In the previous post, Verchie shared how he lost his vision and overcame a growing feeling of sadness and helplessness by focusing on the people around him. This week, he shares more about his experience and his road to recovery..
ON FINDING MY OWN HAPPINESS
I remember one of my friends saying, “I cannot remove the pain or make you happy now. But if I can lessen your sadness just by 1% or even less, that will be enough for me today.”
I made that a goal for myself–do whatever it takes to make my life a little better everyday.
I recalled and recited all the inspirational quotes and “chants” I could remember from books, movies, even my COCC student military days.
“When trials and torture abound, when hardships and suffering manifest themselves, I will face them with glory…”
Yes, I sang and chanted myself to sleep a few times.
I talked to people with good vibes. I hunted them down. I called my high energy friends. My favourite conversations were those nonsensical ones where we would just laugh over stupid things. For a few minutes, life was fun!
Someone told me: Act happy. Act silly. You actually start feeling happy and silly.
So, I named my new dogs Pork Chop and Chicken. While lying down and in pain, someone yelling “Chicken! Pork Chop!” at a pair of puppies is a pretty good comic relief.
In the middle of the night, with no one to talk to, I did silly things. I danced, shook my head and imitated Donald Duck, and anything else I could think of.
Stupid. Pathetic. Effective.
I learned a long time ago that happiness does not just land on my lap, wrapped in a beautiful ribbon and gift wrapper. A lot of times, I would have to go out and find it. Or make it.
After 3 years, I am now ALMOST back to normal. I had 3 major eye surgeries under general anesthesia to restore my vision. Yes, the blind can now SEE.
I still can’t drive and I still fall while walking every now and then. (Yes, that’s embarrassing!). In a buffet, I still have to ask people to identify food for me. (Can somebody make the food labels bigger, please?)
But, the pain is gone. I only go to my doctors every few months. My eyedrops (now reduced to 3) are only applied once or twice a day. I got to open another business. I even got to travel alone (and still trip every now and then, of course).
ON CLICHES AND FINDING MY WHY’S…
They say that “things happen for a reason”. I would like to propose a law banning people from saying that. I HATED it!
Another cliche–what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Yes, I am definitely stronger (and even wiser) now. But I think I was fine the way I was! I didn’t need to be stronger–I’d rather see!
But eventually, though, I did find the biggest “reason” for being stronger: My parents.
I used to have a busy and fun life. I was also very independent and tried to solve my problems on my own as much as possible. This meant I did not get to see and interact with my parents much.
But it was during these worst moments that I got to spend the MOST time with my mom and dad. They insisted on personally bringing their adult son to the hospital EVERY SINGLE TIME. In the early months, that was 3-4 times a week to hospitals that were around 2-3 hours away.
Because I couldn’t do anything even if I wanted to, I usually had breakfast, lunch, and dinner with them. I listened to their senior citizen conversations and AM radio stations in the car.
99% of my eyedrops were applied by dad with military precision–at one point I had 13 eyedrops to be applied several times per hour throughout the day. (I did try to do it myself, but how in the world do you put eyedrops when the target eye can’t see it? When you have rare and expensive medicine sent by friends and relatives from UK and Canada, pouring them on my eyebrow was not an option.)
Oftentimes, I would either be asleep or trying to sleep to “get rid” of the pain, when BOOM! My dad would come barging through the door and dictating what medicine I needed to take. I always got the right medication at the right time because of him. He took it upon himself to see this task through, and hardly delegated it to anyone else.
In the early weeks, my dad would normally sit several feet from me while I slept on the sofa (I liked it better than my bed). He would just stay close to me and would just read a book, nap, or hum some songs.
I remember this one time, I found out that my dad watched this movie called War Horse (by Steven Spielberg). I also wanted to watch that movie so I was asking him questions- Was it any good? What was the plot all about? It took 5 minutes for me to realize that he was narrating the whole film with as much details as he could! It took around 10-15 minutes for him to finish his summary. That was the first movie I “watched” ever since I went blind.
Meanwhile, my mom spent her days praying and worrying about me. An overly talkative tita shared to me me that my mom cried about me every time they met. She did not allow herself to cry in front of me, I was told.
Since most of the time, the doctors’ updates were too technical, so my mom relied on us for the “translation.” But she still came for every single checkup and would patiently wait 1-3 hours for the doctor.
Even when I became much better, she still joined the hospital visits. Up until she grew weak from her own medical conditions and could no longer walk.
She died last May 2015.
Now, I am truly grateful for all those “additional” times I got to spend with her and my dad. And the times I got to show her that I was going to be ok.
During the time I spent with them, my mom saw me slowly recovering to the point that doctors did not want to see me anymore (I didn’t either). I got to go around the city alone. And I even regained all the weight I lost! Booh.
(Yes, Mommy, your youngest son is now doing ok and will only get home AFTER midnight just like old times.)
I may have been blind, but I SAW my parents enjoy life together with me. I SAW them suffer with me. I SAW and understood how parents will continue to worry and care for their children even when they are all grown up. I SAW so many things.
ON BEING GRATEFUL
People say I inspired them for being strong and positive despite everything. Truth is, THEY inspired me.
During the worst that the world gave me, I got the best that people could give me.
For every kind and encouraging word they sent or said, every pat on the back, every hand offered to help me walk down the stairs, they were rebuilding a life–mine.
Some people have actually said I was a hero. Whoa. Such a big word. I am not a hero.
I met a lot of heroes during my ordeal- I was surrounded by them. I felt their presence. I heard their words. I felt their touch. They stayed with me throughout the roller coaster ride.
They are my heroes.
I am a product of all the friendship, love, concern, and comfort they gave.