Monday, March 24, 2008

Learning Patience

I know that this disease is going to take things from me, that it will keep me from doing some things, but there are days I really hate this disease. I had my fourth round of chemo on March 12, and I realized that there was a good chance that the affects of the treatment would be with me during Holy Week. I took off work last Wednesday and Thursday, with Friday as a normal day off I thought I could get plenty of rest and be able to participate in the liturgy through the Triduum. The days of the Triduum are without a doubt my favorite days of the year. I look forward to these days, especially the Easter Vigil. I almost made it. Thursday and Friday I felt pretty good, and was able to take part in the liturgy. I even preached on Good Friday. Saturday I slept in a bit, and felt rested and ready for the Vigil. I particularly wanted to be there when the folks my RCIA class came into the Church. Saturday afternoon, out of the blue, I got sick, really sick. I was, to say the least, distraught. I was also determined that I would not miss this Vigil. Over my wife’s unspoken but obvious objections we went to church to celebrate the Vigil. I was determined to serve in my role as deacon for the Vigil celebration. Sitting in the sacristy, however, it became more and more obvious to me and to those around me that I was not going to be able to function as deacon in this celebration. Practically in tears I admitted that I could not go out on the altar (even though I tried to convince the priest and the other deacon that if I passed out they could just roll me under a pew and keep going) and had to sit this one out. It was finally agreed that I would vest, but stay in the sacristy until time for the baptisms and confirmations for the RCIA group, after which I would return to the sacristy. Afterward my wife told me was proud of me. I asked why, and she said she was proud because I did the right thing, I didn’t stubbornly bull ahead and make myself worse. She was, of course, right. Had I forced the issue and tried to fill my role as deacon I would have just been in the way. The fact that it was so obvious that I was sick would have been a distraction. I missed being able to fill my role, but perhaps God is using this to help me learn patience, patience with this disease, patience with my limitations, patience with myself. This is not the first thing this illness has taken from me, and it definitely won’t be the last, but with the help of God I am slowly learning to live in these new limitations. Maybe I am finally learning to be a patient patient.

Deacon John
Monday in the Octave of Easter
March 24, 2008

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Thoughts on Chemo Day - Round 4

Yesterday, March 12, was the fourth, and hopefully last, round of chemo. The transplant team in Chicago seems to think that four rounds are enough, indeed, is the norm for this disease. The Nurse Practioner gave us some hope when she said the doctors tend to go along with what the Transplant team wants. So, with any luck, the transplant process can start by the end of April.

At chemo I met a nun, a bit older, who noticed one of the bags I had that identified me as a deacon. We have had some pleasant conversations about the Church here in the South End of Louisville. She volunteers there providing a healing touch ministry. Yesterday I finally availed myself of that service and found it quite good. It was very relaxing, and I felt better after that than I have for a while. If you ever have a chance to experience this, I suggest it.

Next Wednesday we see our regular Oncologist, Dr. Glisson. Hopefully, he will tell us that we have completed the needed rounds of chemo and that we can move on to the transplant process, hopefully. Again, I have learned in all of this not to count on very much, and to leave with more questions than answers. No matter what happens, I still feel that God is guiding us on this journey. I pray, and remain open to what is coming. Not much of this is in my control, so I rely on God. So far we haven’t been steered wrong. I believe I’ll only go wrong if I get stubborn and think I can do this on my own. So I pray that I find the grace to let God lead me. Thank you all for your prayers, they are a blessing and a great help.

Deacon John
March 13, 2008
St. Perergrine,
Pray for us.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Chicago, Chicago

Friday, Feb. 29th, we returned from our whirlwind trip to Chicago, after meeting with doctors at the University of Chicago Hospital. It was the end of an eventful week, one that began with sadness when the pastor of our parish died on Monday after suffering a coronary on Sunday night. Wednesday was spent at the funeral home as the other deacon in our parish and I led the Vigil prayers for our pastor. The next morning we left for Chicago and the University of Chicago Hospital. We managed to get from Midway Airport to the hospital, an adventure in itself, where we met with the doctors who work with myeloma patients. I was poked and prodded and answered a zillion questions. The doctors all but said I was a good candidate for an autologous stem cell transplant. They also said that four cycles of chemo could be enough, and that they were going to speak to my oncologist here in Louisville to see if he really wants six cycles. I will have to undergo some further testing to determine my eligibility for the transplant procedure, but that testing can be done in Louisville. If all goes well, and four cycles of chemo are enough, the procedure could begin as soon as the end of April. If it does the entire process could be completed by mid-June. Most of the follow-up testing can also be done here, making the process much easier. With recovery time I could be back to at least semi-normal by late fall. I am greatly encouraged by this, and I believe that God has guided us to the right place. The doctors and nurses could not have been more friendly or more open. They willingly answered all of our questions and encouraged us to call should we think of any more. I am more convinced than ever that this is the place where God has led us. I’m actually looking forward to getting started with this so I can get to remission and begin putting this disease behind me. As for the city of Chicago itself, obviously we didn’t see much, but I never realized that driving is a competitive sport!

St. Peregrine,
Pray for us
Deacon John
March 2, 2008