Fr. Steve’s updates

I filled my new prescriptions downtown at Casey’s drugstore, and met with Jim, the pharmacist, to learn more about possible side effects. Like so many other townsfolk, he asked for the latest update and assured me of his ongoing prayers.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

First time I’ve blogged in a few days.

My digestive system is in a bit of disarray, but other than that I’m feeling pretty good.

I filled my new prescriptions downtown at Casey’s drugstore, and met with Jim, the pharmacist, to learn more about possible side effects. Like so many other townsfolk, he asked for the latest update and assured me of his ongoing prayers.

I’ve gone back to my regular schedule of meetings. Finances are in good shape for now. Child Services are busy planning for graduation and all the end of the year activities that makes May one busy month. In Human Resources, we hired one new houseparent for next year and are checking references for others we’re interested in interviewing.

In between meetings, I’ve tried to make up for time away by making campus rounds and checking up on people and projects.

I ran across the 4th and 5th grade girls taking part in their Red Path group. The program tries to address the stresses of drug and alcohol abuse within their lives.

We have two new staff since I’ve been gone. Becky helps in the production room with sending out mail. Amanda is our new Family Service Counselor and will be working with our older girls and their families. I looked them both up and welcomed them.

On a rainy Monday, the Maintenance crew was looking for a fourth person to play a quick game of pitch during break. I never played before, but they quickly ran through the rules and gave me my cards. Through sheer luck Roger and I won, which drew both teasing and praise.

Then, we caught up on all that’s in the works on campus. I checked the progress of the Carola Home remodeling. The demolition is finished and workers are now dry walling.

A group of High School Junior ROTC Thunderbirds Drill Team from Flandreau Indian School paid us a visit and did an after lunch performance for our student body. Their program emphasized discipline to achieve goals in life, and living by a creed which makes you and the creator proud.

Our mentor program had the last group event of the year – Bingo and finger food supper at the Dining Hall.

I’ve never really liked Bingo ( I must not be a good Catholic!) but enjoyed the company of those around me as we played for prizes. I never came close to winning, but our team made sure everyone got at least a consolation prize. I took home a new dish towel since you can always use those upgrades in the kitchen.

On my way to the business office, I came across a group of staff enjoying lovely spring weather during break. Jean carried a lovely bundle of lilac blossoms from our trees. She was planning to arrange them in a vase in the work room. Little touches of beauty and thoughtfulness add a lot to a workplace.

Yes, it feels great to be back.

Yes, it feels great to be back.

Fr. Steve’s updates

Jesus was noted for his companionship with people at table, and that’s often part of my “work” at St. Joseph’s.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Jesus was noted for his companionship with people at table, and that’s often part of my “work” at St. Joseph’s.

After mass, I visited the Speyer Home for brunch. The 6th – 8th grade boys were most welcoming. They filled me in on how the track team is doing, made predictions about their upcoming home run derby.

We talked NBA playoffs over scrambled eggs, biscuits and gravy. Eighth grader Sean helped his houseparent with most of the cooking, and it turned out great.

Then for supper, I was off to a pot luck shared by the six homes that make up our middle school grades. We had a lull in the rains, and sitting across from each other on the picnic tables was great fun.

Campus comes more alive when we can be outside in the warmer weather.

Fr. Steve’s updates

During the prayer service, one of our counselors read some prayer reflections on what people got out of the weekend – mostly the chance to more deeply appreciate one another.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Home in Chamberlain!

Fr. Hendrick from Lower Brule helped with the driving, and we made it back last night. While cliché, there really is no place like home.

Today was a settling back in day, doing laundry and starting to dive into the piles of mail and paperwork surrounding my desk. It was also a day to start reconnecting with students and staff.

I feel a great sense of relief and will be happy to return to as much of a normal routine as I can over the next month.

This morning we had the graduation for our FAST (Families And Schools Together) program.

Ten families took part over four weekends; they appreciated the structured activities our program offered to help them improve parent/child communication and relationships.

During the prayer service, one of our counselors read some prayer reflections on what people got out of the weekend – mostly the chance to more deeply appreciate one another.

After certificates and an honor song on the drum, we gathered in the school assembly room for a meal. Rain squashed plans of an outdoor picnic, but the grilled food tasted almost as good inside.

Fr. Steve’s updates

Folks joked about me being a professional bell ringer. I’ve rung church bells, school bells and jingle bells in the past, but few times with as much sense of joy and celebration.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Today was the day to finally ring the bell, and I rang it loud and clear!

Folks joked about me being a professional bell ringer. I’ve rung church bells, school bells and jingle bells in the past, but few times with as much sense of joy and celebration.

Four of us from Hope Lodge – Butch, Robin, Kelly and I – finished up radiation this morning. There was a nice turnout of other patients who came in support, even though their treatments were much later.

Their presence at 7:30 a.m. spoke to us loudly about their care and concern.

Afterward, we shared lots of hugs, addresses and promises of prayer along the way.

The bell!Fr. Steve: The professional bell ringer!

Fr. Steve’s updates

I sat at table with a group of the regulars I’ve gotten to know – sort of our Last Supper. We’ve shared so much over these weeks, and I continue to take inspiration at people’s faith and courage.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The lovely spring weather reminded me of years past when I was in school during final exams time. I wanted to enjoy the great outdoors but was preoccupied by the task at hand. I knew I’d get through finals, but they were still stressful. I just wanted to hurry up and get done, but time crawled at a standstill pace.

So too with today! Time passed so slowly as I went through yet more tests and appointments. The end is so close, which makes the waiting even harder. I’m ready for this to all be over.

This evening a group of volunteers grilled hamburgers and treated us with tasty side dishes. They were from the hospital’s finance department, and we joked with them that they had a vested interest in our well being.

I sat at table with a group of the regulars I’ve gotten to know – sort of our Last Supper. We’ve shared so much over these weeks, and I continue to take inspiration at people’s faith and courage.

Fr. Steve’s updates

St. Joseph’s is a special place because of the people who carry one another through whatever trials and hardships we endure.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

My radiologist took her time meeting with me today, and I so appreciated it. She asked the bigger overview questions – how am I feeling after meeting with all the doctors last week? What are my questions now as I wrap up and go forward?

In this age of specialists, I appreciated one doctor looking over the whole process and asking how I’m doing with all of it. That in itself felt healing.

I’ve been blessed to make it through with limited pain. We still have a long way to go, and more tests have been ordered, but there is hope, and at least a short reprieve coming up.

The doctor also cautioned about rushing back into work full time when I get back to St. Joseph’s and frantically try to make up for time away.

Since January, I’ve delegated so much, and team members have responded generously and graciously. Life at school is being carefully attended to.

My doctor said I must be at a very good and special place for that to happen. She’s right!

St. Joseph’s is a special place because of the people who carry one another through whatever trials and hardships we endure.

Fr. Steve’s updates

My appointments will pick up in the next couple of days, but today was a quiet one after early morning radiation. I have great plans and energy when I start the day, yet it’s a struggle of the will to make the effort and accomplish what I hope to.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Slowly I’m tidying things up and trying to get things in order as the Friday checkout time draws near. My appointments will pick up in the next couple of days, but today was a quiet one after early morning radiation. I have great plans and energy when I start the day, yet it’s a struggle of the will to make the effort and accomplish what I hope to.

The scriptures from Acts of the Apostles the past days have been about Saint Stephen’s faith during trial:  “Into your hands I commend my spirit, O Lord.” I strive for more of that kind of attitude each day.

But when facing serious illness it’s easy to get caught up in angst and worry. It’s harder to keep hope afloat and love alive. Yet that’s God’s calling.

Tonight was the last Tuesday potluck. I’m not a fancy cook, but roast beef that simmers all day in the crock pot always comes out tender and tasty, so that was my contribution.

Those of us who finish treatment this week got the chance to share a few words with those who remain, and have been part of our journey. My life in religious community has been my greatest support over the years. Being part of Hope Lodge has also been a positive experience of community – a time of mutual listening, sharing and support. For that I am most thankful.

We thrive when experiencing such care and it’s up to all of us to make it happen wherever we find ourselves.

Fr. Steve’s updates

I started the last week of radiation! The end is in sight, but instead of making the time go easier, it seems to be getting harder. I’m anxious to get home.

Monday, April 19, 2010

I started the last week of radiation!  The end is in sight, but instead of making the time go easier, it seems to be getting harder. I’m anxious to get home. The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.

At times today I felt like a zombie, just going through the motions, drifting with no definite sense of purpose.  Still very sleepy. I’m so ready for this stage to get over. These are the times when I just have to hang tough and pray for patience and perseverance.

Once you speak about the fears and struggles out loud,
they lose some of their power to bring you down.

It helps having folks around to be able to talk with and vent. So many of us are experiencing similar feelings and emotions. Once you speak about the fears and struggles out loud, they lose some of their power to bring you down. The key is to face discouragements squarely in order to be able to chase them away.

Besides the camaraderie here, a couple of phone calls from friends helped give me perspective and picked up my spirits. Love and friendship are always great remedies when our spirits need a lift. I’m so grateful for people far and near who have shown such care.

Fr. Steve’s updates

Not much more to report. Still very sleepy, and took advantage of the quiet for napping. Hopefully as the chemo wears off I’ll get some oomph back before I head home Friday.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

At church in the local parish today, a family presented their newborn son for baptism. The baptismal garment was beautiful, and they shared that it belonged to the grandmother.

All nine of her siblings and each of her children had been Christened wearing it. A beautiful example of passing on faith and family tradition that brought a little more joy to the Easter Season.

One of the patients here is very interested in Native American history, and we had an animated discussion about Custer and the Battle of the Little Big Horn. I just finished reading another book on that fascinating yet tragic part of our heritage. We took our 7th graders there last year on their cultural field trip and it left a strong impression on us all.

Mike also spoke of his years working as a safety inspector. We talked of the importance of setting the bar high, whether you’re trying to prevent injuries, or setting goals for children to learn.

Not much more to report. Still very sleepy, and took advantage of the quiet for napping. Hopefully as the chemo wears off I’ll get some oomph back before I head home Friday.

Fr. Steve’s updates

Another sleepy day. I have no weekend appointments, so it worked out well to rest. I did go out to an afternoon movie to laugh and let my mind wander to more relaxing things. Then I made a big dent in long overdue emails.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Another sleepy day. I have no weekend appointments, so it worked out well to rest. I did go out to an afternoon movie to laugh and let my mind wander to more relaxing things. Then I made a big dent in long overdue emails.

It’s quiet around Hope Lodge. Many people who live within a shorter driving distance have gone home for the weekend.  I washed a couple of loads of clothes , but didn’t see anyone else in the laundry the whole time.

At lunch I talked to a newcomer who just arrived for treatment for pancreatic cancer, which has one of the lowest cure rates. But he’s facing the disease with courage and faith. There’s not a whole lot of reason to feel sorry for yourself when you see so many other people suffering much more. At supper I sat with a woman who’s husband is still hospitalized, which makes for some very long days for her.

After the chemo, my appetite isn’t all that good. I have to force myself to eat because I know I need to, not because I want to or enjoy it. I know in a few days the taste buds will come back strong, and I’ll be back to munching all the time.