32 days.

6:15 am – Angel’s school bus comes to pick her up. We leave the house a few minutes later. For a couple of weeks after school had started, I’d been driving myself to school, which is just a few minutes away from home. But I don’t get to keep the car with me, so my dad accompanies me, and passes by the columbarium to light a candle for my grandma before heading home. I get to school earlier than everyone else, I’m usually the first one there. That was our routine.

July 1st 2010.

I got into the driver’s seat, adjusted it, and checked the rear view mirror. I even made sure I released the hand brake before moving the gear shift to drive. I backed up the car with not much effort as the last time. I even remembered to turn on the signal light as I went out of our cul-de-sac.

I remember telling dad about the “flood” in one of the streets the other day when it rained really hard. He even replied that it also happened a couple of days before when he and Angel came to pick me up from school ’cause it was raining hard.

There was a sunken manhole in the street. They’ve cemented and asphalted the street way too many times that it was obviously higher than normal. Everyday, I drove over the manhole. But today I thought I’d try to avoid it. That’s when everything went wrong.

I tried to avoid the manhole by going right. Then I felt the car shudder, as if on a really bumpy road (which I later learned was because I hit the gravel on the right shoulder). I panicked and swerved to the left. I don’t know what happened next. I must’ve closed my eyes or something ’cause the next thing I knew there was blood all over me, the car was flattened against a truck and my dad was unconscious in his seat. That’s when I started screaming for help, not for myself but for my dad.

The people started gathering around. The truck driver had gone down and called a tricycle. I looked down and saw my leg looking like jelly. There was a lot of blood and I was crying, begging them to stop staring and help my dad. The driver went over to my side and carried me to the tricycle, I remember telling them to get my dad. I didn’t care that I had a broken leg, and that I was bleeding all over, I just wanted my dad to be ok. I remember telling him to wake up, saying sorry and crying “daddy” all the same time. The truck driver and the tricycle driver carried my dad to the tricycle and drove us to the ER of Antipolo Doctor’s Hospital.

In the ER, the nurses were asking too many questions and I tried my best to answer them calmly, asking how my dad was after every answer I gave them. I remember the mom of one of my students came out from the door behind me and saw me lying there. She was the one who called home and called the school to tell them what happened. I was in too much of a panic about my dad being unconscious that I didn’t even notice they had injected pain relievers, anti-tetanus and the thing for the dextrose in my arm. The truck driver asked if I needed anything from the car, I asked him to get my bag ’cause my phone and wallet were there and I needed to call my mom. Dad’s phone, as we found out later, was picked up by one of the bystanders. The minute I got my bag, I got my phone and dialled my mom’s number. I remember trying to be calm as I told her that dad and I were in an accident. She asked how we were doing and I told her we were in the hospital, then started crying. She said she was on her wa

Our principal, T.Ybeth and one of my co-teachers, T.JC, arrived shortly after a few minutes. The minute I saw them I started crying and asking how my dad was. They said he was fine, but still unconscious. JC held my hand while we waited for my mom. My dad’s friend, Tito Bitoy, came and started talking with the doctors and nurses.

Less than an hour later my mom arrived. She of course went to see my dad first. When I saw her approaching me, I started crying again and kept saying “sorry” over and over. She said the same thing that everyone had been telling me “it was an accident, it’s not your fault”.

I was told that we were going to be moved to another hospital, Marikina Valley Medical Center. We just had to wait for the ambulance. While waiting T.Ybeth and JC and I were talking about what I was supposed to do in class that day. I didn’t notice what time it was anymore, I don’t even remember what time they left. I remember T. Ybeth asking me if I had ever ridden an ambulance before. I said no, and she said I now had several stories to tell the kids when I got back.

It took a while for the ambulance to arrive. I think it was around 10am already, or past that. I remember the EMT’s were discussing how they would bring me in, since I couldn’t move my leg and I’d cry in pain every time they touched it. In the end they pulled me onto a stretcher and placed me on one side, while they pulled my dad in. My dad was conscious then. He looked at me and asked if I was ok. I started crying as I said yes. Dad took my hand and told me it was ok, it was an accident and it was not my fault. He told me to try to get some sleep, but I couldn’t. I was fully awake when we arrived at the ER of MVMC.

They wheeled out my dad first. Mom came over and asked if I was ok. Then they wheeled me out and transferred me to one of the ER beds. The nurses started asking all these questions. All I wanted to do was cry because my leg was in pain. A nurse arrived with a dextrose, I actually asked if she needed to give me that. She smiled and said yes, and that it wasn’t painful ’cause I already had the thing attached to my right hand. Then came another nurse saying he needed to get a blood sample. I told them they had already gotten some at the other hospital, hoping I could avoid another needle being injected to me. I was wrong. As I expected, he said the same thing nurses (and doctors) say while holding a syringe with a long needle, “parang kagat lang ng langgam ‘to“, to which I replied, “langgam na kasing laki ng dinosaur“.

I had a couple of trips to the Radiology Lab. For some reason, the ER doctor would forget to have one part X-rayed and they have to wheel  me back. I probably had 4 or 5 trips, including the one for the CT Scan. It wasn’t until around 1pm when the orthopedic doctor came. He explained what had happened to my bone and what he planned to do (which I honestly wasn’t listening to). He then put a “cast” on my leg, to hopefully ease the pain while waiting for surgery which was scheduled that Saturday.

I was told, by several people, to sleep. I couldn’t. I was, in fact, wide awake to see an old lady brought in with a cut on her forehead. She was brought to the OR, which was a few feet away from  my bed. There was a lot of blood, and the sisters who were with her had started panicking. There was this beeping sound, which was the last thing I heard before they wheeled me out for another X-ray. It was only a few minutes after I was wheeled back into the ER when I was brought up to the Female Surgical Ward, where I was to stay while we waited for a room for me and my dad. That night I couldn’t sleep. I don’t know if it was because of the routine check-up in the middle of the night, checking the vitals and stuff, or because of the pain from both my leg and the antibiotics pumped into my veins.

July 02, 2010

I don’t know what time I woke up, but I do know I needed to go to the bathroom. I saw my brother there and found out he took a leave from work. I wanted to try to get up, and I did, only to feel so much pain that I settled for using the bed pan. The doctor came and checked up on me. When he asked if I had any questions, all I could think of to ask was “when can I eat?” He smiled and said, I could start eating real food now since my CT Scan was clear. Mom asked what I wanted to eat and I said all I wanted was lugaw, so she went out and bought some.

That afternoon, I was moved to a room which I would share with my dad for the rest of our stay. After lunch, the nurse who gave me my meds reminded me that I couldn’t eat or drink starting 12 mn because I was due for operation the next morning. I couldn’t sleep, again. So I watched TV all night.

July 03, 2010

I heard my stomach rumbling and felt my lips go dry. My right arm was numb and swollen from the dextrose. The nurse came and removed it, saying she’d transfer the dextrose to the other arm before we went to the OR. Since my left arm was sprained, it was really painful while they tried to look for a vein to insert the dextrose tube in. The anesthesiologist came and after several attempts at finding a good enough vein, she personally inserted the thing into my arm (which btw is still painful until now).

As I was wheeled out of the room, I felt cold sweat all over my body. When I was little, I had wanted to be a doctor. But when I saw the bloody mess that went with it, I decided it wasn’t for me. I was too weak for that. And now I was heading into a bloody mess myself. In the elevator, the nurse injected what she said was “pre-op” meds. When we got to the floor where the OR was, I was wheeled into a hallway, and my mom was told she couldn’t go past the door. My mom held my hand for a while and I started crying. She said it’ll be ok, and gave me a kiss on the forehead. Then she left. They wheeled me into the OR and pulled me onto the operating table. Everything was blurry by then. I remember someone standing over me and asking if I was ok. Then that someone pulled the big light and turned it on. That was the last thing I remember seeing.

A few hours later, I woke up in a room with an oxygen tube in my nose and a lady in the bed beside me. I wanted to call someone and ask for water. I think I even tried to pull of the oxygen tube and the thing they put on my finger. The next thing I knew, they were wheeling me back into our room.

I don’t remember what time it was when I was brought back to the room. I just remember closing my eyes and waking up to see Angel was there. She went over to me and gave me a hug. I asked her how she was and she said she was fine. I could see that she felt pity towards me and wanted to cry, but she didn’t. She’s always been stronger than me when it came to things like that. I remember when she had to get stitches on her forehead, she was all calm and I was the one crying while watching the doctor stitch her up.

My mom, my brother and Angel went to mass in the chapel that night. They came back less than 30 mins later. Angel ate my dinner because I wasn’t hungry anymore. I ate grapes for dinner that night.

July 04, 2010

For someone who’s used to taking a bath twice a day, I was surprised at myself that I was ok with not being able to take a bath for 3 days already. I had “sponge baths”, which I never really appreciated before. At I was able to brush my teeth. After lunch I had visitors, Daphne came and said that April and Ulap were downstairs because Ulap wasn’t allowed to come up. After a few minutes of chatting, Daph went down with Angel so that April can come up. A few minutes after chatting with April, she left and told me to rest. I was happy to see them both, it wasn’t a “sad” get-together, feeling sorry for me and all. I love how they can make me feel ok, even though everything’s not going that well. They didn’t make me feel sorry for myself and even tried to veer the conversation away from my “situation”. That night, the doctor told us that I can go home the next day.

July 05, 2010

The day I finally went home. It was an effort to figure out HOW they were going to bring me out. Honestly, I had thought they would transfer me to a stretcher and wheel me out to the driveway where the car would be waiting. But no, the orderly had thought I could go in a wheelchair. I agreed thinking there would be a leg rest on the chair. But the chair they had did NOT have a leg rest and I would have to put my leg down, which unfortunately I could not do at that time. It was really, really painful for my leg. I was outside the room, sitting in a wheelchair and crying while my mom was holding my leg up. It was also an effort getting me out of the car and into the room. Since my room’s upstairs and I obviously couldn’t go up, I had to stay (and I’m still staying) in Lola’s room. Kuya Alex and my brother half-carried, half-dragged me into the room. I saw that Angel had her cushion brought down so she could sleep in the same room. She was surprised to find me home when she went into the room. I was happy to be home after 4 days in the hospital.

July 06 – July 31

For the first week, since my dad was still in the hospital and mom needed to go back to work, Ate Meann was the one who stayed with dad in the hospital and Tita Delma stayed with me here at home. I was able to eat “normal” food and sleep more comfortably, since I knew there would not be any more late night “check-ups”. I slept most of the time. If I wasn’t sleeping, I was watching TV.

My mom went to work half-day, she’d pass by the house to check on me before going back to the hospital to be with dad. She was also the one who cleaned my “stitches”. I never took a peek at it because I couldn’t imagine having staples on my leg. Angel was amazed by them. She even drew it on a box just to show me.

Dad came home that Friday and my sister went home that weekend. She brought home her laptop so I could use it. My laptop, as we had discovered was “shocked” by what had happened. The screen, is in comatose, the screen itself is not broken but the inside of it is. We had visitors that Sunday, relatives who came to visit.

In the weeks that followed, I’ve had to learn to walk using the “old people” walker. I’ve also been able to take a bath, with help of course. I’ve graduated from eating in my room to eating in the dining room. Dad and I have also had weekly check-ups on Tuesday afternoons. On the first check-up I was still in pain, there were still staples. The next time we went, the staples were removed. I was shaking and perspiring while the doctor picked them out one by one. And yes, he told me the line I had come to hate the most, “parang kagat lang ng langgam.” Darn them ants. Last Tuesday, July 27, was my last one. The next’ll be after a month, with an X-ray to check on my leg.

It’s August now. A month has passed.

My leg feels much better now. I can bend my knee, I can lay my foot flat on the floor. I can step with my foot, but I can’t put too much pressure on it yet. I’m still on antibiotics for a spot on my leg which was thought to be an infection. I don’t know if it’s the antibiotics that’s been giving me the itches. There are still times when I cannot sleep at night. Either because I feel small crawly things, much like ants, biting me or because I keep seeing the accident happening when I close my eyes. I try to stay awake by watching different TV series’ or movies on the laptop, playing Diner Dash or on the DSi or watching TV.

I’m excited to go back to “normal”, although I cannot seem to be able to wake up early, like usual. I guess I need to sleep early. I was lent a pair of crutches which I still have to learn to use. I don’t want to touch them yet since the foam thingies look really dirty.

I’m looking forward to going back to work, although I’m not looking forward to all the questions that I know will be thrown at me. To be honest, I don’t want to have to answer any questions from parents. I’ve already prepared myself for all the b*llsh*t that I know the parents will be talking about when I get back. Honestly, I wish I could tell them to bug off and mind their own business. But because I can’t, I’m going to have to learn to smile at them. I’m also not looking forward to the workload that’s waiting for me. I know I have a lot to do, and I’ve been thinking if I’ll be able to pull it off. I’ve gotten used to sitting and watching TV most of the day, that I don’t know if I can last the whole day in class. I have a week and a half to prepare myself for school. Hopefully I can go back by the 16th.

Despite all that’s happened, I’m still thankful.

I’m thankful for my family. My mom, who went through a lot of sleepless nights just to make sure me and my dad were okay. My dad, who is doing well and is getting better everyday. My brother, who checks in on me everyday to ask how I’m doing. My sister, who, despite being in Baguio, texts me to ask how I’m doing. Angel, who is my “nurse” and makes me smile everyday. They are the reason I will never give up and strive to make our lives better. I’m thankful for our pseudo-family, Ate Meann, Ate Marlene, Tita Delma and Tito Manny, who have always been the first ones to come to our aid in times of need. I’m thankful that I also found out which friends REALLY care and which “friends”, well, “care”. Daphne and April, I will be seeing you soon. Promise. I’m thankful for my family in school, who have been very understanding. To the teachers who took over my classes, I owe you a lot, I will make up for it when I get back. Promise.

Dad’s almost back to normal, except for the swelling in his foot, he’s doing his usual activities. He went out today, even drove the car.  I keep remembering the first few minutes after the accident when I was screaming at the people to help my dad. I don’t think I’d be able to forgive myself if anything worse had happened to my dad.

As for me, I’m fine now. A lot  better, knowing my dad’s ok. The doctor said I WILL be able to walk normally. 3-5 months. 1 month has already passed. 2-4 months to go. When I do get back to walking normally, I WILL start living life and making the most out of it and continuing to be thankful for it.

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