Family

It’s Been A Year

It’s the end of September. It’s been a year since I experienced my last major health scare. I’m not a worry wart. I get panicked and stressed at times but I don’t think I’m the type who obsesses about the what-ifs and the oh-nos. It might be my personality, yes, but it’s also because I have God to talk to and depend on, upon whom I can cast my cares. He dispenses me with the peace and calm that I need.

So when I felt a lump in my breast around the time of my birthday last year, I did not really panic. I got surprised to suddenly find it, like from not noticing anything to feeling how hard and big it was, of course I was surprised. But there were no water works. I prayed, looked it up (on the net hehehe), hoped for a non-scary explanation. I also asked certain people for advice. I set an appointment with my OB-GYN.

However, it took a while before I was able to see my doctor because of conflicts of schedules — hers and mine. I was able to see her over a month later. She told me that I had a tumor that needed to be checked. Mammogram and ultrasound. Ugh. I have always feared the mammogram because I heard it was painful. I tried to get it off the table but I obeyed anyway because she insisted. I trust her judgment. She has gotten me through 2 pregnancies, 2 births, and 1 case of pre-eclampsia severe.

So by early September, King and I headed to the hospital to get my tests done. I was super nervous because I hate pain. I have, in my expert opinion about myself 😂, very low tolerance for pain. I was preparing for the worst squeezing of my life, but a part of me was also hopeful that new mammogram tech would not be as painful anymore.

God’s grace was so evident that day. All the nurses were nice and friendly and gentle. The facility was excellent and comfortable (only women were allowed inside the area where I had to change into a pink gown). And to my surprise, the mammogram was not painful!!!!! A tad uncomfortable because of positioning and holding still, but painless and quite quick. I was overjoyed! The ultrasound was okay too, until the sonologist said she would recommend a biopsy.

Okay. Biopsy. This was when the questions started rolling in because we had decisions to make. Is there reason to rush? Should I have it done now, when King is scheduled to leave the country in two weeks? Can I wait til after he gets back, which is the last day of October? If I get it done now and the biopsy says it’s malignant, can I endure surgery and recovery without my husband? Or can I get surgery after he gets back? What about the kids and their daily school schedules — 3 kids, 2 different schools, 1 driver/yaya/P.A./tutor (AKA me)? My mind was on surgery, not even on chemo or other treatments. And I wanted King to take his trip. I knew that if he really needed to stay, he would absolutely give it up, but there was no desire for me to keep him from the God-given opportunity to attend his conference in the U.S. and visit his sister whom he hadn’t seen for a decade or so. The struggle was immense. We asked God for wisdom.

We were kind of okay already with the idea of waiting til November, but after talking to a doctor friend, my aunt who’s a pedia, and finally my cousin who’s an oncologist, we decided to have the biopsy done asap. They said with urgency, to not wait. We saw a breast surgeon.

What I kept asking God at that time was for Him to enable me to endure what I needed to go through. I would cry at times but I buckled up for the possibilities. Not so I could look or feel strong, but because I needed my mind prepared, so that I could deal with it already and get on with life. I used my head, and my emotions weren’t overwhelming me……yet. King was kind of quiet that week. I was the one reassuring him, and I was the one thinking of the game plan. Then at one point, I got upset with him for not helping me think and plan. His response made me stop in my tracks: “I don’t want to plan because I want to wait on the Lord.”

There I was, planning, because I unwittingly just accepted what was said to me about my lump — that there is a very high possibility it is malignant. I was operating on the assumption that I would be needing that, let me say more complicated lumpectomy, and so I would need to get my clearances in order, and we would have to move quickly so that King would still be around while I was in the operating room, and he could be around for the first 2 days of my recovery. I thought the faith part was relying on God to align the schedules of my clearances, the schedule of the surgeon, the availability of a hospital room, and the provision. It wasn’t.

The biopsy went really well. I was also very nervous, but the nurses explained it clearly to me. It prepared me for what to expect, so much so that when I felt a small pinch right before the doctor started extracting the tissue samples, I knew to sound the alarm. She stopped and injected me with more anesthesia. She did the biopsy excellently. No pain, just a little bit loud. It was ultrasound-guided, and I only took one peek while she was enthusiastically showing me what she was doing. I closed my eyes the rest of the time 😂. Though there was pain afterwards, I only had to take 1 arcoxia that day and I think the next day. I was in the hospital and diagnostics center by Wednesday to secure my clearance for possible surgery.

But the few days leading up to the biopsy and also immediately after, were when my emotions started surfacing. There was so much fear. I was not (am not) afraid to die because I am sure that my name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. I was afraid, however, of what I, and my family, might have to endure while I am still alive. And I was so sad for my husband and kids, imagining how sad or angry they would be if they had lost me too soon. I cried out to God. For me. For my family. My mom should not have to bury me. My kids should be able to enjoy and rely on their mother while they are young. My husband and I want to grow old together. I asked close family and friends to pray.

There was a shift at that time too. A wonderful thing that happens in marriage. While I was the one feeling down, King was the one who had his faith way up. He said he did not want to accept it and he was claiming, declaring my healing. He constantly encouraged me, you know with his happy, excited face. I so wanted to believe him. I believed that God is able to heal, but there was a part of me that was afraid to wholeheartedly claim my own healing. Like yes, God heals, but will He heal me? He is sovereign and I submit to His will. And whatever He does or allows to happen to me, I will receive, by His grace. Which is why there was a struggle in my heart. I didn’t know what His will was for me. You’d think this would be easy-peasy for me since God has saved me once before. But no, it was still easier to believe God for His enabling power than to believe Him for my healing.

That 5-day wait for my results was emotionally tough for me. But it was also within those 5 days that God spoke to me. He revealed a sin that I needed to repent of. He reminded me of my own words to myself. There had been times I had said that I will die early. Why? That might be for another blog. 😬 I believe that the tongue has the power of life and death. I know this so well. I teach it to my kids all the time. And God showed me that I had been speaking death to myself. It was such a revelation to me! I repented and somehow God enabled me to speak life and claim, with conviction, healing for myself. This was the faith God wanted me to exercise. 

And not a moment too soon. If I remember correctly, it was Friday, the day before I got my results. I so needed the courage to declare, out loud, that my tumor is benign! Then my friend and leader sent me these verses on Saturday morning. Nehemiah 8:10-12.

10 And Nehemiah[b] continued, “Go and celebrate with a feast of rich foods and sweet drinks, and share gifts of food with people who have nothing prepared. This is a sacred day before our Lord. Don’t be dejected and sad, for the joy of the Lord is your strength!”

11 And the Levites, too, quieted the people, telling them, “Hush! Don’t weep! For this is a sacred day.” 12 So the people went away to eat and drink at a festive meal, to share gifts of food, and to celebrate with great joy because they had heard God’s words and understood them.

I was praying/crying, so encouraged by this! God was telling me not to worry! Hush, don’t weep!!!! This is a sacred day! As an act of faith, I asked my girls what they wanted us to bring home from the hospital. I told them that we would celebrate!!!! I asked them to pray for me. Noelle told me with such assurance that I was going to be okay. I thanked the Lord my children were in faith for me as well.

 

McDo is life 😂

 

We got to the hospital, all nervous and in a rush because I misunderstood our appointment and King had a teaching in church. Thank God we got there on time. And whaddaya know….. the doctor told us that my tumor is indeed BENNNNNIIIIIIIIIIIGGGGGGGNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!! She said some other things too, but we wanted to rejoice in this win!!! When we got to the car, I could not help but bawl like a baby. I kept telling King that God saved me. He saved me!!! When we regained our composure, we ate some Japanese to celebrate! We had a feast!!! 

 

That afternoon, I asked God for a specific Word. His specific, personal Word for me. He gave me Isaiah 46. I was iffy with the first few verses, but my eyes started welling up as I reached verse 3.

Wow. I hold on to God’s promise of a long life, His promise of caring for me, carrying me, and saving me. It’s been a year. God is faithful. I am still here and I will grow old with King. We will serve the Lord together for many years to come. I will enjoy my family. I will live through this pandemic and beyond. I will go back to Japan. I will travel to Switzerland and other awesome places. I will see the Northern Lights in Norway. I will walk where Jesus walked in Israel. I will see my girls thrive and live their lives honoring and serving God through their talents and their profession. I will see my girls get married to godly, honorable men, and I will enjoy my lovely, God-fearing grandchildren. In Jesus’ holy and mighty name. Say a big amen for me, friends. ❤ 

Family, THE BRAINY BUNCH

One Year of Healing

It was August 15 of last year when King had a herniated or slipped disc. He was hospitalized for 10 long days, the first 3 of which he could not stand or walk. The proxy orthopedic surgeon was honest with us about our options that physical therapy might help King, but his case already called for surgery. Aside from the disc being slipped and protruding, causing it and making it prone to hit a nerve, we were told that it was deteriorated. This meant therapy would help King’s spine cope, but it will not reverse the effects. Only through surgery, removing and replacing the disc with a titanium cage, was it going to get better.

I remember it clearly. The day he was brought back to the room from an MRI was the first time my kids and I saw King cry out in pain. The nurses were somehow not in sync as they tried to move King from the gurney to his bed. Danae cried for her dad. I couldn’t. My heart was heavy and my eyes were welling up, but I could not let the tears flow. I had to be strong for her and for King. (Noelle was 2, and not as empathic as Danae 🙂 )

I think I was scared then, but it was such a mixture of emotions that maybe I didn’t want to dwell too much on the awful possibilities. I was too busy taking care of everybody anyway. There was too much to do.

photo credit: Thine Mojica

We were so pleased when King started making progress by the 3rd day, wherein he slowly sat up. By the 4th day, he was able to sit up and walk ever so slowly. We were already leaning towards forgetting about surgery, because therapy was working really well for us.

On the 8th day, our orthopedic surgeon (not the proxy) came by to check on King. Without establishing a relationship with his patient first since he was out of town during our first week, he casually told King that he had no other option but surgery. When I excitedly said that King was already walking, he told me that “walking is easy. It’s going back to the normal things that’s going to be a problem.”

I was stunned. We had already gone from sadness at the thought of King no longer being able to do sports or carry his daughters, to being in faith, excited for God’s miracle. He was like the Grim Reaper, spreading hopelessness and despair. Or the likes of a Dr. Gloom, bringing clouds of darkness in our bright, happy room. I was just stunned. I barely said another word after that, but we told him that we were sticking with therapy. No to surgery.

photo credit: Jo Tomas

Today the 25th of August, marks the anniversary of King’s exit from the hospital. And I am so happy to tell you that he has been doing great! We continued a few weeks of therapy after we went home, but that was it. By October last year, we traveled out of town, which obviously required some lifting and a lot of walking. By December last year, he danced with the pastors on stage. By February this year, we traveled out of town again. By summer, he started running, playing basketball, and dancing with the Xbox. By June, he was also able to play badminton. By July, we traveled out of town and he hiked up a steep hill.

It’s been a year of King going back to the normal things he does, albeit more careful than before.

It’s been a year of no surgery, no additional therapy, and no recurrences.

It has been a year of healing, a year of God’s faithfulness in our lives.

 
“Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” Lamentations 3:22-23

 

 

Please do read past posts about King’s slipped disc:

HOMEBOUND

SMALL FAVORS & TINY MIRACLES

In His Shoes

God of Miracles

Family

SMALL FAVORS & TINY MIRACLES

That Monday, August 15, began as usual, although King had been complaining of lower back pain for a few days. Danae and I were even discussing where we wanted to go since it was (and is for every week) King’s only day off. After breakfast, he bent down to plug in the electric fan in the kitchen and could no longer straighten up completely. I was in the room then and just noticed him inching his way, holding his back and stomach in pain. I didn’t realize it was THAT painful until he laid down on the couch and said he couldn’t move anymore. It was too painful. I asked him straight away if he wanted to be brought to the ER (although my mind was racing, not knowing how on earth I was going to do that). He declined. We didn’t know what it was either, so decided to observe first. I didn’t text anybody, but because I saw my mother-in-law and my friend Michelle online, I decided to ask for their prayers. Immediately both suggested to go to the doctor and both offered to help out. I wasn’t panicked yet at that point because King didn’t want to go to the doctor yet, insisting it was just a really bad muscle pain, but at least I had people available to take the kids in case we needed to go. 1 Advil and 1 Ponstan later, he was able to walk with crutches to the car. Yeng and Michelle Remulla came to get the kids, and the in-laws were on their way to meet us at the hospital. With our situation — no helper, no yaya — that was some favor!

We drove up to the ER around 6pm. I asked if there was a valet because I didn’t want to leave King and drive all the way to the underground parking lot (the nearby one is under construction). The guard told me the valet service was closed for the day already, but after a few minutes, he told me that a valet staff was on his way to help me out. He parked the car for me, got my ticket, and came back to give the key and ticket back to me. I was so thankful!

The ER doctor found no abnormalities in King’s x-ray and so deemed that we were okay to be discharged even though the pain was still there. He assumed that it was just a severe muscle strain. But somehow we ended up with the decision to be admitted, and when we were turned over to our assigned Orthopedic doctor, that doctor immediately ordered for an MRI. If not for that MRI, we wouldn’t know what we’re dealing with. So even though that doctor was that guy (check previous blog), he did one good thing.

The insurance liaison came and told us that the room we wanted, the cheapest private room, was not available because they were fully booked. We had to occupy the more expensive one, BUT at the price of the cheapest one. Like a hotel upgrade! Our room was huge. Beds were uncomfortable (for me, that is) but the space was good for the kids.

And like I said in my previous blog, there was no shortage of kindness or generosity from our families and friends. My mom took Danae to and from school. She and my brother would bring clothes & food for us. I got a few hours off from the girls one night, care of Michelle. My in-laws (King’s parents, sister, nieces, brother, etc) took care of the girls for 3 nights — a first for us, but we were confident that they were in good hands. Our visitors not only asked us what we needed, they brought what we needed and more — food, groceries, supplies, prayers and encouraging words.

King with Paolo the PT

We certainly did not run out of things to be grateful for. I am most grateful for the God that we love and serve, the God who is all-knowing and all-powerful, yet is loving, kind, and good. We were told that if there was no progress in therapy, surgery would be the only option. But He is, for now, HEALING KING THROUGH THERAPY and there seems to be NO IMMEDIATE NEED for him to undergo surgery — for his deteriorated and protruding (slipped) disc to be removed, and then replaced with a titanium cage. Serious as it is, because the disc is impinging a nerve and anything can cause another episode, we have been seeing God move in how King is progressing. On the first day of his therapy, which was twice a day, he could barely even raise up his leg while lying down. There was no way he could push himself to move more without any pain. But on the third day, he sat up! (3rd days are really powerful!) By the fourth day, he stood up….and walked!!! By the sixth day, they already had him on a bike! The hospital’s physical therapists are awesome, by the way. They are friendly, kind, and always encouraging.

First Rehab as Out-Patient

It’s been 12 days since King’s diagnosis and the start of his therapy –17 therapy sessions in total so far, 5 more to go before the Rehab doctor checks him again. Though he isn’t back to normal and cannot go back to work yet, he’s doing great! And though the doctors have said that sadly, he cannot go back to sports anymore or even carry his kids, we are believing for complete healing, whether through therapy only or surgery.

King doing the big march.

We are grateful for the small favors and tiny miracles that we’re being given. I say small and tiny not to diminish God’s strength and power, but to acknowledge that He works in many different ways. We believe He is absolutely able and He knows what is best. So we do our part as we pray, believe, and wait. 🙂

He is the one you praise; he is your God, who performed for you those greatand awesome wonders you saw with your own eyes. Deut 10:21

“I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me? Jer 32:27