Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Free to Good Home

a.k.a. The Hardest Thing

I think all the regular readers here know that I've been very much involved with The Episcopal Majority and that the group is having its first meeting Friday in Washington, DC. I had planned to be there.

A few weeks ago, something came up at work that made it clear I would not be allowed to attend that meeting. I kept hoping things at work would change so that I could be at the meeting. And, of course, I've been in touch with the leaders of The Episcopal Majority, keeping them informed of my situation. Today it was finalized: I cannot go. My boss won't give me the time off. This is the hardest thing. I can't talk much about it now.

I already have hotel reservations at the Omni Shoreham Hotel – where most of the participants will be staying. Now I must cancel those reservations. But before I do, I want to see if any of you need that hotel room. I have reservations for Friday and Saturday nights. The rate is something like $145/night plus 14.5% sales tax. It's a room with two queen beds. I can transfer my reservation to someone else who needs lodging. If you need a hotel room, and want this one, post a comment here; I will get back to you quickly and transfer my reservation to your name. I'll need to transfer or cancel the reservation by Thursday night.

As to the rest of it – how devastated I am to miss this important meeting – I cannot talk about that now.

Update Nov. 2: The hotel reservation has been cancelled. Apparently all you good folks already had lodging arrangements, and for that I am grateful. Enjoy your time in DC, and -- most importantly -- I wish you a marvelous time at the "Remaining Faithful" meeting of The Episcopal Majority.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

How Did I Miss This?

UnSaintly Pat has the scoop: CANA (with Minns, Duncan, Akinola &c) and the Flat Earth Society have entered into an alignment. Heck! It makes more sense than most of the other realignment plans I've been reading about. Go here. Read this. But, first, plant tongue firmly in cheek.


I am truly astonished that you continue to send me e-mails (as well as checking this site) for news about – and to offer encouragement regarding – my medical situation. Aren't you getting bored with it yet? I sure am! Frustrated as all get-out, too. But that's me.

OK. You've asked for a report on yesterday's visit back into the heady realm of Washington University. Here ya go.

First, I had the EMG test. I don't know what "EMG" stands for, but it's kinda like an EKG or EEG, but designed to test nerves and muscles instead of heart or brain. I passed. The very, very good news is that it did not reveal "denervation"; apparently, that means my body is trying to fire electrical impulses into my nerves and muscles – which, apparently, bodes very well for full recovery once this radial nerve palsy thing fixes itself.

By the way, a few friends had told me about having EMGs and warned me it would be uncomfortable. But thank goodness none of you told me about the hideous long needle that would be stuck into my muscles! Thanks to my ignorance about that particular little detail, I did not have the opportunity to be pre-stressed. Thanks – really! – for sparing me!

Then I saw the Wash.U. doc again [same guy I saw Monday]. He gave me the EMG results and added his analysis that this means I should get my right hand back whenever this palsy passes. Also, he says the EMG tells him that this is no other underlying, darker, scarier cause; it's just boring, frustrating radial nerve palsy. In this case, I'm darn glad to be boring!

Incidentally, the EMG doc told me he has seen people who have radial nerve palsy who still had no use of their hands after 6 weeks. So that is some comfort. At least I do have about 40% use of my hand/fingers. Not enough to keep me from occasional rages of frustration or crying jags, but I am working to keep it in perspective.

Then a weird thing happened today – about which I am determined not to get too worried yet. I had to drive to St. Louis again today –this time for two days of business consultation. During the drive, I got concerned again that my left arm/hand did not feel right; they felt very twitchy. By the time I arrived at my destination and settled into work, I started watching my left hand. My left thumb and index finger were jerking and jumping to their own odd rhythm. Not the right hand which has been the problem, but the left. Not sure what this means, but at least I'm close to my Wash.U. docs, in case it gets worse tomorrow. At least I was able to entertain my colleagues, who occasionally found the odd jumping and jerks of my hand much more engaging than my "brilliant insights." [Yes, very big grin.]

I'm looking forward to tomorrow evening. Our bishop has agreed to attend a special evening with the Oasis and Integrity members of the diocese in St. Louis. I'll be there with bells on – and my "Manner of Life" t-shirt. I will post a report this weekend.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

New Blogger on the Block

Just tonight I discovered a new blogger: The Admiral of Morality. Those of you who are addicted to the Episcopalian blogosphere will note that Springfield's Bishop Beckwith has termed himself the "admiral of morality." This blogger disputes Bishop Beckwith's claim. He has just started blogging, but I hope he will keep at it.

LEAC and "The Six Veils"

In Pulling the Plug on LEAC, The Episcopal Majority noted the plans of a group meeting in Orlando next month with the stated purpose of drawing Episcopalians out of the Episcopal Church. Today, some additional information is available.

An Episcopalian sent an e-mail to LEAC, asking for clarification. He characterized his note thus:

I may be the only one in the dark about the reference to "The Six Veils" in the email . . . about the LEAC conference in Orlando. Be that as it may, I just decided to write and ask what the "Six Veils" part was all about.

The response below is what I received. I share it for your information and edification ... unless of course you already knew what it was all
about ... in which case, hit delete.
Here – in its totality – is the reply he received from the LEAC organizer:

It's nice to hear from you, but I am totally inundated with work for the Orlando conference.

Briefly, the term refers to six non-spiritual reasons many in The Middle 80% give for not wishing to participate (or even prevent open discussion) in today's deep issues dividing the church. They include political correctness; aversion to controversy; personal, irrational subservience to even misguided clergy (particularly bishops); placing harmony and unity above attention to Scripture as the preferred parish environment; permitting the rector and/or vestry set the agenda [sic] for open forums, censoring our controversial or extremely difficult subjects. You get the drift.

These impediments to truth and reality must be addressed and removed. Two or three speakers at Orlando who have successfully pulled away The Six Veils and gotten to the meat of the controversy, with positive results, will home [sic] in on this subject.

It is my personal opinion (shared by a number of national leaders) that the veil syndrome may be the biggest obstacle to the parish decision-making progress as the moment of truth nears. If it is not addressed and defeated, there is little hope for survival of more than a tiny remnant of Anglicanism. The vessel of evil, TEC, will pull out with most of the middle 80% including many innocents, trapped in the holds. That's I [sic] talking, not LEAC, which tries to be even-handed while waving a huge danger flag.

Hope to see you with some friends in Orlando.


James P. Ince
The Episcopal Church is "the vessel of evil"? I don't think so! -- and I am almost breathless at such an accusation. I am delighted at many of the steps TEC has taken over the past 30 years, and I'm not so happy with some others. But I am aghast at such self-satisfied and self-righteous statements as this. Me, I see lots more shades of grey.

If you wish to support and reclaim the Episcopal Church we know and love, join us on November 3-4 in Washington, D.C. Further details, an agenda, and registration information are available here.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Doc Visit

Several of you know that I had an appointment with a very impressive doc in St. Louis yesterday. I tried to call several folks last night to give a report. But I ran out of gas, so I am posting this announcement.

Over the weekend, I finally got smart and realized I needed to take a friend along to be my eyes and ears and scribe. The woman who was in Lui during my mission trip had all the advantages: she is a friend, a nurse, and has some control of her schedule. So she went with me. As Deb told me, she has the "gift of interpreting doctors' tongues.' Her summary of the visit is below. Here are my impressions.

This doc took very good care of me. He poked and prodded as none of the local docs have done. And he gave a more careful and nuanced diagnosis than I had received before – not radically different than I had received 24 days ago, but somewhat more nuanced. He explained what nobody before had done: that this will probably require months – not hours or days – of recovery. [Yes, this upsets me big-time and discouraged me in many ways. Worse, he projected up to five months – which, of course, makes me cringe! But at least he leveled with me.] And he recognized that giving me some wrist support could give me more motor control in my fingers, so he sent me off to The Hand Center to be outfitted with a splint to give me some wrist control. That is letting me begin to use my right hand again, for the first time in these three weeks. So maybe my blog entries and e-mails will be a bit less error-ridden.

I must drive back to St. Louis Wednesday for an EMG test and another visit with his doc. Then I'll drive home that night. Then -- as fate would have it -- I'll drive back to St. Louis Thursday morning for a business trip and be there until Friday night. I'm getting very familiar with this highway this week.

And now here is my nurse/friend's more technical report on the day – followed by the couple of e-links she sent me this evening with more information..


+ + + + + + + + + + + +

Dear Lisa,

I have sent you three different web pages so you can read up on stuff related to the diagnosis you were given today. Okay, the diagnosis is Brachial Plexopathy which was also known in the past as Parsonage-Turner Syndrome. What that means is that the bundle of nerves located in the shoulder area become "inflamed" or damaged by injury leading to problems in the hand. You have "supinator weakness" of a grade 2-3 (out of 5) which means you have weakness turning your hand "palm up" and have difficulty stretching your hand our straight meaning you have weakness in the wrist extensor muscles. [The flexors pull your hand down.] There was neuropathy (meaning nerve "disease") in the posterior interosseous nerve (the name describes where that nerve is--posterior meaning back, inter meaning inside, osseous meaning bone) very simplistically. The doctor was pleased to see the degree of recovery you had achieved in this short period of time (not short to you!) and did not see any reason to suggest any treatment besides splinting the wrist to support it as you continue to recover. You should do what we call range of motion exercises in the wrist (they said 10 repetitions daily) to keep your wrist able to move easily as you continue to recover. There is no reason we could identify that you developed this problem so it is "idiopathic" (that means we don't know why you got it!). Everyone seems optimistic so anything that seems to be scary in the web pages should be disregarded! You will have the EMG on Wednesday and have another visit with the doctor and another EMG in five weeks so they can follow your progress. I do say PROGRESS!!! I expect it and am praying for it.

I hope this helps you to explain things to your other buddies. Please be encouraged and encourage all the folks that are concerned. I had fun today! I hope the splint makes life easier until you are back to normal.


A couple of good articles are at http://www.webmd.com/hw/health_guide_atoz/nord726.asp and http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/001418.htm.

Monday, October 09, 2006


I was able to bring Scotty home this evening. Apparently – without warning – he has become diabetic, so I will be giving him insulin twice daily. My vet (Alice) also sent him home with a couple of prescription pills, which I'll need to administer for a while. One is an antibiotic for a urinary infection he developed; the other is to build-up his phosphate levels.

He's still pretty weak and sluggish. That's an understatement, actually. He's staggering badly, and it breaks my heart.

As Alice The Vet explained, his little body is using a lot of energy to rebuild red blood cells and re-equilibrate his chemistry. Sure is great to have the big orange guy home after a whole week in hospital.

After he had been home a few hours, I got concerned about his behavior, and called Alice on her after-hours number. We had a good, long talk. I learned something important: I thought when she sent Scotty home with me, it was like a person getting out of the hospital: moving from regular, low-grade care to home. Not so! It's more like taking someone from CCU straight into home. He's still that sick. When I talked to Alice tonight, one thing she said was, "Maybe I've sheltered you too much in the last few days." And she went on to explain how dim were her hopes that he would live. Actually, I'm grateful. I sensed how she was feeling, even when she didn't say it. I'm glad I didn't know how worried she was. I was worried enough myself. And now I have a better sense of what I am facing.

I've been trying to spend more time with Scotty than with the website and TEM right now. I know you'll understand and join me in giving thanks.

And I thank you for all your support and kind words.

BTW, several of you have asked me about my progress in contacting a neurologist about my hand. It hurts. A lot! Pain meds aren't touching it now. I did place a couple of calls, but yesterday was Sunday and today is a national holiday. I am going to pursue this! After 17 days of this hand thing, I have finally reached the limits of my endurance.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


Scotty first. I have continued to visit him each mid-day and evening. He's brighter today. His blood count is up. Most of his chemistry is up. But he's still so critical that the vet wants to keep him all weekend.

The vet astonished me today. We were talking about his progress and prognosis, and I was expressing my fears and concerns. And I thought I heard her say something so shocking that I asked her to repeat it, and she did; she said she had not had a solid night's sleep all week, because of her concern about Scotty. Yes, she has been as sleepless as I. That flat shocked me. I knew I loved my vet. Now I double-love her!!

I suppose I have to provide the boring "hand report." It's the same. No progress. Friday I called my doc just to check in. It's now been 14 days since this started. I always teeter between two extremes: worry that I am being a hypochondriac, or that I am neglecting what needs checking. So I called. And was again told to 'sit tight.' They said that, so long as it's not getting worse, I should continue to exercise patience – but the nurse also offered that if I want a 2nd opinion, they would provide a referral to a neurologist. A gazillion people in this backwater town have warned me that the one and only local neurologist is a quack.

Then my dad (who lives in another state) called out of the blue. He had talked to a friend who is a neurologist, who was incensed that I have not yet seen a neurologist. He was pretty adamant that I need to take that step. I guess I'll do so next week. I am getting increasingly frustrated with my one-handed existence. As I have mentioned, I also have a friend who says he can get me an appointment with a really good neurologist; I suppose I should take him up on his offer.

It has been a rough but rewarding work week. I taught two workshops this week, and have another big conference upcoming next week. I like doing these! – but just wish I felt more able-bodied. I'm teaching 3 sessions in a five work-day period. As I told my staff last week: next time I agree to such a schedule, please slap me upside the head!

There was a funny moment at the conference last week. My staff and I sat down to one of those conference banquet luncheons at a table of 10 people. The servers gave me my plate with pasta, a chicken breast, and vegetables. I was looking at that chicken breast when one of my staff said, "You want me to cut that for you?" I cut a look at her that first made her think I was critical, but then she interpreted it correctly: as a plea for help. Like a five-year-old, I let my staff member cut up my meat. It was a moment of grace, as far as I'm concerned. She was cool and relaxed with it, and I was just grateful. I'll let your imaginations guess how the other people at that banquet table reacted; it was pretty darn funny!

One of the significant challenges in my newly one-handed state is doing laundry. And its corollary is putting on clothing that requires buttons. I'm doing laundry tonight, but I've learned an important, practical lesson: Leave the buttons buttoned when doing laundry. That way, I can just slip the blouses over my head, instead of having to re-button them. It’s all in the details . . . .

And that's all I have to say tonight. I'm trying to plug along doing my regular activities. But it's darn hard when the lack of a right hand slams into your daily life in so many ways.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

National Gathering of The Episcopal Majority

At long last, we have announced details about the meeting of The Episcopal Majority in Washington, D.C., on November 3.

The Rev. David Fly begins the announcement thus:

As the first gathering of The Episcopal Majority (TEM) approaches, I think it’s important that we reflect on the past three months. In a very short time, a very large response has been made by those who seek to sustain and build up the Episcopal Church. But the work has only just begun. The meeting in D.C. is primarily a beginning of a process that some of us (and I hope many) will commit to continue. Therefore we need to be thinking long term as we consider multiple strategies for our work and remain very flexible (we’ve already seen the dramatic changes that can happen in only a few months since Columbus.) We are coming to D.C. to join a struggle that promises to be long and difficult, and to do so in a way that maintains a high moral ground without sacrificing integrity. The struggle is far from over.

I hope you plan to join us on November 3rd and 4th.

Faithfully yours,
The Rev. David K. Fly
The Episcopal Majority

Click here to download the meeting's agenda and a sign-up sheet that can be printed and mailed

Click here to register online for the meeting


Brusts Find New Employment

Having been rejected as Bishop of the Diocese of South Carolina, Ellis Brust and his wife -- late of the IRD-funded American Anglican Council -- have found a new way to pay the bills. I reckon this tells us how firmly he could have sworn allegiance to the doctrine, discipline and worship of TEC. He stood for election to be bishop of South Carolina. Now he has pitched his tent with AMIA – which is in a battle-to-the-death with the Diocese of South Carolina. Has this man no integrity??

Hold your nose, and read it here: http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=4807

Thursday, October 05, 2006


Scotty had a very bad "setback" [as the vet terms it] today. When I called in the a.m., she said I might bring him home this evening. But when I went to visit at lunchtime, he was pretty lethargic again, and the vet gave me all the bad news. His phosphate levels had "tanked," his red blood cells were down to 1/2 what they should be, and -- this sounds horrifying to me – his red blood cells are literally exploding inside him. So he's back to critical condition again, and she says he'll stay in the clinic through this weekend. That's easy to believe, given how he looked and acted today – on top of his medical readings.

I am treasuring my twice-a-day visits with him. I hold him, love on him, talk to him, and sing hymns to him. It's hard, not knowing whether he's coming back to this life or moving on to the life beyond. But songs like 'It Is Well' speak to me now.

The last time I had to bury a cat, my only liturgical resource was the '79 prayerbook. Now I've begun asking priest friends to point me toward liturgies specifically designed for the death of a loved animal. Here are some that have been recommended to me so far:


I've printed them out. I wish I felt so confident that I filed them. But I didn't.

Wednesday night

I'm sorry I haven't posted an update since Sunday. But – as the hackneyed saying goes – "it's tired, and I'm late" – so this will be rather brief.

My medical situation is unchanged since Sunday. Left side much, much better. Right hand still pretty much useless. I am tired of being a gimp. It’s increasingly frustrating. Oh well. That and 4 bucks will get me a Starbucks grande double latte with whip. So who cares?

I said I would call my doc Monday. But events overtook my plans. I haven't made any effort to call my doc. That's not my priority right now.

My priority now is the 15-year-old studmuffin in my life: my cat Scotty. Sunday I thought maybe he was not up to par. Monday before work I got truly concerned: He couldn't seem to jump up to his favorite spots. I wanted to take him to the vet that moment, but some strictures at work prevented me from doing so. So I came home at noon Monday to take him to the vet. Almost as soon as I got in the house, I became panicked: Scotty was in the bathroom, and was dragging himself to me with his forearms, hindquarters useless, and wet with his own urine. I grabbed him up in my one good hand, raced back to the car and to the marvelous vet. It has been a hard week. He was at death's door, but is now stable. Turns out, he was going into a diabetic near-coma. I'm visiting him twice a day, and the vet staff is marvelous. He should be able to come home in a couple of days.

Frankly, in the midst of all that, I just flat didn't care about my one stupid paralyzed hand. I'll deal with it later.

Some very good things happening, too.

In my parish, I'm the "go-to crucifer" for burial services. I have some pretty intense feelings about funerals, which well suit me to that role. Strangely, we haven't had a death in my parish in ca. 18 months. But now a parishioner's family member has died, and I got the call to be crucifer for the Thursday funeral. I will do it, though I have yet to figure how I will 'lift high the cross' in my one-handed state. But I will do it, one way or the other. This saint of God deserves it.

Today I had a very long day of travel and teaching. I found I can do long-distance driving. Training session went great too – but I hadn't doubted that! My concern was whether I could drive the 280-mile trip with just one hand working reliably. I could and did. Thanks be to God!

Enough for now –

One-Handed Gimp to the Order of St. Verbosa
and One-Handed Gimp to The Episcopal Majority

Monday, October 02, 2006

Sunday update

I'll start with the obligatory – and increasingly boring – medical update. Fortunately, I think there is progress, and I attribute much of this to the prayers that I know so many of you are saying. And let me say here how touched I am to know my name was spoken in parishes all over this country today. Friends, as I sat in my parish, I felt the power of your prayers!

The twitchiness in my left hand and foot side are subsiding. I'm not sure I have "normal" motor control there, but at least I don't feel they want to do the St. Vitas [sp?] Dance tonight.

Right hand seems to have marked improvement. I can spread my fingers laterally, pretty much at will! And can sort of wiggle them to and fro, sometimes. One of my personal benchmarks about wrist movement has been this: I hold my hand out with my wrist dangling there. As recently as church today, I couldn't do anything with it. But this afternoon, I realized my wrist can send some commands to my hand: I can raise my hand maybe 40 degrees upward! Not yet enough to keyboard or wash dishes or shave my legs or pet the cats … but heck! it's way more than I could do 12 hours ago!

I do still plan to call my doc tomorrow and see what she says. Maybe it'll just be another 'sit tight.' Or maybe the EMG.

And now that things have slowed down, I need to stop and give thanks. Folks in my parish have been most generous – far, very far beyond my expectations. One friend spent that first, very scary night with me. And paid bills for me – and even carried off my laundry to wash for me. Thanks, C! My priest came by one night, brought dinner, stayed for a really good conservation, and anointed me with healing oils. I had never done that outside church, but it was a powerful experience – just her and me and the Spirit here in my house. I was overwhelmed. Thanks, J! Another couple just dropped in yesterday to visit. But before it was all done, they did dishes, brought me lunch, and tied my shoes. Simple things like that are a huge help. Thanks, S&R! And many others have called to offer encouragement and ask what they could do. It's been rather overwhelming for this usually-self-sufficient ol' broad.

If you've been reading this blog, you'll know I was quite uncertain about my 'standing' in this parish in the wake of GC06. Those doubts and questions have been put to rest. Quite. For reasons I still fail to understand, they love and care for me.

No, that's not true. I think I do understand the reasons. These folks really do believe – as I do – that we are the body of Christ in this place, charged to care for one another. It's humbling to be on the receiving end of that care right now. But I also know if the tables were turned – as they certainly will be another day – I'd be right there for them.

Without asking them which of the 39 Articles they ascribe to. This is Spirit stuff. The rest is trifles.