Home > Uncategorized > My God is Never too Late

My God is Never too Late

So I broke my right leg in late October 2012. I was recovering very well until round about April 2013, when my lower left hip was giving me a lot of pain. Without painkillers, I could barely stand straight. A visit to the physiotherapist and both of us came to the conclusion that I was over compensating on the good leg and that my muscles were uneven in strength – hence the pain. It sounded logical and I did not think too much about it, and faithfully exercised as the physiotherapist had suggested.

Round about that time, I also had my scheduled visit to the oncologist. He suggested I did another CT scan, since the last was done about six months back. I am not very good with dates because I have had so many medical appointments that after a while, they’re just a blur. The day of the CT scan came. I was in quite a lot of pain. I could tell from the way the technicians spoke to me thereafter that this CT Scan probably did not yield good results – they were avoiding my eyes and telling me to be careful. This was quite unlike previous visits where they would bid me goodbye cheerily.

My ill feeling bore out the next morning when I received a call from my oncologist – it’s never good news to receive a call from your doctor so soon after any tests. He started by asking how I was and if I were in pain – definitely not good news. Then he said he was on leave that day – even worse news. I could feel fear gripping my heart. Then the real intention of his call:-

“I want you to go to the hospital this morning. I am on leave so I won’t be there. I have arranged for you to see the doctor in the walk-in clinic.”

“Why?” I asked.

“The CT scan showed something in your spinal column. We need to check you out – in fact we may need to ward you, except that tomorrow is a public holiday, and the weekend is just round the corner. There is a risk of paralysis.”  Or words to that effect. He hinted that I had a fractured vertebra.

“Eh? How come I do not feel any pain on my spine?” I asked.

He said that it was possible. He also kindly added it was not life – threatening.  I love my doctor – he really tries to be positive.

My daughters were in and hurriedly we made our way to the National Cancer Centre. The Medical Officer checked me out – good news, my limbs were in good working order – no sign of paralysis. After consulting with my Oncologist they prescribed me with some steroids to bring down inflammation of the nerves, and arranged for an MRI on April 30th. My oncologist also immediately contacted his colleague – an orthopaedic surgeon specialising in spinal surgery. You must remember that I am a subsidised patient with no right to select doctors. My dear oncologist did me a tremendous favour by selecting him for me.

Wow the steroids did wonders. All pains subsided and I was walking pain free – what a relief. I was sure it was a false alarm.

The minute the MRI was done, I could see everyone panicking. I was hastened back to walk-in Clinic – it was already 5pm. The medical officer was panicking. “Your spinal column is compressed to 50%.” It was clear she was scared. From thence, I was not allowed to walk and was sent by ambulance from NCC to SGH A&E to await a hospital bed so I could be warded.

I must count all blessings, big and small. The first night, I was given an air-conditioned room!! I am a subsidised patient and B2 is all I get- but this one was a former B1 ward recently converted to B2. It was not even orthopaedic ward –it was a haemolytics ward – whatever the spelling. But hey – at least I had air conditioning!

Next day was May 1, Labour Day. My surgeon came to see me in the morning – Public Holiday and all. He said that one of my vertebrae had collapsed and he needed surgery to strengthen my back, and to put in a cage to protect my spinal column. The usual tests confirmed I was not paralysed. He asked if I would be agreeable to surgery.

Did I really have a choice? Of course I agreed. I asked when. He said he could do it that day. So after numerous blood tests and goodness knows what else – he scheduled me for emergency surgery that very evening. I told him I had every confidence – because if not for my scheduled CT Scan, I would not even realise I had a spine problem. God had prepared the diagnosis in the nick of time, and He would not alert me just to let me down. He smiled. He also told me there must be two operations – one from the back and the other from the front. Of course the coward in me asked if he could do both in one sitting. He said he would try, but it would depend on the anaesthetist if I could go under for so long. He estimated at least 6-8 hours for both.

At about 5pm, I was finally wheeled in. My husband was in Mandalay and highly anxious. My girls were harassed by his frequent SMS. One went to a movie to wait the surgery out – no we do not believe in pacing outside the OT to await news like in the Chinese dramas. Imagine a top surgeon operating on a subsidised patient between 6-10 pm on a public holiday. If that is not blessing and favour of the Lord I do not know what is.

At about 11 pm I was awake and well. My girls came into the high dependency ward where I would be kept for the night. They found me smiling and immediately took a picture of me to send to my husband. The only problem was both my legs were in pain – sharp pain. They explained that during surgery some nerves could be inflamed and it would settle. They did though I do still feel pins and needles almost the whole day even now. They said it might take three months to totally settle. Such is the miraculous creations of God – our body is so interlinked that a pain in the foot has its origins in the spine. How accurate when Paul said that we are the body of Christ – if one part hurts, the whole suffers – paraphrased by Sophia. Hehe.

Alas, the second surgery was not done. I had to wait five more days – it was scheduled for May 6. Somehow, the nurses in the ward were quite drawn to me. They could not understand my cheer. One, a student nurse came up to me and said, “You’ve gone through so much but you are always smiling.” My reply, “I am grateful God saved me from paralysis.”

Another – a senior nurse came up to me and said, “You are so positive. I hope to be like you.” My reply, “Well, if I frazzle, everyone in my family will panic. No point. I only know that God protected me, and He would not allow me to know my condition in time, just to abandon me. Besides, this joy or positivity is a gift from God. It would be impossible without the grace of God.”

I put up prayer requests on my facebook status. All over the world good wishes and promises to pray came in. Before my second surgery, I told that to the surgeon.

“It’s ok doc. I am praying for you and me. In fact we are surrounded by prayers from all over the world.”

This very quiet doctor smiled and said, “Yes pray for me.”

Of course the second surgery went smoothly. In the meantime, I had the opportunity to chat with some patients – including the patient on my next bed.

She had some issues with her intestines. The doctors wanted to do a colonoscopy. Then they decided to do an MRI first. They also wanted her to sign her consent form for the colonoscopy, and told her all the inherent dangers. That frightened her so much she was in a panic.

I turned to her and said that I would pray that her MRI results would be so good, she need not do colonoscopy. I also told her to forgive her in-laws who had hurt her tremendously. I told her to harbour that hurt was like taking a poison, and she could damage her health. She agreed.

On the morning of her MRI, as she left the ward, I told her cheerfully I would pray for her. The trouble was breakfast was served and then I was told I would be wheeled out to see the radiation oncologist to check if I needed further treatment, and a host of things happened. I could not remember if I prayed for her. When her MRI results came out, she was in the clear – no need for colonoscopy. She was delighted – and attributed it to my prayers. How to accept the praise when I could not even remember if I prayed? So I said, “Praise the Lord.” In my heart, I hoped it was because God heard my intention even if I did not pray.

It was a long stay in the hospital – 19 days. I am very grateful to the nurses of Ward 76 SGH. So many I wanted to commend, but there is not enough space in the feedback page. The doctors and other allied medical staff were amazing. I am particularly grateful to the Cardiac Thoracic Surgeon .. blast I cannot remember his name ..Dr Soon? He came at 9pm after surgery just to remove a drain from my chest. He said it would take only five minutes, and if he did not do it that night, I would have to stay in hospital one more day. That despite his wife’s many smses to chase him home. I am grateful to you, Mrs Surgeon to share your husband in after work hours with his many patients

How did I spend my time during that long stay? I did cross stitch to the amusement of staff and patients who came around to see the pattern. I also chatted with staff and patients. To their questions on my peace of mind – I told them it was because God was with me. Truly He was.

Today, I can walk unaided – though I can only take small, limping steps. It will take time to get back to normal. I have to wear a brace to stop me from bending. The bone graft needs time to grow. I am in some pain – but barely there. In less than a year, I had undergone 3 surgeries. I think enough is enough.

So on my birthday, on the 24th of May, I asked the Lord for my birthday present.

“No more challenges Lord. I need a sabbatical from the School of Trials and Testing. I must have passed the exams by now – I just need a very uneventful year of peace for myself and my loved ones. No health issues, no career issues for my loved ones, no financial worries – just a time of rest.”

I am sure He has heard my prayers

Oh – and I must add this. I just went to see my oncologist yesterday. I thanked him for what he did and the recommendation to see Dr John Chen. My oncologist – Dr Ooi Wei Seong said he was afraid I would scold him or blame him for my condition. Me, blame the angel who was instrumental in saving me?? I assured him I was grateful. In fact so was my sister-in-law who gave him a bottle of home-made marmalade to show her thanks. He took one look and said, “Wah looks good!” A doctor who loves food and after my own heart! As he stood up to examine me, I saw him pulling up his pants.

“Hey. You’ve lost weight.” You should see the delight in his face. He beamed!

“You noticed! I did so many things to lose weight you know. I jogged, cycled. Then I overdid it – I joined the marathon. Now I might need a brace too. Let me check out yours.”

I love this doctor. Haha … and I had no heart to tell him that he was still a little tubby – and he should remain a little tubby – for that suited him more than being lean and mean.

If there’s anything I’ve learnt through these years of seeing doctors  – oncologists in particular – the patient, when she is well, should learn to ask after them, and not expect just to be examined. It makes the doctors feel like a person, and not a prescription delivery auto bot- or worse a harbinger of bad news. The relationship becomes more balanced – and it is two human beings touching base, with the patient in need of medical advice which should be given with sensitivity and care, and the doctor in need of a casual relationship from a patient who knows what it means to be grateful and to show concern for a doctor who is probably overworked and stress.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. keith
    June 1, 2013 at 3:23 pm

    My mom fell and suffered a spine fracture last December. The doctors at KTPH said her risk of paralysis was high and her options were either to wear a brace or undergo surgery to have part of her spine fused; he did not mentioned the option for bone graft. She chose to wear the brace aka ‘body armor’ for 3 months. With that said, you take care and get well soon, godspeed!

    • SpeakSpokeWriteWrote
      June 1, 2013 at 10:54 pm

      Hi Keith
      Thanks for dropping by.
      Well in my instance, I probably should have been paralysed already – 50 % compression of the spinal cord is no joke. Hence the checks for paralysis. The bone graft is to surround the spinal column, to prevent the bones from compressing it. I believe they also fused some of my weaker bones to strengthen the spinal column…so i will be a stiff backed person…hehe. I am a coward so do not really know the details of the surgery. Ignorance is bliss for me, Glad you mum did not have to go through surgery – i do not think it was an option for me. i’ am wearing the brace for another 3-6 months to ensure that i do not twist my back and end up with a crooked back – i think…haha. Take care and have a wonderful sunday

  2. ObserverOne
    June 1, 2013 at 3:31 pm

    Dear SpeakSpokeWriteWrote,

    Now I understand why you did not write for sometime. I hope and pray that you are recovering well soon.

    Sincerely,

    ObserverOne

    • SpeakSpokeWriteWrote
      June 1, 2013 at 10:54 pm

      Hi. Ya was on recovery a long time. Also for now i cannot sit for very long…need to ensure I do not stress the back too much.
      I also have not blogged for a long time because I have been reading blogs that are much better articulated than me – so sort of felt that there was not much more need for me. Furthermore there were too many things that agitated me – and I really did not know where to begin writing!! haha.
      Thanks for the well wishes. Am doing pretty well – though pretty pissed with the recent MDA regulations, the Malaysian Elections, the City Harvest Fiasco, the White Paper on Population, the Aims Debacle amongst other things. Felt though i have nothing much to add – so many have written eloquently.
      You take care too Observer. Will blog when i am better,

  3. pak dong
    June 1, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    Yo…. do take care and hang in there…

    • SpeakSpokeWriteWrote
      June 1, 2013 at 10:56 pm

      I always hanging one – now i just want my feet firmly planted on the ground and to be able to
      “walking and leaping and praising God hehe

  4. WL
    June 2, 2013 at 3:43 am

    Take care and speedy recovery!

  5. ObserverOne
    June 3, 2013 at 5:09 am

    Dear SpeakSpokeWriteWrote,

    When challenged, be strong!
    As you always are.

    When in doubt, sing a song!
    As you are the best.

    View life as a journey,
    which is a very fruitful one.

    Your view and your words,
    is the most well articulated one.

    Sincerely,
    ObserverOne

    • SpeakSpokeWriteWrote
      June 5, 2013 at 2:29 am

      Thanks observer. am thinking about the latest mda ruling. Maybe tomorrow i will go on black out too- hope my tech goondusamy will not let me down

  6. anon
    June 5, 2013 at 12:16 am

    You certainly have gone through alot. I’m glad you are well again. Please take care, your family needs you.

    • SpeakSpokeWriteWrote
      June 5, 2013 at 2:30 am

      Thank you so much.

  7. ObserverOne
    June 5, 2013 at 6:37 am

    Dear SpeakSpokeWriteWrote,

    In God we trust, the rest pay cash ($50,000 for 50,000 unique IP address)

    Sincerely,
    ObserverOne

  8. ObserverOne
    June 17, 2013 at 8:57 am

    Dear SpeakSpokeWriteWrote,

    How are you? Are you recovering well?

    I thought I might have seen you on park bench at Hong Lim that day. Were you there?

    Sincerely,
    ObserverOne

    • SpeakSpokeWriteWrote
      June 17, 2013 at 9:01 am

      No I was not. Am not able to walk too well and cannot sit too long either. It will take a while for bones and muscles to heal so I don’t go out much. So far I go out for short dinner stints with family or for medical appointments only. That’s also partially why I have not blogged. I have to rest my back frequently and lie down. You take care

      Sent from my iPhone

  9. ObserverOne
    June 17, 2013 at 9:43 am

    Dear SpeakSpokeWriteWrote,

    Thanks for your reply. Let all of us pray together that you are getting well soon.

    Sincerely,
    ObserverOne

  10. November 12, 2013 at 6:23 am

    Hope you are back to normal now. Take care.

  11. ObserverOne
    September 25, 2014 at 7:38 am

    Dear SpeakSpokeWriteWrote,

    Hi, how are you? It is a very long time that you did not write.

    Yours sincerely,
    ObserverOne

    • SpeakSpokeWriteWrote
      September 25, 2014 at 11:23 am

      Hi! You still remember me! ya been a long time. This year i had major health challenges. Also sometimes as soon as i have a thought about an issue, i find someone else has already written about it! And looks better than what i could have written so i sort of thought no need to write the same thing. Recently though i started writing again, more on personal issues than social/political issues. will resume that. Also, i have been in hospital 5 times this year alone. Took a while before i can even sit up at any length. If you want to read my personal posts which i am hoping to leave as a legacy for my kids, you can follow my other blog – sopstories. Let me give you links to 2 of my most recent posts
      http://sopstories.wordpress.com/category/family-stories-and-tributes/how-i-met-your-fatherhelpmate-of-31-years/
      and
      http://sopstories.wordpress.com/category/family-stories-and-tributes/how-i-became-sophia/
      Thanks for visiting again. Did think of blogging about Intan-gate! Toc has written a good piece so…

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