Tuesday, March 31, 2015

A Second Chance

After the orthopaedic surgery at Cardinal Santos Medical Center

I am lucky to be alive. I am doubly fortunate with the prospect of being able to regain most all of my motor skills, including walking, a couple of months from now. The Good Lord has given me a second chance in life. No doubt, Mom, Lola Ego and the Holy Face of Manoppello in Nampicuan were responsible for this miraculous event.

On the morning of February 9, 2015 at the Rancho Caridad airstrip, I crashed my ultralight shortly after take-off. It was a classic "pilot error" and entirely my fault, which could have been avoided if I had just followed my usual pre-flight procedure. But that's water under the bridge.

I distinctly remember being conscious throughout the entire incident. I was numb all over and short of breath from the trauma of the crash. I could not move and the pain crept-up slowly but surely. It was excruciating. The first ambulance trip from Rancho Caridad, Nampicuan to Rayos Valentin Hospital, Paniqui, where I underwent first-aid, and the next ambulance trip from Paniqui to Cardinal Santos Medical Center were just the beginnings of what seemed like a never-ending series of torture, only to be relieved by the general anaesthesia of surgery. Being totally averse to physical pain (I am terrified of injections), I was in despair during most of my stay at the hospital.

I latched onto every positive update of my physicians and prayed desperately that no complications would arise. I drew strength from the care and support of my sisters and my father. I took comfort from the messages and visits of relatives and friends. Most of all, I leaned on my wife, Selina, whose constancy and personal loving care (that borders on the realm of the superhuman) have and continue to guide me through this time of my greatest need.

It's about seven (7) weeks since the accident. The first five (5) weeks were spent at the Cardinal Santos Medical Center, where I was subjected to a couple of phases of surgery--the first being an orthopaedic surgery for my broken and misaligned pelvis and a couple of bone fractures (left wrist and a nasty open fracture of the left ankle) and the second being skin graft surgery for the open fracture of the left ankle and some lacerations at the calf of my right leg.

My sisters, Selina and I agreed that it would be best for me to recover at our home in Jacaranda, for practical and infinitely valuable intangible considerations. Although I was still virtually immobile when I was discharged from the hospital, I immediately sensed I was at the right place when I was settled in bed at the ground floor guest room of the house I grew-up in. Mom had passed-away nearly five years ago, yet I knew she would watch over me as I recovered my strength and mobility in her home.

It’s been just over two (2) weeks since then and with the help of daily physical therapy sessions, I was able to lift my knees (one at a time) while lying in bed (after the first week) and sit upright on the side of my bed from a lying position (after the second week). A couple of days later (today is March 31, 2015), nine (9) days short of the second month anniversary of my accident or eleven (11) days short of the second month anniversary of my first set of surgery (orthopaedic), I stood ever so slowly with the assistance of a walker. Nothing to brag about, I'm sure, but decent progress (I think) considering the subsequent skin grafts on top of the orthopaedic surgery. More than ever, I must stay the course and disallow myself to be demoralized by what often seems like the painstakingly slow progress of healing.

I write the above to remind me of this critical juncture of my life. Indeed, it is as if I had died and was reborn (my 47th birthday was on February 22, 2015) and each day after the accident has been a miraculous day of healing. The message is loud and clear, especially after my rather presumptuous New Year Declaration (which smacks of hubris). It’s time to switch to lower gears and prioritize what is truly important in life, like being present for our loved ones as much as we can—rather than being off on a solo air safari on weekends. I have committed to my wife and sisters, no more flying. The first in many steps in the right direction.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Pope Francis: No Catholic need to breed like "rabbits"
BBC News

Good Roman Catholics do not need to breed like "rabbits", the Pope has said, but should practice "responsible" parenting instead.

Pope Francis spoke as he returned from the Philippines, where he met former street children abandoned by parents unable to afford to care for them.

Standing firm against artificial birth control, he said new life was "part of the sacrament of marriage".

But he said population experts advised three children per family.

Pope Francis raised eyebrows last week when, in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo killings in Paris, he said it was wrong to provoke others by insulting their religion.

He told journalists as a joke that his assistant could expect a punch if he ''cursed his mother''. At the same time, the Pope defended freedom of expression.

"Excuse my expression"

Speaking to journalists while heading back to Rome from the Philippines on Monday, Pope Francis was asked what he would say to families who had more children than they could afford because the Church forbids artificial contraception.

He replied with an unexpected turn of phrase: "Some people think that - excuse my expression here - that in order to be good Catholics we have to be like rabbits."

"No. Parenthood is about being responsible. This is clear."

The Pope said he knew many ways allowed by the Catholic Church that could ensure families only had as many children as they wished.

He cited the case of one woman he had met who had had seven children by Caesarean section and was expecting her eighth - a pregnancy he said was irresponsible.

"She said, 'I trust in God.' But God gave us the means to be responsible," the Pope said.

But he added that for the poorest, a child was a treasure for its mother and father.

To a separate question, the Pope said that most importantly, no outside institution should impose its views on families.

Progressive, Western ideas about birth control and gay rights were increasingly being imposed by groups, institutions or nations there, often as a condition for development aid, he said.

"Every people deserves to conserve its identity without being ideologically colonised," the Pope said.

During his trip to the Philippines the Pope defended traditional Vatican teaching, which opposes artificial contraception.

On Sunday, an estimated six million people attended an outdoor mass he celebrated in the capital, Manila.

Pope Francis in quotes
  • On freedom of speech: "If my good friend Doctor Gasparri [who organises the Pope's trips] speaks badly of my mother, he can expect to get punched. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others. There is a limit."
  • On homosexuality: "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?"
  • On abortion: "It is not 'progressive' to try to resolve problems by eliminating a human life... This defence of unborn life is closely linked to the defence of each and every other human right."
  • On hunger: "With all the food that is left over and thrown away, we could feed so many. If we were able to stop wasting and start recycling food, world hunger would diminish greatly."

Monday, January 5, 2015

A New Year . . . A Renewed Commitment!

"When I was young, I had all the energy but I had no money. Now that I am old, I have money but I have no energy." Dad

"Life is NOT about what you want to do. Most of the time, it's about what you have to do." Dad

Dan, a staff industrial engineer for the feeder department at the UPS Burtonsville Hub in Maryland, was near retirement. I was fresh out of Virginia Tech with a bachelor of science degree in industrial engineering and operations research, and feeling good about myself. I paid my dues as a package car driver delivering packages over the peak-season (4th quarter up to the Christmas holidays) of 1990 at the Rockville, Maryland Package Center (lost 25 pounds in the first 3 weeks) and I was starting my stint as a staff industrial engineer for the Twilight Sort of the Burtonsville Hub.

Dan was a man of few words. He seemed to know what he was doing and he accomplished his daily tasks with efficiency and economy. There was nothing superfluous about Dan. He came to the Hub, he did his work and he went home.

I was your quintessential "wide eyed and bushy tailed" new hire eagerly applying as much of what I learned in college in the real world . . . while committing plenty of mistakes along the way. I wasn't working very smart either with fourteen (14) hour work days (5 days a week thankfully) as my norm.

Notwithstanding my youthful professional zeal, I did notice that Dan was overweight and probably not in the best of health. In fact, he appeared to me like a man who had lost his spark, simply counting the days to his retirement. At the end of some of my longer days at work, I would extrapolate my exhaustion over a period 30 years and I would begin to understand how much of life has been sucked out of Dan by the company over the years.

It was common knowledge in UPS that a manager-owner who had worked most of his life in the company (like Dan) would typically retire a millionaire in light of the stock-ownership (not just a stock-option) program of the company. Hence, Dan would probably look back at all his years of work with UPS with some degree of satisfaction. However, I was not particularly thrilled at the thought of how much and how long I would have to sacrifice myself for the organization, regardless of my net worth.

Even at the outset of my professional career, I vowed to save enough years for myself during which to enjoy the fruits of my labor. I was intent on having enough energy to enjoy my money. I was going to save a substantial portion of my life to pursue what I truly wanted to do instead of stuff I was simply obliged to do.

As much as I would like to think that I was "good", I was probably more "lucky" in my career, which allowed me to retire from employment just a few months after my 41st birthday--close enough to my target of retirement at 40. I am turning 47 this February 2015 and I am renewing my commitment to pursue everything I want to do in life!