Thursday, 2 August 2012


A lot can happen in a day.  Or in a night.

On Sunday my good friend Vasu Vittal had a wonderful day.  An excellent message at church.  A good time with the family.  He was charged up for the week and all its challenges.  He cracked open a good book and was reading.

That was the last he remembered.

Vasu suffered a series of seizures that have turned his world upside down.

He was carried unconscious out of his home by a dear pastor friend who Vasu's wife Sheba had called to help after she found him convulsing.  They took him to a near-by hospital where he was put in casualty. Vasu was in tremendous pain and as he came to he called out about the searing pain in his arms.  He was put under heavy sedation.

The doctors then realised that he had dislocated both his shoulders - and x-rays showed a hair-line fracture on the left humerus and a splintering of the ball on the right.  Vasu had also lacerated his tongue during the seizures.

We got a call from Vasu's wife Sheba early on Monday morning - asking if the Bethany Hospital had any ICU beds.  We called up and found out that one was available - but when we called back Sheba said that they had found one in a hospital in Bandra which was closer to their first hospital.  The trip to Thane was considered too far given the injury Vasu had suffered in his arms.

Once Vasu was admitted to the ICU things started to settle.

The cause of all of this?  A brain infection by a stage of a tape-worm. The technical term is cysticercosis.  An MRI done on Vasu's brain showed a round ring which triggered the attack.  In India this disease is often spread faecal-orally through unwashed cabbage.  In other countries through undercooked meat.

I walked around in a shock when I heard what had happened to Vasu.  It just did not seem possible that this was happening to my dear friend.  Many prayers were said in our home for Vasu and Sheba - as well as their daughters Amy and Joanna (who are Asha and Enoch's age).

We then found out that Vasu was stable and in the ICU - but that the needed orthopaedic surgeries could not be done since the medication being used to dear with the cysticercosis was causing cerebral swelling and that would impair the anaesthesia.

The next thing we heard was that he was imobile and wanted to get out of the ICU, but that beds were not available.

Late this morning we got the good news that a bed was available and that he would be shifted to the 'wards.'

I went to see Vasu.

Its only now that he can talk with the lacerations of his tongue getting better.

It broke my heart to see him strapped up - immobile.  But he was so brave - and Sheba has been doing an amazing job keeping things going over this helter-skelter week that they are living.

The next steps are a discharge being planned for Saturday - and then orthopaedic surgery to screw in the ball of his right humerus.

Its not what anyone would wish.  But that's how quickly things can turn turtle.

Vasu said he has been overwhelmed by the outpouring of prayer and messages of support that he and the family have received.  Its hard to accept help - especially when you feel powerless.  Having dislocated both shoulders and having fractured both arms at once.

Sheba showed me the MRI of the brain.  As small white ring showed up in one of the images.  For some reason it reminded me of a wedding ring left on a dark-room paper.  It looked so out of place - an almost perfect circle in the flowery lettuce-imprint that a cross-section of the brain shows.

How much damage can come from small things.

I shared with Vasu what I had been reading in the morning - and which I felt spoke out to him and his family:

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
And when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned'
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the LORD your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cush and Sheba in your stead.
Since you are precious and honoured in my sight,
and because I love you.   (Isaiah 43.1b-4a)

We do go through deep valleys - we do face real dangers - our worlds can turn inside-out and upside-down just like Vasu and Sheba's world did.  But we have One who looks after us.  Who even in the worst of crises is there for us.  

I reflected on the fact that God does not promise to take away our problems - but that He promises His presence in the midst of them - and His protection from evil.  We are precious in His sight - and He loves us.  

I was reminded of what our friend Caleb Baber - a double amputee - had told us of his experience with brushing-with-death multiple times and the often frustrating road to recovery from severe injury.  Caleb said that he had been deeply imprinted with two solid thoughts - that God is sovereign - and that God is good.  Though Caleb knew that he did not understand all that was going on in his life - especially in the initial haze of the injury and fighting for life - he held on to this promise.

As I was praying with Vasu, a couple came in.  Dear friends of Vasu.  Others will be trooping up to the 7th floor to be with this amazing man and pray and comfort him and Sheba.  Hopefully Amy and Joanna will meet their Daddy soon too.  

Your prayers will speed Vasu's recovery and guide the family in the next steps that they are courageously taking.

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