By WALLY HIAMBOHN
JACOB Mark walks, with a spring in his step, into Vulupindi House, his place of work in Port Moresby, and probably wonders if it’s for real.
He picks up his three kids from school, drives to the shops or returns to his family at Taurama Valley at the end of the day and the question still plays on his mind.
Is it for real that he is still alive and breathing, that he is fully recovered and in good health with a real zest for life?
Unreal, because two years ago this strong-boned, physically well-structured 40-year-old Engan from Wapenamanda was lying on a death bed in hospital, a mere skeleton of his original self. His weight had seriously plummeted from a healthy 111 kilograms to a loose bag of bones weighing just 65 kilograms. It was in that state on Dec 4, 2015 that he was given only 12 hours to live. On that day, he felt death creeping in on him and his finality was becoming a foregone conclusion.
His Christian family kept vigil outside the emergency ward as they left his fate in the hands of God Almighty.
“That night I lost my sense of hearing and my blood level dipped and dropping every minute,” recalls Mark from his office where he is the First Assistant Secretary for Payments at the Department of Finance, effectively the financial controller of all State payments that are made through the department.
“Even though my mind was ok, everything I saw was becoming blurry.
“The doctors had told my family that there was nothing much else they could do for me and I was given only 12 hours to live.
“Even though it seemed the end was coming, I still had faith that I would survive, that I would not die yet.”
Mark recalls that soon after midnight from his blurred vision “like in a dream” he saw someone walk into his hospital room dedicate a minute-long prayer for him.
That someone was a church leader Pastor David Dii of the Covenant God of David Dii.
“He told me later that he had gone in to rebuke the spirit of death and the next day I woke up with my hearing and vision all restored.
“The pastor told my brother that night that he had rebuked death and that I was going to live, I wasn’t going to die.”
Twelve hours and two full years on, Mark is fit as a fiddle and singing praises to God for what he says was a miracle.
Mark’s story, his date with painful medical complications and a series of visitations to different hospitals began five years back, in 2012 when he was diagnosed with tuberculosis (TB) of the heart. He was rendered to taking TB drugs daily for a full year. At the end of it he thought he’d recovered from the sickness but then in 2014 it resurfaced and he was told he had second stage TB.
He continued to receive medication for another year, including daily doses of painful injections which only proved futile.
“All this time I was sick but still reported to work. Around May/ September of 2015 I felt really sick, my stomach was filled with fluid and was really swollen. My family decided to take me to Manilla (Philippines) for treatment.
“They did the check-up (in Manila) but could not find the TB I was said to have. The doctors there said I had a build-up of fluid so they pumped it all out. However, despite their best efforts, it still continued to build up and was drained two more times.
After two months in the Philippines he returned home but had to return for another check.
It was then that they inserted an instrument known as the “pigs tail” which enabled him to open and release fluid himself every time it built up.
“I returned and still came to work but eventually this also did not help.”
In fact, the situation worsened for him so he was admitted to the Port Moresby General Hospital.
“My blood and sugar level was down and I was a fifty-fifty chance,” Mark said.
“The medication and facilities (at PMGH) did not help so I was moved to emergency at Pacific International Hospital.
“A Dr Caspar checked me and said I had a serious heart problem, I had a heart constriction. He admitted me and put me under medication. I remained there for a month but they could not operate on me.”
Mark was discharged and sent home after two months but his condition worsened, yet again, and he returned to PIH after only two weeks.
That’s when he was put on the 12-hour do-or-die notice. It was literally his D-Day.
“That’s when the doctors discussed with my family and told them; “we will keep him for 12 hours and see. If he survives, well and good but if not, then that would be the end.”
God intervened through Pastor Dee and pulled mark away from the jaws of death but his ordeal towards full recovery was only starting.
Mark stayed at the hospital for another week but his stomach again filled up with fluid.
X-ray results showed that he had a build-up of mucus and that the doctors were apprehensive about doing any operation, in case he died.
A Dr Umo, he said, had the courage to take up the case. He inserted a tube into his stomach and extracted volumes of the stuff in his stomach.
After that operation, he felt relieved and was able to get back on diet and eating well.
He was discharged after another four weeks with a major surgery scheduled to take place in Singapore.
“It was a costly exercise and my family commitment themselves to a major fundraising exercise.”
An appeal went out to family, friends and colleagues who chipped in towards his cause.
During that time, still not fully recovered, he wasn’t exactly sure of what was wrong with him and what the cause was.
“People came up with all kinds of stories and theories, including of sorcery, and I was in total state of confusion. My family invited and brought in all kinds of pastors, prophets, glassman and glassmeris and puripuri men who came with all kinds of tales and suggestions as to the cause of my sickness and how to get healing.
“I personally didn’t believe them one bit because mine was a special case and not what they were claiming it to be. I didn’t believe in all that rubbish except in God Almighty. They were all a bunch of liars, even all the so-called prophets from churches and all the glassman.
‘I even contemplated suicide. Mentally, this sickness was killing me. Three or four times I wanted to crash my vehicle and kill myself. One time I drove at very high speed on the Magi Highway wanting to crash the car and my wife jumped out. It’s a miracle she survived the incident., I really wanted to die and end it all.
“I said to God, ‘If you want to take me, take me now but otherwise I have a plan, I have a purpose on earth. I don’t want to go through with this pain. I was born to do something and I want to be alive to accomplish that purpose.”
Mark said the family held many discussions on his sickness and on the next cause of action arising from the fundraising.
He spent the months of January and February of 2015 at home and in March was taken to Singapore for a full operation.
“The doctor in Singapore, Dr. N.Y Ling, confirmed I had a heart constriction but could not operate because I was still under medication. I was told to return home and do more fundraising, which took up April, May and June. At the end of June I returned for the operation.
“On July 1, as I was preparing for the operation I received a message on Facebook from an African prophet which said, all my struggles, all my sickness would be over and I would be into a new chapter in my life, that everything (sickness) would end now.
The message said I would have a new lease of life, and I was confident that it was a message from God.
His heart operation took six hours and he stayed in the Intensive Care Unit for two weeks.
The operation proved a total success.
“My operation was done on credit basis. It was a miracle from God because by then I had no money left.
“After the operation my two brothers who were with me returned home to secure more money to pay for the operation and a cousin stayed back to care for me.
“The hospital took my passport (as security) and my family, my wife especially, sweated their guts out trying to find money to pay for the outstanding bill.
“They managed to find the money and paid for it in full.
All in all, Mark reckons all of his medical bills, both within and abroad would have cost nearly K500,000, all of which was raised through the hard work of his family and the generosity of friends, family and colleagues.
“After paying the bills I needed to rest to get my strength back. We booked in at Park Royal and stayed there for 10 days and paid only K500 in total with full breakfast and dinner.
“I came back without any medication as the doctors assured me that would be okay. They advised me to rest for two months stay and not to do any hard work.
Mark returned to Manila in March this year for a review and was given the all-clear. He is confident that his healing has come about because of God’s intervention and miracle.
He was even told by his doctors that his case was the first of its kind they had treated, it was pioneering stuff for them. I suffered big time.”
The brand new Jacob Mark lives with his family at Taurama Valley and continues to attend church services and help in religious activities at the Life in the Spirit Ministry there as a part of giving thanks and praise to God for his life.
“While I have this opportunity I would like to thank Pastor David Dii and family of the Covenant of God church, the Secretary for Finance, Dr Ken Ngangan and the department, Miriam Ngangan, Dr Caspar, Dr Umo, and Dr Ken Mondiai and nurses and staff of the Pacific International Hospital, Dr N. Y. Ling and his team of surgeons of the Raffles Hospital in Singaporel, James and Cathy Isingi and family, Jessie and Jenny Wangua and their extended family, Life in the Spirit Ministry pastors and congregation, former CEO MVIL, Joe Wemin, David Raim of Island Mobile Hire Cars, Augustine Eerepia, Gregory Manda, Mark Yaka and family, Chief Judge and family, Billy Kambao and family, Capital Anduaoi, Johnson Tolabi and family, Robert Rasaka and family, Philip Rex and family, all my sisters and their families, Uncle Win and family, my two powerful Uncles, Ps Bill and Pius, Wally Hiambohn and family and all my tribesmen and women and relatives from Wapenamanda.”
“Only God knows our purpose in life. I am a young man and I have more to contribute to life and to this nation.”
- Wally Hiambohn is a freelance journalist.