Gray Matter: A Neurosurgeon Discovers the Power of Prayer . . . One Patient at a Time

( 89 )

Overview

What happens when prayer and surgery mix? When highly respected neurosurgeon Dr. David Levy decided to ask his patients whether he could pray with them prior to surgery, he had no idea what to expect. What if the surgery went poorly—who would be to blame? What if it went well—would God or science get the credit? And how would introducing prayer into the surgical process change his patients’ and colleagues’ opinion of him as a surgeon? While some patients found comfort in Levy’s request, others were skeptical or ...
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Gray Matter: A Neurosurgeon Discovers the Power of Prayer . . . One Patient at a Time

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Overview

What happens when prayer and surgery mix? When highly respected neurosurgeon Dr. David Levy decided to ask his patients whether he could pray with them prior to surgery, he had no idea what to expect. What if the surgery went poorly—who would be to blame? What if it went well—would God or science get the credit? And how would introducing prayer into the surgical process change his patients’ and colleagues’ opinion of him as a surgeon? While some patients found comfort in Levy’s request, others were skeptical or even downright hostile. But in the end, everyone—even the good doctor himself—was transformed by the experience.

A perfect blend of pulse-racing medical drama and profound spiritual insight, Gray Matter not only provides a fascinating glimpse into the elite field of neurosurgery as we watch Levy perform some of the most challenging surgical procedures in medicine today, it also provides a refreshingly candid and revealing glimpse into the heart and mind of a neurosurgeon—those divinely fallible beings we sometimes expect to play God. Levy’s musings on what successful and unsuccessful surgical results imply about faith, forgiveness, and the power of prayer are at once unexpected and insightful. And as he arrives at his ultimate conclusion that regardless of the results “God is good,” one cannot help but be truly moved and inspired. Tyndale House Publishers

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781414339757
  • Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/21/2011
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 128,592
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Table of Contents

Contents

Acknowledgments....................xi
CHAPTER 1 Risk Factors....................1
CHAPTER 2 How I Began Praying with Patients....................21
CHAPTER 3 Introducing Spiritual Care....................49
CHAPTER 4 Skeptics....................69
CHAPTER 5 Facing My Colleagues....................91
CHAPTER 6 From Mechanic to Medical School....................113
CHAPTER 7 Forgiveness as a Cure....................131
CHAPTER 8 Paralyzed....................167
CHAPTER 9 The Girl at the Brink of Death....................195
CHAPTER 10 Snatched from Hell....................215
CHAPTER 11 When Complications Arise....................231
CHAPTER 12 Memorable Cases....................259
Epilogue....................289
Notes....................299
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First Chapter

GRAY MATTER

a neurosurgeon discovers the power of prayer ... one patient at a time
By DAVID LEVY JOEL KILPATRICK

Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2011 David Levy and Joel Kilpatrick
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4143-3975-7


Chapter One

RISK FACTOR

Maria, the well-dressed businesswoman sitting in my office, had a brain aneurysm. One of the blood vessels in her brain had weakened, causing the vessel wall to balloon out in one place like a snake that has swallowed an egg. From the size and irregular shape of the aneurysm I had concluded that if not dealt with relatively quickly it might burst and kill her.

She was employed in high-level management and looked the part: she wore a black suit and heels, and an attaché case that appeared to be full of paperwork, presentations, and binders rested on the chair next to her. It looked as if she might be here on a lunch break between important meetings. I half expected her to say something like, "I've got ten minutes until my face-to-face with clients, Doc. Make it snappy." But I could see that this sudden and unexpected diagnosis was causing her concern—a brain aneurysm isn't exactly one of those things you put on your calendar and schedule into your life.

It was our first meeting. She had been referred to me a week earlier by the neurologist who had picked up on the aneurysm, an unexpected "catch" that might very well save Maria's life. Many brain problems don't announce themselves. Aneurysms, notoriously, give no warning; they hide in the brain until one day, when the blood pressure proves too great for the strength of the artery wall, they rupture and bleed, causing a tremendous headache, loss of consciousness—and eventual death. Sometimes, in the fortunate cases, the aneurysm will push against a nerve or brain structure and prompt some odd symptoms that might alert someone before a catastrophic rupture. In Maria's case, there hadn't even been a suspicion of an aneurysm. The MRI scan had been ordered for a completely different, minor concern. But like a video security system that happens to catch images of a wanted killer lurking in the background, the scan had detected this menace inside her skull.

My job was to fix it before it could do any real damage.

If you have a brain aneurysm less than seven millimeters in size, a quarter inch in diameter, the chance of it bleeding is relatively low, less than 2 percent per year. That means the chance of it not bleeding is greater than 98 percent every year, which is not a large risk. However, if it does bleed, the risk of death is high—30 percent of those whose aneurysms burst don't even reach the hospital alive. They die from the trauma of blood flooding the skull and having nowhere to exit. Of those who make it to the hospital, 30 percent end up with a major cognitive deficit of some sort, losing their ability to talk or walk or recall information or even recognize loved ones. They are not able to resume their previous lifestyles. These are the kinds of facts I have to lay out for patients when discussing whether or not to treat them. I have to tell them whether I think that aneurysm or other malformation we see on the scan has a good chance of bursting or harming them and, if so, how to fix it before it does.

As for Maria, I felt she had no choice. The nine-millimeter aneurysm had multiple weak spots, or "daughter sacks," and was large, unstable, and unpredictable. It had to be treated.

We sat across from each other in my exam room at the San Diego hospital where I practice. The room is nothing special, your typical ten-by-ten medical box with a sink, cabinet, and window looking out on the trees in the parking lot. Nothing about it bespeaks comfort. Only my own nature photography hanging on the walls sets it apart from any other room in any other medical facility in America. Lining one wall are seats for the patient and family, though there was nobody here today but Maria and me. Just off to one side is a rolling computer stand into which I enter data and can review a patient's scans. Now I turned the computer screen around and showed Maria a 3-D rotational picture of the aneurysm from the CT angiogram. The multilobed, balloon-shaped aneurysm arose from her smooth brain artery like a phantom from a drainpipe.

"Let me lay out how I would approach this technically," I said. On the wall behind me was a whiteboard on which I drew a picture of her aneurysm and then detailed the treatment plan, to help her understand what would be taking place inside her skull while she was asleep. After a moment, I swiveled gently away from the board to face her. This was an important moment for both of us. In spite of her professional demeanor, Maria was now giving all the visible signals of agitation: arms and legs held uncomfortably tight against her body, eyes and facial muscles tense and alert. She kept making quick motions with her head and unconscious repetitive movements with her fingers. If she was trying to hold the anxiety in, it wasn't working; the tension was spilling out. Maria seemed to be wondering if her life, so full of the things she had hoped and planned for, was coming to an end. It was as if someone had slammed on the brakes and turned sharply into a blind alley called brain surgery.

As the neurosurgeon walking her through this difficult news, I had a complex set of tasks to perform. I had to ease her mind about the upcoming procedure, giving her the confidence that it could be successful and that she could come out of it without any loss of function. I also had to be honest with her about the level of risk it involved—of blindness, coma, paralysis, or death—so that she could properly set her own expectations and those of her family. We could not avoid the possibility that, as with any surgery in so delicate an area, things could go terribly wrong. I had to convey all this in a calm, honest, and straightforward way—to someone who really didn't want to hear it.

So much of a doctor's job is in not just diagnosis but in demeanor and presentation as well—the way you come across as you speak, the way you comport yourself, the way you relate to patients. Are your eyes steady, or are they shifty? Do you look into their eyes or over their shoulders or around the room? What does this subtly tell them about their prognosis? What can they read into your body language, your hand motions, your almost imperceptible movements of facial muscles, your ease or lack of ease, and your willingness to engage with them as persons, not just medical problems? Pre-surgical consultation is a dance. You have to practice it, becoming light on your feet and making the right moves in sequence, for it to seem graceful to you and to your patients. Fortunately, I have a calm manner that seems to set people at ease. Still, it takes a great deal of experience to make bedside manner seem effortless, and ultimately that is what you want to achieve: a sense of peace and confidence in spite of a bad diagnosis.

I explained the risks and benefits of intervention, and the risks and benefits of doing nothing. She nodded and followed along, taking it all in. As she looked at me, her eyes pleading for good news, I knew she was waiting for me to tell her that there was a pill or an easy treatment—something quick and painless that would solve her problem. Most patients believe, or at least hope, that a doctor can do anything. We are the modern medical high priests, called upon in almost spiritual fashion to rid people of the inconveniences of illness and to heal on demand. At least, that's how people treat us and how, especially in my field of neurosurgery, we often want to be treated. But I had made a decision to give up the role of high priest, even if I still looked like one in my white coat and light blue scrubs—the standard, intimidating outfit that helps to signal the surgeon's separation from and, technically speaking, superiority to the people around us. Yes, I am a highly trained medical professional, but I am not my patients' ultimate healer, and I certainly am not their god. I believe that position is already taken.

I glanced over her scans one more time, knowing full well that, with her, there was only one way to go.

"Maria, I recommend we take care of that aneurysm," I said. "It is the type we call a berry aneurysm because it has a small 'neck' holding it to the parent vessel. The aneurysm itself is round like a berry. Unfortunately, this kind has thin walls, and your thin walls have thinner walls called 'daughter sacks,' which I believe make it more likely to burst."

She didn't even exhale when I said this. It was as though she were holding her breath, waiting for the good part. She wanted me to tell her that she would be fine, but I could not promise that. Looking at this woman in the prime of her life and career, I was struck yet again by the fact that people with nothing outwardly wrong can have a ticking time bomb inside their heads.

I felt compassion and a familiar sense of peace. It would be tricky, but I had the skills to help her, and I loved using those skills; we were going to mend this thing so she could get on with the rest of her life. I wanted nothing more than to help put this incident firmly in her past. Ideally, she wouldn't see the inside of a hospital again until we did follow-up scans several months later to monitor her progress. Unlike other relationships, most surgeon-patient relationships should be temporary. We come together, solve the problem, and then go our separate ways.

"Can it wait?" she finally asked.

Statistically, it could; an aneurysm of that size had been there a long time. But those who have been in the business long enough have seen people bleed before they can get into surgery.

"If your aneurysm were perfectly round or smaller, I would have no problem waiting," I said. "We could wait a month—but I don't feel good about the size and shape."

She nodded slightly. "Then I guess that's what I have to do," she said. "I'm sure I'll have more questions when I've had a chance to digest this and research it a little more, and after I tell my family."

We both sat quietly as she considered again what I had said. After a moment, I leaned forward slightly and did what had become customary for me, something that I had never seen another doctor do, something that in a single moment stripped me of any semblance of godlike status.

"I know that I have given you a lot to think about. Would it be okay if I said a prayer with you?" I asked in a tone that made it safe for her to say no if she wished. I had asked earlier about her spiritual history and learned that her parents were Catholic but that she did not attend services.

She tilted her head to one side and looked at me curiously, as if reading a financial report she didn't understand. She relaxed slightly and nodded.

"Uh, okay," she said, a little confused. "Fine."

I slid my rolling chair over to her and slowly reached out my hand. As surprised as she was, she instinctively reached out with both of her hands and grabbed it as if grabbing a lifeline. I bowed my head to give her privacy. Then I began to pray.

"God, thank you for Maria and for allowing us to find this problem," I said. "This is a surprise to us but no surprise to you. I am asking that this aneurysm not cause her any problems until we can fix it. Please give her peace and good sleep leading up to this surgery. God, we are asking you for success for this surgery. Give her the sense that you are with her. In Jesus' name, Amen."

I opened my eyes after the short prayer. Maria's chin was on her chest and she was crying softly. Tears had made water marks on her skirt. Peace seemed to blanket her, and she was tranquil and centered, like a visitor in a church or other sacred place. Gone were the extraneous movements born of high stress. She breathed deeply and seemed to exhale the concerns that had nearly overtaken her. This sudden change might have surprised me if I hadn't seen it happen so many times with so many other people.

After a few moments she looked up at me. Tears were blending with her mascara and running down her cheeks in gray streaks. She nodded her affirmation of the prayer and dabbed her nose with a tissue that I handed her from the box I keep on my computer stand.

"Thank you, Dr. Levy," she said with a sparkle in her eyes that spoke of calm and hope. "I've never prayed with a doctor before."

I smiled. I'd heard that many times. This simple act had done what no conversation, no psychological analysis, no recitation of the medical facts had ever done, in my experience. She had received something no insurance company, medical provider, surgeon, or drug could offer: confidence and peace from a simple prayer. And even, I believe, a welcome touch from God.

Maria's surgery went flawlessly—until the very end. Then a tear in the aneurysm caused blood to flow into the spaces of her brain with every heartbeat. I feared the worst; we might not be able to save her.

With my crew waiting for instructions, I called for the specific tools I would need to repair the breach. Everything seemed to happen in slow motion, and I felt my frustration rise. There is nothing surgeons hate more than surprises, especially the kind that could rob this family of a wife and mother.

I guided my instruments up the carotid artery just below the bleeding aneurysm and tried another method to stop the bleeding from the potentially fatal tear in the vessel wall. After five minutes of intensely focused work, I injected dye to see if I had succeeded. My heart sank as I watched the screen and saw the dye leak from the top of the aneurysm as she continued to bleed. She had been bleeding into the brain for more than five minutes. Would she survive? And if she did, what would she be like?

It took several more minutes of delicate, painstaking work and periods of agonizing waiting, but finally the bleeding stopped. It took another hour to determine that Maria would survive the bleed and had not suffered a major stroke; she was moving her arms and legs and was talking. As she went into the intensive care unit and continued to improve over the next few days, I thanked God for answering the prayer that Maria and I had prayed together in my exam room. I believe it made the difference for Maria—and for me.

Because in neurosurgery, you never know what might happen.

* * *

I have no way of knowing exactly how many nurses, doctors, surgeons, or even other neurosurgeons take the spiritual lives of their patients seriously or pray with their patients as I do. It's certainly not a subject that comes up at medical conferences or with coworkers in the elevator or hospital cafeteria. In fact, if spirituality is not introduced in a way that honors the patient and his or her faith, it can lead to ostracism by the medical community or worse—discipline of some kind. The role of prayer in health care is itself a gray matter.

Yet both doctors and patients seem to recognize that some crucial component of patient care is often missing. Though spirituality is almost completely absent from medical interactions, a large majority (75 percent) of more than a thousand physicians surveyed agree that religion and spirituality are important in helping patients cope and in giving them a positive state of mind.

Patients, too, place a high value on religion and spirituality, particularly in the midst of an illness. In one study, 82 percent of 124 consecutive ophthalmology patients at Johns Hopkins University said prayer was important to their sense of well-being.

As I have addressed patients' spirituality and made prayer a regular part of my patient interactions, the response has been impressive. I have seen lives brought to a level of spiritual, emotional, and physical health that my patients had never enjoyed before. In the process, I have learned two important things: that there is a limit to what I can do as a highly trained and experienced surgeon and that there is no limit to what God can do to touch a person emotionally and spiritually, not just physically.

My goal as a professional is to use my skills and knowledge to help people have the best lives possible, for as long as possible. This includes emotional as well as physical health, because the two are interrelated. Emotions can create health or cause disease, and spiritual health affects emotional health. Laughter and joy are known to restore and encourage health, while bitterness and resentment promote disease. Forgiveness has well-documented health benefits. One's concept of God can cause ongoing joy or ongoing anxiety. These issues are not incidental but are central to health.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from GRAY MATTER by DAVID LEVY JOEL KILPATRICK Copyright © 2011 by David Levy and Joel Kilpatrick. Excerpted by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 89 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 89 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 27, 2011

    God's Gift of Prayer

    Author David Levy's book is very insightful on prayer and his approach on how to pray. The renowned neurosurgeon faced down his own inner critics only to face down his colleagues and found his threshold to courage as a new foundation. Dr. Levy then brings in his approach of asking patients if there might be someone they need to forgive. As risky as that might be for a physician, the results Dr. Levy has reported in changed lives, let alone surgical successes, is amazing. There are several stories shared of how God answered Dr. Levy's prayers during his surgical procedures, in ways that it was only God being the miraculous. Dr. Levy is quick to point out that not every procedure is 100% positive just because of prayer, but the guidance of God's peace and wisdom is a tremendous help, to both he and the patient and family. This is an excellent book for all to read on both the functional and inspirational use of prayer in every day life.

    This was a book I reviewed for Tyndale House Publishers.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 27, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    A lovely book

    Working in the medical field myself, I found this book to be very insightful and interesting. Although Dr. Levy and I do not share the same religious beliefs, I have also found this book to be faith strengthening and soul fortifying. I'd highly recommend this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 6, 2011

    Great story! Touched my heart!

    In the memoir Gray Matter, Dr. David Levy shares his journey to combine medicine and faith. Dr. Levy slowly came to faith over a period of years, but eventually he began to chafe at compartmentalizing his belief in Christ. However, he found that most medical professionals he worked with--especially his fellow surgeons--considered themselves men of science who were above spiritual concerns. Yet he became convinced that God wanted Him to pray aloud with his patients before their surgeries. Initially this idea scared him.

    In spite of his concerns, he writes, "Through all my questions and doubts I felt an inner voice saying to me, 'If you are worried about being misunderstood, I can promise you that you will be. Jesus was. But you still need to do the right thing.'"

    So Dr. Levy chooses a patient and dives in! He describes how he decided which patient to begin with and then his hesitation in praying in front of the nurse. He makes small talk with the family during an excruciating wait for the nurse to leave, and then he asks his patient, "Do you mind if I pray for you?"

    Thus begins his incredible journey. Soon he is praying in front of family members, nurses, technicians, and even his fellow doctors and surgeons--and all with amazing results. The stories he shares of his patients' responses are by turns inspiring, amusing, uplifting, and poignant. With his prayers Dr. Levy ushered in opportunities to lead patients and family members to Christ.

    Here's Dr. Levy's official conclusion on the role of faith in healing: "My goal as a professional is to use my skills and knowledge to help people have the best lives possible, for as long as possible. This includes emotional as well as physical health, because the two are interrelated. Emotions can create health or cause disease, and spiritual health affects emotional health. Laughter and joy are known to restore and encourage health, while bitterness and resentment promote disease. Forgiveness has well-documented health benefits. One's concept of God can cause ongoing joy or ongoing anxiety. These issues are not incidental but are central to health."

    My conclusion? Many folks will be in the kingdom of heaven because of the compassion of this good man.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 23, 2014

    Excellent read!

    This is an excellent book. It is an autobiography as well as a treatise on the power of forgiveness in healing. Could not put it down.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 20, 2013

    Gray Matter.....EXCELLENT

    This is a book that pulls at your heart strings and continues to show what and how faith can humble you and move you forward in your lives by guiding you in that way that only Christ can. This is a great story of a brain surgeon (Neuro Surgeon) that learns what it is like to think they can do no wrong until the unexpected happens.....excellent read and makes you think about your own choices in life! Enjoy!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 26, 2012

    Dr. Levy, San Diego neurosurgeon, has written an incredibly insp

    Dr. Levy, San Diego neurosurgeon, has written an incredibly inspiring
    book regarding his experiences in praying with and for his patients.
    Gray Matter is a fast-moving, easy-reading, humbly-written book that you
    will not be able to put down. With amazing ease, Dr. Levy explains and
    simplifies the most intricate and delicate anatomy, physiology,
    functions and vasculature of his favorite surgical field (the human
    brain) so that his readers feel as though they are getting a front-seat
    sneak preview of the brain by way of a camera on the tip of a catheter.
    Join him as he wields his sophisticated equipment though the maze of
    whisper-thin arteries and veins, the ultimate goal being tangled or
    bubbled regions on the vessels...areas which may or not be friable or
    ready to burst, but which must be repaired or removed. Learn with him
    about humility as he struggles with his decision to pray for his
    patients prior to surgery. As a nurse, I enjoyed reading about the
    "powerful and intimidating RN", who was simply starting an IV
    on the first patient he chose to pray with. A highly skilled surgeon
    intimidated by a nurse? A physician who wants to pray for his patient
    before a surgery? Is there such a man? We do see them, but all too
    infrequently. He discusses his plan to pray with a particular patient
    in the "pre-op" prior to the surgery in which he will thread a
    catheter through a large vein in the leg and then onward and upward to
    the very blood vessels which feed the patients' memory, movement,
    feeling, emotions--In fact, everything which makes that person who he
    is. With honesty humility (peppered with humor), he invites you to come
    along as he ponders the pros and cons of this venture into prayer in the
    pre-op room...the "Grand Central Station" of the operating
    suites and surrounding departments. No one has ever seen the likes of
    it! Eventually, He comes to realize that prayer is powerful
    indeed...then God takes him a step closer to Him and to trusting Him for
    more. In his book, Dr. Levy says that "learning the power of prayer
    led him to discover the power of forgiveness." Recognizing that
    bitterness can be the source of many health problems, he chose to obey
    God's mandate by beginning another step in helping his patients. He
    strived to bring them to healing in a way that required no
    instruments--only his belief in a powerful, loving and forgiving
    Creator. He soon was praying for patients, and even their family
    members, in his office and sometimes after his lunch time. He led them
    down the long pathway toward the healing of their damaged
    emotions...those which can steal joy and health, ruin the immune system
    and often destroy lives. The revelations of these incidents leave the
    reader astounded and grateful to our Lord and to this physician who
    chose to take a higher road in his profession, despite what others in
    his medical community may think. He also reveals in a painful soliloquy
    his fears and anger when some of his prayers were not answered. He had
    already acknowledged that he, as a doctor, was not God and that the Lord
    had miraculously brought many of his patients though their surgeries and
    recoveries. However, prayers not answered as he expected caused him much
    anguish. He relates these feelings in such a way as to cause the reader
    to sob right along with him. Particularly emotional is the chapter in
    which he relates leading a patient, whose surgery was unsuccessful, in a
    prayer of forgiveness a year later for himself (the surgeon). Something
    had gone terribly wrong and his patient, once a strong, virile man, but
    now an angry, thin and frail quadriplegic, joined him in a prayer that
    will break your heart and bring you to your knees. This book is the
    epitome of what we all should be...ready and willing to reach out to
    others as God leads. I learned much about myself while reading this book
    and quite frankly, saw much of myself, seeing how poorly I deal with my
    own inadequacies. God is a master at helping us to reach beyond
    ourselves to do His bidding and bring others into that perfect and
    loving relationship with Him. I highly suggest that you read this book.
    You don't need to be in the medical profession to understand the medical
    and surgical issues dealt with and as a child of God, you will revel in
    the exciting testimonies of a man who not only knows his God, but knows
    his Messiah, too!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 18, 2012

    I highly recommend this book!

    Such an amazing book!! There are so many fascinating stories. I loved every page!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 30, 2012

    Really wanted to like this book

    I am in the medical field and I really wanted to like this book and this just did not happen... 2 stars

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 23, 2012

    This is an awsome book. It's good to know not all doctors believ

    This is an awsome book. It's good to know not all doctors believe only in science but in a higher Helper.
    I got this book for FREE on my Sony reader and couldn't put it down.
    Too bad it costs so much here.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 27, 2012

    Very Inspirational Book

    This is the story of a neurologist in LA who tells the stories of his patients he has operated on and how his faith has affected his practice. It is a very good book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2011

    BOOOOOOOOOORINNNNNNG a waste of money!

    i only made it half way thru the book....this dr is quite full of himself and his "conversion" practices before surgery. Gifted he is,boring the book is .

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 8, 2011

    Heartwarming & a Great Read!!

    I finished a book about a month ago entitled: Gray Matter. This book is by Dr. David Levy. Dr. Levy decides he is going to ask his patients if he can pray with them before surgery. With the ever growing difference of religion in the world, it is not an easy task. Some patients are accepting and agree, some are surprised, and some are just downright resistant. However the outcome of their reaction maybe, the Dr. still says a silent prayer for each patient before he tries to heal them. Dr. Levy braves the storm of some very angered patients, and coworkers who question his new found work ethic. Some are surprised that he would venture down this road, after all most Dr.'s know that science and religion don't mix well at all. That doesn't stop the Dr. from doing what he feels is right in his heart.












    I thought this book was very interesting. To see the reactions of some people, and how just offering a simple prayer can really offend them.






    I think this book could be for any reader. Those who believe in kindness and love. Or those who believe that the power of prayer can go a long way. Whatever your case may be, this is still a heart warming story of compassion.












    *I received this book from Tyndale Publishing House for being a Book Blogger.*

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  • Posted July 5, 2011

    Fascinating read about a fascinating doctor!

    Dr. David Levy is an endovascular neurosurgeon who deals with a lot of life threatening cases in the operating room. But his healing doesn't begin in the OR. He prays with patients - in his clinic, right before surgery, and after surgery. And he has found that communicating with God brings better surgical outcomes. He has also found that many of the symptoms that people carry are psychosomatic - or, as the dictionary defines it, "caused by or notably influenced by emotional factors."

    This is a fascinating account of a doctor who operates in a very different way than most doctors. Working for a neurosurgeon myself, I could identify with a lot of the issues that Dr. Levy talks about - those dealing with the patients themselves, and some of the illnesses. I was very impressed by the manner in which Dr. Levy treats his patients. He realizes that it is not only the illness that needs to be treated, but also the underlying emotional/spiritual issues. I think he is the type of doctor that anyone would love to have - man of God, compassionate, and highly knowledgeable. I would definitely recommend this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 1, 2011

    Encouragement Plus!

    Gray Matter by David Levy was a very encouraging book for me to read. It portrayed the journey of a successful neurosurgeon as he began to share the power of prayer with his patients, then with co-workers, and finally with his peers. His honesty in sharing his own feelings when things did not turn out as he had thought they would was another reminder of who ultimately is in control of life. This is not anything I have personally experienced, but as I read of these interactions I could imagine the increased feeling of peace before entering surgery knowing the surgeon was depending upon God and not his own abilities.

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  • Posted June 26, 2011

    Great read!

    This is a wonderful book about a neurosurgeon who moves from treating just the physical to the spiritual as well. He starts with praying with his patients prior to surgery, to praying with the staff prior to surgery, to really diving into his patients lives- past/current hurts to forgiveness. Great book!

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  • Posted June 26, 2011

    Enjoyable and Powerful

    Though Gray Matter started a bit slow, I was hooked before long and became quite emotional when reading about some of the more serious cases. But more than discussing prayer and neurosurgery, Gray Matter encourages readers to really look at how God works in ordinary lives and ordinary moments. I can see it as a call to be bolder and braver when it comes to my own faith, to trust in God more fully, and to reconsider prayer's powerful benefits. Gray Matter is an enjoyable, informative read for anyone who is willing to look at the greatness of God and the power of prayer.

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  • Posted June 23, 2011

    Inside a Neurosurgeon's Head

    When I first picked up Gray Matter I thought the author must have been very wordy since it is a 320 page book. I thought how could any one write such a lengthy book on just saying a short prayer with people.

    I was surprised to find I was wrong and how much I enjoyed the book. He didn't talk about the prayer and how it helped in a more general sense, but we got to see a slice into the life of a neurosurgeon. Dr. Levy takes you on a journey into the brain and some of the delicate procedures he preforms on a routine basis, even though to his patients it is nothing but routine.

    We meet his patients from an elderly lady to a toddler and everyone in between. I almost felt like I was holding my breath at times when he was describing surgeries. His writing style introduced us to his patients, and I was holding my breath as he was taking us into the ER with him.

    I loved how he described how forgiveness can make a huge difference in healing once people decided to let others off the hook. While their unforgiveness may have seemed to be a totally separate issue, many times once the person quit being so bitter they improved in their physical health.

    Dr. Levy doesn't shy away from the cases that were hard for him to accept. He does what he can, but that doesn't always mean his surgeries go perfectly. I thought it was very refreshing to hear a doctor talk about the cases where he felt he should have done something differently. It gave me a different perspective on doctors in general.

    I couldn't put this book down, but that didn't mean it was an easy read. Some of the issues contained were a bit heavier than light hearted reading, but the book is very much worth reading and I do recommend it!

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  • Posted June 7, 2011

    Inspirational!

    A great read. Once you start you won't want to put it down. Dr. Levy is a Jewish-born Christian neurosurgeon. He finds himself convicted to pray for his patients before their surgeries. This book is about his experiences in introducing prayer to his practice, and sharing it's results for his patients as well as himself.
    Dr. Levy's stories are fantastic, it's hard to put the book down. He gives us insight into his career as a neurosurgeon and tells us about the difference prayer makes in one's life. He also talks about when things don't go our way. This book is heart wrenching but precious.
    I received a free copy of this book from Tyndale in exchange for a fair and honest review.

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  • Posted June 6, 2011

    An Enjoyable Read.

    In Gray Matter by Dr. David Levy we receive an inside look at the steps Dr. Levy took to introduce prayer into his practice as a Neurosurgeon. He introduces his patients to the power of forgiveness and the healing that can come by overcoming bitterness. I found it surprisingly enjoyable to read of the stories of different patients and how even those without faith were touched and transformed by forgiveness and prayer.

    I normally don't read this kind of book. Primarily because I tend to get pretty emotional when I read or hear about people dying and medical books often involve people dying. But, I liked the idea of reading about how prayer interfaces with the medical community. Even though I appreciated the stories, I realized again that medical books are just not for me. I often read as I'm rocking our baby to sleep and these stories put me on the edge of my chair and made my blood pressure go up just when I was needing to be calm and soothing. I read to relax and reading about the stressful situations these families were encountering wasn't very relaxing. It was intriguing, but not relaxing. I kept thinking that I had some sort of brain aneurysm. The cases Dr. Levy deals with are very technical and unusual, but reading the stories made me feel like all my loved ones were going to end up needing brain surgery.

    My only critique of this book is that I'm a little unsure about the intended audience for this book. Is it for medical personnel who are interested in adding a spiritual component to their practice? Or, is it for Christians who might be interested in how faith intersects with the medical community? I think both audiences might enjoy this book but the writing could have focused on one or the other to give it a bit more clarity. I think this would be a great graduation gift for a Christian doctor.

    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Tyndale as part of the Tyndlae Blog Network. I was not required to write a positive review.

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  • Posted May 7, 2011

    Definite page turner - Intriguing and Inspirational

    Prayer is the last thing a patient might expect to receive from their surgeon prior to brain surgery, but that's exactly what Dr David Levy was compelled to offer. Through compelling and personal stories, Dr Levy explains how and why he took the risk of putting his reputation at stake with his patients, colleagues, and medical staff, and how it transformed his practice and his life. He reveals the mind of a highly trained surgeon and the procedures of the intricate and high risk surgeries he performs. I found these glimpses into his medical practice fascinating. He openly and honestly shares his heart for his patients' well-being, both physically and spiritually. I laughed and I cried (for real - actual tears). As he shared his journey, I was challenged to contemplate my own ability to live with the courage to do what's right in my relationship with others and with God. 'Gray Matter' is interesting, educational, and inspirational. Thank you, Dr Levy, for sharing your story and your exceptional life with us. Thank you, Joel Kilpatrick, for making Dr Levy's story so compelling and interesting to read; truly a page turner. Well worth recommending and sharing with others.

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