Update 2/4

I’ve been home from the Brigham since Sunday afternoon, after just about 72 hours in the hospital for my bariatric surgery. In addition to my thanks for your prayers, messages, emails, cards, support and love I want to offer just a few post-op remarks on my experience

First, I praise God from whom all blessings flow.  I certainly feel blessed to have such amazing medical science and an expert hospital team within about a half hour of my home.  I think of those who have little or no access to such medical care and I realize how much I can easily take for granted.

I come out of this experience with a whole new appreciation for what it means to be a patient in a hospital. Though I’ve been visiting the sick for 44 years in my ministry, this was the first time I was the person in the bed for a serious reason.  Part of the excellent care I received included the nursing staff’s around the clock vigilance, regularly checking on me, helping me, poking and injecting with me and “checking my vitals.”  I learned that, for good reasons, a hospital is no place to rest or catch up on sleep!  I was hospitalized for a little less than 72 hours.  I have new found respect for those who are in a hospital bed for a much longer period of time.

Making the decision to have this surgery took me a number of years.  I’ve never been afraid of the cut of the surgeon’s knife: what I feared was what this procedure would cut out of my social life  - and this kept me from moving ahead.  Finally I accepted the reality that carrying my weight was a potential danger to my life in general.  The diet I’ve been on since the end of October 2015 taught me that I can be carefully attentive to what I eat and drink -and- still enjoy life! Between November and the end of January I lost 31 pounds just by eating sensibly (over the holidays!).  But I knew that over the years I’d done this before and that what I needed was more than will power. I was faithful to my sensible eating last fall primarily to qualify for the surgery.

I feel very confident that this was the right step to take.   Day by day and hour by hour I am grateful that I took this step – and grateful to all who patiently encouraged me as I deliberated.  I love life and I love the life that’s mine in ministry and I want to live it as long as possible as a healthy man. 

I’m grateful to Myles Sheehan, SJ and Charlie Gallagher, SJ for covering for me on two weekends and to Sr. Rose Marie and Deacons Chuck Clough and Gregory Burch for standing by for pastoral calls that come in while I’m away. My prayer, hope and goal: to be ready to be for Ash Wednesday and to begin the Holy Season of Lent with my parish.

Until then I’m living a life of leisure (rest) and liquids (water, broth, jello and protein shakes).  After two weeks of this I'll move on to mush - which I eagerly anticipate!

Once again, the greatest thing you can offer me is the gift of your prayers, for which I’m truly grateful.  And here’s one particular way for you to pray that would truly lift my spirits:  wherever you are, come to church to pray on Ash Wednesday – even and especially if you haven’t observed Ash Wednesday (2/10) for a long time.  It’s the best way to enter this special season called Lent, a kind of “spring training” for a Christian’s mind and heart.  Google or call your local parish now to find out the times for Ash Wednesday services and make plans to be there!


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  1. I have missed you and your blog. Take care and best wishes.

  2. Wishing you all the best for a speedy recovery. Although your physical presence will be smaller, your spiritual "presents" have always been larger than life. God bless you Father Fleming!

  3. Thank you for filling us in on some of the background and for bringing us up-to-date on your recovery process. You are much loved and appreciated by your parishioners and all those you reach by your blog. May God bless and keep you in his loving care.



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