Saturday, 31 March 2018

How Did Your Lent go, and How is your Triduum Going?



I have always told my congregations at the start of Lent: This is not a time to give up chocolate, sugar or TV; it’s a start, but lent is a time for giving up sin and building virtues. If we are short-tempered, we must seek hard to practice patience; if we engage in calumny or detraction, we must keep a still tongue and seek something good to say about those we would rather criticise; if we are slothful, we must demand hard work from ourselves, for if we don’t get to the end of Lent and are not a changed person. If we don’t more clearly image Christ, we have failed somewhat. So how did your Lent go? Are you recognisably different now than you were six weeks ago? Even in some small way, recognisably different? I hope I am, but I doubt it.

How sad it is that the Easter ceremonies to which Lent leads are so badly attended these days. The great renewal of the Church we were promised at Vatican II has never come about; all we can point to is having more laity engaged in parish and Diocesan-based tasks. Having taken them from their proper apostolate of bringing the spiritual and corporal works of mercy to bear in society, we replace them with worker priests, removing both priests and laity from their authentic, divinely appointed roles. And no mtter how many ecclesial tasks we give the laity, when the Triduum comes around our Churches are not filled.

And yet Holy Thursday encompasses central Mysteries of The Faith: The Real presence of Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist; the Sacrifice that saves us, and the sacramental union with God in Holy Communion that He gives to us, and which comes to us though the priesthood which He ordained to make all of this preset and possible as a memorial of Him. We claim to believe that the Holy Eucharist is the Real Presence of God according to His Word: “I am the Living Bread which has come down from Heaven...”(Jn.6; Matt.26v26); we claim to believe that the Holy Eucharist perpetuates  His Sacrifice on the Cross according to His word: “This is My Body given up for you...My Blood, which is shed for you” (Lk.22v19-20); we claim to believe the Holy Eucharist brings Heaven to earth since it brings Christ to earth -and wherever God is, Heaven is, and yet we ignore the Holy Eucharist on the very day Our Lord gifted It to us as His presence, Sacrifice and sacrament of unity with Him -and through Him, with one another. Many seem to have we forgotten that since every Holy Mass brings Heaven to earth we do not need to die to go to Heaven; we only need to come to Mass. Indeed to come to Mass is to come to Heaven, and thus to absent ourselves from Mass is to absent ourselves from heaven –and who wants that?

Good Friday is generally better attended; even many lapsed folk seem to recognise something special about Good Friday (“God’s Friday”), and turn up to acknowledge and celebrate His saving Passion. How could we not? On Good Friday Our Lord stretches our His hands on the Cross to say “This is how much I love you…will you not stay follow Me? I suffered intense anxiety in Gethsemane in presenting Myself before the face of My All-Holy Father carrying the shame of every one of your sins; I suffered the scourging at the pillar where My skin was ripped by welts embedded with bone, that you may have forgiveness for your sins of the flesh; My head is crowned with thorns to obtain forgiveness of your bad thoughts and attitudes; I am struck with blows and mocked that you might have strength to stand before the ridicule of the world and proclaim Me; I carry the wood of the Cross that by rising from falls under its weight of your sins, you may rise from mortal sin and be strengthened the earthly struggles of life; I endured the suffocation of crucifixion and the pains of death that you may have forgiveness for all of your sins and rise again to the life of grace. How can you doubt that I will welcome you back and forgive all your repented sins? See how much I love you. Who else has suffered for love of you as I have? I gave you My Life, My Love, My Mercy –you have prepared a cross for Me. I brought you from slavery to sin to the heights of grace: you have prepared a cross for me. Come to Me all you who labour, and you will find rest for your souls. Give me your sins, that I may have the pleasure of forgiving them. Leave your sins behind; become a new creation in Me. Come to me, and I will give you rest.

Holy Saturday we rest with Christ and wait to celebrate our share in His transfigured, Risen Body: we hear Him tell the Story of Salvation from the Fall to the Exodus and thence to Jerusalem; we recommit ourselves to Him by our baptismal promises; we welcome Him and heaven onto the altar; we offer the very sacrifice of His Body and Blood by which we are redeemed and sacramentally unite ourselves to Him in Holy Communion a spiritual intimacy greater than the physical union of husband and wife. How could we not desire to be present with the community on this Most Holy Night which brings the glorious new day; a day which stretches out before us the glory of heaven and our share in the eternal life, happiness and peace of the Most Holy Trinity in the company of saints, singing Holy, Holy, Holy…Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus Dominus Deus Sabaoth. Pleni sunt cæli et terra gloria tua.
Hosanna in excelsis!

PS. Please excuse typing and syntax errors: I cut and paste too much and cannot type to begin with!

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Post bronchoscopy

First of all, apologies that comments and assurances of prayers have not been published; I'm afraid I have been feeling very off-colour and low for some time and had not the physical or mental energy to attend to the Blog. But, having promised an up-date after the bronchoscopy review I think I should carry it through. The reviewing physician says the brushings taken during the bronchoscopy did not reveal any cancer or bugs, but that they were unable to see much because of the abscesses (I wasn't able to make much sense of that but her explanation continmued to be vague: "Its simply because the abscesses made viewing things difficult"). Further, she said the Chest X-ray I had on the day of the review shows that I have not recovered as they expected, so another CT scan is being ordered, the appointment for which I shall receive through the post.

So it seems that I am still progressing towards health but not there yet. This didn’t surprise me as the bronchoscopy was early in the year and though the first two weeks post-procedure were OK, the third week was one of constant haemoptysis (coughing up of blood -my family physician was unperturbed by this but sent of a sputum sample to check for infection anyway, but no treatment was prescribed as antibiotics are so over-used). Indeed I have remained breathless and extremely low in energy since my discharge from hospital in December, so considering that and the haemoptysis the need for another CT of chest did not surprise me. 

I shall try to do blog posts on topics other than my health in the future, but I can’t say when or how often since my energy levels are so very low. Please bear with me. Thank you.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

FR DICKSON: UP-DATE and Summary POST DISCHARGE

taking a leaf from Father's book I ask that you excuse any errors in this post as I am writing and posting it in a rush before attending Mass and continuing my preparations for Christmas... He has seen this post and allowed me to publish it as it is!

As you know, Father was admitted to hospital on 17th of November with “a very nasty pneumonia” and discharged on December 11th. On admission a temperature of over 38.5oC was accompanied by a high respiratory rate and a low blood pressure of around 80/60. Intravenous (i.v.) fluids to raise the blood pressure resulted in marked oedema of the legs and feet, but successfully raised the systolic pressure to above 100. Additionally, he was told that “although the white cell Count is high as expected, the cells themselves are malformed; they look a bit leukaemic, and we don’t know if this predates your pneumonia and led to it occurring or if it is the result of the pneumonia. We have to wait to see if the haematology team show concern”. Three days of i.v. Tazocin brought some positive change to his condition and his vital signs improved, so his medication was changed to oral co-amoxiclav. Unfortunately this resulted in a deterioration in his condition, and the i.v. Tazocin had to be recommenced. Culture and sensitivity of sputum showed Tazocin should have been effective, but it became necessary to change to seven days of i.v. Meropenem when a third sputum sample showed he had a pseudomonas infection, which is probably sitting in the portion of his lungs where Bronchiectasis was noted early last year. A CT of chest was then taken which showed ‘lung cavities’ (abscess formation).

From day three of his admission, heavy diarrhoea began and continued for ten days. Samples showed he was free from Clostridium Difficil, so the diarrhoea probably resulted from the heavy use of antibiotics. Sadly, even though Father was never a big man, his weight has gone from 11 stone (c.155 pounds) to just over 9 stone (c.131 pounds), so he is quite debilitated.

His mood was very low in hospital as all the ‘news’ seemed to be going in the wrong direction: “you have a nasty pneumonia…the oral antibiotics are not having the expected effect…your white cells look a bit leukaemic…you have a pseudomonas infection…you have lung cavities…you need a bronchoscopy so we can determine what is going on…you need seven days of i.v.’s”. He says his mood was mostly low as he saw what he (formerly a registered nurse himself) described as “failures in nursing care and asepsis”, so when it was suggested he could have his i.v.’s at home from the district (community) nurses or stay in hospital, he chose to go home.

For his discharge the antibiotic was changed from Meropenem, which is given three times daily, to Ciproflaxacin as this can be given twice daily. These seven days of i.v.’s have now ended; he has had his midline removed (interestingly, he says he is not aware of having any pressure applied to the site of insertion during removal of the line, so he is now watching for bleeding, swelling of the arm, pain, redness and heat in the arm) and his bronchoscopy was carried out on 18th of December, the results of this will be made known to him at his follow-up appointment on January 22nd.

Father says he will let you know the result of the bronchoscopy when he has it. Meanwhile please keep up the prayers. Father says “for my spiritual health rather than my physical health, though both would be good!”. He is not well but hopeful that the bronchoscopy will provide for some positive direction in terms of treatment.

At present he is feeling drained, is breathless on minimal exertion, experiencing some upper back pain which he thinks may be due to his cough, and having some soreness around his midline site. That said, he is looking forward to spending Christmas with his siblings, though he has over the last couple of days notices an increase in breathlessness and sputum production (which is now yellow) so despite his observations being quite stable he has commenced his rescue Doxycycline).

His COPD and bronchiectasis will never resolve, and the damage done during exacerbations tends to bring about permanent structural alterations in the lung and thus predispose to permanently worsened airflow, so he will never be as ‘well’ as he was three months ago, but there is every hope of improvement in his condition as it stands today.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

New Update on Fr Dickson

Father has been allowed home on intravenous antibiotics, but remains unwell.  Having been admitted originally with a ‘very nasty pneumonia’ (admitting medic) on top of his Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), two sputum samples showed no sign of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, this dastardly bug appeared in sputum No.3. Sadly, it is very difficult if at all possible to eradicate in COPD patients. Having also suffered some weight loss a CT of chest was ordered which showed a cavitating abscess on his left lung base, so a bronchoscopy with washings to determine the causative agent has been ordered for Friday coming. Meanwhile, as IV antibiotics are the only treatment that can be given yet, he has been allowed to come home for IV’s via a midline and to the care of the district (community) nurses, rather than sitting in a hospital bed.  We will up-date you on the bronchoscopy and Father’s health as and when there are changes.


Sadly, though Father is happy to be home, his kitchen is somewhat out of bounds since -and despite having had plumbers out to clear it- the kitchen sink is the seat of a foul stench; one Father has tolerated for over a year with plenty of Domestos but which is now intolerable in terms of feeling at ease at home.  We will update you about this too.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Update on Father

Father's scan shows not just bronchiectasis but cavities in the lung.  The bugs he has that they know about are not associated with cavity formation so they are now planning a bronchoscopy with washings/brushings. All in all he remains poorly and in need of prayers. He is trying to get home and have the bronchoscopy as an outpatient by continuing his IV's at home -if we can get his temperature to stay down and his oxygen saturation to stay up.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Update on Fr Dickson

Father has been on intravenous antibiotics 3 times since his admission and each time they move him to oral antibiotics the pneumonia rages again. They are leaving him on his new intravenous antibiotics (Meropenem) for the whole course. The medics have said they have to do a CT scan  and/or a bronchoscopy to see if it is the bronchiectasis or a growth/tumour that is harbouring the pneumonia, as it refuses to give up the fight. He has also developed a rash around his ankles that they are not happy about. There is no sign of discharge, as all in all he remains very unwell.

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Update on Fr Dickson

Father knows of all who are praying for him and is very grateful.

He remains very, very ill. 
He was initially admitted with a bad Pneumonia a week and a half ago. Antibiotic treatments have been relatively unsuccessful. Now, having also detected a Pseudomonas infection, Medical staff -apparently running out of options- are strongly hoping the new antibiotics they are trying him on prove effective.

Let's please continue to pray and offer sacrifices...