The Journey series
Two weeks ago I recounted my battle with despair over years of severe chronic pain. I promised to post Promise Kept last week. I was, ironically, unable to keep my promise. This week I beg your pardon and present my delinquent post.
I was once again battling cellulitis with twice-daily visits to the hospital for IV antibiotics. This added burden compounded the detrimental effects of my opioids. I began having hallucinations, but they were very real to me. I saw the devil invade my body in the form of worms. I scrubbed myself with harsh detergents and salt to banish these parasites. I became paranoid. My doctor ordered me hospitalized.
By the fifth day in hospital my infection subsided and I demanded to be let home. My doctor opposed my release but eventually relented when my wife promised to return me if I became worse. I arrived home on a Saturday afternoon unable to do anything but rest. I could stomach nothing more than black tea and clear broth. The next day I attended Mass with my family but, as had become my norm, left at the start of the homily to sit in the foyer with my leg elevated. Our guest homilist, Fr Larre, previewed the Advent retreat he would present over the next three evenings. I returned, as usual, for the communion procession.
Back home, I remained unable to manage anything other than rest, black tea, and clear broth. Quite suddenly, at six o’clock Monday evening, I stood up and demanded we prepare for Fr Larre’s retreat. My wife protested, not agreeing until I promised that if I couldn’t remain in my pew for the entire Mass and retreat she could return me to hospital rather than bring me home.
My wife dropped me off in front of the church and went to park. Using my crutches, I made my way to our customary pew and began praying the Divine Mercy chaplet. As I prayed I felt wheels turning within my ankle and knew I was being healed.
When my wife joined me she saw I was crying and asked if I was in too much pain. “No,” I told her. “These are tears of joy.” She thought I was delusional. “I can walk,” I said. She knew I was delusional.
She was certain we would be heading for the hospital within the first few minutes of Mass. She watched me closely for her cue to insist we head to the hospital. To her surprise, I didn’t depart for the foyer at the homily. I remained calmly in our pew until time for communion. I rose, entered the aisle, backed up two paces, and let my wife ahead of me. Then I returned my crutches to the pew and walked up to the altar without the limp I had had for more than twenty years. My swelling and pain were gone.
After Mass I went out to the foyer and ran once around it, just because I knew I could. I returned and listened to Fr Larre’s talk. After his presentation, as attendees were departing, I began running, jumping, and dancing all about the foyer. I felt like Scrooge on Christmas morning – the Alistair Simm version! Parishioners who had watched me suffer for all those years celebrated with me. Others, unfamiliar with my plight, wondered what the heck was going on.
God accomplished what all the top doctors were incapable of, just as He promised.
Next week: The One Leper