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.

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