After 48 years of uninterrupted columns (June 5, 1969), since the below-noted column I have not written or emailed any columns out. Thus, my last column until now was the September 18, 2017

In the column below, I give a report and reflection on what transpired between my last column and this new beginning column.

As far as falls/crashes go, my tumble on Highway 182 (N. Union St.) in Opelousas hurt considerably – even to a trace soreness on my lower right eye lobe – but inflicted far less lasting damage than other falls. The worst rub of all was that it was completely avoidable. As I told Father Lambert and others, an 87-year-old has no business making the impetuous moves of someone 20 years younger. That episode dates back to the last Sunday of June as I rushed toward evening Mass.

Immeasurably more mysterious than the previous faux pas, a sudden twist of acknowledgement after the end of Mass opened the way for my left sandal to trip on the marble threshold between the Our Lady of Prompt Succor Nursing Home chapel and the hall. The mothering Marianite Sisters would hear of nothing else but my being gurnied to an ambulance and on to Opelousas General Hospital. A doctor made the strange remark that I had probably suffered near syncope (near fainting). My unwelcome souvenir of this was two broken ribs still sore four weeks later.

Another doubtful near syncope pushed Father Lambert to call Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center in Lafayette to pick me up. Shades of my 1:00 a.m. March 20, 2006 expulsion from Saint Augustine Church in New Orleans! Although I was not being exiled this time, the net result was almost the same as important little personal things were left behind, even the near indispensable cell phone. I could only laugh at the ironic similarities and jolting differences.

Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital rooms are spacious and comfortable, with a large picture window perhaps 10’ X 8’ in size. I kept noticing some undetermined creature come close to it, then sweep aside. After closer observation, I saw that the speedy creatures were chimney swifts, God’s aerial acrobats ever in pursuit of their staple, winged insects. Despite their speed and preoccupation with food, they always veered off before striking the pane. They were an ongoing free aerial show.

The nurses and doctors immediately plunged into their usual complete battery of tests to pinpoint all health issues. It was heartening to see that, no matter who administered the tests at the various hospitals, the results generally amounted to a clean bill of health. This time, however, there were a couple of differences.

My heart was running much faster than usual, apparently from the shock of the crash, moving the cardiac doctor to prescribe an annoying drip to regularize my heartbeat. Dr. Noah noticed a suspicious mass at the top of my lungs.

“There appears to be fluid in your lungs. If we don’t remove it, you could go into pneumonia. I will do another X-ray to make sure.” After making another X-ray, he added, “The X-ray read suggests that the fluid be drained to preclude pneumonia.”

Even though it was after 5:00 p.m., the doctor suggested that the drain be done at that time.

“You will scarcely feel a very small hypodermic needle insert a local anesthetic at the top of your back, followed by a much larger needle. Then I will use a drain needle to remove the fluid. You should feel no pain.”

Just as promised, the painless procedure was completed in less than ten minutes. Dr. Noah walked out triumphantly, holding in his hands a liter bottle nearly filled with dark, almost grape-colored fluid from my lungs. We were all amazed.

From that time, the mantra that rules the hospitals was heard, “Get well! We want you to get well so that you can get out of here to serve as soon as possible!”

Going into the third week there, I joined the Thursday rehab crew for physical therapy led by Lori the occupational therapist. But rumors had been swirling for days, involving my being switched to Our Lady of Prompt Succor rehab program. Rehab called me for another session, but the cardiac doctor had visited earlier, listening with his stethoscope, checking his data and concluding, pointing to the dripping apparatus, “You don’t need this anymore! Since this medical drip was the only reason for your being here, you may leave and work with pills hereafter.”

With real pep in my step, I called Holy Ghost fellow church member Cynthia Singleton who works nearby. With my meager items, we were soon in Opelousas. I was quickly slotted into the stringent Monday-Friday physical therapy program. Lo and behold, Father Lambert reconnected me to the world by installing my computer.

By the time the final curtain falls on my life, should the good Lord grant me more days and even years to serve his holy will and my sisters and brothers, I am convinced that, because of my recently enforced retreat, I will serve with greater zest but more caution, with more prayer but almost constant gut/reality checks.

Rev. Jerome LeDoux, SVD

“God is love, and all who abide in love abide in God and God in them.” (1 John 4:16)