18 March 2023
A year after a stroke, my eyes
have not dimmed and my
vigour has not diminished
It is one year today since I suffered a stroke in Milton Keynes on 18 March 2022. At the time, I was on leave from parish ministry for compassionate and personal reasons, and I was spending Saint Patrick’s Weekend in Milton Keynes when I had this stroke.
I was admitted to Milton Keynes Hospital immediately, and spent two weeks in hospital, first in Milton Keynes and then from 29 March in the John Ratcliffe Hospital in Oxford. Since then, I have been back to Milton Keynes Hospital for a number of check-ups and consultations, and to Sheffield Hospital for a consultation and a ‘Gamma Knife’ procedure.
The consequences of that stroke were extensive and far-reaching, beyond the hospital procedures and stays. I had already decided that I was going to retire from parish ministry after Easter, although I had not yet made any public announcement.
While I was in hospital in Milton Keynes, in advance of being moved to Oxford, I realised I was not going to return to parish ministry in Co Limerick and Co Kerry before my planned retirement date. I agreed with the Dean of Limerick as commissary of the diocese that I would take early retirement at the end of that month, on 31 March 2022.
I was moved to the John Ratcliffe Hospital on 29 March and able to leave on 1 April. After another overnight stay in Oxford, I returned to Milton Keynes two weeks after I was first taken to hospital with that stroke.
I eventually moved into a flat in Stony Stratford in early April, and have been living here ever since. I have returned to Ireland on a few occasions in fitful but not-very-successful efforts to tie up some personal matters.
In many ways, these have not been 12 easy months. I was reminded last night how unsettling these changing times have been when I realised I have slept in over two dozen different beds in the space of 12 months – although that number includes five different hospital wards or beds, two return visits to Ireland, return visits to Lichfield and Tamworth, and visits to Hungary and Finland on behalf of the Anglican mission agency USPG.
I have now settled down into a flat overlooking the High Street in Stony Stratford – I suppose I could say that over the span of 50 years it has been a move from one High Street to another, from High Street in Wexford to High Street in Stony Stratford.
I had another check-up on my Vitamin B12 levels last week, and earlier this week I had yet another consultation with the University Hospitals in Oxford as a follow-up to my stroke a year ago. At 71, I may not quite be in rude health. But I have a distant ‘cousin’ who greets me on my birthdays with the traditional Jewish greeting of ‘ad meah v’esrim’, ‘may you live until 120!’ (עד מאה ועשרים שנה).
Deuteronomy recalls that Moses lived to be 120, at which age ‘his eye had not dimmed, and his vigour had not diminished’ (Deuteronomy 34: 7). Great rabbis of the Talmud, including Hillel, Rabbi Yohanan Ben Zakkai, Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Yehuda Hanasi, all lived to 120 as well. The blessing carries the implication that the receiver should retain full mental and physical faculties to the end of life.
With those implications, living until I am 120 does not sound so bad a prospect at all. Another half century after last year’s stroke, and yet another half century after moving into High Street, Wexford, may not be so dim or distant a prospect; it might be a real blessing with the love, care and attention I have been receiving over the past year.
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Thanx for update. Continued prayers and blessings.
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