High-tech Care with Old-Fashioned Values


Today in Sunday School we were discussing the concept of grace. Unmerited favor is the way I have always thought of grace. In the Christian world view this would mean that nothing within me should have caused the God of the universe to carry out a plan to remove the blood-guilt that my sin demands. God’s act of grace starts and ends in the will and action of God alone. I am the unworthy recipient.

Ah, but I must both see my need, confess my inability to save myself and then accept the grace that is given me by the act of Christ dying in my place. There’s the rub.

Accepting grace and then understanding that it was all sufficient and freeing is not easy. Grace frees us from the slavery to sin under which we lived and places us in a righteous (here I would say blameless or sinless) position free to live fully the way God intended. The problem is the way we think about it as humans.

I tend to look back or regret my wallow in my guilt. This is almost like a slave once freed who has no idea how to live free. I have patients who have a complaint and after an exhaustive work-up are told, “good news, there is nothing dangerously wrong with your body”, who seem unhappy with the news! Moreover many go from doctor to doctor trying to find something wrong rather than embracing their health and living. Too often I see myself in that pattern. Bound up by guilt of past sin or of future sin afraid to seize the joy that grace has given to me.

In the Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis outlines how Satan desires to keep humans focused on the past (regrets) or the future (fear) rather than living fully free in the present. He says that the present is the closest thing to the “eternal now” of heaven and if humans fully embraced the present as God intends our eternal nature would recognize its joy and Satan would lose his grip on our lives. Embracing grace would seem to be the first step. If you are a Christian saved by the death and resurrection of Christ then you indeed have received a clean bill of health.

Vitamin D

I know that I have written about Vitamin D before but I have got to do so again, albeit briefly. When the research on Vitamin D deficiency’s link with depression was published a couple of years ago I became curious about what I had read. Then consistent research linked low levels of vitamin D with not only depression but increased cancer risk and, certainly, poor bone deposition. I started to test patients, especially those who were elderly or at risk of osteoporosis fractures or the ones that were depressed. Gradually I began to test more patients in my practice. The results have been astounding. Like most silent epidemics, vitamin D deficiency is easy to find when you are first testing in a population. The prevalence is high and the yield of testing is also high. I was not prepared for 8 of 10 tests to return under the levels thought to be needed for good bone health. That’s correct...80%. Both men and women are testing low and largely middle aged to elderly. Those who get little sunlight and little supplemented dairy products are the largest group.

With supplementation I have seen levels rise to acceptable and those patients will be able to use OTC supplementation thereafter....we hope. The question will be “Is there a clinically relevant benefit to raising these levels? Given the associations with cancer and depression and osteoporosis one would hope so. Time will tell. More later.