Friday, March 31, 2017

More Adventures in Hospitalization

Just when you least expect it…
My husband’s recovery was going quite well, we thought, and then he ended up at the ER again on Wednesday night. He hadn’t had any real severe symptoms – just a general feeling of low energy for a couple of days, and a little discomfort that he attributed to the healing process. But on Wednesday he kept going hot and cold, and when he finally took his temperature, it was 101 degrees. He called the surgeon, who suggested he go to the clinic and get checked out.

They did urine and blood tests, and he came home to await the blood results. His white cell count was elevated, and they told him to go to the ER. So off we went, where we did a lot of waiting till they finally did a CT scan. The scan showed an abscess where the small intestine meets the colon…or something like that. The doctor reading the scan said there was a perforation, but my husband’s surgeon discounted that, as he’d looked at it up close a personal during the surgery 5 weeks ago.

The plan was to stick a needle in and drain the abscess under the guidance of the CT machine; but that required a hospital with more technological resources than our rural hospital has. So my husband was transported to Boise, ID, about a two-hour drive away. The next morning, the procedure to drain the abscess was successful; my husband’s temperature returned to normal; and his white blood cell count has been steadily dropping. There are a couple of other tests the doctors want to do, though, so he has to stay in Boise; hopefully he’ll come home Sunday night or Monday morning.

I went to see him on Thursday, and he looked good, felt good, and was hoping they would let him eat real food soon (they did).

But while I was there, a woman came in and introduced herself as Mary, and said she was a "eucharistic minister" (which of course is the wrong term anyway! She is an “extraordinary minister of Holy Communion"). She asked my husband if he wanted to receive Holy Communion. I cringed inside, and I wonder if it showed on the outside as well! But she was looking at my husband, not me.

He said he had just eaten, and so he didn’t want to receive; and she started to tell him that it was okay, that he was dispensed from the fast because of being hospitalized. But wasn’t willing for this “event” to take place in my presence, so I said to my husband, “But do you want to receive from…uh…not-a-priest?” And then he seemed to remember that I had said I had contacted a priest and asked him to visit; and so my husband told Mary the Eucharistic Minister no thanks, he thought a priest was coming to see him and that he would receive Holy Communion from him. We did thank her for coming, though, and I said to my husband as she was leaving, "Well, at least that's more than we ever got at home!" At our local hospital, no one contacted my husband from the Church. Of course, if I had asked, the priest would have come, I have no doubt. But I think it used to be that the priest or someone at the office would check for Catholic patients, and someone would make a visit and ask about the spiritual needs of the Catholic patients. It is a Catholic hospital, after all. For what that’s worth these days.

Looking back on it, I think having a lay person show up to offer Holy Communion is a horrible practice; many people will say "yes" out of peer pressure, not wanting to look like a bad Catholic; and many will receive unworthily. Not to mention the fact of receiving from a lay person who also is a woman! Even a Novus Ordo deacon does not have his hands consecrated to handle the Holy Eucharist! Having been around the extraordinary form of the Mass as much as I have, I’ve become very sensitive to the hands issue. Even in the Novus Ordo, it really bothers me to see the priest not keeping his thumb and forefinger together after he consecrates the Host; that practice is not require in the NO, but why not?! It is still a consecrated Host! It is still Really and Truly Jesus! The same dangers of profanation apply. Etc.

In the case of a lay person coming to administer Holy Communion, there is not only the chance that the Eucharist will be received unworthily; it seems to me that the Eucharist is also being offered unworthily – being handled by unconsecrated hands.

Besides that, what about deacons?! It is a task for deacons to bring communion to the sick. Of course, in the NO, the deacon’s hands are not consecrated, but still. Today when I was talking to my husband on the phone, I heard someone come into his room, and he paused to see what was needed. I heard a female voice explain that she was a “Eucharistic minister” and ask if he wanted to receive Communion. Another woman! Aaargh. He declined again. Where are the deacons?

It seems to me, a better practice would be for a priest to show up and ask people in the hospital if they want him to hear their confession! I would think that hospital patients might be a bit more inclined to be thinking about their ultimate end, and they might therefore be more inclined to do something that would help them get to their desired destination!

Well, that is the state of the Church, I guess. It does make me sad, though.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

People in My Path, Placed by God

I’m sure you wonder, as I do sometimes, why God has placed a particular person in your life. Sometimes, it seems they are there to test your patience; sometimes, it seems that they are acting as a guardian angel surrogate; sometimes, the reason remains a mystery. And even when we think we know the reason why, we may not be correct in our assumption.

Here are a few whose paths have crossed mine recently:

A woman I knew in high school – barely – sent me a friend request on Face Book some time ago. (Another woman from our graduating class of 1971 created a “group” on FB, and I am a member of that group. Many of the others have “friended” me, but they are mostly politically liberal-progressive non-Catholics, and I have “unfollowed” most of them so I don’t see their liberal progressive nonsense.) Anyway…this particular woman who wanted to be friends is a lesbian, and I knew that. I figured her political views would be liberal (they are), and that she would quickly find that we didn’t have much in common. But she wanted to be friends, so I figured, why not? At least she would be exposed to some non-liberal stuff.

Well, she objected to something I said against abortion; we had a short back-and-forth on that. Then I posted about not going to see “Beauty and the Beast” with my almost-step-granddaughter because of the highly touted “gay moment”. That just irritates me. The lesbian woman – let’s call her Lana – objected. She went into all the gay stuff about how “normal” it is to be gay, how she was “born that way”, how all reparation therapy is evil and barbaric (apparently some of it is, but I know there are legitimate and effective forms of therapy for those who want to overcome their disordered sexual desires), that a Disney representation would be so nice for children and adults who are ashamed of their homosexual desires, etc., etc. I addressed those things in a couple of exchanges, and then I decided to “unfriend” her, because I didn’t want her seeing my posts and arguing in illogical ways about the stuff I posted.

And I let her know that I was doing it. I sent her a private message, and told her that I was unfriending her, and why. And I said I was open to discussing things via messenger. Since then, I have had numerous exchanges with her, and I feel like I am butting my head against a brick wall. My stomach tightens when I see there is a message from her. I am tempted to completely ignore her. But there is something that keeps drawing me into “debate” with her. She calls me names like “homophobe”, and wonders how I can be so stupid about homosexuality. She asserts that she knows more than I do on the subject because she wrote a thesis on it. She reads things into what I say that aren’t there, and puts words in my mouth (such as, “you think we’re weird” – no, I didn’t say that).

So, it’s a trial. I asked her why she even keeps trying to have this conversation with me; she didn’t answer that. I asked if she believes in truth, or relativism. “Your truth is not other people’s truth, and vice versa,” she said. Well, we can’t really have a conversation then, can we? But I’m still trying. For some reason, this woman is in my life. Something impels me to continue the discussion, even though it seems fruitless. But if she stops writing, so will I!

Another person who crossed my path is not someone I have actually met or even talked or written to. It was just a poor mother in our town who went out one day and plastered a little flyer all over the main streets. The flyer said, in essence, that her 19-year-old son was into meth, that she loved him and wanted him saved from that, and that his father was supplying him with drugs. She wrote, “I am a mother begging, please please do not use, sell, or give my son drugs. His family loves him. We cannot lose him to overdose, disease, suicide, violence, insanity, prison – all the things that come with drugs.” At the bottom of the typed flyer was a handwritten note that said, “Have you ever tried to save someone you love?” I shed a few tears for this woman, and have been praying for her and her son.

It was my hiking friend who alerted me to this flyer, and I alerted The Fiancé, who is a police officer. He contacted the woman, and I don’t know what has happened from there. But I thanked him for making the effort, and he said, “My mom did something like that for both of my brothers.” He understands, and she was at least comforted by his initial visit. I know he will follow up, and perhaps you can add your prayers to mine for this family.

A third person is one whom I have known since she was 2 years old, but I have had no real contact with her since we moved to Oregon in 2003. She is the daughter of my friend Pam who died when she was struck by a car a little over a year ago. It was this daughter who let me know that Pam had died, and we became “friends” on Face Book. I watch her from afar, with a sad heart. She has so much to overcome, and she has overcome a lot of it, in some ways. But she lives an immoral lifestyle without knowing it’s really wrong, I think. And some of the things she says break my heart, and I wish so much that I could have made a bigger difference in her life. Recently, she posted a meme that said something about wanting to marry just one man, have kids who all have the same father (she has two little ones by different fathers, and she’s never been married), and have it be forever. Or something like that. But her comment was the killer: “I just want whatever will bring me happiness.” She wants to be happy, and has no idea how that happens. I am pretty sure she doesn’t really know what true happiness is.

The other day, this same young woman wrote about her mom. I can’t find her post right now, but it was along the lines of, “I can’t believe you’re gone. I lost you way too young. I love you, mom.” And Pam was a woman the authorities said wasn’t a good mom, and that both of her daughters should be permanently removed from her custody.  That was prevented. And her daughters, now adults, believed she was the perfect mom. Might they have had different outcomes if they’d been adopted by a higher-functioning, economically advantaged family? Maybe. Well, certainly it would have been different. But would it have been different? Those girls loved their mom, and their mom loved them and did everything she could to give them the best life she could offer.  I watch this one daughter struggle along, and feel a little helpless to do anything substantive for her. I need to increase my prayers for her.

So there are three people whose paths have crossed mine. I hope I am doing what God wants me to do with them!

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Best Laid Plans

Just when you think everything is going smoothly…just when you have finally organized your life with a list or two…another wrench is thrown into the works! God has a plan, right? He lets those wrenches come flying your way for a purpose, right? It’s what makes life an adventure.

I wrote in my last post that I had taken my husband to the ER, but that it turned out not to be an emergency. Well, two nights later, he again complained of severe abdominal pain, and off we went to the ER again – a little earlier in the evening, this time. At the ER, they decided to do a CT scan and some other stuff. My husband encouraged me to leave him there while he went through the procedures and awaited the results, so I went to visit our daughter for a bit.

A couple of hours later, he called to say that the news was not good. The immediate problem was still not the hernia, but it had caused the problems. The doctors suspected that the hernia had entrapped a portion of his bladder and his bowel…not a good thing. They also suspected, from the scan, that he had a perforated colon. They recommended immediate emergency surgery.

Well…we weren’t really expecting that!

While we were listening to the surgeon (a young man who looked to be all of 16 years old!) explain what had to be done, a thought passed through my mind: we should call the priest and have him come so that my husband could have confession and the anointing of the sick before the surgery. I did not act on this thought. I looked at the faces of the surgeon, my daughter, the Fiancé, the nurse…and it seemed to busy and distracting to speak to my husband about calling the priest. And the demons whispered, “It’s 11pm; probably the priest won’t even answer the phone. You don’t even know if there is an emergency number to call at the parish. It’ll be okay…just let it go.” Sadly, I listened to them. They took my husband into surgery at midnight, with the surgeon saying that he was 99% sure there was a perforated colon, and that surgery would take as long as 4-5 hours.

I went home and went to bed – exhausted but restless, of course; I thought about emergency surgery, and infection, and death. I kicked myself for not having called the priest. And I prayed and prayed, begging God to spare my husband’s life since he had not had the advantage of the anointing of the sick.

Then I forced myself to lie down and close my eyes, and I did in fact fall asleep. My phone rang around 2:30am; my first thought was that this was way too soon for the surgery to be over. Then the surgeon told me that surgery was successful, and there was no sign of anything being perforated! That’s why the surgery didn’t take as long – he had not had to remove any of the colon. This was very good news, and the surgeon was very pleased, as were all of the rest of us!  There was, however, massive infection, which the doctor had taken care of; the hernia would still have to be repaired at a later date.

I went back to sleep, and got up at my usual time to go and see my husband in the hospital. The first thing we talked about was the fact that we had not called the priest. My husband said he also had thought about it, but things were moving so fast…we got swept up in the worldly aspect of the whole thing. We both expressed our gratitude to God that we were sitting there together in the hospital, with my husband having come through the surgery just fine. We also were amazed at the miracle of his not having a perforated bowel. And apparently that miracle was not lost on the surgeon, who admitted his surprise that he had not found the damage he had expected. We hope and pray that this is a strong witness to the surgeon about the power of prayer and the mercy of God (I do not know anything about his religious views, but I do know he is not Catholic).  We also hope that The Fiancé sees the power of God at work in all of this.

My husband had to spend 5 days in the hospital on IV antibiotics. He didn’t complain, but I know it was torture for him! He is a person who doesn’t sit still, and for 5 days there was “nothing” he could do. He went for walks, though! He was so grateful that know bowel was removed and that he did not have a colostomy, that he decided not to complain about anything else!

He’s been home now, for a week. He still “can’t do anything”, and he’s become a little more vociferous about being bored. He knows it will be a long healing process, and that as soon as he is healed enough, the surgeon wants to do the hernia surgery. That will likely be in the first week or so of April. So, in the meantime, I am the chief horse feeder and stall cleaner…not my favorite jobs. But you now what? It’s Lent! And I think this is a very good Lenten penance.  It will be a daily chore from two weeks ago till May. It will not go away!

There are many spiritual lessons in all of this. I’m still digesting them.  But clearly, God’s providence was, and continues to be, quite evident.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me!