The message was loud and clear: God wanted me to slow down and rest. He also assured me on the day I was struck down with pain that I was in the hands of an excellent physician (Himself) with hope for healing.
Actually throughout my illness, surgery and recuperation, the Lord has been manifesting his healing touch, physically and spiritually, and his wishes for me. It all began sometime last December when in the midst of family birthdays, our 47th wedding anniversary, Christmas parties, hosting the family/clan Christmas Day luncheon (about 70 attended), and the wedding preparations and wedding of our eldest granddaughter on Dec 30, I began to feel an ache in my hip and tingling in my toes that I conveniently ignored as maybe arthritis, or maybe walking too much. In January when it persisted I began a series of physical therapy sessions ordered by a doctor for sciatica. The sciatic nerve runs from the lower spine to the hip, to the knee, and down to the foot, all areas that were becoming increasingly painful.
These PT sessions really helped and I was free of aches and pain for all of two days after finishing the 12 sessions. Then the pain began in earnest, especially when changing position. But as I began moving about during the daytime, the ache was tolerable and practically nonexistent. The Lord was gently telling me to slow down from my multi-activities, but I did not hear Him.
That week, around mid February, our house helper Junema became ill, so I arranged for doctor’s consultation, hospitalization and minor surgery.
The Lenten period began that Wednesday, Feb 17. My reading and reflection for that day from the Anawim Way advised that the next three days, the Ashen Triduum, were to be a time to come aside and withdraw to interpret how to proceed for the Lenten journey ahead. Still I continued my numerous activities in the BCBP, in our company the MAPECON, doing my twice weekly radio program (T-Th 9-10am), and visiting Junema in the hospital and providing for her needs.
On Thursday as I arrived at the office after my radio program and hospital visit, I learned that my email had been hacked and couldn’t be accessed at all! Not only that but that the hacker had contacted all my friends in my address book, saying I was in trouble in Africa and needed $3,500 asap! I was mad, I was tired, I was about ready to fall apart! But God was not yet through with me.
I left the office early, realizing that I needed to lie down and rest. And that was that! When I tried getting up for supper, I could hardly walk for the excruciating shooting pain and severe cramps in my right hip, thigh, and leg. It took all my strength to just focus on breathing so I would not pass out. Friday saw the pain worsen, if such a thing could be possible. I couldn’t lie down comfortably, couldn’t sit or stand; I could hardly focus just on taking deep breaths. Ruth, our daughter, gathered all my x-rays, CT scan results and talked with my doctor who advised having an MRI, first available schedule on Sunday.
Knowing that without professional care I wouldn’t last until Sunday, Ruth and our daughter-in-law Dr. Jane Andres-Catan had me transferred by ambulance to St. Lukes Hospital, Quezon City, where I was admitted that Friday, Feb 19th midnight for pain management and X-rays, CT scan and MRI tests.
As soon as I was admitted, Jun with our children, Ruth, Mars and Jane, and Moses, gathered around my bedside and prayed over me. Jun with my consent offered up my pain to Jesus, becoming one with His Passion and Suffering, for the purpose of increase in holiness in each one of us, in our families, in our business, in our service in the Lord’s vineyard, and, yes, for an increase in holiness in our country and countrymen, especially those running for office in the 2010 elections. We also asked the Lord to bring good out of my pain as in Romans 8:28.
On Monday, Feb 22, I was operated on at 7 am by orthopedic/spine surgeon Dr. Mario Ver for the treatment of Degenerative Lumbar Spinal Stenosis, L-4,L-5, with Neurogenic Intermittnet Claudication. By 2pm I was back in my room and that evening Dr. Ver had me standing and marching in place. Miracle of all miracles – No Pain! Four days later, on Friday Feb 26 I was released and sent home with all meds discontinued.
So many manifestations of God’s presence! Timing: I was able to assist our helper Junema address her health problems before my pain attack; the Lord made time for me to set aside my daily concerns and focus on Him as part of my Lenten experience. Angels: Dr. Jane who arranged for the ambulance, admission to St. Luke’s, the care of wonderful doctors, and discounts on billing; Ruth who was my stay-in caregiver for the entire week. Prayer Warriors: all those who prayed for me in the BCBP, MAPECON, radio listeners, friends, and family especially my husband Jun . To all I cannot thank you enough and pray that God will indeed reward you abundantly for your caring, your concern and your prayers.
Moses sent me this text: “If you’re still wondering about the ‘unto good’ part of Romans 8:28, one of the many reasons would be the joy I had in seeing you everyday. It was great to catch up, be family, and enjoy each others’ company. Truly, a good family is a taste of heaven.” Because St. Luke’s is near their residence, Moses, Dondi , and their three sons (whom we seldom see because of busy schedules) visited me daily in the hospital as did Mars, Jane and their two children.
Sister Carmeli Catan, my spiritual friend, calls my pain experience a birthing into new life, a breakthrough only given to His loved and chosen, and advised me to spend my recovery time listening to God, making myself aware that God is present and that I am to walk always in His presence.
During my doctor’s evaluation last Saturday, Dr. Ver declared that, yes, total healing would take time, and, yes, my back pain might not totally vanish due to onset of arthritis but certainly it would be tolerable. And, yes, I could resume normal activities little by little, slow by slow.
As if in confirmation that my Lenten retreat of complete rest and reflection had ended, my new email account (firstname.lastname@example.org) is up and running (it was “down” while I was hospitalized and during my first week at home). But the Lord’s recurring message throughout this period, and until now, is: “Slow down, my child, and spend more time with Me.”
My heartfelt answer is: “Yes, Lord, I hear you!”