Friday, March 21, 2014

A Trip I Didn't Want To Take Just Yet

As I write this post, I am in bed at my grandma's sister's house in the Philippines.  It's almost 5:30am, and I'm still severely jet lagged.  Let's go back a few weeks and talk about how I ended up here.

Late last month, I was preparing to go on a trip to Portland and Seattle (which I will post about at some point).  One hour before I'm scheduled to leave the house, I hear my mom screaming at someone on the phone.  She had just found out that my grandma had been hospitalized a week prior.  This is the same grandma I had written about in late January.  While I was ready to drop all my plans, my mom insisted that I go on my trip while she gathered more information.

My mom ended up flying to the Philippines a few days later.  Though I was technically supposed to be on vacation, my mind was focused on events happening thousands of miles away.  While I didn't know the entire story of my grandma's condition, it wasn't hard to deduce based on phone conversations with my mom - She's total care.  She has a large tumor.  She's very weak and barely eating.  The doctor said she's palliative care.  When I asked about prognosis, my mom burst into tears.  When I asked if I should fly to the Philippines, I didn't get a straight answer, but my mom implied that it would be best to see my grandma while she could still talk.

Upon coming back to California, I started making preparations just in case.  After learning that I would be barred entry into the Philippines if my passport is within 6 months of expiring, I spent a day in San Francisco to get it renewed.  I continued to work, but found it frustrating because I felt I should be taking care of my own family instead.  Fortunately, I work in the medical field with people who understand the severity of my grandma's condition, so I was granted leave.  After buying tickets and two days of frantic shopping/packing/cleaning/errands/finishing taxes, my dad and I boarded a plane for the grueling 16 hour flight to the Philippines.

Philippine Airlines Meal Tray. For a flight to Manila you get dinner, breakfast, and snack.
Sausage breakfast.  Not bad.
First glimpse of land after thousands of miles.
Welcome to the Philippines.

At the airport, we were greeted by my mom, uncle, cousin, and summer tropical heat.  After picking up my aunt in Manila we headed to Quezon City to my grandma's sister's house to eat lunch and unload.  Then it was straight to the hospital to see my grandma.

My grandma recognized me and my dad the moment we walked through the door and nearly started crying.  Despite being in an extremely weakened state, she's cognitively intact and able to communicate.  My hope is that the increased presence of family is able to lift her spirits a little and maybe motivate her to eat more and stand up more frequently.

Now by the time we got to the hospital I had gone 36 hours without sleep.  After passing out on a cushioned bench in the hospital room, my parents woke me up to take me back to my grandma's sister's house where I immediate went to bed.  My grandma was discharged from the hospital to my aunt's house that night.

Since then, I've spent my waking hours at my aunt's house in Malabon City catching up with relatives and spending time with my grandma.  Since leaving the hospital, she's become extremely talkative which I hope is a good sign.  At one point, she spent several hours talking non-stop about her family in English.  She talked about how she helped care for me while I was growing up and said that she hoped she could see me get married someday.  I hope so, too.

Well, that's a brief and dirty rundown of how I ended up in the Philippines so suddenly.  I'll try to post more frequent updates while I'm here and even try to work on older posts.  It definitely helps when I wake up at 3:30am with nothing to do.

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