Mirroring A Recent Past

Early Sunday morning, may preparations to going to early Mass was interrupted by a phone call on my mobile. At first I thought it was sacred_essence, who had the penchant of calling me this early in the morning. But then I remembered that she was attending the dawn service of her congregation, and that she only calls me on thelandline, not my mobile. I was surprised to see my cousin, Jinno, as the one calling me on the other end. But I wasn’t ready for what he said after I answered his call.

Jinno broke the news as gently as he could – his mom, my Tita Gigi, was having a stroke, and that he and his dad and elder brother had taken her to the hospital. It took a second for it to register before the full reality of the news hit me. The news brought back memories – my Dad suffered three strokes of the same kind, and I was remembering the feeling of fear and helplessness for those around him who love him and want to care for him, but don’t know what to do and frightened at what he was experiencing.

I rushed to my Mom and told her the news immediately. Tita Gigi was my Mom’s youngest sibling in her brood, and therefore special to her. Also, my tita’s family was there for us when Dad went down with his last stroke, and so I felt a debt of honor to them that I know I can never completely pay, but willing to give increments to. Mom took the shock with grace, and we both decided that I should go to the hospital immediately to rush to my aunt’s side. With another of my Mom’s sisters as my companion, we got to the ER and found myTita.

At first glance, Tita Gigi was lucid. My comment at the time was she was going to be fine because she was “malikot” – she was moving around restlessly in the hospital bed. By my experience with my father, I saw this as a good sign that the stroke was not that bad, but again my opinion was from an amateur point of view, and I knew that the stroke was still progressing. I answered the questions of my uncle and my two cousins as much as I can, and tried to comfort them any way I can think off. I was quiet and solemn most of the time, remaining sober, although my heart ached as I saw my favorite cousin,Nino the elder brother, was brought to tears. Jinno, the younger, was taking it stronger – he has the same strong and feisty personality as my Tita Gigi, and I know he get through better. But I can see the turmoil that was going thru my three relatives in their eyes.

After sending home my cousins to get clothes for their vigil in the hospital, the doctor arrived with the diagnosis – the left cortex of the brain was hit by the stroke, and more tests was to be done to see the extent of the damage there. The left side of myTita’s body was hit and currently weak – mobility was limited there. And her speech was impeeded – this is the worse damage a stroke on the left brain could inflict, at the same time she was having trouble swallowing.

The good news the doctor said that because my uncle noticed my Tita’s stroke early in the progression, medication was given early – not early enough to stop the stroke, like some medicines can, but early enough that it can be monitored and medicated by the hospital staff as well. Also, after a good four hours of waiting in the ER, myTita was admitted to the Acute Stroke Unit – an ICU-style ward for patients with a progressing stroke attack. Thankfully my Tita was brought in there, and the isolation allowed her to rest comfortably and peacefully. It’s a little tough for the family – visiting hours was severely limited to a few hours in the morning and evening, and there was no place to stay overnight. But we all agreed thatTita needed the rest and quiet, so we didn’t grumble or complain about it anymore.

With everything stabilizing at the hospital, my Tita Baby and I, together with my Uncle Noy, left the hospital, leaving my cousins to wait on their Mom, giving Uncle Noy to rest up at home. I arrived at home slightly after lunch, to the waiting crowd of relatives eager for news about my Tita Gigi. I filled them in on everything I can tell them, which they accepted gratefully and unanimously decided to visit my Tita Gigi later that afternoon, despite my warning that visitors and visiting hours was limited. My Mom went with some of my cousins, and I stayed home for the rest of the day to be with my Dad.

As of today, my Tita Gigi is still in the Acute Stroke Unit. By experience, I know that a stroke patient will spend at least a week in the hospital so that the stroke could subside and the patient be monitored – that was the SOP when my dad had his three strokes. While still in isolation, I believe its for the best for myTita . She will need all the rest she can get, so that the medicine and medical care will send the stroke away, and physical and occupational therapy will deal with bringing her back to her feet again. It will be a tough time ahead for myTita’s family – I can symphatize with what will be in store for them ahead. It will not be easy taking care of a relative stricken by a stroke, and my Mom and I have been goingthru this for the past six years now. But a lot of patience and love will help lighten the load, though it won’t take away all of the burden. It is a burden I have learned to carry, but what has happened to myTita felt to me like looking at a mirror at my recent past. I pray to God that all will be well with my Tita, and that she can recover as much as possible from this saddening development.


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