Unconscious :(

Actually, scratch the previous title.  What I’m seeing now has to be the worst feeling in the world. So many thoughts and I don’t know where to begin or what to write…..

Mom is still here, hanging on, but unconscious.  She’s been like that for more than a day, and I haven’t left her side.  I tried to sleep, but I was restless as I cried and watched Mom sleep.  The doctors say it could be anytime soon, but I refuse to believe them and don’t want it to come. I still want to believe that she’ll wake up and get better.  I still want to believe in her miracle. I can’t even…….No! I’m not even entertaining the thought of what life would be like without her.

But I know I need to de-stress and list out some thoughts…..so here goes…..

  • Mom had such a loving zest for life that taught me how to see the silver lining in everything.  She taught me keep positive even as it hurt to do so.  Trying my best to do that now.
  • Mom taught me to trust that I will always be taken care of and provided for, whether by family, friends and of course, Providence Himself.  No matter what, someone will be sent to take care of me.
  • Mom was excellent at expressing herself:
    • through art – she was very crafty, creative and had an eye for decorations
    • through communication – she made far feel near
    • through her gaiety and authenticity with everyone she loved
  • Mom’s heart is strong.  At the state she’s in, lacking oxygen and all, the doctors say her heart should have stopped a long time ago.  But it’s actually beating strong and keeping her alive.  That speaks volumes of her character – I’m hanging on to that thought forever.

Just the positive, not entertaining the negative. We’ve been in the hospital for 10 days, but I’ve never left her side.  I’m still here, tired yet alert.  I watch her fade away as I hang on to all I cherish about her.

The worst feeling in the world

The tears have stopped, the sedation has worn off, and I’ve finally gathered the heart to compose this.  I warn you, dear friends, this post may be hard to read.

It’s day 6 and we’re still at the hospital.  Mom was only initially supposed to stay overnight, but her breathing has been unstable and we’ve stayed so the doctors and nurses can keep an eye on her.  However, now I’m under observation too.

Yesterday, mom and I woke up in a good mood and she asked if I could help her take a bath. It’s our daily routine at home, so the only difference was that Mom had her IV tubes tied to her.  I locked the room door (so nurses wouldn’t walk in on mom’s bath), but kept the bathroom door open so it wouldn’t be too stuffy.  It was a challenge to get her dressed as her shirt kept getting tangled with her IV tubes.  I tried to help her, but she had to do more of the work to free her hand  Out of nowhere, I got so dizzy, tried to contain myself, and fell.  I fainted.  I tried to fight it scared to hurt mom, gripped onto the wall to regain balance, but then fell again.  Mom kept screaming “buzzer, buzzer” but for some reason, I thought I was at home In San Francisco and couldn’t understand what she was saying. I fell again.  2 minutes later, I woke up sprawled on the floor and found Mom lying under the sink and out of breath.  It was the worst feeling ever!  I called the nurses for help, they helped Mom stabilize her breathing and rushed me to the ER to check on me.  They checked my blood sugar, heart rate, etc and all my vital signs were normal.  I cried hysterically and felt so bad for falling on Mom. The doctors had to sedate me to calm me down and I passed out in the ER. My dad was at home at the time, and hit a lot of traffic rushing to meet me.  Thankfully, some of mom’s friends came to visit so they took care of her, while another family friend took care of me in the ER.  By the time Dad arrived, he was all over the place.  I woke up a few hours later, moved back to Mom’s hospital room and rested next to her so Dad could keep an eye on both of us.  They nurses used a nebulizer until Mom’s breathing improved, and the doctors decided bed baths and diaper changes would be more optimal for the time being.

So I slept through the night and feeling better today.  Ugh! I wish I could “undo” fainting and re-do the day all over again.  I’ve been careful of my eating habits and sleep as normal as can be.  I don’t get it…..what did I do to provoke the fainting.  I’m so mad at myself.  I wish it never happened.  Sigh….I’m just thankful Mom is OK but I still hate myself for falling on her.

Back at our favorite hotel :(

We checked into our “favorite hotel” (as mom sarcastically calls the hospital) again, this time for an overnight chemo treatment.  It’s mom’s first session, so the doctor requested that she stay overnight for observation.  Our hospital, Notre Dame de Chartres, has a fancy newly constructed oncology unit for chemo patients.  It’s quite modern and comfy.  Dad and I lounged on lazy boy chairs and watched a movie during the 2 hours that mom underwent chemo via IV.

Mom, on the other hand, slept through the chemo and even woke up smiling.  That should be a great sign, right? As of now I’m leaving no room for doubt (as always), promise to trust the process, and will keep the firm determination the mom will keep getting better.  In just a few more sessions, her breathing will improve tremendously, we’ll celebrate and perhaps even travel together.  I may be dreaming big, but there’s always room for hope.

Since I’ve been around Mom 24/7 for the past 4 months, I truly feel like I’m going through all the pains, difficulties and lifestyle changes with her.  Almost like I’m sick too.  We’re kindred spirits all the way through.  Tough as it is to see her struggle, I treasure our time through this together.  Although there’s hesitation for what happens next, we continue to celebrate and find comfort in each other.  After all, companionship has sustained us more than anything else.

We climbed a volcano today!

As you may know, Baguio is the Philippines summer capital known for it’s cold climate, Pine trees and endless hills.  We have the most majestic mountain and valley views within a very short drive from home. The most popular among them is a dormant volcano, Mount Santo Tomas, that towers 7,400 feet above the city.  It houses 2 big radars that supposedly provide telecommunication support for the city.  As a child, I used to think of these radars as “giant fans” that cooled the city.  It used to be a long, off-road, dangerous trek up, but now the roads are well paved and it only takes 15 minutes to go up to the top of the volcano.

We’ve been wanting to drive to the top since we August, but hesitated to do so because of mom’s health.  This morning, she woke up in a very good mood, got us up early and asked if it was possible to drive up even for just a quick trip.  We were hesitant at first, but after weeks of cabin fever we figured the fresh air would be good for all of us. So dad and I packed up mom’s portable oxygen tank, wheelchair, crutches, water and snacks then ventured up the volcano.

It only took us 30 minutes from our home to the top, but it was such a refreshing trip for all of us.  Dad loved driving the mountain curves, Mom enjoyed the fresh air, and I was in awe of being at the level of the clouds.  It was also really nice to see Mom still had a fervent spirit of adventure, eager for the outdoors and nature’s spirit lifting enrichment.

Below are a few photos from our trip (taken 7,410 feet above sea level!), We loved the trip so much, we all decided to make it a regular part of mom’s therapy.

Here we are leaning against the ledge of the view deck.

IMG_9031 IMG_9032

Overlooking Baguio in between the trees


The giant “cooling fans” aka radars of the city


And of course, the majesty of being at the level of the crowds.

IMG_9038 IMG_9042


100 island escapade

Just spent the past few days exploring the an area known as the Hundred Islands in Alaminos, Pangasinan.  As you may know, the Philippines is comprised of 7,101 islands and this area is home to 100 of them.  It was quite an adventure, and a great story from beginning to end.

Upon arrival in Alaminos, we hired a tour right at the bus stop.  We rode in his tricycle and he took us to the market to buy food, charcoal, and provisions for the night.  From there he brought us to his cousin’s place, and his cousin Manny (a pseudonym since I forgot his name) became our all around boatman, tour guide, guard, and local friend.

Check out our boat and the sunset view as we approached our island home for the night:



The “cottage” we stayed in for a night.  When Manny mentioned “cottage”, my American mind imagined a place with a small house with a room, bathroom and maybe a living room.  Lol…of course it was far from that.  Their cottage was an open air beach hut with benches and a little in between that looked like this:


I love the outdoors and usually open to camping, but I imagined tents and a sleeping bag when I was told we would camp.  Hahaha…instead we slept in open air hut, lying on a very uncomfortable bamboo. On the plus side though, it wasn’t that cold and a breeze kept the mosquitoes away.  An even bigger plus – my friends and I had the whole island to ourselves!

Since we arrived at night, I was pleasantly surprised waking up to this view the next morning:



And a cave with a few bats right next to our “cottage”:


On our second day, we snorkeled, explored some caves, ziplined, drank beer and relaxed on beach.  As we approached nightfall, we decided to treat ourselves to a better night’s sleep and asked Manny for any suggestions on a place to stay.  Again, he kept the business within the family and referred us to his sister-in-law who rented out a room in her house on a transient basis similar to Airbnb.  We were apprehensive at first, but pleasantly rewarded when we saw the place.  The room was the top level of a 3 level home, with it’s own terrace, air-conditioning, a large screen TV, heated showers and even a pool on the roof. All for a great price of $25 too!

Here’s a view of our terrace


and the pool on the roof



That night, Manny took us to dinner at his family’s resto-bar.  We asked him to join us for dinner and he shared stories of the diversity of tourists he’s met and hosted.  For our next destination, he suggested checking out the beaches in the next town, Bolinao, that was famous for a white sand beaches, a cave pool and a luxury resort.  We were supposed to go home the next day, but we were too curious we decided to proceed to Bolinao and head home from there.

Our decision was greatly rewarded by a beautiful cave pool


followed by another swim in a very relaxing infinity pool.



It was an awesome 4 day adventure I’m thankful for.

Happy Birthday Dad!

Dad just turned 64 today! In between all the treatments and house stuff, we made it a point to celebrate him.

Woke up early to greet him with a pineapple upside down cake for breakfast (see below). Even though she was in pain, mom pulled herself out of bed to go to church for dad today and we had lunch together. After that we went back home, chatted and played basketball.

No feast or a big party, but in a way, this felt like just what we needed.IMG_8899.JPG