Monthly Letters to Pulmonary Patients by Thomas L. Petty

Thomas L. Petty, M.D.

Professor of Medicine, 
University of Colorado

Chairman, National Lung Health Education Program (NLHEP)


National Lung Health Education Program
A collaborative project with



HealthOne Center
1850 High Street
Denver, CO 80218
Phone: 303 839 6755
Fax: 303 832 8137

Psalms and Showers

October 2000
Second Wind
Lomita, California

Dear Friends:

    Fishing near the Arctic Circle last month, created a problem for me. Bouncing around in a boat with five foot waves at Great Slave Lake in the Northwest Territories did what I had always feared. I ended up with severe back pain caused by major sciatica. On my return, the Osteopath tried to manipulate my back for relief, but this time it failed. I could barely hobble to my office with a back brace and a cane. The MRI showed severe degenerative changes in my spine. This was bad news indeed.

The problem was magnified by the fact that I was scheduled to go to Japan the following week. The purpose was to celebrate the 15th Anniversary of our helping to establish home oxygen in Japan.

On the day before I was scheduled to leave, I had such severe back spasms and pain, that I could hardly get into the shower. I asked for help and began to recite my favorite psalm. 'The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want...' I could now get into the shower. 'Yea though I walk through the valley of darkness, I shall feel no evil.' Some relief was noticeable. I could now shower and dry myself. 'Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me.' Now I could stand this excruciating pain.

I am en route to Japan, as I write this. The back brace and cane are stowed, and I am pretty comfortable in my seat.

'Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the rest of my life...'

I will be in touch next month

Your friend,

  Thomas Petty, MD

Last update:
13 March 2002