Finding work in the Mystery of Redemptive Suffering

Living in union with Jesus on the Cross for this Lenten Season. Please pray for the good work being revealed in the mystery of suffering.

This has been a very difficult season, that began this fall, when H1N1 broke out severely in Cheyenne, before the shots were available. The attack took 6 weeks for the lungs to be completely clear, but the real hit was what the virus did to my gut (Crohn's) and my immune systerm.

By Christmas, even with medical treatment, my Crohn's was not settling down, but seemed to get worse each day. Right after Christmas, my parents and I went for a surgical consultation at St. Luke's in Denver, CO. My excellent colorectal surgeon, a GOD SEND, examined me ever so gently with the greatest of respect and dignity. After less then 15 minutes he had seen enough and heard enough. Ask me to get my parents if they wished and we met the next hour and half in his personal office.

Very intense meeting with many tears, because my colon could not be saved. Scar tissue that had been building up for over 14 years and was in a rapid degeneration process that was going to cause a major life threatening condition in about 2 - 6 months. I had to have a colostomy, or I would not survive.

So on January 21, I went in for a very intense surgery where my anus, rectum, and small part of my large bowel was completely removed and I was given a pernament ostomy in the bottom left side area. (Little dark humor, I am offically a bag lady!) This surgery is very hard, for they have to completely reconstruct the pelvic floor to hold all your internal organs in. Very intense, I remember lying in bed feeling those muscles moving for the first time. Oh my what a little taste of the pain Christ experience hanging on the cross trying to lift those muscles to breath. What a humble experience beyond real words to express.

My recovery though was going really well, after 7 days I was able to go back to Wyoming with my parents, not strong enough to be on my own yet still. Anyways I had gone for my sugery follow up 2 weeks after and my surgeon was going to release me for half days starting 22nd of February. Two days later I had a fever, upper respitory infection and allergic reaction occuring from adhesives around the stoma.

While this was occuring I got to experience first hand the great, great, great poverty here in Wyoming for those who need adequate care and at times the severe lack of it here. I had a number to call during the weekend for a homecare nurse on call to come to the house if something was wrong. No answer any call anywhere. I was scared to go to ER here and knew my regular nurse would be in first thing Monday morning. So we waited for her, when she came she freaked, knew something was very wrong. Started the referral process to get a specialist nurse, only one in area. Her agency sat on the paperwork for 24 hours, not til the next afternoon when my nurse called to see if she came that she went livid and started to fight the system to get her to me.

Weds morning went to my GI specialist, who said WOCN nurse has final call, but he wanted me to go back to Denver as soon as possible. Went back home and my angel came to my rescue. Even my other nurse came to help and while they were working on me, my surgeon called me from Denver. Such a God event who spoke directly to my specialist nurse. By nine am, Feb 11th I was back in the hospital receiving excellent care with so much Christ centered compassion from everyone at St. Lukes. Though by the time I was released from the Hospital on the 19th, I had gone through 3 surgeries in less then a months time.

Final one was Ash Wednesday, got first humira shot and ashes on my forehead just before being sent back into the OR. What a beautiful way to begin my lenten journey. On the cross for him and all those who are abandoned in their suffering.

Years ago when I was sent back to Wyoming from a religious community I was so in love with, after a severe attack, completely a God event, because I belong in Wyoming, not elsewhere, I knew God was working and I received many consolations and graces. I was a needy little soul who needed the cotton candy to get through the deep grief and severe physical pain when going down a path I did not want to take.

This journey is a very different one. What a blessing that my last class I completed a paper on Saints of Darkness, the Redemptive Sufferings of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta and our much beloved JPII. What a blessing that theological exploration gave me in recognizing amongst this journey a beautiful call within this mystery of suffering that is being revealed each day during this intense Lenten Journey. For years I have been praying for the Lord to tell me where he needed me most, what is the work he needs here for this particular people and place of the frontier church.

He has revealed it and it is so beautiful and such a deep need for the poorest of the poor amongst us here in Wyoming. The ones who are isolated and abandoned because of disease and disability. I have the next year or so to live in union with these poor, to pray, to work, to study, and to live among them as one of them.

We are already beginning a work, to start a support network. But it is bigger then that. We do not have Catholic heathcare here in Wyoming, and we needed something that is for the particular challenges of rural life here. For too many are falling through the cracks. Free clinics in area have had to shut down, and shortages are just awlful. Education needed of public, patients, family, care givers, and professionals in the field. The innate dignity of the human person needs to be protected through the whole life from conception to natural death.

Good hearted, faithful servants in heath care here are being overwhelm by a mentality that heath care is a business. Euthanasia is being practiced here quietly without any fanfare under the guise of hospice care. Cases in the local hosptial, hospice center, and nursing facilities where others have suffered the same fate as Terri Shavio and no one spoke up for them. (Hippa does a good job hiding the reality at times.) Like me others have been abandoned when they need help the most. This is going to change, others have already started the work. Now I have been asked to enter into it as well.

I knew after a tremendous healing at the Marian Eucharistic Conferrence in Jackson Hole on October 23, 2004, that by accepting my special mission, my bitterness in this life would increase. I can now say this is a path I can gladly take for it brings our Lord such pleasure to use me so. He can crush my bones if he so chooses.Though just like before, this will pass, because there is a very important work needed here. I know in my heart of hearts, even if i can't feel his heart, that I am very close to him this Lenten Season. I ask for your prayers for me and the others on the frontlines here in Wyoming. Know you are all in mine and if you have any special requests send me a message and I will offer my sufferings for you and your intentions as well.

One in the sufferings of Christ,

a little handmaid


Lenten Journey Begins in the Mystery of Redemptive Suffering

As you can see I have not visited my blog in quite awhile. Last spring the subbing and wrapping up fulltime classes really tied me up. Shortly after school was out and I got a job and was in training all summer. In a few days I will post some other papers I wrote last semester to the blog. The best one was on Redemptive Suffering in the lives of our Saints of Darkness (John Paul II and Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.)

Because of the economy I had to cut back on studies to half time and find a fulltime job. I started June 8th. Shortly after graduating as a claims processor and going to the floor in September, to help those who have been in a car accident or had a tree fall on their house, our office was struck down with swine flu. Unfortunately, I caught it too. This past fall semester has been a very difficult one dealing with complications from swine flu, trying to keep up with grad studies, and working fulltime.

In October while I was in the midst of the bad bug, we received a new Bishop. Oh did that give my heart hope and pure joy. Any pain and suffering had that much more meaning and purpose. So yes I offered it up and then two weeks into the midst, our Holy Father announced out New Bishop. Paul Etienne. Our Lord was sending us our own Paul.

After the initial bug hit me, something was not right with my immune system. As some may know, I have lived with chronic health issues since childhood. Technically I live with Crohn's, Celiac, Arthritis, and Asthma. Well as you can guess by now swine flu is not a good thing to come down with.

I just know it was such a blessing for the Lord to give me the Job he did, because if I was still working as teacher or subbing, I would be much more in a hurt locker. I lived for a year without any heathcare or insurance, now I have it. I have been given an extended medical leave of absence with the assurance of a job when I have recovered.

That bug did something to my immune system, like put it into hyper over drive. Anyways when my GI specialist completed a colonoscopy shortly after the virus ravaged inside, he found that an area of scar tissue, I carried for many years, was beyond medical intervention.

So just after Christmas my parents and I found out from a very specialized surgeon down in Denver I had about 2 to 6 months before I blew. Basically a few months before I would have been life lighted. The scar tissue needed to be removed because it was falling apart like hamburger meat at a rapid pace.

So Jan 21st I had a permanent colostomy with pelvic floor rebuild. (Major, major, major surgery.) My recovery was going so well. I was at my parents in 7 days and had just completed my first follow up with my surgeon. He thought in two weeks I could go back to half days at work.

2 days later, my father and I both had an upper respiratory infection. Not good, in four days the skin around my surgery sight had rotted away on my body. VERY BAD! One of the worst complications for a Crohn’s patient happened. It had manifested itself on the outside on the body and eaten away at the skin.

So on the Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes; I was rushed back down to Denver and under the knife once more to save my stoma and my life. I knew I was in her hands. I was at peace through this even though I couldn't feel Christ's heart or closeness, but I could sense his work through those around me. All I could do was unite my pain with all those in need of prayer, the children in Haiti and new bishop, diocese, and those others I met who were so sick.

Then slow progress as they began medical intervention with high dose IV steroids, Humira, and 6-MP to get the Crohn's back in remission. On Ash Wednesday I was told to get ready to go home. So we were preparing to do just that, but Lent was just beginning. Suddenly my surgeon was there with two wound care nurses and suddenly I was going back to the OR. Still some dead tissue to be removed. So minutes before rushing to the OR, this beautiful deacon from the Cathedral down the street shows up in my room by my bed. Oh what a joy! The Lord was not forgetting me. That beautiful servant of God planted the biggest black cross of ashes on my forehead. As I was rolled into the OR, my surgeon let out a big roar and said, "The Man Got You!"

See through this all I had the wonderful care of a Christian Hospital at St. Luke’s in Denver across from St. Joseph. How much Christ had to be in so much control, because it is the very hospital with the one other Crohn's patient in the region already dealing with this same rare manifestation. The team of doctors already knew what needed to be done.

So ALL I ask is for prayers and keep them coming. God is working a Lenten miracle in me. For the skin that they thought was gone forever is growing back and my wound care specialists said it is because of prayer. Wow what a Lenten journey. My question though is if it is so possible to be so close to Christ in his wounds that you can't hear his heart beat? Always before when I suffered I experienced tremendous consolations, now it is just the reality of the pain. But mysteriously there is still this abiding joy in my heart, but it is not emotion. All I can do is smile, which is my Lenten journey. To not complain but to be still in joy and complete total trust that he is in control and that this is just another season. God always can make lemonade with us can't he?