Thursday, January 30, 2014

Gong Xi Fa Cai! Happy Year of the Horse 2014!

Gong Xi Fa Cai! Happy New Year! A happy, prosperous year of the horse 2014! May all our wishes and petitions to heaven come true. May the good Lord give his blessings abundantly to us all!!! Thank you dear Lord!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The 47 Ronin Story

While I was in Manila last January 5-13 for my check-up, my children brought me to see this movie entitled "47 Ronin" starring Keanu Reeves. I had actually read this book long time ago. In1983, my husband and I went to Taiwan and Japan with a contingent of businessmen and their wives from Cotabato. It was our first trip abroad. Lucas used to be an avid reader and he bought this book in English translation from Toyota City as a memento from Japan. I remembered it was an interesting story about samurais and shogun but after so many years, I just completely and totally forgotten the plot. Watching the movie didn't revive my memory though. I told my children I didn't remember it being mythical or was there any half breed samurai at all. My children said it must be a cinematic ploy to attract movie goers. The movie turned out to be entertaining. It was not bad at all and it aroused my curiosity. I wanted to reread the book again. I wondered though if it was still in my bookshelves in Cotabato for I liked to throw old things away. Fortunately when I came home, I found the paperback still in good condition. It would not take much time to finish reading. It wasn't a thick volume. And despite my slow pace, I was done in one and a half day. Totally different from the movie! Well, understandably, for the book even explained that although based on real incidents, there have been many versions of the story told.

For me, even after watching the movie and reading the story "The 47 Ronin Story" by John Allyn, until now I still can not understand the honor or idea of sepuko. I do not know much about Japanese culture either. But surely, I do greatly admire their discipline.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Mysterious Pain

"Heal me, Yahweh, and I shall be whole; save me and I shall be safe. O you, my hope!" Jeremiah 17:14.

Last December 15, 2013, Sunday, I woke up from my afternoon nap fretfully. I tossed on my bed here and there, to the right and to the left. Then I felt a sudden pain on my left breast. "Ouch!" I cried out. It was painful to the touch. My breast was never this sensitive before. I sat up, I stood up. I could not pin point the exact location of the pain and I was afraid to explore it too, lest I do more harm than good. It was irritably painful on the skin even at the feel of the fabric of my sleepwear. Wearing a bra helped though. So, that afternoon I went on with my usual chores: preparing snacks for my husband, doing taichi, cooking supper and watching television at night. At night, I showered on heated warm water, felt for the general location of the pain, realized the irritation was near the nipple area, then rubbed it with Vicks vaporub. I took Biogesic paracetamol before going to bed and hoped that the pain would subside the next day.

Next morning, the sensation was still there. On a scale of 1 to 10, the initial pain was about 3, then dwindled a little bit to 2 after several days. The pain was actually more of a sensation of irritation that came now and then. It came about on certain movements or positions. I felt most uncomfortable at night. But after five days, I began to panic. I called up my sister Helen about symptoms of breast pain. I asked which doctor to see. She advised me to see a gynecologist first. But I couldn't leave Cotabato for Manila for a check up.  It was almost Christmas - a very busy season. I could not leave my husband, who could not leave his responsibility from the store. What was I to do during the holidays with this nagging irritation?

My children were all in Manila. I forbade them to come home for the season because of security threat. There was no point telling them about my recent discomfort too. But I called up the gynecologist of my daughter-in-law Angel in Manila. From the long distance call, I learned that the doctor in Manila was closing the clinic for the holidays too. The earliest I could see her was on January 6, 2014. I quickly decided to book my flight to Manila on January 5.

On December 23, 2013 though, before Christmas eve, my fear took the better hold of me. Despite the security threat, I went to see Dra. Redoble, a gynecologist in Cotabato City for breast examination...... accordingly there was no lump detection but I was recommended to do a sonogram. The doctor who performed the ultra sound, Dr. Doruelo was the best radiologist in Cotabato City. The result was negative! Thank God! I was so grateful! Even with the pain still lingering on, I could now celebrate Christmas happily without worry. Thank you my God and my blessed Mother! Thus on Christmas eve, I was able to joyfully host a Christmas party amongst friends and relatives. I thank thee Lord for allowing me to celebrate your birthday happily and peacefully.

The breast pain however persisted. I endured the discomfort the whole season through. I prayed a lot to God to spare me from the terrible big C. With faith in my heart, I applied diluted Lourdes water on my sensitive skin. Sometimes I took pain reliever, other times I applied external herbal medications. I also drank dang gui tea, a Chinese root crop known to be beneficial for women's maladies.Of late I also took vitamin b for the nerve and I had my back massaged once when it was feeling kind of sore.

New Year came and the pain was still there. I tried my best to be composed but I was becoming terribly frightened. I prayed and prayed, I had nobody to turn to except my God and my heavenly Mother. At night before I went to sleep, I called on my own deceased mom and dad to help and pray for me too. I called on a lot of saints including blessed John Paul II and even our friend Father Yves Caroff to intercede for me. I was getting depressed, I had to read the bible to find some consolation. Here I found Jeremiah 17:14. "Heal me, Yahweh, and I shall be whole; save me and I shall be safe. O you, my hope!"

With the prayer verse on my lips and in my heart, I enplaned to Manila by myself on January 5.  I didn't let my husband Lucas come with me for I didn't want him to worry about me, nor did I want to get stressed because I had to worry about him too. I did not allow my children to accompany me to the doctor either. For whatever was the prognosis or outcome, I wanted to have time to myself first.

Dra. Lety Chua's clinic was in Cardinal Santos Hospital. I went in before 8 o'clock in the morning. I wanted to be the first patient in line. Dra. Lety Chua was younger and understandably more impatient. Her examination on my breast was also more painful. She kind of pressed into my breast too hard. I got scared when she said, she detected 4 small cysts. She pacified me though by saying that they were soft and maybe benign. She prescribed a series of test: mammography, ultra sound and urinalysis. While inside the hospital and doing the laboratory rounds, I met Rosita Atienza. We talked and I told her about my discomfort. She told me she also went through breast pain long time ago. She consulted several doctors but it turned out there was nothing wrong. Meeting her, gave me a lot of hope. I was kind of reassured. While I was waiting at the women's care center, I chance to meet my cousin Gina, and from her I got to talk with cousin Adele over the cellphone. Our conversation was quick for my name was already being called by the attendant. Cousin Adele was concerned. She called me up again later. She informed me that she had had the same malady once. It will just go away, she said. I was then doubly reassured. The next day, my sister Helen who went through mastectomy many years ago, accompanied me to the hospital to get my initial readings. She was very calm. The results came out, but alas, both of us could not interpret the medical findings. She told me not to worry and just trust my doctor. Thankfully the sonogram results seemed to be better with no lump detection on both breasts.

When I went to see Dra. Chua the next morning, the mammograms initial findings turned out inconclusive. The doctor tasked me to do more tests. Instead of the left breast which I was complaining about, it turned out my right breast was the one with asymmetry. I was recommended to do a right breast spot compression to rule out all possibilities. I also went through bone density testing and ultra sound on my kidney, ureter and bladder. I had been a round about out-patient at the Cardinal Santos Hospital for 5 days. It was really tiresome. Thankfully there was a chapel inside where I can pray and seek rest and comfort.

Now, for the second mammogram results, accordingly, the second tests were not able to duplicate the previous asymmetry. Apparently they were just normal breast tissues. What a relief!!! After all, everything was all right! Dra. Lety Chua gladly released me from further testings. I was told to come back again next year. Yet, no explanation or conclusion was given for that wearisome irritation. I didn't mind though. I was just happy. I thanked God so much! Now I could focus on preparing for a trip with my siblings to Japan in March. I had really asked the blessed Mother to help me make that trip. Thank you God  for being kind to me!!!

And the pain? Yes, it is still there but getting less frequent. I think cousin Adelle is right. It will just go away. In the mean time I'll just brush it off and take paracetamol whenever agitated. What a mysterious pain. Gave me the the scare of my life!

"Heal me, Yahweh, and I shall be whole; save me and I shall be safe. O you, my hope." In You I trust!!!