Sunday, January 25, 2009

An Update on Life

Dear Readers:

My apologies to you for the long period of low-blogging; things here have been rather complicated.

On 20 November, the good Presbytera was discovered to have a dangerous tumor impacting her brain. She had been suffering from headaches, forgetfulness, confusion and periods of dizziness for some time, the symptoms getting more pronounced for weeks. When the neurologists looked at the MRI they told us they were frankly amazed that she had walked into the emergency room under her own power. This was in the evening after the initial CAT scan revealed the tumor and several hours of the doctors consulting each other as to where she should go for the surgery.

Suffice it to say that the next couple of days were chaotic. Our Liturgy for the Entrance of the Theotokos in the Temple had to be cancelled; I spent the day in the hospital with her praying as the medical team awaited the optimum time for the surgery; and our parish family joined in prayers for her safety. We dedicated her recovery to the Holy Theotokos under the title Our Lady the Protectress of All Christians.

Our prayers were met with God’s favor. Presbytera came through the surgery very well, again to the amazement of the medical staff. By 25 November, she was discharged and back home.

Of course, the surgery was not the end of the trouble. Presbytera has a grade four glioma. These are very dangerous, quick growing, and tenacious. By mid-December we were introduced to the routine of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. She was given a mild regime of antibiotics as a prophylaxis against infections, and began the watch for the obligatory falling out of the hair and onset of exhaustion caused by the treatment.

We currently are near the end of the round for both chemo and radiation, and the cumulative effect on Presbytera has been telling but not defeating. There are days wherein sleeping is her major activity around taking her meds and visiting the hospital for radiation. Then there are days where sleep seems far removed and out of reach. Other physiological effects also are borne with patient but difficult endurance.

God willing, after the round of treatment is over, and the cooling off period that these necessitate, the next MRI will show no further growth. As this type of glioma is rare, Presbytera will be eligible to participate in a drug study that seeks to determine the best combination of already-known-to-be-effective chemotherapy medicines. Whether she participates – initially she was ready to sign on – will depend on how she feels by the time she is eligible.

This time of our lives has been profound on many levels. People have been wonderful in their prayers and support for us. From our local parishioners to people around the Eparchy to my co-workers in the Chancery, the inner heart of each has been revealed in their care, sincerity and desire to help us. For your rambling host, this has been a time to re-evaluate priorities, look beyond the obvious, and allow God’s compassionate Spirit to comfort and reassure through difficulties that I now perceive can only be understood from the “inside”.

As I noted in a previous entry, the Psalter – always central to the life of the priestly vocation – has become more and more important to me; and the writing of St Ephraim the Syrian (A Spiritual Psalter) has provided a spiritual balance I have desperately needed. Of course, the Divine Services have been a supreme source of comfort and inspiration.

In many ways, I have come to consider that only now have I begun to truly understand what the priesthood is all about. The Apostle’s image of the earthen vessel has more truth than people know. Only when we are emptied of our own illusions of power, authority, importance, and intellectual prowess can we make fitting accommodation for the Holy Spirit. In the Divine Liturgy, the priest’s work is accomplished in humble silence as the ancient prayers and words of the Golden-tongued are enlivened through Grace. These prayers, like so much of our Byzantine Tradition, nourish, heal, and fill with hope as we surrender all to the Holy Trinity. Our Lord warms us in the fire of His Divine Love, and the Theotokos craddles us in the protection of her intercessions.

Presbytera has good days and bad days. We do not know what the future holds for her and us. Yet somehow I have a confidence that defies the limitations of statistics and expectations. We are not going through this alone. It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible.

Please keep Presbytera in your prayers; and her mother, our daughter, and your rambling host. While blog updates may be erratic for some time (like that never happened here before, eh?), I will do my best to continue my rambling commentary and reflection on life in this age of cultural decline. We have no need of fear, He has conquered death already; and so, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Oh, and after Pascha I will have to undergo hip replacement surgery.

C'est la vie!

Thanks be to God.


earlcapps said...

Glad to have you back, but under the circumstances, I think your absence is fully undestood.

Of course you have the prayers and support of this grateful parishoner. If y'all need anything, you know I'm not terribly far away and know how to reach me.

Byzantine, TX said...

What a time you are going through! I offer my prayers as a grateful reader.

Jennifer in TX said...

Fr. Titus,
You and your dear wife and family are in my daily prayers.

Anonymous said...

I can't imagine how hard this time must be for your Presbytera and you. I will keep you both in my prayers.

Forgive me, but I don't know your names, and I can't find them listed on your blog. I would just like them so I can add them to my moleban list at church.

In Christ,

The Byzantine Rambler said...

Dear Andrew:

Please drop me your email address so I can write you.