This past week has been a tough one. What started as a cough for one twin quickly escalated to pneumonia for both of them. I kept getting jarred by one development after another. First was the worry at having to be admitted to the hospital at all, then the shock at finding out from xray results that both twins had pneumonia. Then, as one twin started getting better, the other one who didn’t seem much affected at first and was not even put on IV started getting worse! So what happened was the first one who got sick was also the first one to be discharged, while the other one had to stay longer for added treatment and observation. Every day I would be hoping to be sent home, wishing it would only be a couple of days, but we ended up spending five days in the hospital. Every day I would nervously think about the twins’ progress, the work that I was not able to do, the medical expenses that were piling up, the logistical difficulties of taking care of the twins and shuttling from home to hospital to pick up supplies and needed paperwork. It also didn’t help that Don was on travel and we were less one person in the rotation.
So last night, when I was finally able to sleep in my own bed, I could only be grateful.
Grateful, and a little bit chastened—because of a few minutes of conversation with a hospital staff who was then doing chest physiotherapy on Dahon while I was holding her in my arms.
While doing the procedure, he heard me talking to Dahon and heard her say a few words in reply—nothing much—green (‘geen’), ayaw, that sort of thing. He asked me how old she is. When I answered that she’s almost two, he remarked, “Nagsasalita na a,” (She’s already talking) in a flattering tone.
Now it’s not at all uncommon for two-year olds to be able to say a few words or even hold a basic conversation, so I assumed that he reacted that way because he’s not that aware of the common baby milestones—much like the way I was before I became a mother. So when he also asked, “Naglalakad na po ba?” (Can she already walk?), I carelessly answered, “Oo naman,” and added “kung two years old hindi pa naglalakad nakakatakot na yon!” (Of course they’re walking, c’mon, if they’re not yet walking at two that’s kind of alarming!).
There was a pause, and then he gently said, in a bit of apologetic (!) tone, “Kasi po ibinabase ko lang po dun sa anak ko.” he said. “Pero nagkasakit po siya” (It’s because I’m basing it on my own kid. But then she got ill.).
What followed was among the most awkward moments of my life, as he told me how his daughter contracted meningitis at three months, causing her to lose her hearing and lag behind in overall development. At more than two years old, she’s only beginning to cruise (walk while hanging on to furniture for support) and is still at the babbling stage. And she just had surgery a few days ago to put in a cochlear implant that they’re not even sure would work. I hardly knew how to react, and with each reaction it seemed that I kept making it worse (But is it just partial hearing loss? Oh, it’s total? She’ll be able to walk, right, she’s just a little late? Oh, you’re not sure?)
Because really, how do you react with something like that? There I was, fretting about coughing spells and medical expenses and work deadlines, and this guy had been dealing with that kind of situation for the past two years. In all my worrying, of course I knew at the back of my mind that it could be worse, but the realization brought by that conversation was simply too in your face. And I can only imagine what he must be thinking at the time!
After a few minutes, the procedure he was doing on Dahon ended, and so did our conversation. I still didn’t know what to do with myself. I basically “hid” behind Dahon, telling her “Bye-bye kay kuya,” (Say bye-bye to him). At the last possible moment, I mustered up enough nerve to ask him his child’s name, and say what I really wanted to say: “God bless to [name of child].”
He smiled, and closed the door. I turned to Dahon and told her, with tears in my eyes, “You’re beautiful. You’re a gift of God to Papa and Mommy. We love you very much.” And I prayed for that brave little girl and her family, and committed to keep praying for her (and I invite you to pray for her too). Keep cruising, baby girl. Tomorrow, you will walk.