By Perry Diaz
On March 6, 2019, my life turned upside down. I was on top of the world when on that day. I fell ill and ended up in the hospital due to low blood pressure. I fainted while I was having dialysis treatment and was rushed to emergency room at Kaiser Hospital. I had no recollection of what happened next. But my wife Dolores told me a few days later that I had seven cardiac arrests in one day! I was given Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) seven times in one day. The procedure broke four of my ribs.
They put me on liquid diet and inserted a tracheostomy breathing tube into a hole made in my neck and windpipe. The tube was attached to a ventilator that provided oxygen. I lost the ability to speak. I communicated with the use of pad and pencil.
Bedridden, for the first time in my life I felt helpless and hopeless. I was in and out of sleep. I asked my wife to call my brother Titus and have in come here to keep me company at the hospital. Titus arrived two days later from the Philippines. He stayed for two weeks. But I had no recollection of his visit. Nor do I remember my friends who visited me at the hospital. My mind was lost. All I remembered was my wife visiting me every day. But when night fell, I felt lonely… and frustrated.
A week later, I came down with pneumonia and was transferred to Folsom Mercy Hospital, which has an Intensive Care Unit (ICU). Miraculously, I recovered from pneumonia after a day. I was then moved back to Kaiser Hospital. The doctor said that it usually took two weeks to recover from pneumonia.
My wife gave me a book given by my brother when he visited me. The book was titled, “Healing is a Journey.” Authored by Minx Boren, the book was uplifting. I started reading the book and found it helpful in my situation. It talked about hope and acceptance. It says: “Hope is a survival trait. Without it, we lose heart, and without heart, we become susceptible to despair. When we can no longer see any options, we are liable to give in or give up. To keep hope alive is to hold a positive vision for the future. Yet to be fully present in our own life, we must also be willing to be with what is true in the moment. If we are always waiting when – when I am stronger, pain-free, thinner, healthier, wealthier, married, divorced, hired, retired, etc. – before we can enjoy where we are right now or commit to something we are passionate about or dare to explore something different, then we may never experience newfound joys or reach beyond the status quo.”
It was then that I realized to choose what my options were. Either I give up and consign myself to live for the rest of my life bedridden or get on my feet and walk again. I am not going to give up. First, I need to be able to speak again. At the hospital, I availed of the speech therapy given to people who have lost their voices. My happiest moment was when they remove the tracheostomy tube from my throat. I began to talk again.
After a month I was discharged from Kaiser Hospital and moved to Vibra Hospital to continue my recovery. After a month at Vibra, I was discharged and admitted to the Rosewood Post-Acute Rehabilitation. When I thought I was on the road to full recovery, I was rushed to emergency room. My hemoglobin (blood) count decreased to 4.9, way below the acceptable level of 12. I needed blood transfusion. I was given two pints of blood. I was discharged and went back to the rehab center. But my hemoglobin didn’t improve much. Once again, I was rushed to the emergency room for another blood transfusion. My blood count improved to 8.4, which was barely enough to keep me out of harm’s way. But what caused my blood count to drop? I took several tests and stayed in the hospital for several days. For the next three months, I went through physical therapy and occupational therapy. I was on wheelchair then. Learning how walk again was the biggest challenge during my stay at Rosewood. I was discharged from Rosewood on September 3, 2019.
But that was not the end of my therapy. It was only the beginning. I continued the therapy at home with the help of home health nurses and therapists. The home health service ended on October 22, 2019. I was able to walk with the aid of a walker. I registered for outpatient physical therapy at Kaiser. I will continue my physical therapy in November. And God willing, I’ll be able to walk without the aid of a walker before Christmas.
I never lost hope during my long journey to rehabilitation. My faith in God gave me the strength and determination to overcome the obstacles and challenges in the six months I was in the hospital and rehabilitation center. I never fell into depression.
Power of prayer
Throughout my stay in the hospital and rehab center, the fervent prayers of friends and relatives had miraculously given me a new breadth of life. I truly believe that God extended my stay on Earth. My fate is now in God’s hand.
Minx Boren’s book was enlightening. It taught me to persevere and never to give up hope. She said hope is a choice. And I chose hope.
She said: “There are thousands of things that can give us hope and just as many things that can take it away. Babies give me hope. Good teachers, good parents, and good citizenship give me hope. Simple acts of kindness and generosity give me hope. Technology gives me hope. There are breakthroughs happening in medicine and alternative energy resources that may one day save our bodies from the worst ravages of diseases and our planet from the more destructive activities of humankind.
“What is clear is that hope needs to be a choice we make again and again. I am aware that the half-full glass only appears to be so when I am disposed to declare it so and live as if it is so. And I am also certain that when I choose hope and lean toward optimism, possibility, and recovery, the great blessing is that healing happens on many levels and happiness shows up in my life in many ways.”
Thanks to all who prayed and wished me well. God heard their prayers. I am on my way to full recovery. I plan to have kidney transplant by next year. And I hope that God will give me the strength to undergo the procedure.