No Longer Strangers Digest


A reflection by Ben D. Anderson, commissioned minister of disability education and advocacy

Today marks three years since I was commissioned as a commissioned minister for disability education and advocacy for the United Church of Christ on October 23, 2016.  I will say that it has been an interesting journey.

Since July of 2018 I have been sick and been in the hospital a number of times.  I finally went to Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN  during Christmas 2018 and had my colon removed due to severe ulcerative colitis.  Because I was very sick and long time to recover I wound up in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Mayo as I had a Pulmonary Embolism  (blood clot) in my heart/lungs in January 2019.

I have an interesting story to tell you.  While I was in the ICU I mentioned to my wife and brother-in-law –“please shut off that Christmas Tree”.  They both looked at each other and said “these drugs must be doing a trick on his memory”   but as they began to look beyond my bed they saw my IV “tree” in back of me filled with multiple IV bags reflecting the lights in the room and that I was  “up to no good and teasing us”. 

Since I was in the ICU room I had my second and third operation.  The first operation in December 2018 was to take out my colon and give me an external “pouch”.  My second operation was end of June 2019 was to bring down my small intestine to my “bottom” and the third and final operation end of September 2019 was to remove the pouch so I could go naturally again. 

When I was in the ICU room last January I was introduced to an information board in the ICU room entitled “Get to Know Me” board. It was for the patients or families to fill in the patients’ personal interests, likes, favorite movies and books, nicknames, interests and other topics like accomplishments.  I wrote down that I was a commissioned minister of disability education, call me Ben and that my favorite book was “IQ of 63, So What” Going Beyond Everybody Else’s Expectations by Ben D. Anderson.  The head ICU doctor ( Dr. Ogie) was interested in my “favorite book” so I gave him a copy and we became friends and then we decided to write an article on the ‘Get to Know me” Board and it was published on August 1, 2019 in the Mayo Clinic online publication for Critical Care Explorations       ( open to public view). I have been invited to speak in March of 2020 to Mayo medical Staff on this subject of the Get to Know Me board with Dr. Ogie.

I have also spoken to a number of churches in the Tri-Conference UCC in Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota. I thank First Congregational Church in Rapid City, SD for providing a Genesis Grant for me to speak at these churches. 

I am now on the consumer council for the Center for Disabilities, University of South Dakota in Sioux Falls (Sanford Medical) and with the help of the South Dakota Disability Council Director Arlene Poncelot.

I am hoping to begin to lecture in medical classes and conferences on the subject of this “Get to Know Me” board.  Our goal is to help the medical community to get to know their patients beyond their medical diagnosis and help the medical staff to see the “whole person’.

Ben D. Anderson, commissioned minister of disability education and advocacy
United Church of Christ 

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