Japan Trip (Part 1)

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This trip should have happened back in October 2015. Unfortunately, I got hospitalized. The plan was pushed back and back because of my sister’s busy clerkship schedule (She’s a medical student!) and my unstable health.

Fortunately, this year, my mom started planning this trip again because I was gaining more ground on managing my symptoms and my sister was informed she’ll have a two-week vacation.

Fast track to the the first week of May. Everything was coming together – we had our visas granted, booked our tickets, and chose major places to visit. However, my health started to decline. Because my current mix of medicines then, I began to experience my second major fibromyalgia flare. My neck, back, hips, knees, and calves were burning almost everyday. I cannot walk beyond 15 mins nor I can stand for that long. My TMJ flared too. The stress of my heavy academic requirements amplified it.

As such, my parents and I consulted my psychiatrist and rheumatologist. They told us that there must be an improvement every week before they grant me a travel clearance. Thus they gave a new mix of medicines, upping 8 pills to 11 on a moderately bad day.

Thankfully, the pain lessened. And so, they gave me clearance provided that I will take a wheelchair in the airports, the amusement parks and other tourist spots. After all, I was still in flare albeit at the *hopefully* tail end.

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The first three days had me feeling okay for most of the time. The streets, transportation, buildings, and parks of Tokyo were a thousand times more PWD-friendly than my own home city in the Philippines.  This definitely lessened my stress and worries. It was easy asking for wheelchair assistance because the people were very accommodating. Shoutout to Disneyland for having priority seats during shows and views during parades! Visit my photography portfolio here for more photos 🙂

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Stay tuned for part 2 wherein I will share some travel tips for chronic illnesses sufferers!

 

 

Fibromyalgia Awareness Day!

Fibromyalgia

May 12 is Fibromyalgia Awareness Day! Not a lot of people know about it, and there are a few research studies on it compared to other conditions. I haven’t encountered any NGO or organization that specifically spreads information about it here in the Philippines. As such, in the spirit of  ~celebration~ and advocacy, I will list down some facts facts + my coping practices 🙂

Fibromyalgia Fast-Facts 

  • It is a chronic, non-progressive disorder that manifests through musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, memory, sleep, and mood issues
  • There are a lot of co-morbid disorders that may come along with it including irritable bowel syndrome, depression, TMJ, and migraine
  • Causes are not exactly known although researchers have pointed out these factors :
    • Genetics
    • Physical or emotional trauma
    • Infections
  • Symptoms may vary from patient to patient. These include:
    • Widespread pain
    • Hyperalgesia or extreme sensitivity to pain
    • Allodynia or triggering of pain response to usually/commonly not a painful stimuli
    • Stiffness
    • Fatigue
    • Fibro-fog or memory issues
    • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Currently, there is no cure for it. What doctors primarily do is to manage the symptoms for patients to live life as less painful as possible.
  • In the Philippines, it is also referred to as soft-tissue rheumatism.

Self-Care Practices

  • Avoid any triggers. I know fibro flares can sometimes spark without reason (hardyharhar, the human body is a mystery) but I notice that when I expose myself to some things, my chances of having flares go higher. And so, if I have the ability to avoid them altogether, I do.
  • Always have to-do lists. My memory has been especially affected by the cognitive issues fibromyalgia causes. To manage this, I learned to write to-do lists everyday so the chances of forgetting/not getting a thing done is slimmer.
  • Rest, rest, rest after a hectic day…or half-day. My family and friends know that I cannot go out and do a lot of activities like normal, healthy people can. So, after a hectic day, they let me retreat to my room and relax my aching body.
  • EXERCISE. My physiatrist prescribed a list of exercises I can do to combat the stiffness and aching of my muscles. I cycle four and do some stretching four to five times a week.
  • Use walking device when needed. I used to feel bad about having a cane and a walker but now, I understand that I need them when my body feels too weak to walk. No more self-pity.

Hope this post helps!


Resources:

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2017, May 02). Fibromyalgia. Retrieved May 11, 2017, from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/fibromyalgia/symptoms-causes/dxc-20317796

NHS. (n.d.). Fibromyalgia – Symptoms. Retrieved May 11, 2017, from http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Fibromyalgia/Pages/Symptoms.aspx

SY, D. G. (n.d.). Fibromyalgia (Soft-tissue rheumatism). Retrieved May 11, 2017, from http://www.pchrd.dost.gov.ph/index.php/news/library-health-news/1366-fibromyalgia-soft-tissue-rheumatism

On Death and Will to Live

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Someone asked me days ago if I am afraid of dying and where my will to live comes from. Here’s my answer:

When I was 11, I told a close friend what I want for my funeral: no black and white clothes, some flowers, cremation, and to be buried under a tree. To my young self, my demise is a celebration.

I still hold the same wishes and belief today.

There is a different kind of peace and acceptance when I finally acknowledged that I am more vulnerable to death than others. After being on the brink for the nth time last January, I have conditioned myself to end everyday in a good way. I never know when my illnesses will strike me hardest.

I guess this is where part of my ‘strength’ comes from , the knowing that everything is finite and every morning I wake up is some kind of miracle itself. I’d like to think it made me see life in a new light that not even my bipolar disorder can affect. Since death is inevitable (for everyone, actually. It is the great equalizer of men.), I decided to live as purposefully as possible without taking it too seriously.

Until the last day of the some kind of miracle happens, I’ll keep on loving and moving. I only have the present. When God decides it is time, I will accept wholeheartedly. It has been a wonderful life.

The Kind of Teacher I Want to be

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It’s a new term at my university. I am currently adjusting to the workload and /mountain/ of requirements. In fact, for one of my subjects, I am required to record all of my reflections on an e-journal. As such, I created a new wordpress dedicated on theories of learning and education.

For my first post, one of the prompts given is the kind of teacher I envision to be after graduating my course. In summary, I wrote how it is not “possible” for me to be a “teacher” in the first place.

Want to know my explanation? Visit my journal at this site: kabibengdagatlearns.wordpress.com 🙂

Prenuptial Shoot: Valenzuela-Singzon

Last week was pretty hectic because I organized, styled, shot, and post-processed my first prenup shoot for my cousin and his bride. As expected, I had to rest for days after the shooting day (Hello, Fibro flare!) but every effort and energy was worth it. Seeing how my family loved the photos made it even more precious.

The chosen theme by my future cousin-in-law was summer garden-inspired. She sent me pegs from Pinterest and let me translate the theme in their own context. Luckily, she liked my ideas. Major thanks for her trust and belief!

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See the whole set on their website here.

Weightlifting Fairy Art

Korean dramas (aka Kdrama) have made my life colorful since 2008 (Hello, BOF!) Hence, you’ll see some posts and reviews on old & currently-airing dramas here.

Anyway, I’m too happy for words today because one of my main Kdrama ships are sailing! Nam Joo Hyuk and Lee Sung Kyung of ‘Weightlifting Fairy Kim Bok Joo’ are reportedly dating. *heart eyes emoji* Behold, my quick art for this couple!!! ❤

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Dear, please check your privilege

Dear,

Your social media posts about Kadamay’s situation have revealed how much you haven’t been checking your privilege. I smell the irritation between your words and the insecurity behind your statements. Let’s check our facts first before I continue this short letter of reminder:

  • Kadamay did take over the idle housing units in Pandi, Bulacan. These housing units were intended for the police and military men’s families. (Reyes-Estrope, 2017)
  • The said group has stated that the idle housing units were left vacant because the offices of the police and the military are too far from them. (Reyes-Estrope, 2017)
  • Kadamay has declared since August 30, 2016 (read original post here), these pleas to the government. I did the liberty of translating them to English in case your Filipino sucks (which you should improve!):
    • Free housing distribution. Stop the monthly amortization and the service housing business.
    • Create an industry that will make the contractual Kadamay employees regular, with a minimum wage of  P750 per day,
    • Working water and electricity lines to the said housing units. Make sure that the water supply is potable and people will pay a minimum monthly fee for it. Remove the reconnection fee of electricity lines.
    • Presence of a nearby 24 hour hospital that has complete facilities, a health center, ample amount of ambulances, a drainage system, and a garbage collection system.
    • Give to the relocatees the financial assistance they never received with the amount of 18K for houses that were demolished in the danger areas.
    • Give housing units to those that are living with the relocatees e.g. the extended families.
    • Uphold the benefits of the senior citizens, PWDs, and single parents living in the relocation area.
    • Presence of a working livelihood program for those whose living is affected during typhoon/monsoon season.

I don’t know about you but these “demands” are basic – the ones that every individual should have in order to live a quality life. These are NEEDS. We have these in our little, privileged world everyday that we overlook how these are so inaccessible to them, the poor. See how they are stating the need for an INDUSTRY FULL OF OPPORTUNITIES and not, as what some news reports say, for jobs? Read how they are stating the need for reliable water and electricity lines, and NOT FREE water and electricity supplies?

Are you surprised how these people can form a group and do something about their situation even exhibiting as what our colleagues call, “lawlessness”? Put yourself in their shoes. What are you willing to do when your former house has been demolished for months (or even years!), your workplace, where you are a contractual worker, is now so far from your supposed relocation, your family has no steady access to safe drinking water and electricity, your 65 year-old mother is not receiving her benefits, your partner’s livelihood perishes every time a typhoon comes, and the government has yet to help you, despite waiting patiently and ardently?

They are not the lazy ones. Guess who truly is/are.

Sincerely,

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Source:

Reyes-Estrope, C. (2017, March 18). Group Kadamay shifts campaign to take over idle units to housing project in Bocaue town. Retrieved April 22, 2017, from http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/881695/group-kadamay-shifts-campaign-to-take-over-idle-units-to-housing-project-in-bocaue-town