This story of a miracle through the intercessions of an Anglo-Saxon saint, St. Botolph, was sent to us by an Orthodox Englishman.
In the autumn of 2021, despite feeling in good health, I started to become tight chested during normal exercise.
Doing what people always do I left it a while hoping it would clear up. When it didn't I called the doctor's surgery and obtained a referral to the chest pain clinic at Boston Hospital. Boston, Botolph's town.
Eventually I had a telephone consultation with a cardiology nurse, was diagnosed with suspected angina, given a basic drug prescription and booked for a CT coronary angiogram.
There was a waiting list for CT angiograms. By the last week of April 2022 and despite calling a couple of times, I had not been given an appointment. In the middle of the week I telephoned again and was again told to be patient and wait.
At Church on Friday that week we celebrated the Divine Liturgy for the Life- giving Font of Mother of God. During the Liturgy our Priest served the sacrament of baptism for the infant son of good Church friends. I made my confession and was blessed to take Holy Communion. That afternoon, at my friends' house, I was called by the clinic, “Would you be available to come for your angiogram tomorrow, Saturday?”, “Yes, I would!”
The angiogram revealed a severe lesion to the largest coronary artery which supplies about half of the blood carried by coronary circulation. Serious indeed, and the consultant impressed on me that I needed a coronary stent urgently and that he would put me on the urgent waiting list. This urgent waiting list eventually panned out at nineteen weeks.
I went to our priest and talked with him about making weekly confession and with his blessing taking Holy Communion—this was certainly the right thing to do. With an amended prescription I waited, and I waited. One of my Church friends half-joked with me about confessing and taking Holy Communion too often.
Six weeks later, on the day of the Descent of the Holy Spirit, I collapsed at Church during the Sunday Liturgy. Before confession a dear friend, one of the faithful of the community, had pulled my leg saying, “If you go before me [to Judgement] then put in a good word for me!” Then God showed his right hand. Mercifully I collapsed into the arms of my Church family, not whilst driving, or in the street or at home where I could have hit my head on something.
My friends revived me, I communed of the Life-Giving and Holy Mysteries propped up lying on the ground outside of the Church. Paramedics arrived, I received a blessing, and an ambulance took me to hospital.
At hospital I was seen by a very conscientious Somalian registrar who could have sent me home to remain on the waiting list, but knew all about progressive unstable angina as his brother had sadly recently collapsed and died of this as an undiagnosed condition.
During the wait to be admitted I sat next to a local farmer, who has since become a friend. Before they wheeled him away he gave me a bottle of apple juice and when he left I inherited his recliner chair, the only recliner chair in the emergency waiting room and much more comfortable than the waiting chair I had been occupying. In a quiet period in the proceedings I knew that I had to leave to pick up my vehicle from Church, call in at home to collect a few things and change out of my Sunday clothes, no family locally and all my friends at work. I called a taxi company and asked for a “fast taxi”:
“You want a taxi?”
“No, I want a fast taxi.” “You want BMW?” “Yes!”
By the grace of God, on surviving the trip and returning intact a couple of hours later, I had not only kept my place in the queue for admission, but the apple juice and recliner chair also!
After 36 hours in the accident and emergency waiting room I was admitted to the emergency ward. During the following day a cardio consultant came to find me, boosted my prescription to keep me safe and reassured me that they would call for me “as soon as possible, may be tomorrow [Wednesday]”, the emergency ward doctors being firmly told that I should remain there and sit tight.
On Thursday morning the ward sister came to say that cardiology had sent for me and a porter appeared at her shoulder almost immediately. A short journey to the cardio ward and a lightning-fast discussion with a doctor who actually told his junior to “keep up” whilst we were talking. If they cannot keep up on the ward they don’t want them in theatre.
On Friday June 17, they took me to the operating theatre. My name had been on the white-board since Wednesday morning, they had had a number of more urgent patients in the meantime.
During the procedure the operating consultant, the same very likeable Roman Catholic who had seen me at the CT clinic, held tight on my wrist as they fed the fibre-optic catheter up the artery in my arm. He was standing just at my elbow but it seemed as if he was on the other side of the room. Local anaesthetic was given in the wrist incision only. The consultant asked me several times how I was feeling and if I was in any pain, then said to the physiologist, “He must be in a lot of pain.” In this situation, believe me, you pray without ceasing, with your whole heart. I felt some very mild chest constriction during the operation but no pain at all.
It all proceeded as planned, they showed me photos afterwards; it was a shockingly severe lesion.
Each week my half-joking friend and I stand at Church beside a large icon of St. Botolph. In England on 17th June we celebrate St. Botolph, here in Boston our local Saint, a patron saint of travellers and apparently of farmers, about whose life we know virtually nothing but who has had at least seventy churches dedicated to him in England and who is venerated in many places elsewhere.
To God alone goes the glory! Thanks be to God for the prayers of my Church family, my friends and priests, for the intercession of the Most Holy Mother of God, and for the intervention of our local Saint.
That was my summer holiday, six nights, 5-star, all inclusive. I met some wonderful people, had a couple of life enhancing experiences, came home with a renewed heart and feeling truly blessed.
Glory to Thy power O LORD!