It’s seems like forever since I last wrote a letter for the parish magazine. And, given the vagaries of my health, I have to admit it has been a little while. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all of you for the love and prayers since my stay in hospital in July. I’d particularly like to thank Alison Mills and Jane Cawley, our lovely Church Wardens, for rising with such skill and sense to the challenge of having me out of action. I very much hope that you both appreciate their work and join me in praying for them. It can be a challenge being a church warden at the best of times, let alone when the Rector is poorly.
Some of you may be wondering what the future holds for me. I am pleased to report that since coming out of hospital I’ve been reasonably stable. My medication – a regime already with side effects – has been doubled and I’m hoping this will bring some of the active Crohn’s under control. I’m dealing with some less than lovely side effects from the drugs and there is a big question over whether the NHS will support the increased dose (one of the drugs is eye-wateringly expensive), but I’m sure we’ll get there on that front. The surgical aspects are more complex.
I am hoping to avoid any more major surgery. Alas, I’ve had so much surgery in the past that any intervention in the abdominal area will be tricky. It is very much a last resort, but given how serious things were in July it remains a real prospect. I have some serious narrowings in my remaining bowel and surgery may be unavoidable.
However, before that becomes the main option I’m hoping that a smaller surgical procedure will do the trick. It is possible to dilate sections of bowel, opening them up so that food can pass more easily through. I’ve had this done in the past and it provided temporary relief. My consultants and I are hoping that it might provide more than temporary relief this time. However, there is no guarantee of this. Equally, I am in a bit of limbo as the person who is capable of carrying out the procedure might yet decide that my particular case is too tricky.
As you can imagine, all this uncertainty is a little unsettling. I continue to welcome your thoughts and prayers at this challenging time. However, I also want you to know how encouraged and hopeful I am about the future. It seems to me that seeking to live faithfully in the midst of the Living God is about trusting. The way of God is always precarious. It would be easy to imagine the Way of Christ as some sort of clear road-map that – with the right ‘skills’ – offers a clear and direct path to some glorious future with God. That has always struck me as appealing, but ultimately childish. God more often offers enough grace for the day, the hour, the minute ahead. Sometimes, when pain or distress is great, it can seem as if there is no grace at all. I don’t know what the future holds, but does that really matter? I see lots of options and expect lots of challenges. But God is to be found in all of them, sometimes in the most bleak and scary places. It was always thus. And – for all of us – so it will always be.