Imagine that! It’s the Mooncake Festival already? I remember last year we received mooncakes that came in a beautiful box as gifts. There was already a pandemic. Still, my husband and I were cheerful.
Every day we woke up in the big bed we slept in together in the bedroom we shared. We weren’t allowed to go out so we just stayed home. He was always watching TV in the living room. I was always making rosaries then would watch Netflix in our bedroom.
He enjoyed watching boxing and war documentaries, different from what I enjoyed watching. But often we would watch travel shows together and dream of taking a cruise together once the quarantine ended.
Every night we had dinner at seven. Then he went to his TV, and I went into the bedroom to play Solitaire — two-deck Free Cell — on my computer. “See you later, alligator,” he or I would say, as we went our own ways. This meant “See you at nine,” when we would both go to bed. This was our ritual nightly.
When I think of it, that was the pivotal point in his health. He entered the hospital and stayed there for 10 days. Then the doctor told me to purchase a hospital bed and turn our living room into a hospital room. He told me to hire a caregiver.
How long did we do this? Around three and a half years. It had become a habit. Everything was going smoothly until last February when he fainted in a restaurant. That sent us to a hospital, but we only stayed two nights and one day. He still felt so well then. We came home and things went back to normal.
Then, maybe it was April or May, he fell again at home. This time he hit his head against one of my heavy plastic bond paper holders and broke it. He cut his head. But we attended to the cut and soon he was well again.
Then June came and he wasn’t feeling well. He kept insisting on going to the hospital. Finally I agreed to take him because he insisted he was dying. He held my hand, told me how grateful he was to have me, how much he loved me. He was so sweet he made me cry.
Now, when I think of it, that was the pivotal point in his health. He entered the hospital and stayed there for 10 days. Then the doctor told me to purchase a hospital bed and turn our living room into a hospital room. He told me to hire a caregiver. He told me that he expected my husband’s recovery to be completed by the end of the year.
At this point my husband still looked well, still could talk well enough to have conversations. We got into a routine of putting him in a wheelchair for a tour around our apartment. I would wheel him into our room and ask him if he remembered it. He did and he always wanted to go back into our bed to sleep there with me. I said, “Of course, when you are well. You know you will walk again and we can sleep together again.”
Everything seemed normal until around the middle of August when our caregiver, Cindy (short for the play name “Cinderella”), called for my attention. “Look at his legs,” she said. “One seems bigger than the other.” I looked. It did seem bigger than the other. “Is it swollen?” I asked. It didn’t look like it. But she massaged it and soon it more or less normalized. But we noticed his speech had become less comprehensible.
I began to wonder if he had Alzheimer’s. He was, more and more, reminding me of my mother’s inability to talk normally when she had Alzheimer’s. Finally, I realized that maybe he needed another doctor.
I called one of my good friends who is a psychotherapist in Makati and asked her for a good doctor. She recommended one to me, someone who was working on a lecture she was giving, so this doctor recommended another, and that’s how I got plugged into the St. Luke’s Memory Center.
Consultation was done over the computer. My husband spoke very little. The lady doctor asked him to raise his arms. He would not. She asked the caregiver to raise his left arm. It was light enough. “Now raise his right arm.” It was heavy. The same with the legs.
“He has had a stroke,” the doctor exclaimed. I felt slapped. How could I have not thought of a stroke when I noticed one leg bigger than the other? My mind just didn’t travel that way. How stupid of me!
We had to do an MRI. I was told he had a series of little strokes in his hippocampus. I am not sure I understand what that means until I get the formal report.
But there is one thing I know: we are embarking on a new healing journey. It is not important if we get to our final destination. What is important is that we enjoy every single little step of our new healing journey.