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.


  1. Hang on, John. It's all very scary, and I agree, I don't know how a person without some kind of faith can face it. I do know people who identify as atheists who handle it with incredible grace, though. I think that their faith is deeper than words.

    1. Thanks, Beth. I'm inspired by those who handle situations of uncertainty with ease. They've found peace and integrity somehow. Contrariwise, there are many people in a religious tradition who cannot see far beyond themselves and their anxieties are heightened. I like to think of being reconciled with God, self, and others.