Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Broken Bones, Reborn Spirit...

2015 was a doozy.

Man, what a year. That was the year where my Faith, Patience, Health and Relationship with a number of people was tested. That was the year that I broke my right leg from a freak accident and needed an operation to be able to walk properly again.

I really cannot say that 2015 was a bad year for me. Far from it. I was able to visit Hanoi, Vietnam and Tokyo, Japan in the early parts of 2015. Shopping for things that I really wanted could have been better, but still, those are great places to visit when you want to unwind. I guess you could say that 2015 was a lot different from what I would usually go through.

The Journey

It was May 17, 2015, Sunday. A few days earlier my girlfriend invited me to go to Majayjay Falls in Taytay, Laguna along with her officemates. I said yes, I was always a nature kind of guy and wanted a change in the scenery. We plan to stay there overnight and come back home Monday morning, just enough time to rest to go back to work at night. We chipped in some money for food to be bought by one of my girlfriend’s officemates. We plan to go there by renting a Van, but it was too expensive. So we decided to commute instead. A few of them already travelled after their shift, while I went with the batch that were on Rest Day and waited for the others near the bus terminal in Mandaluyong, Manila.

Going there, I was surprised on how far Majayjay Falls was from Manila. We went through at least 4 towns in Laguna and rode 4 public transportation. It took us about 3-4 hours going there. And the place where most of the transportation would drop you off and you would walk by foot to the actual Falls is pretty far. When you actually get there and see the Falls… It’s pretty Majestic. Not as Majestic as Pagsanjan Falls (based on a picture that I saw online.) but it is still a sight to behold. Water gushing and flowing endlessly Large Rock formations and the large trees covering the sunlight from above. It’s too bad that it’s already too “Commercialized”. When we went there there were a lot of people enjoying the Falls. Majayjay Falls is a pretty well-known tourist spot, so there were stalls on the Transportation Drop-Off point where you can rent a tent, buy some firewood for the night, a hot meal, alcohol and sing a song on a Videoke machine. We were already there at around 4pm-ish and saw a lot of people taking a dip, taking Selfies and Group shots and some are already packing up and ready to leave.

Observing  the Falls, there were some structures that was Man-Made. Besides a Grotto near the side and some steps and railings to help you get to the Falls with ease, the Barangay built a type of platform where you can sit there instead on the jagged rocks and still let the water from the Falls flow freely up to the end of the place. Think of it like a small Dam or Dike. Or even an Infinity Pool. From the part where the water flowed freely, they’ve slanted a part of the structure to a 45-degree angle. One can slide there, but under it are some large jagged rocks so it’s probably not a good idea.

We took a dip and the water from the Falls is pretty cold. We took some pictures of the Falls and I also brought some of my Toys to take pictures of them for my Facebook Page and Instagram profile. We spent the night there and had a little drink and told some stories and laughed until the wee hours of the night. I already gave in to my weary body and slept in the tent while some of my girlfriend’s officemates finished a bottle by 4am or so.

The Accident 

Come Monday morning, May 18, 2015,  I was a little refreshed from my sleep, although I have a hard time sleeping due to the rocks under the tent. We had a little breakfast and I decided to take some more Toy Photography shots and another dip before going back home. So there I was, I positioned myself on the 30-degree angled slide-like structure, resting my elbows on the platform to secure myself and letting the water hit my back. After a while, I decided to slide myself a little and check out the water hitting the rocks under the Falls. Yesterday I saw some of the people doing that, so I thought I’d try it myself. I did count for the way my body was positioned and factor in the algae forming from the 45-degree angled-formation, I slid down to the rocks.

I heard a Thump and landed on the rocks under the Falls. Next thing I saw was my whole right foot facing to the right. I got my right foot dislocated. You can practically see my ankle bone protruding from my skin.


I got myself up and my companions asked if I’m okay. I showed my right leg and they freaked out. Some already went to the Barangay to ask for help and my girlfriend went to my side, comforting me and almost crying. I kept thinking “Sh*t. How am I going to say this to my folks?”, "How can I be so Stupid?" and “Why me?” to myself. After a couple of minutes the Barangay officials already came and bought a stretcher for easier transport. I was surprised there were cuts from my big toe on my right foot as well, I never felt it probably because of the adrenaline flowing from my body. It took a couple of Barangay officials and companions to get me to the Transportation Drop-Off point because I am rather heavy. They placed me on a Multicab jeep and took me to a nearby Therapist, or Manghihilot to try to fix my right foot. My girlfriend also came with me along with one of our companions and when she held my hand, I became teary-eyed. I guess during that time, I really needed comfort. It was a long ride, and we were shocked that the Therapist went away to Tagaytay and will be back by late afternoon. I was frustrated but kept my cool.

We decided instead to go a nearby hospital and after a few more minutes we arrived to a public hospital in Santa Cruz, Laguna. My girlfriend filled up the paperwork and a nurse administered Anti-Tetanus shots because of the cuts that I got from my big toe.  The Emergency Room doctor gave a prescription to have my right foot X-Rayed and then go to the resident Orthopedist. I have a hard time moving just to get it X-Rayed. The Orthopedist saw my right foot and said that we need to go back to have it X-rayed again since it should be the ankle and not the foot that should have been X-Rayed. We have to pay again for the X-Ray, much to our dismay and disapproval. When we went back to the orthodontist, he was on a lunch break. We had to wait again, and it was already noon and my leg is already starting to hurt. It was so long I remember my bladder was full and I wanted to pee, so I peed from the gurney and had to suffer the smell of urine on my swimwear. When the Orthopedist came back and checked the X-Ray, I suffered a dislocated ankle and fractured fibula. He advised us that he’ll get it back and place a cast on it and have myself checked in Manila, since Hospital regulations would indicate that if I would be operated in Laguna then I can only be checked up again in Laguna.

first X-Ray

The Orthopedist prepared the materials needed to cast my foot, then all of a sudden, without any warning, he pulled my foot back to its normal position. I screamed so loud from the pain. It was the worst pain in the world. I think the whole hospital heard that. From a medical perspective, if he had to tell me what he had to do, I would have tighten my muscles and that would make the “fix” difficult. When he is already placing the cast on my foot, I remember that I want to lay down on my back. I was in so much pain with the “Fix” that I became dizzy afterwards.

We asked for a Medical Certificate for documentation purposes. We thanked the Barangay Officials and I have to get dressed and go back home to Manila. I have to cut my Swimming trunks with a Scissor and had my girlfriend help me get dressed. We asked to be transported to the bus terminal via an Ambulance and paid the 3 seats at the back of the bus for me to rest my foot on. We even bought a wooden crutch for me to use temporarily. From the bus I already texted my friends and my boss about what happened to me, except my parents. I’m still too scared to say what happened to me.

When we already arrived in Manila, I asked for help getting down on the bus. The employees from the bus company helped me get down and me and my girlfriend got a taxi and went home to my condo in Makati. It was already early evening at that time. I took a bath and asked my girlfriend to buy some food and better crutches from a drugstore. I remember when I took a nap I woke up abruptly and involuntarily jerked my bad foot. I had a Post-Trauma Attack Episode, I suppose. But it would not be my last.

After I had a full meal, I mustered enough courage and texted my dad saying "Call me". My dad called immediately and told him the bad news. He was shocked and asked how I'm doing. During that time my mother is taking a nap, so my father planned to tell her the news after she had dinner. A few years ago my mother slipped on a marble floor and broke her left ankle, incapacitating her for less than a year. She called back a couple of minutes later, asked how I'm doing and recounting her accident and recovery process as well. I planned to go to Makati Medical Center and use my healthcard from my office to have myself checked up. But my mother suggested instead that they pick me up tomorrow and be checked up instead by her Orthopedist in University of the East Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Medical Center in Quezon City. I remember after that I cried and kept asking to my girlfriend why it happened to me. She comforted me and said that everything will be alright. 

The Operation 

They picked me up and had myself X-rayed by the Orthopedist a day after. He concluded from the X-Ray that I would need to undergo an operation and place metal screws inside to realign my ankle and fibula bone. I was scheduled to be going under the knife by Thursday, May 21, 2015. The thought about the operation did not sink in with me even after we went home. I remember my father comforting me, saying that Medical technology has advanced so much that I don't need to worry one bit. Honestly, I was not afraid at all. All I was thinking about was if I can walk normally again. 

May 21, 2015, Thursday. As preparation for my surgery, I had a heavy breakfast at home because at least 8 hours before the surgery you must not have drunk or ate anything to avoid any chemical reactions from the anesthesia that will be administered in your bloodstream. I was calm before the operation. I recall even watching and enjoying a Tagalized Ip Man movie on cable before travelling to the hospital. On the hospital, I was briefed about what the doctors would be doing to me. I was even visited by my college friend before I was wheeled to the operation. His presence gave me the extra boost and comfort that I needed. 

It was near noontime when I was already at the operating room. They injected the anesthesia to my middle back and I got a little groggy. I was about to drift away to Dreamland but the nurses inside the operating room were talking too loud that I lost my grogginess and I instead just closed my eyes and kept on repeating "The Lord is my Shepherd" as my mantra. Then I started to shake uncontrollably. It was one of the side effects of the anesthesia so they blanketed me with some plastic tubes with some warm air running on the tubes. That stopped the shaking. I was awake from the whole operation. I heard drilling and light hammering on a metallic surface. You'd think that I was on a shop class. After the noise, I even saw on a reflected mirror of an unused Operating light  that the doctors were already stitching up my leg. It's finished. The operation was a success. Waiting on the Recovery room was a drag. I was constantly monitored for any complications that I might experience after the operation. I was there for almost 2 hours before I was wheeled back to my room. I was glad I was not on a strict diet so I got to eat whatever I want. My Orthopedist showed me the X-Ray of how the 5 screws and 1 metal plate was placed on my leg. At first I was horrified, but after that it got easier to look at and I accepted my "Bionic Man" peg. 

The Recovery 

I was discharged from the hospital on May 23, 2015 and stayed in my parent’s house in Malabon. Now I face the stage of recovery. It was really difficult at first, I recounted I had to check Google and a Youtube video just to know how to properly use crutches and on how to go up and down the stairs. My day would start by waking up and going down from my bedroom, eating breakfast, take a bath while covering my bad foot and either watch television or sit outside the house with my cellphone and a urinal jug in tow until it’s noontime and I would eat lunch and take a nap and watch television again. Other times I would make myself useful in the house by folding laundry. Other days I would tag along with my folks to go to Pateros and help with our family business.

I kept having those sudden Post-Trauma Attack Episodes in the middle of the night for a couple of weeks. With Facebook and Instagram, I was able to amuse myself. In time, I accepted what happened to me and thought to myself that I can overcome this. This is a trial that God gave me, and I can win over it. My music idols Chester Bennington of Linkin Park fame and Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters fame also got into the same predicament that I have, also on the same year, and they got by just fine. So I thought to myself “If they can do it, so can I”. After a few weeks, the Post-Trauma Attack Episodes just stopped. I also kept on doing some therapy exercises that is advised by my Orthodontist, where I would apply weight to my bad foot using the upper portion of my crutches or tap my heel to lessen the stiffness of my bad foot whenever I would remember it. I really depended on my crutches. I even made a mantra because of it: “I have Faith in God, and Trust in my Crutches.” Every step would be challenge. I would always fear for my self-being whenever I would see an uneven or slippery floor. I often thought to myself that I would not wish this on anyone, not even on my enemies.

There were the bi-weekly visits to my Orthopedist, where it would be X-Rayed, he would check up on my bad foot, saying that it is recovering well, change the dressing on the stitched part, and wrap it with bandages again. Other times with the help of my mother, I would change the dressing myself. I remember seeing the stitched part up close for the first time and be so horrified by the appearance of it. It looks like a decaying flesh, like a Zombie took a bite at it. For almost 3 months it was a cycle: Get Up, Eat, Sleep, Watch TV, Facebook, Help around in Pateros and Doctor Check-Up. Repeat. There were the occasional visits from officemates and friends and my girlfriend to check up on me to break the cycle, but that’s it.

the zombie bite look
the zombie bite look

Gradually my bad foot would get better, physically (although I miss the “Zombie-bite” look. It looks cool) and performance-wise. By the middle of August 2015 I can finally walk, although I was limping and needed a cane. I remember that I depended on crutches for so long that I forgot how to walk using my 2 feet. By September 2015 I got back from work and used a wooden cane. I often rode a taxi going to work and a Hybrid bus going home for my safety and convenience. I was like lifting my whole right leg for a couple of weeks until I got used to walking again (cue the music “Walk” by Foo Fighters) that I ditched my wooden cane by October. Now by then my movement on my right leg is still limited due to the screws and plates. I could only move my leg up and down, not side-to-side. But as someone that used crutches for 3 months, I’ll take this any day, limited as it may be. After a few months I was walking normally despite a few limitations. My fears of not being able to walk again were put to rest. 

The Operation Part 2

My Orthopedist advised me to get back to him by the end of January 2016, and schedule another operation to have the screws and plates be removed by February 2016 since by that time the broken fibula has already been calcified enough to not needing the support from the screws anymore. I had my bad foot X-Rayed again, and one of the screws on the lower part of my ankle was cut in two. My orthodontist told me that removing the screws and plates would be an easy operation, however, the end part of the cut screw would be left out as it would be difficult to remove without breaking the bone. He said that it will not really hinder any bodily movements.
The X-Ray with the broken scre

I was admitted to the hospital in February 1, 2016 and was on the operating table again in February 2, 2016 by late morning. There I was, on an operation to be able to walk fully normal again. For 8 months the screws and plates were there, aiding my bones to be healed and realigned properly. And they would be removed. Finally. I recounted I got a little teary-eyed while waiting for my Orthopedist to come in the Operating room. I have waited for this moment. As usual, I was administered anesthesia again and this time, I fell asleep. By the time I woke up, they were already stitching up my leg again.  I requested to give to me the screws and plates as I have something special in mind for them. I had to wait in the recovery room again and was wheeled back to my room after 2 hours. By February 3, 2016 I was discharged from the hospital and went back to my folks to recover.
My "Souvenir"

Fears of the recovery process plagued my mind after the operation. Can I walk immediatelyWill it take 3 months again to recover? I’d like to say that I was really, really surprised that by the third day after the operation that I was walking like normal again. It took just two weeks for me to maneuver my right foot side-to-side and apply my weight evenly.  We just came back from my Orthodontist a week after to have the stitches be removed. Finally. It’s done.

The Victory 

Except for the scar on my right foot and a small screw left inside my ankle bone, I’m doing fine. I asked a friend to encase the screws and plate in a crystal-like substance to immortalize my challenge and triumph. It’s been a long road, but I finally got through it thanks to God, my friends and family.

Now, looking back, I thank God for every step that I take and I promised to myself not to complain on every distance I would cover, no matter how short or long it may be.

- "the king"

“Getting good at starting over/ Every time that I return/ Learning to Walk again/ I believe I've waited long enough/ Where do I begin?” – Foo Fighters, “Walk”

Dave Grohl