“If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?” — Percy Bysshe Shelley, Ode to the West Wind
It has been almost four months since the last time I have written something on my blog. A lot of factors definitely contributed to the sudden drop of entries leading up to the last one — it could be the sudden loss of interest, or the overwhelming number of topics I had been keeping tab on — but a very serious incident almost pushed me to the edge and I have been meaning to get back on my feet and write again. But where do I start?
Two weeks ago, Mon gave a “Le Petit Prince” notebook. I never got the chance to buy a planner like I yearly do, since I got hospitalized for several weeks by mid-December (more on that later). And with everything that has been going on after I got discharged, I was lost on where to even begin. I’ve been struggling to get organized and I appreciated more the habit of writing things down on my planner. I eventually went to look for one last February but National Bookstore had already pulled out the usual planners that I buy. I took a look again at the Little Prince notebook and noticed that it had a couple of pages with little boxes for the calendar. Too bad that it has no label for months and dates, and I even had to write every number down from January 1 to December 31. It was a good throwback to my last year in undergrad, when I just used a tickler notebook to get organized and jumbled the most tasks I had just to finish my degree. Google also reminded me that today is the first day of spring (astronomically speaking) and I could not have picked a better day to breathe new life on my page. (We don’t have spring here, but hey, I needed a jumpstart!)
During the Christmas rush of shopping and making sure that every people I care about has been covered, I noticed that I started to have difficulty in breathing. For several days, it became a chore just to get up and walk for dinner, and I was literally gasping for air with each step. That same weekend when I went home to Marikina, I have spent the two days lying down and feeling extremely ill. A check-up the day after, I found myself staying in the hospital than going home because my condition was getting worse by the minute. To make things more simple, both of my lungs were beginning to fail.
At first, I thought that I would be staying for just few days in the hospital. But a day before Christmas eve, I had resigned to the fact that I might be spending Christmas in the hospital. Listening to my body, I knew that I wasn’t getting better, with my oxygen saturation hanging around 75% to 85%. Since my father got home for vacation last September (which I haven’t even written about, pffft), I imagined a joyous Christmas celebration at home, with the kids running around. However, given my situation, we had no choice but to wait for the 25th on my hospital bed. With the oxygen mask firmly placed on my face, I struggled to stay awake because I was so use to staying late and eating to my heart’s content during Noche Buena. They had to eventually leave at around 2:00 AM because I really needed to get some rest.
But it did not stop there. My oxygen saturation got lower and lower each day, and by the 29th of December, my pulmonologist decided that it was best to rush me to the ICU. I can still vividly remember the last moments that I was conscious as the doctors, nurses and Mama prepped me for transport to the ICU. Once I started to lose consciousness, all I heard were mumbling voices and saw a white-washed environment with indistinct silhouette of people around me. I had the last fleeting sensation of a catheter being placed in me. The moment I woke up, I was in an unfamiliar place with tubes in my mouth, cables on my arms and chest and a continuous beeping sound next to me. It was a scary moment, and I had images of that Alien movie with humans being transported for food on their spacecraft. I eventually got myself together but those days that I have spent in the ICU were not the most pleasant, but they were definitely needed. I had hallucinations of Mon massaging my legs, JB standing by my side, the people I wish I could talk to and make amends, as well as my cat, Miso, dancing on top of a cupboard (which sent the machines around me beeping some more because it was making me laugh!). I have never craved for C2 Peach that hard, nor savored every oral cleaning for that taste of Bactidol (I was fed through a tube).
It was a test of patience, and I had a renewed connection with my faith. I have never prayed that hard in my life, and was always grateful for every visitor who would come to see me (translation: I cried a lot, especially over friends and loved ones I never expected to be breaking down around me). I barely talked and had to master the art of pantomime, especially when asking the nurses to turn the aircon up as I was feeling extremely hot. It was a moment of reflection. I remember not contemplating over what has already happened with my life, but over what will I do once I get out of the hospital. It motivated me more and gave me more reason to live. Of course, I’ve spent New Year inside the ICU, and I remember asking the doctor and nurse in charge to allow my mother beside me before the clock strikes 12. I said a little prayer and asked for another chance at life.
Once I got out of the ICU to my room, the following days were not easy as well. I was still fed through a tube for a couple of days, and I remember being envious of anyone eating or drinking properly on TV commercials. I was doing better but far from A-okay. It was a difficult time for me, Mon and my family. However, I am extremely grateful that I have Mama as my mother. She was literally my lifeline. (Shoutout to my wonderful friend Jannet, and my sister’s officemate Jay for donating blood that time my hemoglobin went down). She was a retired nurse and had significant bedside nursing experience. On the first days that I had been progressively losing oxygen, she was the one who eventually observed my purple fingernails. When the head ICU nurse was too busy tutting over my eventual demise while I was being prepped for the ICU, Mama was the one who jumped on the CPAP machine to deliver air and raise my oxygen level. I did not know about that last one, not until I was doing better days after. Had she not acted quickly, I could not have been here typing this lengthy post.
Fast forward to my recovery period, I still have lots of things to take care of. It was not easy because I constantly find myself jumping from one thing to another. The responsibilities and obligations are honestly overwhelming. I needed to focus, but still learned to appreciate everything around me. In fact, I became more appreciative of my second life each time I pause and catch myself almost doing the same things I used to do before. I might not be at my optimal self, but I am getting there. I’m working hard to be there again.
It was a sad day to see Papa go out of the country again, but I just tell myself that it won’t be too long and it’s already December:
But I was happy to be celebrating monthsaries with Mon again, given that our January celebration was a mere visit on the ICU. He knew I hated flowers, but came up with something ingenious because it was edible:
Catch up with my close pep friends, chat with other pep alumni and also meet new faces as well, who I never got the chance to dance with:
Photo from Coach’s FB page
And I even got to visit our apartment and was delighted to see that it was still Christmas there:
I have a long road ahead of me, and I am thankful that I still have another chance to trek it. The whole experience has taught me the importance of family, love, friendship, forgiveness, humility, courage, patience and faith. Indeed, as what the Little Prince said “What is essential is invisible to the eye”. It is the first day of spring and I am happy that that winter has finally passed — and I am happy to be still alive. =) I know that there’ll be more winters ahead, but this renewed connection with family and friends will help me weather the days ahead. I might have lost around 35 pounds upon discharge, but I have gained a lot from this experience. Over the weeks that I’m recuperating, I have also gained 10 more pounds and I could not be more thankful about it. Imagine months ago, I was whining over feeling a bit heavy. Who knew that it could have saved me from the weeks of getting sick! Be always careful of what you wish for. On a lighter note, I am also happy that I’m finally able to make this post after a long time! I have been continuously receiving e-mails from readers asking about Mulberry serial numbers, UPD graduate school admission procedures, tips in getting around Seoul and even leathercraft suppliers in Marikina! So cheers to life! And cheers to future posts!