I was admitted to Rush University Hospital early this morning. This great sprawling place, buildings cobbled together linked by over street crossways, seems at first to be overwhelming. That impression is immediately militated by the sheer diversity of the people who seem to be in perpetual motion around its corridors. Faces of every race and clime, some serious and driven, some relaxed, seem ready to risk a smile to a passing parson. This is a serious place, about the business of healing, but it is also a friendly place. Nowhere more than in the admission office.

I’ve been to that office three times in the past two weeks or so. I was there to have a port/catheter implanted by a mild out-patient operation and again on subsequent days last week reporting to have my stem cells harvested, and finally today to be admitted for a stem cell transplant. Incredibly, after the first visit, I was recognized and greeted warmly by the admission staff. I haven’t worn clericals and thus it’s no deference to “the cloth”. The same must be said for the young nurses I met on a few days in the Cancer Floor infusion center. One obviously dedicated and gentle young woman told me she chose cancer nursing after her father died of the disease. She is doing him proud. My case nurse, Sheila Davies is a source of great cheer and exudes confidence.

And so finally here I am, in 1029 Kellog A. I’ve been weighed, measured, my medical history reviewed, pills and potions ordered and the first dose of chemotherapy administered. Each nurse has been about her business intentionally but with a ready smile and sincere words of encouragement.  If lunch is to be a guide, the food will be good. The hospital bed is wider than most and not too uncomfortable.  I hadn’t been here long before my Oxforshire parson son Mark “skyped” me to make sure that all is well. My sons are my delight. This afternoon I was visited by an eager young trainee chaplain, a member of the Christian Reformed Church who was awed because I have met and know +Tom Wright and whose faith and world view is being stretched by courses at Loyola. He was briefly joined by a young Kenyan pastor-chaplain and we prayed together, an instant moment of true ecumenism.

I am writing in a hospital recliner, somewhat hard on the fundamentals, but good enough. I hope to be able to get some reading done before chemo captures me for a period which shouldn’t last more than a few days in the first week or so of my long stay here.. Perhaps I will be fortunate in that respect and avoid some of the nastier side-effects. I know for certain that “God is my hope and strength; a very present help in time of trouble”

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