What I learned when the world joined me in confinement
One Sunday morning, I woke up in a hospital bed without any knowledge of why I was lying there. As soon as my sight cleared up, I learned that my left leg and right arm were swathed in braces and bandages. I couldn’t move my entire body. My head was spinning and throbbing. Tears started to well up in my eyes as I was trying to process everything, as if my sense of reality was obscured.
Moments after, my sister narrated that I was involved in a vehicular accident en route to my master’s class. She said a huge delivery truck hit the multicab I rode. I suffered short-term memory loss while sustaining femoral dislocation and wrist injury that necessitated an operation. Later, I was informed that a passenger passed away and others were in critical condition.
Thankfully, God spared my life from the accident and from the possibility of failing to survive in the operating room.
The 13-day hospital confinement following my operation was grueling. I had to endure the excruciating pain from my operated limbs the moment the anesthesia’s effect dissipated. I lost my appetite so I lost much weight. I never thought that I would be bedridden in diapers for days, unable to do basic personal necessities sans the assistance of my mama. I had been sleep-deprived during my entire stay in the ward due to chronic nerve and muscle pains, including the never-ending injections of antibiotics that kept me awake during the wee hours. Mama and my siblings took turns in taking care of me in the hospital. I couldn’t have endured the struggle without my family, friends and colleagues.
The incident prompted me to leave work temporarily because I have to recuperate for months since November last year.
I was never a home buddy until the accident had me locked in my room for my home medication. I love the outdoors. I used to be a physically active person who finds joy in joining marathons. I would run miles after work, on weekends, and basically on my free time. My physical frailties caused by the injuries had me almost incapable of ambulation. I could barely walk. My being imprisoned in a wheelchair for weeks had me emotionally drained as much as I was bodily exhausted, especially since I would be left at home alone most of the time. The arm injury has also made me suspend my habit of writing in my journal. But it has not discouraged me. I have tried typing letters on the notes app of my phone using my left hand.
Into my fourth month of recuperation, everyone has joined me in confinement at home, due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
I heard some complain that staying at home has bored them to death. And if boredom could literally kill, I should have passed on, having been under lockdown for four months before them. But really, staying at home is distressing, especially for those who consider the outside world their playground. In my case, I have spent long months reading noir and history books, and watching TED Talks on YouTube. During the night, I would watch Korean films and dramas to lighten up my mood. I would also attend free online courses to further enrich my mind and stay productive, despite the deprivation of going to work and teaching my students language and literature.
Embattled yet inspired, I have faced my reality in a different perspective. I have broken limbs, but not broken dreams nor broken faith. I believe that with a renewed sense of self and purpose, I would step out to the outside world once again to continue making a difference. I have realized that God has protected me from these encumbrances because He knows that I have yet to serve my purpose.
Through this hardship, I’ve learned more about empathy; I’ve learned to connect to the pain of others – particularly the pain that thousands and millions of our fellow human beings have suffered, battling for their lives in hospital beds, in this extraordinary time. Worse, they have no one on their side, not even their families, to attend to their needs.
This situation has also taught me humility, as I gained a better understanding of my limitations. And it builds my patience as things do not always turn out as planned. Sometimes in life, we need to slow down; we need to reflect and enjoy the days with our families — maybe the one silver lining behind the quarantine. Lastly, I gained the confidence that I have the ability to bounce back even from this major setback.
Now, I have gradually regained my strength through simple exercises and small walks. No more braces and bandages. No more walking aids. I can now stand and walk with solid faith that when this trial is finally over, I can come face to face with the world again.
Ramon L. Orcullo Jr., 27, is a public school teacher in Alegria, Surigao del Norte. He is a graduate student of Secondary Education specializing in English at Surigao State College of Technology. He is passionate about developing in his students the love of reading and writing.
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Posted by INQUIRER.net on Wednesday, February 13, 2019
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