ask them to also pray, or added Jesse to their spiritual prayer list, and/or arranged to have a special energy healer(s) work on him. Doing my best to stay in a place of faith rather than succumbing to fear, I felt very hopeful by everybody’s generous responses. By the end of that day, we had around 50 rabbis, 25 pastors, 15 energy healers and 10 shamans from all over the world praying for Jesse. Suddenly, it wasn’t just the two of us and our doctors fighting this; it was a global community. It was really amazing.

And then, finally, things began to change. At first, Jesse’s fever got worse and hit his all-time high of 104. The doctors changed his antibiotic. And then, slowly, the fevers started to abate, with more time between each fever spike, while Jesse’s breathing finally began to improve.  

One Monday, March 16, one week after Jesse was admitted to the hospital, Jesse called me at 11am with great news: “they’re discharging me!” I was overjoyed.  

Though he still had a fever and some labored breathing, the doctors saw that he was getting better and deemed him strong enough to come home. This was also the start of the COVID-19 surge in Manhattan so they needed Jesse’s hospital bed for patients with more severe symptoms. Upon Jesse’s discharge, his doctor told him that if he had come today with the symptoms he presented with a week ago, he would never have been admitted to the hospital.

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