My name is Dr. Scott Kolbaba and I have been a physician in the Chicagoland area for over 35 years. The answer to whether there is a higher power that participates in our lives was not one I learned in medical school. Quite the opposite actually. In medical school we are taught to base our findings on science. X=Y and so forth. However, as humans, our natural instincts are to seek answers to questions about who we are, where we come from, and where are we going. It was possibly those very instincts that made me realize some of my personal experiences as a doctor, as well as those of some of my colleagues, couldn’t be explained by science and fact alone. These experiences were truly divine intervention, the work of something we could only see through the eyes of our faith.
Dr. Kevin Russeau is a chiropractic physician in Wheaton, Illinois. I recall his captivating story like it was yesterday. He was a new practitioner in town and was working to build up his clientele. After receiving an invitation to a meeting of local professionals, he thought for sure this would have the networking potential to launch his practice to the next level. He attended the meeting and was excited about the opportunity to be in a room filled with the local movers and shakers. John Robertson, a crisis intervention specialist, was seated next to him. After the leadership introductions, Dr. Russeau and Mr. Robertson had a polite conversation over lunch. Once lunch was finished, Dr. Russeau excused himself to network with the other guests. It was then that Mr. Robertson invited him to sit for a minute longer to listen to a story he felt he needed to hear. His sincerity and gentle smile is what made Dr. Russeau pause and decide not to refuse. Settling back into his chair he listened intently.
Mr. Robertson told him a story about a young lady who had called into the crisis line. He spoke to the woman who denied she was depressed, but as they spoke, he kept getting the distinct impression she needed to be hospitalized. The feeling grew stronger and stronger until finally he revealed his impressions to her. She had broken down in tears and admitted she was planning to take her own life. Because of the bond that developed during their conversation, she agreed to go to the closest hospital for help. He checked later that same day and found she had been admitted to the community hospital psychiatric unit. After a short stay, she ultimately recovered and was discharged. As Mr. Robertson relayed his story, it was evident he had a passion for his work. He told about acting on feelings and instincts, not facts alone. When he finished, Dr. Russeau looked up and realized people were leaving and the meeting was over. While he enjoyed his conversation, he was disappointed about missing an opportunity to accomplish any networking. He headed back to the office and saw patients the remainder of the day.
At 7:00 PM, he saw his final patient, a laborer who had injured his back on the job. Dr. Russeau sensed there was something unusual in their interactions but completed his intake and started the treatment for his significant back injury. By the time he finished and was ready to leave the office, it was after 8:00 PM. He headed toward the door but suddenly and inexplicably had an urge to call his last patient. He turned around, heading back to his desk and dialed the number. His patient answered and Dr. Russeau told him he felt the need to follow up after his appointment. After an uncomfortable pause, his patient began to open up. He said he had been struggling with depression and was unhappy with his life. Since Dr. Russeau had spent some time earlier in the day with a social worker who specialized in depression, he asked if he could introduce them. His patient agreed. Finding John Robertson’s card on his desk, he called the number expecting to leave a message as it was after hours. He was surprised when Mr. Robertson personally answered saying he been working late as well and was just leaving the office when his phone rang. Dr. Russeau briefed him on his patient, hung up and called his patient back to provide him with John’s contact information. After this, he left the office and went about his evening, satisfied he had done what the little voice in the back of his head was telling him to do.
It was six months later, during a typical office day when Dr. Russeau discovered that same patient in an exam room waiting for him. He walked in with a smile and went to shake his hand but his patient suddenly broke down and cried uncontrollably. Attempting to comfort him, it took some time before he was composed enough to tell him his emotional story. He said that when he had come in to see Dr. Russeau six months before, he was in the depths of a depression and planned to take his own life. He admitted to having everything ready but the call that evening literally stopped him. He spoke to Mr. Robertson who recognized his desperation and was convinced to go to the emergency room for help. He was admitted to the psychiatric center where counseling and medication turned his life around. He said he felt great and thanked Dr. Russeau for saving his life.
Dr. Russeau was overcome by this revelation. What he thought had been an unproductive day six months earlier turned out to be a day he would remember forever. He realized the real purpose of that “networking” meeting was not about networking at all, but about saving a life.
I was so emotionally moved by this and other stories that I felt the urge to start writing them down. Physicians’ Untold Stories was born. It features ordinary doctors in private practice who experienced or witnessed events that could not be explained by anything we learned in medical school. The narrators of these stories are men and women of science. The one thing they all have in common is they are physicians touched by a divine moment so miraculous, they needed to share it with you. I’ve realized there is a higher power that often intervenes, guiding us down the right path if we just listen.
Scott J. Kolbaba, MD, is a doctor of internal medicine in Wheaton, Illinois. After being awarded a degree in economics from Cornell College and serving with the Marine Corps Reserves, he completed his medical degree at the University of Illinois and graduated with honors. Kolbaba interned with Rush-Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center and completed his residency at the Mayo Clinic. He is a member of the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society. Visit www.physiciansuntoldstories.com or order his new book at Physicians Untold Stories: Miraculous experiences Doctors are hesitant to share with their patients, or ANYONE on Amazon now.