Monday July 16, 2018

Custodio: Remaining on 8

THERE was a time in my life when I could not walk. For about four months. I had fallen ill to reactive arthritis that left me pretty much unable to fend for myself, much more walk.

During these agonizing times, most of my joints had swollen up (all my fingers, both wrists, both knees, my right jaw, and my right foot which blew up as big as a shoebox).

I cannot begin to describe the pain, suffice to say, I had a morphine drip to control it. Being bedridden for almost four months really messes up your system. My first attempt to sit up, my blood pressure plummeted and I had difficulty breathing. I felt numb and tingly and there was loud ringing in my ears. That was scary. So scary, I thought I was going to die. Having been inflicted with a host of serious infirmities in the past, I cannot discount the possibility of my impending demise because really, when you have experienced that much, you always wonder just “when.”

Learning to walk again was such an ordeal. I remember lying in bed wondering just how I was going to manage being able to sit up without my blood pressure dropping so low. I worked on sitting up in increments, a little more degree of inclination each day until I was able to really sit up straight. Next task was to dangle my legs over to the side of the bed without feeling really dizzy. This took me a month to master but I remained determined to give it my all.

True enough, things started to get better. With my wobbly knees and shaky legs, I learned to stand up again, remembering how much effort I would put in each attempt to stand for a few seconds until I was able to stand long enough to transfer to a wheelchair. It was a small, hard-earned victory but it was a necessary task for survival. I was thankful that I could finally be wheeled out of my room!! I was so happy to be able to go out of the house and just enjoy sitting in silence in our garden! To admire the blue sky and have sun shine on my face was such a treat!

I was really thankful for the opportunity to appreciate God’s creations, to be amidst such joyful noise like birds chirping and watching our dogs play in the grass. Perseverance allowed me to continue doing my task. It seemed like it took forever till I was able to stand up and use a walker.

I was really happy to be free from the wheelchair, no matter how thankful I was that because of it, I was able to go out and enjoy myself at the mall. It was pure joy to be free from the confines of our home! Couldn’t be happier when I switched to using the cane which I used for a few months.

All in all, it took me about three years to be “normally” walking again.

Just last year, I hit my ultimate milestone when I was finally able to go up and down the stairs without holding the railing. And I did it while alternately stepping up and down the steps! Most of us do not realize how lucky we are that we are given all these abilities! Gifts that we are born with that we often take for granted. Sometimes I think about this and realize how lucky I was to be given this ability back because in reality, there are those like me who do not get a second chance.

It is not unknown to my friends that I have had a lot of medical storms in my life. If you have ever read this column in the past few years, you may have chanced upon my battle stories with cancer, asthma, diabetes, diabetic retinopathy and morbid obesity which has brought me in front of death’s door so many times. Yes, I have stared death in the eye. Luckily, I was able to walk away saying: “Nope, not today.”

So what’s my point? Well, I guess it is that it’s not over till it’s over.

We can always choose the path we want to walk on. Yes, we may not always win, but trying is winning half the battle. If we give up so soon then that is it. End game. And without even trying. I would like to think that our lives are worth fighting for. Even in our daily struggles we always have to face challenges bravely, not letting fear getting the better of us.

As Indian guru and mystic Osho said: “Don’t move the way fear makes you move. Move the way love makes you move.” When we do things in love, we are more inclined to be inspired to institute good things, to think more positively and be more hopeful for the future.

A friend asked me what it was like to go from being bedridden to walking again. She asked how I made it through. I thought hard and gave her this answer:

Faith. Acceptance. I took one step at a time, one day at a time. Kung sad or feeling hopeless, I cry. Then I pray. I’ve fallen so many times but I always try to get up each time. Ano ba 'yung Japanese saying?

“Fall down seven times, stand up eight.”

Happy to say that I have managed to be on eight, so far. With God’s grace.

You will, too.

Happy Sunday Everyone! :)