If you are a smoker or you simply value your family, read on…
As I patiently wait (read : excited) for my training visa which according to my office will be out any day within the week or latest, next week, my family and I remember my maternal grandfather today.
I never called him Lolo. I fondly addressed him Ama. As his first apo (grandchild) from his 2 kids –my mom and my aunt, I looked up to him before my 3 brothers and 4 maternal cousins did. We loved him dearly that all his kind words were respected like law in our home. He had nothing but goodness for us.
He only had one eye; literally because he was born physically blind with only his right eye to use and figuratively because he had his eye set with no one but my Lola, whom I called Mama.
Not that I’m blaming my Lolo for what he did in his childhood but looking back, I can’t help but think that we could have been rich hacienderos now if only he had lived his life differently (I could have been Don Gelo LOL!). Ama left his family in Mindoro when he was seven or eight. He gave away all of his inheritance that spelled hectares of lands and boondocks to his relatives and ran away to Paco, Manila where he was orphaned by a public official that time. He was raised by that family until he reached grade 7 and decided to go back to the provinces again.
We’re told he explored Puerto Princesa in Palawan where he met my Mama. They got married and went to Bongabong, Nueva Ecija where they raised their 2 daughters.
My mom used to tell us stories that our Ama was too strict that she and my aunt lived a house-to-school-to-house-routine until she reached college in Manila.
I cannot say anything bad about him except that he was a chronic smoker. His bad habit led him to develop lung problem that eventually had complications on his circulation. He became hypertensive. My mom used to accompany him to frequent check ups and was maintained on meds but my lolo was too stubborn to quit smoking.
There was never a Sunday afternoon that he failed to hear mass. No Angelus at 6PM was left unsaid. He held to his faith until his last breath.
On November 24, 2001, Tina and I were watching a concert at Greenbelt 1 when I got a text message that our Ama was rushed to the E.R. of St. Luke’s Medical Center. After the show, we went straight to the hospital and since I was a fresh medical graduate then, the resident on duty led me to the negatoscope to show my Lolo’s abdmoninal X-ray.
The doctor asked me, “Are you the intern?” I told her, “No, doc, mag-start pa lang po mag-intern next week” (I will be an intern a week from now).
The doctor continued telling me, “What do you expect of an abdominal X-ray?….Even if you haven’t rotated in Radiology Department yet, you’d expect loops of bowel from this plate, right?” But there was none.
I asked her the reason of opacity (whiteness) of the entire X-ray despite the fact that there’s no palpable mass in the abdomen of my Lolo.
The doctor said, it’s his Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm (read : his biggest artery from the heart that reaches the abdomen ballooned)
He was admitted that Saturday night and I had a good fight with my mom.
My mom signed a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) in my Lolo’s chart. In simplest terms, No CPR will be done to the client when he experience cardiorespiratory arrest.
As I’ve stated, I was fresh from med school then and haven’t started my Post-Graduate Medical Internship for a year so I knew little. I almost yelled at my mom in tears because we’ll just have to witness how doctors and nurses at that unit see my Lolo die and do nothing. But I was wrong.
I understood DNR more after my Lolo expired at 3PM the next day. Believed it or not, he died peacefully in his hospital bed immediately after my cousin’s presence completed the family in that room. It was a moment I can never forget.
Our internist in St. Lukes of more than 30 years thoroughly explained to my mom that the only definitive treatment for a rupture of dissecting aortic aneurysm is surgery (an end-to-end anastomosis or reconnection of the ligated ballooned blood vessel). And since my Lolo then was 76 years old, he surely cannot tolerate the invasive bloody procedure.
I don’t know about you but that incident changed my opinion about DNR. Iba pala kung kapamilya mo ang pasyente–at alam mong wala ng magagawa at ayaw mong maghirap pa sila. (It’s different situation when the terminal patient is your family; you would not want see them suffer ). My Lolo just made 3 signs of the cross before he breathed his last. It was really a peaceful death.
I try not to regret about things but if there’s one thing to be sorry about, it’s the fact that my Lolo didn’t experience Gabby.
He could have been 86 years old now but we know that he’s happier with Mama in Lord’s embrace.
Happy Birthday, Ama. We love you. Always pray for us, OK?