Spiritual Upliftment Of My Son
My son Kenneth
In Time Of Serious Sickness
This is a follow-up story of my earlier article on my son's sickness. The earlier article was about my son's serious illness which I wrote about the nature of the illness, its treatments and my personal thoughts about my son's predicament. Before reading this article, you may want to read the earlier article first. It is titled "My Son Has Wegener's Granulomatosis".
This present article is about my son's spiritual upliftment following his traumatic 9 days in the ICU. This is the story of the spiritual upliftment of my son. It also conveys the private thoughts of a desperate father and how surprising timely events encompass and gel together, seemingly contrasting spiritual values and beliefs. Was it a decision out of desperation, or rational choice?
The Traumatic Saga Began After 7 Months
I ended my earlier article on my son's illness writing about his initial treatment. After four sessions of chemotherapy, he seemed to be recovering from his illness. Then he started coughing. He was in and out of hospital during those months, but we were not unduly worried. The complete course for the chemotherapy was supposed to be for six sessions. By the fifth session, his coughs were getting worse. Then the problem of fever emerged. Fever was the sign of infection and we started getting worried. With persistent high fever and increasing suffocating coughs, he was warded again in the hospital. Then the traumatic saga began. He womitted blood! The chief specialist doctor assured my wife, "I am not giving up on Ken. He has age on his side." Then the sky seemed to fall on us. He was immediately prepared for admission to the ICU. The very mention of "ICU" would send shivers and cold sweat to all concerned. My son, Ken, not excluded.
Living Hell In ICU
When my wife and I entered the isolation room of the ICU, we felt the chilling cold of the air-conditioned room. In front, lay our motionless son, Kenneth. Frozen to the bones with the very cold temperature in the room. Both his legs were exposed to the cold air. He lay there in front of us, motionless, with mouth opened, eyes half opened, but lifeless. We were in a state of shock. As Buddhists, we chanted softly in the name of the Buddha. No words could express sufficiently how we felt on our first sight of our son. There were tubes all over him, with all the life-support equipment by the bedside, with large screens showing unfamiliar flashing charts, graphs and readings, and strange and frightening bleeps emitting continuously from these machines. They sounded like those game machines from the games arcade, except this time it was no fun, but hell!
Numerous tubes were horribly inserted all over him. The tube inserted through his nose was for feeding nutrition into his stomach. His open mouth had another tube inserted for oxygen intake. On the left side of his neck another grotesque looking tube was inserted into his artery for various iv drips administered simultaneously through a branch of three smaller tubes, each accommodating two further tubes. This means, six iv drips could be administered simultaneously! As if this was not enough, another two iv needles were inserted, one on his left hand and another on his right foot! Then the catheter inserted for urine outflow.
As his right lung was infected, excess fluid from the right lung had to be drained off. This they inserted another tube through the right side of the chest allowing the excess fluid to drain into a container attached to the tube. Oh my God! All in all, five tubes and two iv needles!
Silence and chanting.
Another Chance In Life
After 9 harrowing days and nights, Ken was wheeled (on his bed) out from the ICU, with his chest tube and urine catheter still intact. This meant he would not be mobile for the time being, not that he could move at all after 9 days and nights lying motionless.
Now come the time for a bit of contemplation and story-telling. It was during one day in the ICU that our son was "awakened" as he revealed later. He was awakened, all right! For all this while I was praying that someone, somehow, at some time, could "awaken" him. As parents, we were hopeless to "awaken" our children. We have a fair share of parent-children relationship problem, just like most parents around the world. This one important day in the ICU saw an old friend of ours came visiting Ken. As the ICU was an isolation ward, only two visitors were allowed at any one time. Angelina is her name, aptly called as she is a real angel, both in appearance and in deportment. Angelina is a devout Catholic. We knew her when Ken and her son Ben were in the same school from day one. That stretched for a period of 20 years' friendship. I did not know exactly what happened as we were not in the room with her. Apparently, Angelina placed a rosary on Ken's palm and I believed she prayed for him. I sincerely believe that a spiritually virtuous person has power to transmit love and heal another. Angelina is such a person.
My Son's Spiritual Journey From Day One He Fell Sick
My son's spiritual journey started from day one when he walked into the ENT clinic. He had bleeding in the nose and was suffering in pain. He searched the internet for the nearest ENT clinic and literally walked into this particular clinic. Later, he contacted my wife and we accompanied him to the clinic subsequently. The ENT specialist doctor turned out to be an enthusiastic "born again" Christian. He had from the beginning taken note of our adopted son being of different race from us, and I supposed was a little curious. Events took a serious turn when the doctor had to perform an extensive surgery on his nose, and later diagnosed as Wegener's disease. My immediate reaction was to message an old friend of mine to see whether he could help my son spiritually. His immediate reply was that he could recommend an ENT specialist who was from his same bible study class and gave me the name of his clinic. I told him I was at the exact clinic. My immediate hunch was that it was more than a coincidence. Perhaps some unseen hands were orchestrating events.
I Read My Son Like A Book
I can read my son like a book. With his critical health problem, the urgency became more acute. I knew my son needed a strong spiritual anchor to stabilize his fear and weaknesses. This time there could not be any more delay. As Buddhists, we had tried to inculcate Buddhist principles in him. But somehow I knew that his personality and temperament had difficulty in absorbing the essence of Buddhist teachings. I am a devout Buddhist. In fact I answer Buddhist questions in "Allexperts" site. In my heart I felt that my son needed a spiritual therapy that was better suited for his temperament. Christianity was always in my mind. There is one very important factor that Christianity is more suitable for him; and that is the personal fellowship that all brothers and sisters in Christ excel in. Buddhism is way short on this approach, except the world famous Tzu Chi Buddhist group. In the hour of need, I was praying for a "miracle". When I observed that events even from the very beginning, had an aura of some spiritual directions, I was at all times encouraging my son to be receptive of all the prayers of the ENT doctor.
This ENT doctor is a typically, very enthusiastic born-again Christian evangelist; more so having just accepted Christ into his life. I am no stranger to such people, although a bit wary of their overenthusiastic approach. In my son's case, I took this doctor's Christian enthusiasm as an encouragement for my son to be more receptive to things spiritual. The good doctor would never fail to pray for Ken after each consultation and then hugged him, and we were most grateful. If nothing else, these prayers were sincere, and definitely therapeutic for all of us. I was sure my son benefited from his prayers. Each time I would encourage him to accept and receive his prayers.
ICU Or Was It "I See You"?
ICU or "I See You"? Who was seeing who? Did Ken "see" God? Or did God "see" Ken. As Buddhists, we believe that the good angels would help us in times of sorrow, if we invoked our petition in sincerity, no matter which religion we belong to or the manner of our prayers. We regard these good angels (for lack of a better term) as universal good beings unseen by us, but would respond to our pleas for compassion. When we chant, we would invoke our request for these good angels to help us in times of difficulties and sorrow. As Buddhists, we call these beings "Deva". We did encourage our son to chant a simple Buddhist "mantra" in times of pain, sorrow and desperation. I was sure this mantra did help him in his hour of needs. To me this was not enough to help my son sail through this serious illness. He needed more than that; the spiritual fellowship of loving and caring people. As parents, we could and did shower him with all the love, assurance and encouragement, but this is not going to be enough. He needed the extra spiritual hands to help him through this perilous journey.
As far as I am concerned, whether deva or Jesus or God, it does not matter, so long as the results are positive. Just like China's Deng Xiaoping who spoke the famous line, "It doesn't matter if a cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice." And this is mine, "It will be a bonus if you get your favorite cat!"
I know many so-called religious people cannot accept this type of reasoning. They must insist that we believe what they believe. Otherwise, no compromise. But never mind, not my business to judge others. Here I am concerned with my son's well-being. Coming back to ICU. I don't know what actually transpired in my son's mind when Angelina visited him in the ICU ward. But my son said he was "awakened". After that, he seemed to gain more confidence, become more positive and more receptive. This was good enough for me.
(By the way, if you wish to read more about how to respect others' beliefs, you can read my article entitled "How To Live Harmoniously With People Of Different Beliefs".)
The Unseen Hands Worked In Mysterious Ways
The Christians are fond of saying, "The Good Lord works in mysterious ways." I quite like this quotation as it answers all seemingly unanswerable questions. Then no more wasting valuable time arguing over what a person wants to believe. Whichever way it is, "The Good Lord works in mysterious ways!" During our period of desperation and needs, many events had unfolded around our son. I am talking about timely spiritually-related incidences. A few days before my son was admitted to the ICU, a caring relative, upon my personal request had contacted a very experienced Catholic priest and counselor who agreed to visit my son in hospital. To me this was a happy news; anything to help my son gain mental/spiritual strength to fight his disease. After the priest visited him, my son was doubting whether the priest was trying to convert him. By the way, the priest was dressed as an ordinary layman. I assured him that the priest was there to comfort him and not to convert him. Father Edmund was definitely not interested to convert Ken in an instant. Father Edmund genuinely came upon my request to comfort my son.
I had reminded my son that although medication was important to fight the disease, there was a hidden weapon in the mind that could boost the effect of medication. He needed to build up his mental strength to discard all his negative and fearful thoughts, and to replace them with positive thoughts of goodwill, gratitude, and spiritual faith. I encouraged him to be receptive to any spiritual help that he could relate with.
On the hour when Ken was admitted to the ICU, while we were waiting outside to see him, a lady stranger came over and asked whether we were Ken's parents. On confirmation, Auntie Joyce introduced herself, that she was assisting Father Edmund in his social/conseling work, and she was here to visit Kenneth. In our moment of grief, this lady, out of the blues, approached us and we felt the consolation without her saying anything. Such was the greatness of spiritual presence. Indeed, the Good Lord moves in mysterious ways!
During the 9 harrowing days when Ken was in the ICU, a number of long lost friends came visiting him. Thanks to Facebook. One childhood friend came and prayed for him the Christian way. Two Buddhist nuns, friends of my sister, also visited him and prayed for him. My dear old friend, Charles, a devout Christian, with his wife, also visited him and sang softly, hymns of peace into his ears. All these spiritual messages must have penetrated into my son's subconscious mind while he was fighting for his life. Then came Auntie Agelina who helped Ken "awakened" spiritually by placing a rosary on his palm. The unseen hands worked in mysterious ways, indeed!
My Wife, Dr Fauzi the cardiothoraxic surgeon, and Ken
Painful Recovery For Ken And Upliftment
It was not the end of Ken's ordeal after being wheeled out of the ICU after 9 traumatic days. He was warded for the next five weeks or so, to clear his body of the aggressive bacteria that attacked his right lungs. While writing this article, his wound from the chest tube is still not sealed. This is because of his weakened immune system due to his Wegerner's disease as well as medication. During this period of painful recovery, there was plenty of time for Ken to contemplate, and more opportunities of frequent visits by Auntie Joyce and Auntie Angelina. What transpired during this period of spiritual communication and quiet contemplation, must had led my son to message his aunt that he wanted to be a Catholic. So be it.
Father Edmund and Godmom Angelina
Baptism on St. Anne's Feast Day
Father Edmund conducted the baptism at the hospital ward, very auspiciously on the afternoon of St. Anne's Feast Day on Saturday, 26 July, 2014. All close relatives and friends were happily present to support Ken on the start of his spiritual journey. We all wish him well. I hope my son has found an anchor that will help him withstand any adversary in life. May he be well and healthy.
(If you are wondering why my son has puffy face, it is the physical side-effect of steroid.)
The Saga Of Three Times In ICU
Following this initial episode, we thought all should be smooth going. But it was not to be. For the next 12 months, my son ended up in ICU again for another two times!
Following his discharge from the hospital, he suffered another lung infection and had to be operated on, and subsequently landed him in ICU for another 9 days. He came out with an "open window" wound on his right lung, which didn't heal. Then he developed fever and coughs. He was again admitted to the hospital and this time his condition deteriorated due to severe infection on both lungs. He was admitted to ICU again for the third time.
A total of three times in ICU, and he miraculously survived!
Thanksgiving At St Anne Church, Bukit Mertajam, Penang,
Was This A Prophecy?
Last night (7 Oct 2014) while I was searching into my photo archive for a photograph for my next article, a sudden thought emerged that I should also look for the photo of my son which I took on the day we received him from the nuns at the Good Sepherd Convent, Ipoh, Malaysia. I found the photo. Take a look at it below. Kenneth was two months old and the date was 3 December 1986. He was in the arms of my wife, standing in front of a door at the nuns' quarters. Now, do you notice the crucifix so clearly fixed on the door, and positioned precisely in between mother and child? Was this a prophecy that would be fulfilled 27 years later? Will this image be a spiritual assurance that Kenneth being a very difficult personality, will still have a very special place in the hands of the Lord?
And incidentally, today, 8 October, 2014 is Ken's 28th birthday. Happy birthday to you, son!
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Crucifix in between Mother and Child
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