|Me and My Hero|
Max never was a letter writer; he rarely gave me cards on special occasions. Neither was he a sweet talker.
He was more of a doer and a "moment man." He shared most things with me when it was just the two of us — the beach, the mountains, his parties, his projects, his family, his weekends, his dreams and plans. Heck, I’d even count the dates we had that had no “ocular” of a restaurant or a party place when we weren’t married yet.
But the week of the operation was pretty much like that — just him and me all over again. I watched him quietly through it all:
Max was always concerned about my health: the hypertension, the headaches, the blood and heart problems. Following a battery of clinical tests courtesy of my HMO, our Couple’s community suggested that we see Dra. Bubut (neuro) late last year. At this point, my paralysis and fainting spells were getting more frequent and more dramatic. From the symptoms we described, she figured it was probably a case of multiple sclerosis or meningioma and suggested that an MRI be done immediately. We did, but it wasn’t until April this year that the gravity of my condition was spelled out to us — I was growing a tumor at the base of my brain!!!
No matter how nicely the doctors put it, it was still a tumor in my head.
Max was disturbed and tried not to show me as I had enough on my mind with work and the family and this…
Mashado pang maliit si Kai.
He persevered to make this operation happen as it was scheduled. I begged him not to tell people — especially his family. I wasn’t planning on telling my Dad until the last minute. This would be too much of a burden. I cringed at how the few people I told reacted. Yes, it’s so surreal. This only happens in movies. I’m REAL LIFE!
I fell into a great depression. It felt like my biggest deadline was coming up and I was powerless to hurdle it. But Max did what he can to cheer me up. Many of the things I wanted were met with little or no resistance (well, except for the fact that I wanted to postpone the operation to November when I can have it covered by HMO and be entitled to paid leaves and all).
You’re not the only one getting scared of this thing. How am I supposed to raise Kai alone?
He prayed like I’ve never seen him pray before. I asked to be taken to the Monasterio de Sta. Clara in Katipunan so that I could make my petition for the nuns to pray for me (always thought the more people prayed for you, the more God listened). I made an offering and he was concentrating on every word that came from the priest (luckily it was in English). He confessed the Sunday before I went under the knife. He made an effort to know the mysteries of the Holy Rosary (yes, even the luminous mysteries). And we prayed together the night before the operation – in between visits from friends and family.
I prayed for you and you alone during Mass today.
He planned for us to be on leave for one full month so that I can fully recover. As the days closed in, Max’s complete focus was on me. The day I’m supposed to check in, he stayed with me in Makati – had lunch with me, walked me to the P&G office in Ayala for my training and picked me up. I was morose but he kept his spirits up. He knew I wasn’t going to like the next couple of days – the ward, the needles, the operation…
Hi Raul. We’re on our way to the hospital now…Sure thanks for everything, man.
As expected, the hospital was as public as it could get (no chance for Kai to visit here). There was just a ward – 7 beds to be exact, I was bed number 6. The bathroom was not pretty at all and the food, it was a perfect match to everything.
But my husband made sure my favorite pillow was with me; he was out the door to get whatever food I fancied; he went home to get my stand fan so that I don’t get to feel the heat in spite of two aircons in the room; he was literally at my beck and call and not once did he complain.
I had expected him to falter in the middle of the operation – leave me in the hospital and sleep when he can.
But my sister’s stories at post op floored me most: my husband made sure there was someone watching over me every minute of my operation – if he had errands to do, he’d ask my sister to do the watching for him. She had thought he was asleep on my ward bed one time, but she smiled at the sight of him praying the Holy Rosary by himself.
And in my waking hours after the operation, I’d feel him caress my hair every so slowly, scared that if he stroked any harder, it’ll open up my stitches. He kept me warm and yet he’s so attuned to the fact that I get hot pretty easily so he got the fan from the ward again and kept it locked on me at the recovery room. He dabbed some wet cotton buds to my lips when I asked for water. One time that I caught him watching me, I saw a look that said I was too fragile even for my own good and that he was there to cover for everything that I can no longer do.
Him: Its over. You did it! I’m so proud of you…
Me: (I smile a weak smile, if there is such a thing). Can you brush my teeth?
Those moments when I was in and out of sleep, trying to ignore the dull pain on one side of my head, I saw clearly why I married my husband – he was to take care of me as I was to care for him with all I have. There was no hesitation. There was just him and me and a common goal to be present for Kai for as long as we can manage.
Me: Do you think there will ever come a time that you will replace me?Baka mapagod ka kakaalaga sa akin…
Him: Me? Replace you? Of course not. Nagiisa ka lang. Wala kang kapalit. Baka nga lang may isabay ako sa yo, but replace you, that cant be done. (He laughs and I punch him on the arm a little too hard to drive home a message).
I love Max for his unwavering resolve to keep me well. I’m seeing him differently this past year and I’m liking what I see.
Max and Kai – my two boys – my love, my life, my everything!
(Pardon the cheesiness – think of it as post op side effect) J