We received this email from Philip’s brother’s wife this morning with the subject ‘Thank God.’ It describes the days leading up to her husbands surgery and how thankful they are to the Lord.

We thank God for helping us go through this difficult time. We also thank all of you who supported us in prayer and for your encouragement.

Two weeks back Surendar had severe pain in his abdomen, and the pain was spreading to the chest area, his back and so on. He was treating himself with Gelusil (antacid), soda, garlic pearls etc, because he had eaten a heavy meal for lunch that day and thought that the pain was some gastric pain due to indigestion. It was a Saturday and nephew Naveen was there after our weekly Bible study and offered to take him to Vadamalaiyan Hospital. He refused saying that the pain will go away after sometime. So Naveen went home.

Even after midnight, the pain did not subside.

Around 2 o’clock, unable to bear it any longer, he decided to go to Vadamalaiyan. He drove the bike himself, with me sitting behind him, to the hospital at that hour. (He does not have faith in my driving!?). By God’s grace, there were duty doctors (fully awake) and they gave him some injection to manage the pain. But the pain was still there. They took an ECG to rule out the possibility of heart attack and established that there was no heart attack. When they asked him about his prior medical history, he casually told them that there was a small stone in his gall bladder.

They were astonished that he had not mentioned it earlier. But we were not aware of the fact that the gall bladder stones can cause this much pain. They asked him to get admitted there. “Tomorrow being Sunday, doctors will not come, but on Monday you can get the doctor’s opinion,” they said. We decided that it was of no use staying in a hospital if no doctor was going to attend to him. This is what we thought at that time and came back home with some pain killers. The pain came and went. It was very difficult for us to see him suffer (but I put on a brave face in front of him). He is the one who usually looks after everybody when they are sick. We were helpless and heartbroken to see him suffer. At the same time we did not want to alarm Flora Athai, Surendar’s old and frail mother, because that would make life more complicated for us. Even as we went to the hospital at night, we had to do so very quietly, opening the front gate like a thief would. Sunday passed like that in pain. We could not attend the service. Now we know for sure that the culprit was the gallbladder stone.

Surendar spoke to cousin Malu akka, who is a well-known gastroenterologist, and she said that it had be removed or otherwise it would always create problems. She also suggested a pain killer that he could have now. This pain killer gave him some relief.

When we were thinking of which surgeon to go to, nephew Deepak took us to a reputed surgeon. During the first visit we forgot to take the scan report of the previous year’s tests and only had the medical reports with us. The doctor was a little annoyed. But he examined Surendar and told him that after the pain completely stops, he can get it operated. He prescribed antibiotics. If there was pain, he asked us to come on Thursday. Surendar took the tablets. The pain did not completely stop. In fact, at nights, Surendar could not sleep because of unbearable pain. So we decided to meet the doctor again on Thursday and waited eagerly for the day to come. Naveen took us there this time.

Our son, Prasanna got very worried about his daddy’s sickness and came home on leave. He also accompanied us to the doctor. This time we forgot to take the prescription with us. But Surendar knows very well the medicines he was taking and wrote the names on a paper to show it to the doctor if he asked. That day the doctor was in a hurry to go somewhere else and was in an irritable mood. He was also showing his irritation to all the patients. When our turn came, he was very irritated that we had not brought his prescription, even though Surendar told him what medicines he was taking. Although he was aware of the pain that Surendar was in, he scolded him for not bringing the prescription and said, “Continue with the medicines, only after 4 weeks it can be operated.” We kept quiet and our session with him was over. We decided that Surendar can not bear this pain for four weeks and we should take a second opinion. Then we thought about Meenakshi Mission Hospital where Flora athai went through the same surgery 18 years ago.

Two days later, we went there (Saturday 16th). We met one Dr .Mohan. He said that the surgery has to be done immediately. This suited us very well. He told us that the gallbladder and the stones would be removed through laparoscopic surgery. We got all the tests done there (Blood, ECG, X-ray, Scan . .etc.), and gave him the reports. The surgery was fixed for Monday the18th.

We wished that the surgery could be done by Dr.Ramesh Arthanari who has done the surgery for Flora Athai so long ago. But since he was now the chief of the Gastroenterology Department, we could not expect that. We left everything to God and prayed for the surgery.

Along the way we were getting so much of help from many sources that we did not plan on. I have tried to list them:

• The reputed doctor who we stopped seeing had given us the correct antibiotics which prepared Surendar for the surgery better
• His irritation was a help indirectly as it was the trigger that made us to go to Meenakshi Mission Hospital
• In Meenakshi hospital we met a person who is a clerical staff there. He was known to us. He is a member of EBC, the Reformed Baptist Church in Madurai. His name is Karthik and he comes from a Hindu background. He immediately introduced us to some of the staff there, and we were well looked after.
• Kathik’s friend, a theatre assistant, requested the doctor to take Surendar’s case first because the next case was a complicated one and would take several hours. So Surendar was operated first on that day. This theater assistant was so considerate and kind, giving me a report, every half an hour, about what was going on in the operation theatre.
• When Surendar was shifted to the Post Operative Ward, there too was a very kind nurse, Jothi, whom Karthik introduced to us who was very helpful. Amazingly she too was a member of EBC. (Karthik’s parents are not happy that he has become a Christian and make life hard for him because of his faith. He asked us to pray for his parents’ eyes to be opened.) Anybody who wants to include this prayer request in their personal prayers is welcome to do so)
• Above all, when I asked for the name of the surgeon who did the surgery, I was amazed to be told that it was Dr.Ramesh Arthanari himself who did it. I could not believe my ears. Thank God! This doctor had not been in town for four days and he had come back only that morning and done the first surgery on Surendar. God leads us in ways that exceed our expectations.
• I should mention that others also helped us in various ways. Our own relatives, our Church members, and their prayer support. I wrote a prayer request by e-mail to some of our relatives. All of them immediately responded and that was so encouraging. (I did not send the email to GB, because at his age I did not want to bother him; moreover, of course he is not a botherable person ( ). But he prayed for Surender in the church service. After the surgery I immediately informed GB about all that happpened). Our daughter Prathiba, inspite of her busy college schedule helped a lot around the house. Prasanna’s presence here was a moral support to us. Philip, Selvi, Pradan annan, Sekar annan are all supporting us; Naveen, Cynthia, Deepak, and Thilaga’ka looked after our household when we were away. Charlie, Sunder, Rani’s family, Prakasa, Geetha, Joe – everyone showed their concern – Oh we are such a big family with a real concern for each other.

We came back home safely. Now it is time for recuperating. Surendar will be fully alright in a week or two. We thank God for all His mercies.