Monday, September 10, 2007

Nanay recently suffered a mild stroke that left half her body limp. That happened a few days after I dreamt about her. In my dream, I had this terrible, poignant urge to hug her really tight, and I cried as I embraced her. I woke up wondering what that meant, not knowing that it was a foreboding of an unexpected family ordeal.

Of course, Nanay had to be hospitalized. Of course, she had to be rehabilitated. And of course, she had to be up on her feet in no time. Because in wasn’t in her nature to be helpless and hopeless. If you know her well enough, you’d never expect something like this could happen to her.

Nanay is a bouncy, dynamic, seemingly tireless woman. You cannot confine her to one place. She goes where her feet will take her, be it to the mall to try her luck in Bingo games or a few blocks away from their house to play “tong-its” with neighbors or in the wet market to check what wonders she can make with the tiny budget in her purse. Mind you, she still manages to bring home a special treat for the family. Call that “exemplary bargaining.” As of this writing, she can now stand and do some stuff on her own. She can even go to the nearby sari-sari store. That’s her. That’s my Nanay all right, already on the move, up and about in no time, ready for yet another adventure.

Nanay is the fortress of the family. She is our rock. She’s a survivor, and she’s a fighter. You cannot crush her spirit. Even when times are hard, she never gives up. She always comes to the family’s rescue when money is scarce. Her cunning salesmanship finds her vending banana cue, turon, lumpia, bopis, even Tatay’s harvests in his tiny plot just to put food on the table. Indeed, she is the life and soul of our family. I guess being a mother has a lot to do with that. When you know that other people are dependent on you for dear life and support, you have no choice but to be strong for them.

Nanay is our life-giver. Without her, none of us, her children, would have seen the light of day. Her birthing pains did not stop when we were all born. They continue to this day. But don’t get us wrong. We’re not problem kids. It’s the usual growing up phase most teenagers go through. We became involved in our own small worlds. Nanay felt alienated. We became closer to Tatay. Nanay felt less loved. We hated her smoking and her little “vices,” and we never hid that fact. Nanay started lying about them. The more we got infuriated. And the more distant we became. Until this tragedy happened.

Day 1 at the hospital. I called Nanay. She had difficulty speaking, and she was crying. Prior to that day, she didn’t want to be confined. The medical bills would be too much of a burden for her children. But she had no choice. I talked to her as calmly as I could, told her things would be fine, that she would get well, and not to think about where to get the resources for her hospitalization. Then I called my sister and relayed what just took place, and I was crying. And we were both crying over the phone.

It has been more than a month since then. Nanay is still recuperating and attending therapy sessions. Her recent blood tests were not very encouraging, but we’re not giving up. Nobody’s giving up on this fight, not us, and definitely not Nanay. We, her children, are willing to sweat it out just to see her standing tall again. That’s how much we love her. And we’re sorry she never really felt we did because we never cared to show. At least, we have this chance to make it up to her. And hopefully, she’ll see that we only have her best intentions in mind.
My son Justin turned one year old last July 7. We had a Treasure Island-inspired Jollibee birthday party set up for him, complete with party hats and balloons. It was supposed to be a children’s party, but the adults had a grand time participating in the games too! I sure had. A total of 72 well-wishers came, a few heads short than what we expected. It was nice seeing friends, former classmates, and former officemates in one happy gathering.

There was Jong Tuma-ob, our former HR supervisor at Quorum who is now H.R. Manager of Hospira Philippines; Cathy Diaz, our former Archive Supervisor at Quorum who is now wife to a very handsome French gentleman, Thierry (sorry, Kat, we failed to make it to your wedding); Jing Gapit, my first supervisor at Quorum and a close family friend to this day; Joel Bohol, my former apprentice at Quorum who is inches away from becoming a certified nurse; Resty and Ramil, former AITI officemates and godfathers to my son; Donna (and family), Ed’s former officemate and his son Liam is Ed’s godson; ADB friends (Ms. Virgie, Mona, Cecille, Guia, Sheila, Roden); Des, Ed’s former officemate at Asec, with son Joseph; Yin and There, former classmates at U.S.T. and dear dear friends; Olive and Charm, my kumares, with their respective families; former AITI officemates: Jeff and family, Badong and family, Carlo and Nelson. Who else did I miss?

Of course, Justin’s Lolo Tatay and Lola Nanay and his aunts, uncles, and another Lola, Auntie Mameng, were there to give moral support too. Ate Tin-Tin and Ate Ayie could not make it that day because of school. It would have been more fun if they were around.

I thank all of these wonderful people for gracing Justin’s first birthday. I look forward to seeing all of them again on my son’s next, err…7th birthday. For sure, that will be a blast!

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

My usual waking hours these days is anything from 5:30am to 6:00am. My son, Justin, actually dictates that schedule. He wakes up early, you know, and he wants to play early too. So someone has to get up. Unfortunately, that someone has to be me. While mother and son both tickle and giggle, Manang, our house companion, is busy preparing the day’s meals. From 6:30am onwards, all four of us in the house (Ed, Me, Manang, and Justin) take turns taking a bath, having our breakfast, and preparing everything else before Ed and I leave for work.

So my typical weekday morning routine is getting up with Justin; playing with Justin; giving Justin to Manang for feeding; taking my shower; having my breakfast; getting Justin from Manang; cleaning Justin’s tongue and teeth; giving Justin a bath; cleaning Justin’s nose, ears, and navel; giving Justin his daily dose of vitamins; preparing Justin’s bottles for the day; and finally, fixing myself and getting dressed for work. This has been my usual morning grind ever since my baby Justin came, and that has been like 14 months ago. My whole world now revolves around him and rightfully so.

We waited 10 long years to have him. It took a major surgery before I was finally able to conceive. I was diagnosed in 2003 with pituitary macroadenoma, a prolactin-secreting tumor in my pituitary gland. It’s also called "prolactinoma," which means "prolactin-secreting tumor." By the time it was discovered, it already grew in size (hence, the terms “macro,” meaning “big” and “adenoma,” meaning “tumor.”) and could no longer be reduced by medications. In 2004, I went under the knife, and that was quite an “adventure,” a frightening one, that is.

Prior to my operation, I was found to have an infantile uterus, and my ovaries could not be visualized via ultrasound. I was also not menstruating for four years, from 1999 to 2003. Six months after operation, my ultrasound results showed a normal-sized uterus and healthy ovaries. I conceived, finally, in October 2006 and gave birth via caesarian section to a 5.6-lb bouncing and crying baby boy.

And that was how Justin came to be, our miracle baby.
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