True friends

I am blessed!
I am blessed with friends.
I am blessed with friends who would go the extra mile for people in need.

I am blessed with friends who would part with their prized possessions (such as collectible toys, games, magazines, and books, etc.) just to raise funds for Dexter and my surgeries. I am overwhelmed by their generous hearts and their ability to make any event fun. It chokes me up when I think about it, how these wonderful people would do all these, would give up so much for us.

jon n hank
Jon and Hank

They (Jon, Hank, and Karen) asked me a few weeks ago, if I would mind if they organized a fund raiser to help me raise the money I need for my back surgery and, truth to tell, I was speechless for a several seconds.  Jon must’ve thought the line got cut. I wasn’t sure what to say.  I mean, I appreciate all the help I could get, but asking for help from my friends never occurred to me (it didn’t even occur to me to ask for help from my family) because, well, I didn’t want to impose on anyone and, I figured, if I can’t raise the amount I will need in time then I would just have to live with the consequences for the rest of my life.

I’ve been involved in fund raisers before for group causes such as cancer kids or calamity victims, etc. I never for one moment thought that a fund raiser would ever be organized for me.  As Jon said, “if we could raise funds for people we don’t know, why can’t we do the same for people we DO know?” It took me a few moments, but I took a breath, swallowed whatever pride might have reared its ugly head and said “yes”.  I have to be honest with myself — I need help and here are people who, without me asking, have offered it.

I was also overwhelmed by the additional offers of help we received while we were there from people we didn’t even know. Complete strangers who offered the services doctors who are willing to assist in the surgery and waive their professional fees, to spinal implants if I need them, to doing a documentary film to help raise funds, and even to organize separate fund raisers just so we can hit the targeted amounts we need sooner.

Last I heard Dexter needs 250k for his surgery and an undefined amount (as of yet) for his therapy after.  I need 200k for my surgery and my therapy (which started this May 2011) will cost around 50k total up to May 2012.  On my own I would have no way of raising that amount in the year I was given but I would have given it a shot.  With the help everyone has offered, there is now a chance I can get the surgery much sooner, maybe even within 6 months.

No, I’m not going to die, at least, not yet.. That’s not what I meant by “the year I was given”. My spinal condition is such that if untreated I can look forward to muscle atrophy and, eventually, paralysis to my lower body, if I am not careful. For the meantime, my activities have been curtailed. I can no longer run like I used to or join fun runs, for that matter, and the gym is definitely out of the question until I get surgery. I have to put most of my shoes in storage, for now, since I can’t wear heels (most of my shoes have 3 in to higher heels).   In other words, I’m not allowed to do anything that will put any strain on my lower back, which includes lifting something heavy.

My condition is difficult to explain without going into medical detail ’cause, looking at me, there doesn’t seem to be anything wrong with me. On the outside, I’m as healthy as the next gal.  Just to relate it quickly, I’ve injured my back many times in sports but did not think much of it. The trauma that actually injured my back was this incident that happened January 2010. I did not get an X-ray back then because, I figured, I could still move my fingers and toes so I must be ok. I’ve been getting constant backaches but the pain has been livable and I thought maybe it was just my old injuries coming back to haunt me. It wasn’t until I got it into my head to try to lose weight faster by going back to the gym and joining a class that included circuit training that my injury manifested completely. Long and short is, I did the circuit training (which included push ups and plank walks) and my back got stuck. In part I do blame my trainors because I had warned them that I injured my back in an accident but they still insisted that I do the planks and push ups to strengthen my core. I told them it hurt but they told me to continue and to push myself as far as I could. I did and look where it got me now?

The following day I was in so much pain I gave in and contacted my doctor who resides in Cebu, who happens to be an orthopedic surgeon. A week later, when I thought my back was ok I went back to the gym but took it easy. No circuit training, just treadmill (where all I could manage was to walk for 10 minutes until my back complained loudly) and a 10 minute seated reclined-bike pedalling at a super slow pace. When I got home I could barely walk. I barely did anything at the gym but I could barely walk. The next day when I woke up the first thought that entered my head was … my legs are missing. I couldn’t feel them. It was as if they were not there at all. I looked down and saw they were still attached. I tried to wiggle my toes and was gratified to see them move, even if I could not feel them moving. It took me 30 minutes to roll out of bed because I did not want to panic my mom by raising my voice and asking for help. Very slowly, by hanging on to furniture, doors, walls, and stair railings, I was able to drag myself out of my room, pulling one leg at a time, and make it downstairs where I calmly told my mom and dad that we should go see my neuro-muscular therapist as soon as possible ’cause I could not feel my legs.

I remember that date (May 13) clearly because I was supposed to attend Urim‘s wedding with all the other geeks. Unfortunately, after 2 hours of therapy, I was too tired when I got home, and I still couldn’t walk straight (I literally looked like an octogenarian) that I had to call Jon (with whom I was hitching a ride) and asked him to deliver my regrets to the bride and groom. From that day until May 22 (the day before school started) I spent most of my days in bed or sitting in padded chairs and walking around the house every hour building up the strength to be able to go back to work on May 23, which I did. The medicine that my doctor prescribed for the pain (Ketorolac and Tizanidine) helped immensely. Later, he told me to seek acupuncture treatment for pain management, and to use the meds he prescribed as needed only. Since them I’ve been receiving treatment once a week.

It was not until June 2 that I was able to go for an MRI (funding issues) and so the following day I sent my scans to Doc Henry for diagnosis and to tell me what happens now. It was only then that I discovered that I have a condition called degenerative lumbosacral radiculopathy. Long and short, a couple of my discs are bulging on one side and squeezed almost flat on the other and it is pressing against my nerve root, which is causing my legs to “malfunction”. Pins and needles, numbness, my leg or legs sometimes jerk without my volition, I trip ’cause my leg collapses under me when parts “disappears” for a few seconds, and often, my one or both legs just go cold (as in temperature).

Outwardly, I smile and laugh and I like to joke around about it. I don’t want to think of it as a big deal. Inside, though, I’m scared. Here I am, Ms. Independent, and one day, if I am not careful, I will become Ms. Dependent. Did any of you get to watch X-Men, First Class? You remember that scene when Prof. X got shot in the back with one bullet which put him in a wheel chair for life? That scared me, ’cause it could happen to me.

c3poDexterDexter, on the other hand has already lost the use of his hands but with immediate surgery, may be able to gain use of them again. My friends who have seen him recently have said that at present, he is a living, breathing, C3PO. They tell me his surgery is supposed to be scheduled for this coming August (2011).

For those who are not aware, Dexter was the only survivor of a house fire that took away the lives of his sister and niece. It happened at night when everyone was asleep, and by the time he realized their house was on fire and tried to save his sister and niece, it was too late. He was able to escape with his life but he suffered third degree burns on most several parts of his body, mostly concentrated to his arms which he used to shield himself from the flames when he somehow made it out of the burning house. Click here for the news article I found about the incident in The Philippine Star.

There were a few bands who played that night pro bono, one of which was Peryodiko, which includes my wonderful huband (yes, it’s true, he is wonderful and still legally my husband, even if we aren’t together ).


I am blessed. My wonderful geek friends were there. My beautiful daughter, the light of my life, Erika, was there. Simon, the father of my child and my friend, was there. Jon tells me that The Cure was only the beginning. He says there are other events planned, the next that he is aware of is a Mos Eisley night. I heard that Peryodiko has pledged their continued help.

I am so grateful to everyone. I keep tearing up when I think about it. My surgery CAN happen, WILL happen. And all because people care enough to help.

I love all of you. I promise, as soon as I am up to it, I’ll bake you muffins filled with love. I will bake several flavors! The pirates, will, of course, get the orange rum cakes. Never forget, the rum goes to the pirates.


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