In the fall of 2022, I went to the hospital for something I thought was minor. I had no major symptoms or anything like that, but my husband, Rafael, insisted I go to the emergency room. They told me that I’d had two heart attacks and needed open heart surgery.
Apparently, I was born with a defect in my heart. Like I said, I never thought it was anything major, but they told me that I was not able to go home until I could have surgery. It was a miracle that a very experienced heart surgeon ordered a series of tests until he understood what was going on with my heart.
I was in the heart hospital a week after having open heart surgery—that was on Nov. 21. After that,
everything went wrong. Everything. According to the doctors, my heart and all my organs, everything, stopped for over an hour.
All the organs—kidneys, lungs, liver—just stopped. They declared me dead. They told Rafael there was nothing else they could do and that he needed to be prepared. He went to the funeral home and made arrangements because once they disconnected the machines, it was over.
But the Lord said no and my heart started working. When my heart started working, they gave me this medication to help my brain and all my organs get oxygen. That medication burned my hands and my feet. I ended up getting my right hand amputated. Some of my left-hand fingers, the tips of my fingers, were amputated, and a third of my right foot. I also lost all the toes on my left foot, but I’m alive.
Then they told my husband that if he did not disconnect me from the machines, I was going to be brain dead or brain damaged for the rest of my life because I was without oxygen for so long. I was in a coma for over three weeks. When I woke up the middle of December, I thought it was the next day after the surgery. I was alert and they started asking me questions.
The doctor who did my heart surgery has been a doctor for over 50 years. When I asked him, “Doctor, how long was my heart and everything stopped?” He just looked at me and said, “For over an hour.” He said, “You are a mystery to us.”
I told him, “No, I’m not a mystery—I’m a miracle.” They don’t understand. Medically speaking, it is almost impossible. My family doctor told me that I should be grateful that I’m not hooked to an oxygen machine in a nursing home for the rest of my life.
But my brain is perfectly fine, and I am OK except where my hands and feet were burned. Other than that, I’m fine. My brain is better than ever because now I have to be more creative. I crochet, I cook, I clean, I do laundry.
I still serve in my church, working on the computer. I mean, it is a little more difficult than before. It takes me a little more time, but I am walking without a cane, without a walker, and I’m doing OK.
I’m enjoying life and I’m serving the Lord. I’m telling other people what happened to me, whether they believe it or not. That’s my story.
Since I became a Christian 35 years ago, it’s been my desire and my passion to serve God. I have served in missions, I was one of the assistants in the office [at our previous church]. I mean, you name it, I’ve done it all. Right now, I’m serving in the benevolence ministry distributing food. I make the bulletin in my church [First Sunnyvale Español]. I’m also currently working with our missions committee. I’m working with the cell group leaders. I’m working with the greeters committee. I’m involved in everything I can be.
There’s not one day that I have asked the Lord, “Why?” Now, I’m looking for other ways to encourage people who have gone through something similar, through amputations, people who are giving up. This is just physical. That’s what I always tell them. From the spiritual point of view, your body is just physical—it’s going to pass. Just the joy to have the Lord, and for the Lord to bless me and to use me, that’s more than enough for me.