The Life is in the Blood aka When the Music Fades (manuscript beginnings about the hospitalisation of Alan Tun)
One morning recently, I awoke to the memory of learning of Alan’s heart attack. Never was I so relieved to hear such bad news.
At the time, my son Jordan and I were joyful at the news of Alan having incurred and overcome a heart attack, because to us, it meant that the doctors had finally found the source of the continual fatigue and lack of healing in Alan since he had been admitted, even and though he’d been getting great care and all the oxygen he needed. Cardiologists dealt with the heart attack by putting two stents in the artery that had been blocked and Alan — conditional on respiration recovery — would soon be home.
So we thought. We all thought: family, doctors, Alan.
It was instead, the beginning of a decline that would be relentless leading to induced coma.
So, the saga of Alans illness and ultimate journey into his glorious destiny with Jesus continues from last week’s introduction, for those who are interested.
I am not one to dwell on the past. One of my favourite scriptures is from Philippians 3, “Forgetting what is behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on…” Paul says. And I am like that in my general attitude to life.
The idea of rehashing what happened to Alan is not what’s on my heart. There is no blame to attach because everyone, from prayerful friends to family and relatives, to doctors and nurses on the wards, worked painfully hard to bring Alan to health, and yet he died. GOD is sovereign, and so couldn’t He have saved Alan? These are not the points spurring on my writing about his time in hospital. So why do it then? It isn’t for catharsis. I suppose I document this because I think it is an interesting story, quite intense and full of scripture and prayer and spiritual warfare, and honouring to a man who fought beyond physical strength to stay in this world for the sake of his family and friends and all those whom he taught… even though he had no fear of death whatsoever and knew he would go to a safer, happier, holier place when ever he did finish here on earth.
The story begins
Alan had been ill since the 19th of December. He’d had a nasty ongoing headache, aches, and enough nausea to mean he had virtually no appetite. I gave him hot echenacia and lemon, vitamins: especially C, D and Zinc (though he refused to take them all daily). He had no fever, no continuous cough, no shortness of breath, no change in taste or smell (except one bad tasting banana, which should have put us on high alert). I’d had the same headache and pains which turned into a cold, and fully recovered after 4 days. Jordan had had a headache a few days before me. We all thought we had the flu of a sort and were taking it in turn.
But one evening, on day 11, I awoke in the night and Alan was on the floor. He told me it was the second time he’d collapsed in the night, even though he said he didn’t feel short of breath or dizzy. Why didn’t I call the emergency straight away?
I phoned the doctor the next day but couldn’t get our own so I left it one more day. On day 13 we spoke with our doctor who was patient and rather emphatic, saying that “of course you have Covid” and she arranged for a clinic appointment.
It was very cold on 31st of December. We drove to the clinic and parked and walked through the cold outdoors to the clinic. I left him with the nurse, not being permitted inside given the Covid restrictions. I’d come back in 30 minutes to collect Alan.
29 minutes later as I was making my way back to the entrance where we’d parted, my mobile rang. It was a pleasant doctor on the line who said Alan had pneumonia. It was probably Covid as well he said, and Alan would be taken to the hospital by ambulance. The doctor answered all my questions. The main issue had been that although Alan was clearly low on Oxygen, settling at about 88% when anything below 92% is a concern, he was — it seems — one of 10% of people who experience silent hypoxia. The fact that their oxygen level is low just doesn’t register warning symptoms. So apart from him landing on the floor a couple of nights, he’d not had any symptoms of chest pain, difficult breathing or climbing of stairs, which are the typical signposts of low oxygen levels triggered by Covid.
My heart sank.
As I drove home alone I thought, “What am I going to say to Jordan?” our 16 year old son. And I gathered myself up and knew I must be resolutely positive, calm and assured, for there was no point in worrying myself, let alone causing someone else to worry. It was enough of a “message” that Alan would not be home right away because he’d been too ill with pneumonia and had instead been taken to hospital.
About 15 minutes after I arrived home, Alan rang. He sounded rough medically and somewhat dismayed.
This is not how we thought this day would progress.
Now would begin 18 days of intermittent communication, ups and many medical downs, and an empty canister of oxygen, all which ultimately would lead to his being put into ICU.
More next time for those for whom this is of interest.