I am a stroke survivor

My name is Daniel (Born in 1970) and I am a stroke survivor.

On 12 Jun 2018, my wife and me were preparing in the morning, to go for a 3D2N church camp in Johor Bahru (JB), Malaysia.  At 845am, I shared with my wife and a few of my cell group members, the following verse which the Holy Spirit impressed upon me during my morning Quiet Time reading from the Bible :

“O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?…
But Thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” 1 Corinthians 15:55 (NKJV)

I also shared a picture which I was led to search the internet in my morning reflection.  This painting was from George Frederic Watts, titled “Hope”.  It struck a chord in me as the musician in the picture seems to be handicapped but the musician continued to play his harp, of which the strings were all broken except for one and he persevered to make music from the instrument.

At 915am that same fateful morning, I decided to take a shower before we set off for the church camp in JB. I was taking my shower and suddenly I just fell backwards in my bathtub and lost all consciousness. The next thing I knew, I woke up in the NUH high dependency ward 8 hours later.

From the time I was unconscious from 915 am till I woke up 8 hours later, my wife was frantically calling the ambulance, signing consent for me to be operated, texting our church pastor, church members and Christian friends to intercede for me. My wife shared with me weeks later, when I regained cognitive understanding, that she claimed the same exact verse the Holy Spirit impressed upon me during my Quiet Time, which I had shared with her that morning. I don’t know what the doctors did to my body and a few months later, I came to know neurosurgeon did the EVT (Endovascular Treatment) procedure on me to retrieve large clot struck in my left M1 MCA. The neuroscience doctor said that in my unconscious stroke condition, I would be dead or paralysed for life.

God answered our prayers and I thank God for saving and extending my life. I came to realise the presence of God – that tangible feeling that God is with me 24×7 during that fateful day and every day in the trials that came swiftly after I regained my consciousness from my coma. 

I could not move my right hand and leg at all when I gained my consciousness eight hours later.  The doctors pronounced that I had a major left-brain stroke and hence the right side of my body was affected.  I was also not able to utter a single word and all my vocabulary was gone.  I was being diagnosed to have aphasia, i.e. an impairment of language, affecting the production or comprehension of speech and the ability to read or write.  I was in total shock at what happened to me.  I only saw my wife and children who looked really worried and were in despair but I could not understand a word what they or the people around me were trying to say to me.  I was in a state of frustration and was having difficulty accepting the reality.  This went on for a couple of hours, with my wife laying hands on my limbs and pleading to God for a miracle.

At around 5pm, I suddenly placed my two feet on the floor and stumbled around for my first step.  The nurses quickly came to catch me and insisted I stayed in bed.  I thank God that I was then able to limp to the toilet with some help, subsequently over the next few days in hospital. 

The therapists were very kind and asked my wife to bring me some familiar objects that I handle regularly, to help speed up my recollective memory.  The next day, my wife brought my bible and started to read to me where I had last left off from my reading.  She turned to where the bookmark is in between the pages and started to cry as she read.  Apparently, I had stopped at Mark 3 before I was warded :

 “And when He(Jesus) had looked around at them with anger, being grieved by the hardness of their hearts, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored as whole as the other. Mark 3:5 (NKJV)”

The chapter was about how Jesus went to the temple and healed a man with a shriveled (paralysed) hand.  She was astounded and claimed the promise upon my right hand which I could hardly lift up at all then.  Days later, I was able to move my right arm.  This motivated me to improve further. I was determined to get my right arm functioning, with God’s strength.  I went to the hospital gym every day, besides physio-therapy and occupational therapy with the therapists to increase strength on my right arm and create new neuro links in my brain.  Over the next few weeks, miraculously, as I started on my physiotherapy, the physician announced that I had regained 90% of the strength back on my right arm and leg.  It was a humbling process to learn how to use the spoon and fork to feed myself again, hold the pen to practice writing abcds. Soon, I thank God that I was able to walk to the toilet all by myself many days later during the hospitalization and rehabilitation process. 

Months later, my wife shared how uncanny it is that when I fell and lied unconscious in the bathtub, my position was exactly the same as the musician in the “Hope” painting I shared with her on that morning I fell in the bathtub. My leg was tucked under the other thigh and she at first thought I had sprained my ankle whilst in the shower.  It was only moments later she realized it was a stroke when she saw blood coming out from my mouth.  But it was precisely this image and the verse “Oh Death, where is your sting and that I shall have victory in Christ Jesus” that made her persevere with prayers for my deliverance and breakthrough. 

I'm a stroke survivor

As I suffered from Aphasia, I could not speak a single word after my stroke.  During my hospitalization period, my wife and I took at least 15 minutes to communicate and guess what I wanted e.g. what things to get from home, order what food, when to discharge.  Drawing and playing charades, with hand signals was certainly no fun.  It took at least 30 mins for my visiting friends and relatives to understand what I was trying to convey. 

During this time, I was only to speak one language. Guess what language that is? I was able to speak in a new tongue, i.e. a language to enable me to communicate with the Lord Jesus about my struggles. Every day I would kneel or fell face down or walk around the ward praying in tongues.  I gathered I might as well, since I could not utter any word that people can understand. During my stay in St Luke’s Hospital, I always sneaked into the chapel located at the 7th floor when nobody is there to pray and find rest in God. One late evening, I sneaked into the chapel through the side door and slept soundly overnight on the chapel’s platform.

I had to re-learn how to read and write all over again, given the speech and temporary cognitive impairment. I had to undergo intensive speech therapy.  I recalled I was unable to pronounce ‘the’ during the therapy sessions.  In frustration, I fell face down on my bed and covered myself with the blanket and prayed in tongues.  I was in total frustration that I could not even manage such a simple word.  Then suddenly these three words came out of my mouth – “Praise the Lord’!  When I got discharged on 31 Jun 2018, I could only say aloud “Praise the Lord’ that was taught by my Christian speech therapist.  

This motivated me further and I took 5 months of intensive speech therapy to build new neuro links.  I demanded the return of my speech from Satan because I recognize he is the thief that came to steal, kill, and destroy but my Lord Jesus has turned what was meant for harm to good miraculously.  As I write this testimony now, I have regained most of my physical and 50% of my English speech ability and still improving.  That is why I came to realise the meaning of the verse “…. quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” The nurses who took care of me during my hospitalization all commented they had never seen a patient who had such a miraculous recovery within such a short span of time.

God has reset my life and given me a second chance for my life purpose, marriage and family. For the second half of my life, I wish to do something meaningful for God.

May my testimony be of encouragement to fellow stroke survivors, caregivers and others that God is all-loving and all-powerful. 

Blessing, glory, honor, power and might be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.