Saturday, May 7, 2016

Like Minded Fellow Sufferers

In Bible Life magazine, a priest reaching his forties writes about his struggle with disease, pain and death. At birth the amniotic sac broke, and he was delivered as a lump of bluish blood; the doctor gave up hope, and his mother was in a frenzy. His aunt gave his bottom two strong blows, and he responded with a weak cry: a story that continues within the family. Whether this was the reason, he doesn't know, but he was afflicted by all kinds of allergies and diseases. On his mother's side, the lungs were weak, and he spent a great deal of time in hospitals as a baby with asthmatic problems.

During seminary days, he was often in the hospital with pneumonia or in bed being treated by his classmate with rice gruel. Weak bones, he was disposed to many breaks in arms and legs. In the military twice during training he was sent home because of sickness.

After ordination, he can honestly say he gave consolation to many who were sick, and they weren't empty words. He took pride  with his experience of sickness to help others and felt pretty good about what he could do. During a physical exam, they discovered a polyp in the stomach. No real problem, he was told, with the endoscope, they would easily remove it. During  the procedure from the esophagus to the stomach, the lining of the  upper GI tract was perforated. He was immediately taken to emergency room where they performed surgery,  everything continued to go wrong and during one week, he underwent three different operations.  

They told him he would have to  wait for the perforation to heal, and would take three months. They made a hole on the right side of the stomach and fitted him with tubes to feed him. An assistant to the chaplain came to feed him three times by tubes and give him painkillers five times during the day. He was hoping God would take him.

His body temperature dropped suddenly; blood poisoning was the reason, and  he was taken to St. Mary's hospital in Pusan. He was an army chaplain coming to the diocesan hospital which caused some commotion. The doctor on duty seeing  the holes in the stomach and the tubes was astounded. Losing  consciousness the priest was transferred to the hospice ward of the hospital.

With nutrient given by injection and continuous care he began to mend. Since he was in his own  diocese, many came to see him. In the beginning, he welcomed them but the visits began  to get on his nerves. He got a call from the soldier working as his office man, who apologized  for not visiting: he said he could  appreciate his pain and feeling. However, the patient was not happy to hear these words, and very  brusquely told him so: "What do you know about how I feel?"

In conclusion, when his  office man came to see him, he learned that during the priest's ordeal, he had an operation for cancer of the stomach, the stomach was removed entirely. When he heard what the office man  went through he felt so embarrassed he embraced him.  He was a much humbler man from his experience. He dropped the case against the doctor who operated on him, thinking of how the doctor must have felt, and he will never again tell a person he knows what they are going through but only close his eyes and bow his head, and try to share some of the pain of those he visits.