Earlier, two coronary tests (stress test and thallium x-ray stress test) in two well-known private hospitals and four sets of doctors agreed on one thing: I have a blocked heart! Again!
I was asked to immediately undergo an angiogram test which involved inserting a micro-catheter into through the main vein in my groin where a dye is emitted so X-rays will show the dye moving through the blood vessels and into the chambers of the heart. X-ray pictures of the dye can check for narrowing or blockage of the arteries and which can be operated on to unblock them.
It was a few days before Christmas and several family reunions and activities (books-and school-supplies distribution, free computer lessons) involving our Kristiyano-Islam Peace Library have already been set in various parts of Zamboanga City and in two Kris Libraries near a Moro Islamic Liberation (MILF) camp in Zamboanga Sibugay.
So I bargained the doctors for time, saying we did not want to disappoint thousands of Christian and Muslim kids who were looking forward to such yearly activities. On the personal level, I also told myself: “My heart could be giving up on me, having yet another clogged arteries only over a year after five heart veins were unblocked through the insertion of micro-wire mesh during an angioplasty operation at the Saint Luke’s Hospital. If my end is near, I would have spent the last of it with my beloved family – my own immediate family, my loving mom, my brothers, sister, uncle and aunties, nephews and nieces; and other relatives I am very close with in Zamboanga.”
Although I did not show it to them, every gathering was an occasion to say goodbye. I also devoted a great amount of time meeting Kris volunteers and staff there to ensure that all the five Kris Libraries will survive and continue without me. And while in Zamboanga, me and my brothers at the Kapatirang Claretiano Inc. (KCI) – a group of ex-priests and seminarians – managed to raise P13,000 to buy medicines and relief goods for sick victims of Typhoon Sendong. I saw that as my last charity work should complications occur in the heart operation upon my return to Manila.
In our small barrio in Zamboanga, we also took time to pray and asked for prayers at the church I helped my father and mother built when I was in my elementary years and which we continue to provided financial assistance for major repairs.
More than that, we practically limited family outings to make sure I spent more quality time with Ann my wife and my children Arizza, Ashia and Arno. It was the best ever and magical family bonding time spent at the newly completed second floor of the Kris Library (it was built for Kris volunteers, teachers and donors who come to research from nearby islands but who stay there rather than go home at night and risk being kidnapped).
So back in Manila, I was no longer afraid and was ready to face the worse. Having put all my family, Kris and spiritual affairs in order, I was like Manny Pacquiao telling his bigger opponent: bring it on!
Thus, after the over an hour angiogram procedure, you can imagine my surprise when Dr. Ramoncito Tria at Philippine Heart Center (I finally decided to go to PHC over Saint Luke’s upon recommendation of renowned Zamboanueno Dr. Yoyong Libarnes) finally returned after meeting with fellow doctors to declare: “You can climb mountains again! Your heart is okay, including your previously operated heart veins!”
Dr. Tria earlier allowed me to go on vacation to Zamboanga but forbidden me from doing strenuous activities, including going up the mountains of Zamboanga Sibugay to deliver books to the kids in two Kris Libraries at Claret Kindergarten School and the Claret Mission Center there.
The good doctor said although I have one heart vein found to be 70 percent blocked, it is not one that could kill me or ones they call “widow maker veins.” And he said if I continue to exercise, eat non-fatty food and have less stress that blocked vein would not be a threat to me and I could live a normal life. I felt a tear of joy coming down my eye.
What a relief! What a miracle! Instead of a long rehabilitation time and an operation that could have cost almost half a million, I am now out of the hospital with a clean bill of health and no pain except a small wound the size of a catheter! Thank you Lord/Allah!
Thus, I would like to thank my family including my mom Aida who mobilized her prayer warriors in Zamboanga; Fr. Larry Miranda and other Claretian priests who said a mass for me during the hour of my operation, all my relatives here and abroad; Kris volunteers, scholars and sponsors; all of you my friends who wished me well in FB, through texts and emails and said prayers for me.
This is such a blessing I will never forget and will use well for the benefit of needy children and sickly people all over the country!
Have a blessed weekend everyone!