Sunday Lifestyle

Give me the courage

FROM MY HEART - Barbara Gonzalez Ventura - The Philippine Star

I am going slowly but steadily crazy. Two days ago — yes, just two days ago — we finally got the roving vaccination team into our home to give us the AstraZeneca vaccine. This because my husband is not well, cannot walk or be wheeled into the nearest center. Finally our condo’s administration sent us a survey about vaccinations. I told them our dilemma. They decided to make the arrangements for us. It took a few weeks, but in the end, three male nurses finally came.

Did I want the vaccine to begin with? No. I promised my daughters, all of whom don’t believe in vaccines, I would never have it. But now I really cannot see the end to this pandemic. I cannot agree to not being allowed to eat at a restaurant without a vaccine. The first and last time this happened to me I arrived at a supermarket to do my weekly shopping. I don’t know why I arrived very hungry. I saw the café they have there and tried to get in but was refused because I did not have a vaccine. To pacify my hunger I had to buy taho and eat it on the sidewalk. I like taho but nevertheless felt sorry for myself. The next time that happened I had to buy shawarma and eat it in the car. That’s why I finally had myself vaccinated. Not to push away the disease, because I take the meds I sell, which apparently give me immunity, but so I can eat properly when I get hungry.

But that was just the beginning. On the very day of the vaccine I got a dull headache. I rarely get headaches these days. The next day I woke up with a stronger headache and the beginnings of a rash on the inside of both elbows, and pain in my muscles. My husband’s caregiver had a mild temperature. And our “household companion” (English for kasambahay) was not feeling very well either. My husband, who is the sickest among us, simply said his body felt heavy. I worried that the vaccine would bring him down but it didn’t yet seem to affect him.

But I had to make rosaries for delivery. So I pulled all my strength together and completed the order though I have to wait a few days for the glue to dry before delivery.

But since the vaccine I’ve also had trouble sleeping.

The first night, because my husband insisted on sleeping in the room with me, the way we used to sleep together. But every time I was falling asleep, he would wake up and call out “Ha!” or “Hi!” as he usually does since his stroke. Finally at around midnight he is fully awake and demands to be taken to his hospital bed in what used to be our living room converted into his room now. So the caregiver and I load him in his wheelchair and bring him there. I am so agitated I play computer solitaire until I get sleepy at around 2:30 a.m. to wake up at eight and work. That’s my schedule now. I work all morning. Stay beside my husband all afternoon. At night I work out the day’s stress by either playing solitaire, or watching TV, or staring at the ceiling until I fall asleep.

But this week began with getting vaccinated, which brought us all some additional grief. None of us felt well. My husband has been acting up and is more difficult to handle. I think that’s the effect of the vaccine on him because before then, he was calm. Now he is fussy and argumentative. Life has become suddenly more difficult for all of us. The difficulties are small, happen in trickles but steadily and sometimes I feel an inch away from going crazy.

Just when I needed it, suddenly my printer isn’t working as well as it used to. I have to send it to be repaired. I need to print and sign some papers before my husband’s next doctor’s appointment but I can’t print them. I text my driver. One bright spot! He will come immediately to bring it to be fixed. I have one spot of relief. This happens over my husband asking for help: “Saklolo!” (Help!) he shouts, because I am writing while he wants attention. It is afternoon, after all. My time with him, which is interrupted once a week because of my deadline. But he forgets about that now and he fusses.

I pray sincerely, earnestly for the courage I ask to be sent to me to manage each day patiently, silently, gracefully to come and give me the strength to hold on to my sanity. Please don’t allow me to let it go to soar up to the clouds like a balloon and be lost forever. I still have to think, to decide, to laugh, to live, to enjoy what’s left of life. Where will I find the courage to survive one more time?


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