Health Ministry in Action at General Convention
In November of 2009 I suffered a branch artery occlusion that caused an eyebrow shaped blind spot in the vision field of my right eye. Although I had no other symptoms, I was wise enough to immediately seek medical attention. When they checked my blood pressure at the doctor’s office it was high enough that everyone started using very calm and soothing voices. Although I had no previous symptoms, was very physically active, and ate a generally healthy diet, I was diagnosed with high blood pressure in the range of severe stage 3 to very severe stage 4. I was placed on medications that evening and, together with some lifestyle changes, I now have my blood pressure under control. Thankfully, I have recovered nearly all of my vision but will have to monitor my blood pressure the rest of my life.
As with many people, stress is a key factor in my blood pressure. At General Convention in Anaheim I was privileged to serve as secretary to the Committee on Dispatch of Business. As you can imagine, this is not a low stress commitment. I knew going into this that I would need to monitor my blood pressure carefully. I was happy to find National Episcopal Health Ministries and the Episcopal Church Medical Trust shared a booth in the Exhibit Hall where they offered free blood pressure checks and 10 minute massages. At my first check with them we discovered that my pressure was slightly elevated. When it was still up the next day they strongly suggested that I contact my doctor.
Following an email exchange, he prescribed an adjustment to my medication for the duration of General Convention and instructed me to continue daily pressure checks until I was able to get into the office to see him. This adjustment worked and my pressure remained under control for the duration of my time in California. Between the massages, the pressure checks and, in my opinion, the best tasting drinking water at the convention, NEHM and the Medical Trust's volunteers took great care of me and kept me healthy through the long grind of General Convention.
From one deputy who needed care, to the volunteers who staffed the booth, gave the massages, and those generous hearts that helped fund it, thank you! Your caring ministry enabled me to focus on the work of General Convention confident that I was not risking my health to do it.
The Very Rev. Ward Simpson became Dean of Calvary Cathedral in Sioux Falls, South Dakota on October 1, 2009. You can learn more about his work at www.calvarycathedral.net.