Monday, October 28, 2013


I work in healthcare as a Hospice Chaplain. I am also a pastor of a PC(USA) congregation with members who struggle with various health issues. I have walked with many people in the past five years or so as they have received a diagnosis from a doctor for chronic illness, a recommendation for a particular medical/surgical procedure, or just coping with the limitations of a life limiting illness. I hope that I have been there for people when they needed support and comfort in facing these medical challenges and recommendations for lifestyle changes or facing mortality.

In college I minored in biology. I have taken cadaver anatomy, human physiology, chemistry through biochemistry (two semesters of organic before taking biochem), and can read and understand a lot of medical jargon. My knowledge, to date, has helped me maintain a calm presence for others in the midst of the chaos that is our health care system. I appreciate the fact that I can explain calmly to people what is happening and walk them through the process. Some folks may consider me a 'frustrated' pre-med flunk out. I have often wondered if I missed my calling by not pursing medical school, and I know in my heart of hearts that being an MD or OD or any other kind of doctor is not my true calling. I've had the same questions regarding law school, and then when I watch the scheming and back biting of the politics of law. I realize that my calling is to bring comfort to people in the midst of chaos.

So you are all probably wondering where I am going with this little posting. I am too, since today I received a diagnosis from my doctor. I am feeling a bit out of sorts. I am now in the passenger's seat and need a driver. I have walked with people when they have received the identical diagnosis to mine and I hope that I have been a comfort to them. But right now I feel like I have failed and I feel like my body has failed me. I have failed to take control of my life and master my anatomy. My body is breaking down and aging, although there are some scholars that believe that chronic illness is not a natural part of the aging process. I knew the diagnosis was coming. I've been fighting the symptoms for several years now, some days better than others. I teeter tottered on the borderline never quite hitting that fasting blood sugar of 126, which marks one as a diabetic. Over the past five years I have watched my fasting blood sugar go from 109 to 111, to 118, to 124 and today it hit that mark in the low 130's where one cannot deny that one no longer has metabolic syndrome and is now a Type II diabetic. The A1C of 6.41 sealed my fate and I watched my doctor change my diagnosis from Metabolic Syndrome to Type II Diabetes in the computer.

I feel totally defeated and angry. I feel that I have lost control over my body and my life. I have a really good knowledge base on what is happening with my body. I have been a poor steward of my body and I feel really lousy about this. There is a part of me who hears the echos of my mother telling me not to eat so much sugar because, 'you will make yourself diabetic.

Now I know that eating too much sugar does not a diabetic make. I know that I have a genetic inclination to this disease, a family full of Type II diabetics. I know that by not exercising and eating the lousy diet I have been eating, especially over the past 18 months, contributed to the onset of this disease. I know what I need to do, I just wonder if I will have the will to do it. I'm angry with myself for not taking better care of me. As I said earlier I have been a bad steward of my body, and some would say my life.

I am not yet ready to write about the topic of stewardship and my body. I have some interesting thoughts I hope to share once I get over my initial anger and self loathing about my diagnosis.

Today I received a diagnosis and I'm now struggling like all those who I have tried to comfort over the years. It is different when it is you receiving the diagnosis. I hope I can remember that as I continue in mission and ministry as a hospice chaplain and small church pastor.