December 05, 2008

Thank you Lord

IT'S a good day today. Despite my recent round of bad luck (w/c will end tomorrow according to Joseph Chau's feng shui book, yahoo!), there are a few things to celebrate.

You see, a friend and press colleague from my banking reporter days, Margie Quimpo Espino, an editor at the Inquirer, fell ill while on coverage in New Delhi, India. She is an apparent victim of a stroke (aka cerebral attack) and had lost consciousness last Nov. 29 after complaining of a severe headache. She was brought to the hospital and was given emergency treatment. Two days after, she woke up.

Her husband Chet is now at her side, as well as her brother Joey and his wife. And while Margie isn't totally out of the woods yet, as there is still some paralysis in her body, the latest word is that she has started to speak. Praise God! We have all been praying so hard for her and her family. I know Margie will get through this. She is a fighter and her strength comes from wanting to be w/ her three kids and her husband whom she loves so dearly.

I am attaching Chet's latest report about her condition (sent via our email group), so our friends here and abroad will know what's going on. This latest email moved me tears and made me give thanks to the Lord last night because it made me feel His compassion and love for us, His children.

Dear readers, even if you don't know Margie, pls. include her in your prayers everyday. Pls. ask Him to heal Margie completely; to give strength to Chet, their children (Mark, Catherine, Patricia), and the rest of their families; and to continue to give wisdom to her doctors so they will always make the correct diagnoses and recommend the best procedures for her to recover faster.

I'd also like to take this opportunity to thank Holcim (w/c had sponsored the press tour Margie was on), which I had criticized in the past for some of its corporate decisions, but is now doing right by taking care of Margie and Chet.

* * * *

Fortis Escorts Hospital
Faridabad, Haryana

At around 3 p.m. today, Margie started opening her mouth and began uttering syllables that sounded like "shh... shh.. shhta... shta."

It seemed like she was just exercising her vocal chords and wasn't really attempting to communicate, until Nidin asked her simple questions and she either nodded or shook her head. I only missed it by a few minutes so that when I came, Nidin excitedly greeted me with the news that Margie was trying to speak.

On his prodding, I asked Margie if she knew who I am. In between labored breaths she uttered my name about three times. She still had that dazed look on her face and was battling with what I thought was pneumonia. Then I asked her what her name was and she made a big effort to say her name, also about three times with much effort.

A couple more questions and there was no doubt she was already coherent -- the first time since that fateful Saturday. She had been conscious since I arrived Monday but it's as if she only really woke up today. Joey, Margie's older brother and his wife Liz came and witnessed for themselves what I texted them only earlier.

All the effort that Margie made in trying to speak exhausted her and she fell asleep briefly. As soon as she was calm again, I put Patricia on the phone with her mother for a tearful exchange. I held the phone to Margie's ear and she started saying Patricia's name inaudibly while crying, although no tears came out of her eyes.

In another hour or so, I called again to let Mark and Catherine speak to their mother. We who were around Margie were so surprised when she said "where did you come from?" because we were only telling her to listen to the voices of her children and not to stress herself trying to speak. She actually wanted to make conversation! But none of these were audible to the kids, she couldn't quite let out her voice yet.

Tomorrow we expect her to really show a lot more improvement. Margie really cannot move her left hand and left leg just yet, but the doctors and nurses and physical therapists assure me that she we'll get there. In any case, they ordered another CT scan just to investigate. I have yet to talk to Dr. Dua about it but I heard from the nurse that the CT scan results seemed ok.

Let us pray to God to make Margie whole again.

This wonderful afternoon was actually preceded by a gut-wrenching morning where Margie battled with what I thought was pneumonia. Her lungs were filled with fluid and the x-ray showed her lower right lung was collapsed because of the fluids. They had to change her antibiotics and suction the fluids out with a catheter through the mouth. It was very difficult because during that time they still could not communicate well with Margie. You couldn't tell her to cough properly to let out the fluids, so that it was like bobbing in her lungs and throat.

I was sent out during the procedure so I took advantage of the time to walk back to the hotel and eat lunch with Joey and Liz. It was emotionally draining to see Margie go through it.

We retreated to my room afterwards so I was able to recharge my drained batteries. I was prepared for a tough time when I got back, but I was pleasantly greeted by Nidin with the good news.

Now the bigger picture. In the DSA yesterday, the dye they sent through Margies' head showed no aneurysm in the cerebral arteries. But a small connecting segment was not penetrated by the dye because of spasm, caused by the presence of blood in her brain. That blood will eventually wash away in 3 weeks, and they would like a repeat of the DSA then to complete their investigation.

If they still find no aneurysm in that segment which is about I think only 4 mm long, then I think the doctors may conclude that the bleeding was associated with her hypertension.

I asked the doctor: what happened to the two cases of ''suspected aneurysm'' that was reported during the MRI? He said there was not much to go by with the CT scan or the MRI; the DSA showed no aneurysm.

The doctors told us that it'll probably take Margie 2 to 3 weeks to be fit enough travel.

Mark was anxious about this. "But that's Christmas," he said in his text. Patricia had the same thing in mind.

I said yes, I had the same reaction. But then how can we complain about anything now, I told them. We have their mom. Only a few days ago, our pleas were just to have her alive in the first place.

We have a long way to go. Today gives us so much strength to take on whatever God will permit us to go through in the coming days. Please, please continue the prayers.

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