On this same night, one year ago, I was in a different dimension. The bed I was in, the people going in and out of my room, and even how i looked and felt was nothing short of painful, strange, and unfamiliar. My cheerfulness had to step aside, I was sobbing most of the night.
I had chicken pox. . . and it was a curious case.
The blisters popped out on the last day of my 5-day visit in the La Salle schools in Ozamiz and Iligan City. I skipped my flight back to Manila and was brought to the hospital instead (I thought it better not to risk being denied entry to the airplane, which is two hours away from where I was, be cause of my condition). It was my first time to be confined in a hospital and I was left to the hands of complete strangers. It was difficult because unlike most patients I had no one inside the room assisting me in my other needs like water supply, bathing, washing dirty clothes (I was just on a visit so I had very limited supply), and looking after my valuables (i stayed in a private room but the doors had to be kept open because I had no one to open and close the door everytime the nurses would come in for regular monitoring), changing the TV channel (there was no remote control), and other things. All these I did while those nasty blisters ravaged my scalp, face, torso, and limbs.
I was in the hospital for 12 long days. It was hard but I think that experience changed me on me many different levels.
I will always keep in my prayers the Brothers (De La Salle Brothers) and the La Salle Academy staff who provided me with utensils and supplies for my use in my room, the hospital janitor who would run errands for me at the hospital store, the nurses and student interns who would check my vital signs five times a day, my friends who call me up from time to time to make me feel comforted each day, my office mates who sent me a get-well card and some provisions, Dr. Marvie Blanes (my attending physician) who checked on me and gave me hope that everything will be alright soon, and many others whose names I could no longer remember.
I came back to Manila on Holy Monday, with pock marks strewn all over my body and my self-esteem hitting rock bottom. My ever-supportive mother was there at the airport to take her fresh-from-isolation son home. Never mind the glaring stares from every corner, I was just happy to be back where the familiar is. The extra days off from work, because of the observance of Holy Week, afforded me some time to process what happened to me and how I’ll be able to face the world in my “new” look.
Looking back at it now, I am just amazed at how I got through it. I think it was a good mix of faith, supportive friends and office mates, reassuring family members, and humor that got me going. Life would go on with or without my pock marks. So I did, too.
I moved on because I had to.