Saturday, June 27, 2015


After 21 days, I am being discharged from the hospital. Forty staples were removed from the belly this morning and the PICC line is soon to come out. After that, I pack and return home.

Please know how grateful I am for your prayers that sustained me.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Approaching Three Weeks

I give thanks to God for the care and skill of my surgeon and his care-giving team. I appreciate their professionalism and thoughtful decisions as they pulled me through this challenging ordeal. I'm grateful for their attention to my well-being.

On Day 20, I'm feeling better. The main nutrients from the PICC line has been removed as I've been upgraded to a full liquid diet. Pain medication and antibiotics can now be administered orally. My body seems to be adjusting fine.

During this past week, much news has happened. The Blackhawks are the Stanley Cup champions, Golden State Warriors are the NFL champs, the NFL Draft was held, Tom Brady appealed, South Carolina needs our prayers, too many shootings and violence in the U.S. and the world, Congress and the President agreed upon a trade deal, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed the Affordable Care Act and struck down bans against same-sex marriage, and the day I arrived, two men broke out of a New York prison and are still on the loose. I was able to watch 3 episodes of "The 70's."

Day by day. It simply is a great prayer - just to hold everything simply in the present. I finally recognize the importance of flowers for the sick. We hold onto images of beauty when we can do little else. And, it is wonderful to see the face of God in those who visit. It is a beautiful face.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Health Update: Birth of John the Baptist

On Day 18 of my hospitalization, I'm finally feeling like I've turned the corner. It does not feel like my body has to fight anymore but that the body, medicines, and the rehabilitation practices are working together.

Ignatius had his turn for the better on the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, which comes in just a few days. My turning point is the feast of the birth of John the Baptist. I have loved the saying, "I must decrease so he may increase," but today I want to say, "Let us increase together."

In the church year, the birth of John the Baptist is set six months apart from the birth of Jesus. We begin to lose minutes of daylight from today until Christmas, where Christ can celebrate his victory of light over darkness, when daylight increases by minutes each day until June 24th. What a perfect theological point that fits in with our astrological year.

After the tornado watch and the tropical storm warnings, the most complex sunset followed. As I sat without energy, I lifted my drowsy eyes to see charged yellow and purple-red jagged cloud formations in one window, while the east facing window projected a pastel blue and soft purple that radiates peace, just like Easter colors. Absolutely brilliant.

If you ever wondered what type of flowers work well as a hospital cheer-me-up, I suggest peonies. I love the other vibrant flowers I received but the tissue softness of the peonies capture the light from the various parts of the day and simply transform it. They look as if they are pillows, which have given me great comfort. Perfect.

While I still have days to go in my hospital recovery, my spirits feel great. Working on the pneumonia will energize me as well. Besides, I have been advanced to tasting liquids again. My tongue looks like a powdered donut. However, I'm in very good spirits again.

Diverticulitis will change my life. It will cause me to be a greater steward of my body and I will gain control over my diet. As a society, we often talk about getting together and having a meal. Well, scrap that. Let's go to a movie instead.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


Wednesday is procedure day and prayers are keeping me calm. At my roommate's honking snore last night, I asked if I can sleep in the patient lounge for the night. The staff began to sense my frustration. Even though my roommate settled down, I was still left with fear of not sleeping again throughout the night. I also feared his sudden movements in the night that often sounded like a trapped raccoon inside an aluminum trash can. I am rested though this morning.

The other day I said, "Marhaba" to a Doctor with an Arabic name. Though he is not my doctor, he became very jovial and pleasant to me each time he saw me. I asked the origins of his name today and he said, "Persian." I said, "I will be out of commission the next few days, but if you celebrate 'Ramadan Kareem.'"

When I continued my walk, I ran into a medical professional wearing a headscarf. I poked my head into the room and said, "I know it is early, but 'Ramadan Kareem.'" She politely thanked me. As I returned down the aisle, she interrupted me and said, "Thank you. You are the first one in my workplace to ever wish me that. That is so kind of you." A nice chat ensued.

Monday, June 15, 2015

My First Hospitalization

June 6th was our performance of the Brahms Requiem, a consoling piece that leads one to images of eternal rest. During the third movement, I realized I must be standing awkwardly, in rapt concert attention, toed to the risers, because I was feeling awkwardness in my left midsection. After a brief intermission, I relaxed by taking deep breaths to ready for the next movements, yet the pain sharpened. Singing movements 4, 5, 6, and 7 was a good way to get my mind off the increasing pain that rose to the level of 8 on a scale of 1-10. The hour's drive home seemed longer than usual.

Mass preparations were ready for the next morning. My better judgment told me to go to an emergency room, but I had an 8:30 a.m. Sunday mass the next morning. If I could have contacted the pastor or his secretary, I would have cancelled, but they were leading a tour to Portugal and I had no other contacts. When parishioners gasped at my condition, I knew I had to get to the ER soon. However, it was precious to bless the 84 year old cafeteria worker who was honored a few days earlier with an honorary high school diploma.

Next I was off to say the 10:00 a.m. Spanish Mass, which is normally scheduled for noon, but this was to be a tri-lingual service. I had only a 2 minute homily to deliver so I knew I could sit through it. What I did not expect was the hour's procession around the neighborhood streets to honor Corpus Christi. So, off to the hospital I went.

I chose Milton Hospital because I had been there a week before for a routine exam established by my new primary care physician. I was familiar with the place and I knew he had a connection. Besides, it was close to home and only six miles from the parish. I'd arrive in fifteen minutes, expect that it was Dorchester Day and all the streets were closed at noon for a 6:00 p.m. parade. The commute was a painful hour and ten minute writhing ride.

Fast forward, here I am, still in the hospital after nine days preparing for surgery on Wednesday morning. I have heard and seen a lot. Some mundane; others incredible. I'm thankful, though, for the support of the Jesuit community and our friends, for those who send well wishes, and for all the expressions of care I received. I am being shown many areas of growth in my understanding, but mostly I don't know how a person who doesn't have faith goes through extended hospital stays or health scares. I know I'm in the comfort of God's care and I'm learning to trust and be at peace.