By: Ramon L. Orcullo Jr.
One Sunday morning, I woke up in a hospital bed without any knowledge of why I was there lying. Upon clearing my sight, I learned that my left leg and right arm were swathed in braces and bandages. I couldn’t move my entire body. My head was spinning and throbbing. My tears started to well up in my eyes as I was trying to process everything with my thoughts muddled by an obscure sense of reality.
Moments after, my sister detailed that I was involved in a vehicular accident en route to my master’s class. She said a huge delivery truck hit the “multicab” I rode in. I suffered short-term memory loss while sustaining femoral dislocation and wrist injury that necessitated me to undergo an operation. Later, I was informed that a passenger passed away and others were in critical condition.
Thankfully, God spared my life from the accident and from the possibility of failing to survive in the operating room.
The thirteen-day hospital confinement following my operation was grueling. I had to endure the excruciating pain from my operated limbs the moment the anesthesia dissipated. I lost my appetite so I lost much weight, too. I never thought that I would be bedridden in diapers for days unable to do basic personal necessities sans the assistance of my Mama. I had been sleep-deprived during my entire stay in the ward due to chronic nerve and muscle pains, including the never-ending injection shots of antibiotics that kept me awake until the wee hours in the morning. Mama and my siblings took turns in taking care of me in the hospital. I couldn’t have endured the struggle without my family, friends, and colleagues.
The incident prompted me to leave work temporarily as I have to recuperate for months since November last year.
I was never a home buddy until the accident had me locked in my room for my home medication. I love the outdoors. I used to be a physically active person who finds joy in joining marathons. I would run miles after work, on weekends, and basically on my free time. My physical frailties caused by the injuries had me almost incapable of ambulation. I could barely walk. My being imprisoned in a wheelchair for weeks had me emotionally drained as much as I was bodily exhausted especially that I would be left at home alone most of the time. The arm injury has also made me suspend my habit of writing on my journal. But it has not discouraged me. I have tried typing letters on the notes pad of my phone using my left hand.
Into my fourth month of recuperation, everyone has joined me in “quarantine” due to the covid-19 outbreak.
Some would whine that staying at home has bored them to death. And if boredom could literally kill, I should have passed on having been under “lockdown” for four months before them. But really staying at home is distressing especially for those who consider the outside world their playground. In my case I have spent long months reading noir and history books, and watching TED Talks on YouTube. During the night, I would watch Korean films and dramas to lighten up my mood. I would also attend free online courses to further enrich my mind and stay productive despite the deprivation of going to work and teaching my students language and literature.
Embattled yet inspired, I have faced my reality in a different perspective. I have broken limbs, but not broken dreams nor broken faith. I believe that with a renewed sense of self and purpose, I would step out to the outside world once again to continue making a difference. I have realized that God has protected me from these encumbrances because He knows that I have yet to serve my purpose.
Through this hardship, I’ve gained human empathy; I’ve learned to connect to the pain of others – just like the pain that the thousands and millions of our fellows who have continued to battle for their lives in their hospital beds in this extraordinary time. Worse, they have no one on their side, not even their families, to attend to their needs.
This situation has also taught me humility, gaining a better understanding of my limitations. And it builds my patience as things do not always turn out as planned. Sometimes in life, we need to slow down; we need to reflect and enjoy the days with our families—the silver lining behind the “quarantine”. Lastly, I have become more resilient by gaining confidence that I have the ability to bounce back even from this major setback.
Now I have gradually regained my strength through simple exercises and small walks. No more braces and bandages. No more walking aids. I can now stand and walk with solid faith that when this blight is finally over, I can come face to face with the world again.
Ramon L. Orcullo Jr., 27, is a public school teacher in Alegria, Surigao del Norte. He is a graduate student in secondary education specializing English at Surigao State College of Technology. His passion is inculcating in his students the love of reading and writing.