Written by Kelly Ng, Singapore
Two years ago, Carole Ann was staring death in the face after an unfortunate incident almost took her life. Yet, following a four-month stint in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU)—half of which was spent in a coma—and even after having all her limbs amputated, the 43-year-old has never felt more alive.
Carole shared candidly with YMI how pain and loss have been channels for deeper life with God that she never thought possible over the last two years since an ovarian cyst rupture upended her life.
“The incident has reduced me into a pulp, quite literally, no hands and no legs. My life is not mine anymore, but it has also brought me closer to God and my loved ones. And He has shown me how he can work through a disabled person,” Carole said.
The Fateful Day
It all happened on the morning of September 4, 2018.
Carole, who was then a process and quality executive at one of Singapore’s major telcos, was getting ready to go to work when she felt a sudden pain in her abdomen. Initially, she brushed it off as stomach cramps, but not for long—the pain grew so sharp that she checked herself into a hospital.
There, doctors found out that a cyst in one of her ovaries had ruptured, leading her into septic shock, a potentially fatal condition where organ damage causes infection and inflammation throughout the body. She was intubated, dripped up, and spent the next two months in an induced coma, during which she lost her limbs to gangrene, had her lungs collapse twice, suffered from two heart attacks, a kidney failure, and a skin graft over her abdomen.“It was a very intense two months. People who came to see me couldn’t get close to me because of the machines I was attached to. Every day, there was something wrong with me. It was just a continuous, uphill battle for my family members,” Carole said.
She recalled, in particular, her family members being frustrated with the medical professionals when new drugs and treatments never seemed to improve her condition.
What she remembers, as she was falling in and out of consciousness, were the praise songs and hymns that her family members were playing in the background. Among them were songs that spoke of God’s faithfulness, presence and power, such as “Holy Holy Holy” and “Desert Rain”.
Carole awoke from her coma in November 2018 but remained in the ICU for another two months. She was later transferred to a regular ward and eventually discharged in March 2019.
The episode not only changed Carole physically, but also spiritually.
“The old Carole would have had it with God. I would have felt bitter, angry, and maybe even walked away from Him. It was only by God’s divine intervention that I have been able to respond differently,” she said.
The Spiritual Change
Carole, who was raised Catholic, started attending Christian services and workshops with her aunt as an adult. Despite that, she remained self-reliant.
“I was worldly, working a lot, I still pray but I was an unhappy person. Isolated. I didn’t like people. I found people complicated, always making excuses, and not trustworthy. My heart had been broken so many times by friends that I learnt to just stay away,” said Carole, who now lives with her 69-year-old mother, Sandra Kumari, her sole caregiver.
“I was a very different person before September 4, 2018.”
A personal encounter with God in the hospital, however, helped her see her circumstances in a different light. God had appeared before her during her two-month coma through visions, Carole said, that assured her of His majesty and love.
“That was something scary but also something wonderful that happened which rewired my thinking. When the new Carole woke up, I knew I had a real Father in heaven, one who was not to be blamed for any part of my situation, but on the contrary, had saved my life,” she said.“My spiritual encounter during the coma was so significant that I was very sure that since God had preserved my life, He still has a purpose in this world for me, quaraduple amputee or not.”
And it was not just her mortal life that God, in His grace, retained for Carole—despite the doctors making their worst predictions. But more importantly, Carole was awakened to the fact that this world, ultimately, was not her home.
“At the end of it all, this is a temporary world, heaven is the place we should seek to be, the place to God.”
The Difficult Decision
In August last year, Carole made the difficult decision to amputate her gangrenous limbs after she received a message from a church friend, saying, “Go to your mountain” which she understood as God telling her it was time to face this battle.
The doctors had already mooted the idea to amputate when she was discharged from the hospital in March, but Carole put it off, hoping that her limbs would heal.
At first, Carole was hopeful as her hands began showing signs of healing after months of praying, and applying anointing oil and dressings to her limbs. But soon after, she started to have fevers and noticed redness on her left leg, which then compelled her to go under the knife. Miraculously, she did not need to amputate her hands from her elbows down as originally planned but only from half her palm and fingers. This meant she would still have the blessings of her wrist functions.
The procedure was smooth and the stitches were beautifully executed. Carole was hospitalised for another one-and-a-half weeks and depended only on paracetamol to manage the pain. She said she did not experience ‘phantom’ limb symptoms because of her time spent with the gangrenous limbs. Instead, she was able to have closure with them, thank them, and offer them back to God.
“I did ask God why He didn’t even leave me one finger,” she quipped.
“Before this, my fingers were very precious and I had always tried to make them look nice, and I’d also love my shoes . . . But I am sure God was heartbroken too.”
And yet, in the midst of these painful encounters, she felt God grieving together with her, giving her a deep peace, and a stronger faith and love for God than she had ever known.
“The personal encounter I had with God in the ICU affirmed my confidence in His will. Everything I have is grounded in Him, there is no other place I want to be than with God. And if God had asked me to go with Him to heaven, I would,” she said.
The Lessons She’s Learned
Suffering builds character, she said, so the sooner we accept it, the better it is for God to begin working in and through us.
“If we are constantly fixating on how great our sufferings are, we lose sight of the things we can be thankful for. All that has happened has helped me see the blessings in life, from my family members and friends, to the man who brings me to the rehab centre in his van.”
These experiences have also helped Carole acquire a good dose of humility—to put down her pride and learn to receive help.
“These days, I often find myself counting my blessings. How about the cabbie who fetches me, waits for me, and even helps keep my wheelchair when he doesn’t need to? How about my mom who is sacrificing all her personal time when she should be enjoying her retirement, but she is actually changing my diapers? We have become so self-absorbed that we fail to appreciate the little blessings. They seem so unimportant to us, but those are the things that keep us going every day,” she said.The pain and loss drove her to lean on God, instead of herself; to trust in His provision, rather than worldly satisfaction.
Carole now gets around the house on a motorised wheelchair. While she types on her phone with a stylus pen secured on a silicone holder, she has learned how to use what’s left of her limbs for some activities —such as combing her hair with a brush in her palm, and doing the same for her dog, Angel.
Her journey in learning to walk on her prosthetics has literally been one of “walking by faith and not by sight”, putting her full trust on God with every step she takes and knowing that He will catch her if she falls.
“The suffering gives people a chance to bless you, and it also gives you an opportunity to learn humility and learn to receive. Receiving is hard because it reminds me of my failures. But if you keep thinking about how once upon a time, you used to be able to do this and that, you might never be able to experience the benefits of humility,” she said.
Carole has seen an influx of friends at her home since her story was first published in Singapore’s flagship newspaper The Straits Times in November 2020, which has given her many opportunities to also share her story.
She hopes to continue doing so in the years to come.
“I have a huge desire to minister and to share my testimony with the world. I am very convicted to share with the world that being a Christian is about loving people relentlessly, being kind, staying humble, and patiently waiting upon the Lord, seeking Him in everything we do.”
“We know that God loves us and we know He doesn’t want to harm us. But He didn’t say there won’t be problems. There will be problems in this world—a hundred percent. It’s just that the way we handle problems is a little bit different because we have Jesus Christ.”