. . . I knew something was wrong for months. When my dog Sumo died last year, I was quite a wreck. I allowed myself to grieve and move on with my life but somehow, in some dramatic fashion, something in me went pffft. Like a faulty light switch . . . My throat started to swell again. It did twice before but my body was able to allow it to subside then. This time it did not.
I prayed to be given the right time.
And that time was two weeks ago.
I called my cousin, Dr. Mike, and told him my throat is bothering me.
And Dr. Mike said:
"What are you waiting for? See me right away!"
There are so many reasons not to go.
And yet there are so many reasons to go.
So I met Dr. Mike last Tuesday July 30
and without batting an eyelash
he ordered the battery of tests:
12L ECG Chest, T3, T4, TSH, Calcium, CBC, Bun, Creatinine . . .
terms that my confused brain could not process anymore.
In two days, Dr. Mike scheduled another meeting
to time with my "off days" from work to get my lab results
and that's when Dr. Mike ordered immediate operation.
He immediately signed an Admitting Order for the hospital
and left the note and the decision
literally in my hands . . .
So I told my sisters Luchie and Loyd
who were pretty clueless and shocked.
I told my senior dog Sweepy:
. . . but Sweepy can not understand . . .
I told the pup Babur . . .
. . . but Babur has more questions that I can not answer.
How can I when I can not answer the questions
swirling in my mind myself!
I told the people at work and tried to finish pending tasks:
project proposals, workshop study, merchandise printing,
and even completed a map artwork to be sewn by other staff.
I tried to make myself ready.
Well, I thought I did.
So by Sunday, August 4,
I was at the hospital with my sister Loyd:
I stayed in the private ward of a government hospital
lugging my pillows and comforter and backpack.
Dr. Mike said 3-day-stay and I wanted to believe him.
But things are not to happen according to plan.
I had my operation on Monday, August 5
four hours before my scheduled time.
I was put on food and water fast from midnight until operation time
so I should be hungry and moody but I was able to temper it.
I was in the operating room from 11 AM to 6PM
way past the expected 2 hours!
I was sent back to my room past 8 PM
and with no orders to break my fast!
My stomach was growling but I held on.
The doctors checked on my wounds within the hour
and finally gave me the go signal to break the fast.
Ahhhh, what a relief to eat and drink . . .
I was told later that in the middle of my operation,
my doctor had to call my sister Loyd
to get consent to proceed with the operation
at the risk of losing my voice!
The mass in my neck had to be removed
and it might affect my voice.
I was also warned before the operation
about the effects of anaesthesia
but I had none: no pain, no major dramas . . .
The hospital food looked OK
but these are mostly eaten by my sister Loyd.
I craved for arroz caldo (hot porridge)
and Loyd got me one.
Thank God for having a companion like Loyd.
In the Philippines, patients are required to have "bantay"
(a companion to assist the patient and run errands ;-)
and Loyd was my runner to get my food
buy me stuff, etc.
I tried to do some creative work too . . .
. . . and actually edited several logos,
made several designs and illustrations
but with no WIFI, I can not send to the printers ;-(
But the other heartwarming surprises
are the team of doctors and hospital staff
who helped made my stay comfortable:
my surgeon Dr. Antonio Perez (recommended by Dr. Mike)
and his wife Dra. Perez, my anaesthesiologist.
The resident doctors and duty nurses
who regularly checked on me at all hours,
cleaned my wounds,
checked my BPs and temperature,
shampooed my hair,
changed my sheets,
indulged my quirkiness
and offered me a very pleasant hospital experience
that I shall never forget . . .
To friends who offered support and prayers:
Agnes, Atong, Cesare, Jean Marie, and the Syjuco brood,
Vince, Bambi and CK, Denise, Elle, Meg, Ellen, Jenny, Joji, Rissa,
my brother Jojo and his family, my brother Joey, Luchie, Teddy,
Lisa, Elna, Denise, Pat, Wyatt and the OP Pack, Gigi, Ricky,
Norma, Silvana, Chichi, Clairelynn, Fr. Thom, the nuns,
all the artists and cultural workers who prayed for me
and those who texted (I had to delete wonderful barrage of messages
or I will risk phone breakdown ;-) or not receive incoming ones!)
and the many friends I met and shared the room with
their inspiring stories of fear, faith, love and familial bond and support
and the laughter and friendship we shared . . .
I am sorry if I can not write all of your names (blame my foggy brain) but
I THANK YOU ALL FROM THE BOTTOM OF MY HEART!
I got discharged August 8, Thursday,
with a neat wound which I am now painstakingly
learning how to clean, medicines I must powderize
since I do not know how to swallow meds. Sigh.
I thank God for giving me the right time
(Ha, I beat the "Oh Ghost" month and the mercury retrograde period!)
the right people to make all these wonderful surprises
and the magic of having a pain-free major operation:
a gift that I will treasure for life.
To my cousin and attending physician, Dr. Michael Tee,
you will forever be a hero in my book!
Now I hope that the mass they took from my neck and arms
are not bothersome and that I will find the means
to battle them again . . .
And I am rushing my art boxes for Alessa's Statio Swap
which I will miss on Saturday.
I promised to send them to everyone by next week ;-)
I hope to be back at work Monday.
My calendar is full.
Life is full.
I am totally broke
but not broken ;-)
For now, I hug my Sweepy . . .
who tells me it is OK to cry silly
and sing mushy tunes about tattoos . . .
and to tell him that I will never ever leave him again . . .
And to all of you who waited with bated breath
I am back!
And I thank you all for keeping faith with me
and sharing in my miracles of faith and love.
I wish you all the same generosity and courage
and yes, I still have my voice . . . .
"no more talk of darkness
forget this wide-eyed fears
nothing can harm you
my words will warm and calm you."
- Andrew Lloyd Webber, Charles Hart & Richard Stilgoe
from the Phantom of the Opera's That's All I Ask of You