the claws of death
by Daniel Phee
July 1991 was an unusually busy month for me. I went on a week's business meeting in the U.S.; followed by a 6-week sabbatical leave. I went on our church's mission trip to Northern Luzon, Philippines. This was followed by a holiday in Phuket with my family and two other families from our church. I rounded up my long vacation with a trip to N & NW Thailand with my wife.This was part of our marriage renewal trip. She deserved a good holiday.
When I went back to work in late August that year, I discovered my leg muscles were aching quite badly. I was also losing weight at an alarming rate - 1 to 2 kg. a day. And I was eating well!
Initially, I thought this was due to the long month of travelling or because of the games I played. I consulted the doctor but after a week, the aches and pains got more severe. I was referred to the senior partner of the clinic and he told me that the enzyme in my blood was unusually high - about 3 to 4 times the normal. Next morning he called and asked me to consult a doctor at the NUH (National University Hospital) and be prepared to be warded for observation.I guessed he must have found something serious. Two days later I went to the NUH.
The NUH doctor was alarmed at the very high enzyme level in my blood. By then, it had reached 20,000 or 100 times the normal. I was warded for observation and further clinical tests.
I went through many tests, including a HIV test. But all the results were negative. NUH doctors diagnosed that I was suffering from severe muscle inflammation (polymyositis), possibly caused by my auto-immune system that had gone hay-wire. Hence, the very high levels of enzyme in my blood. The enzyme was rapidly destroying my muscles. But they were unable to find out what caused the auto-immune system to malfunction.
They prescribed a steroid drug, to help stabilize my condition. Over the 2-week stay at the NUH my condition did get better. My enzyme level went down a bit. My weight loss slowed down. I was discharged and my condition was to be monitored as an outpatient.
However, two weeks later, on October 28, my condition took a turn for the worse. I returned to the NUH. My enzyme level had shot up to 30,000.
By then I could hardly eat or drink. I was choking on my own saliva as I could not swallow them. My salivary glands were producing copious amounts of them. I could not move my legs or sit upright. My hands had limited movement. I could not even support my head. I was warded right away.
My body weight again continued to drop at an alarming rate. I looked more like a living skeleton.
On November 10, I was transferred to a high dependency room for closer medical attention.
I had a tube down my throat and I could not talk. I was completely bed-ridden. Medication and milk were fed through a nasal tube. The only parts that could move were my fingers and eyes.
The doctors told my wife that the right upper lobe of my lung collapsed that night. The lung specialist had examined me but could not find the cause.
Normally, collapse of the lung was caused by food particles lodged in the passages, but in my case no obstruction was found. Usually it would take 3-7 days for the lung to expand. But in my case it would take longer according to the specialist. He further mentioned that my condition was beyond understanding. They had consulted other doctors but none could help. Mine was the first such case they ever encountered.
My white corpuscle count was too high and they were attacking my muscle cells causing severe inflammation of the muscles. I had contracted pneumonia in the right lung. My immunity was so low that I could easily contract infection. The doctors told my wife that they could do nomore for me. She was also told where the "last room" of the hospital was located. Butmy wife. told them that Jesus would heal me. I had lost about 30 kg by then.
There were two more times over the next 27 days in the ICU when I lost my breath. But the Lord sustained me.
When my eldest brother, who was then an ardent idol worshipper and also the caretaker of the idols in our family home, came to the Lord in December 1990, we decided to destroy all the idols. There were 30 to 40 of them. However, before we could destroy them, my sister's boyfriend took them away.
I share this brief family's background because it had an important link to my illness and recovery.
The senior pastor of our church mobilised all the cell groups to pray for me.Intercession over 36 nights at our home were conducted by a ministry team frommy church. The team went into nightly spiritual warfare against the demonic forcesthat were claiming my life.
During this time, the Lord continued to sustain me through His word. They wereread to me, sung to me, and prayed over me by many from our church,FGBMFI (Full Gospel Business Men's Fellowship International), my family,NUH staff and total strangers.
When I couldn't even move my limbs or shift my body on my sickbed andwith pulse rates often registering beyond 120, I was able to draw strength andcomfort from God's Word in Isaiah 40;29:
Physically, I was dying but mentally and spiritually I was growing stronger - There was no fear of death.
On November 26, a CT scan was taken as a nose biopsy showed the presence of cancer cells. According to the cancer specialist at NUH, my condition was unusual and on one understood the case. He said that the usual causes were either viruses or auto immune diseases, but I had neither of these. It was rarely due to cancer. In any case, he suggested a course of chemotherapy to treat my nasal-pharangal cancer. Since my immunity system was verylow he said he would stop the treatment if I could not take it. My wife asked ourchurch to pray against the side-effects and risks involved. Only hairs on my headdropped with no other serious side-effects. In fact, my response to the chemotherapy amazed the medical team. And they wanted to proceed with the second course. I rejected the offer and told them that Jesus had healed me.
He was convinced and together with my sister, they went about gathering backthe family's idols from homes and temples. These were brought to our church anddestroyed. The Lord also used the situation to convict this man and he acceptedJesus as Saviour and Lord.
Over the past 10 years of my walk with the Lord, I have allowed sins to creep intomy life. Yes, I was zealous and keen to serve God, but these sins were like clawsholding me back.
I told God on several occasions that I was tired of all these sins and I wanted tobe set free.
I repented on my sickbed and I am totally convinced that my repentancesealed the cracks in my life and that the destruction of demonic bandages startedthe restoration process.
There were moments of worries over my family and He comforted me from Hisword in Psalm 91:9-10:
In my moment of despair, He reminded me of His Word and often His Word wouldtake away my anxiety, worry or fear. His Word released the peace and the powerfor me to go on.
I was in the ICU for 27 days and I witnessed several deaths in the ward.I started to pray for my ICU-mates and their relatives who came to visit them.Many of my fellow patients were unconscious or in excruciating pain.
There were times I just couldn't sleep because of the noise and screams of painthat came from my fellow patients. However, the Lord often impressed upon methat I should be praying for them instead of worrying about not being able to sleep.Each time I prayed for them I was able to sleep soundly thereafter.
I believe Jesus was teaching me not to focus on my needs but to have a compassionate heart for the weak and those that were lost. Indeed, through this period of illnessand being close to death, I felt the comfort of God. He supplied my daily meals. His Wordnourished me and made me strong. My recovery, which was as rapid as my deterioration, amazed the team of doctors who looked after me.
On December 10, I was transferred to the General Ward.
On December 27, I took my first step with the help of a high frame. The followingday I walked 3m with the frame. My pulse rate dropped to 108, and I was able tosleep without waking up choking.
On December 31, I tasted water through my mouth for the first time in 6 weeks.
By January 9, while waiting for the ambulance to transfer me to SGH (SingaporeGeneral Hospital), to continue my radiotherapy treatment, I became restless, gotup and took my first few steps without any aid or support. Praise the Lord.
It was dinner time on January 9. The handing over of the case must have slippedup for I was given bee hoon soup with fishball, whereas up to then I was still on nasalfeed. I took the opportunity and ate everything without choking. While having mydinner, the SGH doctor came in and said that the NUH had said over the phone thatmy case was serious, but looking at me eating he said I was OK. PRAISE THE LORD FOR THE MIRACLE. I walked a few steps for the doctor to see.
From then onwards, it was victory all the way in my recovery. On January 18, I wasdischarged after a long, long battle. Indeed, God is our Chief Physician.
Today, I stand as a testimony of God's miraculous restoration. Doctors said I couldbe bed-ridden for up to a year and could even be crippled for life. I left the hospitalin a month. Two weeks later, I drove a car to attend one of the NUH nurse's weddingon 1 February 1992. I went back to full-day work in 3 months (19 March 1992) and Iswam for the first time 6 months after leaving the ICU.
I received the assurance that His healing is complete from Isaiah 60:18,
Indeed, my health today has been fully restored and I have drawn closer to the Lord. Thank you, Jesus!
|Daniel Phee is Director of an American multi-national power systems company in Singapore. He and his wife, Ai Leng, have two children, Lynette and Joseph. They worship at the Church of Our Saviour.|
Article taken from Asian Voice with permission from Full Gospel Businessmen Fellowship.