Sunday, April 24, 2011

How I survived Leukemia

Everything about me was normal when I was born. And everything stayed the same as I grew up. I think.

For that, I consider myself lucky. But not lucky enough to be spared from a disease I did not dread until it became a reality.

Not knowing is a nightmare. It is like trudging a dark and dank surreal world. But the diagnosis is worse. It is the unanticipated pull back to earth spiced up with painful lashing, one after the other—one whip for every complication that is leukemia.

I remember hiding and crying. Asking questions that begin with “why.” Questions with no definite answers. Answers that come along when most of your fears and worries are over.

I am not much thankful that it is over, nor for the fact that I survived it. It’s just how it is because it is how it’s supposed to be. And I had no control over it.

I cannot say that I am less troubled now. Because I often catch myself worrying. Wondering what will happen next—if the trouble and the trauma is the worst I will ever have to deal with in life. Even I know that it is too early to tell. To say that the worst is over.

Sometimes I feel defeated. Because part of me died the day the battle ended. It is compulsory to live just so I will not lose altogether. I find much consolation in living the best way I can. If only to express that I learned something, that I got something good out of which is undoubtedly bad.

Some people, perhaps they will have a hard time understanding how a thing like this can change people like me. How something probably as abstract as leukemia could affect a person forever. I will be happy for them if they live their lives never finding out. I pray that they never find out.

I never had leukemia but I did suffer from it.

I lost a loved one because of it—my brother who always expressed his will to live. A brother who could have been a great somebody if he were given a longer lease on life. A brother who made me believe that there is heaven because after all he’s gone through, he deserved heaven.

Losing him, the process and the end in itself, was suffering.

I didn’t have to be on the verge of dying to survive leukemia.

I go on with my life but things will never be the same again. No simple bleeding or body pain will ever go unnoticed. I will forever think that I may be a carrier of the faulty gene which when triggered, can lead to the same thing that killed my 13-year-old brother.

I survived leukemia. But a good person I know and loved, didn’t. He suffered so badly, he didn’t make it.

Often times I live in fear. Sometimes, sorrow.

I guess, this is how I survived—scarred and scared.

This is how I live.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ano ang "P" sa P.E.?

If I were any worse at P.E. perhaps I wouldn't be able to answer this question.

There are sporty people, flexible individuals, and the physically fit. And then there's me.

As much as I enjoyed playing dodge ball and kickball in my younger years, the fear of spraining an ankle or breaking a bone always lurked at the back of my mind, preventing me to, well, be at the top of my game. Then volleyball happened. And just when I proved to NOT suck at it, I had to undergo surgery (at my wrist), get well and lose the volleyball momentum.

I consider it excruciating every year, when we have to undergo that thing called "Philippine Physical Fitness Test" (PPFT). I can define flexibility, agility, endurance, strength and the likes but my body most definitely cannot define them. Not at all. Especially since I am one who can NEVER do decent sit-ups, nor crunches. Really I can't. So you can just imagine how embarrassing it was to record "1" or "2" under number of sit-ups every time I had to take the darn test!

And this happened when I was at the perfect weight for my height and, if it matters, age.

I guess, P.E. and I were just not meant to be.

Swimming was better though. I found out that I am capable of learning and doing three out of the four strokes in our curriculum. And I passed the quarter for successfully pulling off a few laps in our school's junior olympic-size pool.

The dances were awful. Be it folk dance or ballroom, I was a mess. And I cannot even muster memorizing the proper counting for "Carinosa" or the "Itik-itik" or "Binhi". Perhaps the "step-hop-hop", "hop-step-step" didn't appeal to my brain cells, or my muscles for that matter.

Chickenpox once saved me from gymnastics class. I didn't have to force myself to do splits or head stands or other stunts. But I will be eternally reminded of our pyramid-building efforts for it was then that I broke a bone, or probably it was dislocated. I don't know for sure. I was too afraid to see a doctor. I just relied on good ol' self-healing! As it turns out, I'm no wolverine. I can still feel the broken, if not dislocated bone, until now.

I would have enjoyed softball if we played more of it. I probably will never be the best softball player in class but I did hit a few balls with my bat. Few is better than none. And although it took a lot of guts to say hello to a flying ball, I knew how to catch using a stinky mitt. I thank my reflexes for that.

College offered me more freedom in exploring what P.E. can do for me. I took Tai-chi and aced it. I guess, I did well at imagining the ball of energy moving around my body while "painting the rainbow", "stroking the peacock's tail" and what-have-you. It helped that there were no impossible bending involved. Thus, me sailing through tai-chi.

I wasn't bad at table tennis and bowling either. Perhaps table tennis is the one clear edge I have over Jessica Zafra. I passed my class with a whopping "line of uno!". I remember I never made a strike in bowling (we played with duck pins). But I did spare several spares. Not bad for a beginner.

For a long time I haven't done anything PE-ish. Other than a few games of badminton with my family in the past; and, if it counts, my short-lived stint at Fitness First. And by "short-lived", I mean 5 to 7 visits out of my 3-month membership with them. Let's just say, Fitness First and I just didn't work out.

I can hardly believe I will ever consider joining yoga classes. Of course, I'm not good at it. It's about bending and reaching for-oh, I don't know. But even though I laugh my way to yoga class, I do appreciate the calm I get while doing the tree pose - which, thank god, I can do!

Now you see, "Ano ang 'P' sa 'P.E.'?" is a challenge for me, too.

Right, Chuck?