Tuesday, March 31, 2009

While my experience left me scarred in more ways than one, it has also taught me some valuable lessons that I’d like to share with everyone.

1. Ignorance is not bliss. When I had double vision of my right eye in 1999 and my OB/GYN at that time asked me to go see a neurologist, I did not heed her advice. I was ignorant of the fact that my hormonal imbalance that was being treated with contraceptives and that caused me to have double vision of my right eye had something to do with the brain, particularly the pituitary gland. Had I went to a neurologist then, my pituitary tumor could have been detected early, shrunk with medication, and I would not have to undergo surgery. In short, I have been suffering the consequences of my ignorance that I have no power now to undo. My ignorance could have caused me my life.

2. My family is my greatest source of strength and support. We can never really be prepared for tragedies, such as what happened to me. It pained me to see my parents, my father especially, distraught over what I was going through. I had to show them I was okay, that things were going to be okay. It was that thought that kept me going. I also didn’t want to be a burden to anyone, so I had to try my hardest to live a normal life again.

3. Things happen for a reason. We might not be able to fathom why unfortunate things happen to us. But there is definitely a reason for all of these, and in time, those reasons will be revealed. I used to cry a lot after my surgery because I thought that was the end for me. But God has other plans. Like a child just learning to walk, He lifted me up and led me to where he wanted me to be, which is here, with my husband and my son. I am lucky to have been given a second lease on life, and I meant to enjoy every minute of it.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

It took a few months before I learned the art of head scanning techniques so I won’t bump into things when I travel on my own. Eight months after I was discharged, I was already doing home-based transcription work for a colleague. By January 2005, full-time work found me again. I was recommended by a former supervisor to her former boss to head the Medical Transcription Department of a newly formed company. I readily accepted the offer because I was going to work with friends and former officemates and I was raring to gain some sense of normalcy in my life. By April 2007, I was asked by another former colleague to head his BPO company of online writing tutors, the job I’m still doing to this day.

I got pregnant in October 2005. This was rather unexpected as I have not been able to conceive in the nine years that my husband and I have been married. I later found out that this, too, had something to do with the removal of the tumor. The tumor suppressed my fertility, so to speak. Because of my pregnancy, I had to stop the medication I was taking for the tumor for nine months. This caused the tumor to grow in size again (2.2 x 2.2 x 1.6 cm).

This was when I decided I needed help from above. My husband accompanied me to the Mother Ignacia Healing Ministry in Novaliches, Quezon City to seek Sister Raquel Reodica, a renowned cancer healer. I think we went there twice or thrice, and I was privileged to have been touched by Sister Raquel a few days before my next MRI was due. True enough, my tumor was reduced to half its original size when my MRI results were handed to me. The size of the tumor was now down to (1.0 x 0.9 x 1.0 cm.)

On January 31, 2008, my 36th birthday, Father Fernando Suarez happened to be officiating a mass and conducting a healing session beside the Mandaluyong City Hall, a few blocks away from my office. I stayed for the duration of the mass and participated in the general healing. At that time, I believed with all my heart that I was healed. And God was really good! My MRI results for that year revealed an empty sella turcica, meaning, there was no more tumor in my pituitary gland. This was my biggest miracle!

My MRI for 2009, however, revealed a small growth in my sella turcica again. Up until December 2007, my prolactin results were normal. Only when my medication was reduced to ½ tablet 4x a day did my prolactin level go up again. My endocrinologist and neurosurgeon told me not to worry as my medication can suppress a tumor this size. I’m looking forward to another miracle.

To be continued…

Friday, March 27, 2009

mommy moments

April 2008 was Justin’s first summer outing. It was my husband’s annual company summer outing, and last year it was held at the Club Balai Isabel Resort in Talisay, Batangas.

Justin actually enjoyed playing in the water, but he was afraid of dipping himself into the water even if his daddy assured him it’s okay. The rooms we occupied were located in the villa where the owner of the resort resides. That villa has its own swimming pool aside from the resort’s main pool, so we actually had that pool all to ourselves.

While we hoped to make Justin’s first summer outing fun and exciting, it turned out to be traumatic for him (See my post “Justin’s First Summer Outing"). He also contracted fever due to throat and ear infections most probably from the water in the pool that had gotten into both his ears.

We’re hoping Justin will have a much nicer experience this year.

If you like to join Mommy Moments, please visit Chris' The Mommy Journey.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

My blood sugar level shot up because of postoperative stress. Aside from my finger getting pricked every day, I was also being given insulin shots before breakfast and before supper for the first few months postdischarge. I also had to go on a strict diet, and this means cutting down my rice intake, which I found most difficult to do given that I’m a huge rice eater.

I have already resigned from my job prior to my surgery to give myself more time to recuperate. My vision gradually improved since the time I left the hospital. Unfortunately, my eyes would not be the way they used to be before the surgery. My left peripheral vision is affected, and my right eye has central residual vision. On top of that, my right eyeball now has a peculiar habit. The closer I look at an object, the farther to the right my right eyeball goes. This is because thepituitary tumor impinged upon my optic nerves.

A few months after the surgery, I was made to undergo MRI of the head again. As expected, there was still a small part of the tumor in my pituitary gland that was left after the operation. It was impossible for my neurosurgeon to remove everything as my internal carotid nerve, a delicate part of the brain, might get affected. So I took my medication again to shrink the remaining tumor, preventing it from releasing an excessive amount of prolactin.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

I woke up late that morning of January 18, 2004. It was a Saturday, and both my husband and I didn’t have work on Saturdays. I got off the bed to use the bathroom. When I opened our bedroom door, I noticed there was something terribly wrong with my right eye. I was having double vision again (Note: In 1999, I had double vision of my right eye, which I thought was just a result of the medication given by my OB/GYN at that time for the treatment of my hormonal imbalance. My right eyeball was actually moving to the left, and I couldn’t control it.

I woke up my husband, and we rushed to the emergency room of the Makati Medical Center. Physical tests, blood tests, and MRI of my head were done. My neurosurgeon, Dr. A., then told me that an operation was imperative. I had to undergo frontal craniotomy to remove my pituitary tumor. Prior to the operation, I had a chest x-ray and ECG to make sure I was fit for the procedure.

On January 23, 2004, I went under the knife for an operation that lasted for five hours. When I was being wheeled out of the operating room, my husband told me my eyes were wide open, but it seemed like I wasn’t seeing them (my husband, my sister, and my parents) because I had no reaction when I saw them. I could hear them talking to me, but I wasn’t seeing anything. My husband feared I had actually become blind.

I stayed for a total of 17 days in the hospital. Biopsy results for the tumor showed that it was benign. Initially, I could only see a silhouette of my neurosurgeon’s fingers. The only color I was seeing at that time was black. Later on, I could see the color of things, too, but I left the hospital with very limited vision.

To be continued...

Monday, March 23, 2009

At 2 years and 8 months old, Justin can already count from one to 30. He has a funny way of saying 30, though.

Justin: ...twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four, twenty-five, twenty-six, twenty-seven, twenty-eight, twenty-nine, twenty-ten.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

My best friend Remie and I held a joint birthday celebration with our closest friends at Banana Leaf at The Podium last night. Banana Leaf offers Malaysian and Thai cuisine.

We had two salads for appetizers. I found the Pomelo Salad Thai Style too sour and the Roast Chicken & Mango Salad too sweet.

The group was unanimous in saying that we should have ordered steamed rice instead of the Penang Fried Rice with Salted Fish & Chicken as it did not complement the viands we ordered. It actually overpowered the other dishes.

I liked the Stir-fried Chinese Kangkong with Sambal Sauce and the Squid Garlic.

However, I did not attempt eating the Stir-fried Crab with Spicy Golden Garlic because it’s too messy to eat. My husband said it tasted okay.

There was nothing extraordinary with the rest of what we ordered.


Oat Prawns

Malayan Chicken Curry with Potatoes

I did notice something, though. We weren’t served any sauces, dips or condiments for the the shrimp, squid and crab in our dinner table. That could have made our food more appetizing.

Oh, I loved my Thai iced tea, by the way. It’s definitely worth a try. Too bad, we weren’t able to take a picture of it.

Banana Leaf did well with their food presentation. Overall, though, I’d give them only a 2.5 rating out of 5. I was full but not completely satisfied.

Friday, March 20, 2009

mommy moments

Justin doesn’t have any brothers or sisters because he is an unico hijo (only son) and our only child. Every once in a while, though, he gets to see his cousins, children of my older sister Ate Cristy.

This photo was taken at our former studio apartment in Crossing, Mandaluyong after the celebration of Justin’s baptism in November 2006 at Pizza Hut Bistro, Robinsons Galleria. From left to right: Ate Ayie, Ate Hazel, Kuya Ron, Justin and Ate Tin-tin

This picture was taken last Christmas 2008 during our family get-together in my younger sister Meann’s place in Laguna Bel-Air. Ate Hazel and Kuya Ron teaching Justin how to play the PSP

If you want to join Mommy Moments, please visit Chris' The Mommy Journey.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

My doctor was right. My CT scan results showed a tumor in the sella turcica, that part of the brain where the pituitary gland is located. She said she wouldn’t know for sure if that’s what had actually caused the amenorrhea; it might or it might not be. But just the same, I had to consult a neurosurgeon asap. An MRI scan was soon to follow.

The MRI confirmed what we already knew. And they now had a term for it. The doctor who interpreted the results called it pituitary macroadenoma, a glandular tumor more than 10 mm in diameter, which is usually, but not always, benign.

We were getting prepared for the worst when the neurosurgeon told us to stop the medication earlier prescribed to reduce the tumor since I was asymptomatic in the first place. The doctor said the tumor was still too small to get a biopsy and we didn’t really know just yet what the tumor was doing or would do to my body, so there’s really no cause for alarm for now.

But the doctor said if I feel anything (e.g., changes in urine frequency, galactorrhea, etc.), then I’ll see him again. If none, I won’t have another MRI until after a year. The doctor would have to see if the mass gets bigger. We could only hope it doesn’t.

That means no medications for the tumor and no immediate operation (which I dreaded) for the time being!

To be continued…

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Undergoing an open-head surgery was the most fearful, saddest, and worst time of my life. I would rather forget the whole thing than look back, but I decided to write my experience with the hope of informing others who suffer from or know someone who is suffering from a medical condition known as pituitary adenoma. Since this story is quite long, I decided to recount the whole experience in several posts.

This part was actually written on March 15, 2003 when I learned I had a mass in my pituitary gland. It was a sad time for my husband and I as we head for stormy waters and our faith was tested.

The last two weeks had been a blur. Everything turned out unexpectedly. What was to be a simple follow-up checkup with my obstetrician/gynecologist (OB/GYN) had me going to a neurosurgeon’s clinic for a second opinion.

I have been suffering from amenorrhea (absence or suppression of normal menstrual flow). I have been under the care of three OB/GYN’s in the past, and my experiences with them left me traumatized. On separate occasions, the medications I took gave me palpitations and a severe case of allergic reaction. When I had double vision of my right eye, I told myself I have had enough. I never went to an OB/GYN again. Until now.

It has been four years since I had my last menstruation, and I had an urgent need to be normal again for fear that osteoporosis might set in anytime. And so I went to my fourth doctor who had me undergo a series of blood tests to find the culprit, to finally pinpoint the cause of my amenorrhea. I was negative for goiter but had low follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH) levels and staggering prolactin levels (300 times over than the normal value).

Generally, my doctor said, most women with excessive prolactin levels have pituitary tumors. Not that she suspected I had one, but just the same I had to have aCT scan of the head. So I did.

To be continued…

Monday, March 16, 2009

Yesterday at the mall, I chanced upon a former officemate whom I have not seen for quite a while.

Tetcha: Flor, do you remember me?

Flor: (Unresponsive at first)

Tetcha: Flor, it’s me, Tetcha.

Flor: Tetcha?

Tetcha: Yes, Tetcha.

Flor: I had a hard time recognizing you because you look different somehow.

Tetcha: Is it my right eye?

Flor: Yes.

Then I recounted to her the story of my craniotomy and its effect on my right eye particularly.

When I was reading my e-mail last night, a fellow blogger, Beth, whom I met online just recently was also asking how come I seem to have too many medical tests/procedures that I need to undergo. She’s been reading about these in my blog.

And so I thought I should be writing about my medical condition to inform and educate the readers and to share my own agonizing experience and my journey to healing and recovery. Please wait for these posts in the days to come.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Last night, while I was doing my usual Entrecard (EC) rounds, I noticed the message that appeared on the EC box is “Penalty.” I initially thought this has something to do with my slow Internet connection, so I tried dropping ECs again, but the same message appeared. When I returned to my Dashboard, there was a considerable reduction in my latest EC credits. Today, I attempted to drop ECs again, and the message is the same.
I went to Help section and here’s what Entrecard has to say on why I got a penalty when dropping cards.

According to this article, some ways to avoid getting penalties are as follows:
• Don't drop too quickly. Take the time to read the sites you drop on.
• Wait for the drop to go through before dropping on another site.
• Click the “Drop” text, not a blank area of the yellow bar.
• If you see “No such user”, the site has been deleted - don't try to drop on them again.
• If you see “Invalid”, try logging out and logging back in again. Don't refresh the page after logging in or it may re-send the drop. Bookmark the site first then go back to it using the bookmark.

Additionally, they said, “If you get a penalty, please contact us by logging a support ticket and explain how you were dropping cards. Don't just keep on dropping.”

What I don’t understand is why I get penalized when there is nothing different or unusual in the way I dropped my ECs. I’ve been doing the same thing since the day I joined Entrecard. I e-mailed Entrecard already because as of today, I only have 10 EC credits out of almost 500 points last night.

Saturday, March 14, 2009


Thank you, Chris and Levy, for this award. I appreciate the thought.

Here are the rules:
1. Put the logo on your blog or post.
2. Nominate at least 10 blogs which show great Attitude and/or Gratitude!
3. Be sure to link to your nominees within your post.
4. Let them know that they have received this award by commenting on their blog.
5. Share the love and link to this post and to the person from whom you received your award.

I’m passing this award on to: Evan’s Mom, Cecile, Melanie, Jinky, Jes, Shy, Phoebe, Wenchie, Melody and Gracie.


Thanks, Laine, for thinking of me.

Name 7 things that you love then pass this on to 7 other bloggers
1. God
2. My parents and siblings (and their children)
3. My husband
4. My son
5. My friends
6. Blogging
7. Singing

Now I want to pass this on to: Sassy Mom, Rachel and Renz.

Friday, March 13, 2009

mommy moments

Here are some of my son’s nap time /sleeping time captured in photos.

The first two pictures were taken two days apart when Justin was about a month old.

The last picture was taken when Justin was 1 year and 7 months old.

We have a ritual before Justin sleeps at night. I sing to him a song that I have been singing to put him to sleep since he was a tiny tot. It’s called “Drip Drop.” It was one of the songs in the CD Bless My Little Boy. We have both memorized it by this time, and the two of us sing this lullaby together. Here are the lyrics of this cradlesong:

Drip drop, drip drop

Up on the housetop

Pitter, patter, pitter patter

On the windowpane

Tap, tap, tap

Fall asleep on my lap

As we rock to the rhythm

Of the falling rain

So when you hear the sound

Of raindrops falling down

Tapping on the windowpane

Nothing is the matter

It’s just the pitter patter

Of the gentle falling rain.

If you want to join Mommy Moments, please visit Chris' The Mommy Journey.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

I had my annual MRI of the brain done last Monday at Makati Medical Center. After undergoing the same procedure yearly after my 2004 craniotomy, you would think doing it will just be a breeze for me. On the contrary, I’ve become even more afraid of anything that has to do with hospitals, MRI included. What is it with MRI, anyways, that gives me the creeps?

First, I need to have an intravenous line inserted in my right arm for administering the gadolinium contrast. The truth is I’m afraid of needles. I find getting pricked too painful. The first insertion on top of my right hand was unsuccessful because the vein ruptured instantly. Ergo, I went home with a painful bulge in that area. I had another insertion in my right arm instead, that part opposite my elbow, where a few days ago, another needle was inserted for my prolactin test.

Second, the procedure takes so long to finish. Before, it used to last for 45 minutes only. This time around, it lasted for more than an hour. There are so many new protocols being implemented that were not previously done. Two hours prior to the procedure, you should not eat or drink, for example, to prevent vomiting when the patient receives the gadolinium contrast. Also, aside from removing all jewelries, eyeglasses, dentures, you now have to take off your belt and your bra, too, or just about everything with metal in it because they can either be damaged or they can interfere with the magnetic field of the MRI machine. Third, you can’t make large/major movements, or else you will have to repeat the entire procedure.

Third, I really don’t know if I’m claustrophobic because I haven’t really tried opening my eyes and staring into the very narrow space between my head and the machine. Just thinking about it makes me want to back out of the procedure altogether. Actually, there were times during the procedure that fear or nervousness got the better of me. My mouth quivered three times.

Finally, the most interesting (annoying to some) are the sounds the MRI scanner makes. These vary from tapping to thumping to whirring to drilling sounds and with different volume levels. This is why ear plugs are also provided during the procedure.

So there. Now you know why I don’t like undergoing MRI.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

I received this BAG/PURSE tag from Melanie of Life in Bellevue. The truth is I’m more of a bag person than a purse person. In fact, I never leave house without my handbag. Nope, I don’t go for the big ones. I actually like the smaller ones, and I like them with lots of pockets inside and out.

Here are the rules:
1. Post a picture of whatever bag you are carrying as of late. No, you can't go into your closet and pull out your favorite purse! We want to know what you carried today or the last time you left the house.
2. List how much it cost. And this is not to judge. This is for entertainment purposes only. So spill it. And if there is a story to go along with how you obtained it, we’d love to hear it.
3. Tag some chicks. And link back to this post so people know why the heck you’re showing everyone your bag.

This bag is more or less two years old. I bought it at Marithe Francois Girbaud for a little over Php1,000.00 because the bag that I was using at that time was already screaming for a replacement. Those stylish front pockets hold my office keys and coin purse. It also has a compartment, for lack of a better term, at the back that houses my pens, comb and mini-rosary. There is a small pouch inside for my cell phone and another that carries my IDs, credit cards and ATM cards. Inside this bag, you will also find a makeup kit, a planner, a wallet and a small notebook. I don’t really switch bags too often (I don’t have too many bags in the first place) because I hate the idea of always having to transfer things from one bag to the other and deciding what to put in the new bag and what to leave in the old one. For me, it’s just a total waste of time. So there, that’s my love story with this bag. Oh, if I may add, I still love this bag, that’s why I’m still using it.

I’m really excited to see what bag/purse Renz, Melody, Ness and Pehpot are currently using. I hope you have as much fun with this tag as I did.

Friday, March 6, 2009

mommy moments

When Justin was just a baby (he still is, but he looks big for his age that I keep forgetting he’s still a baby) and even up to now, bathing my son is a task that I don’t delegate to his yaya (nanny), although in his first few months I would be asking his yaya for help.

When I went back to work after my maternity leave, I remember having to wake my son up early to give him his morning bath. He actually took his bath at 6am on weekdays.

I also never bothered buying my son a baby bath tub. Kids grow so fast, and I figured he would soon outgrow it, so it’s really just a waste of money. I made do with what’s in our bathroom, our ever reliable pail (“balde”) and wash basin (“batya”). Bath time isn’t complete without the water dipper, too (“tabo”).

This picture was taken a few days before Justin's first birthday

And here's a recent picture of Justin while taking a bath

Justin enjoys taking his bath, although lately, it would take a while to make him go to the bathroom because he doesn’t want his play interrupted. But once he immerses himself in the water, there’s no stopping him from turning the faucet on and off, pretending to wash clothes by constantly wringing his washcloth after dipping it into the water, or slathering the water dipper with soap.

If you want to join Mommy Moments, please visit Chris' The Mommy Journey.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Finally, I had my prolactin test done today. I was supposed to have it done last Saturday, and I even requested my father to come over because I’m still not confident leaving my little boy alone with his new yaya (nanny). It was all for naught, however, as I wasn’t able to sleep the whole night of Friday.

You see, there is a certain preparation you need to do for this particular blood test. You need to have this test done 3 to 4 hours after waking up. That sounds pretty easy, you might say, but not for me.

Take the case of last Saturday. I didn’t sleep at all the entire previous night, so how was I supposed to count the number of hours needed for this test?

You also need to consider the small naps you take after your previous night’s sleep as the number of hours you need to count will start after the latest nap you took. Good if you’ll always remember, but busy moms like me have tons of things to think about.

I also have to consider my work. I need to be back home by a certain hour because I have a fixed shift that I need to follow. Otherwise, I’ll be making up for lost work on a weekend, which I hate doing.

All things considered, having to undergo prolactin testing is quite stressful for me. Good thing, I only need to have this test done every three months unlike before when I had to do it every month. I just hope the test bears good results.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Shy of Simple Happy Life gave me this wonderful award. Thanks, Shy. It sure is nice to be friends with you.

These blogs are exceedingly charming. These kind bloggers aim to find and be friends. They are not interested in self-aggrandizement. Our hope is that when the ribbons of these prizes are cut, even more friendships are propagated. Please give more attention to these writers. Deliver this award to eight bloggers who must choose eight more and include this cleverly-written text into the body of their award.

I would like to share this award and be friends with these amazing bloggers:

Rachel, Ibyang, Juliana, Chris, Enchie, Laine, Niko and Elizabeth

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Hubby and I watched different movies at the same time yesterday. He watched Valkyrie (starring Tom Cruise), and I went for You Changed My Life (starring John Lloyd and Sarah Geronimo).

I was excited to watch this film because this is the sequel to the blockbuster movie A Very Special Love, which hubby and I enjoyed watching last year. I still smile when I think about the Sun Dance that Laida Magtalas (played by Sarah) taught Miggy Montenegro (played by Lloyd) how to perform. That was one of the funniest scenes in that movie.

I wanted to watch this movie to see if it surpasses the “kilig” moments between Laida and Miggy and the funny antics in A Very Special Love. The movie house was almost full, but I still managed to find a good seat. Mind you, even if I never had a good sleep the previous night, I finished the film with my eyes wide open. And yes, I did laugh a lot, too.

There are some lines in the film worth remembering. Also, I think Sarah is a natural comedienne and Lloyd, of course, is a great actor, and they really look good together on screen. They simply clicked. Laida has a new gimmick in this sequel, too, which is known as the Power Hug. That’s as much as I can tell. Go see for yourself what the movie has to offer.
My sincerest thanks to my Top 10 Entrecard droppers for February.

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