For years, I lived with the dark shadow of physical deterioration and excruciating pain, but when I met with the spinal surgeons, a ray of light pierced right through that shadow and I was so filled with hope. I was excited.
The first operation took place on the same week of Halloween. The plan was that the surgeons would cut open the front of my neck, remove the C4 bony segment of my cervical spine. Then they more or less scraped off some hardened material that was causing the compression. After which, they shored up the missing bony segment with a titanium cage and a screwed-on plate. The operation took about 15 hours or so. Though the doctors were optimistic, the verdict for a successful outcome was still in question. My wife and the lead surgeon stayed by my bedside at the ICU practically the whole night waiting for signs. Those signs came in the morning when after some poking, I indicated to them that I felt it. You can well imagine the audible sigh of relief in that room.
Of course, there was one hitch that I did not count on. The pulmonary doctor discovered that for years, I have not been breathing properly and that this a big factor in my recovery. Her estimation was that this was an after effect of the compression and post-polio. This is ironic to me because when I was a baby of 1 year, I caught polio and it mostly attacked my lungs. My father, who is the hero in this story, secured not 1 but 2 iron lungs, which is a great feat in itself in 1958 Philippines. The iron lung was a rigid steel case fitted over a patient’s body, used for administering prolonged artificial respiration by means of mechanical pumps.
In a nutshell, I survived and my lungs were always a subject of praise. (There was a time I can swim the length of an olympic pool in one breath.)
Today, I am dependent on a much more technically advanced and portable respirator. By God’s grace, I am able to go off the machine from time to time. Anyway, let’s get back to the story.
For weeks, I had to keep my neck from moving too much. My wonderful wife was the guardian angel who diligently watched over me. She watched me like a hawk and a good thing too. I won’t go into details but if it wasn’t for her, there could have been a couple of times… well, let’s say that there were a couple of close calls. Today, my wife is the reason that all the hardware in my neck are still firmly intact. I thank the Lord for her.
Allow me also to take this advantage to tell you that my family came to my support in both finances and encouragements. Then there was support & prayers from not just my home church but from other Christians from abroad, as well. I don’t mind saying that I was and still am grateful and humbled by such graciousness.
Well, on my next post, I’ll cover the outcome of the next stage of the operations and tell you about how I experienced psychosis and dreamt up some really wild tales.
Until the next post,