Thursday, April 24

Confessions of a Fogged Mind

Wow, I can't believe my feet have taken me back here. I think every time a sort of overload happens in my life, I get the tendency to retreat and look for my safe haven once again which, needless to say, is this blog. 

The overload I'm talking about has something to do with my being ill.

I've had lacunar stroke back in December, and it's turned my world upside down since. The stroke itself was something far from damaging. It was a mild one. My internist, a good and competent doctor, has told me that my case was sort of a fluke, considering that my age and blood make-up were not a likely candidate for such illness. And I do believe him. Well,  I suppose, flukes do happen.

I was committed to the hospital for a week after a rather invasive and painful ct scan showed I was having a stroke, although twice before in the emergency room I was misdiagnosed as suffering an acid reflux and was sent home prematurely.

During confinement, I  was given intensive  shots of citicoline to wake my neurons up and generate new brain cells. I guess that from then on, my once simple-if-a-bit-leaning-towards-erratic-brain was never the same. Good or bad, I can only speculate.

My problem began when I started working again four weeks later.

Immediately, I could sense that something in me has changed. I got fidgety and irritable at the slightest stimulus. How's that for stress-busting prevention? Yikes. Secondly, I have known myself to be a bit of a scatterbrain, yet generally useful and capable of mildly complex endeavors. But after the stroke, I  realized that I vacillated more often and focused less. There was always a sense of missing out something that I can't exactly pinpoint, and it frustrated me that I couldn't identify it right away. It just felt that I had to get to it, or I would become agitated and endlessly cuss under my breath.

Sometime around February this year, after boldly taking up driving lessons for five sessions, things turned for the worse. I was always feeling vertiginous, out of balance, fearful. It didn't help that my stomach was always churning and was just plain uncomfortable at all times of the day. I had lessened my caffeine intake, and loaded up on potassium and fiber instead. But there seemed to be no end of the ill feeling. It was just perpetually looming when I least needed it.

Not being able to cope well, I turned to my internist. This time he told me outright that I was exhibiting pervasive symptoms of anxiety disorder, something expected from a stroke patient like me, but that I needed to mend myself, by myself.

He did give me Xanor to ease my nerves somehow, but not without warning me adamantly that it can be habit-forming. I personally was resolute to use it only for two weeks as prescribed, so imagine how relieved I was when the pills seemed to indeed alleviate my symptoms. Finally, the monster was put away in the dungeon. Or so I presumed. Ouch! Little do I know that such solutions are meant to be short-lived and are never to be relied upon.

By mid-March, I was back to square one. I honestly dreaded running back to my internist . I just knew that I had to be off of those pills and do something to combat my infliction the natural way. But how, I just didn't have an iota. So, there I was in his clinic and again he dismissed me saying, "fix yourself".

Feeling incredulous, I set myself to murdering  my doctor mentally. Did I not look to him like a rabid dog that had totally lost it? How do I fix what breaks without provocation and glues itself whole again just when you think it can never be mended? And then breaks again at your most unawares? Tricky shit, right? But then again, he seemed to be right on. Acceptance, that's a word. But right now, how do I accept something so extreme  and psychologically fatal and resurrect from those little deaths?

Recently, I've had anxiety attacks for days on end. It's a tiny hell all the time, if that's what hell in fact feels like. The dizziness, palpitations, nausea, fear of falling and fainting, just the sheer fear of dropping dead in a public place where no one knows you, triggered at a time when you least expect it --that's how bad it is.

On good days, I'm still myself, easy to please, with a ready laugh, and I guess a healthy enough disposition to not be disparaged by such thoughts and fears of these unknown lurking demons.

But by god ,when it does happen--out of the fucking blue---I swear, I crumble like a handful of sand. Forgive the language. But I can't begin to elucidate how horrible that very moment feels, and unless another person experiences it himself, there is no elucidation that can paint the picture enough for one to understand, or empathize at the very least. I don't know now if talking about it, verbalizing it, confessing it ,would help.

I've always made light of the word "shrink", but right about now, I think that's ironically who I most desperately need.

Saturday, May 18

Cruisin’ Mindanao

I found myself all wrapped up in the preparation for our family trip down south at the beginning of May. It’s my husband and kids’ first time to see Mindanao (or parts of it). We would be away for a week and it’s not a nearby destination, so you ‘d realize how that unsettles me. In terms of making sure we have a place to stay, enough clothes to wear, ready budget for food and other incidentals…well, suffice it to say that I was the go-to person, as other moms in our company were. My female cousins and I have been spent a considerable amount of time pouring over our itinerary---but the husbands and kids seem imperturbable and blissfully unaware of the nitty-gritty that had to be dealt with.  Surely, the dirty job rests on motherly hands.  

On to the trip, I was glad to have a much smaller camera with me. My big cam has served me well, and it’s always going to be put to good use, regardless. Oliver got us an EOS-M on our wedding anniversary last April, and I decided to bring that, together with the dainty prime lenses which I never really got to use.  Being a photography enthusiast, I’ve naturally planned and imagined taking many amazing pictures and portraits of people, but reality strikes me that I’m a mom, and time-honoured, it is my utmost job to look after my kids’ needs first. So forget about amazing. I just took photos, period. Below are images of people and places captured whilst cruising the route of Davao-Samal-GenSan-Saranggani-Surallah-Sultan Kudarat. The ones where I appear were mostly taken by Oliver, or one of the people in our group.

That was a trip. Literally. At some point, in between plane and jeepney rides,we were cramming ourselves inside a pretty rundown van that my brother and a cousin took turns to drive, for hours and hours, on the wide, at times deserted roads of the south. We were 7 adults and 7 kids, almost new to these territories, and all wide-eyed. But the beaches we’ve been to, the roads we passed, the clear aquamarine waters and cold spring we’ve dipped our bodies into, the horses, yes horses! we've said hello to, the rough stony roads we braved, the mountains and waterfalls we flew over, the novel food we’ve partaken of and enjoyed, the unexpected token of warmth and kindness of strangers, the joy of familiarity in cousins, uncles and aunts, nephews and nieces, or the most random of people, and the stories shared —all that inundated the senses, and certainly filled a huge part of each one’s personal memory bank. And it’s the memory of mesmerizing Mindanao that we name it after.     

Sta. Ana Wharf , Davao City

Badjao kids diving for coins. This boat is bound for a 9am trip to the Samal Island

Samal Island

with our host family, my cousin Gloria Dawn
Road trip!
Saranggani Bay in the background
Coco Beach, Glan, Saranggani



peace, serenity....

el caballero

fisherman fixing his boat

local girl cleaning her pots with beach sand

I had the opportunity to chat with this girl, and listen to her rough life. She just graduated with first honors from 6th grade, but her grandma couldn't afford to send her to high school as five other siblings left in the grandma's care have to be fed. The family fish as their main source of income, but enough money hardly comes by.

Swimming in the cold spring waters of Olaer. General Santos City.
Quick stop at the bridge that connects borders of  Region XI and X1I, Socsargen.

A fishing trip to my sister-in-law's farm.

Tilapia pond
My sister-in-law Michelle teaching me and Maxine how to sink a line
Miko, with the day's catch.
View from the zipline deck. Lake Sebu, Surallah
Bawal mag-picture picture sa kalo. Do not take pictures with the hats, or donning the hats. Point well taken.
Trinkets made by the T'bolis.
Highlight of the day, zipline.

flowers by the roadside
View from our restaurant. Lake Sebu.
A carte blance view of nature, as we while away and enjoy our crunchy tilapia fare.

Tuesday, February 19

I guess that if I had to define freedom, the first few things that will come to mind are laughter, smile, air and sunshine. Those for me are ultimate symbolisms of being able to express happiness without the constraints of society's woes or the dictates of unknown, and often negative, forces in life. However, it cannot be ignored that most times it is only in our minds that we shackle and deprive ourselves of what can be had. I had been in that mental prison at some point in my life. It cannot be helped. But I now love my freedom, and if it has to mean nothing else but laughter, smile, air and sunshine, and a content mind- then let me be the first to have it. Simple. Last Saturday, the family decided to spend the few remaining hours of the afternoon at the Sunken Garden. We took turns photographing each other and this time I only brought the 85 lens that I haven't used for a while. Gab did quite a job, and I must say that I have almost forgotten how I really love this lens. Something about the camera though tells me that pretty soon, an upgrade has to be considered.Rolling on the grass, laughing at the kids' crazy antics, sharing in the simple food, basking in the afternoon breeze, watching a lovely sunset--- ah, freedom.

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