Saturday, February 16, 2013

MS dysphagia, St. Blaisé and cosmic coincidence

Inspired by an entry in Middle Age Mania, Get Out of Hell Free Card....

People have shared with us that, “The Lord works in mysterious ways” enough times over the 27 years since Patti was first diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis to probably qualify for an entry in the Guinness Book of Records.

Those ‘mysterious ways’ challenge faith. As the spouse caregiver, watching Patti decline over nearly a quarter century (and over a three year period burying my father, mother, and only brother) I've certainly had, have, and will have contentious streaks in my relationship with God, fortunately always staying just beyond the ‘smite with lightning bolt’ threshold.

Patti believes my faith matters, so allow me to pull back a curtain. My paternal great grandparents, including the original “Patrick Leer”, who I am named after were immigrants from Ireland and my bedrock is Irish Catholic.

Decades ago wanting to have our daughter baptized Catholic we were told our marriage would first have to be validated. Patti’s Lutheran baptism and our marriage outdoors by an ordained Lutheran minister were unacceptable to Rome.

Even though Patti desired to convert, once a wheelchair was required it became a game changer for accessibility. Frankly juggling spouse caregiving and basically single parenting was more important.

However, as proof “the Lord works in mysterious ways” with time MS cognitive and dementia problems erased religious labels. Plus caregiving + Sunday + church +cognitive symptoms = some interesting experiences.

A week ago, taking Patti out for lunch I was reminded by her care facility staff to have her back by 1:30 PM for her “Catholic thing”.

That “Catholic thing” would be the Feast of St. Blaisé, “through the intercession of Saint Blaisé may God deliver you from the ailments of the throat and from every other evil….”

Considering how often choking has nearly killed Patti, invoking the intercession of St. Blaisé is not a bad idea with Multiple Sclerosis dysphagia.

Yes, speech therapists treat dysphagia but come on now they lack the whole cool looking crossed candle ritual and after yesterday’s cosmic coincidence, maybe just maybe we all need a little more than therapy.

“Care” is rooted in the “Golden Rule” universal to ALL religions.
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Patrick Leer
Health Activist:
Caregivingly Yours, MS Caregiver @


  1. Being a cradle Irish Catholic myself, I'm chuckling over the "Catholic thing!" A blessing is a blessing, though (and BTW -- those nifty crossed candles aren't really necessary) and it sure can't hurt. I like the St. Blaise story about the wolf!

  2. I am wondering if it ever gets easier or less embarrassing when the cognitive thing i.e. disinhibition and lability along with impusivity cause behaviors that no one else understands and everyone thinks means he is just inappropriate. I still go for inappropriate before I give him the benefit of the doubt for the other things. I do have one story, reading a passage at a church we were at and the version they were using was phrased "God pitched a tent in the sky." most say created a tabernacle or something more grand. We both lost it like pre-teens trying not to laugh but laughing so hard we couldn't stop. We never went back to that church! :)


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