TRUST AND FAITHFULNESS are often hard when things aren't going according to your plan.
For those of you who are first time reading my blog, I was diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia in Oct 2021 and have had 2 transplants in the process. Yes 2...not 1.
I spent majority of 2022 in hospital. Not just the 6 months after I had the relapse but the first 3 months of 2022 too spent in hospital doing chemo in preperation for the first transplant. Talk about being a helicopter parent!
The 6 months after I was rediagnosed when the cancer cells returned, were some of the toughest and darkest times of my life. I had numerous bouts of fever and had my PICC line removed 5 times. The current one I have is my 6th. I was poked to draw blood and administer drip when I did not have the PICC line.
Post 2nd transplant, people assume that after the transplant you only get better. Yes but before that happened I went through a lot, had septic shock, went to the high dependency unit for 3 days, had fever of 40 degrees and VOD. VOD or the new term - SOS ( sinusoidal obstruction syndrome) is a complication of bone marrow transplant where there are occlusion of small vessels of the liver causing jaundice, weight gain due water retention and enlarged liver. So I had that, plus mucositis and loss of appetite that lasted a long time. I basically relied on taking supplements for 3 weeks straight. No food. Even now, certain foods make me queasy. I remember the nurse would come in with my medication and I would fall asleep with the pill or water bottle still in hand. All I wanted was to lie in bed all day. Even going to the toilet, brushing teeth, gargling all took a lot of effort.
My purpose today is not to scare you with the gory details of how I suffered although I did have a very tough time, It's to share with you a few realisations through my experience.
STRENGTH IN WEAKNESS
God's grace looks like promises fulfilled even in the face of unbelief.
Life post transplant has it's ups and downs. I go to the clinic to take blood test and my doctor will then decide what needs to be done. That's to put it really simply. Sometimes I have trouble with emotions. It's like the stock market. Only in my case it's my blood count. My count goes up, I am happy. When it goes down I go into a state of fear, panic and guilt. My rational mind looks for all sorts of scenarios and even plays back the past like deja vu! Definately not a peaceful way of being!
This week I was told that my white blood count dropped significantly. Immediately I start thinking of the time where I learnt I relapsed. My imagination running wild. Fear blocks our capacity to elicit a decent human response.
Then I remember I have learnt to trust in God even in the face of unbelief, when things are going against me, when things are tough and there seems to be no way out. I stop myself and soak in what it feels like to have peace and joy (with the presence of God) And in that moment I know I am truly good. God will equip me with whatever I need to see whatever outcome through. But then there are still a lot of factors not in my control...so how?
Talk about parenting while in hospital? It is the toughest thing ever, People may say...your kids are big already, don't need to worry. I think every mother worries about their children no matter how old they are. Am I right?
I learnt to let go and let God. I brought my 3 kids in pray to the Lord daily while in hospital except for the time where I was really sick and in HDU and after. But I think God knows my intentions even though I was only able to grunt and moan them out. LOL!
I found a book HOW TO PRAY FOR YOUR ADULT CHILDREN by Stormie Omartian. I never knew the vocabulary of pray was so deep or wide. Just what I needed. Highly recommend this book if your kids are teens and older.
It's not about texting them endlessly telling them I miss them. That will not make them come to me. Instead it's like fishing. I release and pull the line at the right timing. Ebb and flow.. I let them go so they come back to me. I am happy to say that all 3 of my teens seems to have grown in their own way during this time where I was not with them phsically.
MY WALK IN FAITH
When God is present, my fear is absent.
The word of God is my sword. In Mark 8:22-26 Jesus heals a blind man twice. The first time the man was able to see people but not very clearly. The second time his eyes were truly opened. It is not because the first time God not enough power. It's because sometimes you need to "see" twice to deepen your faith and trust in God. That's exactly what happened to me. I was full of bitterness when I relapsed and asked "why me?" Then because of the immense pain I went through, eventually I learnt to walk with God and lean on him completely.
FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN
1 Peter 5:10
And after you have suffered a little while, the end of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen and establish you.
Sometimes I am unable to see beyond my pain. But I know I am not alone. God is able to do exceedlingly and abundantly all things. When I wait on him, he renews my strength. He is what makes me soar on eagles wings. He is the reason why I have been knocked down so many times but I am not destroyed. No matter how hard the going, I know I just need to have faith in God. So your pain may not be my pain but each of us is going though something of our own. So the same applies for you too.
And my God shall supply ALL of your needs according to his riches and glory by Christ Jesus
GUT AND GRACE
That's how I weathered through the challenges of 2022.
Giving feedback seems to be my new go to thing, especially in hospital. Just got to be careful for any possible backlash! Ahem!
So anyway, suffering through AML treatment made me a more authentic person, more in touch with my emotions and I learnt not to be afraid to show it. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Life is short. Not enough time for human drama. I became unafraid to tell those around me that I loved and treasured them. Be it my nursing staff, my friends and family. Afterall, we may never get another chance to express so again.
Treats/gifts were given, paintings sold purely because it brought me joy to gift the people around me. The grace of the giver. I give because I chose to and I can. Joy and love.
ART IN 2022
I am so thankful to have art that helps me express my emotions on paper instead of keeping them inside me. Art gives me joy - When I am creating as well as when I gift them away or sell them. So thank you to those of you who have been following my art journey, have bought or have been gifted with my art. It gives me great joy to do so. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
In 2022 I saw my art transform from simple to professional. From watercolour, very small postcard pieces, to gouache and then acrylic. Bigger and bigger canvases. It kind of reflects the mental and emotional growth that I experienced through my hardship.
Here is a random collection of art done throughout 2022. Most of which was done in Gleneagles and some in Novena Hospitals. Enjoy and follow my Instagram for more art!
Ultimately, I summarize 2022 in this - at least I am given a chance to fight as opposed to someone who gena knock down in a car accident and dies instantly. So, so long as I can, I will not give up. Plus bring everything to God in prayer.
This card below was made for a Gleneagles staff who was leaving. One of my earlier works in 2022. And hey...you rock too!