By Deacon John De Gano
I took my first walk around the neighborhood in a week the other morning and was surprised to discover a work crew finishing up on a road patch across the entire width of the street.
Apparently, they had used a backhoe or trencher, because it was sitting idle on its trailer while the crew tossed the last few handfuls of some white powdery substance onto the now flattened (and even) tar scar that was all that remained of their surgery.
By the time Cheryl and I completed our leisurely walk, the crew passed us by with the backhoe in tow and followed by the stakebed chase vehicle and its pile of red-orange traffic cones. Job completed. The neighborhood returned back to normal.
It seemed strange that it had all happened under our noses yet completely without our knowledge. We normally take a walk every day, though I must admit not always in the same direction. Following such a routine would be boring and our neighborhood is far from boring if you take the time to stop and smell the roses, lemons, etc. in bloom along the way. Three different families have fig trees in the front yard (only two have figs).
Which leaves us with unanswered questions. How much of an impact did this project have on our neighborhood? Did it inconvenience any of our neighbors? What was it that led to the diagnosis and treatment? Will they need to come back and work in our street? Why?
Perhaps life is full of unanswered questions. And the more we reflect, the less we really know about anything.
Take, for example, pulmonary embolisms, AKA, blood clots. Blood clots are usually associated with an injury where the body forms a clot to seal off an injury and begin its work to repair the surface and subsurface damage caused by a cut or scrape. However, they can be very dangerous when internal, causing a clot to pass into the heart or lungs and even causing blockages that prevent breathing or vital oxygen in the blood to get to the proper cells, etc. causing a stroke or worse.
It was the interior type that laid me up in the hospital for a couple of days with shortness of breath and a diagnosis of multiple blood clots in the lobes of my lungs. They were so bad that my blood/oxygen levels would not improve above 89-90 percent without some immediate intervention. The pulmonologist came and gave me his diagnosis: pulmonary arterial thrombectomy. The treatment was the high-tech removal of the clots internally (through the scraping of the clot by a wire and vacuuming out of the clot by a tube that would be passed through the arteries of my body) – all while I was laying on my back, wide awake.
I agreed, not realizing that I would actually be able to “feel” the pressure of the wire and tube moving underneath my skin as it meandered across my chest. It almost felt like a mild heartburn. That was it.
And the results were practically immediate. The coughing stopped and my blood/oxygen levels began to stabilize. Within a day I could breathe once again through the mouth without any great difficulty. (My sinus, however, posed more of a challenge. In trying to drain they made it difficult to inhale through the nose, even with a mask designed to force air into the lungs. They needed to clear before I could be downgraded to the less restrictive nose tubing and eventually be released to recuperate at home.)
I have since grown used to checking the oximeter Cheryl purchased to measure my blood/oxygen levels but, like the paving in the street, I bear no lingering scar or other indication of the life-saving work accomplished underneath by the dedicated medical professionals and support team (including our rosary prayer group) that accompanied me through this three-day trial. They will all be in my prayers as our Diocese gathers to celebrate the annual White Mass this year.
After all, prayer is the best medicine (that isn’t already medicine). And even though we can’t see it or see the change it causes internally, we know because of Jesus, that prayer works and can physically raise the dead.
So, be the Rx for someone who needs God’s healing. Pray every day. The person you help heal may turn out to be your deacon.
John De Gano is a deacon at St. Catherine of Alexandria parish in Riverside.