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Reflections and Poetry

Life is in the Blood: ICU – second phase of Covid p3

The Life is in the Blood:

Visions from the LORD, prayers of others

There were so many images of life ahead for Alan, there was so much encouragement from a vast network of believers who were praying, there was so much hope and confidence in the LORD, as I navigated through the time of Alan’s unconsciousness. 

The steadfast prayers of the saints, some of whom I know — and many who got wind of Alan’s illness through that network and were praying through — these were such a huge support which kept me going. In fact, those who prayed for Alan have gone on to pray for us as a family since, and I find it absolutely remarkable how well we are doing in spite of Alan’s passing away. 

I am aware of GOD’s presence and know the prayers of His faithful saints are making such an impact on an otherwise horrible situation.

Two pathways

On several occasions, two parallel paths presented themselves to me, and I always chose the one of life. 

Dream: dressed in black

One morning I awoke from a dream in which I was wearing black — the quintessential funeral clothing. I prayed against anything that could be deemed an obvious interpretation.

I shared it with a prayer network as well, a group of fine prayerful folk, who also prayed against an outcome to Alan’s hospitalisation where I would be wearing black.

Although fleeting, two different paths that would lead from Alan’s intubation: one of death and one of life, came to mind from time to time. I don’t remember anything specific, just that there were two possibilities. I dismissed one.

I always chose to observe the thought, path, expectation that Alan would lived. I thought that was how the LORD was calling me to focus. In hindsight, perhaps he was letting me know it might go either way.

Release to the LORD

Three weeks after Alan regained consciousness, with steady improvement in fits and starts, and doctors at last expecting him to live, Alan was exhausted and asking when he could leave ICU.

I remember as I drove home from hospital the day Alan had stomach pain, the same day Dr M had begun the information sessions to give Alan context for his current situation (as mentioned in the last blog post), I remember distinctly passing the shops I have passed many times, and I said,

“LORD, you said Alan would recover, and I believe You. I turn it all over to you. Whatever outcome you decide, I surrender to…”

Hours later I would get a call to say Alan’s condition had worsened; the stomach pain had been a marker indicating some complications had arisen. Hours after that, I was invited in to hospital; moments after arrival, I was told Alan was not going to survive the night.

We must surrender

In all things, we must trust GOD. Did I give up on Alan? No! Did I give up on the power of GOD? No. What I did was give GOD the freedom to do as He knew best. 

After Alan’s passing, one dear friend said the LORD had told him that… “Alan was tired and just wanted to come home.”

I believe that if my release on that drive home the day before Alan died had any effect, it was to release the LORD to give Alan an answer to his prayer — to be set free from exhaustion and pain.

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Reflections and Poetry

LIFE IS IN THE BLOOD: Return to Consciousness – Third Phase of Covid p2

The Life is in the Blood:

The lack of family in hospital during the Covid pandemic took its toll on the patients, the families but also on the doctors.

Doctors said to me how rare and special it was to be able to meet family members. The pandemic made things very different in hospital; the doctors missed family contact just as families missed the freedom to visit the hospital.

Blinded by lack of support

Doctors were unable to see some of the little things or patterns that family could see, or they could misinterpret a situation, sometimes because they could not know their patients personally and because they had so many patients on which to attend. 

A family member has only one patient to observe

A significant part of the tragedy of Covid is the separation between patients and their doctors from the family. That tragedy played out in Alan’s situation. Through no fault of anyone, the lack of encounter with family limited doctors’ information and made it harder for them to care for their patients.

Face to face encounters with Doctors

Some particularly poignant moments I had with doctors come to my mind while Alan was on the ventilator and afterward.

Doctor D

I met Doctor D on the way in to visit Alan while Alan was still on the ventilator. The doctor was concerned, and described Alan’s life as “on a knife edge”.

I simply said, “Alan will recover” — and muttered I was saying that for him, to encourage him. He said it was good to have faith. But I don’t think he quite grasped what I was implying…

Dr M

By nature, Doctor M was more detached than Doctor D. We sat near Alan’s bedside and spoke about the severity of Alan’s situation. I asked that he be given Vitamin D and the doctor said he’d look into it but that it was most likely he could do that (and it was carried out routinely thereafter). I asked for Ivermectin but Dr M said “No… it was untested.” I asked for Zinc. He didn’t acknowledge. 

Other Vitamins

Doctors don’t really comprehend the benefits of vitamins and nutrition to the patient. For the most part, they are trained in medicine, to use medicine to help and cure. So when I asked for CQ10 to “feed” the mitochondria within his body which was surely being depleted with repeated blood thinning, they didn’t pick up on this request. I don’t think they understood. I don’t think they made the connection.

Phone Calls with Doctors

I had a very long conversation with Dr J, who wanted to know why I vehemently disagreed with the use of what I call “head meds” for Alan after he’d come back to consciousness and, after a week of ICU life, was demonstrating consequences of sleep deprivation and exhaustion. 

I said, “just because you cannot see something doesn’t mean it isn’t there” alluding to hallucinations that patients in Alan’s situation experience. I said the meds left him defenceless and I could pray from a distance but it would be much better to come in person. 

He said, “I suppose we just have different world views.”

I replied, “Not at all. I see the world completely as you see it in the natural. I just see another entire spiritual realm as well, that you do not see.”

I believe there was fruit in that respectful and focused conversation. It didn’t change the prescription, sadly. Alan did get through that phase after about a week, but I do think it knocked him hard in the meantime. He was not his usual focused, confident self during that week.

Closing the Gap

There were two particular topics that needed addressing during the time Alan was in ICU, having returned to consciousness, which I raised with doctors or nurses over the phone, but which took time to filter through. Eventually a consultant heard me and treatment was addressed.

Dr M2

I remember saying at least three times to different medical staff that Alan needed information about where he was, what time it was, how he’d come to be in ICU, how long he’d been unconscious… any information that would help him have context for what was occurring in the present. One nurse suggested he wasn’t engaging, and when asked “What will you do when you leave hospital,” he had replied, “Try to figure out what happened.” She interpreted that remark as his being depressed or dwelling on the past. I encouraged her to give him information, said he was only trying to work out a context for his condition. “He’s a barrister, he thrives of facts.”

But it wasn’t until I spoke with Dr M2, one of the regular consultants — two weeks later, that action began to be taken.

I said to Dr M2 that Alan was not demotivated or depressed but was lacking information and needed to know what he had gone through, so that he’d have context; giving Alan information would be like providing water in the desert. He said that sort of debriefing usually happened after ICU. 


But I had got through. The next day, which would prove to be the last full day of Alan’s life, Dr M2 came to consult while I was visiting Alan. The team that does the debriefing had been earlier that morning, and had begun to set up a programme to feed Alan information.

Though sometimes late, the doctors never gave up trying to rescue Alan from the Covid aftermath.

Thinning the Blood

Dr H was the first doctor who, after several attempts with others, finally acknowledged that a particular blood thinner was causing Alan’s blood pressure to drop to critically low levels and this was taking a huge toll on Alan’s general progress. It was some time fairly early in Alan’s regaining of consciousness that he first acknowledged the detriment, but I mention it only now because of the irony….

First they reduced the blood thinner, then they stopped it altogether, after I pleaded and pointed out a pattern which showed that following infection they gave him particular blood thinner which triggered a very bad reaction that “knocked the stuffing out of him”. Beginning even before ICU, three or four times Alan experienced the same detrimental effect. Finally, the medication was deemed to cause the equivalent of an allergic reaction. 

He would no longer be given that medication, nor a substitute.

But it was too late.

Sad irony

The life is in the blood. Alan’s life ebbed away. Too much medicine, not enough nutrition, and the body died. The soul and spirit lives on, in comfort, joy and bliss. We know this. And that is the remarkable truth of the Gospel. 

My prayer

I hope and pray that doctors, nurses and other medical staff who attended Alan and who encountered us both, will discover the Lord Jesus for themselves. Medicine is good, often remarkable. But Jesus is always remarkable and always good.

Every blessing to you until next time….

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Reflections and Poetry

The Life is in the Blood: ICU Second Phase of Covid p3 Consultants

The Life is in the Blood: Consultants

Drawing battle lines and building encouragement with Dr J, Dr M, Dr C.

Dr J

My first face to face encounter with a consultant during Alan’s hospitalisation was with youngish doctor who professed to be “in charge” in a manner I found full of self-consciousness, so I didn’t believe him.

At that point I was battling feelings of stress and despair, without giving in to either. I feel for that doctor, as I look back, because I was intent on blocking any words of defeat, any proclamations of the possibility of Alan not surviving. I was not rude, but I was tough, and that — I expect — is not what he expected.

Consultants

I had many telephone conversations with doctors over the 10 weeks of Alan’s hospitalisation. Doctors would ring to give updates. Whenever I had a call from a junior doctor I knew all was well. To me, it meant the hospital staff were confident regarding Alan’s condition. Sometimes I rang to speak to a nurse and a consultant answered. Each was always willing to discuss Alan’s case with me. At no time did I ever feel rushed.

I had two particular face-to-face encounters with consultants which were particularly noteworthy, for those of you reading who are tracking my level of confidence in Alan’s healing. 

Dr M

My first visit to ICU after Alan was put on a ventilator followed a rather testy time with the youngish doctor whom I will call Dr J. I had been invited to visit and expected to see Alan. There was a delay, followed by a doctor introducing himself as Dr J. That conversation, in fact that entire day is best kept vague, as I was in a haze.

A week later, I went to the hospital again, this time straight in without meeting with anyone. Alan was of course still unconscious. I stood by him, whispered to him, prayed for him, had snuck in anointing oil which I delicately and sparsely put upon him in no places of vulnerability. I even sang (very softly) to him one of his favourite songs, “Indian Love Call” by Slim Whitman. I was with him for 30 – 45 minutes before a friendly doctor I’d spoken to on the phone came along and said the consultant would like to sit with me. We were next to Alan’s bed.

The doctor had passed on my request that Alan have his vitamin D boosted.

The consultant Dr M and I had a lengthy conversation throughout which I was standing on God’s word to me that Alan would recover. Dr M did his best to answer various questions, confirmed that Alan could have his vitamin D boosted as it would do no harm, but attempted to persuade me that we really didn’t know if Alan would survive. I began, “If…” Then quickly interrupted myself with, “When… Alan is revived will he remain in ICU until he leaves hospital?” 

He had nearly brought me to a point of weakness or confusion, but he hadn’t quite managed it.


These consultants want to do their due diligence, their duty of care, both to patient and family. Most won’t understand faith at all. But for me, to stand on the truth of GOD was most important, for Alan’s sake, and I suppose for my own mental and spiritual health as well.

Dr C

The next week, after a phone conversation or two with Dr C I was invited to visit the hospital again. This time I actually met Dr C who said it was special to meet a family member in person because with Covid, it was rare, just as visits themselves were rare.

I was guided into a pleasant private waiting room. This hadn’t happened before so I asked if there was a particular reason I was drawn into a room with Dr C, as well as with another woman who did not give her name nor her role. Both assured me Alan’s condition was stable and to discuss anything in a private room was for my comfort and no other reason.

Dr C was warm and pleasant, as was the woman with him. We spoke for 15 – 20 minutes before I would see Alan. Dr C wanted me to know Alan’s condition was “on a knife edge”. I said with absolute confidence, “Alan will recover” and intimated I was saying that for his benefit, to encourage him. It was not for my benefit. 

This doctor encouraged faith and ventured to say “hope is a good thing”. That’s as far as he could go.

Doctors’ views versus my own

I think the longer Alan was in ICU in a horrible medical state, whilst I was praying at home with all vigour and a network of believers, the more confident I became that all would be well. And so I had the capacity in that meeting to have compassion on this doctor who was doing his best for the patient and also for the family member sitting in front of him.

I did not doubt. 

And when Alan came to consciousness some days later, I so would have enjoyed meeting this doctor again. I never did. But I do pray that he somehow recognises that Faith is real and powerful and worth living out through Jesus. 

Although Alan did not survive, he did revive. I am not playing with the LORD’s word to me. He did say, “Alan will recover” and Alan died. I don’t know what happened in between that led to Alan’s death, but I do know it was not for lack of faith of thousands who stood in the gap for us both.

Request

As time passes, I want to be sure I am composing and posting this general journey of Alan’s hospitalisation to those who are interested. I’d so value a comment or email which gives an indication. If no one is reading, that’s absolutely fine. But if there are those reading, I want to continue the story.

Every blessing.

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Reflections and Poetry

ICU: the second phase of Covid p1

The Life is in the Blood:

The lady consultant

Monday morning 18th of January, the same consultant who had rung at 10:30 pm the night before rang to say Alan was much better and did we want to come to see him? He was now in ICU on C-pap, which meant his breathing had declined further, but we would be able to see him and pray with him. 

Thankfully Jordan was at home for school because of the lockdown. We were happy to be invited to see Alan after all the time he’d been in hospital (nearly 3 weeks) and hastily got ourselves together and went to visit. There was no time to contact Izzie but we’d share with Alan’s daughter later about finally having the opportunity to visit her father in hospital.

It took nearly half an hour to find parking in the hospital car park!

The first visit

When I met the consultant Dr I, she looked stressed, but she said Alan, after his collapse of the night before, was much much better. She smiled. She must have worked all night.

I think it is fair to say that these doctors are invested in the restoration of their patients. Yes, doctors are limited in what they can achieve with medicine, but they do what they can with all the passion and desire for success imaginable. What I saw in Dr I’s face was concern, relief and hope for us.

Alan looked weary but nodded and spoke to us as best he could, through the heavy mask. 

Looking back now, I wonder how I didn’t know the decline would continue. I think he knew… expected he might have to be put on the ventilator, but no one, not Alan nor any medical staff said anything to me. I did whisper to him at one point that, “You don’t have to accept the ventilator if they ask you.” He nodded to acknowledge he’d heard me.

We were with him for a glorious 45 minutes. The time flew by and we chatted about Elvis music, school and other trivial things. The nurse shared about her family and how she spent 2 days per week in ICU. Alan gave one instruction to Jordan, “Stand up straight.” It would be the last instruction Alan would ever give to our son; I didn’t know that at the time so how is it I remember it so clearly?

As we parted with love and prayers, I wondered if the staff thought Alan might have to be put on a ventilator, and that was why they invited us to come… a sort of “just in case” we’d never see him again. Yes, the thought crossed my mind, and yet I was confident we would return to normal one day.

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Reflections and Poetry

Heart Attack: limited communication, limited effectiveness – the first phase of Covid – p2

When communication between a couple is daily, no matter the distance, and that is abruptly interrupted, it’s hard. At least I found it hard. 

The first day Alan was in hospital, he found it hard to speak, so we texted. I took his lead so as not to trouble him or tax his strength. When I mentioned pneumonia to Alan he was surprised. They’d told him he had Covid but no one had mentioned pneumonia. He found it a bit agitating, I think, to hear from me that he had pneumonia. 

In hospital the first few days, communication was sporadic. I found the silence heart-breaking but I put my trust in GOD’s sovereignty and remembered continually His word to me that “Alan will recover” and that carried me through the scary days, as I experienced a sense of powerlessness and a feeling like being in a washing machine — constantly turned and twisted, having very little air or peace.

Each day I’d speak to a nurse who would give me Alan’s oxygen level (which I only understood relative to ‘normal’ or the level told me the day before) and his blood pressure.

“What is he receiving the oxygen through?” I’d ask, wary whether it be a C-Pap or a light mask. 

“A light tube” one nurse would say. One night, overnight, they lay him on his stomach and he didn’t need oxygen support at all. That’s a good sign, I thought.

When someone is in hospital, moving back and forth from a high intensity ward to a short term unit and back again, it’s impossible not to read into every change something significant, even though it’s all guess work from a family member’s point of view. With no personal visitation allowed due to the Covid pandemic, and very sparse comment from Alan, every word a stranger said was filtered through my analytical brain and taken to GOD with prayer, hope and a seeking as to what to do next. 

I had told my son in person, then my step daughter by phone, and lastly Alan’s siblings by group text, that first day, after Alan was admitted into hospital with Covid. No one panicked, probably in part because I didn’t panic, because the LORD gave me wisdom, assurance and faith to hold on, trust Him and remain calm. 

Looking back, in spite of huge effort on the part of the hospital to be vigilant towards Alan’s recovery right from Day 1, I think the lack of communication contributed to the increase of illness and ultimately, to the end of Alan’s life. Had I known some things sooner, I could have prayed more effectively. Had doctors learned from me sooner about Alan’s disposition and personality, they may have read rather than misread some signs and perhaps medicated less vigorously. But do I suggest lack of communication caused his death? Not directly, no, I don’t think so. Rather, communication and visitation would have given Alan better quality of life while in hospital, and I may have had more influence upon doctors perhaps, and sooner. It is my view that a patient’s family should have more voice in their treatment because they know the patient best and can focus on this one patient when doctors are devoted to many all at once. A family member can detect things perhaps better than doctors when they are with the patient in person. But in the final analysis, the circumstances were as they were, and GOD orchestrated a fine symphony which brought to the attention of all parties involved, His power and presence in the life of Alan and me. He brought the entire team of medics to the point of focus on Alan’s definite recovery just days or even hours before the LORD released him back to Himself. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

I began to share with close praying friends the situation with Alan: Covid pneumonia, in hospital, needing just a little air support. I told the pastor, who shared with the church. I didn’t share on line — it was a private matter and Alan is known in the Christian community; I sought prayer but not panic or rumour or distracting phone calls. I believe GOD led me each step, as to with whom to share the news and to whom I would request prayer support. Each person I told was vigilant, I believe, and keen to pray for Alan’s recovery.

And so began a purpose-driven strategy to pray Alan back to full health and home.

*Photo courtesy of Revelation TV

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Reflections and Poetry

Heart Attack: the first phase of Covid pt 1

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.