Monday, October 28, 2013

Her Moment of Truth

The day finally came.  She woke up very early, at 5:00 a.m., and took a bath as instructed. Then she took the bus to the hospital. She got there at 7:00 a.m., precisely on time for her scheduled appointment. She checked in to "Kvinnokliniken" (the women's clinic) and was guided to her private ward where she was instructed to change clothes and lie on the bed. She had an hour to wait.


Another waiting. Actually, she had been waiting since February when she was diagnosed as having uterine myomas, one of which being as big as a handball. She was told that the best remedy for this would be a hysterectomy, the removal of the uterus. She accepted that. The doctor assured her that she would get her schedule within three months.

She waited calmly, so calmly that it seemed like nothing was wrong at all. All apprehensions were automatically pushed at the back of her head. She was able to work like usual and went about her life normally and joyfully.

By May, she got the date for her surgery. It would be June 4, but in another city since the hospital in her city was fully booked until September. When that day came, her husband drove her to that city, with a heavy heart, as it would mean that he would leave her alone and they'd be apart for probably 2 to 5 days. Nevertheless, the surgeon found out that she had extremely low hemoglobin and she didn't want to take the risk of operating without blood transfusion. She had informed the medical authority beforehand that she wouldn't take BT at any cost on account of her personal principle, and they understood her and respected her wish. The doctor then decided to send her back to her city with the assurance that the doctors there would prioritize her and that the hospital could use a cellsaver on her operation. That sounded better. She and her husband let out a sigh of relief for this welcome change.

Back to her city, it turned out that she could not get a schedule for an operation yet. Instead, she had to get an iron injection twice a week until she'd attain the 110 blood count requirement for a safe surgery.

Another long wait. She reached the required count in about three weeks. She was told to have the operation ten days thereafter. That would be the first week of July. She was given a date. Before that, she was summoned to the hospital for an updated check-up and a supposed orientation by her surgeon. She had the feeling that something would turn up again. To make the long story short, the date was moved to September after the surgeon had laid all the cards on the table which prompted her to make a choice and follow his suggestion. Fair enough.

Three more months to wait. The letter finally arrived with the operation date, survey questions regarding her general health status, instructions on the things she must do before the surgery and complete information on everything she needed to know and expect before and after operation. It would be Sept. 26. On the 17th, she was again summoned for another update on her health and in-depth orientation by the surgeon and the anesthesiologist. The surgeon assured her that it wouldn't be a complicated surgery, but the anesthesiologist's description of the process of administering the anesthesia and putting her to sleep sounded a little disturbing. He stressed, however, that she was a healthy woman and didn't think there'd be any problem. Still, all those creepy operating room scenes that she had read and watched came flooding to her mind and caused a momentary mental maelstrom.

Was it time for her to worry or be scared over what was about to happen? She had not thought of this before. She only waited and kept herself preoccupied with worthwhile activities. But now....Well, she had nine days more to worry or not to worry. She opted not to worry.

She got a new letter. What would it be this time? The operation was moved to an earlier date: Sept. 23. That was good news for her. The wait was cut short by three days. At least, that didn't feel like eternity.


Time glided by so quickly that before she knew it, two nurses wheeled her out of the room, through corridors and elevators and on to the operating room. There she was met by the anesthesiology team, each of them was so kind and gentle to her that she felt completely at ease during these tough moments. It was time to yield her body to these strangers and trust in their combined abilities to make her well again. Moment of truth. The outcome would affect many persons whose lives are interwoven with hers.

In the process of administering the anesthesia, she became strikingly aware of the medical personnel around her. Right before her was a female OR nurse who was holding her to keep her in the proper sitting position. A student nurse stood behind the OR nurse, observing. Behind her was the male anesthesiologist who was driving the needles through her lower spine. Another man was stationed next to the doctor. To her left stood a male doctor (?) or nurse (?) holding the oxygen tube, ready to apply the mask at any moment. He kept on caressing her arm and cheek alternately by way of calming and reassuring her. Another male nurse stood behind him. Within a brief span of 15-20 minutes, she came to feel an affinity with the three persons who came into direct contact with her. That feeling soothed her.

It was time to recline on the surgical table. The stage was set. She started to feel her outstretched legs go numb. She heard the word "jättebra!" coming out of the anesthesiologist's lips as he hovered over her. Next came the "oxygen man" who placed the mask over her nose and mouth while saying something that sounded foggy and distant to her. The only words that she could make out was, "You're going to sleep now." Her vision became hazy. And then...pitch blackness.

The whirring sounds of machines and electronic gadgets stirred her to consciousness. She felt the sphygmomanometer automatically inflate and deflate around her arm. She heard the electronic tones of her heartbeat. She tried to open her eyes which felt too heavy for her. She only managed to briefly scan her surrounding: a room with four patients separated by curtains, a wall clock showing the time which was between 12:00 nn and 1:00 pm. She wondered how long she had been sleeping. She thought of her husband who would visit her at 2:00 pm. She felt groggy and everything looked hazy. She fell back to sleep. In and out of sleep. The subconscious thought of her husband being worried by now kept popping up in her mind.

At almost 4:00 pm, two nurses came to relieve her of all the electronic gadgets attached to her, then wheeled her out of the recovery room and back to her ward. In one corridor they passed by, she spotted the anesthesiologist walking some meters away, and she waved at him but he disappeared from her view in a fraction of a second. At least, that was an indication that she had attained full consciousness by then.

She was finally back in her private room. She had survived. The dreaded moment had ticked away. The truth had become a living reality.

She praised her Heavenly Father for keeping her in his tender loving care and for answering one more of her prayers, as he always did in the past. Her heart heaved with overwhelming gratitude to all the hardworking medical teams whose members treated her with care and tenderness, which moved her deeply;  and to all her true friends who wished her well and kept her in their prayers.

Her hubby came soon afterward, both of them glad to see each other and that the hurdle was finally overcome.

She came home the following day, and was given a whole month recuperation period.

She's back to life. A new life with an incomplete body. And yet, she came to be WHOLE.

"Though I walk in the valley of deep shadow,
I feel no harm,
For you are with me;
Your rod and your staff reassure me."
- Psalm 23:4

Saturday, October 26, 2013

One Autumn Evening and Morning

one Tuesday afternoon
the sky darkened as snow clouds gathered
the mischievous winds played around
swaying the trees in a blast
shaking off the remaining yellow foliage
which added a new layer 
over the already thick pile of fallen leaves
the winds were not done yet
they frolickly raced close to the ground
dragging the leaves
making them race against one another
floating here and there
landing everywhere

the night set in
cuttingly cold and wet
snow came falling, thickening in the air
blanketing the ground with pristine whiteness
persisting throughout the night
draping a mantle of whiteness
that illuminated the dark

morning came with the rain
not a vestige of last night's snow remained
the day was wet and misty
setting many to depressive mode
cloaking others with lonesomeness
utterly paralyzing

not for me, though
for I've set my mind to a constant mode:
gloom, rain, snow or shine
I always feel incredibly fine!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Hunting for Chanterelles

Early this autumn, we headed to the countryside once again to look for chanterelles. We roamed the same forest that we frequent every mushroom season. The place is quite far, but it's always pleasurable to travel that long with all those amazing sights all the way, of which I never get tired no matter how many times I have seen them.

When we got to the woods, the ground was already heavily carpeted with birch leaves, their yellow color  feigning the semblance of chaterelles. That made it difficult for us to find these yellow fungi. After exploring the forest and finding just a handful of  these mushrooms, we gave up, our hearts filled with sorrow over the seemingly "near-extinction" of these tasty fungi from this forest.

We tried other forests along the road, only to be more disappointed. But I refused to be disheartened. I utilized this opportunity to hunt for other nice little wood denizens for my photo subjects. I found other kinds of mushrooms and a cluster of lingon berries growing amidst the reindeer moss.

Even though the chanterelles were missing from their niche, the woods still looked enchanting with all the ecological tapestry that allures a "child of nature"  to go back over and over again and commune with these marvels of creation.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


The anticipated snowfall forecasted for today has finally come. This makes it the second snowfall this season. It started a few minutes before 10:00 a.m.

Actually, we're still in autumn. Some trees still keep their thick yellow foliage while others haven't completely turned yellow yet. So this is just an autumn snowfall, though temperature starts to drop below zero.

The past days have been full of sunshine, making it delightful to walk around and feed one's soul with all the fantastic colors and to preserve all this beauty with a camera.

When I came home yesterday, a certain light over the parking shelter caught my eyes. It was a halo around the setting sun!

At night, the moon tried to illuminate the hazy sky until snow clouds thickened to obscure it.

It's a joy to welcome the snow once again and see it together with the warm-colored foliage.

As I'm concluding this, the snowfall is slowing down as the sun is coming out brightly, warm enough to melt the snow that has fallen.

May you all have a wonderful day!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Misfortunes and Compensation

Our backpacks were all set. It was only to pick and go. We decided to travel as bona fide backpackers this time. That was the night before the big day, October 7, the day I had been waiting for since the onset of summer. It would be our real holiday far down in the south of Europe. Hubby found this incredibly cheap flight to Barcelona, Spain, and we booked it without hesitance. Finally, our chance came after all those events that got in our way to carry out our yearly out-of-the-country vacation. The timing had never been so favorable, as I have a one-month work leave, and the flight and other holiday expenses fit within our budget.

I was so excited, my wanderlust skipping about. And then, without warning, hubby felt so bad he had to go to the health center for check-up that same night. Things went from bad to worse. He was run to the emergency room at the hospital, was diagnosed as having an extremely high blood sugar,  and ended up being confined there for a thorough check-up to find out which dose he needs for his diabetes. 

Undoubtedly, all travel plans have been brushed aside, though we didn't have the chance to notify the flight company and the booked hotel room for cancellation. That would be tackled later.

That night when he was admitted to the hospital, I slept alone at home. I had difficulty sleeping on account of this turn of events galloping wildly in my head.  Surprisingly, I was able to take things cool, knowing for sure that hubby was being well-taken care of. 

The dropping of our holiday plans didn't give me a prick at all. On the contrary, I felt relieved. What if we were there, and hubby would suddenly feel ill? How on earth would I deal with this in a foreign land? 

On another note, this very week looks like the most colorful and vibrant autumn period in our city. It would be more regrettable to miss all these blazing colors and come back to find most trees already bare. So there's no sense fretting about the other loss. 

That Monday, Oct. 7, I went to visit hubby in the hospital and learned about his health progress. So far, so good. He was in good hands. All would be fine, it's only to wait. 

When it was time for him to rest, I left his bedside and set about walking around to soak in all the fantastic colors. The day was fortunately bright and sunny, such as one of those awesome autumn days. I fished my camera out of my backpack and started to shoot tons of pictures from different angles. Just the hospital's environs offered sights that are de-stressing and truly panacean, from the neighboring hotel to the university campus.

When I reached the university, I went up to the office of a good friend who works at the administration department and paid her a visit. She treated me with lunch and we ate in her office. She's my "big sister" in this country. We spent quite some time together speaking about many things. She comforted me for my present predicament.

When we parted, I proceeded to the center to buy something. I dropped by the park in the middle of the city to feast my eyes on the colors and, of course, to look for something great to photograph.

All "missions" done, I started for home, my spirits soaring high for the marvelous gifts of nature that our Creator bestowed upon us out of his superlative love and goodness. 

Everything said and done, my misfortunes were dwarfed by the fineness of the day. I didn't need to ask for a better compensation.

Today, hubby is home and in better shape. And there will come more travel opportunities later. All is well and good.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Fortifying Social Gathering

It happened in August 18, at a vacation house in a nearby community called Nordmaling, specifically Rundvik.

A kind-hearted family invited the whole English Cong. (composed of different nationalities) for a dinner at their vacation house. Hubby and I, along with three other male companions, set off in our car that Sunday afternoon at past three. We arrived there to find quite a big crowd, in fact, almost everybody save for six members.

The house is big, the grass-carpeted yard so spacious, which is perfect for playing and running around. Everyone was well into happy conversations, the little kids frolicking, foods being set on the table.

I got several hugs upon arrival. I joined in the gaiety. I had fun being with all of them. I took lots of pictures to freeze every moment. I wanted to remember this for the rest of my life.

The anticipated call, "Dinner's ready!" sounded out. We gathered around the table. Look at those cakes! These are Scandinavian cuisine dishes popular in Sweden. They are called "smörgåstårta" or sandwich-cake, normally made up of several layers of light rye bread with creamy fillings in between. The fillings and toppings vary, but eggs and mayonnaise are usually the base.  Our hosts prepared two kinds of fillings to give us a variety of tastes to relish.

Well, it goes without saying that everyone enjoyed the yummy cakes. Desserts were served arfterwards, along with coffee and tea.

The party did not end here. The evening was still bright and long. We played different games, both educational and entertaining. Old and young merrily played together. Some went in for ball games, others jumped on a trampoline.

When we have had our fill of merriment and physical "exercise", we gathered in a corner to sing Kingdom songs heartily with guitar accompaniment performed by the eldest son of the family host. We didn't bring any songbook, so we used our tablets and cellphones to follow the lyrics, except those who have memorized them.

hubby is not here because he took this photo

Twilight finally crept in and physical weariness nudged us to go home and take a rest. We said our goodbyes and left.

The memory of this summer night is another treasued jewel stored in my "memory capsule". The event had been a fortifying dose for my spiritual, social and physical well-being. It's the best social gathering I've ever joined in this place so far.