Daily Archives: February 2, 2011

Paganini and Me-originally posted in Sept. 2010

One of the reasons the “Paganini was a Marfan” theory fascinates me beyond all others is that he actually had symptoms of an aortic aneurysm, specifically, versus other historical figures purported to have Marfan mainly because they were tall and lanky.

In addition to his prowess with the violin, Paganini’s contemporaries thought he was a sorcerer because of his constantly declining health. Later in life, he hardly left his room except to perform in public. He was constantly out of breath. He was pale, almost gray, in complexion. Most interestingly, he barely ever ate and reportedly had problems swallowing.

Somewhere around 15 years ago, when I still had the aortic root aneurysm but a year or two before my actual surgery, I mentioned to my cardiologist that I was having trouble swallowing. Quite ironically, given the frequent “your chest pain is just gas” or “your chest pain is just heart burn” dismissals that one hears from a doctor, I mentioned to my cardio. that I was having trouble swallowing, and I felt like my aorta was pressing on my esophagus.

He said, “As a matter of fact, we had a patient who came to Dr. [one of his partners who was a gastroenterologist] about heart burn and indigestion. It turned out he wasn’t having heart burn–he had an aneurysm that was pushing on his esophagus and made it hard for him to swallow.”

Lately, that’s been my problem. For the past couple years, there’s a part of my back that’s hurt when I lean against it the wrong way or overexert myself. Lately, it hurts almost constantly, and those things just make it worse. The nature of the pain is what I remember feeling in my chest before my surgery, combined with back pain–I attribute it to the aneurysm pressing against my spine.

However, since sometime earlier this year, I’ve also begun having the problem swallowing again. Sometimes, I feel like I just want to give up eating solids altogether. When I eat, I get horrible pain as the food passes the equivalent area of my esophagus to where the back pain is. And of course, pain raises blood pressure, so it causes that vicious cycle where the blood pressure raises, so my heart and my aneurysm hurt because the bp is high.

Or even “just gas” isn’t just gas anymore, since the gas pressure in my chest makes that area of my back hurt just that much worse.

Statement from Fr. Thomas Euteneuer

Back in August, a couple months after the publication of his book on exorcism, Fr. Thomas Euteneuer abruptly resigned from his position as president of Human Life International. He offered no explanation other than obedience to the bishop of his home diocese. At the time, and since, I took the whole thing as “nothing to see here.” I have given the benefit of the doubt to both Fr. Euteneuer and his bishop, presuming that, as Fr. Euteneuer has increasingly turned to spiritual warfare, he probably felt he was not properly serving the mission of HLI, and he probably wanted to turn to full time exorcism ministry.

Others have engaged in rampant speculation in one direction or the other. Many have suggested that his bishop was trying to “shut him up.” I have responded that, in situations like that (i.e., Fr. Pavone and Cardinal Egan; Fr. Fessio and the Jesuits), the official statement usually gives some indication of that. Others have suggested some ghastly scandal.

A couple weeks ago, a column suggested the “mysterious circumstances” of his disappearance from the public eye and discussed how his book, now out of print, is selling for hundreds of dollars online. This has led to a firestorm of discussion on the Internet, mostly unwholesome speculation of the kind I mentioned above.

Well, today, Fr. Euteneuer has offered an official statement explaining what really happened.

Sadly, the truth is not as pristine as I had hoped, but it is not as horribly scandalous as some have speculated. Fr. Euteneuer admits to having engaged in a sin against chastity with a woman whom he was counseling. This sounds very much like the situation that was used to defame Fr. Haley. He says there was no sex act involved, but there was a violation of chastity. He says that he normally does spiritual counseling and exorcism with a third party helper, but occasionally made exceptions in what he believed were emergency situations. This one incident started to cross a line, and he attributes it to his own arrogance.

Sadly, the speculators are calumniating not only Fr. Euteneuer in some cases, but members of his family, his bishop, HLI and other church officials. It is to protect these people’s reputations that Father has bravely made this public statement. We should all pray for him.