I woke up very early last February3 to a rumbly tummy but remembered that I cannot eat not even take a sip of water since I need to fast for my scheduled cerebral angiogram at 6:00 am. It was only 4am and I’m still sleepy but I need to begin my day now. And if I don’t move fast enough we will be late. My angiogram is to be done in Medical City Ortigas by Dr.Peter Rivera. It was a Monday so naturally it’s going to be one hell of traffic wherever you go. So we left before 5am and took the C5 route, we got there with plenty of time to spare and it was still dark. I was wheeled into the radiology department by Lay and we were met by a pleasant nurse who got a wee bit surprised since it is really early. Guess she wasn’t informed that there’s a procedure to be done that early in the day. She made us fill out something and contacted my neurologist. When she got the approval she got my vital signs and led us to the waiting area. It was a small room with a bed a lazy boy and a television set. After waiting awhile she introduced me to several male nurses, or probably interns and they transferred me to another bed and took me to the laboratory. The lab was state of the art. There were computer monitors hanging from the ceiling and really bright lights and it was cold. I was just in a hospital gown and I was shivering. My doctor arrived and they started to prepare.my doctor explained what’s going to happen and what I needed to do. He said they are going to pass a tiny catheter through my right groin and that will course through my vein up to the brain and it will inject a dye and he will then take pictures of my brain and that it is important that I do not move, not even flinch. I can’t even breathe so I need told my breath for about 5 seconds. And only when he give the signal that I can breathe that’s the only time that I can. He said that he’s going to put anaesthesia on my groin so the pain would be more bearable. . I would also be given IV. Since my affected side was left the IV was placed on my right. Normally the IV is passed through the hand right? But the intern can’t seem to find a vein and after 2 tries (ouch) he gave up and told my doctor about his situation. Even my doctor can’t seem to find a vein so he said they will just put the IV on my arm.it was uncomfortable so they placed a splint on my elbow so I wouldn’t be able to fold it. After the procedure I need to lie down for four hours in the waiting room with both my legs propped up on pillows and without a pillow on my head. I was also advised not to move too much. And then they started. My doctor asked me if I was okay. I said yes but I am a bit cold and then they turned on a blower positioned on the foot of my bed and it blew warm air and it felt so damn good. It made me feel a little better and less nervous. They also attached a devise on my leg to monitor my blood pressure. The actual insertion of the catheter was not painful at all. I guess my tolerance for pain after 3 surgeries and a hundred or so needlepointed to my skin in the past made me immune a bit to the physical pain.
When the doctor started to inject the dye I felt it pass through my neck like a warm trickle. There was a big screen on my left and I tried to move just my eye to check it and I can see the dye travelling through the veins slowly. I held my breath like instructed. Well, it wasn’t that hard. There were 8 more pictures to take and I was praying to God to please make everything okay. Then it was done. They placed a hard ball-like thing on my groin and pressed it hard and held it there for 10 minutes. My back was aching badly and I wanted to stand up but I remembered I can’t. I also wanted to pee. They transferred me to another bed and brought me back to the waiting area where Lay was waiting. My hunger then became a monster but I have never wanted something so badly in my life back then but to drink water. So lay gave me water which I drank through a straw. I watched something on TV but can’t remember exactly what was it. Lay slept on the lazy boy and after a while went to fix the papers. Around 1pm Dr.Rivera arrived to deliver the bad news. He said that there is still another avm seen on the angiogram but this one is tiny and fills very slowly. Upon hearing that I felt like the whole world crashed on me. I was so hopeful. I was praying all the time how could this happen? Isn’t my situation at the moment enough? Do I need to really suffer more? When I heard that I kept a straight face like it didn’t bothered me at all. He said we need to see him in his clinic at the medical arts building after we got discharged in the lab. To explain further. So finally around 3pm we went to his clinic and he explained that what he saw in the angiogram could be an avm which formed after surgery. This was the same explanation given by my neuro surgeon. Because I wondered – how can an avm form in my brain now? When it’s supposed to be congenital or inborn? Arent avms formed during the growth of the embryo in the mother’s womb? Then he explained that since he clipped 3 arteries in my brain with titanium clips of course there wouldn’t be a passage for the blood to pass through so in that case the blood probably took on another route thus the birth of my”new” avm. But wait, there’s good news! Really doc?? The veins fills very slow so the probability that it will burst is lower than my first avm. I just need to be very careful in monitoring my blood pressure. Meaning I can’t get too agitated, need to watch what I eat, etc etc. etc. So I’m a grenade. I can explode any time. Lately I was thinking. Would everything turn out to be futile? Meaning- I’ve been working my ass up in rehab and for what? I’ve been willing myself to get better each day when there is another time bomb ticking somewhere in my temporal lobe. Life is not fair. So if you think you have a difficult life, think again
I never thought I would be able to abandon my wheelchair ever. Yesterday was Easter Sunday. As usual I heard the mass on TV as it is quite difficult for me to go to our parish since the walk way is not flat it is sloping and a bit steep. Kuya Danny, the Lay Minister arrived around 9am to give me communion. House was chaotic with toys strewn all over the floor and clothes were waiting to be folded. Kids were running around like crazy with all pent up energy being released since they were also frustrated due to our Easter egg hunt activity that never happened. Lay had his hands and arms full with chores since yaya never came back from her day off from 2 days ago. He was helping Kuya jet jet with waxing our car and after that cleaned our room in the sweltering heat, summer cleaning at 38C.
When everything was in order in the house Lay asked if want to go to the mall. Of course I want to! But he challenged me by telling me we can’t bring a wheelchair anymore. I was hesitant at first but then realized that I will never progress if I don’t try to do things to be functional. Titan Jing and Julia went with us to help assist me if Lay needs to park or get the car.it never helped that we are not familiar with the mall- FairviewTerraces it was our first time. We didn’t know where the parking area was. We don’t know the location of the restaurants.
I only had my cane and what bothers me was how to get on the escalator without causing any accident. I had to recall my therapists instruction which is up with the good leg first. I had to concentrate very well since this is not a flat and stationary surface, I had to overcome my fear. I also had to deal with people constantly looking at me like I’m an alien from mars. Good thing Lay and I had a talk about that earlier. He said that I shouldn’t be shy of my condition because I never wanted that for myself. He also said that people around me should be the one to adjust and not me. He also said that he is very proud of my progress and that boosted my spirit more than anything else. The escalator was not easy but doable. The two tweens we were with were both hungry and were constantly asking when are we eating. We had to find a resto and settled for Bon Chon in the garden area. I miss having coffee so we decided to go to Starbucks. Entering the store brought memories and it elevated my desire to go back to work.
It’s been only half a year. For me it was such a looong journey but many people think I was progressing faster than any one who suffered the same. I had to be reminded that what happened to me was not a minor stroke but a massive one. It is Easter Sunday and what the concluded Holy Week taught me was Christ suffered a lot for all of us but not once did He complain instead He was thinking of all our sins and how He can save all of us from condemnation while having to endure all the pain . Christ died but He was raised from the dead which sends a message of hope. Nothing is lost. Everything will be in order just have faith.
Today in rehab I did step upsto promote lifting of the leg when walking. which looks so easy but for a stroke victim who suffered from a massive strokesuch as moi, it is a task close to impossible, specially when your therapist suddenly decided to make it more challenging by putting on 2 pound ankle weights but im not giving up!Rehab is really hard work and as they always say, no pain no gain.
Daddy Joe celebrated his 72nd birthday in the rehab with the rehab staff and some of the patients including me, he even gave me a chocolate which melted my heart.
Daddy Joe Tupaz arrived in the rehab of CHMC around December and I was drawn to him immediately. he has a very soft voice and kind eyes , although he cries a lot its so easy to make him smile.
Daddy Joe is an engineer from Tacloban, Leyte. and during the wrath of Yolanda he was recuperating in the hospital. he wasdischarged the day before the typhoon arrived which was a good thing, actually a blessing , because the hospital had been wiped away by the flood. His wife, mommy Bella took him home in Palo, Leyte and during the height of the typhoon she had to carry daddy Joe, wheelchair and all, and placed him on top of the dining table. the water reached them up to their chest.. Mommy Bella really considers this their 2nd life and she feels very grateful to the Lord, that despite the condition of daddy they were able to survive . they transferred to Manila to continue daddy’s therapies. but will very soon go back to Leyte.
As explained by the American Stroke Association
What is a brain AVM?
Normally, arteries carry blood containing oxygen from the heart to the brain, and veins carry blood with less oxygen away from the brain and back to the heart. When an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) occurs, a tangle of blood vessels in the brain or on its surface bypassesnormal brain tissue and directly diverts blood from the arteries to the veins. Brain AVMs are usually congenital, meaning someone is born with one. But they’re usually not hereditary. People probably don’t inherit an AVM from their parents, and they probably won’t pass one on to their children.This occurs to about 1%of the population or about 1 in 500 people. I know right? and that 1 happened to be me. That is the reason why I got all the time to waste now writingthis blog. don’t get me wrong, im way past the angry stage or the denial stage. I have already come to accept my situation and is now trying my hardest to cope and improve my situation. I have attached a picture of me post craniotomy while I was in the ICU so you could picture how bad it was. I hope you are not eating lest your appetite be ruined..
my AVM according to my neuro surgeon is located on the right frontotemporal lobesmeasuring at least3.6×5.2x6cmclose to the edgeor in the basal ganglia if I remember it right. the hemorrhage was so massive and they were able to drain about 58ml of blood.
why am I starting a blog? well, plainly because Igot nothing else to do. im done bawling and ranting and I think its time to move on and move forward. its been almost 5 months anyway. eversince that unfateful day in October I haven’t regained my old self. and what would I write about? oh well I don’t know, I would write what I want this is my blog anyway. I could write anything I want. and I don’t care if you like it or not. there is nothing I care about any more nowadays. except for my family and my spiritual;ity.. i would like to share to you my story in bits and pieces the way i know how to tell it. so bear with me.
my story is no fairy tale but of course i still want a happy ending the a happy ever after kind. im a long way from there that’s why im taking baby steps. thus my tag line.