April 8, 2017
In 2 and ½ hrs. I leave for Lourdes. I took my shower and put my elastic stockings on and determined to finish my Blog before I leave. On getting back from Mthatha, I was asked to visit the husband of friend who was sick in a hospital in Pietermaritzburg, about 80km. from Durban (50 miles), so on Tuesday the 21st I went up to the hospital and, after a few miscalls, (not the right name---thanks for cell phones I was able, on the spot, to get the right name) I managed to find him in the ICU.(intensive care unit). He was not in good shape and had all kinds of pipes and drips and what not all, including down his throat and an oxygen mask, but was not conscious. I asked the nurse what the problem was and she said his lungs were hemmoraging. Not good. I prayed for him out loud, hoping that he could hear, and blessed him putting him in the hands of his creator and left. I phone his wife and told her that if they still want to see him alive, they should hurry, like NOW. I don’t know if they ever got to see him because it is far from Mthatha (Maybe 5 hours by car and more by bus), but he has since passed away. I am happy that I hurried to see him before he was called from this earth.
I did some home visiting in the meantime and, with your contributions, helped several students with their student debts. They thanked me and I told them that I would thank you since it comes from y’all.
I also saw the eye doctor, Casandra, who checked the pressure in my eyes, which was good, but the right eye has lost a bit of its power and I will probably have to get some new glasses soon.
One of our retired bishops moved off to Germany to live with his widowed sister. She lives in a big empty house and asked him to do her that favorw. He did. And I had the privilege to give him his final haircut before he left. I am sure that no one in Germany can match that!!!
This (27th to 30th) was the last week to do my grass cutting and bush chopping so I was at it morning and afternoon to finish what I wanted before the orthroscopy which took place on Friday, the 31st.
I had gone to the orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Naidoo, to ask why my left knee always seemed to be sore when the right knee was OK. He sent me for an x-ray (you know how it is in a hospital, being sent from Peter to Paul and back for this, that and the other.) Anyway, I managed to get the x-ray (he already had it on his screen in his office) and he showed me where the cartilage was gone so the bones were rubbing and knocking on each other and making some bony sawdust. I had asked for Friday the 31st (he operates on Fridays) for the procedure since I would be leaving a week later for Lourdes and foresaw lots of walking and processions etc. and wanted to have a refurbished knee to deal with that.
It was an in and out deal. I got there by 10:30 and went through the paper work (that took over an hour and many, many questions). Then, changing into the hospital supplied drawers and the diorre gown, and the wait. The op was supposed to be at 1:30 and at 10 past 1, I still hadn’t heard anything. (I finished reading half of Maya Angelou’s book “ I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings”. I was glad I brought it along. But it was cold and I was sitting on a bed (not wanting to give any indication that I was determined to go home the same day so not wanting to get into that bloody bed) but eventually because I was freezing ( I had my usual shorts on ) I gave in and got under to covers.
About 20 past 1, some nurses came with a trolley bed and got me to get up there and wheeled me off into the unknown. We got stuck in the traffic at the elevator (lift) and finally managed to work our way down to the parking lot next to the operating theatre. There, some kind nurse covered me with a beautifully warm blanket and a thick duvet on top of that. It was heavenly.
Then the anesthetist came ( I had a glance at the doctor on our way to his premises) to tell me about the anesthetic, and stuck it in my are so expertly that I didn’t even feel the needle going in. Of course, I cooperated fully by supplying him with an array of beautiful veins to pick from. We were instantly friends.
After he did that, I waited and waited and waited, wondering when are we going to the theatre. Ha. When I asked one of the nurses, she said I was already back. Ha. That was neat.
After some time in the outgoing parking lot, I Was taken back to my bed where I then got dressed with my own clothes, and there was this huge bandage on my left knee. The doctor said that I would be able to walk out just like I walked in, and he was right, but not quite. There was a special hobble that I learned.
While I was waiting, again sitting on the bed, not wanting to get under the covers although I was cold again, people were asking what I wanted for breakfast. Ha, I am going home. What would you like for supper. Ha. I am going home. But as time ticked on , I was getting nervous. I thought that the whole thing would be over and I could be picked up by my life (Bishop Khumalo) by 4pm. It was now past 6:30 and no one seemed to be aware that I am going home now.
I finally went up to the nurses station and mentioned that I was going home and what did I have to do to get discharged. They gave me a chair to sit next to them (I didn’t want to remain near that bed) and then they gave the go ahead to be released but only when my lift picked me up and came to them first. I phoned Bishop Khumalo and he was on his way. When he came, after signing some more papers ( I had already furnished a proof of payment because I knew that they won’t let anyone go unless you have paid every last penny owed to the hospital. No lay away plan).
I hobbled out with the bishop and tried to have a bit to eat when I got home but my throat was really sore and after trying to push something down my gullet, I finally gave up because my throat was refusing, (and I was coughing up a lot of phlegm) I just had a drink of milk and went to bed.
Amazingly, I slept well , and discovered that turning from side to side didn’t seem to bother that knee. However, because I had already cut whatever grass needed cutting, I was really lazy for most of the week, with long stints on top of the bed just resting, afraid to do something to damage the knee. However, I drove to the hospital every morning for Mass and seemed to survive OK. I also drove a bit, but not much, to do a bit of shopping and didn’t walk much. The doctor didn’t give me a list of do’s and don’t so I was afraid to blow it.
In the meantime, the leader of the pilgrimage to Lourdes phoned, worried because he had been told that I am “sick”. His wife also phoned with the same news (I remember Mark Twain’s comment when he saw his obituary in the newspaper---something like the account of my death is greatly exaggerated) and when I explained that it was just my knee that I was nursing a bit, she suggested that I get a wheelchair at the airport. Bu I told her that I doubted that I would need a wheelchair. However, it put a bug in my ear and now I was nervous, so I drove to the doctor to ask for a letter from the doctor for the wheelchair. That sounded strange to me because I thought that I really don’t need a letter from my doctor to tell someone that I am an old man now and just get tired and would love to have a wheelchar., But when a friend heard about this, she accused me of being a proud, macho thinking priest and I should be ashamed of myself, too proud to be seen in a wheelchair. Well, when someone hits the nail on the head like that what can one do. So, the wheelchair is ordered as well as an aisle seat near the toilet. How’s that for cooperation.
I helped with confessions at a few parishes, driving on my own, as people prepare for Easter.
So that’s the story. In a half hour I am off to the airport and I will you all a deeply spiritual experience during Holy Week and a lovely, hope and joy filled Easter. I will catch you when I get back, which is the day after Easter. Cas.