Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Things Are Looking Up

In the summer of 2000, I had my first cardiac catheterization done in PGH. We were hoping to get my heart fixed. It was supposed to be so easy. They insert the catheter in through an artery in my groin, and they can already close the hole (I believe it's called coiling). No cuts, no scars, just two vampire-like bites. I was very hopeful. But they weren't able to close it then. We found out that it was already inoperable because the pressure in my lungs was already high. I need to have a lung transplant first, and then they can close the hole in my heart after. The first problem was lung transplant is not available in the country, and I was still so young to have it. All I know then is that I can go on living until I am 30 without the operation. That was it. I have been dreading this age since I was 13. It always felt like I was counting down the years. I was terrified of how the future would be like. What would my 20s be like? Will I still be able to walk? Will I have to be in a wheelchair already? Will my fingers look like my toes? Will my legs be swollen? Will I even outlive my parents? But the years passed. While I still can't take a long walk without losing my breath, I was feeling a lot better. I went back to regular school, went to prom, finished college with flying colors, rode the Anchor's Away in EK (which I don't plan to do again! I seriously thought it was no biggie, but I swear, one more drop and I would have had a heart attack!), moved out of my parents' house at 21, went places, rode an airplane (which they said I couldn't do), fell in love a number of times, got married. The list goes on. I would like to say I lived my life the best I could. The years came with challenges, but health-wise, the most noteworthy change was that I coughed up blood in 2009 and needed to have oxygen an hour every night. But that was it.

In 2009, when I coughed up blood for the first time, they suggested having a cardiac catheterization done again, but I resisted it. All I know then was that it was just to check on my heart, and I was thinking if it's not going to repair the hole, then why do I need to undergo it again? In April 2015, I coughed up blood again, which had me hospitalized for a few days. My cardiologist then told me to have another cardiac catheterization done, so they can check on my heart's condition. The last one has been so long ago already (15 years ago then), and I was scared to have it done again. It took me a long while to recover from the last one (so long that I had to be homeschooled for two years), so I've been avoiding it ever since.

But my doctors convinced me that technology already changed. A lot of things already changed since 2000. Even my body's condition may have changed already, so we need to check because there is a possibility that my heart can still be fixed. I said ok, I'll do it, but only after we've gone to Batanes, a trip we planned for June of 2015. I didn't know if I will recover in time, and I wanted to go to Batanes. So we waited. But Yayay proposed in Batanes, and so I said, let's wait until after the wedding. I wanted to get married in Caleruega, and I am not even sure if I'll make it to Caleruega if I have the cardiac catheterization done. Also, I would rather put all the money into the wedding. And so, I got married in December 2016 and promised to have the procedure after our honeymoon. It was finally scheduled on April 21. In the summertime again. Seventeen years after the first one.

To be honest, I didn't know what results I would like to get. I am afraid to have an operation. Just the mere thought that I will be cut up terrifies me. Plus, the money that is needed for the operation is big. But I don't want to be sick forever either. The future is dim if we will not have my heart fixed. Congestive heart failure - that is what we are waiting for. Basically, we just wait for my heart to give up. Plus, I can't have kids. While Yayay and I are ok with the idea of adopting, having our own child is still different. I was so confused; I don't even know what to pray for. So when I chanced upon St. Expeditus' novena in Newlyweds@Work, I didn't ask for either of my options. All I prayed for was that I be able to spend so many years with my husband. That I be allowed to grow old with him. I prayed that everything is up to Him. I was pretty peaceful after that. I was nervous about the cardiac catheterization, but I am at peace with whatever result we're going to get.

The night I was admitted in the hospital.

 And so April 21 came. They took me out of my room a little before 8 am. I know that I was sedated, but I was wide awake while they were prepping me. It was the most uncomfortable situation I've been in since I can't even remember! They strapped me on the table in the cath lab, so I couldn't move. Suddenly, different parts of my body started to itch, and I wanted to go scratch them, but I was strapped; my wrists were strapped to the table. It was so irritating that I started to cry. I prayed and asked God to please just let me sleep. I think I slept for a bit while we waited for my doctor, but I woke up right after he arrived, so I was again awake as he injected anesthesia in my groin. It was painful, and I cried again. You know, when you're sick, there are some things you'll have to go through on your own. I am pretty sure my mother will take that shot for me if she could, but she couldn't. I passed out right after, so I was asleep for the most part of the procedure as they inserted catheters in my groin into my heart. Unfortunately for me, I woke up right before they were finished, and I felt the catheter in my heart. It wasn't painful, but my heart felt heavy. Like it was being squeezed. I wasn't able to sleep again after, so I was awake while they pressed on the insertion site (painful again) to stop the bleeding. And while they were cleaning me up, my doctor walked over to me, and said:

"Kamusta ka, Bianca? Ok pa, pwede pang operahan. Pero we can't wait for 2 years kasi baka magbago ang pressure ulit. I will do calculations over the weekend."

It was like I walked out of a room after being locked in for so long. The future is here. Suddenly, the possibilities are endless. I am still operable. The past 17 years as I have known are over and the future is suddenly looking up. I will take long walks again, join my husband as he climbs mountains, jump off cliffs, ride a rollercoaster, become a mother (for real)! Be normal again! Be around for a very long time.

When we got married, I wrote my husband a letter. He read parts of it in our wedding video, but this moved him to tears:

"Ang tagal mo nang mag-isa bago ako dumating. I promise you that you will never be alone again. I am sure that there are certain adventures that you will have to make on your own, but I promise that I will always be waiting for you to get home - excited to hear all of your stories."

With the future looking bright, I can go on any adventure my husband will make. And nothing is making me as happy as that thought right now.