WAKE-UP CALL 1 (2014): MY MIND

WAKE-UP CALL 1 (2014): MY MIND

Where do you go when your senses become dull and you seem to be losing a grip on reality and logic? How do you respond when your mental faculties are not as sharp as they once were? And how do you pray when it seems like you’re being drugged and everything is a blur?

That’s what happened to me. I was confined to a hospital for 5 days in a foreign country— a place where I thought happiness, excitement, and adventure can be found. Instead I found myself sick to the point of death. I found my husband (then-boyfriend) on the brink of sheer exhaustion.

Early morning (around 3-4am) on the 22nd of April 2014, I was shivering like crazy and I couldn’t breathe. I was TRYING to catch my breath. But I couldn’t. It was one of the scariest things I’ve ever experienced. Trying to catch my breath, grasping for air when there wasn’t any. It was frightening…I felt like I was watching myself slowly die yet still wanting to live and fighting for that air of life. In between breaths (even if practically there wasn’t), I shouted in frustration and in defiance of death, “God please!” as my boyfriend told me that we were going to the hospital. You see, I’ve always fought with my willpower for my physical health. I’m God’s living miracle. Whereas other people with my condition would not be able to walk long distances, I can. And not in a snail-paced way. Where others are not supposed to carry heavy stuff, I would. Where others are not supposed to feel intense emotions especially anger and pain, I have felt the deepest of pains and have for the longest time locked it in within myself…a grave thing to do. And I have survived, I have thrived. So to be at this point of pure surrender of will, logic, intellect, and physically as well was way out of any zone I’ve ventured into. Believe me, I am one of the most flexible person you would know. Getting out of comfort zones has always been an interesting and exciting adventure for me. But this…this was different. Not when it involved other people, not when I knew I’d inconvenience someone. And not when everything in me wasn’t in tune. I was like a broken car that just sat there and let the people fix me physically and mentally. Sure, there were times when I’d be my own self and I’d snap out of the biological mutiny that was somehow ruining my body and brain. But those were few and far between. I experienced septic shock, a fatal medical condition wherein a few of my bodily systems shut down.

Septic shock is a life-threatening condition that happens when your blood pressure drops to a dangerously low level after an infection. It includes a change in your mental state such as confusion or disorientation. Septic shock is a medical emergency. – NHS UK (http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/septic-shock/Pages/Introduction.aspx)

I also had infective endocarditis, acute pyelonephritis, and hypokalemia. And the doctors were extremely alarmed that it would affect my heart problem. I was born with a congenital heart disease called Ventral Septal Defect, plus pulmonary hypertension. I never had surgery because a doctor in Manila gave my parents a very small percentage chance of me being able to live if I was to undergo a surgery, due to the pulmonary hypertension. Later on, I was diagnosed with Tetralogy of Fallot with cyanosis. However in Korea, the doctors gave me a different diagnosis: Eisenmenger Syndrome. I have read about it before and I was really worried. It was a different kind of heart problem that to me was among the worst heart diseases. The doctors in that hospital wanted to do a heart surgery. And I knew in my heart that they would have been capable, however it required me to stay longer and millions of pesos for me to undergo the operation. I had to decline. All I wanted at that moment was to get well from the infections.

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Frankly, this should be nothing new to someone like me…someone whose trips to the hospitals have made me well-known with the nurses and doctors. I have been to different hospitals numerous times. I have been to doctors countless of times. I have taken series of tests countless more times. But this was taking it to a whole new higher level. Why?

Because it took away one thing that I never experienced with all the hospital admissions I’ve had in my life. My mind. My intellectual mind, my rational and logical mind.

Sure, I’ve experienced being slightly disoriented whenever I got sick. But this time I wasn’t just disoriented, I was experiencing hallucinations, delusions, and delirium. I would hear people talking in Filipino. Every time I close my eyes (even just to rest it for a second or two), I would see weird, anime cartoonish images (I’m not an anime fan nor do I watch cartoons much) that I have never seen before. I would also feel like I was being transported to an alien kind of world. Sometimes I’d feel like there was something going on with the people around the hospital. One time, I felt that I was an experimental subject and that they were just fooling me into thinking that I was sick. And another time, I called my boyfriend through Viber (he went to the hotel to check out) only to tell him that I didn’t know what I was calling for, then I texted him a lot of lunatic, nonsense stuff. I thought the enemy was playing with my mind…maybe he was, maybe he wasn’t. I now know though, that it was because of the medical drugs that they injected into my body and because of hypokalemia itself.

And then there was the extreme discomfort. I was in a very small ER space (no, it’s not even a room) for 5 days. There were a lot of tubes in my body and I had a blood pressure apparatus on my right arm 24/7. I also had a catheter inserted down somewhere private and a small tube injected inside my neck. They said it was for my blood pressure (I had the lowest blood pressure by the way – from 75 to 65 to 14 mm Hg). I have also been nauseous for the most part and throwing up was normal. So were the dizzy spells. Doing the call of nature was extremely hard because you had to do it by yourself, ask for help or you had to wait on the very busy nurses. Communication with them was really hard as well. Dirty and uncomfortable. In physical and mental pain. Ridiculously high hospital bills. And you add in the equation of seeing your boyfriend with no sleep and immensely exhausted.

Korea2It. Was. Hard.

It was hard being in pain and not being able to muster courage like I did before, which would often diminish the pain I’d be feeling (I had high tolerance for pain). It was hard seeing Dan doing all those things that he needed to do. I’ve always been the independent kind of girl. I don’t want to be a burden to anyone especially to people I love. I don’t like it when I hassle or inconvenience people, even when they don’t really feel that way. I guess it was my upbringing that led me to this “DIY” attitude. It was hard being in the hospital bed and not being the one encouraging and praying for the sick. It was hard seeing the people who visited me in the hospital and not being able to truly tell them how much I appreciate everything they did. All I could utter was “Thank You”. It was hard being away from my family because they were always the ones there for me whenever I got sick. It was hard not seeing familiar faces because it meant not knowing when I could go home.

And it was hard because everything really was held back from me. I did not have an ounce of control with anything. My body strapped there in the bed (I had to lie down in a certain manner and I was not allowed to have a pillow), my mind was somewhere else (literally!), my emotions were all a blur. I felt like a puppet or a doll just lying limp. Writing this now, it felt like nothing was left of me.

It felt like I lost myself— a very huge part of myself…after all, it involved my physical aspect and my  rational capacity. Sure, I’ve had seasons wherein a lot of my securities in life were taken away. I had financial problems and careers ending but God provided for me because I had faith that He would. I had loved ones taken away and having my heart shattered but I rose up because Jesus healed my heart. I trusted Him to heal it and restore. But this one was different. I was only able to pray whenever people would pray for me, which even then my mind was still totally tired, because I had to force myself to wake up and be with them as they visit me. But other than that, I seemed to have lost my senses. It was the first time that I could not rely on my mind.

I realized now how some things, unintentionally or without you knowing, can become an idol in our life and how we actually count on them for security. I have never in my life thought that my mind/brain had become an idol.

Yet I have trusted it far too many times especially when things were hard…especially when I had physical pains. And the ironic part? I had taken it for granted as well. You see, I’m a writer and my language has always been through the written words. I express better through words. In order to write, I needed a fully functioning brain. The enemy aimed for my health— both physically and mentally— to silence me. He still does that today but I will not let him win. God will not let him. I’m not yet completely healed (I get occasional UTIs and hypokalemia, and still uncertain about my heart disease prognosis) but it doesn’t mean that God has not healed me. He has saved me. I could have died but He didn’t allow me to succumb to death because I still have to help bring people to Him. Not that He needs people to help Him; He is our all-powerful God after all. But He wants to use me. He wants me to use my mind and my life to glorify Him. That was my wake-up call— never to take my mind, my talent, my words, and my intellect for granted. I’ll use it to honor God. I have such an “ADHD” personality, I have so many ideas in mind but I procrastinate a lot. A LOT. It’s going to take faith, prayers, discipline, and God’s grace to take me through it. I also need to have good health physically because whatever goes on my body can affect the mind.

I may not yet be completely healed but it doesn’t mean I can’t worship God or be grateful to Him. I am. I know that some people may not truly understand what I really did go through but God does. At the end of the day, I only have Him. Of course, there’s my spiritual family and there’s my husband whom I have learned so much about faith. So I am grateful. I am eternally grateful that I just have to share this story, no matter how much I wanted to keep it private. And I’ll keep believing for the complete healing. I want you to do that too, in your own life.

What are you believing for today? Are you still worshipping God despite the fact that what you’re believing for hasn’t happened yet? 

Take one day at a time. Have faith for today. And then the next day, and so on. Know that God sees you and cares for you. He is sovereign and always will be.

God has given me chances upon chances when it came to my physical health. I have been sick for far too many times and He has continued to heal me. Despite the fact that I rebelled against my disease in the past (when I didn’t know Him yet), He chose to still heal me. I am thankful that He has let me live. And I am grateful for what happened in that ER in Korea a year ago. God has shown His saving power time and again. I look back and see how the money that the hospital required seemed so huge and impossible to be paid but we left with a bill that was smaller than their required deposit (and God used my earthly father and sister to be able to pay for it! And some people helped too). I’ve experienced and seen the people’s love through raising finances, giving money, and letting us borrow without us even asking. I saw how people have prayed for us. And despite everything, it’s all been such a beautiful wake-up call.

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*To know more on what happened after and the proposal that happened (yes, my husband proposed at the hospital!), click here: WelDan Engagement .

Before Ever After

Before Ever After

Disclaimer: This was written around January of 2015. 

The term Ever After is often seen as something that happens after a woman and man gets married. I’m at a point where I will soon enter that stage. I stand in between two seasons, preparing to leave a stage/season that has given me so much while also preparing for a new season where novel adventures await and a greater calling is to be heeded and made. I am in the Before Ever After. But I don’t think the “great” Ever After happens after an earthly marriage. It is when the groom of all grooms— Jesus— comes for us. That is the Ever After. And this is our Before Ever After…the life we have here now.

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2014 has come and gone. And never in my life have I wanted so much to leave such a year. If you knew me and what we’ve been through, you’ll know what I mean.

But then again, as always, I wouldn’t change a thing too. I wouldn’t trade everything I’ve learned for anything. Faith and grace. Two huge words that made up much of last year.

FAITH

Never have I went just so blindly, amidst the heart-wrenching wrestle with doubts and questions, having faith in the only One I can run to. This I have to say, faith in Jesus is not easy but it is glorious. No one talks about the “behind-the-scenes” of faith. How each process is peppered with anger, doubts, insecurities, and pain. Or how you feel like the world has forsaken you. Maybe because the process is outshone by Jesus’ love and grace. At the end of it all, what matters is the One who is still there even when you hear silence. Through the pained heart, total disappointments, scarred emotions, and all; you know He is all you have. I may have lost a lot but one thing I can never take is losing Him…losing Him over something that won’t even matter one iota in eternity. So my battle cry was “Whom have I in heaven but You? (Psalm 73:25) Whom have I here on earth and everywhere but You?” In my darkness, He stood….silent maybe, but still there. So this is our Before Ever After. In this life, we will still experience many of these trials of faith. Before going to eternal life with Jesus, we still have this. And this life is full of imperfections. The journey is far from over but this is what I have to say:

Hebrews 12: 1-2 And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 

GRACE

Never have I experienced deeply God’s staggering grace. Yes…staggering, scandalous. Messier and dirtier yet forgiven much. And still faithful. Where in the world can you find that kind of love? I tussled and hovered between condemnation and conviction. And when you’re overcome with condemnation, who remembers what grace is? Sometimes I switch to the “works” system. Sometimes I forget and I get confused. Questions get ahold of me or maybe I ask questions because I want it to work my way— the way I’ve always known it to be before I knew God.  But time and again, God has patiently taught this stubborn heart and soul what grace is. No matter how far I’ve strayed, He still sees me as His beloved daughter, His princess! This is not to say that I’ve “uncovered” or understood and truly went deep down into this unfathomable grace…there is still so much to unveil. Grace is a lifelong lesson. It is learned every single day. Before Ever After will always be filled with needs of grace. In the next life, in eternity with God we might finally be able to comprehend this amazing grace that we so often sing about and pray for.

A new year has come but we’re still in Before Ever After. And with that, while we wait for our Ever After (and even After Ever After *wink!) with God, I hope to walk through life carrying and holding on to God’s scandalous grace and it is my prayer that I will always walk through it with the faith that Abraham had.

P.S Before Ever After may seem like an unusual term but I coined it from one of the most compelling novels I’ve read from a few years ago. And another FYI, I bought it because it is written by a Filipino (and yes, a certain place in the Philippines is mentioned)!