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Saturday, October 16, 2021

Coping with Pulmonary Embolism

World Thrombosis Day was last October 13. I've been so busy I didn't notice that the 13th passed already. I am a survivor of two pulmonary embolisms. The first one was in 2018 which remained undetected for many months. I had to advocate for myself to get a second opinion since my first respiratory doctor just kept piling me with asthma meds. Several trips to the ER also did not catch the culprit. It came to a point I could barely walk at work. I could have died. 

The doctor at the clinic where I insisted to get a referral to a specialist laughed at me. He said I was just going to get the same diagnosis of asthma. I knew though something was terribly wrong. I could barely do any of my regular activities. Because I was lead to believe it was asthma I'd sleep with an air filter beside me. I'd sleep sitting upright. It took a week of tests before my new doctor figured it out. He originally thought it was COPD. After several tests they saw I had a massive blood clot in my left lung. 

Investigations to find out the cause followed after finding the clot. It wasn't genetic. It wasn't caused by a DVT. Months later I ended up with an interventional radiologist who declared I had May Thurner Syndrome. He recommended a stent, but my cardiovascular surgeon vetoed it. I was able to resume my activities, albeit a bit slower, but I easily got exhausted. I was in fighting mode though and got better with physiotherapy. 

At my ICU bed 2 days after I was transferred from the ward.

I was supposed to go off blood thinners by December 2020. My doctor transitioned me from Xarelto to Plavix. A week later after I started I was warded again. I went through CT scans, but the radiologist said they only saw residual clots (meaning it was the old clot). Two weeks later I was warded again and my respiratory doctor instinctively had me tested and saw I had multiple new clots. 

The second clot in January 2021 proved to be too much for my body. I went through numerous tests again - blood tests, leg scans, venogram, VQ scan, cardiac catheterization, two biopsies and even more blood tests - to figure out what the cause of my clots were (you need to know so you can prevent it from happening again). Oh did I mention I was warded again ten days after discharge? 

Finally stable, October 2021.


Coping with pulmonary embolism is a huge struggle. It drains you physically and mentally. In the past year I've had to visit a doctor every week. I am lucky to have the support of my family and close friends. It is not easy to understand what I've been through, but I am a survivor. The disease has taken away a lot from me, but I'm happy that I found the real me again and my faith is stronger than ever. 

Here's a shortlist how I coped:

1. Faith, lots of prayers and prayers from family and friends

2. Supportive family and friends, I now know who really loves me

3. Good doctors, nurses, medtechs and my amazing physiotherapist 

4. It was also helpful to be part of the Pulmonary Embolism support group (it also helps when you're feeling better to help others who just found out they've had a PE)

5. Writing everyday has also helped me. My doctor insisted I keep myself busy so I don't deteriorate. Early this year typing on a keyboard was the only thing I could do. I struggled with brain fog, but it started clearing up when my medicine dosage was adjusted. 

The most important thing I've learned through is the importance of advocating for yourself. Only you know your body the best. The cause of my clots will remain a mystery (multi discipline doctors have investigated to no avail). It's okay not to know, what's important is I'm still alive and I'm finally stable enough to go back home. 

Bottomless thank yous and appreciation from my doctors, the amazing nurses and medtechs and other health workers who have been taking care of me. For my family and friends, thank you for loving me, praying for me and being there through this. 

Feel free to ask any questions by leaving a comment below or you can drop me a message through my FB page or YouTube channel

Happy weekend everyone!

CB////*Yr2/188 #StuckAtHomeDay/Yr2/209 #NewG260 #Home18 #Xmas70 #StayHome #BeKind


Friday, October 15, 2021

10 Years in Singapore!

Ten years ago today I moved to Singapore! I must say that life has changed a lot! I'd like to say there's been a lot more plusses than minuses that happened in the last decade. 

2011, service apartment.


The Plusses

1. Very obviously, my weight! I was just XS when I moved here, now... never mind. I did lose 10 kilograms in the last few months. Still need to lose more to comply with my doctors. 

2. I learned to be more independent. My Mom's always been there for me and she always had my back for anything when I lived in Manila. I was lucky when I moved here because I lived with a neighbor from Manila and she showed me the ropes. 

3. I have loads of new friends from all over the world. Now there's someone I can visit wherever I go.

4. My travel skills have expanded. I once surprised a school principal at her school which is 2-hours away from Tokyo. I commuted by myself and just followed Google Maps to reach her town. I'm no longer the scaredy-cat I was when I first traveled on my own from Manila to the US.

5. I gained a lot of new skills, both for work and my hobbies. My director told me, I can be a GM of a company now. My home skills have also improved a lot. I can cook more dishes and bake bread! I also rediscovered my love for quilting. 

2021, errands.


The Minuses

1. Yeah, my health. The plus is my doctors here fixed my heart. The minus is it's back to where it was when I moved here. 

2. Missed time with family. The LDR life isn't for me and it became very hard at some point. Good thing an angel was sent to me and advised to keep my family close. It happened again now because of the pandemic. 

3. More stuff. By next month we'll be merging all of our things. I dread sorting and fixing stuff again.

I can't really think of any real drawbacks of my stay in Singapore. I'm just grateful I was given the opportunity to live here and grow. I'd like to believe I'm still the same person I was when I moved, just a bit more experienced and learned. I'm glad I got to experience living abroad, but there's no place like home. I can't wait to see Miggy and my Mom!

CB////*Yr2/187 #StuckAtHomeDay/Yr2/208 #NewG260 #Home19 #Xmas71 #StayHome #BeKind

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Updated Protocols: Going Home from Singapore to the Philippines [as of October 13, 2021]

There's been many updates the past few days from the IATF. The good news is they're removing quarantine requirements for those coming from green lane countries. Unfortunately, Singapore isn't a green lane country, it's yellow. The most important update I gathered is you need to get a negative RT-PCR test 72 hours before your flight and have a copy of your vaccination certificate. 

What this means for me as a vaccinated OFW:

1. Get a RT-PCR test 72 hours before flight. (Required for green lane, I'm trying to find info if this is required for yellow lane countries). 

2. Since I'm vaccinated, I must book 5 nights hotel or follow the OWWA Singapore process if you want to use the OFW benefit for quarantine hotel facility for OWWA members. [Note: I'm traveling with my husband who is a foreign national.]

3. Register for One Health Pass at least 3 days before your flight. 

4. Day before flight register for e-HDC.

5. On the day of your flight, update your One Health Pass registration for your seat number, health declaration and other details. Print or screen capture the QR code. This will also be sent to your email address. Post arrival process is available here from OWWA Singapore.

I am currently checking with POLO if they will be validating the vaccination certificate. You can get a copy of your vaccination certification from MOH through the Health Hub. You will need your SingPass account to be able to log-in. Once you log-in you will be able to download a PDF copy of your vaccination certificate.

*Unvaccinated/unverified/partially vaccinated individuals are required to do 8 days quarantine (7 nights hotel stay)

It's certainly good news that the requirement to quarantine has been shortened! I will update this post if there are any changes announced. I have a fuller process on the preparations I'm doing to go back home  here. Drop a comment below if you have a question. 

If you want to track what we'll be doing as we transition back home please follow my FB page and I'll also vlog our travel on my YouTube channel. We're just very busy right now sorting and packing our things. 


Resources:

Advisory for Travellers to the Philippines (link provided by POLO Singapore)

One Health Pass

Arrival Process (from OWWA Singapore)

News: Shortened quarantined days

News: Protocols for green, yellow states

And for what it's worth (this info has been very hard to find, thanks to a friend who's a GM of a hotel who sent me this information). 

Green Lane Countries: American Samoa, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Cayman Islands, Chad, China (mainland), Comoros, Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Falkland Islands (Malvinas), Hungary, Madagascar, Mali, Federated States of Micronesia, Montserrat, New Zealand, Niger, Northern Mariana Islands, Palau, Poland, Saba (Special Municipality of the Kingdom of Netherlands), Saint Pierre, Sierra Leone, Sint Eustatius, Taiwan, Algeria, Bhutan, Cook Islands, Eritrea, Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Nicaragua, Niue, North Korea, Saint Helena, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Tokelau, Tonga, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, Uzbekistan, and Yemen. (Source: PNA)

Yellow Lane Countries: All other countries not listed. (Source: DOT MM FB)

Red Lane Countries: Bermuda (Source: DOT MM FB)

CB////*Yr2/186 #StuckAtHomeDay/Yr2/207 #NewG261 #Home20 #Xmas72 #StayHome #BeKind

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Proof of Travel Life

I was feeling unwell yesterday. I guess it's still part of the effects of the vaccine. I didn't want the day to waste away so I parked myself on the bed to sort out some stuff. I decided to work on my travel bags. 

I normally bring two hand carry bags whenever I travel. One is a tote bag and the second one is a backpack or a bag with wheels. I emptied the bags yesterday and found a treasure of hotel pens hahaha. Apparently I just kept tossing them in the bag and it added up. I was happy with the find because it means I don't need to buy a pen for a long, long time. Tossed out piles of receipts and asked help from Sweetie to shred print outs of tickets and hotel bookings. 

One thing I learned through the years was to keep a small amount of currencies from different countries. My job required me to travel a lot. I normally don't bring a lot of money, but you always should have enough cash to cover taxi rides and give tips. When I go back home I would keep the currency in an envelop for the next trip. Now that travel is suspended I'll just exchange the money back since some countries may change their bank notes and render my cash useless. 




Sorting through my stuff was also a trip down memory lane. I had the opportunity to meet many wonderful people and learn about their cultures. Traveling wasn't easy for me especially the past three years (I had falls), but I was happy to be there to serve and help. With my health now I don't think I'd be able to do what I used to do. The best treasure I found yesterday were the happy memories and the opportunity to make many new friends across the world.  

And I think I found the money to buy a new sewing machine. Yay!

CB////*Yr2/185 #StuckAtHomeDay/Yr2/206 #NewG262 #Home21 #Xmas73 #StayHome #BeKind

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Tita, My OFW Inspiration

Yesterday I asked a friend when she plans to go back home. She said she hopes her contract gets renewed because what she earns here she can never earn in her province. Her daughter also works here. She convinced her to come here also to earn enough for her children. She said she had to be smart about making a living to pull them out of poverty. 

I met Tita eight years ago. She was hired for a short time to be my caregiver. She's one of those typical OFWs who went abroad for her family. In the many years I've known her I saw how she's really worked hard for her family. She's really smart about it though because she told me yesterday she just bought a farm! 

I kidded her and told her that Sweetie and me can just build a small nipa hut and live with her. She actually said "Pwede naman!". Of course we won't impose on her, but I'd want to visit her someday when she goes back home. Tita is a true fighter, she calls me anak and I can't help but admire her spirit. I also learned through the years that she was widowed early and was one of the reasons why she left the country. 


Tita's story is probably common across many Filipinos who left our country to earn a living. I had a similar reason, but it was more because the opportunity presented itself to me. I think though the experience of being far away from family is a similar pain I share with all OFWs. I know that OFWs contribute a lot back to our economy, but why do we allow Filipinos to leave and be away from their families? 

I had this thought because of what Tita told me yesterday, "I can never earn the same in my province." It's really a sad, sad thought. I took a look at some stats this morning to take a look at how the different regions in the Philippines are doing. The 2020 report of the Philippine Statistics Authority said there was negative growth across the country, so I took a look at the 2019 report. In 2019, "All economies of 17 regions grew in 2019 with Bicol Region as the fastest growing region at 7.4 percent." (Source: PSA). It was interesting to see the list of regions that grew a lot for services and industry. 

Whenever the elections come up I think we always naturally look at how leaders respond to crisis, the easy things like cleaning up your city, road repairs, building new infrastructures, but we never really assess them on economic gain. In my travels I've seen how strong leaders are able to change their cities/provinces, but I'll reserve that for another post. My point today is just to think about how our current leaders have improved our economy, both national and local. It would be interesting to see what kind of programs they've done that improved the lives of citizens. 

P.S. I'm happy for Tita's future plan to settle in her farm. That's a solid financial freedom strategy!

CB////*Yr2/184 #StuckAtHomeDay/Yr2/205 #NewG263 #Home22 #Xmas74 #StayHome #BeKind


Monday, October 11, 2021

The Future I Wanted for My Son

I couldn't sleep last night again. I was thinking about Miggy and his future. He had finished his schooling and was about to start a new phase when the pandemic happened. I gave him the independence he wanted so he could learn the ropes. I did that after I graduated and I was adamant about making my own career decisions. 

I had a lot of challenges growing up. Our generation missed a lot of school because of protests, the EDSA revolution, coup d'etats and typhoons. We oftentimes didn't have electricity at night so I had to do my homework by candlelight. It was a small sacrifice compared to what my parents went through, war and martial law. 


I told myself I'll work hard to make it easier for my son. I was hopeful he could have better opportunities in his future. I wanted him to be able to do whatever he wanted. I realized that after you graduate from school there's really a lot you can do. I plotted my path carefully and thought that was what I would do forever. I later on realized that it is a huge, huge world and there are a lot of things you can do. 

And since I had the opportunity to help pave a different future for my son, I worked really hard to contribute programs that would benefit a lot of people. I developed communities, introduced new technologies and also got to work on crisis response. The work paid off and I saw how it helped others and how it benefited a lot of aspects. I was happy because I felt it would provide a nice baseline for Miggy to work on. 

The landscape has certainly changed especially in the last two years. A lot of people would ask me how come I allowed Miggy to go back home after finishing his schooling in Singapore. He wanted to do his thing back home. I did not have it in my heart to keep him from growing. I cannot help but be worried though. What would his future look like now that things are stalled because of the pandemic? What will happen to the younger generation who are cooped up at home? 

We can certainly work on things that we can control (the micro-level). It would be immensely helpful also if the macro-level would be in order too. I can just hope and pray that my prayers for a better future for us and our country will be answered. 

CB////*Yr2/183 #StuckAtHomeDay/Yr2/204 #NewG264 #Home23 #Xmas75 #StayHome #BeKind

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Preparations, Going Home from Singapore to the Philippines

I could now feel our time in Singapore slipping away like sand in an hourglass. I originally wanted to visit our favorite spots before going home. We're just staying home since there's a surge of cases (almost 4k per day now). Just focusing now on sorting stuff, packing and preparing documents. 

Yup, our home is a huge mess right now. The mover required us to make an inventory of what's going to be packed. It's hard! It's challenging, but it's a good exercise to do since it forces you to take into account what you own. I have finally been able to collate all my supplies and realized I do own too many pairs of scissors! This week I'll pack up my Yoda collection once my arm isn't sore anymore from the vaxx. 

The biggest challenge is figuring out what you need to complete for paperwork. We booked our flight and hotel two months ago. I was hoping that they would be able to provide updated guidelines, but they're not updated. There was a huge announcement last Friday by the IATF and I had to scour through different government websites to get answers. 

Here's what we've done so far:

1. Book flight and check airline policies on swab requirements. Philippine government does not require a negative RT-PCR test, but your airline might require it (source).
2. Book hotel - check list of Bureau of Quarantine accredited hotels here. Go through the multitude of PDFs the hotel will send you. Pre-print everything and make sure they get your names right.
3. Get a mover - you can either ship it via a company like Asian Tigers or do piece-meal via LBC or Jolly-B.
4. Register on One Health Pass
5. Two days before your flight get a PCR test at an accredited center (we'll probably go to Raffles for this). 
6. Day before your flight register for e-HDC.

The question I had a hard time getting an answer to is whether I needed to get my vaccination certificate by Philippine Overseas Labor Office (POLO) validated. The Philippine Embassy's page on validation of vaccination certificate was inaccessible. Luckily I found the email of POLO and got an auto-responder. The answer is NO, you don't need to have your vaccination certificate validated. I hope the Philippine Embassy in Singapore will update their guidelines soon. 

It's quite overwhelming! I'm only able to do physical activities an hour or two a day, so Sweetie's the one getting a huge work-out with packing. I've been the one taking care of the documents and bookings. This is reminding me of the months we prepared for our wedding haha. And when we get home I'll need to find new doctors and prepare for Christmas! Whew!

For updates about our trip back home, follow me on my FB page and YouTube channel :)

Happy Sunday everyone! 

**Updated blog post at http://aileenapolo.blogspot.com/2021/10/updated-protocols-going-home-from.html

Important sites for OFWs:
POLO Singapore email - polosgvaccinationverif@yahoo.com

CB////*Yr2/182 #StuckAtHomeDay/Yr2/203 #NewG265 #Home24 #Xmas76 #StayHome #BeKind