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My 89 Year Old Grandfather

My 89-year-old maternal grandfather whom we call Tatay is suffering from PHN or postherpetic neuralgia, the pain that lasts after the shingles rash is gone. He had Herpes Zoster (shingles) few weeks ago, a disease caused by varicella zoster virus. The blisters were already healed but what he is complaining about is the pain it has brought him. Sometimes he would cry, feeling helpless and depressed. He thinks that the doctors were not able to give him the right medications. He wonders why after few weeks of taking the prescribed medicines, he’s not feeling any better.

When I searched about PHN I learned that it is more painful than shingles. The pain resulted from the nerve fiber damage. It is one of the worst type of pain so I understand my grandfather’s sentiments. It’s really his nature to blame the doctors whenever the prescribed medicines doesn’t work as fast as he wanted it to be. But I understand him fully, he’s the one who’s in pain.

I also searched for all the medicines he’s been taking and it’s the same medications prescribed for such a condition.

What was alarming to me was when I knew that though you can relieve the pain through some strong pain relievers there’s no really cure for PHN. And this condition can last for months and even years.

Yesterday I received a phone call again from TCT, the caller asked if there’s something I want her to pray for. Of course I know well how to pray, but it’s still different if you know someone’s praying or you. I asked her to pray for my Tatay instead.

September last year Tatay had undergone middle finger amputation in his right hand. His finger had big wound that caused him pain for several years. It started as a small wound when he was younger, but he refused to have it treated, thinking it was just a minor wound and he didn’t feel any pain before. Little did he know that it has broken something in his finger’s bone, causing that part to be rotten years later.

He went to several doctors but they told him they will amputate his whole arms not just the fingers or hands. He’s afraid to have his arms removed so he went on with his life, living in pain.

Last year we were able to convince him to go to Manila so other doctors can see him. We were glad he obliged, he was also in deep pain then. The doctors found out that his wound was already cancerous so it should be removed as soon as possible. But still Tatay doesn’t want too. He said that the doctors were just fooling him, they will amputate his whole arms which he didn’t like. He wanted to go back to the province right there and then. He’s also hard headed like me, ‘no?!!. He said he’s too old, that maybe he won’t live for another year or two, so he’ll just wait for his death.

But I wouldn’t let him go without doing anything so I told my younger sister of my plan. We told Tatay that the doctors will just clean his wound when the truth is, they will amputate his infected middle finger. He will not know it because he’s almost already blind, he had recurrent catarata and glaucoma before. Now he sees nothing but black. 🙁

The “operation” or amputation went smoothly, actually it’s done just on his bed side. He was awake during the process, he knew his wound was just being cleaned. After few days when he went home we told him the truth, we thought he’ll get angry, but he didn’t. And it’s because he do not believe that his finger was amputated, he insisted that the doctor won’t do that to him because they told him he’s too old he might not be able to take it. When asked why his finger were shorter than it used to be, he again insisted it’s because the doctor cleaned his wound, and that the nail part were removed. Okay fine, enough of that… can’t really convince him. He really won’t believe us, so be it. What’s important is
he’s no longer in pain few weeks after the amputation.

Last few days ago, my sister mentioned his amputated finger again, telling him everything about what really happened. This time, I think he’s convinced.

At 89-year-old (April 7, 1918) Tatay have a very good memory, he still remembers even the smallest details about his past, how he and Nanay met, their courtship, the japanese era, his children’s birthdays, his medications, etc., almost everything from past to present. Talo pa ako!

Tatay is also one of the most religious male person that I know of. He prays the rosary several times a day. He even sings some prayer songs in between mysteries. Now that I am typing this I wonder if he ever questioned God why he’s suferring from PHN or other old-age related diseases.

He suffered so much pain before, and now he says that what he’s feeling now is even more painful. Didn’t he even feel that his faith was shaken? I think I should ask him about that later.

I have always believed that everything happens for a reason and that God has His reasons for allowing such things to happen. Yes, my mind may not be able to fully understand His reasons but I trust Him completely. Tatay’s pain is just temporary as everything shall pass. I just hope and pray that Tatay will have more strength to endure the pain and that his PHN will go away for good.

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