Start of my spiritual journey–42days hospital stay
I was hospitalized for 6 weeks from 14/5/00 to 24/6/00 for occasional high fever. After 6 weeks I was asked whether I would like to stay on or go out to see the GP to give me injections for Targocid, the equivalent of Vancomycin. I chose to go back home and get the GP to inject me with two doses of 200ml of Targocid every day for 3 weeks from 25/6/00 to 15/7/00. More than 2 months of suffering in all.
(Incidentally, I was given the radioactive substance yttrium 90 to the liver directly through an angiogram just before this incident. This is to kill the residual cancer cells. I was among the first few patients in Singapore to be introduced to this form of treatment in year 2000, although it was done for sometimes in Hong Kong.)
During my 6 weeks stay in hospital, I was given very strong antibiotic such as Vancomycin, Ciprobay, Metronidazole, Fluconazole and even Imipenem for one week. At the same time I am given Panadol, Indesit and Antacid. In the first 4 weeks it took 4-5 hours every morning and 2-3 hours every night of intravenous drips for the antibiotics to be given to me. I could hardly sleep at all.
When I was back home I was given 3 weeks of Targocid, Ciprobay, Metroidazole, Fluconazole, one month of Indesit and Antacid and 10 days of Panadol.
All the time I was at the hospital I did not feel unwell other then having high fever of over 380C every few days. Most of the time I was having low-grade fever of around 37.50C. I had 4 CT Scans and 2 angiogram drainages to remove fluid at the posterior of my second liver cancer operation, which was done on 17/2/00 (first one on 12/4/99). They found that there was some fluid but it was segmented into many compartments. During the first time very little fluid came out but at the second time there was no fluid at all. Practically every day the doctors took blood samples for cultures and tests for all sorts of diseases but could find nothing wrong. So the doctors gave me the most powerful antibiotics to bring down my fever. Every day I had to have a catheter inserted for my Vancomycin. Because Vancomycim was so strong my veins were all inflamed and thrombotized. Sometimes it took the doctor 5 injections before he could find a good vein for the Vancomycim. After the first week or so one Registrar Surgeon stated that I needed to be operated to remove the fluid in my liver. Another week later another Surgeon stated the same opinion. After 4 weeks of intermittent high fever even my Liver Surgeon told me that he had to operate on me after he came back from his one-week leave. After my Liver Surgeon came back from his leave he told me that I did not have to be operated on at all but they still didn’t know for sure what was causing my fever.
Imagine my state of mind in the above situation. In my 6 weeks at the hospital I hardly watched TV but spent all my time thinking and brooding. I was afraid that, so soon after my second operation and before my wound was fully healed; I had to go for another operation. I was overwhelmed. I was full of fear that I might not live through another operation and it did not help when so many Surgeons pronounced so regularly that I needed another operation to remove the fluid in my liver. I was gloomy and the thought of death was not far from my consciousness. But I was not unwell, only sometimes I had high fever. I was angry, frustrated, insecure, stressed and railed against fate. One moment my mood was up but when the high fever came, it was down. I was crushed. I wailed often, “Why, God, why don’t You hear my cries?” and I prayed for a miracle all the time.
And a miracle did happen. God, in His boundless love and grace and mercy, did hear my cry and the prayers of all who prayed for me. I did not have to do a third liver operation, which the Liver Surgeon said would be complicated but could be done with no assurance that the fluid will not occur again.
In the hospital, I read one particular passage of my old write-up (which I did more than 1.5 years ago) many times over and tried to make sense of my situation. The passage was:
“When we love God, does it mean that we have less trials, tribulations, doubts, fear, distress, sicknesses, disappointments, and insecurity? No, we are human and we will have our share of trials, tribulations, fear, disappointments and confusion. The big difference, as Christians, is that we believe that our God will help us to cope with or overcome them if we but call on Him. We can be absolutely sure that God is there to carry us through these trying times, if we trust that God will keep His promises. As Jesus says “In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”(John 16:33 NKJV) Jesus comforts us further by saying “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” (John 14:24 NKJV) We are not to think that our trials come from God as St James says “If we are tempted by such trials, we must not say, ’This temptation comes from God.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself tempts no one.” (James 1:13)
“The purpose of such trials, according to St James, is to help us to deepen our faith and to develop our patience: “My friends, consider yourselves fortunate when all kinds of trials come your way, for you know that when your faith succeeds in facing such trials, the result is the ability to endure. Make sure that your endurance carries you all the way without failing, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. But if any of you lack wisdom, you should pray to God, who will give it to you; because God gives generously and graciously to all.”(James 1:2-5) St James even tells us to be happy and positive in our trials. “Happy are those who remain faithful under trials, because when they succeed in passing such a test, they will receive as their reward the life which God has promised to those who love Him.”(James 1:12)
“St Peter tells us that our faith must be tested in order for us to develop patience: “Be glad about this, even though it may now be necessary for you to be sad for a while because of the many kinds of trials you suffer. Their purpose is to prove that your faith is genuine. Even gold, which can be destroyed, is tested by fire; and so your faith, which is much more precious than gold, must also be tested, so that it may endure. Then you will receive praise and glory and honor on the Day when Jesus Christ is revealed.”(1 Peter 1:6-7)
“St Paul says “We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”(Romans 5:3-5 NKJV) We must “Let your hope keep you joyful, be patient in your troubles, and pray at all times.” (Romans 12:12) In this way “Who, then, can separate us from the love of God? Can trouble do it, or hardship or persecution or hunger or poverty or danger or death?” (Romans 8:35)
“As a professing Christian, St Paul himself suffered greatly: “I have worked much harder. I have been in prison more times, I have been whipped much more, and I have been near death more often. Five times I was given the thirty-nine lashes by the Jews; three times I was whipped by the Romans; and once I was stoned. I have been in three shipwrecks, and once I spent twenty-four hours in the water. In my many travels I have been in danger from floods and from robbers, in danger from my own people and from Gentiles; there have been danger in the cities, danger in the wilds, danger on the high seas, and dangers from false friends. There has been work and toil; often I have gone without sleep; I have been hungry and thirsty; I have often been without enough food, shelter, or clothing. And not to mention other things, every day I am under the pressure of my concern for all the churches. When someone is weak, then I feel weak too; when someone is led into sin, I am filled with distress.” (2 Corinthians 11:23-29) Although St Paul loved God very dearly, his sufferings from witnessing for Christ were not reduced. ”We are often troubled, but not crushed, sometimes in doubt, but never in despair; there are many enemies, but we are never without a friend; and though badly hurt at times, we are never destroyed.”(2 Corinthians 4:8-9) However, he is always confident of God’s grace and power to help him to carry his load. ”In all our troubles, I am still full of courage, I am running over with joy.”(2 Corinthians 7:4) In addition, ”to keep me from being puffed up with pride because of the many wonderful things I saw, I was given a painful physical ailment, which acts as Satan’s messenger to beat me and keep me from being proud. Three times I prayed to the Lord about this and asked Him to take it away. But His answer was: ‘My grace is all you need, for My power is greatest when you are weak.’ I am most happy, then, to be proud of my weaknesses, in order to feel the protection of Christ’s power over me. I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and difficulties for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”(2 Corinthians 12:7-10)
“St Paul finds that he can do all things through Christ who strengthens him and he learns to be contented and satisfied with whatever he has: “For I have learned to be satisfied with what I have. I know what it is to be in need and what it is to have more than enough. I have learned the secret, so that anywhere, at any time, I am content, whether I am full or hungry, whether I have too much or too little. I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me.”(Philippians 4:11-13)
Moreover, St Paul assures us that we will not be tested beyond what we are able to bear: “Every test that you have experienced is the kind that normally comes to people. But God keeps His promise, and He will not allow you to be tested beyond your power to remain firm; at the time you are put to the test, He will give you the strength to endure it, and so provide you with a way out.”(1 Corinthians 10:13) Do we believe that? If we do, we will have the power to go through the tests.
“If we find our load too heavy and our labor too stressful, we are to learn from Jesus as He can lighten our load. Jesus offers us: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”(Matthew 11:28-30 NKJV) Jesus advises that we are not to add our worry of tomorrow to today: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:34 NKJV) And “Can any of you live a bit longer by worrying about it? If you can’t manage even such a small thing, why worry about the other things?” (Luke 12:25-26)
“Often, because we have experienced trouble, we will be able to help others who face all kinds of problems. We can make a difference, if we hold on to the cause that because we live, we can help others to lighten their load. St Paul affirms this: “He (God) helps us in all our troubles, so that we are able to help others who have all kinds of troubles, using the same help that we ourselves have received from God.”(2 Corinthians 1:4) “
After reading the passage so many times and chewing and mulling over it most of the time, I came to the following conclusion:
1) God has a plan for me and for each one of us
2) God will work His miracle at His own time and pace
3) God did not punish me as my God is a loving God—-my sickness was brought about by my own attitude and lifestyle
4) God is not disciplining me—–I don’t discipline my children when they are grown up, so I can’t see God disciplining me now.
5) I had to calm my body, mind and spirit so that:
a) the doctor’s medicine can do their work
b) my body can help in the healing process
c) God’s healing power can work through my body and is not blocked by my stress
6) I found 2 sentences that gave me the strength to endure my pain and suffering from the continuous injections and I repeated them often:
a) “I have the strength to face all conditions by the power that Christ gives me.” (Philippians 4:13)
b) “God has given me a spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7)
7) God is using this occasion to guide and teach me something—-this I have to find out more when I get out of the hospital.
The moment I was well enough, I went to the Internet for hours to find:
1) What is the Christian view on anger–I have a lot of unresolved resentment and anger, which I unconsciously carried over from my childhood days.
2) What is the Christian view on forgiveness–how do I forgive and what is forgiveness
I was surprised to find that anger is a sin. And that saying hurtful and nasty word is just as sinful and I need to ask God for forgiveness. In turn I have to forgive others. It is not a choice but a command from God to forgive in order to be forgiven. Forgiveness means not to bring up the hurt:
1) to the person ever again
2) to others and so gossip about it:
3) and not to dwell over the issue in my mind ever again
I keep on saying that I need to turn over a new leaf and change my life style as I do not want to have another Liver operation. I must change; otherwise as sure as the sun rises everyday, I will be heading for another Liver cancer operation!!! I don’t want that to happen and so I have to have the will and determination to change. I thought through my life and see that:
The root causes of all my problems are:
a) a selfish heart that considers me first, last and always
b) a strong and stubborn pride that will not forgive easily and will rarely apologize
c) a hardened heart, which when provoked by anger will give rise to the most nasty, foul and hurtful words without any concern for anyone’s feelings.
I thought that if I will myself to:
a) turn the other cheek more
b) forgive more
c) love more
I will be able to turn over a new leaf and change my style of living.
I realized I was sadly mistaken. I came to understand from reading Pastor Steve Carr’s articles in his web site www.covenantkeepers.org, that if I am using my own will and mind, I will be doomed for failure. But if I daily surrender myself to Jesus Christ and ask Him for help I will succeed. Ask Jesus Christ to soften my hardened heart to be tender hearted so that I will be able:
a) to give more generously to others and be a more cheerful giver rather than a grabber
b) to have a more humbler and gentler heart in order that I can say sorry more readily and forgive more easily.
c) to have a more loving heart so that I am more kind, compassionate and considerate to others.
I want to turn over a new leaf and change my life style so that I do not repeat the same mistake and develop cancer again. This is the start of a new chapter in my life and a spiritual quest for more enlightenment in my life. I pray for success. With God’s help I hope that I will be able to stick to my new resolve so that I can claim my right to God’s promises of a life of joy, peace, happiness and rest.
Please pray for me to succeed.
(Above was written on 22 July 2000, 7 days after my full treatment of Targocid by the General Practitioner (GP) but just under a month after the 42 days hospital experience.)