Forty eight to seventy two hours ~ the doctor’s verdict on Mama. What is behind this 48-72 hours? What is the significance of the 2 to 3 days that God gave us? Heaven’s Empathy. That’s what we received during that time. Miracles.
I don’t want to forget. I always want to remember. That’s why I wrote a detailed account of what transpired on those dates. I want to remember. I never want to forget. Even if it entails remembering the feelings and tears.
The 48-72 Hours Account (in Taglish, just the way I wrote it on my phone):
A brief background: Mama never wanted to have any operation. She doesn’t even like chemo or radiation therapy. Her faith was that God can heal her and make her whole in natural or even supernatural ways. Maybe because she was able to take care of her younger sister and most of her immediate family members who went through the same situation and the same pain. So for her to finally decide to have a colostomy done, was a big step of faith and courage.
Before the said operation, God was very gentle on her. All of us were already in agreement with the date of her operation. She said, “Doc, baka pwede sa Monday nalang.” That was a week after the supposed scheduled operation. Minutes after that, her infectious disease doctor entered our room and said, “Mommy meron ka pang infection kelangan i-postponed muna natin operation mo. Kausapin ko si doc na postponed muna”. I was so sure that was a great relief to Mama. And for us, that was how gentle God was with her. God even honored her request.
The day that she was about to enter the chilly operating room, we bid her “God bless” and “we will see you later”. She then one by one kissed all of us on both of our left and right cheeks (she barely does this to us) and gave us a light hug. I wasn’t able to hold back my tears. But I couldn’t let her see me cry.
THE RECOVERY PERIOD
06 September 2012
(After her successful colostomy, Ma’s oncologist/colorectal surgeon met us in the waiting room. He told us that he was able to do what was planned and the good news that the cancer didn’t metastasize but was just localized in her pelvic area. It was both good and bad news; knowing that her tumor was still there and it grew bigger than her previous check up but that at least it did not metastasize. We were grateful that the cancer did not metastasize and we saw Mama with a big smile. That was God’s first miracle.)
Mama has her colostomy bag already. It’s new and it’s neither LV nor Hermes.
Good thing na may lumalabas na dumi. Before hangin lang ang meron sa bag.
07 September 2012 (The longest day of our lives)
(Woke up very early. Well, Papa made me wake up because Mama will have her first “pasyal” after her operation. At first, I didn’t want to wake up because I was still so sleepy but thank God I was able to wake up and accompany my Papa and Mama.)
8:00 AM – Pasyal with mama at the 7th floor. Mama was in high spirits. She was exercising her arms and feet.
Papa was the one pushing her wheelchair. They’re so sweet. I’m so grateful to witness their relationship. First sunlight of Mama after weeks in the hospital. I downloaded their favorite song on my phone while strolling around the 7th floor. “You make me feel brand new” by The Stylistics, that was their background music, their theme song. They will very soon celebrate their 38th Wedding Anniversary. We’re all looking forward to it.
(Mama was holding the book given to her by a close friend of mine, Ye Shin. We read it to her almost every day.)
9:00 AM – Akyat ng room. Before magtransfer sa bed from wheelchair, Mama felt dizzy already. I saw her eyes. It was a bit scary. She was transferred in bed after several minutes. She felt the pain. Doctors checked her – okay pa her speech and can even think about the name of the doctor. The doctor let her “pisil” his hand.
Before Noon – The nurse administered the first pain killer. Mama still kept uttering about the pain. (It was very difficult seeing her like that.)
Past Noon – Pain killer still didn’t work. Doc checked her again and it’s not stroke because she can still put her arms up, smile, etc. But when asked about the pain she’ll say, “sa ulo”. San sa ulo? “Sa tyan”. There was also pain in her neck and mouth. She can’t sleep (which was the opposite of what we expected once she took the pain killer). She’s been talking a lot about the pain. The nurse administered the 2nd pain killer. I asked her first if it was safe knowing that she already took one ~ minutes ago and it didn’t have any effect on her. She said it was safe. Mama can’t swallow the pill kaya hinalo nalang sa pear juice. *Pain killers – Dolcet and Mefenamic
Afternoon – Severe pain. She never stopped talking and complaining about her pain. She kept on calling the doctors, nurses, our names and loudly uttered, “masakit, masakit, masakit”. We tried talking to her but it seems like something happened even the way she thinks during that time because of the excruciating pain that she was suffering. We just kept on talking to her even during our naps in between. We didn’t know how to help her. We were “paralyzed” at that point.
Then something just prompted me to come near her and check on her. I asked her, “Mama, are you still okay?”. Then it was as if God just wanted me to come near her. She started to have some seizures. It started from her eyes, to her left arm, then her whole body started shaking. It was shaking tremendously.
That was my first time to see an actual seizure. Thank God that I sometimes watch TV series concerning health and hospitals. And Mama always tell me how important it is to always have the presence of mind during emergencies. That time, I pressed the call button near Mama’s hospital bed and called the nurse that it was an emergency, my Mama’s body was shaking. My brother was able to check my Mama too and he was able to call the nurses so they’d arrive faster. An alarm sounded then the speakers were turned on, “BRAIN ATTACK, BRAIN ATTACK TEAM…” I still have the picture when 3-4 doctors and 5 nurses swarmed our room. My Papa and brother left the room. I couldn’t leave my Mama. I just couldn’t. I stayed and in my head though she was having a seizure, I just had the peace and comfort that time knowing that God wouldn’t take Mama like that.
The team then took my Mama to have several tests. She had CT scan and MRI just to make sure about her brain activities and other medical stuff. My brother didn’t leave my Papa. My other brother and sister-in-law soon arrived too. And it was as if God timely sent angels of comfort from above – a group of family friends from church soon arrived and prayed with us, comforted us, believed for Mama during that very difficult time. That was a long wait.
Early Evening – A doctor soon met us and said that they’re still finding out if it’s a form of a stroke or carcinomatous meningitis. My Mama was soon brought back to her room and not at the ICU. That was the second miracle. But the doctors didn’t tell us if my Mama’s mind would still be back to normal or if she would remain disoriented. I think they’re also confused. They really didn’t know what to tell us. All were tests and guesses.
She was disoriented for a day or two. She could barely recognize us but had episodes of recalling our names at times. She still kept on moving and talking even while trying to fall asleep. She wasn’t normal. But we kept on praying for her. We kept the faith by God’s grace. Then, I had the opportunity to have my alone time with Mama and I just asked God, “Lord, if you’re going to take Mama, please don’t take her like this. I want her to be able to recognize us. And if you’ll let her live, please give her a quality life. Not like this.” I cried some more in pain and grief. That was an ugly but honest cry.
08 September 2012
Madaling araw nagtatawag pa din ng names at masakit daw in between. Hindi din kami makatulog. Siya lalo.
8:05 AM – 1st tulog ni Mama without moving and talking. Thank you Lord.
9:30 PM – Mama started to wake up and recognized us like nothing happened. (We’re not sure if she knows what happened to her. But we kept mum about it. This was God’s third miracle. She didn’t just recognized us, her good memory came back and she started to share old stories and remembered the names of all her nurses.)
*That day, the doctors also told us about a procedure called “Lumbar Puncture” so they’d know what really caused Mama’s seizure. We stood firm especially Papa that we’ll no longer allow further tests to Mama’s body. She already suffered severely. We just trusted the Lord and boy was He able to deliver His faithfulness! Note to others: You have the right to say no. Just make sure that you’ve also heard from God.
09 September 2012
We thought it was over but Mama was still in great pain. She was shouting why we are doing this to her. She started to eat and drink just a little. But she was very much active in mind.
10 September 2012
Morning – Mama had breakfast and was able to eat and drink more. This was when she uttered loudly while in pain, “Lord, I trust in you”. She was still in pain and at times we could see a tear or two from her eyes.
But this was God’s fourth miracle. She just committed herself and her pain to Him.
Noon – Less pain up to no complaints at all. Then Mama even had her shampoo done but after that, her breathing went different.
Evening – Two doctors arrived that night. Mama’s infectious disease doctor and her attending physician, the colorectal surgeon. Her infectious disease doctor first called us up and told us about their findings. He told us the possibility that Mama’s case was carcinomatous meningitis. A disease which is connected to the brain. He told us that we should be ready anytime. It’s like him telling us that Mama’s time would be soon and he even recommended us a book to us on how he was able to cope with his own mother’s death. We just looked at him and said thank you.
Later on, mama’s attending physician together with a nurse visited our room and checked her up. They checked her monitor and observed how she was breathing. They were whispering to each other while Mama was still wide awake.
The attending physician soon called us outside to talk to our family. Mama was left at her room with my sister-in-law while we all went just a couple of steps away from her room. The doctor said that based on his years of experience (and he had never made any mistakes or wrong verdicts yet), with Mama’s case, she only has 48-72 hours to live. That was his verdict ~ 48-72 hours. Beyond that, it would be a miracle. As usual, we were just calm as we talked to him. Then we had a family meeting and just prayed. We were all saying that we’re ready if it’s God’s time for her to leave. We just surrendered but we still believed that God can do miracles. And so, at that point, we were crying but at the same time with Papa’s leading, he said that he will still won’t give up, he will still fight.
Upon entering Mama’s room, it started to rain really hard. It was like God heard us and was crying with us. He saw our faith that we’ll never stop praying for miracles until He says so. The heavens empathized with us. Then, what made us cry some more was when Mama started to say goodbye to all of us. She said, “Jimmy, Jimmy, I will miss you so much”. “Where are my babies? Jimmy Boy, Ate, Jason, Bonita”. “Bonita, cremate niyo ako ah. At saka sayo na yung green ko na bag.” Then I just said, “Mama, ako din po papacremate din. At saka ako po nagbigay ng green na bag sa inyo.”. I was just trying not to be too serious. But I was already in tears. Then that evening, while she was still saying her goodbyes, I just went beside her and embraced her. I couldn’t help but cry on her, “Mama, Mama…”.
I didn’t know what happened with her. But soon,I realized that her sense of hearing was really that sensitive and strong. She was really chismosa but this time she just heard it really well from her doctor while he was “whispering” things to the nurse. That evening she even kept on calling her own Mama. She wanted to see her.
My Kuya Jimbo and Ate Liz soon left the hospital. My Kuya Jimbo’s always been the most strong and responsible one. But I know in their moments together they were crying too. My brother is blessed because he has a wife whom he can always cry with. They are both blessed and loved by Mama. While they were away, Mama kept on looking for them. She kept on calling for them until we let her talk to them on the phone. Then she had her sleep.
I never saw Kuya Jason cry. That’s just the way he is. When our grandpa died (who was very close to him) and even our dogs (who were close to him too), I never saw him cry. He was always the quiet one, never showing his love but it’s always been there. But when I saw him go to the loo, I knew that he was already crying and just didn’t want us to see it. When he went out, I told him, “Kuya Jason, it’s okay to cry. You can cry to us. You can cry with us. It’s okay to cry.” My Papa was also crying during that time. Then when it was my brother’s time to leave, my Papa hugged him and he started crying on him. I started hugging them too. That was our first group hug as a family. That was the fifth miracle – in our weakness, we had Him as our strength and grace.
11 September 2012
Mama just shared about her case to close friends from her Bible study group and some of my own friends from church and my Papa’s (and brothers) small group too who had been praying and believing for her and with us since then. In the number of times she met with her immediate family, she never told them about her case. She had always been the strong one, the one who takes care of others.
Thank you Lord – Lola Egly, Tita Karen, Santi and Ingga (the loyal deaf and mute helper of the family) visited Mama. Mama slept 5-9pm straight – wow. We had prayer time together. Papa used the “sodium bicarbonate” solution which was recommended by a friend for Mama’s tumor. He always said that the battle is the Lord’s. Thank you for the finished work of Jesus.
The visit of Lola Egly to Mama and their time together was when they learned about Mama’s case. The sixth miracle ~ the start of more reunions.
12 September 2012
Long sleep again for Mama from around 4:00 to 8:20pm. Better appetite too. Ate fish, congee and drank strawberry juice and lots of water for dinner. Thank you Lord. Tita Karen visited again.
13 September 2012
38th Wedding Anniversary of Papa and Mama
It’s past 72 hours and God saw our hearts and cried with us too. He is compassionate and kind. Full of mercy. Mama had breakfast and had her make-up done for her anniversary with Papa. She even prayed for her doctor. He then told Mama about what happened to her during the seizure. (I think she somewhat knew about this since she asked me how long she’d been sleeping.) After which, she even prayed for her doctor (a long prayer) for his operation the next day on his own father. She even prayed for all the sick people and for those who don’t have any money. All glory to you Lord. You are showing your miracles and your glory in this place.
Mama always says this as her prayer, “Lord, you are my shield, my strength, my Savior. I trust in you.” Her doctor then told us that sa lahat daw ng nameet at nakausap niya na families, bilib daw siya sa amin kasi yung kinausap niya daw kami cool lang kami at madali tumanggap. Malakas at matapang daw kami at si Mama. Told him, “akala niyo lang po yun pero grace po talaga yun.” He finished his visit by telling us, “alam niyo ba na lagpas na sa 72 hours Mama niyo?”
Of course we did, this was the seventh miracle from God.
Surrender to His will. Grace. People praying with you. Prayers and worship. Laying of hands. – the notes and lessons I learned.
All through out this journey, we’ve been playing Mama’s favorite song, “How Great Is Our God.” And she sings along with it and during the last three days of her life, Papa told me that she smiled when she heard her favorite song being played in the room.
This was the typical picture at our hospital room. For three months, Papa slept at the hospital every day. He barely left the room. He was always there for and with Mama. He only had one “day off” every week and that was to draw more strength and “rest” from the Lord. He never gave up. He also fought with Mama. They fought together.
God indeed showed and gave them the best Wedding Anniversary Celebration they ever had. Fighting the good fight of faith with Jesus at the center of their marriage. I am blessed to witness true love.
During this time and season, it was also the time of my preparation for the Israel trip. It was a bitter-sweet preparation. I was in between “the call” and “to stay”. But I took heart and yielded to “the call”. It was that strong. I knew that whatever happened, God would take care of my Mama and my family.
Three months…and then those couple of weeks…and those three days.
To be continued…