FEB 14, 2007. 6:30 PM
Agnes and I are packing stuff in boxes for my eventual move to the States. We are in the workroom. We hear Papa say “AGNES!” which he usually says when he invites us to watch an episode of LAW AND ORDER on DVD. So we don’t pay too much heed to it. A minute or so later, I hear some weird sound …like wheezing. I think it sounds like a panting dog, or someone exerting effort to exercise. Which is a weird sound in our household, trust me. i step out of the room to take a peek.
Papa is sitting weakly, with head resting on the sofa chair, facing the TV, and breathing with effort. Looks like there was some blood in his mouth. (turns out it was spit, because he was nauseous.)
I ask: “What’s wrong?”
He says: “Nahihilo ako at nasusuka.”
I call Agnes. And she asks if we have blood pressure (BP) apparatus in the house so she can take a reading. Wala. Agnes says: “Maybe Uncle Dodoy?”
I run over to the other house, and ask for it. Indeed they have and I borrow it quickly.
Agnes’ first BP reading is extremely high at 260/130 (normal is 120/80. normal for Papa is about 130/90.) Uncle Dodoy says he has medicine for stroke if we need. And we do need. By now, my dad is vomiting into a plastic washbasin.
Agnes gives him a tiny pill which Papa melts under his tongue, and monitors his BP every few minutes. It’s still too high. Agnes says he should be taken to the hospital immediately because with BP this high, anything could happen.
We lay Papa down on the couch in the sala. The sofa seat he had been sitting in is COLD to the touch. His sweat is clammy and icy.
Since Mama is not in the house, (she is in church and has the car) Uncle Dodoy volunteers to be transporter. He positions his car in our driveway so we can take Papa to nearby St.Victoria’s Hospital, except….
Papa can’t move! He’s too dizzy. And he’s still throwing up. (His vomitus reminds me of raw pusit in wet markets.) And he’s sweating– cold and clammy skin bursting in rivulets upon his brow.
Uncle Dodoy suggests we call the city emergency hotline (161) for the Marikina City ambulance. (Free of charge to all city residents.)Except…Papa doesn’t wanna go. As usual.
Papa: “I just need to rest siguro.”
Agnes: “No. Your BP is too high. When it’s as high as this anything can happen. I don’t wanna take a chance.”
Papa: “So what do you call this I’m having?”
Agnes: (to herself) “Ang tawag diyan ay KATIGASAN NG ULO.” (Referring to my dad refusing to go have any checkups for the past 8 years.)
Agnes: (out loud) “Mild stroke ho siguro iyan.”
Papa: “Kelangan ko lang siguro ng patpat sa pwet, parang masahe ni Perfecto.”
I dial 161. It’s busy??!??!?
Papa’s BP is still high even after the dose of medicine, at something like 240/130. I dial again. And finally connect. The operator gets the facts and quickly dispatches the ambulance. It arrives in about 6-7 minutes, just as Mama arrives from church with the pancit palabok we were gonna eat for dinner since it was also Perlie’s (our maid’s) birthday.
Paramedics take Papa’s BP and ask us where Papa’s doctor is, and what hospital we want to go to.
Mama says: “Wala siyang duktor. Wala ring ospital. May suggestion ba kayo? pwede ba Heart center?”
The ambulance can’t go out of Marikina City limits. But they suggest Marikina Valley Medical center.
They say: “Mabilis kumilos ho doon, at mas konti ang tao kesa sa St.Victoria’s.”
So they bring in a blue wooden stretcher and we all help to transfer and then haul Papa to the cold, chilly aircon ambulance with his towel wrapped around him for warmth. At one point, he doesn’t want to let go of the couch– obviously not wanting to go to the hospital. But he has choice. Agnes and I ride with him to the hospital. Mama follows along in the black Honda Civic, with hazard lights flashing.
Papa: Wow, this is my first ambulance ride.”
Me: “Me too!”
Papa:”Valentines pa naman. Nakakahiya.”
Agnes: “OK lang iyan ho.”
Papa: “Actually, I’m more pissed off than anything.”
At the emergency room, he is given meds to control the BP. And he’s hooked up to all sorts of machines. Oxygen for breathing. Intravenus drip for feeding and meds. Pulse rate monitor.
We sign forms and talk with the admittance clerk. Since the hospital is relatively new, fees will be paid in cash muna. Ire-reimburse na lang ang discounts from the PhilHealth and so on.
Agnes helps out the ER staff with the vomiting and wiping of sweat. Later on, at some point, Papa tells Mama: “You tell Agnes, she’s a good nurse.”
Also this snatch of conversation:
Mama: “So, how are you?”
Papa: “This heart still beats for you.”
They take him for x-rays. Then move him to the ICU so they can keep constant monitor over all his vital signs. The doc (internal medicine) arrives (from her Valentines date maybe?) and tells us that they intend to do a CT Scan (some kinda x-ray of the head done in horizontal widthwise slices) to see the inside of the head, and see what’s wrong. But so far normal naman ang neurological responses niya because: he knows who he is, and what day it is, (Papa actually told the doctor “Happy Valentines, Doc”) and he isn’t disoriented. So so far so good.
At about 1 AM, he goes for CT Scan. Agnes and I accompany him and see how it goes. It feels like an episode from House, without the abrasive genius doctor around to ridicule our ignorance.
Agnes and I head home soon after. Mama takes the first night watch.
Early the next morning, the doctor confirms it was a stroke, which affected his cerebellum, hence the nausea connected with movement. She says that they will continue to give him meds for the swelling, for the BP and for blood sugar (which is high as well), as well as something to help him with his bowel movement.
He is in the ICU for the next 2 days or so, while his BP see-saws all over the place. When it finally settles down, a second CT scan also shows that whatever swelling was once in the cerebellum has decreased. And soon, he is transferred to a regular room.
He’s getting better now. We’re sure of it. He’s now strong enough to sit up by himself and handle a spoon and fork and glass. No standing or walking yet. (Give him time.)
Plus he is getting bored and restless, and always hungry and asking about what foods he can or can’t eat. He’s always asking about whether he can still eat (1) egg pie (2) coffee (3) palitaw (4) suman (5) pizza (6) beer (7) red wine ….. which just shows you…. gumagaling na nga siya!
But before he can eat all of that, a little control. Right now, he’s on a diabetic diet to control the blood sugar level, and we’ve been given guidelines on what foods he can and can’t eat by the dietician. Low salt, low fat, low sugar! Sorry no beer, Dad.
According to the neurologist, if there are no complications, Papa should be out of the hospital in 10 to 15 days (counting from day 1). So we expect him home by about Feb 25 or 26 which is my birthday! That would be a nice birthday gift, if he could come home.
Please keep praying for his recovery, and for all those who are sick and in hospitals.