Daily Archives: January 11, 2010

Baseball Beyond Life and Death in the ICU

“I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the Earth. And I might have been given a bad break, but I’ve got an awful lot to live for…” Lou Gehrig

Today I was walking away from our hospital pharmacy where I had to pick up a prescription and I heard a voice of a man call out to me…no not a voice crying out in the wilderness, but a familiar voice.  I looked around and immediately recognized the man as the husband of the woman who back in May of last year was very near death in our ICU.  I wrote about that in a little post called Baseball in Between Life and Death in the ICU. That post came at an interesting time for my PTSD battle was still raging, my dad’s condition was getting worse and I was getting ready to go home for what I thought be my last visit and I was heavily engaged on the ICU and PICU.

The lady sat next to her husband, and it was yet another of the recent blessings in my life that I have begun to count as miracles. She looked great, especially since last year her prognosis for her life once she left the hospital was measured in weeks or a couple of months.  The woman was a big baseball fan and even coached.  Her husband kept baseball games on her ICU television whenever they were on even though she was for the most part very heavily sedated and only occasionally conscious. We had many visits by her bedside and one day I brought in a baseball that I had thrown out as the first pitch at a Kinston Indians game on a wedding anniversary a few years back.  With her husband and sister in the room I put the ball in her hand which tightened around it.  For what I understand the ball seldom left her hand as she remained in the ICU.  As we visited they both told me how much what I did in the ICU meant to them, the prayer, anointing of the sick and the baseball.  She told me that the ball, an official Carolina League ball on her mantle.  What was funny she only vaguely remembered my face because of her terrible condition and sedation, but that her husband would not stop talking about me. We chatted some more and talked about all the prayer that had been made on her behalf as well as the hard work of the ICU and Cardiology teams to keep her alive and help her recover.  I mentioned that probably the whole companies of baseball “saints” in heaven were praying for her as well and we all had a great laugh.  I had to leave and go to a call but we exchanged hugs and blessings.

Today has been a busy day.  I have already dealt with the death of a relatively young woman with cancer in palliative care; withdraw of life support from a man and several other situations where people could be spending their last hours or days on earth.  I had given last rites to the woman who passed away tonight last Thursday when I was on call.

I mentioned last week that despite everything I still felt good emotionally though I was physically worn out. Today I am pretty fresh even now and know that I will need to remain her much of the day tomorrow no matter what happens tonight.  However for the first time in a while I can say that I am ready and feel something like my old self again.  What began as Padre Steve’s Christmas Miracle has continued into the New Year and despite complications and infection associated with my implant surgery I feel good. I am hoping to be cleared Wednesday to PT again and am looking forward to good things even in the midst of life and death both inside and outside of the ICU.

There are some other things going on that I will be writing about in the coming days. Baseball spring training is getting closer and lots of deals and trades are happening. The Orioles and Giants have both picked up some hitting and have great young pitching.  On the other news front I am glad that Mark McGuire finally admitted his use of steroids.  At the same time I am not going to condemn him as so many others were doing the same thing, I just wished he had not taken them and come clean sooner.

Now I’m heading back upstairs to check on all of my really sick folks and savoring the bit of time that I had for dinner and to write this little post.


Padre Steve+

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Filed under Baseball, healthcare, Pastoral Care, PTSD, Religion