Tuesday, January 7, 2014

365 Days After Surgery

A year ago today I had mitral valve surgery to repair the leaky heart. It was an open heart operation, but was just supposed to be a quick 2-hour event. My body though wasn't built the same way as other people since I had a lot of tiny veins and this made it difficult and complicated. Recovery wasn't easy as well since I responded differently to the medicines and I eventually had to go through another surgery to drain water from my heart and lungs.

It was the most horrific thing I went through in my entire life. I survived through prayers and sheer willpower. The first few days after surgery I would dream that I was in an accident. I realized later on that my body was probably wondering what happened and was synthesizing that maybe it was an accident that caused the 8 inch incision (and well maybe it was all the medicines!). It eventually went away but I still remember those dreams.

I don't think I will be normal ever again. I still have some difficulty going down a staircase and usually need assistance when good balance is required. I conquered Borubodur though 5 months after surgery (thanks for the help by Vanj and JR!) and when I told my doctors about this they said I was well on my way to full recovery. To validate my independence I took a gazillion trips shortly after that. In the last 8 months I've gone to the following places: GenSan (2x), Davao (3x), Bacolod (2x), Pangasinan, Baguio (2x), Kuala Lumpur (2x), Cebu (3x), Dhaka, Bangkok, Manila (because I'm supposed to be based in SG!), Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh, Benguet, Tagaytay and Batangas. I also managed to watch a rock concert for my birthday (Eraserheads!) and survive the stressful work of doing crisis response (shhh please don't tell my doctors!). I feel though I haven't done enough.

My dear friend Juned served as my inspiration to reach the top that day. We made it!

I know a lot of people are scared of going through surgery and a fellow patient reached out to me in the community of heart patients I'm part of. She said that her doctor required her to go through surgery (same as mine) but she was just given a few weeks to prepare. She said she was anxious about it and was not sure if she wanted to go through it. I told her that I had a decade to prepare myself but had come to the realization that surgery was the only way to improve my quality of life. I had to go through surgery to get better for my family. I didn't hear from her after I responded so I hope she's okay, but for those faced with a similar decision just be brave for your loved ones. If things fail anyway you wouldn't know!

This is me now, a tad bit overweight... okay a lot overweight according to my cardio!
 I'm chubby now but I'm happy!

The priest last Sunday said that we are all here, we have our life because we still have a mission to fulfill. This is one thing my Dad always reminded us of. The priest's sermon was indeed a great reminder as I face 2014 with my repaired heart which has given me renewed energy. I am thankful that my family continues to support me in my endeavors even though I know they worry a lot. Surviving a major operation with complications is easy when you keep to your faith and have your family beside you.

In the next few days I'm going to start another crazy work year!
And as W.C. Fields said, "Start every day off with a smile and get it over with."

*Mobile screenshot was a Hangout with my brother and his kids when I was in the hospital. My other hospital photos look really scary.