My father had a neck sprain a year ago while playing with my little nephew.
A neck scan revealed that nerves behind his neck were very severely impinged. The neurosurgeon advised that a surgery was necessary to prevent a risk of paralysis in the limbs. We did not proceed with the surgery as it required my father to go under general anesthesia (G.A.). My father was 77 years old with many pre-existing conditions such as high cholesterol (higher risk of heart attack), past record of TB, and a immunological disorder that causes his muscles to be weak if he is not on suppression medication. The risk of surgery was high thus we did not proceed with it. After all, he could still walk and use his hands almost normally. We could not bear the thought of our father not being able to wake up after the surgery.
In early December and early January, my father had two falls. After the second fall, he was losing the use of his limbs pretty quickly. We contacted Tan Tock Seng hospital and requested to meet up with the neurosurgeon who had been reviewing my father. The neurosurgeon was on leave and another surgeon who was more junior, was assigned to speak to us. I asked God why he had given us a surgeon who was more junior. The next day, we went to meet the surgeon with heavy hearts. We were faced with the options of total paralysis from no surgery, or risk of my father not surviving the much-feared surgery. After a 1.5 hour long discussion with the neurosurgeon the next day, the load in our hearts was lifted. The doctor was very patient and detailed in explaining the benefits and risks of the surgery, and gave estimated statistics of the percentage of risk. We felt relieved that the risks of the surgery were not as high as we had thought. We agreed to the surgery and I finally understood why God sent us this doctor.
We got our friends to pray for my father’s surgery. Angela and Carolyn even came to the hospital to pray for my father on the day of his surgery. My father said Amen! which made us so much more at peace with the surgery, knowing that he had accepted God’s grace for the surgery and that God would definitely watch over him. The surgery went smoothly without any complication. It ended at about 4am and my father was already awake when the morning shift nurses came before 7am! He was weaned off the ventilator at about noon as he was already breathing on his own. We were so relieved! I think even the surgeon was surprised because on the eve of the surgery, my father’s limbs were quite cramped up, and the lung specialist discovered that my father had yet another pre-existing lung condition -COPD- which might make it more difficult for him to breathe on his own after he had woken up from the GA. The surgeon said he expected complications and dropped the chance of regaining limb function to 50%.
Things took a turn by the end of the second day after surgery. My father was supposed to be transferred from High Dependency Unit (HDU) to the normal ward that day. However, he started to experience bouts of breathlessness and acted like he was going to pass on, asking family members to be around his bed very often. It was very scary for all of us. He started wheezing and was hooked onto more machines. He could not understand what was going on and the effects of the drugs were making him very goggy. He kept pulling off the things he was hooked onto and we had to stay in the hospital around the clock to make sure he did not get breathless again nor pull out the oxygen mask in frustration.
My father stayed in the HDU for 2 weeks. We prayed and prayed for his transfer to the normal wards everyday. It did not happen and eventually, we understood God’s good plan to keep him in HDU. The care from nurses was good, doctors were very cautious and monitored my father closely. When the machines slowly came off him as his conditions improved, we started to wish he did not have to be transferred to the normal ward. My father was transferred to the normal ward just two days before CNY eve. Bishop came to pray for my father’s successful rehab the following day. We told him to pray for a miracle as my father wanted to go home for reunion dinner. We knew it was not possible for him to be transferred to the TTSH rehab centre nor discharge from TTSH before CNY. But by God’s grace, my father did spend CNY at home! Somehow we managed to get home leave from TTSH for 4 days – from the eve to 3rd day of CNY. My father spent the long weekend with family and relatives, napped on his own bed for the first time in 4 weeks. It was something we did not even dream of! The power of prayers.
We learnt to trust God to do the best for my father, and be patient even when things did not seem to go where we wanted them to go, for God knows best what is best for us. Immediately after the CNY home leave, my father was transferred to the TTSH rehab centre. Angela & Carolyn visited and gave my father a “Sio Bak” lunch party that they had promised him if he could wake up from the surgery. We thank God for sending angels to care for and love our father for the past one month. We continue to pray that God will heal and fully restore him, so that he can regain the independence & quality of life he used to enjoy before all the falls. – Shirley Tan