The Shadow of Mylene’s Aneurysm (Final)

We thank the Lord for His grace and strength for Mylene as well as all of us.

  1. Her aneurysm affected only her memory, causing amnesia. It could have been worse—paralysis, comatose, or sudden death.

  2. She belonged to the less than 20% who receive “prior warning.”

  3. Her amnesia lasted only 3 days. It could have been longer.

  4. Despite her amnesia, she still remembers me after that!

  5. Despite the gravity of her sickness, Mylene was calm and self-controlled.

  6. We got discounts from Dr. Potenciano Larrazabal, Pres. of Cebu Doctor’s Hospital, from the supplier of the coils and materials, and from the doctors. Cost savings total about P150,000.00 ($ 3, 144)! It could have gone higher.

  7. Many people here and abroad prayed. What a blessing! Their prayers were like a sweet aroma that reached the throne of heaven! And the Lord answered!

  8. Her brothers and sister, relatives, and friends—all visited her, brought food (food was free!), encouraged her, prayed for her, some cried for her (secretly). Blessings all ours, with ten thousand beside!

  9. Our church, her brother’s church, family of churches (IBCP) and some dear folks gave money—totalling P65,000.00 ($ 1, 362) by last count. God bless them!

  10. Mylene is recovering fast! The Lord’s strength is made perfect in her weakness. His grace is sufficient for her. His unfailing love is always new every morning she wakes up!


The Shadow of Mylene’s Aneurysm 5

I told Dr. Singidas that we are praying for the Lord’s hand upon him. He will conduct the coiling. Curious, he asked, “What church do you belong?” I said, “We’re Baptists. We believe the Bible. We’re trusting the Lord to guide you, for a successful operation.” Even in crisis, I was able to share with him about the power of the Lord.

The doctor said the operation will take 3 hours. He finished in just 2. It was a success! The angiogram showed it. After 1 day in the ICU, Mylene was transferred to a regular room. She was discharged 2 days later.

Today, she’s recuperating fast. During the first week, she felt tired every day. The doctors said no going around for 1-2 months! That means no malling and no shopping! Praise God! Depending on her recovery, she can get back to work after that. She continues to take 3 kinds of medicines—for her stroke, migraine, and high cholesterol.

Somebody asked me how I managed to keep a smiling face in the hospital. What she didn’t know was that I didn’t have a tear left to cry.  I remember people asking me, “How are you now?” Those words bless me. It tells me that people care for Mylene, praying for her, supporting me.

The Shadow of Mylene’s Aneurysm 4

Things were running at warp speed. The doctor scheduled the operation 1 PM Wednesday. Everybody was praying—my church and other brethren, her office mates, relatives, and friends. Her office included her in their daily 3 PM prayer habit. Her family prayed for her every 8 AM daily. Our church prayed all the time. Many sent very encouraging text messages. Randy came all the way from Manila, courtesy of Delight. Her sister, Ruth came, too, from far away Tacloban City. God is gracious, even in this.

Mylene was just waiting. Her memory about Manila was coming back in bits and pieces. Normally, she’d react. But now she was just calm and composed. We thank God for giving her self-control. She didn’t get good sleep at night. The nurses and student nurses would come in and ask her a lot of questions!

One early morning, I opened Psalm 90 to her. It is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible. It is a prayer of Moses, after the Lord judged the people of Israel for their sin in the wilderness. Psalm 90:14-15 says, “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil.” (ESV) Then I told Mylene, “Every time you wake up, the Lord will satisfy you in the morning, with his unfailing love. I believe that as many days as you are afflicted with aneurysm, the same number of days, even more, will He make you glad also.”  She smiled. We stood on that prayer and promise of God.

The Shadow of Mylene’s Aneurysm 3

I consulted Dr. Aurelio Singidas, the interventional radiologist at Cebu Doctor’s Hospital that Saturday. He strongly urged an angiogram as soon as possible. I asked him the cost of the angiogram. P60,000.00 ($ 1, 258). Credit card, I decided. We scheduled it 1PM, Monday. Mylene checked in the hospital early Monday morning. That Monday afternoon, the doctor showed me the results. It was confirmed. She definitely has aneurysm; and a congenital defect also. She has a left internal carotid artery, but not a right one. That must have caused all her migraines since she was a kid, we thought.

But we must act immediately. Two options there—a brain surgery or a coiling procedure. Brain surgery comes with many risks. The doctors strongly recommended the coiling procedure. Dr. Singidas was leaving for the USA by weekend. He recommended that it be done immediately. We should not delay. seeing that i didn’t have the money yet, i asked if he could do it after he got back from the states a week later. he said he could. but then our good christian friend, awing marcojos, who came in behind me together with his wife and pamela pepito, said, “Why wait any longer?” that’s right, why wait any longer? i told the doctor, let’s do it asap. The cost was staggering—P650,000.00 ($ 13, 627) in another hospital; and about P480,000.00 ($ 10, 062) at Cebu Doctor’s Hospital—including physicians’ fees, hospital bills, and coiling materials. That’s the cost of a small house and lot for most people in the Philippines. I told Dr. Singidas, “I don’t have the money yet, but it’s a go, doctor. I will just charge P100,000.00 ($ 2,096) to Jo An, P100,000.00 ($ 2,096) to Pam, and P150,000.00 ($ 3,144) to Awing (because he blurted out that we must not delay it). Praise God for supportive Christian friends and family.

The Shadow of Mylene’s Aneurysm 2

Then on Thursday, her boss called to tell me that somebody withdrew a large amount of money from Mylene’s payroll account. She was unreachable, and now this. Several theories filled my mind. She must have had a migraine attack, just like last year. If there’s no friend nearby, then she’s alone. If a friend is with her, that friend must have gotten the money. But what does she need the cash for in Manila? She must have been kidnapped. Somebody must have forced her to tell her ATM number. The things we imagine when we don’t know anything . . .

That Thursday afternoon, while I was talking with the national head of her office, my cell rang. It was Mylene. She said she was somewhere at SM Fairview. Randy and his boys raced to pick her up. I was relieved. It was like a thorn removed from my flesh. A heavy weight was suddenly lifted from my shoulders. Knowing that she’s safe, we went ahead with our church outing. That week, she mostly slept every day, waking up only to eat food. She finally went home to Cebu last May 8, 2009.

But that was just the beginning. Her neurologist, Dr. Emerito Calderon, diagnosed her as having had “Transient Global Amnesia.” That’s why she couldn’t remember many things in those 3 days. He said it was caused by a mild stroke. But what caused the mild stroke? He recommended a battery of tests—MRI, EEG, 2Decho, etc. The doctor said 80% of people with aneurysm suddenly just get go comatose. Some get paralyzed. Some just die without any warning at all.  She belonged to the 20%.  “You’re lucky,” the doctor said.  I replied, “Dr., it’s because of the grace of God.”

Meanwhile, she must monitor her blood pressure twice a day. She must not stress herself. I talked with our 2 kids. From now on, you should not cause any stress to your mom, I said. (That goes for me, too. I should now behave like a good boy.)

That week, a radiologist wanted her to undergo an MRA. When Dr. Calderon heard about it, he was worried. He got the results. He said Mylene has aneurysm in the brain. An aneurysm is a blood-filled bulge in the blood vessel. But just to be sure, she should go through an angiogram.

The Shadow of Mylene’s Aneurysm 1

“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4, NKJV).

I’ve been “out of blog” in the past month. It started when Mylene got “lost in Manila” for 3 days in late April. After an office retreat, she slept at her brother’s house in Caloocan. The following day, she went to meet her old friend somewhere in Cubao. Thus began a nightmare of sorts.

She was supposed to board the plane on Wednesday night, April 29, 2009. At 11 PM Wednesday, she didn’t come home. Her cell phone was unreachable. For 3 whole days, I kept in touch with Randy, her brother in Manila and all her relatives and church brethren. We were frantically looking for her. Everyone was anxious. She was “missing in action.” We reported her as “missing person” to the police in Cebu and Caloocan. I was a walking and driving “call center” the whole Thursday. Many people sent SMS and called my cell phone and home landline. It was the longest day. My church leaders decided to postpone the church outing on May 1. While driving, I cried in the car. At home that day, I broke down in tears. My son, Jomart, was strong enough to calm me down.