Knowing I was living a bonus life, I strove to be a better and helpful person to my fellow man, more so the poor children. In gratitude to God/Allah for saving my life, I promised to establish four more libraries in my lifetime on top of the Kristiyano-Islam Peace Library that now stands in Manicahan, Zamboanga City. The five libraries will represent the five veins now inserted with micro-thin, hi-tech wire mesh that keeps my life going.
Again, thanks to God’s gift of friends and sponsors like you all who gave financial help, books and school supplies, we were able to put up the initial preparation for what could be full scale libraries but which are now functioning as mini-libraries and are helping hundreds of kids daily.
The five areas where we set up mini-libraries over a period of one year are the slum area of Barangay Holy Spirit, Quezon City; the resettlement area for Typhoon Ondoy victims at the Claret Mission Center in Rodriguez, Rizal; the Talon-Talon Elementary School Library for use by Layag Layag children who used to swim to school in Zamboanga City; and the children studying in an MILF stronghold at the Claret Kindergarten School of Tungawan and pre-school children studying in a planned Claret Mission Center in Sitio Bangkal, Barangay Timbabauan, Tungawan, Zamboanga del Sur.
Against doctors’ and my family’s advice to rest for year, I made myself busy knowing that you are there to help and support me in my promise to myself and to God/Allah to establish and finally complete these libraries in the future. I could not have done it without your help.
I promised five libraries, but I eventually set up six, can rest now? Of course not!
I am re-posting here reflections of the day I nearly died, please read it as a lesson on the value of life. Thank you all!
by Armand Dean Nocum on Sunday, August 22, 2010 at 1:52pm
When I wrote my thoughts in Facebook last Thursday as I was waiting to be wheeled to the operating room, a nagging thought crossed my mind: Could this be my last Facebook entry?
Fortunately it was not and I have survived to tell the tale of my a near death experience which has left me humbled by thoughts of mortality and how our lives could disappear in a blink -- faster than you can log out of your FB account!
It all began Sunday when I started feeling shortness of breath while doing brisk walking at Timberland Heights, San Mateo, Rizal. I persisted with work from Monday on --meetings with Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao, a foreign client and several more congressmen and a couple of lawyers. By Wednesday, I felt really weak and could barely catch my breath so after a meeting at Shangrila Hotel-Edsa, I told my driver to proceed to Saint Luke's Hospital where my wife Ann was waiting.
At the emergency room, the doctors who checked me out -- along with my diabetes doctor who called from out of town -- decided that all signs and symptoms point to an impending heart attack! They immediately told me to lie down in the nearest bed available and to check in for a battery of tests, but they ruled out stress test for fear I might really go into a cardiac arrest.
An ECG late in the afternoon only confirmed the doctors' fears – angina! Medical specialists describe this condition as being characterized by chest pain or shortness of breath due to an inadequate supply of oxygen to the heart muscle!
A 2-D echo test late in the evening confirmed this and I was immediately scheduled to undergo an angiogram the next day. Angiogram involves the x-ray of blood vessels using a special dye and micro-camera(fluoroscopy) to visualize the arteries on the surface of the heart to see if any of them are blocked.
Prior to the angiogram procedure, a young doctor – who looked more like a rock star with long hair and blue jeans – said that if the angiogram test points to a blockade of my arteries, I would have to undergo either a coronary heart bypass surgery or an angioplasty procedure with a stent (a wire metal mesh) being attached inside my partially blocked veins to keep the blood flowing.
The angiogram proved my worst fears – not one, not two but five (!) of my heart veins were blocked from 95 to 99 percent! I could have had a heart attack anytime! I was all this time a living and walking time bomb! I could have been here today, gone tomorrow ... just like that!
Although far more expensive, the angioplasty with stent procedure is less invasive and risky than a heart bypass which involves the opening of the inner chest, attachment of veins from other parts of the body; general anesthesia; and about three months or more recovery and rehabilitation period.
Thank God the ultra-modern, straight-out-of-science-fiction procedure proved successful. Later, my doctor told my wife that I – who started having a heart problem in my early 30s – had the clogged veins of an 80 year old man! Now hopefully with my heart unblocked, my heart could be that of a teenager!
Still, with technology, a highly skilled doctor (although he also did angioplasty and stent operation on former First Gentleman Mike Arroyo, Jocjoc Bolante, Eli Buendia of Eraserhead etc, my doctor would rather remain low profile); and all the best in health care that Saint Luke's has become known for, I had been advised to take life easy and to stick to a strict regimen of diet (read bland, tasteless, unexciting food).
Nevertheless, I am just too grateful to be alive even if it means that the closest I can get to eating lechon, sisig, crispy pata, pork chop and the rest of those luscious and fatty foods is to smell them! To some people who really love to eat, that is like living dead!
Butheck, it's better to be living dead than REALLY DEAD!
With the realization, I have gained a better and higher respect for the routine of daily living – every waking moment is a glorious time to Thank God/ Allah for the gift of another day, another time with loved ones and friends in this finite world. Only after getting a nudge from the Great Beyond do we begin to marvel at the beauty of a single day, something that we all usually take for granted as we go through our daily lives.
As I live this new, borrowed life, I will strive to enjoy it all the more; to try to be relevant to others; and to thank God/Allah for every passing of yet another day or yet other mundane task as writing another Facebook entry ... each of which may well be my last.