June 19th, 2006 Dear Ones All,

Some of you already know I’ve been in the hospital for two weeks today, but may not know why. Those who saw me in the States noticed I was limping--because of a sore in the middle of a callous on my right foot. Pressure was put on it when I walked. The callous kept getting bigger and the sore wouldn’t heal. I was very concerned about infection and because of my diabetic condition. Thank God it didn’t get too bad. I saw a podiatrist in Kansas City just before I returned to Brazil, thanks to Lisa and Joel. He gave me some salve and pads, but the pads ran out and I couldn’t get them here. I saw two other doctors here (general practitioners) who gave me some prescriptions. But whenever I walked or stood, there was pressure on the callous.

It was hard to find enough time to get into the hospital and stay off my feet, with the annual Bishops’ National Assembly (9 days, plus two traveling), human rights commitments, the 10th anniversary of the creation of the Palmas (state capital) Archdiocese, blessing and inauguration of the Catholic University, the Regional Seminary, the Ecclesiastical Tribunal, a cloistered monastery of Mexican Clarissan nuns and the outdoor Mass of Thanksgiving. Also, during that time, we bishops of Tocantins had meetings with the Apostolic Delegate (the Pope’s official “Ambassador” in Brazil) to discuss and share our many challenges, concerns, etc., including replacing one of our Tocantins bishops (an American Franciscan, a good friend of mine), who died in March during our clergy retreat.

I hated to miss the four days of study and leisure-time with all the priests of the Prelacy (June 5th to the 8th), but my foot was bothering me and I had a fever, so I yielded to the pressure of priests, nuns and laypeople and came to the hospital the day our study and leisure-time started, June 5th. I left Cristalândia about 3 p.m. and arrived in the hospital in Anápolis about 2:30 a.m. June 6th. A young man from Cristalândia did all the driving, in my Mitsubishi pickup.

The hospital is run by a Brazilian Franciscan nun, a medical doctor, a very good friend of all of us in the Prelacy. This is where I recovered from the car wreck in 1992 and two other times when I had infection in my right toot. For the first 9 days I was hooked up to IV tubes -- which limited me very much – and through which I received a lot of antibiotics. Also I had my foot bandaged up and was “forbidden” to walk on my right foot except on the heel. I only walked to the bathroom, pushing the stand with the IV bottle and tubes, which I had to put up with, even to take a shower. I had to be very careful, since they could hardly find a vein to insert the IV needle, trying unsuccessfully NINE TIMES, succeeding on the TENTH!! Once the girl from the kitchen put my lunch tray a long ways away and, while trying to reach it, the needle pulled out, getting blood on the bed and my clothes and having a hard time stopping the bleeding.. Thank God, the doctor got me hooked up again on the first try. That one vein lasted all 9 days, despite movements taking a shower, while eating, sleeping – with a blanket, since it has been cold here – and so on until the IV was no longer required. Everyone, including me, was amazed and I was extremely grateful. It was good timing, since the next day was Corpus Christi, Thursday, and I was able to celebrate Mass for the first time since being admitted to the hospital. Also I was able to celebrate again on Sunday. Both times I went to the chapel and came back via wheelchair and celebrated sitting down, except for the Consecration and Communion.

Only today, June 19th, was I able to access my email. Everyone tells me that I’m “looking good”. I think what they really mean is “good looking”….. Love and Prayers, +Herbert, O.S.B

P.S. It’s now Wednesday afternoon (almost 1 p.m.) and I’m waiting for a Dermatologist who is going to remove a sort of mole that suddenly appeared beside my right eye, above the cheek, some time ago. It doesn’t hurt but it seems to be getting bigger and I thought I’d have it removed while I’m still in the hospital. When she looked at it the other day the dermatologist said it definitely is not malignant, but they will do a biopsy to know for sure. I’ll have local anesthetic and they’ll just put a bandage on it. I could even head for Cristalândia today, but the seminarian who will be driving my pickup has an evaluation at the university at 8 a.m. tomorrow.