Can someone please tell me what happened to October?
When I checked the calendar on my phone today, I saw I last headed to the gym on October 1st. Since my heart attack a few years ago, I had been regularly trying to strengthen both my heart and lungs and to lose weight. The closing of the gyms for some time, unfortunately, did interrupt my routine during this pandemic. However, I eventually got back to doing about 60 minutes of cardio, two to three times a week. I would work on six various exercises (treadmill, bike, stair master, elliptical, rowing machine, etc.) ten minutes each, in addition to lifting some weights. 60 minutes of cardio!
And for the past 18 to 20 months, I stayed relatively healthy. However, early in October I started to feel run down. I developed some symptoms associated with Covid-19, and eventually went to an Urgent Care to be examined. I was diagnosed with Covid.
While I quarantined for a time and tried to get better at the rectory, I found my breathing to be more difficult and labored. With encouragement from a doctor-friend from my last parish, I admitted myself to the hospital on October 13th, and they kept me for 11 days. I was given supplemental oxygen (not a ventilator) at the hospital to help with breathing while being treated in various ways for Covid-19.
For a few weeks it has been difficult praying. I just could not concentrate. Sadly, I did not have the ability to say Mass nor did I receive any of the sacraments of the Church in the hospital. I missed going to Holy Communion. It was very, very painful for me—both physically and spiritually.
When I was discharged from the hospital and returned to the rectory, I found myself both alone and afraid. I sat huddled on a recliner chair, wrapped in a blanket, sitting close to the bathroom most nights.
Thank God for one of my priest-friends who came to visit many evenings. He anointed me with the Sacrament of the Sick, heard my confession, brought me Holy Communion and did many menial (but necessary) tasks for me at the rectory. He was truly a god-send.
What I have been struggling with most days is a chronic fatigue. I have had a hard time just standing for any prolonged period of time. I have been able to say a private Mass in the rectory, but much of the time I have had to sit down during it. I lost strength in my voice and somewhere between 30 and 40 lbs. overall.
So as I write this letter to you today, I see myself getting stronger day by day. I am by no means near 100%, nor do I have the ability and strength to return to full-time ministry at this time. However, I can see progress being made with the help of God’s grace and I trust the worst of this, fortunately, is over for me.
I thank the many priests who have covered the various Masses for me. I miss saying public Mass, but I know the time is getting nearer when I will be back at the altar—both daily and Sunday.
Thanks for all your prayers, support, generosity and kindness.
Fr. Ed Namiotka