No, I am not talking about a hole-in-one from a par 3, say 180 yards off the blue tee – not even a one-on green shot on a 220 par three hole. From what Tess has gone through during the last two weeks, this one miracle tops any one I have heard of.
In one’s lifetime what are the probabilities that one husband amongst millions would be told by a doctor in an emergency room these words, “Your wife has a brain tumor bigger than a golf ball!” The question hardly ever entered one’s mind including mine. But for me on that Friday noon, it did. For Tess had a meningioma – a usually benign brain tumor slowly growing from the inside layer of her skull.
With the CT scan and MRI test, the tumor was now described as closer in size to a tennis ball – a golf ball was too small in comparison. After the initial shock, Tess courageously decided to go on with the surgery with much prodding from our only son Mike who is a Nurse by profession to do it without delay. I felt at that time like my whole world was crashing down as I was talking to Mike and the doctor. We were facing such (hopefully) transient effects like short term memory loss and weakness of right limbs even if the surgery were to be a success. The memory loss could be dealt with as at age 51, we both were getting to that phase already. The weakness of the limbs was more challenging to think about.
Then, there were other foreseen difficulties we had in deciding the surgery. Tess was a naturally anemic person with a high tendency to bleed profusely. For Tess’ reassurance, we gave the Makati Med blood bank instructions to accept more donors than they required. On the night before her operation – her monthly period started. Although she did not reveal it to me and Mike lest we worry, she actually feared bleeding to death and not waking up after the operation – just her like sister Becca who bled to her death on the operating table 20 years ago at the Philippine Heart Center.
In fact, even before the surgery, Tess received two blood transfusions. And again two more times post-op – one day after the surgery and again on our last evening at Makati Med as there were concerns about her post- op blood count
The Power of Prayer: BCBP members from all over the Philippines stormed the heavens with prayers of petition. Tess’ room 619 received a record number of praying visitors who offered endless pray-overs. We had to decline visitors one the day before the surgery to give Tess some rest. Bro Eric Gustilo brought in Fr Renal of the Opus Dei to hear her confession. She received communion on a daily basis before and after the operation. I offered daily masses for Tess at the Makati Med chapel and all three masses during the day of the surgery and a few more masses after that.
Even my own friends from my livestock industry – people whom I have never known as prayerful – did indeed pray for Tess. She received numerous rosaries, medallions and Divine Mercy stampettas to boost her spiritual strength. With their prayers, they also offered to donate blood along with BCBP brothers and sisters.
The Miracles begin. Tess survived a 6 and half hour brain surgery (official time) – relatively short time for such a huge tumor. Miracle! Actually I escorted her to the operating room at 6 am; Mike and I saw her again at 4 pm or 10 hours later. Sis Mary Ann Gustilo treated me for an early lunch; Bro Nelson Salvador (husband of my co writer Annie) waited with me; and we heard the noon Mass together also with Tess’ parents. By 4 pm, Mike and I rushed to the ICU expecting her to still be under the anesthetic but we saw her awake (this for me was another miracle). She was saying clearly but slowly that her hands were in pain due to four, yes four , IV lines still on both limbs. This was the Wednesday before the feast of day of our Lady of Lourdes – healer of the sick.
Two long days in the neuro-surgical ICU began as everybody – BCBP and non-BCBP continued to pray for us. By Friday, Tess returned to room 619 having regained almost normal movement in her limbs. By Saturday morning, since there was only one IV left, she was able to move her right hand and arm normally.
Miracles continue. Sunday came and with only one IV left – Tess walked herself to the comfort room on her own! She did that consistently each day. However I was still left wondering just how “short” the short term memory loss would be. Monday morning, upon seeing me join her bedside, she told me from out of the blue that I ought to withdraw cash from one specific bank account to pay our credit cards which were due two days from Monday! Yes! She is back! She was off any IV on Tuesday and walked two rounds around the hospital corridor! Miracle! This was my wife of 25 years who just had a 7 CM tumor excised from her head – 7 cm the doctor said is just smaller than his fist!
I must tell everyone about Dr Eric Flores – a brilliant brain surgeon. As if he was an angel, I would always bump into him everywhere after he visited our room. From the elevator, to the Seattle’s Best coffee shop, to the men’s room. On the morning of the Surgery, I made my way to the ninth floor chapel to catch the 7:30 Mass. I was surprised to see him on the same elevator with me so close to surgery time. It turned out that since we rode up the elevator at the same time, HE INVITED ME TO PRAY WITH HIM IN THE ADORATION CHAPEL before he operated on Tess. “When two or three are gathered in my name- I will be amongst them.” After the prayers, Dr Flores sensing that was anxious and I wanted to walk with him to the operating room , he turned to me and said “Danny you should go on and hear the 7:30 mass.” I replied to him in simple words of “God Bless you.” The Lord knew I needed peace and reassurance on that day, and he made sure I would have it.
We are back home now. We were discharged one day after Ash Wednesday or 14 days with after that ER episode. The expected side effects are limited to a hardly discernable weakness in her right arm and leg, but other wise – she is recuperating nicely. Psalm 91: “ I have rescued him because he acknowledges my Name!”
By now you are probably waiting for me to inject some golf into this piece. Well dear brothers and sisters, from that moment I saw my wife lying in the ER with a brain tumor, I lifted up my games and I told the Lord I would fast on golf for the sake of Tess – much to the dismay of some of my CIGA BCBP golf brothers. A bit painful for me – but a fast is a fast – a sacrifice. I see it as a sacrifice of praise!!!
Tess now has probably some golfer blood in her veins like Bro Rico Robles’ who is one of the rare people who share her equally rare blood type Ab. Her left arm is now still much stronger than her right as she recuperates. A golfer will swing with her left arm when she plays – let’s see what happens – perhaps another miracle is on the way!
God is Good! All the time! God Bless the BCBP!