May Chia’s Story
THREE MIRACLES IN A ROW
It was 4.30am on that eventful day – 7th March 2003, when I woke up as usual to pray and read the bible and to review my lessons before making a trip to the hospital to meet the students at 7.00am. While I was still in bed, I felt a sudden severe crushing pain on my chest. It radiated to my left arm, spread to my hand and wrapped round my left shoulder blade. Both my hands were tinkling with numbness. My neck muscles tightened up to the jaws as if I was being strangled. I had difficulty breathing and was perspiring profusely. I began to feel cold and cramp. Every symptom that I was experiencing fitted the description of Acute Myocardial Infarction (AMI).
As I was starting to feel giddy, my husband, Beng Hock woke up. I whispered to him, “Dear, I am having chest pain…” He laid his hand and prayed for me. Thereafter, I felt nauseous, “I am going to vomit…” As soon as he grabbed a plastic basin from the bathroom, I vomited.
“Do you want me to call an ambulance?” he asked.
“It’s too late…”
Immediately, he woke my 24 year-old son, Alvin to help me down from our third storey apartment while he rushed to drive his car over. It was 5.15am when he sped through the East Coast Expressway from Bedok towards Singapore General Hospital.
On the way, I thought I was dying. I began to breathe my last words to Alvin, “Alvin, look after your father… and take care of your brother well…” I could vaguely hear Beng Hock instructing Alvin, “…don’t let her faint, keep talking to mummy… ask her to give a good cough. Don’t let her faint…”
All of a sudden, I slipped into an “out of body” experience. I saw only my upper torso as I was floating towards a long pitch-dark tunnel. The tunnel was surrounded by flickers of lights. I was curious and could not resist the strong urge to explore. I stretched out my hands and began to feel my way in the darkness. Subconsciously, I heard Alvin calling, “Mummy, Jesus has a lot of work for you to do…!” “Ah, ah…” I answered faintly as I felt my body moving closer to the tunnel.
“Mummy, mummy, do you want to go for more holidays?” Alvin asked. I nodded as I breathed out another weak reply, “Ah, ah…”
Still feeling my way into the darkness, I heard Alvin crying out, “Do you want to be a grandmother… look after your own grandchildren?” I began to turn away from the dark tunnel.
As I slowly regained consciousness, I heard Beng Hock praying as he was driving “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!” – a simple yet powerful prayer. Praise God! We managed to arrive safely at the Accident and Emergency Department. Beng Hock hurried out of the car and told the Civil Defence Officer, “Quick, my wife has a heart attack. I need a trolley!” The officer assisted Alvin to help me onto the trolley and quickly rushed me into the Emergency Room. I felt a sense of relief!
A young nurse attended to me and took my vital signs. She exclaimed, “Oh my gosh! Oxygen saturation is only 86%… she is so brady!” I was having bradycardia – my pulse rate was 46 per minute. I realised I was in a critical condition. Within a couple of minutes, I was given oxygen, intravenous therapy, ECG and vital signs monitoring.
The lady medical officer, who attended to me, took Beng Hock aside and explained, “Your wife’s ECG and heart enzyme are normal, she doesn’t look like having a heart attack. I will continue to observe and investigate.” At around 7.00am, she decided to call for the cardiologist.
The cardiologist, Doctor Tan arrived and he repeated the ECG. He noticed that I was in pain, which I repeatedly verified. Thank God that Doctor Tan was persistent. He did not stop at the third, fourth or the fifth ECG. At the sixth ECG, he spotted the abnormality and declared, “Infarct!” Without further delay, he had Cardio Vascular Lab and Ward arranged and instructed the nurses to prepare me for angioplasty.
He alerted Beng Hock and Alvin, “Your wife definitely has a heart attack.” Beng Hock was slightly confused as it seemed to contradict the examination prior to this. “Why was it not shown in the ECG and the enzyme test earlier?” he inquired of Doctor Tan.
“Sometimes the ECG and enzyme test do not pick up the early stage of the heart attack.” He assured, “You have brought her in early. She is still within the window period of six hours.”
He looked at his watch and confidently added, “It is only past three hours, we still have enough time to save her.” He continued on to explain the procedures and risk involved. Without hesitation, Beng Hock and I gave our consent to go ahead with angioplasty and stent insertion.
It was only after the ordeal that I discovered I actually had a 100% blockage and the echogram confirmed that ejection function (EF) is now 32%. The blockage had caused severe damage to my heart. Nonetheless, I am thankful for the second chance to live. It was truly God’s timely intervention.
I spent the first night in Critical Care Unit (CCU). I slept soundly until the next morning. The Critical Care Nurse told me that they detected a “first degree heart block” from the cardiac monitor while I was sleeping in the middle of the night. A team of doctor and nurses was alerted and ready for action as they continued to monitor my condition. It was only a couple of hours later that my heart condition was stabilized. I thanked the Lord for watching over me.
Two days later, I was admitted out of CCU. I was resting in the ward when the doctor came to inform me that the echogram showed a clot near my heart valve. The consultant in-charge of my case instructed him to set up an intravenous Heparin drip in an attempt to dissolve the clot. Immediately after Heparin was administered, a senior consultant, Doctor Ng walked in with another young doctor. She interrupted the doctor who was presenting my case, fully aware that I am at risk of a stroke, to arrange for another echogram to be done at once in order to confirm if the clot was still there and whether I should be given another blood thinner. She personally called the Cardiac Laboratory to make the necessary arrangements for my echogram to be done immediately.
I was rushed to the Cardiac Lab and an echogram was done. Minutes after I was wheeled back to my ward, Doctor Ng walked in and told me, “The clot is gone and I have given orders to remove Heparin.” Then she turned to Beng Hock and said, “I am supposed to be on leave today and I don’t know why I am here. You are the second pastor I met today in the hospital.” God has indeed worked all things according to His purpose.
A week later, I was discharged. The words of Doctor Tan, before my discharge, kept ringing in my mind, “May, you saved yourself. You came in time!” True enough, my knowledge of nursing came in handy in recognising the symptoms of AMI and taking the appropriate actions. Nevertheless, it was the Lord’s timely interventions that sustained me through all the way! To God I give all the glory!
May Chia is a Nursing Clinical Instructor at Nanyang Polytechnic, Singapore. She is the wife of Pastor Chia Beng Hock.