Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Miracle 2006

This is basically an elaboration on the last blog 5 Year Christmas Journey.

When I visited Singapore for the first time during 2005 Thanksgiving week, I totally fell in love with that spot. Their performing arts scene was growing, their food is just indescribably good, the weather was hot year round, the cost of living slightly lower than the San Francisco Bay Area, and the women were just hot and attractive all around! I resolved to make a life out there.

Back-story here:
When Brenda and I split up after a 3-year "live-in" relationship in 2004, I moved back home to where I grew up in Oakland only to learn about my mom's newly discovered battle with cancer which she eventually succumbs to in June 2005. My life takes a gradual spiral from July 2004 to a complete out of control crash down throughout 2005. My anger at God was at an all time high. My core church support group moved to Austin the same month that my mother passed in 05, and I literally drifted from one church to another throughout the Bay Area. I was accepted to a Master's program with Fuller Seminary but after a futile attempt in taking Old Testament and Hebrew two months after my mom's death, I dropped out. Eventually, I sent out a mass email renouncing my Christian faith in April 2006 and shortly after was led to an auto accident later in May. Luckily my saving grace was a second trip to Singapore in May where I met an agent with Fly Entertainment in Singapore. She said I needed new headshots and wondered aloud why my headshots were "still in black and white." I acquired new color headshots in October/November 2006 shortly after creating a network at the 1st National Asian American Theater Conference. What saved my already fragile faith was 1) an appointment with Dr Wyatt where he recommended that I read Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell, and 2)a visit to the Mosaic Church in LA.

Still, I was determined to move to Singapore especially after dropping out of Fuller.

Did I mention that when I went "church-hopping" during my May 2006 Singapore trip, I met this enchanting young lady? Ironically before I departed on that trip, I complained to a friend of mine that I've given up on the idea of meeting someone of the opposite sex who'll make me go "wow." When I met her at a church service one Sunday afternoon, I was continuously in a "wow" frame of mind throughout our encounter. Count her in as another "factor" in my resolve to move to Singapore.

So Thanksgiving 2006, with new colored headshots in hand, I trekked for the 3rd time in a 1-year period to Singapore. Took in new sights, caught a couple of live stage performances, re-connected with friends that I made during the previous two trips, and eventually returned to Fly Entertainment. Naomi from Fly agreed to represent me and assist me on finding acting work, and public-related work. While shopping around Orchard Rd, I took the infamous "Christmas Photo" where I'm flipping the double birdie.

When I returned to the Bay Area at the end of the first week of December, I thought I was going to say goodbye to everyone. I mass-emailed my "Two Turtle Doves" Christmas photo declaring "I'm Outta Here!"

Upon helping my friends taking care of their then newborn in San Jose, I came upon a medical emergency. The plan was that I would stay for three days and help my friends get ready for their trip to Hong Kong by caring for their newborn in their home in San Jose. What happened in day 1 was that I was dropped off in the emergency room of Santa Clara Valley Medical Center with a 103 temperature and a very swollen baseball glove-sized infection of my left hand.

The emergency physician on duty took a look at my hand and immediately checked me into a hospital room. My hospital roommate was this Jeckyl n Hyde character who had these extreme mood swings, and at that point, I was in violent pain with my left hand. I was not able to place any sort of pressure on my left hand whatsoever and even the slightest touch caused an immense jolt of acute pain. I was receiving IV antibiotics, hoping to awake the next morning with a normal hand.

The next morning, more pain and more IV drugs on me including morphine. The doctor examined my hand and upon the minimal amount of contact, shot the most intense pain. Apparently the anti-biotics did nothing to clear the infection, and I was immediately scheduled for emergency surgery that day. I awoke post-surgery with a cast and plastic tubes inside my opened wounded hand. It was the first surgery I've experienced in my life. Upon returning to my room, I found immense discomfort, pain on my left hand, and antagonizing taunting from my roommate. My reference God was nothing but a series of heartfelt consecutive series of four-letter words. It should come to no surprise that the more intense the declaration of four-letter words to God, the more taunting from my roomie.

Upon examination the following morning, the physician on duty merely shook her head in discouragement. A few hours passed and I was visited by another physician who explained that the next scheduled surgery the following week was amputation. An hour afterwards, the hospital social workers entered with a preliminary application for disability and a notice of transfer to a San Mateo medical facility to take place prior to the scheduled amputation. As a resident of San Mateo County, and without medical insurance, I was not considered a "priority patient" to the center and was treated in a demeaning manner from the hospital staff from that point on. At that point, I debated whether or not to leave the hospital without authorization and to end it all. I did not see a point to fight and continue to live since I lost so much during the past two years. The idea to lose an actual body part would be the straw to break the camel's back. When I was visited by the hospital chaplain, he was encouraged by the fact that I kept my Bible at my bedside. I asked for which verses to read and study, he gave me a Psalm to read, and upon his departure, I turned to that Psalm and spat on the heading, then closed the book.

I don't know what came over me while sleeping after that moment, but I awoke and grabbed my phone, text messaged with my right hand to those that I considered "prayer warriors" that my left hand is scheduled to be amputated that following week. Within a few hours, I received phone call after phone call of encouragement and prayer. What was surprising was to receive calls from the actual hospital phone considering I did NOT give the hospital number out, nor information of which hospital I was at. But the word spread that I was lying alone in a hospital with no family. That was Thursday morning, and I began to receive floral, plant and gift deliveries to the hospital room. I began to place my suspended cast on a wheeler and started to walk myself around the hospital.

When I received a voicemail from my Sifu about a scheduled liondance performance that coming Sunday, I returned the call explaining my absence. He was surprised about my medical predicament. The friends who I was supposed to help out that week came by to drop off a Christmas Ogre. It was some sort of green furry creature who "grunted" out a medley of Christmas Carols. In both sound and appearance, that "toy" resembled my taunting roommate, who quickly demonstrated his "likeness" to the toy while my visitors observed in amusement. When they left, every time my roommate attempted to taunt me from his side of the room, I played that toy and laughed at the resemblance of behavior. Believe it or not, he eventually tapered off in his taunting and the room gradually became more and more quiet.

Saturday rolls around, and I found myself to be in better spirits. I don't know if it was because I took initiative to reach out and received support or because I found the situation to lighten. Even with the issue of the scheduled amputation and the supposed transfer of hospital, I let that go. I remembered one call I received on my cell. I didn't recognize the phone number, but I answered it anyways. On the other end was this very determined voice. She identified herself as Lorreene. She explained that a mutual friend had called her a few days prior about my situation. She went on the explain that she survived three major health ailments and fully recovered from all of them through the power of prayer and told me with the most utmost confidence, "I believe that you will walk out of this hospital Monday with your hand completely intact. That's what I prayed for, and that's what I believe will happen." I believed her considering the fact that my belief in a Higher Divine Power was shot to the ground at that point. It wasn't more than a hour that passed when I received a call on the hospital phone. Irene was on the other end of the phone, and she was my training-mate at an actors' conservatory, landlord, and like a simultaneous mother and sister to me. She was en route to her reiki circle and wanted more details about my situation. She explained to me that the "ki" in "reiki" is identical to the concept of "ch'i" from ch'i gung (hay gung in Cantonese). She had been a reiki practitioner for about 3 years at that point, and was a firm believer in distance reiki treatment. She also explained that because it was a circle and there were more than one practitioners were participating, the power of the ki was multiplied. After I hung up with her, dinner arrived and as I was eating dinner, I thought about my Sifu who was a regular practicer of Hay Gung. Guess who knocked on my door as my dinner was being cleared? My Sifu arrives and asked how I was doing. I apologized for not being able to make it to the performance the following day and he simply said not to worry that they had enough people to help. He looks over my cast, places his hands around the cast and concentrates. He steps out and his wife enters the room to see how I was doing. Towards the end of our conversation, we hear this declaration without a knock, "JARRETT, WE'RE HERE!!!"

Melinda and Vanessa where these two young ladies whom I hadn't been in contact with for over a year and a half. They were from Oakland and were determined that they would have their pastor "bless and annoint" some healing oil for them to take to me. In other words, they trekked from Oakland to San Jose just to place drops of oil into the opening of my cast. They too made a strong conviction declaring healing. We then chit-chatted about what else we were up to since we last saw each other.

I awoke Sunday morning refreshed. The nurse entered in to open the cast and to clean out the wound. At that point she insisted that I clean out my hand myself instead of having one of the staff doing it. She glances over the hand before placing in back in the cast and says, "hmmmm." At one point that day my roomie started his taunt and I immediately played my toy and chuckled. His taunt was short-lived. When dinner arrived, I requested to the staff that I were to cut my own meat though my hand was still in a cast. When the evening nurse arrived to cleanse my hand, my lion dance partner Jan arrived and gasped in disgust. "Hiiiii," I declared. I laughed to myself knowing that my open wound grossed her out. I asked her how the performance went and who she partnered with. She then presented me with a box of pastries from Golden Gate Bakery, including my favorite duntats. For someone who was in a cast awaiting amputation, I was in Heaven. At the same time, those words from Lorreene kept echoing in the back of my mind.

Monday morning arrives and I'm awoke from the shift physician. He opens my cast, takes a quick glance and declares, "oh no, I need to find your physician to take a look." I was immediately in a panic after hearing that. I persisted on why the sudden urgency. His reply: "it seems that your body finally accepted the anti-biotic treatment. I need to have her take a look at this and maybe she'll release you home." He excuses himself, and I drop to my knees in the most highest state of relief and gratitude. Then an hour passed. Then another hour passed. Then lunch came. The shift doctor re-enters the room explaining that he's about to end his shift and the physician in charge of my case has been backed up and should be there "any minute now." He shakes my hand and wishes me luck. Each passing minute felt like an hour. Finally my doctor arrives, opens my cast, examines it quickly, turns to me, "you wanna go home? I'll sign the release papers." Within an hour life begins to re-fill me. Then I came to an overwhelming thought...

"how the hell am I gonna get back home? how can I get my car???"

When I was dropped off at the hospital, I left my car and my overnight stuff with my friends. I was there to help them out because the husband was out of town on a business trip and his wife needed me to help her take care of their newborn. They were scheduled to fly out to Hong Kong for a Christmas family reunion that Saturday which was why they came by that Thursday to drop off my overnight stuff and keys. However my car was still over at their home. Then my phone rang. It was Jan. "Hey Jarrett, I wasn't sure if you were still gonna be in the hospital or not, but I was visiting someone in the SouthBay. Did you want me to stop by, and did you ever find out when you'll be getting out?" I told her I was getting out "NOW." So within an hour, I was "wheelchaired" out of the lobby of the hospital. (Policy) Now it may not have been a big deal, however my partner Jan resides in the Central Valley, and rarely would she be in the Southbay area, let alone of two consecutive days.

Then during discharge I was given an appointment for physical therapy in San Mateo County. Also, I had to sign a release form stating that in the event the infection returns and because the amputation was cancelled, if I were to "lose" my entire arm or anything beyond my hand, the center was not held liable. Then they further explained that I would regain only 70% of full motion and function of my left hand within 6-8 months following the release, and I should be grateful for even that as that would be considered my "full recovery." I went to my acupuncturist that following Tuesday, and I was already at 70% of full motion and function within 10 days.

This photo was taken during Chinese New Year in 2007 about 6 weeks after I was released from the hospital:

I was hanging out with some friends one night during the time between the surgery and CNY. We were studying how this one film was utilizing green screen technology. That film we were watching was The Secret. If you were to tell me that I would meet in-person about five of those speakers who were in the film within a two-year period, I'd have a more easier time to believe about the hand predicament and healing since I gone through that. The truth is, I would've concluded that what was expressed in that film was a bunch of hot air and stuff to avoid stepping on had I not gone through that hospital stay just a month prior.

Was it the prayer? Was it the Hay Gung or the reiki circle? Was it the oil? Was it the acupuncture treatment afterwards? Was it what the doctor concluded that "my body finally accepted the anti-biotics? I can honestly tell you that the conclusion of the so-called medical "expert" is the one I least believe. Remember, I was receiving anti-biotics via IV packs since arrival that Tuesday, and suddenly my "body finally accepted" the treatment almost a week and one surgery later. Or was it my change in attitude?

The gift of a transformed attitude. If I have to meditate, soak in oil, listen to prayer chants, sit in circles, I'll do what it'll take to transform an attitude. To me, that's the REAL miracle.

Merry Christmas!

No comments:

Post a Comment