Saturday, September 06, 2008

Not so much a brain tumor

Fingers crossed, but just in case, you, or someone close to you, ever need to have an MRI done, I'd strongly suggest that you go to Cardinal Santos MRI Center. It is highly recommended by my neurosurgeon, Eric Legaspi. Dr Legaspi, btw, graduated summa cum laude from UPLB for his pre-med and topped (read: First) the medical board the year he took it. I chose him after asking around and doing some research on the best neurosurgeons available.

Cardinal Santos MRI Center produces clear plates distinctly locating where the problem is. Aside from this, you’d have a better degree of confidence in the findings as only two very reliable doctors, Drs. Ison and Cheng read the plates.

I had my third MRI (of the sella/pituitary) last 25 August. My first was done in 2007 at Medical City, which took almost an hour. At Cardinal Santos, it takes much less, around 40 minutes, may be even less! I tell you, when you're there encapsulated in a rocket-like machine, ears bombarded by loud sounds, and made to stay perfectly still (with very limited movements allowed between imaging sequences), one hour would seem like forever! You’d itch and want to scratch but if you do so, chances are they’d have to repeat the whole sequence.

My first MRI revealed a 7mm tumor in my pituitary gland. Just for reference, the pituitary gland is about the size of a pea (very small!) located at the base of the brain. Calling it a brain tumor may not be technically accurate, but it's also not totally incorrect to name it as such, as it is still lodged in the brain area!
So there, I had a brain tumor! I had it removed Feb 07. It was producing excessive growth hormones (GH). If you had read my previous posts you would have come across the word "acromegaly." That's the condition that I have. A very rare disease in that only three to four out of every million people develop acromegaly each year and about 60 out of every million people suffer from the disease at any time. Now, don't you think that having this disease kind of makes me extraordinary!!! Some consolation! (Please click on the hyperlink to learn more about acromegaly.)

But I have good news! The tumor’s now reduced to approximately 1-2mm. Dr Ison gave this impression:
"Interval decrease in the size of the tiny hypoenhancing lesion immediately superior to the right cavernous internal carotid artery. Imaging finding likely relate to resolving post-operative granulation changes. No definite residual or recurrent adenoma is identified. Nevertheless, continued follow-up is recommended."

Whew! Yes, we’re quite relieved. As you would probably know, I just had my second pregnancy; I gave birth last 24 June. I was apprehensive that the pregnancy could trigger a tumor regrowth. Good thing that it looks like I’m still ok post-op. The blood tests did not turn up very ideal results but so far my symptoms have been kept at bay. Will have a repeat of the blood work after 4 months as my endocrinologist said that my hormones might still be affected by the pregnancy. I’m keeping my fingers crossed… 

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Back to work

My 12-week maternity leave is up. Huhu! I’m a working mom by choice and need. By choice since I could not imagine myself confined to the house 24/7. I would run out of things to do and would end up just calling Let often, and eventually morph into a person that is simply not ME. I’m not career-driven. Oh no! No high ambitions for me. But I feel that I’m not born to be a full-time homemaker/housewife.
I’m back to work also because I need to be so. We could have chosen to live within my husband’s earnings but since we wanted our own house and to be able to send our kids to a good school, I need to help earn the dough. Who would not want of course to live comfortably? Somehow, it’s not enough to earn “just enough.”
The first morning when I left my little baby, Gabee, to go to work, she was already awake, flashing me with her smile and cooing. It was heart-breaking, I almost cried. It was difficult yet I was also quite excited about resuming work after doing almost nothing the last 2 months except caring for Gabee. She had developed an attachment to me since I'd been nursing her. When I get home, she’d cry when she hears my voice. She’d want to be carried and would turn her head from side wanting to be nursed. I still breastfeed her during the night and plan to continue nursing her as long as I can.
At times my conscience pricks me as I am now so completely dependent on the yaya. I’m thankful that Gabee’s yaya seems to care genuinely for her. I just run home after work to again take my rightful place as Gabee’s mother.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Of Letters and Friends

*Reposted from an old (defunct) blog.

I have wanted for so long to have a journal where I could write big and small things that happen everyday in my life. But, keeping a journal requires time alone, which I rarely get these years (not just days!!!) because of work and domestic concerns. It’s really great that this blog thingy came about as I’ve now some drive to find time to document events in my life or to write about anything which tickles my interest.
Last night, I was digging from my box of letters, notes, gift tags, knick-knacks, and souvenirs, trying to locate the poems I wrote some ten years ago for Let (my hubby). I discovered another blog site, As the name implies, it publishes poems. Actually, Ghi Palmares, one of my best buddies in high school who’s now based in Illinois, was the reason why I came upon it. She sent me a link where I could read her poems; you could try accessing her poems by keying in her name. But, you’d have to register first. So, poets out there, here’s another chance of getting published. What’s more to it is that your works get rated by other poets. And you’d know the statistics on how many hits your site gets.
Now, what does the 2nd paragraph have to do with the first? Some organization of thoughts I have going here…
Well, the letters I kept, which came from friends, some suitors (Hehehe! As if I had a number of them!!!) and family members, gave me a good time reminiscing my past. I read aloud some to my husband and by the occasional grins on his face (which I was sure he was trying to suppress), I knew that he, too, did have fun. So that gave me a thought: the more that letters get antiquated, the more amusing it would be to read them again.
True enough, modern-day tech., particularly electronic mail, has made headway in cutting costs and time we used to spend to correspond. Bygone were the days when you’d excitedly check your mailbox at your front door. Now, there’s hardly ever a need to go to the bookstore to buy cute packs of stationery (some even perfumed, haha!!) and to go to the nearest post office to mail letters. A computer, internet connection and a modem are all you need to do all sorts of correspondence, business or personal. And boy, could it ever be more efficient than this! Getting your mail to the intended recipient almost immediately right after clicking the SEND icon?
Of course I prefer today’s system. But, it just occurred to me—well, just a thought—that today’s young generation might miss out on being able to store a treasure box full of lovingly thought out, handwritten letters. Well, of course, you could always print out the letters from your inbox, but it’s just not the same. There’s much more to the handwritten letters sent by snail mail… Much time and effort go into them before they reach the recipients.
It was heart-warming to read the letters from some of my friends. Most of the letters which I keep in my treasure box came from my high school friends, namely Ghi, Free, Queenie, Lally, Leah, Amy and Vincent. I must say that my friends all know how to write well. I guess credit is due our English teacher in high school (Ms. Baby Borromeo). We were made to write so many compositions back then.
Among my high school friends, it was Queenie who lavishly wrote endearments such as: I MISS U, I LOVE U. Funny that she’s still the same Quenie that she were (She wrote in one of her letters that the spelling of her name was already corrected to Q-U-E-E-N-I-E, before she was to migrate to the U.S.).
Free had the finest handwriting style; she could even change styles. Her letters also spoke of her person: more the practical, sensible and formal type, not usually keen on adding endearments. Btw, Free’s an R.N. based in Arizona.
Amy and Lally were more alike. Even their penmanship(s)were quite the same with a lot of curls. Both openly related happenings in their lives. Very true, no pretensions. Amy is now a mother to two beautiful kids and a wife to a loving, intelligent husband. She is a mass com’n. graduate and used to work for ABS-CBN.
Ghi was the artistic cum poetic type, hence, her letters flowed with beautiful words. Her narration was sharp and vivid. She also was the one fond of making personalized cards. Angie is the same person I mentioned earlier (see 2nd paragraph).

At the recognition/commencement program, SY 1989-1990. L-R: Ghi Palmares, Lally Morales, Cess Lubag, and Free Layumas. We just finished 2nd year hs.

Now, it was Vincent who was the odd one in the group. Always the opinionated and involved type of person, in one of his letters, he was asking me how the 1992 elections turned out, whether it was Fidel Ramos who won and whether indeed some cheating had occurred or not. Vincent left us in the middle of our fourth year in high school to join the US Army. Before leaving, he took the PMA exam, and passed it!
Among the letters that I re-read, it was Diane’s which made me really laugh!!! Diane, a chemical engineer working for Avon, is now 24. She wrote the letter when she was just 7 while I was about to turn 17. I went to Los BaƱos, Laguna for college while she was in first grade at a school in Q.C., the same school that I and my friends (mentioned above) went to.
Diane will wring my neck when she gets to read this. Note, punctuations and spellings are reproductions of the original.
Dear, Ate Cess
Hi! my beautiful sis, O kamusta na si Marcy mataba naba siya, Ate hindi ka ba uuwi para ecelebrate ang birthday mo. Alam mo sabi nga ni mama sana daw ay umuwi ka dito sa Quezon City, siguro kaya ayaw mong mag celebrate ng birthday mo dahil nagtitipid ka, Ate naibigay naba ang report card nyo, Alam mo ate top ten ako sa room namin, pero hindi pa alam kung pangilan ako, sorry ate ngayon lang kami sumulat sayo dapat kahapon pa, meron ako sayong rigalo kaso hindi naka balot.
Hanggang dito nalang
Happy-Happy Birthday
Reminder….Study hard.
Have a nice day
your sister,
*Diana was top 4 in grade 1; but from grade 3 to grade 6, she received the first honors. She graduated valedictorian from elementary school and salutatorian from high school (Roosevelt College, Cubao, Q.C.). She was merely 7 years and 2.5 months when she wrote this.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Seven-year itch

There's some truth to what they call as the seven-year itch that married couples go through. Seven years into the marriage, Let and I have become accustomed to each other--life's become a routine. Romance has taken a back seat as we worry more about mortgage, kids' education, college and even memorial plans, car maintenance and insurance, keeping our yaya's, etc., etc... Stress from work adds to the problem. The time we spend with each other has become less and less. Distractions are everywhere and unless we make a conscious effort to find time for each other, we'd eventually drift farther away.

Couples need to keep the sparks alive. Twelve years ago, we fell madly in love. We knew right from the start that we were headed for the real thing. I miss that feeling. It's been drowned out by everyday events--big and small--but it's still there. Definitely there!

Falling out of love is not a choice. Staying married and in love is a decision.

The wedding at St. Marc's Chapel, National Arts Center, Mt. Makiling, Los Banos, Laguna.
On our 5th wedding anniversary, Taal Vista Lodge, Tagaytay.