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Wednesday, June 30, 2010

June 30 (entry 12)

Life certainly has changed these days. I would have started my holidays on Monday past,and was looking forward to getting out to the old house in Glenwood to continue the renovations. Those who know me would rightly expect that I would have a real tough time dealing with "forced inactivity". I would agree!
However ,with all that has happened ,and with all that is happening,my energy level really is slowing me down, and I am not troubled by it.

I asked Karen to bring me to Glenwood for a drive on Monday afternoon. Just to get out - kill some time. When we pulled into the driveway I was amazed at how quickly the grass had grown,and I remembered one very sad afternoon during the last summer of my father's life. I was visiting Dad and doing a few chores for him. It was a very hot day,so about half way through cutting the lawn, I shut off the mower and went inside for some cool Glenwood water. Dad was in his bedroom sitting on his bed. He had been watching me. We had a nice chat which ended only when Dad looked at me and said"If I could only take that Lawn Mower once more and...."
He began to cry. I joined him. Dad loved to cut the grass.
I don't have a sense that my grass cutting days are over friends! Although I do wish to be my old self, I am at peace with waiting on the Lord,following the treatment,and focusing on getting better.

People everywhere have been sending their gifts of love and prayers,and I am so thankful. I have been spending my time resting,doing some painting,helping people get ready for the many weddings we have in the parish this summer. I have been spending time in prayer,encouraged by the good wishes and attentiveness of the people in our Parish. Please do keep the emails coming. I love St. Martin's!

My grandchildren from Torbay are with us for a few days,and tomorrow,Lacey and Delilah will be here. They will only be here until Monday,but I am very thankful Lacey is able to get home. She hasn't been able to get a "Daddy Hug",since we found out I have Cancer.
On Friday I will visit the Doctor in preparation for my next round of chemotherapy. Monday will see me back at the Cancer Clinic for the first two chemotherapy drugs,and then to be admitted to James Paton Hospital for another 12o hour mountain of drugs. Tough week coming again - but I claim it as healing time.
Will you agree with me with Gods word in Jeremiah 30:17? “I will restore you to health and heal your wounds declares the LORD.”
So be it, in Jesus Name. Amen.

May God bless you,shine on you and bring you peace. John+

Monday, June 28, 2010

June 28 (entry 11)

Ever since my turnaround this week I have been feeling better.
Not my old self by a long shot so here is a short Litany of Woe you won't find in the B.A.S. folks.
I have been living with throat and jaw pain ever since the biopsy,and some of the side effects of the chemotherepy are hanging on. Eating is a chore;sometimes I have to gargle this lovely pink stuff that numbs the mouth so I can swallow.

More than once this week I was reminded of the Saviour's words we find in Psalm 22 verse 15
My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.

Not that I am feeling down or morose. I 'm doing okay.
I believe our Lord has felt our suffering in so many ways. Isn't it wonderful to have friends who can relate?
Looks like some great family time coming up for us. Lacey and Delilah are coming for a visit on Thursday for a few days. Chanda and Jason have parked their camper by our door so they can be close by.
I hope I can keep my fingernails through this . I was told to expect some problems. Not everybody does. The hair however is another matter. It's going. Fast. Strange feeling really, because even though I have known so many who have lost their hair through treatment,I have never actually seen it happen.
I will probably get a friend to come shave it off for me. Karen figures that maybe when it grows back it might re-cover that big ole shiny spot on the top of my noggin.
We'll see
God Bless and Good Night

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Sunday June 27 2010 (Entry 10)

It's Sunday Morning at 5:30 a.m.
I have woken up refreshed and feeling better than I have in days.
Last Monday June 14th, I travelled to St. John's for a M.R.I, returning home the same day.
On Tuesday Morning Karen and I went to the Cancer Clinic for the next step. Even though we had arrived early we were greeted with warm smiles,and before long we were chatting with Dr. St. Croix.
She further explained the treatment protocol that was being recommended for me . I have agreed undergo a protocol that has not been used in Newfoundland before. The drugs are the same,but the method and amounts of administration quite different. In essence, after taking the first two of three chemotherapy drugs,the third would be administered for 120 hours continuous. That's why I disappeared last week.

The Chemotherapy experience I went through during the past two weeks was horrendous.
Once the Chemo hit me, and my white blood cells dropped,they didn't stop until I had reached bottom. I could easily sleep for twenty hours a day,between bouts of pain and discomfort.

Those bright bouncing bubbly beams of light at the Cancer clinic,never left me too far out of reach.
Thank You! What a wonderful group of people.
Now I know what to expect,and I am getting my heart, mind soul and body for the next round.
Thanks for all the prayers and emails last week folks. They are inspiring!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Letting The Church Know (Entry 9)

I have been in a pretty dark place since my last entry folks. I am doing much better now.
I will tell you about it, but first, this. I want to keep my story straight for you by keeping the blog entries in order.
"What does the Church Mean to Me?"

How can I begin to thank God for the Diocese,our parishes, people and for the Church family of St. Martin`s that has been God`s precious gift to me?

When I was in my early twenties our second Child was born .
She was a child of the colic for sure! Karen and I spent many nights walking the floor with her.
At any rate we did not have her baptized,for in spite of the fact that Karen's mother firmly believed that baptism was a sure fire cure for colic, I wasn't buying it.
I didn't have a sense of belonging to a Church,and I knew it.
I was madly in love with the mother of my children and I sure knew that too!
But didn't think that was reason enough to marry in the Church.
Got married by a grumpy Judge,one hot August afternoon at City Hall in Toronto.
I had Supertramp playing on the 8 Track,and was driving a 1978 Ford L.T.D. Coupe.
Now, I know that a good many of you may have heard me tell this story.
If I have baptized one of your children, I can pretty much guarantee it.

Please read on, I promise I'll make a long story short.

I cared for mother in Law deeply.
She was a great sport. Had a good heart. She was determined to get the baby done.

I went to Church one evening.
St. Andrews,Glenwood
7:00 Evensong
to take in the service and find out how much they charged to baptise babies.

When the worship was ended I waited in the Church for the priest.
I remembered him. He had come to the parish just before the time my mother moved back to Ontario with my brother and my self. This was the final time my parents separated.Childhood days were rough for us,a lot had happened in my life since then,and he knew it.

Revd. Walters was met me in the body of the Church after saying good night to the parishioners. He stopped and took my arm, looked into my eyes,and quietly said "you're Johnny Watton, aren't you? - I've often wondered what happened to you my son."

In that moment,

I understood,without understanding that God was trying to reach me.
"Stop and listen....stop... I Love You".
I have never forgotten the deep emotion stirred up in me that night.
Elissa was now almost two years old She was baptised, and I began to take an interest in keeping the promises I had made.

This was the Church of my childhood. It was the place we were forced to go to fidget,fussed and fume our Sundays away. But now, it was different. Under the gentle tutelage (and wiley ways) of the Revd.Richard Walters,I fit into the congregation,where I found many wonderful people waiting for me. That was close to thirty years ago.

These folks accepted me with open arms. They accepted my energy too. Before long I was starting youth groups and working with Sunday School .They even had me in the choir. ...and...yes, as soon as I found a group of young people who liked to play music, got a music group together. I became involved with the Vestry,and through that became involved with the work and people of our wonderful diocese.

The power of Community is incredible. That why God has chosen Community as the bearer of his Love and Grace. It can be a place of nurture,love, trust We call it Church . Jesus Died for it.

The road that led me to St. Martin's and all of you began a good many years ago, Travel on this road involves many life stories and I am overwhelmed sometimes when I think of how God brings things together. - How God has brought us together in a community .
So much has happened in our parish these past years .

June 6 was the first time I shared the news and events leading up to my biopsy with our Church Community.
It was the day I promised everyone that I would bring my energies to bear on getting better. I also made it clear that my leadership role at St. Martin's would continue,and that I am expecting God to do some great things in our midst through all of this!

Shortly after Bishop David shared the news with the clergy of the Diocese.
June 8 we received the confirmation of the diagnoses.
June 12 I did a painting as the morning sermon, using the blank canvas as a symbol of the life God has given us,and the finished painting as our life - Our gift to God.

Thanks everyone for your love

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Family Time (entry 8)

How do you tell someone you love that things are going terribly wrong?
When illness comes,families start a process of "moving from there to here".
It was no different for us. In March I became ill with an infection that required me to enter hospital for surgery. This is something that had happened to me before, so we all had an idea of what to expect. In fact, the healing process was so fast that I was convinced that I was on the highway back to health. It was not related to the cancer I am fighting now

My girls commonly open telephone conversations with "How's Dad?" or if talking with me,"How are you feeling?" They know I work too hard with a passion for people and the Gospel. they know I haven't been feeling well these past months,and they know how frustrating it is for me when I am not well.
The answer that Karen and I give the girls are the "Mommy and Daddy" answers designed to be truthful, but comforting and hopeful.
But they know. We have a very close family.
Let tell you that my that wife and family have been a rock for me, and share a little about our children and grandchildren.
Compared to some families,our children are physically not too far away from us. Chanda, who is married to Jason Byrne a Journey Millwright, is our oldest . They have two children ,Joshua and Emma . Chanda works as an L.P.N. at The Hoyles Home in St. John's .
Elissa is our second oldest. is presently residing with us in Gander . She has trained as a Journalist and has a passion for writing. She is working in retail and hoping to do as much freelance Journalism as possible.
Lacey (Number three) lives in Dartmouth with Husband Daniel (Danny) Sturge. Danny is an Avionics Tech with our Armed forces,posted at Shearwater. Lacey is a Veterinary Assistant,and the loving mom of our youngest grandchild Delilah. This is a tough time for Lacey because she is the only daughter who hasn't been able to get to me yet for a hug (yet) since I became ill.

Ashton is our baby. Recently finishing a degree at Memorial University in Environmental Studies ,Ashton still lives in Corner Brook where she too seems to have discovered a passion . Hers is for cooking and a certain young chef (Dave) that we haven't gotten to know very well yet.

Obviously this has been deeply painful and personal for my girls. They have grown up in a family that has given great value to the Christian ideal that Church is family. Over the years they have opened their hearts and arms along with mine and Karen's so many times that we perhaps have taken their love and grace for granted.
I an thankful that I can say at this stage of my life that my relationship with my daughters and their loved ones is truly one of God's greatest gifts in my life. The closeness we feel is incredibly powerful . You may see some of their writings in this blog,I leave that to them. I thank God for their ever present love.

Monday, June 14, 2010

At The Cancer Clinic (entry 7)

The Cancer Clinic at the Health Science centre is new and bright in comparison to many other parts of the hospital. When you enter your eye catches the cheerful colours and local artwork in the foyer.
There is a reception desk on the top floor near the entrance but it is empty. (We were early.) I notice that some people are are coming in and passing by the desk and heading downstairs, so I follow them and find two reception desks at the doorway to the clinic. I introduced myself to the person there and she tells me that first time patients have to wait upstairs until they are called to complete an initial registration. Because it it is early,there are not a lot of people around .
I go upstairs to find someone at the desk she assures me that when the other receptionist comes in,I’ll get straightened away.
Three ladies from the west coast arrive. They are first timers too,and spend some time looking around to see what to do. The receptionist has disappeared, so I welcome them and tell them what I know.
We wait. We wait some more, and my appointment time comes and goes. The ladies are getting worried too because they think that their friend (one of the three!) has missed her appointment . When I see the receptionist I dutifully dodge across the fancy formal foyer and ask her to explain just what we should expect. Again, I pass on the information to the ladies three .
The reception people are friendly enough, but I think that the power of routine and early morning business has affected the attention someone new would expect at the entrance of a Cancer Clinic.
As a new patient waiting to hear first time critical news , I found “step one rather unsettling.
Within a short time we are all registered,and sent downstairs. By now the Cancer Clinic waiting room is full of all sorts and conditions of people. I enjoy a few conversations.On occasion Karen and I just look at each other and hold hands.
All kinds of people here. One older couple catches my eye. The wife is a tall woman. She is holding the hand of her husband and is pacing the floor with him. He is tiny. He wears a baseball cap,size small for sure,but it looks really large on him. Add to that picture a denim jacket and pants pulled way up past his waist.
As time goes on,I have to pee. Yep. I'm telling you everything. I head off ,find the men's room and go inside.
Karen absolutely hates public bathrooms, but I don't mind because I can pee standing up!
Before I get to far inside,the bathroom stall swings open and the tall lady quickly sticks her head out. her with worried look is an apology. “It's my husband.” she says He's got diarrhoea and I have to take care of him. She brings him to the sink and I notice she is holding on to him with one hand and getting some paper towel with the other. “I can't let him go,because he will take off. He has Alzheimers.”
I smile at her, dampen her towel ,and sensing her embarrassment and need for privacy leave them alone in the bathroom. When they come out they sit beside me for a few minutes and we make light conversation.

God bless married couples who are faithful in richer or poorer,in sickness in health . It's a beautiful witness. These people remind me of some of the couples at St. Martins.
Thank you Karen.I need you

Poor woman. Her husband has had his life robbed by Alzheimers, and I assume ,now has cancer on top of it. That poor man. A few minutes later the doctor calls HER name. “Come with me sweetheart." Hand and hand they walk to see the doctor. “
I want to cry, so I get up to finish that pee. The bathroom reeks of his bowel movement,which for me (rather than turning my stomach) adds a beautifully poignant sense to what I have just witnessed. God is talking. I say a prayer for them asking for Grace to be upon them both as they walk in the valley of the Shadow of Death. I have placed them in my prayer journal, and will remember them for a long time to come.
At last we are ushered into an examination room to see the doctor. The oncology nurse joins us to gather some information,and to let us know what to expect. At the clinic,when patients are receiving results or treatment options the whole treatment team gathers. The nurse warns us that they “travel in packs” and they bring their students so don't be alarmed.
In essence, you end up with a room full of experts who have already read your results, and want do their own examination and ask you some questions. After this they all disappear to consult. Within a few moments your doctor returns to let you know what is being recommended as your treatment.
The consultation goes something like this.
My doctor rushes in. “How you doing old man?”
“You tell me.”
”Okay. You need to sit in that green chair over there.”
When I went into the room I knew I was going to end up in the Green examination chair. I just didn't like the look of it,so I sat somewhere else.
Think about it. Green Chair,wooden armrests and I swear, a light with a big white shade right in the middle. There are wires hanging from the back of the chair which are used for a camera.
Ole Sparky!
I think they bought the electric chair that was used in the movie The Green Mile.
As soon as I sit the doctor pulls a chair in front of me and tells me he is going to freeze my throat so they can all have a look. He grabs a can of STUFF and attaches what looks like an oversize Q-tip to it. This contraption ends up in my mouth. Squirt Squirt. Then, he shoves it down my left nostril and squirts some more. (glad he did it in that order)
This stuff is BITTER.
He is sitting directly in front of me, so I can't see whats going on the the room but I know the entourage has arrived when I hear Snap, Snap,Snap,Snap,Snap,Snap,Snap,Snap,Snap. Snap. Everyone is getting the rubber gloves,and waiting to get at me.
In a second, there is a camera probe down my neck (via my nose,) and everyone ,including Karen, can see my tumour in living colour.
Its all a bit overwhelming, so I warn them that when they are finished I am going to pass around a collection plate.
Lots of questions,the other doctors examine me and leave.
One of them,who seems to be the oldest pauses for a minute. Kind eyes and a smile.
“You are from Glenwood?” “Yes.” “Salmon fish?”
“Love it. “(P.S. Thanks again for the rod and reel Dot ....your kindness means the world to me)
“Listen,” he says . “This is not the end of the world. We'll have you back on the Gander River.”
Thank you Jesus. A kind word turns away wrath (sorrow,fear,and stress too).

My doctor comes back.
I learn the raw details.
The tumour is Cancer .
Surgery means we will remove your tongue and most of your vocal cords.
No Thanks. Can you imagine me without a tongue?
“Your best option is Chemotherapy and Radiation. If it doesn’t work, we are not burning the bridge. We can do the operation later.”
There might be a spot on your liver and the back of your neck We'll double check.
I like this doctor. He's busy, proficient, efficient and good.. I noticed through the whole time that the closer we got to revealing the bad news he more time he spent,and the more compassionate he became.
He's on my prayer list now too . Bless him Lord as he touches so many lives.
Next up – a series of meetings with nurses,oncologists. A plan is laid out,I am told of the side effects,and assured that these folks really want to take care of me. I believe them.

Things are rolling pretty fast . After five trips to St. John's in a week and a half , just one more MRI and one more blood test, before returning Gander to meet the folks at the Cancer clinic . I have prepared my heart for what's coming. I have to tell the people of St. Martin's what's happening.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pre-admission Clinic and Biopsy (entry 6)

Thursday June 3 Pre Admission Clinic

I have had a few operations in my life, and have frequently spent time with anxious parishoneers as they prepared for surgery so I have a resonable understanding of preadmission procedures.

This experience is a bit different. Karen and I had a feeling that this whole situation was going to be rough. We felt like we were in the midst of a whirlwind . I had just recovered from one surgery and this is following without a break.

Off we go to the hospital. I am not familiar with St. Clares, so have to ask directions.
The first thing you notice when you enter the main doors is the information desk windows . They are totally papered over. Looks like they don't intend to use this area any more!
In order to make first contact with someone you have to pick up a phone (there is one screwed on to the wall just below the papered windows) , and ask for help.
The voice at the other end is friendy enough and what they are doing might seem right and normal for staff and regular visitors,but a little surreal for strangers.
Sigh...great start. We find our way to the clinic.
Pre-admission clinics are almost like assembly lines -they establish the time line for surgery,make sure all the tests and doctors orders are in place ,that scans and blood-work are done, and you have a chat with the Anesthesiologist. They contact other hospitals to confirm information,and make sure everything is in place for your surgery.
These folks are efficient and friendly. I had a great chat with the E.K.G. lady We talked about rock and roll and faith. She listens with real interest as I tell her about St. Martin's youth band our dance crew and all of the young people who share ministry at St. Martin's.

Back at St. Clares,early next morning we find the day surgery department, register and wait.
We are told to expect a slight delay because something serious has happened in the Operating room. That's fine.
While waiting , I strike up a few conversations with others. One woman has her surgery postponed, so she goes home. Not a happy camper!
I speak to a woman next to me and make a connection of prayer. We promise to pray for each other today and in the days to come.
Parishoneers from an old parish come in ,and we are reconnected with hugs and smiles (close to tears too)

When the call to go to the pre-operation room comes I am more than ready. In a few minutes I am transformed by giving up my glasses,wedding ring,watch,phone and clothing. On with the Johnny coat and cotton booties,and into a wheel chair.
It is time for submission to the staff, and the hand of God

The O.R. area is cold enough to freeze you! One of the nurses takes care of that, by wrapping me in a heated blanket. Nice. Turns out she is from Gander originally,and engages me in a great chat about growing up in Gander. I get to tell her all about my Church!

Into the Operating room I go. On the table as the staff efficiently and quickly get things ready.

In comes the surgeon,and after a little chat with him,I am out like a light.
When I wake up the nurses are all smiles and chat. "The doctor will be right back to have a word with you."

Popping up out of nowhere he says "How are you doing old boy?.... Things went well. "
A little pause.
"You do have a tumour and we have some things we have to do. you will need an MRI, and some treatments. I might be getting ahead of my self here, but I'm pretty sure of what I have found." Pause. " We will get the pathology results,and I'll see you in the Cancer Clinic. "

He shakes my hand firmly , receives my thanks and he is gone.

A Sighting of Grace in the Valley.
Let me tell you honestly. I was not at that time nor am I now,afraid. Aprehensive? -Yes. But not afraid.
I believe in the sustaining power of our heavenly Father to care for me and All the people I love. I have asked Him to do so.
That includes my immediate family - my wife Karen, who is one with me in every way. My daughters (whom I love more than life) my grandchildren (yes my sons in law too!)
The people I love from the heart are also found in the Church .
Why? because my heart has been formed and sustained by the healing work of Jesus in my life. If Christ has ownership of your heart, you will love the Church with authenticity.
The Church is made up of every person I have ever met and loved just where they are.

God is able...
I believe it with all my heart.

If there is any one emotion that seems more powerful at this time I would have to describe it as "sadness". For myself? Sure.
For my children? absolutely. My Wife? You know it.
It is very hard to see the worry and pain on their faces. For others? Oh yes. People are showing how much they care.

These are real feelings . (I am not saying there hasn't been anger,denial,doubt,etc etc, I am pretty human after all)

I have a promise from God (so do you) that during the hardest times,when things are darkest, help will be there. Gods help is faithful and true (Just look at how God works through the Church! I thank him for St. Martin's. They are my family .)

The Gospel of Matthew and the writings of the prophet Isaiah share a powerful metaphor . I have used these often through the years while ministering to deeply hurting people.
Matthew12:20 - Isaiah 42:3 A bruised reed he will not break, and a smouldering wick he will not snuff out.
I am safe.
Come Lord,and gently lay your hands on my body and my heart. Come Lord, I trust you with my loved ones and my affairs. Come lord,and use my weakness to Bless your Church.
I welcome you.

C.T. Scan and Follow Up (entry 5)

It's amazing how fast things can happen.
(May 27 ) I am sitting in the imaging department of James Paton Hospital.

I have a long standing connection with this hospital . In 1977 I worked with a local garage that had landed a service contract to take care of the hospital vehicles.
They had one truck in particular that was too big to fit into our service bays,so I would do the oil changes and safety inspections outside - winter or summer,rain or shine. I didn't mind either. It was nice to be doing something for the hospital. I took pride in that contract!
Thats how I learned the hospital phone number. I have never forgotten it.
My children were all born at James Paton . I visited that hospital as a volunteer during my mechanic days and I have visited that hospital as a priest for almost twenty years.

James Paton hospital is a place of Grace. Even though things do go wrong in hospitals sometimes and they can be places of great sadness, I know that God uses our hospitals and the people who work there to bring incredible healing, hope,comfort and light to those who are feeling the cold and dark power of the Valley of Shadows.

Anyway...back to the imaging department.
I check with the receptionist there, and after a while they let me know that they will be able to fit me in for the C.T. "emergency scan".
Not sure when, so I settle my heart (and Butt) for a long wait.

My mouth is really hurting this morning . (from all the probing I guess.. still tired from all the travelling too. It makes me weary and discouraged .
At one point while waiting to see what they can do for me, I look up and see one of the C.T. scan people. She is a member of our congregation,and I have had many wonderful chats with her over the years. She smiles and waves when she sees me (before she knew why I was there).
A smile and a wave is always a gift friends.
Always a blessing.

Within a few minutes the C.T. scan is underway, and I am back to the rectory for a little rest.

I had been told by my doctor in town that he could not tell me anything specific until after the C/T scan,and to meet with him back in his office on Tuesday June 1.
The drive back to St. John's seems long. The appointment is short .
The doctor tells me that it is just what he expected. A mass is growing under my tongue,and we need a biopsy to tell us what to do next.
Be at St. Clares' on Thursday for preadmission,and I'll see you on Friday for surgery. The appointments are set. He dismisses me with a reassuring pat on the back.
We have been staying in Torbay with our daughter Chanda, Son in Law Jason and the Grandkids,and when we get back to the house start making those anxious phone calls to our other daughters.

The Specialist (entry 4)

It's May 26 and I am sitting in an E.N.T specialists outer waiting room in St. John's

We arrived early from Gander ,so after giving the receptionist my information we sat to wait.
It took a while, so I spent my time chatting with Karen, playing checkers on my smart phone,and observing people.

Here at the doctor's office we see all kinds of folks.
All kinds of Ear, Nose and Throat concerns happening here. Old folks,young folks , teens, - one young man with a Blackberry AND an i-pod. Moms with little children - tonsils maybe? Who knows.
Every time I see small kids waiting for a doctor, I always ask God to bless them.

I am going to be so glad when he tells me I have a problem with a gland that just requires day surgery...or something like that.

This office is shared by several doctors. Once in a while you see someone come down the hall, drop off some files before heading back down the hall. Within a minute someone calls three or four names,and the resulting small group is ushered to a new waiting area.

I see this blur..it's a doctor.
I can tell because he is wearing one of those old fashioned circular reflectors on his head.
He's a blur, simply because he walks so fast.
Up and down the hall way...making phone calls, telling the receptionist what he needs done.
All business.

Waiting . It's a trial. Finally I am sent down the hall and Karen waits again -by herself.
A few more minutes and he tells me to go into his room and sit in the red chair. I do, and he rushes off down the hallway again.
I count 19 certificates in his office.
Pretty impressive - almost intimidating. I know how much work goes into getting just one of these!

He comes in , plops in a chair,and says "What can I do for you today?"

I start to explain, and before I am really finished , he schoochies his chair over to within inches of my face.
Down with the reflector, on with a light .
Snap. On with the rubber Gloves.
I'm a little nervous, because I know what's coming.
"Lets have a look."
Open wide – and in go the fingers.

These are practised hands that know where to go ,and what to look for.
He finds a lump.
"Wow! "He says, "It's in the subcutaneous tissue. Can you feel this?"
“Yebth an ut reully hurbts!".
His curiosity is aroused and he really starts to dig those fingers in.
I want to think of something smart to say to him like”are you related to my dentist?” but honestly, the pain, is so great that for the first time dealing with this becomes scary.
His business-like attitude and quickness adds to the sense of severity that I am feeling at the moment.
"Here, sit in this other chair." He stands behind me and places his hands on my neck ,pulling and squeezing.

"Okay. There's something there. You will need a C/T. Scan, and maybe a Biopsy. I'll have to put you to sleep for that ."
"Come with me ."
Down the hall way we go , around a corner,he moves so fast that I lose sight of him
I hear him speaking to a medical secretary.

This is a a turning Point for me.

I realize that he is not saying "This is no big deal..."
I realize that he is actually phoning Gander to arrange a C.T. Scan
He is using the word Emergency .

I won't be flying out to Nova Scotia for General Synod this week.

He tells me to be at Gander Hospital tomorrow morning for the scan, and be back in his office on Tuesday.

Back to the waiting room I go to set the appointment, and find Karen.
I am shaken,and she knows it.
Grace Lord,please,just a little more Grace.
What is going on?

Seeing The Dentist (entry 3)

My local Doctor had set up an appointment for me to see an E.N.T. , but it was taking some time.

Around the middle of May I decided it was time to go see my dentist for a checkup and an assesment of any work I might need done.

I always feel guilty before setting up a dental appointment because I know I have been delinquent in regular dental care. So , I make the appointment a few days early ,then after brush my teeth about six times a day because I don't want him to think I don't care about my teeth.

This time however, I am feeling far more anxious about things,and determine to ask the dentist for an opinion.
While there, I tell him about my throat issues (which I describe as a possible sinus infection or T.M.J) and he says "I don't think so"

Fast as a jackrabbit he snaps on the rubber gloves and starts poking around in my mouth.

How long have you been having this problem? "Ug dobin rully kobd" says I (because he has his fingers in my mouth. He knows exactly what I am saying. How do they do that?

"Stick out your tongue."

I do..but it is not far enough.

He grabs some gauze,wraps it around my tongue and pulls.

Ouch! (It really Hurt)

"Sorry. "He says, "Sorry ."and proceeds to pull harder.

Within seconds he discovers a mass under the tongue and tells me I need to see a specialist.

I tell him that appointment has already been made.
He takes lots of Xrays,writes a report and makes sure the information gets to the specialist I am about to see.

This whole time is rough - not just because of the examination, but because I am submitting to the truth that something has happened to me - something has gone wrong.

I also sense that this dentist is concerned about me. It helps.

I think about a part of Psalm 139 :
Search me,O God and know my heart,test me and know my anxious thoughts.

Thanks Doc. You are a great dentist!
I feel a little scared about what is ahead,but thankful that I am on the road to figuring this out.

13 days later, I am on the road to St. John's to see a man about my future.

May the Grace of Christ follow me on this road.

P.S. up to this point I was still recovering from surgery. As a result of that, I was placed in the hands of our local Public Health Nurses. I have no hesitation in saying that I received God's grace through their care. Compassionate and caring people are incredible healers,and you have blessed me.

Stephanie, you know what I mean.

Thank you.

Something's Not Right (entry 2)

Just a note:
I am hoping to be able to post several entries over the next few days in order to get on track with current events. Things are happening quickly- an M.R.I . on Monday in St. John's, Starting Chemotherapy back in Gander on Tuesday.

Somethings happening to me....

A common question you ask others (and I am learning you ARE asked by a lot of people) is "When did you start feeling this?"

It's a fair question because it relays a sense of concern and provides a starting point to a conversation.

I don't know about you, but I am willing to confess :

Many times after chatting with someone I knew was seriously ill, I would wonder what it was really like to find out "You're a diabetic", "You have serious heart trouble","This is permanent" or "You have Cancer".

There was always a response from deep within saying"I hope it never happens to me."

There was always a response from deep within saying "Lord help me to be a good minister to those who are hurting and never take their suffering for granted. Let me prove my compassion and your compassion not only with my lips,but with my life "

We live in a VERY busy parish and I take the work seriously.
One of my main goals for St. Martin's is to see it grow as a family united and connected by a common faith. That's a tall order when you consider how many different types of people and families we have!

It takes a lot of planning , sacrificing of time,and a lot of energy!

Normally after Christmas and Easter, I encourage our staff to take a few down days. This is to recover from the demands of the season and the self-giving that goes with being a minister through the fall and the time leading up to Christmas. It gives us a chance to recharge,spend time with our families and get caught up on some of the things we really need to take care of.

This past year, that has been harder for me than usual. Normally when the fall of the year comes I am rested and raring to go! I can't wait for the fall programs to begin in the parish and see our people getting busy with planning,fellowship and new ideas.

I love the fall of the year. There is wood to cut,gardens to rake,the smell of wood smoke mixed with early frost...what a wonderful time.
As many of you know, I have a small house in Glenwood that I am renovating in stages. This fall I installed new windows and siding - and let me tell you I certainly enjoyed the days that I could "get away" and work on the place.
It was there that I first recognized that I was not myself.
At first you blame the busyness,then a head cold, maybe the flu.
One evening, sitting on the scaffold in the fading sun , I reached up to put on a piece of siding, leaned my head against the wall,closed my eyes and said out loud,"Lord, I'm not feeling well."

Tired. Always Tired.
Had a sore throat that I had been blaming on sinus trouble. Time to see a Doctor, time to get more rest, Dear God, please take care of my family if anything should go wrong with me.... Nahhh nothings wrong...you just need to take better care of youself.

I ended up in the Hospital during March to deal with another problem which required some surgery. The load of antibiotics I received while there could have wiped out every germ and bug within a ten mile radius!

This recovery went well, and I was soon up and about. So glad to be back....
However that nagging sore throat didn't go away,I certainly didn't need any more antibiotics...so my Doctor set up an appointment with an E.N.T.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Getting Started (entry 1)

2009 was an important year for me. It marked the end of my 40's.
As I approached 2010 as a 50 year old (fairly happily, I might add) I had begun look back with courage and honesty over past years to see what I had learned well, left undone or needed to move on from .
My goal was to become a more mature and loving person in the "infancy of my old age."

I even bought a new guitar - a high end, well crafed instrument that would honestly and faithfully reproduce the notes and tones that my soul could produce.
It was time to start putting some detail into the painting that is to be called my life.

So, what's Up?
The web address of this blog includes the words : "it's not always someone else ".

These are words I have used many times over past decades to help people face the cold and inevitable realities of life.
Words that attempt to say : "I will join you" - "I will be with you " -"Jesus has sent me to love you- and I am here to say that I do love you. "

The challenge of caring for others is far greater than you might think.
Each person's journey is unique. We relate and respond to to things differently . Events and people have formed our lives , shaping us through our own emotional networks and perceptions of that which has wounded us, healed us, loved , or even hated us.

Through the years as a member and priest of the Church, I have tried to be the ambassador of Christ who comes to "be with you".

As a friend I have walked with many through the entrance of theValley of the Shadow of Death and
I have journeyed (as best I could,) part way through the valley .
But....No other person can ever get you through to the other side of the Valley of Shadows .

Whatever brokeness causes your pain is yours alone.
Others who love you can share it,carry it for you,weep with you and ,even if they can carry you in their arms for a time, that time will end.
Thank God for those people. They are Sacramental. They give you glimpses of blue sky on a rainy day,they point out new life by offering their love, and because of them, the journey can become bearable...even beautiful - as God makes His point for your life known.

I am experienced enough in the valley of shadows to be able to point out sightings of Grace that I have seen there.
I know that they can be found.

Because I love my family-my beautiful wife, Children , Grand-Children, (and everyone God the Father has given me to love) as an earthly Father,AND as a Priest in the Church, I now offer to share my own journey into the Valley of the Shadow with you.

This past week I was diagnosed with cancer. It is fairly aggressive, pretty much inoperable - but treatable. But more about that later.

I have started this blog as a journal for those who wish to follow. My intent for it is to provide inspiration and light (as best I can - because the Doctors tell me things are going to get rough).
I share my story here, (just like I promised the Sunday Morning congregation at St. Martin's Cathedral in Gander ) because I believe in the power of Authentic Christian Community, and that we must share with one another.
I do not intend for this blog to become morbid or Maudlin - (look it up), but I hope to use some humour as well as some spiritual lessons that I will learn and Pass on to you.
May it be a gift.

Chanda, Elissa Lacey and Ashton...I love you.

Everyone - I've packed my Bags. See you at the Gate.