Friday, 13 March 2015

Sweet dreams are made of these...

At 5 PM Sheba, Mum and I went over to Bethany hospital to pray with Stefan and Dad. 

We had been praying all day, ever since the morning when we heard that Dad's procedure was posted for 6 PM this evening.  And thanks to our networked friends - so had so many others all over our country, and all over the world.

Yesterday's valiant attempt by Dr. Stephen Alfred to put in a stent using an endoscope did not work - since the tumour was so solid.  Would this evening's procedure work?  Dr. Stephen had requested his colleague Dr. Girish to come up from Mumbai to do this. 

Dr. Girish is an interventional radiologist - and decided to try and insert and external/internal stent.   His plan was to make a small opening on Dad's side, and moving through the liver, enter the common biliary duct and attempt to put in the stent besides the tumour - but also keep a pipe out to Dad's side.

If the attempt and putting the stent in did not work, then the pipe would be used to drain the bile juices and hopefully lower Dad's jaundice.  If Dr. Girish succeeded in inserting the stent, then the pipe would be used to drain off the excess fluid, and after some hours, the outer opening would be closed and the rest of the bile juices would drain into the small intestine using the newly opened stent.

So the four of us in the room prayed with Dad - and deeply sensed that we should not be afraid.  That was a message that many had sent us.

Dr. Girish did not arrive at 6 PM.   Mumbai traffic at rush hour is something else - and he had already had a full day of procedures.   He arrived at 7.15 - just 10 minutes after one of the two main operating theatres at Bethany finished a major case - allowing Dad's operation to be done in that theatre instead of in the casualty theatre.  Even traffic jams seem to have cosmic purposes at times.

After praying, Mum and Sheba went back home to be with the kids, while Stefan and I stayed with Dad.  When the time came for Dad to be shifted to theatre, we went down with him to the big swinging doors that mark entrance of the two operating theatres at Bethany Hospital's third floor.  Dad was being pushed in a wheelchair - and his two sons walking along side.   You always wonder when the doors close at the theatre and your loved one is being given anaesthesia - whether they will come out of it.  Whether they will be wheeled out with breath in their lungs or not.  Faith is tested most when the stakes are high.

An hour and a half later, Stefan and I were called back down to the theatre.

We took off our shoes and were ushered into a small room where the surgeons unwind.  Dr. Stephen and Dr. Girish were there in their green scrubs, drinking tea.

"It all went very well" Dr. Stephen told us.  The stent had gone in with the first attempt.  The actual PTBD procedure had taken all of 20 minutes to do - and had gone completely according to plan.  What a huge relief for Stefan and myself. 

And so a few minutes later we walked out in a happy daze.

It took a little longer for Dad to be brought up to room No. 512 - but after we shared a grateful prayer, Stefan and I had the pleasure of making the first happy phone-calls and winging a small raft of SMSes with big smiles of relief on our faces.

And then with a welcome rumble, Dad was wheeled around the corner.   He was awake!  Turns out they gave local anaesthesia after all!

Before they even got him on his bed - he was already talking.  Dr. Stephen had told him the good news too - that the stent had been successfully implanted.  Big smiles all around!

I then had the happy task of going back to and picking up Mum.  I drove our little Papaya through the dark streets of Thane with a song in my heart.

Mum came over with food for Stefan and fresh get-well-soon cards for Dad from Enoch and Yohan.

We walked in to find Dad asleep - Stefan had turned off the lights.  But 30 seconds later that changed - a nurse walked in briskly and cranked up the bed so that Dad's head was up.  "You need to sleep this way" she said and clop, clop, clop she was off again to do another task in another room.

Dad realised groggily that Mum and I had returned and insisted the lights be put on.  Once again he was back in form, chatting happily about his time in the theatre.

"It was so crowded in the operating theatre" Dad said, "crowded with so many angels!"

Amazingly, we just received an email with a shot of Dad while the operation was going on - courtesy of Dr. Stephen Alfred!  The picture he took in the theatre shows Dr. Girish conducting the PTBD procedure!

We are all going to sleep very well tonight.  Well that's our thought - we sincerely hope Dad will get good sleep post-operation.  But we know that he is being well cared for by Stefan (an expert at short nights) and a small army of nurses (and a larger deployment of angelic beings perhaps).   We have all along felt a ground-swell of prayer - and this evening all of us - near and far - experienced the happy thrill of cresting this wave when we got the news of the successful procedure.

We are of course not even close to the end of this story.  But like Winston Churchill said: "This is not the end, this is not even the beginning of the end, this is perhaps the end of the beginning."  We are very happy that this complicated procedure went well - and we look forward to Dad's jaundice dissappearing soon.  But the issue of the tissue remains.  There is a big 2.5 cm growth, which the CT Scan says appears to be on the head of the pancreas that is not just there for fun.  We know that it has to go.   We would be very glad if in the next instant the tumour dissolves... and we know that people have prayed this prayer - as have we as little children to their loving Father in heaven.  But we also know that if it doesn't dissappear, it will need to be cut out.  Currently the Whipple procedure seems the best bet - and that entails removing significant portions of a number of Dad's important inner organs in order to leave nothing cancerous behind.

So we certainly continue to need your prayers... for quick recovery from today's PTBD procedure, for Dad's jaundice to subside, for wisdom about how and when to go ahead with the next big steps.

As a family - both those in Thane as well as those far away - we are so grateful for each and every prayer said on our behalf - and the many signs of love and affection that we continue to receive.  Dad has an ocean of emails waiting for him - but we are going to wait for some time before we allow him to start answering them! 

So we sign off with this shot of Mum and Stefan giving Dad a hand massage.  His jaundice has made him very itchy all over - and so gets wonderful relief when we do some therapeutic scratching (a.k.a. massage).  With the stent in place, the desire to itch should fade away soon!

Sweet dreams everyone!  Thanks for praying and being part of the team!


  1. Praying for miracles. With love from NZ.

  2. I am so delighted to read this post. Thank you for your detailed updates. Indeed, prayers from all over the world are with you. Give my love to your mum and dad. Kathy

  3. Ray is made of stern stuff, an indomitable spirit, and an abiding Faith that is such an inspiration to each one of us. God bless him and heal him. John Dayal, New Delhi.

  4. First wave of relief! Glory to GOD!! Praying and asking DADDY GOD to just dissolve the tumour...praying for all of you too.

  5. Praise God for this first successful step! Praying for many more steps to full recovery. Our loving heavenly Father is in charge whatever happens. Give my love to Ray!

  6. Praying for bro.Ray medical procedures + recovery

  7. Praise God for the successful procedure. Praying for Uncle Ray and you all. Our Lord God Almighty is a great Healer. Luv . Gibu and Alphy

  8. Dear Ray , what an example you are even from your hospital bed. Love and prayers for you and all those who care for you.
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  9. So thankful all went well....You certainly are an amazing blogger, so detailed and we Praise the Lord with you that all went well with your father.

  10. Thanks for the GREAT news! We'd like to follow in prayer.