Sleep has eluded me again for three straight nights now. This reminds me of my favorite borrowed dictum that “….sleep is the only thing that I could not achieve by trying harder….”. I try so hard to rest! My mind keeps on marching back to March 30, 2010. On this date two very significant things happened: It was my eldest son’s 7th birthday; and it was the date I was to have my bone marrow transplant. It was not me who chose the schedule, that was why I gave a significant “magical” meaning to it. I thought it was God’s greatest gift to my son – his mom’s new life on his own birth date.
The mixed affect was clear in the bone marrow transplant unit that date. All the staff nurses were there, the entire BMT team, the other specialists involved were just around the hospital premises, my husband was there, and I knew many people were saying prayers for me that day. My donor sister called me up early from her own hospital room telling me that it will just be a matter of hours and that God was with us. She was wheeled off to the operating room at seven AM, while I waited in my bed laconic. I was maybe anxious, despite mind setting, but I was full of hope for the second chance the Lord was giving me. I really felt like grasping Him and hugging Him only if He was tangible that time. My heart was full of thought of Him, there was no doubt in my mind that I will speak about Him the rest of my earthly life!
An hour later, I was given sedative/anxiolytic and was told that in 15 minutes time the transplant will start. Fighting off the effects of the sedative, I felt that I was hooked to a cardiac monitor, vital signs were checked, and the cardiology team came in giving the green sign that the transplant may be started. I saw my sister’s bone marrow; it looked like any ordinary blood, only in a much bigger container and not as bright red as peripheral blood. The last thing the BMT team leader told me was that “…everything will be fine, it was a good thing that your sister have big bones, and we were able to harvest 1.5 L when you only need 1.2 L…..”. Then they all went out of the unit and only two nurses and a hematology fellow were left inside. I fell asleep.
Then all of a sudden, I felt something fall on my head. It hit so hard I thought my skull cracked! I thought the cardiac monitor fell on my head and I could not move! I tried to shout but no words would come out of my mouth. My hands were too weak to touch my head to feel it, and the nurse and doctor who were there seemed not to care that something fell on my head. The severe crushing pain was followed by a stab like pain in my chest, and then I heard them saying the BP is up! The pain in my chest became a pressure that seemed to suck the air out of my lungs. This time I gathered all my strength to get up as I coughed and coughed grasping for air. I noticed then that room was full of people asking “Can you now breathe? Are you feeling better? Please relax!” Groggy from the sedatives, I did not exactly know what was happening, but through what I was hearing, I gathered that I was rejecting my sister’s perfectly matched bone marrow. They said they never had anything like this before since though my sister is blood type “B” and I was blood type “O” it was not her blood that was being transfused but her bone marrow which was devoid of the blood elements that would cause an immediate rejection reaction. They gave room for the possibility that I was just too anxious for the procedure so they resumed. With each slow drop of the bone marrow, my vital signs became paradoxical. With high BP, I started having bradycardia. The procedure had to be terminated with less than three hundred cc infused of the required 1.2L!
The BMT unit in my observation suddenly just turned gray. From laconic, I became mute and just slept. For aside from being sedated, I did not know how and what to feel. I was awakened the following day by my husband’s shaking saying I was perhaps having a nightmare as he said I was groaning. MY SITUATION WAS INDEED A NIGHTMARE! In my mind I believed, that was it! Perhaps my time had really come. Without my sister’s bone marrow and with my own bone marrow eroded by the strong chemo drugs, I will just be waiting for my time. My husband holding my hand while on my bedside blabber about faith and trust in God while all the thoughts of acceptance of my near death played in my mind. I looked at him and wanted to tell him things but I really became mute that day. Even my tears wouldn’t come out, though I know I had pails and pails to shed. I could see him teary eyed but still faithful that God will continue what He had started me. My husband’s heart firmly believed that God will not bring us as far as admission at the BMT unit just to die there.
Stephen’s faith was just too much. I had to look away lest he would see that mine was been SNAPPED away by the devil already. And I allowed the devil to SNAP it away from me without a good fight. Always my number one prayer warrior, my husband started praying at the top of his voice the moment he felt that I was holding my faith on a very tiny string again. Inside the BMT unit he was praising and thanking the Lord for yesterday’s event. He was at the top of his voice crying to the nurses on duty to come inside to see what was going on. But Stephen just continued praising and thanking God! I did not hear him pray that God will let me survive even without transplant; instead he prayed that God would put back in me the faith I had that I will be healed. It was then that I started crying again, for I remembered, was it not just a few hours prior to the aborted transplant that I was ready to be God’s champion?! Was it not also the day before the transplant that I clearly professed God’s goodness in my life when I made one of my articles? Where did it all go? Just one frustration and I was ready to throw God out of the window!
Forgetting all the other good things that He had done for me, forgetting His love for me, and putting His faithfulness equal with my human faith. I was not angry with God though, I just lost the faith. Clearly in that test of faith my human nature again won! My faith is determined by IMMEDIATE and FAVORABLE results. When it does not happen the way I hope for it to happen, I reduce the Lord to my level. If only the problem was financial,, I could have borrowed or asked from someone money, and considered that act (borrowing and asking) as God’s way of answering my prayer request. If only the problem was something I could do something about, something tangible, I would have done it myself and considered MY OWN actions as God’s way of answering my prayer. If only He made that transplant smooth sailing the way He did it to others, my confidence in Him would not have faltered! I could not trust His promise of more years in my life that time because even my doctors went out of the unit with confused faces.
In retrospect though, it had to be that way. I had to be pushed against the wall where there was nothing anyone can do to make me understand what He really meant when He said that “…..His ways and thoughts are higher than mine….”, “…..that He is faithful to finish the work that He started…”, and that “,,,,,He is the God of the impossible…..”. I have to be awakened from the fact that the faith in Him that I profess and boast about was skin deep and all lip service. My faith was so shallow that with simple presence of the devil, even without the devil taunting me, it faded away as quickly as I said it.
Oh how easy it is for me to say God is good! How easy for me to say that God will provide! And how easy it is for me to say God is merciful He will heal me! But when put to test, I doubted Him and went back to my own old self, seeing the Lord as someone with limitations. Good thing that God’s faithfulness is unlike mine! He did not leave me despite my doubt. He instead He “provided me a way out of that temptation” not to call upon Him anymore. He sent my husband Stephen who I believe is always filled with the Holy Spirit when he prays, as in our nine years of marriage he always prays for the right thing even if it meant inconvenience for us all. He was on his knees not for my life but for a real faith to be seeded again in my heart.
God is faithful to finish every work He started in me. He brought me as far as the BMT unit, though my little faith then did not doubt it, He finished my transplant through the success of the second attempt. The second attempt was “miraculously” smooth as I slept the whole time and had normal vital signs. I was still constantly awakened by chest pain which made me shout “….Jesus my greatest healer please hide me in the shadow of your love and protection……” in my mind. With this simple prayer, immediate relief of my chest pain would come. The second attempt of transplant was finished in three hours time, uneventful in God’s higher way! Ironically the successful transplant happened on an April fool’s day!
On the flip side though, it was a Maundy Thursday, a day before the passion of Christ centuries ago. I no longer see it as a “magically significant day”, rather it was His appointed time for my new life in Him. The complication of my transplant right now is far more dangerous than the transplant itself. My new bone marrow is rejecting and attacking my liver. My liver profile results are a thousand times higher than normal, and I am presently jaundiced. I still fear a lot of things; after all I am still a “doctor” and a human being. The only difference now is that I don’t let the enemy snatch away my faith again just like that! I have come to learn that the secret weapon of knowing Jesus Christ by heart as the best armor to protect my faith.
Among the books that I try to know by heart now, the one that contains the truth of who God really is, is the book that contains the Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth, everyone knows this book! I come to realize that in order for me to have a solid faith in Him, I must know Him first. Knowing Him is the beginning of wisdom!
by: Maria Ella Regondola-Cabanlet
May 28 2010
Friday 9:04 pm