What do I remember? DBS Stage 1

I remember getting up early the morning of June 28, 2016.

That day, they were going to put my bone markers in.

I even remember going under–I loved that feeling. I would be counting down from 10 with a Anastasia mask (whatever it’s called) pressed up against my face, and I believe it smelled like strawberries. Slowly but surely, my eyes were getting heavier and heavier, and the more I couldn’t feel my body with each passing second.

It was supposedly a 1-2 hour long procedure, but you must know how Anastasia works. I woke up to being rolled back to the recovery room, but I was flipping out. My body was shaking uncontrollably. Mom was walking by the side of my bed and it only gave me the courage to yell louder and louder, “Why am I shaking?” or “What’s wrong with me?”

It took me a hot minute to calm down. People around us must’ve thought I was crazy.

Turns out I’d be freaking out the whole day because of the staples they used to close up my head. The next few days, I tried to go expressionless, and if you know me, that’s basically impossible especially with my brothers around. It hurt to even do a simple grin, and it kind of hurt to blink.

My little brother actually made me laugh a lot. Laughter is the best kind of medicine, right? At first I didn’t mind, but then when he would say something that would make me laugh uncontrollably, the pain would get to be too much to handle. At this point, my older brother told us that if I laughed too much, the staples could pop out or my scars could rip open.

All in all, the days following stage 1 was a million times harder than the procedure itself.

What do I remember?: Pre-DBS

Summer 2k16.

It was the summer after my sophomore year of high school.

There was a family reunion in the Philippines to be had.

1st stop: Bacolod

It’s not a family reunion until we have a stay at my mama’s house, my mom’s childhood home. Surrounded by food, family, and love–what more could I ask for?

2nd stop: Casa Isabel in Batangas

Only days after arriving in Bacolod, we were already set for a road trip and a stay at Casa Isabel. It was a house perfectly sized for the 22-24 of us. Only a walking distance away was a beach and a few pools, a bicycle/trisikad rental, and a basketball court for the boys to play against each other in.

Even more, during our stay, I remember going to a restaurant overlooking the Taal volcano. Only later would we visit the Shrine of Saint Padre Pio. There, we all did a lot of praying, especially for me and one of my cousins.

3rd stop: Boracay

A few days later, we were on a plane headed for the island of Boracay. I loved it. Despite being dirty, it way an island where poverty and paradise met. Not too far from the beach, were a few small towns of impoverished filipinos, and the beach was full of beggars (sellers).

We stayed at mansion-like house set with a balcony overlooking the beach, a pool of our own, a designated housekeeper, and a designated driver (mostly for the drinkers of our party). I had a blast even just staying in the house–we would spend time swimming on the balcony or we’d get competitive playing connect 4.

Of course, it was also great going to the beach. There, we all went island hopping, and a majority of us rode the banana boat (we all nearly fell off!) and even went jet skiing. After, we all went to have ice-cream. A lot of us got the Mango Magnificent, but many melted before even sitting down.

It was a fantastic day out, and we later came home to a lot of groceries and a lot of cooking. This is why I just love family reunions–while the kids go have fun, the adults plot against us and prepare a feast whether it be mango or ube or chocolate ice cream, lechon, bangus/dain, prawns, crema de fruta, or black sambo.

It was also the summer of my Deep Brain Stimulation surgery.

For context, DBS is a relatively new 3-stage surgery used to help at least minimize the severity of symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease, Essential Tremor, Tourette’s Syndrome, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and Dystonia. In short, electrodes are inserted into the brain and are connected to pacemaker-like devices which send electrical impulses to regulate brain activity.

Anyway….

It was either on the plane ride to or from Boracay that I was in tears.

I don’t know what it is about plane rides that make me so emotional, but I was.

The plane ride back to the US was better. Exclude all the movies I watched.

Shortly thereafter, on June 27 of that summer, my head was being shaved in preparation for my DBS surgery the next day.

I remember my older brother and mom doing the first few snips. After that, it was only a matter of my dad shaving the rest. Not gonna lie, it felt good physically. Maybe that’s just me being weird, but it felt nice having a razor running up and down against my head. Emotionally, I didn’t know what to feel. My hair was so long and now I wouldn’t have to worry about it much anymore.

I did donate all that hair to Locks of Love, though. Its awesome to think that someone somewhere is enjoying life with newfound black hair.

Having short hair was nice, but I also found it to be disturbing. Imagine getting into the shower and feeling nothing except the water pressure beating against your scalp and getting out not having to worry about thoroughly drying your hair. At the same time, there were times when I would reach up to my head and just freak out. Never in my life have I felt the true comfort of a pillow against my bare head until three years ago.

All this to say: I missed my thick hair.

All this for new hope.

Sometimes, I really wish fortune cookies were nothing but true….

Last Sunday, I opened up a fortune cookie after dinner, and it read:

“Blessed are the children for they will inherit the national debt”

Excuse me? Isn’t that billions or trillions of USD?

Unfortunately….

I lost that piece of paper, but at home, I found one laying on my desk and it read:

“You will inherit a large sum of money from an unusual source”

What does that say to me? Are they low-key the same fortunes?

I get a lot of fortunes every so often mentioning money.

I hope they actually mean something….

The American Dream

What exactly is the American Dream?

Does it revolve around the hope of finding a job and becoming financially successful, or is it a matter of starting anew with a family of one’s own and finding happiness in creating a legacy?

Earlier this month, I went to go see Miss Saigon on Broadway (TPAC).

To summarize, set during the occurrence of the Vietnam War and the fall of Saigon, an orphaned Kim serves time in a whorehouse working as a prostitute. From there, she meets and falls in love with Chris, an American GI. While together, Chris is determined to keep Kim safe, but years later, he is back in America with a wife of his own. All the while, Kim is raising Tam, her son. Chris’ son.

Since Tam was born of an American, he can be viewed upon as a ticket to the United States. Resultantly, Kim leaves her falling country, but she and Tam are not alone. Along with them is the Engineer, the runner of the on-and-off-again whorehouse that Kim works at. So, while Kim wishes to get to the States and see Chris, the Engineer wants to start another whorehouse in America.

In actuallity, unfortunately, whorehouses are a big hit in third-world countries (at least I know in Asia they are) and some people come to America in hopes to start one and make a living out of it. Typically, immigrants come for opportunity, equality, and prosperity when they want to escape oppression and poverty, and I just can’t wrap my head around the whole “starting a whorehouse in America to make a living” concept. Do “Engineers” actually think they can do that, or is it just that that’s the only thing they know how to do?

I’ve had a quick talk before about the “American Dream” with my family. Pertaining to having an increased amount of opportunity, one of the good things about America is the ability to move up the social ladder. For example, in Europe, if a parent was to have a low-income job, you are predestined for that job, too.

I have asked my parents, since they’re both from the Philippines and grew up on the poorer side, if they ever had the American Dream. They said no. My mom honestly never dreamt of coming to the States–she just arrived here during the rise of the AIDS epidemic in order to complete training/residency. As for my dad, he was petitioned to come to America and reluctant to leave his best friend behind.

Regardless, despite all that they’ve been through, mom and dad have already achieved so much more than they could have ever imagined–a happiness, healthiness, and stability with regards to finances and family.

Technology….yay or nay?

Late last month, I started taking an online English course.

Every week, we have a discussion post to write, and we must also reply to our peers’ posts. I happen to remember that, for one of our first posts, we had a prompt in which we had to analyze an image that dealt with media violence. A lot of people in the class, along with writing about the impact of the amounts of violence displayed on TV and video/computer games, wrote of how technology is taking over the world.

Don’t get me wrong when I say the Internet and all the other stuff are great inventions. A lot of us would’ve never known what we were to do without all this technology. Because of it, I can easily check up and see what my relatives are up to halfway across the world, have meaningful special accommodations at school, adjust my DBS device, etc. However, despite all its advancements, there’s only so much technology can do before declaring itself dangerous.

For one thing, you go in public and you now see even little kids with either a phone, iPad, DS (is that still a thing?), Apple Watch, or what have you. One of my classmates related this use of technology on little kids to using a pacifier. Either the kid has some sort of device in his or her hand, or they’re crying their eyes out. It’s really sad.

Even at a very, very young age, kids are exposed to online learning. There’s a lot of great things to say about sites like ABCmouse.com and even coolmath.com, but where’s the good old-fashioned learning? I may be only 18, but heck, when I was young, I remember playing and learning with magnetic letters and numbers on the fridge and numbered and lettered puzzles.

Let’s not forget about how kids these days are getting their own phones at 8 years old at the latest. I didn’t get mine until early high school or very late middle school. It’s definitely not only teenagers on their phones constantly anymore. At restaurants, you see families all on their phones doing whatever. My family does this too, and it hurts watching.

The best way to connect is to disconnect.

Personally, I don’t like to bring my phone to church or even dinner when we eat out. Those are of the most important times for my family bonding. A lot of the time, though my parents and brothers would bring their phones, so I would be sitting awkwardly wondering who to talk to and what about.

All that said, I don’t really know what exactly it is that makes me tired of technology sometimes. At times, it’s just too much. Even more, I’m not very tech savvy either, even though my mom believes that I am.

Honestly, my best memories are from when I was nowhere near technology.

This includes my 8th grade trip to New York, family reunions in the Philippines, other international vacations, special holiday dinners, playing simple board/card games, listening to my brothers play piano, etc.

These little moments are what makes me most happy.

It’s funny how technology finds a way to both disconnect and connect.

What do you see?

This picture of a sunrise was taken by my mom a few years ago during our family reunion trip to Boracay, Philippines. It’s one of my most favorite images. Can you guess why? Do you just see the sun and some clouds, or do you see something more than that? Do you see a face to be made out?

I like to look at this and think “oh hey look that’s God smiling back at me” (even though I was still in bed and never actually saw this sunrise). Look at that scenery. You can NOT just tell me God wasn’t responsible for that orange sky and calm water.

Just looking around, there’s beauty everywhere.…and where there’s beauty, there is surely God to be found.

Have a blessed day!

Have you seen the 2019 Aladdin? READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!!! SPOILERS AHEAD!!

A few weeks ago, I had the honor of seeing Aladdin with my family….

IT WAS AWESOME!

First off, you would think this 2019 live-action Aladdin would be an exact copy of the 1992 animated Aladdin–WRONG! Of course nothing beats the original, but I just love the changes made from the plot to the music.

Let’s talk about Genie. Will Smith.

There actually could not have been a better person to play this part. He really captured the livelihood and hilarity portrayed in the animated film. What really made me go crazy though is the fact that Genie has a love story of his own. If you should know anything about me, I’m a sucker for romance.

Further, if you’ve ever heard the soundtrack, you know that either words/lyrics were changed around OR there was an added hip-hop beat to the music. What a smart move! I’m pretty sure everyone has to love this change especially since this now has a personal Will Smith touch to it.

Even more, Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine.

Princess Jasmine has always been one of my favorites, and I thought Naomi was just PERFECT for her. Did you know the reason behind why the princess stays within the palace is because her mother was killed? Because of this, the sultan is a bit overprotective of her, which plays a big role in the overall plot. It’s about Jasmine’s journey to finding her voice and establishing her right as a woman. Relatively, compared to the animated version, Jasmine gets her own song, and its bound to leave you ‘speechless’ (haha).

Oh! I should also mention that Jasmine has a handmaiden now!

She also plays a significant role in the plot (hehe).

ANYWAY….

Let’s talk about the ending….

It left me in tears, but it’s ok because I cry with every movie known to man.

First off, with Jafar wanting to be the most powerful being in the world, it got really dark really fast. Eventually, just like in the original movie, Aladdin was able to trick Jafar into trapping himself in the lamp with the help of Genie and his love for specificities, of course. Then it happens that Genie is freed and becomes a human!

As for Jasmine, after standing up to Jafar, she has already proven her worth as a woman and is named the new Sultan of Agrabah. With this new title, she finally changes the law herself declaring that she may marry whomever she chooses, prince or not.

And I lived happily ever so content forevermore!

I know college is about finding yourself, and I need help….

I haven’t been writing much, and I’m sorry.

I’ve had a lot on my mind recently.

You all should know that I just finished my first year of community college, and I get it: why community college? That’s for another day.

ANYWAY….

A little backstory….

Ever since middle school, I’ve always wanted to do something with physical therapy; I wanted to only work towards an associates degree and get a career as a PTA instead of getting a DPT (Doctorate in Physical Therapy).

New student orientation last year comes by and it was soon time to create a schedule accustomed to my PTA degree. ALL the pre-PT and PTA majors were put into one room and had to register at the same time. All the while, me being me, I needed individual instruction as everyone was moving so fast.

The requirements for all Health Science majors includes both Anatomy & Physiology 1 and Anatomy & Physiology II, so both those classes fill up pretty fast. Unfortunately, it just so happened that I was too late in registering for A&P I. In fact, the people trying to help me register were more concerned about getting my other general education classes in first, which was fine, I guess.

Here was the problem: A&P I and A&P II had to be taken during different semesters. Adding onto that, I was part of Tennessee Promise, which offers some students the opportunity to attend college for free for 4 semesters. Because of my not having A&P I in the fall semester, I’m technically delayed a year.

Spring semester comes by and I’m finally enrolled in my A&P I course. Another requirement for the PTA program is a Physics course specified for the health sciences. I honestly did not do so hot in that even though I went to see a tutor once a week.

I really felt so lost in that class because my peers were fresh out of high school and had their physic classes their senior year while I had mine freshman year with a not so good teacher. Overall, I ended up with a C in that class when a B is needed for acceptance into the PTA program.

ON TO PRESENT DAY….

That C in physics was a rude awakening, but I truly believe it was God’s way of telling me that PT was not for me. I’ve been thinking about this a lot this month. It wasn’t until when my mom heard from her friend that PTA’s would no longer be needed in the future. THIS was the confirmation I so needed.

Now, what am I supposed to do now? Is college even for me?

My mom and I have had many talks this month about what to do with my life. My backup has always been Health Information Management, so that’s what I’m going to be doing now.

As my little brother is going to be graduating from high school this upcoming school year, he has been looking into living with my older brother 3 hours away from home. The thought of both of them leaving me is devastating. I’m even not myself when my little brother goes away for a sleepover.

Luckily, with Health Information, most classes are online, so I can be moving back and forth between my brothers and home time and time again in 2020 and so on. Once, I finish that degree, I’ll be able to work for my mom. At the same time, I can be attending at a local university. How does a major in Media Studies sound?

The problem is, even though my mom is encouraging me to strive for another degree after completing Health Information, she, like myself, is doubtful anyone would hire me. I know it’s crazy, but it’s just a thought. I’m hard-working, strong-willed, determined, and empathetic, yet a lot of stuff online explains how it’s hard for the disabled to land a career.

It’s really all getting to my head!